They say that Alexander caught the pox in Ktesiphon,
or maybe it was Levantine malaria
or aconite tea, sent by his beloved
but estranged tutor Aristotle,
wroth over the murder of his slow nephew;
whatever the case, they put Alexander’s beautiful corpse
in a casket of honey, and while the Companions
were planning out his last tour, Lagos’ son
hijacked the cortege centerpiece and hurried back to Egypt
changing his title from Satrap to King.
For nearly three hundred years Alexander’s mummy
brought power, prosperity and excellence in the arts and sciences
to his namesake city, until a pudgy descendant of Ptolemy
ransacked the Sema for Alexander’s sword
and golden Gorgon cuirass.
And later, when Alexandria fell to Rome,
that balding catamite Octavian broke off his nose!
A couple more centuries passed
and then the incomparable city was laid low
by rioting students and hoodlums in black robes
who demonstrated their piety by refusing to bathe.
A clever boukolos snuck Alexander’s body
from the Ptolemy family plot
into the church of Saint Mark.
He dumped Mark’s relic bones in a trash heap
and replaced them with a worthier object of reverence.
He also murdered the bishop
and took his see over from him,
and with the city in such chaos and turmoil
the flock never questioned anything.
Indeed they found his rhetorical style
far superior to that of his predecessor
though it struck them a little odd that in his sermons
he quoted more from Plato and Plutarch
than from Holy Writ and the Church Fathers,
but all agreed these stories were better
and much more edifying, so they let it be
and didn’t ask too many questions.
His heretical Bacchic Orphic line
persisted through Muslim occupation,
tending the shrine of sainted Alexander …
sorry I meant the apostle Mark,
until the arrival of the Venetians, who brought
the holy wonderworking head back with them
(somewhere along the way the rest of the body was lost)
where it has continued to bless the Italian people,
a uniquely gifted race,
down to this day.
Such, at least, is the story they tell;
but they are liars who repeat such tales.
For Alexander never died,
and sits to this day at the Gates of Gog and Magog,
fiery sword across his lap and eyes unblinking,
waiting for the terrible hordes to emerge
and lay Europe waste.
He will not budge,
they – Giants and other monstrous things –
shall not pass,
until that final day
when a scorpion stings his testicles
and a pair of wolves tear his thigh,
and some guy in a Phrygian cap
knifes him in the kidney.
savior and conqueror of men
and shall die
and there will be a great weeping and wails
through all the lands that once were united under his just rule
and the heavens themselves will blaze with fire
and the Earth herself will sing his dirge.
Now, the question you should be asking here is
if Alexander was never in Alexander’s tomb in Alexandria
– who was?