previous next

Considering carefully this order of affairs, Alexander did not favour the Median raiment, but preferred the Persian, for it was much more simple than the Median. Since he deprecated the unusual and theatrical varieties of foreign adornment, such as the tiara and the full-sleeved jacket and trousers, he wore a composite dress adapted from both Persian and Macedonian fashion,1 as Eratosthenes2 has recorded. As a philosopher what he wore was [p. 403] a matter of indifference, but as sovereign of both nations and benevolent king he strove to acquire the goodwill of the conquered by showing respect for their apparel, so that they might continue constant in loving the Macedonians as rulers, and might not feel hate toward them as enemies. Conversely it were the mark of an unwise and vainglorious mind to admire greatly a cloak of uniform colour and to be displeased by a tunic with a purple border, or again to disdain those things and to be struck with admiration for these, holding stubbornly, in the manner of an unreasoning child, to the raiment in which the custom of his country, like a nurse, had attired him. When men hunt wild animals, they put on the skins of deer, and when they go to catch birds, they dress in tunics adorned with plumes and feathers; they are careful not to be seen by bulls when they have on red garments, nor by elephants when dressed in white;3 for these animals are provoked and made savage by the sight of these particular colours. But if a great king, in taming and mollifying headstrong and warring nations, just as in dealing with animals, succeeded in soothing and stilling them by wearing a garb familiar to them and by following their wonted manner of life, thereby conciliating their rough natures and smoothing their sullen brows, can men impeach him? Must they not rather wonder at his wisdom, since by but a slight alteration of his apparel he made himself the popular leader of all Asia, conquering their bodies by his arms, but winning over their souls by his apparel? And yet men marvel at the disciple of Socrates, Aristippus,4 that whether he wore a threadbare [p. 405] cloak or a fine Milesian robe he retained his gentility in either ; but they impeach Alexander because, although paying due respect to his own national dress, he did not disdain that of his conquered subjects in establishing the beginnings of a vast empire. For he did not overrun Asia like a robber nor was he minded to tear and rend it, as if it were booty and plunder bestowed by unexpected good fortune, after the manner in which Hannibal later descended upon Italy, or as earlier the Treres5 descended upon Ionia and the Scythians6 upon Media. But Alexander desired to render all upon earth subject to one law of reason and one form of government and to reveal all men as one people, and to this purpose he made himself conform. But if the deity that sent down Alexander's soul into this world of ours had not recalled him quickly, one law would govern all mankind, and they all would look toward one rule of justice as though toward a common source of light. But as it is, that part of the world which has not looked upon Alexander has remained without sunlight.

1 Cf. Life of Alexander, chap. xlv. (690 e-691 a); Diodorus, xvii. 77.

2 Presumably in the treatise referred to by Strabo, i. 4. 9 (p. 66).

3 Cf. Moralia, 144 d.

4 Cf. Horace, Epistles, i. 17. 23-29 ‘ personamque feret non inconcinnus utramque.’

5 Cf. Strabo, i. 3. 21; xi. 8. 4.

6 Cf. Herodotus, i. 15, 103-106.

load focus Greek (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1936)
load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1889)
load focus English (Goodwin, 1874)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: