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Title: The Story of Alexander
Author: Steele, Robert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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London in the Strand
David Nutt

  M. M. S.



_When I promised some months ago to tell you a fairy story, I did
not remember that most of them have been so well told by my friend
Mr. Jacobs, and others, that it would be difficult to find any
fresh ones worth telling you._

_Then I remembered that there was a time, hundreds of years ago,
when folk here in England were fond of hearing and telling stories,
and when, in the long winter evenings, people gathered round the
castle-fire in the great hall, lord and lady, squires and dames,
pages, varlets, children, even the dogs, all of them listening
to the old chaplain who read them a never-ending tale of a brave
knight and a wicked enchanter; or, better still, to a travelling
tale-teller who brought the last story from France and Italy.
“Now,” thought I, “the tales that pleased these folk so well
would perhaps suit young people of to-day.” For the men who lived
then were large hearted and simple souled, and if it is true, as
our great English poet said, “Men are but children of a larger
growth”--and it was true of that time--perhaps the stories of the
men of those days would still have the power to please the children
of ours._

_Well, I began to turn over some of those big books you have seen
in my room, and to read their stories again to choose one for you,
and the first story I read was the History of Alexander the Great.
You must not be frightened about the tale, however; there are no
dates and summaries at the ends of the chapters to learn, and,
though I believe every word of it myself, I am afraid that if you
were to put some of it in your examination paper on Greek History,
the mistress who marked it would be annoyed, and I am certain that
you will not find the pictures like those of the Greeks in your
other books. This is only a tale, and the Alexander and Darius, the
Greeks and the Jews, it tells about, are not the ones you have read
of, but different people with the same names._

_The reason for choosing the story of Alexander to tell you is
this: it was the earliest and one of the most interesting of
the stories of the Middle Age. Everyone liked it, everyone knew
something about it, and everyone told it his own way. Even the
animals (in a tale of Reynard the Fox) liked it, and one of them
told it to the lion. All the English poets of those days knew and
loved it. If, then, you could read any of the Middle Age tales, you
could read this one._

_So you must now fancy that times are changed; you are sitting
in some great castle-hall, and all the people round you are in
dresses like those that Mr. Mason has drawn for you; perhaps you
are sitting on a throne like the queen in the picture, and I am
sitting on the stool before you, and I begin to tell you a story
of the bravest knight in the world, his wars, and the wonderful
things he saw and did. And as all the young folk gather round and
listen, if the older folk come with them and bring the great Latin
book to see if I tell the story right, when they can get it (for it
is very rare) they will find that I have taken the story-teller’s
privilege--I have left out much that was not interesting, and I
have told you some things the old story-tellers used to leave out._

_Perhaps you will find that there is too much fighting in the
story: if so, remember that it was nearly the only game people
played at in those days, so that it took the place of rowing or
tennis, cycling or cricket among the young people then. But the
fighting had this serious side to it--that a young lady might wake
any morning and find an army besieging her home, ready to burn it
down and carry her away prisoner. So, you see, everyone understood
about fighting and took an interest in hearing of it._

_And now I leave you with your story. If it pleases you, and shows
you who were the heroes of our ancestors, and what were the stories
they delighted in, it will have reached the object of_

  _Your loving liegeman_

  _R. S._





  ARMS                                                    21

  ALEXANDER                                               30

  SIEGE TO THE CITY OF TYRE                               39

  TYRE                                                    47

  HIM                                                     55

  PRESENT SENT BACK TO HIM                                63

  RETURN TO PERSIA                                        73

  AND HOW HE WENT TO THE FEAST OF DARIUS                  82


  DEFEATED PORUS THE KING OF INDIA                       102

  AND THE LEAST THING ON EARTH                           111

  SOUGHT THE WELLS OF LIFE                               124

  OF THE COMING OF THE AMAZONS                           138


  HIM                                                    159

  OF CANDACE WHEN HE CAME TO HER                         171

  AND DOWN INTO THE SEA                                  188




Once upon a time a king reigned over the land of Egypt, whose name
was Anectanabus. In his time that land was the richest in the
world, and its people were wise and happy; but Anectanabus was the
wisest and the noblest of them, and under his rule all men, both
great and small, prospered. The field-workers ploughed and reaped,
the merchants travelled and chaffered, the wise men studied and
wrote and taught, and the great lords watched over the land, helped
the poor, and guarded all men. Shortly to say, the land of Egypt
was in those days the home of plenty and of peace, of mirth and of

Now Anectanabus was, above all men, skilled in the arts of magic,
for he had learned the secrets of Egypt that were not written down
in books, but cut in the stone on the sides of the great temples,
and on the Pillars of the Sun: and when he was a young man he had
been taken into the secret chambers of the Pyramids, and had been
laid in the stone coffin of the gods, and there the secrets had
been whispered to him which the kings and priests of Egypt had
discovered for a thousand years. And chief of all his crafts, he
had the power of making images of men to do what he would, and
whatever the images did, that the men they were like to, did: and
he used this art to save his land from war. For if a fleet of
ships came to attack his land he would make images of them in wax
to float on water, and images of his own ships, and then he would
cause the ships of the enemy to turn and flee before his ships or
ever a blow was struck, and as he did, so it happened in the war.
Or if an army came against him, he caused it to flee in the same
way, so that no king of the countries about dared to come out and
make war on Egypt. And many other arts he used, but all for the
good of his land, so that men loved him and served him with joy.

