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Alexander

By Plutarch

 

(died 323 B.C.E.)

 

 

Translated by John Dryden

 

IT being my purpose to write the lives of Alexander the king, and

of Caesar, by whom Pompey was destroyed, the multitude of their great

actions affords so large a field that I were to blame if I should

not by way of apology forewarn my reader that I have chosen rather

to epitomize the most celebrated parts of their story, than to insist

at large on every particular circumstance of it. It must be borne

in mind that my design is not to write histories, but lives. And the

most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest

discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment,

an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and

inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments,

or the bloodiest battles whatsoever. Therefore as portrait-painters

are more exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the

character is seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must

be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks and indications

of the souls of men, and while I endeavour by these to portray their

lives, may be free to leave more weighty matters and great battles

to be treated of by others.

 

It is agreed on by all hands, that on the father's side, Alexander

descended from Hercules by Caranus, and from Aeacus by Neoptolemus

on the mother's side. His father Philip, being in Samothrace, when

he was quite young, fell in love there with Olympias, in company with

whom he was initiated in the religious ceremonies of the country,

and her father and mother being both dead, soon after, with the consent

of her brother, Arymbas, he married her. The night before the consummation

of their marriage, she dreamed that a thunderbolt fell upon her body,

which kindled a great fire, whose divided flames dispersed themselves

all about, and then were extinguished. And Philip, some time after

he was married, dreamt that he sealed up his wife's body with a seal,

whose impression, as be fancied, was the figure of a lion. Some of

the diviners interpreted this as a warning to Philip to look narrowly

to his wife; but Aristander of Telmessus, considering how unusual

it was to seal up anything that was empty, assured him the meaning

of his dream was that the queen was with child of a boy, who would

one day prove as stout and courageous as a lion. Once, moreover, a

serpent was found lying by Olympias as she slept, which more than

anything else, it is said, abated Philip's passion for her; and whether

he feared her as an enchantress, or thought she had commerce with

some god, and so looked on himself as excluded, he was ever after

less fond of her conversation. Others say, that the women of this

country having always been extremely addicted to the enthusiastic

Orphic rites, and the wild worship of Bacchus (upon which account

they were called Clodones, and Mimallones), imitated in many things

the practices of the Edonian and Thracian women about Mount Haemus,

from whom the word threskeuein seems to have been derived, as a special

term for superfluous and over-curious forms of adoration; and that

Olympias, zealously, affecting these fanatical and enthusiastic inspirations,

to perform them with more barbaric dread, was wont in the dances proper

to these ceremonies to have great tame serpents about her, which sometimes

creeping out of the ivy in the mystic fans, sometimes winding themselves

about the sacred spears, and the women's chaplets, made a spectacle

which men could not look upon without terror.

 

Philip, after this vision, sent Chaeron of Megalopolis to consult

the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, by which he was commanded to perform

sacrifice, and henceforth pay particular honour, above all other gods,

to Ammon; and was told he should one day lose that eye with which

he presumed to peep through that chink of the door, when he saw the

god, under the form of a serpent, in the company of his wife. Eratosthenes

says that Olympias, when she attended Alexander on his way to the

army in his first expedition, told him the secret of his birth, and

bade him behave himself with courage suitable to his divine extraction.

Others again affirm that she wholly disclaimed any pretensions of

the kind, and was wont to say, "When will Alexander leave off slandering

me to Juno?"

 

Alexander was born the sixth of Hecatombaeon, which month the Macedonians

call Lous, the same day that the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burnt;

which Hegesias of Magnesia makes the occasion of a conceit, frigid

enough to have stopped the conflagration. The temple, he says, took

fire and was burnt while its mistress was absent, assisting at the

birth of Alexander. And all the Eastern soothsayers who happened to

be then at Ephesus, looking upon the ruin of this temple to be the

forerunner of some other calamity, ran about the town, beating their

faces, and crying that this day had brought forth something that would

prove fatal and destructive to all Asia.

 

Just after Philip had taken Potidaea, he received these three messages

at one time, that Parmenio had overthrown the Illyrians in a great

battle, that his race-horse had won the course at the Olympic games,

and that his wife had given birth to Alexander; with which being naturally

well pleased, as an addition to his satisfaction, he was assured by

the diviners that a son, whose birth was accompanied with three such

successes, could not fail of being invincible.

 

The statues that gave the best representation of Alexander's person

were those of Lysippus (by whom alone he would suffer his image to

be made), those peculiarities which many of his successors afterwards

and his friends used to affect to imitate, the inclination of his

head a little on one side towards his left shoulder, and his melting

eye, having been expressed by this artist with great exactness. But

Apelles, who drew him with thunderbolts in his hand, made his complexion

browner and darker than it was naturally; for he was fair and of a

light colour, passing into ruddiness in his face and upon his breast.

Aristoxenus in his Memoirs tells us that a most agreeable odour exhaled

from his skin, and that his breath and body all over was so fragrant

as to perfume the clothes which he wore next him; the cause of which

might probably be the hot and adust temperament of his body. For sweet

smells, Theophrastus conceives, are produced by the concoction of

moist humours by heat, which is the reason that those parts of the

world which are driest and most burnt up afford spices of the best

kind and in the greatest quantity; for the heat of the sun exhausts

all the superfluous moisture which lies in the surface of bodies,

ready to generate putrefaction. And this hot constitution, it may

be, rendered Alexander so addicted to drinking, and so choleric. His

temperance, as to the pleasures of the body, was apparent in him in

his very childhood, as he was with much difficulty incited to them,

and always used them with great moderation; though in other things

be was extremely eager and vehement, and in his love of glory, and

the pursuit of it, he showed a solidity of high spirit and magnanimity

far above his age. For he neither sought nor valued it upon every

occasion, as his father Philip did (who affected to show his eloquence

almost to a degree of pedantry, and took care to have the victories

of his racing chariots at the Olympic games engraven on his coin),

but when he was asked by some about him, whether he would run a race

in the Olympic games, as he was very swift-footed, he answered, he

would, if he might have kings to run with him. Indeed, he seems in

general to have looked with indifference, if not with dislike, upon

the professed athletes. He often appointed prizes, for which not only

tragedians and musicians, pipers and harpers, but rhapsodists also,

strove to outvie one another; and delighted in all manner of hunting

and cudgel-playing, but never gave any encouragement to contests either

of boxing or of the pancratium.

 

While he was yet very young, he entertained the ambassadors from the

King of Persia, in the absence of his father, and entering much into

conversation with them, gained so much upon them by his affability,

and the questions he asked them, which were far from being childish

or trifling (for he inquired of them the length of the ways, the nature

of the road into inner Asia, the character of their king, how he carried

himself to his enemies, and what forces he was able to bring into

the field), that they were struck with admiration of him, and looked

upon the ability so much famed of Philip to be nothing in comparison

with the forwardness and high purpose that appeared thus early in

his son. Whenever he heard Philip had taken any town of importance,

or won any signal victory, instead of rejoicing at it altogether,

he would tell his companions that his father would anticipate everything,

and leave him and them no opportunities of performing great and illustrious

actions. For being more bent upon action and glory than either upon

pleasure or riches, he esteemed all that he should receive from his

father as a diminution and prevention of his own future achievements;

and would have chosen rather to succeed to a kingdom involved in troubles

and wars, which would have afforded him frequent exercise of his courage,

and a large field of honour, than to one already flourishing and settled,

where his inheritance would be an inactive life, and the mere enjoyment

of wealth and luxury.

 

The care of his education, as it might be presumed, was committed

to a great many attendants, preceptors, and teachers, over the whole

of whom Leonidas, a near kinsman of Olympias, a man of an austere

temper, presided, who did not indeed himself decline the name of what

in reality is a noble and honourable office, but in general his dignity,

and his near relationship, obtained him from other people the title

of Alexander's foster-father and governor. But he who took upon him

the actual place and style of his pedagogue was Lysimachus the Acarnanian,

who, though he had nothing to recommend him, but his lucky fancy of

calling himself Phoenix, Alexander Achilles and Philip Peleus, was

therefore well enough esteemed, and ranked in the next degree after

Leonidas.

 

Philonicus the Thessalian brought the horse Bucephalus to Philip,

offering to sell him for thirteen talents; but when they went into

the field to try him, they found him so very vicious and unmanageable,

that he reared up when they endeavoured to mount him, and would not

so much as endure the voice of any of Philip's attendants. Upon which,

as they were leading him away as wholly useless and untractable, Alexander,

who stood by, said, "What an excellent horse do they lose for want

of address and boldness to manage him!" Philip at first took no notice

of what he said; but when he heard him repeat the same thing several

times, and saw he was much vexed to see the horse sent away, "Do you

reproach," said he to him, "those who are older than yourself, as

if you knew more, and were better able to manage him than they?" "I

could manage this horse," replied he, "better than others do." "And

if you do not," said Philip, "what will you forfeit for your rashness?"

"I will pay," answered Alexander, "the whole price of the horse."

At this the whole company fell a-laughing; and as soon as the wager

was settled amongst them, he immediately ran to the horse, and taking

hold of the bridle, turned him directly towards the sun, having, it

seems, observed that he was disturbed at and afraid of the motion

of his own shadow; then letting him go forward a little, still keeping

the reins in his hands, and stroking him gently when he found him

begin to grow eager and fiery, he let fall his upper garment softly,

and with one nimble leap securely mounted him, and when he was seated,

by little and little drew in the bridle, and curbed him without either

striking or spurring him. Presently, when he found him free from all

rebelliousness, and only impatient for the course, he let him go at

full speed, inciting him now with a commanding voice, and urging him

also with his heel. Philip and his friends looked on at first in silence

and anxiety for the result, till seeing him turn at the end of his

career, and come back rejoicing and triumphing for what he had performed,

they all burst out into acclamations of applause; and his father shedding

tears, it is said, for joy, kissed him as he came down from his horse,

and in his transport said, "O my son, look thee out a kingdom equal

to and worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee."

 

After this, considering him to be of a temper easy to be led to his

duty by reason, but by no means to be compelled, he always endeavoured

to persuade rather than to command or force him to anything; and now

looking upon the instruction and tuition of his youth to be of greater

difficulty and importance than to be wholly trusted to the ordinary

masters in music and poetry, and the common school subjects, and to

require, as Sophocles says-

 

"The bridle and the rudder too," he sent for Aristotle, the most learned

and most celebrated philosopher of his time, and rewarded him with

a munificence proportionable to and becoming the care he took to instruct

his son. For he repeopled his native city Stagira, which he had caused

to be demolished a little before, and restored all the citizens, who

were in exile or slavery, to their habitations. As a place for the

pursuit of their studies and exercise, he assigned the temple of the

Nymphs, near Mieza, where, to this very day, they show you Aristotle's

stone seats, and the shady walks which he was wont to frequent. It

would appear that Alexander received from him not only his doctrines

of Morals and of Politics, but also something of those more abstruse

and profound theories which these philosophers, by the very names

they gave them, professed to reserve for oral communication to the

initiated, and did not allow many to become acquainted with. For when

he was in Asia, and heard Aristotle had published some treatises of

that kind, he wrote to him, using very plain language to him in behalf

of philosophy, the following letter. "Alexander to Aristotle, greeting.

You have not done well to publish your books of oral doctrine; for

what is there now that we excel others in, if those things which we

have been particularly instructed in be laid open to all? For my part,

I assure you, I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is

excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion. Farewell."

And Aristotle, soothing this passion for pre-eminence, speaks, in

his excuse for himself, of these doctrines as in fact both published

and not published: as indeed, to say the truth, his books on metaphysics

are written in a style which makes them useless for ordinary teaching,

and instructive only, in the way of memoranda, for those who have

been already conversant in that sort of learning.

 

Doubtless also it was to Aristotle that he owed the inclination he

had, not to the theory only, but likewise to the practice of the art

of medicine. For when any of his friends were sick, he would often

prescribe them their course of diet, and medicines proper to their

disease, as we may find in his epistles. He was naturally a great

lover of all kinds of learning and reading; and Onesicritus informs

us that he constantly laid Homer's Iliads, according to the copy corrected

by Aristotle, called the casket copy, with his dagger under his pillow,

declaring that he esteemed it a perfect portable treasure of all military

virtue and knowledge. When he was in the upper Asia, being destitute

of other books, he ordered Harpalus to send him some; who furnished

him with Philistus's History, a great many of the plays of Euripides,

Sophocles, and Aeschylus, and some dithyrambic odes, composed by Telestes

and Philoxenus. For a while he loved and cherished Aristotle no less,

as he was wont to say himself, than if he had been his father, giving

this reason for it, that as he had received life from the one, so

the other had taught him to live well. But afterwards, upon some mistrust

of him, yet not so great as to make him do him any hurt, his familiarity

and friendly kindness to him abated so much of its former force and

affectionateness, as to make it evident he was alienated from him.

However, his violent thirst after and passion for learning, which

were once implanted, still grew up with him, and never decayed; as

appears by his veneration of Anaxarchus, by the present of fifty talents

which he sent to Xenocrates, and his particular care and esteem of

Dandamis and Calanus.

 

While Philip went on his expedition against the Byzantines, he left

Alexander, then sixteen years old, his lieutenant in Macedonia, committing

the charge of his seal to him; who, not to sit idle, reduced the rebellious

Maedi, and having taken their chief town by storm, drove out the barbarous

inhabitants, and planting a colony of several nations in their room,

called the place after his own name, Alexandropolis. At the battle

of Chaeronea, which his father fought against the Grecians, he is

said to have been the first man that charged the Thebans' sacred band.

And even in my remembrance, there stood an old oak near the river

Cephisus, which people called Alexander's oak, because his tent was

pitched under it. And not far off are to be seen the graves of the

Macedonians who fell in that battle. This early bravery made Philip

so fond of him, that nothing pleased him more than to hear his subjects

call himself their general and Alexander their king.

 

But the disorders of his family, chiefly caused by his new marriages

and attachments (the troubles that began in the women's chambers spreading,

so to say, to the whole kingdom), raised various complaints and differences

between them, which the violence of Olympias, a woman of a jealous

and implacable temper, made wider, by exasperating Alexander against

his father. Among the rest, this accident contributed most to their

falling out. At the wedding of Cleopatra, whom Philip fell in love

with and married, she being much too young for him, her uncle Attalus

in his drink desired the Macedonians would implore the gods to give

them a lawful successor to the kingdom by his niece. This so irritated

Alexander, that throwing one of the cups at his head, "You villain,"

said he, "what, am I then a bastard?" Then Philip, taking Attalus's

part, rose up and would have run his son through; but by good fortune

for them both, either his over-hasty rage, or the wine he had drunk,

made his foot slip, so that he fell down on the floor. At which Alexander

reproachfully insulted over him: "See there," said he, "the man who

makes preparations to pass out of Europe into Asia, overturned in

passing from one seat to another." After this debauch, he and his

mother Olympias withdrew from Philip's company, and when he had placed

her in Epirus, he himself retired into Illyria.

 

About this time, Demaratus the Corinthian, an old friend of the family,

who had the freedom to say anything among them without offence, coming

to visit Philip, after the first compliments and embraces were over,

Philip asked him whether the Grecians were at amity with one another.

"It ill becomes you," replied Demaratus, "to be so solicitous about

Greece, when you have involved your own house in so many dissensions

and calamities." He was so convinced by this seasonable reproach,

that he immediately sent for his son home, and by Demaratus's mediation

prevailed with him to return. But this reconciliation lasted not long;

for when Pixodorus, viceroy of Caria, sent Aristocritus to treat for

a match between his eldest daughter and Philip's son, Arrhidaeus,

hoping by this alliance to secure his assistance upon occasion, Alexander's

mother, and some who pretended to be his friends, presently filled

his head with tales and calumnies, as if Philip, by a splendid marriage

and important alliance, were preparing the way for settling the kingdom

upon Arrhidaeus. In alarm at this, he despatched Thessalus, the tragic

actor, into Caria, to dispose Pixodorus to slight Arrhidaeus, both

illegitimate and a fool, and rather to accept of himself for his son-in-law.

This proposition was much more agreeable to Pixodorus than the former.

But Philip, as soon as he was made acquainted with this transaction,

went to his son's apartment, taking with him Philotas, the son of

Parmenio, one of Alexander's intimate friends and companions, and

there reproved him severely, and reproached him bitterly, that he

should be so degenerate, and unworthy of the power he was to leave

him, as to desire the alliance of a mean Carian, who was at best but

the slave of a barbarous prince. Nor did this satisfy his resentment,

for he wrote to the Corinthians to send Thessalus to him in chains,

and banished Harpalus, Nearchus, Erigyius, and Ptolemy, his son's

friends and favourites, whom Alexander afterwards recalled and raised

to great honour and preferment.

 

Not long after this, Pausanias, having had an outrage done to him

at the instance of Attalus and Cleopatra, when he found he could get

no reparation for his disgrace at Philip's hands, watched his opportunity

and murdered him. The guilt of which fact was laid for the most part

upon Olympias, who was said to have encouraged and exasperated the

enraged youth to revenge; and some sort of suspicion attached even

to Alexander himself, who, it was said, when Pausanias came and complained

to him of the injury he had received, repeated the verse out of Euripides's

Medea-

 

"On husband, and on father, and on bride." However, he took care to

find out and punish the accomplices of the conspiracy severely, and

was very angry with Olympias for treating Cleopatra inhumanly in his

absence.

