But Alexander, well considering of what persons and things it became him to be the hearer and spectator, and with whom to contend and exercise his strength, made it his business to excel all others in the art of war, and according to Aeschylus, to be
A mighty warrior, terrible to his foes.For having learned this art from his ancestors, the Aeacidae and Hercules, he gave to other arts their due honor and esteem without the least emulation; embracing and favoring what was in them noble and elegant, but never suffering himself to be carried away with the pleasure of being a practitioner in any. In his time flourished the two tragedians, Thessalus and Athenodorus, who contending for the prize, the Cyprian kings supplied the charges of the theatre, and the judges were to be the most renowned captains of the age. But at length Athenodorus being adjudged the victor; I could have wished, said Alexander, rather to have lost a part of my kingdom than to have seen Thessalus vanquished. Yet he neither interceded with the judges nor anywhere disapproved or blamed the judgment; [p. 494] believing it became him to be superior to all others, only to submit to justice. To the comedian Lyco of Scarphe, who had inserted into one of his scenes certain verses in the nature of a begging petition, he gave ten talents, laughing heartily at the conceit. Aristonicus was in the number of the most famous musicians of those times. This man being slain in battle, strenuously fighting to assist and save his friend, Alexander commanded his statue to be made in brass and set up in the temple of Pythian Apollo, holding his harp in one hand and his spear upright in the other, not only in memory of the person, but in honor of music itself, as exciting to fortitude and inspiring those who are rightly and generously bred to it with a kind of supernatural courage and bravery. Even Alexander himself, when Antigenides played before him in the Harmatian mood, was so transported and warmed for battle by the charms of lofty airs, that leaping from his seat all in his clattering armor he began to lay about him and attack those who stood next him, thereby verifying to the Spartans what was commonly sung among themselves,—
The masculine touches of the well-tuned lyreFurthermore, there were also Apelles the painter and Lysippus the statuary both living under the reign of Alexander. The first of which painted him grasping Jupiter's thunderbolt in his hand, so artfully and in such lively colors, that it was said of the two Alexanders that Philip's was invincible, but Apelles's inimitable. Lysippus, when he had finished the first statue of Alexander looking up with his face to the sky (as Alexander was wont to look, with his neck slightly bent), not improperly added to the pedestal the following lines:—
Unsheathe the sword and warlike rage inspire.
The statue seems to look to Jove and say,[p. 495] For which Alexander gave to Lysippus the sole patent for making all his statues; because he alone expressed in brass the vigor of his mind, and in his lineaments represented the lustre of his virtue; while others, who strove to imitate the turning of his neck and softness and brightness of his eyes, failed to observe the manliness and lion-like fierceness of his countenance. Among the great artists of that time was Stasicrates, who never studied elegance nor what was sweet and alluring to the eye, but only bold and lofty workmanship and design, becoming the munificence of royal bounty. He attended upon Alexander, and found fault with all the paintings, sculptures, and cast figures that were made of his person, as the works of mean and slothful artificers. ‘But I,’ said he, ‘will undertake to fix the likeness of thy body on matter incorruptible, such as has eternal foundations and a ponderosity steadfast and immovable. For the mountain Athos in Thrace, where it rises largest and most conspicuous, having a just symmetry of breadth and height, with members, limbs, and distances answerable to the shape of human body, may be so wrought and formed as to be, not only in imagination and fancy but really, the effigy and statue of Alexander; with his feet reaching to the seas, grasping in his left hand a fair and populous city, and with his right pouring forth an ever-flowing river into the ocean from a bowl, as a perpetual drink-offering. But as for gold, brass, ivory, wood, stained figures, and little wax images, toys which may be bought or stolen, I despise them all.’ When Alexander heard this discourse, he admired and praised the spirit and confidence of the artist; ‘But,’ said he, ‘let Athos alone; for it is sufficient that it is the monument of the vanquished folly and presuming pride of one king already. Our portraiture the snowy Caucasus, and towering Emodon, Tanais, and the Caspian Sea shall draw. They shall remain eternal monuments of our renown.’ [p. 496]
Take thou Olympus; me let Earth obey!