Alexander the an excellent has lengthy been linked with the mythic heroes of ancient Greece. In plenty of ways, it seems like he was one self - the only difference being that we have actually proof Alexander actually lived.

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Of the plenty of heroes the Greek myth, Achilles is the one most frequently paired through Alexander. The old Greek chronicler Arrian composed that Alexander thought about Achilles his rival ever since his youth (Campaigns of Alexander,Book 7) and Oxford chronicler Robin lane Fox described Alexander as the "new Achilles" in his groundbreaking biography of the conqueror.

But go Alexander really watch Achilles as his greatest rival? Or did other numbers of Greek myth loom simply as huge in his mind?

In a previous article, I weigh the proof for Alexander"s alleged emulation the Achilles. But in this article, i look at Alexander"s overlooked relationships v the biggest Greek hero of every -Heracles (known as "Hercules" in roman times) - and also the mortal-turned-Olympian Dionysus. In ~ the end, I"ll shot to existing a variation of Alexander the incorporates all 3 of this heroes, and also his preoccupation through the god well-known as Zeus-Ammon. Let"s start with Heracles.


First off, let"s evaluation the straightforward legend of Heracles:He was the son of Zeus, the king the the Greek gods, and a mortal woman. He had actually extraordinary strength and also intelligence, although he was doomed from bear to be subjected to the will certainly of a spiteful king. Homer explained him in the Iliad as "mighty, bold, lion-hearted".

Heracles is probably finest known because that his 12 Labors - a series of spectacular undertakings - in which he defeated the Nemean lion, the many-headed hydra serpent, and also other foes. Top top his death, the was believed he to be struck by a lightning bolt thrown by his dad Zeus, which sent out his soul to mountain Olympus instead of the Underworld. The was among the few men to it is in rewarded through immortality.

By Alexander"s time, Heracles was revered together the greatest of all the Greek heroes. The was shown as a "youthful, unbearded god that wears a lion-skin ~ above his ago and has actually the lion"s paws node on his chest. He tends to carry a club, no a bow, and to have one eight raised" (Fox, 194). The legends of his exploits placed him in ~ a selection of areas stretching to the eastern and western fringes of the recognized world.

The many direct connection Alexander had actually to Heracles was through his royal lineage.The Argead empire of Macedon - which included Philip II, Alexander, and their predecessors ago to 700 BCE - traced your line back to Karanos, the great-great-great nephew of Heracles. It was an essential belief:Through this connection, the Argead royal family created both the Greek roots and divine pedigree.

But Alexander additionally seems come have had a personal association with Heracles. Throughout his life, Alexander was paired through the symbol of a lion, i beg your pardon was additionally a symbol of Heracles.A story around Alexander"s birth, said by Plutarch, states that Philip II had a dream prior to his boy was born in which Olympias" womb was sealed v the photo of a lion. The is unclear whether this story came to be commonly well-known before, during, or after Alexander"s life.

Alexander was even defined in Herculean terms:

" contemporaries, that (Alexander) was believed to it is in lion-like in appearance and often in temper, and also for a young male of streaming hair and also penetrating stare the comparison to be apt, the more so as he had actually been born under the sign of Leo and also was ideal known native the portraits ~ above his coins, which showed him in the lionskin cap of his ancestor Heracles, a headdress that may have worn in his everyday life" (Fox, 41).

Here room the other methods Alexander was linked to Heracles, follow to the ancient biographies and archaeology:

When Alexander very first met v the Thessalonians, that reminded them of their typical ancestor Heracles (Diodorus, 17.4.1).Alexander was linked with Heracles in the art and coinage that his time:"As for his heroic ancestor Heracles, Alexander was shown wearing a helmet make from a lion"s head on an otherwise lifelike series of sculptures carved soon after ~ his death...the helmet was a symbol of Heracles, and no doubt Alexander wore that in genuine life. ~ above coins, Heracles" conventional Macedonian portrait had taken top top Alexander"s features: there were precedents for this, not the very least in the yellow coin-portraits the Apollo issued by Philip however unmistakably affected by Alexander"s features; coins additionally showed Alexander in his life time wearing Ammon"s rams"-horns, and this to be a template all his own" (Fox, 443).

A portion of the Alexander Sarcophagus (late 4th century BCE) reflects Alexander attract a lion head helmet at the battle of Issus.

