Roxana (c. 340 BC – 310 BC,[1] Ancient Greek: Ῥωξάνη; Old Iranian: *Raṷxšnā- "shining, radiant, brilliant"; sometimes Roxanne, Roxanna, Rukhsana, Roxandra and Roxane) was a Sogdian[2][3] or a Bactrian[4] princess whom Alexander the Great married after defeating Darius, ruler of the Achaemenid Empire, and invading Persia. The exact date of her birth is unknown, but she was probably in her early teens at the time of her wedding to Alexander the Great.

Il Sodoma. Marriage of Alexander and Roxana. detail. Villa Farnesina, Rome. fresco 3.jpg
Marriage of Alexander and Roxana by Il Sodoma
Bornc. 340 BC
Sogdia or Bactria
Died310 BC
Amphipolis, Macedon, Ancient Greece
SpouseAlexander the Great
IssueAlexander IV
Alexander the Great and Roxana, a 1756 painting by Pietro Rotari.
The Wedding of Alexander and Roxane (1898–1899), an engraving by André Castaigne.


Roxana was born in c. 340 BC as the daughter of a Bactrian nobleman named Oxyartes who served Bessus, the satrap of Bactria and Sogdia.[1] He was thus probably also involved in the murder of the last Achaemenid king Darius III. After Bessus was captured by the Macedonian ruler Alexander the Great, Oxyartes and his family continued to resist the Macedonians, and along with other notables such as the Sogdian warlord Spitamenes, took up a defensive position in a fortress known as the Sogdian Rock.[5]

They were eventually defeated by Alexander, who attended a celebration,[6] and reportedly fell in love with Roxana on sight.[7] Where the celebration took place, if in the Sogdian Rock or another fortress of Chorienes (also called Sisimithres by Quintus Rufus Curtius) during which Alexander met Roxana is disputed[6] but according to the Metz Epitome it was in the house of Chorienes in which Roxana was introduced to Alexander as the daughter of Oxyartes.[8][6] Curtius apparently misrepresented Roxana as a daughter of Chorienes[6] and Arrian claims, Oxyartes surrendered to Alexander the Great when he became aware of the good reception Alexander awarded his daughter Roxana.[6] A.B. Bosworth mentions the possibility of Roxana being captured at the Sogian Rock, but that the two married at the fortress of Chorienes.[6] The marriage was in 327 BC, and according to the majority of the sources it was in Macedonian rite not the Persian.[9]

Alexander married Roxana despite opposition from his companions[10][9] who would have preferred a Macedonian or a Greek Queen.[11] But the marriage was also of political advantage as it made the Sogdian army more loyal towards Alexander and less rebellious after their defeat.[12] Alexander thereafter made an expedition into India and while there he appointed Oxyartes as the governor of the Hindu Kush region adjoining India.[1] It is assumed that during this period, Roxana was in a safe place in Susa.[1] When Alexander returned to Susa, he promoted a brother of Roxana to the elite cavalry.[5][1] With the aim of a better acceptance of his government among the Persians, Alexander also married Stateira II, the daughter of the deposed Persian King Darius III.[1]

After Alexander's sudden death at Babylon in 323 BC, Roxana is believed to have murdered Alexander's other widow, Stateira II, and according to Plutarch also Stateira's sister, Drypetis with the consent of Perdiccas.[13] Roxana's unborn child caused some discussions between Alexander's loyalists around Perdiccas[14] and Ptolemy[15] who suggested to await Alexander's child to be the next King and name either a caretaker regent or a council in his stead, and the Macedonian soldiers who opposed a so-called persianization of the Macedonian court.[14] For the Macedonian succession a temporary compromise was found as Arrhidaeus was declared Macedonian King; if the unborn child was a son, he was to become a King as well.[16] By 317 though, Roxana's son, called Alexander IV lost his right to be king due to intrigues started by the Philip Arrhidaeus' wife, Eurydice II.[1] Afterwards Roxana and her son were protected by Alexander's mother, Olympias, in Macedonia.[17] Following Olympias' assassination in 316 BC Cassander imprisoned Roxana and Alexander IV in the citadel of Amphipolis.[18] Their detention was condemned by the Macedonian general Antigonus in 315 BC.[19] In 311 BC a peace treaty between Antigonus and Cassander confirmed the Kingship of Alexander IV but also Cassander as his guardian,[19] following which the Macedonians demanded his release.[20] However, Cassander ordered Glaucias of Macedon to kill Alexander and Roxana.[21] It is assumed that they were murdered in spring 310 BC, but their death was concealed until the summer.[22] The two were killed after Heracles, a son of Alexander the Great's mistress Barsine, was murdered, bringing the Argead dynasty to an end.[18]


