Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hephaestion, the lover of Alexander the Great

Earlier this month, announcement was made by some Greek archeologists that the individual buried in the mound discovered in Greece last year in Amphipolis could be Hephaestion, Alexander the Great's lover.

Very few sculptures seem to exist about him. 

The 2 heads below, located in the Getty Villa Museum, show Alexander on the left, and Hephaestion on the right. This head was part of a full-length statue. According to the Getty Museum, some traits of this head has changed over time : ''A metal ribbon or diadem once circled the head, although only a shallow groove remains today. The head was also re-carved in antiquity, with the hair shortened and the lower eyelids altered."

Alexander the Great & Hephaestion - Getty Villa Museum, Malibu, California USA

Hephaestion was described as very handsome, taller than Alexander.
He is also sculpted on this bas-relief, Hephaestion is on the left.

And probably here riding his horse on Alexander's sarcophagus as well, as seen below.  This sarcophagus is considered the exceptional piece of the Istambul Archeology Museum (Turkey).

Check this interesting video.

A large head in bronze is reportedly displayed in the Prado Museum (Madrid - Spain).

Regarding the discovery :
During several months, experts explored the surrounding, previous walls, floors etc. and revealed beautiful mosaics, huge sphinxes and statues. As well as bones, which are currently being analyzed.

They also found the monogram of Hephaestion, and inscriptions saying : “I, Antigonus received construction material for the erection of a monument in honor of Hephaestion.”

Was Hephaestion gay (1) ?

According to Guy MacLean Rogers, professor of history at Wellesley College and the author of “Alexander: The Ambiguity of Greatness,
” Modern sexual categories like homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual did not exist at the time. “In ancient Greece, acting upon a desire (sent by the god Eros) for another man or woman, simply did not lock any man or woman into a sexual camp,” Rogers wrote. 

 ''Whatever the nature of their relationship, when Hephaestion died in western Iran in October 324 B.C., Alexander mourned his loss by shaving his own hair, not eating for days, executing Hephaestion’s doctor, and commissioning an expensive funeral pyre. Alexander himself would die eight months later, having built an empire that stretched from modern Greece to India.''

Below is the map showing the impressive extent of Alexander's campagns and empire, covered with Hephaestion as his general and lover.
Was Hephaestion gay (2) ? 

Jay Spears summarizes it this way:
''2,300 years ago men in Greece had wives, mistresses, and lovers of either gender. Alexander's father, Philip of Macedon, had male lovers and also many wives, a problem when half-brothers would fight to the death over the throne. Alexander refused to marry and beget an heir when he left Macedon to conquer the world. 

Alexander loved his boyhood friend, Hephaestion. Both brilliant boys, they were tutored by Aristotle, with whom Hephaestion kept up a lifelong correspondence. Alexander and Hephaestion felt like the two heroes Achilles and Patroclus, from The Iliad, which was Alexander's favorite book."
Hephaestion drawing by AmandaTurnage
Some biography elements :

"Hephaestion started off as a regular cavalry soldier - Alexander did not play favorites - and rose through the ranks on merit and carried out the most important military and administrative assignments. Later, Alexander also fell in love with a courtier from the conquered Persian court, scandalous not because the courtier was male, but because he was Persian -- most Greeks thought that other people were barbarians. Alexander married a princess from a faraway mountain kingdom of Asia, but it's unclear if he loved her because their only child was born much later. He also married the defeated Persian king's daughter, a purely political marriage, and Hephaestion married her sister, since he and Alexander wanted their children to be cousins."

"After they conquered Asia, Hephaestion died suddenly of typhus. Alexander's grief was monumental. He asked the oracles if Hephaestion was a god (back then people could become gods by achievement) and was told that Hephaestion was indeed a hero, a lesser type of god. Now Alexander, who had no doubt about his own divinity, knew that he would meet his beloved again in the Blessed Realm, where gods and heroes live. He got his first wife pregnant and died himself without waiting for the child to be born, all within eight months of Hephaestion's death, just as Achilles had followed Patroclus in the Iliad. He was 32 years old."

Sources and to go further:
The second Achille
Gay Heroes
Le Point