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27. At 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. [2] Again, 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, 1 flying swiftly on in front of them when they followed, and waiting for them when they marched slowly and lagged behind. [3] Moreover, 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. [4] To 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.

[5] This 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. [6] We 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.

1 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.).

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