Sources, Bibliography, and Credits
Good history starts with the primary (original) evidence, and develops theories based on that. One doesn't begin with a pet theory and cherry-pick evidence to support it; that's called "proof-texting" and it's rotten scholarship.
Nonetheless, historians can still view the same evidence but reach different (sometimes radically different) conclusions. We aren't blank slates, but bring our unique experiences and expertise, which naturally shades and colors how we interpret the evidence. That's why, when it comes to Hephaistion (or anything else regarding Alexander), scholars can hold quite divergent views. We cite our evidence, make our arguments, and hope to convince one another. For those who'd like a more thorough discussion of the material I've presented on this site, please see the modern bibliography below with articles, including full citations.
Therefore, it's important to start a page on sources with the PRIMARY (ancient) evidence. Virtually all these primary sources are available in English via the Loeb Classical Library, or Penguin or Oxford paperbacks. Links below go to the Loeb versions, as they provide the original Greek or Latin text, in addition to an English translation.
There are more ancient histories and biographies about Alexander than for virtually any other ancient secular figure. That said, we have no writings by Alexander himself, although he did write letters, et al. None survive. The most we can point to are a couple public inscriptions of political decisions. Furthermore, all the histories we do have date well after Alexander's life and reign. They may use earlier histories, but those earlier histories no longer exist. Imagine if the earliest account we had of World War II was written a couple hundred years later? Plus, ancient history and biography usually had a moralizing point or political axe to grind (and sometimes both).
In short, don't believe everything you read. Just because it's old doesn't make it true or unbiased.
Always ask yourself, who wrote this? When? Why? And what sources did that author use? And what biases might the source's sources have had? LAYERS AND LAYERS.
Our Original Sources
Diodorus's Universal History, books 16-17 + 18 for his Successors (Greek, 1st century BCE)
Plutarch's Life of Alexander (Greek, 1st/early 2nd century CE)
Curtius's Histories of Alexander (vol. 1, vol. 2) (Latin, 1st [maybe 2nd] century CE)
Arrian's Anabasis and Indica (Greek, 2nd century CE)
Justin's Epitome of Pompeius Trogus's Historiae Philippicae (Latin, probably 2nd Century AD, although Pompeius was a contemporary of Livy)
In addition, material on Alexander (and Hephaistion) can be found in Plutarch's Moralia ("The Fortune of Alexander" + "Sayings of Kings," and other scattered), Athenaeus's Supper Party (Deipnosophistae) (scattered), Polyaenus's Stragtegems (4.2-3), as well as mention here and there in authors from Diogenes Laertus to Pliny the Elder to Aelian. Again, all of these (except some of Aelian) are available in English, even if sometimes in rather archaic English.
WAS HE ALEXANDER'S LOVER?
The sources listed below all discuss or have entries on Hephaistion himself. There are a wide number of additional sources that detail the Macedonian army units in which he served, Macedonian logistics, and/or Macedonian court policy. Bibliographies within these sources can be scrutinized for additional articles and monographs.
Carney, Elizabeth D. "Alexander the Great and the Macedonian Aristocracy." Diss. Duke University, 1975.
Carney has gone on to publish far more on Macedonian women, but Hephaistion was discussed in her doctoral dissertation, years ago.
Davidson, James. The Greeks and Greek Love: a Radical Reappraisal of Homosexuality in Ancient Greece. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2007 (Bryn Mawr review)
Not a long entry (pp. 462-73), but a more complete discussion of Hephaistion's relationship with Alexander than found in some biographies about Alexander. He goes further in his conclusions about Alexander's sexual preferences than I'm comfortable with; I see it as murkier. But he is more positive towards Hehaistion's abilities overall than Heckel (below).
Heckel, Waldemar. The Marshals of Alexander's Empire. Routledge, 1992. (Bryn Mawr review)
_____. Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great. Blackwell, 2006. (Bryn Mawr review)
Both these are magnificent collections that detail what we know about various figures at Alexander's court. The first deals primarily with the male officer corps, while the second is a modern, long-needed, English-language redo of Helmut Berve's encyclopedic Alexandereich, although Waldemar doesn't cover quite as many people. In both, he addresses Hephaistion, but does so most fully in Marshals. If he and I disagree in our assessments of Hephaistion's capabilities and personality, his research is still a gold standard to be aspired to.
Heckel, Waldemar. "Hephaistion, the Athenian." Zeitschrift fur Papyrologie und Epigraphik 87 (1991): 39-41.
