Life of Alexander  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Plutarch's Life of Alexander, written as a parallel to that of Julius Caesar, is one of only five extant tertiary sources on the Macedonian conqueror Alexander the Great. It includes anecdotes and descriptions of events that appear in no other source, just as Plutarch's portrait of Numa Pompilius, the putative second king of Rome, holds much that is unique on the early Roman calendar.

Plutarch devotes a great deal of space to Alexander's drive and desire, and strives to determine how much of it was presaged in his youth. He also draws extensively on the work of Lysippus, Alexander's favourite sculptor, to provide what is probably the fullest and most accurate description of the conqueror's physical appearance.

When it comes to his character, however, Plutarch is often rather less accurate, ascribing inordinate amounts of self-control to a man who very often lost it. It is significant, though, that the subject incurs less admiration from his biographer as the narrative progresses and the deeds that it recounts become less savoury.

Much, too, is made of Alexander's scorn for luxury: "He desired not pleasure or wealth, but only excellence and glory." This is most true, for Alexander's tastes grew more extravagant as he grew older only in the last year of his life and only as a means of approaching the image of a ruler his Persian subjects were better accustomed to - thus making it easier for him to succeed in uniting the Greek and Persian worlds together, according to the plan he had announced in his famous Speech given in Opis in 324 BC.

Full text (Project Gutenberg)


I. In writing the Lives of Alexander the Great and of Cæsar the conqueror of Pompeius, which are contained in this book, I have before me such an abundance of materials, that I shall make no other preface than to beg the reader, if he finds any of their famous exploits recorded imperfectly, and with large excisions, not to regard this as a fault. I am writing biography, not history; and often a man's most brilliant actions prove nothing as to his true character, while some trifling incident, some casual remark or jest, will throw more light upon what manner of man he was than the bloodiest battle, the greatest array of armies, or the most important siege. Therefore, just as portrait painters pay most attention to those peculiarities of the face and eyes, in which the likeness consists, and care but little for the rest of the figure, so it is my duty to dwell especially upon those actions which reveal the workings of my heroes' minds, and from these to construct the portraits of their respective lives, leaving their battles and their great deeds to be recorded by others.

II. All are agreed that Alexander was descended on his father's side from Herakles through Karanus, and on his mother's from Æakus through Neoptolemus.

We are told that Philip and Olympias first met during their initiation into the sacred mysteries at Samothrace, and that he, while yet a boy, fell in love with the orphan girl, and persuaded her brother Arymbas to consent to their marriage. The bride, before she consorted with her husband, dreamed that she had been struck by a thunderbolt, from which a sheet of flame sprang out in every direction, and then suddenly died away. Philip himself some time after his marriage dreamed that he set a seal [Pg 301]upon his wife's body, on which was engraved the figure of a lion. When he consulted the soothsayers as to what this meant, most of them declared the meaning to be, that his wife required more careful watching; but Aristander of Telmessus declared that she must be pregnant, because men do not seal up what is empty, and that she would bear a son of a spirited and lion-like disposition. Once Philip found his wife asleep, with a large tame snake stretched beside her; and this, it is said, quite put an end to his passion for her, and made him avoid her society, either because he feared the magic arts of his wife, or else from a religious scruple, because his place was more worthily filled. Another version of this story is that the women of Macedonia have been from very ancient times subject to the Orphic and Bacchic frenzy (whence they were called Clodones and Mimallones), and perform the same rites as do the Edonians and the Thracian women about Mount Haemus, from which the word "threskeuein" has come to mean "to be over-superstitious." Olympias, it is said, celebrated these rites with exceeding fervour, and in imitation of the Orientals, and to introduce into the festal procession large tame serpents,[394] which struck terror into the men as they glided through the ivy wreaths and mystic baskets which the women carried on their heads.

III. We are told that Philip after this portent sent Chairon of Megalopolis to Delphi, to consult the god there, and that he delivered an oracular response bidding him sacrifice to Zeus Ammon, and to pay especial reverence to that god: warning him, moreover, that he would some day lose the sight of that eye with which, through the chink of the half-opened door, he had seen the god consorting with his wife in the form of a serpent. The historian Eratosthenes informs us that when Alexander was about to set out on his great expedition, Olympias told him the secret of his birth, and bade him act worthily of his divine parentage. Other writers say that she scrupled to mention the subject, and was heard to say "Why does Alexander make Hera jealous of me?"

Alexander was born on the sixth day of the month [Pg 302]Hekatombæon,[395] which the Macedonians call Lous, the same day on which the temple of Artemis at Ephesus was burned. This coincidence inspired Hegesias of Magnesia to construct a ponderous joke, dull enough to have put out the fire, which was, that it was no wonder that the temple of Artemis was burned, since she was away from, it, attending to the birth of Alexander.[396] All the Persian magi who were in Ephesus at the time imagined that the destruction of the temple was but the forerunner of a greater disaster, and ran through the city beating their faces and shouting that on that day was born the destroyer of Asia. Philip, who had just captured the city of Potidæa, received at that time three messengers. The first announced that the Illyrians had been severely defeated by Parmenio; the second that his racehorse had won a victory at Olympia, and the third, that Alexander was born. As one may well believe, he was delighted at such good news and was yet more overjoyed when the soothsayers told him that his son, whose birth coincided with three victories, would surely prove invincible.

IV. His personal appearance is best shown by the statues of Lysippus, the only artist whom he allowed to represent him; in whose works we can clearly trace that slight droop of his head towards the left, and that keen glance of his eyes which formed his chief characteristics, and which were afterwards imitated by his friends and successors.

Apelles, in his celebrated picture of Alexander wielding a thunderbolt, has not exactly copied the fresh tint of his flesh, but has made it darker and swarthier than it was, for we are told that his skin was remarkably fair, inclining to red about the face and breast. We learn from the memoirs of Aristoxenes, that his body diffused a rich perfume, which scented his clothes, and that his breath was remarkably sweet. This was possibly caused by the hot and fiery constitution of his body; for sweet scents are produced, according to Theophrastus, by heat acting upon moisture. For this reason the hottest and driest [Pg 303]regions of the earth produce the most aromatic perfumes, because the sun dries up that moisture which causes most substances to decay.

Alexander's warm temperament of body seems to have rendered him fond of drinking, and fiery in disposition. As a youth he showed great power of self-control, by abstaining from all sensual pleasures in spite of his vehement and passionate nature; while his intense desire for fame rendered him serious and high-minded beyond his years.

For many kinds of glory, however, Alexander cared little; unlike his father Philip, who prided himself on his oratorical powers, and used to record his victories in the chariot races at Olympia upon his coins. Indeed, when Alexander's friends, to try him, asked him whether he would contend in the foot race at Olympia, for he was a remarkably swift runner, he answered, "Yes, if I have kings to contend with." He seems to have been altogether indifferent to athletic exercises; for though he gave more prizes than any one else to be contended for by dramatists, flute players, harp players, and even by rhapsodists,[397] and though he delighted in all manner of hunting and cudgel playing, he never seems to have taken any interest in the contests of boxing or the pankratium.[398] When ambassadors from the King of Persia arrived in Macedonia, Philip was absent, and Alexander entertained them. His engaging manners greatly charmed them, and he became their intimate friend. He never put any childish questions to them, but made many enquiries about the length of the journey from the sea coast to the interior of Persia, about the roads which led thither, about the king, whether he was experienced in war or not, and about the resources and military strength of the Persian empire, so that the ambassadors were filled with admira[Pg 304]tion, and declared that the boasted subtlety of Philip was nothing in comparison with the intellectual vigour and enlarged views of his son. Whenever he heard of Philip's having taken some city or won some famous victory, he used to look unhappy at the news, and would say to his friends, "Boys, my father will forestall us in everything; he will leave no great exploits for you and me to achieve." Indeed, he cared nothing for pleasure or wealth, but only for honour and glory; and he imagined that the more territory he inherited from his father, the less would be left for him to conquer. He feared that his father's conquests would be so complete, as to leave him no more battles to fight, and he wished to succeed, not to a wealthy and luxurious, but to a military empire, at the head of which he might gratify his desire for war and adventure.

His education was superintended by many nurses, pedagogues, and teachers, the chief of whom was Leonidas, a harsh-tempered man, who was nearly related to Olympias. He did not object to the title of pedagogue,[399] thinking that his duties are most valuable and honourable, but, on account of his high character and relationship to Alexander, was generally given the title of tutor by the others. The name and office of pedagogue was claimed by one Lysimachus, an Akarnanian by birth, and a dull man, but who gained the favour of Alexander by addressing him as Achilles, calling himself Phœnix, and Philip, Peleus.

VI. When Philoneikus the Thessalian brought the horse Boukephalus[400] and offered it to Philip for the sum of thirteen talents, the king and his friends proceeded to some level ground to try the horse's paces. They found that he was very savage and unmanageable, for he allowed no one to mount him, and paid no attention to any man's voice, but refused to allow any one to approach [Pg 305]him. On this Philip became angry, and bade them take the vicious intractable brute away. Alexander, who was present, said, "What a fine horse they are ruining because they are too ignorant and cowardly to manage him." Philip at first was silent, but when Alexander repeated this remark several times, and seemed greatly distressed, he said, "Do you blame your elders, as if you knew more than they, or were better able to manage a horse?" "This horse, at any rate," answered Alexander, "I could manage better than any one else." "And if you cannot manage him," retorted his father, "what penalty will you pay for your forwardness?" "I will pay," said Alexander, "the price of the horse."

While the others were laughing and settling the terms of the wager, Alexander ran straight up to the horse, took him by the bridle, and turned him to the sun; as it seems he had noticed that the horse's shadow dancing before his eyes alarmed him and made him restive. He then spoke gently to the horse, and patted him on the back with his hand, until he perceived that he no longer snorted so wildly, when, dropping his cloak, he lightly leaped upon his back. He now steadily reined him in, without violence or blows, and as he saw that the horse was no longer ill-tempered, but only eager to gallop, he let him go, boldly urging him to full speed with his voice and heel.

Philip and his friends were at first silent with terror; but when he wheeled the horse round, and rode up to them exulting in his success, they burst into a loud shout. It is said that his father wept for joy, and, when he dismounted, kissed him, saying, "My son, seek for a kingdom worthy of yourself: for Macedonia will not hold you."

VII. Philip, seeing that his son was easily led, but could not be made to do anything by force, used always to manage him by persuasion, and never gave him orders. As he did not altogether care to entrust his education to the teachers whom he had obtained, but thought that it would be too difficult a task for them, since Alexander required, as Sophokles says of a ship:

"Stout ropes to check him, and stout oars to guide."

[Pg 306]he sent for Aristotle, the most renowned philosopher of the age, to be his son's tutor, and paid him a handsome reward for doing so. He had captured and destroyed Aristotle's native city of Stageira; but now he rebuilt it, and repeopled it, ransoming the citizens, who had been, sold for slaves, and bringing back those who were living in exile. For Alexander and Aristotle he appointed the temple and grove of the nymphs, near the city of Mieza, as a school-house and dwelling; and there to this day are shown the stone seat where Aristotle sat, and the shady avenues where he used to walk. It is thought that Alexander was taught by him not only his doctrines of Morals and Politics, but also those more abstruse mysteries which are only communicated orally and are kept concealed from the vulgar: for after he had invaded Asia, hearing that Aristotle had published some treatises on these subjects, he wrote him a letter in which he defended the practice of keeping these speculations secret in the following words:—

"Alexander to Aristotle wishes health. You have not done well in publishing abroad those sciences which should only be taught by word of mouth. For how shall we be distinguished from other men, if the knowledge which we have acquired be made the common property of all? I myself had rather excel others in excellency of learning than in greatness of power. Farewell."

To pacify him, Aristotle wrote in reply that these doctrines were published, and yet not published: meaning that his treatise on Metaphysics was only written for those who had been instructed in philosophy by himself, and would be quite useless in other hands.

VIII. I think also that Aristotle more than any one else implanted a love of medicine in Alexander, who was not only fond of discussing the theory, but used to prescribe for his friends when they were sick, and order them to follow special courses of treatment and diet, as we gather from his letters. He was likewise fond of literature and of reading, and we are told by Onesikritus that he was wont to call the Iliad a complete manual of the military art, and that he always carried with him Aristotle's recension of Homer's poems, which is called 'the casket [Pg 307]copy,' and placed it under his pillow together with his dagger. Being without books when in the interior of Asia, he ordered Harpalus to send him some. Harpalus sent him the histories of Philistus, several plays of Euripides, Sophokles, and Æschylus, and the dithyrambic hymns of Telestus and Philoxenus.

Alexander when a youth used to love and admire Aristotle more even than his father, for he said that the latter had enabled him to live, but that the former had taught him to live well. He afterwards suspected him somewhat; yet he never did him any injury, but only was not so friendly with him as he had been, whereby it was observed that he no longer bore him the good-will he was wont to do. Notwithstanding this, he never lost that interest in philosophical speculation which he had acquired in his youth, as it proved by the honours which he paid to Anaxarchus, the fifty talents which he sent as a present to Xenokrates, and the protection and encouragement which he gave to Dandamris and Kalanus.

IX. When Philip was besieging Byzantium he left to Alexander, who was then only sixteen years old, the sole charge of the administration of the kingdom of Macedonia, confirming his authority by entrusting to him his own signet.[401] He defeated and subdued the Mædian[402] rebels, took their city, ejected its barbarian inhabitants, and reconstituted it as a Grecian colony, to which he gave the name of Alexandropolis.

He was present at the battle against the Greeks at Chæronea, and it is said to have been the first to charge the Sacred Band of the Thebans. Even in my own time, an old oak tree used to be pointed out, near the river Kephissus,[403] which was called Alexander's oak, because his tent was pitched beside it. It stands not far from the place where the Macedonian corpses were buried after the battle. Philip, as we may imagine, was overjoyed at [Pg 308]these proofs of his son's courage and skill, and nothing pleased him more than to hear the Macedonians call Alexander their king, and himself their general. Soon, however, the domestic dissensions produced by Philip's amours and marriages caused an estrangement between them, and the breach was widened by Olympias, a jealous and revengeful woman, who incensed Alexander against his father. But what especially moved Alexander was the conduct of Attalus at the marriage feast of his niece Kleopatra. Philip, who was now too old for marriage, had become enamoured of this girl, and after the wedding, Attalus in his cups called upon the Macedonians to pray to the gods that from the union of Philip and Kleopatra might be born a legitimate heir to the throne.

Enraged at these words, Alexander exclaimed, "You villain, am I then a bastard?" and threw a drinking cup at him. Philip, seeing this, rose and drew his sword to attack Alexander; but fortunately for both he was so excited by drink and rage that he missed his footing and fell headlong to the ground. Hereupon Alexander mocking him observed, "This is the man who was preparing to cross from Europe to Asia, and has been overthrown in passing from one couch[404] to another."

After this disgraceful scene, Alexander, with his mother Olympias, retired into Epirus, where he left her, and proceeded to the country of the Illyrians. About the same time Demaratus of Corinth, an old friend of the family, and privileged to speak his mind freely, came on a visit to Philip. After the first greetings were over, Philip enquired whether the states of Greece agreed well together. "Truly, King Philip," answered Demaratus, "it well becomes you to show an interest in the agreement of the Greeks, after you have raised such violent quarrels in your own family."

These words had such an effect upon Philip that Demaratus was able to prevail upon him to make his peace with Alexander and to induce him to return.

X. Yet when Pixodarus, the satrap of Karia, hoping to [Pg 309]connect himself with Philip, and so to obtain him as an ally, offered his eldest daughter in marriage to Arrhidæus, Philip's natural son, and sent Aristokrites to Macedonia to conduct the negotiations, Olympias and her friends again exasperated Alexander against his father by pointing out to him that Philip, by arranging this splendid marriage for Arrhidæus, and treating him as a person of such great importance, was endeavouring to accustom the Macedonians to regard him as the heir to the throne. Alexander yielded to these representations so far as to send Thessalus, the tragic actor, on a special mission to Pixodarus in Karia, to assure him that he ought to disregard Arrhidæus, who was illegitimate, and foolish to boot, and that it was to Alexander that he ought to offer the hand of his daughter.

Pixodarus was much more eager to accept this proposal than the former, but Philip one day hearing that Alexander was alone in his chamber, went thither with Philotas, the son of Parmenio, an intimate friend, and bitterly reproached him, pointing out how unworthy it was of his high birth and glorious position to stoop to marry the daughter of a mere Karian,[405] and of a barbarian who was a subject of the King of Persia.

Upon this he wrote to the Corinthians to send him Thessalus in chains, and also banished out of his kingdom Harpalus, Nearchus, Erigyius, and Ptolemæus, all of whom Alexander afterwards brought back and promoted to great honours.

Shortly after this, Pausanias was grossly insulted by the contrivance of Attalus and Kleopatra, and, as he could not obtain amends for what he suffered, assassinated Philip. We are told that most men laid the blame of this murder upon Queen Olympias, who found the young man smarting from the outrage which had been committed upon him, and urged him to avenge himself, while some accused Alexander himself. It is said that when Pausanias came to him and complained of his treatment, Alexander answered him by quoting the line from the Medea of [Pg 310]Euripides, in which she declares that she will be revenged upon

"The guardian, and the bridegroom, and the bride,"

alluding to Attalus, Philip, and Kleopatra.

