Alexander with Phillip His Physician. A.M. 3671.

WAG 7718


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. The event in this drawing is written about by Plutarch in 'The Life of Alexander'. Alexander the Great is resting having fallen ill after bathing in the cold water of the river Cydnus. His physician, Phillip (or Philip), is offering him medicine to help him regain his strength for battle. Alexander had received a letter from his general, Parmenion, warning him that Phillip had been bribed to poison him. However, Alexander trusted his physician so ignored the letter and took the medicine. Alexander's trust in Phillip was well-placed and he quickly recovered from his illness. Burney depicts Alexander giving Parmenion's letter to Phillip to read at the moment he is taking the medicine.