This essay compares two episodes from Plutarch’s Alexander: the wedding of Philip and
Cleopatra (9) and Alexander’s attack on Cleitus (50-51). The wedding episode, in which an
angry, drunken Philip attacks Alexander, foreshadows Alexander’s own attack on Cleitus, but
it also marks an important turning point in the development of the young Alexander. Prior
to the wedding episode, Plutarch portrays Alexander as highly rational, wise beyond his years,
and eager to rule. In creating this image, Plutarch uses Philip as a foil, showing how Alexander
was better suited than his father to be king and how he had grown restless in his role as heir.
Thus their clash over insults traded at the wedding party is the result of a rift in the fatherson
relationship and is intimately tied both to the positive and negative aspects of Alexander’s
character and to the transition of power between father and son1.