However this may be, it is certain that he sought out and punished all who were concerned in the plot, and he expressed his sorrow on discovering that during his own absence from the kingdom, Kleopatra had been cruelly tortured and put to death by his mother Olympias.

XI. At the age of twenty he succeeded to the throne of Macedonia, a perilous and unenviable inheritance: for the neighbouring barbarian tribes chafed at being held in bondage, and longed for the rule of their own native kings; while Philip, although he had conquered Greece by force of arms, yet had not had time to settle its government and accustom it to its new position. He had overthrown all constituted authority in that country, and had left men's minds in an excited condition, eager for fresh changes and revolutions. The Macedonians were very sensible of the dangerous crisis through which they were passing, and hoped that Alexander would refrain as far as possible from interfering in the affairs of Greece, deal gently with the insurgent chiefs of his barbarian subjects, and carefully guard against revolutionary outbreaks. He, however, took quite a different view of the situation, conceiving it to be best to win safety by audacity, and carrying things with a high hand, thinking that if he showed the least sign of weakness, his enemies would all set upon him at once. He crushed the risings of the barbarians by promptly marching through their country as far as the river Danube, and by winning a signal victory over Syrmus, the King of the Triballi. After this, as he heard that the Thebans had revolted, and that the Athenians sympathised with them, he marched his army straight through Thermopylæ, with the remark that Demosthenes, who had called him a boy while he was fighting the Illyrians and Triballi, and a youth while he was marching through Thessaly, should find him a man when he saw him before the gates of Athens. When he reached Thebes, he gave the citizens [Pg 311]an opportunity to repent of their conduct, only demanding Phœnix and Prothytes to be given up to him, and offering the rest a free pardon if they would join him. When, however, the Thebans in answer to this, demanded that he should give up Philotas and Antipater to them, and called upon all who were willing to assist in the liberation of Greece to come and join them, he bade his Macedonians prepare for battle.

The Thebans, although greatly outnumbered, fought with superhuman valour; but they were taken in the rear by the Macedonian garrison, who suddenly made a sally from the Kadmeia, and the greater part of them were surrounded and fell fighting. The city was captured, plundered and destroyed. Alexander hoped by this terrible example to strike terror into the other Grecian states, although he put forward the specious pretext that he was avenging the wrongs of his allies; for the Platæans and Phokians had made some complaints of the conduct of the Thebans towards them. With the exception of the priests, the personal friends and guests of the Macedonians, the descendants of the poet Pindar, and those who had opposed the revolt, he sold for slaves all the rest of the inhabitants, thirty thousand in number. More than six thousand men perished in the battle.

XII. Amidst the fearful scene of misery and disorder which followed the capture of the city, certain Thracians broke into the house of one Timoklea, a lady of noble birth and irreproachable character. Their leader forcibly violated her, and then demanded whether she had any gold or silver concealed. She said that she had, led him alone into the garden, and, pointing to a well, told him that when the city was taken she threw her most valuable jewels into it. While the Thracian was stooping over the well trying to see down to the bottom, she came behind, pushed him in, and threw large stones upon him until he died. The Thracians seized her, and took her to Alexander, where she proved herself a woman of courage by her noble and fearless carriage, as she walked in the midst of her savage captors. The king enquired who she was, to which she replied she was the sister of Theagenes, who fought against Philip to protect the liberty of Greece, and who fell leading on the Thebans [Pg 312]at Chæronea. Alexander, struck by her answer, and admiring her exploit, gave orders that she and her children should be set at liberty.

XIII. Alexander came to terms with the Athenians, although they had expressed the warmest sympathy for the Thebans, omitting the performance of the festival of Demeter, out of respect for their misfortunes, and giving a kindly welcome to all the fugitives who reached Athens. Either he had had his fill of anger, like a sated lion, or possibly he wished to perform some signal act of mercy by way of contrast to his savage treatment of Thebes. Be this as it may, he not only informed the Athenians that he had no grounds of quarrel with them, but even went so far as to advise them to watch the course of events with care, since, if anything should happen to him, they might again become the ruling state in Greece. In after times, Alexander often grieved over his harsh treatment of the Thebans, and the recollection of what he had done made him much less severe to others. Indeed, he always referred his unfortunate drunken quarrel with Kleitus, and the refusal of the Macedonian soldiers to invade India, by which they rendered the glory of his great expedition incomplete, to the anger of Dionysius,[406] who desired to avenge the fate of his favourite city. Moreover, of the Thebans who survived the ruin of their city, no one ever asked any favour of Alexander without its being granted. This was the manner in which Alexander dealt with Thebes.

XIV. The Greeks after this assembled at Corinth and agreed to invade Persia with Alexander for their leader. Many of their chief statesmen and philosophers paid him visits of congratulation, and he hoped that Diogenes of Sinope, who was at that time living at Corinth, would do so. As he, however, paid no attention whatever to Alexander and remained quietly in the suburb called Kraneium, Alexander himself went to visit him. He found him lying at full length, basking in the sun. At the approach of so many people, he sat up, and looked at Alexander. Alexander greeted him, and enquired whether he could do anything for him. "Yes," answered [Pg 313]Diogenes, "you can stand a little on one side, and not keep the sun off me." This answer is said to have so greatly surprised Alexander, and to have filled him with such a feeling of admiration for the greatness of mind of a man who could treat him with such insolent superiority, that when he went away, while all around were jeering and scoffing he said, "Say what you will; if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes."

Desiring to consult the oracle of Apollo concerning his campaign, he now proceeded to Delphi. It chanced that he arrived there on one of the days which are called unfortunate, on which no oracular responses can be obtained. In spite of this he at once sent for the chief priestess, and as she refused to officiate and urged that she was forbidden to do so by the law, he entered the temple by force and dragged her to the prophetic tripod. She, yielding to his persistence, said, "You are irresistible, my son." Alexander, at once, on hearing this, declared that he did not wish for any further prophecy, but that he had obtained from her the response which he wished for. While he was preparing for his expedition, among many other portents, the statue of Orpheus at Loibethra, which is made of cypress-wood, was observed to be covered with sweat. All were alarmed at this omen, but Aristander bade them take courage, as it portended that Alexander should perform many famous acts, which would cause poets much trouble to record.

XV. The number of his army is variously stated by different authorities, some saying that it amounted to thirty thousand foot and four thousand horse, while others put the whole amount so high as forty-three thousand foot and five thousand horse. To provide for this multitude, Aristobulus relates that he possessed only seventy talents, while Douris informs us that he had only provisions for thirty days, and Onesikritus declares that he was in debt to the amount of two hundred talents. Yet although he started with such slender resources, before he embarked he carefully enquired into the affairs of his friends, and made them all ample presents, assigning to some of them large tracts of land, and to others villages, the rents of houses, or the right of levying harbour dues. When he [Pg 314]had almost expended the whole of the revenues of the crown in this fashion, Perdikkas enquired of him, "My king, what have you reserved for yourself?" "My hopes," replied Alexander. "Then," said Perdikkas, "are we who go with you not to share them?" and he at once refused to accept the present which had been offered to him, as did several others. Those, however, who would receive his gifts, or who asked for anything, were rewarded with a lavish hand, so that he distributed among them nearly all the revenues of Macedonia; so confident of success was he when he set out. When he had crossed the Hellespont he proceeded to Troy, offered sacrifice to Athena, and poured libations to the heroes who fell there. He anointed the column which marks the tomb of Achilles with fresh oil, and after running round it naked with his friends, as is customary, placed a garland upon it, observing that Achilles was fortunate in having a faithful friend while he lived, and a glorious poet to sing of his deeds after his death. While he was walking through the city and looking at all the notable things, he was asked whether he wished to see the harp which had once belonged to Paris. He answered, that he cared nothing for it, but that he wished to find that upon which Achilles used to play when he sang of the deeds of heroes.

XVI. Meanwhile the generals of Darius had collected a large army, and posted it at the passage of the river Granikus, so that it was necessary for Alexander to fight a battle in order to effect so much as an entrance into Asia. Most of the Greek generals were alarmed at the depth and uneven bed of the river, and at the rugged and broken ground on the farther bank, which they would have to mount in the face of the enemy. Some also raised a religious scruple, averring that the Macedonian kings never made war during the month Daisius. Alexander said that this could be easily remedied, and ordered that the second month in the Macedonian calendar should henceforth be called Artemisium. When Parmenio besought him not to risk a battle, as the season was far advanced, he said that the Hellespont would blush for shame if he crossed it, and then feared to cross the Granikus, and at once plunged into the stream with [Pg 315]thirteen squadrons of cavalry. It seemed the act of a desperate madman rather than of a general to ride thus through a rapid river, under a storm of missiles, towards a steep bank where every position of advantage was occupied by armed men. He, however, gained the farther shore, and made good his footing there, although with great difficulty on account of the slippery mud. As soon as he had crossed, and driven away those who had opposed his passage, he was charged by a mass of the enemy, and forced to fight, pell-mell, man to man, before he could put those who had followed him over into battle array. The enemy came on with a shout, and rode straight up to the horses of the Macedonians, thrusting at them with spears, and using swords when their spears were broken. Many of them pressed round Alexander himself, who was made a conspicuous figure by his shield and the long white plume which hung down on each side of his helmet. He was struck by a javelin in the joint of his corslet, but received no hurt. Rhœsakes and Spithridates, two of the Persian generals, now attacked him at once. He avoided the charge of the latter, but broke his spear against the breastplate of Rhœsakes, and was forced to betake him to his sword. No sooner had they closed together than Spithridates rode up beside him, and, standing up in his stirrups, dealt him such a blow with a battle-axe, as cut off one side of his plume, and pierced his helmet just so far as to reach his hair with the edge of the axe. While Spithridates was preparing for another blow, he was run through by black Kleitus with a lance, and at the same moment Alexander with his sword laid Rhœsakes dead at his feet. During this fierce and perilous cavalry battle, the Macedonian phalanx[407] crossed the river, and engaged the enemy's infantry force, none of which offered much resistance except a body of mercenary Greeks in the pay of Persia. These troops retired to a small rising ground, and begged for quarter. Alexander, however, furiously attacked them by riding up to them by himself, in front of his men.

He lost his horse, which was killed by a sword-thrust, [Pg 316]and it is said that more of the Macedonians perished in that fight, and that more wounds were given and received, than in all the rest of the battle, as they were attacking desperate men accustomed to war.

The Persians are said to have lost twenty thousand infantry, and two thousand five hundred cavalry. In the army of Alexander, Aristobulus states the total loss to have been thirty-four men, nine of whom were foot soldiers. Alexander ordered that each of these men should have his statue made in bronze by Lysippus; and wishing to make the Greeks generally partakers of his victory, he sent the Athenians three hundred captured shields, and on the other spoils placed the following vainglorious inscription:[408] "Alexander, the son of Philip, and the Greeks, all but the Lacedæmonians, won these spoils from the barbarians of Asia." As for the golden drinking-cups, purple hangings, and other plunder of that sort, he sent it nearly all to his mother, reserving only a few things for himself.

XVII. This victory wrought a great change in Alexander's position. Several of the neighbouring states came and made their submission to him, and even Sardis itself, the chief town in Lydia, and the main station of the Persians in Asia Minor, submitted without a blow. The only cities which still resisted him, Halikarnassus and Miletus, he took by storm, and conquered all the adjacent territory, after which he remained in doubt as to what to attempt next; whether to attack Darius at once and risk all that he had won upon the issue of a single battle, or to consolidate and organise his conquests on the coast of Asia Minor, and to gather new strength for the final struggle. It is said that at this time a spring in the country of Lykia, near the city of Xanthus, overflowed, and threw up from its depths a brazen tablet, upon which, in ancient characters, was inscribed a prophecy that the Persian empire should be destroyed by the Greeks. Encouraged by this portent, he extended his conquests along the sea coast as far as Phœnicia and Kilikia. Many [Pg 317]historians dwelt with admiration on the good fortune of Alexander, in meeting with such fair weather and such a smooth sea during his passage along the stormy shore of Pamphylia, and say that it was a miracle that the furious sea, which usually dashed against the highest rocks upon the cliffs, fell calm for him. Menander alludes to this in one of his plays. "Like Alexander, if I wish to meet A man, at once I find him in the street; And, were I forced to journey o'er the sea, The sea itself would calm its waves for me."

Alexander himself, however, in his letters, speaks of no such miracle, but merely tells us that he started from Phaselis, and passed along the difficult road called Klimax, or the Ladder.[409] He spent some time in Phaselis, and while he was there, observing in the market-place a statue of Theodektes, a philosopher, who had recently died, he made a procession to it one day after dinner, and crowned it with flowers, as a sportive recognition of what he owed to Theodektes, with whose philosophical writings Aristotle had made him familiar.

XVIII. After this he put down a revolt among the Pisidians, and conquered the whole of Phrygia. On his arrival at Gordium, which is said to have been the capital of King Midas of old, he was shown the celebrated chariot there, tied up with a knot of cornel-tree bark. Here he was told the legend, which all the natives believed, that whoever untied that knot was destined to become lord of all the world. Most historians say that as the knot was tied with a strap whose ends could not be found, and was very complicated and intricate, Alexander, despairing of untying it, drew his sword and cut through the knot, thus making many ends appear. But Aristobulus tells us that he easily undid it by pulling out of the pole the [Pg 318]pin to which the strap was fastened, and then drawing off the yoke itself from the pole.

He now prevailed upon the people of Paphlagonia and Kappadokia to join him, and also was encouraged in his design of proceeding farther into the interior by receiving intelligence of the death of Memnon, the general to whom Darius had entrusted the defence of the sea coast, who had already caused him much trouble, and had offered a most stubborn resistance to him. Darius, too, came from Susa, confident in the numbers of his army, for he was at the head of six hundred thousand men, and greatly encouraged by a dream upon which the Magi had put rather a strained interpretation in order to please him. He dreamed that he saw the Macedonian phalanx begirt with flame, and that Alexander, dressed in a courier's cloak like that which he himself had worn before he became king, was acting as his servant. Afterwards, Alexander went into the temple of Belus, and disappeared. By this vision the gods probably meant to foretell that the deeds of the Macedonians would be brilliant and glorious, and that Alexander after conquering Asia, just as Darius had conquered it when from a mere courier he rose to be a king, would die young and famous.

XIX. Darius was also much encouraged by the long inaction of Alexander in Kilikia. This was caused by an illness, which some say arose from the hardships which he had undergone, and others tell us was the result of bathing in the icy waters of the Kydnus. No physician dared to attend him, for they all thought that he was past the reach of medicine, and dreaded the anger of the Macedonians if they proved unsuccessful. At last Philip, an Akarnanian, seeing that he was dangerously ill, determined to run the risk, as he was his true friend, and thought it his duty to share all his dangers. He compounded a draught for him, and persuaded him to drink it, by telling him that it would give him strength and enable him to take the field. At this time Parmenio sent him a letter from the camp, bidding him beware of Philip, who had been bribed to poison him by Darius with rich presents, and the offer of his own daughter in marriage. Alexander read the letter, and showed it to no one, but [Pg 319]placed it under his pillow. At the appointed hour, Philip and his friends entered the room, bringing the medicine in a cup. Alexander took the cup from him, and gave him the letter to read, while he firmly and cheerfully drank it off. It was a strange and theatrical scene. When the one had read, and the other had drunk, they stared into each other's faces, Alexander with a cheerful expression of trust and kindly feeling towards Philip, while Philip, enraged at the calumny, first raised his hands to heaven, protesting his innocence, and then, casting himself upon his knees at the bed-side, besought Alexander to be of good cheer and follow his advice. The effect of the drug at first was to produce extreme weakness, for he became speechless and almost insensible. In a short time, however, by Philip's care, he recovered his strength, and showed himself publicly to the Macedonians, who were very anxious about him, and would not believe that he was better until they saw him.

XX. There was in the camp of Darius a Macedonian refugee, named Amyntas, who was well acquainted with Alexander's character. This man, when he found that Darius wished to enter the hilly country to fight Alexander amongst its narrow valleys, besought him to remain where he was, upon the flat open plains, where the enormous numbers of his troops could be advantageously used against the small Macedonian army. When Darius answered that he feared Alexander and his men would escape unless he attacked, Amyntas said, "O king, have no fears on that score; for he will come and fight you, and I warrant he is not far off now." However, Amyntas made no impression on Darius, who marched forward into Kilikia, while at the same time Alexander marched into Syria to meet him. During the night they missed one another, and each turned back, Alexander rejoicing at this incident, and hurrying to catch Darius in the narrow defile leading into Kilikia, while Darius was glad of the opportunity of recovering his former ground, and of disentangling his army from the narrow passes through the mountains. He already had perceived the mistake which he had committed in entering a country where the sea, the mountains, and the river Pyramus which ran between them, made it impossible for [Pg 320]his army to act, while on the other hand it afforded great advantages to his enemies, who were mostly foot soldiers, and whose numbers were not so great as to encumber their movements.

Fortune, no doubt, greatly favoured Alexander, but yet he owed much of his success to his excellent generalship; for although enormously outnumbered by the enemy, he not only avoided being surrounded by them, but was able to outflank their left with his own right wing, and by this manœuvre completely defeated the Persians. He himself fought among the foremost, and, according to Chares, was wounded in the thigh by Darius himself. Alexander in the account of the battle which he despatched to Antipater, does not mention the name of the man who wounded him, but states that he received a stab in the thigh with a dagger, and that the wound was not a dangerous one.

