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And here I may seem to utter an absurdity, but I will venture to speak it, as being an undoubted truth; that it was by Fortune that he came very near losing the reputation of being the son of Jupiter Ammon. For who but one sprung from the Gods, Hercules excepted, would ever have undertaken and finished those hazardous and toilsome labors which he did? Yet what did Hercules do but terrify lions, pursue wild boars, and scare birds; enjoined thereto by one evil man, that he might not have leisure for those greater actions of punishing Antaeus and [p. 510] putting an end to the murders of Busiris. But it was virtue that enjoined Alexander to undertake that godlike labor, not covetousness of the golden burden of ten thousand camels, not the possession of the Median women or glorious ornaments of Persian luxury, not greediness of the Chalybonian wine or the fish of Hyrcania, but that he might reduce all mankind as it were into one family, under one form of government and the same custom of intercourse and conversation. This love of virtue was thoroughly inbred, and increased and ripened as he grew in years; so that once being to entertain the Persian ambassadors in his father's absence, he never asked them any questions that savored of boyish imbecility,—never troubled them to answer any questions about the golden vine, the pendent gardens, or what habit the king wore,—but still desired to be satisfied in the chiefest concerns of the empire, what force the Persians brought into the field, and in what part of the army the king fought; as Ulysses asked,
Where are the magazines of arms? And where
The barbed steeds provided for the war?
1
He also enquired which were the nearest roads for them that travelled from the sea up into the country; at all of which the ambassadors were astonished, and said, This youth is a great prince, but ours a rich one. No sooner was Philip interred, but his resolution hurried him to crossthe sea; and having already grasped it in his hopes and preparations, he made all imaginable haste to set foot in Asia. But Fortune opposed him, diverted him, and kept him back, creating a thousand vexatious troubles to delay and stop him. First, she contrived the Illyrian and Triballic wars, exciting to hostility the neighboring barbarians. But they, after many dangers run and many terrible encounters, being at length chased even as far as Scythia beyond the river Ister, he returned back to [p. 511] prosecute his first design. But then again spiteful Fortune stirred up the Thebans against him, and entangled him in the Grecian war, and in the dire necessity of defending himself against his fellow-countrymen and relations with fire and sword and hideous slaughter. Which war being brought to a dreadful end, away he presently crossed into Asia,—as Phylarchus relates, with only thirty days' provision; as Aristobulus reports, with seventy talents,—having before sold and divided among his friends his own revenues and those of his crown. Only Perdiccas refused what he offered him, asking him at the same time what he had left for himself. And when Alexander replied, Nothing but hopes, Then, said he, we will be content with the same; for it is not just to accept of thy goods, but we must wait for those of Darius.

1 Il. X. 407.

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