IAXS Project #060
By Gregory R. Swenson (
Content © 1996 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1996 held by Whoosh!
2677 words


What follows is a theory that proposes that Alexander the Great was the historical model for the character of Xena in XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS.


[1] I have often wondered why the writers of XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS write what they do about Xena and Gabrielle and where the story line is going. I firmly believe that the writers have a Xena Bible, a document to guide them, and it is not based on the "Xena Scrolls." Their Xena Bible is the life of Alexander the Great. The writers use Alexander's family, his lifelong companion, conquests, and even names associated with him in the development of Xena and her universe.


[2] Alexander and Xena have families cursed by tragedy. By the time Alexander started his campaign of conquest his father was gone, assassinated by parties unknown. Xena too, faced the loss of her father by the time she started her conquests, her father disappearing under mysterious circumstances as seen in TIES THAT BIND (#20).

[3] Both Alexander and Xena had brothers who died in the pyroclastic change that followed their ascendancy to power. Alexander's brother was killed along with all other potential rivals for the throne. Xena holds herself responsible for the death of her brother Lyceus as seen in REMEMBER NOTHING (#26). Any remaining relatives of Alexander headed for the hills. Xena's other brother Toris tells of the reasons for his flight when Cortese attacked in DEATH MASK (#24):

TORIS: How do you put up with that girl?

XENA: Why? She knows more about wisdom and justice than you'll ever know.

TORIS: At first I thought she was just following our lead. And that your were going to do the same thing to her that you did to our village--use their fear to manipulate them. But that's not it. She's brave because that's the way she is.

I was so sure that I had you figured out that I never bothered to figure myself out. All these years I've been trying to convince myself that I knew what was best for our village.

XENA: Toris, we all made decisions based on what we thought was right. We did what we did because we cared about our friends.

TORIS: Oh no, no, no. You don't get it. You stayed because you cared for us all. I left because I... because I was...

XENA: Because you were afraid.

TORIS: I was afraid I would die. That was all I could think of.

[4] Since pets are family, too, Alexander had a favorite horse that he rode for many years, Bucephalus. Can you say Argo? Interestingly enough Bucephalus was afraid of his shadow. This made Bucephalus so skittish that no one could ride him. Alexander figured out that if he turned Bucephalus into the sun the horse would not be be able to see his shadow. Bucephalus then became Alexander's horse of choice throughout his campaigns.

[5] In XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS the shadow becomes Xena's black outfit symbolizing her struggle within. See DREAMWORKER (#03), REMEMBER NOTHING (#26), CALLISTO (#22), or INTIMATE STRANGER (31) for Xena's battles with her own shadow self. Gabrielle must turn Xena into the sun every once in a while to calm this internal warring.

[6] In CALLISTO, Gabrielle and Xena sit by their evening fire and discuss Xena's escape from her 'blood lust.' Xena then says, "But if something happened to mother or Hercules or you--I might do just the same." Gabrielle replies, "No. No look you promise me if something happens to me you will not become a monster. There's only one way to end this cycle of hatred and it's through love and forgiveness." As the scene closes, there is a dissolve to a sunrise.

[7] Gabrielle, like Bucephalus, was afraid of 'shadows' before she started adventuring. Recall the bridge scene in SINS OF THE PAST (#01). Gabrielle chants, "The bridge will hold me up. The bridge will hold me up." Bucephalus' skittishness in Gabrielle may not be flattering but it sure is amusing. And why does Gabrielle walk? She is in one sense Argo's shadow or in another sense Xena's "annoying blonde" shadow. Do not be surprised if we someday see a story on Argo's origins.


[8] Alexander went through his life with a constant companion and so does Xena. Hespheastion was Alexander's boyhood friend, becoming his companion and lover for life. Gabrielle fills this function for Xena and as far as being a lover is concerned this will always be an issue if the writers stay true to the Alexander story line. The sexual ambiguity in the show even winds up with Argo. Being either a YAXI (yet another Xena inconsistency) or a writer's joke, Argo's own gender was called into question. In SINS OF THE PAST (#01), Xena tries to settle Argo just before crossing a bridge guarded by the blind Cyclops saying, "Come on boy. You can make it. That's it. Easy. There. Easy enough. Hmmm?" Later, in THE GREATER GOOD (#21), Argo was referred to as a female. As Gabrielle tries to use Argo as a sparring partner, Xena interrupts:

XENA: I wish the two of you would just get along.

GABRIELLE: It's not like we're constantly at war or anything. Argo doesn't like me.

