A Possible Birth Chart of Alexander the Great


I recently read a biography of Alexander the Great and wondered what his chart might look like.  Unfortunately, his date of birth is not known with any certainty and many speculative natal charts exist.  Almost all sources agree that Alexander was born in 356 BC.  As far as I can tell, in ancient Macedon the year began at the summer solstice which occurred on 28 June in 356 BC, so Alexander must have been born on or after that date.  Perhaps more correctly, the year began at the first new moon after the summer solstice, which occurred on July 14 of 356 BC.

Statue of Alexander the Great at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Statue of Alexander the Great at the Istanbul Archaeology Museum

Alexander is a fascinating man with a complex personality.  He was a brilliant general and strategist who conquered much of the known world east of Greece before his early death around the age of 33.  He was a mamma’s boy who ended up hating his father.  His mother was an extremely ambitious and bizarre woman who performed sexual rituals which involved her sleeping with snakes.  Alexander himself was in a committed gay relationship with Hephaistion, the love of his life, until Hephaistion died in the autumn of 324 BC.  (The other great love of his life was his horse Bucephalus who was with Alexander from the time he was 12 years old.)  Alexander became extremely grief-stricken at his lover’s death and he himself died a year later around June 10 or 11 of 323 BC, not quite having reached the age of 33.  By the time of his death Alexander had become a ruthless tyrant, severely alcoholic and megalomaniacal.   He came to believe he was the son of Zeus and demanded to be treated like a god.

Bust of Alexander on a gold stater of Lysimachus

Bust of Alexander on a gold stater of Lysimachus

According to wikipedia.com, “Alexander was born on the 6th day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion,” which some sources convert to 20 July 356 BC although there is no certainty about the conversion of dates from this ancient calendar, partly because it was a soli-lunar calender that required the periodical insertion of intercalary months and different regions used different calendars at the time.  Conversion from these ancient calendars to the one we use today is a difficult and often uncertain task.  The Macedonians apparently began their months according the the phases of the moon.  The new moons during the summer of 356 BC included:

  • July 14 – first month of summer (6th day = July 19)
  • August 13 at 6:01 a.m. – second month of summer (6th day = August 18)
  • September 11 – third month of summer (6th day = September 16)

Alexander was born in Pella, the capital of ancient Macedon in Greece.  His father, Phillip II, was apparently not present at the birth but received news of it by messenger.  Legend has it that Phillip received several important bits of news on the same day that he learned Alexander was born:

  • A son, Alexander, had been born.
  • His general had defeated the armies of his enemies.
  • His horses had won at the Olympic games.  Horse races took place on day 2 of the five-day Olympics.  Day 3 was the day of the full moon (Aug. 28, 356 BC).  The Olympics were apparently scheduled during the full moon of the 8th lunar month following the previous winter solstice.
  • The temple of Artemis was destroyed by arson while Artemis was away attending the birth of Alexander.

It is possible that Alexander himself propagated this legend to enhance his reputation as a divine entity.  In any case, the birth of an heir to the throne would be widely known in the society, which implies that the dates of these events are close to Alexander’s actual birth.  So what can we deduce about his birth date?

Alexander was born around the time of the 356 BC Olympic games.  The Olympics were a 5-day event held every four years during the full moon of midsummer, which was chosen so that the games could last into the night.  As mentioned above, the year 356 BC in the Macedonian calendar began with the summer solstice on June 28th.  The summer full moons around the time of Alexander’s birth occurred on the following dates in 356 BC:

  • June 30
  • August 28 (full moon of mid-summer)
  • September 27

The horse races took place on day 2 of the Olympics, which would have been Aug 27, 356 BC, and a messenger had to travel from Olympia, Greece, to King Phillip’s location in northern Greece where he was preparing a siege on the city of Potidea on the peninsula of Chalcidice, some 200 or so miles from Olympia.  Another messenger had to travel from Pella (Alexander’s birthplace) to King Phillip, a distance of some 70 miles.  I don’t know how long it took messengers to travel in ancient Greece, but it must have been a matter of days for the news to reach the King.  If we assume that it took no more than ten days for news of the Olympic victory to reach King Philip, then Alexander was probably born before the end of August or at the latest during the first week of September.

