Alexander and hephaestion relationship

Hephaestion - Livius

alexander and hephaestion relationship

Whether Alexander's relationship with the slightly older Hephaestion was ever of the sort that once dared not speak its name is not certain, but it is likely enough. Alexander kissing Bagoas. More significantly, his relationship with Hephaestion ( Jared Leto) is shown as being more than platonic, although. Alexander and Hephaestion were possible lovers,and their tutor,Aristotle, described their relationship as "one soul abiding two.

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They understood that many men occasionally had sex with other men or with teenage boys, but this did not mean these men did not also have sex with women. A man could easily have a wife or concubine and a boyfriend. Some authors such as Plato argued that the most meaningful forms of love could only occur between men, and that real love could not exist between a man and his wife, in part because she was likely to be uneducated and therefore could not act as an emotional companion.

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When the Greeks spoke about same-sex attractions, they most commonly did so through the lens of the erastes-eromenos relationship. The erastes was both a sexual lover and a mentor to the eromenos, someone who helped usher him into adult male society through socialization.

alexander and hephaestion relationship

An erastes kissing his eromenos But this was a complex relationship, because in the Greek world, sex was an expression of power relationships at least as much as it was an expression of romantic feelings. A man was expected to have sex with those who were beneath him socially. His wife was beneath him because she was a woman. His slaves were beneath him because they were his property.

Male and female prostitutes were beneath him because they were lower class.

alexander and hephaestion relationship

And his eromenos was beneath him because the eromenos was not a full adult. But the eromenos would eventually reach adulthood and become a full citizen.

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.

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.

Anatolia Hephaestion is first mentioned at the very beginning of the histories of Alexander's Persian campaign, when the invaders reached Troy May He is never introduced as 'a friend' or 'a companion' of the king; he is simply mentioned, which suggests that the historians assumed that everybody knew Hephaestion's position as Alexander's lover. We don't have to introduce Juliet once Romeo is on the stage. At Troy, Alexander venerated the ancient heroes. It is said that he went to the tomb of his legendary ancestor Achilles and that Hephaestion sacrificed to Achilles' friend Patroclus.

Again, this suggests that Hephaestion was Alexander's lover, because in the fourth century, it was widely believed that the two legendary heroes had been lovers. Homer states that they used to spend the night separately - a remark that is only meaningful when it was already taken for granted that the two were lovers.

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If the parallel between Achilles and Patroclus on the one hand and Alexander and Hephaestion on the other hand was really perfect, Hephaestion was - like Patroclus - older than his lover.

Since Alexander was born in the summer ofwe may assume that his friend was born in, say, After the visit to Troy, Hephaestion disappears for some time from our sources. This suggests that he was with Alexander and did not occupy commands worth mentioning. It is only after the battle of Issus November that we reencounter Hephaestion in our sources, in a famous anecdote. After the Macedonian victory, queen Statira was captured. She went to Alexander and kneeled down in front of Hephaestion, thinking that he was the king.

alexander and hephaestion relationship

Alexander saved her face by saying "Don't worry, mother. Everywhere, he is Alexander too". Detail of the Alexander sarcophagus, probably Hephaestion It is possible that Hephaestion is depicted on the Alexander sarcophagus. If the identification is correct, Hephaestion fought on horseback during the battle of Issus. The Levant Alexander was now twenty-three and Hephaestion may have been twenty-four or older. According to the Macedonian and Greek ideas about love and sexuality, the time for homosexual affairs was over.

The young men had to marry. Hephaestion could no longer be Alexander's lover, and had to find a new role, especially since the king accepted a Persian mistress, Barsine. However, the friendship between the two men remained very close.

Hephaestion was sent on a diplomatic mission to Sidonwhere he had to appoint a new king. He chose a man named Abdalonymus. This was not a very important task, but it should be noted that he had not had earlier assignments. During the next year, he commanded the navy of the Phoenician towns that had sided with the conquerors; this meant that he had to supply the main force.

This was a more important job. It should be noted that these assignments are not mentioned in our most important source, Arrian.

During Alexander's stay in Egypt first halfHephaestion was approached by a friend of the Athenian politician Demosthenesan enemy of the Macedonians.

The envoy said that he hoped that Hephaestion would put in a good word for Demosthenes with Alexander. It is unclear whether Hephaestion was persuaded, or, if he was, what was the result.


On October 31,the Macedonians and Persians fought a large battle at Gaugamela in northern Mesopotamia. Hephaestion was now one of the members of Alexander's bodyguardthe somatophylakes.

In fact, these seven men were not real bodyguards but adjutants. During this bloody battle, he was wounded in an arm. The Philotas Affair Again, Hephaestion disappears from our sources for some time, except for an undated assignment as guard and protector of Persian captives. He becomes "visible" again in Octoberwhen several soldiers conspired against Alexander.