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Marcus Junianus Justinus
Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus.
translated, with notes, by the Rev. John Selby Watson.
London: Henry G. Bohn, York Street, Convent Garden (1853).


Table of contents


Book XII

Greece resumes hostilities in Alexander’s absence, I.—Expedition of Alexander, king of Epirus, into Italy; Scythia invaded, II.—Alexander’s luxury; Thalestris; Alexander assumes the Persian dress, III.—Effects of his conduct on his troops; his mode of conciliating them, IV.—Parmenio and Philotas put to death; further conquests of Alexander; Bessus delivered up to justice, V.—Death of Clitus; Alexander’s grief, VI.—Alexander’s pride; his march to the east; his ardour to surpass Bacchus and Hercules, VII.—Overcomes Porus, VIII.—His danger among the Sygambri; reaches the mouth of the Indus; marries Statira, IX. X.—His munificence; he suppresses a mutiny; death of Hephaestion, XI. XII.—Alexander poisoned by the contrivance of Antipater, XIII. XIV.—His death, XV.—His eulogy, XVI.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

1 ALEXANDER interred the soldiers, whom he had lost in the pursuit of Darius, at great expense, and distributed thirteen thousand talents among the rest that attended him in that expedition. Of the horses, the greater part were killed by the heat; and those that survived were rendered unfit for service. All the treasure, amounting to a hundred and ninety thousand talents, was conveyed to Ecbatana, and Parmenio was entrusted with the charge of it. In the midst of these proceedings, letters from Antipater in Macedonia were brought to Alexander, in which the war of Agis king of Sparta in Greece, that of Alexander king of Epirus in Italy, and that of Zopyrion his own lieutenant-general in Scythia, were communicated. At this news he was affected with various emotions but felt more joy at learning the deaths of two rival kings, than sorrow at the loss of Zopyrion and his army.

After the departure of Alexander from Macedonia, almost all Greece, as if to take advantage of the opportunity for recovering their liberty, had risen in arms, yielding, in that respect, to the influence of the Lacedaemonians, who alone had rejected peace from Philip and Alexander, and had scorned the terms on which it was offered. The leader in this insurrection was Agis, king of the Lacedaemonians, but Antipater, assembling an army, suppressed the commotion in its infancy. The slaughter, however, was great on both sides; for king Agis, when he saw his men taking to flight, dismissed his guards, and, that he might seem inferior to Alexander in fortune only, not in valour, made such a havoc among the enemy, that he sometimes drove whole troops before him. At last, overpowered by numbers, he fell superior to all in glory.

2 Alexander, too, the king of Epirus, having been invited into Italy by the Tarentines, who desired his assistance against the Bruttians, had gone thither as eagerly as if, in a division of the world, the east had fallen by lot to Alexander, the son of his sister Olympias, and the west to himself, and as if he was likely to have not less to do in Italy, Africa, and Sicily, than Alexander in Asia and Persia. To this was added, that as the oracle at Delphi had forewarned Alexander the Great against treachery in Macedonia, so that of Jupiter at Dodona had admonished the other Alexander “to beware of the city Pandosia and the river Acheron;” and as both these were in Epirus, and he was ignorant that they were also to be found in Italy, he had the more eagerly fixed on this foreign expedition, in hope of escaping the dangers signified in the warning. On his arrival in Italy, his first contest was with the Apulians; but when he learned the destiny appointed to their city, he soon concluded a peace and alliance with their king. The chief city of the Apulians, at that time, was Brundusium, which a party of Aetolians that followed Diomede, a leader rendered famous and honourable by his achievements at Troy, had founded; but being expelled by the Apulians, and having recourse to some oracle, they received for answer that “they would possess for ever the place which they had sought to recover.” On this ground they demanded of the Apulians that their city should be restored, threatening them with war unless the demand should be complied with. But the oracle becoming known to the Apulians, they put the ambassadors to death, and buried them in the city, that they might have a perpetual abode there; and, having thus given the oracle a fulfilment, they long kept possession of the city. Alexander, hearing of this occurrence, and having great respect for the oracles of antiquity, made an end of hostilities with the Apulians.

