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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
Here is Alexander’s sunrise chart with the SR superimposed around it.
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.
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.
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.
Here is a copy of the Rothman chart which Sibly later published:
Addendum: Geographic coordinates of Pella, Greece