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|Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 7.14
At Ecbatana, Alexander offered a sacrifice, just as he was accustomed to do after any success, and held athletic and musical contests, and there were also drinking bouts with his companions. At this time, Hephaestion fell ill; on the seventh day of his illness, they say that the stadium was full, as there was an athletic competition for boys on that day; when Alexander was told that Hephaestion was in a bad way, he quickly left to go to him, but he was no longer living by the time he arrived.
Writers have given very different accounts of Alexander’s grieving; they all agreed that his grief was very great, but there are different versions of what he actually did, dependent on the goodwill or envy each felt towards Hephaestion or Alexander himself. For those who recorded his reckless excesses seem to me to consider that whatever Alexander did or said in his great grief for the friend to him of all men either adds to his glory or bring shame upon him, on the grounds that such behaviour was not fitting for a king or for Alexander.
Some say that for the greater part of that day he flung himself down beside the body of his friend groaning and did not wish to be separated from him, until he was forcibly removed by his companions; in other accounts, he lay beside the body all day and all night;
other writers say he
strung up the doctor Glaucias, either because of the wrong drug being given or because he saw Hephaestion drinking heavily and allowed him to continue.
I think it is likely that Alexander cut his hair over the body, especially because he had been eager to emulate Achilles ever since boyhood.
Some accounts add that Alexander himself for some time drove the chariot on which the body was carried, though this does not seem credible to me.
There are others who write that he ordered the Temple of Asclepius at Ecbatana to be utterly destroyed, a barbarian act in no way appropriate for Alexander, but more in keeping with the arrogance of Xerxes in divine matters and the chains which it is said he hurled into the Hellespont to punish it. There is another story written in the history is which seems to me quite plausible, that, as Alexander was riding to Babylon, he was met on the road by many embassies from Greece, amongst them some from Epidaurus; they got from Alexander what they asked for and he gave to them an offering to take to Asclepius, saying, “Asclepius has not treated me fairly, as he did not save for me the companion who was as dear to me as my own life.”
According to most historians, Alexander ordered that Hephaestion should always receive rites appropriate for a hero, and some say that he sent to the oracle of Ammon to ask the god whether he allowed Hephaestion to receive sacrifices as a god, but that permission was not granted.
These details can be found in all the accounts, that Alexander did not taste food or take any care of his body for two days after the death of Hephaestion, but lay groaning or in a grief-filled silence.
He ordered a funeral pyre costing 10,000 talents to be prepared for him in Babylon, and some claim the cost was even greater.
It was announced that there should be public mourning throughout the whole barbarian land. Many of Alexander’s companions out of respect for him dedicated themselves and their weapons to Hephaestion. Eumenes was the first to do this, a man who had recently quarrelled with Hephaestion; he did this so that Alexander would not think he was happy at the death of Hephaestion. Alexander never appointed anyone else in place of Hephaestion as commander of the companion cavalry, so that the name of Hephaestion might continue to be attached to the battalion; it was still called Hephaestion’s and the standard made on his instructions was still carried before it.
Alexander intended to hold athletic and musical contests, which were to be much more remarkable in the number of contestants and in the money lavished on them than any previous contests; he prepares 3000 competitors in total. A little later, it is said, these men competed at the tomb of Alexander.