 

Alexander was but twenty years old when his father was murdered, and

succeeded to a kingdom, beset on all sides with great dangers and

rancorous enemies. For not only the barbarous nations that bordered

on Macedonia were impatient of being governed by any but their own

native princes, but Philip likewise, though he had been victorious

over the Grecians, yet, as the time had not been sufficient for him

to complete his conquest and accustom them to his sway, had simply

left all things in a general disorder and confusion. It seemed to

the Macedonians a very critical time; and some would have persuaded

Alexander to give up all thought of retaining the Grecians in subjection

by force of arms, and rather to apply himself to win back by gentle

means the allegiance of the tribes who were designing revolt, and

try the effect of indulgence in arresting the first motions towards

revolution. But he rejected this counsel as weak and timorous, and

looked upon it to be more prudence to secure himself by resolution

and magnanimity, than, by seeming to truckle to any, to encourage

all to trample on him. In pursuit of this opinion, he reduced the

barbarians to tranquillity, and put an end to all fear of war from

them, he gave rapid expedition into their country as far as the river

Danube, where he gave Syrmus, King of the Triballians, an entire overthrow.

And hearing the Thebans were in revolt, and the Athenians in correspondence

with them, he immediately marched through the pass of Thermopylae,

saying that to Demosthenes, who had called him a child while he was

in Illyria and in the country of the Triballians, and a youth when

he was in Thessaly, he would appear a man before the walls of Athens.

 

When he came to Thebes, to show how willing he was to accept of their

repentance for what was past, he only demanded of them Phoenix and

Prothytes, the authors of the rebellion, and proclaimed a general

pardon to those who would come over to him. But when the Thebans merely

retorted by demanding Philotas and Antipater to be delivered into

their hands, and by a proclamation on their part invited all who would

assert the liberty of Greece to come over to them, he presently applied

himself to make them feel the last extremities of war. The Thebans

indeed defended themselves with a zeal and courage beyond their strength,

being much outnumbered by their enemies. But when the Macedonian garrison

sallied out upon them from the citadel, they were so hemmed in on

all sides that the greater part of them fell in the battle; the city

itself being taken by storm, was sacked and razed. Alexander's hope

being that so severe an example might terrify the rest of Greece into

obedience, and also in order to gratify the hostility of his confederates,

the Phocians and Plataeans. So that, except the priests, and some

few who had heretofore been the friends and connections of the Macedonians,

the family of the poet Pindar, and those who were known to have opposed

the public vote for the war, all the rest, to the number of thirty

thousand, were publicly sold for slaves; and it is computed that upwards

of six thousand were put to the sword.

 

Among the other calamities that befell the city, it happened that

some Thracian soldiers, having broken into the house of a matron of

high character and repute, named Timoclea, their captain, after he

had used violence with her, to satisfy his avarice as well as lust,

asked her, if she knew of any money concealed; to which she readily

answered she did, and bade him follow her into a garden, where she

showed him a well, into which, she told him, upon the taking of the

city, she had thrown what she had of most value. The greedy Thracian

presently stooping down to view the place where he thought the treasure

lay, she came behind him and pushed him into the well, and then flung

great stones in upon him, till she had killed him. After which, when

the soldiers led her away bound to Alexander, her very mien and gait

showed her to be a woman of dignity, and of a mind no less elevated,

not betraying the least sign of fear or astonishment. And when the

king asked her who she was, "I am," said she, "the sister of Theagenes,

who fought the battle of Chaeronea with your father Philip, and fell

there in command for the liberty of Greece." Alexander was so surprised,

both at what she had done and what she said, that he could not choose

but give her and her children their freedom to go whither they pleased.

 

After this he received the Athenians into favour, although they had

shown themselves so much concerned at the calamity of Thebes that

out of sorrow they omitted the celebration of the Mysteries, and entertained

those who escaped with all possible humanity. Whether it were, like

the lion, that his passion was now satisfied, or that, after an example

of extreme cruelty, he had a mind to appear merciful, it happened

well for the Athenians; for he not only forgave them all past offences,

but bade them look to their affairs with vigilance, remembering that

if he should miscarry, they were likely to be the arbiters of Greece.

Certain it is, too, that in aftertime he often repented of his severity

to the Thebans, and his remorse had such influence on his temper as

to make him ever after less rigorous to all others. He imputed also

the murder of Clitus, which he committed in his wine, and the unwillingness

of the Macedonians to follow him against the Indians, by which his

enterprise and glory was left imperfect, to the wrath and vengeance

of Bacchus, the protector of Thebes. And it was observed that whatsoever

any Theban, who had the good fortune to survive this victory, asked

of him, he was sure to grant without the least difficulty.

 

Soon after, the Grecians, being assembled at the Isthmus, declared

their resolution of joining with Alexander in the war against the

Persians, and proclaimed him their general. While he stayed here,

many public ministers and philosophers came from all parts to visit

him and congratulated him on his election, but contrary to his expectation,

Diogenes of Sinope, who then was living at Corinth, thought so little

of him, that instead of coming to compliment him, he never so much

as stirred out of the suburb called the Cranium, where Alexander found

him lying along in the sun. When he saw so much company near him,

he raised himself a little, and vouchsafed to look upon Alexander;

and when he kindly asked him whether he wanted anything, "Yes," said

he, "I would have you stand from between me and the sun." Alexander

was so struck at this answer, and surprised at the greatness of the

man, who had taken so little notice of him, that as he went away he

told his followers, who were laughing at the moroseness of the philosopher,

that if he were not Alexander, he would choose to be Diogenes.

 

Then he went to Delphi, to consult Apollo concerning the success of

the war he had undertaken, and happening to come on one of the forbidden

days, when it was esteemed improper to give any answer from the oracle,

he sent messengers to desire the priestess to do her office; and when

she refused, on the plea of a law to the contrary, he went up himself,

and began to draw her by force into the temple, until tired and overcome

with his importunity, "My son," said she, "thou art invincible." Alexander

taking hold of what she spoke, declared he had received such an answer

as he wished for, and that it was needless to consult the god any

further. Among other prodigies that attended the departure of his

army, the image of Orpheus at Libethra, made of cypress-wood, was

seen to sweat in great abundance, to the discouragement of many. But

Aristander told him that, far from presaging any ill to him, it signified

he should perform acts so important and glorious as would make the

poets and musicians of future ages labour and sweat to describe and

celebrate them.

 

His army, by their computation who make the smallest amount, consisted

of thirty thousand foot and four thousand horse; and those who make

the most of it, speak but of forty-three thousand foot and three thousand

horse. Aristobulus says, he had not a fund of above seventy talents

for their pay, nor had he more than thirty days' provision, if we

may believe Duris; Onesicritus tells us he was two hundred talents

in debt. However narrow and disproportionable the beginnings of so

vast an undertaking might seem to be, yet he would not embark his

army until he had informed himself particularly what means his friends

had to enable them to follow him, and supplied what they wanted, by

giving good farms to some, a village to one, and the revenue of some

hamlet or harbour-town to another. So that at last he had portioned

out or engaged almost all the royal property; which giving Perdiccas

an occasion to ask him what he would leave himself, he replied, his

hopes. "Your soldiers," replied Perdiccas, "will be your partners

in those," and refused to accept of the estate he had assigned him.

Some others of his friends did the like, but to those who willingly

received or desired assistance of him, he liberally granted it, as

far as his patrimony in Macedonia would reach, the most part of which

was spent in these donations.

 

With such vigorous resolutions, and his mind thus disposed, he passed

the Hellespont, and at Troy sacrificed to Minerva, and honoured the

memory of the heroes who were buried there, with solemn libations;

especially Achilles, whose gravestone he anointed, and with his friends,

as the ancient custom is, ran naked about his sepulchre, and crowned

it with garlands, declaring how happy he esteemed him, in having while

he lived so faithful a friend, and when he was dead, so famous a poet

to proclaim his actions. While he was viewing the rest of the antiquities

and curiosities of the place, being told he might see Paris's harp,

if he pleased, he said he thought it not worth looking on, but he

should be glad to see that of Achilles, to which he used to sing the

glories and great actions of brave men.

 

In the meantime, Darius's captains, having collected large forces,

were encamped on the further bank of the river Granicus, and it was

necessary to fight, as it were, in the gate of Asia for an entrance

into it. The depth of the river, with the unevenness and difficult

ascent of the opposite bank, which was to be gained by main force,

was apprehended by most, and some pronounced it an improper time to

engage, because it was unusual for the kings of Macedonia to march

with their forces in the month called Daesius. But Alexander broke

through these scruples, telling them they should call it a second

Artemisius. And when Parmenio advised him not to attempt anything

that day, because it was late, he told him that he should disgrace

the Hellespont should he fear the Granicus. And so, without more saying,

he immediately took the river with thirteen troops of horse, and advanced

against whole showers of darts thrown from the steep opposite side,

which was covered with armed multitudes of the enemy's horse and foot,

notwithstanding the disadvantage of the ground and the rapidity of

the stream; so that the action seemed to have more frenzy and desperation

in it, than of prudent conduct. However, he persisted obstinately

to gain the passage, and at last with much ado making his way up the

banks, which were extremely muddy and slippery, he had instantly to

join in a mere confused hand-to-hand combat with the enemy, before

he could draw up his men, who were still passing over, into any order.

For the enemy pressed upon him with loud and warlike outcries; and

charging horse against horse, with their lances, after they had broken

and spent these, they fell to it with their swords. And Alexander,

being easily known by his buckler, and a large plume of white feathers

on each side of his helmet, was attacked on all sides, yet escaped

wounding, though his cuirass was pierced by a javelin in one of the

joinings. And Rhoesaces and Spithridates, two Persian commanders,

falling upon him at once, he avoided one of them, and struck at Rhoesaces,

who had a good cuirass on, with such force that, his spear breaking

in his hand, he was glad to betake himself to his dagger. While they

were thus engaged, Spithridates came up on one side of him, and raising

himself upon his horse, gave him such a blow with his battle-axe on

the helmet that he cut off the crest of it, with one of his plumes,

and the helmet was only just so far strong enough to save him, that

the edge of the weapon touched the hair of his head. But as he was

about to repeat his stroke, Clitus, called the black Clitus, prevented

him, by running him through the body with his spear. At the same time

Alexander despatched Rhoesaces with his sword. While the horse were

thus dangerously engaged, the Macedonian phalanx passed the river,

and the foot on each side advanced to fight. But the enemy hardly

sustaining the first onset soon gave ground and fled, all but the

mercenary Greeks, who, making a stand upon a rising ground, desired

quarter, which Alexander, guided rather by passion than judgment,

refused to grant, and charging them himself first, had his horse (not

Bucephalus, but another) killed under him. And this obstinacy of his

to cut off these experienced desperate men cost him the lives of more

of his own soldiers than all the battle before, besides those who

were wounded. The Persians lost in this battle twenty thousand foot

and two thousand five hundred horse. On Alexander's side, Aristobulus

says there were not wanting above four-and-thirty, of whom nine were

foot-soldiers; and in memory of them he caused so many statues of

brass, of Lysippus's making, to be erected. And that the Grecians

might participate in the honour of his victory he sent a portion of

the spoils home to them particularly to the Athenians three hundred

bucklers, and upon all the rest he ordered this inscription to be

set: "Alexander the son of Philip, and the Grecians, except the Lacedaemonians,

won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia." All the plate and

purple garments, and other things of the same kind that he took from

the Persians, except a very small quantity which he reserved for himself,

he sent as a present to his mother.

 

This battle presently made a great change of affairs to Alexander's

advantage. For Sardis itself, the chief seat of the barbarian's power

in the maritime provinces, and many other considerable places, were

surrendered to him; only Halicarnassus and Miletus stood out, which

he took by force, together with the territory about them. After which

he was a little unsettled in his opinion how to proceed. Sometimes

he thought it best to find out Darius as soon as he could, and put

all to the hazard of a battle; another while he looked upon it as

a more prudent course to make an entire reduction of the sea-coast,

and not to seek the enemy till he had first exercised his power here

and made himself secure of the resources of these provinces. While

he was thus deliberating what to do, it happened that a spring of

water near the city of Xanthus in Lycia, of its own accord, swelled

over its banks, and threw up a copper plate, upon the margin of which

was engraven in ancient characters, that the time would come when

the Persian empire should be destroyed by the Grecians. Encouraged

by this accident, he proceeded to reduce the maritime parts of Cilicia

and Phoenicia, and passed his army along the sea-coasts of Pamphylia

with such expedition that many historians have described and extolled

it with that height of admiration, as if it were no less than a miracle,

and an extraordinary effect of divine favour, that the waves which

usually come rolling in violently from the main, and hardly ever leave

so much as a narrow beach under the steep, broken cliffs at any time

uncovered, should on a sudden retire to afford him passage. Menander,

in one of his comedies, alludes to this marvel when he says-

 

"Was Alexander ever favoured more?

Each man I wish for meets me at my door,

And should I ask for passage through the sea,

The sea I doubt not would retire for me."

 

But Alexander himself in his epistles mentions nothing unusual in

this at all, but says he went from Phaselis, and passed through what

they call the Ladders. At Phaselis he stayed some time, and finding

the statue of Theodectes, who was a native of this town and was now

dead, erected in the market-place, after he had supped, having drunk

pretty plentifully, he went and danced about it, and crowned it with

garlands, honouring not ungracefully, in his sport, the memory of

a philosopher whose conversation he had formerly enjoyed when he was

Aristotle's scholar.

 

Then he subdued the Pisidians who made head against him, and conquered

the Phrygians, at whose chief city, Gordium, which is said to be the

seat of the ancient Midas, he saw the famous chariot fastened with

cords made of the rind of the cornel-tree, which whosoever should

untie, the inhabitants had a tradition, that for him was reserved

the empire of the world. Most authors tell the story that Alexander

finding himself unable to untie the knot, the ends of which were secretly

twisted round and folded up within it, cut it asunder with his sword.

But Aristobulus tells us it was easy for him to undo it, by only pulling

the pin out of the pole, to which the yoke was tied, and afterwards

drawing off the yoke itself from below. From hence he advanced into

Paphlagonia and Cappadocia, both which countries he soon reduced to

obedience, and then hearing of the death of Memnon, the best commander

Darius had upon the sea-coasts, who, if he had lived, might, it was

supposed, have put many impediments and difficulties in the way of

the progress of his arms, he was the rather encouraged to carry the

war into the upper provinces of Asia.

 

Darius was by this time upon his march from Susa, very confident,

not only in the number of his men, which amounted to six hundred thousand,

but likewise in a dream, which the Persian soothsayers interpreted

rather in flattery to him than according to the natural probability.

He dreamed that he saw the Macedonian phalanx all on fire, and Alexander

waiting on him, clad in the same dress which he himself had been used

to wear when he was courier to the late king; after which, going into

the temple of Belus, he vanished out of his sight. The dream would

appear to have supernaturally signified to him the illustrious actions

the Macedonians were to perform, and that as he, from a courier's

place, had risen to the throne, so Alexander should come to be master

of Asia, and not long surviving his conquests, conclude his life with

glory. Darius's confidence increased the more, because Alexander spent

so much time in Cilicia, which he imputed to his cowardice. But it

was sickness that detained him there, which some say he contracted

from his fatigues, others from bathing in the river Cydnus, whose

waters were exceedingly cold. However it happened, none of his physicians

would venture to give him any remedies, they thought his case so desperate,

and were so afraid of the suspicions and ill-will of the Macedonians

if they should fail in the cure; till Philip, the Acarnanian, seeing

how critical his case was, but relying on his own well-known friendship

for him, resolved to try the last efforts of his art, and rather hazard

his own credit and life than suffer him to perish for want of physic,

which he confidently administered to him, encouraging him to take

it boldly, if he desired a speedy recovery, in order to prosecute

the war. At this very time, Parmenio wrote to Alexander from the camp,

bidding him have a care of Philip, as one who was bribed by Darius

to kill him, with great sums of money, and a promise of his daughter

in marriage. When he had perused the letter, he put it under his pillow,

without showing it so much as to any of his most intimate friends,

and when Philip came in with the potion, he took it with great cheerfulness

and assurance, giving him meantime the letter to read. This was a

spectacle well worth being present at, to see Alexander take the draught

and Philip read the letter at the same time, and then turn and look

upon one another, but with different sentiments; for Alexander's looks

were cheerful and open, to show his kindness to and confidence in

his physician, while the other was full of surprise and alarm at the

accusation, appealing to the gods to witness his innocence, sometimes

lifting up his hands to heaven, and then throwing himself down by

the bedside, and beseeching Alexander to lay aside all fear, and follow

his directions without apprehension. For the medicine at first worked

so strongly as to drive, so to say, the vital forces into the interior;

he lost his speech, and falling into a swoon, had scarce any sense

or pulse left. However in no long time, by Philip's means, his health

and strength returned, and he showed himself in public to the Macedonians,

who were in continual fear and dejection until they saw him abroad

again.

 

There was at this time in Darius's army a Macedonian refugee, named

Amyntas, one who was pretty well acquainted with Alexander's character.

This man, when he saw Darius intended to fall upon the enemy in the

passes and defiles, advised him earnestly to keep where he was, in

the open and extensive plains, it being the advantage of a numerous

army to have field-room enough when it engaged with a lesser force.

Darius, instead of taking his counsel, told him he was afraid the

enemy would endeavour to run away, and so Alexander would escape out

of his hands. "That fear," replied Amyntas, "is needless, for assure

yourself that far from avoiding you, he will make all the speed he

can to meet you, and is now most likely on his march toward you."

But Amyntas's counsel was to no purpose, for Darius immediately decamping,

marched into Cilicia at the same time that Alexander advanced into

Syria to meet him; and missing one another in the night, they both

turned back again. Alexander, greatly pleased with the event, made

all the haste he could to fight in the defiles, and Darius to recover

his former ground, and draw his army out of so disadvantageous a place.

