The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter XVIII

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The Anabasis of Alexander
by Arrian, translated by E. J. Chinnock
Book VII, Chapter XVIII. Predictions of Alexander's Death
1895621The Anabasis of AlexanderBook VII, Chapter XVIII. Predictions of Alexander's DeathE. J. ChinnockArrian


Predictions of Alexander's Death.

Moreover Aristobulus has recorded the following story. Apollodorus the Amphipolitan, one of Alexander's Companions, was general of the army which the king left with Mazaeus, the viceroy of Babylon.[1] When he joined his forces with the king's on the return of the latter from India, and observed that he was severely punishing the viceroys who had been placed over the several countries, he sent to his brother Peithagoras and asked him to divine about his safety. For Peithagoras was a diviner who derived his knowledge of the future from the inspection of the inward parts of animals. This man sent back to Apollodorus, inquiring of whom he was so especially afraid, as to wish to consult divination. The latter wrote back: "The king himself and Hephaestion." Peithagoras therefore in the first place offered sacrifice with reference to Hephaestion. But as there was no lobe visible upon the liver of the sacrificial victim,[2] he stated this fact in a letter, which he sealed and sent to his brother from Babylon to Ecbatana, explaining that there was no reason at all to be afraid of Hephaestion, for in a short time he would be out of their way. And Aristobulus says that Apollodorus received this epistle only one day before Hephaestion died. Then Peithagoras again offered sacrifice in respect to Alexander, and the liver of the victim consulted in respect to him was also destitute of a lobe. He therefore wrote to Apollodorus to the same purport about Alexander as about Hephaestion. Apollodorus did not conceal the information sent to him, but told Alexander, in order the more to show his good-will to the king, if he urged him to be on his guard lest some danger might befall him at that time. And Aristobulus says that the king commended Apollodorus, and when he entered Babylon, he asked Peithagoras what sign he had met with, to induce him to write thus to his brother. He said that the liver of the victim sacrificed for him was without a lobe. When Alexander asked what the sign portended, he said that it was a very disastrous one. The king was so far from being angry with him, that he even treated him with greater respect, for telling him the truth without any disguise. Aristobulus says that he himself heard this story from Peithagoras; and adds that the same man acted as diviner for Perdiccas and afterwards for Antigonus, and that the same sign occurred for both. It was verified by fact; for Perdiccas lost his life leading an army against Ptolemy,[3] and Antigonus was killed in the battle fought by him at Ipsus against Seleucus and Lysimachus.[4] Also concerning Calanus, the Indian philosopher, the following story has been recorded. When he was going to the funeral pyre to die, he gave the parting salutation to all his other companions; but he refused to approach Alexander to give him the salutation, saying lie would meet him at Babylon and there salute him. At the time indeed this remark was treated with neglect; but afterwards, when Alexander had died at Babylon, it came to the recollection of those who had heard it, and they thought forsooth that it was a divine intimation of Alexander's approaching end.

  1. See Arrian, iii. 16 supra.
  2. Cf. Philostratus (Life of Apollonius, viii. 7, 5).
  3. Perdiccas was killed by his own troops at Memphis, b.c. 321. See Diodorus, xviii. 36.
  4. The battle of Ipsus was fought b.c. 301. See Plutarch (Demetrius, 29).