Alexander the great and hephaestion relationship tips

Personal relationships | World Of Alexander The Great

alexander the great and hephaestion relationship tips

Hephaestion son of Amyntor, was an ancient Macedonian nobleman and a general in the army of Alexander the Great. He was "by far the dearest of all the king's friends; he had been brought up with Alexander and shared all his secrets. " This relationship lasted throughout their lives, and was compared, by others . Hephaestion took local advice and chose a man distantly related to the. Alexander the Great (seated) and Hephaestion, in Oliver Stone's film Alexander the Great, Hephaistion Amyntoros and the Nature of their Relationship ". Alexander's father, Philip of Macedon, had male lovers and also many wives, Alexander and Hephaestion felt like the two heroes Achilles and Hephaestion was the man Alexander loved, and for the rest of their lives their relationship advice which Alexander--to his credit--conspicuously did not follow.


For others, it is little more than pro-Alexander propaganda invented after his death. Below, I'll explore all three of these areas and conclude with a theory of my own. Sir Kenneth Dover's careful analysis of this kind of same-sex affair in modern times led to the popularization of the "Dover model" for understanding ancient Greek homosexuality. Most of the evidence comes from Athens, which may distort our perspective. More warlike places such as Sparta and Macedon had slightly different expectations about expressing same-sex desire.

For instance, a younger partner's athleticism and skill in battle may be valued above his beauty in these places whereas in Athens, beauty was paramount. It's also possible that affairs between militaristic youth of a similar age were more common in Macedon than in Athens.

I do not necessarily think, however, that they were still physically intimate in their latter years, though they may have been. Mostly, I don't think it greatly significant to the affection they held for one another pg.

The Sacred Band of Thebeswidely considered Greece's most lethal fighting force before the rise of Macedon, was allegedly composed solely of pairs of male lovers. The underpinning logic was that the men fought more bravely with their lovers by their side.

There is evidence to suggest that Philip and Alexander, although rivals of the Sacred Band, greatly admired the group's spirit. Plutarch reports that after defeating them at the Battle of Chaeronea in BCE, Philip wept and cursed anyone who had ever questioned their lifestyle Parallel Lives, Pelopidas.

Even though modern scholars have developed theories to explain certain kinds of same-sex relationships in certain regions, much about how the Greeks, especially the Macedonians, viewed homosexuality remains unclear. We know male same-sex relations occurred in many circumstances, as Philip II Alexander's father and other earlier Argead kings got caught up in drama with their younger male lovers.

And we know that same-sex intimacy was associated with masculine virtues, at least in some cases like with the Sacred Band of Thebes. But it remains difficult to account for the full range of same-sex relations and norms in ancient Macedon. If new evidence can answer enough of the lingering questions, a clearer portrait of Alexander and Hephaestion could come into focus. To my knowledge, the key contemporary biographers of Alexander do not mention any sexual or romantic relations between the pair.

If they were in fact lovers, this strikes me as odd. There is an argument that says that because same-sex affairs were common in 4th century Greece, Alexander's biographers didn't need to explicitly mention it. Defenders of this view say that these writers provided enough clues for readers to assume that which was obvious. In addition, it can be reasonably assumed that if the precise nature of his affair with Hephaestion was frowned upon by conventional standards, it may have been in the best interest of contemporary historians especially those using Alexander's legend to further their political aims to downplay the romantic aspects of this relationship.

While these explanations are plausible, I am not convinced. Many, many people wrote about Alexander's life at the time and in the immediate decades that followed. Are we supposed to believe that not one of them was willing to directly address the proverbial elephant in the room if there even was one? Regardless of what reason one subscribes to, one has to admit that it says something that none of the biographers we know about were willing to just come out with it.

Alexander's alleged association with Achilles There are many parallels between Alexander the Great and the mythological Greek hero Achilles. Most obviously, they were both Greek warriors who led armies against Eastern civilizations. According to credible ancient sources, Alexander admired and envied Achilles who he believed was his ancestor on his mother's side. Achilles and Patroclus were widely regarded to have been lovers in late-4th century Greece. When Alexander openly embraced the comparison of he and Hephaestion to Achilles and Patrolcus, as they may have done at ruins at Troy, it sent a message that they too were more than just friends - or so the logic goes.

