Alexander Romance ( "Pseudo-Callisthenes" )

Book 1 , Chapters 20-32

A combination of the Greek version translated by E.H.Haight (1955); the Armenian version translated by A.M.Wolohojian (1969); and the Syriac version translated by E.A.W.Budge (1889).

Most of the Armenian version is a fairly close translation of the Greek version. Sentences that appear in the Armenian version but not in the Greek version are shown in green.   Click on the G symbols to go the Greek text of each chapter.

Alexander and the Romans

  The Romans give gold to Alexander

  Venice Hellenic Institute Gr. 5 (14th century)

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{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[20] G   Alexander, after receiving this omen, went away and arrived at Pella. There he found that Olympias had been discarded by Philip and he had married Cleopatra, the sister of Attalus. So, as the wedding was being celebrated, he went in, wearing his Olympic crown of victory, and, taking a place on a couch, said: "Father, receive the victor's crown of my first contest. When, however, I shall give away my own mother in marriage, I will invite you to the wedding of my mother." Now Philip was troubled by his words.

[20] After Alexander had received this augury, he went to Pella. And when he had arrived there, he asked for his father ; and he found his mother Olympias divorced by Philip and put away from being his wife. Now on that very day Philip was going to take a certain woman whose name was Cleopatra, the daughter of king Athlîs {Attalus}, to be his wife. And when all the guests were seated before Philip, Alexander came in amongst those that sat at meat. And when he saw his father Philip reclining like a bridegroom at the head of the table, he went straight in with his horses, and said to his father, "Receive from me these crowns of victory, the fruits of this my first labour. I will give my mother Olympias to another king to wife, but I will not invite thee to the feast, even as thou hast not waited for me until I returned." And when he had spoken these words, he drew near just as he was, in the dress of an athlete, and sat down by his father, with his garments unwashed from the mud and stains of the contest. At these words Philip was filled with anger.

[21] G   There was a wit present called Lysias. He said: "Philip, do not be excited or troubled, but take courage because of the youth of your new bride. She will bear you legitimate sons who will resemble their father."

[21] Now there was a certain man called Lysias, Philip's jester, who was sitting with him on the same couch. This Lysias answered and said to Philip, "O Philip, thou possessest a number of countries; if from thy youth until now thou hadst had a wife like Cleopatra, thou wouldst now have had a son, and him not from adultery, and his look and face would have been exactly like thine."

Alexander was very angry at these words, and, as he held a drinking-cup, he hurled it at Lysias and killed him instantly. Then Philip, sword in hand, rushed against his own son Alexander, wishing to slay him, but he slipped and fell near the couch. Then Alexander said: "Philip, who hastened to take Asia and vanquish Europe, could not cross his own floor!" With these words, he took the sword from him and wounded those on the couches.   And before you, were to be seen the battles of the Lapiths and the Centaurs, and the things that happened because of the wedding of Peirithous. For some of them crawled under the throne; and some danced with tables as though they were weapons; and others headed into dark places and fell. And there was a new Odysseus to be seen there as he went forth slaying Penelope's lovers.   He then left Philip and went to his mother to do justice about this marriage which was an insult to her.

When Alexander heard this speech, he was at once greatly enraged, and he overturned the table which stood by the couch, and took a dish, and hurled it suddenly at the head of Lysias, whose soul immediately departed from him and he died. When Philip saw these things, he seized a carver's knife, and leaped among the guests, and wished to stab Alexander ; but when he got near to him, he stumbled and fell heavily. When Alexander saw this, he answered and said to him, "He who wishes to seize and enslave the land of Asia, is unable to go a single step among his guests, and cannot save himself from stumbling!" And having said this, he drew near and went and took the knife from the hands of Philip and smote the guests and left them half dead, Rphîthôn and Kîlîtârôn with the rest of their companions ; and the house was filled with the slain as at yon time [when Ulysses slew] those who were because of Pkîtîrpos {Penelope}.

[22] G   After some days, he went to his father and said: "Philip, for I address you by your name, lest you be ashamed of being called father by me, I have come to you not as a son, but as a friend, to be a mediator about your unjust actions in relation to your wife Olympias, when you had not been wronged by her. Now take notice. Alexander acted well when he slew Lysias and you acted wrongly when you arose to attack your son Alexander. You believed it was right to take another wife. Now bestir yourself and become yourself. For I know why you are ill. I do not mean your body, but you are torturing your soul over your sins. I challenge you.   Now I beseech you to reconcile Olympias with you. I know that she will be persuaded for her son Alexander's sake, although you do not wish to be called his father.  " Now Philip was smitten beyond his former misery on account of the reproof of his son and his condemnation, but he decided it was wiser to keep silent and make no reply to Alexander's charges. So balancing everything, he made no reply.

