Alexander at Siwa

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According to Quintus Curtius Rufus

“From Memphis Alexander sailed upstream and penetrated into the interior of Egypt where, after settling administrative matters without tampering with Egyptian traditions, he decided to visit the oracle of Jupiter Ammon. The journey that had to be made could scarcely be managed even by a small band of soldiers lightly armed: land and sky lack moisture; the sands lie flat and barren, and when they are seared by the blazing sun the ground swelters and burns the feet and the heat is intolerable.

Siwa Oasis

“Alexander was… goaded by an overwhelming desire to visit the temple of Jupiter – dissatisfied with elevation on the mortal level, he either considered, or wanted others to believe that Jupiter was his ancestor.
“After four days in the desert wastes, [the Macedonians] found themselves not far from the site of the oracle. Here a number of crows met the column, flying ahead of the front standards at a slow pace, occasionally settling on the ground, when the column’s advance was relatively slow, and then again taking off as if they were going ahead to show the way.
siwa2“At last the Macedonians reached the area consecrated to the god which, incredibly, located though it is among the desert wastes, is so well screened on all sides by encircling tree branches that the rays of the sun barely penetrate the shade, and its woods are sustained by a wealth of fresh water springs.
“… as the king approached, he was addressed as ‘son’ by the oldest of the priests, who claimed that this title was bestowed on him by his father Jupiter. Forgetting his mortal state, Alexander said he accepted and acknowledged the title, and he proceeded to ask whether he was fated to rule over the entire world. The priest, who was as ready as anyone else to flatter him, answered that he was going to rule over all the earth.
“Alexander… offered sacrifice, presented gifts both to the priests and to the god, and also allowed his friends to consult Jupiter on their own account. Their only question was whether the god authorized [sic] their according divine honours to their king, and this, too, so the priest replied, would be agreeable to Jupiter.”

The Temple of Amun at Siwa

The Temple of Amun at Siwa

from Curtius 4:7. 5-6, 8, 15-16, 25-26, 28
Nota Bene
If you haven’t seen Michael Wood’s documentary on Alexander, made for the BBC in 2005, I thoroughly recommend it to you as a matter of course. Wood visits Siwa and says that the oracle’s shrine is ‘perhaps the only place on earth where you can trace [Alexander’s] footsteps right up to the door’.

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