Plutarch on Alexander and Diogenes

There were many stories invented about Alexander's behavior on certain occasions; these anecdotes were all intended to show the greatness of the man. In section 14 of his Life of Alexander, the Greek author Plutarch of Chaeronea has added the following story, which served to show that Alexander has some philosophical inclinations. The anecdote may well be true.

The translation was made by Mr. Evelyn and belongs to the Dryden series.

Alexander and Diogenes

[14.1] Soon after, the Greeks, being assembled at the Isthmus, declared their resolution of joining with Alexander in the war against the Persians, and proclaimed him their general.       

[14.2-3] While he stayed here, many public ministers and philosophers came from all parts to visit him and congratulated him on his election, but contrary to his expectation, Diogenes of Sinope, who then was living at Corinth, thought so little of him, that instead of coming to compliment him, he never so much as stirred out of the suburb called the Cranium, where Alexander found him lying along in the sun.

[14.4] When he saw so much company near him, he raised himself a little, and vouchsafed to look upon Alexander; and when he kindly asked him whether he wanted anything, "Yes," said he, "I would have you stand from between me and the sun."note

[14.5] Alexander was so struck at this answer, and surprised at the greatness of the man, who had taken so little notice of him, that as he went away he told his followers, who were laughing at the moroseness of the philosopher, that if he were not Alexander, he would choose to be Diogenes.