[22] Now after Alexander had acted in this manner, and had taken vengeance upon the guests and gone forth, the servants took Philip who was sick and laid him upon a bed, and carried him into a bed chamber, and his sickness was very sore. After a few days, Alexander went to Philip, and sat by his side, and said to him, "O Philip (for now I call thee by thy name, and perhaps it might not be pleasing to thee were I to call thee father, nor from this time will I call thee by the name of father), I have not come to thee of my own will, - [for] thou art not my father, nor I thy son, - but I have come as a friend and an associate, that I may be a mediator between thee and thy wife in respect of that which thou hast violently done unto her. But since I stood up at the beginning, I will not make [many] words. Tell me this: did Alexander act in an unbecoming manner when he slew Lysias, who spoke that disgraceful speech mockingly? and didst thou thyself act well when thou didst rise up and lift a knife upon thy son ? And thou wishest to take another woman to wife, and wantest to forsake the wife who has not done thee any wrong ! Rise now and heal thyself, for thy disease is not bodily but mental; for a man becomes more ill through a mental than through a bodily ailment Now therefore I Alexander will go and beg of my mother and persuade her to make peace with thee again. My father, - I have again done wrong in that I have called thee father, but although I do not wish to call thee by this name, yet nature, acknowledges that which is the truth." And when he had thus spoken, tears were flowing from Philip's eyes.

Then Alexander, on leaving Philip, went to his mother and said to her: "Do not be angry, mother, over Philip's treatment of you. For if he does not sense his guilt, all the same I shall be your avenger. So do you first go to him. For it is fitting for a wife to be subject to her husband." With these words, he roused his mother and led her to Philip. Then he said: "Father, now I will call you father, for you were won over by your son, here is my mother, who has been persuaded to forget your sins. Now embrace each other in my presence. It is no disgrace. For I am your offspring." With these words, Alexander reconciled his parents so that all the Macedonians marvelled at him.

And people who want to get married invoke Lysias' name; and they do not remember that by naming him they, whose marriage is taking place, may be separated because of the slaying of Lysias.

When Alexander saw Philip weeping, he went to his mother, and said to her, "O my mother, be not angry any longer at that wrong which my father has done, for he has not forgotten the offence which thou thyself didst commit against him, and the more so since I am the mediator, whom they call a Macedonian, though I am in truth an Egyptian. Now therefore, O my mother, go in and first of all entreat thy husband that he may be reconciled to thee, for it is right that thou shouldest be subservient to thy husband inasmuch as thou art a woman." And when he had spoken these things to his mother, holding her by her hand, he went to his father. Philip was lying on his bed, and had turned his face to the wall. Alexander answered and said to Philip, "O my father - for henceforward I will call thee father, and I do not shun what is right, - turn thy face hither, for behold I have brought my mother, and have set her before thee, having implored her with many prayers and much entreaty until she gave her consent. I have moreover persuaded and begged of her to forget the offence which thou didst commit against her and to put it away from her mind. And now do ye embrace one another before me who am your son, and be ye now reconciled, that I too may be happy in reconciling and re-uniting you who begat me, and in urging you to make peace with one another." By this speech he reconciled his father and mother, and on account of this all who dwelt in Macedonia applauded Alexander, and every one held his wife in honour, and because of the death of Lysias, every one guarded his mouth from speaking calumny.

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[23] G   Now there is a city called Mothone some distance from the kingdom of Philip. He sent Alexander there to make war. But Alexander by words persuaded the citizens to become subjects and to disregard the power of arms. They gladly gave tribute of three talents and two thousand soldiers.

[23] Whilst these things were taking place, a certain city called Methônê had rebelled against the sovereignty of Philip, and he sent Alexander thither to make an end of the inhabitants by war. When Alexander had gone thither, he persuaded the people of the city by his words to return to the service of Philip ; and the people of that city did so through Alexander's words and admonition, and went back to the service of Philip.

So he turned around and returned to his father. There he found men standing near him clad in barbarian robes and he demanded: "Who are these?" And they said: "Satraps of Darius." He asked: "Why have they come here?" They said: "To demand the customary tribute from your father." "For what," he said, "do they demand the tribute?" They answered: "For your land, on behalf of Darius." Alexander replied: "If the gods bestowed these gifts on men for sustenance, why does Darius collect taxes on the gift of the gods? It is not just   that Philip give tribute to the barbarians  ."

When Alexander had returned from thence and come back, he found men in the garb of foreigners sitting at the gate of Philip. Alexander asked them, "Who are ye ?" They said to him, "We are satraps, servants of Darius the king." Alexander says to them, "For what purpose have ye come ?" They say to him, "To receive the customary tribute from Philip thy father." Alexander said to them, "By whom have ye been sent ?" The satraps say, "We have been sent by Darius the king of the Persians." Alexander said to them, "And for what is the tribute ye receive ? " They say to him, "In lieu of lands and waters." He says to them, "Why does your master lay tribute upon what God has appointed and given for food ? It is not right for Philip, being a Greek, to give tribute to the Persians.

And calling the barbarians, he said: "Depart and say to Darius, 'When Philip was alone, he paid tribute to you. But now that he has a son, Alexander, he no longer pays it. And what you have received from him, I, going to you, will take and requisition from you.' " With these words, he dismissed the tax collectors, not deeming it fitting to send a written message to the king who had dispatched them.

"By the good fortune of Zeus, this is a matter of greed and not of royalty ; now therefore turn and go, and say to your lord Darius, 'When Philip had no children, his hens used to lay golden eggs, but from the time that his son Alexander has been born, they have become barren, and do not lay eggs any longer. Now I will go thither in person, and will take the tribute from thee which until now thou hast received from my father.' " And when he had spoken these words to them, they departed from the gate of Philip, and he deigned not to give them a written answer. Now when those ambassadors perceived the pride, the greatness, and the understanding of Alexander; they wondered, and when they heard his wisdom and his well-trained words, they marvelled. And they hired and brought a very skilful painter, and said to him, "Paint Alexander accurately upon linen just as he is," that they might take it to their own country. And when he had painted him, they took the picture and went to their own land ; and Philip rejoiced, when he saw the wittiness of Alexander's speech and the might of his deeds.

