Alexander Romance ( "Pseudo-Callisthenes" )

Book 3 , Chapters 19-26

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.

Alexander and the Romans

  Candace and her quarrelling sons

  Venice Hellenic Institute Gr. 5 (14th century)

← Previous chapters (17-18)

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[19] G   Alexander on receiving and reading the letter sent Cleomenes, overseer of Egypt, to receive the gifts. He himself set off on the journey to her. Now Candace, after hearing about Alexander, how many cities he had stormed and how many kings he had mastered, spoke to one of her artists and ordered him to travel as if for a conference with him and surreptitiously to paint a portrait of Alexander and on his return to give it to her. On receiving it, she put it in a secret hiding place.

[9] Then Alexander accepted these things and sent to her Kdîmiôn {Cleomenēs} the Egyptian as an ambassador with a letter to the queen. And when Candace heard from Alexander how he had taken different countries and captured cities and overcome and subdued mighty kings, she bade a certain painter of hers, a Greek, arise and go to the place where Alexander was, and paint for her his face and figure accurately, without the king's being aware of it, and bring it to her. And when the painter had gone and painted the portrait of Alexander and brought it to her, Candace took the likeness and hid it in a certain place.

Now something else happened. The son of Candace, called Candaules, with a few horsemen, rode down to the camp of Alexander. The guards there took him and presented him to Ptolemy Soter who was at the right of the king's tent, for Alexander was asleep. Ptolemy asked him: "Who are you?" He said: "The son of Candace the Queen." The other asked: "Why then are you here?" He replied: "I was travelling with my wife and a small escort to celebrate the annual mysteries among the Amazons. The ruler of the Bebrycians, on seeing that I had a wife with me, came with a great army, carried her off, and killed most of my soldiers. So I turned back to assemble a larger force and destroy the Bebrycians." On hearing all this, Ptolemy arose and approaching Alexander awoke him and told him what he had heard. Alexander, on hearing the news, was at once aroused, and taking up his diadem he crowned Ptolemy and threw his cloak about him and said: "Advance as though you were Alexander and say: 'Call Antigonus, my companion in arms.' And when I come, tell me what you said for me and say: 'What shall we decide about the man? Give me your advice.'"

Then it fell out that a son of Candace, whose name was Kandâros {Candaules} with his wife and a few horsemen, came to the country of the Amazons to perform the mysteries of the gods ; and it came to pass that the chief of the Marnîkâyê slew his horsemen and took his wife, and Candaules escaped with a few horsemen, and came to the camp of Alexander. Then the guards of Alexander's camp took him and brought him before Ptolemy, the second in the kingdom, Alexander being asleep. Then Ptolemy questioned him, " Who art thou ?" Candaules said, "I am the son of queen Candace." He said to him, " What art thou doing here ?" Candaules said, " I and my wife, with a few horsemen, came to the country of the Amazons, as is our wont every year, to perform the mysteries of the gods; this time, however, the chief of the Marnîkâyê saw my wife, and came against me with a large troop, and wrested my wife from me, and slew a number of the horsemen that were with me; and now I am come back that I might fetch a number of troops and do battle with him." And when Ptolemy heard this, he arose and went in to the king and awoke him, and related these things which he had heard before him. When Alexander heard this, he rose up early in the morning, and gave his crown to Ptolemy, and arrayed him in his purple robe, and said to him, " Go before me, as if thou wert king, and call me Antôgnâyâ [Antigonus], the chief of the host." And when they had gone out, Alexander spoke before Ptolemy these words which he had heard.

Ptolemy went out. The soldiers on seeing him were full of conjectures as to what the impulsive Alexander was again planning. Candaules, on seeing the man in the royal dress, feared that he would order his execution. For he supposed he was Alexander. But Ptolemy said: "Let someone summon Antigonus, my companion in arms." Alexander came. Ptolemy said: "Antigonus, this is Candaules, son of Candace the queen. His wife was stolen from him by the ruler of the Bebrycians. What do you advise me to do?" And he said: "Alexander, I advise you to arm your men and make war on the Bebrycians, that we may rescue this man's wife and return her to him for the honour of his mother." Candaules was delighted on hearing these words. Ptolemy then said: "If you wish this, Antigonus, also do it. As my companion in arms, order the expedition to be prepared."

So Ptolemy went forth and looked upon the troops ; and the troops thought that it was Alexander, and grief and trouble fell upon their hearts, and they said one to another, " What else pray is this Alexander who is rich in plans meditating?" When Candaules saw this, fear took hold of him, for he thought, " Peradventure they will slay me." And Ptolemy gave orders and questioned Alexander after the manner of kings, saying, " Antigonus, who is this man ? " Antigonus said, "This is Candaules, the son of queen Candace, from whom, while he was journeying along the way, the chief of the Marnîkâyê carried off his wife by force; what, O king, dost thou counsel and command me to do ?" The king said, " I counsel and command thee that thou shouldst take my troops, and go and fight with the Mârônîkâyê, and deliver his wife from thence. On account of the dignity and wisdom of Candace his mother, thou shalt rescue his wife, and give her back to him." When Candaules heard this, he was glad. Antigonus said, " Since it is pleasing to thee, O king, I will go and carry out this matter; only do thou give orders that they supply me with troops."

