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A contemporary view on Alexander


Detail of the Alexander mosaic, found in Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples (Italy). The Greek philosopher Demetrius of Phaleron, like Alexander a pupil of Aristotle of Stagira, expresses the following thoughts on the death of the Macedonian king; they can be found in the World History of the Greek author Polybius of Megalopolis, section 29.21.2-6.

They are translated by M.M. Austin.

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine

One is often reminded of the words of Demetrius of Phaleron. In his Treatise on Fortune, wishing to give the world a clear picture of her mutability, he fixed on the age of Alexander when that king destroyed the Persian empire, and writes as follows:

If you consider not an unlimited stretch of time or numerous years, but merely these last fifty years before us, you will understand there the cruelty of Fortune. For can you imagine that fifty years ago if some god had foretold the future to the Persians or their king, or the Macedonians or their king, they would have believed that the very name of the Persians would now be lost, who at one time were masters of almost the whole inhabited world, while the Macedonians, whose very name was formerly unknown, would now be masters of it all? Nevertheless Fortune, who makes no compact with our lives, causes events to happen in defiance of our expectations, and displays her power by surprises, is now, I think, demonstrating to all mankind that by establishing the Macedonians as colonists amid the prosperity of Persia, she has merely lent these advantages to them until she decides to do something else with them.

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