For now he began to perceive his error in engaging himself too far

in a country in which the sea, the mountains, and the river Pinarus

running through the midst of it, would necessitate him to divide his

forces, render his horse almost unserviceable, and only cover and

support the weakness of the enemy. Fortune was not kinder to Alexander

in the choice of the ground, than he was careful to improve it to

his advantage. For being much inferior in numbers, so far from allowing

himself to be outflanked, he stretched his right wing much further

out than the left wing of his enemies, and fighting there himself

in the very foremost ranks, put the barbarians to flight. In this

battle he was wounded in the thigh, Chares says, by Darius, with whom

he fought hand-to-hand. But in the account which he gave Antipater

of the battle, though indeed he owns he was wounded in the thigh with

a sword, though not dangerously, yet he takes no notice who it was

that wounded him.

 

Nothing was wanting to complete this victory, in which he overthrew

above an hundred and ten thousand of his enemies, but the taking the

person of Darius, who escaped very narrowly by flight. However, having

taken his chariot and his bow, he returned from pursuing him, and

found his own men busy in pillaging the barbarians' camp, which (though

to disburden themselves they had left most of their baggage at Damascus)

was exceedingly rich. But Darius's tent, which was full of splendid

furniture and quantities of gold and silver, they reserved for Alexander

himself, who, after he had put off his arms, went to bathe himself

saying, "Let us now cleanse ourselves from the toils of war in the

bath of Darius." "Not so," replied one of his followers, "but in Alexander's

rather; for the property of the conquered is and should be called

the conqueror's." Here, when he beheld the bathing vessels, the water-pots,

the pans, and the ointment boxes, all of gold curiously wrought, and

smelt the fragrant odours with which the whole place was exquisitely

perfumed, and from thence passed into a pavilion of great size and

height, where the couches and tables and preparations for an entertainment

were perfectly magnificent, he turned to those about him and said,

"This, it seems, is royalty."

 

But as he was going to supper, word was brought him that Darius's

mother and wife and two unmarried daughters, being taken among the

rest of the prisoners, upon the sight of his chariot and bow, were

all in mourning and sorrow, imagining him to be dead. After a little

pause, more lively affected with their affliction than with his own

success, he sent Leonnatus to them, to let them know Darius was not

dead, and that they need not fear any harm from Alexander, who made

war upon him only for dominion; they should themselves be provided

with everything they had been used to receive from Darius. This kind

message could not but be very welcome to the captive ladies, especially

being made good by actions no less humane and generous. For he gave

them leave to bury whom they pleased of the Persians, and to make

use for this purpose of what garments and furniture they thought fit

out of the booty. He diminished nothing of their equipage, or of the

attentions and respect formerly paid them, and allowed larger pensions

for their maintenance than they had before. But the noblest and most

royal part of their usage was, that he treated these illustrious prisoners

according to their virtue and character, not suffering them to hear,

or receive, or so much as to apprehend anything that was unbecoming.

So that they seemed rather lodged in some temple, or some holy virgin

chambers, where they enjoyed their privacy sacred and uninterrupted,

than in the camp of an enemy. Nevertheless Darius's wife was accounted

the most beautiful princess then living, as her husband the tallest

and handsomest man of his time, and the daughters were not unworthy

of their parents. But Alexander, esteeming it more kingly to govern

himself than to conquer his enemies, sought no intimacy with any one

of them, nor indeed with any other women before marriage, except Barsine,

Memnon's widow, who was taken prisoner at Damascus. She had been instructed

in the Grecian learning, was of a gentle temper, and by her father,

Artabazus, royally descended, with good qualities, added to the solicitations

and encouragement of Parmenio, as Aristobulus tells us, made him the

more willing to attach himself to so agreeable and illustrious a woman.

Of the rest of the female captives, though remarkably handsome and

well proportioned, he took no further notice than to say jestingly

that Persian women were terrible eyesores. And he himself, retaliating,

as it were, by the display of the beauty of his own temperance and

self-control, bade them be removed, as he would have done so many

lifeless images. When Philoxenus, his lieutenant on the sea-coast,

wrote to him to know if he would buy two young boys of great beauty,

whom one Theodorus, a Tarentine, had to sell, he was so offended that

he often expostulated with his friends what baseness Philoxenus had

ever observed in him that he should presume to make him such a reproachful

offer. And he immediately wrote him a very sharp letter, telling him

Theodorus and his merchandise might go with his good-will to destruction.

Nor was he less severe to Hagnon, who sent him word he would buy a

Corinthian youth named Crobylus, as a present for him. And hearing

that Damon and Timotheus, two of Parmenio's Macedonian soldiers, had

abused the wives of some strangers who were in his pay, he wrote to

Parmenio, charging him strictly, if he found them guilty, to put them

to death, as wild beasts that were only made for the mischief of mankind.

In the same letter he added, that he had not so much as seen or desired

to see the wife of Darius, nor suffered anybody to speak of her beauty

before him. He was wont to say that sleep and the act of generation

chiefly made him sensible that he was mortal; as much as to say, that

weariness and pleasure proceed both from the same frailty and imbecility

of human nature.

 

In his diet, also, he was most temperate, as appears, omitting many

other circumstances, by what he said to Ada, whom he adopted, with

the title of mother, and afterwards created Queen of Caria. For when

she, out of kindness, sent him every day many curious dishes and sweetmeats,

and would have furnished him with some cooks and pastry-men, who were

thought to have great skill, he told her he wanted none of them, his

preceptor, Leonidas, having already given him the best, which were

a night march to prepare for breakfast, and a moderate breakfast to

create an appetite for supper. Leonidas also, he added, used to open

and search the furniture of his chamber and his wardrobe, to see if

his mother had left him anything that was delicate or superfluous.

He was much less addicted to wine than was generally believed; that

which gave people occasion to think so of him was, that when he had

nothing else to do, he loved to sit long and talk, rather than drink,

and over every cup hold a long conversation. For when his affairs

called upon him, he would not be detained, as other generals often

were, either by wine, or sleep, nuptial solemnities, spectacles, or

any other diversion whatsoever; a convincing argument of which is,

that in the short time he lived, he accomplished so many and so great

actions. When he was free from employment, after he was up, and had

sacrificed to the gods he used to sit down to breakfast, and then

spend the rest of the day in hunting, or writing memoirs, giving decisions

on some military questions, or reading. In marches that required no

great haste, he would practise shooting as he went along, or to mount

a chariot and alight from it in full speed. Sometimes, for sport's

sake, as his journals tell us, he would hunt foxes and go fowling.

When he came in for the evening, after he had bathed and was anointed,

he would call for his bakers and chief cooks, to know if they had

his dinner ready. He never cared to dine till it was pretty late and

beginning to be dark, and was wonderfully circumspect at meals that

every one who sat with him should be served alike and with proper

attention: and his love of talking, as was said before, made him delight

to sit long at his wine. And then, though otherwise no prince's conversation

was ever so agreeable, he would fall into a temper of ostentation

and soldierly boasting, which gave his flatterers a great advantage

to ride him, and made his better friends very uneasy. For though they

thought it too base to strive who should flatter him most, yet they

found it hazardous not to do it; so that between the shame and the

danger, they were in a great strait how to behave themselves. After

such an entertainment, he was wont to bathe, and then perhaps he would

sleep till noon, and sometimes all day long. He was so very temperate

in his eating, that when any rare fish or fruits were sent him, he

would distribute them among his friends, and often reserve nothing

for himself. His table, however, was always magnificent, the expense

of it still increasing with his good fortune, till it amounted to

ten thousand drachmas a day, to which sum he limited it, and beyond

this he would suffer none to lay out in any entertainment where he

himself was the guest.

 

After the battle of Issus, he sent to Damascus to seize upon the money

and baggage, the wives and children, of the Persians, of which spoil

the Thessalian horsemen had the greatest share; for he had taken particular

notice of their gallantry in the fight, and sent them thither on purpose

to make their reward suitable to their courage. Not but that the rest

of the army had so considerable a part of the booty as was sufficient

to enrich them all. This first gave the Macedonians such a taste of

the Persian wealth and women and barbaric splendour of living, that

they were ready to pursue and follow upon it with all the eagerness

of hounds upon a scent. But Alexander, before he proceeded any further,

thought it necessary to assure himself of the sea-coast. Those who

governed in Cyprus put that island into his possession, and Phoenicia,

Tyre only excepted, was surrendered to him. During the siege of this

city, which, with mounds of earth cast up, and battering engines,

and two hundred galleys by sea, was carried on for seven months together,

he dreamt that he saw Hercules upon the walls, reaching out his hands,

and calling to him. And many of the Tyrians in their sleep fancied

that Apollo told them he was displeased with their actions, and was

about to leave them and go over to Alexander. Upon which, as if the

god had been a deserting soldier, they seized him, so to say, in the

act, tied down the statue with ropes, and nailed it to the pedestal,

reproaching him that he was a favourer of Alexander. Another time

Alexander dreamed he saw a satyr mocking him at a distance, and when

he endeavoured to catch him, he still escaped from him, till at last

with much perseverance, and running about after him, he got him into

his power. The soothsayers, making two words of Satyrus, assured him

that Tyre should be his own. The inhabitants at this time show a spring

of water, near which they say Alexander slept when he fancied the

satyr appeared to him.

 

While the body of the army lay before Tyre, he made an excursion against

the Arabians who inhabit the Mount Antilibanus, in which he hazarded

his life extremely to bring off his master Lysimachus, who would needs

go along with him, declaring he was neither older nor inferior in

courage to Phoenix, Achilles's guardian. For when, quitting their

horses, they began to march up the hills on foot, the rest of the

soldiers outwent them a great deal, so that night drawing on, and

the enemy near, Alexander was fain to stay behind so long, to encourage

and help up the lagging and tired old man, that before he was aware

he was left behind, a great way from his soldiers, with a slender

attendance, and forced to pass an extremely cold night in the dark,

and in a very inconvenient place; till seeing a great many scattered

fires of the enemy at some distance, and trusting to his agility of

body, and as he was always wont by undergoing toils and labours himself

to cheer and support the Macedonians in any distress, he ran straight

to one of the nearest fires, and with his dagger despatching two of

the barbarians that sat by it, snatched up a lighted brand, and returned

with it to his own men. They immediately made a great fire, which

so alarmed the enemy that most of them fled, and those that assaulted

them were soon routed and thus they rested securely the remainder

of the night. Thus Chares writes.

 

But to return to the siege, it had this issue. Alexander, that he

might refresh his army, harassed with many former encounters, had

led only a small party towards the walls, rather to keep the enemy

busy than with any prospect of much advantage. It happened at this

time that Aristander, the soothsayer, after he had sacrificed, upon

view of the entrails, affirmed confidently to those who stood by that

the city should be certainly taken that very month, upon which there

was a laugh and some mockery among the soldiers, as this was the last

day of it. The king, seeing him in perplexity, and always anxious

to support the credit of the predictions, gave order that they should

not count it as the thirtieth, but as the twenty-third of the month,

and ordering the trumpets to sound, attacked the walls more seriously

than he at first intended. The sharpness of the assault so inflamed

the rest of his forces who were left in the camp, that they could

not hold from advancing to second it, which they performed with so

much vigour that the Tyrians retired, and the town was carried that

very day. The next place he sat down before was Gaza, one of the largest

cities of Syria, when this accident befell him. A large bird flying

over him let a clod of earth fall upon his shoulder, and then settling

upon one of the battering engines, was suddenly entangled and caught

in the nets, composed of sinews, which protected the ropes with which

the machine was managed. This fell out exactly according to Aristander's

prediction, which was, that Alexander should be wounded and the city

reduced.

 

From hence he sent great part of the spoils to Olympias, Cleopatra,

and the rest of his friends, not omitting his preceptor Leonidas,

on whom he bestowed five hundred talents' weight of frankincense and

an hundred of myrrh, in remembrance of the hopes he had once expressed

of him when he was but a child. For Leonidas, it seems, standing by

him one day while he was sacrificing, and seeing him take both his

hands full of incense to throw into the fire, told him it became him

to be more sparing in his offerings, and not to be so profuse till

he was master of the countries which those sweet gums and saying,

come from. So Alexander now wrote to him, saying, "We have sent you

abundance of myrrh and frankincense, that for the future you may not

be stingy to the gods." Among the treasures and other booty that was

taken from Darius, there was a very precious casket, which being brought

to Alexander for a great rarity, he asked those about him what they

thought fittest to be laid up in it; and when they had delivered their

various opinions, he told them he should keep Homer's Iliad in it.

This is attested by many credible authors, and if what those of Alexandria

tell us, relying upon the authority of Heraclides, be true, Homer

was neither an idle nor an unprofitable companion to him in his expedition.

For when he was master of Egypt, designing to settle a colony of Grecians

there, he resolved to build a large and populous city, and give it

his own name. In order to which, after he had measured and staked

out the ground with the advice of the best architects, he chanced

one night in his sleep to see a wonderful vision; a grey-headed old

man, of a venerable aspect, appeared to stand by him, and pronounce

these verses:-

 

"An island lies, where loud the billows roar,

Pharos they call it, on the Egyptian shore."

 

Alexander upon this immediately rose up and went to Pharos, which,

at that time, was an island lying a little above the Canobic mouth

of the river Nile, though it has now been joined to the mainland by

a mole. As soon as he saw the commodious situation of the place, it

being a long neck of land, stretching like an isthmus between large

lagoons and shallow waters on one side and the sea on the other, the

latter at the end of it making a spacious harbour, he said, Homer,

besides his other excellences, was a very good architect, and ordered

the plan of a city to be drawn out answerable to the place. To do

which, for want of chalk, the soil being black, they laid out their

lines with flour, taking in a pretty large compass of ground in a

semi-circular figure, and drawing into the inside of the circumference

equal straight lines from each end, thus giving it something of the

form of a cloak or cape; while he was pleasing himself with his design,

on a sudden an infinite number of great birds of several kinds, rising

like a black cloud out of the river and the lake, devoured every morsel

of the flour that had been used in setting out the lines; at which

omen even Alexander himself was troubled, till the augurs restored

his confidence again by telling him it was a sign the city he was

about to build would not only abound in all things within itself,

but also be the nurse and feeder of many nations. He commanded the

workmen to proceed, while he went to visit the temple of Ammon.

 

This was a long and painful, and, in two respects, a dangerous journey;

first, if they should lose their provision of water, as for several

days none could be obtained; and, secondly, if a violent south wind

should rise upon them, while they were travelling through the wide

extent of deep sands, as it is said to have done when Cambyses led

his army that way, blowing the sand together in heaps, and raising,

as it were, the whole desert like a sea upon them, till fifty thousand

were swallowed up and destroyed by it. All these difficulties were

weighed and represented to him; but Alexander was not easily to be

diverted from anything he was bent upon. For fortune having hitherto

seconded him in his designs, made him resolute and firm in his opinions,

and the boldness of his temper raised a sort of passion in him for

surmounting difficulties; as if it were not enough to be always victorious

in the field, unless places and seasons and nature herself submitted

to him. In this journey, the relief and assistance the gods afforded

him in his distresses were more remarkable, and obtained greater belief

than the oracles he received afterwards, which, however, were valued

and credited the more on account of those occurrences. For first,

plentiful rains that fell preserved them from any fear of perishing

by drought, and, allaying the extreme dryness of the sand, which now

became moist and firm to travel on, cleared and purified the air.

Besides this, when they were out of their way, and were wandering

up and down, because the marks which were wont to direct the guides

were disordered and lost, they were set right again by some ravens,

which flew before them when on their march, and waited for them when

they lingered and fell behind; and the greatest miracle, as Callisthenes

tells us, was that if any of the company went astray in the night,

they never ceased croaking and making a noise till by that means they

had brought them into the right way again. Having passed through the

wilderness, they came to the place where the high priest, at the first

salutation, bade Alexander welcome from his father Ammon. And being

asked by him whether any of his father's murderers had escaped punishment,

he charged him to speak with more respect, since his was not a mortal

father. Then Alexander, changing his expression, desired to know of

him if any of those who murdered Philip were yet unpunished, and further

concerning dominion, whether the empire of the world was reserved

for him? This, the god answered, he should obtain, and that Philip's

death was fully revenged, which gave him so much satisfaction that

he made splendid offerings to Jupiter, and gave the priests very rich

presents. This is what most authors write concerning the oracles.

But Alexander, in a letter to his mother, tells her there were some

secret answers, which at his return he would communicate to her only.

Others say that the priest, desirous as a piece of courtesy to address

him in Greek, "O Paidion," by a slip in pronunciation ended with the

s instead of the n, and said "O Paidios," which mistake Alexander

was well enough pleased with, and it went for current that the oracle

had called him so.

 

Among the sayings of one Psammon, a philosopher, whom he heard in

Egypt, he most approved of this, that all men are governed by God,

because in everything, that which is chief and commands is divine.

But what he pronounced himself upon this subject was even more like

a philosopher, for he said God was the common father of us all, but

more particularly of the best of us. To the barbarians he carried

himself very haughtily, as if he were fully persuaded of his divine

birth and parentage; but to the Grecians more moderately, and with

less affectation of divinity, except it were once in writing to the

Athenians about Samos, when he tells them that he should not himself

have bestowed upon them that free and glorious city; "You received

it," he says, "from the bounty of him who at that time was called

my lord and father," meaning Philip. However, afterwards being wounded

with an arrow, and feeling much pain, he turned to those about him,

and told them, "This, my friends, is real flowing blood, not Ichor-

 

"Such as immortal gods are wont to shed." And another time, when it

thundered so much that everybody was afraid, and Anaxarchus, the sophist,

asked him if he who was Jupiter's son could do anything like this,

"Nay," said Alexander, laughing, "I have no desire to be formidable

to my friends, as you would have me, who despised my table for being

furnished with fish, and not with the heads of governors of provinces."