He engaged also in war with the Bruttians and Lucanians, and captured several cities; and he formed treaties and alliances with the Metapontines, Pediculans, and Romans. But the Bruttians and Lucanians, having collected reinforcements from their neighbours, renewed the war with fresh vigour; when the king was slain near the city Pandosia and the river Acheron, not knowing the name of the fatal place before he fell in it, and understanding, as he was expiring, that the death, for fear of which he had fled from his country, had not been to be dreaded in his country. The Thurians ransomed his body at the public expense, and buried it.

During these events in Italy, Zopyrion, who bad been left governor of Pontus by Alexander the Great, thinking that, if he did not attempt something, he should be stigmatized as indolent, collected a force of thirty thousand men, and made war upon the Scythians. But being cut off, with his whole army, he paid the penalty for a rash attack upon an innocent people.

3 When these occurrences were reported to Alexander, who was then in Parthia, he assumed a show of grief on account of his relationship to Alexander, and caused the army to mourn for three days. But while all his men were expecting, as if the war had been ended, to return to their country, and were embracing in imagination their wives and children, he called a general assembly of the troops; in which he told them that “nothing had been done in so many glorious battles, if the barbarians more to the eastward should be left unmolested; that he had not sought the body, but the throne of Darius; and that those who had revolted from his government must be punished.” Having, by this speech, revived the spirits of his soldiers for new exertions, he subdued Hyrcania and the Mardians. Here Thalestris, or Minithya, queen of the Amazons, came to meet him, having travelled for twenty-five days, with three hundred women in her train, and through extremely populous nations, in order to have issue by him. Her appearance and arrival was a cause of astonishment to all, both from her dress, which was an unusual one for women, and from the object of her visit. To gratify her, thirteen days’ rest was allowed by the king; and when she thought herself pregnant, she took her leave.

Soon after, Alexander assumed the attire of the Persian monarchs, as well as the diadem, which was unknown to the kings of Macedonia, as if he gave himself up to the customs of those whom be had conquered. And lest such innovations should be viewed with dislike, if adopted by himself alone, he desired his friends also to wear the long robe of gold and purple. That he might imitate the luxury too, as well as the dress of the Persians, he spent his nights among troops of the king’s concubines of eminent beauty and birth. To these extravagances he added vast magnificence in feasting; and lest his entertainments should seem jejune and parsimonious,1 he accompanied his banquets, according to the ostentation of the eastern monarchs, with games; being utterly unmindful that power is accustomed to be lost, not gained, by such practices.

4 During the course of these proceedings, there arose throughout the camp a general indignation that he had so degenerated from his father Philip as to abjure the very name of his country, and to adopt the manners of the Persians, whom, from the effect of such manners, he had overcome. But that he might not appear to be the only person who yielded to the vices of those whom he had conquered in the field, he permitted his soldiers also, if they had formed a connexion with any of the female captives, to marry them; thinking that they would feel less desire to return to their country, when they had some appearance of a house and home in the camp, and that the fatigues of war would be relieved by the agreeable society of their wives. He saw, too, that Macedonia would be less drained to supply the army, if the sons, as recruits, should succeed their veteran fathers, and serve within the ramparts within which they were born, and would be likely to show more courage, if they passed, not only their earliest days of service, but also their infancy, in the camp. This custom was also continued under Alexander’s successors. Maintenance was provided for the boys, and arms and horses were given them when they grew up; and rewards were assigned to the fathers in proportion to the number of their children. If the fathers of any of them were killed, the orphans notwithstanding received their father’s pay; and their childhood was a sort of military service in various expeditions. Inured from their earliest years to toils and dangers, they formed an invincible army; they looked upon their camp as their country, and upon a battle as a prelude to victory.

