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The Loves of Alexander the Great – Statiera II, Roxana, and Barsine

By Yona Williams    8/8/08

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Continuing the loves of Alexander the Great, you will encounter two of his wives – one of which produced him a son and a lover that may or may not have given birth to a son while Alexander was still alive.  
Barsine

As the daughter of Artabazus, Barsine was a noble Persian that was married to Memnon – the commander of the Greek mercenaries that worked for the Persian king, Darius III. This was around the same time that Alexander the Great invaded Persia in 334 BC and was successful in winning the Battle of the Granicus River. After Memnon's death, there are several ancient tales that show a love affair between her and Alexander. It is said that he held grand banquets, where he soon fell in love with Barsine – who was his captive at the time. It was her beauty that surely did him in. The two had a son together – named Heracles.

While the story sounds believable, there are historians that find it difficult to fully swallow. Heracles would serve as the only child born when Alexander was still alive. At the time, it was highly unlikely that Alexander would have ignored his son, but it is quite curious that the first time he is mentioned in record is 12 years after the death of his father. Surely, the Macedonian army and any successors would have been interested in the boy. However, it is a claim to the throne that the boy's existence is made known. It seems that he played a fleeting role in succession battles and then disappeared. Some believe that a romance between Barsine and Alexander was created for the benefit of proving his parentage.

Stateira II

The daughter of Stateira I and Darius III of Persia was also connected to Alexander in love. She was captured by Macedonian forces alongside the rest of her family during the Battle of Issus, which marked one of Darius' defeats. While she was originally given to Mazaeus (who died in 328 BC), she married Alexander the Great instead at Susa in 324 BC. The wedding ceremony was something to talk about, as many of Alexander's officers also took other noble Persians as their own. When Alexander died, it was Roxana (another wife) that ordered the murder of Stateira II and her sister in 323 BC at Babylon. Cruelly, their bodies were tossed into a well filled with hungry cannibals.

Roxana

The ancient historians also enjoyed writing about Alexander's marriage to Roxana, who was often referred to as 'one of the most beautiful women in Asia.' The marriage between the two was heavily built upon politics. During a wedding feast held in their honor, they shared a loaf of bread – following Turkestan customs. It is said that he used his sword to slice the bread. He viewed Roxana as one of the fairest prizes in the land and felt great passion for her. He also had a plan to raise her to the position of his consort. We learn that Roxana accompanies Alexander to India and gave birth to a son that they named Alexander (becoming the IV) – six months after his father passed away.

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