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Headword: Ἀλέξανδρος
Adler number: alpha,1121
Translated headword: Alexander, Alexandros
Vetting Status: high
The son of Philip and Olympias, who was king of the Macedonians from age 18 and died at 33 years of age.[1]
This man was "very beautiful in body and very devoted to hard work and very acute, very courageous in judgement and very ambitious and very adventurous and very concerned for the divine; also very restrained as regards the pleasures of the body, but very keen on what judgement commended; very clever at discerning what was necessary, even when it was yet unclear, very successful in inferring from observations what was likely to follow, and very skilled at marshalling and equipping an army."[2]
"And he was very suited for every good. In addition he was moderate and god-fearing. For once, after he had become so angry with the Thebans that he enslaved the inhabitants and razed the city [itself] to its foundations, he did not make light of reverence to the gods concerning the capture of the city; no, he took especial care that there should not be an involuntary sin concerning the shrines and the [religious] precincts as a whole."[3]
"The grandiloquence of Alexander did not seem more like a kind of arrogance than confidence in danger."[4]
Alexander fell in love with Roxane, the daughter of Oxyartos the Bactrian, "whom those serving with Alexander say was the most beautiful of the Asian women after the wife of Dareios. And [they say that] when he had seen her Alexander fell in love with her; and [that] although he was in love with her he did want to violate her as if she were a war captive, but did not think her unworthy to take in marriage. And I myself rather approve this action of Alexander and do not censure it. And then this wife of Dareios, who was called the most beautiful of the women in Asia, either he did make an amorous approach to her or he controlled himself, although he was young and at the very height of good fortune, when men do outrageous things. He respected her and spared her, showing much restraint, and at the same time ambition for good repute which was not misplaced. And there is a story going around, that Dareios' eunuch who guarded his wife ran back to him. And Dareios, when he saw him, first asked whether his daughters were alive and his sons and his wife and his mother. He learned they were alive, and that they were called queens, and about the care being taken of them and how his wife was behaving sensibly. At these things Dareios raised his hands to heaven and prayed thus: 'O Zeus, king, to whom it was given to order the affairs of kings among men, guard my rule over the Persians and the Medes as you see fit. But if I myself cannot be king of Asia any more, then give my rule to no one but Alexander'. Thus even enemies are not indifferent to virtuous deeds." Thus says Arrian.[5]