5 Alexander, meanwhile, began to show a passionate temper towards those about him, not with a princely severity, but with the vindictiveness of an enemy. What most incensed him was, that reflections were cast upon him in the common talk of the soldiers, for having cast off the customs of his father Philip and of his country. For this offence, Parmenio, an old man, next to the king in rank, and his son Philotas, were put to death; an examination by torture having been previously held on both of them. At this instance of cruelty, all the soldiers, throughout the camp, began to express their displeasure, being concerned for the fate of the innocent old general and his son, and saying, at times, that “they must expect nothing better for themselves.” These murmurs coming to the knowledge of Alexander, he, fearing that such reports would be carried to Macedonia, and that the glory of his victories would be sullied by the stain of cruelty, pretended that he was going to send home some of his friends to give an account of his successes. He exhorted his soldiers to write to their relatives, as they would now have fewer opportunities on account of the scene of warfare being further from home. The packets of letters, as they were given in, he commanded to be privately brought to him, and having learned from them what everyone thought of him, he put all those, who had given unfavourable opinions of his conduct, into one regiment, with an intention either to destroy them, or to distribute them in colonies in the most distant parts of the earth.

He then subdued the Drancae, the Evergetae, the Parymae, the Parapammeni, the Adaspii, and other nations that dwelt at the foot of Mount Caucasus.

In the meantime Bessus, one of the former friends of Darius, who had not only betrayed his sovereign, but put him to death, was brought to Alexander in chains, who, that he might be punished for his treachery, delivered him to the brother of Darius to be tortured, considering not so much that Darius had been his enemy, as that he had been the friend of the man by whom he had been killed.

That he might leave his name to these parts, he founded the city of Alexandria on the river Tanais, completing a wall six miles in circuit in seventeen days, and transplanting into it the inhabitants of three cities that had been built by Cyrus. He also built twelve cities in the territories of the Bactrians and Sogdians, and distributed among them such of the soldiers as he had found mutinous.

6 After these proceedings, he invited his friends on some particular day, to a banquet, where mention being made, when they were intoxicated, of the great things achieved by Philip, he began to prefer himself to his father, and to extol the vastness of his own exploits to the skies, the greater part of the company agreeing with him; and when Clitus, one of the older guests, trusting to his hold on the king’s friendship, in which he held the principal place, defended the memory of Philip, and praised his acts, he so provoked Alexander, that he snatched a weapon from one of the guards, and slew him with it in the midst of the guests. Exulting at the murder, too, he scoffed at the dead man for his defence of Philip, and his commendation of his mode of warfare. But when his mind, satiated with the bloodshed, grew calm, and reflection took the place of passion, he began, as he contemplated at one time the character of the dead, and at another the occasion of his death, to feel the deepest sorrow for the deed; grieving that he had listened to his father’s praises with more anger than he ought to have listened to insults on his memory, and that an old and blameless friend had been slain by him at a feast and carousal. Driven, therefore, to repentance, with the same vehemence with which he had before been impelled to resentment, he determined to die. Bursting into tears, he embraced the dead man, laid his hand on his wounds, and confessed his madness to him as if he could hear; then, snatching up a weapon, he pointed it against his breast, and would have committed suicide, had not his friends interposed. His resolution to die continued even for several days after; for to his other causes of sorrow was added the remembrance of his nurse, the sister of Clitus, on whose account, though she was far away, he was greatly ashamed of his conduct, lamenting that so base a return should be made her for rearing him; and that, in the maturity of life and conquest, he should have requited her, in whose arms he had spent his infancy, with bloodshed instead of kindness. He reflected, too, what remarks and odium he must have occasioned, as well in his own army as among the conquered nations; what fear and dislike of himself among his other friends; and how dismal and sad he had rendered his entertainment, appearing not less to be dreaded at a feast than when armed in the field of battle. Parmenio and Philotas, his cousin Amyntas, his murdered stepmother and brothers, with Attalus, Eurylochus, Pausanias, and other slaughtered nobles of Macedonia, presented themselves to his imagination. He in consequence persisted in abstaining from food for four days, until he was drawn from his purpose by the prayers of the whole army, who conjured him “not to lament the death of one, so far as to ruin them all; since, after bringing them into the remotest part of the barbarians’ country, he would leave them amidst hostile nations exasperated by war.” The entreaties of Callisthenes the philosopher had great effect upon him, a man who was intimate with him from having been his fellow-student under Aristotle, and who had been subsequently sent for, by the king himself, to record his acts for the perusal of posterity.

