Life of Alexander, 1–77

Plutarch  translated by Bernadotte Perrin

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1It is the life of Alexander the king, and of Caesar, who overthrew Pompey, that I am writing in this book, and the multitude of the deeds to be treated is so great that I shall make no other preface than to entreat my readers, in case I do not tell of all the famous actions of these men, nor even speak exhaustively at all in each particular case, but in epitome for the most part, not to complain. 2For it is not Histories that I am writing, but Lives; and in the most illustrious deeds there is not always a manifestation of virtue or vice, nay, a slight thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of character than battles where thousands fall, or the greatest armaments, or sieges of cities. 3Accordingly, just as painters get the likenesses in their portraits from the face and the expression of the eyes, wherein the character shows itself, but make very little account of the other parts of the body, so I must be permitted to devote myself rather to the signs of the soul in men, and by means of these to portray the life of each, leaving to others the description of their great contests.

2As for the lineage of Alexander, on his father’s side he was a descendant of Heracles through Caranus, and on his mother’s side a descendant of Aeacus through Neoptolemus; this is accepted without any question. And we are told that Philip, after being initiated into the mysteries of Samothrace at the same time with Olympias, he himself being still a youth and she an orphan child, fell in love with her and betrothed himself to her at once with the consent of her brother, Arymbas. 2Well, then, the night before that on which the marriage was consummated, the bride dreamed that there was a peal of thunder and that a thunder-bolt fell upon her womb, and that thereby much fire was kindled, which broke into flames that travelled all about, and then was extinguished. At a later time, too, after the marriage, Philip dreamed that he was putting a seal upon his wife’s womb; and the device of the seal, as he thought, was the figure of a lion. 3The other seers, now, were led by the vision to suspect that Philip needed to put a closer watch upon his marriage relations; but Aristander of Telmessus said that the woman was pregnant, since no seal was put upon what was empty, and pregnant of a son whose nature would be bold and lion-like. 4Moreover, a serpent was once seen lying stretched out by the side of Olympias as she slept, and we are told that this, more than anything else, dulled the ardour of Philip’s attentions to his wife, so that he no longer came often to sleep by her side, either because he feared that some spells and enchantments might be practised upon him by her, or because he shrank from her embraces in the conviction that she was the partner of a superior being.

5But concerning these matters there is another story to this effect: all the women of these parts were addicted to the Orphic rites and the orgies of Dionysus from very ancient times (being called Klodones and Mimallones)[1] and imitated in many ways the practices of the Edonian women and the Thracian women about Mount Haemus, from whom, as it would seem, the word “threskeuein”[2] came to be applied to the celebration of extravagant and superstitious ceremonies. 6Now Olympias, who affected these divine possessions more zealously than other women, and carried out these divine inspirations in wilder fashion, used to provide the revelling companies with great tame serpents, which would often lift their heads from out the ivy and the mystic winnowing-baskets,[3] or coil themselves about the wands and garlands of the women, thus terrifying the men.

3However, after his vision, as we are told, Philip sent Chaeron of Megalopolis to Delphi, by whom an oracle was brought him from Apollo, who bade him sacrifice to Ammon and hold that god in greatest reverence, but told him he was to lose that one of his eyes which he had applied to the chink in the door when he espied the god, in the form of a serpent, sharing the couch of his wife. 2Moreover, Olympias, as Eratosthenes says, when she sent Alexander forth upon his great expedition, told him, and him alone, the secret of his begetting, and bade him have purposes worthy of his birth. Others, on the contrary, say that she repudiated the idea, and said: “Alexander must cease slandering me to Hera.”[4]

3Be that as it may, Alexander was born early in the month Hecatombaeon,[5] the Macedonian name for which is Loüs, on the sixth day of the month, and on this day the temple of Ephesian Artemis was burnt. It was apropos of this that Hegesias the Magnesian made an utterance frigid enough to have extinguished that great conflagration. He said, namely, it was no wonder that the temple of Artemis was burned down, since the goddess was busy bringing Alexander into the world. 4But all the Magi who were then at Ephesus, looking upon the temple’s disaster as a sign of further disaster, ran about beating their faces and crying aloud that woe and great calamity for Asia had that day been born. To Philip, however, who had just taken Potidaea, there came three messages at the same time: 5the first that Parmenio had conquered the Illyrians in a great battle, the second that his race-horse had won a victory at the Olympic games, while a third announced the birth of Alexander. These things delighted him, of course, and the seers raised his spirits still higher by declaring that the son whose birth coincided with three victories would be always victorious.

4The outward appearance of Alexander is best represented by the statues of him which Lysippus made, and it was by this artist alone that Alexander himself thought it fit that he should be modelled. For those peculiarities which many of his successors and friends afterwards tried to imitate, namely, the poise of the neck, which was bent slightly to the left, and the melting glance of his eyes, this artist has accurately observed. 2Apelles, however, in painting him as wielder of the thunder-bolt, did not reproduce his complexion, but made it too dark and swarthy. Whereas he was of a fair colour, as they say, and his fairness passed into ruddiness on his breast particularly, and in his face. Moreover, that a very pleasant odour exhaled from his skin and that there was a fragrance about his mouth and all his flesh, so that his garments were filled with it, this we have read in the Memoirs of Aristoxenus.

3Now, the cause of this, perhaps, was the temperament of his body, which was a very warm and fiery one; for fragrance is generated, as Theophrastus thinks, where moist humours are acted upon by heat. Wherefore the dry and parched regions of the world produce the most and best spices; for the sun draws away the moisture which, like material of corruption, abounds in vegetable bodies. 4And in Alexander’s case, it was the heat of his body, as it would seem, which made him prone to drink, and choleric.

But while he was still a boy his self-restraint showed itself in the fact that, although he was impetuous and violent in other matters, the pleasures of the body had little hold upon him, and he indulged in them with great moderation, while his ambition kept his spirit serious and lofty in advance of his years. 5For it was neither every kind of fame nor fame from every source that he courted, as Philip did, who plumed himself like a sophist on the power of his oratory, and took care to have the victories of his chariots at Olympia engraved upon his coins; nay, when those about him inquired whether he would be willing to contend in the foot-race at the Olympic games, since he was swift of foot, “Yes,” said he, “if I could have kings as my contestants.” 6And in general, too, Alexander appears to have been averse to the whole race of athletes; at any rate, though he instituted very many contests, not only for tragic poets and players on the flute and players on the lyre, but also for rhapsodists, as well as for hunting of every sort and for fighting with staves, he took no interest in offering prizes either for boxing or for the pancratium.

5He once entertained the envoys from the Persian king who came during Philip’s absence, and associated with them freely. He won upon them by his friendliness, and by asking no childish or trivial questions, but by enquiring about the length of the roads and the character of the journey into the interior, about the king himself, what sort of a warrior he was, and what the prowess and might of the Persians. The envoys were therefore astonished and regarded the much-talked-of ability of Philip as nothing compared with his son’s eager disposition to do great things. 2At all events, as often as tidings were brought that Philip had either taken a famous city or been victorious in some celebrated battle, Alexander was not very glad to hear them, but would say to his comrades: “Boys, my father will anticipate everything; and for me he will leave no great or brilliant achievement to be displayed to the world with your aid.” 3For since he did not covet pleasure, nor even wealth, but excellence and fame, he considered that the more he should receive from his father the fewer would be the successes won by himself. Therefore, considering that increase in prosperity meant the squandering upon his father of opportunities for achievement, he preferred to receive from him a realm which afforded, not wealth nor luxury and enjoyment, but struggles and wars and ambitions.

4In the work of caring for him, then, many persons, as was natural, were appointed to be his nurturers, tutors, and teachers, but over them all stood Leonidas, a man of stern temperament and a kinsman of Olympias. Although he did not himself shun the title of tutor, since the office afforded an honourable and brilliant occupation, yet by other people, owing to his dignity and his relationship, he was called Alexander’s foster-father and preceptor. 5The man, however, who assumed the character and the title of tutor was Lysimachus, a native of Acarnania, who had no general refinement, but because he called himself Phoenix,[6] Alexander Achilles, and Philip Peleus, was highly regarded and held a second place.

6Once upon a time Philoneicus the Thessalian brought Bucephalas, offering to sell him to Philip for thirteen talents,[7] and they went down into the plain to try the horse, who appeared to be savage and altogether intractable, neither allowing any one to mount him, nor heeding the voice of any of Philip’s attendants, but rearing up against all of them. 2Then Philip was vexed and ordered the horse to be led away, believing him to be altogether wild and unbroken; but Alexander, who was near by, said: “What a horse they are losing, because, for lack of skill and courage, they cannot manage him!” At first, then, Philip held his peace; but as Alexander many times let fall such words and showed great distress, he said: “Dost thou find fault with thine elders in the belief that thou knowest more than they do or art better able to manage a horse?” 3“This horse, at any rate,” said Alexander, “I could manage better than others have.” “And if thou shouldst not, what penalty wilt thou undergo for thy rashness?” “Indeed,” said Alexander, “I will forfeit the price of the horse.” There was laughter at this, and then an agreement between father and son as to the forfeiture, and at once Alexander ran to the horse, took hold of his bridle-rein, and turned him towards the sun; for he had noticed, as it would seem, that the horse was greatly disturbed by the sight of his own shadow falling in front of him and dancing about. 4And after he had calmed the horse a little in this way, and had stroked him with his hand, when he saw that he was full of spirit and courage, he quietly cast aside his mantle and with a light spring safely bestrode him. Then, with a little pressure of the reins on the bit, and without striking him or tearing his mouth, he held him in hand;[8] but when he saw that the horse was rid of the fear that had beset him, and was impatient for the course, he gave him his head, and at last urged him on with sterner tone and thrust of foot. 5Philip and his company were speechless with anxiety at first; but when Alexander made the turn in proper fashion and came back towards them proud and exultant, all the rest broke into loud cries, but his father, as we are told, actually shed tears of joy, and when Alexander had dismounted, kissed him, saying: “My son, seek thee out a kingdom equal to thyself; Macedonia has not room for thee.”

7And since Philip saw that his son’s nature was unyielding and that he resisted compulsion, but was easily led by reasoning into the path of duty, he himself tried to persuade rather than to command him; and because he would not wholly entrust the direction and training of the boy to the ordinary teachers of poetry and the formal studies, feeling that it was a matter of too great importance, and, in the words of Sophocles,[9]

“A task for many bits and rudder-sweeps as well,”

2he sent for the most famous and learned of philosophers, Aristotle, and paid him a noble and appropriate tuition-fee. The city of Stageira, that is, of which Aristotle was a native, and which he had himself destroyed, he peopled again, and restored to it those of its citizens who were in exile or slavery.

3Well, then, as a place where master and pupil could labour and study, he assigned them the precinct of the nymphs near Mieza, where to this day the visitor is shown the stone seats and shady walks of Aristotle. It would appear, moreover, that Alexander not only received from his master his ethical and political doctrines, but also participated in those secret and more profound teachings which philosophers designate by the special terms “acroamatic” and “epoptic,”[10] and do not impart to many. 4For after he had already crossed into Asia, and when he learned that certain treatises on these recondite matters had been published in books by Aristotle, he wrote him a letter on behalf of philosophy, and put it in plain language. And this is a copy of the letter. “Alexander, to Aristotle, greeting. Thou hast not done well to publish thy acroamatic doctrines; for in what shall I surpass other men if those doctrines wherein I have been trained are to be all men’s common property? But I had rather excel in my acquaintance with the best things than in my power. Farewell.” 5Accordingly, in defending himself, Aristotle encourages this ambition of Alexander by saying that the doctrines of which he spoke were both published and not published; for in truth his treatise on metaphysics is of no use for those who would either teach or learn the science, but is written as a memorandum for those already trained therein.

8Moreover, in my opinion Alexander’s love of the art of healing was inculcated in him by Aristotle preeminently. For he was not only fond of the theory of medicine, but actually came to the aid of his friends when they were sick, and prescribed for them certain treatments and regimens, as one can gather from his letters. He was also by nature a lover of learning and a lover of reading. 2And since he thought and called the Iliad a viaticum of the military art, he took with him Aristotle’s recension of the poem, called the Iliad of the Casket,[11] and always kept it lying with his dagger under his pillow, as Onesicritus informs us; and when he could find no other books in the interior of Asia, he ordered Harpalus to send him some. 3So Harpalus sent him the books of Philistus, a great many of the tragedies of Euripides, Sophocles, and Aeschylus, and the dithyrambic poems of Telestes and Philoxenus. Aristotle he admired at the first, and loved him, as he himself used to say, more than he did his father, for that the one had given him life, but the other had taught him a noble life; later, however, he held him in more or less of suspicion, not to the extent of doing him any harm, but his kindly attentions lacked their former ardour and affection towards him, and this was proof of estrangement. 4However, that eager yearning for philosophy which was imbedded in his nature and which ever grew with his growth, did not subside from his soul, as is testified by the honour in which he held Anaxarchus, by his gift of fifty talents to Xenocrates, and by the attentions which he so lavishly bestowed upon Dandamis and Calanus.[12]

9While Philip was making an expedition against Byzantium,[13] Alexander, though only sixteen years of age, was left behind as regent in Macedonia and keeper of the royal seal, and during this time he subdued the rebellious Maedi, and after taking their city, drove out the Barbarians, settled there a mixed population, and named the city Alexandropolis. 2He was also present at Chaeroneia and took part in the battle against the Greeks,[14] and he is said to have been the first to break the ranks of the Sacred Band of the Thebans. And even down to our day there was shown an ancient oak by the Cephisus, called Alexander’s oak, near which at that time he pitched his tent; and the general sepulchre of the Macedonians is not far away.

3In consequence of these exploits, then, as was natural, Philip was excessively fond of his son, so that he even rejoiced to hear the Macedonians call Alexander their king, but Philip their general. However, the disorders in his household, due to the fact that his marriages and amours carried into the kingdom the infection, as it were, which reigned in the women’s apartments, produced many grounds of offence and great quarrels between father and son, and these the bad temper of Olympias, who was a jealous and sullen woman, made still greater, since she spurred Alexander on. 4The most open quarrel was brought on by Attalus at the marriage of Cleopatra, a maiden whom Philip was taking to wife, having fallen in love with the girl when he was past the age for it.[15] Attalus, now, was the girl’s uncle, and being in his cups, he called upon the Macedonians to ask of the gods that from Philip and Cleopatra there might be born a legitimate successor to the kingdom. At this Alexander was exasperated, and with the words, “But what of me, base wretch? Dost thou take me for a bastard?” threw a cup at him. 5Then Philip rose up against him with drawn sword, but, fortunately for both, his anger and his wine made him trip and fall. Then Alexander, mocking over him, said: “Look now, men! here is one who was preparing to cross from Europe into Asia; and he is upset in trying to cross from couch to couch.” After this drunken broil Alexander took Olympias and established her in Epirus, while he himself tarried in Illyria.

6Meanwhile Demaratus the Corinthian, who was a guest-friend of the house and a man of frank speech, came to see Philip. After the first greetings and welcomes were over, Philip asked him how the Greeks were agreeing with one another, and Demaratus replied: “It is surely very fitting, Philip, that thou shouldst be concerned about Greece, when thou hast filled thine own house with such great dissension and calamities.” Thus brought to his senses, Philip sent and fetched Alexander home, having persuaded him to come through the agency of Demaratus.

10But when Pixodarus, the satrap of Caria, trying by means of a tie of relationship to steal into a military alliance with Philip, wished to give his eldest daughter in marriage to Arrhidaeus the son of Philip, and sent Aristocritus to Macedonia on this errand, once more slanderous stories kept coming to Alexander from his friends and his mother, who said that Philip, by means of a brilliant marriage and a great connexion, was trying to settle the kingdom upon Arrhidaeus. Greatly disturbed by these stories, 2Alexander sent Thessalus, the tragic actor, to Caria, to argue with Pixodarus that he ought to ignore the bastard brother, who was also a fool, and make Alexander his connexion by marriage. And this plan was vastly more pleasing to Pixodarus than the former. But Philip, becoming aware of this, went to Alexander’s chamber, taking with him one of Alexander’s friends and companions, Philotas the son of Parmenio, 3and upbraided his son severely, and bitterly reviled him as ignoble and unworthy of his high estate, in that he desired to become the son-in-law of a man who was a Carian and a slave to a barbarian king. And as for Thessalus, Philip wrote to the Corinthians that they should send him back to Macedonia in chains. Moreover, of the other companions of Alexander, he banished from Macedonia Harpalus and Nearchus, as well as Erigyius and Ptolemy, men whom Alexander afterwards recalled and had in the highest honours.

4And so when Pausanias, who had been outrageously dealt with at the instance of Attalus and Cleopatra and could get no justice at Philip’s hands, slew Philip, most of the blame devolved upon Olympias, on the ground that she had added her exhortations to the young man’s anger and incited him to the deed; but a certain amount of accusation attached itself to Alexander also. For it is said that when Pausanias, after the outrage that he had suffered, met Alexander, and bewailed his fate, Alexander recited to him the iambic verse of the “Medeia”:—[16]

“The giver of the bride, the bridegroom, and the bride.”

However, he did seek out the participants in the plot and punished them, and was angry with Olympias for her savage treatment of Cleopatra during his absence.[17]

11Thus it was that at the age of twenty years Alexander received the kingdom, which was exposed to great jealousies, dire hatreds, and dangers on every hand. For the neighbouring tribes of Barbarians would not tolerate their servitude, and longed for their hereditary kingdoms; and as for Greece, although Philip had conquered her in the field, he had not had time enough to make her tame under his yoke, but had merely disturbed and changed the condition of affairs there, and then left them in a great surge and commotion, owing to the strangeness of the situation. 2The Macedonian counsellors of Alexander had fears of the crisis, and thought he should give up the Greek states altogether and use no more compulsion there, and that he should call the revolting Barbarians back to their allegiance by mild measures and try to arrest the first symptoms of their revolutions; but he himself set out from opposite principles to win security and safety for his realm by boldness and a lofty spirit, assured that, were he seen to abate his dignity even but a little, all his enemies would set upon him. 3Accordingly, he put a speedy stop to the disturbances and wars among the Barbarians by overrunning their territories with an army as far as to the river Danube, where he fought a great battle with Syrmus, the king of the Triballi, and defeated him; and on learning that the Thebans had revolted and that the Athenians were in sympathy with them, he immediately led his forces through the pass of Thermopylae, declaring that since Demosthenes had called him a boy while he was among the Illyrians and Triballians, and a stripling when he had reached Thessaly, he wished to show him that before the walls of Athens he was a man.