Alexander"s claims of invincibility harken earlier to Heracles:"No man, and only one hero, had actually been dubbed invincible prior to him, and then only by a poet, but the hero was Heracles, ancestor of the Macedonian kings...When Alexander started to stress this an effective link through Victory (Greek goddess) and the hero Heracles, whose assistance he constantly recognized, a new concept was born for magnificent kingship" (Fox, 71-72).Alexander made sacrifices to Heracles during his military campaigns, consisting of after he overcome the Danube River and Hellespont, and when he got to the Indian ocean (Arrian). He also sacrificed come him after the success at the battle of Issus (Curtius, 3.12.27).Before battle, the told his troops the they "would someday traverse the bounds of collection by Hercules (Heracles) and also Father Liber (Dionysus) to subdue not only the Persians but all the races of the earth" (Curtius, 3.10.5).Before assaulting Tyre, Alexander had a dream that Heracles welcomed him into the city (Arrian); after, he pardoned the Tyrians that took refuge in the temple of Heracles. He likewise "offered sacrifice come Heracles and also held a ceremonial parade that his troops in full battle equipment; the fleet additionally took part in the review in the god"s honour, and there to be athletic contests in the temple enclosure and a torch-race" (Arrian, 143). Alexander also committed the siege an equipment that breached the Tyrian wall surface and a spiritual Tyrian ship to Heracles. Later, after overcoming Egypt, Alexander went back to Tyre and again held spiritual celebrations and athletic contests in his honor (Arrian, 155).Alexander"s an ideas to visit the temple of Ammon in Libya was partially attributed to his connection to Heracles. Arrian writes that "Alexander longed to equal the reputation of Perseus and Heracles; the blood the both flowed in his veins, and just together legend traced your descent native Zeus, so he, too, had actually a feeling that in some means he was descended native Ammon" (Arrian, 151).Some the Alexander"s flatterers publicly contrasted him come Heracles, i m sorry bred resentment among other pendant (Arrian, 214). Anaxarchus allegedly suggested that Macedonians were much better off granting magnificent honors come Alexander 보다 to Dionysus or Heracles, as only Alexander to be from Macedon. Callisthenes responded by recall Anaxarchus and also others than not also Heracles was worshipped while he to be still alive (Arrian, 219-221).According come Curtius, the neighborhood rulers in India greeted Alexander as "the third son the Jupiter to have reached them". Return Dionysus and also Heracles had actually come in the far-off past, Alexander "had come in person and was prior to their eyes" (8.10.1).Alexander caught the rock of Aornos in India, which had actually allegedly thwarted the great Heracles. Arrian to trust this factored right into Alexander"s an ideas to siege the Rock, although over there was likewise a practical element to the operation.Arrian"s explanation: "Personally, that course, I should not favor to state categorically the the Theban, or the Tyrian, or the Egyptian Heracles did, in fact, walk to India. Ns incline to sophisticated that that did not; because that it appears to me that world like to make obstacles look lot more complicated than they really are, and to this end start a legend about Heracles" fail to conquer them. That, at any rate, in my opinion around this rock: the surname of Heracles was presented simply to make the story more impressive". Clearly, even Arrian to be suspicious around the beginnings of this myth. However, the did think that Alexander bought into it: "The summary of this remarkable location awakened in Alexander a passionate desire to catch it, and the story around Heracles was not the the very least of his incentives" (Arrian, 249).

Alexander and also his troops are stated to have thought Heracles checked out India after finding cattle that had actually been branded v the photo of a club; they also thought they had uncovered the cavern of Prometheus, whereby Heracles was believed to have visited (Arrian, 258-259). Arrian acknowledges that the traveling Greeks seemed to have actually made mistakes around the location of miscellaneous mythical landmarks and taken free in interpreting these legends.

At the Hyphasis River, wherein Alexander"s troops refused to march any type of farther east, Alexander allegedly invoked the instance of Heracles, saying, "Are girlfriend not mindful that if Heracles, mine ancestor, had actually gone no more than Tiryns or Argos - or even than the Peloponnese or Thebes - he can never had actually won the glory which changed him native a man right into a god, actual or apparent? even Dionysus, who is a god indeed, in a sense past what is applicable to Heracles, challenged not a few laborious tasks; however we have actually done more: we have passed past Nysa and also we have taken the absent of Aornos i beg your pardon Heracles himself could not take" (Arrian, 294).

In Curtius, Alexander also compares himself to Dionysus and Heracles at multiple inflection points of your campaign: after defeating the military of Porus in India (9.2.29) and also at the Hyphasis flow (9.4.21).

There to be a story about Alexander encountering the legendary tribe of Amazon women, who Heracles had likewise met. Arrian mentions the this was not had in the account of any "reliable" biographer.

It is well attested the Alexander believed, or at the very least claimed, the he to be a kid of Zeus-Ammon. Zeus-Ammon to be an Egyptian/Libyan version of Zeus, the chef of the Greek gods and father that Heracles. This would have made Alexander a half-brother the Heracles.

Alexander"s future plans, i m sorry he passed away too at an early stage to pursue, might have included heading west indigenous Asia toward the Pillars the Heracles (Curtius, 10.1.17).

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In one account the Alexander"s last days, he an initial became ill while drink wine in honor of Heracles" death (Diodorus, 17.17.1).