Why Alexander said while dying: “To the best” and not: “To the best Greek”? Is it because he had a Persian family and allies from India?

By Sunil Kumar

Most accounts of Alexander and what he said are reconstructions from medieval romances. The man had become an icon; larger than life in the imagination of the world of the time largely due to his popularity in Europe and its subsequent impact on the historiography of the world.

A remarkable fact read somewhere recently; there is no archaeological evidence to indicate that Alexander ever existed. Primary sources; as in people who knew him and their accounts are largely missing; save for inscriptions and fragments; and the major people historians rely on are Arrian, Plutarch and Strabo to name a few; who lived centuries after the man supposedly lived.

Now; his final words are disputed. Many different accounts exist; and according to a Babylonian astronomical diary, Alexander died between the evening of June 10 and the evening of June 11, 323 B.C. Macedonians wept and subjects of the Achaemenid empire shaved their heads.

Sisygambis; mother of the defeated Persian king Darius III who Alexander referred to as “mother” and whose granddaughter Stateira II became the second wife of the Macedonian was distraught at his death and is supposed to have died of grief a few days later.

Now; his first wife Roxana was a major player in the wars of succession among the Macedonians/Greeks that broke out after his death. She was not Persian; but Bactrian(an area roughly in present-day northern Afghanistan).

As for Indian allies; if the statement you’ve mentioned is true; Alexander is unlikely to have thought about them when he drew his final breath. Any man is more attached to his family and compatriots especially a military mercenary like Alexander.

Also; he hardly had any Indian allies left. The Indus valley river kingdoms which he had plundered on the way back had fallen to the Mauryans; and when Seleucus Nicator; a successor after his death waged war against Chandragupta Maurya; he was defeated and even had to marry a daughter to the Indian king in order to secure peace.

A remarkable story among the Greeks was the Hindu Naga/Jain mystic Calanos; a philosopher from the scholarly centre of Taxila; who the Greeks called gymnosophists.

His actual name is supposed to be Kalyanamitta; and he was representative of the disdain for worldly accomplishments that characterized Indian spirituality and puzzled the materialistic invaders. Alexander is supposed to have been fascinated by him and persuaded him to remain at his side as a teacher representing “eastern honesty and freedom”.

Calanos apparently died of self-immolation by his own will and choosing; and foretold the death of Alexander with his last words to him being the enigmatic “We shall meet again in Babylon”. Unflinchingly; Calanos had repeated Vedic hymns; not daunted at the prospect of fire and donated all his possessions to his Greek disciple. Most of the Greeks were puzzled at his statement which they thought was crazy; but realized its true meaning when Alexander died in Babylon.

There are a lot of moral fables also concerning Alexander’s last words which are supposed to be more of an instructive nature; and there are more stories about life lessons from his final words about the impermanence of worldly achievement circulating in India.

Anyways; even if what is asked in the question is true; as to his last words being “To The Best”; it could simply mean that Alexander wanted a meritorious succession and not battles that were looming on the horizon and actually happened between multiple factions post his death.

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