An inspirational story of Alexander The Great as his last words

by Devang Vibhakar on February 9, 2009

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in Articles

There is very instructive incident involving the life of Alexander, the great Macedonian king. Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms, was returning home. On the way, he fell ill and it took him to his death bed. With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his conquests, his great army, his sharp sword and all his wealth were of no consequence.

He now longed to reach home to see his mother’s face and bid her his last adieu. But, he had to accept the fact that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland. So, the mighty conqueror lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. But no one dare bring the question to their lips.

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure any body. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell People that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

Alexander’s last words:  “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

With these words, the king closed his eyes. Soon he let death conquer him and breathed his last.

——

Note: Received this beautiful and inspiration story in a forwarded email.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

1 ali August 29, 2010 at 12:52 pm

If each one of us follow Alexander the great’s last wish, this world would turn paradise. But the misfortune of history is that nobody learns from history.

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2 Kiki September 9, 2010 at 11:50 am

just small correction to the author wrong interpretation in his text ,, Alexander is Macedonian King, king of Macedonian impaire,, he didn’t have nothing in common with the greeks…

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3 Ali September 10, 2010 at 7:47 am

i fully agree. i wanted to make changes in my postin as Alexander of Macedonia but then left as the original script shows.

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4 Devang Vibhakar September 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

Thanks Kiki for suggesting factual error. The same is rectified.

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5 alexander October 17, 2010 at 9:04 am

he didn’t have nothing in common with the greeks???
What are you talking about??He was macedonian and macedonians were greeks like spartans,athenians,cretans etc.

Now you fear punishment and beg for your lives, so I will let you free, if not for any other reason so that you can see the difference between a GREEK KING and a barbarian tyrant, so do not expect to suffer any harm from me. A king does not kill messengers.
(As quoted in the Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.37.9-13)

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6 alexander October 17, 2010 at 9:10 am

I bet that you are from the fake state of Fyrom claim lies and propaganda.
Alexander was Greek macedonian like Leonidas was Greek spartan.
Alexander called Greek king because he used greek army with soldiers from every greek tribe.

Another quote from Alexander for you:

“Tell your king (Xerxes), who sent you, how his Greek viceroy (Alexander I) of Macedonia has received you hospitably.” (Herod. V, 20, 4 [Loeb])

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7 Tony January 2, 2011 at 6:15 am

Love this article, but how can I know it’s true?

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8 Nona January 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

Please first look into your foolish character

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9 vibin February 9, 2011 at 11:33 am

Thanks…very heattouching article.sure it will change the charactor who read the article

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10 Stravon February 27, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Good day,

Alexander the Great was Greek, just read this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great

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11 Thomas Courtney III March 12, 2011 at 12:56 pm

That is a nice story, but it is completely untrue. Alexander the Great said no such things at his death! Why do people make upt this stuff?

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12 Tony the Great March 13, 2011 at 2:11 am

Thomas Courtney III, do you have a reliable and solid source and proof that Alexander the Great did not say such things at his death? I await your information and source and proof.

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13 Thomas Courtney III March 13, 2011 at 3:06 am

Yea. He didn’t speak English. But it’s not that: it’s the style. This story is a copy of a modern style story, written to give the desired result to the mind of the reader (and writer) without regard for its factuality. I’m a writer. Sorry I know a fake when I read it. Alexander the Great did not die consumed with melodrama. Many, many things are attributed to famous people. Most never happened. It is not the duty of the public to proved the alleged matters did not happen. But it most certainly is the burden of the presenter of any serious historical matter to provide his or her own best evidence of authenticity. The burden of proof is not a burden when it is the truth.

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14 Tony the Great March 13, 2011 at 12:15 pm

ATTENTION: Thomas Courtney III

I don’t know if you understand English yourself, but I didn’t ask for you OPINION. I asked a straight forward question: “do you have a reliable and solid source and proof that Alexander the Great did not say such things at his death?”

If you keep babbling and giving your own opinions and not providing any source and proof that Alexander the Great did not say such things at his death, then you have been proven to be a liar!

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15 Thomas Courtney III March 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm

1. Evidence indicates this account of Alexander the Great’s death is not factual.

a. Alexander could not speak at his death according to Plutarch. It would have been impossible for him to have said these things. General reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great

On either 10 or 11 June 323 BC, Alexander died in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, in Babylon at the age of 32. Details of the death differ slightly – Plutarch’s account is that roughly 14 days before his death, Alexander entertained his admiral Nearchus, and spent the night and next day drinking with Medius of Larissa.[131] He developed a fever, which grew steadily worse, until he was unable to speak, and the common soldiers, anxious about his health, demanded and were granted the right to file past him as he silently waved at them. Two days later, Alexander was dead. Diodorus recounts that Alexander was struck down with pain after downing a large bowl of unmixed wine in honour of Hercules, and died after some agony, which is also mentioned as an alternative by Arrian, but Plutarch specifically denies this claim.

b. Regarding your assertions that Alexander said: “Bury my body, do not build any monument …” and “I want my physicians to carry my coffin …”

A coffin is a funerary box used in the display and containment of dead people – either for burial or cremation. Alexander was not buried in a coffin.

Generally referred to as coffins, in contemporary North American English there is a distinction made between coffins, which have six sides in plan view, and caskets, which have four sides. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin

c. His arms could not have been dangling out.

Alexander was buried in a sarcophagus and a casket. This is different than a coffin and would have made it impossible for him to have his hands dangling out of the coffin.

Alexander’s body was placed in a gold anthropoid sarcophagus, which was in turn placed in a second gold casket.

d. Alexander was not buried in a graveyard.

Sarcophagi were most often designed to remain above ground, hence were often ornately carved, decorated or elaborately constructed. Some were built to be freestanding, as a part of an elaborate tomb or series of tombs, while others were intended for placement in crypts.

Here is a picture of his sarcophagus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Alexander_Sarcophagus.jpg

e. “My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” This is not factual.

f. Accounts of Alexander’s pre-death instructions differ from this account and seem to indicate that he was not, upon his death, a sentimental moralist, but instead, a hard-headed realist.

Alexander’s personality is well described by the ancient sources. Alexander’s most evident personality traits were his violent temper and rash, impulsive nature. Indeed, set beside his fiery temperament, there was a calmer side to Alexander; perceptive, logical, and calculating.

Diodorus chronicles Alexander’s pre-death instructions as follows:

Diodorus relates that Alexander had given detailed written instructions to Craterus some time before his death. Although Craterus had already started to carry out some of Alexander’s commands, the successors chose not to further implement them, on the grounds they were impractical and extravagant. The testament called for military expansion into the southern and western Mediterranean, monumental constructions, and the intermixing of Eastern and Western populations. Its most remarkable items were:

i. Construction of a monumental pyre to Hephaestion, costing 10,000 talents
ii. Construction of a monumental tomb for his father Philip, “to match the greatest of the pyramids of Egypt”
iii. Erection of great temples in Delos, Delphi, Dodona, Dium, Amphipolis, Cyrnus, and Ilium
iv. Building of “a thousand warships, larger than triremes, in Phoenicia, Syria, Cilicia, and Cyprus for the campaign against the Carthaginians and the v. others who live along the coast of Libya and Iberia and the adjoining coastal regions as far as Sicily”
vi. Building of a road in northern Africa as far as the Pillars of Heracles, with ports and shipyards along it
vii. Establishment of cities and the “transplant of populations from Asia to Europe and in the opposite direction from Europe to Asia, in order to bring the largest continent to common unity and to friendship by means of intermarriage and family ties.”

g. There does not seem to be any evidentiary, historical basis for supporting this story. It must be, therefore, characterized at something else: myth, fantasy, rumor, etc.

I found this if it is helpful to us: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemology

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16 KLay April 2, 2011 at 1:23 am

I wish you could quote other sources rather than the wikipedia because I’m actually interested in them. However, most of your responses are consistent with most historical records of the king, not blog posts. Thanks!

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17 nina June 20, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I am curious about your findings, and thank you for sharing, though the way i see it, what the article focuses on is what Alexander wished and keyword wished. Now given the political controversies, It may be possible that his wishes were not granted and all the rituals and such that followed may have won the place in the pages of our history books… He was frequently questioned and his decisions challenged his mens patients many times, and this was what he confronted as a glorious commander, one could only imagine all the scandal his absence would start…
And besides, if i may, the article doesn’t exactly attack the reputation of this figure. The three wishes as quoted, may just as well be very in line with Alexanders’ mindset and attitude in life… He did have a certain philosophy, and if we examine closely great leaders of history, those who lead are those who change, and honestly i think, and this is just very personal opinion, that we may be wasting time debating over a few proofs for evidence that a great leader at time x was in fact a great one, i mean i think that we owe to this great legend the benefit of this great doubt, as i dare say, of the article.

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18 Tony the Great March 14, 2011 at 2:48 am

ATTENTION: Thomas Courtney III

Not a single word or statement in your last post contains solid and undeniable proof that this article about Alexander is a fake as you claimed!