XENA: (Addressing Argo.) Sometimes you have to have patience with things that annoy you. (Again an allusion to shadows, both Bucephalus and Argo's.)

GABRIELLE: I never said that she annoyed me.

XENA: I wasn't talking to you.

GABRIELLE: Funny. Very, very funny.

[9] What else was Hespheastion besides Alexander's lover? He was according to some first a slave then a soldier. Xena saves Gabrielle from becoming a slave in SINS OF THE PAST and REMEMBER NOTHING and Gabrielle's growing prowess with the quarterstaff echoes this.

[10] What about Gabrielle being a bard? Alexander was reputed to always have a copy of the "Iliad" with him and his tutor was Aristotle who gave him a love for Homer. In BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (#12) Xena and Gabrielle go to Troy which is commemorated in the "Iliad" and in ATHENS ACADEMY OF PERFORMING BARDS (#13) Gabrielle meets Homer.


[11] Alexander and Xena travel the same road in their conquests. Alexander was reputed to have been a great leader. Xena is considered to be a great leader. We see this in THE RECKONING (#06) where Ares, the god of war, tries to recruit her to lead the greatest army the world has ever known:

ARES: By the gods you are a beauty. You must know I've missed you.

XENA: What do you want?

ARES: I want you back of course. My warrior princess living as my warrior queen. We were once a great match.

XENA: I didn't know any better then. I thought your ways were all there was for me.

ARES: I think you'll be more comfortable in this. Now that you do know that there is another side to life. Now tell me. Are you really having fun these days?

XENA: I'm fighting for a better world.

ARES: My dear Xena, you were always fighting for a better world. You were going to conquer it and were going to rule it. The perfect way to bring order out of chaos. And you were doing very, very well. Take a look at these documents on the table here.

XENA: Each village taxed only on its profits. Comfort for the elderly. The teaching of medicine.

ARES: They need only your signature.

XENA: I can pass these decrees?

ARES: If it will make you happy. Your destiny is to rule the world with me. Fulfill your destiny and fill me again with the delicious sight of you; your warmth, the strength of you. Go look out the window... What do you see?

XENA: Warriors. Thousands of them.

ARES: All of them yours. Trained. Ready. Willing to die if you command it. With an army like that you could mold the world anew. Eradicate injustice. You can't tell me that all this holds no attraction... maybe a slight fascination.

XENA: What's in it for you?

ARES: The world at peace under a great leader. You. And to bring all this about you need only to call out my name.

[12] Alexander consolidated his power by destroying Thebes and threatened similar treatment to those who failed to acknowledge his power. Xena confesses to her brother Toris in DEATH MASK her insatiable thirst for power and warns him against taking that path:

TORIS: What did it feel like after you'd beaten Cortese?

XENA: Feel? I didn't have time to feel anything. Maybe that was the problem. I knew that he'd come come back so I decided to form an army for defense. And then I figured to take the surrounding villages for a buffer. And then somewhere... I don't know where. I changed. I didn't have time to feel anything. I promise you Toris, if you murder Cortese you'll become what I was.

TORIS: I've seen you kill Xena. What's the difference?

XENA: Maybe it's the difference in my head. But the pure evil of murder is that it's premeditated. It is not in the heat of the battle and it's not for self defense. You have been planning this for years.

[13] Alexander continued his campaign for power but stopped first at Troy where he visited the tomb of Achilles and 'borrowed' his shield. He took the shield everywhere with him much as Xena takes her chakram. (It used to bother me that the first Xena five inch action figure had a shield instead of a Chakram. Well folks, it's Alexander's shield!)

[14] Alexander continued to Persia where he fought and won his first battle with Darius king of Persia. Darius ran away. Alexander's army then made its way to Tyre or Phoenicia, via you guessed it, Palestine. Here Xena meets Goliath and they discuss Gareth who is in hiding in the mountains (GIANT KILLER #27).

[15] Alexander continued to Egypt where the Egyptians handed him the keys to the kingdom and he became the Pharaoh. I predict a trip for Xena and Gabrielle to Egypt sometime in the future.

[16] Once established in Egypt, Alexander made a pilgrimage to the oracle of Amon in Lybia where he had a vision. Xena's experiences mirror this in REMEMBER NOTHING. Both Alexander and Xena emerge from their visions with a strong feeling of who they are and what they must do. As the normal timeline is reestablished, Xena is attacked by the young warrior whom she had originally killed. This time she disarms him.

XENA: Get up. You've got a second chance. Swear you won't waste it by killing.

YOUNG WARRIOR: I swear it.

XENA: Get out of here.