If it is true that Alexander was born on the 6th day of the ancient Greek month of Hekatombaion, then a likely date of birth is on or shortly after August 18th.  If we allow a two-week span either side of the date of the Olympics, then the range of possible birth dates extends from August 14th to September 11th.  Here is an ephmeris for the most likely period of his birth:

Ephemeris for the date range of Alexander the Great's birth

Ephemeris for the date range of Alexander the Great’s birth

Looking at the ephemeris for this period, we see that Saturn turned stationary retrograde on September 9, 356 BC.  Such stations mark highly significant periods in a person’s life.  Saturn is a symbol of stern authority and its station can represent the death of a parent.  Alexander’s father was assassinated in October of 336 BC shortly after Alexander turned 20 years old.   If Alexander were born at 8 a.m. on August 19th, then his secondary progressed Saturn would have turned stationary retrograde around October 11, 336 BC, the approximate date of his father’s murder.  Based on this prominent secondary progression, I would deduce that Alexander was born within 24 hours of 8 a.m. on 19 August 356 BC.  (I usually allow an orb of one year either side of the exact date of a major secondary progression.)

Thus, a likely date of birth is sometime between 8 a.m on August 18th and 8 a.m. on August 20th.  I don’t know whether the Macedonians began their days at sunrise or sunset.  If sunset, then August 13th, the first day of the month, went from sunset 13 Aug to sunset 14 Aug.  The sixth day of the month would then go from sunset 18 Aug to sunset 19 Aug in the modern calendar.  If the Greeks started measuring from the earliest crescent to be seen in the sky following the darkness of the new moon, we would need to add one day to the above dates — all of which suggests that Alexander was probably born between sunset on August 18 and sunset on August 20 (modern calendar) because the sixth day of the Macedonian month fell within this period.

Given Alexander’s ruthless character and determination to conquer the world and declare himself a god, whatever the cost in human lives, I would opt for a Scorpio Moon and Mercury in Leo.  The Moon entered Scorpio about 6:50 a.m. on August 19th and remained there till 7:20 p.m. on August 21st.  If he has a Scorpio Moon (as I believe), then he was born between about 6:50 a.m. on August 19th and 7:20 p.m. on August 21st of 356 BC.  A sunrise chart for the middle of this range looks like this:

Speculative sunrise chart of Alexander the Great

Speculative sunrise chart of Alexander the Great

After doing the above analysis, I came across a well researched article by astrologer Thomas Gazis, who looks at slightly different sources but comes to a similar conclusion of an August birth.  Gazis argues that Alexander was born on August 24th with a Sagittarius moon and Mercury in Virgo.  While I have great respect for Gazis’ scholarship, my own sense of Alexander’s personality makes me lean toward the moon in  intense and driving Scorpio and Mercury in proud and god-like Leo.  With Mercury in Leo he prided his own ideas above those of everyone else.  The Moon is Scorpio is also consistent with a mother who enjoyed sleeping with and had sexual relationships with snakes (the animal kind). Alexander was also extremely attached to his snake-obsessed mother (see Norman Cantor’s book about Alexander, p. 36).

The August 20th sunrise chart has much to commend it.  His natal Leo Sun closely trine Pluto in Aries in the 9th suggests strong leadership ability and fondness for the conquest of foreign lands (Pluto in warlike Aries in the 9th).  The warlike interests of Alexander are also reflected in the T-square involving Mars, Jupiter and Uranus.  In addition, Mars closely sextile Venus, ruler of the MC.  Saturn in the 10th has long been associated with extreme ambition to rise to the top of the power hierarchy but ultimately to suffer a fall.  There is speculation that Alexander was murdered by his disgruntled commanders who got fed up with his ruthless pretensions of divinity.  Alexander’s great love for his horse Bucephalus (c. 355 BC – June 326 BC) may be reflected in the Sagittarius 5th house cusp.