It fell upon a day that Anectanabus was sitting in his palace hall
on his daïs, and round him were his dukes and princes, and the
great hall of the palace was filled with men in rich array. In that
land, the king showed himself to men but rarely, and when he did so
he was clothed in his noblest and fairest dress, with his crown on
his head, and his nobles and all men were dressed in their best,
so that the hall shone with gold, and sparkled and dazzled with
gems and stones, and the blue and scarlet and purple and green of
the nobles filled the place with a flood of colour. The chief men
of a certain city had petitioned the king about a certain matter,
and a great duke had just risen from his seat to speak about it,
when a cry was heard outside, and through the open doors, past
the great screen, a man in half armour covered with dust and foam
rushed into the presence of the king. Then the heralds hurried
up to him, and crossing their wands before him, asked of him his
errand, and why he entered the hall of the king in such unseemly
dress. But he, heeding their words never a whit, pressed forward,
called out with a loud voice, “O King, the Persians are on us,” and
straightway staggered, and fell down lifeless, for he had ridden
hard without rest and sleep with the message of the lord warden of
the sea.

A great silence fell on the hall, men looked on each other’s faces
but none spoke or moved; then the silence was broken by the shuffle
of the heralds bearing away the body of the messenger, and the
dukes drew up nearer to one another, but still no man spoke; for
the king’s face was dark and troubled, and he had asked none for
counsel. Now Anectanabus was troubled, not because he feared the
enemy, but because he had never before been taken by surprise, for
ever he knew by his magic art the words of the message before
they were uttered. So he sat silent for a while, but at last he
bethought himself, and rose and left the hall, going to a little
room behind the daïs, where he could be alone, for he sought to
know by his magic art who, and how many, and where were his foes.
But the great lords sat on in silence in the king’s hall, waiting
till some of them should be sent against the foe, and silently and
noiselessly the people passed out of the hall.

As soon as Anectanabus was alone in his room, he went to a coffer
of oak covered with broad bands of steel, and opened it with a
golden key which he drew from his breast. Then he drew out a robe
of fair white linen, and putting off his rich attire he clothed
himself in it, keeping on his golden crown. Taking some spices, he
threw them on a brazier of burning embers, and opened the casements
of the room, and round and round the brazier he went till a heavy
smoke filled the room, and hung over a great copper bowl of water
on the table in the middle of it. This done, Anectanabus took a
short wand of polished steel in his hand and pointing it across
the bowl to the four quarters of the earth--North, East, South,
West--he began to utter spells. And now it seemed as if the smoke
from the room gathered over the water, and disappeared, leaving the
room full of light, and the outside day darkened, and looking on
the surface of the water the king saw a fleet of ships coming in
full sail towards him. But what an endless number of them there
seemed to be,--ships large and small, beating the waves with their
oars, over their sides hanging the shields of dukes and earls and
knights, the sun shining from their weapons, the masts and pennons
rising like a forest, and high over all the banner of Persia
flying, the rising sun conquering the night. Then Anectanabus
touched the water with his wand, and all the ships vanished, and
the air of the room was clear and bright.

With a grave face and a heavy heart Anectanabus returned to his
lords, and ordered them to meet in arms on the sea-coast in seven
days, there to keep the land from Persians or any other foes, and
he dismissed them each to his place, after he had spoken brave
words to them, and reminded them of the victories they had won,
“and,” he said, “though the enemy be many, one lion puts many
deer to flight, and we may well destroy our foes as we have done
before.” But ever in his heart he feared, for that the foe had come
upon him by surprise, and his magic art had told him nothing of it.

In the night, when all men slept, he rose and went to the room in
which he wrought all his magic, and clothed himself in the white
robes, and brought forth his instruments from the oaken box, and
cast a yellow powder on the brazier. Then he filled the great
copper bowl with water, looking black in the dim light of the room,
and taking wax he moulded ships, some white, some black, and set
them to float on the water in the vessel. Next he drew from the
box a rod of palm-wood and touched them one by one, and as he did
so they separated and gathered into two fleets at either side of
the bowl. Then throwing some incense on the brazier, Anectanabus
began to mutter his magic words, and round and round the bowl he
walked, and the first time he threw in some gold, and the second
time a stone, and the third time some dust. Soon the two fleets
began to move towards one another, and Anectanabus began to invoke
destruction on the enemy as he was wont to do; but when the
battle was joined, he saw that the ships of Egypt were one by one
destroyed or taken, nor could any of his mightiest spells turn the
battle. So he saw that the gods had forsaken him, and that there
was no hope for him; and he deemed it better to go away and let his
kingdom fall into the hands of the Persians, than to resist them
without hope of victory, and to be made a slave at the end; and his
heart was great, and he had no son or daughter for whom to fight.

The next day he rose and went about with a light heart and a merry
cheer, and did the things that were to be done, and when night fell
he laid off the royal robes and the crown of Egypt, and dressed him
as one of the wise clerks of the land, and went to the barber and
caused him to shave off his beard, and cut his hair, so that no man
should know him, and he gathered store of gold and jewels, such as
he could carry, and his instruments of magic and of star-reading,
and called to him three of his servants who had served him all his
life, and when they were loaded with his gear, he slipped out at
a postern gate of the palace, and set off on foot into the world,
not knowing where he should go. Long would it be to tell what lands
he passed through, how he went from Egypt into Ethiopia, and from
thence he passed through many countries till at the last he came to
Macedon, where it fell that he settled and ended his days. But no
one ever thought him to be anything but some diviner or soothsayer,
nor wist the folk that he had been a mighty king of men.

