Arrian‎ > ‎


15. THE mourning was prolonged for many days; and as he was now beginning to recall himself from it, under such circumstances his Companions had less difficulty in rousing him to action. Then at length he made an expedition against the Cossaeans, a warlike race bordering on the territory of the Uxians. They are mountaineers, inhabiting strong positions in separate villages. Whenever a force approached them, they were in the habit of retiring to the summits of their mountains, either in a body or separately as each man found it practicable; and thus they escaped, making it difficult for those who attacked them with their forces to come near them. After the enemy’s departure, they used to turn themselves again to marauding, by which occupation they supported themselves. But Alexander subdued this race, though he marched against them in the winter; for neither winter nor ruggedness of ground was any impediment either to him or to Ptolemy, son of Lagus, who led a part of the army in the campaign against them. Thus no military enterprise which Alexander undertook was ever unsuccessful. As he was marching back to Babylon, he was met by embassies from the Libyans, who congratulated him and crowned him as conqueror of the kingdom of Asia. From Italy also came Bruttians, Lucanians, and Tyrrhenians as envoys, for the same purpose. The Carthaginians are said to have sent an embassy to him at this time; and it is also asserted that envoys came to request his friendship from the Ethiopians, the Scythians of Europe, the Gauls, and Iberians—nations whose names were heard and their accoutrements seen then for the first time by Greeks and Macedonians. They are also said to have entrusted to Alexander the duty of settling their disputes with each other. Then indeed it was especially evident both to himself and to those about him that he was lord of all the land and sea. Of the men who have written the history of Alexander, Aristus and Asclepiades alone say that the Romans also sent an embassy to him, and that when he met their embassy, he predicted something of the future power of Rome, observing both the attire of the men, their love of labour, and their devotion to freedom. At the same time he made urgent inquiries about their political constitution. This incident I have recorded neither as certainly authentic nor as altogether incredible; but none of the Roman writers have made any mention of this embassy having been despatched to Alexander; nor of those who have written an account of Alexander’s actions, has either Ptolemy, son of Lagus, or Aristobulus mentioned it. With these authors I am generally inclined to agree. Nor does it seem likely that the Roman republic, which was at that time remarkable for its love of liberty, would send an embassy to a foreign king, especially to a place so far away from their own land, when they were not compelled to do so by fear or any hope of advantage, being possessed as they were beyond any other people by hatred to the very name and race of despots.
16. AFTER this, Alexander sent Heraclides, son of Argaeus, into Hyrcania in command of a company of shipwrights, with orders to cut timber from the Hyrcanian mountains and with it to construct a number of ships of war, some without decks and others with decks after the Grecian fashion of ship-building. For he was very desirous of discovering with what sea the one called the Hyrcanian or Caspian unites; whether it communicates with the water of the Euxine Sea, or whether the Great Sea comes right round from the Eastern Sea, which is near India and flows up into the Hyrcanian Gulf; just as he had discovered that the Persian Sea, which was called the Red Sea, is really a gulf of the Great Sea. For the sources of the Caspian Sea had not yet been discovered, although many nations dwell around it, and navigable rivers discharge their waters into it. From Bactria, the Oxus, the largest of Asiatic rivers, those of India excepted, discharges itself into this sea; and through Scythia flows the Jaxartes. The general account is, that the Araxes also, which flows from Armenia, falls into the same sea. These are the largest; but many others flow into these, while others again discharge themselves directly into this sea. Some of these were known to those who visited these nations with Alexander; others are situated towards the farther side of the gulf, as it seems, in the country of the Nomadic Scythians, a district which is quite unknown.When Alexander had crossed the river Tigris with his army and was marching to Babylon, he was met by the Chaldaean philosophers; who, having led him away from his Companions, besought him to suspend his march to that city. For they said that an oracular declaration had been made to them by the god Belus, that his entrance into Babylon at that time would not be for his good. But he answered their speech with a line from the poet Euripides to this effect “He the best prophet is that guesses well.” But said the Chaldaeans: “O king, do not at any rate enter the city looking towards the west nor leading the army advancing in that direction; but rather go right round towards the east.” But this did not turn out to be easy for him, on account of the difficulty of the ground; for the deity was leading him to the place where entering he was doomed soon to die. And perhaps it was better for him to be taken off in the very acme of his glory as well as of the affection entertained for him by men, before any of the vicissitudes natural to men befell him. Probably this was the reason Solon advised Croesus to look at the end of a long life, and not before pronounce any man happy. Yea indeed, Hephaestion’s death had been no small misfortune to Alexander; and I think he would rather have departed before it occurred than have been alive to experience it; no less than Achilles, as it seems to me, would rather have died before Patroclus than have been the avenger of his death.