On August 20th the Sun was in the third decan of Leo ruled by Mars, as befits a great conqueror.  Mercury lies in the same decan of Leo, which is associated by the Golden Dawn and Aleister Crowley with the 7 of Wands, the lord of Valour.  Valor, of course, means great courage in the face of danger and such was the hallmark of Alexander’s life.

Alexander's natal Sun and Mercury are associated with the SEVEN of WANDS, the Lord of Valor (Mars ruling the 3rd decan of Leo)

Alexander’s natal Sun and Mercury are associated with the SEVEN of WANDS, the Lord of Valor (Mars ruling the 3rd decan of Leo).  The Sun was in the 3rd decan of Leo from around 3 p.m. on August 18th until about 8 p.m. on August 28th of 356 BC.  Since Alexander’s personality is so consistent with the decan, I would guess he was born during the period August 18th to 28th, 356 BC.   Pamela Colman Smith’s depiction of a figure wearing two different shoes may be reflected in Alexander’s bisexuality.  He was predominantly homosexual but married out of obligation to produce and heir.  Alexander had a foot in both camps, so to speak.

The solar return of this sunrise chart is also quite striking and marks the year 324-323 BC as an extremely stressful time in his life.  This is the return year in which his lifelong lover Hephaistion died (autumn of 324 BC), sending Alexander into a profound and lasting grief which only ended with his own death in June of 323 BC.  Below is the birthplace solar return for the year of his death.  Note the predominance of the T-square (Uranus/Pluto – Neptune – Sun/Moon) and the emphasis on the 12th, 4th, and 6th houses.

Birthplace solar return of sunrise chart for the year of his death.

Birthplace solar return of sunrise chart for the year of Hephaestion’s and Alexander’s death.

Here is Alexander’s sunrise chart with the SR superimposed around it.

Alexander's chart with superimposed solar return for the year that both he and Hephaistion died.

Alexander’s chart with superimposed solar return for the year that both he and Hephaestion died.

Note that SR Pluto almost exactly conjoins natal Saturn in the 10th.  SR Uranus applies to conjoin natal Saturn in a little more than one degree.  At the same time this SR Uranus/Pluto conjunction is closely square his natal Sun.  Pluto happens to rule the Scorpio 4th house of final endings and the Sun, of course, is his vitality.  Saturn rules his 7th house of marriage and committed partnerships and is receiving the stressful SR Uranus/Pluto contact.  Thus the same SR aspect symbolizes both his own death and that of his 7th house partner Hephaistion.  SR Neptune in the 4th is opposing the Uranus/Pluto/Saturn configuration in the 10th, and this opposition forms a T-square with his natal Sun/Mercury conjunction in Leo in the 1st.  Neptune is the modern ruler of his 8th of death.  Both Alexander and Hephaistion suffered mysterious illnesses and fevers prior to their deaths.  They were both heavy drinkers and the excessive consumption of alcohol played a role in each of their deaths.  Alexander may have been poisoned by his men — how Neptune in Scorpio in the  4th of endings can you get?

Alexander died around June 10 or 11 or 323 BC.  Below are the transits, progression and directions in effect during the month of June.  As you can see, the period around June 10th is entirely consistent with Alexander’s death.  The SR Pluto/natal Saturn conjunction, which dominates the solar return, became exact by transit on Monday June 13, 323 BC, just two or three days after his death.  Had he consulted an astrologer the year before his death, Alexander would have been told that the period around 13 June 323 BC would be a highly stressful time in which his life might be in danger.  Interestingly, the Encyclopedia Britannica gives June 13th as Alexander’s date of death.  Most sources say he died on June 10th or 11th.

Transits, etc., for June 323 BC when Alexander died.

Transits, etc., for June 323 BC when Alexander died.

Below is the August 20th sunrise chart with the solar return and the noon chart for the date of his death (I chose June 11) around it.  Note the almost exact transiting Uranus/Pluto conjunction crossing natal Saturn and squaring natal Sun.  Transiting Sun (ruler of his ASC) forms an exact semi-sextile to transiting Jupiter (ruler of his 8th of death) on the day of his death.

Alexander dies around June 11, 323 BC.  Natal sunrise chart with solar return and transits superimposed.

Alexander dies around June 11, 323 BC. Natal sunrise chart with solar return and transits superimposed.

A partial solar eclipse occurred at 15 Taurus 46, on 12 May 323 BC, just a month before his death.  This eclipse activated his natal sunrise MC, opposed his natal Moon, and squared his natal Sun.  The most exact aspect of the eclipse to his natal chart is a sesqui-square from the eclipse Sun/Moon conjunction to his natal Jupiter (ruler of the 8th of death) within 21′ of arc, so essentially exact.  The eclipse also falls in the 12th house of his solar return for the year of his death.

Sibly published a chart for Alexander in 1790 but he used a birth year of 357, by which he meant the 357th year before Christ.  Sibly’s chart appears to be taken from the 1596 text by Johannes Rothmann with the title “Chiromancia.”  See Peter Stockinger’s comments below.  I believe that Rothman miscounted the number of years on the assumption that a 0 BC year existed.  In the BC/AD notation system, the years go directly from 1 BC to 1 AD, and no “year 0” exists in the system.

Sibley's chart for Alexander (published in 1790).

Sibley’s chart for Alexander (published in 1790).

Here is a copy of the Rothman chart which Sibly later published:

Rothman's chart for Alexander the Great.

Rothman’s chart for Alexander the Great.

Addendum:   Geographic coordinates of Pella, Greece

Latitude: 40°45′36″ N
Longitude: 22°31′09″ E
Elevation above sea level: 80 m = 262 ft

 

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About Anthony Louis

Author of books about astrology and tarot, including TAROT PLAIN AND SIMPLE, HORARY ASTROLOGY, and THE ART OF FORECASTING WITH SOLAR RETURNS.
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14 Responses to A Possible Birth Chart of Alexander the Great

  1. Steve Lytle says:

    Incredible analysis! How uncanny? I had thought about asking you to do a chart on the Great Alexander as I too, am very fascinated by this incredible warrior general!

    • Steve,
      This is a speculative chart but it seems to work pretty well so far. It is interesting that Thomas Gazis, working independently, came to a date only 4 days later than mine. Gazis is a very skilled astrologer, which gives me some confidence that a mid- to late-August birth date for Alexander is highly likely. As I mention in the post, only the positions of Moon and Mercury differ between the chart I went with and that of Gazis. Regarding the uncanny coincidence, this seems to happen often between us. We must be psychically attuned!
      Tony

  2. Hi,
    I would rather take a peek at the SUNSET chart for August 19TH, before his date as Mars is what we would see standing before our eyes (sun) when we speak of the Great Warrior. Also, at Sunset, the Moon (mother) is elevated not Saturn. (Ancient Whispers from Chaldea).

    • Arthyr,
      By all means look at the sunset chart. From the evidence I have gathered it seems like Alexander was born on either Aug 19th or 20th by our modern calendar. The sunrise Aug 20th chart looks promising, but a sunset Aug 19th chart would be very close except for the position of the Moon which would be at about 6 Scorpio. Since there is no record of Alexander’s time of birth, we can only speculate and try to rectify the chart from what we know of his life. For unknown birth times, I have consistently found the sunrise chart to provide a useful alternative to the actual birth chart.
      Tony

  3. More food for thought: In 1596 a Johannes Rothmann wrote a book with the title “Chiromancia”. George Wharton translated this work in 1652 but he omitted the last part of Rothmann’s book which is a delineation of the nativity of Alexander the Great. In the original German edition Rothmann goes to great length to rectify the nativity and explains Alexander’s life and death with the help of Primary directions, etc. He comes to the conclusion that Alexander must have been born on 26 June 357 at 09:30 pm.