The tale tells of the care he left behind him in his palace when
men found that he had gone. The princes sought their lord in his
private chambers, and when he was not to be seen there, knights and
barons ran about with tears on their cheeks, their ladies swooned,
and all men cursed the day. At the last, when they could get no
news, they joined in procession to the temple of Serapis, the
greatest of their gods, to ask his aid and counsel in their sore
strait, and there they burned rich incense, and offered many noble
gifts and sacrifices. Then the god gave them this answer: “Fear
not, O folk, for your king is safe. Ye shall be subject to the
Persians, nor may ye any way escape. But cease your sorrow; the son
of his works shall return, he shall avenge your defeat, he shall
destroy Persia, he shall be the noblest Emperor of the world.”

So this people made an image of Anectanabus in black marble,
dressed in his royal robes, sceptre in hand, and crown on head,
and beneath the statue was graved in golden letters the prophecy
of their god Serapis, that men might have it in mind in the evil
days that were on them. For the Persians conquered them, and year
by year they treated them more hardly, and life was bitter to them,
and the Egyptians looked back year after year to the happy days of
Anectanabus, the last king of Egypt, and waited in hope till he
should come back again.




It fell on a day that as Anectanabus was travelling through the
land of Macedon, he came to the chief city of the land, and there
his yeomen took lodging for him, and he thought to dwell there some
days, for the city was fair and well placed on a fertile plain, and
it was in the month of May. And when he talked to the men of the
town he heard say that Philip, the king of the land, had gone out
to war, but that he had left there his queen Olympias to govern
the folk, and that the next day was, as it happened, the feast of
her birthday. Now this queen had custom on feast days to ride out
into the country near, and there sports and tournaments were held,
and all folk rejoiced before her. So Anectanabus thought in his
mind that he would go out and look upon her, for he had heard that
Olympias was the fairest woman in Greece,--nay, in all the world.

Early next day after meat, the queen mounted a white mule and rode
through the city to the plain, with her wise men and her maids
about her, and much she joyed to see the fair show that the city
made, for everywhere that she came the town was hung with rich
hangings and embroidery, and every man was eager to see the queen,
and at all corners were bands of maidens singing and beating drums
and timbrels. So the queen rode through the city, and when she
came to the plain, each man did his best in the sports, if by any
means he could gain a prize from her hands. Among the crowd of men
on the plain was Anectanabus, and he looked not at one thing or
another but only at the queen, so that at the last she turned and
saw him, and because he was unlike all other there in clothing and
in bearing she took notice of him and saw at once that he was a
stranger: and since he looked ever at her face nor looked away when
she turned to him, at the end she sent men to him to know who he
was. So he came and did her reverence, and she asked him who he was
and what he would, and he told her that he was a clerk, and that
he went from place to place, doing the will of the great gods: and
Olympias bade him come to her at the palace.

Now every day the queen sat on the royal seat in the great hall of
the palace, and men came to her and spoke before her of good and
bad, and among the rest next day came Anectanabus. And as the queen
looked upon him, he bowed him down, and said, “Hail, fair Queen of
Macedon;” and the queen noted his speech, for he spoke as one that
was a king and not as a clerk, though he were clothed in weeds of
drab and went with shaven crown. So she made him to sit down before
her on a silk-covered seat, and she began to question him full
fairly, whether he were of Egypt, and what manner of folk were in
that land, and what was the learning of its wise men--for she knew
by his tongue that he was an outlander, and be like an Egyptian.
And Anectanabus answered her and told her of the land of Egypt, and
of its wonders, and of its wisdom, how some men told the meaning of
dreams, and whether they were true or false, and when they should
come to pass; some men understood the song of the birds and the
voice of beasts; some could tell of the birth of children, and of
the length of life; some could declare the secret counsels of men,
which never were spoken to any one; and some could read the course
of the stars and the signs of heaven, and say what shall come to
pass in few years’ time--“and, fair Queen,” continued he, “I have
so clear a knowledge of all these arts, that I can prove myself
a master in each of them.” So saying, he leaned forward from his
seat, and stared in a study, still as a stone, at her face. Then
said the queen, “What art thou musing on, Master; why dost thou
sit so still?” “I am thinking, O Queen,” said he, “on the words of
my god, who long ago told me that I should sit in a strange land an
exile, and see the fairest queen on earth.” Then the queen prayed
him to show her how he sought out these things, and he drew out of
his bosom a little box with seven pieces of ivory in it, and he
showed her how by casting these he could tell what should happen
to men, and answer questions about their deeds. And he showed her
seven precious stones, on each of which a wondrous figure was
carved, which preserved men who wore them from all harm. And then
he drew out his table of ivory with three rings upon it, by which
he read the stars: the first ring was of brass, and on it were
marked the twelve houses of fate; the second was of bright silver,
and on it were marked wondrous beasts, the twelve signs of the
heavens; and the third was of red gold, and on it were marked the
sun and the moon; and as he showed them he told her the course of
the stars, and how they governed the life of men.

[Illustration: Anectanabus telleth the Queen’s fate.]

And Olympias said to him, “O Master, tell me the day on which my
lord that I love was born, and then I shall know thy skill.” “Small
skill were that,” said Anectanabus, “to tell the past; is there
naught of the future you would learn?” “Yea,” said the Queen, “tell
me what shall part Philip and me, for it is told me by my wise
women that if he returns from battle he shall take another wife,
and send me away for ever.” “Nay, not for ever,” said the Egyptian,
“not for ever, nor for long shall he put thee away, for will he
nill he, he must have thee for his queen.” Then Olympias wondered
greatly, and she asked Anectanabus how this should be, and the wise
man answered and told her, how that the great god of her country,
Ammon, should give her a fair son who should help her all his life,
and how that the god would protect her till her son was grown. Then
was the queen right glad, and she promised Anectanabus that when
these things should happen she would honour him all her life. Then
the wise man rose from his seat, and after looking on the queen for
a while, went from the hall to make his enchantments as at other

Now that night the moon was at full, when all herbs have their
strongest might, so Anectanabus got him forth from the city into a
wild place, where no man might see him, and there he drew up herbs
for his enchantments, marking the fairest and best, and when the
hour of the moon was come he plucked them out by the roots, and
washed the earth from them in running water. Then he ground them
together in a mortar, and wrung out the juice, and he made an image
of the queen in white wax, and anointed it with the juice of the
plants he had gathered, and calling on the powers of the air with
is conjurations, he made a dream for the queen. So she, lying
in her palace alone, saw a huge dragon enter and circle the room
three times--then it came and stood before her, and, lo! it was a
man, but a man in shape like to her god; and the man told her that
she should have a son who should defend her in all her cares, and
override all her foes. Then the queen woke from her dream, and
stretched out her hands to the god she had seen, but the room was
dark, so, springing from her bed, she ran to the door, but that was
safely fast, and groping round she found naught in the room; and
sad that her dream was false, she fell asleep again thinking of the
wise Egyptian, who, mayhap, should tell her what it meant.

Early on the morrow the queen rose from her sleep, and sent her
housecarles for Anectanabus in haste; then when he came she took
him apart and told him all her dream. Then said he to the queen:
“If thou art willing, and not afraid, I can show thee this god face
to face, and thou waking; but thine eyes must be opened to see him.”

So was the queen glad, and she assigned him a room in her palace;
and the next night did Anectanabus, by his art magic, change
himself into a dragon such as the queen had seen in her dream, and
flying through the air with his heavy wings he came into the place
of the queen. Then she rose up to meet him, but the sight was so
terrible to her that she covered her face with her hands; but soon
she heard a voice bidding her look up, and lo! before her was the
figure of her god Ammon--a strong, fair man, bearing on his head
two horns. Then was she glad of her life, that she alone of all
living women had seen this thing; and he spoke to her of all the
things that Anectanabus had told her, and of how her son should
ride through the world.

So fell she to sleep, and when she woke in the morning light there
was none there, and the doors of the palace were fast, and great
thanks she gave to Anectanabus for his magic, for she wist not that
her god was but a show of the wise Egyptian.

But in that same night that the queen had dreamed, the Egyptian
had so wrought his enchantments that in the hour of Philip’s star
he too had fallen asleep, and he dreamed that a dragon had taken
him up through the air, and had borne him off to his own palace,
and to the room in which Olympias, his queen, lay sleeping. Then
tried he to draw near her, but she felt not his touch nor heard
his voice; and suddenly he was ware of a god in the room in the
shape of Ammon, and the god came to the queen and laid his hand
on her, and waked her, and sealed her with a gold seal. So Philip
drew near, and saw that on this seal were three things graved--the
head of a mighty lion, the burst of the morning sun rising over
the world, and a sharp, keen blade of a sword; and he heard the
god say: “Woman, thy son that I give thee shall be thy defender.”
Now Philip when he woke, was so sore troubled by his dream that he
called on his diviners to say to him what it should mean. Then said
the chief of the magicians: “O King, this thy dream means that thy
wife shall give thee a son fair and mighty. And because on the seal
thou sawest a lion’s head, as the lion is the chief of all beasts,
this son shall be a chief and a master among all chieftains. And
since on the seal was the burst of the sunrise, so shall this son
ride through the world, and everywhere shall he be exalted till he
comes to the Land of the East; and the biting brand showeth that by
his sword shall nations out of number be conquered and bow to him.
But for the dragon that bore thee from hence to thy own land, he
shall be to thee for an aid, and that right soon.” And then was the
king glad in his heart.

But Anectanabus knew by his box of stones how that Philip should
be sore beset on a certain day, and so, going out into a desert
place, he called up to him by art magic a great bird from the sea,
with broad wings, great beak, and strong claws like iron. And as
it drew near him it circled him seven times, and then sunk down at
his feet. Then the Egyptian took and rubbed him with the juice of
the plants he had gathered, from wingtip to wingtip, and from head
to tail, and then with his mightiest spells he sent him forth over
land and sea. And lo! he seemed no more a sea bird, but a mighty
dragon flying through the air. But far away Philip was in deadly
battle, for he had been all day fighting, and now was he wearied,
and a great stone had struck him, so that he reeled to the ground,
and his men were at point to fly, and his foes were clamouring with
joy, and their eyes were burning to slay, when the great dragon
flew towards them, and men paused to see what should happen, and
lo! it fell on the foemen, and first on him who had struck down
Philip, and men’s swords fell on it and were shivered, and none
dared to see its face, and the men of Macedon took fresh heart, and
Philip sprang up shouting, “The God, the Gods for us!” and the foe
were routed and their king slain, and far away the great dragon
rose in the air and disappeared, no man knowing whither.