Now Philip was much pleased on seeing the qualities of Alexander, and when presently another city revolted, he sent Alexander there to make war. But he, on arriving, persuaded them by words to become subjects again, bidding farewell to arms. And, taking tribute-money from them, he went home.

Again the country of the Armenians was disturbed, and Philip sent Alexander thither with a large army of soldiers, that he might either bring them to peace or contend with them in battle.

[24] G   There was a man called Pausanias, an important person, a wealthy Thessalonian, and he had a very large and powerful army. He fell in love with Olympias and sent minions to persuade her that she should leave Philip and marry him. Olympias did not agree to this. So Pausanias conceived a scheme, and made inquiries about Alexander to find when he would be out of the country. And when the time came and Alexander was at war with certain cities and the dramatic contests were going on, Pausanias learned that Alexander was abroad and Philip was at the festival. So he went, sword in hand, and hurled his weapon at Philip and was successful in stabbing him through the ribs. He did not die at once. There was great excitement in the city. Pausanias made haste to enter the palace while Philip was still alive, wishing to carry off Olympias. So he went in while Philip was drawing his last breath and suffering more from grief than from his wound. He was groaning and lamenting that, while he was alive, his wife was being wed to another by force. He longed too to see Alexander, who had been away a long time, for he remembered his ingenuity and his courage. He said to those about him: "If Alexander had been here, an enemy would not have attempted to commit a crime against his father and his mother. And if through an evil nature a man made an attempt, he was caught and he perished. And now, in great pain and sorrow, I approach the end of my life. But I say to you: when my son Alexander comes, tell him: 'Your father Philip thinks it fitting that through your mighty hand his death and the rape of your mother Olympias should be avenged.'"

[24] And when Alexander had departed from his father, a certain man named Theosîdos - a small man and slight in body, purse-proud and honoured because of his money, who had come from the land of the Thessalonians and had a multitude of slaves, and whose mind and heart were inflamed with love for Olympian and because of his love for her he gave goods and gifts to many people of the city, and communicated his secret to them - this man sought to slay Philip by some means, for he saw that Alexander was not in the country. Now in those days there was in the city an amphitheatre which was called the Olympic, and certain people, partisans of Theosîdos, by his instruction and advice, begged Philip with tumult and clamour to go with them and see the contest of the athletes. And Philip, because he was unacquainted with the craft of Theosîdos, was persuaded to look on with them. Now in the middle of the spectacle the partisans of Theosîdos made a disturbance and an uproar in the theatre by his advice and command. Theosîdos himself was outside the theatre, and when he heard the uproar and disturbance, he rejoiced, and together with his partisans armed himself and went into the theatre, and gave people to understand that he had come in to assist Philip Then he brandished the spear that was in his hand, and pretending that he was going to smite another, cast it and pierced the heart of Philip, whilst feigning to be a helper of the king. Philip straightway fell to the ground, and Theosîdos with his companions went out at once from the theatre, because they thought that Philip was already dead, but his life yet remained in him. Then Theosîdos went swiftly to the royal palace, and going to Philip's apartment, he seized Olympias unexpectedly and carried her off to another apartment in the palace, for he thought that Philip was dead, and he said to himself, "Alexander is still a boy, and Philip is dead ; therefore, if I take Olympias to wife, I myself will become king."

At this very hour, the victorious Alexander returned and, seeing great excitement, he demanded the cause. He learned what had happened and that Pausanias was in the palace. He entered with his bodyguard and saw Pausanias embracing Olympias. And drawing his sword, he wished to stab him, but feared lest Olympias too should be killed.   And Olympias said, "Throw your lance, my son, for Ammon sustains me." And Alexander threw it and struck and mortally wounded Pausanias.   So, having learned that his father was still alive, he dragged Pausanias to him and said: "I am here, Father, to wreak vengeance on your enemies. Live, king: Your name is immortal. Behold your foe, Pausanias, captured, standing before you, trembling." Philip, looking at him, no longer able to speak because of the loss of blood and weakness, gathered his forces, and, kissing Alexander, by gesture ordered that the sword be handed to him. Then, while Alexander feared for him, he dealt with his own hands the fatal blow to Pausanias and straightway killed him.

Now on that day Alexander returned with victory from the war with the Armenians, and came to the city of Pella; and when he saw that the whole city was in an uproar, he asked, "What is the reason that the city is thus disturbed ?" And when he had learned what had happened, he was furiously angry, and went on horseback to the palace, and found Theosîdos and Olympias there, and at once raising up his whip, he smote Theosîdos as Heracles smote Armînos (?), because he held Olympias in his embrace, for Theosîdos wished to escape and save himself. Now Alexander was very near slaying his mother too. And when Theosîdos had fallen, and Olympias saw her son Alexander, she lifted up her voice and wept at the change her fortune and lot had undergone. And when Alexander heard that Philip was still alive, he gave orders to carry Theosîdos tied to poles, and he went to his father. And when he saw that Philip was near death, he wept bitterly and bade them raise him up from the couch ; and when they had lifted him up, he put a sword in his hand, and made Theosîdos stand before him, while his life was still in him, and he said to Philip, "This is he that slew thee." And Philip said, "Is this he?" And Alexander said to him, "Yea, it is he." Then Philip stabbed Theosîdos with the sword and slew him.