He won a most decisive victory, and slew more than a hundred thousand of the enemy, but could not come up with Darius himself, as he gained a start of nearly a mile. He captured his chariot, however, and his bow and arrows, and on his return found the Macedonians revelling in the rich plunder which they had won, although the Persians had been in light marching order, and had left most of their heavy baggage at Damascus. The royal pavilion of Darius himself, full of beautiful slaves, and rich furniture of every description, had been left unplundered, and was reserved for Alexander himself, who as soon as he had taken off his armour, proceeded to the bath, saying "Let me wash off the sweat of the battle in the bath of Darius." " Nay," answered one of his companions, "in that of Alexander; for the goods of the vanquished become the property of the victor." When he entered the bath and saw that all the vessels for water, the bath itself, and the boxes of unguents were of pure gold, and smelt the delicious scent of the rich perfumes with which the whole pavilion was filled; and when he passed from the bath into a magnificent and lofty saloon where a splendid banquet was prepared, he looked at his friends and said "This, then, it is to be a king indeed."

[Pg 321]XXI. While he was dining it was told him that the mother and wife of Darius, and his two daughters, who were among the captives, had seen the chariot and bow of Darius, and were mourning for him, imagining him to be dead. Alexander when he heard this paused for a long time, being more affected by the grief of these ladies, than by the victory which he had won. Hie sent Leonnatus to inform them, that they need neither mourn for Darius, nor fear Alexander; for he was fighting for the empire of Asia, not as a personal enemy of Darius, and would take care that they were treated with the same honour and respect as before. This generous message to the captive princesses was followed by acts of still greater kindness; for he permitted then to bury whomsoever of the slain Persians they wished, and to use all their own apparel and furniture, which had been seized by the soldiers as plunder. He also allowed them to retain the regal title and state, and even increased their revenues. But the noblest and most truly royal part of his treatment of these captive ladies was that he never permitted them to hear any coarse language, or imagine for a moment that they were likely to suffer violence or outrage; so that they lived unseen and unmolested, more as though they were in some sacred retreat of holy virgins than in a camp. Yet the wife of Darius is said to have been the most beautiful princess of her age, just as Darius himself was the tallest and handsomest man in Asia, and their daughters are said to have resembled their parents in beauty. Alexander, it seems, thought it more kingly to restrain himself than to conquer the enemy, and never touched any of them, nor did he know any other before his marriage, except Barsine. This lady, after the death of her husband Memnon, remained at Damascus. She had received a Greek education, was naturally attractive, and was of royal descent, as her father was Artabazus, who married one of the king's daughters; which, added to the solicitations of Parmenio, as we are told by Aristobulus, made Alexander the more willing to attach himself to so beautiful and well-born a lady. When Alexander saw the beauty of the other captives, he said in jest, that the Persian ladies make [Pg 322]men's eyes sore to behold them. Yet, in spite of their attractions, he was determined that his self-restraint should be as much admired as their beauty, and passed by them as if they had been images cut out of stone.

XXII. Indeed, when Philoxenus, the commander of his fleet, wrote to inform him that a slave merchant of Tarentum, named Theodorus, had two beautiful slaves for sale, and desired to know whether he would buy them, Alexander was greatly incensed, and angrily demanded of his friends what signs of baseness Philoxenus could have observed in him that he should venture to make such disgraceful proposals to him. He sent a severe reprimand to Philoxenus, and ordered him to send Theodorus and his merchandise to the devil. He also severely rebuked a young man named Hagnon for a similar offence.

On another occasion, when he heard that two Macedonians of Parmenio's regiment, named Damon and Timotheus, had violently outraged the wives of some of the mercenary soldiers, he wrote to Parmenio, ordering him, if the charge were proved, to put them to death like mere brute beasts that prey upon mankind. And in that letter he wrote thus of himself. "I have never seen, or desired to see the wife of Darius, and have not even allowed her beauty to be spoken of in my presence."

He was wont to say that he was chiefly reminded that he was mortal by these two weaknesses, sleep and lust; thinking weariness and sensuality alike to be bodily weaknesses. He was also most temperate in eating, as was signally proved by his answer to the princess Ada, whom he adopted as his mother, and made Queen of Karia. She, in order to show her fondness for him, sent him every day many dainty dishes and sweetmeats, and at last presented him with her best cooks. He answered her that he needed them not, since he had been provided with much better relishes for his food by his tutor Leonidas, who had taught him to earn his breakfast by a night-march, and to obtain an appetite for his dinner by eating sparingly at breakfast. "My tutor," he said, "would often look into my chests of clothes, and of bedding, to make sure that my mother had not hidden any delicacies for me in them."

[Pg 323]XXIII. He was less given to wine than he was commonly supposed to be. He was thought to be a great drinker because of the length of time which he would pass over each cup, in talking more than in drinking it, for he always held a long conversation while drinking, provided he was at leisure to do so. If anything had to be done, no wine, or desire of rest, no amusement, marriage, or spectacle could restrain him, as they did other generals. This is clearly shown by the shortness of his life, and the wonderful number of great deeds which he performed during the little time that he lived. When he was at leisure, he used to sacrifice to the gods immediately after rising in the morning, and then sit down to his breakfast. After breakfast, he would pass the day in hunting, deciding disputes between his subjects, devising military manœuvres, or reading. When on a journey, if he was not in any great hurry, he used, while on the road, to practice archery, or to dismount from a chariot which was being driven at full speed, and then again mount it. Frequently also he hunted foxes and shot birds for amusement, as we learn from his diaries. On arriving at the place where he intended to pass the night, he always bathed and anointed himself, and then asked his cooks what was being prepared for his dinner.

He always dined late, just as it began to grow dark, and was very careful to have his table well provided, and to give each of his guests an equal share. He sat long over his wine, as we have said, because of his love of conversation. And although at all other times his society was most charming, and his manners gracious and pleasant beyond any other prince of his age, yet when he was drinking, his talk ran entirely upon military topics, and became offensively boastful, partly from his own natural disposition, and partly from the encouragement which he received from his flatterers. This often greatly embarrassed honest men, as they neither wished to vie with the flatterers in praising him to his face, nor yet to appear to grudge him his due share of admiration. To bestow such excessive praise seemed shameful, while to withhold it was dangerous. After a drinking bout, he would take a bath, and often slept until late in the following day; and [Pg 324]sometimes he passed the whole day asleep. He cared but little for delicate food, and often when the rarest fruits and fish were sent to him from the sea-coast, he would distribute them so lavishly amongst his friends as to leave none for himself; yet his table was always magnificently served, and as his revenues became increased by his conquests, its expense rose to ten thousand drachmas a day. To this it was finally limited, and those who entertained Alexander were told that they must not expend more than that sum.

XXIV. After the battle of Issus, he sent troops to Damascus, and captured all the treasure, the baggage, and the women and children of the Persian army. Those who chiefly benefited by this were the Thessalian cavalry, who had distinguished themselves in the battle, and had been purposely chosen for this service by Alexander as a reward for their bravery; yet all the camp was filled with riches, so great was the mass of plunder. Then did the Macedonians get their first taste of gold and silver, of Persian luxury and of Persian women; and after this, like hounds opening upon a scent, they eagerly pressed forward on the track of the wealthy Persians. Alexander, however, thought it best, before proceeding further, to complete the conquest of the sea-coast. Cyprus was at once surrendered to him by its local kings, as was all Phœnicia, except Tyre. He besieged Tyre for seven months, with great mounds and siege artillery on the land side, while a fleet of two hundred triremes watched it by sea. During the seventh month of the siege he dreamed that Herakles greeted him in a friendly manner from the walls of Tyre, and called upon him to come in. Many of the Tyrians also dreamed that Apollo appeared to them, and said that he was going to Alexander, since what was being done in the city of Tyre did not please him. The Tyrians, upon this, treated the god as though he were a man caught in the act of deserting to Alexander, for they tied cords round his statue, nailed it down to its base, and called him Alexandristes, or follower of Alexander. Alexander now dreamed another dream, that a satyr appeared to him at a distance, and sported with him, but when he endeavoured to catch him, ran away, and that, at length, after much [Pg 325]trouble, he caught him. This was very plausibly explained by the prophets to mean "Sa Tyros"—"Tyre shall be thine," dividing the Greek word Satyros into two parts. A well is shown at the present day near which Alexander saw the satyr in his dream.

During the siege, Alexander made an expedition against the neighbouring Arab tribes, in which he fell into great danger through his old tutor Lysimachus, who insisted on accompanying him, declaring that he was no older and no less brave than Phœnix when he followed Achilles to Troy. When they reached the mountains, they were forced to leave their horses and march on foot. The rest proceeded on their way, but Lysimachus could not keep up, although night was coming on and the enemy were near. Alexander would not leave him, but encouraged him and helped him along until he became separated from his army, and found himself almost alone. It was now dark, and bitterly cold. The country where they were was very rugged and mountainous, and in the distance appeared many scattered watch-fires of the enemy.

Alexander, accustomed to rouse the disheartened Macedonians by his own personal exertions, and trusting to his swiftness of foot, ran up to the nearest fire, struck down with his sword two men who wore watching beside it, and brought a burning firebrand back to his own party. They now made up an enormous fire, which terrified some of the enemy so much that they retreated, while others who had intended to attack them, halted and forbore to do so, thus enabling them to pass the night in safety.

XXV. The siege of Tyre came to an end in the following manner. The greater part of Alexander's troops were resting from their labours, but in order to occupy the attention of the enemy, he led a few men up to the city walls, while Aristander, the soothsayer, offered sacrifice. When he saw the victims, he boldly informed all who were present that during the current month, Tyre would be taken. All who heard him laughed him to scorn, as that day was the last of the month, but Alexander seeing him at his wits' end, being always eager to support the credit of prophecies, gave orders that that day should [Pg 326]not be reckoned as the thirtieth of the month, but as the twenty-third. After this he bade the trumpets sound, and assaulted the walls much more vigorously than he had originally intended. The attack succeeded, and as the rest of the army would no longer stay behind in the camp, but rushed to take their share in the assault, the Tyrians were overpowered, and their city taken on that very day.

Afterwards, while Alexander was besieging Gaza, the largest city in Syria, a clod of earth was dropped upon his shoulder by a bird, which afterwards alighted upon one of the military engines, and became entangled in the network of ropes by which it was worked. This portent also was truly explained by Aristander; for the place was taken, and Alexander was wounded in the shoulder.

He sent many of the spoils to Olympias, Kleopatra, and others of his friends, and sent his tutor Leonidas five hundred talents weight of frankincense, and a hundred talents of myrrh, to remind him of what he had said when a child. Leonidas once, when sacrificing, reproved Alexander for taking incense by handfuls to throw upon the victim when it was burning on the altar. "When," he said, "you have conquered the country from which incense comes, Alexander, then you may make such rich offerings as these; but at present you must use what we have sparingly." Alexander now wrote to him, "We have sent you abundance of frankincense and myrrh, that you may no longer treat the gods so stingily."

XXVI. When a certain casket was brought to him, which appeared to be the most valuable of all the treasures taken from Darius, he asked his friends what they thought he ought to keep in it as his own most precious possession. After they had suggested various different things, he said that he intended to keep his copy of the Iliad in it. This fact is mentioned by many historians; and if the legend which is current among the people of Alexandria; on the authority of Herakleides, be true, the poems of Homer were far from idle or useless companions to him, even when on a campaign. The story goes that after conquering Egypt, he desired to found a great and populous Grecian city, to be called after his own [Pg 327]name, and that after he had fixed upon an excellent site, where in the opinion of the best architects, a city surpassing anything previously existing could be built, he dreamed that a man with long hair and venerable aspect appeared to him, and recited the following verses: "Hard by, an island in the stormy main Lies close to Egypt, Pharos is its name."

As soon as he woke, he proceeded to Pharos, which then was an island near the Canopic mouth of the Nile, though at the present day so much earth has been deposited by the river that it is joined to the mainland. When he saw the great advantages possessed by this place, which is a long strip of land, stretching between the sea and a large inland lake, with a large harbour at the end of it, he at once said that Homer, besides his other admirable qualities, was a splendid architect, and gave orders to his workmen to mark out a site for a city suitable to such a situation. There was no chalk or white earth, with which it is usual to mark the course of the walls, but they took barley-groats, and marked out a semicircular line with them upon the black earth, dividing it into equal segments by lines radiating from the centre, so that it looked like a Macedonian cloak, of which the walls formed the outer fringe. While the king was looking with satisfaction at the plan of the new city, suddenly from the lake and the river, innumerable aquatic birds of every kind flew like great clouds to the spot, and devoured all the barley. This omen greatly disturbed Alexander; however, the soothsayers bade him take courage, and interpreted it to mean that the place would become a very rich and populous city. Upon this he ordered the workmen at once to begin to build, while he himself started to visit the shrine and oracle of Zeus Ammon. This journey is tedious and difficult, and dangerous also, because the way lies over a waterless desert, where the traveller is exposed to violent storms of sand whenever the south wind blows. It was here that fifty thousand men of the army of Cambyses are said to have been overwhelmed by the sand, which rolled upon them in huge billows until they were completely ingulfed. All these perils were present [Pg 328]to all men's minds, but it was hard to turn Alexander away from any project upon which he had once set his heart. The invariable good fortune which he had enjoyed confirmed his self-will, and his pride would not allow him to confess himself vanquished either by human enemies or natural obstacles.

XXVII. During his journey, the signal assistance which he received from the gods in all his difficulties was more remarkable and more generally believed than the oracular response which he is said to have received, although these portents made men more inclined to believe in the oracle. In the first place, plentiful showers were sent, which quite dissipated any fears which the expedition had entertained about suffering from thirst, while the rain cooled the sand and thus tempered the hot air of the desert to a pleasant warmth. Next, when the guides lost their way, and all were wandering helplessly, birds appeared who guided them on the right path, flying before them and encouraging them to march, and waiting for those of them who fell behind wearied. "We are even assured by Kallisthones that, at night, the birds by their cries recalled stragglers, and kept all on the direct road.

When Alexander had crossed the desert, and arrived at the temple, the priest of Ammon greeted him as the son of the god. He inquired whether anyone of his father's murderers had escaped, to which the priest answered that he must not ask such questions, for his father was more than man. Alexander now altered the form of his inquiry and asked whether he had punished all the murderers of Philip: and then he asked another question, about his empire, whether he was fated to conquer all mankind. On receiving as an answer that this would be granted to him and that Philip had been amply avenged, he made splendid presents to the god, and amply rewarded the priests.

This is the account which most historians give about the response of the oracle; but in a letter to his mother, Alexander says that he received certain secret prophecies, which upon his return he would communicate to her alone. Some narrate that the priest, wishing to give him a friendly greeting in the Greek language, said "My son," [Pg 329]but being a foreigner, mispronounced the words so as to say "Son of Zeus," a mistake which delighted Alexander and caused men to say that the god himself had addressed him as "Son of Zeus." We are told that while in Egypt, he attended the lectures of the philosopher Psammon, and was especially pleased when he pointed out that God is King over all men, because that which rules and conquers must be king. He himself thought that he had improved upon this by saying that although God is the common father of all men, yet that he makes the best men more peculiarly his own.

XXVIII. In his dealings with Asiatics, he always acted and spoke with the greatest arrogance, and seemed firmly convinced of his own divine parentage, but he was careful not to make the same boast when among Greeks. On one occasion, indeed, he wrote to the Athenians the following letter about their possession of Samos. "I," he said, "should not have presented you with that free and glorious city; but it was presented to you by its former master, my reputed father Philip."

Yet afterwards when he was wounded by an arrow and in great pain he said "This, my friends, is blood that runs from my wound, and not

"Ichor, that courses through the veins of gods."

Once when a great thunderstorm terrified every one, Anaxarchus the sophist, who was with him, said "Son of Zeus, canst thou do as much?" To this, Alexander answered with a smile, "Nay, I love not to frighten my friends, as you would have me do, when you complained of my table, because fish was served upon it instead of princes' heads." Indeed we are told that once, when Alexander had sent some small fish to Hephæstion, Anaxarchus used this expression ironically disparaging those who undergo great toils and run great risks to obtain magnificent results which, after all, make them no happier or able to enjoy themselves than other men. From these anecdotes we see that Alexander himself did not put any belief in the story of his divine parentage, but that he used it as a means of imposing upon others.

[Pg 330]XXIX. From Egypt he returned to Phœnicia, and there offered magnificent sacrifices to the gods, with grand processions, cyclic choruses, and performances of tragic dramas. These last were especially remarkable, for the local kings of Cyprus acted as choragi, that is, supplied the chorus and paid all the expenses of putting the drama upon the stage, just as is done every year at Athens by the representatives of the tribes, and they exhibited wonderful emulation, desiring to outdo each other in the splendour of their shows. The contest between Nikokreon, King of Salamis, and Pasikrates, King of Soli, is especially memorable. These two had obtained by lot the two most celebrated actors of the day, who were named Athenodorus and Thessalus, to act in their plays. Of these, Athenodorus was assigned to Nikokreon, and Thessalus, in whose success Alexander himself was personally interested, to Pasikrates. Alexander, however, never allowed any word to escape him denoting his preference for one over the other until after the votes had been given, and Athenodorus had been proclaimed the winner, when, as he was going home, he said that he would willingly have given up a province of his kingdom to save Thessalus from being vanquished. As Athenodorus was fined by the Athenians for being absent from their Dionysian festival, in which he ought to have taken part, he begged Alexander to write them a letter to excuse him. Alexander refused to do this, but paid his fine himself. And when Lykon, of Skarphia, an excellent actor who had pleased Alexander well, inserted a verse into the comedy which he was acting, in which he begged to be given ten talents, Alexander laughed and gave them to him.

