Page conspiracy

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Page Conspiracy was a failed plot of seven young royal pages that began in 327 BC. Wanted to murder the Macedonian king Alexander the great .

Prehistory and background

Alexander the Great, who increasingly adopted oriental customs as he continued to conquer the Persian Empire, made himself very unpopular with his old comrades in arms, who came from Macedonia and Greece . In particular, he that even with them the proskynesis wanted to introduce, met with resistance, as this was tantamount to the deification of a living ruler. Alexander's court historian Callisthenes von Olynth , who, as a pupil of Aristotle , felt the introduction of such a Persian court ceremony as a violation of the Greek ideal of freedom and as a slavery, refused most persistently . One of Callisthenes ' students was Hermolaus , the leader of the pages who wanted to murder Alexander. Therefore, after the conspiracy was uncovered, the historian was accused of having been the author and was also executed, although his guilt appears by no means proven.

The immediate reason for the conspiracy was probably a degrading treatment of the leader Hermolaos. He had taken part in a hunt and killed a wild boar with a spear before the king himself. The young Macedonian thus incurred the anger of Alexander, who had him publicly whipped. In addition, Hermolaos' father Sopolis had been withdrawn from his post as general of the cavalry a month before the plot and sent home to Macedonia to bring in auxiliary troops. The father of another assassin had also been replaced as a satrap by Syria shortly before and had brought auxiliary troops with him to the Macedonian king without being reinstated in a high position. So at least two conspirators felt the recent treatment of their fathers as a disgrace.


The conspiracy against Alexander took place at the beginning of 327 BC. When the king and the main army moved into camp not far from a village in Bactria . The pages wanted to stab Alexander in his sleep - a plan that could be carried out since the pages in front of Alexander's tent kept watch at night, of course in rotation. Since a total of 50 pages were in royal service and therefore each only stood guard once a week, the assassins had to wait more than a month for a joint service in order to carry out their plan. When the longed-for night had come, the king stayed at a feast until the early hours of the morning and had a good chat while drinking a lot of alcohol. When he finally went to camp for the night, he is said to have come across a Syrian fortune teller. This had given him predictions that had been tried and tested for a long time and therefore enjoyed his trust. This time she advised him to continue partying at the banquet, and accordingly Alexander returned and happily drank more wine. Robin Lane Fox considers the fortune teller to be an invention of the historian Aristobulus to disguise Alexander's drunkenness, while Siegfried Lauffer thinks the story is more true. In any case, because of Alexander's late arrival in his tent, the night shift for the conspirators had already ended, and new pages were waiting for him.

Allegedly a few hours after the unsuccessful assassination attempt, one of the pages told his friend about the plan. By telling the story in a small group, two bodyguards quickly heard the story, who immediately reported it to the king. The conspirators were arrested and tortured. The informants were pardoned, but Alexander charged the rest to the entire army. Hermolaos allegedly defended himself with his belief in freedom, which he saw endangered by Alexander's appearance as an oriental despot. The death penalty was carried out by stoning the prevented assassins . There must have been no doubt about the guilt of the executed .

But since Alexander also had Callisthenes arrested as an alleged mastermind and presumably also executed, he earned the reputation of a tyrant in Aristotle's school of philosophy ; this negative image of the great Macedonian king is also reflected in many historical representations.


The three main sources on the history and background of the Page Conspiracy are the historians Arrian ( Anabasis 4, 12, 7-4, 14, 3), Curtius Rufus (8, 6, 2 - 8, 8, 20; anti-Alexander) and the biographer Plutarch ( Alexander 55, 3-9). Since there is a large gap in the tradition of the 17th book of Diodor’s history, which deals with the history of Alexander and which also reports on this conspiracy, Diodor’s account is lost.



  1. Arrian, Anabasis 4, 12, 3-6; Curtius Rufus 8, 5, 9-8, 6, 1; Plutarch, Alexander 54, 3-55, 1; Justin 12, 7, 1-3
  2. Arrian, Anabasis 4, 13, 2; Curtius Rufus 8, 6, 7
  3. so Alexander's historian Aristobulus in Arrian, Anabasis 4, 13, 5f .; similar to Curtius Rufus 8, 6, 16f.
  4. ^ Lane Fox, Alexander the Great , p. 430
  5. ^ Lauffer, Alexander the Great , p. 138