When he had dispatched his foe, Philip quickly regained strength and, because of the presence of Alexander and the proper vengeance, he said: "My child Alexander, it has been decreed that you be ruler of the world. Remember your father Philip and do not refuse to call me father. For my fate has been fulfilled.   I do not grieve that I am dying, for I have been avenged; and I myself slew my enemy. Truthfully, then, did Ammon say to your mother, 'You have in your womb a male child who shall fructify you and shall avenge his father's death.'  " With these words, he died. And Alexander in lamentation said: "Philip, father, King of kings, while you lived, no one despised you and did not pay for it. By awkward stroke your arm has dispatched Pausanias. How has perished from his wound the ruler of the world? The Cyclops Pausanias sent you to the gods before your time, and straightway justice dealt out to him his fitting reward." After this lament, Alexander prepared for him a magnificent grave and he laid the body in it and consecrated a shrine over the grave. Now when Olympias learned what had happened and the Macedonians were in a tumult, the presence of Alexander calmed them.

And he said, "O my son Alexander, my soul will not depart in sorrow, since I with my own hands have slain him that slew me. My son, mighty and great shalt thou be, for I call to mind the day of thy conception, when the god Ammon spoke to Olympias thy mother, saying, 'Behold in thy womb is one who shall avenge the cause of his father and his mother;' and thus my son has avenged the cause of both of us." And immediately Philip died. And Alexander with his nobles and the princes of the Macedonians buried him honourably, and Olympias too went to the grave on foot.

[25] G   A few days later when order was restored, Alexander rose to the full stature of his father and he made a proclamation, shouting in a loud voice: "Sons of men of Pella and Amphictyon, Thessalians   and of the Thracians   and Lacedaemonians   and of the Corinthians   and the other Greek states, have confidence in me Alexander and assemble. Let us make an expedition against the barbarians   and free ourselves from servitude to the Persians, for we Hellenes are not going to serve the Persians  ." After this speech, he arranged for enrolment throughout the city.

[25] And when Alexander had returned from the grave, he gave orders to inform the Macedonians that they should assemble on the morrow in the midst of the city by the pedestal of the statue of Philip his father; and he himself came there, and all the Macedonians gathered together unto him. Then Alexander went up and stood by the statue of his father, and lifted up his voice, and said to the Macedonians, "To you I speak, ye inhabitants of the land, Macedonians, Thracians , Greeks, Thessalonians, and peoples of every race ; to you too, O Amphictyons and the rest of all the peoples of the Greeks, and you Athenians and Corinthians; hear my speech and the counsel I with which I counsel you, and trust yourselves to me, and form a league with me, that we may go against the barbarians our enemies, and may free ourselves from the bondage of the Persians, and bring them into bondage to us, and subjugate them to ourselves." And when he had said this, many applauded him ; and he came down from the statue and gave orders to write letters to every country and city under his rule, as follows: "Let everyone who approves of my advice come to the city of Pella."

Then those of the young men who were willing came to Macedonia as volunteers, as if summoned by the voice of the dead. Alexander, opening the armoury of his father, gave them weapons. He assembled also the old companions in arms of Philip, who were most faithful. They said to him: "We in our youth went to wars with your father, but no longer are our bodies strong.   There is no more strength left in our bodies to withstand enemy attacks.   Therefore, we beg off from your expedition."

Then many troops of men came with good and ready will, as if a god were urging them on. Then Alexander opened the door of his father's treasury, and clothed every man with all kinds of armour. But when he commanded those who had carried arms in the bodyguard of Philip his father to take them up again, they answered and said to him, "O good king Alexander, we are grey-haired and aged men, and we have been with thy father Philip in a number of wars during the whole time he was in the world, and we have become wearied and exhausted by many battles, and we speak truly before thee when we say that we have not sufficient strength in our bodies to bear arms ; therefore we now ask to be excused from military duty and service."

And Alexander said: "All the more will I enrol you even if you happen to be old. For old age is stronger than youth. Young men trusting their bodily strength often make foolish plans, but the old men using reason (?) rely on wise strategy to ward off danger. So make the expedition with me, not to stand in ranks against the enemy, but to encourage the young men to fight bravely. This is advantageous to both. For you in wisdom convince them that victory for the city is security for us. For when they are defeated, the enemy will face inexperienced youth, and when they conquer, victory is attributed to the advice of the counsellors." With these words, Alexander persuaded those over age to follow him.

When they had spoken these words, Alexander looked on them with a gloomy face and said to them in anger, "I desire particularly that ye should go with me to war. It is true that ye are grey-haired and aged, but all kinds of warfare have been experienced and seen by you more than by these young men, for the aged by their experience and knowledge are stronger than those who are in the vigour of youth. Many a time, therefore, when young men neglect the safety of their lives, and do something which it was not their intention to do, they come into difficulties and distresses thereby; but as for you, ye grey-headed and aged men, I know that ye first of all consider carefully, so that, when ye are about to do something, no mistake or [cause for] repentance may arise thereby. Now therefore go ye with me to the war, and be ye with me as ye were with my father ; for I desire that ye go with me in this capacity, not that ye should make war, but go with me as persons of tried knowledge and experience. Ye will be a shield to the young men, and the knowledge of the aged will be thus mingled willingly with the strength of the young ; and so we shall obtain a great victory, and the aged shall serve for knowledge to the youth, and shall rescue and deliver [them] from troubles like a shield. And this too I wish you to know, that the victory of the young is the life of the old, while the defeat of the young is affliction and trouble to the old. Therefore, ye veterans, rejoice and exult in the victory, and divide the crowns of victory with them, for by your knowledge and experience and understanding, ye veterans, the young men will become conquerors."

