Hephaestion (Greek: Ἡφαιστίων, Hēphaistiōn, ca. 356 BC324 BC), son of Amyntor, was a Macedonian aristocrat, the intimate companion, general, bodyguard of Alexander the Great.


The full history of Hephaestion's lineage is unknown, however, Jeanne Reames has suggested in that he descended from Athenian expatriates to Macedon. The most popular piece of evidence pointing to such a connection is in name-tracing. "Hephaestion" is the name of a temple overlooking the Agora, near the Athenian acropolis, a name which hardly appears at all in Macedon at this time period. The date of Hephaestion's birth is also unknown, but it has been assumed that he was similar in age to Alexander. When the two men first met is not certain; however, it is likely that Hephaestion shared Alexander's education in the village of Mieza with Aristotle as teacher, like other noble boys. Aristotle is known to have dedicated a volume of letters to him, but these are now lost. The philosopher Xenocrates also corresponded with Hephaestion.1

Hephaestion's education at Mieza makes the Athenian connection more unlikely, as the honour of sharing Alexander's education seems to have been given solely to young men from noble Macedonian families. However, if Hephaestion were descended from Athenians, he might still have been eligible to study at Mieza if his family had been naturalized as Macedonians.

Career and relationships

Hephaestion accompanied Alexander's campaign in Asia from the very beginning, fighting in the Companions Cavalry Unit. Robin Lane Fox has referred to Hephaestion as Alexander's alter ego. A favorite story holds that while passing through the city of Troy, Alexander honoured the sacred tomb of the hero Achilles and Hephaestion that of Achilles' close friend and lover, Patroclus.

After the Battle of Issus, Alexander and Hephaestion went to inspect the spoils of war, which included King Darius's baggage train, family and royal harem. At this interval Sisygambis, the Persian queen mother, allegedly mistook the taller Hephaestion for Alexander, who graciously excused her by with the affirmation that "he too is Alexander." The rhetoric of the phrase has caused its authenticity to be called into question. Alexander's name, after all, translates literally to "protector of man," and so this may or may not have been a literary pun on Arrian's part. Nevertheless, the incident is still regarded as a prime example of the public emotional intimacy between the two men.
Enlarge picture
Alexander the Great, left, and Hephaestion on the right.

Hephaestion was not a particularly gifted battlefield commander, and though he excelled at logistics he was more aristocrat than warrior. Hephaestion was also often involved in city-planning and bridge-building. During the India campaign Hephaestion again assumed military responsibilities in the vanguard, bridging rivers and leading one Companion squadron in the Battle of the Hydaspes River. At the siege of Peuceolatis, he was in sole command and successfully took the town after thirty days. Hephaestion may have been a gifted diplomat, as evidenced by his being repeatedly employed to negotiate with foreign leaders in India as well as with Persian aristocrats. Curtius calls Hephaestion "charming." The king which Hephaestion instated in Sidon enjoyed a popular reign. Hephaestion generally sided with Alexander concerning the adoption of Persian customs, specifically in the disastrous proskynesis affair.

After Philotas, son of Parmenion was implicated in an assassination attempt, he was tortured as part of interrogation by three men: Craterus, Hephaestion, and Parmenion's son-in-law Coenus. All three men subsequently rose in power. This incident also brought to power Erigyius of Mytilene, Perdiccas, and Leonnatus. The Companion Cavalry unit, formerly under Philotas's command, was divided between Hephaestion and Cleitus the Black.2 Before the India invasion and the crossing of the Hindu Kush mountains, in modern Afghanistan, Alexander made Hephaestion chiliarch, recognizing him as second in command. The responsibilities of the chiliarch put Hephaestion into opposition with Eumenes, the royal secretary. Shortly before Hephaestion's death, he and Eumenes quarrelled - specifically over the housing of a flute-player. Following Hephaestion's death, Eumenes was one of the first to dedicate arms to the dead man.

Towards the latter years of the campaign, Hephaestion's greatest rival for power had been the general Craterus. The two men came near to blows in India, and had to be separated. Craterus was eventually dispatched with a bulk of the army returning to Macedon to replace Antipater as regent, while Hephaestion remained in Persia.

Following the march through the Gedrosian desert, Hephaestion and others were awarded gold crowns (possibly for bravery).4 By this point, Hephaestion had become a somatophylax. Back in Susa, capital of the Persian Empire, Alexander married Darius's daughter Stateira and gave her younger sister, the princess Drypteis, as a wife to Hephaestion.