For Fox, this serves as "proof" that Alexander and Hephaestion were lovers. There are, however, at least a couple of problems with this argument. First off, it's far from certain that Alexander's association with Achilles and Hephaestion's with Patroclus were nearly as relevant during Alexander's lifetime as it became afterwards.

alexander the great and hephaestion relationship tips

A tradition that depicted Alexander as a kind of successor to Achilles was clearly present by Roman times, but its origins are hard to pin down. Did Alexander himself embrace this identification? Or is much of it the product of literary license by later writers? I get into the weeds of this controversy in the article below: Secondly, even if we assume Alexander and Hephaestion did indeed embrace this parallel to Achilles and Patroclus, it seems rash to assume that this, by definition, meant they were lovers.

It's worth remembering that Homer himself did not portray Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, no matter how many people wish to believe he did.

Did he imply it? But it's debatable by virtually any standard. I find it unlikely that the Greeks of the 4th century had a uniform view of such an ambiguous matter. In other words, we may know what a specific philosopher or a few Athenian citizens thought about Achilles and Patroclus, but that doesn't mean we know what Alexander and Hephaestion thought, much less the soldiers of a Graeco-Macedonian army.

It seems entirely possible that Alexander and Hephaestion could have used this comparison to highlight their heroic qualities and friendship, without making any kind of romantic or sexual statement whatsoever.

The two prominent male figures on the right are Alexander and Hephaestion, although scholars have disagreed as to which is which. I believe that it's perfectly possible, maybe even likely, that Alexander and Hephaestion were "more than friends" at one point or another. In this way, my take is similar to Reames'. This made homosexual sex an awkward issue for the Greeks, because it was acceptable for a teen or young men to be sexually receptive, but a fully adult man was expected to only be sexually active.

To be penetrated was perceived to be unmanly. It was socially awkward for an adult man to have been sexually penetrated when he was younger, because it raised questions about his masculinity as a full adult. So the Greeks generally avoided talking directly about exactly what happened when an erastes got busy with his eromenos; looking too closely at that made them anxious. Consequently, many earlier scholars insisted either that this was a non-sexual relationship or that it involved non-penetrative forms of sex such as frottage which is scholar-speak for dry humping.

In theory, Greek men only had sex with younger, unmarried men. But in practice, things were probably more complicated than that. We also know that the Thebans and the Spartans expected their soldiers to form romantic and sexual relationships, because they would fight harder to impress their partners and to keep them alive. The elite Theban troops, the Sacred Band, were comprised of such partners. In other words, two adult Greek men may well have had a sexual relationship, despite the fact that such a relationship would violate the cultural norm.

alexander the great and hephaestion relationship tips

Far from being a shadowy thing, same-sex love was celebrated as a cultural ideal that even the great heroes and the gods engaged in. In fact, every major Greek god other than Ares is described as having a male lover.

The greatest warrior in Greek literature, Achilles, famously fights to avenge his dead companion Patroclus in The Iliad. Homer never explicitly describes the men as lovers, but by the Classical era in Greek culture roughly, BCthe two men were understood be erastes and eromenos, although there was a debate about which role was played by which man. In this image of Achilles tending the wounded Patroclus, the artist has depicted Achilles as the eromenos the beardless one Alexander So what about Alexander?

We know that he married three women, the Bactrian noblewoman Roxane, supposedly out of love, and the Persian princesses Stateria and Parysatis, supposedly for political reasons. Roxane gave him a son and miscarried a second child, so clearly they were having sex. He also had a son by a concubine Barsine. Thus in modern terms, he was not gay, but may have been bisexual.

His relationship with Bagoas is not well-detailed. Plutarch tells us that Bagoas won a dancing competition before Alexander, and the troops urged Alexander to kiss him, and another author describes Alexander as kissing Bagoas very passionately, to the applause of the troops.

It is clear that the two of them were extremely close throughout their lives. Several ancient authors claim that Alexander described Hephaestion as his alter ego, implying for ancient audiences that the two men enjoyed the deepest friendship possible.

But were they more than friends?

alexander the great and hephaestion relationship tips

Only one ancient author, the philosopher Diogenes of Sinope, explicitly says that the two men were lovers. The symbolism of that gesture is powerful and a strong suggestion that they saw themselves as having the same kind of relationship.

Hephaestion - Wikipedia

One possible answer is that there was the same uncertainty about them as about Achilles and Patroclus. Which one of them was the erastes? The idea that the greatest conqueror in the ancient world might have been the one getting penetrated would have been as shocking as it would be for a modern action hero in a film to be getting penetrated. But while Hephaestion was socially the inferior partner, he was still a full adult and a very important man, so he could not have been the receptive partner either.