So Philip came home with much joy, honoured of men, and when he met
his queen he kissed her fair, and they spoke of their dreams, and
of what the god had promised them. And it fell that two wonders
happened to them. For one day as they sat at meat in the hall, and
folk around them great and small, a great dragon came into the
palace, and men fled, save some that drew sword and turned pale,
but the king cried out: “Faith, but this is the noble dragon that
turned the fight for us that other even.” Then the king was glad,
but the great worm came slowly up the hall till it reached the
queen, and there it raised its head on her knees, and she knew it
for the dragon that had come to her, and lifted its head and kissed
it, and all men looked for some change; but the dragon turned and
went its way out as it came in, and those outside saw nought save
the Egyptian diviner standing at the gate.

And one other day, as Philip sat in his great hall, with all his
nobles and chief men round him, there came a singing-bird into the
hall and sang a sweet song, and circled his head, and came and sat
on his knee, and there dropped an egg and flew away. Then as the
king sat and looked, the egg rolled from his knee and fell to the
ground, and there it broke, and a little worm came out and crawled
about, but soon it died. Then a great clerk near him said: “This
signifieth, O king, that thy blithe lady’s son shall walk the world
and win it, and die a bitter death before he may return.” These
were the wonders that happened ere the birth of Alexander.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now drew on the time when this noble child was to be born, and as
he came to earth temples and towers tumbled on heaps, thunder rang
through the welkin, darkness fell over the earth, the wind rose
and blew, the lightning flashed over the land, and great stones
fell from the sky. Then Philip feared, and said: “Surely this son
that is born shall do great things, and men will call me the father
of this child”; and with that he went to Olympias and comforted
her. But the child grew, nor was he like to father nor mother. His
hair was yellow-tawny, like a lion’s, his eyes were bright and
glistening, piercing like blazing stars; grim and fierce was his
look, one of his eyes black as a coal, the other yellow like gold;
his voice was loud, even from his first cry, nor could any hear it
without inward fear. Alexander was his name, and the wisest man
of all the world, Aristotle, was his tutor, nor would he learn of
other. Clever and wise was he, nor did he sit with the crowd of
boys, but on a bench beside his master, for it became not a king’s
son to sit down undistinguished from other boys. In four or five
years he learnt more than many scholars learn in seventy winters.
And when he was eleven years old he set him to learn the art and
craft of battle, to wield a spear and a lance, to ride a noble
steed in armour, so that in a few years was none equal to him, and
in adventures of arms he surpassed all men.

It fell on a day that Philip the king was with him, and greatly did
he praise him for his deeds, and much was his heart moved towards
him; but he said: “Sorely my mind is troubled that nought of me
hast thou in look, nor height, nor colour, whereby men may know
that thou art my son”: for Philip was tall and black and dark-eyed.
Then was the noble queen Olympias grieved when she heard tell of
the king’s saying, and she sent for Anectanabus, the Egyptian,
and he came, but with little speed, for he was now old and grey.
And when he was before her, she asked him what should fall of the
king’s speech, for ever she had feared the doom that was to come;
but he comforted her, and bade her fear not, for he read day and
night the stars for her, and none of the king’s thoughts were
against her.

So he went out, and Alexander with him, and as they went, ever
the Egyptian looked at the stars, and down at the ground, and
sighed. So Alexander asked him at what planet was he looking, and
Anectanabus showed it him. Then he asked him why he sighed, and
the Egyptian said: “My hour draws near, the son of my works shall
slay me! Look over our heads and see that red star shine--the star
of Hercules, how bitterly it moves, but noble Mercury shines ever,
and great Jove, how jollily he shines--the doom of my destiny is
on me.” And as he said the word, Alexander stumbled forward, and
pushing the unhappy Egyptian, he fell from the wall of the town
where they were walking into the ditch which surrounded it, and
with a cry sank. The youth plunged in after him, but when he found
his body the old man was dead, and with what grief we cannot tell,
Alexander carried home the body of Anectanabus to the palace of his
mother. Let others tell the story of her grief, of her tears, and
of the splendid tomb of the exiled king--I cannot.



So it was that there was at this time a certain prince in the land
of Cappadocia, and in the night as he lay sleeping a vision came to
him, and it seemed that his room was filled with a shimmering blaze
of light, and while he looked a great dragon came into the room,
and he shut his eyes for fear. Then there came a voice, saying,
“Fear not, O king, but look up, and hearken to my words,” and when
he raised his head he saw an exceeding fair man standing in the
room, and he had two horns on his head, and a golden crown like one
of the gods. Then the vision bade him convey the horse Bucephalus
to the land of Macedonia to king Philip; and tell him that he who
should tame this horse should rule the land after him. The prince
answered, “Where is this horse Bucephalus that I may take him?” and
the vision said that on the morrow the horse should be brought him.
And suddenly the room was dark, but the prince lay turning this
matter in his mind till the grey of the first dawn, and he slept.

