Study Questions on Alexander the Great
Note: the text of Plutarch’s Alexander is broken into several sections, which are accessible from
the main page linked on the syllabus.
I. Philip and Olympias: read Plutarch Alexander chapters 2–3, 9–10, 39, 68, 77.
1. What are Philip’s relationships with women?
2. How might Olympias’ repeated claim that Alexander is really Zeus’ son affect Alexander’s
behavior? Would there be any sexual repercussions?
3. How would Philip’s marriage to Cleopatra threaten Alexander? How might his experience af-
fect Alexander’s own affairs with women later on?
4. What does Alexander mean by his remark that the Macedonians would never allow them-
selves to be ruled by a woman?
5. If that is so, then how did Olympias have so many men executed some 5 years after Alexan-
II. Roxane and Alexander’s sexual restraint: read Plutarch Alexander 21 and 47 and Curtius Ru-
fus pp. 269–271 (labeled Roxane).
1. What was Roxane to Alexander? Why her?
2. Draw 2 parallels between Roxane and Olympias. Is this evidence supporting the old line that
men marry their mothers?
III. Hephaestion read Plutarch Alexander 39, 47, and 72 and Curtius Rufus pp. 141–143 and
211–213 (labeled Heph. I and II respectively).
1. What is the relationship between Alexander and Hephaestion?
2. Why does Alexander react as he does to Hephaestion’s death?
IV. Bagoas: read Plutarch Alexander 67 and Curtius Rufus 45–47 (labeled Bogoas).
1. Who was Bagoas and what was his relationship to Alexander?
2. How can we reconcile the role of Bagoas with Alexander’s behavior with the Persian women?
3. How might Hephaestion have thought of Bagoas?