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Alexander of Macedon, the Greatest Warrior of All Times: Did He Have Seizures?

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Alexander of Macedon, the Greatest Warrior of All Times: Did He Have Seizures?

John R Hughes. Epilepsy Behav.

Abstract

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) was likely "the most incomparable general the world has ever seen." His name is often listed among the famous individuals in history who have had seizures. Examination of his illnesses reveals that in 333 BC he entered Tarsus, hot and exhausted, and plunged himself into the River Cydnus, ice-cold from melting mountain snows. His cramps were so severe that he was rescued half-conscious and ashen white, and quickly developed acute pneumonia. Only one doctor dared give him a medication, known for producing powerful and immediate effects. Immediately after drinking this medicine "he lost his speech and falling into a swoon, he had scarcely any sense or pulse left" (Plutarch, ad 75). His reactions were the direct effect of the medication, and this and only this phrase represents the "evidence" for epilepsy. None of his other illnesses involved seizures. Clearly, Alexander the Great did not have epilepsy and his name should be removed from the list of famous individuals who have had seizures.

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