"Nearchos says that [Alexander] was pained by some of his friends, who were carrying him while he was ill, for running a personal risk in advance of his army; for these things were not for a general, but for a soldier. And it seems to me that Alexander was irritated with these words, because he knew they were true and that he had laid himself open to censure. And yet his eagerness in battle and love of glory made him like men overcome by any other form of pleasure, and he was not strong enough to keep away from dangers."[6]
"Alexander the Macedonian lived a marvelous life. His handling of conflicts lent a guaranteed trustworthiness to what he said. For you cannot find a man in this whole orb of the world having the advantage in such great achievements. For he spent time with the best men, and in written accounts is found not inferior to those who are praised to the skies; and in matters of war he accomplished things that were more marvelous than believable. And having gone to war against Dareios, he prevailed victorious over him. And that man begged him to come to a reconciliation, and even gave him his daughter Roxane in a covenant of marriage. Having subdued all races he lost his mind and succumbed to the pleasures of the body, putting on Persian dress and being attended by myriad youths, and using 300 concubines, so that he changed the entire Macedonian royal way of life into Persian ways and annulled those of his own people. Later, arriving in India, he was caught by queen Kandake in the clothes of a private individual and she said to him: 'Alexander, king: you took the world and you are overcome by a woman?' And he made peace with her and kept her country from harm."[7]
"The same [Alexander] encountered men who had been captured long ago by the Persians in Greece and had had their hands cut off, and he showed them kindness with great gifts and cheered them. Arriving at the lake in Alexandria he threw away his diadem, and with so much water crashing down only scarcely swam safe across to land. And he was given poison by his own general Cas[s]ander and was convulsed; and thus, at [a time of] such great successes, ended his life."[8]
Greek Original:
Ἀλέξανδρος, ὁ Φιλίππου καὶ Ὀλυμπιάδος, βασιλεύσας Μακεδόνων ἀπὸ ἐνιαυτῶν ιη#, τελευτήσας δὲ ἐτῶν λγ#. οὗτος ἦν τό τε σῶμα κάλλιστος καὶ φιλοπονώτατος καὶ ὀξύτατος, τὴν γνώμην ἀνδρειότατος καὶ φιλοτιμότατος καὶ φιλοκινδυνότατος καὶ τοῦ θείου ἐπιμελέστατος, ἡδονῶν τε τῶν μὲν τοῦ σώματος ἐγκρατέστατος, τῶν δὲ τῆς γνώμης ἐπαινουμένων ἁπλούστατος: ξυνιδεῖν δὲ τὸ δέον, ἔτι ἐν τῷ ἀφανεῖ ὄν, δεινότατος καὶ ἐκ τῶν φαινομένων τὸ εἰκὸς ξυμβαλεῖν ἐπιτυχέστατος καὶ τάξαι στρατιὰν καὶ ὁπλίσαι δαημονέστατος. καὶ πρὸς πᾶν καλὸν ἐπιτηδειότατος. πρὸς τούτοις ἦν ἐπιεικὴς καὶ θεοσεβής. ὀργισθεὶς γάρ ποτε Θηβαίοις ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον, ὥστε τοὺς μὲν οἰκήτορας ἐξανδραποδίσασθαι, τὴν δὲ πόλιν ἐς ἔδαφος κατασκάψαι, τῆς γε πρὸς τοὺς θεοὺς εὐσεβείας οὐκ ὠλιγώρησε περὶ τὴν κατάληψιν τῆς πόλεως: ἀλλὰ πλείστην