  4. Peter,
    Thanks for the information. I was not aware of this reference. At least we are in the same ballpark. I don’t know how accurate his tables were in 1596 and thus how accurate his primary directions would have been. I have not yet looked at primaries for the Aug 20th chart. That will be a next step, and I’ll post my results when I have completed looking at the primaries. Most likely he was using Regiomontanus primaries rather than the 17th century Placidus primaries (which I think are truer to what Ptolemy described). Without even a ballpark time of birth, rectifying with primaries in an extremely arduous task.
    Tony

  5. Tony, I have translated the passage in question myself now and found that my original information was incorrect.
    Here follows my translation from Rothmann’s Chiromancia:
    “This Alexander Magnus, son of King Philip of Macedonia / was born in the year before Christ our Lord’s birth 357. The sixth day Hecatombaeonis, nearly two hours after sunset / that is according to our clock / in the evening half an hour before ten.
    The Greeks always began to count their months on the day of the new moon / and this new one in the year mentioned fell onto 26 June of our calendar / in the 30th degree of Gemini / nearly straight into solstitium aestivum. Therefore the sixth day falls onto the first of July / which is the correct day of birth of Alexander Magni. The year and the day are certain.”
    Sorry for the confusion!

  6. Peter,
    Thanks again. Almost all the sources I have checked consider 356 BC as Alexander’s birth year in the modern calendar. In fact, in 357 BC there was a new moon on June 26th at the end of Gemini, but in 356 BC the new moon occurred on July 14th at about 7 pm. at about 16 Cancer. in 1790 Sibley published a chart for Alexander and also used 357 BC.

    As I mentioned, almost all modern sources use 356 BC. Here is a quote from Britannica: “Alexander the Great, also known as Alexander III or Alexander of Macedonia (born 356 bce, Pella, Macedonia—died June 13, 323 bce, Babylon), king of Macedonia (336–323 bce). He overthrew the Persian empire, carried Macedonian arms to India, and laid the foundations for the Hellenistic world of territorial kingdoms. Already in his lifetime the subject of fabulous stories, he later became the hero of a full-scale legend bearing only the sketchiest resemblance to his historical career.” (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/14224/Alexander-the-Great). Interestingly, I just noticed that Britannica gives his date of death at June 13 whereas most other sources say June 10th or 11th. June 13th is very consistent with the chart I came up with above.

    Maybe some expert on Alexander will read this post and clarify the year of birth.

    Tony

    Addendum: The confusion about the year of Alexander’s birth may be due to the BC notation. In Solar Fire:”The epoch is assumed to be AD unless BC or BCE has been entered, or if the year is negative. If the year is negative, then Solar Fire will automatically convert the year into a BC year, and remove the minus sign. (Note that there is a difference of 1 year between BC years and negative (astronomical) years e.g. the year -6 is converted into 7 BC. This is due to the absence of a year 0 in the BC format.)” Year zero does not exist in the Anno Domini system usually used to number years in the Gregorian calendar and in its predecessor, the Julian calendar. In this system, the year 1 BC is followed by AD 1.

    Thus, 357 BC corresponds to the astronomical year -356. The question is whether modern references mean the astronomical year -356 or the Anno Domini year 357 BC when they write about Alexander’s birth.

    Wikipedia states: “Historians have never included a year zero. This means that between, for example, January 1, 500 BC and January 1, AD 500, there are 999 years: 500 years BC, and 499 years AD preceding 500. In common usage anno Domini 1 is preceded by the year 1 BC, without an intervening year zero.[7] Thus the year 2006 actually signifies “the 2006th year”. Neither the choice of calendar system (whether Julian or Gregorian) nor the era (Anno Domini or Common Era) determines whether a year zero will be used. If writers do not use the convention of their group (historians or astronomers), they must explicitly state whether they include a year 0 in their count of years, otherwise their historical dates will be misunderstood.”

  7. Mae says:

    Hi Tony would you be able to do a longevity reading on a birth chart? Please let me know. Thanks.

