The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter IX

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CHAPTER IX.

Alexander's Speech.

"The speech which I am about to deliver will not be for the purpose of checking your start homeward, for, so far as I am concerned, you may depart wherever you wish; but because I wish you to know what kind of men you were originally and how you have been transformed since you came into our service. In the first place, as is reasonable, I shall begin my speech from my father Philip. For he found you vagabonds and destitute of means, most of you clad in hides, feeding a few sheep up the mountain sides, for the protection of which you had to fight with small success against Illyrians, Triballians, and the border Thracians.[1] Instead of the hides he gave you cloaks to wear, and from the mountains he led you down into the plains, and made you capable of fighting the neighbouring barbarians, so that you were no longer compelled to preserve yourselves by trusting rather to the inaccessible strongholds than to your own valour. He made you colonists of cities, which he adorned with useful laws and customs; and from being slaves and subjects, he made you rulers over those very barbarians by whom you yourselves, as well as your property, were previously liable to be plundered and ravaged. He also added the greater part of Thrace to Macedonia, and by seizing the most conveniently situated places on the sea-coast, he spread abundance over the land from commerce, and made the working of the mines a secure employment.[2] He made you rulers over the Thessalians, of whom you had formerly been in mortal fear[3]; and by humbling the nation of the Phocians, he rendered the avenue into Greece broad and easy for you, instead of being narrow and difficult.[4] The Athenians and Thebans, who were always lying in wait to attack Macedonia, he humbled to such a degree,—I also then rendering him my personal aid in the campaign,[5]—that instead of paying tribute to the former[6] and being vassals to the latter,[7] those States in their turn procure security to themselves by our assistance. He penetrated into the Peloponnese, and after regulating its affairs, was publicly declared commander-in-chief of all the rest of Greece in the expedition against the Persian, adding this glory not more to himself than to the commonwealth of the Macedonians. These were the advantages which accrued to you from my father Philip; great indeed if looked at by themselves, but small if compared with those you have obtained from me. For though I inherited from my father only a few gold and silver goblets, and there were not even sixty talents in the treasury, and though I found myself charged with a debt of 5OO talents owing by Philip,[8] and I was obliged myself to borrow 800 talents in addition to these, I started from the country which could not decently support you, and forthwith laid open to you the passage of the Hellespont, though at that time the Persians held the sovereignty of the sea. Having overpowered the viceroys of Darius with my cavalry, I added to your empire the whole of Ionia,[9] the whole of Aeolis, both Phrygias[10] and Lydia, and I took Miletus by siege. All the other places I gained by voluntary surrender, and I granted you the privilege of appropriating the wealth found in them. The riches of Egypt and Cyrene, which I acquired without fighting a battle, have come to you. Coele-Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia are your property. Babylon, Bactra, and Susa are yours. The wealth of the Lydians, the treasures of the Persians, and the riches of the Indians are yours; and so is the External Sea. You are viceroys, you are generals, you are captains. What then have I reserved to myself after all these labours, except this purple robe and this diadem?[11] I have appropriated nothing myself, nor can any one point out my treasures, except these possessions of yours or the things which I am guarding on your behalf.[12] Individually, however, I have no motive to guard them, since I feed on the same fare as you do, and I take only the same amount of sleep. Nay, I do not think that my fare is as good as that of those among you who live luxuriously; and I know that I often sit up at night to watch for you, that you may be able to sleep.

  1. Thracians mean mountaineers; Hellenes, warriors; Dorians, high-landers; lonians, coast-men; and Aeolians, mixed men. See Donaldson (New Cratylus, sect. 92).
  2. The gold and silver mines at Mount Pangaeon near Philippi brought Philip a yearly revenue of more than 1,000 talents (Diodorus, xvi. 8). Herodotus (v. 17) says that the silver mines at Mount Dysorum brought a talent every day to Alexander, father of Amyntas.
  3. This is a Demosthenic expression. See De Falsa Legatione, 92; and I. Philippic, 45.
  4. B.C. 346.
  5. He here refers to his own part in the victory of Chaeronea, B.C. 336. See Diodorus, xvi. 86; Plutarch (Alex. 9).
  6. This fact is attested by Demosthenes (De Haloneso, 12).
  7. The Thebans under Pelopidas settled the affairs of Macedonia, and took young Philip to Thebes as a hostage, B.C. 368.
  8. About £122,000. Cf. Plutarch (Alex. 15); Curtius, x. 10.
  9. Ion is the Hebrew Javan without the vowel points. In the Persian name for the Greeks Iaones, one of these vowels appear. See Aeschylus Persae, 178, 562).
  10. Larger Phrygia formed the western part of the great central table-land of Asia Minor. Smaller Phrygia was also called Hellespontine Phrygia, because it lay near the Hellespont. See Strabo, xii. 8.
  11. A blue band worked with white, which went round the tiara of the Persian kings.
  12. Cf. Ammianus, xxv. 4, 15: "(Julianus) id aliquoties praedicans, Alexandrum Magnum, ubi haberet thesauros interrogatum, apud amicos benevole respondisse."