[20] G   So they made ready for the expedition on the orders of Ptolemy. And Alexander reached the place by a forced march in one day. And Antigonus said: "Alexander, let us not be seen by the Bebrycians in daylight lest the ruler, somehow getting information, shall kill the wife of this man before the battle. And what sort of glory will we have in victory if Candaules loses his wife? So let us enter the city by night and open the houses, and the populace itself will give back the woman." When Antigonus proposed this, Candaules embraced him and said: "How wise you are, Antigonus! Would that you were Alexander and not the companion in arms of Alexander!" And so in the night they came to the city and, as the inhabitants were asleep, they started fires in the suburbs. And when the men were awakened and inquired what the cause of the fire was, Alexander ordered the soldiers to shout: "Candaules the king is here with a great army and gives you this command: 'Give back my wife before I set fire to the whole city.'" So all, taken by surprise and being against their ruler, opened the palace, found the woman in bed with the ruler, took her away, gave her back to Candaules, and killed the tyrant. Then Candaules, full of gratitude for the plan and the wisdom of Alexander, embracing him said: "Antigonus, entrust yourself to me and come to my mother that I may give you royal gifts." And Alexander joyfully replied: "Ask the king for me. For I desire also to see the city." And Alexander gave the nod to Ptolemy to send him as his messenger. So Ptolemy said to Candaules: "I wish to salute your mother in a letter. So take Antigonus with you as my messenger and send him back again safely just as I restore both yourself and your wife to safety." And he said: "King, I take this man with me as if he were Alexander himself. And I will send him back to you with royal gifts."

[10] Then Ptolemy in the guise of Alexander commanded troops to go with Antigonus. Antigonus came to that place while it was yet day, and said to Candaules : "Come, let us hide ourselves on one side until it is the night, for if the Mûrîkâyê see us, they will speedily tell their chief, and he in his anger will slay the woman before the fight, and what joy will there be in our victory when thy wife is dead ? Let us tarry now, and enter the city at night ; and we will set fire to it, and in the midst of the crush in the city, they shall bring thy wife to thee, for our fight is not with the country, neither is it for the government of the city, but for the sake of bringing back one woman." When Antigonus had spoken these words, Candaules fell upon his face and made obeisance to him, saying, " How admirable is this wisdom and knowledge of thine, Antigonus! It were right that thou thyself shouldst be Alexander, and not merely the chief of the host" When it was night, they went to the city ; and when the people of the city were awakened out of their sleep and asked concerning the cause of the conflagration, Alexander commanded his troops to shout with a loud voice, " It is Candaules the king with his vast army, and he commands you, saying, ' Either restore my wife to me, or I will burn your whole city with fire.' " Then the people by reason of their fear went in a great crowd to the palace of their chief, and carried off the woman from his bed, and brought her and gave her to Candaules. Then he made obeisance to Antigonus, and praised his counsel, and thanked him, and they returned together to the camp of Alexander. And Candaules embraced Antigonus, and said to him, " O my lord, trust thyself to me and come with me to my mother that I may give thee gifts." Then Antigonus rejoicing at this speech said to him, " Ask permission for me from the king, for I myself am desirous to come and see the city." Then he sent to the king saying, " Send Antigonus as an ambassador to my mother." Ptolemy called Candaules and said to him, "Do thou, O Candaules, salute thy mother in writing, and receive Antigonus my general as ambassador, and send him back to me too in health, for he restored thee along with thy wife, and will carry thee to thy mother." And Candaules said, "O king, I accept this man from thee on these conditions, as if he were Alexander, and I will send him back to thy kingdom to thee in health with gifts."

[21] G   So setting out, he took a suitable escort and the animals and wagons for the journey. And as he travelled, he was amazed at the mountains of various colours, gleaming with crystals, reaching up to the clouds of heaven, and the lofty trees heavy with fruit, not like those of the Greeks, but peculiar marvels. For there were apple-trees laden with golden fruit like the citrus fruits of the Greeks, and bunches of grapes that one hand could not hold, and pomegranates the size of chestnuts, larger than ripe ones. Quantities of snakes were killed around the trees and lizards larger than rats and apes as large as the bears in Greece, and many other creatures, thousands, of many colours and strange shapes. There were some holy places and caves with entrances. Candaules said: "Antigonus, these are called the homes of the gods and often in these caves gods reclining on couches are seen by the king when he invokes them. So, if you wish, take a libation and make a sacrifice in these regions and they will appear to you." So spoke Candaules. And they continued their journey and came to the palace, and Candaules' brothers and his mother met them. And as they were about to embrace him, Candaules said: "You are not to embrace me before you welcome the saviour of my life and the benefactor of my wife, Antigonus, messenger of King Alexander." And they said: "What protection did he give you?" Then he related to them the story of the abduction of his wife by the Bebrycians and the aid given him. So his brothers and his mother welcomed Alexander. A splendid and royal banquet was given.

