And so it proved; for he encountered many perils in the battles which he fought, and received very severe wounds; but the greatest losses which his army suffered were caused by lack of necessary provisions and severity of weather. Still, he was eager to overcome fortune by boldness and force by valour, and thought nothing invincible for the courageous, and nothing secure for the cowardly.
It is said that when he was besieging the citadel of Sisimithres, which was steep and inaccessible, so that his soldiers were disheartened, he asked Oxyartes what sort of a man Sisimithres himself was in point of spirit. And when Oxyartes replied that he was most cowardly of men, ‘Thy words mean,’ said Alexander,
‘that we can take the citadel, since he who commands it is a weak thing.’
And indeed he did take the citadel by frightening Sisimithres. Again, after attacking another citadel equally precipitous, he was urging on the younger Macedonians, and addressing one who bore the name of Alexander, said: ‘It behooves thee, at least, to be a brave man, even for thy name's sake.’ And when the young man, fighting gloriously, fell, the king was pained beyond measure.
And at another time, when his Macedonians hesitated to advance upon the citadel called Nysa because there was a deep river in front of it, Alexander, halting on the bank, cried: ‘Most miserable man that I am, why, pray, have I not learned to swim?’ and at once, carrying his shield, he would have tried to cross. And when, after he had put a stop to the fighting, ambassadors came from the beleaguered cities to beg for terms, they were amazed, to begin with, to see him in full armour and without an attendant; and besides, when a cushion was brought him for his use, he ordered the eldest of the ambassadors, Acuphis by name, to take it for his seat.
Acuphis, accordingly, astonished at his magnanimity and courtesy, asked what he wished them to do in order to be his friends. ‘Thy countrymen,’ said Alexander,
‘must make thee their ruler, and send me a hundred of their best men.’ At this Acuphis laughed, and said:
‘Nay, O King, I shall rule better if I send to thee the worst men rather than the best.’