Alexander The Great's Hardcore Drinking Contest (That Killed Everyone)
Alexander the Great is the epitome of live fast, die young. He only lived to be 32 years old, and during his brief life, he built one of the biggest empires ever. He was a man who possibly literally believed himself to be a god, so everything he did had to be massive. From crossing the Gedrosian desert and losing thousands of men on the way to cutting the Gordian Knot, Alexander wanted to be known for feats so wild that they could only be found in myths about Heracles. Naturally, his parties were of the same scale, and one of them involved such a high frequency of booze that everyone involved died.
This story begins in Persia in 324 BC, where Alexander was going through a bit of a crisis. His close advisor, the philosopher Calanus, had chosen to die via self-immolation. Calanus was old and was worried about his body slowly failing him, so his natural solution was to brutally burn himself to death. Elaborate funerals were one of Alexander’s major hallmarks, and Calanus deserved one to remember.
What kind of funeral celebration did Alexander think would be fitting for his charred philosopher? An unprecedented drinking contest, of course! Whoever drank the most would receive the prize of gold or a crown worth a significant amount in gold. Now, this may sound like harmless fun at first. Joey Chestnut ate 76 hotdogs and turned out alright. Once the contest started, though, it became more horrific than an old philosopher burning himself to death.
41 contestants died from alcohol poisoning. Most of them just died on the spot. Others died later on. Don’t worry, though, because there was a winner. His name was Promachus, and he drank a whopping 13 liters of wine. This was Macedonian wine too, which meant it was tough stuff. For his efforts, Promachus received the prize, and then he died three days later, also from alcohol poisoning. This meant that possibly every contestant in Calanus’ funeral drinking festival died.
As for Alexander, he only lived for another year before dying in 393 BC. The cause of his death has been the subject of a lot of debate among historians, but some theorize that he died of alcohol poisoning. This would be a fitting end for the guy who threw the deadliest drinking game in history. Regardless, next time you are feeling hungover, just be glad that you didn’t drink 13 liters of Macedonian death juice.
Top Image: Giuseppe Cades