ἐποιήσατο πρόνοιαν ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ δ' ἀκούσιον ἁμάρτημα γενέσθαι περὶ τὰ ἱερὰ καὶ καθόλου τὰ τεμένη. ὅτι τὸ μεγαλήγορον τοῦ Ἀλεξάνδρου οὐχ ὑπέρογκον μᾶλλόν τι ἢ εὐθαρσὲς ἐν τοῖς κινδύνοις ἐφαίνετο. Ῥωξάνης δὲ ἠράσθη ὁ Ἀλέξανδρος τῆς Ὀξυάρτου τοῦ Βακτριανοῦ, ἣν δὴ καλλίστην τῶν Ἀσιανῶν γυναικῶν λέγουσιν ὀφθῆναι οἱ ξὺν Ἀλεξάνδρῳ στρατεύσαντες μετά γε τὴν Δαρείου γυναῖκα. καὶ ταύτην ἰδόντα Ἀλέξανδρον εἰς ἔρωτα ἐλθεῖν αὐτῆς: ἐρασθέντα δὲ οὐκ ἐθελῆσαι ὑβρίσαι καθάπερ αἰχμάλωτον, ἀλλὰ γῆμαι γὰρ οὐκ ἀπαξιῶσαι. καὶ τοῦτο ἐγὼ Ἀλεξάνδρου ἐπαινῶ μᾶλλόν τι ἢ μέμφομαι. καίτοι τῆς γε Δαρείου γυναικός, ἣ καλλίστη δὴ ἐλέγετο τῶν ἐν τῇ Ἀσίᾳ γυναικῶν, ἢ οὐκ ἦλθεν ἐς ἐπιθυμίαν ἢ καρτερὸς αὑτοῦ ἐγένετο, νέος τε ὢν καὶ τὰ μάλιστα ἐν ἀκμῇ τῆς εὐτυχίας, ὁπότε ὑβρίζουσιν ἄνθρωποι. ὁ δὲ κατῃδέσθη τε καὶ ἐφείσατο σωφροσύνῃ τε πολλῇ διαχρώμενος, καὶ δόξης ἅμα ἀγαθῆς οὐκ ἀτόπῳ ἐφέσει. καὶ τοίνυν καὶ λόγος κατέχει, ἀποδράντα ἐλθεῖν παρὰ Δαρεῖον τὸν εὐνοῦχον τὸν φύλακα αὐτῷ τῆς γυναικός. καὶ τοῦτον ὡς εἶδεν ὁ Δαρεῖος, πρῶτα μὲν πυθέσθαι, εἰ ζῶσιν αὐτῷ αἱ παῖδες καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ καὶ ἡ γυνὴ καὶ ἡ μήτηρ. ὡς δὲ ζώσας τε ἐπύθετο, καὶ βασίλισσαι ὅτι καλοῦνται, καὶ περὶ τῆς θεραπείας, καὶ ὡς σωφρονεῖ ἡ γυνὴ αὐτοῦ: ἐπὶ τούτοις ἀνατεῖναι τὸν Δαρεῖον ἐς τὸν οὐρανὸν τὰς χεῖρας καὶ εὔξασθαι ὧδε: ἀλλ' ὦ Ζεῦ βασιλεῦ, ὅτῳ ἐπιτέτραπται τὰ βασιλέων πράγματα νέμειν ἐν ἀνθρώποις, σὺ νῦν μάλιστα μὲν ἐμοὶ φύλαξον Περσῶν τε καὶ Μήδων τὴν ἀρχήν, ὥσπερ οὖν καὶ ἔδωκας: εἰ δὲ δὴ ἐγὼ οὐκ ἔτι σοι βασιλεὺς τῆς Ἀσίας, σὺ δὲ μηδενὶ ἄλλῳ ὅτι μὴ Ἀλεξάνδρῳ παραδοῦναι τὸ ἐμὸν κράτος. οὕτως οὐδὲ πρὸς τῶν πολεμίων ἄρα ἀμελεῖται ὅσα σώφρονα ἔργα. οὕτω φησὶν Ἀρριανός. Νέαρχος δέ φησιν, ὅτι χαλεποὶ αὐτῷ τῶν φίλων ἐγένοντο, ὅσοι ἐκόμιζον αὐτὸν ἀρρωστοῦντα, ὅτι αὐτὸς πρὸ τῆς στρατιᾶς κινδυνεύοι: οὐ γὰρ στρατηγοῦ ταῦτα, ἀλλὰ στρατιώτου εἶναι. καί μοι δοκεῖ ἄχθεσθαι Ἀλέξανδρος τοῖσδε τοῖς λόγοις, ὅτι ἀληθεῖς τε ὄντας ἐγίνωσκε καὶ αὑτὸν ὑπαίτιον τῇ ἐπιτιμήσει. καὶ ὅμως ὑπὸ μένους τε τοῦ ἐν ταῖς μάχαις καὶ τοῦ ἔρωτος τῆς δόξης, καθάπερ οἱ ἄλλης τινὸς ἡδονῆς ἐξηττώμενοι, οὐ καρτερὸς ἦν ἀπέχεσθαι τῶν κινδύνων. ὅτι Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μακεδὼν θαυμαστὸν βίον ἐβίωσε: πίστιν δὲ τοῖς εἰρημένοις ἐχέγγυον ἡ τῶν ἀγώνων παρέσχε πρᾶξις. οὐδὲ γάρ ἐστιν εὑρεῖν ἐν παντὶ τῷ τοῦ κόσμου κύκλῳ ἕνα ἄνδρα, τοσούτοις κατορθώμασι πλεονεκτοῦντα. τοῖς τε γὰρ ἀρίστοις συμφοιτήσας ἀνδράσιν, εἴς τε λόγους οὐ μείων τῶν εἰς ἄκρον ἐπαινουμένων εὑρέθη: πρός τε τὰ πολέμια διελθών, θαυμαστὰ μᾶλλον ἢ πειθοῦς ἄξια διεπράξατο. καὶ πρὸς Δαρεῖον τὸν Περσῶν βασιλέα συνάψας πόλεμον, τοῦτον κατακράτος νικᾷ. κἀκεῖνος αἰτεῖται εἰς διαλλαγὰς ἐλθεῖν, καὶ δοῦναι αὐτῷ καὶ τὴν θυγατέρα Ῥωξάνην πρὸς γάμου κοινωνίαν. ὁ αὐτὸς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη καταστρεψάμενος διεφθάρη τὸν νοῦν καὶ πρὸς τὰς τοῦ σώματος ἡδονὰς διωλίσθησε, Περσικήν τε στολὴν ἐνδυσάμενος, μυρίοις δὲ νέοις δορυφορούμενος, τ# τε παλλακαῖς χρώμενος, ὡς τὴν Μακεδονικὴν πᾶσαν τῶν βασιλέων συνήθειαν εἰς Πέρσας μεταρυθμίσαι, καὶ τῶν ἰδίων τινὰς διαβληθέντας ἀνελεῖν. ὕστερον δὲ εἰς Ἰνδίαν ἀφικόμενος ὑπὸ Κανδάκης τῆς βασιλίσσης συνελήφθη ἐν ἰδιώτου σχήματι. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ, Ἀλέξανδρε βασιλεῦ, τὸν κόσμον παρέλαβες καὶ ὑπὸ γυναικὸς συνεσχέθης; καὶ εἰρήνην πρὸς αὐτὴν ἐποιήσατο καὶ τὴν χώραν αὐτῆς ἀβλαβῆ διεφύλαξεν. ὅτι ὁ αὐτὸς ἀνδράσιν ἐνέτυχεν ὑπὸ Περσῶν πάλαι ἐν Ἑλλάδι ληφθεῖσιν, ἠκρωτηριασμένοις τὰς χεῖρας, οὓς μεγάλαις δωρεαῖς ἐφιλοφρονήσατο καὶ παρεμυθήσατο. εἰς δὲ τὴν λίμνην τὴν ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ ἀφικόμενος τὸ διάδημα ἀπέβαλεν, ὄμβρου πολλοῦ καταρραγέντος καὶ μόλις ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν διενήξατο. καὶ ὑπὸ Κασάνδρου τοῦ ἰδίου στρατηγοῦ φάρμακον δεξάμενος ἐσπαράχθη: καὶ οὕτως ἐπὶ τοσούτοις κατορθώμασι τὸν βίον μετήλλαξεν.
Alexander III ("the Great") of Macedon, reigned 336-323 BCE. See also alpha 1122, alpha 1123, and generally Brian Bosworth in OCD(4) pp.56-58. The present entry on him, after the introductory statement, brings together extracts from Arrian and other sources.
[1] A rounded-up version of the 32 years and 8 months given by Arrian, Anabasis 7.28.1 (from Aristoboulos).
[2] Arrian, Anabasis 7.28.1-2.
[3] Quotation (on this celebrated episode of 335 BCE) unidentifiable.
[4] Arrian, Anabasis 3.10.2.
[5] Arrian, Anabasis 4.19.5-20.3. Dr Nick Nicholas reports: The Rime of Alexander (AD 1519), a vernacular Greek version of the Alexander Romance, cites this anecdote directly from the Suda (epilogue, vv. 27-55): "that's what I've read; for I have seen it written in a fine book, in the historian Souidas" (vv. 31-32).
[6] Arrian, Anabasis 6.13.4.
[7] John of Antioch fr. 41 FHG (4.555), now 74 Roberto; cf. delta 74.
[8] John of Antioch fr. 42 FHG (4.555), now 77 Roberto.
Keywords: biography; chronology; clothing; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; medicine; military affairs; religion; women
Translated by: Jennifer Benedict on 8 May 2000@11:22:51.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (modified translation and notes; added bibliography and keywords; cosmetics) on 27 January 2001@10:02:16.
David Whitehead (added note) on 27 January 2001@10:08:57.
David Whitehead (added keyword) on 12 June 2002@05:25:09.
Catharine Roth (addition to note 5 from Nick Nicholas; another keyword) on 15 October 2008@12:02:22.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics) on 17 October 2008@00:39:55.
David Whitehead (added primary note and more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 3 February 2012@06:48:15.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 30 July 2014@04:13:46.
David Whitehead (updated 2 more refs; x-ref) on 29 January 2015@03:05:42.
David Whitehead (another keyword; tweaks) on 29 May 2015@11:13:20.
Catharine Roth (coding) on 30 March 2019@23:52:16.


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