With these words then Alexander encouraged Philip's bodyguard, and persuaded them to go to the war; and they consented, and drew near and received arms from Alexander.

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{ Syriac version }

[26] G   Then he assembled the former army of Philip and counted them. He found there were 72,000 foot-soldiers and allies . . . and 2000 Macedonian cavalry, 800 Thracians and Paphlagonians and Scythians whom he used as scouts. And counting together those present, with whom he had formed the expedition, he found 77,000 and 4,600,000. He arrayed them with the soldiers he had from his father.

[26] The horsemen also gathered together to Alexander in countless numbers, as did the foot soldiers who served willingly, and the troops of Philip his father, 50,000; Thessalonians, 30,000; Greeks of every tribe, together with the Pokotolanians {Paphlagonians ?} and Lacedaemonians, 80,000; Skophians {Scythians ?}, 60,000 ; Corinthians, 70,000 [besides the former 70,000 which he had sent]; in all 270,000. He armed these out of the armoury of Philip his father.

[27] G   He took from the treasury of the Macedonians seventy talents of current gold and built triremes, also galleys, and journeyed from Macedonia through the Thermodon river to Thrace lying to the north, which happened to be subject to the rule of his father Philip. From the Thracians he received silver presents and 500 talents of silver, then went to Lycaonia.

[27] And he made them embark in triremes and in large transport ships, and put to sea, and he made the Macedonians dwell by the sea Dîthâos (?) and Thrace, which was under his dominion.

[28] G   And he offered sacrifices with the generals there and went to Sicily, and, having subdued certain elements that were in revolt there, he proceeded into the land of Italy. And the generals of the Romans sent by the hand of the general Marcus Aemilius the crown of Capitoline Zeus, set with pearls, and the message: "We present to you each year a golden crown valued at 100 coins." When he had received their allegiance, he promised that he would make them great. He took from them 1000 soldiers and 400 talents. And they said they would give him even more soldiers if they were not at war with the Carthaginians.

[28] And [from thence] by Lucania and Sicily he came to Rome. And as soon as the inhabitants of Rome heard [of his arrival], they sent him six hundred talents of gold by the hands of their chiefs, together with the golden crown of Zeus which was in the Capitol, one hundred pounds of gold [in weight], and they brought it as a gift before Alexander. They also sent one thousand horsemen as auxiliaries to Alexander's army, and they entreated him to take vengeance for them upon the Chalkidonians {Carthaginians}, who had rebelled against them. Then Alexander said to them, "I will do you this favour because of this honour which ye have done me ; and I will recompense you for this honour by subduing your enemies in war, while the victory in the war I will give to you."

[29] G   From there he went back and having crossed the middle sea he arrived in Africa. The generals of the Africans met him and begged him to drive the Romans out of the city. And he, well aware of their inactivity, replied: "Conquer, or pay tribute to the conquerors."

[29] Then Alexander set out from Italy, and came by sea to Africa. And when the generals of the Africans had heard the fame of him, they came to him and entreated him, saying, "Free our city from the Romans." Then Alexander was angry at this speech, and said to them, "O Carthaginians, either be yourselves brave, or give tribute to the brave." When they heard this speech, they set their faces to war, and they all went and armed themselves, and they could not be persuaded to come to Alexander. Then Alexander made war upon them ; and when they fought, they were unable to stand before the army of Alexander. Then they returned and entreated him, saying, "Permit not the Romans to rule over us." Again Alexander said to them, "Ye Carthaginians, I have [already] said to you, 'Either be yourselves brave or give tribute to the brave.' Now therefore go, and whatever tribute is right for you to give, of that give justly ; for henceforward [the Romans] shall receive tribute from you." When the Carthaginians saw that they had no remedy, they made a statue of brass to Alexander and set it in the midst of the city : and they made a box of wood and fastened it upon a stone in front of the feet of the statue. They then collected the tribute of their country for four years, and placed it in the box ; and the Romans waited for four years, and then they came and took that tribute and carried it to Rome.

[30] G   From there he crossed over Libya with a few soldiers, and journeying on arrived at the shrine of Ammon. And putting his men on the ship he ordered them to set sail and wait for him at the island of Pharos. He himself did obeisance to Ammon and made sacrifices to him. Remembering that his mother had said he was the son of Ammon, he offered prayer, saying: "Father, if my mother spoke the truth in calling me your son, give me an oracle." After these words, he waited a day. Then he lay down and in his dreams he saw Ammon embracing Olympias. So he arose from his sleep and having witnessed the action of the god, he adorned the shrine with an inscription by himself: "To his father the god Ammon Alexander set this up."