4Arrived before Thebes,[18] and wishing to give her still a chance to repent of what she had done, he merely demanded the surrender of Phoenix and Prothytes, and proclaimed an amnesty for those who came over to his side. But the Thebans made a counter-demand that he should surrender to them Philotas and Antipater, and made a counter-proclamation that all who wished to help in setting Greece free should range themselves with them; and so Alexander set his Macedonians to the work of war. 5On the part of the Thebans, then, the struggle was carried on with a spirit and valour beyond their powers, since they were arrayed against an enemy who was many times more numerous than they; but when the Macedonian garrison also, leaving the citadel of the Cadmeia, fell upon them in the rear, most of them were surrounded, and fell in the battle itself, and their city was taken, plundered, and razed to the ground. This was done, in the main, because Alexander expected that the Greeks would be terrified by so great a disaster and cower down in quiet, but apart from this, he also plumed himself on gratifying the complaints of his allies; for the Phocians and Plataeans had denounced the Thebans. 6So after separating out the priests, all who were guest-friends of the Macedonians, the descendants of Pindar,[19] and those who had voted against the revolt, he sold the rest into slavery, and they proved to be more than thirty thousand; those who had been slain were more than six thousand.

12Among the many and grievous calamities which thus possessed the city, some Thracians broke into the house of Timocleia, a woman of high repute and chastity, and while the rest were plundering her property, their leader shamefully violated her, and then asked her if she had gold or silver concealed anywhere. 2She admitted that she had, and after leading him by himself into the garden and showing him a well, told him that when the city was taken she had with her own hands cast in there her most valuable possessions. Then, as the Thracian was bending over and inspecting the place, she came behind him and pushed him in, cast many stones upon him, and killed him. 3And when the Thracians led her, with hands bound, to Alexander, she showed by her mien and gait that she was a person of great dignity and lofty spirit, so calmly and fearlessly did she follow her conductors; and when the king asked her who she was, she replied that she was a sister of Theagenes, who drew up the forces which fought Philip in behalf of the liberty of the Greeks, and fell in command at Chaeroneia. Amazed, therefore, at her reply and at what she had done, Alexander bade her depart in freedom with her children.

13Furthermore, he was reconciled with the Athenians, although they showed exceeding sorrow at the misfortunes of Thebes; for although they had begun the festival of the mysteries, they gave it up in consequence of their grief,[20] and upon the Thebans who sought refuge in their city they bestowed every kindness. 2But notwithstanding this, whether his rage was now sated, as a lion’s might be, or whether he wished to offset a deed of the most sullen savagery with one that was merciful, he not only remitted all his charges against the city, but even bade it give good heed to its affairs, since, if anything should happen to him, it would have the rule over Greece. In later times, moreover, as we are told, the calamity of the Thebans often gave him remorse, and made him milder towards many people. 3And certainly the murder of Cleitus,[21] which he committed in his cups, and the cowardly refusal of his Macedonians to follow him against the Indians,[22] whereby they as it were robbed his expedition and his glory of their consummation, he was wont to attribute to the vengeful wrath of Dionysus.[23] And there was not a Theban of those that survived who afterwards came to him with any request and did not get what he wanted from him. Thus much concerning Thebes.[24]

14And now a general assembly of the Greeks was held at the Isthmus,[25] where a vote was passed to make an expedition against Persia with Alexander, and he was proclaimed their leader. Thereupon many statesmen and philosophers came to him with their congratulations, and he expected that Diogenes of Sinope also, who was tarrying in Corinth, would do likewise. 2But since that philosopher took not the slightest notice of Alexander, and continued to enjoy his leisure in the suburb Craneion, Alexander went in person to see him; and he found him lying in the sun. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he saw so many persons coming towards him, and fixed his eyes upon Alexander. And when that monarch addressed him with greetings, and asked if he wanted anything, “Yes,” said Diogenes, “stand a little out of my sun.” 3It is said that Alexander was so struck by this, and admired so much the haughtiness and grandeur of the man who had nothing but scorn for him, that he said to his followers, who were laughing and jesting about the philosopher as they went away, “But verily, if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes.”

4And now, wishing to consult the god concerning the expedition against Asia, he went to Delphi; and since he chanced to come on one of the inauspicious days, when it is not lawful to deliver oracles, in the first place he sent a summons to the prophetess. And when she refused to perform her office and cited the law in her excuse, he went up himself and tried to drag her to the temple, whereupon, as if overcome by his ardour, she said: “Thou art invincible, my son!” On hearing this, Alexander said he desired no further prophecy, but had from her the oracle which he wanted.

5Moreover, when he set out upon his expedition,[26] it appears that there were many signs from heaven, and, among them, the image of Orpheus at Leibethra (it was made of cypress-wood) sweated profusely at about that time. Most people feared the sign, but Aristander bade Alexander be of good cheer, assured that he was to perform deeds worthy of song and story, which would cost poets and musicians much toil and sweat to celebrate.[27]

15As to the number of his forces, those who put it at the smallest figure mention thirty thousand foot and four thousand horse; those who put it at the highest, forty-three thousand foot and five thousand horse.[28] To provision these forces, Aristobulus says he had not more than seventy talents; Duris speaks of maintenance for only thirty days; and Onesicritus says he owed two hundred talents besides. 2But although he set out with such meagre and narrow resources, he would not set foot upon his ship until he had enquired into the circumstances of his companions and allotted to one a farm, to another a village, and to another the revenue from some hamlet or harbour. And when at last nearly all of the crown property had been expended or allotted, Perdiccas said to him: “But for thyself, O king, what art thou leaving?” And when the king answered, “My hopes,” “In these, then,” said Perdiccas, “we also will share who make the expedition with thee.” 3Then he declined the possessions which had been allotted to him, and some of the other friends of Alexander did likewise. But upon those who wanted and would accept his favours Alexander bestowed them readily, and most of what he possessed in Macedonia was used up in these distributions. Such was the ardour and such the equipment with which he crossed the Hellespont.

4Then, going up to Ilium, he sacrificed to Athena and poured libations to the heroes. Furthermore, the gravestone of Achilles he anointed with oil, ran a race by it with his companions, naked, as is the custom, and then crowned it with garlands, pronouncing the hero happy in having, while he lived, a faithful friend, and after death, a great herald of his fame. 5As he was going about and viewing the sights of the city, someone asked him if he wished to see the lyre of Paris. “For that lyre,” said Alexander, “I care very little; but I would gladly see that of Achilles, to which he used to sing the glorious deeds of brave men.”[29]

16Meanwhile the generals of Dareius had assembled a large force and set it in array at the crossing of the river Granicus, so that it was practically necessary to fight, as it were at the gates of Asia, for entrance and dominion there. But most of the Macedonian officers were afraid of the depth of the river, and of the roughness and unevenness of the farther banks, up which they would have to climb while fighting. Some, too, thought they ought to observe carefully the customary practice in regard to the month 2(for in the month of Daesius the kings of Macedonia were not wont to take the field with an army). This objection Alexander removed by bidding them call the month a second Artemisius; and when Parmenio, on the ground that it was too late in the day, objected to their risking the passage, he declared that the Hellespont would blush for shame, if, after having crossed that strait, he should be afraid of the Granicus, and plunged into the stream with thirteen troops of horsemen. 3And since he was charging against hostile missiles and precipitous positions covered with infantry and cavalry, and through a stream that swept men off their feet and surged about them, he seemed to be acting like a frenzied and foolish commander rather than a wise one. However, he persisted in his attempt to cross, gained the opposite banks with difficulty and much ado, though they were moist and slippery with mud, and was at once compelled to fight pell-mell and engage his assailants man by man, before his troops who were crossing could form into any order. 4For the enemy pressed upon them with loud shouts, and matching horse with horse, plied their lances, and their swords when their lances were shattered. Many rushed upon Alexander, for he was conspicuous by his buckler and by his helmet’s crest, on either side of which was fixed a plume of wonderful size and whiteness. But although a javelin pierced the joint of his breastplate, he was not wounded; and when Rhoesaces and Spithridates, two Persian commanders, made at him together, he avoided the one, and smote Rhoesaces, who wore a breastplate, with his spear; and when this weapon snapped in two with the blow, he took to his sword. 5Then, while he was thus engaged with Rhoesaces, Spithridates rode up from one side, raised himself up on his horse, and with all his might came down with a barbarian battle-axe upon Alexander’s head. Alexander’s crest was broken off, together with one of its plumes, and his helmet could barely and with difficulty resist the blow, so that the edge of the battle-axe touched the topmost hair of his head. But while Spithridates was raising his arm again for another stroke, Cleitus, “Black Cleitus,” got the start of him and ran him through the body with his spear. At the same time Rhoesaces also fell, smitten by Alexander’s sword.

6While Alexander’s cavalry were making such a dangerous and furious fight, the Macedonian phalanx crossed the river and the infantry forces on both sides engaged. The enemy, however, did not resist vigorously, nor for a long time, but fled in a rout, all except the Greek mercenaries. These made a stand at a certain eminence, and asked that Alexander should promise them quarter. 7But he, influenced by anger more than by reason, charged foremost upon them and lost his horse, which was smitten through the ribs with a sword (it was not Bucephalas, but another); and most of the Macedonians who were slain or wounded fought or fell there, since they came to close quarters with men who knew how to fight and were desperate.

Of the Barbarians, we are told, twenty thousand footmen fell, and twenty-five hundred horsemen.[30] But on Alexander’s side, Aristobulus says there were thirty-four dead in all, of whom nine were footmen. 8Of these, then, Alexander ordered statues to be set up in bronze, and Lysippus wrought them.[31] Moreover, desiring to make the Greeks partners in his victory, he sent to the Athenians in particular three hundred of the captured shields, and upon the rest of the spoils in general he ordered a most ambitious inscription to be wrought: “Alexander the son of Philip and all the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians from the Barbarians who dwell in Asia.” But the drinking vessels and the purple robes and whatever things of this nature he took from the Persians, all these, except a few, he sent to his mother.

17This contest at once made a great change in the situation to Alexander’s advantage, so that he received the submission even of Sardis, the bulwark of the barbarian dominion on the sea-coast, and added the rest of the country to his conquests. Halicarnassus alone withstood him, and Miletus, which cities he took by storm[32] and subdued all the territories about them. Then he was in doubt as to his future course. 2Many times he was eager to encounter Dareius and put the whole issue to hazard, and many times he would make up his mind to practice himself first, as it were, and strengthen himself by acquiring the regions along the sea with their resources, and then to go up against that monarch. Now, there is in Lycia, near the city of Xanthus, a spring, which at this time, as we are told, was of its own motion upheaved from its depths, and overflowed, and cast forth a bronze tablet bearing the prints of ancient letters, in which it was made known that the empire of the Persians would one day be destroyed by the Greeks and come to an end. 3Encouraged by this prophecy, Alexander hastened to clear up the sea-coast as far as Cilicia and Phoenicia. His rapid passage along the coasts of Pamphylia has afforded many historians material for bombastic and terrifying description. They imply that by some great and heaven-sent good fortune the sea retired to make way for Alexander, although at other times it always came rolling in with violence from the main, and scarcely ever revealed to sight the small rocks which lie close up under the precipitous and riven sides of the mountain.[33] 4And Menander, in one of his comedies,[34] evidently refers jestingly to this marvel:—

“How Alexander-like, indeed, this is; and if I seek some one,

Spontaneous he’ll present himself; and if I clearly must

Pass through some place by sea, this will lie open to my steps.”

Alexander himself, however, made no such prodigy out of it in his letters, but says that he marched by way of the so-called Ladder, and passed through it, setting out from Phaselis. 5This was the reason for his spending several days in that city, during which he noticed that a statue of Theodectas, a deceased citizen of Phaselis, had been erected in the market-place. Once, therefore, after supper and in his cups, he led a band of revellers to the statue and crowned it with many of their garlands, thus in pleasantry returning no ungraceful honour for the past association with the man which he owed to Aristotle and philosophy.

18After this, he overpowered such of the Pisidians as had offered him resistance, and subdued Phrygia; and after he had taken the city of Gordium,[35] reputed to have been the home of the ancient Midas, he saw the much-talked-of waggon bound fast to its yoke with bark of the cornel-tree, and heard a story confidently told about it by the Barbarians, to the effect that whosoever loosed the fastening was destined to become king of the whole world. 2Well, then, most writers say that since the fastenings had their ends concealed, and were intertwined many times in crooked coils, Alexander was at a loss how to proceed, and finally loosened the knot by cutting it through with his sword, and that when it was thus smitten many ends were to be seen. But Aristobulus says that he undid it very easily, by simply taking out the so-called “hestor,” or pin, of the waggon-pole, by which the yoke-fastening was held together, and then drawing away the yoke.[36]

3Setting out from there, he subdued Paphlagonia and Cappadocia, and on hearing of the death of Memnon, one of the commanders of Dareius on the sea-board, who was thought likely to give Alexander abundant trouble and infinite annoyance, he was all the more encouraged for his expedition into the interior. 4Moreover, Dareius was already coming down to the coast from Susa, exalted in spirit by the magnitude of his forces (for he was leading an army of six hundred thousand men), and also encouraged by a certain dream, which the Magi interpreted in a way to please him rather than as the probabilities demanded. For he dreamed that the Macedonian phalanx was all on fire, and that Alexander, attired in a robe which he himself formerly used to wear when he was a royal courier, was waiting upon him, after which service he passed into the temple of Belus and disappeared. 5By this means, as it would seem, it was suggested to Dareius from Heaven that the exploits of the Macedonians would be conspicuous and brilliant, that Alexander would be master of Asia, just as Dareius became its master when he was made king instead of royal courier, and would speedily end his life with glory.

19Dareius was still more encouraged by Alexander’s long delay in Cilicia, which he attributed to cowardice. The delay was due, however, to a sickness, which assailed him in consequence of fatigues, according to some,[37] but according to others, because he took a bath in the river Cydnus, whose waters were icy cold. 2Be that as it may, none of the other physicians had the courage to administer remedies, but thinking that the danger was too great to be overcome by any remedy whatever, they were afraid of the charges which would be made against them by the Macedonians in consequence of their failure; but Philip the Acarnanian, who saw that the king was in an evil plight, put confidence in his friendship, and thinking it a shameful thing not to share his peril by exhausting the resources of art in trying to help him even at great risk, prepared a medicine and persuaded him to drink it boldly, if he was anxious to regain his strength for the war. 3Meanwhile, however, Parmenio sent a letter to Alexander from the camp, urging him to be on his guard against Philip, for the reason that he had been persuaded by Dareius, with the promise of large gifts and a marriage with his daughter, to kill Alexander. Alexander read the letter and placed it under his pillow, without showing it to any one of his friends. When the time appointed was at hand, and Philip came in with the king’s companions, carrying the medicine in a cup, Alexander handed him the letter, while he himself took the medicine from him with readiness and no sign of suspicion. 4It was an amazing sight, then, and one well worthy of the stage,—the one reading the letter, the other drinking the medicine, and then both together turning their eyes upon one another, but not with the same expression; for Alexander, by his glad and open countenance, showed his good will towards Philip and his trust in him, while Philip was beside himself at the calumny, now lifting up his hands towards heaven and calling upon the gods to witness his innocence, and now falling upon the couch on which Alexander lay and beseeching him to be of good courage and obey his physician. 5For at first the medicine mastered the patient, and as it were drove back and buried deep his bodily powers, so that his voice failed, he fell into a swoon, and became almost wholly unconscious. However, he was speedily restored to his senses by Philip, and when he had recovered strength he showed himself to the Macedonians, who refused to be comforted until they had seen Alexander.

20Now, there was in the army of Dareius a certain Macedonian who had fled from his country, Amyntas by name, and he was well acquainted with the nature of Alexander. This man, when he saw that Dareius was eager to attack Alexander within the narrow passes of the mountains, begged him to remain where he was, that he might fight a decisive battle with his vast forces against inferior numbers in plains that were broad and spacious. 2And when Dareius replied that he was afraid the enemy would run away before he could get at them, and Alexander thus escape him, “Indeed,” said Amyntas, “on this point, O king, thou mayest be without fear; for he will march against thee, nay, at this very moment, probably, he is on the march.” Dareius would not listen to these words of Amyntas, but broke camp and marched into Cilicia, and at the same time Alexander marched into Syria against him. 3But having missed one another in the night, they both turned back again, Alexander rejoicing in his good fortune, and eager to meet his enemy in the passes, while Dareius was as eager to extricate his forces from the passes and regain his former camping-ground. For he already saw that he had done wrong to throw himself into places which were rendered unfit for cavalry by sea and mountains and a river running through the middle (the Pinarus), which were broken up in many parts, and favoured the small numbers of his enemy. 4And not only was the place for the battle a gift of Fortune to Alexander, but his generalship was better than the provisions of Fortune for his victory. For since he was so vastly inferior in numbers to the Barbarians, he gave them no opportunity to encircle him, but leading his right wing in person, extended it past the enemy’s left, got on their flank, and routed the Barbarians who were opposed to him fighting among the foremost, so that he got a sword-wound in the thigh. Chares says this wound was given him by Dareius, with whom he had a hand-to-hand combat, 5but Alexander, in a letter to Antipater about the battle, did not say who it was that gave him the wound; he wrote that he had been wounded in the thigh with a dagger, but that no serious harm resulted from the wound.

Although he won a brilliant victory and destroyed more than a hundred and ten thousand of his enemies, he did not capture Dareius, who got a start of four or five furlongs in his flight; but he did take the king’s chariot, and his bow, before he came back from the pursuit. 6He found his Macedonians carrying off the wealth from the camp of the Barbarians, and the wealth was of surpassing abundance, although its owners had come to the battle in light marching order and had left most of their baggage in Damascus; he found, too, that his men had picked out for him the tent of Dareius, which was full to overflowing with gorgeous servitors and furniture, and many treasures. 7Straightway, then, Alexander put off his armour and went to the bath, saying: “Let us go and wash off the sweat of the battle in the bath of Dareius.” “No, indeed,” said one of his companions, “but rather in that of Alexander; for the property of the conquered must belong to the conqueror, and be called his.” 8And when he saw the basins and pitchers and tubs and caskets, all of gold, and curiously wrought, while the apartment was marvellously fragrant with spices and unguents, and when he passed from this into a tent which was worthy of admiration for its size and height, and for the adornment of the couch and tables and banquet prepared for him, he turned his eyes upon his companions and said: “This, as it would seem, is to be a king.”