Darius now sent an embassy to Alexander, bearing a letter, in which he offered to pay ten thousand talents as a ransom for his wife and children, and proposed that Alexander should receive all the territory west of the Euphrates, and become his ally and son-in-law. Alexander laid this proposal before his friends, and when Parmenio said, "I should accept it, if I were Alexander." "So would I," replied Alexander, "if I were Parmenio." He wrote, however, a letter in answer to Darius, informing [Pg 331]him that if he would come to him, and submit himself, he should be used with courtesy; but that if not, he should presently march against him.

XXX. Soon after this the wife of Darius died in child-bed, which greatly grieved Alexander, as he thereby lost a great opportunity of displaying his magnanimity: nevertheless he granted her a magnificent funeral. We are told that one of the eunuchs attached to the royal harem, named Teireus, who had been captured with the ladies, made his escape shortly after the queen's death, rode straight to Darius, and informed him of what had happened. Darius, at this, beat his face and wept aloud, saying, "Alas for the fortune of Persia! that the wife and sister of the king should not only have been taken captive while she lived, but also have been buried unworthily of her rank when she died." To this the eunuch answered, "You have no cause to lament the evil fortune of Persia on account of your wife's burial, or of any want of due respect to her. Our lady Statira, your children, and your mother, when alive wanted for nothing except the light of your countenance, which our lord Oromasdes will some day restore to them, nor was she treated without honour when she died, for her funeral was even graced by the tears of her enemies. Alexander is as gracious a conqueror as he is a terrible enemy."

These words roused other suspicions in the mind of Darius: and, leading the eunuch into an inner chamber in his tent, he said to him, "If you have not, like the good luck of Persia, gone over to Alexander and the Macedonians, and if I am still your master Darius, tell me, I conjure you by the name of great Mithras our lord, and by the right hand of a king, which I give thee, do I lament over the least of Statira's misfortunes when I weep for her death, and did she not in her life make us more miserable by her dishonour, than if she had fallen into the hands of a cruel enemy? For what honest communication can a young conqueror have with the wife of his enemy, and what can be the meaning of his showing such excessive honour to her after her death?" While Darius was yet speaking, Teireus threw himself at his feet, and besought him to be silent, and not to dishonour Alexander [Pg 332]and his dead wife and sister by such suspicions, nor yet to take away from himself that thought which ought to be his greatest consolation in his misfortunes, which was that he had been conquered by one who was more than man. Rather ought he to admire Alexander, whose honourable treatment of the Persian women proved him to be even greater than did his bravery in vanquishing their men. Those words the eunuch assured him, with many protestations and oaths, were perfectly true. Darius, when he heard this, came out of his tent to his friends, and, raising his hands to heaven, said, "Ye parent gods, who watch over the Persian throne, grant that I may again restore the fortune of Persia to its former state, in order that I may have an opportunity of repaying Alexander in person the kindness which he has shown to those whom I hold dearest; but if indeed the fated hour has arrived, and the Persian empire is doomed to perish, may no other conqueror than Alexander mount the throne of Cyrus." The above is the account given by most historians of what took place on this occasion.

XXXI. Alexander, after conquering all the country on the higher bank of the Euphrates, marched to attack Darius, who was advancing to meet him with an army of a million fighting men.

During this march, one of Alexander's friends told him as a joke, that the camp-followers had divided themselves into two bodies in sport, each of which was led by a general, the one called Alexander, and the other Darius; and that after beginning to skirmish with one another by throwing clods of earth, they had come to blows of the fist, and had at length become so excited that they fought with sticks and stones, and that it was hard to part them. On hearing this, Alexander ordered the two leaders to fight in single combat: and he himself armed the one called Alexander, while Philotas armed the representative of Darius. The whole army looked on, thinking that the result would be ominous of their own success or failure. After a severe fight, the one called Alexander conquered, and was rewarded with twelve villages and the right of wearing the Persian garb. This we are told by Eratosthenes the historian.

[Pg 333]The decisive battle with Darius was fought at Gaugamela, not at Arbela, as most writers tell us. It is said that this word signifies "the house of the camel," and that one of the ancient Kings of Persia, whose life had been saved by the swiftness with which a camel bore him away from his enemies, lodged the animal there for the rest of its life, and assigned to it the revenues of several villages for its maintenance.

During the month Bœdromion, at the beginning of the celebration of the Eleusinian mysteries, there was an eclipse, of the moon: and on the eleventh day after the eclipse the two armies came within sight of one another. Darius kept his troops under arms, and inspected their ranks by torch-light, while Alexander allowed the Macedonians to take their rest, but himself with the soothsayer Aristander performed some mystical ceremonies in front of his tent, and offered sacrifice to Phœbus.

When Parmenio and the elder officers of Alexander saw the entire plain between Mount Niphates and the confines of Gordyene covered with the watch fires of the Persians, and heard the vague, confused murmur of their army like the distant roar of the sea, they were astonished, and said to one another that it would indeed be a prodigious effort to fight such a mass of enemies by daylight in a pitched battle.

As soon as Alexander had finished his sacrifice they went to him, and tried to persuade him to fall upon the Persians by night, as the darkness would prevent his troops from seeing the overwhelming numbers of the enemy. It was then that he made that memorable answer, "I will not steal a victory," which some thought to show an over-boastful spirit, which could jest in the presence of such fearful danger; while others thought that it showed a steady confidence and true knowledge of what would happen on the morrow, and meant that he did not intend to give Darius, when vanquished, the consolation of attributing his defeat to the confusion of a night attack; for Darius had already explained his defeat at Issus to have been owing to the confined nature of the ground, and to his forces having been penned up between the mountains and the sea. It was not any want of men [Pg 334]or of arms which would make Darius yield, when he had so vast a country and such great resources at his disposal: it was necessary to make pride and hope alike die within him, by inflicting upon him a crushing defeat in a fair field and in open daylight.

XXXII. After his officers had retired, Alexander retired to his tent and is said to have slept more soundly than was his wont, which surprised the generals who came to wait upon him early in the morning. On their own responsibility they gave orders to the soldiers to prepare their breakfast; and then, as time pressed, Parmenio entered his tent, and standing by his bed-side, twice or thrice called him loudly by name. When he was awake, Parmenio asked him why he slept so soundly, as if he had already won the victory instead of being just about to fight the most important of all his battles. Alexander answered with a smile; "Do you not think we have already won the victory, now that we are no longer obliged to chase Darius over an enormous tract of wasted country?"

Alexander both before the battle, and in the most dangerous crisis of the day proved himself truly great, always taking judicious measures, with a cheerful confidence of success. His left wing was terribly shaken by a tumultuous charge of the Bactrian cavalry, who broke into the ranks of the Macedonians, while Mazæus sent some horsemen completely round the left wing, who fell upon the troops left to guard the baggage. Parmenio, finding his men thrown into confusion by these attacks, sent a message to Alexander, that his fortified camp and baggage would be lost, if he did not at once despatch a strong reinforcement to the rear. At the time when Alexander received this message, he was in the act of giving his own troops orders to attack, and he answered that Parmenio must, in his confusion, have forgotten that the victors win all the property of the vanquished, and that men who are defeated must not think about treasure or prisoners, but how to fight and die with honour. After sending back this answer to Parmenio, he put on his helmet; for he had left his tent fully armed at all other points, wearing a tunic of Sicilian manufacture [Pg 335]closely girt round his waist, and over that a double-woven linen corslet, which had been among the spoils taken at Issus. His helmet was of steel, polished as bright as silver, and was wrought by Theophilus, while round his neck he wore a steel gorget, inlaid with precious stones. His sword, his favourite weapon, was a miracle of lightness and tempering, and had been presented to him by the King of Kitium in Cyprus. The cloak which hung from his shoulders was by far the most gorgeous of all his garments, and was the work of the ancient artist Helikon,[410] presented to Alexander by the city of Rhodes, and was worn by him in all his battles. While he was arraying his troops in order of battle, and giving final directions to his officers, he rode another horse to spare Boukephalus, who was now somewhat old. As soon as he was ready to begin the attack, he mounted Boukephalus and led on his army.

XXXIII. Upon this occasion, after addressing the Thessalians and other Greek troops at considerable length, as they confidently shouted to him to lead them against the barbarians, we are told by Kallisthenes that he shifted his lance into his left hand, and raising his right hand to heaven, prayed to the gods that, if he really were the son of Zeus, they would assist and encourage the Greeks. The prophet Aristander, who rode by his side, dressed in a white robe, and with a crown of gold upon his head, now pointed out to him an eagle which rose over his head and directed its flight straight towards the enemy. This so greatly encouraged all who beheld it, that all the cavalry of Alexander's army at once set spurs to their horses and dashed forwards, followed by the phalanx. Before the first of them came to actual blows, the Persian line gave way, and terrible confusion took place, as Alexander drove the beaten troops before him, struggling to fight his way to the centre, where was Darius himself.

Alexander had already noted the conspicuous figure of this tall, handsome prince, as he stood in his lofty chariot, surrounded by the royal body guard, a glittering mass of well-armed horsemen, behind the deep ranks of the [Pg 336]Persian army. The onslaught of Alexander was so terrific that none could withstand him, and those whom he drove before him, in headlong flight, disordered the ranks which were yet unbroken, and caused a general rout. Yet the noblest and bravest of the Persians fought and died manfully in defence of their king, and, even when lying on the ground at their last gasp, seized the men and horses by the legs to prevent their pursuing him. Darius himself, seeing all these frightful disasters, when his first line was hurled back in ruin, would fain have turned his chariot and fled, but this was difficult, for the wheels were encumbered by the heaps of corpses, and the horses were so excited and restive that the charioteer was unable to manage them. Darius, we are told, left his chariot and his arms, mounted a mare which had recently foaled, and rode away. He would not have escaped even thus, had not mounted messengers just then arrived from Parmenio, begging Alexander to come to his aid, as he was engaged with a large body of the enemy upon which he could make no impression. Indeed, throughout this battle, Parmenio is said to have displayed great remissness and self-will, either because his courage was damped by age, or because, as we are told by Kallisthenes, he envied Alexander's greatness and prosperity. Alexander was much vexed at the message, but without explaining to the soldiers what his real reasons were, ordered the trumpets to sound the recall, as though he were tired of slaughter, or because night was now coming on. He himself at once rode to the scene of danger, but on his way thither heard that the enemy had been completely defeated and put to flight.

XXXIV. The result of this battle was the complete destruction of the Persian empire. Alexander was at once saluted King of Asia, and after a splendid sacrifice to the gods, distributed the treasures and provinces of that country among his friends. In the pride of his heart he now wrote to Greece, saying that all the despots must be driven out, and each city left independent with a constitutional government, and gave orders for the rebuilding of the city of Platæa, because the ancestors of the citizens of Platæa gave their territory to be consecrated to the [Pg 337]gods on behalf of the liberties of Greece. He also sent some part of the spoils to the citizens of Kroton, in Italy, to show his respect for the memory of Phaÿllus the athlete, who, during the Persian invasion, when all the other Greek cities in Italy deserted the cause of their countrymen in Greece, fitted out a ship of war at his own expense, and sailed to Salamis to take part in the battle there, and share in the dangers of the Greeks. Such honour did Alexander pay to personal prowess, for he loved to reward and to commemorate noble deeds.

XXXV. Alexander now marched into the country of Babylonia, which at once yielded to him. As he drew near to Ekbatana he marvelled much at an opening in the earth, out of which poured fire, as if from a well. Close by, the naphtha which was poured out formed a large lake. This substance is like bitumen, and is so easy to set on fire, that without touching it with any flame, it will catch light from the rays which are sent forth from a fire, burning the air which is between both. The natives, in order to show Alexander the qualities of naphtha, lightly sprinkled with it the street which led to his quarters, and when it became dark applied a match to one end of the track which had been sprinkled with it. As soon as it was alight in one place, the fire ran all along, and as quick as thought the whole street was in flames. At this time Alexander was in his bath, and was waited upon by Stephanus, a hard-favoured page-boy, who had, however, a fine voice. Athenophanes, an Athenian, who always anointed and bathed King Alexander, now asked him if he would like to see the power of the naphtha tried upon Stephanus, saying that if it burned upon his body and did not go out, the force of it must indeed be marvellous. The boy himself was eager to make the trial, and was anointed with it and set on fire. He was at once enveloped in flame, and Alexander was terrified for him, fearing that he would be burned to death. Indeed, had it not chanced that several attendants with pitchers of water in their hands had just arrived, all help would have been too late. They poured water over the boy and extinguished the flames, but not before he had been badly burned, so that he was ill for some time after. Some [Pg 338]writers, who are eager to prove the truth of ancient legends, say that this naphtha was truly the deadly drug used by Medea, with which she anointed the crown and robe spoken of in the tragedies: for flame could not be produced by them, nor of its own accord, but if fire were brought near to clothes steeped in naphtha they would at once burst into flame. The reason of this is that the rays which fire sends forth fall harmlessly upon all other bodies, merely imparting to them light and heat; but when they meet with such as have an oily, dry humour, and thereby have a sympathy with the nature of fire, they easily cause them to catch fire. It is a disputed question, however, how the naphtha is produced, though most writers conceive its combustible principle to be supplied by the greasy and fiery nature of the soil; for all the district of Babylonia is fiery hot, so that often barley is cast up out of the ground in which it is sown, as if the earth throbbed and vibrated with the heat, and during the hottest part of summer the inhabitants are wont to sleep upon leathern bags filled with water for the sake of coolness. Harpalus, who was appointed governor of the district, took an especial delight in adorning the palace and the public walks with Greek flowers and shrubs; but although he found no difficulty with most of them, he was unable to induce ivy to grow, because ivy loves a cold soil, and the earth there is too hot for it. These digressions, provided they be not too lengthy, we hope will not be thought tedious by our readers.

XXXVI. When Alexander made himself master of Susa, he found in the palace forty thousand talents worth of coined money, besides an immense mass of other valuable treasure. Here we are told was found five thousand talents weight of cloth dyed with Hermionic[411] purple cloth, which had been stored up there for a space of two hundred years save ten, and which nevertheless still kept its colour as brilliantly as ever. The reason of this is said to be that honey was originally used in dyeing the cloth purple, and white olive oil for such of it as was [Pg 339]dyed-white: for cloth of these two colours will preserve its lustre without fading for an equal period of time. Demon also informs us that amongst other things the Kings of Persia had water brought from the Nile and the Danube, and laid up in their treasury, as a confirmation of the greatness of their empire, and to prove that they were lords of all the world.

XXXVII. As the district of Persis[412] was very hard to invade, both because of its being mountainous, and because it was defended by the noblest of the Persians (for Darius had fled thither for refuge), Alexander forced his way into it by a circuitous path, which was shown him by a native of the country, the son of a Lykian captive, by a Persian mother, who was able to speak both the Greek and the Persian language. It is said that while Alexander was yet a child, the prophetess at the temple of Apollo at Delphi foretold that a wolf[413] should some day serve him for a guide when he went to attack the Persians. When Persis was taken, a terrible slaughter was made of all the prisoners. A letter written by Alexander himself is still extant, in which he orders that they should all be put to the sword, thinking this to be the safest course. He is said to have found as much coined money here[414] as in Susa, and so much other treasure that it required ten thousand carts, each drawn by a pair of mules, and five thousand camels, to carry it away.

Alexander, observing a large statue of Xerxes which had been thrown down and was being carelessly trampled upon by the soldiers as they pressed into the royal palace, stopped, and addressed it as though it were alive. "Shall we," said he, "leave thee lying there, because of thy invasion of Greece, or shall we set thee up again because of thy magnificence and greatness of soul?" He then stood musing for a long time, till at length he roused himself from his reverie and went his way. Being desirous of giving his soldiers some rest, as it was now winter, he remained in that country for four months. It is related [Pg 340]that when he first took his seat upon the royal throne of Persia, under the golden canopy, Demaratus, an old friend and companion of Alexander, burst into tears, and exclaimed that the Greeks who had died before that day had lost the greatest of pleasures, because they had not seen Alexander seated on the throne of Darius.

XXXVIII. After this, while he was engaged in preparing to march in pursuit of Darius, he chanced to be present at a banquet where his friends had brought their mistresses. Of these ladies the chief was the celebrated Thais, who afterwards became the mistress of King Ptolemy of Egypt, and who was of Attic parentage.

