Roxana (c. 340 BCE, – 310 BCE,[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 late teens or early twenties at the time of her wedding to Alexander the Great.[3]

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. 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 Iranian notables such as the Sogdian warlord Spitamenes, took up a defensive position in a fortress known as the Sogdian Rock.[5]

However, they were eventually defeated by Alexander, who reportedly fell in love with Roxana on sight;[6] in 327 BC, Alexander married Roxana despite opposition from his companions and generals.[7] But the marriage was also of political advantage as it made the Sogdian army more loyal towards Alexander's and less rebellious after their defeat.[8] Alexander thereafter made an expedition into India and while there he appointed Oxyartes as the governor of the Hindu Kush region which was 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] On his return to Susa, 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 possibly Stateira's sister, Drypetis,[9] and her cousin, Parysatis II (Alexander's third wife). Roxana's unborn child caused some discussions between Alexander's loyalists around Perdiccas[10] and Ptolemy[11] 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.[10] For the Macedonian succession a temporary compromise was found as Arrhidaeus was declared Macedonian King and in case the unborn child would be a son, he'd become a King as well.[12] By 317 though, Roxana's son, called Alexander IV lost his right to assume as King due to intrigues started by the wife of the Macedonian King, Eurydice II.[1] Following Roxana and her son were protected by Alexander's mother, Olympias, in Macedonia.[13] Olympias' assassination in 316 BC allowed Cassander the imprisonment of Roxana and Alexander in the citadel of Amphipolis.[14] Since Alexander IV was the legitimate heir to the Alexandrian empire, Cassander ordered Glaucias to poison Alexander and Roxana c. 310 BC. It is assumed that they were murdered in spring 310 BCE, but their death was concealed until summer of the same year.[15] The two were killed after Heracles, a son of Alexander the Great's mistress Barsine, was murdered as well and thus the Argead dynasty came to an end.[14]

Historical novels and filmEdit

  • Roxana is one of the main characters in The Romance of Alexander and Roxana by Marshall Monroe Kirkman, 1909, reprinted 2010, ISBN 978-1-160-01995-8.
  • Roxana appears as one of the characters in A Conspiracy of Women by Aubrey Menen, 1965.
  • Roxana appears as one of the minor characters in The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, 1972, ISBN 0-394-48191-7. Renault uses the spelling Roxane.
  • Roxana appears as one of the characters in Funeral Games by Mary Renault, 1981, ISBN 0-394-52068-8. Renault uses the spelling Roxane.
  • Roxana appears as one of the characters in Alexander: The Ends of the Earth by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, 2002, ISBN 978-0-7434-3438-6.
  • Roxana is the main character in Roxana Romance by A. J. Cave, 2008, Hardcover ISBN 978-0-9802061-0-4, eBook ISBN 978-0-9802061-1-1.
  • Roxana is one of the main characters in The Conqueror's Wife by Stephanie Thornton, 2015, Softcover ISBN 978-0-451-47200-7
  • In the film Sikandar (1941), Roxana is portrayed by Indian actress Vanamala.
  • In the film Alexander (2004), Roxana is played by American actress Rosario Dawson.
  • In the TV series Porus (2017–2018), Roxana is portrayed by Indian actress Aparna Dixit.
  • Roxana, among other historical characters of that era, appears in the time-travel alternate history novel The Alexander Inheritance (2017) by Eric Flint.


Asteroid 317 Roxane is named in her honor.[16]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f Badian, Ernst. "Welcome to Encyclopaedia Iranica". Encyclopedia Iranica. Retrieved 23 November 2021.
  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. ^ a b 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. ^ Horn & Spencer 2012, p. 40.
  7. ^ Young, Andrew (2014),p.145
  8. ^ Young, Andrew (2014). The Lost Book of Alexander the Great. Westholme Publishing. pp. 144–145. ISBN 978-1-59416-197-1.
  9. ^ Plutarch. Alex. 77.4
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), pp.16–17
  12. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), pp.20–21
  13. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.106
  14. ^ a b Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.116
  15. ^ Anson, Edward M. (14 July 2014), p.149
  16. ^ 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.


External linksEdit