21As he was betaking himself to supper, someone told him that among the prisoners were the mother, wife, and two unmarried daughters of Dareius, and that at sight of his chariot and bow they beat their breasts and lamented, believing that he was dead. Accordingly, after a considerable pause, more affected by their affliction than by his own success, he sent Leonnatus, with orders to tell them that Dareius was not dead, and that they need have no fear of Alexander; 2for it was Dareius upon whom he was waging war for supremacy, but they should have everything which they used to think their due when Dareius was undisputed king. If this message was thought by the women to be mild and kindly, still more did the actions of Alexander prove to be humane. For he gave them permission to bury whom they pleased of the Persians, and to use for this purpose raiment and adornment from the spoils, and he abated not one jot of their honourable maintenance, nay, they enjoyed even larger allowances than before. 3But the most honourable and most princely favour which these noble and chaste women received from him in their captivity was that they neither heard, nor suspected, nor awaited anything that could disgrace them, but lived, as though guarded in sacred and inviolable virgins’ chambers instead of in an enemy’s camp, apart from the speech and sight of men. And yet it is said that the wife of Dareius was far the most comely of all royal women, just as Dareius himself also was handsomest and tallest of men, and the daughters resembled their parents.

4But Alexander, as it would seem, considering the mastery of himself a more kingly thing than the conquest of his enemies, neither laid hands upon these women, nor did he know any other before marriage, except Barsiné. This woman, Memnon’s widow, was taken prisoner at Damascus. And since she had received a Greek education, and was of an agreeable disposition, and since her father, Artabazus, was son of a king’s daughter, Alexander determined (at Parmenio’s instigation, as Aristobulus says) to attach himself to a woman of such high birth and beauty. 5But as for the other captive women, seeing that they were surpassingly stately and beautiful, he merely said jestingly that Persian women were torments to the eyes.[38] And displaying in rivalry with their fair looks the beauty of his own sobriety and self-control, he passed them by as though they were lifeless images for display.

22Moreover, when Philoxenus, the commander of his forces on the sea-board, wrote that there was with him a certain Theodorus, of Tarentum, who had two boys of surpassing beauty to sell, and enquired whether Alexander would buy them, Alexander was incensed, and cried out many times to his friends, asking them what shameful thing Philoxenus had ever seen in him that he should spend his time in making such disgraceful proposals. And on Philoxenus himself he heaped so much reproach in a letter, bidding him send Theodorus to perdition, merchandize and all. 2He severely rebuked Hagnon also for writing to him that he wanted to buy Crobylus, whose beauty was famous in Corinth, as a present for him. Furthermore, on learning that Damon and Timotheus, two Macedonian soldiers under Parmenio’s command, had ruined the wives of certain mercenaries, he wrote to Parmenio ordering him, in case the men were convicted, to punish them and put them to death as wild beasts born for the destruction of mankind. 3In this letter he also wrote expressly concerning himself: “As for me, indeed, it will be found not only that I have not seen the wife of Dareius or desired to see her, but that I have not even allowed people to speak to me of her beauty.” And he used to say that sleep and sexual intercourse, more than any thing else, made him conscious that he was mortal, implying that both weariness and pleasure arise from one and the same natural weakness.

4He had also the most complete mastery over his appetite, and showed this both in many other ways, and especially by what he said to Ada, whom he honoured with the title of Mother and made queen of Caria.[39] When, namely, in the kindness of her heart, she used to send him day by day many viands and sweetmeats, and finally offered him bakers and cooks reputed to be very skilful, he said he wanted none of them, for he had better cooks which had been given him by his tutor, Leonidas; for his breakfast, namely, a night march, and for his supper, a light breakfast. “And this same Leonidas,” he said, “used to come and open my chests of bedding and clothing, to see that my mother did not hide there for me some luxury or superfluity.”

23To the use of wine also he was less addicted than was generally believed. The belief arose from the time which he would spend over each cup, more in talking than in drinking, always holding some long discourse, and this too when he had abundant leisure. For in the stress of affairs he was not to be detained, as other commanders were, either by wine, or sleep, or any sport, or amour, or spectacle. 2This is proved by his life, which, though altogether brief, he filled to overflowing with the greatest exploits. In his times of leisure, however, after rising and sacrificing to the gods, he immediately took breakfast sitting; then, he would spend the day in hunting, or administering justice, or arranging his military affairs, or reading. If he were making a march which was not very urgent, he would practise, as he went along, either archery or mounting and dismounting from a chariot that was under way. 3Often, too, for diversion, he would hunt foxes or birds, as may be gathered from his journals. After he had taken quarters for the night, and while he was enjoying bath or anointing, he would enquire of his chief cooks and bakers whether the arrangements for his supper were duly made. When it was late and already dark, he would begin his supper, reclining on a couch, and marvellous was his care and circumspection at table, in order that everything might be served impartially and without stint; but over the wine, as I have said, he would sit long, for conversation’s sake. 4And although in other ways he was of all princes most agreeable in his intercourse, and endowed with every grace, at this time his boastfulness would make him unpleasant and very like a common soldier. Not only was he himself carried away into blustering, but he suffered himself to be ridden by his flatterers. These were a great annoyance to the finer spirits in the company, who desired neither to vie with the flatterers, nor yet to fall behind them in praising Alexander. The one course they thought disgraceful, the other had its perils. 5After the drinking was over, he would take a bath and sleep, frequently until midday; and sometimes he would actually spend the entire day in sleep.

In the matter of delicacies, too, he himself, at all events, was master of his appetite, so that often, when the rarest fruits or fish were brought to him from the sea-coast, he would distribute them to each of his companions until he was the only one for whom nothing remained. 6His suppers, however, were always magnificent, and the outlay upon them increased with his successes until it reached the sum of ten thousand drachmas. There it stood, and that was the prescribed limit of expenditure for those who entertained Alexander.

24After the battle at Issus,[40] he sent to Damascus and seized the money and baggage of the Persians together with their wives and children. And most of all did the Thessalian horsemen enrich themselves, for they had shown themselves surpassingly brave in the battle, and Alexander sent them on this expedition purposely, wishing to have them enrich themselves. But the rest of the army also was filled with wealth. 2Then for the first time the Macedonians got a taste of gold and silver and women and barbaric luxury of life, and now that they had struck the trail, they were like dogs in their eagerness to pursue and track down the wealth of the Persians.

However, Alexander determined first to make himself master of the sea-coasts. As for Cyprus, then, its kings came at once and put the island in his hands, together with Phoenicia, with the exception of Tyre. 3But Tyre he besieged for seven months,[41] with moles, and engines-of-war, and two hundred triremes by sea. During this siege he had a dream in which he saw Heracles stretching out his hand to him from the wall and calling him. And many of the Tyrians dreamed that Apollo told them he was going away to Alexander, since he was displeased at what was going on in the city. 4Whereupon, as if the god had been a common deserter caught in the act of going over to the enemy, they encircled his colossal figure with cords and nailed it down to its pedestal, calling him an Alexandrist. 5In another dream, too, Alexander thought he saw a satyr who mocked him at a distance, and eluded his grasp when he tried to catch him, but finally, after much coaxing and chasing, surrendered. The seers, dividing the word “satyros” into two parts, said to him, plausibly enough, “Tyre is to be thine.” And a spring is pointed out, near which Alexander dreamed he saw the satyr.

6While the siege of the city was in progress, he made an expedition against the Arabians who dwelt in the neighbourhood of Mount Antilibanus. On this expedition he risked his life to save his tutor, Lysimachus, who insisted on following him, declaring himself to be neither older nor weaker than Phoenix.[42] But when the force drew near the mountains, they abandoned their horses and proceeded on foot, and most of them got far on in advance. 7Alexander himself, however, would not consent to abandon the worn and weary Lysimachus, since evening was already coming on and the enemy were near, but sought to encourage him and carry him along. Before he was aware of it, therefore, he was separated from his army with a few followers, and had to spend a night of darkness and intense cold in a region that was rough and difficult. 8In this plight, he saw far off a number of scattered fires which the enemy were burning. So, since he was confident in his own agility, and was ever wont to cheer the Macedonians in their perplexities by sharing their toils, he ran to the nearest camp-fire. Two Barbarians who were sitting at the fire he despatched with his dagger, and snatching up a fire-brand, brought it to his own party. These kindled a great fire and at once frightened some of the enemy into flight, routed others who came up against them, and spent the night without further peril. Such, then, is the account we have from Chares.

25The siege of the city had the following issue. While Alexander was giving the greater part of his forces a rest from the many struggles which they had undergone, and was leading up only a few men to attack the walls, in order that the enemy might have no respite, Aristander the seer made a sacrifice, and after taking the omens, declared very confidently to the bystanders that the city would certainly be captured during that month. 2His words produced laughter and jesting, since it was then the last day of the month, and the king, seeing that he was perplexed, and being always eager to support his prophecies, gave orders to reckon that day, not as the thirtieth of the month, but as the twenty-eighth; and then, after the trumpet had sounded the signal, he attacked the walls with greater vigour than he had at first intended. The assault became fierce, and even those troops which had been left in camp could not restrain themselves, but ran in throngs to help the assailants, and the Tyrians gave up the fight. So Alexander took the city on that day.

3After this, as he was giving siege to Gaza,[43] the principal city of Syria, a clod of earth, which had been dropped from on high by a bird, struck him on the shoulder. The bird alighted on one of the battering-engines, and was at once caught in the network of sinews which were used to give a twist to the ropes.[44] 4And the omen was fulfilled as Aristander predicted; for though Alexander was wounded in the shoulder, he took the city. Moreover, as he was dispatching great quantities of the spoils home to Olympias and Cleopatra and his friends, he sent also to Leonidas his tutor five hundred talents’ weight of frankincense and a hundred of myrrh, in remembrance of the hope with which that teacher had inspired his boyhood. 5It would seem, namely, that Leonidas, as Alexander was one day sacrificing and taking incense with both hands to throw upon the altar-fire, said to him:—“Alexander, when thou hast conquered the spice-bearing regions thou canst be thus lavish with thine incense; now, however, use sparingly what thou hast.” Accordingly, Alexander now wrote him: “I have sent thee myrrh and frankincense in abundance, that thou mayest stop dealing parsimoniously with the gods.”

26When a small coffer was brought to him, which those in charge of the baggage and wealth of Dareius thought the most precious thing there, he asked his friends what valuable object they thought would most fittingly be deposited in it. And when many answered and there were many opinions, Alexander himself said he was going to deposit the Iliad there for safe keeping.[45] 2This is attested by many trustworthy authorities. And if what the Alexandrians tell us on the authority of Heracleides is true, then it would seem that Homer was no idle or unprofitable companion for him in his expedition. They say, namely, that after his conquest of Egypt he wished to found a large and populous Greek city which should bear his name, and by the advice of his architects was on the point of measuring off and enclosing a certain site for it. 3Then, in the night, as he lay asleep, he saw a wonderful vision. A man with very hoary locks and of a venerable aspect appeared to stand by his side and recite these verses:—

“Now, there is an island in the much-dashing sea,

In front of Egypt; Pharos is what men call it.”[46]

Accordingly, he rose up at once and went to Pharos, which at that time was still an island, a little above the Canobic mouth of the Nile, but now it has been joined to the mainland by a causeway. 4And when he saw a site of surpassing natural advantages (for it is a strip of land like enough to a broad isthmus, extending between a great lagoon and a stretch of sea which terminates in a large harbour), he said he saw now that Homer was not only admirable in other ways, but also a very wise architect, and ordered the plan of the city to be drawn in conformity with this site. 5There was no chalk at hand, so they took barley-meal[47] and marked out with it on the dark soil a rounded area, to whose inner arc straight lines extended so as to produce the figure of a chlamys, or military cloak, the lines beginning from the skirts (as one may say), and narrowing the breadth of the area uniformly.[48] The king was delighted with the design; but suddenly birds from the river and the lagoon, infinite in number and of every sort and size, settled down upon the place like clouds and devoured every particle of the barley-meal, so that even Alexander was greatly disturbed at the omen.

6However, the seers exhorted him to be of good cheer, since the city here founded by him would have most abundant and helpful resources and be a nursing mother for men of every nation, and so he ordered those in charge of the work to proceed with it, while he himself set out for the temple of Ammon. The journey thither was long, full of toils and hardships, and had two perils. One is the dearth of water, which leaves the traveller destitute of it for many days; the other arises when a fierce south wind smites men travelling in sand of boundless depth, as is said to have been the case with the army of Cambyses, long ago; the wind raised great billows of sand all over the plain and buried up fifty thousand men, to their utter destruction.[49] 7Almost all of Alexander’s followers took all these things into consideration, but it was difficult to turn him aside from any course so ever when he had once set out upon it. For Fortune, by yielding to his onsets, was making his purpose obstinate, and the high spirit which he carried into his undertakings rendered his ambition finally invincible, so that it subdued not only enemies, but even times and places.

27At all events, during the journey which he made at this time, the assistance rendered him by Heaven in his perplexities met with more credence than the oracles which he afterwards received, nay, in a way, the oracles obtained credence in consequence of such assistance. For, to begin with, much rain from heaven and persistent showers removed all fear of thirst, quenched the dryness of the sand, so that it became moist and compact, and made the air purer and good to breathe. 2Again, when the marks for the guides became confused, and the travellers were separated and wandered about in ignorance of the route, ravens appeared and assumed direction of their march,[50] flying swiftly on in front of them when they followed, and waiting for them when they marched slowly and lagged behind. 3Moreover, what was most astonishing of all, Callisthenes tells us that the birds by their cries called back those who straggled away in the night, and cawed until they had set them in the track of the march.

When Alexander had passed through the desert and was come to the place of the oracle, the prophet of Ammon gave him salutation from the god as from a father; whereupon Alexander asked him whether any of the murderers of his father had escaped him. 4To this the prophet answered by bidding him be guarded in his speech, since his was not a mortal father. Alexander therefore changed the form of his question, and asked whether the murderers of Philip had all been punished; and then, regarding his own empire, he asked whether it was given to him to become lord and master of all mankind. The god gave answer that this was given to him, and that Philip was fully avenged. Then Alexander made splendid offerings to the god and gave his priests large gifts of money.

5This is what most writers state regarding the oracular responses; but Alexander himself, in a letter to his mother, says that he received certain secret responses, which he would tell to her, and to her alone, on his return. And some say that the prophet, wishing to show his friendliness by addressing him with “O paidion,” or O my son, in his foreign pronunciation ended the words with “s” instead of “n,” and said, “O paidios,” and that Alexander was pleased at the slip in pronunciation, and a story became current that the god had addressed him with “O pai Dios,” or O son of Zeus. 6We are told, also, that he listened to the teachings of Psammon the philosopher in Egypt, and accepted most readily this utterance of his, namely, that all mankind are under the kingship of God, since in every case that which gets the mastery and rules is divine. Still more philosophical, however, was his own opinion and utterance on this head, namely that although God was indeed a common father of all mankind, still, He made peculiarly His own the noblest and best of them.

28In general, he bore himself haughtily towards the Barbarians, and like one fully persuaded of his divine birth and parentage, but with the Greeks it was within limits and somewhat rarely that he assumed his own divinity. However, in writing to the Athenians concerning Samos, he said: “I cannot have given you that free and illustrious city; for ye received it from him who was then your master and was called my father,” meaning Philip. 2At a later time, however, when he had been hit by an arrow and was suffering great pain, he said: “This, my friends, that flows here, is blood, and not

‘Ichor, such as flows from the veins of the blessed gods.’ “[51]

Once, too, there came a great peal of thunder, and all were terrified at it; whereupon Anaxarchus the sophist who was present said to Alexander: “Couldst thou, the son of Zeus, thunder like that?” At this, Alexander laughed and said: “Nay, I do not wish to cause fear in my friends, as thou wouldst have me do, thou who despisest my suppers because, as thou sayest, thou seest the tables furnished with fish, and not with satraps’ heads.”[52] 3For, in fact, we are told that Anaxarchus, on seeing a present of small fish which the king had sent to Hephaestion, had uttered the speech above mentioned, as though he were disparaging and ridiculing those who undergo great toils and dangers in the pursuit of eminence and power, since in the way of enjoyments and pleasures they have little or nothing more than other men. From what has been said, then, it is clear that Alexander himself was not foolishly affected or puffed up by the belief in his divinity, but used it for the subjugation of others.

29When he had returned from Egypt into Phoenicia,[53] he honoured the gods with sacrifices and solemn processions, and held contests of dithyrambic choruses and tragedies which were made brilliant, not only by their furnishings, but also by the competitors who exhibited them. For the kings of Cyprus were the choregi, or exhibitors, just like, at Athens, those chosen by lot from the tribes, and they competed against each other with amazing ambition. Most eager of all was the contention between Nicocreon of Salamis and Pasicrates of Soli. 2For the lot assigned to these exhibitors the most celebrated actors, to Pasicrates Athenodorus, and to Nicocreon Thessalus, in whose success Alexander himself was interested. He did not reveal this interest, however, until, by the votes of the judges, Athenodorus had been proclaimed victor. But then, as it would appear, on leaving the theatre, he said that he approved the decision of the judges, but would gladly have given up a part of his kingdom rather than to have seen Thessalus vanquished. 3And yet, when Athenodorus, who had been fined by the Athenians for not keeping his engagement in the dramatic contest of their Dionysiac festival, asked the king to write a letter to them in his behalf, though he would not do this, he sent them the amount of the fine from his own purse. Furthermore, when Lycon of Scarpheia, who was acting successfully before Alexander, inserted into the comedy a verse containing a request for ten talents, Alexander laughed and gave them to him.[54]

4When Dareius sent to him a letter and friends,[55] begging him to accept ten thousand talents as ransom for the captives, to hold all the territory this side of the Euphrates, to take one of his daughters in marriage, and on these terms to be his ally and friend, Alexander imparted the matter to his companions. “If I were Alexander,” said Parmenio, “I would accept these terms.” “And so indeed would I,” said Alexander, “were I Parmenio.” But to Dareius he wrote: “Come to me, and thou shalt receive every courtesy; but otherwise I shall march at once against thee.”[56]

30Soon, however, he repented him of this answer, when the wife of Dareius died in childbirth, and it was evident that he was distressed at this loss of opportunity to show great kindness. Accordingly, he gave the woman a sumptuous burial. One of the eunuchs of the bed-chamber who had been captured with the women, Teireos by name, ran away from the camp, made his way on horseback to Dareius, and told him of the death of his wife. 2Then the king, beating upon his head and bursting into lamentation, said: “Alas for the evil genius of the Persians, if the sister and wife of their king must not only become a captive in her life, but also in her death be deprived of royal burial.” “Nay, O King,” answered the chamberlain, “as regards her burial, and her receiving every fitting honour, thou hast no charge to make against the evil genius of the Persians. 3For neither did my mistress Stateira, while she lived, or thy mother or thy children, lack any of their former great blessings except the light of thy countenance, which Lord Oromazdes will cause to shine again with lustre; nor after her death was she deprived of any funeral adornment, nay, she was honoured with the tears of enemies. For Alexander is as gentle after victory as he is terrible in battle.”

