Therefore, in the first place, the very plan and design of Alexander's expedition commends the man as a philosopher in his purpose not to win for himself luxury and extravagant living, but to win for all men concord and peace and community of interests. And, in the second place, let us examine his sayings too, since it is by their utterances1 that the souls of other kings and potentates also best reveal their characters. The elder Antigonus remarked to a certain sophist who put in his hands a treatise on [p. 407] justice, ‘You are a fool to say anything about justice when you see me smiting other peoples cities.’ The despot Dionysius remarked that one should trick children with dice, but men with oaths.2 Upon the tomb of Sardanapalus3 is written.
These are still mine - what I ate, and my wanton love - frolics.Who would not own that by these several sayings are revealed Sardanapalus's love of pleasure, Dionysius's impiety, and Antigonus's injustice and greed? But if you subtract from Alexander's sayings his crown, his relationship with Ammon, and his noble birth, they will appear to you as the utterances of a Socrates or a Plato or a Pythagoras. Let us, then, pay no heed to the proud boasts which the poets inscribed upon his portraits and statues, studying, as they were, to portray, not Alexander's moderation, but his power :
Eager to speak seems the statue of bronze, up to Zeus asAnd another man makes Alexander say, ‘I am the son of Zeus.’ 5 These expressions, then, as I have said, the poets addressed to Alexander in flattery of his good fortune. But of the genuine sayings of Alexander we might first review those of his youth. Since he was the swiftest of foot of all the young men of his age,6 his [p. 409] comrades urged him to enter the Olympic games. He asked if the competitors were kings, and when his friends replied that they were not, he said that the contest was unfair, for it was one in which a victory would be over commoners, but a defeat would be the defeat of a king. When the thigh of his father Philip had been pierced by a spear in battle with the Triballians, and Philip, although he escaped with his life, was vexed with his lameness, Alexander said, ‘Be of good cheer, father, and go on your way rejoicing, that at each step you may recall your valour.’ 7 Are not these the words of a truly philosophic spirit which, because of its rapture for noble things, already revolts against mere physical encumbrances? How, then, think you, did he glory in his own wounds, remembering by each part of his body affected a nation overcome, a victory won, the capture of cities, the surrender of kings? He did not cover over nor hide his scars, but bore them with him openly as symbolic representations, graven on his body, of virtue and manly courage.
it gazes : “Earth I have set under foot; Zeus, keep Olympus yourself.” 4