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In 2004, Oliver Stone released his epic movie, Alexander, chronicling the life of one of histories most famous leaders. Whether or not you enjoyed the movie starring Colin Farrell, Angela Jolie and Anthony Hopkins, the story of Alexander the Great is of enduring interest because of his spectacular accomplishments.

By 22 Alexander the Great was already one of history's greatest military intellects but by 33 he was dead. And to this day mystery surrounds his death.

What made Alexander great? With only 50,000 troops, the 22 year old began his decade long conquest by advancing into Persia or present day Iran. In time, the greek commander conquered much of what was then the civilized world.

Alexander believed in a vision of a single global culture - but his dream died with him. Why did this fearless, young warrior die so suddenly? We trace the days before his death.

In 324BC, Alexander returned from a successful campaign to Babylon which today is south of the Iraqi city of Baghdad. He was attending a funeral when his companions reported ominous omens suggesting Alexander shouldn't return to Babylon or he would suffer.

Refusing to listen, he returned and developed a fever that became severe. Alexander was able to stay lucid, meet with his generals until they found him speechless, yet seemingly able to recognize them and nod as they bid him farewell. Ten days from the start of his fever.. Alexander died not yet 33 years old.

It's a challenge to piece together the many accounts of his death. Speculations include advanced alcoholic cirrhosis because Alexander was a heavy drinker but the symptoms simply do not support this. Others speculate he was poisoned but that's not supported either.

Most likely he was killed by an infectious agent - possibly typhoid fever. Records show Alexander had a fever that came on slowly and increased gradually coupled with a loss of speech. Patients with typhoid fever usually die of intestinal hemorrhage or perforation and in the reports Alexander suffered a sharp abdominal pain prior to his fever.

We may never know the true cause of Alexander's death, but having historical records gives us an educated guess until we can get physical evidence to pinpoint his exact cause of death. What's certain is had Alexander the Great lived - history books would have to be rewritten.

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For more information...

Livius is a website where articles on ancient history can be found. Livius is a website on ancient history. It is essentially a one-man endeavor that has been maintained since 1996 by Jona Lendering from Amsterdam, Holland. He read history at Leiden University (where he graduated in 1993), specialized in Mediterranean culture at the Amsterdam Free University (until 1996), and worked at excavations in Holland and Greece. After teaching methodology and theory at the Free University, he worked for some time as an archivist for the Dutch government. He is currently a freelance teacher (ancient and Dutch history) and writer.For more information....

This site is of Putarch's lives in a modern English edition, abridged and annotated by Wilmot H. McCutchen. There are links to additional pages that include15 Ancient Greek Heroes.

Alexander the Great on the web contains an extensive list of resources about Alexander the Great, including the Oliver Stone movie.

A site from Washington State University about Alexander the Great. Here...

 
 

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