Friday, August 13, 2021

Alexander’s Mass Wedding in Persia

After conquering the Persian Empire, Alexander the Great conducted a mass wedding in the Persian city of Susa in 324 BC. The purpose of the mass wedding was to mingle the Macedonian and Persian bloodlines and unite the two cultures.

Eighty of Alexander's generals took Persian brides. Alexander himself took a Persian bride—a lady called Stateira (also known as Barsine), the eldest daughter of Darius III and his wife, also named Stateira. In 327 BC, Alexander had married Roxana, the daughter of Oxyartes, Chief of Bactria. Persian law allowed men to have multiple wives. In the same ceremony, Alexander took a third wife, Stateira’s cousin Parysatis, the daughter of Darius’s predecessor Artaxerxes III. The younger sister of Stateira (Darius’s second daughter) was given by Alexander to his close friend and favorite general, Hephaestion.

By marrying the daughters of Darius III and Artaxerxes III, Alexander was identifying himself with the Persian royal family and securing his position in Persia. He could now claim to be the son and the son-in-law of both Persian emperors.

Alexander’s mass wedding ended in mass divorce—clearly these marriages were not a match made in heaven. After his death in 323 BC, his generals, except Hephaestion, who died before Alexander, and Seleucus, divorced their Persian wives. Alexander’s three wives suffered a gruesome fate. Roxana was pregnant when Alexander died. Since she was expected to produce a legitimate heir to Alexander, she was protected by the Macedonian generals. Stateira and Parysatis were murdered in 323 BC on her command. 

A boy, Alexander Aegus, was born to Roxana in 323 BC. But she lost the power struggle. She could not organize Alexander Aegus’s accession to the throne of the empire that Alexander had conquered. She and the 14-year-old Aegus were poisoned by Alexander’s generals in 309 BC.

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