She at first amused Alexander by her conversation, then adroitly flattered him, and at last, after he had been drinking for some time, began to speak in a lofty strain of patriotism which scarcely became such a person. She declared, that she was fully repaid for all the hardships which she had undergone while travelling through Asia with the army, now that she was able to revel in the palace of the haughty Kings of Persia; but that it would be yet sweeter to her to burn the house of Xerxes, who burned her native Athens, and to apply the torch with her own hand in the presence of Alexander, that it might be told among men that a woman who followed Alexander's camp had taken a more noble revenge upon the Persians for the wrongs of Greece, than all the admirals and generals of former times had been able to do. This speech of hers was enthusiastically applauded, and all Alexander's friends pressed him to execute the design. Alexander leaped from his seat, and led the way, with a garland upon his head and a torch in his hand. The rest of the revellers followed, and surrounded the palace, while the remainder of the Macedonians, hearing what was going on, brought them torches. They did so the more readily because they thought that the destruction of the palace indicated an intention on Alexander's part to return home, and not to remain in Persia. Some historians say that this was how he came to burn the palace, while others say that he did it after mature deliberation: but all agree that he repented of what he had done, and gave orders to have the fire extinguished.

[Pg 341]XXXIX. His liberality and love of making presents increased with his conquests: and his gifts were always bestowed in so gracious a manner as to double their value. I will now mention a few instances of this. Ariston, the leader of the Pæonians, having slain an enemy, brought his head and showed it to Alexander, saying, "O king, in my country such a present as this is always rewarded with a gold cup." Alexander smiled, and said, "Yes, with an empty cup: but I pledge you in this gold cup, full of good wine, and give you the cup besides." One of the common Macedonian soldiers was driving a mule laden with gold belonging to Alexander; but as the animal became too weary to carry it, he unloaded it, and carried the gold himself. When Alexander saw him toiling under his burden, and learned his story, he said, "Be not weary yet, but carry it a little way farther, as far as your own tent; for I give it to you." He seemed to be more vexed with those who did not ask him for presents than with those who did so. He wrote a letter to Phokion, in which he declared that he would not any longer remain his friend, if Phokion refused all his presents. Serapion, a boy who served the ball to the players at tennis, had been given nothing by Alexander because he had never asked for anything. One day when Serapion was throwing the ball to the players as usual, he omitted to do so to the king, and when Alexander asked why he did not give him the ball, answered "You do not ask me for it." At this, Alexander laughed and gave him many presents. Once he appeared to be seriously angry with one Proteus, a professed jester. The man's friends interceded for him, and he himself begged for pardon with tears in his eyes, until Alexander said that he forgave him. "My king," said he "will you not give me something by way of earnest, to assure me that I am in your favour." Upon this the king at once ordered him to be given five talents. The amount of money which he bestowed upon his friends and his body guard appears from a letter which his mother Olympias wrote to him, in which she said, "It is right to benefit your friends and to show your esteem for them; but you are making them all as great as kings, so that they get many friends, and leave you alone without [Pg 342]any." Olympias often wrote to him to this effect, but he kept all her letters secret, except one which Hephæstion, who was accustomed to read Alexander's letters, opened and read. Alexander did not prevent him, but took his own ring from his finger, and pressed the seal upon Hephæstion's mouth. The son of Mazæus, who had been the chief man in the kingdom under Darius, was governor of a province, and Alexander added another larger one to it. The young nobleman refused to accept the gift, and said, "My king, formerly there was only one Darius, but you now have made many Alexanders."

He presented Parmenio with the house of Bagoas, in which it is said that property worth a thousand talents was found which had belonged to the people of Susa. He also sent word to Antipater, warning him to keep a guard always about his person, as a plot had been formed against his life. He sent many presents to his mother, but forbade her to interfere with the management of the kingdom. When she stormed at this decision of his, he patiently endured her anger; and once when Antipater wrote a long letter to him full of abuse of Olympias, he observed, after reading it, that Antipater did not know that one tear of his mother's eye would outweigh ten thousand such letters.

XL. Alexander now observed that his friends were living in great luxury and extravagance; as for instance, Hagnon of Teos had his shoes fastened with silver nails; Leonnatus took about with him many camels, laden with dust,[415] from Egypt, to sprinkle his body with when he wrestled; Philotas had more than twelve miles of nets for hunting; and that all of them used richly perfumed unguents to anoint themselves with instead of plain oil, and were attended by a host of bathmen and chamberlains. He gently reproved them for this, saying that he was surprised that men who had fought so often and in such great battles, did not remember that the victors always sleep more sweetly than the vanquished, and that they did not perceive, when they imitated the luxury of the Persians, that indulgence is for slaves, but labour for [Pg 343]princes. "How," he asked, "can a man attend to his horse, or clean his own lance and helmet, if he disdains to rub his own precious body with his hands? And do you not know, that our career of conquest will come to an end on the day when we learn to live like those whom we have vanquished?" He himself, by way of setting an example, now exposed himself to greater fatigues and hardships than ever in his campaigns and hunting expeditions, so that old Lakon, who was with him when he slew a great lion, said, "Alexander, you fought well with the lion for his kingdom." This hunting scene was afterwards represented by Kraterus at Delphi. He had figures made in bronze of Alexander and the hounds fighting with the lion, and of himself running to help him. Some of the figures were executed by the sculptor Lysippus, and some by Leochares.

XLI. Thus did Alexander risk his life in the vain endeavour to teach his friends to live with simplicity and hardihood; but they, now that they had become rich and important personages, desired to enjoy themselves, and no longer cared for long marches and hard campaigns, so that at last they began to murmur against him, and speak ill of him. He bore this with great gentleness at first, saying that it was the part of a king to do his subjects good and to be ill-spoken of by them in return. Indeed, he used to take advantage of the most trifling incidents to show the esteem he had for his intimate friends, of which I will now give a few examples.

Peukestas once was bitten by a bear, while hunting. He wrote and told his friends of his mishap, but kept it secret from Alexander. He, when he heard of it, wrote to Peukestas, blaming him for having concealed his hurt. "But now," he writes, "let me know how you are, and tell me if those who were hunting the bear with you deserted you, that I may punish them." When Hephæstion was absent on some business, he wrote to him to say that Kraterus had been struck in the thighs with Perdikkas's spear, while they were amusing themselves by baiting an ichneumon.

When Peukestas recovered from some illness, he wrote to the physician Alexippus, congratulating him on the [Pg 344]cure which he had effected. When Kraterus was ill, Alexander had a dream about him, in consequence of which he offered sacrifice to certain gods, and bade him also sacrifice to them: and when Pausanias the physician wished to give Kraterus a draught of hellebore, Alexander wrote to him, advising him to take the drug, but expressing the greatest anxiety about the result.

He imprisoned Ephialtes and Kissus, who were the first to bring him the news that Harpalus had absconded, because he thought that they wrongfully accused him.

When he was on the point of sending home all his invalided and superannuated soldiers, Eurylochus of Ægæ was found to have placed his name upon the list, although he was in perfect health. When questioned, he confessed that he was in love with a lady named Telesippa, who was returning to the sea-coast, and that he had acted thus in order to be able to follow her. Alexander on hearing this, enquired who this lady was. Being told that she was a free-born Greek courtezan, he answered, "I sympathise with your affection, Eurylochus; but since Telesippa is a free-born woman, let us try if we cannot, either by presents or arguments, persuade her to remain with us."

XLII. It is wonderful how many letters and about what trifling matters he found time to write to his friends. For instance, he sent a letter to Kilikia ordering search to be made for a slave boy belonging to Seleukus, who had run away, and praising Peukestas because he had captured Nikon, the runaway slave of Kraterus. He wrote also to Megabazus about a slave who had taken sanctuary in a temple, ordering him to catch him when outside of the temple, if possible, but not to lay hands on him within its precincts.

We are told that when he was sitting as judge to hear men tried for their lives, he was wont to close one ear with his hand, while the prosecutor was speaking, in order that he might keep it unbiassed and impartial to listen to what the accused had to say in his defence. But later in his life, so many persons were accused before him, and so many of them truly, that his temper became soured and he inclined to believe them to be all alike [Pg 345]guilty. And he was especially transported with rage, and made completely pitiless if any one spoke ill of him, for he valued his reputation more than his life or his crown.

He now set out again in pursuit of Darius, with the intention of fighting another battle with him: but on hearing that Darius had been taken by the satrap Bessus, he dismissed all his Thessalian cavalry and sent them home, giving them a largess of two thousand talents over and above the pay which was due to them. He now set out on a long and toilsome journey in pursuit of Darius, for in eleven days he rode more than five hundred miles, so that his men were terribly distressed, especially by want of water. One day he met some Macedonians who were carrying water from a river in skins on the backs of mules. Seeing Alexander faint with thirst, as it was the hottest time of the day, they quickly filled a helmet with water and gave it to him to drink. He asked them to whom they were carrying the water, to which they answered, "To our own sons; but provided that you live, even if they should die, we can beget other children." On hearing this he took the helmet into his hands; but seeing all the horsemen around him eagerly watching him and coveting the water, he gave it back without tasting it. He thanked the men for offering it to him, but said, "If I alone drink it, all these soldiers will be discontented." The soldiers, when they saw the noble courage and self-denial of Alexander, bade him lead them on boldly, and urged forward their horses, saying that they felt neither hunger nor thirst, and did not think themselves to be mortal men, so long as they had such a king as Alexander to lead them.

XLIII. The whole of his army was equally enthusiastic; yet the fatigues of the march were so great, that when Alexander burst into the enemy's camp, only sixty men are said to have followed him. Here they passed over great heaps of gold and silver, and pursued a long line of waggons, full of women and children, which were proceeding along without any drivers, until they had reached the foremost of them, because they imagined that Darius might be hidden in them. At last he was found, [Pg 346]lying in his chariot, pierced with innumerable javelins, and just breathing his last. He was able to ask for drink, and when given some cold water by Polystratus, he said to him, "My good sir, this is the worst of all my misfortunes that I am unable to recompense you for your kindness to me; but Alexander will reward you, and the gods will reward Alexander for his courteous treatment of my mother and wife and daughters. Wherefore I pray thee, embrace him, as I embrace thee." With these words he took Polystratus by the hand and died. When Alexander came up, he showed great grief at the sight, and covered the body with his own cloak. He afterwards captured Bessus and tore him asunder, by bending down the tops of trees and tying different parts of his body to each, and then letting them spring up again so that each tore off the limb to which it was attached. Alexander now had the corpse of Darius adorned as became a prince, and sent it to his mother, while he received his brother Exathres into the number of his intimate friends.

XLIV. He himself, with a few picked troops, now invaded Hyrkania, where he discovered an arm of the sea, which appeared to be as large as the Euxine, or Black Sea, but not so salt. He was unable to obtain any certain information about it, but conjectured it to be a branch of the Mæotic lake.[416] Yet geographers, many years before Alexander, knew well that this, which is entitled the Hyrkanian or Caspian Sea, is the northernmost of four gulfs proceeding from the exterior ocean. Here some of the natives surprised the grooms in charge of his horse Boukephalus, and captured the animal. Alexander was much distressed at this, and sent a herald to make proclamation that unless his horse were restored to him, he would massacre the whole tribe with their wives and children. When, however, they brought back his horse, and offered to place their chief cities in his hands as a pledge for their good behaviour, he treated them all with kindness, and paid a ransom for the horse to those who had captured it.

XLV. From hence he passed into Parthia, where, being at leisure, he first began to wear the Persian dress, either [Pg 347]because he thought that he should more easily win the hearts of the natives by conforming to their fashion, or else in order to try the obedience of his Macedonian soldiers and see whether they might not, by degrees, be brought to pay him the same respect and observance which the kings of Persia used to exact from their subjects. He did not, however, completely adopt the Persian costume, which would have been utterly repugnant to Grecian ideas, and wore neither the trousers, the coat with long sleeves, nor the tiara, but his dress, though less simple than the Macedonian, was still far from being so magnificent or so effeminate as that of the Persians. He at first only wore this dress when giving audiences to the natives of the country, or when alone with his more intimate friends, but afterwards he frequently both drove out publicly and transacted business in the Persian dress. The sight greatly offended the Macedonians, but yet they were so filled with admiration for his courage, that they felt he must be indulged in his fancies about dress; for besides all his other honourable wounds, he had only a short time before this been struck by an arrow in the calf of his leg, so that splinters of the bone came out, and also received such a blow upon his neck from a stone, that his eyesight was affected for a considerable time afterwards. Yet he did not cease to expose himself to danger, but crossed the river Orexartes, which he himself thought to be the Tanais or Don, and, although suffering from an attack of dysentery, defeated the Scythians and chased them for many miles.

XLVI. Most historians, amongst whom are Kleitarchus, Polykleitus, Onesikritus, Antigenes, and Istrus, say that while in this country he met an Amazon: while Aristobulus, Chares the court-usher, Ptolemy, Antikleides, Philon of Thebes, and Philippus the herald of festivals, besides Hekatæus of Eretria, Philip of Chalkis, and Douris of Samos, say that this is a mere fiction. And this opinion seems to be corroborated by Alexander himself: for he wrote to Antipater an exact account of his Scythian campaign, and mentioned that the King of the Scythians offered him his daughter in marriage, but says nothing about Amazons. It is said that many years afterwards, [Pg 348]when Lysimachus had made himself king, Onesikritus was reading aloud to him the fourth book of his History of Alexander, in which mention is made of the Amazon. Lysimachus asked him with a quiet smile, "And where was I all the time?" However, Alexander's fame is not impaired if we disbelieve this story, nor is it increased if we regard it as true.

XLVII. As he feared that the Macedonians would refuse to follow him any farther, he allowed the great mass of his army to repose itself, and advanced through Hyrkania with a force of twenty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry, all picked men. In a speech addressed to these select regiments, he declared that the natives of Asia had only seen them hitherto as if in a dream; and that, if they merely threw the whole country into disorder and then retired from it, the Asiatics would attack them as boldly as if they were so many women. Yet he said, that he permitted those who desired it to leave his service and return home, merely protesting against being left, with only his personal friends and a few volunteers, to carry on the noble enterprise of making Macedonia mistress of the whole world. These are almost the exact words which he uses in a letter to Antipater, and he further says that when he had spoken thus, the soldiers burst into a universal shout, bidding him lead them whithersoever he would. After this experiment had succeeded with the select troops, it was no difficult matter to induce the remainder to follow him, but they came almost of their own accord. He now began to imitate the Asiatic habits more closely, and endeavoured to assimilate the Macedonian and Asiatic customs and manners, hoping that by this means his empire, during his absence, would rest upon a foundation of good will rather than of force. To further this object he selected thirty thousand native youths, whom he ordered to be taught to speak the Greek language and to use the same arms as the Macedonians; and appointed a numerous body of instructors for them. His marriage with Roxana was due to a genuine passion, for he was struck by her great beauty when he saw her dance in a chorus after a feast, but nevertheless the alliance was a very politic one; for [Pg 349]the natives were pleased to see him take a wife from among themselves, and were charmed with the courteous and honourable conduct of Alexander, who, although Roxana was the only woman whom he had ever loved, yet would not approach her until he was lawfully married to her.

As Alexander perceived that, among his most intimate friends, Hephæstion encouraged him and furthered his designs, while Kraterus steadfastly adhered to the Macedonian customs, he made use of the latter in all transactions with Asiatics, and of the former when dealing with Greeks and Macedonians. He loved Hephæstion, and respected Kraterus above all the rest of his friends, and was wont to say that Hephæstion loved Alexander, but that Kraterus loved the king. His favour caused constant jealousies between them, so that once in India they actually drew their swords and fought with one another. Their friends began to take part in the quarrel on either side, when Alexander rode up, and bitterly reproached Hephæstion before them all, saying that he must be a fool and a madman if he did not see, that without Alexander's favour he would be nobody. Privately also he sharply rebuked Kraterus; and calling them both before him, made them be friends again, swearing by Zeus Ammon, and all the gods, that they were the two men whom he loved best in the world; but that if he heard of any more quarrelling between them he would put them both to death, or at least him who began the quarrel. In consequence of this, it is said that there never again, even in sport, was any dispute between them.

XLVIII. Philotas, the son of Parmenio, was a man of much importance among the Macedonians; for he was courageous and hardy, and the most liberal man, and the most devoted to his friends in all the army except Alexander himself. We are told of him that once a friend of his came to him to borrow money, and he at once commanded one of his servants to let him have it. His purse-bearer answered that he had no money, upon which Philotas exclaimed, "What! Have I no plate or furniture upon which you can raise money for my friend?"

His lofty carriage, his immense wealth, and the splendour in which he lived, caused him to appear too great for a [Pg 350]private station, while his pride and vulgar ostentation made him generally disliked. His own father, Parmenio, once said to him: "My son, I pray you show a little more humility." He had long been an object of suspicion to Alexander, who was kept constantly informed about him by the following means:—After the battle of Issus, when the baggage of Darius was captured at Damascus, there was taken among the captives a beautiful Greek girl, named Antigone. She fell to the lot of Philotas, and became his mistress; and the young man, who was much enamoured of her, used to boast to her over his wine that all the conquests of the Macedonians were really due to the prowess of his father and himself, and that Alexander was merely a foolish boy, who owed his crown and his empire to their exertions. Antigone repeated these expressions to one of her friends, who, as was natural, did not keep them secret, so that at last they reached the ears of Kraterus. Kraterus privately introduced the woman to Alexander; and he, after he had heard her repeat what she had been told, ordered her to take secret note of the confidential expressions of Philotas, and to report them, from time to time, to himself.

