Last three wishes of Alexander the Great

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By T.V. Antony Raj


Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.  Last words of Alexander the Great.



The final days of Alexander the Great offer a moral lesson for each one of us.

Alexander, while returning home after conquering many kingdoms fell mortally ill in Babylon. While lying on his deathbed in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar II, he realized the worthlessness of his vast hoard of gold, silver, and jewels, accumulated through his conquests with his sharp sword and his mighty army.

He longed to reach home. He wanted to have a last look of his mother’s face before departing from this mortal world. But, he knew that his sinking health would not let him reach his distant homeland. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.”

With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first wish is that my physicians alone must carry my coffin,” said Alexander.

After a pause, the king continued, “For my second wish is I want the path leading to my grave be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which are in my treasury while my body is being carried to be buried.

The dying king continued, “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”

Though the generals wondered at the king’s strange wishes, no one dared to question or ask him the reason for these three wishes.

One of Alexander’s favourite generals after kissing his hand and pressing it to his heart said, “O king, we assure you that all your wishes will be fulfilled. But could you please enlighten us on why you make such strange wishes?”

Alexander’s favorite general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said:

“I would like the world to know of these three fundamentals:

I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure anybody. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death.

My second wish to strew gold, silver and other precious stones on the way to the graveyard is to let the people know that though I spent all my life accumulating riches, not even a grain of gold will come with me when I leave this world. I want people to understand that it is a sheer waste of time, energy, and peace of mind when one yearns to be rich.

With my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I want people to know that I came empty handed into this world and likewise will go empty handed from this world.”

A reader Thomas Dwomoh-Ameyaw has pointed out that Saint Paul was inspired by these last wishes of this great man:

For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. (I Timothy 6:7)


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29 thoughts on “Last three wishes of Alexander the Great”

  1. I think the last three wishes of Alexander the Great are quite insightful, be they fable or real. There is a lesson to be learned from them.
    On the matter of Paul and 1 Timothy 6:7, certainly he was inspired by God, however, because he was so knowledgeable, as was ATG, who is to say God didn’t inspire ATG, in his last days, as well?


    1. If these will be your wishes, it means you’re accumulating wealth and power that you won’t be able to take with you when you die. He learned this too late and wanted the world to know. I pray that they will differ and that we live our lives in pursuit of true happiness.


  2. Whether Alexander said it or not, the fact remains the same! Dearting as we came. Unfortunately, often times greed and selfishness makes us forget that what Allah has provided in this world, belongs to all humanity.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Let’s all make sure that the earth resources are available for all to benefit, because we brought nothing and we cannot take anything.


  4. I would like to know the source from which the ‘three dying wishes’ attributed to Alexander the Great came from. I cannot find these anywhere. This one I believe – “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“ – the rest is unsubstantiated.


  5. I believe St Paul was inspired by these last wishes of this great man in what is written in 1st Timothy 6: 7


  6. Such a beautiful story of one as great as Alexandar the Great to experience inner awakening, realisation and coming to terms with the truth of what’s really important in life’s and the kindness of the man to share what he has learnt with all around him, letting himself be a warning to all, not to fall into the same trappings of life as he did-just,when he is about to meet his maker. For this he is indeed “Great”. …but is the story based on historical facts and truth or just a fable. In any case, even if it is a fable and not the truth, surely, the person who came up with this fable is extremely creative and positively insightful of the truth and meaning of life!


  7. Ancient Greeks considered burning the dead body as sacrilege and a great hubris to do so. There is no way Alexander the Great would have requested such thing. He was buried as was his father before him. Alexander was a great man and he adored knowledge; you should too, study and then write…


    1. Hello Demetris,

      Thanks for visiting my site and reading this article.

      I have never said in my article that Alexander requested cremation of his body.

      Alexander’s last words were: “Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

      May be you would have read about his request for cremation somewhere else.

      Anyhow, I am privileged to have your comment on this article. I visted your Facebook page and find that you are reading “Alexander the Great” by Ulrich Wilcken. Hope it is good.



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