Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/249

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239
THE HISTORY OF ALCOHOL.

sobered by the result, he urged his soldiers to the rescue, it burned to the ground.

His most famous exploit in this line took place, during the last year of his life, at the tomb of Cyrus, near Pasargadæ in Persia. He attended here the immolation of a famous Hindu philosopher, Calanus, who had followed him from India, and now, falling sick, burned himself alive on a great funeral pile. On his return from the ceremony Alexander asked many of his friends and chief officers to supper, and that night organized a great drinking contest, offering a gold crown to the victor. A young nobleman called Promachus took the first prize, with the respectable measure of some fourteen quarts of wine, and others followed close behind him. But a cold wind came up that night, chilling the revelers to the bone, and Promachus and some forty

PSM V51 D249 Maenads in a dionysiac frenzy.png

Mænads in a Dyonisiac Frenzy. A great figure of this sort, with splashes of blood on the garments, was one of the chief ornaments in the Dionysiac Theater. (From the Campana Collection.)

of his competitors died from the effects of cold and drunkenness combined.

This course of life could not last long. His soldiers murmured, his officers grew unruly, his own strength failed; and, in his thirty-second year, after a drinking bout that lasted for two days and nights, a sudden attack of fever ended his career.