History: 324 BC: Alexander the Great Arranges Mass Wedding

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A Brief History

On an unknown date in 324 BC, the Macedonian (Greek) King Alexander the Great arranged about 80 weddings in the Persian city of Susa between the daughters of Persian nobles and Greeks of high office.  An astute judge of culture, Alexander regularly acknowledged a conquered people’s customs and culture and attempted to show respect and acceptance for their ways in order to better incorporate the new lands into his empire.  Of course, Alexander also meant to further Greek culture into conquered lands as well.

Digging Deeper

Alexander had already married Roxana (aka Roxanne or Roxanna) the beautiful and young Persian Princess from Bactria, but as custom allowed multiple wives, he also took another wife in the mass ceremony, this time Stateira (aka Barsine), the oldest daughter of Darius and a third Persian wife, Parysatis as well.  Married in the Persian fashion, the offspring of these marriages would all be both Persian and Macedonian, cementing the cultures together.

Not only did Alexander grant a generous dowry to each of his Greek officers that wed a Persian that day, but he had a roster made of all his Macedonians that had taken Persian wives and found that there were 10,000 such unions.  Alexander promptly granted a wedding gift to each of these married couples to show his pleasure at the unions.

Unfortunately, Alexander’s legacy did not include the sanctity of these marriages, for once Alexander died in 323 BC (only a year later) all his officers promptly divorced their Persian wives!  On top of that sorry tale, it is believed Roxana had Stateira and Parysatis both killed upon the death of Alexander.  Roxana herself was protected by Olympias, the mother of Alexander the Great, but died along with her child by Alexander (Alexander IV) in about 310 BC, the victim of poisoning ordered by the then current King of Macedon, Cassander.

Cultural note:  In the 2004 major motion picture, Alexander, Roxana is played by Rosario Dawson, an actress of African-Caribbean-American ethnic background, when the actual Roxana was said to be fair skinned, as would be expected of the people of her land at that time in history. 

This casting of a Black actress as Roxana seems to have irritated historical purists and some people of Persian (Iranian) descent, such as Dr. Kaveh Farrokh.

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.