17. BUT he had a suspicion that the Chaldaeans were trying to prevent his march into Babylon at that time with reference rather to their own advantage than to the declaration of the oracle. For in the middle of the city of the Babylonians was the temple of Belus, an edifice very great in size, constructed of baked bricks which were cemented together with bitumen. This temple had been razed to the ground by Xerxes, when he returned from Greece; as were also all the other sacred buildings of the Babylonians. Some say that Alexander had formed the resolution to rebuild it upon the former foundations; and for this reason he ordered the Babylonians to carry away the mound. Others say that he intended to build a still larger one than that which formerly existed. But after his departure, the men who had been intrusted with the work prosecuted it without any vigour, so that he determined now to employ the whole of his army in completing it. A great quantity of land as well as gold had been dedicated to the god Belus by the Assyrian kings; and from days of yore the temple was kept in repair and sacrifices were offered to the god. But at that time the Chaldaeans were appropriating the property of the god, since nothing existed upon which the revenues could be expended. Alexander suspected that they did not wish him to enter Babylon for this reason, for fear that in a short time the completion of the temple would deprive them of the gains accruing from the money. And yet, according to Aristobulus, he was willing to yield to their persuasions so far at least as to change the direction of his entry into the city. For this purpose, on the first day he encamped near the river Euphrates; and on the next day he marched along the bank, keeping the river on his right hand, with the intention of passing beyond the part of the city turned towards the west, and there wheeling round to lead his army towards the east. But on account of the difficulty of the ground he could not march with his army in this direction; because if a man who is entering the city from the west, here changes his direction eastward, he comes upon ground covered with marshes and shoals. Thus, partly by his own will and partly against his will, he disobeyed the god.
18. MOREOVER Aristobulus has recorded the following story. Apollodorus the Amphipolitan, one of Alexander’s Companions, was general of the army which the king left with Mazaeus, the viceroy of Babylon. When he had joined his forces with the king’s on the return of the latter from India, and observed that he was severely punishing the viceroys who had been placed over the several countries, he sent to his brother Peithagoras and asked him to divine about his safety. For Peithagoras was a diviner who derived his knowledge of the future from the inspection of the inward parts of animals. This man sent back to Apollodorus, inquiring of whom he was so especially afraid, as to wish to consult divination. The latter wrote back: “The king himself and Hephaestion.” Peithagoras therefore in the first place offered sacrifice with reference to Hephaestion. But as there was no lobe visible upon the liver of the sacrificial victim, he stated this fact in a letter, which he sealed and sent to his brother from Babylon to Ecbatana, explaining that there was no reason at all to be afraid of Hephaestion, for in a short time he would be out of their way. And Aristobulus says that Apollodorus received this epistle only one day before Hephaestion died. Then Peithagoras again offered sacrifice in respect to Alexander, and the liver of the victim consulted in respect to him was also destitute of a lobe. He therefore wrote to Apoilodorus to the same purport about Alexander as about Hephaestion. Apollodorus did not conceal the information sent to him, but told Alexander, in order the more to show his good-will to the king, if he urged him to be on his guard lest some danger might befall him at that time. And Aristobulus says that the king commended Apollodorus, and when he entered Babylon, he asked Peithagoras what sign he had met with, to induce him to write thus to his brother. He said that the liver of the victim sacrificed for him was without a lobe. When Alexander asked what the sign meant, he said that it was a very disastrous one. The king was so far from being angry with him, that he even treated him with greater respect, for telling him the truth without any disguise. Aristobulus says that he himself heard this story from Peithagoras; and adds that the same man acted as diviner for Perdiccas and afterwards for Antigonus, and that the same sign occurred for both. It was verified by fact; for Perdiccas lost his life leading an army against Ptolemy, and Antigonus was killed in the battle fought by him at Ipsus against Seleucus and Lysimachus. Also concerning Calanus, the Indian philosopher, the following story has been recorded. When he was going to the funeral pyre to die, he gave the parting salutation to all his other companions; but he refused to approach Alexander to give him the salutation, saying he would meet him at Babylon and there salute him. At the time indeed this remark was treated with neglect; but afterwards, when Alexander had died at Babylon, it came to the recollection of those who had heard it, and they thought forsooth that it was a divine intimation of Alexander’s approaching end.