  8. Tony, I found a bit more time to continue with the translation:
    “Since ex historicis concordantiis, through astronomical calculation of the motuum aequalium / [it is] very clear and obvious / that this year was annus primus Olympiades 106. Because a few days before / Alexander M. was born / has Philippus , Rex Macedoniae, eius parens, in the Olympico certamine equestri / which ended Olympias 105 and 106 began (understand one Olympias as 4 years in itself) been declared victor / which means that according to the way we are used to speak in contest of knight’s games / he has been cheered [as the winner]. According to astronomical calculation / which cannot lie / we count from the birth of Christ which we possess to Alexander’s death / 323 complete years / therefore the obitus falls in the 324th year before Christ. Because we know that Alexander lived nearly 33 years / excluding 4 months / we can clearly assume that the nativitas of Alexander occurred in the 357th year before Christ.
    The hour is ex scriptoribus not known to me: but I have after astrological rectification put Aquarius in the Ascendant / so that / Venus / Jupiter / Mars / and Luna fall into the 7th house.”

    Rothmann provides a chart, showing Aquarius on the ASC with Mars, Venus and Jupiter in the 7th house. I recreated the chart in Janus and it works for 357 BC. When I tried to reproduce the chart for 356, I found that I cannot place Mars, Venus and Jupiter in the 7th house during Aquarius on the ASC.
    The original chart can be accessed here:
    http://dfg-viewer.de/show/?set%5Bimage%5D=114&set%5Bzoom%5D=max&set%5Bdebug%5D=0&set%5Bdouble%5D=0&set%5Bmets%5D=http%3A%2F%2Fdaten.digitale-sammlungen.de%2F~db%2Fmets%2Fbsb00028532_mets.xml

    • Peter,
      I think Rothmann got confused by the anno domini system and miscounted by one year.
      In the system, the is no 0 AD. The birth of Christ was assigned to 1 AD. There is a span of only 1 year between 1 AD and 1 BC (since a 0 year is not part of the system). Thus, the ordinal and cardinal numbering systems match in the AD/BC system whereas in regular counting they differ by a unit of 1.

      1 BC is the 1st year before Christ.
      2 BC is the 2nd year before Christ.

      323 BC (the year of Alexander’s death) is the 323rd year before Christ.

      356 BC (the year of his birth) is the 356th year before Christ.

      It is easy for astrologers, myself included, to get confused by this. This may occur because we are used to regarding 0-1 degrees of a sign as the 1st degree, …, and 29-30 degrees of a sign as the 30th degree. In fact, many older texts write that a planet lies in 30 Gemini, for example, meaning the the planet lies at 29 Gemini plus some number of minutes. I think Rothmann confused years with degrees and was a year off in his calculations.

      There is a brief explanation here: http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/dates.html
      “The western-style year dating convention commonly used in many parts of the world was created by the monk Dionysius Exiguus in or about the year AD 532. The convention is based on Exiguus’ determination of the year in which Jesus Christ was born. For instance, in the date AD 2001, the prefix “AD” stands for “Anno Domini” which is Latin for “the year of our Lord.” Similarly, in the date 500 BC, the suffix “BC” stands for “Before Christ. … Thus, the year 1 BC was followed by the year AD 1.”

      “However, Exiguus’ dating system still lacks a “0” year which makes calendrical calculations awkward. The “astronomical” dating system refers to an alternative method of numbering years. It includes the year “0” and eliminates the need for any prefixes or suffixes by attributing the arithmetic sign to the date. Thus, the astronomical date for 2000 CE is simply +2000 or 2000. The astronomical year 0 corresponds to the year 1 BCE, while the astronomical year -1 corresponds to 2 BCE. In general, any given year “x BCE” becomes “-(x-1)” in the astronomical year numbering system. Historians should take care to note the numerical difference of one year between “BCE” dates and astronomical dates.”

  9. Pingback: Rectifying the chart of Alexander the Great | Anthony Louis – Astrology & Tarot Blog

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