7 Soon after, he gave orders that he should not be approached with mere salutation, but with adoration;2 a point of Persian pride to which he had hesitated to advance at first lest the assumption of everything at once should excite too strong a feeling against him. Among those who refused to obey, the most resolute was Callisthenes; but his opposition proved fatal, both to himself and to several other eminent Macedonians, who were all put to death on the pretence that they were engaged in a conspiracy. The custom of saluting their king was however retained by the Macedonians, adoration being set aside.3

He then marched into India, that he might have his empire bounded by the ocean, and the extreme parts of the east. That the equipments of his army might be suitable to the glory of the expedition, he mounted the trappings of the horses, and the arms of the soldiers, with silver, and called a body of his men, from having silver shields, Argyraspides.4 On arriving at the city Nysa, he ordered the inhabitants, who, from their confidence in being protected by their worship of Bacchus, the founder of their city, made no resistance, to be spared; rejoicing that he had not only followed the god’s military achievements, but also his footsteps. He then led his army to view the sacred mountain, which was clad with the adornments of nature, the vine and ivy, as beautifully as if it had been tilled by art, and decked by the labour of the cultivator. But the troops, as they approached the hill, were impelled, by a sudden commotion in their minds, to utter devout cries to the god, and ran frantically up and down, to the amazement of the king, but without suffering any harm; whence he might understand that, by sparing the town, he had not so much secured its safety, as that of his own army.

He next proceeded to the Daedalian mountains,5 and the dominions of Queen Cleophis; who, after surrendering to Alexander, recovered her throne from him by admitting him to her bed; saving by her charms what she had been unable to secure by her valour. A son whom she had by him, she named Alexander; and he afterwards sat upon the throne of the Indians. Queen Cleophis, for allowing her chastity to be violated, was thenceforward called by the Indians the royal harlot.

Having arrived, in his course through India, at a rock of extraordinary ruggedness and altitude, to which many people had fled for refuge, he learned that Hercules had been hindered from taking it by an earthquake. Seized with a desire, in consequence, to go beyond the exploits of Hercules, he made himself master of the rock with the utmost exertion and peril, and received submission from all the tribes of that part of the country.

8 There was one of the kings of India, named Porus, equally distinguished for strength of body and vigour of mind, who, hearing of the fame of Alexander, had been for some time before preparing for war against his arrival. Coming to battle with him, accordingly, he directed his soldiers to attack the rest of the Macedonians, but desired that their king should be reserved as an antagonist for himself. Nor did Alexander decline the contest; but his horse being wounded in the first shock, he fell headlong to the ground, and was saved by his guards gathering round him. Porus, covered with a number of wounds, was made prisoner, and was so grieved at being defeated, that when his life was granted him by the enemy, he would neither take food nor suffer his wounds to be dressed, and was scarcely at last prevailed upon to consent to live. Alexander, from respect to his valour, sent him back in safety to his kingdom. Here he founded two cities, one called Nicaea, and the other, from the name of his horse, Bucephale.

He then overthrew the Adrestae, the Gesteani, the Presidae, and the Gangaridae, with great slaughter among their troops. When he had reached the Cuphites, where the enemy awaited him with two thousand cavalry, the whole army, wearied not less with the number of their victories than with their toils in the field, besought him with tears that “he would at length make an end of war, and think on his country and his return; considering the years of his soldiers, whose remainder of life would scarcely suffice for their journey home.” One pointed to his hoary hairs, another to his wounds, another to his body worn out with an age, another to his person disfigured with scars,6 saying “that they were the only men who had endured unintermitted service under two kings, Philip and Alexander;” and conjuring him in conclusion that “he should restore their remains at least to the sepulchres of their fathers, since they failed not in zeal but in age; and that, if he would not spare his soldiers, he should yet spare himself, and not wear out his good fortune by pressing it too far.” Moved with these reasonable supplications, he ordered a camp to be formed, as if to mark the termination of his conquests, of greater size than usual, by the works of which the enemy might be astonished, and an admiration of himself be left to posterity. No task did the soldiers execute with more alacrity. After great slaughter of the enemy, they returned to this camp with mutual congratulations.

9 From hence Alexander proceeded to the river Acesines, and sailed down it into the ocean. In his way he received the submission of the Hiacensanae7 and the Silei, whom Hercules settled; next he sailed to the Ambri and Sigambri,8 who met him with eighty thousand foot and sixty thousand horse. Gaining the victory in a battle, he led his army against their city; and supposing, as he looked from the wall, which he had been the first to mount, that the place was destitute of defenders, he leaped down into the area of the city without a single attendant. The enemy, seeing him alone, gathered round upon him with a shout, to try if by taking one life they could put an end to war in the world, and exact vengeance for the defeats of so many nations. Alexander withstood them with equal spirit, fighting alone against thousands. It is, indeed, incredible, that neither the multitude of enemies, nor the thick showers of javelins, nor the loud outcries of his assailants, could in the least alarm him; and that he alone should have spread havoc and terror among so many thousands. But seeing that he was likely to be overpowered by numbers, he fixed himself against the trunk of a tree that stood by the wall, by the help of which he long resisted a host, when, his danger being known, his friends leaped down to him, many of who were slain, and the battle continued doubtful, till the whole army, making a breach in the wall, came to his aid. Being wounded in the struggle by an arrow, and likely to faint through loss of blood, he placed his knee on the ground, and fought till he had killed the man by whom he had been wounded. The curing of the wound caused him more suffering than the wound itself.

10 Being at length restored to health, after there had been great despair of it, he sent Polysperchon with the army to Babylon, while he himself, with a select band of followers, went on board the fleet, and sailed along the shore of the ocean. When he came to the city of king Ambiger, the inhabitants, hearing that he was invincible to the sword, tipped their arrows with poison; and thus repulsing the enemy from their walls with wounds doubly fatal, they killed a great number of them. Ptolemy, with many others, being wounded, and seeming to be at the point of death, a herb was shown to the king in a dream as a cure for poison; this being taken in a drink, he was freed from danger, and the greater part of the army were saved by the same remedy. Taking the city afterwards by storm, and returning to the fleet, he made oblations to the ocean, praying for a prosperous return to his country; and having thus, as it were, driven his chariot round the goal, and fixed the boundaries of his empire, as far as either the deserts would suffer him to proceed by land, or the sea was navigable, he sailed up the mouth of the river Indus with the tide. There he built the city Barce, in memory of the exploits achieved by him, and erected altars, leaving one of his friends as governor of the Indians on the coast. As he intended to march from thence by land, and as the parts in the middle of his route were said to be dry, he ordered wells to be made in suitable places, from which he got abundance of fresh water, and so returned to Babylon. Hither many of the conquered people sent deputations to accuse their governors, whom Alexander, without any regard to his former friendship for them, commanded to be put to death in the sight of the deputies.

Soon after he married Statira, the daughter of king Darius; but, at the same time, he gave the noblest virgins, chosen from all the conquered natives, as wives to the chiefs of the Macedonians; in order that the impropriety of the king’s conduct9 might be rendered less glaring by the practice becoming general.