19. AS he was entering Babylon, he was met by embassies from the Greeks; but for what purpose each embassy was sent has not been recorded. To me indeed it seems probable that most of them came to crown and eulogize him on account of his victories, especially the Indian ones, as well as to say that the Greeks rejoiced at his safe return from India. It is said that he greeted these men with the right hand, and after paying them suitable honour sent them back. He also gave the ambassadors permission to take with them all the statues of men and images of gods and the other votive offerings which Xerxes had carried off from Greece to Babylon, Pasargadae, Susa, or any other place in Asia. In this way it is said that the brazen statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton, as well as the image of the Celcaean Artemis, were carried back to Athens.Aristobulus says that he found at Babylon the fleet with Nearchus, which had sailed from the Persian Sea up the river Euphrates; and another which had been conveyed from Phoenicia, consisting of two Phoenician quinqueremes, three quadriremes, twelve triremes, and thirty triacontors. These had been taken to pieces and conveyed to the river Euphrates from Phoenicia to the city of Thapsacus. There they were joined together again and sailed down to Babylon. The same writer says that he cut down the cypresses in Babylonia and with them built another fleet; for in the land of the Assyrians these trees alone are abundant, but of the other things necessary for ship-building this country affords no supply. A multitude of purple-fishers and other seafaring men came to him from Phoenicia and the rest of the sea-board to serve as crews for the ships and perform the other services on board. Near Babylon he made a harbour by excavation large enough to afford anchorage to 1,000 ships of war; and adjoining the harbour he made dockyards. Miccalus the Clazomenian was despatched to Phoenicia and Syria with 500 talents to enlist some men and to purchase others who were experienced in nautical affairs. For Alexander designed to colonize the sea-board near the Persian Gulf, as well as the islands in that sea. For he thought that this land would become no less prosperous than Phoenicia. He made these preparations of the fleet to attack the main body of the Arabs, under the pretext that they were the only barbarians of this region who had not sent an embassy to him or done anything else becoming their position and showing respect to him. But the truth was, as it seems to me, that Alexander was insatiably ambitious of ever acquiring fresh territory.