For in fact it is related as true, that Anaxarchus, seeing a present

of small fishes, which the king sent to Hephaestion, had used this

expression, in a sort of irony, and disparagement of those who undergo

vast labours and encounter great hazards in pursuit of magnificent

objects which after all bring them little more pleasure or enjoyment

than what others have. From what I have said upon this subject, it

is apparent that Alexander in himself was not foolishly affected,

or had the vanity to think himself really a god, but merely used his

claims to divinity as a means of maintaining among other people the

sense of his superiority.

 

At his return out of Egypt into Phoenicia, he sacrificed and made

solemn processions, to which were added shows of lyric dances and

tragedies, remarkable not merely for the splendour of the equipage

and decorations, but for the competition among those who exhibited

them. For the kings of Cyprus were here the exhibitors, just in the

same manner as at Athens those who are chosen by lot out of the tribes.

And, indeed, they showed the greatest emulation to outvie each other;

especially Nicocreon, King of Salamis, and Pasicrates of Soli, who

furnished the chorus, and defrayed the expenses of the two most celebrated

actors, Athenodorus and Thessalus, the former performing for Pasicrates,

and the latter for Nicocrean. Thessalus was most favoured by Alexander,

though it did not appear till Athenodorus was declared victor by the

plurality of votes. For then at his going away, he said the judges

deserved to be commended for what they had done, but that he would

willingly have lost part of his kingdom rather than to have seen Thessalus

overcome. However, when he understood Athenodorus was fined by the

Athenians for being absent at the festivals of Bacchus, though he

refused his request that he would write a letter in his behalf, he

gave him a sufficient sum to satisfy the penalty. Another time, when

Lycon of Scarphia happened to act with great applause in the theatre,

and in a verse which he introduced into the comic part which he was

acting, begged for a present of ten talents, he laughed and gave him

the money.

 

Darius wrote him a letter, and sent friends to intercede with him,

requesting him to accept as a ransom of his captives the sum of a

thousand talents, and offering him in exchange for his amity and alliance

all the countries on this side the river Euphrates, together with

one of his daughters in marriage. These propositions he communicated

to his friends, and when Parmenio told him that, for his part, if

he were Alexander, he should readily embrace them, "So would I," said

Alexander, "if I were Parmenio." Accordingly, his answer to Darius

was, that if he would come and yield himself up into his power he

would treat him with all possible kindness; if not, he was resolved

immediately to go himself and seek him. But the death of Darius's

wife in childbirth made him soon after regret one part of this answer,

and he showed evident marks of grief at thus deprived of a further

opportunity of exercising his clemency and good nature, which he manifested,

however, as far as he could, by giving her a most sumptuous funeral.

 

Among the eunuchs who waited in the queen's chamber, and were taken

prisoners with the women, there was one Tireus, who, getting out of

the camp, fled away on horseback to Darius, to inform him of his wife's

death. He, when he heard it, beating his head, and bursting into tears

and lamentations, said, "Alas! how great is the calamity of the Persians!

Was it not enough that their king's consort and sister was a prisoner

in her lifetime, but she must, now she is dead, also be but meanly

and obscurely buried?" "O king," replied the eunuch, "as to her funeral

rites, or any respect or honour that should have been shown in them,

you have not the least reason to accuse the ill fortune of your country;

for to my knowledge neither your queen Statira when alive, nor your

mother, nor children, wanted anything of their former happy condition,

unless it were the light of your countenance, which I doubt not but

the lord Oromasdes will yet restore to its former glory. And after

her decease, I assure you, she had not only all due funeral ornaments,

but was honoured also with the tears of your very enemies; for Alexander

is as gentle after victory as he is terrible in the field." At the

bearing of these words, such was the grief and emotion of Darius's

mind, that they carried him into extravagant suspicions; and taking

Tireus aside into a more private part of his tent, "Unless thou likewise,"

said he to him, "hast deserted me, together with the good fortune

of Persia, and art become a Macedonian in thy heart; if thou yet ownest

me for thy master Darius, tell me, I charge thee, by the veneration

thou payest the light of Mithras, and this right hand of thy king,

do I not lament the least of Statira's misfortunes in her captivity

and death? Have I not suffered something more injurious and deplorable

in her lifetime? And had I not been miserable with less dishonour

if I had met with a more severe and inhuman enemy? For how is it possible

a young man as he is should treat the wife of his opponent with so

much distinction, were it not from some motive that does me disgrace?"

Whilst he was yet speaking, Tireus threw himself at his feet, and

besought him neither to wrong Alexander so much, nor his dead wife

and sister, as to give utterance to any such thoughts, which deprived

him of the greatest consolation left him in his adversity, the belief

that he was overcome by a man whose virtues raised him above human

nature; that he ought to look upon Alexander with love and admiration,

who had given no less proofs of his continence towards the Persian

women, than of his valour among the men. The eunuch confirmed all

he said with solemn and dreadful oaths, and was further enlarging

upon Alexander's moderation and magnanimity on other occasions, when

Darius, breaking away from him into the other division of the tent,

where his friends and courtiers were, lifted up his hands to heaven

and uttered this prayer, "Ye gods," said he, "of my family, and of

my kingdom, if it be possible, I beseech you to restore the declining

affairs of Persia, that I may leave them in as flourishing a condition

as I found them, and have it in my power to make a grateful return

to Alexander for the kindness which in my adversity he has shown to

those who are dearest to me. But if, indeed, the fatal time be come,

which is to give a period to the Persian monarchy, if our ruin be

a debt that must be paid to the divine jealousy and the vicissitude

of things, then I beseech you grant that no other man but Alexander

may sit upon the throne of Cyrus." Such is the narrative given by

the greater number of the historians.

 

But to return to Alexander. After he had reduced all Asia on this

side the Euphrates, he advanced towards Darius, who was coming down

against him with a million of men. In his march a very ridiculous

passage happened. The servants who followed the camp for sport's sake

divided themselves into two parties, and named the commander of one

of them Alexander, and the other Darius. At first they only pelted

one another with clods of earth, but presently took to their fists,

and at last, heated with contention, they fought in good earnest with

stones and clubs, so that they had much ado to part them; till Alexander,

upon hearing of it, ordered the two captains to decide the quarrel

by single combat, and armed him who bore his name himself, while Philotas

did the same to him who represented Darius. The whole army were spectators

of this encounter, willing from the event of it to derive an omen

of their own future success. After they had fought stoutly a pretty

long while, at last he who was called Alexander had the better, and

for a reward of his prowess had twelve villages given him, with leave

to wear the Persian dress. So we are told by Eratosthenes.

 

But the great battle of all that was fought with Darius was not, as

most writers tell us, at Arbela, but at Gaugamela, which, in their

language, signifies the camel's house, forasmuch as one of their ancient

kings having escaped the pursuit of his enemies on a swift camel,

in gratitude to his beast, settled him at this place, with an allowance

of certain villages and rents for his maintenance. It came to pass

that in the month Boedromion, about the beginning of the feast of

Mysteries at Athens, there was an eclipse of the moon, the eleventh

night after which, the two armies being now in view of one another,

Darius kept his men in arms, and by torchlight took a general review

of them. But Alexander, while his soldiers slept, spent the night

before his tent with his diviner, Aristander, performing certain mysterious

ceremonies, and sacrificing to the god Fear. In the meanwhile the

oldest of his commanders, and chiefly Parmenio, when they beheld all

the plain between Niphates and the Gordyaean mountains shining with

the lights and fires which were made by the barbarians, and heard

the uncertain and confused sounds of voices out of their camp, like

the distant roaring of a vast ocean, were so amazed at the thoughts

of such a multitude, that after some conference among themselves,

they concluded it an enterprise too difficult and hazardous for them

to engage so numerous an enemy in the day, and therefore meeting the

king as he came from sacrificing, besought him to attack Darius by

night, that the darkness might conceal the danger of the ensuing battle.

To this he gave them the celebrated answer, "I will not steal a victory,"

which though some at the time thought a boyish and inconsiderate speech,

as if he played with danger, others, however, regarded as an evidence

that he confided in his present condition, and acted on a true judgment

of the future, not wishing to leave Darius, in case he were worsted,

the pretext of trying his fortune again, which he might suppose himself

to have, if he could impute his overthrow to the disadvantage of the

night, as he did before to the mountains, the narrow passages, and

the sea. For while he had such numerous forces and large dominions

still remaining, it was not any want of men or arms that could induce

him to give up the war, but only the loss of all courage and hope

upon the conviction of an undeniable and manifest defeat.

 

After they were gone from him with this answer, he laid himself down

in his tent and slept the rest of the night more soundly than was

usual with him, to the astonishment of the commanders, who came to

him early in the morning, and were fain themselves to give order that

the soldiers should breakfast. But at last, time not giving them leave

to wait any longer, Parmenio went to his bedside, and called him twice

or thrice by his name, till he waked him, and then asked him how it

was possible, when he was to fight the most important battle of all,

he could sleep as soundly as if he were already victorious. "And are

we not so, indeed," replied Alexander, smiling, "since we are at last

relieved from the trouble of wandering in pursuit of Darius through

a wide and wasted country, hoping in vain that he would fight us?"

And not only before the battle, but in the height of the danger, he

showed himself great, and manifested the self-possession of a just

foresight and confidence. For the battle for some time fluctuated

and was dubious. The left wing, where Parmenio commanded, was so impetuously

charged by the Bactrian horse that it was disordered and forced to

give ground, at the same time that Mazaeus had sent a detachment round

about to fall upon those who guarded the baggage, which so disturbed

Parmenio that he sent messengers to acquaint Alexander that the camp

and baggage would be all lost unless he immediately relieved the rear

by a considerable reinforcement drawn out of the front. This message

being brought him just as he was giving the signal to those about

him for the onset, he bade them tell Parmenio that he must have surely

lost the use of his reason, and had forgotten, in his alarm, that

soldiers, if victorious, became masters of their enemies' baggage;

and if defeated, instead of taking care of their wealth or their slaves,

have nothing more to do but to fight gallantly and die with honour.

When he had said this, he put on his helmet, having the rest of his

arms on before he came out of his tent, which were a coat of the Sicilian

make, girt close about him, and over that a breast-piece of thickly

quilted linen, which was taken among other booty at the battle of

Issus. The helmet, which was made by Theophilus, though of iron, was

so well wrought and polished that it was as bright as the most refined

silver. To this was fitted a gorget of the same metal, set with precious

stones. His sword, which was the weapon he most used in fight, was

given him by the King of the Citieans, and was of an admirable temper

and lightness. The belt which he also wore in all engagements was

of much richer workmanship than the rest of his armour. It was a work

of the ancient Helicon, and had been presented to him by the Rhodians,

as a mark of their respect to him. So long as he was engaged in drawing

up his men, or riding about to give orders or directions, or to view

them, he spared Bucephalus, who was now growing old, and made use

of another horse; but when he was actually to fight, he sent for him

again, and as soon as he was mounted, commenced the attack.

 

He made the longest address that day to the Thessalians and other

Greeks, who answered him with loud shouts, desiring him to lead them

on against the barbarians, upon which he shifted his javelin into

his left hand, and with his right lifted up towards heaven, besought

the gods, as Callisthenes tells us, that if he was of a truth the

son of Jupiter, they would be pleased to assist and strengthen the

Grecians. At the same time the augur Aristander, who had a white mantle

about him, and a crown of gold on his head, rode by and showed them

an eagle that soared just over Alexander, and directed his flight

towards the enemy; which so animated the beholders, that after mutual

encouragements and exhortations, the horse charged at full speed,

and were followed in a mass by the whole phalanx of the foot. But

before they could well come to blows with the first ranks, the barbarians

shrunk back, and were hotly pursued by Alexander, who drove those

that fled before him into the middle of the battle, where Darius himself

was in person, whom he saw from a distance over the foremost ranks,

conspicuous in the midst of his life-guard, a tall and fine-looking

man, drawn in a lofty chariot, defended by an abundance of the best

horse, who stood close in order about it ready to receive the enemy.

But Alexander's approach was so terrible, forcing those who gave back

upon those who yet maintained their ground, that he beat down and

dispersed them almost all. Only a few of the bravest and valiantest

opposed the pursuit, who were slain in their king's presence, falling

in heaps upon one another, and in the very pangs of death striving

to catch hold of the horses. Darius now seeing all was lost, that

those who were placed in front to defend him were broken and beat

back upon him, that he could not turn or disengage his chariot without

great difficulty, the wheels being clogged and entangled among the

dead bodies, which lay in such heaps as not only stopped, but almost

covered the horses, and made them rear and grow so unruly that the

frightened charioteer could govern them no longer, in this extremity

was glad to quit his chariot and his arms, and mounting, it is said,

upon a mare that had been taken from her foal, betook himself to flight.

But he had not escaped so either, if Parmenio had not sent fresh messengers

to Alexander, to desire him to return and assist him against a considerable

body of the enemy which yet stood together, and would not give ground.

For, indeed, Parmenio is on all hands accused of having been sluggish

and unserviceable in this battle, whether age had impaired his courage,

or that, as Callisthenes says, he secretly disliked and envied Alexander's

growing greatness. Alexander, though he was not a little vexed to

be so recalled and hindered from pursuing his victory, yet concealed

the true reason from his men, and causing a retreat to be sounded,

as if it were too late to continue the execution any longer, marched

back towards the place of danger, and by the way met the news of the

enemy's total overthrow and flight.

 

This battle being thus over, seemed to put a period to the Persian

empire; and Alexander, who was now proclaimed King of Asia, returned

thanks to the gods in magnificent sacrifices, and rewarded his friends

and followers with great sums of money, and places, and governments

of provinces. Eager to gain honour with the Grecians, he wrote to

them that he would have all tyrannies abolished, that they might live

free according to their own laws, and specially to the Plataeans,

that their city should be rebuilt, because their ancestors had permitted

their countrymen of old to make their territory the seat of the war

when they fought with the barbarians for their common liberty. He

sent also part of the spoils into Italy, to the Crotoniats, to honour

the zeal and courage of their citizen Phayllus, the wrestler, who,

in the Median war, when the other Grecian colonies in Italy disowned

Greece, that he might have a share in the danger, joined the fleet

at Salamis, with a vessel set forth at his own charge. So affectionate

was Alexander to all kind of virtue, and so desirous to preserve the

memory of laudable actions.

 

From hence he marched through the province of Babylon, which immediately

submitted to him, and in Ecbatana was much surprised at the sight

of the place where fire issues in a continuous stream, like a spring

of water, out of a cleft in the earth, and the stream of naphtha,

which, not far from this spot, flows out so abundantly as to form

a sort of lake. This naphtha, in other respects resembling bitumen,

is so subject to take fire, that before it touches the flame it will

kindle at the very light that surrounds it, and often inflame the

intermediate air also. The barbarians, to show the power and nature

of it, sprinkled the street that led to the king's lodgings with little

drops of it, and when it was almost night, stood at the further end

with torches, which being applied to the moistened places, the first

at once taking fire, instantly, as quick as a man could think of it,

it caught from one end to another, in such a manner that the whole

street was one continued flame. Among those who used to wait on the

king and find occasion to amuse him when he anointed and washed himself

there was one Athenophanes, an Athenian, who desired him to make an

experiment of the naphtha upon Stephanus, who stood by in the bathing

place, a youth with a ridiculously ugly face, whose talent was singing

well, "For," said he, "if it take hold of him and is not put out,

it must undeniably be allowed to be of the most invincible strength."

The youth, as it happened, readily consented to undergo the trial,

and as soon as he was anointed and rubbed with it, his whole body

broke out into such a flame, and was so seized by the fire, that Alexander

was in the greatest perplexity and alarm for him, and not without

reason; for nothing could have prevented his being consumed by it,

if by good chance there had not been people at hand with a great many

vessels of water for the service of the bath, with all which they

had much ado to extinguish the fire; and his body was so burned all

over that he was not cured of it for a good while after. Thus it is

not without some plausibility that they endeavour to reconcile the

fable to truth, who say this was the drug in the tragedies with which

Medea anointed the crown and veil which she gave to Creon's daughter.

For neither the things themselves, nor the fire, could kindle of its

own accord, but being prepared for it by the naphtha, they imperceptibly

attracted and caught a flame which happened to be brought near them.

For the rays and emanations of fire at a distance have no other effect

upon some bodies than bare light and heat, but in others, where they

meet with airy dryness, and also sufficient rich moisture, they collect

themselves and soon kindle and create a transformation. The manner,

however, of the production of naphtha admits of a diversity of opinion...

of whether this liquid substance that feeds the flame does not rather

proceed from a soil that is unctuous and productive of fire, as that

of the province of Babylon is, where the ground is so very hot that

oftentimes the grains of barley leap up and are thrown out, as if

the violent inflammation had made the earth throb; and in the extreme

heats the inhabitants are wont to sleep upon skins filled with water.

Harpalus, who was left governor of this country, and was desirous

to adorn the palace gardens and walks with Grecian plants, succeeding

in raising all but ivy, which the earth would not bear, but constantly

killed. For being a plant that loves a cold soil, the temper of this

hot and fiery earth was improper for it. But such digressions as these

the impatient reader will be more willing to pardon if they are kept

within a moderate compass.

 

At the taking of Susa, Alexander found in the palace forty thousand

talents in money ready coined, besides an unspeakable quantity of

other furniture and treasure; amongst which was five thousand talents'

worth of Hermionian purple, that had been laid up there an hundred

and ninety years, and yet kept its colour as fresh and lively as at

first. The reason of which, they say, is that in dyeing the purple

they made use of honey, and of white oil in the white tincture, both

which after the like space of time preserve the clearness and brightness

of their lustre. Dinon also relates that the Persian kings had water

fetched from the Nile and the Danube, which they laid up in their

treasuries as a sort of testimony of the greatness of their power

and universal empire.