11 He next assembled the army, and promised that “he would pay all their debts at his own expense,” so that they might carry home their spoil and prizes undiminished. This munificence was highly prized, not only for the sum given, but for the character of the gift, and was received not more thankfully by the debtors than by the creditors, exaction being as troublesome to the one as payment to the other. Twenty thousand talents were expended in this largess. Discharging some of the veterans, he recruited the army with younger soldiers. But those that were retained, murmuring at the discharge of the older men, demanded that they themselves should be released likewise; desiring that “their years, not of life, but of service, should be counted,” and thinking it reasonable that “those who had been enlisted in the service together, should together be set free from the service.” Nor did they address the king only with entreaties, but also with reproaches, bidding him “carry on his wars alone, with the aid of his father Ammon, since he looked with disdain on his soldiers.” Alexander, on the other hand, sometimes upbraided his men, and sometimes charged them in gentle terms, “not to tarnish their glorious services by mutiny.” At last, when he could produce no effect by words, he leaped unarmed from his tribunal among the armed multitude, to lay hands on the authors of the mutiny; and not a man daring to oppose him, he led thirteen of them, whom he had seized with his own hand, to punishment. Such submission to death did the fear of their king produce in the men; or such courage in inflicting punishment had his knowledge of military discipline given the king.

12 He then addressed himself, in a public speech, to the auxiliary troops of the Persians apart from the Macedonians. He extolled their constant fidelity, as well as to himself as to their former kings; he mentioned the kindnesses which he had shown them, saying that “he had never treated them as a conquered people, but always as sharers in his successes; that he had gone over to the usages of their nation, not they to those of his; and that he had mingled the conquerors with the conquered by matrimonial connexions. And now,” he added, “he would entrust the guardianship of his person, not to the Macedonians only, but also to them.” Accordingly, he enrolled a thousand of their young men among his bodyguard; and at the same time incorporated into his army a portion of the auxiliaries, trained after the discipline of the Macedonians. At this proceeding the Macedonians were much dissatisfied, exclaiming that “their enemies were put into their places by their king;” and at length they all went to Alexander in a body, beseeching him with tears “to content himself rather with punishing than ill-treating them.” By this modest forbearance they produced such an effect upon him, that he released eleven thousand veterans more. Of his own friends, too, were sent away the old men, Polysperchon, Clitus, Gorgias, Polydamas, Amadas, and Antigenes. Of those that were sent home Craterus was appointed leader, and commissioned to take the government of Macedonia in the room of Antipater, whom he sent for, with a body of recruits, to supply the place of Craterus. Pay was allowed to those that went home, as if they had been still in the service. In the course of those proceedings, Hephaestion, one of his friends, died; a man who was a great favourite with Alexander, at first on account of his personal qualities in youth, and afterwards from his servility. Alexander mourned for him longer than became his dignity as a king, built a monument for him that cost twelve thousand talents, and gave orders that he should be worshipped as a god.

13 As he was returning to Babylon, from the distant shores of the ocean, he was acquainted that embassies from the Carthaginians, and other states of Africa, as well as from the Spains, Sicily, Gaul, and Sardinia, and some also from Italy, were waiting his arrival at that city. So powerfully had the terror of his name diffused itself through the world, that all nations were ready to bow to him as their destined monarch. When be was hastening to Babylon, therefore, to hold an assembly, as it were, of the states of the world, one of the Magi warned him “not to enter the city,” for that the “place would be fatal to him.” He accordingly avoided Babylon, and turned aside to Borsippa, a city on the other side of the Euphrates, that had been for some time uninhabited. Here again he was persuaded by Anaxarchus the philosopher, to slight the predictions of the Magi as fallacious and uncertain; observing that, “if things were fixed by fate, they were unknown to mortals, and if they were dependent on the course of nature, were unchangeable.” Returning, therefore, to Babylon, and allowing himself several days for rest, he renewed, in his usual manner, the entertainments which had been for some time discontinued, resigning himself wholly to mirth, and joining in his cups the night to the day. As he was returning, on one occasion, from a banquet, Medius, a Thessalian, proposing to renew their revelling, invited him and his attendants to his house. Taking up a cup, he suddenly uttered a groan while he was drinking, as if he had been stabbed with a dagger, and being carried half dead from the table, he was excruciated with such torture that he called for a sword to put an end to it, and felt pain at the touch of his attendants as if he were all over wounds. His friends reported that the cause of his disease was excess in drinking, but in reality it was a conspiracy, the infamy of which the power of his successors threw into the shade.