GABRIELLE: He dropped something. It's a Borealis token.

(Xena puts arm around Gabrielle.)

GABRIELLE: What's this for?

XENA: Just for being you.

GABRIELLE: Uh huh. You ok?

XENA: Mmmm.

GABRIELLE: You don't seem yourself.

XENA: No, you're wrong. I'm more myself than ever.

[17] Alexander took his army and his Egyptian levies with him back to Persia where he defeated Darius' army. Darius again ran away, this time to his mountain residence. As Alexander further consolidated his power, he heard of an uprising in Greece but it failed before he could do anything about it. He discharged the majority of his Greek forces and decided to pursue Darius.

[18] It would be surprising if Xena has heard the last of Gareth. As Alexander searched for Darius, Bucephalus his horse was stolen by bandits. Expect Argo to be stolen in the Gareth episode.

[19] Alexander next had to deal with a guerilla war in what is now northeastern Iran. Before he went he burned the Babylonian palace complex as warning to those who might plot against him while he was gone. At this time he adopted eastern customs which worried the Greek court who travelled with him. The nobles with him at the Babylon court who resisted the eastern ways were systematically eliminated.

[20] Xena tells Marcus in MORTAL BELOVED (#16) that she has given up her 'blood lust.' In A SOLSTICE CAROL (#33), Xena and Gabrielle peacefully convince King Sylvus to rescind his ban on celebrating the Winter Solstice. But even Gabrielle admits that the fall back position of thumping heads is sometimes necessary.

[21] Eventually, Alexander and his army invaded the Punjab in what is now Pakistan going all the way to the Indus River. Along the way, Alexander's his army had to fight war elephants. Do not be shocked if a Xena episode will involve elephants. (This proximity to India is also the point where Xena can acquire her Chakram, maybe from the tomb of warrior, king, or god similar to the way Alexander acquired Achilles shield. There be chakrams here in this neck of the woods!) Alexander's soldiers then rebelled refusing to move on. This sounds similar to the rebellion of Xena's men in THE GAUNTLET (HTLJ #12).

[22] Pushing now south along the Indus, Alexander and his men reached the Indian Ocean. Once there he split his forces to explore southern Mesopotamia. Some travelled by sea, others along with Alexander travelled the desert of southern Iran. Here Xena and Gabrielle will take a desert trip and be threatened by starvation and thirst. You do not want to know what comes next because it gets rather grim from here on in.


[23] Names associated with Alexander help to create the Xena universe. Take, for instance, Callisto. Alexander had travelling with him a nephew of Homer by the name of Callisthenes. Callisthenes participated in the resistance to eastern ways and was killed. The writers of Xena could have simply chucked him into the fire when Alexander burned down the Babylonian palace complex. The dross was consumed and Callisto emerged. The others in the eastern customs resistance perished in the same fire and they became Callisto's family and village.

[24] Darius is the name of the farmer who aids Xena, removing the crossbow quarrel from her side, in CHARIOTS OF WAR (#02). He and his family are running away from the horrors of the Trojan War. This is reminiscent of Darius, king of Persia, who ran away from battle with Alexander. However, in CHARIOTS OF WAR, Xena loses the battle and her heart to Darius and his family. In Alexander's first battle with Darius, Alexander pulls off one of the most outstanding battlefield maneuvers all time defeating Darius' army and capturing Darius' family during the battle.

[25] As to regarding Xena herself, there is an anagram for Xena within Alexander's name. Drop the 'Al' in the beginning and 'der' at the end. Unscramble 'exan' and you get Xena.


[26] If I have not convinced you by now that the life of Alexander has influenced the writing of the series XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS, I never will.

[27] Is this a fluke? Are Xena writers the only ones that reconstruct literature or history? No way. After all "The Lady in White," "Powder," "A Time to Kill," and "Picket Fences" are based on "To Kill a Mockingbird." "Alien" is based on "The Thing." "Aliens" is based on "Them." "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" is based on "Moby Dick." "Clueless" is based on "Emma." "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman" is based on "The Scarlet Letter."


[28] As Alexander's fame grew, he was reported to have met the Queen of the Amazons as Xena does in HOOVES AND HARLOTS (#10).

[29] Draco drew up a code of laws during the Greek Archaic period in the year 621 B.C. The laws failed in their intent. Look for Draco an episode in which Draco is converted.

[30] In 594 B.C. Solon abolished debt-slavery. This may be the second Solon episode.

[31] Info on Alexander the Great was drawn from: "Grolier's 1996 CD Rom Encyclopedia" and the video "Ancient Warriors: Alexander the Great."

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