20. THE common report is, that he heard that the Arabs venerated only two gods, Uranus and Dionysus; the former because he is himself visible and contains in himself the heavenly luminaries, especially the sun, from which emanates the greatest and most evident benefit to all things human; and the latter on account of the fame he acquired by his expedition into India. Therefore he thought himself quite worthy to be considered by the Arabs as a third god, since he had performed deeds by no means inferior to those of Dionysus. If then he could conquer the Arabs, he intended to grant them the privilege of conducting their government according to their own customs, as he had already done to the Indians. The fertility of the land was a secret inducement to him to invade it; because he heard that the people obtained cassia from the lakes, and myrrh and frankincense from the trees; that cinnamon was cut from the shrubs, and that the meadows produce spikenard without any cultivation. As to the size of the country, he was informed that the seaboard of Arabia was not less in extent than that of India; that near it lie many islands; that in all parts of the country there were harbours sufficiently commodious to provide anchorage for his fleet, and that it supplied sites for founding cities, which would become flourishing. He was also informed that there were two islands in the sea facing the mouth of the Euphrates, the first of which was not far from the place where the waters of that river are discharged into the sea, being about 120 stades distant from the shore and the river’s mouth. This is the smaller of the two, and was densely covered with every kind of timber. In it was also a temple of Artemis, around which the inhabitants themselves spent their lives. The island was devoted to the use of wild goats and stags, which were allowed to range at large as being dedicated to Artemis. It was unlawful to chase them unless any one wished to offer sacrifice to the goddess; and for this purpose alone it was lawful to chase them. Aristobulus says that Alexander ordered this island to be called Icarus, after the island so named in the Aegean Sea, on which, as the report goes, Icarus, son of Daedalus fell, when the wax, by which the wings had been fastened to him, melted. For he did not fly near the earth, according to his father’s injunctions, but senselessly flying far aloft, he allowed the sun to soften and loosen the wax. Icarus left his name to the island and the sea, the former being called Icarus and the latter the Icarian. The other island was said to be distant from the mouth of the Euphrates about a day and night’s voyage for a ship running before the breeze. Its name was Tylus; it was large and most of it neither rugged nor woody, but suitable for producing cultivated fruits and all things in due season. Some of this information was imparted to Alexander by Archias who was sent with a triacontor to investigate the course of the coasting voyage to Arabia, and who went as far as the island of Tylus, but durst not pass beyond that point. Androsthenes was despatched with another triacontor and sailed along a part of the peninsula of Arabia. Hieron of Soli the pilot also received a triacontor from Alexander and advanced farthest of those whom he despatched to this region; for he had received instructions to sail round the whole Arabian peninsula as far as the Arabian Gulf near Egypt over against Heroopolis. Although he coasted along the country of the Arabs to a great distance, he durst not go as far as he was ordered; but returning to Alexander he reported that the size of the peninsula was marvellous, being only a little smaller than the country of the Indians, and its extremity projected far into the Great Sea. Nearchus indeed in his voyage from India had seen this stretching out not far off, before he turned aside into the Persian Gulf, and he was almost induced to cross over to it. The pilot Onesicritus thought they ought to have gone thither; but Nearchus says that he himself prevented it, so that after sailing right round the Persian Gulf he might be able to give a report to Alexander about the things for which he had sent him. For Nearchus said he had not been despatched to navigate the Great Sea, but to explore the land bordering on the sea, to find out what men inhabit it, to discover the harbours and rivers in it, to ascertain the customs of the people, and to see if any of the country was fertile, and if any was sterile. This was the reason why Alexander’s naval expedition returned in safety; for if it had sailed beyond the deserts of Arabia, it would not have returned in safety. This is said also to have been the reason why Hieron turned back.
21. WHILE the triremes were being built for him, and the harbour near Babylon was being excavated, Alexander sailed from Babylon down the Euphrates to what was called the river Pallacopas, which is distant from Babylon about 800 stades. This Pallacopas is not a river rising from springs, but a canal cut from the Euphrates. For that river flowing from the Armenian mountains, proceeds within its banks in the season of winter, because its water is scanty; but when the spring begins to make its appearance, and especially just before the summer solstice, it pours along with mighty stream and overflows its banks into the Assyrian country. For at that season the snow upon the Armenian mountains melts and swells its water to a great degree; and as its stream flows high and on a level with the country, it would flow over the land if some one had not furnished it with an outlet along the Pallacopas and turned it aside into the marshes and pools, which, beginning from this canal, extend as far as the country contiguous to Arabia. Thence it spreads out far and wide into a shallow lake, from which it falls into the sea by many invisible mouths. After the snow has melted, about the time of the setting of the Pleiades, the Euphrates flows with a small stream; but none the less the greater part of it discharges itself into the pools along the Pallacopas. Unless, therefore, some one dammed up the Pallacopas again, so that the water might be turned back within the banks (of the Euphrates) and carried down the channel of the river, it would drain the Euphrates into itself, and consequently the Assyrian country would not be watered by it. But the outlet of the Euphrates into the Pallacopas used to be dammed up by the viceroy of Babylonia with great labour (although it was an easy matter to construct the outlet), because the ground in this region is slimy and most of it mud, so that when it has once received the water of the river it does not allow it to be easily turned back. But more than 10,000 Assyrians used to engage in this labour even until the third month. When Alexander was informed of this, he was induced to confer a benefit upon the land of Assyria. He determined to shut up entirely the outlet by which the stream of the Euphrates was turned into the Pallacopas. When he had advanced about thirty stades, the earth was seen to be somewhat rocky, so that if it were cut through and a junction made with the old canal along the Pallacopas, on account of the hardness of soil, it would not allow the water to percolate, and there would be no difficulty in turning it back at the appointed season. For this purpose he sailed to the Pallacopas, and then continued his voyage down that canal into the pools towards the country of the Arabs. There seeing a certain admirable site, he founded a city upon it and fortified it. In it he settled as many of the Grecian mercenaries as volunteered to remain, and such as were unfit for military service by reason of age or wounds.