On the morrow as he sat on his seat under the oak of judgment,
there came to him some of the country folk bringing with them a
fair white colt, and his mouth was bound with iron chains. As they
came near the king asked them whose was the foal and why they
brought him in chains; and the men answered that this colt was so
wild that no man dare go near him to mount him, and that he would
take no food since he had left his mother but the flesh of men.
Then they consulted the priest of the temple, and he bade them
carry the young horse to the king, for he would never be tamed but
by a great king’s son, nor could any other man mount him. So the
king gave them a great reward and they went their way. Now the
horse had on his forehead two bones like small horns, and the men
called him for that Bucephalus.

Now when the horse was brought to Philip the king of Macedonia he
was fain of him, for he was of noble form, and it seemed as if he
would be the best horse in the world, so he thanked the prince
greatly, and made men build a stable for the horse of iron bars,
strong and good. Therein was he put, and men doomed to death
were brought to that place and thrown to him, and he tore them to
pieces, and fed on them. And no man willingly went near the stable
in which he was.

It fell on a day when Alexander was come to youth, that he chanced
to stand at a window of the palace while this wild horse was being
led by in iron chains, and the prince wondered at the sight, for it
seemed to him that this was the noblest of horses, and he could not
tell why he was kept in chains. But when he had come down to the
courtyard the grooms had gone, so he followed them searching for
the horse’s stable, and at the last he came upon the iron house,
and looking into it he wondered at the horrible things he saw
there. Then one of the grooms came up to him and told him how the
horse fed on man’s flesh, and how that should be till he was tamed
and ridden by a great king’s son. Hearing this Alexander went up
to the bars and called the horse, and the wild animal came up to
them, and laid out his neck. Then the prince put his hand through
the bars and Bucephalus licked it, and folded his feet and fell to
the ground, looking up into Alexander’s face.

Thus was the horse tamed, and Alexander lifted up the gate-bolts
and entered the stable boldly, and stroked Bucephalus on his back
with his hand, while the horse turned his head round and watched
him fondly. Then he got a bridle and saddle, and girt him round
and loosed his chains, and leaping on his back rode him off, while
the good white horse obeyed the rein as if he had been ridden ten
years. Now, while Alexander was riding him round the courtyard,
men had run to king Philip and had told him how the prince had
gone into the cage of the fierce man-eating horse, and the king
came down to see what should hap, and found Alexander master of
the horse. Then Philip the fierce remembered the saying of the
gods, and he greeted him with words of praise, and said, “Son, of
a truth thou shalt reign in my stead when I am gone, and the land
shall wax great. Ask now a gift of me, and I will give it.” “Then,”
said Alexander, “make me a knight, and a chief with men-at-arms to
follow me.”

Great was the joy of Philip that his son’s first wish was to be a
leader of men in war, and that he had done this great thing, so
he granted it with good will. “I give thee, O son,” said he, “one
hundred of my best horses, and sixty thousand gold pieces from my
coffers, and the best of my chieftains and proved princes to be thy
men, and free of my house shalt thou be, to abide there in peace,
or to go from it to seek adventure in war. Thou hast done a man’s
deed, and man shalt thou be called.” Then the prince gave him lowly
thanks, and sped off to gather together a little band of twelve
chieftains, picked and proved leaders of men, whom he had chosen to
lead his men, and when this was done each got together tried men
to follow them till the number of the band was made up.

Now when Alexander had got together his band, he made ready to go
out in search of his first adventure, and in few days he rode out
into the world in knightly array into a land unknown, nor did he
stay until he came into the land of Peloponnesus. Now the king of
this land was called Nicholas, and when tidings were brought him
that a band of strange knights had come into his land, he ordered
that a host should be gathered together, and he with a few knights
rode out far before his following, and came to the men of Alexander
and began to question them in his wrath and anger, “Oh, ye knights,
who is your leader, and why come you here in my land?” Then the
courteous knight Alexander came to the front: “Sir knight,” said
he, “Philip the fierce, king of Macedon, is my father, and I am his
heir Alexander.” And the king stood up in his stirrups, and sternly
looking at him, said, “Whom think you that I am?” “Sir,” said
Alexander, “you are as now king of this folk, nor do I grudge your
honour, but beware of pride, for wise men tell that the highest
thing falls soonest, and that which is least of all is ofttimes
brought to the stars.”

“True is thy word,” said the king, “and soon shalt thou prove its
truth it may be; look well to thyself lest thy speech come home to

Then Alexander burst into rage, and with bitter words ordered him
to return to his following if he wished safety, and Nicholas the
king, flaming with bitter wasp-like anger, took up a handful of mud
and threw it in the face of Alexander, and swore by the heart of
his father that he would put him to death with his own hands if he
fled not. But the noble Alexander controlled his rage at the foul
insult, and keeping his face by a mighty effort, though his hands
were gripping each other through, said, “As thou hast wronged me
causelessly, Nicholas, I swear by my father and by my god that thou
shalt see me ere long for this cause, and that I shall take thy
land from thee, or thou my life from me.” So a day was set for them
to meet in fight, and they parted on either side.

Now were men on both parts getting them ready for the fight.
Alexander hurried home into Macedon and assembled a mighty host of
knights and archers, men proved and skilled in arms. And when the
host was assembled, with his princes and captains, he sought the
presence of Philip and took his leave, and mounting Bucephalus his
brave white horse, he led, first of all, his army out of the broad
gates of the town. So on the appointed day the field is covered
with the array of either host, and now men lift up the banners
and shake them out to the wind, and the clarions sound out till
the whole field rings with the music, and the woods and the hills
answer them again. Then each noble prepares for battle, his helm
on his head he strides to his horse, and jumps on his steel-clad
saddle, he hangs round his throat his bright shimmering shield, and
handles his lance. Then is the stamping of steeds, the stripping
of banners, the clouds of dust rise in the air, and suddenly the
crowds meet with a shock in the middle of the plain. Now the steeds
rear up against each other, and the spears break through the
blazoned shields and through the helmet bars, while the cypress
lance shafts splinter into fragments, and down fall knights and
dukes from their steeds.