So You have FAILED to disprove this article and you are only making ASSUMPTIONS that it’s not true, yet you lack proof or evidence to support your claims.

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19 @Tony the Great July 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm

The man gave you ALL you wanted but now you are making assumptions only because you are in denial with everything. He based his arguments on historic facts, he did a vast research but you want more. I love this story and the conclusions of his wishes, but I think Th III is right. I have read books about Alexander the Great and I do not think this story to be true. If this story was at least 10% credible, Oliver Stone would have used it in his film.

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20 Thomas Courtney III March 14, 2011 at 3:53 am

OK

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21 Tony the Great March 15, 2011 at 2:07 am

The bottom line is…this story may be true, but the story may be fake. It seems the story is not true, but nobody can prove it’s not.

I would never tell anyone this story because I do not have enough evidence it’s true, even though it may be true and we cannot be 100% certain it is not.

However, this story is more like a fantasy story that you could tell people as a simple story and lesson, and the essensce of the story is a good lesson in life.

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22 Sonya April 18, 2011 at 9:19 am

WHATEVER JERK!!!!!!!!! THIS IS NOT SME FANTASY YOUR MUM TOLD U IN BED!!!!!!

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23 sonya April 18, 2011 at 9:14 am

the story is very touching,……….i was angry about him killing and trying to conquer the world but now i see that hes learnd a huge lesson..!!!!!!!!!!!

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24 Tony the Great April 18, 2011 at 10:01 am

ATTENTION: Sonya

Go take your medication for your mental illness and settle down!

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25 Marathon May 22, 2011 at 4:35 am

There is no evidence that this story is true but on the other hand there is no evidence for the opposite. If those words were said by Alexander, the historians of the time would have written them and we would be able to reference them. Of course, Alexander was not a barbarian which happen to conquer the world; his was a smart and wise man who had as a teacher Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of all times. Therefore, I assume that his education and his live experience allow us to believe that the story is true.

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26 jo June 8, 2011 at 6:44 am

Macedonians were Greeks u crack smoking Former Republic Of Yugoslavia (FYROM) citizen

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27 Frank June 24, 2011 at 3:14 pm

Alexander the true GOD!!! And GREEK dumb asses read a book

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28 Kishanlal Kori April 17, 2012 at 8:45 pm

The life of Alexander the great is really great and his inspirations has really touched everone’s soul. I really appreciate his line said at the end. But today there are very less people who understand the way of living. There are very few people who understand but don’t follow. I will suggest that everyone should follow it. Because the world is to come to end and like the story says don’t ever learn at the end. Try to put the effort from the beginning. Everyone should know such a story from his first start of life…

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29 usha May 2, 2012 at 9:38 pm

its true that Alexander was a Macedonian king but later he conquered the entire Greece, through his expedition and he is considered to be the ruler. today only i studied at school about his death and the Greek
history ends up there! hands off to Alexander the great!!

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30 Scar August 27, 2012 at 7:15 am

Whatever this may be, fact or fallacy, I just love the lessons conveyed from here: surrender to reality (death), nothingness but SELF in death. May these lessons remind us of who and what we will be, every time we desire for more in life.

In the end, we are NOTHING but ourselves. We are accountable for who and what we are; and for what we did because of who and what we were.

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31 JC September 18, 2012 at 3:56 pm

The story seems to be made up, but with an intention to spread message of peace.

There is absolutely no evidence to support it that so and so has ever quoted it in any ancient records.

I have read quite a few similar things which always have some great men associated with it, because it just lend that extra power to the message.

But, if we profess something with a lie, it defeats the basic purpose and it makes one believe that it is okay to lie, just because it looks or sounds good.

Alexander i believe was a real person, a more practical one. He would surely wouldn’t have liked people making untrue statements

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32 Thomas Courtney III September 18, 2012 at 5:19 pm

I agree with JC. That is my point also. It is a nice story, but a fable. It is not factual, and if we miss that point, we will forever be subject to all sorts of propaganda.

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33 nisha February 4, 2013 at 12:30 pm

And the greatest wonder is The Great King realized this great truth before his death and he repented on it… And to be honest repentance is the path to heaven….

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34 AJAY RAI February 5, 2013 at 9:56 pm

We all know the truth yet always try to dominate on others……………..just like

We forgive ourselves even after committing hundred mistakes, then how can we hate others for their on mistake.

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35 Micheal Jackson February 7, 2013 at 9:02 am

I like Trains

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