[11] Then Alexander took with him one division of the army, with cattle and chariots, and went. And as they were marching along the road, they saw a mountain of beryls, which in its height reached the clouds, and it was thickly crowded with lofty trees and fruits, but its trees were not like the trees which are in the country of the Greeks. The apples for example which we saw were as large as the citrons which are in the country of the Greeks ; the clusters of grapes were like the clusters of dates in our country ; and the nuts were as big as melons. Snakes were coiled round the greater number of the trees, and each of them was as big as a ferret with us ; the apes upon the trees were larger than bean with us ; and there were a number of animals of different kinds; and the mountains were the caves and paths of ibexes. Then Candaules said to me, " Antigonus, this place is the temple and dwelling-place of the gods, and many times they appear in these spots. Now then, if thou pleasest, when thou art on the way back, offer up a sacrifice to them that they may reveal themselves to thee." When Candaules had said this, we journeyed on and arrived at the royal palace. And when we drew near, his mother and brethren came to meet us ; and when they wished to embrace Candaules, he said to them, " First of all salute the saviour and deliverer of myself and wife, Antigonus, the ambassador of Alexander king of peace." And when he went on to tell them severally of the carrying away of his wife and of the assistance which came from Alexander's army and of the knowledge and wisdom of Antigonus, his mother and brethren embraced and kissed Antigonus, and prepared a great and splendid feast for him, and they ate.

[22] G   On the next day, Candace appeared wearing her crown. She was a large woman with something divine in her appearance so that Alexander seemed to behold his own mother, Olympias. He saw the palace with its gleaming gold roof and stone walls, beds with covers of silk interwoven with gold, couches with supports of onyx and beryl, the frames fitted with leather strips fastened together, and tables with ivory nails, and there was the offering of work made of turquoise. And the columns were Numidian, the capitals of which were of shiny black Indian wood. And there were votive statues of men made of fine copper, so many that they could not be counted. There were scythe-bearing chariots carved of purple stone with the charioteers and horses so that they seemed ready for a race, and elephants chiselled from the same stone, trampling on the enemies, or whirling up their opponents with their trunks. There were complete ships with their sails, carved from one small stone. There were statues of barbarian gods, which terrified those who saw them because of their murderous aspect. Their shrines rose as high as heaven, were as tall as plane-trees or cypresses. There was a flowing river, bubbling with golden foam, another kind of Pactolus. There were rows of pepper trees, hung with ripe fruit. On seeing these, Alexander was filled with amazement. He was the guest of the brothers of Candaules. And Candaules called his mother and asked her to give the messenger gifts worthy of his intelligence and to send him back. At once Candace took Antigonus by the hand and showed him a bed-room gleaming with shining stone so that the sun appeared to rise inside the marble. And in it were three couches of perfect woods which are imperishable and cannot be destroyed by fire. And the house had been built not with a foundation fixed upon the earth, but supported by four huge square wooden pillars, and was moved on wheels by twenty elephants. And wherever the king went to make war on a city, he lived in this.

[12] On the following day Candace put on the royal apparel, and set the crown upon her head, and was so ornamented that, when Alexander saw her, he thought that he was looking upon Olympias his mother. Tho whole roof of the house in which she sat was painted with gold, and its walls were all set with precious stones and gems, and the cushions which were in the house were all woven with silk and fine gold; the legs of the couches were of magnificent beryls, and the tables in the house were of ivory, and the pillars of the house, their bases and their capitals, were made of precious beryl stones ; statues of Corinthian brass stood upon the tops of the pillars, and the pillars were of purple stone, and representations of chariots and of men were engraved upon them; and these carvings were so marvellous that everyone who saw them thought that the horses were going to run. Some of the stones were wrought in the form of elephants, which were standing in battle and holding enemies in their trunks. Statues of all the gods of the nations stood round the whole house, and others were standing on pillars ; and the roof of their house appeared from the inside as if all the plane-trees and cedars of the earth were growing there ; and there was the representation of a lake round about it, so that the whole house was reflected by the waters that were painted in it. When Antigonus (that is to say Alexander) saw this, he marvelled and wonder laid hold on him. And Candaules entreated his mother that gifts and offerings should be given to this ambassador as befitted the greatness of his knowledge. Then on the following day Candace took Alexander by the hand, and led him into a chamber. The whole chamber was inlaid with white marble like the heavens, and by reason of the splendour of the marble everyone who saw it thought that the sun was shining in it ; and the beams of the roof were of a wood which they call ôbmiôn, which wood no woodworm attacks, neither does it burn in fire. The foundations of the house were not laid upon the ground, but upon square beams which were very thick; and beneath it, at its four corners, were chariot wheels, and elephants were drawing them; and whithersoever the queen went to war, she dwelt in it and lived in it.