 

The entrance into Persia was through a most difficult country, and

was guarded by the noblest of the Persians, Darius himself having

escaped further. Alexander, however, chanced to find a guide in exact

correspondence with what the Pythia had foretold when he was a child,

that a lycus should conduct him into Persia. For by such an one, whose

father was a Lycian, and his mother a Persian, and who spoke both

languages, he was now led into the country, by a way something about,

yet without fetching any considerable compass. Here a great many of

the prisoners were put to the sword, of which himself gives this account,

that he commanded them to be killed in the belief that it would be

for his advantage. Nor was the money found here less, he says, than

at Susa, besides other movables and treasure, as much as ten thousand

pair of mules and five thousand camels could well carry away. Amongst

other things he happened to observe a large statue of Xerxes thrown

carelessly down to the ground in the confusion made by the multitude

of soldiers pressing into the palace. He stood still, and accosting

it as if it had been alive, "Shall we," said he, "neglectfully pass

thee by, now thou art prostrate on the ground because thou once invadedst

Greece, or shall we erect thee again in consideration of the greatness

of thy mind and thy other virtues?" But at last, after he had paused

some time, and silently considered with himself, he went on without

taking any further notice of it. In this place he took up his winter

quarters, and stayed four months to refresh his soldiers. It is related

that the first time he sat on the royal throne of Persia under the

canopy of gold, Demaratus the Corinthian, who was much attached to

him and had been one of his father's friends, wept, in an old man's

manner, and deplored the misfortune of those Greeks whom death had

deprived of the satisfaction of seeing Alexander seated on the throne

of Darius.

 

From hence designing to march against Darius, before he set out he

diverted himself with his officers at an entertainment of drinking

and other pastimes, and indulged so far as to let every one's mistress

sit by and drink with them. The most celebrated of them was Thais,

an Athenian, mistress of Ptolemy, who was afterwards King of Egypt.

She, partly as a sort of well-turned compliment to Alexander, partly

out of sport, as the drinking went on, at last was carried so far

as to utter a saying, not misbecoming her native country's character,

though somewhat too lofty for her own condition. She said it was indeed

some recompense for the toils she had undergone in following the camp

all over Asia, that she was that day treated in, and could insult

over, the stately palace of the Persian monarches. But, she added,

it would please her much better if, while the king looked on, she

might in sport, with her own hands, set fire to the court of that

Xerxes who reduced the city of Athens to ashes, that it might be recorded

to posterity that the women who followed Alexander had taken a severer

revenge on the Persians for the suffering, and affronts of Greece,

than all the famed commanders had been able to do by sea or land.

What she said was received with such universal liking and murmurs

of applause, and so seconded by the encouragement and eagerness of

the company, that the king himself, persuaded to be of the party,

started from his seat, and with a chaplet of flowers on his head and

a lighted torch in his hand, led them the way, while they went after

him in a riotous manner, dancing and making loud cries about the place;

which when the rest of the Macedonians perceived, they also in great

delight ran thither with torches; for they hoped the burning and destruction

of the royal palace was an argument that he looked homeward, and had

no design to reside among the barbarians. Thus some writers give their

account of this action, while others say it was done deliberately;

however, all agree that he soon repented of it, and gave order to

put out the fire.

 

Alexander was naturally most munificent, and grew more so as his fortune

increased, accompanying what he gave with that courtesy and freedom

which, to speak truth, is necessary to make a benefit really obliging.

I will give a few instances of this kind. Ariston, the captain of

the Paeonians, having killed an enemy, brought his head to show him,

and told him that in his country such a present was recompensed with

a cup of gold. "With an empty one," said Alexander, smiling, "but

I drink to you in this, which I give you full of wine." Another time,

as one of the common soldiers was driving a mule laden with some of

the king's treasure, the beast grew tired, and the soldier took it

upon his own back, and began to march with it, till Alexander seeing

the man so overcharged asked what was the matter; and when he was

informed, just as he was ready to lay down his burden for weariness,

"Do not faint now," said he to him, "but finish the journey, and carry

what you have there to your own tent for yourself." He was always

more displeased with those who would not accept of what he gave than

with those who begged of him. And therefore he wrote to Phocion, that

he would not own him for his friend any longer if he refused his presents.

He had never given anything to Serapion, one of the youths that played

at ball with him, because he did not ask of him, till one day, it

coming to Serapion's turn to play, he still threw the ball to others,

and when the king asked him why he did not direct it to him, "Because

you do not ask for it," said he; which answer pleased him so that

he was very liberal to him afterwards. One Proteas, a pleasant, jesting,

drinking fellow, having incurred his displeasure, got his friends

to intercede for him, and begged his pardon himself with tears, which

at last prevailed, and Alexander declared he was friends with him.

"I cannot believe it," said Proteas, "unless you first give me some

pledge of it." The king understood his meaning, and presently ordered

five talents to be given him. How magnificent he was in enriching

his friends, and those who attended on his person, appears by a letter

which Olympias wrote to him, where she tells him he should reward

and honour those about him in a more moderate way. "For now," said

she, "you make them all equal to kings, you give them power and opportunity

of making many friends of their own, and in the meantime you leave

yourself destitute." She often wrote to him to this purpose, and he

never communicated her letters to anybody, unless it were one which

he opened when Hephaestion was by, whom he permitted, as his custom

was, to read it along with him; but then as soon as he had done, he

took off his ring, and set the seal upon Hephaestion's lips. Mazaeus,

who was the most considerable man in Darius's court, had a son who

was already governor of a province. Alexander bestowed another upon

him that was better; he, however, modestly refused, and told him,

instead of one Darius, he went the way to make many Alexanders. To

Parmenio he gave Bagoas's house, in which he found a wardrobe of apparel

worth more than a thousand talents. He wrote to Antipater, commanding

him to keep a life-guard about him for the security of his person

against conspiracies. To his mother he sent many presents, but would

never suffer her to meddle with matters of state or war, not indulging

her busy temper, and when she fell out with him on this account, he

bore her ill-humour very patiently. Nay more, when he read a long

letter from Antipater full of accusations against her, "Antipater,"

he said, "does not know that one tear of a mother effaces a thousand

such letters as these."

 

But when he perceived his favourites grow so luxurious and extravagant

in their way of living and expenses that Hagnon, the Teian, wore silver

nails in his shoes, that Leonnatus employed several camels only to

bring him powder out of Egypt to use when he wrestled, and that Philotas

had hunting nets a hundred furlongs in length, that more used precious

ointment than plain oil when they went to bathe, and that they carried

about servants everywhere with them to rub them and wait upon them

in their chambers, he reproved them in gentle and reasonable terms,

telling them he wondered that they who had been engaged in so many

single battles did not know by experience, that those who labour sleep

more sweetly and soundly than those who are laboured for, and could

fail to see by comparing the Persians' manner of living with their

own that it was the most abject and slavish condition to be voluptuous,

but the most noble and royal to undergo pain and labour. He argued

with them further, how it was possible for any one who pretended to

be a soldier, either to look well after his horse, or to keep his

armour bright and in good order, who thought it much to let his hands

be serviceable to what was nearest to him, his own body. "Are you

still to learn," said he, "that the end and perfection of our victories

is to avoid the vices and infirmities of those whom we subdue? And

to strengthen his precepts by example, he applied himself now more

vigorously than ever to hunting and warlike expeditions, embracing

all opportunities of hardship and danger, insomuch that a Lacedaemonian,

who was there on an embassy to him and chanced to be by when he encountered

with and mastered a huge lion, told him he had fought gallantly with

the beast, which of the two should be king. Craterus caused a representation

to be made of this adventure, consisting of the lion and the dogs,

of the king engaged with the lion, and himself coming in to his assistance,

all expressed in figures of brass, some of which were by Lysippus,

and the rest by Leochares; and had it dedicated in the temple of Apollo

at Delphi. Alexander exposed his person to danger in this manner,

with the object both of inuring himself and inciting others to the

performance of brave and virtuous actions.

 

But his followers, who were grown rich, and consequently proud, longed

to indulge themselves in pleasure and idleness, and were weary of

marches and expeditions, and at last went on so far as to censure

and speak ill of him. All which at first he bore very patiently, saying

it became a king well to do good to others, and be evil spoken of.

Meantime, on the smallest occasions that called for a show of kindness

to his friends, there was every indication on his part of tenderness

and respect. Hearing Peucestes was bitten by a bear, he wrote to him

that he took it unkindly he should send others notice of it and not

make him acquainted with it; "But now," said he, "since it is so,

let me know how you do, and whether any of your companions forsook

you when you were in danger, that I may punish them." He sent Hephaestion,

who was absent about some business, word how, while they were fighting

for their diversion with an ichneumon, Craterus was by chance run

through both thighs with Perdiccas's javelin. And upon Peucestes's

recovery from a fit of sickness, he sent a letter of thanks to his

physician Alexippus. When Craterus was ill, he saw a vision in his

sleep, after which he offered sacrifices for his health, and bade

him do so likewise. He wrote also to Pausanias, the physician, who

was about to purge Craterus with hellebore, partly out of an anxious

concern for him, and partly to give him a caution how he used that

medicine. He was so tender of his friends' reputation that he imprisoned

Ephialtes and Cissus, who brought him the first news of Harpalus's

flight and withdrawal from his service, as if they had falsely accused

him. When he sent the old and infirm soldiers home, Eurylochus, a

citizen of Aegae, got his name enrolled among the sick, though he

ailed nothing, which being discovered, he confessed he was in love

with a young woman named Telesippa, and wanted to go along with her

to the sea-side. Alexander inquired to whom the woman belonged, and

being told she was a free courtesan, "I will assist you," said he

to Eurylochus, "in your amour if your mistress be to be gained either

by presents or persuasions; but we must use no other means, because

she is free-born."

 

It is surprising to consider upon what slight occasions he would write

letters to serve his friends. As when he wrote one in which he gave

order to search for a youth that belonged to Seleucus, who was run

away into Cilicia; and in another thanked and commanded Peucestes

for apprehending Nicon, a servant of Craterus; and in one to Megabyzus,

concerning a slave that had taken sanctuary in a temple, gave direction

that he should not meddle with him while he was there, but if he could

entice him out by fair means, then he gave him leave to seize him.

It is reported of him that when he first sat in judgment upon capital

causes he would lay his hand upon one of his ears while the accuser

spoke, to keep it free and unprejudiced in behalf of the party accused.

But afterwards such a multitude of accusations were brought before

him, and so many proved true, that he lost his tenderness of heart,

and gave credit to those also that were false; and especially when

anybody spoke ill of him, he would be transported out of his reason,

and show himself cruel and inexorable, valuing his glory and reputation

beyond his life or kingdom.

 

He now, as we said, set forth to seek Darius, expecting he should

be put to the hazard of another battle, but heard he was taken and

secured by Bessus, upon which news he sent home the Thessalians, and

gave them a largess of two thousand talents over and above the pay

that was due to them. This long and painful pursuit of Darius- for

in eleven days he marched thirty-three hundred furlongs- harassed

his soldiers so that most of them were ready to give it up, chiefly

for want of water. While they were in this distress, it happened that

some Macedonians who had fetched water in skins upon their mules from

a river they had found out came about noon to the place where Alexander

was, and seeing him almost choked with thirst, presently filled an

helmet and offered it him. He asked them to whom they were carrying

the water, they told him to their children, adding, that if his life

were but saved, it was no matter for them, they should be able well

enough to repair that loss, though they all perished. Then he took

the helmet into his hands, and looking round about, when he saw all

those who were near him stretching their heads out and looking earnestly

after the drink, he returned it again with thanks without tasting

a drop of it. "For," said he, "if I alone drink, the rest will be

out of heart." The soldiers no sooner took notice of his temperance

and magnanimity upon this occasion, but they one and all cried out

to him to lead them forward boldly, and began whipping on their horses.

For whilst they had such a king they said they defied both weariness

and thirst, and looked upon themselves to be little less than immortal.

But though they were all equally cheerful and willing, yet not above

three-score horse were able, it is said, to keep up, and to fall in

with Alexander upon the enemy's camp, where they rode over abundance

of gold and silver that lay scattered about, and passing by a great

many chariots full of women that wandered here and there for want

of drivers, they endeavoured to overtake the first of those that fled,

in hopes to meet with Darius among them. And at last, after much trouble,

they found him lying in a chariot, wounded all over with darts, just

at the point of death. However, he desired they would give him some

drink, and when he had drunk a little cold water, he told Polystratus,

who gave it him, that it had become the last extremity of his ill

fortune to receive benefits and not be able to return them. "But Alexander,"

said he, "whose kindness to my mother, my wife, and my children I

hope the gods will recompense, will doubtless thank you for your humanity

to me. Tell him, therefore, in token of my acknowledgment, I give

him this right hand," with which words he took hold of Polystratus's

hand and died. When Alexander came up to them, he showed manifest

tokens of sorrow, and taking off his own cloak, threw it upon the

body to cover it. And some time afterwards, when Bessus was taken,

he ordered him to be torn in pieces in this manner. They fastened

him to a couple of trees which were bound down so as to meet, and

then being let loose, with a great force returned to their places,

each of them carrying that part of the body along with it that was

tied to it. Darius's body was laid in state, and sent to his mother

with pomp suitable to his quality. His brother Exathres, Alexander

received into the number of his intimate friends.

 

And now with the flower of his army he marched into Hyrcania, where

he saw a large bay of an open sea, apparently not much less than the

Euxine, with water, however, sweeter than that of other seas, but

could learn nothing of certainty concerning it, further than that

in all probability it seemed to him to be an arm issuing from the

lake of Maeotis. However, the naturalists were better informed of

the truth, and had given an account of it many years before Alexander's

expedition; that of four gulfs which out of the main sea enter into

the continent, this, known indifferently as the Caspian and as the

Hyrcanian Sea, is the most northern. Here the barbarians, unexpectedly

meeting with those who led Bucephalus, took them prisoners, and carried

the horse away with them. at which Alexander was so much vexed that

he sent an herald to let them know he would put them all to the sword,

men, women, and children, without mercy, if they did not restore him.

But on their doing so, and at the same time surrendering their cities

into his hands, he not only treated them kindly, but also paid a ransom

for his horse to those who took him.

 

From hence he marched into Parthia, where not having much to do, he

first put on the barbaric dress, perhaps with the view of making the

work of civilizing them the easier, as nothing gains more upon men

than a conformity to their fashions and customs. Or it may have been

as a first trial, whether the Macedonians might be brought to adore

as the Persians did their kings, by accustoming them by little and

little to bear with the alteration of his rule and course of life

in other things. However, he followed not the Median fashion, which

was altogether foreign and uncouth, and adopted neither the trousers

nor the sleeved vest, nor the tiara for the head, but taking a middle

way between the Persian mode and the Macedonian, so contrived his

habit that it was not so flaunting as the one, and yet more pompous

and magnificent than the other. At first he wore this habit only when

he conversed with the barbarians, or within doors, among his intimate

friends and companions, but afterwards he appeared in it abroad, when

he rode out, and at public audiences, a sight which the Macedonians

beheld with grief; but they so respected his other virtues and good

qualities that they felt it reasonable in some things to gratify his

fancies and his passion of glory, in pursuit of which he hazarded

himself so far, that, besides his other adventures, he had but lately

been wounded in the leg by an arrow, which had so shattered the shank-bone

that splinters were taken out. And on another occasion he received

a violent blow with a stone upon the nape of the neck, which dimmed

his sight for a good while afterwards. And yet all this could not

hinder him from exposing himself freely to any dangers, insomuch that

he passed the river Orexartes, which he took to be the Tanais, and

putting the Scythians to flight, followed them above a hundred furlongs,

though suffering all the time from a diarrhoea.

 

Here many affirm that the Amazon came to give him a visit. So Clitarchus,

Polyclitus, Onesicritus, Antigenes, and Ister tell us. But Aristobulus

and Chares, who held the office of reporter of requests, Ptolemy and

Anticlides, Philon the Theban, Philip of Theangela, Hecataeus the

Eretrian, Philip the Chalcidian, and Duris the Samian, say it is wholly

a fiction. And truly Alexander himself seems to confirm the latter

statement, for in a letter in which he gives Antipater an account

of all that happened, he tells him that the King of Scythia offered

him his daughter in marriage, but makes no mention at all of the Amazon.

And many years after, when Onesicritus read this story in his fourth

book to Lysimachus, who then reigned, the king laughed quietly and

asked, "Where could I have been at that time?"

 

But it signifies little to Alexander whether this be credited or no.

Certain it is, that apprehending the Macedonians would be weary of

pursuing the war, he left the greater part of them in their quarters;

and having with him in Hyrcania the choice of his men only, amounting

to twenty thousand foot and three thousand horse, he spoke to them

to this effect: That hitherto the barbarians had seen them no otherwise

than as it were in a dream, and if they should think of returning

when they had only alarmed Asia, and not conquered it, their enemies

would set upon them as upon so many women. However he told them he

would keep none of them with him against their will, they might go

if they pleased; he should merely enter his protest, that when on

his way to make the Macedonians the masters of the world, he was left

alone with a few friends and volunteers. This is almost word for word

as he wrote in a letter to Antipater, where he adds, that when he

had thus spoken to them, they all cried out, they would go along with

him whithersoever it was his pleasure to lead them. After succeeding

with these, it was no hard matter for him to bring over the multitude,

which easily followed the example of their betters. Now, also, he

more and more accommodated himself in his way of living to that of

the natives, and tried to bring them also as near as he could to the

Macedonian customs, wisely considering that whilst he was engaged

in an expedition which would carry him far from thence, it would be

wiser to depend upon the good-will which might arise from intermixture

and association as a means of maintaining tranquillity, than upon

force and compulsion. In order to this, he chose out thirty thousand

boys, whom he put under masters to teach them the Greek tongue, and

to train them up to arms in the Macedonian discipline. As for his

marriage with Roxana, whose youthfulness and beauty had charmed him

at a drinking entertainment, where he first happened to see her taking

part in a dance, it was, indeed a love affair, yet it seemed at the

same time to be conducive to the object he had in hand. For it gratified

the conquered people to see him choose a wife from among themselves,

and it made them feel the most lively affection for him, to find that

in the only passion which he, the most temperate of men, was overcome

by, he yet forbore till he could obtain her in a lawful and honourable

way.

