Dzhambul in the court of Alexander of Macedon?
Copyright © 2003 by Hugo S. Cunningham
Italicized text copyright © 1991 by Peter Green
first posted 20030407
Source for specific cites on this page:
Peter Green, Alexander of Macedon (356-323 BCE): A Historical Biography, University of California Press, Berkeley -- Los Angeles -- Oxford, 1991; cloth, 617 pp.
Alexander of Macedon (aka "Alexander the Great") was the greatest general of all time, consistently winning battles even against what looked like overwhelming odds. Taking a powerful Macedonian army bequeathed to him by his gifted father Philip, he smashed, in succession, surrounding barbarian tribes to the north and west, the independent states of Greece, the Persian Empire, warlike peoples of Afghanistan and the Central Asian steppes, and kingdoms of the Indus Valley.
As a conqueror, however, he ranks below some others (notably Genghis Khan) who concerned themselves with governing their newly won territories and building lasting institutions for their heirs. Alexander's empire fell apart soon after his death.
He was reviled as a tyrant by the Greeks in whose name he claimed to rule, though in modern times he has been adopted as an icon by Greek nationalists. Though often touchingly loyal to friends, he was notably savage toward those who got in his way, even by the standards of a rather savage age. Certain people knew how to stay on his good side, however:
[from Green, p. 168]
[After crossing the Hellespont with his armies in early spring of 334 BC, Alexander made sacrifices and sought omens in Ilium.]
[Alexander's] "personal seer, Aristander of Telmessus, observing the overthrown statue of a former rebel satrap which lay outside the temple, predicted a great cavalry victory of the king [Alexander], in which he would slay an enemy general with his own hands. Aristander's ingenuity at interpreting omens knew no bounds. When a statue of Orpheus was reported to be sweating continually, he explained that this meant 'the writers of odes and the epic and melic poets had hard work coming to celebrate Alexander and his exploits in verse and song. The king, however, was a glutton for good omens, which may explain why Aristander lasted so long in his service."
the home page of Dzhambul, awarded the "Order of the Red Banner of Labor" for turning out copious flattery of Comrade Stalin.