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The Homosexuality of Alexander the Great

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An Astonishing Fact:

The Homosexuality of Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great was known as the king of Macedon and world conqueror. He conquered almost a half of the known world at that time period, and built up the most powerful and the largest empire in the world. In fact, there is an astonishing fact that Alexander was a homosexual. Alexander the Great was acknowledged a homosexual and had a relationship with his best friend Hephaestion. The factors that could have influenced him were homosexuality in the Greek culture, his father Philip II who was a gay and killed by a jealous lover, and the fact that Alexander modeled himself after Achilles, a great Greek hero who had a best friend as a lover. As a result, Alexander the Great had an impact on the Greek lifestyle and the philosophy of love.

Alexander's Love Life

Alexander was born in August of 356 B.C.E., and under the sign of the lion, he was considered to be a great warrior of a warrior culture. Alexander joined his first battle when he was only sixteen years old, and he went on to conquer the entire known world. ("THE GAY LOVERS OF ALEXANDER III... "1). Alexander had a very different childhood with other warriors, because he had a privilege childhood, he grew up as the son of Philip II. His father hired the most knowledgeable and famous scholar, Aristotle, to be Alexander the Great's teacher. Moreover, Alexander lived in the Greek culture, which had open mind about homosexuality, and there are several facts that influenced Alexander to a homosexual. In fact, Alexander and his friend Hephaestion had a long love story that was filled in Alexander's life.

Alexander's best friend Hephaestion influenced his life. Hephaestion was a Macedonian nobleman, and he was only one year elder than Alexander. Alexander's great tutor Aristotle had described the relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion as "soul mates". They knew each other since they were very young, and they studied the same philosophy from the same teacher. Therefore, Alexander and Hephaestion became really close friends that they could share everything about themselves ("Alexander and Hephaistion" 3), and this showed their loves between each other. Hephaestion was even a better warrior than Alexander, he helped Alexander as they were conquering other city-states, the facts that Alexander won almost all the time also influenced by Hephaestion's wisdom and knowledge of wars ("Alexander and Hephaistion" 2), and this showed that Hephaestion and Alexander were inseparable and he helped Alexander in many ways. Hephaestion followed Alexander and gave him advices of each war for almost eleven years, and as they were growing up to adults, they were not supposed to be in a relationship anymore. However, Aristotle always said that relationships based on love of character often continued after the loss of the beloved's youthful beauty, and this led Alexander and Hephaestion's relationship lasted long as their entire lives. Greek boys would leave their lovers after they grew up to mature men, and elder men's loves were considered to be evil at that time period because love between grown men and teenage boys were the only proper way for two males to love each other ("THE GAY LOVERS OF ALEXANDER..." 2). Even though this rule showed ruled most of the males and their lovers, Alexander and Hephaestion did not leave each other after they grew older, but they became closer and closer. Many facts that proved Alexander and Hephaestion truly loved one and other. When they went to meet the Persian queen in a camp, the queen thought Hephaestion was Alexander the Great, so that she was in a panic. Even though the queen made the mistake, Alexander laughed and said that, worry not queen, for he too is Alexander ("Alexander & Hephaestion: Leaders..." 2). This means that Alexander was seeing Hephaestion as himself, even though they were in two bodies, their minds and spirits were together. The consequence that Alexander and Hephaestion continued their close relationship angered Alexander's mother, Queen Olympias. She did not like the fact that her son was still in love with a man, so that she was against their intimacy. Hephaestion responded the Queen with a letter that said nothing could bother him because the only thing that matters to him was Alexander ("Alexander and Hephaistion" 3). These facts mean that Alexander and Hephaestion were in a strong and inseparable relationship. Further more, Alexander had married three times, one of his wives was Darius III's older daughter; and his lover or best friend Hephaestion married Darius' younger daughter. This was because Alexander wanted to mix his blood with Hephaestion's, if not in their own, then certainly in the next generation (Barber 7). When Hephaestion died in 324 B.C.E in Persia, Alexander was extremely sorrowed. He killed the doctors of Hephaestion, and commanded all the people in his kingdom to cut their hair and the horsetails. Alexander was sick and died after a few months of Hephaestion's death in 323 B.C.E, and he was only thirty-three years old. The cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope had said that Alexander had never lost a battle, but he was ruled by Hephaestion's thighs ("THE GAY LOVERS OF ALEXANDER III..." 3). The love life of Alexander proved that he was either a homosexual or a bisexual.

Alexander might not be a homosexual if he lived in another culture, time period or environment, therefore, there were three main factors that made Alexander could have been a homosexual: impact from the Greek culture, impact from his father, and the impact from his idol Achilles.

Impact From The Greek Culture

Homosexuality was very acceptable and became a kind of fashion in higher classes of ancient Greek males. Alexander lived in an ancient Greek world that was surrounded by homosexual atmosphere. Barber said that Alexander lived in a world that had no Christianity was around, so that to codify the form of sexuality was acceptable (5). The early literary source for homosexuality said that men with different natures and therefore different sexual preferences (Hubbard 2). For example, males from higher class in Greece could pick the same-sex boys that they liked, men were considered to like boys' nice bodies, so that they would pick whomever they liked because they were powerful nobles. Therefore, Alexander was influenced by the whole homosexual culture; especially he was born in the royalty, so that his life was filled with the main Greek noble homosexual culture.

However, homosexual marriage was illegal in ancient Greece. Even though homosexuality was acceptable in ancient Greece,



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