XLIX. Philotas had no idea that he was being spied upon in this manner, and in his conversation with Antigone frequently spoke insolently and slightingly of his sovereign. Alexander, although he had accumulated terrible proofs of treason against Philotas, nevertheless remained silent, either because he felt assured of the loyalty of Parmenio, or because he feared to attack a man of such power and importance. At length, however, a Macedonian of Chalastra, named Simnus, formed a plot against Alexander's life, and invited a young man, named Nikomachus, his own intimate friend, to join him. Nikomachus refused compliance, and told the whole story of the plot to his brother, Kebalinus, who at once had an interview with Philotas, and bade him bring them at once to Alexander, as persons who had a most important communication to make to him. Philotas, however, for some reason or other, did not bring them before Alexander, but said that the king was not at leisure to hear them, as he was engaged in more important business. This he repeated on a second [Pg 351]occasion, and as his behaviour made the two brothers suspect his loyalty, they communicated with another officer, and by his means obtained an audience. They now told Alexander about the design of Limnus, and also said that Philotas had acted very luke-warmly in the matter, as they had twice told him that there was a plot against Alexander, and yet he had, on each occasion, disregarded their warning.

This greatly enraged Alexander: and as when Limnus was arrested he defended himself desperately and was killed in the scuffle, he was yet more disturbed, as he feared he had now lost all clue to the plot. He now openly showed his displeasure with Philotas, and encouraged all his enemies to say boldly that it was folly of the king to imagine that an obscure man like Limnus would have ventured to form a conspiracy against his life, but that Limnus was merely a tool in the hands of some more powerful person; and that if he wished to discover the real authors of the plot, he must seek for them among those who would have been most benefited by its success. Finding that the king lent a ready ear to suggestions of this kind, they soon furnished him with an overwhelming mass of evidence of the treasonable designs of Philotas. Philotas was at once arrested, and put to the torture in the presence of the chief officers of the Macedonian army, while Alexander himself sat behind a curtain to hear what he would say. It is said that when Alexander heard Philotas piteously beg Hephæstion for mercy, he exclaimed aloud, "Are you such a coward as this, Philotas, and yet contrive such daring plots?" To be brief, Philotas was put to death, and immediately afterwards Alexander sent to Media and caused Parmenio to be assassinated, although he was a man who had performed the most important services for Philip, had, more than any other of the older Macedonians, encouraged Alexander to invade Asia, and had seen two of his three sons die in battle before he perished with the third. This cruelty made many of the friends of Alexander fear him, and especially Antipater,[417] who now formed a secret league with the Ætolians, who also feared Alexander because [Pg 352]when he heard of the destruction of the people of Œneadæ, he said that he himself, and not the sons of the people of Œneadæ, would be revenged upon the Ætolians.

L. Not long after this followed the murder of Kleitus, which, if simply told, seems more cruel than that of Philotas; but if we consider the circumstances under which it took place, and the provocation which was given, we shall treat it rather as a misfortune which befel Alexander during a fit of drunken passion than as a deliberate act. It happened as follows. Some men came from the sea-coast, bringing Greek grapes as a present to Alexander. He admired their bloom and ripeness, and invited Kleitus to see them, meaning to present him with some of them. Kleitus was engaged in offering sacrifice, but on receiving this summons left his sacrifice and went to the king: upon which, three of the sheep which he was about to offer up as victims, followed him. When Alexander heard of this, he consulted his soothsayers, Aristander, and Kleomantes the Laconian. As they reported that this was an evil omen, he bade them at once offer an expiatory sacrifice on behalf of Kleitus; for he himself, three days before, had dreamed a strange dream about Kleitus, that he had seen him sitting dressed in black amongst the sons of Parmenio, who were all of them dead. Before, however, the sacrifices on behalf of Kleitus had been performed, he came to the banquet, before which Alexander himself had offered sacrifice to the Dioskuri.

After all had drunk heavily, a song was sung which had been composed by one Pranichus, or Pierion according to some writers, in which the generals who had recently been defeated by the barbarians were held up to public shame and ridicule. The elder Macedonians were vexed at this, and blamed both the writer of the song and the man who sung it, but Alexander and his associates were much pleased with it, and bade the singer go on. Kleitus, who was now very much excited by drink and who was naturally of a fierce and independent temper, was especially annoyed, and said that it was not right for Macedonians to be thus insulted in the presence of enemies and barbarians, for that, in spite of their misfortune, they were far braver men than those who ridiculed them. [Pg 353]Alexander answered that Kleitus, when he called cowardice a misfortune, was no doubt pleading his own cause: at which reproach Kleitus sprang to his feet, and exclaimed, "my cowardice at any rate saved the life of the son of the gods, when he turned his back to the sword of Spithridates; so that now, by the blood and wounds of the Macedonians, you have become so great a man that you pretend to be the child of Ammon, and disown your father Philip."

LI. Alexander, stung to the quick by these words, said, "Villain, do you suppose that you will be allowed to spread these calumnies against me, rendering the Macedonians disaffected, and yet go unpunished?" "Too much are we punished," answered Kleitus, "when we see such a reward as this given us for all our hard service, but we congratulate those of us who are dead, because they died before they saw Macedonians beaten with Median rods, and begging Persian attendants to procure them an audience of their king." When Kleitus spoke his mind thus boldly, Alexander's intimate friends answered with bitter reproaches, but the older men endeavoured to pacify them. Alexander now turning to Xenodochus of Kardia and Astenius of Kolophon, asked, "Do not the Greeks seem to you to treat the Macedonians as if they were beasts, and they themselves were more than mortal men? "Kleitus, however, would not hold his peace, but went on to say that if Alexander could not bear to hear men speak their mind, he had better not invite free-born people to his table, and ought to confine himself to the society of barbarians and slaves who would pay respect to his Persian girdle and striped[418] tunic. At this speech Alexander could no longer restrain his passion, but seized an apple from the table, hurled it at Kleitus, and began to feel for his dagger. Aristophanes, one of his body-guard, had already secreted it, and the rest now pressed round him imploring him to be quiet. He however leaped to his feet, and, as if in a great emergency, ehouted in the Macedonian tongue to the foot-guards to [Pg 354]turn out. He bade the trumpeter sound an alarm, and as the man hesitated and refused, struck him with his fist. This man afterwards gained great credit for his conduct, as it was thought that by it he had saved the whole camp from being thrown into an uproar. As Kleitus would not retract what he had said, his friends seized him and forced him out of the room. But he re-entered by another door, and in an offensive and insolent tone began to recite the passage from the Andromache of Euripides, which begins,

"Ah me! in Greece an evil custom reigns," &c.

Upon this Alexander snatched a lance from one of his guards, and ran Kleitus through the body with it, just as he was drawing aside the curtain and preparing to enter the room. Kleitus fell with a loud groan, and died on the spot. Alexander, when he came to himself, and saw his friends all standing round in mute reproach, snatched the spear out of the corpse, and would have thrust it into his own neck, but was forcibly witheld by his guards, who laid hold of him and carried him into his bed-chamber.

LII. Alexander spent the whole night in tears, and on the next day was so exhausted by his agony of grief as to be speechless, and only able to sigh heavily. At length his friends, alarmed at his silence, broke into the room. He took no notice of any of their attempts at consolation, except that he seemed to make signs of assent when Aristander the soothsayer told him that all this had been preordained to take place, and reminded him of his dream about Kleitus. His friends now brought to him Kallisthenes the philosopher, who was a nephew of Aristotle, and Anaxarchus of Abdera. Kallisthenes endeavoured to soothe his grief, by kind and gentle consolation, but Anaxarchus, a man who had always pursued an original method of his own in philosophical speculations, and who was thought to be overbearing and harsh-tempered by his friends, as soon as he entered the room exclaimed, "This is that Great Alexander, upon whom the eyes of the world are fixed: there he lies like a slave, fearing what men will say of him, although he ought rather to dictate to them what they should think right, as becomes [Pg 355]the master of the world, and not to be influenced by their foolish opinions. Know you not," asked he "that Law and Justice sit beside the throne of Zeus, and make everything which is done by those in power to be lawful and right?" By such discourse as this Anaxarchus assuaged Alexander's sorrow, but encouraged his savage and lawless disposition. He gained great favour for himself, and was able to influence Alexander against Kallisthenes, who was already no favourite with him on account of his upright, uncompromising spirit. It is related that once at table, when the conversation turned upon the seasons, and upon the climate of Asia, Kallisthenes argued that it was colder in the country where they were than in Greece; and when Anaxarchus vehemently contradicted this, he said, "Why, you must admit that this country is the colder of the two; for in Greece you used to wear only one cloak all through the winter, whereas here you sit down to dinner wrapped in three Persian rugs." This reply made Anaxarchus more his enemy than before.

LIII. Kallisthenes made all the sophists and flatterers of Alexander jealous of him because he was much sought after by the young men for his learning, and was liked by the elder men on account of his sober, dignified, and austere life, which confirmed the common report, that he had come to the court of Alexander with the intention of prevailing upon him to refound his native city, and collect together its scattered citizens. His high moral character gained him many enemies, but he himself gave some colour to their accusations by his conduct in constantly refusing all invitations, and by behaving himself with gravity and silence when in society, as if he were displeased with his company. His manner had caused Alexander himself to say of him, "I hate a philosopher who is not wise in his own interest." It is related that once at a great banquet, when sitting over their wine, Kallisthenes was asked to speak in praise of the Macedonians, and that he at once poured forth such a fluent and splendid eulogy that all the company rose, vehemently applauding, and threw their garlands to him. At this Alexander remarked that, as Euripides says,

"On noble subjects, all men can speak well."

"[Pg 356]Now," said he, "show us your ability by blaming the Macedonians, in order that they may be made better men by having their shortcomings pointed out." Kallisthenes hereupon began to speak in a depreciatory strain, and told many home-truths about the Macedonians, pointing out that Philip had become strong only because Greece was weakened by faction, and quoting the line,

"In times of trouble, bad men rise to fame."

This speech caused the Macedonians to hate him most bitterly, and provoked Alexander to say that Kallisthenes had made a display, not of his own abilities, but of his dislike to the Macedonians.

LIV. This is the account which Strœbus, Kallisthenes's reader, is said by Hermippus to have given to Aristotle about the quarrel between Kallisthenes and Alexander; and he added that Kallisthenes was well aware that he was out of favour with the king, and twice or thrice when setting out to wait on him would repeat the line from the Iliad,

"Patroklus, too, hath died, a better man than thou."

On hearing this Aristotle acutely remarked, that Kallisthenes had great ability and power of speech, but no common sense. He, like a true philosopher, refused to kneel and do homage to Alexander, and alone had the spirit to express in public what all the oldest and best Macedonians privately felt. By his refusal he relieved the Greeks and Alexander from a great disgrace, but ruined himself, because he seemed to use force rather than persuasion to attain his object. We are told by Charon of Mitylene that once when at table, Alexander, after drinking, passed the cup to one of his friends; and that he after receiving it, rose, stood by the hearth, and after drinking knelt before Alexander: after which he kissed him and resumed his seat. All the guests did this in turn until the cup came to Kallisthenes. The king, who was conversing to Hephæstion, did not take any notice of what he did, and after drinking he also came forward to kiss him, when Demetrius, who was surnamed Pheidon, said, "My king, do not kiss him, for he alone has not done [Pg 357]homage to you." Upon this Alexander avoided kissing Kallisthenes, who said in a loud voice, "Then I will go away with the loss of a kiss."

LV. The breach thus formed was widened by Hephæstion, who declared that Kallisthenes had agreed with him to kneel before Alexander, and then had broken his compact; and this story was believed by Alexander. After this came Lysimachus and Hagnon, and many others, who accused Kallisthenes of giving himself great airs, as though he were a queller of despots, and said that he had a large following among the younger men, who looked up to him as being the only free man among so many myriads of people. These accusations were more easily believed to be true because at this time the plot of Hermolaus was discovered; and it was said that when Hermolaus enquired of Kallisthenes how one might become the most famous man in the world, he answered, "By killing the most famous man in the world." He was even said to have encouraged Hermolaus to make the attempt, bidding him have no fear of Alexander's golden throne, and reminding him that he would have to deal with a man who was both wounded and in ill-health. Yet none of those concerned in Hermolaus's conspiracy mentioned the name of Kallisthenes, even under the most exquisite tortures. Alexander himself, in the letters which he wrote to Kraterus, Attalus, and Alketas immediately after the discovery of the plot, states that the royal pages, when put to the torture, declared that they alone had conspired, and that they had no accomplices. "The pages," Alexander goes on to say, "were stoned to death by the Macedonians, but I will myself punish the sophist, and those who sent him hither, and those who receive into their cities men that plot against me." In these words he evidently alludes to Aristotle: for Kallisthenes was brought up in his house, being the son of Hero, Aristotle's first cousin. Some writers tell us that Kallisthenes was hanged by the orders of Alexander; others that he was thrown into chains and died of sickness. Chares informs us that he was kept in confinement for seven months, in order that he might be tried in the presence of Aristotle himself, but that during the time [Pg 358]when Alexander was wounded in India, he died of excessive corpulence, covered with vermin.

LVI. This, however, took place after the period of which we write. At this time Demaratus of Corinth, although an elderly man, was induced to travel as far as the court of Alexander: and when he beheld him, said that the Greeks who had died before they saw Alexander sitting upon the throne of Darius, had lost one of the greatest pleasures in the world.

Demaratus by this speech gained great favour with the king, but lived but a short time to enjoy it, as he was soon carried off by sickness. His funeral was conducted with the greatest magnificence, for the whole army was employed to raise a mound of great extent, and eighty cubits high, as a memorial of him; while his remains were placed in a splendidly equipped four-horse chariot and sent back to the sea-coast.

LVII. As Alexander was now about to invade India, and observed that his army had become unwieldy and difficult to move in consequence of the mass of plunder with which the soldiers were encumbered, he collected all the baggage-waggons together one morning at daybreak, and first burned his own and those of his companions, after which he ordered those of the Macedonians to be set on fire. This measure appears to have been more energetic than the occasion really required; and yet it proved more ruinous in the design than in the execution: for although some of the soldiers were vexed at the order, most of them with enthusiastic shouts distributed their most useful property among those who were in want, burning and destroying all the rest with a cheerful alacrity which raised Alexander's spirits to the highest pitch. Yet Alexander was terrible and pitiless in all cases of dereliction of duty. He put to death Menander, one of his personal friends, because he did not remain in a fort, where he had been appointed to command the garrison; and he shot dead with his own hand Orsodates, a native chief who had revolted from him. At this time it happened that a ewe brought forth a lamb, upon whose head was a tiara in shape and colour like that of the King of Persia, with stones hanging on each side of it.

[Pg 359]Alexander, much disturbed at this portent, was purified by the priests at Babylon, whom he was accustomed to make use of for this purpose, but told his friends that he was alarmed for their sake, and not for his own, as he feared that if he fell, heaven might transfer his crown to some unworthy and feeble successor. However, he was soon cheered by a better omen. The chief of Alexander's household servants, a Macedonian named Proxenus, while digging a place to pitch the royal tent near the river Oxus, discovered a well, full of a smooth, fatty liquid. When the upper layer was removed, there spouted forth a clear oil, exactly like olive oil in smell and taste, and incomparably bright and clear: and that, too, in a country where no olive trees grew. It is said that the water of the Oxus itself is very soft and pleasant, and that it causes the skin of those who bathe in it to become sleek and glossy. Alexander was greatly delighted with this discovery, as we learn from a letter which he wrote to Antipater, in which he speaks of this as being one of the most important and manifest signs of the divine favour which had ever been vouchsafed to him. The soothsayers held that the omen portended, that the campaign would be glorious, but laborious and difficult: for oil has been given by the gods to men to refresh them after labour.

LVIII. Alexander when on this expedition ran terrible risks in battle, and was several times grievously wounded. His greatest losses were caused, however, by the want of provisions, and by the severity of the climate. He himself, striving to overcome fortune by valour, thought nothing impossible to a brave man, and believed that, while daring could surmount all obstacles, cowardice could not be safe behind any defences. We are told that when he was besieging the fortress of Sisymithres, which was placed upon a steep and inaccessible rock, his soldiers despaired of being able to take it. He asked Oxyartes what sort of a man Sisymithres himself was in respect of courage. When Oxyartes answered that he was the greatest coward in the world, Alexander said 'You tell me, that the fortress can be taken; for its spirit is weak." And indeed he did take it, by playing upon the fears of Sisymithres. Once he was attacking another [Pg 360]fortress, also situated upon the top of a lofty rock. While he was addressing words of encouragement to the younger Macedonians, finding that one of them was named Alexander, he said "You must this day prove yourself a brave man, if but for your name's sake." The youth fought most bravely, but fell, to the great grief of Alexander. When he reached the city named Nysa,[419] the Macedonians were unwilling to attack it, because a very deep river ran past its walls. "Unlucky that I am," exclaimed Alexander, "why did I never learn to swim?" Saying thus, he prepared to cross the river just as he was, with his shield upon his left arm. After an unsuccessful assault, ambassadors were sent by the besieged, who were surprised to find Alexander dressed in his armour, covered with dust and blood. A cushion was now brought to him, and he bade the eldest of the ambassadors seat himself upon it. This man was named Akouphis: and he was so much struck with the splendid courtesy of Alexander, that he asked him what his countrymen must do, in order to make him their friend. Alexander replied that they must make Akouphis their chief, and send a hundred of their best men to him. Upon this Akouphis laughed, and answered: "I shall rule them better, O King, if I send the worst men to you and not the best."

