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Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction$
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A. B. Bosworth and E. J. Baynham

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198152873

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198152873.001.0001

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Hephaestion’s Pyre and the Royal Hunt of Alexander

Hephaestion’s Pyre and the Royal Hunt of Alexander

(p.167) 6 Hephaestion’s Pyre and the Royal Hunt of Alexander
Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction

Olga Palagia

Oxford University Press

After the death of Alexander the Great of Macedon, a series of monuments depicting him hunting a lion along with one or more companions began to appear on the Greek mainland. In Asia during that time, lions were symbols of kingship. This chapter discusses the history, meaning, and purpose of lion hunts in relation to the Successors' power struggles in the last decades of the 4th century. It argues that the lion-hunt iconography was borrowed from the east to emphasise the participants' intimacy with the king and that it was used by the Successors in their propaganda war to confer legitimacy on their aspirations to rule Alexander's empire. The echo of Alexander's royal hunts, especially of the Vergina fresco with shades of Dionysus, lingers in the hunting iconography. The controversy surrounding Hephaestion's funeral pyre, described by Diodorus, is also discussed.

Keywords:   Alexander the Great, lion hunts, funeral pyre, Hephaestion, Diodorus, lions, hunting, royal hunts, Vergina fresco, iconography

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