14 The author of this conspiracy was Antipater, who, seeing that10 his dearest friends were put to death, that Alexander Lyncestes, his son-in-law, was cut off, and that he himself, after his important services in Greece, was not so much liked by the king as envied by him, and was also persecuted with various charges by his mother Olympias; reflecting, too, on the severe penalties inflicted, a few days before, on the governors of the conquered nations, and hence imagining that he was sent for from Macedonia, not to share in the war, but to suffer punishment, secretly, in order to be beforehand with Alexander, furnished his son Cassander with poison, who, with his brothers Philippus and Iollas, was accustomed to attend on the king at table. The strength of this poison was so great, that it could be contained neither in brass, nor iron, nor shell, nor could be conveyed in any other way than in the hoof of a horse. Cassander had been warned to trust nobody but the Thessalian and his brothers; and hence it was that the banquet was prepared and renewed in the house of the Thessalian. Philippus and Iollas, who used to taste and mix the king’s drink, had the poison ready in cold water, which they put into the drink after it had been tasted.

15 On the fourth day, Alexander, finding that death was inevitable, observed that “he perceived the approach of the fate of his family, for the most of the Aeacidae had died under thirty years of age.”11 He then pacified the soldiers, who were making a tumult, from suspecting that the king was the victim of a conspiracy, and, after being carried to the highest part of the city, admitted them to his presence, and gave them his right hand to kiss. While they all wept, he not only did not shed a tear, but showed not the least token of sorrow; so that he even comforted some who grieved immoderately, and gave others messages to their parents; and his soul was as undaunted at meeting death, as it had formerly been at meeting an enemy. When the soldiers were gone, he asked his friends that stood about him, “whether they thought they should find a king like him?” All continuing silent, he said that, “although he did not know that, he knew, and could foretel, and almost saw with his eyes, how much blood Macedonia would shed in the disputes that would follow his death, and with what slaughters, and what quantities of gore, she would perform his obsequies.” At last he ordered his body to be buried in the temple of Jupiter Ammon. When his friends saw him dying, they asked him “whom he would appoint as the successor to his throne?” He replied, “The most worthy.” Such was his nobleness of spirit, that though he left a son named Hercules,12 a brother called Aridaeus,13 and his wife Roxane14 with child, yet, forgetting his relations, he named only “the most worthy” as his successor; as though it were unlawful for any but a brave man to succeed a brave man, or for the power of so great an empire to be left to any but approved governors. But as if, by this reply, he had sounded the signal for battle among his friends, or had thrown the apple of discord amongst them, they all rose in emulation against each other, and tried to gain the favour of the army by secretly paying court to the common soldiers. On the sixth day from the commencement of his illness, being unable to speak, he took his ring from his finger, and gave it to Perdiccas, an act which tranquillized the growing dissension among his friends; for though Perdiccas was not expressly named his successor, he seemed intended to be so in Alexander’s judgment.

