The king having been thus alienated, in the first place, Hephaestion found credence for his story that Callisthenes had promised him to make obeisance to the king and then had been false to his agreement. Again, men like Lysimachus and Hagnon persisted in saying that the sophist went about with lofty thoughts as if bent on abolishing a tyranny, and that the young men flocked to him and followed him about as if he were the only freeman among so many tens of thousands.
For this reason also, when the conspiracy of Hermolaüs and his associates
against Alexander was discovered, it was thought that the accusations of his detractors had an air of probability. They said, namely, that when Hermolaüs put the question to him how he might become a most illustrious man, Callisthenes said: ‘By killing the most illustrious;’ and that in inciting Hermolaüs to the deed he bade him have no fear of the golden couch, but remember that he was approaching a man who was subject to sickness and wounds.
And yet not one of the accomplices of Hermolaüs, even in the last extremity, denounced Callisthenes. Nay, even Alexander himself, in the letters which he wrote at once to Craterus, Attalus, and Alcetas, says that the youths confessed under torture that they had made this attempt of themselves, and that no one else was privy to it. But in a letter written later to Antipater, wherein he accuses Callisthenes also of the crime,
he says: ‘The youths were stoned to death by the Macedonians, but the sophist I will punish, together with those who sent him to me and those who harbour in their cities men who conspire against my life;’ and in these words, at least, he directly reveals a hostility to Aristotle, in whose house Callisthenes, on account of his relationship, had been reared, being a son of Hero, who was a niece of Aristotle.
As to the death of Callisthenes, some say that he was hanged by Alexander's orders, others that he was bound hand and foot and died of sickness, and Chares says that after his arrest he was kept in fetters seven months, that he might be tried before a full council when Aristotle was present, but that about the time when Alexander was wounded in India, he died from obesity and the disease of lice.