The Story of the Greeks
Alexander's death was mourned by all, for, in spite of his folly and excesses, he was generally beloved. Even Sisygambis, the Persian queen whom he had taken captive a few years before, shed many tears over his remains, and declared she had lost a protector who had always treated her as kindly as if he had been her own son.
The conqueror's body was laid in a golden coffin, and carried in state to Alexandria, the city he had founded at the mouth of the Nile. Here a fine tomb was built by order of Ptol´e-my, one of Alexander's generals, who said that his dead master also should be worshiped as a god.
Ptolemy wanted the body to remain in Egypt because an oracle had said that he who buried Alexander would be master of his kingdom.
The day after Alexander's death there was a sad assembly in the palace. All the Macedonian generals sat there in silence and dismay, gazing at the empty golden throne, upon which Perdiccas had solemnly laid the royal signet ring.
Who was to take the place of the king whose military genius and great conquests had won for him the title of "Great"? It is true that Alexander had a half[Pg 256]-brother, named Ar-ri-dæ´us, but he was weak-minded. The only other heir was an infant son, born shortly after his father's death.
The generals gravely talked the matter over, and finally said that Arridæus and the child should be publicly named successors of the dead king, while four of their own number should be appointed guardians of the princes, and regents of the vast realm.
This decision was considered wise, and the kingdom of Alexander was divided into thirty-three provinces, each governed by a Macedonian officer, who was to hold it in the name of Arridæus and of the child.
In dying, Alexander had foretold that his funeral would be followed by bloodshed, and this prediction came true. The generals who had met so solemnly around the empty throne soon became dissatisfied at being only governors, and each wanted to be king in his own right, of the land intrusted to his care.
Perdiccas, having received Alexander's signet ring from his dying hand, was, of course, their leader, and took under his own protection the infant king and the Persian mother Roxana.
He fancied that it would thus be an easy matter to keep the power in his own hands, and to govern the vast realm as he pleased. But An-tip´a-ter, governor of Macedon, no sooner heard that Alexander was dead, than he placed the idiot Arridæus on the throne, proclaimed him king, and began to rule as if he were the only regent.
The other Macedonian generals daily claimed new rights, which Perdiccas was forced to grant in order to[Pg 257] pacify them; but when it was too late, he found out how mistaken he had been, and regretted that he had yielded to their demands.