22. HAVING thus proved the falsity of the prophecy of the Chaldaeans, by not having experienced any unpleasant fortune in Babylon, as they had predicted, but having marched out of that city without suffering any mishap, he grew confident in spirit and sailed again through the marshes, having Babylon on his left hand. Here a part of his fleet lost its way in the narrow branches of the river through want of a pilot, until he sent a man to pilot it and lead it back into the channel of the river. The following story is told. Most of the tombs of the Assyrian kings had been built among the pools and marshes. When Alexander was sailing through these marshes, and, as the story goes, was himself steering the trireme, a strong gust of wind fell upon his broad-brimmed Macedonian hat, and the fillet which encircled it. The hat, being rather heavy, fell into the water; but the fillet, being carried along by the wind, was caught by one of the reeds growing near the tomb of one of the ancient kings. This incident itself was an omen of what was about to occur, and so was the fact that one of the sailors swam off towards the fillet and snatched it from the reed. But he did not carry it in his hands, because it would have been wetted while he was swimming; he therefore put it round his own head and thus conveyed it to the king. Most of the biographers of Alexander say that the king presented him with a talent as a reward for his zeal, and then ordered his head to be cut off; as the prophets had expounded the omen to the effect that he should not permit that head to be safe which had worn the royal fillet. However, Aristobulus says that the man received a talent; but also received a scourging for placing the fillet round his head. The same author says that it was one of the Phoenician sailors who fetched the fillet for Alexander; but there are some who say it was Seleucus, and that this was an omen to Alexander of his death and to Seleucus of his great kingdom. For that of all those who succeeded to the sovereignty after Alexander, Seleucus became the greatest king, was the most kingly in mind, and ruled over the greatest extent of land after Alexander himself, does not seem to me to admit of question.
23. WHEN he returned to Babylon he found that Peucestas had arrived from Persis, bringing with him an army of 20,000 Persians, as well as many Cossaeans and Tapurians, because these races were reported to be the most warlike of those bordering on Persis. Philoxenus also came to him bringing an army from Caria; Menander, with another from Lydia, and Menidas with the cavalry which had been put under his command. At the same time arrived embassies from Greece, the members of which, with crowns upon their own heads, approached Alexander and crowned him with golden crowns, as if forsooth they had come to him as special envoys deputed to pay him divine honours; and his end was not far off. Then he commended the Persians for their great zeal towards him, which was shown by their obedience to Peucestas in all things, and Peucestas himself for the prudence which he had displayed in ruling them. He distributed these foreign soldiers among the Macedonian ranks in the following way. Each company was led by a Macedonian decurion, and next to him was a Macedonian receiving double pay for distinguished valour; and then came one who received ten staters (monthly), who was so named from the pay he received, being somewhat less than that received by the man with double pay, but more than that of the men who were serving as soldiers without holding a position of honour. Next to these came twelve Persians, and last in the company another Macedonian, who also received the pay of ten staters; so that in each company there were twelve Persians and four Macedonians, three of whom received higher pay, and the fourth was in command of the company. The Macedonians were armed in their hereditary manner; but of the Persians some were archers, while others had javelins furnished with straps, by which they were held. At this time Alexander often reviewed his fleet, had many sham-fights with his triremes and quadriremes in the river, and contests both for rowers and pilots, the winners receiving crowns.Now arrived the special envoys whom he had despatched to Ammon to inquire how it was lawful for him to honour Hephaestion. They told him that Ammon said it was lawful to offer sacrifice to him as to a hero. Rejoicing at the response of the oracle, he paid respect to him as a hero from that time. He also despatched a letter to Cleomenes, who was a bad man and had committed many acts of injustice in Egypt. For my own part I do not blame him for his friendship to Hephaestion, even when dead, and for his recollection of him; but I do blame him for many other acts. For the letter commanded Cleomenes to prepare chapels for the hero Hephaestion in the Egyptian Alexandria, one in the city itself and another in the island of Pharos, where the tower is situated. The chapels were to be exceedingly large and to be built at lavish expense. The letter also directed that Cleomenes should take care that it should become the custom for them to be named after Hephaestion; and moreover that his name should be engraved on all the legal documents with which the merchants entered into bargains with each other. These things I cannot blame, except that he made so much ado about matters of trifling moment. But the following I must blame severely: “If I find,” said the letter, “the sacred rites and chapels of the hero Hephaestion in Egypt well completed, I will not only pardon you any crimes you have committed in the past, but in the future you shall suffer no unpleasant treatment from me, however great may be the crimes you may commit.” I cannot commend this message sent from a great king to a man who was ruling a large country and many people, especially as the man was a wicked one.