[30] And Alexander departed from the Carthaginians, and made some of the troops put to sea in ships and vessels, and commanded them to remain opposite the islands of the Plâthâyê while he went parallel to them on the land with a few troops to the country of Libya. From thence he dismissed all the troops of the Alômôhdâyê (?), because he offered sacrifices there to the god Ammon, especially because he remembered the words of Olympias his mother, which she spoke to him, saying, "Thou wert begotten by Ammon, the god of Libya." And Alexander answered and said to the god, "If the words be true which my mother Olympias spoke to me saying, 'I bore thee to the god Ammon of Libya,' show it me to-day in a dream." Now when Alexander was asleep, he saw in a dream the god Ammon speaking with him and saying, "Thou art of my race, and thou hast in thee parts of the characteristics of four gods; and if thou dost not believe that it is possible for a mortal and corruptible man to be born of the race of an immortal and incorruptible god, I tell thee that they are able, as men, to be of the race of the gods, not in respect of the nature of the body, but in respect of wisdom, intelligence and fore-knowledge. Therefore by the union of the race of the gods with men, they are able both to know and to do everything that is marvellous and difficult in the world. Now thou hast in thee somewhat of the race of the serpent, and of Heracles, and of Dionysus, and of Ammon. Through the serpent thou wilt encircle the whole world like a dragon ; through Heracles thou wilt be strong like Heracles, and thou wilt show forth in thy person the finding of power and might ; through Dionysus thou wilt be continually in pleasure, and merriment, and joy ; and through Ammon who is like myself, thou wilt hold a rich sceptre, and thou wilt be lord of the world in royalty and wealth. As regards these words, have then no doubt." When Alexander had seen all these things in his dream, he awoke from his sleep, and commanded that a statue of brass should be made to Ammon in the midst of the temple of Ammon, and he set it up on a pillar, and upon the base of the pillar he wrote thus: "This statue Alexander his son made to his father Ammon, and set it up in this temple."

He demanded also to receive an oracle from the god as to where he should found a city bearing his name. And he beheld in his sleep the god, who said to him:
  King, to you I speak. Behold the god of the ram's horns.
  If you wish forever to flourish in youth eternal,
  Build an illustrious city above the island of Proteus,
  Where once Aion Plutonius first took his throne as a ruler,
  Lord of the boundless kingdom, over the five spreading mountains.

When he had received the oracle, Alexander searched for the island of Proteus, who is the god who presides there. And after sacrificing to his father Ammon, he made the journey back and halted his forces in a certain town of Libya.

And again, when he was dreaming, he made supplication to the god Ammon, and said, "O my father, show me the place where to build a great city which shall be named after me, and from which my memory shall not pass away." And again the god Ammon appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Alexander, king of the Macedonians, I grant thee to build a city in . . . in the fields where they plough the furrows, and it shall be famous and renowned, and possessions and wealth shall abound in it, and the supreme god shall dwell therein. Around it shall be the river Nile, and it shall water its fields with abundant moisture, and many shall be nourished by its produce, for this river without any [human] labour will lay the hamlets and arable lands beneath its irrigation, and no damage shall arise therefrom."

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[31] G   And, as he was walking about, a huge hind ran towards some lair. So he called a bowman and ordered him to shoot the creature. And he, taking aim too slowly and fumbling, shot his arrow at the beast without success. And Alexander said: "Fellow, you made a bad shot." Hence that place was called Paratonion, "the place of the bad shot," from the exclamation of Alexander.

[31] And when he had seen this vision in his dream, and had quitted the land of the Amôndîkâyê (?), a stag came towards him. When he saw that stag, he turned round and said to his nobles, "If it be granted me to build a city in this land of Egypt, when I command and shoot an arrow at this stag, it shall strike it." And having taken the weapon, he shot an arrow at the stag, but the arrow glanced off the stag in its rapid flight, and having run a long distance it stumbled and fell by reason of the wound, and died on the spot. Then Alexander cried out and said, "O thou that didst die without feeling, thou hast shown me the place which I require therefore to this very day they call the spot upon which the stag died, "He that died without feeling."

Then continuing his journey, he came to Taphosiris, and he learned from the inhabitants that the shrine was the tomb of Osiris. He sacrificed to the god and made the rest of his journey. And when he came to the plain, he saw a very large district stretching out endlessly and including sixteen villages. These were (?) Steirampheis, Phanenti and Eudemos, Acames, Eupyros, Rhacotis, Hegiosa, Hypones, Crambeitai, Crapatheis and Lyidias, Pases, Teresis, in which are both Nephele and Menyia, Pelasos (?). And Rhacotis was famous, for it was the metropolis. And the sixteen villages had twelve rivers flowing out into the sea. And, until now, the exits were blocked up, and the rivers became the streets and the squares of the city. Only two went on and flowed through into the sea, . . . and there was one called the river Rhacotitis, which now is the stadium of the great god Sarapis. Then comes the canal of the city's plaza. The largest river, the one named (?) Xyleras, is now called Aspendia. Then comes the canal where the Tychaeum is and a very great river Copronicos. Then a great canal and river Nepherotes, now the precinct where is the shrine of Isis Nepheron, the first structure of Alexandria. And the greatest of all the rivers is called Argeos where the Argeion is. Then comes the canal of Areios where the pillar of Areios is. And there is a canal along the Canopicos river, going out along the Zephyrion. The greatest waterway is the Heracleion bay.