  • At the Acropolis, there were found inscriptions of offerings Roxana shall have dedicated as Alexander's wife to Athena.[24]
  • Lucian describes a painting of Roxanas marriage with Alexander by the Greek painter Echion (also known as Aetion) which won the painter the consent of the Olympic Hellanodike Proxenidas to marry his daughter.[24]
  • In one of the versions of the Alexander Romances, Darius III is her father and dying gives his consent to the marriage in which she wears the royal jewelry Alexander had asked for at his mother Olympias. The marriage takes then place in Darius palace.[24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Badian, Ernst. "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 23 November 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. ^ Ahmed, S. Z. (2004). Chaghatai: the Fabulous Cities and People of the Silk Road. West Conshokoken: Infinity Publishing. p. 61.
    - Strachan, Edward; Bolton, Roy (2008). Russia and Europe in the Nineteenth Century. London: Sphinx Fine Art. p. 87. ISBN 978-1-907200-02-1.
    - Ramirez-Faria, Carlos (2007). Concise Encyclopedia of World History. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 450. ISBN 978-81-269-0775-5.
  3. ^ Christopoulos, Lucas (August 2012). Mair, Victor H. (ed.). "Hellenes and Romans in Ancient China (240 BC – 1398 AD)" (PDF). Sino-Platonic Papers. Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, University of Pennsylvania Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations (230): 4. ISSN 2157-9687.
  4. ^ "Roxana". Encyclopædia Britannica. 6 November 2019. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
    - Schmitt, Rüdiger (20 July 2002). "OXYARTES". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
    - Strabo 11.11.4.
    - Rawlinson, Hugh G. (1912). Bactria, the History of a Forgotten Empire.[page needed]
  5. ^ a b Badian 2015.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Bosworth, A. B. (1981). "A Missing Year in the History of Alexander the Great". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 101: 31. doi:10.2307/629841. ISSN 0075-4269. JSTOR 629841. S2CID 161365503.
  7. ^ Horn & Spencer 2012, p. 40.
  8. ^ Chaumont, Marie-Louise. "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica". Encyclopædia Iranica. Retrieved 11 February 2022.
  9. ^ a b Carney, Elizabeth Donnelly (1996). "Alexander and Persian Women". The American Journal of Philology. 117 (4): 575–577. ISSN 0002-9475. JSTOR 1561949.
  10. ^ Young, Andrew (2014),p.145
  11. ^ de Mauriac, Henry M. (1949). "Alexander the Great and the Politics of "Homonoia"". Journal of the History of Ideas. 10 (1): 111. doi:10.2307/2707202. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 2707202.
  12. ^ Young, Andrew (2014). The Lost Book of Alexander the Great. Westholme Publishing. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-1-59416-197-1.
  13. ^ Plutarch. Alex. 77.4
  14. ^ a b Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014). Alexander's Heirs: The Age of the Successors. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 14–17. ISBN 978-1-4443-3962-8.
  15. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), pp.16–17
  16. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), pp.20–21
  17. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.106
  18. ^ a b Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.116
  19. ^ a b Simpson, R. H. (1954). "The Historical Circumstances of the Peace of 311". The Journal of Hellenic Studies. 74: 28. doi:10.2307/627551. ISSN 0075-4269. JSTOR 627551. S2CID 146837142 – via JSTOR.
  20. ^ Thirlwall, Connop (1840). A History of Greece. Longmans. p. 318.
  21. ^ Thirlwall, Connop (1840), p.319
  22. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.149
  23. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2007). "(317) Roxane". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (317) Roxane. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 42. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-29925-7_318. ISBN 978-3-540-00238-3.
  24. ^ a b c Förster, Richard (1894). "Die Hochzeit des Alexander und der Roxane in der Renaissance". Jahrbuch der Königlich Preussischen Kunstsammlungen. 15 (3): 182–183. ISSN 1431-5955. JSTOR 25167339.


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