And Alexander said to Queen Candace: "All these things would demand admiration, if they were among the Greeks and not with you, because they have great mountains of varied colours." Candace was enraged and said: "You have spoken the truth, Alexander." He, struck dumb by his name, turned away. But she said: "Why do you turn away, when addressed as Alexander?" And he said: "Lady, I am called Antigonus, messenger of Alexander." - "Even if you are called Antigonus, with me you are King Alexander. At once I will prove it to you." And, taking him by the hand, she led him to her bed-room and said: "Do you recognize your portrait? Why do you tremble? Why are you troubled? You, the sacker of Persis, the conqueror of the Indians, the man who threw down the trophies of the Medes and Parthians, now without wars or army are in the power of Queen Candace. So learn, Alexander, that, if any man thinks he is supreme in wisdom above all men, another mortal will display greater wisdom than his."

Then Alexander said to Candace, " O queen, all these things would be worthy of admiration, if they were in the country of the Greeks, but here they are not very marvellous, for there are many mountains like these here, in which are to be found beryl stones of divers colours and variegated in many ways." Candace answered with indignation and said to him, " Thou hast spoken rightly, Alexander." When Alexander heard that Candace called him by his own name, he was troubled and he turned his face backward. Candace said to him, " Wherefore dost thou turn thy face backwards because I called thee by thy name Alexander ?" Alexander said, " My lady, Antigonus is my name, and Alexander is the king who sent me hither." Candace said, " I know that Alexander is the king, and thou thyself art Alexander, and now I recognise thee from the look of thy picture ;" and straightway she took him by the hand and led him into another chamber, and showed him the likeness, and said to him, " See if thou canst recognise the face in this painting." When Alexander saw the painting of himself, his mind was perturbed, and he began to gnash his teeth. Candace said to him, " Why art thou troubled, and why dost thou gnash thy teeth at me, O bearer of the sovereignty of the Persians and Indians, who hast gained the victory over the Persians, and triumphed over the Parthians ? Without war and without an army hast thou now fallen into the hands of queen Candace. Know then, Alexander, that it is not right for a man to glorify himself in his mind as though all wisdom and knowledge belonged to him alone, for though his wisdom be very great, one may be found who is wiser than he."

Alexander raged and gnashed his teeth. Candace said: "Why rage? Why gnash your teeth? What can you do - you who are so great a king?" And he said, "I am gnashing my teeth in horror and am truly angry that I do not have my sword with me." The lady said, "And suppose you had it, what could you do?" And he said: "If I had my sword, I would first kill you in order never to be subject to you, and then myself, because I betrayed myself." She answered: "This is a noble and royal speech. But start no contest, Alexander. For as you saved my son and his wife from the Bebrycians, I too will take care that among the barbarians you are not Alexander. For if they know that you are Alexander, they will straightway kill you because it was you who killed Porus. For the wife of my youngest son is the daughter of Porus. So be called Antigonus, for I will guard your secret."

When Alexander heard this, he stood up in a rage and gnashed his teeth, and Candace spoke thus to him : "Why art thou angry ? and for what reason dost thou gnash thy teeth, O thou who art so great a king ? " Alexander replied : "I am a wretched man, inasmuch as I have no sword." Candace said to him: " Suppose thou hadst a sword, what wouldst thou be able to do ? " Alexander said : " If I had a sword, I would either slay thee, that thou mightest no longer be in the world, or I would stab myself, because I of my own freewill have exposed myself to ridicule." Candace said to him: "Thou hast spoken these words also valiantly and royally; but now weary not thyself, neither let thy mind nor thy will be perturbed, for as thou hast rescued my son and my daughter-in-law, and hast brought them in safety to me, so also will I protect thee from the barbarians, and will send thee away from here under the name of Antigonus. For if the barbarians should hear that thou art Alexander, they will slay thee, because thou didst slay Porus the king of the Indians, for my daughter-in-law is a daughter of Porus. Henceforward let thy name be called Antigonus, and I will keep this secret."

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[23] G   When she finished speaking, she went out with him and said: "My son, Candaules, and Marpessa, my daughter, if you had not found opportunely the army of Alexander, I should not have received you back and you would not have found your wife, so let us be worthy of the messenger of Alexander and give him gifts." Her second son, Caragus, said: "I approve, mother. Alexander saved my brother and his wife. Let us give what you wish." Then her third son spoke: "Mother, desist. My wife is grieved. Her father was killed by Alexander. So she wishes that Alexander should know sorrow, and that having his messenger, this Antigonus, in her power, she should kill him." Candace said: "What good will it do you, son, if you kill this man in this way? It is nothing to Alexander if you kill him thus." Then Candaules said: "But this man saved me and my wife and I must send him back safe to Alexander." He replied: "Then let us fight a duel over him." Candaules answered: "I do not wish that. But if it is your will, you will find me ready."