Death and funeral

In the autumn of 324 BC, Alexander's army was stationed in the city of Ecbatana (today called Hamadan) for the winter. Hephaestion fell sick during the games that were being held for the court and died a week later. Described symptoms are compatible with typhoid fever, but the possibility of poisoning was never ruled out. However, it is accepted by the majority of historian's today that he died of natural causes. Hephaestion's death deeply affected Alexander. Reportedly, Alexander responded to the death by shaving his head, cropping the manes of the army horses, cancelling all the festivities, and crucifying the attending doctor. He set out immediately for Babylon with the body, where fabulous funeral games were held. The oracle at Siwah, after being petitioned by Alexander for the correct way to honor Hephaestion, conferred divine hero status upon the dead man. Alexander planned an elaborate funeral for Hephaestion including a pyramid. The project was never completed, but the lion of Hamadan is said to have been part of the plan. It gradually became a symbol people touched in hope of fertility.

Many have found cause to link the deaths of Alexander and Hephaestion, especially as Alexander died within eight months following Hephaestion's demise.

The funeral pyre in Babylon that Alexander built Hephaestion cost 10,000 talents5 of Persian gold. As David G. Hogarth said:

''"...at Ecbatana there fell upon Alexander a stunning blow, the loss of Hephaestion. His intimate boyhood love, Hephaestion was gone, the congenial enthusiastic nature which had been so much more to Alexander than Ptolemy's sagacity or Nearchus' careful courage, the friend, more than a friend, and closer than a brother, who alone awoke a gentler emotion in the breast of the lonely Conqueror....

For there come, alike in discouragement and exaltation, to all men, however strong of body or brain, moments of craving, in which the soul gropes blindly for another soul; and the most strong, if he owns this need most rarely, feels it most imperious.''

Popular Media Representations

In Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004), the character of Hephaestion was portrayed by Jared Leto.


2 Arrian 3.27
4 Ibid.
5 Arrian 7.15


  • Arrian. The Campaigns of Alexander. Trans. Aubrey de Selincourt. London: Penguin Books Ltd. 1958.
  • Plutarch. Life of Alexander. http://classics.mit.edu/Plutarch/alexandr.html
  • Fox, Robin Lane. Alexander the Great. 1973. Rpt. London: Penguin Books Ltd. 2004.
  • Reames, Jeanne. Hephaistion Amyntoros: Eminence Grise at the Court of Alexander the Great. Diss. The Pennsylvania State University, c1998. (abstract)

Further reading

  • Borza, Eugene and Jeanne Reames. Some New Thoughts on the Death of Alexander the Great, The Ancient World 31.1 (2000) 1-9.
  • Bosworth, Albert Brian. Hephaistion. In: Simon Hornblower, Antony Spawforth (Hrsg.): The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3. Aufl., Oxford University Press, Oxford 1996, ISBN 0-19-866172-X.
  • Carney, Elizabeth D. Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Aristocracy. Dissertation, Duke University, 1975.
  • Heckel, Waldemar. Hephaistion. In: Ders.: The Marshals of Alexander's Empire. Routledge, London 1992, ISBN 0-415-05053-7.
  • Reames, Jeanne. An Atypical Affair? Alexander the Great, Hephaistion, and the Nature of Their Relationship. In: The Ancient History Bulletin 13.3 (1999), S. 81–96.
  • Reames, Jeanne. The Mourning of Alexander the Great, Syllecta Classica 12 (2001) 98-145.
  • Renault, Mary. The Nature of Alexander, Allen Lane, London, 1975, ISBN 0 7139 09366

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Amyntor refers to several people, mythological and historical.


  • Amyntor in Greek mythology is the son of Ormenus and king of Ormenium. He was the father of Phoenix and Astydamia, who bore Heracles a son Ctesippus. [1].