The article that -- together with my own epigraphical search for evidence of the names Hephaistion and Amyntor in Macedonia -- first made me wonder if Hephaistion's family might have had Greek, and specifically Athenian, connections.
Müller, Sabine. "The Career of Hephaistion – A Reassessment." In Tim Howe and Frances Pownall, eds. Power, Kingship and Memory in Ancient Macedonian History: A Study in Method and Context. Swansea, 2015, forthcoming.
_____. "Der doppelte Alexander der Große. Hephaistion als alter ego." Amaltea 3 (2011), 115-138
_____. "In Abhängigkeit von Alexander: Hephaistion bei den Alexanderhistoriographen." Gymnasium 118.5 (2011): 429-56.
_____. "'But how beautiful a myth it was' -- Hephaistion zwischen Okziden und Orient in Oliver Stone's Alexander." In Antike und Mittelalter im historischen Spielfilm 1: Personen under Persönlichkeiten, A. Borstelmann, ed. Hannover (2011).
_____. "Ptolemaios und die Erinnerung an Hephaistion." Anabasis 3 (2013): 75-92.
Müller is the other Hephaistion expert out there. She finished after I did, and has cited some of my work in her articles on Hephaistion. She's made several useful corrections to some of my theories and caused me to rethink a couple things. Obviously, being German, the bulk of her work is not in English, but critical to those interested in Hephaistion. Some is available online, but not all.
Reames, Jeanne. "The Cult of Hephaistion." Responses to Oliver Stone's 'Alexander.' Paul Cartledge and Fiona Greenland, eds. Univ. of Wisconsin Press (2010): 183-217.
_____. "Crisis and Opportunity: the Philoas Affair ... Again." In Macedonian Legacies, Jeanne Reames and Timothy Howe, eds. (Claremont, CA: Regina Books, 2009): 165-8.
Reames-Zimmerman, Jeanne. "The Mourning of Alexander the Great." Syllecta Classica 12 (2001): 98-145.
_____. "An Atypical Affair? Alexander the Great, Hephaistion, and the Nature of Their Relationship." The Ancient History Bulletin 13.3 (1999): 81-96.
All four of these articles were reworkings of chapters from my dissertation "Hephaistion Amyntoros: Éminence Grise at the Court of Alexander the Great," which is not listed here because I consider it out of date. But the above articles summarize well enough the gist of my arguments for those who'd like all the citations and ancient evidence for what I've written on this site.
Treves, P. "Hyperides and the Cult of Hephaistion." The Classical Review 53 (1939): 56-7.
Included largely for completeness, as it concerns his post-mortem cult, not his life or career.
Last, there are entries on Hephaistion in encyclopedic collections ranging from W. Smith's ancient (1849) A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography (v. ii) and Pauly-Wissowa's Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (1800s), to H. Berve's Alexandereich (1926), to the much more recent Oxford Classical Dictionary, 4th ed. (2012, entry written by A.B. Bosworth).
|Bio and Credits
It's important to know the author of internet websites. I am Dr. Jeanne Reames, associate professor of history at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, director of our Ancient Mediterranean Studies Program and history graduate program chair (as of August 2015). I studied Argead Macedonian history under Eugene N. Borza at the Pennsylvania State University, graduating in 1998, and wrote my dissertation on Hephaistion.
Someday I may write a monograph on the roles of Hephaistion and Krateros at Alexander's court, but after living with Hephaistion for 25 years, it's become a bit stale and my current research interests have turned towards Greek and Macedonian religion. Nonetheless, I maintain this page for educational purposes. Contact Me. But be aware that I have a full-time job as a professor, so I can be slow to respond.
For the images used here, they were either taken by me (Aristotle, and the solo Getty head of Hephaistion from an image supplied to me by the Getty), or by my colleague and friend Anthony Aftonomos, used with his permission (sarcophagus Hephaistion), or they're from the Wikipedia commons (Getty Alexander and Hephaistion together, and both LeBrun paintings), or the Pothos.org Alexander site (sketch of Hephaistion's funeral pyre, based on Diodorus).
All written material on this site is copyrighted to Jeanne Reames, and much has been published in other [more academic] venues, as noted above. Please cite it properly for papers or other publications. It may not be reproduced in full or in part anywhere publicly on the web -- including in translation -- without my express consent. That's not difficult to get, but if I'm not asked, I will require you and/or your host provider to remove it. Use of the material here for non-profit academic/teaching purposes (such as classes, but not including pedagogical publications for sale) is automatically granted without a need to ask. That's why I wrote it in the first place; just please cite me.