So Alexander ran and came to that spot, and on this side of the stag a sepulchral monument was built, and they call it, "The tomb of the god Âslîs {Osiris}." In this place too he commanded to offer sacrifices ; and from thence he returned and came to the stag, and he found a large mound, and fifteen {twelve} towns lay around it, the names of which were: Stîlîmos, Pahhârâ, Imthâos, Aklios, Inôkpîlas, Pithônos, Lindos, Kiphrîn, Espâsîd, Mîmistîrâ, Phîlâos, and Hankîtos in the centre of the mound, which they called "the great city." And when Alexander saw this, astonishment laid hold of him at the waters which were encircling the villages ; and he wondered at the greatness of the waves how marvellous they were, for although they entered the sea, they did not mingle [therewith]. And he found there also a place which they called Melââ, and its waters used to enter the sea one cubit and make a great commotion. Then Alexander asked, "What is this place ? and who built it ?" And they said to him, "First of all Dios, whom they call Zeus, and next Irthâos (?)." And from these towns twelve rivers went forth and mingled with the sea. And Alexander saw that the greater number of these rivers, as well as the springs of the city, had been stopped up, and that all the streets and squares were destroyed; and there only remained two rivers which were not obstructed, and whose place of outlet was not destroyed, and whose mouth mingled with the sea: the name of the one was Lûkthesnêdos, which great river they call that of the god Serapis (this Serapis is Joseph the son of Jacob, whom the Egyptians used to hold as a god), and from it there went forth another which they call Ôkôrîda {or Eukôrîda}, and yet another large stream which they call Klîdnâva; and the name of the other great river was Nûphîrtîr. When Alexander saw that spot around which mighty rivers and large streams ran, he remembered the dream which the god Ammon showed him, and he saw that there were fifteen {twelve} towns upon that one spot.

{ Greek version }


{ Armenian version }

For from the so-called Panduseos up to the Heracleion, he plotted the length of the city and the width from the Mendesion to the little Hermoupolis. It is not called Hermoupolis, but Hormoupolis, and, when he had gone down from Egypt and come back, he stopped there. So up to there it was called the city of Alexander. Now Cleomenes the Naucratitan and Deinocrates the Rhodian advised him not to build the city so large because he did not have men enough to fill it. And if he should fill it, the merchants would not be able to furnish for it the necessities of life to support it. And those dwelling in the city itself would make war, because it was so large and without boundaries. For small peoples are clever about making their resources do, but the largest groups of people, like those dwelling in such a city, are not resourceful for their needs.

{ The description of the foundation of Alexandria is omitted in the Syriac version, but there is a summary at the end of chapter 32. }

[80] Then Alexander plotted the area; and its breadth extended from Mendidos to the little city of Hermes. But they do not call it Hermoupolis, but Hermapolis, for whatever went to and from Egypt headed for that place. Alexander laid out the city as far as that point; for this reason it is called the land of the Alexandrians. But Kleomenes, the Naukratian, and Dimocrates, the Rhodian, gave Alexander this advice: "Don't make such a large city for you will never find it filled with people. And if you should fill it, then the lands will not be able to cater to their essential food needs. Those who will be living there will war upon one another when they are so vast and numberless. For small-town people are prompt with advice and help; but, being unfamiliar and unacquainted with one another, a huge crowd of people, such as the inhabitants of so large a city, rebel and fight amongst themselves, having become enemies because of their endless numbers."

Alexander yielded to the architects and handed over to them the construction of the city according to the measurements which they desired. The draftsmen then planned the length of the city from the Dracon, the one near the strip of land of the Taphosiris, up to the Agathodaemon by the Canopus, and the width from the Mendesion up to the plaza of Eurylochus and Melanthius. And he ordered those who dwelt there to move outside the city from a space of about thirty miles, and he granted a district to them and addressed them as Alexandrians.

[81] And Alexander was persuaded; and he ordered the architects to make the city of whatever size they pleased. And they plotted the length of the city from Dracontis beyond the grave of Taposiris to Agathemon, which is near Kanoron; and its width extended from Mendidos to Eleurechos and Melanthios. And he ordered the people living there to withdraw to a village about thirty miles outside of the city; and he granted them land and he called them Alexandrians.

The rulers of the towns at that time were Eurylochus and Melanthius. So the plaza was named for them. He employed other architects of the city, among them Cleomenes the Naucratitan and Craterus of Olynthus, also one called Heron, a Libyan by birth, who had a brother named Hyponomus. This man advised Alexander, before building the city from the foundations, to construct canals discharging into the sea, such as no city had. They were called hyponomoi because the Libyan who designed them was named Hyponomus.

[82] Eleurechos and Melanthios were the creators of the thoroughfares from which their names came and have remained. And he thought of finding other architects for the city. Among them were Kleomenes, the Naukratian, and Krateron, the Olynthian, and an old man by the name of Eroa, a Libyan by nationality. This man had a brother by the name of Hiponemos, who advised that before making an excavation for the city's foundation, Alexander make aqueducts which would flow to the sea. And the king was persuaded, and he ordered made what no other city has. And they are called Hiponoses because he who invented them was the Libyan named Hiponemos.

Now verily no other city is greater than Alexandria, for all were plotted and measured. The greatest city in Syria is Antioch. This is eight stades and seventy-two feet. And in Africa Carthage is sixteen stades and one hundred and fifty feet. And Babylon in the land of the barbarians is twelve stades and two hundred and eight feet. And Rome fourteen stades and twenty feet. Alexandria is sixteen stades and three hundred and ninety-five feet.

[83] And, there is no city greater than Alexandria, for all charted cities have been measured. The great city in Assyria is Antioch, which is 8 stades and 72 feet; while in Africa, Carthage measures 21 stades and 305 feet.