4When Dareius heard this, his agitation and grief swept him into absurd suspicions, and leading the eunuch away into a more secluded part of his tent, he said: “If thou also, together with the fortune of the Persians, dost not side with the Macedonians, and if I, Dareius, am still thy lord and master, tell me, as thou reverest the great light of Mithras and the right hand of thy king, is it not the least of Stateira’s misfortunes that I am now lamenting? While she was alive did I not suffer more pitiful evils? And would not my wretched fortune have been more compatible with my honour if I had met with an angry and savage enemy? For what intercourse that is proper can a young man have with an enemy’s wife when it leads to such marks of honour?” 5While the king was still speaking, Teireos threw himself down at his feet and besought him to hold his peace, and neither to wrong Alexander, nor shame his dead sister and wife, nor rob himself of the greatest consolation for his disasters, namely, the belief that he had been conquered by a man who was superior to human nature; nay, he should even admire Alexander for having shown greater self-restraint in dealing with Persian women than valour against Persian men. 6Then, while the eunuch was confirming his testimony with the most solemn oaths, and discoursing on the general self-mastery and magnanimity of Alexander, Dareius went out to his companions, and lifting his hands towards heaven, prayed: “O ye gods of my race and kingdom, above all things else grant that I may leave the fortune of Persia reëstablished in the prosperity wherein I found it, in order that my victory may enable me to requite Alexander for the favours which I received at his hands when I had lost my dearest possessions; 7but if, then, a fated time has now come, due to divine jealousy and the vicissitudes of things, and the sway of the Persians must cease, grant that no other man may sit upon the throne of Cyrus but Alexander.” That these things were thus done and said is the testimony of most historians.[57]

31But to return to Alexander, when he had subdued all the country on this side of the Euphrates, he marched against Dareius,[58] who was coming down to meet him with a million men. On this march one of his companions told him, as a matter worth laughing at, that the camp-followers, in sport, had divided themselves into two bands, and set a general and commander over each of them, one of whom they called Alexander, and the other Dareius; 2and that they had begun by pelting one another with clods of earth, then had fought with their fists, and finally, heated with the desire of battle, had taken to stones and sticks, being now many and hard to quell. When he heard this, Alexander ordered the leaders themselves to fight in single combat; to the one called Alexander he himself gave armour, and to the one called Dareius, Philotas. The army were spectators of the combat, counting the issue as in some measure an omen of the future. After a strenuous battle, the one called Alexander was victorious, and received as a reward twelve villages and the right to wear Persian dress. This, at any rate, is what we are told by Eratosthenes.

3Now, the great battle against Dareius was not fought at Arbela, as most writers state, but at Gaugamela.[59] The word signifies, we are told, “camel’s house,” since one of the ancient kings of the country, after escaping from his enemies on a swift camel, gave the animal a home here, assigning certain villages and revenues for its maintenance. 4It so happened that in the month Boëdromion the moon suffered an eclipse,[60] about the beginning of the Mysteries at Athens, and on the eleventh night after the eclipse, the armies being now in sight of one another, Dareius kept his forces under arms, and held a review of them by torch-light; but Alexander, while his Macedonians slept, himself passed the night in front of his tent with his seer Aristander, celebrating certain mysterious sacred rites and sacrificing to the god Fear. 5Meanwhile the older of his companions, and particularly Parmenio, when they saw the plain between the Niphates and the Gordyaean mountains all lighted up with the barbarian fires, while an indistinguishably mingled and tumultuous sound of voices arose from their camp as if from a vast ocean, 6were astonished at their multitude and argued with one another that it was a great and grievous task to repel such a tide of war by engaging in broad day-light. They therefore waited upon the king when he had finished his sacrifices, and tried to persuade him to attack the enemy by night, and so to cover up with darkness the most fearful aspect of the coming struggle. 7But he gave them the celebrated answer, “I will not steal my victory”; whereupon some thought that he had made a vainglorious reply, and was jesting in the presence of so great a peril. Others, however, thought that he had confidence in the present situation and estimated the future correctly, not offering Dareius in case of defeat an excuse to pluck up courage again for another attempt, by laying the blame this time upon darkness and night, as he had before upon mountains, defiles, and sea.[61] 8For Dareius would not give up the war for lack of arms or men when he could draw from so great a host and so vast a territory, but only when he had lost courage and hope, under the conviction brought by a downright defeat in broad day-light.

32After the men were gone, Alexander lay down in his tent, and is said to have passed the rest of the night in a deeper sleep than usual, so that when his officers came to him in the early morning they were amazed, and on their own authority issued orders that the soldiers should first take breakfast. Then, since the occasion was urgent, Parmenio entered the tent, and standing by his couch called Alexander twice or thrice by name; and when he had thus roused him, he asked him how he could possibly sleep as if he were victorious, instead of being about to fight the greatest of all his battles. 2Then Alexander said with a smile: “What, pray? Dost thou not think that we are already victorious, now that we are relieved from wandering about in a vast and desolated country in pursuit of a Dareius who avoids a battle?” And not only before the battle, but also in the very thick of the struggle did he show himself great, and firm in his confident calculations. 3For in the battle the left wing under Parmenio was thrown back and in distress, when the Bactrian cavalry fell upon the Macedonians with great impetuosity and violence, and when Mazaeus sent horsemen round outside the line of battle to attack those who were guarding the Macedonian baggage. Therefore, too, Parmenio, much disturbed by both occurrences, sent messengers to Alexander telling him that camp and baggage were gone, unless he speedily sent strong reinforcements from front to rear.[62] 4Now, it chanced that at that instant Alexander was about to give the signal for the onset to those under his command; but when he heard Parmenio’s message, he declared that Parmenio was beside himself and had lost the use of his reason, and had forgotten in his distress that victors add the baggage of the enemy to their own, and that those who are vanquished must not think about their wealth or their slaves, but only how they may fight gloriously and die with honour.

5After sending this message to Parmenio, he put on his helmet, but the rest of his armour he had on as he came from his tent, namely, a vest of Sicilian make girt about him, and over this a breastplate of two-ply linen from the spoils taken at Issus. His helmet was of iron, but gleamed like polished silver, a work of Theophilus; and there was fitted to this a gorget, likewise of iron, set with precious stones. 6He had a sword, too, of astonishing temper and lightness, a gift from the king of the Citieans, and he had trained himself to use a sword for the most part in his battles. He wore a belt also, which was too elaborate for the rest of his armour; for it was a work of Helicon the ancient, and a mark of honour from the city of Rhodes, which had given it to him; this also he was wont to wear in his battles. 7As long, then, as he was riding about and marshalling some part of his phalanx, or exhorting or instructing or reviewing his men, he spared Bucephalas, who was now past his prime, and used another horse; but whenever he was going into action, Bucephalas would be led up, and he would mount him and at once begin the attack.

33On this occasion, he made a very long speech to the Thessalians and the other Greeks,[63] and when he saw that they encouraged him with shouts to lead them against the Barbarians, he shifted his lance into his left hand, and with his right appealed to the gods, as Callisthenes tells us, praying them, if he was really sprung from Zeus, to defend and strengthen the Greeks. 2Aristander the seer, too, wearing a white mantle and having a crown of gold upon his head, rode along the ranks pointing out to them an eagle which soared above the head of Alexander and directed his flight straight against the enemy, at which sight great courage filled the beholders, and after mutual encouragement and exhortation the cavalry charged at full speed upon the enemy and the phalanx rolled on after them like a flood. 3But before the foremost ranks were engaged the Barbarians gave way, and were hotly pursued, Alexander driving the conquered foe towards the centre of their array, where Dareius was.[64] For from afar he was seen by Alexander through the deep ranks of the royal squadron of horse drawn up in front of him, towering conspicuous, a fine-looking man and tall, standing on a lofty chariot, fenced about by a numerous and brilliant array of horsemen, who were densely massed around the chariot and drawn up to receive the enemy. 4But when they saw Alexander close at hand and terrible, and driving those who fled before him upon those who held their ground, they were smitten with fear and scattered, for the most part. The bravest and noblest of them, however, slain in front of their king and falling in heaps upon one another, obstructed the Macedonians in their pursuit, weaving and twining themselves in their last agonies about riders and horses.

5But Dareius, now that all the terrors of the struggle were before his eyes, and now that the forces drawn up to protect him were crowded back upon him, since it was not an easy matter to turn his chariot about and drive it away, seeing that the wheels were obstructed and entangled in the great numbers of the fallen, while the horses, surrounded and hidden away by the multitude of dead bodies, were rearing up and frightening the charioteer, forsook his chariot and his armour, mounted a mare which, as they say, had newly foaled, and took to flight. 6However, it is thought that he would not then have made his escape, had not fresh horsemen come from Parmenio[65] summoning Alexander to his aid, on the ground that a large force of the enemy still held together there and would not give ground. For there is general complaint that in that battle Parmenio was sluggish and inefficient, either because old age was now impairing somewhat his courage, or because he was made envious and resentful by the arrogance and pomp, to use the words of Callisthenes, of Alexander’s power. 7At the time, then, although he was annoyed by the summons, the king did not tell his soldiers the truth about it, but on the ground that it was dark and he would therefore remit further slaughter, sounded a recall; and as he rode towards the endangered portion of his army, he heard by the way that the enemy had been utterly defeated and was in flight.

34The battle having had this issue, the empire of the Persians was thought to be utterly dissolved, and Alexander, proclaimed king of Asia, made magnificent sacrifices to the gods and rewarded his friends with wealth, estates, and provinces. And being desirous of honour among the Greeks, he wrote them that all their tyrannies were abolished and they might live under their own laws; moreover, he wrote the Plataeans especially that he would rebuild their city, because their ancestors had furnished their territory to the Greeks for the struggle in behalf of their freedom.[66] 2He sent also to the people of Croton in Italy a portion of the spoils, honouring the zeal and valour of their athlete Phaÿllus, who, in the Median wars, when the rest of the Greeks in Italy refused to help their brother Greeks, fitted out a ship at his own cost and sailed with it to Salamis, that he might have some share in the peril there.[67] So considerate was Alexander towards every form of valour, and such a friend and guardian of noble deeds.

35As he traversed all Babylonia, which at once submitted to him, he was most of all amazed at the chasm from which fire continually streamed forth as from a spring, and at the stream of naphtha, so abundant as to form a lake, not far from the chasm. This naphtha is in other ways like asphaltum, but is so sensitive to fire that, before the flame touches it, it is kindled by the very radiance about the flame and often sets fire also to the intervening air. 2To show its nature and power, the Barbarians sprinkled the street leading to Alexander’s quarters with small quantities of the liquid; then, standing at the farther end of the street, they applied their torches to the moistened spots; for it was now getting dark. The first spots at once caught fire, and without an appreciable interval of time, but with the speed of thought, the flame darted to the other end, and the street was one continuous fire. 3Now, there was a certain Athenophanes, an Athenian, one of those who were accustomed to minister to the person of the king when he bathed and anointed himself, and to furnish suitable diversion for his thoughts. This man, one time when there was standing by Alexander in the bath-room a youth who had a ridiculously plain countenance, but was a graceful singer (his name was Stephanus), said, “Wilt thou, O King, that we make a trial of the liquid upon Stephanus? For if it should lay hold of him and not be extinguished, I would certainly say that its power was invincible and terrible.” 4The youth also, strangely enough, offered himself for the experiment, and as soon as he touched the liquid and began to anoint himself with it, his body broke out into so great a flame and was so wholly possessed by fire that Alexander fell into extreme perplexity and fear; and had it not been by chance that many were standing by holding vessels of water for the bath, the youth would have been consumed before aid reached him. 5Even as it was, they had great difficulty in putting out the fire, for it covered the boy’s whole body, and after they had done so, he was in a sorry plight.

It is natural, then, that some who wish to bring fable into conformity with truth should say that this naphtha is the drug which Medeia used, when, in the tragedies, she anoints the crown and the robe. For it was not from these objects themselves, they say, nor of its own accord, that the fire shot up, but a flame was placed near them, which was then so swiftly drawn into conjunction with them that the senses could not take cognisance of it. 6For the rays and emanations of fire which come from a distance impart to some bodies merely light and warmth; but in those which are dry and porous, or which have sufficiently rich moisture, they collect themselves together, break into fierce flame, and transform the material. There has been much discussion about the origin of[68] . . . . or whether rather the liquid substance that feeds the flame flows out from a soil which is rich and productive of fire. 7For the soil of Babylonia is very fiery, so that grains of barley often leap out of the ground and bound away, as if its inflammation made the ground throb; and the inhabitants, during the hot season, sleep on skins filled with water. 8Harpalus, moreover, when he was left as overseer of the country and was eager to adorn the royal gardens and walks with Hellenic plants, succeeded with all except ivy; this the soil would not support, but always killed it. The plant could not endure the temper of the soil, for the soil was fiery, while the plant was fond of coolness. However, if such digressions are kept within bounds, perhaps my impatient readers will find less fault with them.

36On making himself master of Susa, Alexander came into possession of forty thousand talents of coined money in the palace, and of untold furniture and wealth besides.[69] Among this they say was found five thousand talents’ weight of purple from Hermione, which, although it had been stored there for a hundred and ninety years, still kept its colours fresh and lively. 2The reason for this, they say, is that honey was used in the purple dyes, and white olive oil in the white dyes; for these substances, after the like space of time, are seen to have a brilliancy that is pure and lustrous. Moreover, Deinon says that the Persian kings had water also brought from the Nile and the Danube and stored up among their treasures, as a sort of confirmation of the greatness of their empire and the universality of their sway.

37Persis was difficult of access, owing to the roughness of the country, and was guarded by the noblest of the Persians (for Dareius had taken to flight); but Alexander found a guide to conduct him thither by a circuit of no great extent. The man spoke two languages, since his father was a Lycian and his mother a Persian; and it was he, they say, whom the Pythian priestess had in mind when she prophesied, Alexander being yet a boy, that a “lycus,” or wolf, would be Alexander’s guide on his march against the Persians.[70] 2In this country, then, as it turned out, there was a great slaughter of the prisoners taken; for Alexander himself writes that he gave orders to have the inhabitants butchered, thinking that this would be to his advantage; and they say that as much coined money was found there[71] as at Susa, and that it took ten thousand pairs of mules and five thousand camels to carry away the other furniture and wealth there.

3On beholding a great statue of Xerxes which had been carelessly overthrown by a throng that forced its way into the palace, Alexander stopped before it, and accosting it as if it had been alive, said: “Shall I pass on and leave thee lying there, because of thine expedition against the Hellenes, or, because of thy magnanimity and virtue in other ways, shall I set thee up again?” But finally, after communing with himself a long time in silence, he passed on. Wishing to refresh his soldiers (for it was winter time), he spent four months in that place. 4And it is said that when he took his seat for the first time under the golden canopy on the royal throne, Demaratus the Corinthian, a well-meaning man and a friend of Alexander’s, as he had been of Alexander’s father, burst into tears, as old men will, and declared that those Hellenes were deprived of great pleasure who had died before seeing Alexander seated on the throne of Dareius.

38After this, as he was about to march forth against Dareius, it chanced that he consented to take part in a merry drinking bout of his companions, at which women also came to meet their lovers and shared in their wine and revelry. The most famous among these women was Thaïs, an Athenian, the mistress of Ptolemy, who was afterwards king. She, partly in graceful praise of Alexander, and partly to make sport for him, as the drinking went on, was moved to utter a speech which befitted the character of her native country, but was too lofty for one of her kind. 2She said, namely, that for all her hardships in wandering over Asia she was being requited that day by thus revelling luxuriously in the splendid palace of the Persians; but it would be a still greater pleasure to go in revel rout and set fire to the house of the Xerxes who burned Athens, she herself kindling the fire under the eyes of Alexander, in order that a tradition might prevail among men that the women in the train of Alexander inflicted a greater punishment upon the Persians in behalf of Hellas than all her famous commanders by sea and land. 3As soon as she had thus spoken, tumultuous applause arose, and the companions of the king eagerly urged him on, so that he yielded to their desires, and leaping to his feet, with a garland on his head and a torch in his hand, led them the way. 4The company followed with shouts and revelry and surrounded the palace, while the rest of the Macedonians who learned about it ran thither with torches and were full of joy. For they hoped that the burning and destruction of the palace was the act of one who had fixed his thoughts on home, and did not intend to dwell among Barbarians. This is the way the deed was done, according to some writers; but others say it was premeditated.[72] However, it is agreed that Alexander speedily repented and gave orders to put out the fire.