Well and nobly did the young Alexander fight his first battle. Sir
Nicholas took him a spear, and rushed on the young knight to get
him a name, and to keep his oath that he had sworn. Then Alexander
took another lance from his squire, for the first one was strained
in the fight by this time and might betray him, and they met one
another in the field, and men stayed to see this fight. So sore
were their strokes that the long lances split, even from point
to handgrip, so that there was not an ell long piece in either
man’s hand. Then each threw the fragment away, and out flashed
their swords from the sheaths, and they hacked and hewed at each
other through mail-coat and helmet. But mail and helm were good
and gave not way, till Alexander grew mad with rage, and with one
full stroke he struck off the head of King Nicholas clear through
the neck and helm, and he fell down to the earth. So it was that
Alexander got him great worship by this victory, for all the men
of that country and their lords came to him, and falling on their
knees put them in his mercy, and acknowledged him as ruler of the
land. Thus he defeated his enemy, and revenged the insult of King
Nicholas, and returned home with fame and good to his father.

The tale tells that as he entered Macedon he found the town at
feast, and his father at his high table; but another woman sat in
the seat of the queen, for Philip had put away Olympias, as the
seers had told her years before. So Alexander bowed him down meekly
in seeming, and said, “Father, I pray thee receive the fruits of my
first victory ere I go hence to the wedding.” “And whose wedding
dost thou go to?” said the king. “To my mother’s,” said he, “for I
will marry her to some noble king, and I will make him the greatest
king on earth, for it likes me not to stay here while she is in
disgrace, and I know not for what.” Then Philip grew white with
wrath, but one Lysias, a knight at the table, said, “O king, heed
not his talk, for this fair queen shall bring thee a son greater
than him.” Turning to him, Alexander with his truncheon struck him
a blow so that he fell dead to the ground, and men said that in
truth he had deserved it; but Philip started up at the deed, and
snatching a blade rushed on Alexander, aiming a fierce blow at
him, for the gods had blinded his eyes so that he knew not wisdom
from folly, or right-doing from wrong. But as he came on, his
feet failed him, and ere he reached Alexander the king staggered,
stumbled, and fell to the ground, though no man saw cause for it.
Then Alexander laughed out loud, and said, “Does the Governor of
Greece fear one youth? What ails thee to fall?” and he struck over
the tables of the feast, and dragging the bride out of the hall
by her hair he brought her to his mother, for his heart was full
of wrath at the wrong done to her, while Philip was carried away
stricken with sore sickness. Thus was his mother avenged, and the
marriage feast disturbed.

But when Alexander’s wrath cooled it came into his heart to make
peace between Philip and his mother, and rising up he went to the
bed of Philip, and there he spoke words as a friend might speak,
and the gods put in the king’s heart to forgive the death of
Lysias, and to reconcile him to his wife; and so the king rose up,
and leaning on Alexander’s shoulder, went with him to Olympias, and
there he took her in his arms and kissed her, and forgave all her
faults, and she was made queen again, and reigned in Macedon to her
life’s end.



The tale tells that on a day men told in Macedon that an embassy
from the Emperor of the World, Darius of Persia, was drawing near;
and the whole city came out, men, women, and children, to see them
enter. But there was doubt and fear in the court of Philip, for
they were coming to demand from him the tribute which he had not
paid for the last three years, and the king had made up his mind
to be no more subject to the Persians, and Alexander had sworn
to conquer them in war if his father would raise an army against
them, but Philip would not, for he knew that no man could count the
armies of Darius, spent he his whole life to that end.

And so the heralds came riding up to the gate of the town mounted
on their high steeds, and there were three of them, and each of
them was a king, and wore armour of proof. On each man’s head was
a golden crown, and their pages bore before them their helmets.
The herald who was on the right wore bright silver armour; his
surcoat was dark green, and on it was worked a fierce tiger rushing
on his prey, and he was the herald of Media. The herald riding on
the left wore black armour from head to foot, and his surcoat was
of scarlet, and on it was a wild boar turning to face his foe, and
this was the herald of Persia. But the herald in the middle was
clad from head to foot in bright gold, and his surcoat was of a
deep clear blue, and on it shone the sun high over all the world,
and all men shouted when they saw him, for he was a head taller
than common men, and he was the herald of the Emperor of the World.

When they reached the gate the trumpeters blew three long calls on
their trumpets with a silence between each, and the drawbridge,
which had been raised, slowly fell, and the great gate of the
city opened, and the herald of the King of Macedon came forth and
greeted them fair, and offered them rest and hostage till such
time as they should see the king. But they said, “O dear brother
and friend, it is not fitting that we eat or drink in this town
till we have done the errand of our lord, or till we know whether
we harbour with friends and servants, or with foes and traitors
of the Master of the World. Wherefore we pray you, dear brother,
that you will lead us to the hall of your prince that we may do our
errand, not doubting that after it we shall be beholden to your
love for rest and comfort.” So the heralds dismounted, and their
men remained without with their horses, while they went into the
town and through the streets up to the palace hall of Philip.

