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Alexander's Last Plans


Detail of the Alexander mosaic, found in Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples (Italy). The Greek author Diodorus of Sicily describes the last plans of  Alexander the Great in chapter 18.4.1-6 of his Library of World history.

The translation below was made by M.M. Austin.

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Now it happened that Craterus, who was one of the leading men, had been sent ahead to Cilicia by Alexander with the soldiers discharged from the army, some 6,000 in number. At the same time he had received written instructions which the king had given him to carry out; but after the death of Alexander the successors decided not to implement what had been decided.

For when Perdiccas found among the king's memoranda plans for the completion of Hephaestion's funeral monument, a very expensive project, as well as the king's other numerous and ambitious plans, which involved enormous expenditure, he decided that it was most advantageous to have them canceled. So as not to give the impression that he was personally responsible for detracting from the king's glory, he submitted the decision on the matter to the common assembly of the Macedonians

The following were the largest and most remarkable of the plans.

  • It was intended to build 1,000 warships larger than triremes in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia and Cyprus for the expedition against the Carthaginians and the other inhabitants of the coastal area of Africa, Iberia and the neighboring coasts as far as Sicily; to build a coastal road in Africa as far as the Pillars of Heracles, and, as required by such a large expedition, to build harbors and shipyards at suitable places;
  • to build six expensive temples at a cost of 315 ton silver each (the temples just mentioned were to be built at Delos, Delphi and Dodona, and in Macedonia there was to be a temple of Zeus at Dion, one of Artemis Tauropolus at Amphipolis, and at Cyrnus one of Athena);
  • in addition, to settle cities and transplant populations from Asia to Europe and vice versa from Europe to Asia, to bring the largest continents through intermarriage and ties of kinship to a common harmony and feeling of friendship.
  • Likewise there was to be built at Troy a temple of Athena which could never be excelled in size by any other.
  • A tomb for his father Philip was to be constructed which would be as large as the greatest pyramids in Egypt, which some reckon among the Seven Wonders of the World.
When these plans had been read out, the Macedonians, although they approved highly of Alexander, nevertheless saw that the plans were extravagant and difficult to achieve, and they decided not to carry out any of those that have been mentioned.
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