 

Noticing also that among his chief friends and favourites, Hephaestion

most approved all that he did, and complied with and imitated him

in his change of habits, while Craterus continued strict in the observation

of the customs and fashions of his own country, he made it his practice

to employ the first in all transactions with the Persians, and the

latter when he had to do with the Greeks or Macedonians. And in general

he showed more affection for Hephaestion, and more respect for Craterus;

Hephaestion, as he used to say, being Alexander's, and Craterus the

king's friend. And so these two friends always bore in secret a grudge

to each other, and at times quarrelled openly, so much so that once

in India they drew upon one another, and were proceeding in good earnest,

with their friends on each side to second them, when Alexander rode

up and publicly reproved Hephaestion, calling him fool and madman,

not to be sensible that without his favour he was nothing. He rebuked

Craterus also in private, severely, and then causing them both to

come into his presence, he reconciled them, at the same time swearing

by Ammon and the rest of the gods. that he loved them two above all

other men, but if ever he perceived them fall out again he would be

sure to put both of them to death, or at least the aggressor. After

which they neither ever did or said anything, so much as in jest,

to offend one another.

 

There was scarcely any one who had greater repute among the Macedonians

than Philotas, the son of Parmenio. For besides that he was valiant

and able to endure any fatigue of war, he was also next to Alexander

himself the most munificent, and the greatest lover of his friends,

one of whom asking him for some money, he commanded his steward to

give it him; and when he told him he had not wherewith, "Have you

not any plate, then," said he, "or any clothes of mine to sell?" But

he carried his arrogance and his pride of wealth and his habits of

display and luxury to a degree of assumption unbecoming a private

man; and affecting all the loftiness without succeeding in showing

any of the grace or gentleness of true greatness, by this mistaken

and spurious majesty he gained so much envy and ill-will, that Parmenio

would sometimes tell him, "My son, to be not quite so great would

be better." For he had long before been complained of, and accused

to Alexander. Particularly when Darius was defeated in Cilicia, and

an immense booty was taken at Damascus, among the rest of the prisoners

who were brought into the camp, there was one Antigone of Pydna, a

very handsome woman, who fell to Philotas's share. The young man one

day in his cups, in the vaunting, outspoken, soldier's manner, declared

to his mistress, that all the great actions were performed by him

and his father, the glory and benefit of which, he said, together

with the title of king, the boy Alexander reaped and enjoyed by their

means. She could not hold, but discovered what he had said to one

of her acquaintance, and he, as is usual in such cases, to another,

till at last the story came to the ears of Craterus, who brought the

woman secretly to the king. When Alexander had heard what she had

to say, he commanded her to continue her intrigue with Philotas, and

give him an account from time to time of all that should fall from

him to this purpose. He, thus unwittingly caught in a snare, to gratify

sometimes a fit of anger, sometimes a love of vainglory, let himself

utter numerous foolish, indiscreet speeches against the king in Antigone's

hearing, of which, though Alexander was informed and convinced by

strong evidence, yet he would take no notice of it at present, whether

it was that he confided in Parmenio's affection and loyalty, or that

he apprehended their authority and interest in the army. But about

this time, one Limnus, a Macedonian of Chalastra, conspired against

Alexander's life, and communicated his design to a youth whom he was

fond of, named Nicomachus, inviting him to be of the party. But he

not relishing the thing, revealed it to his brother Balinus, who immediately

addressed himself to Philotas, requiring him to introduce them both

to Alexander, to whom they had something of great moment to impart

which very nearly concerned him. But he, for what reason is uncertain,

went not with them, professing that the king was engaged with affairs

of more importance. And when they had urged him a second time, and

were still slighted by him, they applied themselves to another, by

whose means being admitted into Alexander's presence, they first told

about Limnus' conspiracy, and by the way let Philotas's negligence

appear who had twice disregarded their application to him. Alexander

was greatly incensed, and upon finding that Limnus had defended himself,

and had been killed by the soldier who was sent to seize him, he was

still more discomposed, thinking he had thus lost the means of detecting

the plot. As soon as his displeasure against Philotas began to appear,

presently all his old enemies showed themselves, and said openly,

the king was too easily imposed on, to imagine that one so inconsiderable

as Limnus, a Chalastrian, should of his own head undertake such an

enterprise; that in all likelihood he was but subservient to the design,

an instrument that was moved by some greater spring; that those ought

to be more strictly examined about the matter whose interest it was

so much to conceal it. When they had once gained the king's ear for

insinuations of this sort, they went on to show a thousand grounds

of suspicion against Philotas, till at last they prevailed to have

him seized and put to the torture, which was done in the presence

of the principal officers, Alexander himself being placed behind some

tapestry to understand what passed. Where, when he heard in what a

miserable tone, and with what abject submissions Philotas applied

himself to Hephaestion, he broke out, it is said, in this manner:

"Are you so mean-spirited and effeminate, Philotas, and yet can engage

in so desperate a design?" After his death, he presently sent into

Media, and put also Parmenio, his father, to death, who had done brave

service under Philip, and was the only man of his older friends and

counsellors who had encouraged Alexander to invade Asia. Of three

sons whom he had had in the army, he had already lost two, and now

was himself put to death with the third. These actions rendered Alexander

an object of terror to many of his friends, and chiefly to Antipater,

who, to strengthen himself, sent messengers privately to treat for

an alliance with the Aetolians, who stood in fear of Alexander, because

they had destroyed the town of the Oeniadae; on being informed of

which, Alexander had said the children of the Oeniadae need not revenge

their father's quarrel, for he would himself take care to punish the

Aetolians.

 

Not long after this happened, the deplorable end of Clitus, which,

to those who barely hear the matter, may seem more inhuman than that

of Philotas; but if we consider the story with its circumstance of

time, and weigh the cause, we shall find it to have occurred rather

through a sort of mischance of the king's, whose anger and over-drinking

offered an occasion to the evil genius of Clitus. The king had a present

of Grecian fruit brought him from the sea-coast, which was so fresh

and beautiful that he was surprised at it, and called Clitus to him

to see it, and to give him a share of it. Clitus was then sacrificing,

but he immediately left off and came, followed by three sheep, on

whom the drink-offering had been already poured preparatory to sacrificing

them. Alexander, being informed of this, told his diviners, Aristander

and Cleomantis the Lacedaemonian, and asked them what it meant; on

whose assuring him it was an ill omen, he commanded them in all haste

to offer sacrifices for Clitus' safety, forasmuch as three days before

he himself had seen a strange vision in his sleep, of Clitus all in

mourning, sitting by Parmenio's sons who were dead. Clitus, however,

stayed not to finish his devotions, but came straight to supper with

the king, who had sacrificed to Castor and Pollux. And when they had

drunk pretty hard, some of the company fell a-singing the verses of

one Pranichus, or as others say of Pierion, which were made upon those

captains who had been lately worsted by the barbarians, on purpose

to disgrace and turn them to ridicule. This gave offence to the older

men who were there, and they upbraided both the author and the singer

of the verses, though Alexander and the younger men about him were

much amused to hear them, and encouraged them to go on, till at last

Clitus, who had drunk too much, and was besides of a forward and willful

temper, was so nettled that he could hold no longer, saying it was

not well done to expose the Macedonians before the barbarians and

their enemies, since though it was their unhappiness to be overcome,

yet they were much better men than those who laughed at them. And

when Alexander remarked, that Clitus was pleading his own cause, giving

cowardice the name of misfortune, Clitus started up: "This cowardice,

as you are pleased to term it," said he to him, "saved the life of

a son of the gods, when in flight from Spithridates's sword; it is

by the expense of Macedonian blood, and by these wounds, that you

are now raised to such a height as to be able to disown your father

Philip, and call yourself the son of Ammon." "Thou base fellow," said

Alexander, who was now thoroughly exasperated, "dost thou think to

utter these things everywhere of me, and stir up the Macedonians to

sedition, and not be punished for it?" "We are sufficiently punished

already," answered Clitus, "if this be the recompense of our toils,

and we must esteem theirs a happy lot who have not lived to see their

countrymen scourged with Median rods and forced to sue to the Persians

to have access to their king." While he talked thus at random, and

those near Alexander got up from their seats and began to revile him

in turn, the elder men did what they could to compose the disorder.

Alexander, in the meantime turning about to Xenodochus, the Pardian,

and Artemius, the Colophonian, asked him if they were not of opinion

that the Greeks, in comparison with the Macedonians, behaved themselves

like so many demigods among wild beasts. But Clitus for all this would

not give over, desiring Alexander to speak out if he had anything

more to say, or else why did he invite men who were freeborn and accustomed

to speak their minds openly without restraint to sup with him. He

had better live and converse with barbarians and slaves who would

not scruple to bow the knee to his Persian girdle and his white tunic.

Which words so provoked Alexander that, not able to suppress his anger

any longer, he threw one of the apples that lay upon the table at

him, and hit him, and then looked about for his sword. But Aristophanes,

one of his life-guard, had hid that out of the way, and others came

about him and besought him, but in vain; for, breaking from them,

he called out aloud to his guards in the Macedonian language, which

was a certain sign of some great disturbance in him, and commanded

a trumpeter to sound, giving him a blow with his clenched fist for

not instantly obeying him; though afterwards the same man was commended

for disobeying an order which would have put the whole army into tumult

and confusion. Clitus still refusing to yield, was with much trouble

forced by his friends out of the room. But he came in again immediately

at another door, very irreverently and confidently singing the verses

out of Euripides's Andromache,-

 

"In Greece, alas! how ill things ordered are Upon this, at last, Alexander,

snatching a spear from one of the soldiers met Clitus as he was coming

forward and was putting by the curtain that hung before the door,

and ran him through the body. He fell at once wit a cry and a groan.

Upon which the king's anger immediately vanishing, he came perfectly

to himself, and when he saw his friends about him all in a profound

silence, he pulled the spear out of the dead body, and would have

thrust it into his own throat, if the guards had not held his hands

and by main force carried him away into his chamber, where all that

night and the next day he wept bitterly, till being quite spent with

lamenting and exclaiming, he lay as it were speechless, only fetching

deep sighs. His friends apprehending some harm from his silence, broke

into the room, but he took no notice of what any of them said, till

Aristander putting him in mind of the vision he had seen concerning

Clitus, and the prodigy that followed, as if all had come to pass

by an unavoidable fatality, he then seemed to moderate his grief.

They now brought Callisthenes, the philosopher, who was the near friend

of Aristotle, and Anaxarchus of Abdera, to him. Callisthenes used

moral language, and gentle and soothing means, hoping to find access

for words of reason, and get a hold upon the passion. But Anaxarchus,

who had always taken a course of his own in philosophy, and had a

name for despising and slighting his contemporaries, as soon as he

came in, cried aloud, "Is this the Alexander whom the whole world

looks to, lying here weeping like a slave, for fear of the censure

and reproach of men, to whom he himself ought to be a law and measure

of equity, if he would use the right his conquests have given him

as supreme lord and governor of all, and not be the victim of a vain

and idle opinion? Do not you know," said he, "that Jupiter is represented

to have Justice and Law on each hand of him, to signify that all the

actions of a conqueror are lawful and just?" With these and the like

speeches, Anaxarchus indeed allayed the king's grief, but withal corrupted

his character, rendering him more audacious and lawless than he had

been. Nor did he fail these means to insinuate himself into his favour,

and to make Callisthenes's company, which at all times, because of

his austerity, was not very acceptable, more uneasy and disagreeable

to him.

 

It happened that these two philosophers met at an entertainment where

conversation turned on the subject of climate and the temperature

of the air. Callisthenes joined with their opinion, who held that

those countries were colder, and the winter sharper there than in

Greece. Anaxarchus would by no means allow this, but argued against

it with some heat. "Surely," said Callisthenes, "you cannot but admit

this country to be colder than Greece, for there you used to have

but one threadbare cloak to keep out the coldest winter, and here

you have three good warm mantles one over another." This piece of

raillery irritated Anaxarchus and the other pretenders to learning,

and the crowd of flatterers in general could not endure to see Callisthenes

so much admired and followed by the youth, and no less esteemed by

the older men for his orderly life and his gravity and for being contented

with his condition; and confirming what he had professed about the

object he had in his journey to Alexander, that it was only to get

his countrymen recalled from banishment, and to rebuild and repeople

his native town. Besides the envy which his great reputation raised,

he also, by his own deportment, gave those who wished him ill opportunity

to do him mischief. For when he was invited to public entertainments,

he would most times refuse to come, or if he were present at any,

he put a constraint upon the company by his austerity and silence,

which seemed to intimate his disapproval of what he saw. So that Alexander

himself said in application to him,-

 

"That vain pretence to wisdom I detest,

Where a man's blind to his own interest." Being with many more invited

to sup with the king, he was called upon when the cup came to him,

to make an oration extempore in praise of the Macedonians; and he

did it with such a flow of eloquence, that all who heard it rose from

their seats to clap and applaud him, and threw their garland upon

him; only Alexander told him out of Euripides,-

 

"I wonder not that you have spoke so well,

'Tis easy on good subjects to excel." "Therefore," said he, "if you

will show the force of your eloquence, tell my Macedonians their faults,

and dispraise them, that by hearing their errors they may learn to

be better for the future." Callisthenes presently obeyed him, retracting

all he had said before, and, inveighing against the Macedonians with

great freedom, added, that Philip thrived and grew powerful, chiefly

by the discord of the Grecians, applying this verse to him,-

 

"In civil strife e'en villains rise to fame;" which so offended the

Macedonians, that he was odious to them ever after. And Alexander

said, that instead of his eloquence, he had only made his ill-will

appear in what he had spoken. Hermippus assures us that one Stroebus,

a servant whom Callisthenes kept to read to him, gave this account

of these passages afterwards to Aristotle; and that when he perceived

the king grow more and more averse to him, two or three times, as

he was going away, he repeated the verses,-

 

"Death seiz'd at last on great Patroclus too,

Though he in virtue far exceeded you." Not without reason, therefore,

did Aristotle give this character of Callisthenes, that he was, indeed,

a powerful speaker, but had no judgment. He acted certainly a true

philosopher's part in positively refusing, as he did, to pay adoration;

and by speaking out openly against that which the best and gravest

of the Macedonians only repined at in secret, he delivered the Grecians

and Alexander himself from a great disgrace, when the practice was

given up. But he ruined himself by it, because he went too roughly

to work, as if he would have forced the king to that which he should

have effected by reason and persuasion. Chares of Mitylene writes,

that at a banquet Alexander, after he had drunk, reached the cup to

one of his friends, who, on receiving it, rose up towards the domestic

altar, and when he had drunk, first adored and then kissed Alexander,

and afterwards laid himself down at the table with the rest. Which

they all did one after another, till it came to Callisthenes's turn,

who took the cup and drank, while the king, who was engaged in conversation

with Hephaestion, was not observing, and then came and offered to

kiss him. But Demetrius, surnamed Phidon, interposed, saying, "Sir,

by no means let him kiss you, for he only of us all has refused to

adore you." upon which the king declined it, and all the concern Callisthenes

showed was, that he said aloud, "Then I go away with a kiss less than

the rest." The displeasure he incurred by this action procured credit

for Hephaestion's declaration that he had broken his word to him in

not paying the king the same veneration that others did, as he had

faithfully promised to do. And to finish his disgrace, a number of

such men as Lysimachus and Hagnon now came in with their asseverations

that the sophist went about everywhere boasting of his resistance

to arbitrary power, and that the young men all ran after him, and

honoured him as the only man among so many thousands who had the courage

to preserve his liberty. Therefore when Hermolaus's conspiracy came

to be discovered, the charges which his enemies brought against him

were the more easily believed, particularly that when the young man

asked him what he should do to be the most illustrious person on earth,

he told him the readiest way was to kill him who was already so, and

that to incite him to commit the deed, he bade him not be awed by

the golden couch, but remember Alexander was a man equally infirm

and vulnerable as another. However, none of Hermolaus's accomplices,

in the utmost extremity, made any mention of Callisthenes's being

engaged in the design. Nay, Alexander himself, in the letters which

he wrote soon after to Craterus, Attalus, and Alcetas, tells them

that the young men who were put to the torture declared they had entered

into the conspiracy of themselves, without any others being privy

to or guilty of it. But yet afterwards, in a letter to Antipater,

he accuses Callisthenes. "The young men," he says, "were stoned to

death by the Macedonians, but for the sophist" (meaning Callisthenes),

"I will take care to punish him with them too who sent him to me,

and who harbour those in their cities who conspire against my life,"

an unequivocal declaration against Aristotle, in whose house Callisthenes,

for his relationship's sake, being his niece Hero's son, had been

educated. His death is variously related. Some say he was hanged by

Alexander's orders; others, that he died of sickness in prison; but

Chares writes he was kept in chains seven months after he was apprehended,

on purpose that he might be proceeded against in full council, when

Aristotle should be present; and that growing very fat, and contracting

a disease of vermin, he there died, about the time that Alexander

was wounded in India, in the country of the Malli Oxydracae, all which

came to pass afterwards.