LIX. There was one Taxiles,[420] who was said to be king of a part of India as large as Egypt, with a rich and fertile soil. He was also a shrewd man, and came and embraced Alexander, saying, "Why should we two fight one another, Alexander, since you have not come to take away from us the water which we drink nor the food which we eat; and these are the only things about which it is worth while for sensible men to fight? As for all other kinds of property, if I have more than you, I am willing to bestow it upon you, or, if you are the richer, I would willingly be placed in your debt by receiving some from you." Alexander was delighted with these [Pg 361]words, and giving him his right hand as a pledge of his friendship exclaimed, "Perhaps you suppose that by this arrangement we shall become friends without a contest; but you are mistaken, for I will contend with you in good offices, and will take care that you do not overcome me." Saying thus, they exchanged presents, amongst which Alexander gave Taxiles a thousand talents of coined money. This conduct of his greatly vexed his friends; but caused him to be much more favourably regarded by many of the natives.

After this, Alexander, who had suffered great losses from the Indian mercenary troops who flocked to defend the cities which he attacked, made a treaty of alliance with them in a certain town, and afterwards, as they were going away set upon them while they were on the road and killed them all. This is the greatest blot upon his fame; for in all the rest of his wars, he always acted with good faith as became a king. He was also much troubled by the philosophers who attended him, because they reproached those native princes who joined him, and encouraged the free states to revolt and regain their independence. For this reason, he caused not a few of them to be hanged.

LX. His campaign against king Porus is described at length in his own letters. He tells us that the river Hydaspes[421] ran between the two camps, and that Porus with his elephants watched the further bank, and prevented his crossing. Alexander himself every day caused a great noise and disturbance to be made in his camp, in order that the enemy might be led to disregard his movements: and at last upon a dark and stormy night he took a division of infantry and the best of the cavalry, marched to a considerable distance from the enemy, and crossed over into an island of no great extent. Here he was exposed to a terrible storm of rain, with thunder and lightning; but, although several of his men were struck dead, he pressed on, crossed the island, and gained the furthermost bank of the river. The Hydaspes was flooded by the rain, and the stream ran fiercely down this second branch, while the Macedonians could with difficulty keep [Pg 362]their footing upon this slippery and uneven bottom Here it was that Alexander is said to have exclaimed, "O ye Athenians, what toils do I undergo to obtain your praise."

This, however, rests only on the authority of the historian Oneskritus, for Alexander himself relates that they abandoned their rafts, and waded through this second torrent under arms, with the water up to their breasts. After crossing, he himself rode on some twenty furlongs in advance of the infantry, thinking that if the enemy met him with their cavalry alone, he would be able to rout them easily, and that, if they advanced their entire force, before a battle could be begun, he would be joined by his own infantry. And indeed he soon fell in with a thousand horse and sixty war chariots of the enemy, which he routed, capturing all the chariots, and slaying four hundred of the horsemen. Porus now perceived that Alexander himself had crossed the river, and advanced to attack him with all his army, except only a detachment which he left to prevent the Macedonians from crossing the river at their camp. Alexander, alarmed at the great numbers of the enemy, and at their elephants, did not attack their centre, but charged them on the left wing, ordering Koinus to attack them on the right. The enemy on each wing were routed, but retired towards their main body, where the elephants stood. Here an obstinate and bloody contest took place, insomuch that it was the eighth hour of the day before the Indians were finally overcome. These particulars we are told by the chief actor in the battle himself, in his letters. Most historians are agreed that Porus stood four cubits[422] and a span high, and was so big a man that when mounted on his elephant, although it was a very large one, he seemed as well proportioned to the animal as an ordinary man is to a horse. This elephant showed wonderful sagacity and care for its king, as while he was still vigorous it charged the enemy and overthrew them, but when it perceived that he was fainting from his wounds, fearing that he might fall, it [Pg 363]quietly knelt on the ground, and then gently drew the spears out of his body with its trunk. When Porus was captured, Alexander asked him how he wished to be treated. "Like a king," answered Porus. Alexander then enquired if he had nothing else to ask about his treatment. "Everything," answered Porus, "is comprised in these words, like a king." Alexander now replaced Porus in his kingdom, with the title of satrap, and also added a large province to it, subduing the independent inhabitants. This country was said to have contained fifteen separate tribes, five thousand considerable cities and innumerable villages; besides another district three times as large, over which he appointed Philippus, one of his personal friends, to be satrap.

LXI. After this battle with Porus, Alexander's horse Boukephalus died, not immediately, but some time afterwards. Most historians say that he died of wounds received in the battle, but Onesikritus tells us that he died of old age and overwork, for he had reached his thirtieth year. Alexander was greatly grieved at his loss, and sorrowed for him as much as if he had lost one of his most intimate friends. He founded a city as a memorial of him upon the banks of the Hydaspes, which he named Boukephalia. It is also recorded that when he lost a favourite dog called Peritas, which he had brought up from a whelp, and of which he was very fond, he founded a city and called it by the dog's name. The historian Sotion tells us that he heard this from Potamon of Lesbos.

LXII. The battle with King Porus made the Macedonians very unwilling to advance farther into India. They had overcome Porus with the greatest difficulty, as he brought against them a force of twenty thousand infantry and two thousand cavalry, and now offered the most violent opposition to Alexander, who wished to cross the river Ganges. This river, they heard, was thirty-two furlongs wide and a hundred cubits deep, while its further banks were completely covered with armed men, horses and elephants, for it was said that the kings of the Gandaritæ and Præsiæ were awaiting his attack with an army of eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand foot soldiers, eight thousand war chariots, and six thousand elephants; nor was this any exaggeration, for not long [Pg 364]afterwards Androkottus, the king of this country, presented five hundred elephants to Seleukus, and overran and subdued the whole of India with an army of six hundred thousand men.

Alexander at first retired to his tent in a rage, and shut himself up there, not feeling any gratitude to those who had prevented his crossing the Ganges, but regarding a retreat as an acknowledgment of defeat. However, after his friends had argued with him, and his soldiers had come to the door of his tent, begging him with tears in their eyes to go no farther, he relented, and gave orders for a retreat. He now contrived many ingenious devices to impress the natives, as, for instance, he caused arms, and bridles and mangers for horses to be made of much more than the usual size, and left them scattered about. He also set up altars, which even to the present day are reverenced by the kings of the Præsiæ, who cross the river to them, and offer sacrifice upon them in the Greek fashion. Androkottus himself, who was then a lad, saw Alexander himself and afterwards used to declare that Alexander might easily have conquered the whole country, as the then king was hated by his subjects on account of his mean and wicked disposition.

LXIII. After this, Alexander wishing to see the outer ocean,[423] caused many rafts and vessels managed with oars to be built, and proceeded in a leisurely manner down the Indus. His voyage, however, was not an idle one, nor was it unaccompanied with danger, for as he passed down the river, he disembarked, attacked the tribes on the banks, and subdued them all. When he was among the Malli, who are said to be the most warlike tribe in India, he very nearly lost his life. He was besieging their chief city, and after the garrison had been driven from the walls by volleys of missiles, he was the first man to ascend a scaling ladder and mount the walls. The ladder now broke, so that no more could mount, and as the enemy began to assemble inside at the foot of the wall and shoot up at him from below, Alexander, alone against a host, leaped down amongst them, and by good luck, [Pg 365]alighted on his feet. His armour rattled loudly as he leaped, and made the natives think that a bright light was emitted from his body; so that at first they gave way and fled from him. But when they saw that he was attended by only two followers, some of them attacked him at close quarters with swords and spears, while one standing a little way off shot an arrow at him with such force and with such good aim, that it passed through his corslet and imbedded itself in the bones of his breast. As he shrank back when the arrow struck him, the man who had shot it ran up to him with a drawn sword in his hand. Peukestas and Limnæus now stood before Alexander to protect him. Both were wounded, Limnæus mortally; but Peukestas managed to stand firm, while Alexander despatched the Indian with his own hand. Alexander was wounded in many places, and at last received a blow on the neck with a club, which forced him to lean his back against the wall, still facing the enemy. The Macedonians now swarmed round him, snatched him up just as he fainted away, and carried him insensible to his tent. A rumour now ran through the camp that he was dead, and his attendants with great difficulty sawed through the wooden shaft of the arrow, and so got off his corslet. They next had to pluck out the barbed head of the arrow, which was firmly fixed in one of his ribs. This arrow-head is said to have measured four fingers-breadths[424] in length, and three in width. When it was pulled out, he swooned away, so that he nearly died, but at length recovered his strength. When he was out of danger, though still very weak, as he had to keep himself under careful treatment for a long time, he heard a disturbance without, and learning that the Macedonians were anxious to see him, took his cloak and went out to them. After sacrificing to the gods for the recovery of his health, he started again on his journey, and passed through a great extent of country and past many considerable cities, all of which he subdued.

[Pg 366]LXIV. He captured ten of the Indian philosophers called Gymnosophistæ;[425] who had been instrumental in causing Sabbas to revolt, and had done much mischief to the Macedonians. These men are renowned for their short, pithy answers, and Alexander put difficult questions to all of them, telling them that he would first put to death the man who answered him worst, and so the rest in order. The first was asked, whether he thought the living or the dead to be the more numerous. He answered, "The living, for the dead are not."

The second was asked, which breeds the largest animals, the sea or the land. He answered, "The land, for the sea is only a part of it."

The third was asked, which is the cleverest of beasts. He answered, "That which man has not yet discovered."

The fourth was asked why he made Sabbas rebel. He answered, "Because I wished him either to live or to die with honour."

The fifth was asked, which he thought was first, the day or the night. He answered, "The day was first, by one day." As he saw that the king was surprised at this answer, he added, "impossible questions require impossible answers."

Alexander now asked the sixth how a man could make himself most beloved. He answered, "By being very powerful, and yet not feared by his subjects."

Of the remaining three, the first one was asked, how a man could become a god. He answered, "By doing that which is impossible for a man to do."

The next was asked, which was the stronger, life or death. He answered, "Life, because it endures such terrible suffering."

The last, being asked how long it was honourable for a man to live, answered, "As long as he thinks it better for him to live than to die."

Upon this Alexander turned to the judge and asked [Pg 367]him to pronounce his decision. He said that they had answered each one worse than the other. "Then," said Alexander, "you shall yourself be put to death for having given such a verdict." "Not so," said he, "O king, unless you mean to belie your own words, for you said at the beginning that you would put to death him who gave the worst answer."

LXV. Alexander now gave them presents and dismissed them unhurt. He also sent Onesikritus to the most renowned of them, who lived a life of serene contemplation, desiring that they would come to him. This Onesikritus was a philosopher of the school of Diogenes the cynic. One of the Indians, named Kalanus, is said to have received him very rudely, and to have proudly bidden him to take off his clothes and speak to him naked, as otherwise he would not hold any conversation with him, even if he came from Zeus himself. Dandamis, another of the Gymnosophists, was of a milder mood, and when he had been told of Sokrates, Pythagoras, and Diogenes, said that they appeared to him to have been wise men, but to have lived in too great bondage to the laws. Other writers say that Dandamis said nothing more than "For what purpose has Alexander come all the way hither?" However, Taxiles persuaded Kalanus to visit Alexander. His real name was Sphines: but as in the Indian tongue he saluted all he met with the word 'Kale,' the Greeks named him Kalanus. This man is said to have shown to Alexander a figure representing his empire, in the following manner. He flung on the ground a dry, shrunken hide, and then trod upon the outside of it, but when he trod it down in one place, it rose up in all the others. He walked all round the edge of it, and showed that this kept taking place until at length he stepped into the middle, and so made it all lie flat. This image was intended to signify that Alexander ought to keep his strength concentrated in the middle of his empire, and not wander about on distant journeys.

LXVI. Alexander's voyage down the Indus and its tributaries, to the sea-coast, took seven months. On reaching the ocean he sailed to an island which he himself called Skillustis, but which was generally known as [Pg 368]Psiltukis. Here he landed and sacrificed to the gods, after which he explored the sea and the coast as far as he could reach. Having done this, he turned back, after praying to the gods that no conqueror might ever transcend this, the extreme limit of his conquests. He ordered his fleet to follow the line of the coast, keeping India on their right hand: and he gave Nearchus the supreme command, with Onesikritus as chief pilot. He, himself, marched through the country of the Oreitæ, where he endured terrible sufferings from scarcity of provisions, and lost so many men that he scarcely brought back home from India the fourth part of his army, which originally amounted to a hundred and twenty thousand foot, and fifteen thousand horse. Most of the men perished from sickness, bad food, and the excessive heat of the sun, and many from sheer hunger, as they had to march through an uncultivated region, inhabited only by a few miserable savages, with a stunted breed of cattle whose flesh had acquired a rank and disagreeable taste through their habit of feeding on sea-fish.

After a terrible march of sixty days, the army passed through this desert region, and reached Gedrosia, where the men at once received abundant supplies of food, which were furnished by the chiefs of the provinces which they entered.

LXVII. After he had refreshed his troops here for a little, Alexander led them in a joyous revel for seven days through Karmania.[426] He, himself, feasted continually, night and day, with his companions, who sat at table with him upon a lofty stage drawn by eight horses, so that all men could see them. After the king's equipage followed numberless other waggons, some with hangings of purple and embroidered work, and others with canopies of green boughs, which were constantly renewed, containing the rest of Alexander's friends and officers, all [Pg 369]crowned with flowers and drinking wine. There was not a shield, a helmet, or a pike, to be seen, but all along the road the soldiers were dipping cups, and horns, and earthenware vessels into great jars of liquor and drinking one another's healths, some drinking as they marched along, while others sat by the roadside. Everywhere might be heard the sound of flutes and pipes, and women singing and dancing; while with all this dissolute march the soldiers mingled rough jokes, as if the god Dionysus himself were amongst them and attended on their merry procession. At the capital of Gedrosia, Alexander again halted his army, and refreshed them with feasting and revelry. It is said that he himself, after having drunk hard, was watching a contest between several choruses, and that his favourite Bagoas won the prize, and then came across the theatre and seated himself beside him, dressed as he was and wearing his crown as victor. The Macedonians, when they saw this, applauded vehemently, and cried out to Alexander to kiss him, until at length he threw his arms round him and kissed him.

LXVIII. He was now much pleased at being joined by Nearchus and his officers, and took so much interest in their accounts of their voyage, that he wished to sail down the Euphrates himself with a great fleet, and then to coast round Arabia and Libya, and so enter the Mediterranean sea through the pillars of Herakles.[427] He even began to build many ships at Thapsakus, and to collect sailors and pilots from all parts of the world, but the severe campaigns which he had just completed in India, the wound which he had received among the Malli, and the great losses which his army had sustained in crossing the desert, had made many of his subjects doubt whether he was ever likely to return alive, and had encouraged them to revolt, while his absence had led many of his satraps and viceroys to act in an extremely arbitrary and despotic manner, so that his whole empire was in a most critical condition, and full of conspiracies and seditious risings. Olympias and Kleopatra[428] had attacked and driven out Antipater, and had divided the kingdom [Pg 370]between themselves, Olympias taking Epirus, and Kleopatra Macedonia. When Alexander heard this, he said that his mother had proved herself the wiser of the two; for the Macedonians never would endure to be ruled by a woman. He now sent Nearchus back to the sea, determining to make war all along the coast, and coming down in person to punish the most guilty of his officers. He killed Oxyartes, one of the sons of Abouletes (the satrap of Susiana) with his own hands, with a sarissa or Macedonian pike. Abouletes had made no preparations to receive Alexander, but offered him three thousand talents of silver. Alexander ordered the money to be thrown down for the horses; and as they could not eat it, he said "What is the use of your having prepared this for me?" and ordered Abouletes to be cast into prison.

LXIX. While Alexander was in Persis[429] he first renewed the old custom that whenever the king came there he should give every woman a gold piece. On account of this custom we are told that many of the Persian kings came but seldom to Persis, and that Ochus never came at all, but exiled himself from his native country through his niggardliness. Shortly afterwards Alexander discovered that the sepulchre of Cyrus had been broken into, and put the criminal to death, although he was a citizen of Pella[430] of some distinction, named Polemarchus. When he had read the inscription upon the tomb, he ordered it to be cut in Greek letters also. The inscription ran as follows: "O man, whosoever thou art, and whencesoever thou comest—for I know that thou shalt come—I am Cyrus, who won the empire for the Persians. I pray thee, do not grudge me this little earth that covereth my body." These words made a deep impression upon Alexander, and caused him to meditate upon the uncertainty and changefulness of human affairs. About this time, Kalanus, who had for some days been suffering from some internal disorder, begged that a funeral pile might be erected for him. He rode up to it on horseback, said [Pg 371]a prayer, poured a libation for himself and cut off a lock of his own hair, as is usual at a sacrifice, and then, mounting the pile, shook hands with those Macedonians who were present, bidding them be of good cheer that day, and drink deep at the king's table. He added, that he himself should shortly see the king at Babylon. Having spoken thus he lay down and covered himself over. He did not move when the fire reached him, but remained in the same posture until he was consumed, thus sacrificing himself to the gods after the manner of the Indian philosophers. Many years afterwards another Indian, a friend of Cæsar, did the like in the city of Athens; and at the present day his sepulchre is shown under the name of "the Indian's tomb."

