concerning the life of Alexander further supported the father-son relationship between the Macedonian King and the Egyptian god. According to this story Nectanebo II, the last native Pharaoh of Egypt, was the actual father of the Alexander. Nectanebo, who was a great magician, united with Olympias in the form of Ammon in the queen’s dream, when he was refugee in Macedonian court, after the conquest of Egypt by the Persians90. Hence Alexander was by any definition the legitimised king of Egypt. Furthermore, it could be interpreted an act of legitimisation on behalf of the Ptolemies, the dynasty who inherited Egypt as an independent kingdom, after the fragmentation of Alexander’s empire. Even after the demise of the Ptolemaic state, many Romans, who admired Alexander the Great and his exploits attempted to associate themselves with Alexander’s achievements. Julius Caesar wept in Spain at the mere sight of Alexander's statue; when asked to see other great military leaders Caesar said Alexander was the only great one. Pompey the Great rummaged through the closets of conquered nations for Alexander's 260-year-old cloak, which the Roman general then wore as the costume of greatness. Augustus’ empire was seen as the more perfect successor of Alexander's. However, in his zeal to honor Alexander, Augustus accidentally broke the nose off the Macedonian's mummified corpse while laying a wreath or bending over to kiss Alexander at the hero's shrine in Alexandria91. The controversial emperor Caligula later took the dead king's armor from that tomb and donned it for luck. The Macriani, a Roman family that rose to the imperial throne in the 3rd century AD, always kept images of Alexander on their persons, either stamped into their bracelets and rings or stitched into their garments. Even their dinnerware bore Alexander's face, with the story of the king's life displayed around the rims of special bowls. Septimius Severus restricted access to the tomb. Caracalla, notorious for his brassiness, took off his own purple Tonga, his rings, and jewels and placed them on the bier (215 AD)92. There are further sources related to imperial visits to Alexander’s tombs, for instance the case of Caligula who went to Alexandria, paid a visit to the Sema and left with Alexander's cuirass93. In early 3rd century AD Septimus Severus eventually closed the tomb to the public because he was nervous about its safety under the hoards of tourists who rushed to visit. The last reported imperial visit that we know of was made by Caracalla (3rd century A.D.), who believed that he was Alexander's 90 91
Fraser, 1972, 675-684.
Dio Cassius, 51. Green, 1996, 18. 93 Xiphilinus, Epitome of Dio's Roman History. 92
Published on Feb 12, 2014