 

For to go on in order, Demaratus of Corinth, now quite an old man,

had made a great effort, about this time, to pay Alexander a visit;

and when he had seen him, said he pitied the misfortune of those Grecians,

who were so unhappy as to die before they had beheld Alexander seated

on the throne of Darius. But he did not long enjoy the benefit of

the king's kindness for him, any otherwise than that soon after falling

sick and dying, he had a magnificent funeral, and the army raised

him a monument of earth fourscore cubits high, and of a vast circumference.

His ashes were conveyed in a very rich chariot, drawn by four horses,

to the seaside.

 

Alexander, now intent upon his expedition into India, took notice

that his soldiers were so charged with booty that it hindered their

marching. Therefore, at break of day, as soon as the baggage wagons

were laden first he set fire to his own, and to those of his friends,

and then commanded those to be burnt which belonged to the rest of

the army. An act which in the deliberation of it had seemed more dangerous

and difficult than it proved in the execution, with which few were

dissatisfied for most of the soldiers, as if they had been inspired,

uttering loud outcries and warlike shoutings, supplied one another

with what was absolutely necessary, and burnt and destroyed all that

was superfluous, the sight of which redoubled Alexander's zeal and

eagerness for his design. And, indeed, he was now grown very severe

and inexorable in punishing those who committed any fault. For he

put Menander, one of his friends, to death for deserting a fortress

where he had placed him in garrison, and shot Orsodates, one of the

barbarians who revolted from him, with his own hand.

 

At this time a sheep happened to yean a lamb, with the perfect shape

and colour of a tiara upon the head, and testicles on each side; which

portent Alexander regarded with such dislike, that he immediately

caused his Babylonian priests, whom he usually carried about with

him for such purposes, to purify him, and told his friends he was

not so much concerned for his own sake as for theirs, out of an apprehension

that after his death the divine power might suffer his empire to fall

into the hands of some degenerate, impotent person. But this fear

was soon removed by a wonderful thing that happened not long after,

and was thought to presage better. For Proxenus, a Macedonian, who

was the chief of those who looked to the king's furniture, as he was

breaking up the ground near the river Oxus, to set up the royal pavilion,

discovered a spring of a fat oily liquor, which, after the top was

taken off, ran pure, clear oil, without any difference either of taste

or smell, having exactly the same smoothness and brightness, and that,

too, in a country where no olives grew. The water, indeed, of the

river Oxus, is said to be the smoothest to the feeling of all waters,

and to leave a gloss on the skins of those who bathe themselves in

it. Whatever might be the cause, certain it is that Alexander was

wonderfully pleased with it, as appears by his letters to Antipater,

where he speaks of it as one of the most remarkable presages that

God had ever favoured him with. The diviners told him it signified

his expedition would be glorious in the event, but very painful and

attended with many difficulties; for oil, they said, was bestowed

on mankind by God as a refreshment of their labours.

 

Nor did they judge amiss, for he exposed himself to many hazards in

the battles which he fought, and received very severe wounds, but

the greatest loss in his army was occasioned through the unwholesomeness

of the air and the want of necessary provisions. But he still applied

himself to overcome fortune and whatever opposed him, by resolution

and virtue, and thought nothing impossible to true intrepidity, and

on the other hand nothing secure or strong for cowardice. It is told

of him that when he besieged Sisimithres, who held an inaccessible,

impregnable rock against him, and his soldiers began to despair of

taking it, he asked Oxyartes whether Sisimithres was a man of courage,

who assuring him he was the greatest coward alive, "Then you tell

me," said he, "that the place may easily be taken, since what is in

command of it is weak." And in a little time he so terrified Sisimithres

that he took it without any difficulty. At an attack which he made

upon such another precipitous place with some of his Macedonian soldiers,

he called to one whose name was Alexander, and told him he at any

rate must fight bravely if it were but for his name's sake. The youth

fought gallantly and was killed in the action, at which he was sensibly

afflicted. Another time, seeing his men march slowly and unwillingly

to the siege of the place called Nysa, because of a deep river between

them and the town, he advanced before them, and standing upon the

bank, "What a miserable man," said he, "am I, that I have not learned

to swim!" and then was hardly dissuaded from endeavouring to pass

it upon his shield. Here, after the assault was over, the ambassadors

who from several towns which he had blocked up came to submit to him

and make their peace, were surprised to find him still in his armour,

without any one in waiting or attendance upon him, and when at last

some one brought him a cushion, he made the eldest of them, named

Acuphis, take it and sit down upon it. The old man, marvelling at

his magnanimity and courtesy, asked him what his countrymen should

do to merit his friendship. "I would have them," said Alexander, "choose

you to govern them, and send one hundred of the most worthy men among

them to remain with me as hostages." Acuphis laughed and answered,

"I shall govern them with more ease, sir, if I send you so many of

the worst, rather than the best of my subjects."

 

The extent of King Taxiles's dominions in India was thought to be

as large as Egypt, abounding in good pastures, and producing beautiful

fruits. The king himself had the reputation of a wise man, and at

his first interview with Alexander he spoke to him in these terms:

"To what purpose," said he, "should we make war upon one another,

if the design of your coming into these parts be not to rob us of

our water or our necessary food, which are the only things that wise

men are indispensably obliged to fight for? As for other riches and

possessions, as they are accounted in the eye of the world, if I am

better provided of them than you, I am ready to let you share with

me; but if fortune has been more liberal to you than me, I have no

objection to be obliged to you." This discourse pleased Alexander

so much that, embracing him, "Do you think," said he to him, "your

kind words and courteous behaviour will bring you off in this interview

without a contest? No, you shall not escape so. I shall contend and

do battle with you so far, that how obliging soever you are, you shall

not have the better of me." Then receiving some presents from him,

he returned him others of greater value, and to complete his bounty

gave him in money ready coined one thousand talents; at which his

old friends were much displeased, but it gained him the hearts of

many of the barbarians. But the best soldiers of the Indians now entering

into the pay of several of the cities, undertook to defend them, and

did it so bravely, that they put Alexander to a great deal of trouble,

till at last, after a capitulation, upon the surrender of the place,

he fell upon them as they were marching away, and put them all to

the sword. This one breach of his word remains as a blemish upon his

achievements in war, which he otherwise had performed throughout with

that justice and honour that became a king. Nor was he less incommoded

by the Indian philosophers, who inveighed against those princes who

joined his party, and solicited the free nations to oppose him. He

took several of these also and caused them to be hanged.

 

Alexander, in his own letters, has given us an account of his war

with Porus. He says the two armies were separated by the river Hydaspes,

on whose opposite bank Porus continually kept his elephants in order

of battle, with their heads towards their enemies, to guard the passage;

that he, on the other hand, made every day a great noise and clamour

in his camp, to dissipate the apprehensions of the barbarians; that

one stormy dark night he passed the river, at a distance from the

place where the enemy lay, into a little island, with part of his

foot and the best of his horse. Here there fell a most violent storm

of rain, accompanied with lightning and whirlwinds, and seeing some

of his men burnt and dying with the lightning, he nevertheless quitted

the island and made over to the other side. The Hydaspes, he says,

now after the storm, was so swollen and grown so rapid as to have

made a breach in the bank, and a part of the river was now pouring

in here, so that when he came across it was with difficulty he got

a footing on the land, which was slippery and unsteady, and exposed

to the force of the currents on both sides. This is the occasion when

he is related to have said, "O ye Athenians, will ye believe what

dangers I incur to merit your praise?" This, however, is Onesicritus's

story. Alexander says, here the men left their boats, and passed the

breach in their armour, up to the breast in water, and that then he

advanced with his horse about twenty furlongs before his foot, concluding

that if the enemy charged him with their cavalry he should be too

strong for them; if with their foot, his own would come up time enough

to his assistance. Nor did he judge amiss; for being charged by a

thousand horse and sixty armed chariots, which advanced before their

main body, he took all the chariots, and killed four hundred horse

upon the place. Porus, by this time, guessing that Alexander himself

had crossed over, came on with his whole army, except a party which

he left behind, to hold the rest of the Macedonians in play, if they

should attempt to pass the river. But he, apprehending the multitude

of the enemy, and to avoid the shock of their elephants, dividing

his forces, attacked their left wing himself, and commanded Coenus

to fall upon the right, which was performed with good success. For

by this means both wings being broken, the enemies fell back in their

retreat upon the centre, and crowded in upon their elephants. There

rallying, they fought a hand-to-hand battle, and it was the eighth

hour of the day before they were entirely defeated. This description

the conqueror himself has left us in his own epistles.

 

Almost all the historians agree in relating that Porus was four cubits

and a span high, and that when he was upon his elephant, which was

of the largest size, his stature and bulk were so answerable, that

he appeared to be proportionately mounted, as a horseman on his horse.

This elephant, during the whole battle, gave many singular proofs

of sagacity and of particular care of the king, whom as long as he

was strong and in a condition to fight, he defended with great courage,

repelling those who set upon him; and as soon as he perceived him

overpowered with his numerous wounds and the multitude of darts that

were thrown at him, to prevent his falling off, he softly knelt down

and began to draw out the darts with his proboscis. When Porus was

taken prisoner, and Alexander asked him how he expected to be used,

he answered, "As a king." For that expression, he said, when the same

question was put to him a second time, comprehended everything. And

Alexander, accordingly, not only suffered him to govern his own kingdom

as satrap under himself, but gave him also the additional territory

of various independent tribes whom he subdued, a district which, it

is said, contained fifteen several nations, and five thousand considerable

towns, besides abundance of villages. To another government, three

times as large as this, he appointed Philip, one of his friends.

 

Some little time after the battle with Porus, Bucephalus died, as

most of the authorities state, under cure of his wounds, or, as Onesicritus

says, of fatigue and age, being thirty years old. Alexander was no

less concerned at his death than if he had lost an old companion or

an intimate friend, and built a city, which he named Bucephalia, in

memory of him, on the bank of the river Hydaspes. He also, we are

told, built another city, and called it after the name of a favourite

dog, Peritas, which he had brought up himself. So Sotion assures us

he was informed by Potamon of Lesbos.

 

But this last combat with Porus took off the edge of the Macedonians'

courage, and stayed their further progress into India. For having

found it hard enough to defeat an enemy who brought but twenty thousand

foot and two thousand horse into the field, they thought they had

reason to oppose Alexander's design of leading them on to pass the

Ganges, too, which they were told was thirty-two furlongs broad and

a fathoms deep, and the banks on the further side covered with multitudes

of enemies. For they were told the kings of the Gandaritans and Praesians

expected them there with eighty thousand horse, two hundred thousand

foot, eight thousand armed chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants.

Nor was this a mere vain report, spread to discourage them. For Androcottus,

who not long after reigned in those parts, made a present of five

hundred elephants at once to Seleucus, and with an army of six hundred

thousand men subdued all India. Alexander at first was so grieved

and enraged at his men's reluctancy that he shut himself up in his

tent and threw himself upon the ground, declaring, if they would not

pass the Ganges, he owed them no thanks for anything they had hitherto

done, and that to retreat now was plainly to confess himself vanquished.

But at last the reasonable persuasions of his friends and the cries

and lamentations of his soldiers, who in a suppliant manner crowded

about the entrance of his tent, prevailed with him to think of returning.

Yet he could not refrain from leaving behind him various deceptive

memorials of his expedition, to impose upon aftertimes, and to exaggerate

his glory with posterity, such as arms larger than were really worn,

and mangers for horses, with bits and bridles above the usual size,

which he set up, and distributed in several places. He erected altars,

also, to the gods, which the kings of the Praesians even in our time

do honour to when they pass the river, and offer sacrifice upon them

after the Grecian manner. Androcottus, then a boy, saw Alexander there,

and is said often afterwards to have been heard to say, that he missed

but little of making himself master of those countries; their king,

who then reigned, was so hated and despised for the viciousness of

his life and the meanness of his extraction.

 

Alexander was now eager to see the ocean. To which purpose he caused

a great many tow-boats and rafts to be built, in which he fell gently

down the rivers at his leisure, yet so that his navigation was neither

unprofitable nor inactive. For by several descents upon the bank,

he made himself master of the fortified towns, and consequently of

the country on both sides. But at a siege of a town of the Mallians,

who have the repute of being the bravest people of India, he ran in

great danger of his life. For having beaten off the defendants with

showers of arrows, he was the first man that mounted the wall by a

scaling-ladder, which, as soon as he was up, broke and left him almost

alone, exposed to the darts which the barbarians threw at him in great

numbers from below. In this distress, turning himself as well as he

could, he leaped down in the midst of his enemies, and had the good

fortune to light upon his feet. The brightness and clattering of his

armour when he came to the ground made the barbarians think they saw

rays of light, or some bright phantom playing before his body, which

frightened them so at first that they ran away and dispersed. Till

seeing him seconded but by two of his guards, they fell upon him hand-to-hand,

and some, while he bravely defended himself, tried to wound him through

his armour with their swords and spears. And one who stood further

off drew a bow with such strength that the arrow, finding its way

through his cuirass, stuck in his ribs under the breast. This stroke

was so violent that it made him give back, and set one knee to the

ground, upon which the man ran up with his drawn scimitar, thinking

to despatch him, and had done it, if Peucestes and Limnaeus had not

interposed, who were both wounded, Limnaeus mortally, but Peucestes

stood his ground, while Alexander killed the barbarians. But this

did not free him from danger; for, besides many other wounds, at last

he received so weighty a stroke of a club upon his neck that he was

forced to lean his body against the wall, still, however, facing the

enemy. At this extremity, the Macedonians made their way in and gathered

round him. They took him up, just as he was fainting away, having

lost all sense of what was done near him, and conveyed him to his

tent, upon which it was presently reported all over the camp that

he was dead. But when they had with great difficulty and pains sawed

off the shaft of the arrow, which was of wood, and so with much trouble

got off his cuirass, they came to cut the head of it, which was three

fingers broad and four long, and stuck fast in the bone. During the

operation he was taken with almost mortal swoonings, but when it was

out he came to himself again. Yet though all danger was past, he continued

very weak, and confined himself a great while to a regular diet and

the method of his cure, till one day hearing the Macedonians clamouring

outside in their eagerness to see him, he took his cloak and went

out. And having sacrificed to the gods, without more delay he went

on board again, and as he coasted along subdued a great deal of the

country on both sides, and several considerable cities.

 

In this voyage he took ten of the Indian philosophers prisoners who

had been most active in persuading Sabbas to revolt, and had caused

the Macedonians a great deal of trouble. These men, called Gymnosophists,

were reputed to be extremely ready and succinct in their answers,

which he made trial of, by putting difficult questions to them, letting

them know that those whose answers were not pertinent should be put

to death, on which he made the eldest of them judge. The first being

asked which he thought the most numerous, the dead or the living,

answered, "The living because those who are dead are not at all."

Of the second, he desired to know whether the earth or the sea produced

the largest beasts; who told him, "The earth, for the sea is but a

part of it." His question to the third was, Which is the cunningest

of beasts? "That," said he, "which men have not yet found out." He

bade the fourth tell him what argument he used to Sabbas to persuade

him to revolt. "No other," said he, "than that he should either live

or die nobly." Of the fifth he asked, Which was the eldest, night

or day? The philosopher replied, "Day was eldest, by one day at least."

But perceiving Alexander not well satisfied with that account, he

added, that he ought not to wonder if strange questions had as strange

answers made to them. Then he went on and inquired of the next, what

a man should do to be exceedingly beloved. "He must be very powerful,"

said he, "without making himself too much feared." The answer of the

seventh to his question, how a man might become a god, was, "By doing

that which was impossible for men to do." The eighth told him, "Life

is stronger than death, because it supports so many miseries." And

the last being asked, how long he thought it decent for a man to live,

said, "Till death appeared more desirable than life." Then Alexander

turned to him whom he had made judge, and commanded him to give sentence.

"All that I can determine," said he, "is, that they have every one

answered worse than another." "Nay," said the king, "then you shall

die first, for giving such a sentence." "Not so, O king," replied

the gymnosophist, "unless you said falsely that he should die first

who made the worst answer." In conclusion he gave them presents and

dismissed them.

 

But to those who were in greatest reputation among them, and lived

a private quiet life, he sent Onesicritus, one of Diogenes the Cynic's

disciples, desiring them to come to him. Calanus, it is said, very

arrogantly and roughly commanded him to strip himself and hear what

he said naked, otherwise he would not speak a word to him, though

he came from Jupiter himself. But Dandamis received him with more

civility, and hearing him discourse of Socrates, Pythagoras, and Diogenes,

told him he thought them men of great parts and to have erred in nothing

so much as in having too great respect for the laws and customs of

their country. Others say Dandamis only asked him the reason why Alexander

undertook so long a journey to come into those parts. Taxiles, however,

persuaded Calanus to wait upon Alexander. His proper name was Sphines,

but because he was wont to say Cale, which in the Indian tongue is

a form of salutation to those he met with anywhere, the Greeks called

him Calanus. He is said to have shown Alexander an instructive emblem

of government, which was this. He threw a dry shrivelled bide upon

the ground, and trod upon the edges of it. The skin when it was pressed

in one place still rose up in another, wheresoever he trod round about

it, till he set his foot in the middle, which made all the parts lie

even and quiet. The meaning of this similitude being that he ought

to reside most in the middle of his empire, and not spend too much

time on the borders of it.

 

His voyage down the rivers took up seven months' time, and when he

came to the sea, he sailed to an island which he himself called Scillustis,

others Psiltucis, where going ashore, he sacrificed, and made what

observations he could as to the nature of the sea and the sea-coast.