[13] And when she had spoken these words to him, they both went out ; and she called her son and daughter-in-law and said to them, "Son Candaules, and thou too, my daughter Mâlâpsâ, had you not obtained the help of Alexander's troops, we should never have seen one another, neither you me, nor I you. Now therefore it is right that thou shouldst send this ambassador of Alexander's away from here with honour and glory." Then her other son Kerâtôr said: "My mother, Alexander has delivered my brother and his wife ; but my wife is angry and says, ' Alexander slew my father Porus, and I now desire that thou wilt slay this ambassador of Alexander to avenge my father'." Candace said : " My son, what profit wilt thou gain by this, that this ambassador be slain here? for though thou shouldst slay this ambassador here, Alexander will not be grieved." Candaules said : " I will not allow him to die, because he delivered myself and my wife, and it is right that I should send him away safe from hence to Alexander." Then Kerâtôr said, " If thou send this man away from here, there will be war between thee and me." Candaules said, " I do not desire this; but if thou seekest war, I too am ready."

Then Candace was in anguish for fear her sons would fight a duel and, getting Alexander by himself, she said: "Since you are resourceful on every occasion, can you not by thinking find a solution so that my sons will not fight over you?" Alexander said: "Caragus and Candaules, if you kill me in this way, Alexander is not disturbed. For messengers do not affect his honour in war. So if you kill me thus, Alexander has other messengers, many of them. If you wish through me to take your enemy Alexander captive, promise to give me a certain share of the gifts on this condition that I stay with you and so make Alexander arrive, on the ground that you wish to present to him in person the gifts which you have prepared." The brothers agreed. And Candace, marvelling at the cleverness of Alexander, said to him in private: "Alexander, would that you too were my son and that through you I were ruling all the nations! For you have taken the cities not by war, but by great strategy. So come now, and be safe from them. It is Candace's great duty to keep this secret. But I advise you hereafter not to trust yourself to be your own messenger, unless you want to be like those who are trying to commit suicide." So he was pleased on being saved by them, and Candace kept his secret.

Now Candace was in great trouble and affliction because of this matter, for she thought that peradventure her sons would fight with one another on this account, so she called Alexander privily and said to him : " O Alexander, thou hast been on every occasion astute and abundant in knowledge and fertile in expedients and skilled in contrivances; and now art thou able to do nothing to prevent these my sons fighting with one another for thy sake?" Then Alexander answered and said: " Hear ye, Kerâtôr and Candaules ; if you slay me here, do not imagine that Alexander will be distressed on my account, or that he will sorrow for me, (though it is not right to kill an ambassador even in war,) because, if you slay me here, Alexander has many ambassadors like me. But if you desire that I should deliver Alexander into your hands without trouble, I am able to do it ; but do you now promise me what you will give me, and how many towns and cities you will give, that henceforward I may live with you in this country, and I will go and persuade Alexander to come hither, as if you had asked him that you might honour him with great and excellent offerings; and I know that I am able to bring him hither without any body of troops, and when he comes here, you can easily take him and revenge yourselves on him." When Kerâtôr heard these words of his, he was persuaded and promised Alexander a number of his own towns. Then Candace, marvelling at the knowledge and understanding of Alexander, called him secretly and said to him, " O Alexander, would that thou also wert my son, for by the knowledge and wisdom which thou hast thou art able to subdue all nations."

After a few days, when he departed, Candace presented him with royal gifts: a crown of adamant worth many talents and a breastplate rich in onyx and green jewels and a cloak shining like the stars, all purple, shot with gold, and sent him away with his gifts and her own soldiers.

And next day Candace dismissed Alexander and gave him gifts, a royal crown of gold set with . . . and a breastplate of gold set with beryls and chalcedonies and other precious stones, and a purple cloak like stars woven with gold ; and she sent some of her own horsemen with him.

[24] G   After he had travelled the appointed days, he came to that place where Candaules told him gods lived in a cave. When he had sacrificed to the gods of the region and poured libations, he entered the cave with a few soldiers and he saw a multitude and roofs gleaming with the light of stars and roundabout a vision of divine forms, and there was a murmuring crowd hushed into silence. And he saw some standing upright, lights streaming from their eyes, and one who spoke: "Greetings, Alexander. Do you know who I am?" He said: "No, my lord." He said: "I am Sesonchosis, the king who ruled the world, now become a companion of gods. Yet I did not gain such an immortal name as yours." He said: "How is that, my lord?" He replied: "For although I conquered the whole world and subjugated so many peoples, nobody knows my name. But you shall have great renown for building in Egypt the city of Sk'andaria, which is dear to the gods, and also Souttloys, Ialan, Draul, Loudal. Now enter within and you shall see the creator and overseer of the entire universe." The king went within and saw a fire-bright haze and, seated on a throne, the god whom he had once seen being worshiped by men in Rokotide, that is, the lord Sarapis. He said: "How is this, O Lord, divine offspring of untainted nature? I saw you near the land of the Libyans seated on a throne, and now I see you here once again." And Sesonchosis, who was standing close to him, said to Alexander: "He is seen everywhere, though he is fixed in one spot; just as the sky is seen everywhere though it is set fast at a certain height in the firmament."

