previous next
21. As 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; [2] for 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. [3] But 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.

[4] But 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. [5] But 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. 1 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.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Bernadotte Perrin, 1919)
hide References (13 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: