But Alexander, knowing well in what matters he should be merely a spectator and listener, and in what he should play the chief role, trained himself [p. 429] always to be formidable in arms, and. in the words of Aeschylus,1
Sturdy contender in arms, baleful to all that oppose.This art he inherited from his ancestors, the Aeacidae, and from Heracles2; but upon the other arts he freely bestowed honour without jealousy according to their worth and artistic excellence ; but he was not so easily carried away by the pleasure they give him as to try to imitate them. The tragic actors of his time were the group that centred about Thettalus and Athenodorus.3 At the contest of these two, the kings of Cyprus defrayed the expenses of the performance and Alexander's most celebrated generals served as judges. When Athenodorus won, ‘I would rather,’ said Alexander, ‘have lost half my kingdom than see Thettalus defeated.’ However, he did not intercede with the judges nor find fault with the judgement, since he felt that, while he must be superior to all men, yet he must submit to Justice. The comic actors of his time were the group that centred about Lycon of Scarpheia.4 When Lycon inserted in one of his comedies a begging verse, Alexander laughed and gave him ten talents. Various harp-players also were his friends, among them Aristonicus,5 who came to Alexander's aid in a certain battle, and was slain fighting gloriously. Therefore Alexander ordered to be made and set up at Delphi a bronze statue of him, with lyre in hand and spear advanced ; thereby he not only honoured [p. 431] this particular man, but also paid tribute to Music herself, in the belief that she is a creator of true men and, in particular, that she filis with inspiration and impetuousness those who are truly her fosterchildren. For once Upon a time, when Antigenides was playing on his flute the Chariot Song,6 Alexander became so transported, and his spirit so inflamed by the strains, that he leapt up and laid hands upon the weapons that lay near, and thus confirmed the testimony of the Spartans who used to sing,7
The noble playing of the lyre is meet to match the sword.Apelles the painter and Lysippus the sculptor also lived in the time of Alexander. The former painted ‘Alexander wielding the Thunderbolt’ 8 so vividly and with so natural an expression, that men said that, of the two Alexanders, Alexander, son of Philip, was invincible, but the Alexander of Apelles was inimitable. And when Lysippus9 modelled his first statue of Alexander which represented him looking up with his face turned towards the heavens (as indeed Alexander often did look, with a slight inclination of his head to one side10),someone engraved these verses11 on the statue, not without some plausibility,
Eager to speak seems the statue of bronze, up to Zeus as it gazes :[p. 433] Wherefore Alexander gave orders that Lysippus12 only should make statues of him. For Lysippus was, it seemed, the only one that revealed in the bronze Alexander's character and in moulding his form portrayed also his virtues. The others wished to imitate the flexing of his neck and the melting and liquid softness of his eyes, but were unable to preserve his virile and leonine expression. Among the other artists at his court was Stasicrates13 the master-sculptor, not seeking to make something flowery or pleasant or lifelike to look upon, but employing a magnificence in workmanship and design worthy of a king's munificence. He followed Alexander into Asia and found fault with the paintings, sculptures, and moulded likenesses that had been made of him, on the ground that they were the works of timid and ignoble artists. ‘But I, your Majesty,’ said he, ‘have conceived the project of placing your likeness in living and imperishable material, with roots that are everlasting and weight immovable and unshakable. For Mount Athos in Thrace, in that part where is its highest and most conspicuous summit, has well-proportioned surfaces and heights, limbs and joints and proportions that suggest the human form. When it has been properly carved and worked into shape, it can be called Alexander's statue, and Alexander's statue it will be ; with its base set in the sea, in its left hand it will encompass and hold a city peopled with ten thousand [p. 435] inhabitants, and with its right pour from a bowl of libation an ever-flowing river down into the sea. But as for gold and bronze, ivory, wooden timbers, and dyes,14 which make those paltry images that can be bought and sold, stolen, or melted down, let us reject them all!’ Alexander listened to his words and admired but declined with thanks the lofty designs and the boldness of the artist. ‘But,’ said he, “let Athos remain as it is. It is enough that it be the memorial of the arrogance of one king15; but my imprint the Caucasus shall show and the Emodian16 range and the Tanaïs and the Caspian Sea ; these will be the image of my deeds.
“Earth I have set under foot: Zeus, keep Olympus yourself!”