24. BUT Alexander's own end was now near. Aristobulus says that the following occurrence was a prognostication of what was about to happen. He was distributing the army which came with Peucestas from Persia, and that which came with Philoxenus and Menander from the sea, among the Macedonian lines, and becoming thirsty he retired from his seat and thus left the royal throne empty. On each side of the throne were couches with silver feet, upon which his personal Companions were sitting. A certain man of obscure condition (some say that he was even once of the men kept under guard without being in chains), seeing the throne and the couches empty, and the eunuchs standing round the throne (for the Companions also rose up from their seats with the king when he retired), walked through the line of eunuchs, ascended the throne, and sat down upon it. According to a Persian law, they did not make him rise from the throne; but rent their garments and beat their breasts and faces as if on account of a great evil. When Alexander was informed of this, he ordered the man who had sat upon his throne to be put to the torture, with the view of discovering whether he had done this according to a plan concerted by a conspiracy. But the man confessed nothing, except that it came into his mind at the time to act thus. Even more for this reason the diviners explained that this occurrence boded no good to him. A few days after this, after offering to the gods the customary sacrifices for good success, and certain others also for the purpose of divination, he was feasting with his friends, and was drinking far into the night. He is also said to have distributed the sacrificial victims as well as a quantity of wine to the army throughout the companies and centuries. There are some who have recorded that he wished to retire after the drinking party to his bed-chamber; but Medius, at that time the most influential of the Companions, met him and begged him to join a party of revellers at his residence, saying that the revel would be a pleasant one.
25. THE Royal Diary gives the following account, to the effect that he revelled and drank at the dwelling of Medius; then rose up, took a bath, and slept; then again supped at the house of Medius and again drank till far into the night. After retiring from the drinking party he took a bath; after which he took a little food and slept there, because he already felt feverish. He was carried out upon a couch to the sacrifices, in order that he might offer them according to his daily custom. After placing the sacrifices upon the altar he lay down in the banqueting hall until dusk. In the meantime he gave instructions to the officers about the expedition and voyage, ordering those who were going on foot to be ready on the fourth day, and those who were going to sail with him to be ready to sail on the fifth day. From this place he was carried upon the couch to the river, where he embarked in a boat and sailed across the river to the park. There he again took a bath and went to rest.On the following day he took another bath and offered the customary sacrifices. He then entered a tester bed, lay down, and chatted with Medius. He also ordered his officers to meet him at daybreak. Having done this he ate a little supper and was again conveyed into the tester bed. The fever now raged the whole night without intermission. The next day he took a bath; after which he offered sacrifice, and gave orders to Nearchus and the other officers that the voyage should begin on the third day. The next day he bathed again and offered the prescribed sacrifices. After placing the sacrifices upon the altar he did not yet keep quiet though suffering from the fever. Notwithstanding this, he summoned the officers and gave them instructions to have all things ready for the starting of the fleet. In the evening he took a bath, after which he was very ill. The next day he was transferred to the house near the swimming-bath, where he offered the prescribed sacrifices. Though he was now very dangerously ill, he summoned the most responsible of his officers and gave them fresh instructions about the voyage. On the following day he was with difficulty carried out to the sacrifices, which he offered; he none the less gave other orders to the officers about the voyage. The next day, though he was now very ill, he offered the prescribed sacrifices. He now gave orders that the generals should remain in attendance in the hall, and that the colonels and captains should remain before the gates. But being now altogether in a dangerous state, he was conveyed from the park into the palace. When his officers entered the room, he knew them indeed, but no longer uttered a word, being speechless. During the ensuing night and day and the next night and day he was in a very high fever.