Then having besought the gods that no other man might ever go beyond

the bounds of this expedition, he ordered his fleet, of which he made

Nearchus admiral and Onesicritus pilot, to sail round about, keeping

the Indian shore on the right hand, and returned himself by land through

the country of the Orites, where he was reduced to great straits for

want of provisions, and lost a vast number of his men, so that of

an army of one hundred and twenty thousand foot and fifteen thousand

horse, he scarcely brought back above a fourth part out of India,

they were so diminished by disease, ill diet, and the scorching heats,

but most by famine. For their march was through an uncultivated country

whose inhabitants fared hardly, possessing only a few sheep, and those

of a wretched kind, whose flesh was rank and unsavoury, by their continual

feeding upon sea-fish.

 

After sixty days' march he came into Gedrosia, where he found great

plenty of all things, which the neighbouring kings and governors of

provinces, hearing of his approach, had taken care to provide. When

he had here refreshed his army, he continued his march through Carmania,

feasting all the way for seven days together. He with his most intimate

friends banqueted and revelled night and day upon a platform erected

on a lofty, conspicuous scaffold, which was slowly drawn by eight

horses. This was followed by a great many chariots, some covered with

purple and embroidered canopies, and some with green boughs, which

were continually supplied afresh, and in them the rest of his friends

and commanders drinking, and crowned with garlands of flowers. Here

was now no target or helmet or spear to be seen; instead of armour,

the soldiers handled nothing but cups and goblets and Thericlean drinking

vessels, which, along the whole way, they dipped into large bowls

and jars, and drank healths to one another, some seating themselves

to it, others as they went along. All places resounded with music

of pipes and flutes, with harping and singing, and women dancing as

in the rites of Bacchus. For this disorderly, wandering march, besides

the drinking part of it, was accompanied with all the sportiveness

and insolence of bacchanals, as much as if the god himself had been

there to countenance and lead the procession. As soon as he came to

the royal palace of Gedrosia, he again refreshed and feasted his army;

and one day after he had drunk pretty hard, it is said, he went to

see a prize of dancing contended for, in which his favourite Bagoas,

having gained the victory, crossed the theatre in his dancing habit,

and sat down close by him, which so pleased the Macedonians that they

made loud acclamations for him to kiss Bagoas, and never stopped clapping

their hands and shouting till Alexander put his arms round him and

kissed him.

 

Here his admiral, Nearchus, came to him, and delighted him so with

the narrative of his voyage, that he resolved himself to sail out

of the mouth of the Euphrates with a great fleet, with which he designed

to go round by Arabia and Africa, and so by Hercules's Pillars into

the Mediterranean; in order for which, he directed all sorts of vessels

to be built at Thapsacus, and made great provisions everywhere of

seamen and pilots. But the tidings of the difficulties he had gone

through in his Indian expedition, the danger of his person among the

Mallians, the reported loss of a considerable part of his forces,

and a general doubt as to his own safety, had begun to give occasion

for revolt among many of the conquered nations, and for acts of great

injustice, avarice, and insolence on the part of the satraps and commanders

in the provinces, so that there seemed to be an universal fluctuation

and disposition to change. Even at home, Olympias and Cleopatra had

raised a faction against Antipater, and divided his government between

them, Olympias seizing upon Epirus, and Cleopatra upon Macedonia.

When Alexander was told of it, he said his mother had made the best

choice, for the Macedonians would never endure to be ruled by a woman.

Upon this he despatched Nearchus again to his fleet, to carry the

war into the maritime provinces, and as he marched that way himself

he punished those commanders who had behaved ill, particularly Oxyartes,

one of the sons of Abuletes, whom he killed with his own hand, thrusting

him through the body with his spear. And when Abuletes, instead of

the necessary provisions which he ought to have furnished, brought

him three thousand talents in coined money, he ordered it to be thrown

to his horses, and when they would not touch it, "What good," he said,

"will this provision do us?" and sent him away to prison.

 

When he came into Persia, he distributed money among the women, as

their own kings had been wont to do, who as often as they came thither

gave every one of them a piece of gold; on account of which custom,

some of them, it is said, had come but seldom, and Ochus was so sordidly

covetous that, to avoid this expense, he never visited his native

country once in all his reign. Then finding Cyrus's sepulchre opened

and rifled, he put Polymachus, who did it, to death, though he was

a man of some distinction, a born Macedonian of Pella. And after he

had read the inscription, he caused it to be cut again below the old

one in Greek characters; the words being these: "O man, whosoever

thou art, and from whencesoever thou comest (for I know thou wilt

come), I am Cyrus, the founder of the Persian empire; do not grudge

me this little earth which covers my body." The reading of this sensibly

touched Alexander, filling him with the thought of the uncertainty

and mutability of human affairs. At the same time Calanus, having

been a little while troubled with a disease in the bowels, requested

that he might have a funeral pile erected, to which he came on horseback,

and, after he had said some prayers and sprinkled himself and cut

off some of his hair to throw into the fire, before he ascended it,

he embraced and took leave of the Macedonians who stood by, desiring

them to pass that day in mirth and good-fellowship with their king,

whom in a little time, he said, he doubted not to see again at Babylon.

Having this said, he lay down, and covering up his face, he stirred

not when the fire came near him, but continued still in the same posture

as at first, and so sacrificed himself, as it was the ancient custom

of the philosophers in those countries to do. The same thing was done

long after by another Indian who came with Caesar to Athens, where

they still show you, "the Indian's monument." At his return from the

funeral pile, Alexander invited a great many of his friends and principal

officers to supper, and proposed a drinking match, in which the victor

should receive a crown. Promachus drank twelve quarts of wine, and

won the prize, which was a talent from them all; but he survived his

victory but three days, and was followed, as Chares says, by forty-one

more, who died of the same debauch, some extremely cold weather having

set in shortly after.

 

At Susa, he married Darius's daughter Statira, and celebrated also

the nuptials of his friends, bestowing the noblest of the Persian

ladies upon the worthiest of them, at the same time making it an entertainment

in honour of the other Macedonians whose marriages had already taken

place. At this magnificent festival, it is reported, there were no

less than nine thousand guests, to each of whom he gave a golden cup

for the libations. Not to mention other instances of his wonderful

magnificence, he paid the debts of his army, which amounted to nine

thousand eight hundred and seventy talents. But Antigenes, who had

lost one of his eyes, though he owed nothing, got his name set down

in the list of those who were in debt, and bringing one who pretended

to be his creditor, and to have supplied him from the bank, received

the money. But when the cheat was found out, the king was so incensed

at it, that he banished him from court, and took away his command,

though he was an excellent soldier and a man of great courage. For

when he was but a youth, and served under Philip at the siege of Perinthus,

where he was wounded in the eye by an arrow shot out of an engine,

he would neither let the arrow be taken out nor be persuaded to quit

the field till he had bravely repulsed the enemy and forced them to

retire into the town. Accordingly he was not able to support such

a disgrace with any patience, and it was plain that grief and despair

would have made him kill himself, but the king fearing it, not only

pardoned him, but let him also enjoy the benefit of his deceit.

 

The thirty thousand boys whom he left behind him to be taught and

disciplined were so improved at his return, both in strength and beauty,

and performed their exercises with such dexterity and wonderful agility,

that he was extremely pleased with them, which grieved the Macedonians.

and made them fear he would have the less value for them. And when

he proceeded to send down the infirm and maimed soldiers to the sea,

they said they were unjustly and infamously dealt with, after they

were worn out in his service upon all occasions, now to be turned

away with disgrace and sent home into their country among their friends

and relations in a worse condition than when they came out; therefore

they desired him to dismiss them one and all, and to account his Macedonians

useless, now he was so well furnished with a set of dancing boys,

with whom, if he pleased, he might go on and conquer the world. These

speeches so incensed Alexander that, after he had given them a great

deal of reproachful language in his passion, he drove them away, and

committed the watch to Persians, out of whom he chose his guards and

attendants. When the Macedonians saw him escorted by these men, and

themselves excluded and shamefully disgraced, their high spirits fell,

and conferring with one another, they found that jealousy and rage

had almost distracted them. But at last coming to themselves again,

they went without their arms, with only their under garments on, crying

and weeping to offer themselves at his tent, and desired him to deal

with them as their baseness and ingratitude deserved. However, this

would not prevail; for though his anger was already something mollified,

yet he would not admit them into his presence, nor would they stir

from thence, but continued two days and nights before his tent, bewailing

themselves, and imploring him as their lord to have compassion on

them. But the third day he came out to them, and seeing them very

humble and penitent, he wept himself a great while, after a gentle

reproof spoke kindly to them, and dismissed those who were unserviceable

with magnificent rewards, and with his recommendation to Antipater,

that when they came home, at all public shows and in the theatres,

they should sit on the best and foremost seats, crowned with chaplets

of flowers. He ordered, also, that the children of those who had lost

their lives in his service should have their father's pay continued

to them.

 

When he came to Ecbatana in Media, and had despatched his most urgent

affairs, he began to divert himself again with spectacles and public

entertainments, to carry on which he had a supply of three thousand

actors and artists, newly arrived out of Greece. But they were soon

interrupted by Hephaestion's falling sick of a fever, in which, being

a young man and a soldier, too, he could not confine himself to so

exact a diet as was necessary; for whilst his physician, Glaucus,

was gone to the theatre, he ate a fowl for his dinner, and drank a

large draught of wine, upon which he became very ill, and shortly

after died. At this misfortune, Alexander was so beyond. all reason

transported that, to express his sorrow, he immediately ordered the

manes and tails of all his horses and mules to be cut, and threw down

the battlements of the neighbouring cities. The poor physician he

crucified, and forbade playing on the flute or any other musical instrument

in the camp a great while, till directions came from the oracle of

Ammon, and enjoined him to honour Hephaestion, and sacrifice to him

as a hero. Then seeking to alleviate his grief in war, he set out,

as it were, to a hunt and chase of men, for he fell upon the Cossaeans,

and put the whole nation to the sword. This was called a sacrifice

to Hephaestion's ghost. In his sepulchre and monument and the adorning

of them he intended to bestow ten thousand talents; and designing

that the excellence of the workmanship and the singularity of the

design might outdo the expense, his wishes turned, above all other

artists, to Stasicrates, because he always promised something very

bold, unusual, and magnificent in his projects. Once when they had

met before, he had told him that, of all the mountains he knew, that

of Athos in Thrace was the most capable of being adapted to represent

the shape and lineaments of a man; that if he pleased to command him,

he would make it the noblest and most durable statue in the world,

which in its left hand should hold a city of ten thousand inhabitants,

and out of its right should pour a copious river into the sea. Though

Alexander declined this proposal, yet now he spent a great deal of

time with workmen to invent and contrive others even more extravagant

and sumptuous.

 

As he was upon his way to Babylon, Nearchus, who had sailed back out

of the ocean up the mouth of the river Euphrates, came to tell him

he had met with some Chaldaean diviners, who had warned him against

Alexander's going thither. Alexander, however, took no thought of

it, and went on, and when he came near the walls of the place, he

saw a great many crows fighting with one another, some of whom fell

down just by him. After this, being privately informed that Apollodorus,

the governor of Babylon, had sacrificed, to know what would become

of him, he sent for Pythagoras, the soothsayer, and on his admitting

the thing, asked him in what condition he found the victim; and when

he told him the liver was defective in its lobe, "A great presage

indeed!" said Alexander. However, he offered Pythagoras no injury,

but was sorry that he had neglected Nearchus's advice, and stayed

for the most part outside the town, removing his tent from place to

place, and sailing up and down the Euphrates. Besides this, he was

disturbed by many other prodigies. A tame ass fell upon the biggest

and handsomest lion that he kept, and killed him by a kick. And one

day after he had undressed himself to be anointed, and was playing

at ball, just as they were going to bring his clothes again, the young

men who played with him perceived a man clad in the king's robes with

a diadem upon his head, sitting silently upon his throne. They asked

him who he was, to which he gave no answer a good while, till at last,

coming to himself, he told them his name was Dionysius that he was

of Messenia, that for some crime of which he was accused he was brought

thither from the seaside, and had been kept long in prison, that Serapis

appeared to him, had freed him from his chains, conducted him to that

place, and commanded him to that place, and commanded him to put on

the king's robe and diadem, and to sit where they found him, and to

say nothing. Alexander, when he heard this, by the direction of his

soothsayers, put the fellow to death, but he lost his spirits, and

grew diffident of the protection and assistance of the gods, and suspicious

of his friends. His greatest apprehension was of Antipater and his

sons, one of whom, Iolaus, was his chief cupbearer; and Cassander,

who had lately arrived, and had been bred up in Greek manners, the

first time he saw some of the barbarians adore the king could not

forbear laughing at it aloud, which so incensed Alexander he took

him by the hair with both hands and dashed his head against the wall.

Another time, Cassander would have said something in defence of Antipater

to those who accused him, but Alexander interrupting him, said, "What

is it you say? Do you think people, if they had received no injury,

would come such a journey only to calumniate your father?" To which

when Cassander replied, that their coming so far from the evidence

was a great proof of the falseness of their charges, Alexander smiled,

and said those were some of Aristotle's sophisms, which would serve

equally on both sides; and added, that both he and his father should

be severely punished, if they were found guilty of the least injustice

towards those who complained. All which made such a deep impression

of terror in Cassander's mind that, long after, when he was King of

Macedonia and master of Greece, as he was walking up and down at Delphi,

and looking at the statues, at the sight of that of Alexander he was

suddenly struck with alarm, and shook all over, his eyes rolled, his

head grew dizzy, and it was long before he recovered himself.

 

When once Alexander had given way to fears of supernatural influence,

his mind grew so disturbed and so easily alarmed that, if the least

unusual or extraordinary thing happened, he thought it a prodigy or

a presage, and his court was thronged with diviners and priests whose

business was to sacrifice and purify and foretell the future. So miserable

a thing is incredulity and contempt of divine power on the one hand,

and so miserable, also, superstition on the other, which like water,

where the level has been lowered, flowing in and never stopping, fills

the mind with slavish fears and follies, as now in Alexander's case.

But upon some answers which were brought him from the oracle concerning

Hephaestion, he laid aside his sorrow, and fell again to sacrificing

and drinking; and having given Nearchus a splendid entertainment,

after he had bathed, as was his custom, just as he was going to bed,

at Medius's request he went to supper with him. Here he drank all

the next day, and was attacked with a fever, which seized him, not

as some write, after he had drunk of the bowl of Hercules, nor was

he taken with any sudden pain in his back, as if he had been struck

with a lance, for these are the inventions of some authors who thought

it their duty to make the last scene of so great an action as tragical

and moving as they could. Aristobulus tells us, that in the rage of

his fever and a violent thirst, he took a draught of wine, upon which

he fell into delirium, and died on the thirtieth day of the month

Daesius.

 

But the journals give the following record. On the eighteenth day

of the month he slept in the bathing-room on account of his fever.

The next day he bathed and removed into his chamber, and spent his

time in playing at dice with Medius. In the evening he bathed and

sacrificed, and ate freely, and had the fever on him through the night.

On the twentieth, after the usual sacrifices and bathing, he lay in

the bathing-room and heard Nearchus's narrative of his voyage, and

the observations he had made in the great sea. The twenty-first he

passed in the same manner, his fever still increasing, and suffered

much during the night. The next day the fever was very violent, and

he had himself removed and his bed set by the great bath, and discoursed

with his principal officers about finding fit men to fill up the vacant

places in the army. On the twenty-fourth he was much worse, and was

carried out of his bed to assist at the sacrifices, and gave order

that the general officers should wait within the court, whilst the

inferior officers kept watch without doors. On the twenty-fifth he

was removed to his palace on the other side the river, where he slept

a little, but his fever did not abate, and when the generals came

into his chamber he was speechless and continued so the following

day. The Macedonians, therefore, supposing he was dead, came with

great clamours to the gates, and menaced his friends so that they

were forced to admit them, and let them all pass through unarmed by

his bedside. The same day Python and Seleucus were despatched to the

temple of Serapis to inquire if they should bring Alexander thither,

and were answered by the god that they should not remove him. On the

twenty-eighth, in the evening, he died. This account is most of it

word for word as it is written in the diary.

 

At the time, nobody had any suspicion of his being poisoned, but upon

some information given six years after, they say Olympias put many

to death, and scattered the ashes of Iolaus, then dead, as if he had

given it him. But those who affirm that Aristotle counselled Antipater

to do it, and that by his means the poison was brought, adduced one

Hagnothemis as their authority, who, they say, heard King Antigonus

speak of it, and tell us that the poison was water, deadly cold as

ice, distilled from a rock in the district of Nonacris, which they

gathered like a thin dew, and kept in an ass's hoof; for it was so

very cold and penetrating that no other vessel would hold it. However,

most are of opinion that all this is a mere made-up story, no slight

evidence of which is, that during the dissensions among the commanders,

which lasted several days, the body continued clear and fresh, without

any sign of such taint or corruption, though it lay neglected in a

close sultry place.

 

Roxana, who was now with child, and upon that account much honoured

by the Macedonians, being jealous of Statira, sent for her by a counterfeit

letter, as if Alexander had been still alive; and when she had her

in her power, killed her and her sister, and threw their bodies into

a well, which they filled up with earth, not without the privity and

assistance of Perdiccas, who in the time immediately following the

king's death, under cover of the name of Arrhidaeus, whom he carried

about him as a sort of guard to his person, exercised the chief authority.

Arrhidaeus, who was Philip's son by an obscure woman of the name of

Philinna, was himself of weak intellect, not that he had been originally

deficient either in body or mind, on the contrary, in his childhood,

he had showed a happy and promising character enough. But a diseased

habit of body, caused by drugs which Olympias gave him, had ruined,

not only his health, but his understanding.

 

THE END


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