Candace of Meroë

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This article is about a legendary queen. For the Nubian title, see Kentake.

Candace of Meroë is a legendary queen of the Kingdom of Kush, with its capital in Meroë. The legend says that she defeated Alexander the Great when he tried to conquer territories south of Egypt.

References to this warrior queen are among the earliest made to the Nubian Kentakes. The name "Candace" is actually a form of the title "Kentake" ("Queen"), and not the actual name of a person.[1]


According to legend, a person called "Candace of Meroë" was the queen of Nubia at the time of the conquests of Alexander the Great. Alexander allegedly encountered her when he invaded Nubia.[2] In fact, Alexander never attacked Nubia, and never attempted to move further south than the oasis of Siwa in Egypt.[2]

The story is that when Alexander attempted to conquer her lands in 332 BC, she arranged her armies strategically to meet him and was present on a war elephant when he approached. Having assessed the strength of her armies, Alexander decided to withdraw from Nubia, heading to Egypt instead. Another story claims that Alexander and Candace had a romantic encounter.

These accounts originate from "The Alexander Romance" by an unknown writer called Pseudo-Callisthenes, and the work is largely a fictionalized and grandiose account of Alexander's life.[2] It is commonly quoted, but there seems to be no historical reference to this event from Alexander's time. The whole story of Alexander and Candace's encounter appears to be legendary.[2][3]


  1. ^ E. A. Wallis Budge (2003), Cook's Handbook for Egypt and the Sudan, Part 2 (reprinted ed.), Kessinger Publishing, p. 737, ISBN 9780766148024 
  2. ^ a b c d Gutenberg, David M. (2003). The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-11465-X. 
  3. ^ Morgan, J.R. and Stoneman, Richard (1994). Greek Fiction: The Greek Novel in Context. Routledge. pp. 117–118. ISBN 0-415-08507-1.