[14] Then he went forth from thence and arrived at the hill of which Candaules had told him that it belonged to the gods. He offered sacrifices in that place, and he went into a cave, and saw in that cave a blackness out of the midst of which stars were shining, and suddenly he heard behind him a noise of dead bodies and the sound of an uproar. Then Alexander trembled and stood up silently to see what it was ; and suddenly the darkness disappeared, and he saw the form of a man reclining upon a couch, and his eyes were like sparkling stars. And he said to Alexander, " Peace be with thee, Alexander; dost thou know who I am?" Alexander said, "Nay, my lord, nay." Then he said to him, " I am Sêsânkôs (Sesonchosis), the ruler of the world, and from the time that I died I am with the gods; I, who am immortal, am not so renowned as thou art" Alexander said to him, " How so, my lord ?" He said to him : " I took the whole world and subdued a number of nations, yet now there is no remembrance of me on earth; but thou art renowned on account of the city of Alexandria the Great which thou hast built ; thy name will be famed for ever. But now come within and see the Maker of all natures." And when Alexander had gone within, he saw a fiery cloud and the great god Serapis seated upon a throne. And Alexander said, " My lord, I saw thee in the vision at Thebes as thou didst sit, and behold I see thee here too." Then Sesonchosis said, "My lord Serapis dwells in one place, but reveals himself everywhere."

And Alexander said, "Lord, God, how many years shall I live?" Sesonchosis said: "It is not good that a mortal should know when he will die. For, on hearing that day, he died on the day when he learned it. For when a man is ignorant of the future, the fact that he does not know helps him to forget, even though he must die completely. The city which you founded shall be famous among all men. And many men shall walk its streets, worshipping you as a god. For you will dwell there, both dead and alive. For you yourself will have as your tomb the city which you founded.

Then Alexander said, " My lord, how many years longer shall I live ?" Sesonchosis said : "It is well for mortal man when the day of his death is hidden from him ; for when he learns when his death shall take place, from the day that he knows concerning his death he considers himself as already dead. But as for thee, when thou establishest and completest a great and famous city, thou shalt enter it, whether with death or without death, and the people of the city will receive thee, and will do reverence to thee as to a god, and thy grave shall be in that spot"

[25] G   When the messenger said these words, Alexander went out, and taking his guard he went on his way. And the satraps met him and placed the diadem on his head and gave him the royal robe. Then his way led to the country of the Amazons. And when he was near them, he sent them the following letter: "King Alexander sends greetings to the Amazons. I think you have heard of the war against Darius. From there we made an expedition to the Indians and we found their princes (?) . . . and also those who are gymnosophists. Taking tribute money from them, we sent them away to their own regions. They urged us to remain and we established peace in the land so that they welcomed us gladly and made a sacrifice for us. From there we marched to you. So have a meeting with us. For we come not to harm you, but to see the country and also to be your benefactors. Farewell."

[15] When Alexander had heard these words from the messenger (or angel), he set out on his road, and the generals of his forces came to him on the way, and straightway put his crown upon him, and arrayed him in royal apparel. Now Alexander had made ready to go to the country of the Amziôs {Amazons}, which was the land of women. These Amazons are women, who have one breast like a man's and one like a woman's. When Alexander drew near and had arrived in the country of the Amazons, he composed a letter and wrote to them as follows: "From Alexander to the Amazons greeting. You have heard concerning the war which we had with Darius, and of that with Porus the king of the Indians, and how I slew them. And after I had slain them, I went to the country of the Indians, and saw there the Brahmans and their sages, and received tribute from them, and allowed them to remain in their own land, and they sacrificed to the gods on my behalf. And I turned away from them, and now I have made ready to come to you. Come you then to meet me and receive me, for I am not coming to make war nor to do anything evil; but I come to see your country, and I will benefit you."

When this letter had been read, the Amazons also wrote one: "The leaders of the Amazons send greetings to King Alexander. We have written to you in order that you may have knowledge before you enter these regions and you may not leave in disgrace. In the letter, we make clear to you the customs in our land and the fact that we are noble. We are across the Amazon river and live on an island. It takes a year to travel around it. The river encircles it. There is one entrance. We who dwell here are unmarried women and are fully armed, 20,000. There is no male creature here. The men live across the river, as shepherds on the land. Once a year, we celebrate a festival and sacrifice horses to Poseidon and Hephaestus during thirty days. The men who wish to mate with any of us stay with them. And the female children which are born, when they are seven years old, join us. Now whenever enemies advance against us, the most of us go forth on horseback, 20,000. The others defend the island. We go to our boundaries. And the men drawn up behind us follow us. And if anyone is wounded in battle, she is honoured (?) for a time and a crown of remembrance is given to her family. And if any one falls in battle, her next of kin receive large rewards. And if any one brings back an enemy's body, she receives a prize of gold and much silver and food for life. So if we conquer the enemy, or they flee, a disgrace rests upon them for all time. And if they conquer us, they will be victors over women. See to it then, King, that the same fate does not befall you. We will crown you each year as long as you do not fight. After you have deliberated, reply to us. You will find our army drawn up on our boundaries."