39Alexander was naturally munificent, and became still more so as his wealth increased. His gifts, too, were accompanied by a kindly spirit, with which alone, to tell the truth, a giver confers a favour. I will mention a few instances. Ariston, the captain of the Paeonians, having slain an enemy, brought his head and showed it to Alexander, saying: “In my country, O King, such a gift as this is rewarded with a golden beaker.” 2“Yes,” said Alexander with a laugh, “an empty one; but I will pledge thy health with one which is full of pure wine.” Again, a common Macedonian was driving a mule laden with some of the royal gold, and when the beast gave out, took the load on his own shoulders and tried to carry it. The king, then, seeing the man in great distress and learning the facts of the case, said, as the man was about to lay his burden down, “Don’t give out, but finish your journey by taking this load to your own tent.” 3Furthermore, he was generally more displeased with those who would not take his gifts than with those who asked for them. And so he wrote to Phocion in a letter that he would not treat him as a friend in future if he rejected his favours. Again, to Serapion, one of the youths who played at ball with him, he used to give nothing because he asked for nothing. Accordingly, whenever Serapion had the ball, he would throw it to others, until the king said: “Won’t you give it to me?” “No,” said Serapion, “because you don’t ask for it,” whereat the king burst out laughing and made him many presents. 4With Proteas, however, a clever wag and boon companion, he appeared to be angry; but when the man’s friends begged his forgiveness, as did Proteas himself with tears, the king said that he was his friend again, whereat Proteas said: “In that case, O King, give me something to prove it first.” Accordingly, the king ordered that five talents should be given him. What lofty airs his friends and bodyguards were wont to display over the wealth bestowed by him, is plain from a letter which Olympias wrote to him. 5She says: “I beg thee to find other ways of conferring favours on those thou lovest and boldest in honour; as it is, thou makest them all the equals of kings and providest them with an abundance of friends, whilst thyself thou strippest bare.” Olympias often wrote him in like vein, but Alexander kept her writings secret, except once when Hephaestion, as was his wont, read with him a letter which had been opened; the king did not prevent him, but took the ring from his own finger and applied its seal to the lips of Hephaestion. 6Again, though the son of Mazaeus, the most influential man at the court of Dareius, already had a province, Alexander gave him a second and a larger one. He, however, declined it, saying: “O King, formerly there was one Dareius, but now thou hast made many Alexanders.” To Parmenio, moreover, Alexander gave the house of Bagoas at Susa, in which it is said there was found apparel worth a thousand talents. Again, he wrote to Antipater bidding him keep guards about his person, since plots were being laid against him. 7To his mother, also, he sent many presents, but would not suffer her to meddle in affairs nor interfere in his campaigns; and when she chided him for this, he bore her harshness patiently. Once, however, after reading a long letter which Antipater had written in denunciation of her, he said Antipater knew not that one tear of a mother effaced ten thousand letters.

40He saw that his favourites had grown altogether luxurious, and were vulgar in the extravagance of their ways of living. For instance, Hagnon the Teian used to wear silver nails in his boots; Leonnatus had dust for his gymnastic exercises brought to him on many camels from Egypt; Philotas had hunting-nets a hundred furlongs long; when they took their exercise and their baths, more of them actually used myrrh than olive oil, and they had in their train rubbers and chamberlains. Alexander therefore chided them in gentle and reasonable fashion. 2He was amazed, he said, that after they had undergone so many and so great contests they did not remember that those who conquer by toil sleep more sweetly than those who are conquered by their toil, and did not see, from a comparison of their own lives with those of the Persians, that it is a very servile thing to be luxurious, but a very royal thing to toil. “And yet,” said he, “how can a man take care of his own horse or furbish up his spear and helmet, if he is unaccustomed to using his hands on his own dear person? 3Know ye not,” said he, “that the end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered?” Accordingly, he exerted himself yet more strenuously in military and hunting expeditions, suffering distress and risking his life , so that a Spartan ambassador who came up with him as he was bringing down a great lion, said: “Nobly, indeed, Alexander, hast thou struggled with the lion to see which should be king.” 4This hunting-scene Craterus dedicated at Delphi, with bronze figures of the lion, the dogs, the king engaged with the lion, and himself coming to his assistance; some of the figures were moulded by Lysippus, and some by Leochares.

41Alexander, then, in exercising himself and at the same time inciting others to deeds of valour, was wont to court danger; but his friends, whose wealth and magnificence now gave them a desire to live in luxury and idleness, were impatient of his long wanderings and military expeditions, and gradually went so far as to abuse him and speak ill of him. He, however, was very mildly disposed at first toward this treatment of himself, and used to say that it was the lot of a king to confer favours and be ill-spoken of therefor. 2And yet in the most trifling attentions which he paid his familiar friends there were marks of great good-will and esteem. I will instance a few of these.

He found fault with Peucestas by letter because, after being bitten by a bear, he wrote about it to the rest of his friends but did not tell him. “Now, however,” said he, “write me how you are, and tell me whether any of your fellow-huntsmen left you in the lurch, that I may punish them.” 3To Hephaestion, who was absent on some business, he wrote that while they were diverting themselves with hunting an ichneumon, Craterus encountered the lance of Perdiccas and was wounded in the thighs. After Peucestas had safely recovered from an illness, Alexander wrote to the physician, Alexippus, expressing his thanks. While Craterus was sick, Alexander had a vision in his sleep, whereupon he offered certain sacrifices himself for the recovery of his friend, and bade him also sacrifice. 4He wrote also to Pausanias, the physician, who wished to administer hellebore to Craterus, partly expressing distress, and partly advising him how to use the medicine. Those who first brought word to him that Harpalus had absconded, namely, Ephialtes and Cissus, he put in fetters, on the ground that they were falsely accusing the man. 5When he was sending home his aged and infirm soldiers, Eurylochus of Aegae got himself enrolled among the sick, and then, when it was discovered that he had nothing the matter with him, confessed that he was in love with Telesippa, and was bent on following along with her on her journey to the sea-board. Alexander asked of what parentage the girl was, and on hearing that she was a free-born courtezan, said: “I will help you, O Eurylochus, in your amour; but see to it that we try to persuade Telesippa either by arguments or by gifts, since she is free-born.”

42And it is astonishing that he had time to write so many letters for his friends. For instance, he wrote one giving orders to seek out a slave of Seleucus who had run away into Cilicia; and one in commendation of Peucestas for arresting Nicon, a servant of Craterus; and one to Megabyzus about an attendant who had taken refuge in a sanctuary, bidding him, if possible, entice the slave outside the sanctuary and then arrest him, but not to lay hands upon him in the sanctuary. 2It is said, too, that at first, when he was trying capital cases, he would put his hand over one of his ears while the accuser was speaking, that he might keep it free and unprejudiced for the accused. But afterwards the multitude of accusations which he heard rendered him harsh, and led him to believe the false because so many were true. And particularly when he was maligned he lost discretion and was cruel and inexorable, since he loved his reputation more than his life or his kingdom.

3Now, however, he marched out against Dareius,[73] expecting to fight another battle; but when he heard that Dareius had been seized by Bessus, he sent his Thessalians home, after distributing among them a largess of two thousand talents over and above their pay. In consequence of the pursuit of Dareius, which was long and arduous (for in eleven days he rode thirty-three hundred furlongs), most of his horsemen gave out, and chiefly for lack of water. 4At this point some Macedonians met him who were carrying water from the river in skins upon their mules. And when they beheld Alexander, it being now midday, in a wretched plight from thirst, they quickly filled a helmet and brought it to him. To his enquiry for whom they were carrying the water, they replied: “For our own sons; but if thou livest, we can get other sons, even if we lose these.” 5On hearing this he took the helmet into his hands, but when he looked around and saw the horsemen about him all stretching out their heads and gazing at the water, he handed it back without drinking any, but with praises for the men who had brought it; “For,” said he, “if I should drink of it alone, these horsemen of mine will be out of heart.” 6But when they beheld his self-control and loftiness of spirit, they shouted out to him to lead them forward boldly, and began to goad their horses on, declaring that they would not regard themselves as weary, or thirsty, or as mortals at all, so long as they had such a king.

43So, then, all were alike ready and willing; but only sixty, they say, were with Alexander when he burst into the camp of the enemy. There, indeed, they rode over much gold and silver that was thrown away, passed by many waggons full of women and children which were coursing hither and thither without their drivers, and pursued those who were foremost in flight, thinking that Dareius was among them. But at last they found him lying in a waggon, his body all full of javelins, at the point of death. 2Nevertheless, he asked for something to drink, and when he had drunk some cold water which Polystratus gave him, he said to him: “My man, this is the extremity of all my ill-fortune, that I receive good at thy hands and am not able to return it; but Alexander will requite thee for thy good offices, and the gods will reward Alexander for his kindness to my mother, wife, and children; to him, through thee, I give this right hand.” With these words he took the hand of Polystratus and then expired.[74] 3When Alexander came up, he was manifestly distressed by what had happened, and unfastening his own cloak threw it upon the body and covered it. And when, at a later time,[75] he found Bessus, he had him rent asunder. Two straight trees were bent together and a part of his body fastened to each; then when each was released and sprang vigorously back, the part of the body that was attached to it followed after. Now, however, he sent the body of Dareius, laid out in royal state, to his mother,[76] and admitted his brother, Exathres, into the number of his companions.

44He himself, however, with the flower of his army, marched on into Hyrcania. Here he saw a gulf of the open sea which appeared to be as large as the Euxine, but was sweeter than the Mediterranean. He could get no clear information about it, but conjectured that in all probability it was a stagnant overflow from the Palus Maeotis. 2And yet naturalists were well aware of the truth, and many years before Alexander’s expedition they had set forth that this was the most northerly of four gulfs which stretch inland from the outer sea, and was called indifferently the Hyrcanian or Caspian Sea.

Here some Barbarians unexpectedly fell in with those who were leading Alexander’s horse, Bucephalas, and captured him. 3Alexander was angry beyond measure, and sent a herald threatening to put them all to the sword, together with their wives and children, if they did not send him back his horse. But when they came with the horse and also put their cities into his hands, he treated them all kindly, and gave a ransom for his horse to those who had captured him.

45From thence he marched into Parthia,[77] where, during a respite from fighting, he first put on the barbaric dress, either from a desire to adapt himself to the native customs, believing that community of race and custom goes far towards softening the hearts of men; or else this was an attempt to introduce the obeisance[78] among the Macedonians, by accustoming them little by little to put up with changes and alterations in his mode of life. 2However, he did not adopt the famous Median fashion of dress, which was altogether barbaric and strange, nor did he assume trousers, or sleeved vest, or tiara, but carefully devised a fashion which was midway between the Persian and the Median, more modest than the one and more stately than the other. At first he wore this only in intercourse with the Barbarians and with his companions at home, then people generally saw him riding forth or giving audience in this attire. 3The sight was offensive to the Macedonians, but they admired his other high qualities and thought they ought to yield to him in some things which made for his pleasure or his fame. For, in addition to all his other hardships, he had recently been shot by an arrow in the leg below the knee, so that splinters of the larger bone came out; and at another time he was smitten in the neck with a stone so severely that his eye-sight was clouded and remained so for some time. 4Nevertheless, he did not cease exposing himself to dangers without stint, nay, he actually crossed the river Orexartes (which he himself supposed to be the Tanaïs), put the Scythians to rout, and pursued them for a hundred furlongs, although he was suffering all the while from a diarrhoea.

46Here the queen of the Amazons came to see him, as most writers say, among whom are Cleitarchus, Polycleitus, Onesicritus, Antigenes, and Ister; but Aristobulus, Chares the royal usher, Ptolemy, Anticleides, Philo the Theban, and Philip of Theangela, besides Hecataeus of Eretria, Philip the Chalcidian, and Duris of Samos, say that this is a fiction. 2And it would seem that Alexander’s testimony is in favour of their statement. For in a letter to Antipater which gives all the details minutely he says that the Scythian king offered him his daughter in marriage, but he makes no mention of the Amazon. And the story is told that many years afterwards Onesicritus was reading aloud to Lysimachus, who was now king, the fourth book of his history, in which was the tale of the Amazon, at which Lysimachus smiled gently and said: “And where was I at the time?” However, our belief or disbelief of this story will neither increase nor diminish our admiration for Alexander.

47Fearing that his Macedonians might tire of the rest of his expedition, he left the greater part of them in quarters, and while he had the best of them with him in Hyrcania, twenty thousand foot and three thousand horse, he addressed them, saying that at present they were seen by the Barbarians as in a dream, but that if they should merely throw Asia into confusion and then leave it they would be attacked by them as if they were women. 2However, he said, he allowed those who wished it to go away, calling them to witness that while he was winning the inhabited world for the Macedonians he had been left behind with his friends and those who were willing to continue the expedition. This is almost word for word what he wrote in his letter to Antipater, and he adds that after he had thus spoken all his hearers cried out to him to lead them to whatever part of the world he wished. After these had met his test of their loyalty, it was no longer a hard matter for the main body to be led along too, nay, they readily followed after.

3Under these circumstances, too, he adapted his own mode of life still more to the customs of the country, and tried to bring these into closer agreement with Macedonian customs, thinking that by a mixture and community of practice which produced good will, rather than by force, his authority would be kept secure while he was far away. For this reason, too, he chose out thirty thousand boys and gave orders that they should learn the Greek language and be trained to use Macedonian weapons, appointing many instructors for this work. 4His marriage to Roxana, whom he saw in her youthful beauty taking part in a dance at a banquet, was a love affair, and yet it was thought to harmonize well with the matters which he had in hand. For the Barbarians were encouraged by the partnership into which the marriage brought them, and they were beyond measure fond of Alexander, because, most temperate of all men that he was in these matters, he would not consent to approach even the only woman who ever mastered his affections, without the sanction of law.

5Moreover, when he saw that among his chiefest friends Hephaestion approved his course and joined him in changing his mode of life, while Craterus clung fast to his native ways, he employed the former in his business with the Barbarians, the latter in that with the Greeks and Macedonians. And in general he showed most affection for Hephaestion, but most esteem for Craterus, thinking, and constantly saying, that Hephaestion was a friend of Alexander, but Craterus a friend of the king. 6For this reason, too, the men cherished a secret grudge against one another and often came into open collision. And once, on the Indian expedition, they actually drew their swords and closed with one another, and as the friends of each were coming to his aid, Alexander rode up and abused Hephaestion publicly, calling him a fool and a madman for not knowing that without Alexander’s favour he was nothing; and in private he also sharply reproved Craterus. 7Then he brought them together and reconciled them, taking an oath by Ammon and the rest of the gods that he loved them most of all men; but that if he heard of their quarrelling again, he would kill them both, or at least the one who began the quarrel. Wherefore after this they neither did nor said anything to harm one another, not even in jest.

48Now, Philotas, the son of Parmenio, had a high position among the Macedonians; for he was held to be valiant and able to endure hardship, and, after Alexander himself, no one was so fond of giving and so fond of his comrades. At any rate, we are told that when one of his intimates asked him for some money, he ordered his steward to give it him, and when the steward said he had none to give, “What meanest thou?” cried Philotas, “hast thou not even plate or clothing?” 2However, he displayed a pride of spirit, an abundance of wealth, and a care of the person and mode of life which were too offensive for a private man, and at this time particularly his imitation of majesty and loftiness was not successful at all, but clumsy, spurious, and devoid of grace, so that he incurred suspicion and envy, and even Parmenio once said to him: “My son, pray be less of a personage.” 3Moreover, for a very long time accusations against him had been brought to Alexander himself. For when Dareius had been defeated in Cilicia and the wealth of Damascus was taken, among the many prisoners brought into the camp there was found a young woman, born in Pydna, and comely to look upon; her name was Antigone. 4This woman Philotas got; and as a young man will often talk freely in vaunting and martial strain to his mistress and in his cups, he used to tell her that the greatest achievements were performed by himself and his father, and would call Alexander a stripling who through their efforts enjoyed the title of ruler. 5These words the woman would report to one of her acquaintances, and he, as was natural, to somebody else, until the story came round to Craterus, who took the girl and brought her secretly to Alexander. He, on hearing her story, ordered her to continue her meetings with Philotas and to come and report to him whatever she learned from her lover.

49Now, Philotas was ignorant of the plot thus laid against him, and in his frequent interviews with Antigone would utter many angry and boastful speeches and many improper words against the king. 2But Alexander, although strong testimony against Philotas came to his ears, endured in silence and restrained himself, either because he had confidence in Parmenio’s good will towards him, or because he feared the reputation and power of father and son. Meanwhile, however, a Macedonian named Limnus, from Chalaestra, conspired against Alexander’s life,[79] and invited Nicomachus, one of the young men, whose lover he was, to take part with him in the undertaking. 3Nicomachus would not accept the invitation, but told his brother Cebalinus of the attempt, and he, going to Philotas, ordered him to conduct them into the presence of Alexander, on the ground that there were matters of great importance about which they must see him. But Philotas, for whatever reason (and the reason is not known), would not conduct them in, alleging that the king was engaged on other matters of more importance. And he refused their request twice. 4They now became suspicious of Philotas and applied to someone else, by whom they were brought before Alexander. In the first place they told him about the plot of Limnus, and then threw out veiled insinuations against Philotas, on the ground that he had neglected their petitions on two occasions. This greatly incensed Alexander; and when he found that Limnus had defended himself against arrest and had therefore been killed by the man sent to fetch him, he was still more disturbed in mind, thinking that the proof of the plot had escaped him. 5And since he felt bitter towards Philotas he drew to himself those who had long hated the man, and they now said openly that the king took things too easily when he supposed that Limnus, a man of Chalaestra, had set his hand to a deed of so great daring on his own account; nay, they said, he was only an assistant, or rather an instrument sent forth by a higher power, and enquiry into the plot should be made in those quarters where there was most interest in having it concealed. 6After the king had once given ear to such speeches and suspicions, the enemies of Philotas brought up countless accusations against him. Consequently he was arrested and put to the question, the companions of the king standing by at the torture, while Alexander himself listened behind a stretch of tapestry. Here, as we are told, on hearing Philotas beset Hephaestion with abject and pitiful cries and supplications, he said: “So faint-hearted as thou art, Philotas, and so unmanly, couldst thou have set hand to so great an undertaking?” 7After Philotas had been put to death, Alexander sent at once into Media and dispatched Parmenio also, a man whose achievements with Philip had been many, and who was the only one of Alexander’s older friends, or the principal one, to urge his crossing into Asia, and who, of the three sons that were his, had seen two killed on the expedition before this, and was now put to death along with the third.[80]

8These actions made Alexander an object of fear to many of his friends, and particularly to Antipater, who sent secretly to the Aetolians and entered into an alliance with them. For the Aetolians also were in fear of Alexander, because they had destroyed the city of the Oeniadae, and because Alexander, on learning of it, had said that it would not be the sons of the Oeniadae, but he himself who would punish the Aetolians.

