THE TERMINAL APHONIA OF ALEXANDER THE GREAT, A SILENT HERALD OF AN ORDINARY DEATH
The ordinary death of Alexander the Great
Even though the absence of the body prevents sure conclusions, the death of Alexander the Great remains a hot topic of retrospective diagnosis. Due to the serious mishandling of ancient sources, the scientific literature had Alexander dying of every possible natural cause. In previous works, the hypothesis that typhoid fever killed Alexander was proposed, based on the presence of the remittent fever typical of this disease in the narrations of Plutarch and Arrian. Here we provide additional evidence for the presence of stupor, the second distinctive symptom of typhoid fever. In fact, based on the authority of Caelius Aurelianus and Galen, we demonstrate that the word ἄφωνος, used to describe the last moments of Alexander, is a technical word of the lexicon of the pathology of Hippocrates. Used by him, the word defines a group of diseases sharing a serious depression of consciousness and motility. The association of stupor with the remittent fever strengthens the typhoid fever hypothesis.