When they had read the letter, they wrote him an answer as follows : " From the Amazons and the chiefs of the hosts of our camp to Alexander greeting. We write to thee that thou mayest know, before thou comest hither and before thou enterest our country, that perhaps when thou comest hither, thou wilt be obliged against thy will to retreat and turn back. In this letter too we will inform thee of all our affairs, and what is the condition of our country, and in what state it is. By our nature we are women, but owing to our bravery we are superior to men. We live upon an island in the sea Meznîkos, and there is a sea round about it, the beginning and end of which are unknown, and there is only one place of crossing over to us. We who dwell in the island are in name virgins, and are in number two hundred and eighty thousand. We have no man with us, and no male is found among us; for our husbands live on the other side of the sea. At the time of the year when we slay horses and offer sacrifices to Zeus and to Hephaestus, during that festival we cross over to the other side of the sea, and we make a feast together with the men for thirty days, and those who wish to stay with their husbands stay. She that conceives remains where she is until she gives birth to a child ; and if she bears a female, she leaves it with fosterers on the other side of the sea for seven years, and then they bring her over to this side to us. Should any unfriendly people come against us in battle, and it be necessary for us to make war with them, we go forth to battle one hundred and thirty thousand strong upon equipped horses, and the remainder keep watch in the camps and on the islands. Our husbands come after us; and if it happen that some women of us die while we are doing battle with the enemy, our husbands take their bodies and carry them to the islands. If the troops of the enemy be mighty and powerful and numerous, and do battle with us for many days, should any of our women slay any of the enemies' host, we give them a crown from the altar of Zeus. If it fall out that we rout an enemy who is stronger than we, and that they are conquered by us, it is a great disgrace to those mighty and powerful enemies that they are conquered by the hands of women and turn their backs in flight ; but on the other hand, should it happen that the enemy has the advantage over us in war, and we turn and come to our islands in discomfiture, it is not accounted a brave deed to those men, neither is their victory deemed creditable to them, because it is merely women whom they have conquered. Do thou therefore consider this, for peradventure it may happen thus even to thee. My lord the king, if it please thee, retire, and we will each year give thee as a gift what is right. Do thou then make a reply to our letter on this subject as thou art bound to do, and we are in our camp on this summit prepared and ready."

[26] G   The letter of Alexander to the Amazons. "King Alexander sends greetings to the Amazons. We have conquered three quarters of the inhabited world and we have set up trophies, placing them among all peoples. It will be a disgrace to us if we do not make an expedition against you. So if you wish to perish and to have your country become uninhabited, wait at your borders. And if you wish to dwell in your own city and not to make trial of war, let us see you cross the river. So too let the men be drawn up in the plain. And if you do these things, I swear by our father Zeus and Hera and Ares and Athena, bringer of victory, that I will not harm you. Whatever tribute you wish, I will receive from you and we will not enter your land. And whatever you decide, send to us cavalry. We will pay each month to each mounted woman five minae of gold. And after a year, they will go back to their own homes and you will send us others. When you have considered these matters, reply. Farewell."

The letter of the Amazons to Alexander. "The most powerful rulers of the Amazons send greetings to King Alexander. We give you permission to come to us and to see our country. We have ordered given to you yearly one hundred talents of gold and we have sent five hundred of our best Amazons to you for a meeting, bearing to you gifts and one hundred thoroughbred horses. These Amazons will remain with you a year. But if any one shall consort with a stranger, she will be considered to have left her native land. Write to us how many will remain with you and, sending the rest back, receive others in exchange. We acknowledge your authority whether you are present, or absent. For we hear of your valour and your nobility. And we are naught in comparison to the whole world which you have traversed, naught to oppose your forces. So we have decided to dwell in our own country under your sway."

After Alexander had arranged these matters, he began to make the journey into the Prasiacan land, but soon the soldiers became dispirited. For it was midsummer and it rained incessantly for forty days so that the (?) straps of the shields rotted and the bridles of the horses, and many of the infantry were soaked through and had sore feet from going barefoot. And when the rain ceased, the heat was intolerable. And there were violent thunder-storms and bolts fell repeatedly and strange voices were heard by the soldiers. And when he was about to cross the river Hypanis, he made inquiries of the natives about the size of the forces of the king, who was across in the Prasiacan land. It lay along the ocean. The natives told him there were five thousand elephants in stalls, ten thousand chariots, and many tens of thousands of men. On hearing this, the wise Alexander went plundering along the riverside and the rest of the country of the Indians, and having constructed fiery altars throughout his army he made sacrifices to the gods.