50Not long afterwards came the affair of Cleitus,[81] which those who simply learn the immediate circumstances will think more savage than that of Philotas; if we take into consideration, however, alike the cause and the time, we find that it did not happen of set purpose, but through some misfortune of the king, whose anger and intoxication furnished occasion for the evil genius of Cleitus. It happened on this wise. 2Some people came bringing Greek fruit to the king from the sea-board. He admired its perfection and beauty and called Cleitus, wishing to show it to him and share it with him. It chanced that Cleitus was sacrificing, but he gave up the sacrifice and came; and three of the sheep on which libations had already been poured came following after him. 3When the king learned of this circumstance, he imparted it to his soothsayers, Aristander and Cleomantis the Lacedaemonian. Then, on their telling him that the omen was bad, he ordered them to sacrifice in all haste for the safety of Cleitus. For he himself, two days before this, had seen a strange vision in his sleep; he thought he saw Cleitus sitting with the sons of Parmenio in black robes, and all were dead. 4However, Cleitus did not finish his sacrifice, but came at once to the supper of the king, who had sacrificed to the Dioscuri. After boisterous drinking was under way, verses were sung which had been composed by a certain Pranichus, or, as some say, Pierio, to shame and ridicule the generals who had lately been defeated by the Barbarians. 5The older guests were annoyed at this and railed at both the poet and the singer, but Alexander and those about him listened with delight and bade the singer go on. Then Cleitus, who was already drunk and naturally of a harsh temper and wilful, was more than ever vexed, and insisted that it was not well done, when among Barbarians and enemies, to insult Macedonians who were far better men than those who laughed at them, even though they had met with misfortune. 6And when Alexander declared that Cleitus was pleading his own cause when he gave cowardice the name of misfortune, Cleitus sprang to his feet and said: “It was this cowardice of mine, however, that saved thy life, god-born as thou art, when thou wast already turning thy back upon the spear of Spithridates;[82] and it is by the blood of Macedonians, and by these wounds, that thou art become so great as to disown Philip and make thyself son to Ammon.”[83]

51Thoroughly incensed, then, Alexander said: “Base fellow, dost thou think to speak thus of me at all times, and to raise faction among Macedonians, with impunity?” “Nay,” said Cleitus, “not even now do we enjoy impunity, since such are the rewards we get for our toils; and we pronounce those happy who are already dead, and did not live to see us Macedonians thrashed with Median rods, or begging Persians in order to get audience with our king.” 2So spake Cleitus in all boldness, and those about Alexander sprang up to confront him and reviled him, while the elder men tried to quell the tumult. Then Alexander, turning to Xenodochus of Cardia and Artemus of Colophon, said: “Do not the Greeks appear to you to walk about among Macedonians like demi-gods among wild beasts?” 3Cleitus, however, would not yield, but called on Alexander to speak out freely what he wished to say, or else not to invite to supper men who were free and spoke their minds, but to live with Barbarians and slaves, who would do obeisance to his white tunic and Persian girdle. Then Alexander, no longer able to restrain his anger, threw one of the apples that lay on the table at Cleitus and hit him, and began looking about for his sword. 4But one of his body-guards, Aristophanes, conveyed it away before he could lay hands on it, and the rest surrounded him and begged him to desist, whereupon he sprang to his feet and called out in Macedonian speech a summons to his corps of guards (and this was a sign of great disturbance), and ordered the trumpeter to sound, and smote him with his fist because he hesitated and was unwilling to do so. This man, then, was afterwards held in high esteem on the ground that it was due to him more than to any one else that the camp was not thrown into commotion. But Cleitus would not give in, and with much ado his friends pushed him out of the banquet-hall.

5He tried to come in again, however, by another door, very boldly and contemptuously reciting these iambics from the “Andromache” of Euripides:[84]

“Alas! in Hellas what an evil government!”

And so, at last, Alexander seized a spear from one of his guards, met Cleitus as he was drawing aside the curtain before the door, and ran him through. 6No sooner had Cleitus fallen with a roar and a groan than the king’s anger departed from him. And when he was come to himself and beheld his friends standing speechless, he drew the spear from the dead body and would have dashed it into his own throat, had not his body-guards prevented this by seizing his hands and carrying him by force to his chamber.

52Here he spent the night and the following day in bitter lamentations, and at last lay speechless, worn out with his cries and wailing, heaving deep groans. Then his friends, alarmed at his silence, forced their way in. To what the others said he would pay no attention, but when Aristander the seer reminded him of the vision he had seen concerning Cleitus, and of the omen,[85] assuring him that all this had long ago been decreed by fate, he seemed to be less obdurate. 2Therefore they brought in to him Callisthenes the philosopher, who was a relative of Aristotle, and Anaxarchus of Abdera. Of these, Callisthenes tried by considerate and gentle methods to alleviate the king’s suffering, employing insinuation and circumlocution so as to avoid giving pain; but Anaxarchus, who had always taken a path of his own in philosophy, and had acquired a reputation for despising and slighting his associates, shouted out as soon as he came in: 3“Here is Alexander, to whom the whole world is now looking; but he lies on the floor weeping like a slave, in fear of the law and the censure of men, unto whom he himself should be a law and a measure of justice, since he has conquered the right to rule and mastery, instead of submitting like a slave to the mastery of a vain opinion. 4Knowest thou not,” said he, “that Zeus had Justice and Law seated beside him, in order that everything that is done by the master of the world may be lawful and just?” By using some such arguments as these Anaxarchus succeeded in lightening the suffering of the king, it is true, but rendered his disposition in many ways more vainglorious and lawless; he also made himself wonderfully liked by the king, and brought the intercourse of Callisthenes with him, which had always been unpleasant because of the man’s austerity, into additional disfavour.

5It is said that once at supper the conversation turned upon seasons and weather, and that Callisthenes, who held with those who maintain that it is more cold and wintry there than in Greece, was stoutly opposed by Anaxarchus, whereupon he said: “You surely must admit that it is colder here than there; for there you used to go about in winter in a cloak merely, but here you recline at table with three rugs thrown over you.” Of course this also added to the irritation of Anaxarchus.

53Moreover, the other sophists and flatterers in the train of Alexander were annoyed to see Callisthenes eagerly courted by the young men on account of his eloquence, and no less pleasing to the older men on account of his mode of life, which was well-ordered, dignified, and independent, and confirmed the reason given for his sojourn abroad, namely, that he had gone to Alexander from an ardent desire to restore his fellow-citizens to their homes and re-people his native city.[86] 2And besides being envied on account of his reputation, he also at times by his own conduct furnished material for his detractors, rejecting invitations for the most part, and when he did go into company, by his gravity and silence making it appear that he disapproved or disliked what was going on, so that even Alexander said in allusion to him:—

“I hate a wise man even to himself unwise.”[87]

3It is said, moreover, that once when a large company had been invited to the king’s supper, Callisthenes was bidden, when the cup came to him, to speak in praise of the Macedonians, and was so successful on the theme that the guests rose up to applaud him and threw their garlands at him; whereupon Alexander said that, in the language of Euripides, when a man has for his words

“A noble subject, it is easy to speak well;”[88]

4“but show us the power of your eloquence,” said he, “by a denunciation of the Macedonians, that they may become even better by learning their faults.” And so Callisthenes began his palinode, and spoke long and boldly in denunciation of the Macedonians, and after showing that faction among the Greeks was the cause of the increase of Philip’s power, added:

“But in a time of sedition, the base man too is in honour.”[89]

54This gave the Macedonians a stern and bitter hatred of him, and Alexander declared that Callisthenes had given a proof, not of his eloquence, but of his ill-will towards the Macedonians.

2This, then, according to Hermippus, is the story which Stroebus, the slave who read aloud for Callisthenes, told to Aristotle, and he says that when Callisthenes was aware of the alienation of the king, twice or thrice, as he was going away from him, he recited the verse:

“Dead is also Patroclus, a man far braver than thou art.”[90]

What Aristotle said, then, would seem to have been no idle verdict, namely, that Callisthenes showed great ability as a speaker, but lacked common sense. 3But in the matter of the obeisance, at least, by refusing sturdily and like a philosopher to perform the act, and by standing forth alone and rehearsing in public the reasons for the indignation which all the oldest and best of the Macedonians cherished in secret, he delivered the Greeks from a great disgrace, and Alexander from a greater, by leading him not to insist upon the obeisance; but he destroyed himself, because he was thought to use force rather than persuasion with the king.

4Chares of Mitylene says that once at a banquet Alexander, after drinking, handed the cup to one of his friends, and he, on receiving it, rose up so as to face the household shrine, and when he had drunk, first made obeisance to Alexander, then kissed him, and then resumed his place upon the couch. 55As all the guests were doing this in turn, Callisthenes took the cup, the king not paying attention, but conversing with Hephaestion, and after he had drunk went towards the king to kiss him; but Demetrius, surnamed Pheido, cried: “O King, do not accept his kiss, for he alone has not done thee obeisance.” So also declined the kiss, at which Callisthenes exclaimed in a loud voice: “Well, then, I’ll go away the poorer by a kiss.”[91]

2The king having been thus alienated, in the first place, Hephaestion found credence for his story that Callisthenes had promised him to make obeisance to the king and then had been false to his agreement. Again, men like Lysimachus and Hagnon persisted in saying that the sophist went about with lofty thoughts as if bent on abolishing a tyranny, and that the young men flocked to him and followed him about as if he were the only freeman among so many tens of thousands. 3For this reason also, when the conspiracy of Hermolaüs and his associates[92] against Alexander was discovered, it was thought that the accusations of his detractors had an air of probability. They said, namely, that when Hermolaüs put the question to him how he might become a most illustrious man, Callisthenes said: “By killing the most illustrious;” and that in inciting Hermolaüs to the deed he bade him have no fear of the golden couch, but remember that he was approaching a man who was subject to sickness and wounds. 4And yet not one of the accomplices of Hermolaüs, even in the last extremity, denounced Callisthenes. Nay, even Alexander himself, in the letters which he wrote at once to Craterus, Attalus, and Alcetas, says that the youths confessed under torture that they had made this attempt of themselves, and that no one else was privy to it. But in a letter written later to Antipater, wherein he accuses Callisthenes also of the crime, 5he says: “The youths were stoned to death by the Macedonians, but the sophist I will punish, together with those who sent him to me and those who harbour in their cities men who conspire against my life;” and in these words, at least, he directly reveals a hostility to Aristotle, in whose house Callisthenes, on account of his relationship, had been reared, being a son of Hero, who was a niece of Aristotle. 56As to the death of Callisthenes, some say that he was hanged by Alexander’s orders, others that he was bound hand and foot and died of sickness, and Chares says that after his arrest he was kept in fetters seven months, that he might be tried before a full council when Aristotle was present, but that about the time when Alexander was wounded in India, he died from obesity and the disease of lice.[93]

57This, however, belongs to a later time.[94] Meanwhile Demaratus the Corinthian, who was now well on in years, was eagerly desirous of going up to Alexander; and when he had seen him, he said that those Greeks were deprived of a great pleasure who had died before seeing Alexander seated on the throne of Dareius.[95] However, he did not long enjoy the king’s good will towards him, but died from debility. His obsequies were magnificent, and the army raised in his memory a mound of great circumference and eighty cubits in height. His ashes were carried down to the sea-board on a four-horse chariot splendidly adorned.

2Alexander was now about to cross the mountains into India,[96] and since he saw that his army was by this time cumbered with much booty and hard to move, at break of day, after the baggage-waggons had been loaded, he burned first those which belonged to himself and his companions, and then gave orders to set fire to those of the Macedonians. And the planning of the thing turned out to be a larger and more formidable matter than its execution. 3For it gave annoyance to a few only of the soldiers, while the most of them, with rapturous shouts and war-cries, shared their necessaries with those who were in need of them, and what was superfluous they burned and destroyed with their own hands, thus filling Alexander with zeal and eagerness. Besides, he was already greatly feared, and inexorable in the chastisement of a transgressor. For instance, when a certain Menander, one of his companions, who had been put in command of a garrison, refused to remain there, he put him to death; and Orsodates, a Barbarian who had revolted from him, he shot down with his own hand.

4When a sheep yeaned a lamb which had upon its head what looked like a tiara in form and colour, with testicles on either side of it, Alexander was filled with loathing at the portent, and had himself purified by the Babylonians, whom he was accustomed to take along with him for such purposes; and in conversation with his friends he said that he was not disturbed for his own sake, but for theirs, fearing lest after his death Heaven might devolve his power upon an ignoble and impotent man. However, a better portent occurred and put an end to his dejection. 5The Macedonian, namely, who was set over those in charge of the royal equipage, Proxenus by name, as he was digging a place for the king’s tent along the river Oxus, uncovered a spring of liquid which was oily and fatty; but when the top of it was drawn off, there flowed at once a pure and clear oil, which appeared to differ from olive oil neither in odour nor in flavour, and in smoothness and lustre was altogether the same, and that too though the country produced no olive trees. 58It is said, indeed, that the Oxus itself also has a very soft water, which gives sleekness to the skin of those who bathe in it. However, that Alexander was marvellously pleased is clear from what he writes to Antipater, where he speaks of this as one of the greatest omens vouchsafed to him from Heaven. The seers, however, held that the omen foreshadowed an expedition which would be glorious, but difficult and toilsome; for oil, they said, was given to men by Heaven as an aid to toil.

2And so it proved; for he encountered many perils in the battles which he fought, and received very severe wounds; but the greatest losses which his army suffered were caused by lack of necessary provisions and severity of weather. Still, he was eager to overcome fortune by boldness and force by valour, and thought nothing invincible for the courageous, and nothing secure for the cowardly. 3It is said that when he was besieging the citadel of Sisimithres, which was steep and inaccessible, so that his soldiers were disheartened, he asked Oxyartes what sort of a man Sisimithres himself was in point of spirit. And when Oxyartes replied that he was most cowardly of men, “Thy words mean,” said Alexander, “that we can take the citadel, since he who commands it is a weak thing.” 4And indeed he did take the citadel by frightening Sisimithres. Again, after attacking another citadel equally precipitous, he was urging on the younger Macedonians, and addressing one who bore the name of Alexander, said: “It behooves thee, at least, to be a brave man, even for thy name’s sake.” And when the young man, fighting gloriously, fell, the king was pained beyond measure. 5And at another time, when his Macedonians hesitated to advance upon the citadel called Nysa because there was a deep river in front of it, Alexander, halting on the bank, cried: “Most miserable man that I am, why, pray, have I not learned to swim?” and at once, carrying his shield, he would have tried to cross. And when, after he had put a stop to the fighting, ambassadors came from the beleaguered cities to beg for terms, they were amazed, to begin with, to see him in full armour and without an attendant; and besides, when a cushion was brought him for his use, he ordered the eldest of the ambassadors, Acuphis by name, to take it for his seat. 59Acuphis, accordingly, astonished at his magnanimity and courtesy, asked what he wished them to do in order to be his friends. “Thy countrymen,” said Alexander, “must make thee their ruler, and send me a hundred of their best men.” At this Acuphis laughed, and said: “Nay, O King, I shall rule better if I send to thee the worst men rather than the best.”[97]

2Taxiles, we are told, had a realm in India as large as Egypt, with good pasturage, too, and in the highest degree productive of beautiful fruits. He was also a wise man in his way, and after he had greeted Alexander, said: “Why must we war and fight with one another, Alexander, if thou art not come to rob us of water or of necessary sustenance, the only things for which men of sense are obliged to fight obstinately? 3As for other wealth and possessions, so-called, if I am thy superior therein, I am ready to confer favours; but if thine inferior, I will not object to thanking you for favours conferred.” At this Alexander was delighted, and clasping the king’s hand, said: “Canst thou think, pray, that after such words of kindness our interview is to end without a battle? Nay, thou shalt not get the better of me; for I will contend against thee and fight to the last with my favours, that thou mayest not surpass me in generosity.” 4So, after receiving many gifts and giving many more, at last he lavished upon him a thousand talents in coined money. This conduct greatly vexed Alexander’s friends, but it made many of the Barbarians look upon him more kindly.

The best fighters among the Indians, however, were mercenaries, and they used to go about to the different cities and defend them sturdily, and wrought much harm to Alexander’s cause. Therefore, after he had made a truce with them in a certain city and allowed them to depart, he fell upon them as they marched and slew them all. 60And this act adheres like a stain to his military career; in all other instances he waged war according to usage and like a king. The philosophers, too, no less than the mercenaries, gave him trouble, by abusing those of the native princes who attached themselves to his cause, and by inciting the free peoples to revolt. He therefore took many of these also and hanged them.

2Of his campaign against Porus[98] he himself has given an account in his letters. He says, namely, that the river Hydaspes flowed between the two camps, and that Porus stationed his elephants on the opposite bank and kept continual watch of the crossing. He himself, accordingly, day by day caused a great din and tumult to be made in his camp, and thereby accustomed the Barbarians not to be alarmed. 3Then, on a dark and stormy night, he took a part of his infantry and the best of his horsemen, and after proceeding along the river to a distance from where the enemy lay, crossed over to a small island. Here rain fell in torrents, and many tornadoes and thunder-bolts dashed down upon his men; but nevertheless, although he saw that many of them were being burned to death by the thunder-bolts, he set out from the islet and made for the opposite banks. 4But the Hydaspes, made violent by the storm and dashing high against its bank, made a great breach in it, and a large part of the stream was setting in that direction; and the shore between the two currents gave his men no sure footing, since it was broken and slippery. And here it was that he is said to have cried: “O Athenians, can ye possibly believe what perils I am undergoing to win glory in your eyes?” 5This, however, is the story of Onesicritus; Alexander himself says that they left their rafts and crossed the breach with their armour on, wading breast-high in water, and that after he had crossed he led his horsemen twenty furlongs in advance of his infantry, calculating that, in case the enemy attacked with their cavalry, he would be far superior to them, and in case they moved up their men-at-arms, his infantry would join him in good season. And one of these suppositions came to pass. 6For after routing a thousand of the enemy’s horsemen and sixty of their chariots which engaged him, he captured all the chariots, and slew four hundred of the horsemen. And now Porus, thus led to believe that Alexander himself had crossed the river, advanced upon him with all his forces, except the part he left behind to impede the crossing of the remaining Macedonians. But Alexander, fearing the elephants and the great numbers of the enemy, himself assaulted their left wing, and ordered Coenus to attack their right. 7Both wings having been routed, the vanquished troops retired in every case upon the elephants in the centre, and were there crowded together with them, and from this point on the battle was waged at close quarters, and it was not until the eighth hour that the enemy gave up. Such then, is the account of the battle which the victor himself has given in his letters.