[32] G   Now Alexander arrived at the district and found the rivers and the canals and the towns (?) arranged as described. From the land he saw a certain island out at sea and asked what it was called. The natives said: "Pharos, and Proteus dwelt there, where the memorial to Proteus is on a very high mountain, the one revered by us." Then they escorted him to what is now called the herōon and showed him the coffin. He sacrificed to the hero Proteus and, seeing that the memorial had fallen down from the ravages of time, he gave orders to have it set up at once and that the circumference of the city should be plotted.

[84] And when he arrived at unparalleled Alexandria, he found the rivers, the canals, and the towns built on the land there. And seeing an island on the sea, he asked, "What island is that?" And the local inhabitants said: "It is called Pharos. Proteus lived on it; and the tomb of Proteus, which is worthy of worship, is in our land." And they brought him to the top of a high mountain, the one which is now called Hero's Grave, and showed him the coffin. And he offered sacrifices there to the hero Proteus. And when he saw that in the long course of time the tomb had fallen into decay, he ordered that it be immediately restored.

They threw down grain and marked the line. But birds flew down and seizing all the grain flew away. And Alexander, disturbed at this, sent for soothsayers and related what had happened. They interpreted the events in this way: "This city which has been built will nourish the inhabited world and the men born in it will be everywhere. For the fowls of the air have flown all over the world."

[85] And he ordered that the circumference of the city be plotted. They took meal and outlined the area; and birds of various species picked up the meal and flew off in all directions. And Alexander, anxious about the meaning of this, hastened to summon soothsayers and told them what had happened. And they said: "This city which has been built shall feed the entire world, and the men born in it shall be everywhere; like birds they shall travel through the entire world."

Now they began to construct Alexandria from the plain of Mesos and the district took (?) its name from the fact that the building of the city began there. While they were occupied there, as happens, a serpent appeared and terrified the workmen who stopped working because of the arrival of the creature. This was reported to Alexander. He gave orders on the next day, whenever it came down, to capture it. So having received the order, when the creature appeared near what is now called the Stoa, they surrounded it and killed it. Alexander then ordered that the spot should be a sacred enclosure and he buried the serpent in it. He ordered that garlands should be hung there in memory of the Agathos Daimon whom they had seen.

[86] And they began to build the city of Alexandria in the middle of the plain. First the place was given a name so as to begin from there the building of the city. And a serpent used to come to those who were busy working, and it frightened the workers and put a stop to the work. Because of the serpent's raids, Alexander came and said, "Let it be captured by the workmen wherever it is found tomorrow." And upon receiving the order, they subdued and slew the beast when it came to that place which is now called Yark. And Alexander asked that a shrine be built for it there, and they buried the serpent in it. And he asked that all kinds of garlands be made in memory of the serpent's appearing. And he declared that the excavation for the foundations be made nowhere else but on that same spot, where to this day the high mountain called the Albiwrk' appears.

Next he directed that the digging of the foundations should proceed only in one place, namely exactly where a great hill appeared which is called Copria. And when he had prepared the foundations of the greatest part of the city and planned it, he inscribed five letters Α, Β, Γ, Δ, Ε; Α for Alexander, Β for βασιλέυς {king}, Γ for γένος {son}, Δ for Δίος {of a god}, and Ε for the initial of the phrase beginning ἔκτισε {built the city}. Now many beasts of burden and mules were sacrificed. And when the herōon was consecrated, there came to the epistyle many troops of serpents and, creeping, they made their way into the four houses already built. And Alexander, present in person, consecrated the city and the herōon itself on the twenty-fifth of the month Tybi. So the door-keepers reverenced these serpents as Agathoi Daimones that had entered the homes. They do not shoot arrows at them, but even a pretence of shooting drives them away. And sacrifices were made to the hero as to the son of a serpent and the animals were festooned with garlands, and given a rest from their labours because they had worked hard and long for the founding of the city. And Alexander commanded that food be given to the guards of the buildings. They took the grain, ground it, and, keeping off wild creatures, (?) on the day quickly gave it to those dwelling in the buildings. So among the Alexandrians even till now this custom is preserved: on the twenty-fifth of Tybi the animals are festooned with garlands and sacrifices are made to the Agathoi Daimones by those who care for the buildings and gifts of domestic animals are made.

[87] And when he had laid the foundation for most of the city, he wrote upon it the five letters: A, B, C, D, E; A, Alexander; B, the greatest king; C, of the greatest nations; D, in the place of God; E, descended and built a unique city. And there were donkeys and mules at work there. And when the shrine had been built for this divinity, he set it upon the pillar. And many serpents came out of it and slithered into the houses that were now there. For Alexander was still there on the twenty-fifth of Tubi, building the city and that very shrine for the serpent. Thus, when these snakes come into the houses, the gatekeepers worship them as kindly spirits, for they are not poisonous, like wild animals, but rather, drive out poisonous beasts. And sacrifices are made to him as being of the family of serpents. And they wreathed all the beasts of burden and let them rest on that day; for, by bearing burdens, they had done their share in the building of the splendid city. And the king ordered that grain be given the guards. And when they had ground the grain and made bread, this was given the inhabitants as in time of great rejoicing. On account of this, to this day these customs are kept among the Alexandrians on the twenty-fifth of Tubi. They garland all beasts of burden, and offer sacrifices to the god, and render homage to the serpents who safeguard the home, and make a distribution of bread.

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