Syrian Life of Alexander


The Life, or history, in brief terms, of Alexander, king of the Macedonians’.

Translated from the Syriac text in Prof. P. de Lagarde’s Analecta Syriaca, pp. 205—208.

King Alexander was the son by adultery of Nectanebus, the last king of Egypt, and of Olyrnpias, the wife of Philip, king of the Macedonians. According to the deception by which his father deceived his mother when he committed adultery with her, the son was attributed to Ammon, the god of Thebes, whe was the forefather of all the Egyptian kings. This [youth] was victorious in many contests before he became king, and also in divers wars against hostile nations, whe were constantly rebelling against Philip and against the Macedonians. He became king over the Macedonians after Philip, when he was twenty years old. First of all he persuaded all the nations of the Greeks and their kings and chiefs to receive him as king, and that he should reign over them. As he subdued many of them merely by words, he was only compelled to reduce some few by arms and war. Afterwards, however, when he went to Italy and entered Rome, being received with great honours and with crowns by the inhabitants of Rome, he subdued for them the Africans, whe were in rebellion against them. When he had come from thence to Egypt, and had recognised the statue and image of his father, and learned the augury about Nectanebus, and made known to the Egyptians concerning himself and concerning his descent from their king, he persuaded them to be subject to him. And when he had come from thence to the regions of Palestine and Judaea and Phoenicia and Syria and Arabia, and had subdued and conquered them, he made war with Darius, the king of the Persians, in Cilicia, who at that time was master of these countries. And when he had overcome him, he subdued the countries which were under him, I mean Cilicia and Cappadocia and Galatia and Asia and all the earth as far as Pontus. And he immediately spread with a sudden onslaught over all the territory of the Persians, and fought a second battle with King Darius and overcame him. And when Darius had been slain by treachery by enemies who were under his rule, he punished those whe had slain him; and either by kindness or by force he brought all the nations that were subject to the kingdom of the Persians to be subject to him. And he took Roxana, the daughter of King Darius, to wife.

When he had set out from thence to the northern regions, and had gone to Media, and from thence to the gates of Kaspia, and had passed through all the countries of the Scythian nations that were in the north, he made a sudden onslaught with the Macedonians and Persians upon Porus the king of the Indians. When Porus had gathered together a large army against him, in the first battle he was overcome and subdued by him. In the second battle however, after Porus had rebelled against him, when he fought in single combat with Alexander, he was conquered by him and slain. Afterwards, when Alexander had set out from thence he went to the country of the Brahmans, the naked sages. And when he had discusscd many things with them, he departed from thence, going round about all the territories of the Indians. And he saw divers places, and terrible and destructive beasts and deadly reptiles; and he passed through numerous and divers nations of barbarians, and underwent many toils.

After these things he went also to the king of the Sinâyê (Chinese); and from thence he went against all the northern nations. He also passed by the Serici who [live] in And when they had received him and become subject to him, he built a city there and named it Samirkir (Samarkand). From thence he came to the country of the Soghdians, and there too he built a city and named it Kush. From thence likewise he came to Merg (Merv), and there too he built a city and called its name Margianôs. After all these things, when he had returned to the land of the Persians, he went from thence to see the kingdom of the country of Sheba, over which a woman reigned whose name was Candace. And when he had gone and had been received nobly, he approached also from thence to the realm of the Amazon women. And when he had accepted many gifts from them, he returned to the city of Babylon in the land of thc Chaldeans. While he was there, Cassander, the son of Antipater, one of his generals, arrived from Macedonia, and administered a deadly poison to him while drinking, and killed him. All the days of his life were thirty-two years and seven months, and of these he reigned twelve years and seven months.

He built thirteen cities and named them after his own name. The first, Alexandria Bucephalus; the second Alexandria the fortified; the third Alexandria which is in the land of the Persians; the fourth that which is in the country of king Porus; the fifth that which is in the land of Galikôs; the sixth, that which is in the land of the Scythians; the seventh, that which is upon the shore of the great sea; the eighth, that which is near Babylon; the ninth, Alexandria which is in the land of Serici, which is called Samirkir (Sarnarkand); the tenth, Alexandria which is in the land of the Soghdians, which is called Kush and Babel; the eleventh, Alexandria which is called Margianos (Merv); the twelfth, that which is upon the bank of the rivers on the road to the Indians; the thirteenth, the great Alexandria which is in Egypt.

Now when he was about to die in Babylon, he made a testament and commanded and distributed his dominions among twelve of his servants. He gave to Kartados (Craterus) Macedonia; to Ptolemy all Egypt; and to Priscus (Perdiccas) Asia. He appointed Lysimachus over Thrace; Dôran over the Hellespont; Antigonus over Pamphylia and Lycia; Andreas over Great Phrygia; Pirôs over Cilicia; Python and his wife over Syria and as far as Mesopotamia; Adomnos (Eumenês) over Paphlagonia and Cappadocia; and Seleucus over Babylon. He commanded that Manpath (Meleager) should rule over Phoenicia and Coelesyria; and he made his wife Roxane mistress over all the country of the Assyrians and Media and Parthia, and he commanded that she should be given in marriage to Priscus (Perdiccas). And after he was dead, his captains brought his body to the great Alexandria which is in Egypt, as they had been commanded by him, and they buried him there.