The Graham Phillips Website

Alexander and Barsine

In November 333 BC the 24-year-old Alexander had already conquered much of what is now Turkey.  With an army of 30,000 men, at the battle of Issus (see map of Alexander’s campaigns), he defeated a Persian force twice that size.  The Persian king Darius III had fled and his family were captured, as was Barsine, a friend of the Persian queen.  Although she was a widow, eight years his senior, with a daughter of ten, Alexander seems to have fallen immediately in love with Barsine and for the next few years she remained his concubine.
Alexander and Roxanne
In 327 BC Barsine bore Alexander a child.  However, no sooner was the boy Heracles born than Alexander met the much younger Roxanne, a beautiful 16-year-old princess from northern Afghanistan.  The king paid Roxanne the honor he had always denied Barsine by marrying her and making her his queen.  Barsine and her child left the court to return home and did not see Alexander again until a few weeks before he died.   His campaign over, he had summoned her to Babylon so that he could see his four-year-old son for the first time in years.  As his only son, Heracles was still the closest thing he had to an heir.  However, Alexander now had two official wives and either of them could bear the king a more legitimate successor at any time.  As it might prove to be years before Barsine would be so close to Alexander again, had she seized the opportunity to take both revenge on her former lover and secure the throne for her child?
Right: Alexander captures the Persian royal family and meets Barsine.
(Mary Evans Picture Library)
Right: The marriage of Alexander and Roxanne.  Was this the motive for Alexander’s murder? (Mary Evans Picture Library)