DEATH OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT
ALEXANDER now went back to Babylon, where he married
Roxana, a Persian princess, giving her sister's hand
to his intimate friend Hephæstion. This wedding was
celebrated with great pomp, for eighty Macedonian
officers took Persian wives on the same day.
The feasting for the weddings went on for many days,
and the revelry was carried to such a shameful excess,
that Hephæstion actually drank himself to death.
In token of sorrow, Alexander built him a fine tomb,
had him buried with all the magnificence possible, and
even decreed that he should henceforth be worshiped as
a god. In this folly he was upheld by the priests, who
were now ready to grant his every wish, and were always
filling his mind with their senseless flatteries.
 Alexander then fell into his old habits more than ever.
He had again assumed all the pomp of an Eastern king,
and sat on a wonderful golden throne. Over his head
was the golden vine that had formerly belonged to the
first Darius. Its leaves were of emeralds, while its
grapes were clusters of fine carbuncles.
This vine had been given to a Persian king by
Crœsus, the wealthy ruler of Lydia, and was considered one of
the most precious treasures which the young conqueror
But in spite of all Alexander's successes, he was not
nearly so happy as he used to be when only king of
Macedon. He no longer enjoyed the fine health which
had helped him to bear the greatest hardships, and,
weakened by over eating and drinking, he soon fell
The doctors crowded around his bed, doing their best to
save him, but they soon saw that he would die. When
the Macedonian soldiers heard this, they were beside
themselves with grief, and one and all insisted upon
seeing their beloved leader once more.
Death of Alexander.
Silently and sadly they filed past his bed, gazing upon
the dying face which they had seen so bright and full
of life a short time before. As most of the soldiers
were older than their king, they had never expected to
outlive him; and every one said that it was sad to die
thus, at thirty-three, when master of nearly all the
Just before he died, some one begged Alexander to name
his successor. He hesitated for a moment, then drew
his signet ring from his finger, gave it to
Perdiccas,  his principal general, and whispered that the strongest
among them should have the throne.
Alexander's death was mourned by all, for in spite of
his folly and excesses, he was generally beloved. Even
Sisygambis, the Persian queen whom he had taken captive
a few years before, shed many tears over his remains,
and declared she had lost a protector who had always
treated her as kindly as if he had been her own son.
The conqueror's body was laid in a golden coffin, and
carried in state to Alexandria, the city he had founded
at the mouth of the Nile. Here a fine tomb was built
by order of Ptolemy, one of Alexander's generals, who
said that his dead master also should be worshiped as a
Ptolemy wanted the body to remain in Egypt because an
oracle had said that he who buried Alexander would be
master of his kingdom.