Disease, not conflict, ended the reign of Alexander the Great
As historical whodunits go, it is one of the most compelling of them all. Alexander the Great, overlord of an empire stretching from Greece to India, was suddenly and inexplicably cut off in his prime at just 32.
Over the centuries, suspicion has fallen on any number of potential poisoners, from Alexander's own wife and illegitimate half-brother to his generals and even the royal cup-bearer. But now a British historian believes he has finally solved the mystery: the killer of the greatest warlord in human history was nothing more than a humble mosquito.
Andrew Chugg, a respected authority on Alexander and author of a number of books on the subject, claims he has unearthed new evidence to suggest that the Macedonian conqueror died of malaria, contracted two weeks before his death while sailing in the marshes outside Babylon.
comments powered by Disqus
Jim Williams - 8/10/2005
The article is even weaker than that. Alexander probably had a malarial attack in 333, a decade before his death in 323. While he may have contracted a new strain, it may have been a relapse, he may also have died as a result of his binge drinking, his chronic alcoholism may have made him more susceptible to a return of the earlier malaria, his many wounds, especially the one that nearly killed him in India, may have killed him, heartbreak (his lover Hephaistion had recently died) may have weakened his will to live, or he may have been poisoned. This is old news, indeed, and settles nothing!
Michael Beatty - 8/9/2005
Is this news? Mary Renault's novel, "The Persian Boy," published back in the 1950s, is the story of a Persian eunuch who becomes Alexander's lover. The novel climaxes with a death scene for Alexander, who is depicted as having died of a virulent disease.
Props to Andrew Chugg for having specified that the disease was malaria, but the notion that Alexander was done in by a microbe is not new.
- Five Things You Need to Know to be a Better Digital Preservationist
- Book on Losing British Generals Wins American History Prize
- Stanford scholar explores civil rights revolution's positive impact on the South's economy
- Harvard Historian Nancy Koehn on Amazon's Tentacular Reach
- Q&A with historian and author Nick Turse