Alexander the Great and his Sisters. Blood in the Hellenistic Palace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The paper builds on Carney’s (2000) remarks that bonding relations among siblings were a cohesive strategy of the ruling genos. The relation between Alexander and his sisters and stepsisters offers a clear example. Alexander prevented his sisters Cleopatra, Thessalonice and Cynnane from creating new political units and, in so doing, was supported by the personal bonds forged and preserved by Olympias. Building also on the relationships fostered by his mother, Alexander’s attitude towards Cynnane and Thessalonice protected the basileia from usurpation claims perpetrated via his female kin. With Cleopatra instead, Alexander engendered a political collaboration out of their strong affective connection. Alexander kept his full sister bonded to his own oikos, and, as long as he was alive, her personal relationship with him shaped her agency more than the identity patterns linked to her kinship or to Macedonian tradition.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAffective Relations and Personal Bonds in Hellenistic Antiquity. Studies in honor of Elizabeth Donnelly Carney
EditorsAnson E, Pownall F D’Agostini M
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Alexander the Great
  • family
  • kinship
  • power

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