Most historians agree that Porus was four cubits and a span[99] high, and that the size and majesty of his body made his elephant seem as fitting a mount for him as a horse for a horseman. 8And yet his elephant was of the largest size; and it showed remarkable intelligence and solicitude for the king, bravely defending him and beating back his assailants while he was still in full vigour, and when it perceived that its master was worn out with a multitude of missiles and wounds, fearing lest he should fall off, it knelt softly on the ground, and with its proboscis gently took each spear and drew it out of his body. 61Porus was taken prisoner, and when Alexander asked him how he would be treated, said: “Like a king”; and to another question from Alexander whether he had anything else to say, replied: “All things are included in my ‘like a king.’ “ Accordingly, Alexander not only permitted him to govern his former kingdom, giving him the title of satrap, but also added to it the territory of the independent peoples whom he subdued, in which there are said to have been fifteen nations, five thousand cities of considerable size, and a great multitude of villages. He subdued other territory also thrice as large as this and appointed Philip, one of his companions, satrap over it.

62After the battle with Porus, too, Bucephalas died,—not at once, but some time afterwards,—as most writers say, from wounds for which he was under treatment, but according to Onesicritus, from old age, having become quite worn out;[100] for he was thirty years old when he died. His death grieved Alexander mightily, who felt that he had lost nothing less than a comrade and friend; he also built a city in his memory on the banks of the Hydaspes and called it Bucephalia. It is said, too, that when he lost a dog also, named Peritas, which had been reared by him and was loved by him, he founded a city and gave it the dog’s name. Sotion says he heard this from Potamon the Lesbian.

2As for the Macedonians, however, their struggle with Porus blunted their courage and stayed their further advance into India.[101] For having had all they could do to repulse an enemy who mustered only twenty thousand infantry and two thousand horse, they violently opposed Alexander when he insisted on crossing the river Ganges also, the width of which, as they learned, was thirty-two furlongs, its depth a hundred fathoms, while its banks on the further side were covered with multitudes of men-at-arms and horsemen and elephants. 3For they were told that the kings of the Ganderites and Praesii were awaiting them with eighty thousand horsemen, two hundred thousand footmen, eight thousand chariots, and six thousand fighting elephants. And there was no boasting in these reports. For Androcottus, who reigned there not long afterwards, made a present to Seleucus of five hundred elephants, and with an army of six hundred thousand men overran and subdued all India.

4At first, then, Alexander shut himself up in his tent from displeasure and wrath and lay there, feeling no gratitude for what he had already achieved unless he should cross the Ganges, nay, counting a retreat a confession of defeat. But his friends gave him fitting consolation, and his soldiers crowded about his door and besought him with loud cries and wailing, until at last he relented and began to break camp, resorting to many deceitful and fallacious devices for the enhancement of his fame. 63For instance, he had armour prepared that was larger than usual, and mangers for horses that were higher, and bits that were heavier than those in common use, and left them scattered up and down. Moreover, he erected altars for the gods, which down to the present time are revered by the kings of the Praesii when they cross the river, and on them they offer sacrifices in the Hellenic manner. Androcottus, when he was a stripling, saw Alexander himself, and we are told that he often said in later times that Alexander narrowly missed making himself master of the country, since its king was hated and despised on account of his baseness and low birth.

2From thence, being eager to behold the ocean, and having built many passage-boats equipped with oars, and many rafts, he was conveyed down the rivers[102] in a leisurely course. And yet his voyage was not made without effort nor even without war, but he would land and assault the cities on his route and subdue everything. However, in attacking the people called Malli, who are said to have been the most warlike of the Indians, he came within a little of being cut down. 3For after dispersing the inhabitants from the walls with missiles, he was the first to mount upon the wall by a scaling ladder, and since the ladder was broken to pieces and he was exposed to the missiles of the Barbarians who stood along the wall below, almost alone as he was, he crouched and threw himself into the midst of the enemy, and by good fortune alighted on his feet. 4Then, as he brandished his arms, the Barbarians thought that a shape of gleaming fire played in front of his person. Therefore at first they scattered and fled; but when they saw that he was accompanied by only two of his guards, they ran upon him, and some tried to wound him by thrusting their swords and spears through his armour as he defended himself, while one, standing a little further off, shot an arrow at him with such accuracy and force that it cut its way through his breastplate and fastened itself in his ribs at the breast. 5Such was the force of the blow that Alexander recoiled and sank to his knees, whereupon his assailant ran at him with drawn scimitar, while Peucestas and Limnaeus[103] defended him. Both of them were wounded, and Limnaeus was killed; but Peucestas held out, and at last Alexander killed the Barbarian. But he himself received many wounds, and at last was smitten on the neck with a cudgel, and leaned against the wall, his eyes still fixed upon his foes. 6At this instant his Macedonians flocked about him, caught him up, already unconscious of what was going on about him, and carried him to his tent. And straightway a report that he was dead prevailed in the camp; but when with much difficulty and pains they had sawn off the shaft of the arrow, which was of wood, and had thus succeeded at last in removing the king’s breastplate, they came to the excision of the arrow-head, which was buried in one of the ribs. We are told, moreover, that it was three fingers broad and four long. 64Its removal, therefore, threw the king into swoons and brought him to death’s door, but nevertheless he recovered. And after he was out of danger, though he was still weak and kept himself for a long time under regimen and treatment, perceiving from their tumult at his door that his Macedonians were yearning to see him, he took his cloak and went out to them. And after sacrificing to the gods he went on board ship again and dropped down the river, subduing much territory and great cities as he went.

2He captured ten of the Gymnosophists who had done most to get Sabbas to revolt, and had made the most trouble for the Macedonians. These philosophers were reputed to be clever and concise in answering questions, and Alexander therefore put difficult questions to them, declaring that he would put to death him who first made an incorrect answer, and then the rest, in an order determined in like manner; and he commanded one of them, the oldest, to be judge in the contest. 3The first one, accordingly, being asked which, in his opinion, were more numerous, the living or the dead, said that the living were, since the dead no longer existed. The second, being asked whether the earth or the sea produced larger animals, said the earth did, since the sea was but a part of the earth. The third, being asked what animal was most cunning, said: “That which up to this time man has not discovered.” 4The fourth, when asked why he had induced Sabbas to revolt, replied: “Because I wished him either to live nobly or to die nobly.” The fifth, being asked which, in his opinion, was older, day or night, replied: “Day, by one day”; and he added, upon the king expressing amazement, that hard questions must have hard answers. 5Passing on, then, to the sixth, Alexander asked how a man could be most loved; “If,” said the philosopher, “he is most powerful, and yet does not inspire fear.” Of the three remaining, he who was asked how one might become a god instead of man, replied: “By doing something which a man cannot do”; the one who was asked which was the stronger, life or death, answered: “Life, since it supports so many ills.” And the last, asked how long it were well for a man to live, answered: “Until he does not regard death as better than life.” So, then, turning to the judge, Alexander bade him give his opinion. The judge declared that they had answered one worse than another. “Well, then,” said Alexander, “thou shalt die first for giving such a verdict.” “That cannot be, O King,” said the judge, “unless thou falsely saidst that thou wouldst put to death first him who answered worst.”

65These philosophers, then, he dismissed with gifts; but to those who were in the highest repute and lived quietly by themselves he sent Onesicritus, asking them to pay him a visit. Now, Onesicritus was a philosopher of the school of Diogenes the Cynic. 2And he tells us that Calanus very harshly and insolently bade him strip off his tunic and listen naked to what he had to say, otherwise he would not converse with him, not even if he came from Zeus; but he says that Dandamis was gentler, and that after hearing fully about Socrates, Pythagoras, and Diogenes, he remarked that the men appeared to him to have been of good natural parts but to have passed their lives in too much awe of the laws. 3Others, however, say that the only words uttered by Dandamis were these “Why did Alexander make such a long journey hither?” Calanus, nevertheless, was persuaded by Taxiles to pay a visit to Alexander. His real name was Sphines, but because he greeted those whom he met with “Cale,” the Indian word of salutation, the Greeks called him Calanus. It was Calanus, as we are told, who laid before Alexander the famous illustration of government. It was this. 4He threw down upon the ground a dry and shrivelled hide, and set his foot upon the outer edge of it; the hide was pressed down in one place, but rose up in others. He went all round the hide and showed that this was the result wherever he pressed the edge down, and then at last he stood in the middle of it, and lo! it was all held down firm and still. The similitude was designed to show that Alexander ought to put most constraint upon the middle of his empire and not wander far away from it.

66His descent of the rivers to the sea consumed seven months’ time. And after emerging with his fleet into the ocean,[104] he sailed out to an island to which he himself gave the name of Scillustis, others that of Psiltucis.[105] Here he landed and sacrificed to the gods, and studied the nature of the sea and of all the sea-coast that was accessible. Then, after praying that no man after him might pass beyond the bounds of his expedition, he turned to go back. 2His fleet he ordered to go round by sea, keeping India on the right; Nearchus was appointed admiral of the fleet, Onesicritus its chief-pilot. But he himself proceeded by land through the country of the Oreites, where he was reduced to the direst straits and lost a multitude of men, so that not even the fourth part of his fighting force was brought back from India. And yet his infantry had once numbered a hundred and twenty thousand, and his cavalry fifteen thousand. 3But grievous diseases, wretched food, parching heats, and, worst of all, famine destroyed them, since they traversed an untilled country of men who dragged out a miserable existence, who possessed but few sheep and those of a miserable sort, since the sea-fish which they ate made their flesh unsavoury and rank. It was with difficulty, then, that Alexander passed through this country in sixty days; but as soon as he reached Gedrosia he had all things in abundance, for the nearest satraps and princes had provided them.

67Accordingly, after refreshing his forces here, he set out and marched for seven days through Carmania in a revelling rout. He himself was conveyed slowly along by eight horses, while he feasted day and night continuously with his companions on a dais built upon a lofty and conspicuous scaffolding of oblong shape; and waggons without number followed, some with purple and embroidered canopies, others protected from the sun by boughs of trees which were kept fresh and green, conveying the rest of his friends and commanders, who were all garlanded and drinking. 2Not a shield was to be seen, not a helmet, not a spear, but along the whole march with cups and drinking-horns and flagons the soldiers kept dipping wine from huge casks and mixing-bowls and pledging one another, some as they marched along, others lying down; while pipes and flutes, stringed instruments and song, with revelling cries of women, filled every place with abundant music. 3Then, upon this disordered and straggling procession there followed also the sports of bacchanalian license, as though Bacchus himself were present and conducting the revel.[106] Moreover, when he came to the royal palace of Gedrosia, he once more gave his army time for rest and held high festival. 4We are told, too, that he was once viewing some contests in singing and dancing, being well heated with wine, and that his favourite, Bagoas, won the prize for song and dance, and then, all in his festal array, passed through the theatre and took his seat by Alexander’s side; at sight of which the Macedonians clapped their hands and loudly bade the king kiss the victor, until at last he threw his arms about him and kissed him tenderly.

68Here Nearchus came up to meet him, and Alexander was so delighted to hear of his voyage that he eagerly desired to sail down the Euphrates himself with a large fleet,[107] and then, after circumnavigating Arabia and Africa, to enter the Mediterranean by way of the pillars of Heracles. And vessels of every sort were built for him at Thapsacus, and sailors and pilots were assembled from all parts. 2But the increasing difficulties of his march back, his wound among the Malli, and the losses in his army, which were reported to be heavy, led men to doubt his safe return, inclined subject peoples to revolt, and bred great injustice, rapacity, and insolence in the generals and satraps whom he had appointed. In a word, restlessness and a desire for change spread everywhere. 3For even against Antipater, Olympias and Cleopatra had raised a faction, and had divided his realm between them, Olympias taking Epirus, and Cleopatra Macedonia. When he heard of this, Alexander said that his mother had made the better choice; for the Macedonians would not submit to be reigned over by a woman.

For these reasons he sent Nearchus back to the sea,[108] determined to fill all the regions along the sea with wars, while he himself, marching down from Upper Asia, chastised those of his commanders who had done wrong. 4One of the sons of Abuletes, Oxyartes, he slew with his own hand, running him through with a spear; and when Abuletes failed to furnish him with the necessary provisions, but brought him instead three thousand talents in coin, Alexander ordered the money to be thrown to his horses. And when they would not touch it, “Of what use to us, then,” he cried, “is the provision you have made?” and threw Abuletes into prison.

69In Persia, to begin with, he distributed the money among the women, just as their kings were accustomed, as often as they came into Persia, to give each one of them a gold piece. And for this reason, it is said, some of their kings did not come often into Persia, and Ochus not even once, being so penurious as to expatriate himself. 2In the second place, having discovered that the tomb of Cyrus had been rifled, he put to death the perpetrator of the deed, although the culprit was a prominent Macedonian native of Pella, by name Polymachus. After reading the inscription upon this tomb, he ordered it to be repeated below in Greek letters. It ran thus: “O man, whosoever thou art and whencesoever thou comest, for I know that thou wilt come, I am Cyrus, and I won for the Persians their empire. Do not, therefore, begrudge me this little earth which covers my body.” 3These words, then, deeply affected Alexander, who was reminded of the uncertainty and mutability of life.[109]

In Persia, too, Calanus, who had suffered for a little while from intestinal disorder, asked that a funeral pyre might be prepared for him.[110] To this he came on horseback, and after offering prayers, sprinkling himself, and casting some of his hair upon the pyre, he ascended it, greeting the Macedonians who were present, and exhorting them to make that day one of pleasure and revelry with the king, whom, he declared, he should soon see in Babylon. 4After thus speaking, he lay down and covered his head, nor did he move as the fire approached him, but continued to lie in the same posture as at first, and so sacrificed himself acceptably, as the wise men of his country had done from of old. The same thing was done many years afterwards by another Indian who was in the following of Caesar,[111] at Athens; and the “Indian’s Tomb” is shown there to this day.

70But Alexander, after returning from the funeral pyre and assembling many of his friends and officers for supper, proposed a contest in drinking neat wine, the victor to be crowned. Well, then, the one who drank the most, Promachus, got as far as four pitchers;[112] he took the prize, a crown of a talent’s worth, but lived only three days afterwards. And of the rest, according to Chares, forty-one died of what they drank, a violent chill having set in after their debauch.

2At Susa he brought to pass the marriage of his companions, took to wife himself the daughter of Dareius, Stateira, assigned the noblest women to his noblest men, and gave a general wedding feast for those of his Macedonians who had already contracted other marriages. At this feast, we are told, nine thousand guests reclined at supper, to each of whom a golden cup for the libations was given. All the other appointments too, were amazingly splendid, and the host paid himself the debts which his guests owed, the whole outlay amounting to nine thousand eight hundred and seventy talents.[113] 3Now Antigenes, the One-eyed, had got himself enrolled as a debtor fraudulently and, on producing somebody who affirmed that he had made a loan to him at the bank, the money was paid over; then his fraud was discovered, and the king, in anger, drove him from his court and deprived him of his command. Antigenes, however, was a splendid soldier, and while he was still a young man and Philip was besieging Perinthus, though a bolt from a catapult smote him in the eye, he would not consent to have the bolt taken out nor give up fighting until he had repelled the enemy and shut them up within their walls. 4Accordingly, he could not endure with any complacency the disgrace that now fell upon him, but was evidently going to make away with himself from grief and despondency. So the king, fearing this, put away his wrath and ordered him to keep the money.

71The thirty thousand boys whom he had left behind him under instruction and training[114] were now so vigorous in their bodies and so comely in their looks, and showed besides such admirable dexterity and agility in their exercises, that Alexander himself was delighted; his Macedonians, however, were filled with dejection and fear, thinking that their king would now pay less regard to them. 2Therefore when he also sent the weak and maimed among them down to the sea-board, they said it was insult and abuse, after using men up in every kind of service, now to put them away in disgrace and cast them back upon their native cities and their parents, no longer the men they were when he took them. Accordingly, they bade him send them all away and hold all his Macedonians of no account, since he had these young war-dancers, with whom he could go on and conquer the world.[115] 3At these words of theirs Alexander was displeased, and heaped much abuse upon them in his anger, and drove them away, and committed his watches to Persians, and out of these constituted his body-guards and attendants. When the Macedonians saw him escorted by these, while they themselves were excluded from him and treated with contumely, they were humbled; and when they reasoned the matter out they found that they had been almost mad with jealousy and rage. 4So finally, after coming to their senses, they went to his tent, without their arms and wearing their tunics only, and with loud cries and lamentations put themselves at his mercy, bidding him deal with them as base and thankless men. But Alexander would not see them, although his heart was softening. And the men would not desist, but for two days and nights persisted in standing thus before his door, weeping and calling upon their master. 5So on the third day he came forth, and when he saw their piteous and humble plight, wept for some time; then, after chiding them gently and speaking kindly to them, he dismissed those who were past service with magnificent gifts, and wrote to Antipater that at all the public contests and in the theatres they should have the foremost seats and wear garlands. He also ordained that the orphan children of those who had lost their lives in his service should receive their father’s pay.[116]

72When he came to Ecbatana in Media and had transacted the business that was urgent, he was once more much occupied with theatres and festivals, since three thousand artists had come to him from Greece. But during this time it chanced that Hephaestion had a fever; and since, young man and soldier that he was, he could not submit to a strict regimen, as soon as Glaucus, his physician, had gone off to the theatre, he sat down to breakfast, ate a boiled fowl, drank a huge cooler of wine, fell sick, and in a little while died. Alexander’s grief at this loss knew no bounds.[117] 2He immediately ordered that the manes and tails of all horses and mules should be shorn in token of mourning, and took away the battlements of the cities round about; he also crucified the wretched physician, and put a stop to the sound of flutes and every kind of music in the camp for a long time, until an oracular response from Ammon came bidding him honour Hephaestion as a hero and sacrifice to him. 3Moreover, making war a solace for his grief, he went forth to hunt and track down men, as it were, and overwhelmed the nation of the Cossaeans, slaughtering them all from the youth upwards. This was called an offering to the shade of Hephaestion. Upon a tomb and obsequies for his friend, and upon their embellishments, he purposed to expend ten thousand talents, and wished that the ingenuity and novelty of the construction should surpass the expense. He therefore longed for Stasicrates above all other artists, because in his innovations there was always promise of great magnificence, boldness, and ostentation. 4This man, indeed, had said to him at a former interview that of all mountains the Thracian Athos could most readily be given the form and shape of a man; if, therefore, Alexander should so order, he would make out of Mount Athos a most enduring and most conspicuous statue of the king, which in its left hand should hold a city of ten thousand inhabitants, and with its right should pour forth a river running with generous current into the sea. This project, it is true, Alexander had declined; but now he was busy devising and contriving with his artists projects far more strange and expensive than this.