26. SUCH is the account given in the Royal Diary. In addition to this, it states that the soldiers were very desirous of seeing him; some, in order to see him once more while still alive; others, because there was a report that he was already dead, imagined that his death was being concealed by the confidential body-guards, as I for my part suppose. Most of them through grief and affection for their king forced their way in to see him. It is said that when his soldiers passed by him he was unable to speak; yet he greeted each of them with his right hand, raising his head with difficulty and making a sign with his eyes. The Royal Diary also says that Peithon, Attalus, Demophon, and Peucestas, as well as Cleomenes, Menidas, and Seleucus, slept in the temple of Serapis, and asked the god whether it would be better and more desirable for Alexander to be carried into his temple, in order as a suppliant to be cured by him. A voice issued from the god saying that he was not to be carried into the temple, but that it would be better for him to remain where be was. This answer was reported by the Companions; and soon after Alexander died, as if after all, this were now the better thing. Neither Aristobulus nor Ptolemy has given an account differing much from the preceding. Some authors, however, have related that his Companions asked him to whom he left his kingdom; and that he replied, "To the best." Others say, that in addition to this remark, he told them that he saw there would be a great funeral contest held in his honour.
27. I am aware that many other particulars have been related by historians concerning Alexander's death, and especially that poison was sent for him by Antipater, from the effects of which he died. It is also asserted that the poison was procured for Antipater by Aristotle, who was now afraid of Alexander on account of Callisthenes. It is said to have been conveyed by Cassander, the son of Antipater, some recording that he conveyed it in the hoof of a mule, and that his younger brother Iollas gave it to the king. For this man was the royal cup-bearer, and he happened to have received some affront from Alexander a short time before his death. Others have stated that Medius, being a lover of Iollas, took part in the deed; for he it was who induced the king to hold the revel. They say that Alexander was seized with an acute paroxysm of pain over the wine-cup, on feeling which he retired from the drinking bout. One writer has not even been ashamed to record that when Alexander perceived he was unlikely to survive, he was going out to throw himself into the river Euphrates, so that he might disappear from men's sight, and leave among the men of aftertimes a more firmly-rooted opinion that he owed his birth to a god, and had departed to the gods. But as he was going out he did not escape the notice of his wife Roxana, who restrained him from carrying out his design. Whereupon he uttered lamentations, saying that she envied him the complete glory of being thought the offspring of the god. These statements I have recorded rather that I may not seem to be ignorant that they have been made, than because I consider them worthy of credence or even of narration.
28. ALEXANDER died in the 114th Olympiad, in the archonship of Hegesias at Athens. According to the statement of Aristobulus, he lived thirty-two years, and had reached the eighth month of his thirty-third year. He had reigned twelve years and these eight months. He was very handsome in person, and much devoted to exertion, very active in mind, very heroic in courage, very tenacious of honour, exceedingly fond of incurring danger, and strictly observant of his duty to the deity. In regard to the pleasures of the body, he had perfect self-control; and of those of the mind, praise was the only one of which he was insatiable, He was very clever in recognising what was necessary to be done, when others were still in a state of uncertainty; and very successful in conjecturing from the observation of facts what was likely to occur. In marshalling, arming, and ruling an army, he was exceedingly skilful; and very renowned for rousing the courage of his soldiers, filling them with hopes of success, and dispelling their fear in the midst of danger by his own freedom from fear. Therefore even what he had to do in uncertainty of the result he did with the greatest boldness. He was also very clever in getting the start of his enemies, and snatching from them their advantages by secretly forestalling them, before any one even feared what was about to happen. He was likewise very steadfast in keeping the agreements and settlements which he made, as well as very secure from being entrapped by deceivers. Finally, he was very sparing in the expenditure of money for the gratification of his own pleasures; but he was exceedingly bountiful in spending it for the benefit of his associates.
29. THAT Alexander should have committed errors in conduct from impetuosity or from wrath, and that he should have been induced to comport himself like the Persian monarchs to an immoderate degree, I do not think remarkable if we fairly consider both his youth and his uninterrupted career of good fortune; likewise that kings have associates for the gratification of pleasure, and that they will always have associates urging them to do wrong, but caring nothing for their best interests. However, I am certain that Alexander was the only one of the ancient kings who, from nobility of character, repented of the errors which he had committed. The majority of men, even if they have became conscious that they have committed an error, make the mistake of thinking that they can conceal their sin by defending their error as if it had been a just action. But it seems to me that the only cure for sin is for the sinner to confess it, and to be visibly repentant in regard to it. Thus the suffering will not appear altogether intolerable to those who have suffered unpleasant treatment, if the person who inflicted it confesses that he has acted dishonourably; and this good hope for the future is left to the man himself, that he will never again commit a similar sin, if he is seen to be vexed at his former errors. I do not think that even his tracing his origin to a god was a great error on Alexander's part, if it was not perhaps merely a device to induce his subjects to show him reverence. Nor does he seem to me to have been a less renowned king than Minos, Aeacus, or Rhadamanthus, to whom no insolence is attributed by the men of old because they traced their origin to Zeus. Nor does he seem at all inferior to Theseus or Ion, the former being the reputed son of Poseidon, and the latter of Apollo. His adoption of the Persian mode of dressing also seems to me to have been a political device in regard to the foreigners, that the king might not appear altogether alien to them; and in regard to the Macedonians, to show them that he had a refuge from their rashness of temper and insolence. For this reason I think, he mixed the Persian royal guards, who carried golden apples at the end of their spears, among the ranks of the Macedonians, and the Persian peers with the Macedonian body-guards. Aristobulus also asserts that Alexander used to have long drinking parties, not for the purpose of enjoying the wine, as he was not a great wine-drinker, but in order to exhibit his sociality and friendly feeling to his Companions.
30. WHOEVER therefore reproaches Alexander as a bad man, let him do so; but let him first not only bring before his mind all his actions deserving reproach, but also gather into one view all his deeds of every kind. Then, indeed, let him reflect who he is himself, and what kind of fortune he has experienced; and then consider who that man was whom he reproaches as bad, and to what a height of human success he attained, becoming without any dispute king of both continents, and reaching every place by his fame; while he himself who reproaches him is of smaller account, spending his labour on petty objects, which, however, he does not succeed in effecting, petty as they are. For my own part, I think there was at that time no race of men, no city, nor even a single individual to whom Alexander's name and fame had not penetrated. For this reason it seems to me that a hero totally unlike any other human being could not have been born without the agency of the deity. And this is said to have been revealed after Alexander's death by the oracular responses, by the visions which presented themselves to various people, and by the dreams which were seen by different individuals. It is also shown by the honour given to him by men up to the present time, and by the remembrance which is still held of him as more than human. Even at the present time, after so long an interval, other oracular responses in his honour have been given to the nation of the Macedonians. In relating the history of Alexander's achievements, there are some things which I have been compelled to censure; but I am not ashamed to admire Alexander himself. Those actions I have branded as bad, both from a regard to my own veracity, and at the same time for the benefit of mankind. For this reason I myself undertook the task of writing this history not without the agency of god.