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And in the same spirit if ever there chanced to be in hours of ease or at a banquet a comparison of the verses of Homer, each man choosing his favourite line, Alexander always judged this verse to be the greatest of all:
Both things is he: both a goodly king and a warrior mighty.1
This praise, which at the time it was written another had received, Alexander conceived to be a law for himself, so that he said of Homer that in this same verse he had honoured the manly courage of Agamemnon [p. 411] and prophesied that of Alexander. Accordingly when he had crossed the Hellespont, he went to see the site of Troy,2 imagining to himself the heroic deeds enacted there ; and when one of the natives of the country promised to give him the lyre of Paris, if he wished it, Alexander said, ‘Of his lyre I have no need ; for I already possess Achilles' lyre to the accompaniment of which, as he rested from his labours,
he sang the famed deeds of heroes.3
But the lyre of Paris gave forth an altogether weak and womanish strain to accompany his love songs.’ Thus it is the mark of a truly philosophic soul to be in love with wisdom and to admire wise men most of all, and this was more characteristic of Alexander than of any other king. His attitude toward Aristotle has already been stated4; and it is recorded by several authors that he considered the musician Anaxarchus the most valuable of all his friends, that he gave ten thousand gold pieces to Pyrrhon5 of Elis the first time he met him, that he sent to Xenocrates,6 the friend of Plato, fifty talents as a gift, and that he made Onesicritus,7 the pupil of Diogenes the Cynic, chief pilot of his fleet.

But when he came to talk with Diogenes g himself in Corinth, he was so awed and astounded with the life and the worth of the man that often, when remembrance of the philosopher came to him, he would [p. 413] say, ‘If I were not Alexander,I should be Diogenes,’ that is to say: ‘If I did not actively practise philosophy, I should apply myself to its theoretical pursuit.’ He did not say, ‘If I were not a king, I should be Diogenes,’ nor ‘If I were not rich and an Argead’ ; for he did not rank Fortune above Wisdom, nor a crown and royal purple above the philosopher's wallet and threadbare gown. But he said, ‘If I were not Alexander, I should be Diogenes’; that is to say: ‘If it were not my purpose to combine foreign things with things Greek, to traverse and civilize every continent, to search out the uttermost parts of land and sea, to push the bounds of Macedonia to the farthest Ocean, and to disseminate and shower the blessings of Greek justice and peace over every nation, I should not be content to sit quietly in the luxury of idle power, but I should emulate the frugality of Diogenes. But as things are, forgive me, Diogenes, that I imitate Heracles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysus,8the divine author and progenitor of my family,9 and desire that victorious Greeks should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Caucasus. Even there it is said that there are certain holy men, a law unto themselves, who follow a rigid gymnosophy10 and give all their time to God ; they are more frugal than Diogenes since they have no need of a wallet. For they do not store up food, since they have it ever fresh and green from the earth; the flowing rivers give them drink and they have fallen leaves and grassy [p. 415] earth to lie upon. Because of me even those faraway sages shall come to know of Diogenes, and he of them. And I also, like Diogenes, must alter the standard of coinage11 and stamp foreign states with the impress of Greek government.’

1 Iliad, iii. 179; cf. Xenophon, Memorabilia, iii. 2. 2.

2 Cf. Life of Alexander, chap. xv. (672 b); Aelian, Varia Historia, ix. 38.

3 Homer, Il. ix. 189.

4 327 f, supra; cf. Life of Alexander, chaps. vii., viii. (668 a-f).

5 Cf. Sextus Empiricus, Adversus Mathematicos, i. 282.

6 Cf. 333 b, infra, and Moralia, 181 e.

7 Cf. Life of Alexander, chap. xiv. (671 d); Diogenes Laertius, vi. 32; Valerius Maximus, iv. 3. 4; Juvenal, xiv. 311-314. Cf. also Moralia, 782 a-b.

8 Cf. Arrian, Anabasis, iv. 10. 6; Rhein. Mus. liv. 470.

9 Cf. 326 b, supra.

10 Cf. Life of Alexander, chaps. lxiv., lxv. (700 f-701 f) for Alexander's dealing with the Gymnosophists.

11 Cf. Diogenes Laertius, vi. 20, 21.

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