Clitus "the Black"

Clitus killed by Alexander

Clitus "the Black" (c.375-328) was an officer of the Macedonian army lead by Alexander the Great. He saved Alexander's life at the Battle of the Granicus but was later killed by Alexander in a drunken quarrel.

The death of Clitus took place at a conference of generals at what is now the town of Samarkand. Most of the members were rather drunk, and Alexander announced a reorganization of commands. Specifically, Cleitus was being given orders to take 15,000 of the defeated Greek mercenaries who formerly fought for the Persian King north to fight the steppe nomads in Central Asia.

Clitus knew that he would no longer be near the King and would be a forgotten man. Furious at the thought of commanding what he saw as second-rate men, fighting nomads in the middle of nowhere, he spoke his mind. It is known that he said that Alexander was not the legitimate King of the Macedonians. Alexander called for his guards, but they did not want to intervene in a quarrel between friends.

Alexander threw apples at Clitus and called for a sword, but friends of the two men had removed the sword and hustled Clitus out of the room. Not leaving well enough alone, Clitus came right back and spouted more insults. Alexander had by then got hold of a spear, and killed Clitus on the spot.


Livius, Clitus by Jona Lendering

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