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Alexander III, the Great
Basileus of Macedon, Hegemon of the Hellenic League, Shah of Persia, Pharaoh of Egypt

Alexander fighting Persian king Darius III. From Alexander Mosaic, from Pompeii, Naples, Museo Archeologico Nazionale.
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Coordinates Coordinates:
Time zone: EET/EEST (UTC+2/3)
Elevation (min-max): 70 - 338 m (0 - 0 ft)
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Macedon or Macedonia (Greek Μακεδονία Makedonía
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For the butterfly genus, see Acropolis (genus).
Acropolis (Gr. acron, edge + polis, city) literally means the edge of a town or a high city.
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Mieza, "shrine of the Nymphs". Village in Ancient Macedon, where Aristotle taught the boy Alexander the Great. Home to Alexander's companion Peucestas.

Now the site of the modern village, "Náousa".

External links

  • Livius.org - Mieza

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Aristotle (Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great.
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Xenocrates (Ξενοκράτης) of Chalcedon (396–314 BC) was a Greek philosopher, mathematician, and scholarch or rector of the Academy from 339 to 314 BC.
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The Companions (Greek Εταίροι) were Alexander the Great's cavalry, the main offensive arm of his army, and also his elite guard. They would be used as the hammer, in conjunction with his Macedonian phalanx based infantry, which acted as the
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Robin Lane Fox (born 1946) is an English academic and historian, currently a Fellow of New College, Oxford, Lecturer in Ancient History at Exeter College, Oxford and University Reader in Ancient History.
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State Party  Turkey
Type Cultural
Criteria ii, iii, vi
Reference 849
Region Europe and North America

Inscription History
Inscription 1998  (22nd Session)
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Achilles (also Akhilleus or Achilleus; Ancient Greek: Άχιλλεύς) was a hero of the Trojan War, the central character and greatest warrior of Homer's Iliad
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Patroclus, or Pátroklos (Gr. Πάτροκλος “glory of the father”), son of Menoetius, was Achilles’ best friend and, according to some (including Ovid), his lover.
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Battle of Issus

Date November, 333 BC
Location Issus

Result Macedonian victory

Greek allies Achaemenid Persia
Alexander the Great Darius III
13,000 peltasts,[1]
22,000 hoplites,
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Darius III or Codomannus (c. 380–330 BC), Persian داریوش Dāriyūš [dɔːriˈuːʃ
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Sisygambis was the mother of Darius III of Persia, whose reign was ended in the wars of Alexander the Great.

At the Battle of Issus (333 BC), Darius' army was routed and the Persian king fled the field, leaving his Harem, including his wife Stateira, mother and children, to
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Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' (ca. 86 - after 146), known in English as Arrian, and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Greek historian, a public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the Roman period.
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Logistics is the art and science of managing and controlling the flow of goods, energy, information and other resources like products, services and people from the source of production to the marketplace.
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Battle of the Hydaspes River was a battle fought by Alexander the Great in 326 BC against the Indian king Porus (Pururava or Purushotthama in Sanskrit) on the Hydaspes River (now the Jhelum) in the Punjab region of ancient India, near Bhera now in Pakistan.
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This page is currently protected from editing until disputes have been resolved.
Protection is not an endorsement of the current [ version] ([ protection log]).
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Curtius is a Roman nomen shared by several notables.
  • Curtius Montanus
  • Curtius Rufus, legate ca 47, proconsul
  • Quintus Curtius Rufus, historian
  • The semi-legendary individual for whom the Lacus Curtius was named, variously Marcus, Gaius or Mettius Curtius.

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Sidon, Zidon or Saïda, (Arabic صيدا Ṣaydā
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Proskynesis, (Greek προσκύνησις) formed from the Ancient Greek words pros and kuneo
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Philotas (in Greek, Φιλώτας, d. October 330 BC) was the eldest son of Parmenion, Alexander's most experienced and talented general.
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Parmenion (also Parmenio) (in Greek Παρμενίων, ca. 400 BC - Ecbatana, 330 BC) was a Macedonian general in the service of Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great.
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Craterus (ca. 370 BC - 321 BC, Greek: Κρατερός) was a Macedonian general under Alexander the Great and one of the Diadochi.

He was the son of a Macedonian nobleman named Alexander.
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Coenus (in Greek Koινoς; died 326 BC), a son of Polemocrates and son-in-law of Parmenion, was one of the ablest and most faithful generals of Alexander the Great in his eastern expedition.
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Erigyius (in Greek Eριγυιoς; died 328 BC), a Mytilenaean, son of Larichus, was an officer in Alexander the Great's army. He had been driven into banishment by Philip II, king of Macedon, because of his faithful attachment to Alexander, and
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