LXX. After Alexander left the funeral pyre, he invited many of his friends and chief officers to dinner, and offered a prize to the man who could drink most unmixed wine. Promachus, who won it, drank as much as four choes.[431] He was presented with a golden crown worth a talent, and lived only three days afterwards. Of the others, Chares, the historian, tells us that forty-one died of an extreme cold that came upon them in their drunkenness.

Alexander now celebrated the marriage of many of his companions at Susa. He himself married Statira, the daughter of Darius, and bestowed the noblest of the Persian ladies upon the bravest of his men. He gave a splendid banquet on the occasion of his marriage, inviting to it not only all the newly married couples, but all those Macedonians who were already married to Persian wives. It is said that nine thousand guests were present at this feast, and that each of them was presented with a golden cup to drink his wine in. Alexander entertained them in all other respects with the greatest magnificence, and even paid all the debts of his guests, so that the whole expense amounted to nine thousand eight hundred and seventy talents. On this occasion, Antigenes the one-eyed got his name inscribed on the roll as a debtor, and produced a man who said that he was his creditor. He received the amount of his alleged debt, but his deceit [Pg 372]was afterwards discovered by Alexander, who was much enraged, banished him from his court, and took away his command. This Antigenes was a very distinguished soldier. When Philip, was besieging Perinthus, Antigenes, who was then very young, was struck in the eye with a dart, and would not allow his friends to pull it out, nor leave the fight, before he had driven back the enemy into the city. He now was terribly cast down at his disgrace, and made no secret of his intention of making away with himself. The king, fearing that he would carry out his threat, pardoned him, and permitted him to keep the money.

LXXI. Alexander was much pleased with the appearance of the three thousand youths whom he had left to be trained in the Greek manner, who had now grown into strong and handsome men, and showed great skill and activity in the performance of military exercises; but the Macedonians were very discontented, and feared that their king would now have less need for them. When Alexander sent those of them who were sick or maimed back to the sea coast, they said that it was disgraceful treatment that he should send these poor men home to their country and their parents in disgrace, and in worse case than when they set out, after he had had all the benefit of their services. They bade him send them all home, and regard them all as unserviceable, since he had such a fine troop of young gallants at his disposal to go and conquer the world with. Alexander was much vexed at this. He savagely reproached the soldiers, dismissed all his guards, and replaced them with Persians, whom he appointed as his body-guards and chamberlains. When the Macedonians saw him attended by these men, and found themselves shut out from his presence, they were greatly humbled, and after discussing the matter together they became nearly mad with rage and jealousy. At last they agreed to go to his tent without their arms, dressed only in their tunics, and there with weeping and lamentation offered themselves to him and bade him deal with them as with ungrateful and wicked men. Alexander, although he was now inclined to leniency, refused to receive them, but they would not go away, and remained [Pg 373]for two days and nights at the door of his tent lamenting and calling him their sovereign. On the third day he came out, and when he saw them in such a pitiable state of abasement, he wept for some time. He then gently blamed them for their conduct, and spoke kindly to them. He gave splendid presents to all the invalids, and dismissed them, writing at the same time to Antipater with orders, that in every public spectacle these men should sit in the best places in the theatre or the circus with garlands on their heads. The orphan children of those who had fallen he took into his own service.

LXXII. After Alexander was come to the city of Ekbatana in Media, and had despatched the most weighty part of his business there, he gave himself up entirely to devising magnificent spectacles and entertainments, with the aid of three thousand workmen, whom he had sent for from Greece. During this time, Hephæstion fell sick of a fever, and being a young man, and accustomed to a soldier's life, did not put himself upon a strict diet and remain quiet as he ought to have done. As soon as Glaukus, his physician, left him to go to the theatre, he ate a boiled fowl for his breakfast, and drank a large jar of cooled wine. Upon this he was immediately taken worse, and very shortly afterwards died.

Alexander's grief for him exceeded all reasonable measure. He ordered the manes of all the horses and mules to be cut off in sign of mourning, he struck off the battlements of all the neighbouring cities, crucified the unhappy physician, and would not permit the flute or any other musical instrument to be played throughout his camp, until a response came from the oracle of Ammon bidding him honour Hephæstion and offer sacrifice to him as to a hero.[432] To assuage his grief he took to war, and found consolation in fighting and man-hunting. He conquered the tribe called Kossæi, and slew their entire male population, which passed for an acceptable offering to the manes of Hephæstion. He now determined to spend ten thousand talents[433] on the funeral and tomb of Hephæstion; [Pg 374]and as he wished to exceed the cost by the ingenuity and brilliancy of invention shown in this spectacle, he chose Stasikrates out of all his mechanicians to arrange it, as he was thought to be able both to devise with grandeur and to execute with skill.

He on one occasion before this, when conversing with Alexander, told him that of all mountains in the world Mount Athos in Thrace was that which could most easily be carved into the figure of a man; and that, if Alexander would give him the order, he would form Athos into the most magnificent and durable monument of him that the world had ever seen, as he would represent him as holding in his left hand the city of Myriandrus, and with his right pouring, as a libation, a copious river into the sea. Alexander would not, indeed, adopt this suggestion, but was fond of discussing much more wonderful and costly designs than this with his engineers.

LXXIII. Just as Alexander was on the point of starting for Babylon, Nearchus, who had returned with his fleet up the Euphrates, met him, and informed him that some Chaldæans had warned Alexander to avoid Babylon. He took no heed of this warning, but went his way. When he drew near the walls he saw many crows flying about and pecking at one another, some of whom fell to the ground close beside him. After this, as he heard that Apollodorus, the governor of Babylon, had sacrificed to the gods to know what would happen to Alexander, he sent for Pythagoras, the soothsayer, who had conducted the sacrifice, to know if this were true. The soothsayer admitted that it was, on which Alexander inquired what signs he had observed in the sacrifice. Pythagoras answered that the victim's liver wanted one lobe. "Indeed!" exclaimed Alexander, "that is a terrible omen." He did Pythagoras no hurt, but regretted that he had not listened to the warning of Nearchus, and spent most of his time in his camp outside the walls of Babylon, or in boats on the river Euphrates. Many unfavourable omens now depressed his spirit. A tame ass attacked and kicked to death the finest and largest lion that he kept; and one day, as he [Pg 375]stripped to play at tennis, the young man with whom he played, when it was time to dress again, saw a man sitting on the king's throne, wearing his diadem and royal robe. For a long time this man refused to speak, but at length said that he was a citizen of Messene, named Dionysius, who had been brought to Babylon and imprisoned on some charge or other, and that now the god Serapis had appeared to him, loosed his chains, and had brought him thither, where he had bidden him to put on the king's diadem and robe, seat himself on his throne, and remain silent.

LXXIV. When Alexander heard this, he caused the man to be put to death, according to the advice of his soothsayers; but he himself was much cast down, and feared that the gods had forsaken him: he also grew suspicious of his friends. Above all he feared Antipater and his sons, one of whom, Iolas, was his chief cup-bearer, while the other, Kassander, had but recently arrived from Greece, and as he had been trained in the Greek fashion, and had never seen any Oriental customs before, he burst into a loud, insolent laugh, when he saw some of the natives doing homage to Alexander. Alexander was very angry, and seizing him by the hair with both hands, beat his head against the wall. Another time he stopped Kassander, when he was about to say something to some men who were accusing his father, Antipater. "Do you imagine" said he, "that these men would have journeyed so far merely in order to accuse a man falsely, if they had not been wronged by him?" When Kassander answered, that it looked very like a false accusation for a man to journey far from the place where his proofs lay, Alexander said with a laugh, "This is how Aristotle teaches his disciples to argue on either side of the question; but if any of you be proved to have wronged these men ever so little, you shall smart for it." It is related that after this, terror of Alexander became so rooted in the mind of Kassander, that many years afterwards, when Kassander was king of Macedonia, and lord of all Greece, he was walking about in Delphi looking at the statues, and that when he saw that of Alexander he was seized with a violent shuddering; his hair stood upright on his head, [Pg 376]and his body quaked with fear, so that it was long before he regained his composure.

LXXV. After Alexander had once lost his confidence and become suspicious and easily alarmed, there was no circumstance so trivial that he did not make an omen of it, and the palace was full of sacrifices, lustrations, and soothsayers. So terrible a thing is disbelief in the gods and contempt for them on the one hand, while superstition and excessive reverence for them presses on men's guilty consciences like a torrent of water[434] poured upon them. Thus was Alexander's mind filled with base and cowardly alarms. However when the oracular responses of the gods about Hephæstion were reported to him, he laid aside his grief somewhat, and again indulged in feasts and drinking bouts. He entertained Nearchus and his friends magnificently, after which he took a bath, and then, just as he was going to sleep, Medius invited him to a revel at his house. He drank there the whole of the following day, when he began to feel feverish: though he did not drink up the cup of Herakles at a draught, or suddenly feel a pain as of a spear piercing his body, as some historians have thought it necessary to write, in order to give a dramatic fitness and dignity to the end of so important a personage. Aristobulus tells us that he became delirious through fever, and drank wine to quench his thirst, after which he became raving mad, and died on the thirtieth day of the month Daisius.

LXXVI. In his own diary his last illness is described thus: "On the eighteenth day of Daisius he slept in the bath-room, because he was feverish. On the following day after bathing he came into his chamber and spent the day playing at dice with Medius. After this he bathed late in the evening, offered sacrifice to the gods, dined, and suffered from fever during the night. On the twentieth he bathed and sacrificed as usual, and while reclining in his bath-room he conversed with Nearchus and his friends, listening to their account of their voyage, and of the Great Ocean. On the twenty-first he did the same, but his fever grew much worse, so that he suffered much [Pg 377]during the night, and next day was very ill. On rising from his bed he lay beside the great plunge-bath, and conversed with his generals about certain posts which were vacant in his army, bidding them choose suitable persons to fill them. On the twenty-fourth, although very ill, he rose and offered sacrifice; and he ordered his chief officers to remain near him, and the commanders of brigades and regiments to pass the night at his gate. On the twenty-fifth he was carried over the river to the other palace, and slept a little, but the fever did not leave him. When his generals came to see him he was speechless, and remained so during the twenty-fifth, so that the Macedonians thought that he was dead. They clamoured at his palace gates, and threatened the attendants until they forced their way in. When the gates were thrown open they all filed past his bed one by one, dressed only in their tunics. On this day Python and Seleukus, who had been to the temple of Serapis, enquired whether they should bring Alexander thither. The god answered that they must leave him alone. The eight and twentieth day of the month, towards evening, Alexander died."

LXXVII. Most of the above is copied, word for word, from Alexander's household diary. No one had any suspicion of poison at the time; but it is said that six years after there appeared clear proof that he was poisoned, and that Olympias put many men to death, and caused the ashes of Iolas, who had died in the mean time, to be cast to the winds, as though he had administered the poison to Alexander.

Some writers say that Antipater was advised by Aristotle to poison Alexander, and inform us that one Hagnothemis declared that he had been told as much by Antipater; and that the poison was as cold as ice, and was gathered like dew, from a certain rock near the city of Nonakris, and preserved in the hoof of an ass: for no other vessel could contain it, because it is so exceedingly cold and piercing. Most historians, however, think that the whole story of Alexander's being poisoned was a fiction; and this view is strongly supported by the fact, that as Alexander's generals began to fight one another immediately after his death, his body lay for many days [Pg 378]unheeded, in hot and close rooms, and yet showed no signs of decay, but remained sweet and fresh. Roxana, who was pregnant, was regarded with great respect by the Macedonians, and being jealous of Statira, she sent her a forged letter, purporting to come from Alexander and asking her to come to him. When Statira came, Roxana killed both her and her sister, cast their bodies down a well, and filled up the well with earth. Her accomplice in this crime was Perdikkas, who on the death of Alexander at once became a very powerful man. He sheltered his authority under the name of Arrhidæus, who became the nominal, while Perdikkas was the virtual king of Macedonia. This Arrhidæus was the son of Philip by a low and disreputable woman named Philinna, and was half-witted in consequence of some bodily disorder with which he was afflicted. This disease was not congenital nor produced by natural causes, for he had been a fine boy and showed considerable ability, but Olympias endeavoured to poison him, and destroyed his intellect by her drugs. FOOTNOTES:

[394] On the subject of serpent worship, see in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible,' art.: 'Serpent,' and 'Brazen Serpent.'

[395] The Greek month Hekatombæon answers to the last half of our July and the first half of August.

[396] Cf. Horace, Carm. iii. 22.

[397] Reciters of epic poems, the cantos of which were called 'rhapsodies.'

[398] The same indifference to athletic sports, as practised in Greece, is mentioned in the Life of Philopœmen. The pankratium is sometimes called the pentathlum, and consisted of five contests, the foot-race, leaping, throwing the quoit, hurling the javelin, and wrestling. No one received the prize unless he was winner in all. In earlier times boxing was part of the pentathlum, but hurling the javelin was afterwards substituted for it.

[399] In Greek, this word is properly applied to the slave whose duty it was to attend a boy to and from school, and generally to keep him out of mischief. He was not supposed to teach him.

[400] The literal meaning of this word is "bull's head." It is conjectured that this refers to the mark with which the horse was branded, not to his appearance.

[401] I believe that the seal here mentioned was Philip's own, and in no sense the "great seal of the kingdom," although Strabo speaks of the public seal of a state.

[402] A tribe in the eastern part of Macedonia.

[403] Near Chæronea.

[404] It must be remembered that the ancients, although they possessed chairs, always ate and drank reclining upon couches.

[405] The Karians, ever since the siege of Troy, were regarded by the Greeks with the greatest contempt Cf. Il. ix. 378.

[406] Bacchus. Compare the Bacchæ of Euripides, passim.

[407] For a description of the Macedonian phalanx, see life of Titus Flaminius, ch. viii., note.

[408] This inscription was no doubt written over such spoils as were placed in the Greek temples. Compare Virgil's "Æneas hæc de Danais victoribus arma."

[409] When the wind blew from the south, this road was covered by such a depth of water as to be impracticable: for some time before he reached the spot the wind had blown strong from the south—but as he came near, the special providence of the gods (so he and his friends conceived it) brought on a change of wind to the north, so that the sea receded and left an available passage, though his soldiers had the water up to their waists. Grote's History of Greece, Part II. ch. xcii.

[410] See Smith's 'Biographical Dictionary' s.v.

[411] This dye was probably made from the murex or purple fish, caught in the Hermionic gulf, in Argolis, which produced a dye only second to that of Tyre.

[412] "No certainty is attainable about the ancient geography of these regions. Mr. Long's Map of Ancient Persia shows how little can be made out." (Grote's 'History of Greece,' part ii. chap. cxiii., note.)

[413] Lykus in Greek signifies a wolf.

[414] In Persepolis, the capital of the district called Persis.

[415] The ancients, whose bodies were anointed with oil or unguents, used dust when wrestling, to enable them to hold one another.

[416] The Sea of Azof.

[417] Antipater had been left by Alexander as his viceroy in Macedonia.

[418] The word which I have translated 'striped' is mentioned by Xenophon in the Cyropædia as one of the ensigns of royalty assumed by Cyrus.

[419] Probably Cabul or Ghuznee. The whole geography of Alexander's Asiatic campaigns will be found most exhaustively discussed in Grote's 'History of Greece,' part ii. ch. xcii., s. 99.

[420] The same name occurs in the Life of Sulla, c. 15, and Life of Lucullus, c. 26.

[421] The river Jhelum in the Punjaub.

[422] A cubit is the space from the point of the elbow to that of the little finger: a span is the space one can stretch over with the thumb and the little finger.

[423] As distinguished from the Mediterranean. The ancients gave the name of ocean to the sea by which they believed that their world was surrounded.

[424] δάκτυλος, the shortest Greek measure, a finger's breadth, about 7/20 of an inch. The modern Greek seamen measure the distance of the sun from the horizon by fingers' breadths. Newton's 'Halicarnassus.' (Liddell & Scott, s.v.)

[425] So called from their habit of going entirely naked. One of them is said by Arrian to have said to Alexander. "You are a man like all of us, Alexander—except that you abandon your home like a meddlesome destroyer, to invade the most distant regions; enduring hardships yourself, and inflicting hardships on others." (Arrian, vii, 1, 8.)

[426] To recompense his soldiers for their recent distress, the king conducted them for seven days in drunken bacchanalian procession through Karmania, himself and all his friends taking part in the revelry; an imitation of the jovial festivity and triumph with which the god Dionysus had marched back from the conquest of India. (Grote's 'History of Greece,' part ii. ch. xciv.)

[427] The straits of Gibraltar.

[428] Her daughter, Alexander's sister.

[429] The district known to the ancients as Persis or Persia proper, corresponds roughly to the modern province of Fars. Its capital city was Persepolis, near the modern city of Schiraz.

[430] The capital of Macedonia, Alexander's native city.

[431] χοῦς a liquid measure containing 12 κοτύλαι of 5.46 pints apiece.

[432] The Greek word hero means a semi-divine personage, who was worshipped, though with less elaborate ritual than a god.

[433] £2,300,000. Grote, following Diodorus, raises the total even higher, to twelve thousand talents, or £2,760,000. "History of Greece," part ii. ch. xciv.

[434] The Greek text here is corrupt. I have endeavoured to give what appears to have been Plutarch's meaning.

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