73As he was on his way to enter Babylon, Nearchus (who had joined him again after sailing through the ocean into the Euphrates) told the king that certain Chaldaeans had met him and advised that Alexander should keep away from Babylon.[118] Alexander paid no heed to this, but continued on his march; and when he was arrived at the walls, he saw many ravens flying about and clawing one another, and some of them fell dead at his feet. 2Again, being informed that Apollodorus the commandant of Babylon had sacrificed to learn Alexander’s fate, Alexander called Pythagoras the seer. Pythagoras did not deny the fact, whereupon Alexander asked him what was the character of the sacrifice. And when the seer told that the victim’s liver had no lobe, “Ah me!” said Alexander, “a forcible omen!” and did Pythagoras no harm. He was sorry, too, that he had not obeyed Nearchus, and passed most of his time outside of Babylon, either living in his tent, or sailing about on the Euphrates. 3And he was troubled by many omens. For instance, the largest and handsomest lion in his menagerie was attacked by a tame ass and kicked to death. Again, he once took off his clothes for exercise and was playing at ball, and when it was time to dress again, the young men who were playing with him beheld a man seated on the king’s throne, in silence, wearing the royal diadem and robes. 4When the man was asked who he was, he was speechless for a long time; but at last he came to his senses and said that his name was Dionysius, and that he was a native of Messenia; in consequence of some charge brought against him, he said, he had been brought thither from the sea-board, and for a long time had been in chains; but just now the god Serapis had come to him and loosed his chains and brought him to this spot, bidding him put on the robe and diadem and sit on the throne and hold his peace.[119]

74On hearing of this, Alexander put the man out of the way, as the seers directed; but he began to be low-spirited, and was distrustful now of the favour of Heaven and suspicious of his friends. He was particularly afraid of Antipater and of his sons, one of whom, Iolas, was his chief cupbearer; the other, Cassander, had only recently come to Babylon, and when he saw some Barbarians doing obeisance to Alexander, since he had been reared as a Greek and had never seen such a sight as this before, he laughed boisterously. 2But Alexander was enraged, and clutching him fiercely by the hair with both hands dashed his head against the wall. And at another time, when Cassander would have said something in opposition to those who were bringing charges against Antipater, Alexander interrupted him, saying: “What meanest thou? Would men come so long a journey if they had not been wronged and were making false charges?” 3And when Cassander declared that this very fact of their coming a long distance away from the proofs showed that they were making false charges, Alexander burst out laughing and said: “These are the famous sophisms of Aristotle’s disciples for either side of the question; but ye shall rue the day if it appear that ye have done these men even a slight wrong.” 4And in general, as we are told, Cassander’s spirit was deeply penetrated and imbued with a dreadful fear of Alexander, so that many years afterwards, when he was now king of Macedonia and master of Greece, as he was walking about and surveying the statues at Delphi, the sight of an image of Alexander smote him suddenly with a shuddering and trembling from which he could scarcely recover, and made his head swim.

75Alexander, then, since he had now become sensitive to indications of the divine will and perturbed and apprehensive in his mind, converted every unusual and strange occurrence, were it never so insignificant, into a prodigy and portent; and sacrificers, purifiers, and diviners filled his palace. 2So, you see, while it is a dire thing to be incredulous towards indications of the divine will and to have contempt for them, superstition is likewise a dire thing, which, after the manner of water ever seeking the lower levels, filled with folly the Alexander who was now become a prey to his fears. Notwithstanding, in consequence of oracular responses regarding Hephaestion which were brought him, he laid aside his grief and betook himself once more to sacrifices and drinking-bouts. 3He gave a splendid entertainment to Nearchus, and then, although he had taken his customary bath before going to bed, at the request of Medius he went to hold high revel with him;[120] and here, after drinking all the next day, he began to have a fever. This did not come upon him after he had quaffed a “bowl of Heracles,” nor after he had been seized with a sudden pain in the back as though smitten with a spear; these particulars certain writers felt obliged to give, and so, as it were, invented in tragic fashion a moving finale for a great action. 4But Aristobulus says that he had a raging fever, and that when he got very thirsty he drank wine, whereupon he became delirious, and died on the thirtieth day of the month Daesius.

76Moreover, in the court “Journals” there are recorded the following particulars regarding his sickness.[121] On the eighteenth of the month Daesius[122] he slept in the bathing-room because he had a fever. On the following day, after his bath, he removed into his bed-chamber, and spent the day at dice with Medius. Then, when it was late, he took a bath, performed his sacrifices to the gods, ate a little, and had a fever through the night. 2On the twentieth, after bathing again, he performed his customary sacrifice; and lying in the bathing-room he devoted himself to Nearchus, listening to his story of his voyage and of the great sea. The twenty-first he spent in the same way and was still more inflamed, and during the night he was in a grievous plight, and all the following day his fever was very high. So he had his bed removed and lay by the side of the great bath, where he conversed with his officers about the vacant posts in the army, and how they might be filled with experienced men. 3On the twenty-fourth his fever was violent and he had to be carried forth to perform his sacrifices; moreover, he ordered his principal officers to tarry in the court of the palace, and the commanders of divisions and companies to spend the night outside. He was carried to the palace on the other side of the river on the twenty-fifth, and got a little sleep, but his fever did not abate. And when his commanders came to his bedside, he was speechless, as he was also on the twenty-sixth; 4therefore the Macedonians made up their minds that he was dead, and came with loud shouts to the doors of the palace, and threatened his companions until all opposition was broken down; and when the doors had been thrown open to them, without cloak or armour, one by one, they all filed slowly past his couch. During this day, too, Python and Seleucus were sent to the temple of Serapis to enquire whether they should bring Alexander thither; and the god gave answer that they should leave him where he was. And on the twenty-eighth,[123] towards evening, he died.

77Most of this account is word for word as written in the “Journals.” And as for suspicions of poisoning, no one had any immediately, but five years afterwards, as we are told, upon information given, Olympias put many men to death, and scattered abroad the ashes of Iolas, alleging that he had administered the poison. 2But those who affirm that Aristotle counselled Antipater to do the deed,[124] and that it was entirely through his agency that the poison was provided, mention one Hagnothemis as their authority, who professed to have heard the story from Antigonus the king; and the poison was water, icy cold, from a certain cliff in Nonacris; this they gathered up like a delicate dew and stored it in an ass’s hoof; for no other vessel would hold the water, but would all be eaten through by it, owing to its coldness and pungency. 3Most writers, however, think that the story of the poisoning is altogether a fabrication; and it is no slight evidence in their favour that during the dissensions of Alexander’s commanders, which lasted many days, his body, although it lay without special care in places that were moist and stifling, showed no sign of such a destructive influence, but remained pure and fresh.

4Now, Roxana was with child, and on this account was held in honour among the Macedonians; but she was jealous of Stateira, and therefore deceived her by a forged letter into coming where she was, and when she had got her there, slew her, together with her sister, threw their bodies into the well, and filled the well with earth, Perdiccas being privy to the deed and partner in it. 5For it was he who was at once in the greatest authority, dragging Arrhidaeus around after him to safe-guard, as it were, the royal power. Arrhidaeus was Philip’s son by an obscure and common woman named Philinna, and was deficient in intellect owing to bodily disease. This, however, did not come upon him in the course of nature or of its own accord, indeed, it is said that as a boy he displayed an exceedingly gifted and noble disposition: but after Olympias gave him drugs which injured his body and ruined his mind.

« About This Work | Plut. Alex. 1–77 (end) | About This Work »


  • [1] Macedonian names for Bacchantes.

  • [2] Plutarch apparently derives this verb from Θρῇσσαι (Thracian women).

  • [3] Sacred to Dionysus, and carried on the heads of the celebrants.

  • [4] The lawful spouse of Zeus Ammon.

  • [5] 356 B.C. The day of birth has probably been moved back two or three months for the sake of the coincidence mentioned below (§ 5). Hecatombaeon corresponds nearly to July.

  • [6] The preceptor of Achilles.

  • [7] The talent was worth about £235, or $1,200, with four or five times the purchasing power of modern money.

  • [8] Amyot, "le remeit gentiment."

  • [9] Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag.2 p. 315.

  • [10] i.e., fit for oral teaching only, and for the initiated; "esoteric," as opposed to "exoteric" doctrines.

  • [11] Cf. chapter xxvi. 1.

  • [12] See chapter lxv.

  • [13] In 340 B.C.

  • [14] In 338 B.C.

  • [15] Amyot, "hors d'age et de saison." In consequence of this passion Philip had divorced Olympias.

  • [16] The Medeia of Euripides, v. 289 (Kirchhoff). The context makes the verse suggest the murder of Attalus, Philip, and Cleopatra.

  • [17] "After his death Olympias killed Philip's infant son, together with his mother Cleopatra, niece of Attalus, by dragging them over a bronze vessel filled with fire" (Pausanias, viii. 7, 5).

  • [18] In September, 335 B.C. Plutarch makes no mention of a previous expedition of Alexander into Southern Greece, immediately after Philip's death, when he received the submission of all the Greek states except Sparta, and was made commander-in-chief of the expedition against Persia, in Philip's place. See Arrian, Anab. i. 1.

  • [19] "And we are told that Alexander preserved the house of Pindar the poet, and the descendants of Pindar, out of regard for Pindar" (Arrian, Anab. i. 9, 10).

  • [20] According to Arrian (i. 10, 2), it was from panic fright.

  • [21] See chapter li.

  • [22] See chapter lxii.

  • [23] This god was said to have been born of Semele, daughter of Cadmus the founder of Thebes.

  • [24] For a full account of Alexander's capture and destruction of Thebes, see Arrian, Anab. i. 8 f.

  • [25] See the note on xi. 4.

  • [26] In the early spring of 334 B.C.

  • [27] Cf. Arrian, Anab. i. 11, 2.

  • [28] "Not much more than thirty thousand foot, including light-armed troops and archers, and over five thousand horse" (Arrian, Anab. i. 11, 3).

  • [29] See the Iliad, ix. 185-191.

  • [30] Diodorus (xvii. 21, 6) says that more than ten thousand Persian footmen fell, and not less than two thousand horsemen; while over twenty thousand were taken prisoners.

  • [31] According to Arrian (Anab. i. 16, 4), about twenty-five of Alexander's companions, a select corps, fell at the first onset, and it was of these that Alexander ordered statues to be made by Lysippus.

  • [32] The siege and capture of these cities occupied Alexander till the late autumn of 334 B.C.

  • [33] According to Arrian (Anab. i. 26, 1 f.), there is no route along this beach except when the north wind blows. "But at that time, after strong south winds, the north winds blew, and rendered his passage easy and quick, not without the divine intervention, as both he and his followers interpreted.”

  • [34] Kook, Com. Att. Frag. iii. p. 240.

  • [35] Early in 333 B.C.

  • [36] Cf. Arrian, Anab. ii. 3.

  • [37] So Aristobulus (Arrian, Anab. ii. 4, 7).

  • [38] Cf. Herod. v. 18.

  • [39] Cf. Arrian, Anab. i. 23, 8.

  • [40] November, 333 B.C.

  • [41] January—August, 332 B.C.

  • [42] Cf. chapter v. 5.

  • [43] During September and October of 332 B.C.

  • [44] Cf. Curtius, Hist. Alex. iv. 6, 11 f.

  • [45] Cf. chapter viii. 2.

  • [46] Odyssey, iv. 354 f.

  • [47] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 2, 1.

  • [48] See Tarbell, "The Form of the Chlamys," Classical Philology, 1906, p. 285.

  • [49] Cf. Herod. iii. 26.

  • [50] According to Ptolemy, son of Lagus, two serpents served Alexander's army as guides to the oracle and back again. "But Aristobulus, whose account is generally admitted to be correct, says that two ravens flew in front of the army and acted as Alexander's guides" (Arrian, Anab. iii 3, 5 f.).

  • [51] Iliad, v. 340.

  • [52] Cf. Athenaeus, pp. 250 f.

  • [53] Early in 331 B.C.

  • [54] Cf. Morals, pp. 334 f.

  • [55] This was during the siege of Tyre, according to Arrian (Anab. ii. 25. 1).

  • [56] This was but the conclusion of an arrogant letter. Cf. Arrian, Anab. ii. 25, 3.

  • [57] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iv. 20.

  • [58] In June or July of 331 B.C.

  • [59] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 8, 7.

  • [60] September 20, 331 B.C.

  • [61] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 10, where it is Parmenio who advises a night attack.

  • [62] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 15, 1, where Parmenio's message recalls Alexander from the pursuit of Dareius.

  • [63] Sometimes the term "Hellenes" excludes, and sometimes it includes, the Macedonians. The context must decide. Cf. xlvii. 5.

  • [64] Alexander's tactics are minutely described by Arrian (Anab. iii. 14, 1-3).

  • [65] Arrian makes no mention of a second appeal for aid from Parmenio.

  • [66] In 479 B.C.

  • [67] Cf. Herodotus, viii. 47.

  • [68] "This naphtha," and the first "whether"-clause, have fallen out of the text.

  • [69] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 16, 7. A talent's weight was something over fifty pounds.

  • [70] Arrian (Anab. iii. 18, 1f.) speaks only of a forced march through the mountains.

  • [71] In Persepolis.

  • [72] So Arrian, Anab. iii. 18. 11 f., where there is none of Plutarch's romance. For this, cf. Diodorus, xvii. 72; Curtius, v. 7, 1-7.

  • [73] In the spring of 330 B.C.

  • [74] These details of the death of Dareius are not to be found in Arrian (Anab. iii. 21 fin.), but in Curtius (v. 13, 28) and Diodorus (xvii. 73).

  • [75] In the spring of 329 B.C. Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 30, 5; iv. 7, 3 ff.

  • [76] "To Persepolis, with orders that it should be buried in the royal sepulchre" (Arrian, Anab. iii. 22, 1).

  • [77] In the early autumn of 330 B.C.

  • [78] Prostration on the ground before a great personage, a peculiarly Persian custom.

  • [79] In the late autumn of 330 B.C.

  • [80] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iii. 26.

  • [81] During the campaign of 328 B.C., at Samarkand, in Sogdiana. Cf. Arrian, Anab. iv. 8 f.

  • [82] Cf. chapter xvi. 5.

  • [83] Cf. chapters xxvii. f.

  • [84] Verse 683 (Kirchhoff).

  • [85] Cf. chapter l. 2 f.

  • [86] Olynthus, which had been destroyed by Philip in 347 B.C.

  • [87] An iambic trimeter from an unknown play of Euripides (Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. 2 p. 652).

  • [88] Bacchae, 260 (Kirchhoff).

  • [89] A proverb in hexameter verse, sometimes attributed to Callimachus. Cf. the Nicias, xi. 3; Morals, p. 479a.

  • [90] Achilles to Hector, Iliad, xxi. 107.

  • [91] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iv. 12.

  • [92] The conspiracy of the pages (Arrian, Anab. iv. 13).

  • [93] Cf. Arrian, Anab. iv. 14, 3 f., where other accounts still are mentioned.

  • [94] The spring of 327 B.C.

  • [95] Cf. chapter xxxvii. 4.

  • [96] In the late spring of 327 B.C.

  • [97] Cf. Arrian, Anab. v. 2, 1-3.

  • [98] See Arrian, Anab. v. 9-19. It was in the spring of 326 B.C.

  • [99] Six feet and three inches.

  • [100] Cf. Arrian, Anab. v. 19, 4 f.

  • [101] Alexander carried his conquests from the Indus to the Hyphasis (Arrian, Anab. v. 25), subduing the Punjab. It was now September, 326 B.C.

  • [102] Hydaspes, Acesines, and Indus (Arrian, Anab. vi. 1).

  • [103] Leonnatus, according to Arrian, vi. 10, 2.

  • [104] In midsummer of 325 B.C.

  • [105] It is Cilluta in Arrian (Anab. vi. 19, 3).

  • [106] According to Arrian (Anab. vi. 28, 1 f), this bacchanalian procession through Carmania rests on no credible authority.

  • [107] It was after his return to Persepolis that this desire seized him (Arrian, Anab. vii. 1, 1).

  • [108] Early in 324 B.C.

  • [109] Cf. Arrian, Anab. vi. 29, 4-8.

  • [110] The self-sacrifice of Calanus is narrated by Arrian (Anab. vii. 3).

  • [111] Augustus Caesar.

  • [112] The "chous," or pitcher, held about three quarts.

  • [113] Alexander also paid the debts of all his soldiers, amounting to 20,000 talents (Arrian, Anab. vii. 5, 1-3), unless this is the donation which Plutarch has here erroneously connected with the great wedding feast. Cf. Athenaeus, xii. pp. 538 ff.

  • [114] Cf. chapter xlvii. 3.

  • [115] The account of the quarrel between Alexander and the Macedonians in Arrian (Anab. vii. 8-11) differs materially from that of Plutarch.

  • [116] Cf. Arrian, Anab. vii. 12.

  • [117] Arrian finds great diversity in the accounts of Alexander's displays of grief at Hephaestion's death (Anab. vii. 14).

  • [118] According to Arrian (Anab. vii. 16, 5), the Chaldaeans besought Alexander in person to suspend his march to Babylon. It was in the spring of 323 B.C.

  • [119] Other predictions of Alexander's death are given in Arrian (Anab. vii. 18, 22, and 24).

  • [120] Cf. Arrian, Anab. vii. 25.

  • [121] They are given also by Arrian (Anab. vii. 25).

  • [122] June 2, 323 B.C.

  • [123] June 13, 323 B.C.

  • [124] Cf. Arrian, Anab. vii. 28.

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