[16] When Alexander had read this letter, he smiled, and ordered an answer to be made to this letter of theirs as follows: "King Alexander to the Amazons greeting. We have taken and subdued three ends of the world, and have been victorious over them; and now it would be a great disgrace to us if we did not come to your country. Now, if you desire your own destruction and that of the rest of the people in your land, remain where you are upon the top of the mountain : but if you desire to live and to dwell in your country, and are not desirous to experience a trial of our strength, cross over to this side, and come to see us with your husbands in the plain, and receive us, and I swear by the soul of my mother and by the fortune of Hera the mother of the gods, and by Athena the lady of battles, and by Artemis the great goddess, that I will do no evil unto you. But whatever tribute you are willing to give for the benefit of my troops, I will accept it from you. Let as many horsewomen as you please come to my army, and I will give each of you five dinars as the pay of each month, besides the food of the horsewomen and of the horses; and I will keep them in my army one year, and then I will send them away to their own places, and do you send others in their stead."

When this letter had been read and they had taken counsel among themselves, they made answer to him as follows: "From the chiefs of the Amazons and all the generals to Alexander greeting. We grant thee power to come and see our country. And afterwards we will give to thee each year a thousand pounds of gold for a crown ; and those who bring them to thee shall remain in thy camp a year. If it should happen that any of them fall in love with men, let them marry them and dwell in the land. Do thou send to us the number of the women who die and of those who remain, that we may send to thee other women in their stead. And henceforward we will obey thee far or near, for we have heard of thy excellence and thy goodness and thy might and thy power. And what are we more than the rest of the world that we should not receive thee as lord ? Farewell."

[17] Then Alexander made ready, and when he drew near to the country of the Amazons, Zeus rained so great a rain upon them that the hoofs of all the cattle and horses rotted away by reason of the quantity of rain, and the saddles of the horses and the pack-saddles of the cattle were destroyed. After the rain had ceased, a fierce and powerful heat came upon us, which no one of us was able to endure; and then came lightnings and thunderings and mighty sounds from heaven to such a degree that many of the horsemen fell upon their faces through fear. When we had crossed over the river Zûtâ (?) and saw the country, the whole country was decorated with temples and altars, like the land of the Indians. When we saw the abundant rain, we remembered the snow which fell upon us in the country of Prasiakê ; and when the people that were dwelling in that land saw all the rain and the ill, they said that it happened because of Alexander. They came to Alexander and said to him, "O good king, depart from our land, and we will give thee sixty mighty elephants trained to war and one hundred thousand chariots." Then Alexander gave orders to accept them from them, and he departed thence. Then those five hundred horsewomen came to meet him, bringing the gold, and they stood in Alexander's presence and laid the gold before him. When Alexander had seen the country of the Amazons, he ordered sacrifices to be offered to all the gods that were in the land.

Then he received the following letter from the philosopher Aristotle: "Aristotle sends greetings to King Alexander. I am greatly at a loss as I consider what I shall write you first, what next, what last. Now Zeus and Poseidon bear witness that first I give thanks to all the gods and goddesses for your fortunate, brilliant, and famous achievements. Yes, entering into every contest and action and danger, you were never downed. For in the country of the Indians, twice, nay oftener, you encountered violent storms, but were saved. Actually, if any one dares to enter that country, he will get a reputation for brilliant and remarkable deeds. For he will be easily recognized as a noble commander, a Nestor in counsel, and in battle a brave Odysseus, who
  Saw many cities of men and learned of their habits. { Homer, Od_1'3 }
For I speak to you of what you have accomplished in about thirty years. Men say of you: 'Alexander of Macedon has travelled from the setting sun to its rising. He has been welcomed by Ethiopians and Scythians,
  Men dwelling deep in the west and men of the land of the sunrise. { Homer, Od_1'24 }
And even others, who dared to rise against you, sent envoys to beg that you become their friend. Bravo, godlike king! Farewell."

Then, marshalling the army, he started and made the journey to Babylon. On arriving there, he was entertained splendidly and he made sacrifices to the gods and celebrated a gymnastic contest and a musical contest. . .

And he set out from thence, and on the way a letter met him. "From Aristotle to Alexander greeting. I have heard that thou hast laboured in many battles and wars, and that thou hast also taken and subdued a number of countries and many cities. Thou hast been able to do all these things by the aid of the gods, for at present thou art but thirty years of age, and by the assistance of the gods thou hast performed such deeds as no other lord has been able to do in a number of years. Therefore thou art under many obligations to the gods, and now the time has come for thee to pay them back with sacrifice and incense, for great is thy debt to the gods who have honoured thee, and thou wilt not be able to pay it in a short time."

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