It has long been thought that the final wishes of Alexander The Great of Greece have been lost to the mists of time. However, a London based expert on Alexander, David Grant, has allegedly discovered them – and they were hiding in plain sight for the last 2,000 years.
Not only does the will set out exactly what Alexander wanted to happen to his worldly possessions and his burial wishes, but it is also said to lay out future plans, specifically for what needed to happen in the Greek-Persian empire that he was building. By the age of 30, Alexander the Great (or Alexander III of Macedon as he was known at the time) had created one of the largest empires in the world. He was the stuff of legend, only his exploits were absolutely true.
It took Mr Grant a decade to finally find the will after a trail of clues that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hollywood movie, was followed. For many years, the final resting place of the will was dismissed as a story, but David Grant refused to believe that, and decided to test his theory. It turns out he was right.
A book entitled Alexander Romance was written in the 100 years after he died. Legend had always suggested that the will would be found at the end of this book, but all that had been discovered there was a pamphlet that had nothing to do with Alexander.
Or did it?
After a thorough investigation by Mr Grant, it turns out that this is exactly where the will had been all along! More about this remarkable story can be read in David Grant’s book, In Search Of The Lost Testament Of Alexander The Great.
It seems as though there has always been such a thing as a ‘last will and testament’ but that isn’t actually the case. It had to come from somewhere, and someone had to have created it – and written the first one. Wills have history.
It was Solon who actually invented what we know as a will, although his intention for it was initially to be used only by men who died without an heir (that is, any man who had no son). Any man with an heir would automatically pass his estate on to his son when he died. But of course, some men died without having a son to pass their estate onto, so the will was created in order for them to legally ‘dispose’ of their estate, and pass it on to another man instead.
Women were not permitted to write wills and since they did not legally own anything, it did not matter – there was nothing to pass onto anyone when they died.
Solon lived from around 638 to about 558BC, and he was a lawmaker and poet from Athens. Solon worked tirelessly to halt the lawlessness that was taking over Athens at the time, and he is remembered for creating many rules and laws. Although he failed to tame Athens’ wild temperament, he is not thought to have begun the process that finally led to democracy. Wills were a part of that as it meant that people (men at the time, although this was extended eventually to women as well) had a say about where and to whom their estates and belongings would end up after they had died.
The term ‘last will and testament’ rolls easily off the tongue, but it is actually a strange idea when one thinks about it. A ‘last will’ is the same as a ‘testament’, so half of the phrase is actually redundant. But this is known as a legal doublet, and stems from a time when both Old English and French were used together in one phrase to ensure that everyone understood what it meant. Breaking and entering and peace and quiet are other such legal doublets.