A '16th-Century Film' of Alexander the Great

Deep dive into a royal tapestry

Tapestry 'Alexander the Great and the Murder of Cleitus' (1520) by UnknownNational Museum – Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania

The story depicted in the tapestry goes back to 328 BC

Action takes place in the city of Maracanda, where a drama that ended in tragedy unfolded between Alexander the Great and his friend and general-in-arms, Cleitus, who had saved Alexander's life six years prior in a battle at Garnicus.


A wagon overgrown with bunches of grapes,


drawn by tigers and lynxes is featured amid a background of buildings and natural scenery.     


The inscription  'IOYEVSETE' meaning 'mirth' is visible under the wagon wheel, 

while the figure depicted in the wagon is most probably Euphrosyne, the Greek goddess of happiness and joy.


Next to the wagon there is an inscription 'SOMNOLENCE' – the quality or state of being drowsy, sleepy. 


The friends became embroiled in a quarrel while feasting and exchanged insults, whereupon Alexander, caught up in a rage, struck Cleitus with a dagger.

One goblet, at Alexander's left hand, is tipped on its side and red wine is pouring out.


Alexander (with the inscription 'ALEXADRE' next to him) is depicted with a crown.


Alexander the Great stabs Cleitus in the chest with a dagger.

How do we know its Cleitus?

His name is written on his clothes, 'CLITVS'.


Realising what he had done, Alexander wanted to kill himself but was restrained by guards.

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