Assumed to have been born around 357 BC in ancient Macedonia, Hephaestion's youth is primarily unrecorded, though it is believed he came to know Alexandros Philippou Makedonon (Alexander the Great) through their education, and later under Aristotle's tutelage as young boys of fourteen years (or so). To have been tutored and taught within the court of Philip (Alexander's father, and the king) suggests the nobility and/or importance of Hephaestion's family.
The majority of Hephaestion's historical mentions are those of Alexander's campaigns and his closeness with the king. (Alexander inherited his father's title after Philip's assassination.) Hephaestion partook in many of Alexander's military campaigns, and continued to obtain titles of position, eventually becoming commander of the armies, and later Alexander's second in command (chiliarch). It is said, however, that Hephaestion's main strengths were diplomacy and logistics. It is also mentioned that, despite his military title, Alexander kept him from several important battles, perhaps due to his rumored lack of military strategy.
One of perhaps the most debated aspects of Hephaestion's life was his relationship with Alexander. This mostly stems from the diversity in relation to sexuality and friendship between ancient Greece and modern society. As it was in Greece, for young boys and men, it was normal, natural and accepted for them to partake in homoerotic relationships and experiences, that any many friendships between men could indeed possess a sexual element. Please note, though, that sexuality was not the base of a friendship; it was usually just a component. That said, as Alexander's closest friend, it would have been possible for both men to have possessed a sexual relationship during their youth. Regardless, it is also arguable that the two had truly been lovers. An example of this was Alexander's campaign through the city of Troy, where he honored the tomb of Achilles, and Hephaestion honored Patroclus. (Two characters and debated lovers from Homer's Illiad.) As men age, however, they are required to grow from such homoerotic relations, and marriage is expected. Hephaestion came to marry Drypteis, princess of the Achaemenid dynasty in Persia and sister to one of Alexander's wives, Stateira. She was widowed the following year though with Hephaestion's death. While Alexander's army was in the city of Ecbatana (modern Hamadan) for the winter, he fell drastically ill with symptoms mimicking typhoid fever, though poisoning was never ruled out. He died a week later.
Alexander was devastated by Hephaestion's death, and fell into fits of mourning, shaving his head, canceling all festivities, and ultimately executing Hephaestion's attending physician. Upon taking the body back to Babylon, Alexander's declared divine hero status on his closest friend, and many funeral games were held. The funeral preparations, which took eight months, were sadly never completed due to Alexander's own death around that time, but many aspects of the honoring still remain and were carried out, apparently including lion of Hamadan.
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