Greek Ancestry of Alexander the Great


1. [Diodorus Siculus 17.1.5]

“Alexander’s ancestry went back to Heracles on his father’s side, while through his mother he was related to the Aeacids.”

2. [Plutarch, Alexander 2.1-2]

“As for Alexander’s family, it is firmly established that he was descended from Heracles through Caranus on his father’s side and from Aeacus through Neoptolemus on his mother’s. The story goes that Philip was initiated into the mysteries at Samothrace along with Olympian. She was an orphan and he was still a very young man; he fell in love with her, and on the spure of the moment became betrothed to her after ganing the blessing of her brother Arybbas.”

3. [Justin 11.4.5]

“Cleadas even appealed to the kind’s personal devotion to Hercules, who was born in their city; and from whom the clan of the Aeacidae[*] traced its descent and to the fact that his father Philip had spent his boyhood in Thebes. “

[*]This should read “Argeadae” His error may originate with Justin rather than Trogus.

4.[Justin 7.6.10-12]

”While these matters were proceeding successfully Philip married Olympias, daughter of Neoptolemus, king of the Molossians; the match was arranged by Arybbas. king of the Molossians, who was the girl’s cousin and guardian and was married to her sister Troas. This was the cause of Arrybas’ downfall and all his troubles. For, while he was hoping to increase his kingdom through his family ties with Philip, he was stripped of his own kingdom by the latter and grew old in exile. “

5. [Theopompus of Chios (FGTH US F3SS – Tzetzes, ad Lycophr 1439)]

 “Olympias traced her line all the wav back to Pyrrhus son of Achilles and Helenus son of Priam, according to Theopompus and Pyrander. Pyrrhus’ line goes back to Aeacus. “

 6. [Pausanias, Description of Greece 1.9.8]

 “For Alexander was an Epirot, and related to the Aeacids on his mothers side ”

7. [Plutarch, On the fortune of Alexander 1.10 = Moratia 332a]

”Plutarch, in a fictitious passage, puts these words into Alexander’s mouth: “Forgive me for following the footsteps of Dionysus, divine founder and forefather of my line”

8. [Velleius Paterculus: “The Roman History” Book I, 5]

”In this period, sixty-five years before the founding of Rome, Carthage was established by the Tyrian Elissa, by some authors called Dido. 5 About this time also Caranus, a man of royal race, eleventh in descent from Hercules, set out from Argos and seized the kingship of Macedonia. From him Alexander the Great was descended in the seventeenth generation, and could boast that, on his mother’s side, he was descended from Achilles, and, on his father’s side, from Hercules.”

9. [Isocrates, To Philip, 32] <b>

 ”Argos is the land of your fathers, and is entitled to as much consideration at your hands as are your own ancestors…”

10. [Diodorus of Sicily, 17.4.1]

 “First he [Alexander] dealt with the Thessalians, reminding them of his ancient relationship to them through Heracles”

11. [Herodotus, The Histories 5.22]

“ Now that the men of this family are Hellenes, sprung from Perdiccas, as they themselves affirm, is a thing which I can declare on my own knowledge, and which I will hereafter make plainly evident. That they are so has been already adjudged by those who manage the Pan-Hellenic contest at Olympia”

12. [Herodotus, The Histories 8.43]

 ”Now that these descendants of Perdiccas are Hellenes, as they themselves say, I myself chance to know”

13. [Herodotus V, 22, 1, Loeb, A.D. Godley]

“The country by the sea which is now called Macedonia… Alexander, the father of Perdiccas, and his forefathers, who were originally Temenidae from Argos”

14. [Herodotus V, 22, 2, Loeb, A.D. Godley]

“But Alexander proving himself to be an Argive, he was judged to be a Greek; so he contended in the furlong race and ran a dead heat for the first place”.

 15. [Herodotus IX, 45, 2, Loeb, A.D. Godley ]

”For I myself am by ancient descent a Greek, and I would not willingly see Hellas change her freedom for slavery”

16. [Pausanias, 7.8]

“Macedonia whose kings are from Argos, Your good and your bad come in the reign of Philip. One shall create lords for cities and for peoples: The other shall utterly destroy your glory Beaten down by eastern and western men.”

17. [Strabo 13.1.27] 

In my time, however, the deified Ceasar was far more thoughtful of them, at the same time also emulating the example of Alexander; for Alexander set out to provide for them on the basis of a renewal of ancient kinship, and also because at the same time he was fond of Homer; at any rate, we are told of a recension of the poetry of Homer, the Recension of the Casket, as it is called, which Alexander, along with Callisthenes and Anaxarchus, perused and to a certain extent annotated, and then deposited in a richly wrought casket which he had found amongst the Persian treasures. Accordingly, it was due both to his zeal for the poet and to his descent from the Aeacidae who reigned as kings of the Molossians–where, as we are also told, Andromache, who had been the wife of Hector, reigned as queen–that Alexander was kindly disposed towards the Ilians.

18. [The Suda “Caranus”]

One of the Heraclids,[1] he gathered an army from Greece and went into Macedonia, which at that time was an obscure place. He ruled there and handed down the rule so that it proceeded in succession all the way down to Philip.”

19. [Isocrates to Philip 113]

[113] My purpose in relating all this is that you may see that by my words I am exhorting you to a course of action which, in the light of their deeds, it is manifest that your ancestors chose as the noblest of all.

20. [Isocrates to Philip 115]

And mark that I am summoning you to an undertaking in which you will make expeditions, not with the barbarians against men who have given you no just cause, but with the Hellenes against those upon whom it is fitting that the descendants of Heracles should wage war.

21. [Isocrates to Philip 127]

Therefore, since the others are so lacking in spirit, I think it is opportune for you to head the war against the King; and, while it is only natural for the other descendants of Heracles, and for men who are under the bonds of their polities and laws, to cleave fondly to that state in which they happen to dwell, it is your privilege, as one who has been blessed with untrammeled freedom, to consider all Hellas your fatherland, as did the founder of your race, and to be as ready to brave perils for her sake as for the things about which you are personally most concerned.

22. [Arrian, Anabasis.3.3.2]

And Alexander felt this drive to repeat the deeds of Perseus and Heracles, from whose two families he descended

23. [Thucydides, Peloponnesian War.2.99]

Alexander and his ancestors,  originally  Temenids  from Argos…       

24. [Arrian The Campaigns of Alexander,   4.11]

..but of Philip’s son, a man with the blood of Heracles and Aeacus in his veins, a man whose forefathers came from Argos to Macedonia, where theylong ruled not by force, but by law.

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SEE ALSO: Alexander the Great Articles