16 Alexander, when he died, was thirty-three years and one month old. He was a man endowed with powers of mind far beyond ordinary human capacity. His mother Olympias, the night in which she conceived him, dreamed that she was entwined with a huge serpent; nor was she deceived by her dream; for she certainly bore in her womb a conception superior to mortality; and though her descent from the Aeacidae, a family of the remotest antiquity, and the royal dignity of her father, brother, husband, and indeed of all her ancestors, conferred sufficient splendour upon her, yet by no one’s influence was she rendered more illustrious than that of her son. Some omens of his future greatness appeared at his birth. Two eagles sat the whole of the day on which he was born on the top of his father’s palace, giving indication of his double empire over Europe and Asia. The very same day, too, his father received the news of two victories, one in the war with the Illyrians, the other in the Olympic games, to which he had sent some four-horse chariots; an omen which portended to the child the conquest of the world. As a boy, he was ably instructed in elementary learning; and, when his boyhood was past, he improved himself, for five years, under his famous instructor Aristotle.15 On taking possession of the throne, he gave orders that he should be styled “King of all the earth and of the world;” and he inspired his soldiers with such confidence in him, that, when he was present, they feared the arms of no enemy, though they themselves were unarmed. He, in consequence, never engaged with any enemy whom he did not conquer, besieged no city that he did not take, and invaded no nation that he did not subjugate. He was overcome at last, not by the prowess of any enemy, but by a conspiracy of those whom he trusted, and the treachery of his own subjects.


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1 Luxuria destructa.] Graevius, not knowing what to make of destructa, conjectures restricta. Wetzel explains the words thus: “Lest, as the empire of the Persians was destroyed, the luxury of the Persians should seem also to be destroyed.” I incline to think with Graevius that the word is corrupt.

2 That is, with a kind of prostration. See Corn. Nep. Con. c. 3;
Justin, vi. 2. PROSKUNE/EIN TO\N BASILE/A PROSPI/PTONTAS, Herod. vii 136; see also i. 134. On the question about paying adoration to Alexander, see Arrian, iv. 11.

3 Explosa.] Scheffer conjectures expulsa, which Lemaire approves.

4 From A)/RGUROS, silver, and A)SPI\S, a shield.

5 Montes Daedalos.] Quintus Curtius, viii. 10, has Regio quae Daedala vocatur; but there is no allusion to the name in any other author.

6 Cicatricibus exhausta.] Exhausta cannot surely have been Justin’s word. Faber conjectures distincta.

7 Bongarsius conjectures Acesinae, as taking their name from the neighbouring river.

8 For Ambros et Sigambros, Fabricius, from Arrian, and Curtius, ix. 4, proposes Mallos et Oxydracas, which some editors have adopted.

9 Crimen regis.] Crimen, in this place, has not the ordinary signification of crime, but means simply opprobrium, a reproach, dishonour.—Faber.

10 In the original there is no grammatical construction. Either the text has been mutilated, or Justin commenced his sentence in one way, and proceeded with it in another.

11 Intra trigesimum annum.] Yet he himself had passed his thirtieth year. However intra will not bear any other signification.

12 Son of Barsine. See
xi. 10; xiii. 2; xiv. 6.

13 See
ix. 8, init.; xiii. 2; xiv. 5.

14 Daughter of Oxyartes, king of the Bactrians, Diod. Sic. xviii. 3. She afterwards gave birth to Alexander Aegus, Comp. Q. Curt. x. 3, 13 ;
Justin, xiii. 2, 6; xv. 2.

15 Sub Aristotele doctore inclyto [omnium philosophorum]. The words in brackets, condemned by Faber, Scheffer, and Wetzel, I have omitted in the translation. They are unsatisfactory, both as regards sense and construction; for if we connect them with doctore, we make Justin say what was not true; and if with inclyto, we give that adjective a government to which it has no right.


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The English translation of Justin's Epitome was entered by David Camden (2003) from Watson's 1853 edition. This text is in the public domain and may be copied and distributed for private and educational use, provided this original notice is kept intact. Any commercial use of this text, including print-publication and inclusion in subscription-based archives, is prohibited.

The Latin text and French translation, along with the secondary material written in French, are copyright © Marie-Pierre Arnaud-Lindet 2003, and are NOT in the public domain.

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