Now the king was sitting on his throne under the daïs at the upper
end of the hall, and on his right hand sat the noble Alexander, and
round the king on his right and his left were the nobles of the
land, greybeards and youth. And when the coming of the heralds was
told them the king rose from his seat, and as they stepped forward
so did he, and he came to the middle of the hall and three steps
further, for all men did reverence in those days to the herald.
And he greeted them, and on the neck of each man he threw a chain
of gold, and much he praised them for their fame. But the heralds
spoke and said, “O king, we have a message for thee, nor may we
delay.” And he said, “Speak on.”

[Illustration: The Heralds of the Emperor Darius.]

So the Wild Boar of Persia spake: “O Philip, for three years thou
hast not sent thy accustomed tribute to Persia, nor a part of it.
Now, therefore, pay it at once, or fear the wrath of Persia.” Then
the Tiger of Darius the Mede, spake: “O king, forasmuch as in
past years thou hast served the king, and as perchance thy land
has suffered from famine and war, thy king and friend, Darius,
forgives thee freely thy past tribute by my mouth.” But the herald
of the Empire of the World added: “On this condition only, that
thou payest over to me three sacks full of Grecian earth in token
of thy obedience to the great Emperor, and to show that hereafter
thy tribute shall not fail.”

For a short time there was silence in the great hall, and then
Alexander spake out: “Fair father and lord, suffer me to answer
for thee.” Then turning to the heralds, “Return,” said he, “return
to your people and to your master, and bid him to send no more
messages here of this matter, for know that Philip hath a son grown
that yields to no man, and obeys no lord. Tell him that the land
of Macedon which in times past yielded him wealth so freely is now
barren, and will give him henceforth no tribute, come what may.”
These words and more he said, yet he departed not from the courtesy
that beseemeth great lords, and the heralds wondered at his speech,
and greatly they praised him to his father. But Alexander sought
out the herald of the Sun and gave him a fair jewel, and said to
him that it was to retain him against the day when he should be
emperor in his turn.

It must be said that these heralds had gone through all the lands
subject to the Emperor of Persia, for they had a secret errand
from Darius. Now Darius had no son, and but one fair daughter,
Roxana by name, and he was minded to marry her to one of the
king’s sons of the lands, so the heralds were straitly charged to
get the portraits of the princes and kings, and in their train
was a skilled painter. Thus it fell that during the three days of
guesting the painter drew a likeness of the prince exactly his
height and size, and it was taken back to Darius with the other
portraits, that the Emperor might choose the prince who should
marry his daughter, and succeed him in the empire. And after the
three days of hostage the heralds took their leave of King Philip,
and went their way, and in due time they arrived at the court of
Darius, the proud king of Persia, and there they told him how his
tribute was lost, and how Philip’s son had spoken.

In Macedon meanwhile many things had happened, for it was told
Philip that all the land of Armenia had revolted against him, and
that the earls and princes were in arms, so Alexander gathered a
host and marched against them, and, shortly to tell, he laid waste
all the land of the rebels. But while he had marched away a worse
thing fell to Philip, for a prince of the land, Pausanius, son of
Cerastes, who dwelt in the marches of Macedon, and was one of his
noblest knights, rose against him. And this was the reason of his
rebellion:--For many years this lord had loved the queen Olympias,
and when Philip put her away he had come to the feast of the
king’s new marriage to defy him and to take her away, but when
Alexander restored her to her place he departed sorrowful, and the
love in his heart burned up, till at the last he summoned all his
friends to make war on Philip, if by any means he might kill him,
and carry off the fair queen to be his wife.

Now Philip gathered together all his men and went out to war with
Pausanius, but the folk that were with him were few, and when they
met in the field fear fell on him, and he turned and fled to his
castle. Then all men shouted when they saw that the great Philip
had shewn his back, and Pausanius sprung out of the ranks on his
proud steed, and speeding after the king struck him through the
back to the breast and bore him to the earth, and there he lay on
the highway half dead. Then Pausanius rode on, and all Philip’s men
fell back, for they were sore troubled when they saw their king
wounded to death. So the prince came to the castle, and joy was in
his heart, for he thought to bring out the fair queen and to lead
her away. But in the heat of his joy Alexander returned victorious
from Armenia with the nobles of Macedon, and when he heard the
noise of the weapons he spurred into the town. Now the queen had
shut the door of the castle-keep, and when the noise of the host
was heard she flew to the window at the top, and by the arms and
spoil she knew it was her son returned victorious. Then the queen
called to her son with a loud voice, “O son, who shall never be
conquered, avenge and help thy mother in her need,” and Alexander
heard her, and wrath rose in his heart. But when Pausanius heard
that Alexander had come, he came armed out of the palace, and with
him a host of mighty men, and the hosts met in mid-field; yet short
was the fight, for Alexander swung out his sharp sword and with one
blow struck him dead, and all his men gave up their weapons to the
noble conqueror. Then came one and told him that his father lay
wounded on the highway, and Alexander rushed forth and found him as
one near death, and he fell down by his side and wept bitterly. But
the old king said, “Ah, son Alexander, now am I near my end, but
yet am I glad to have lived long enough to see my slayer so soon
killed. Well be thou that thou hast avenged me.” Then he raised up
his head and looked at his son, but the effort was too much for
him, and with one groan he died.

The tale tells of how Alexander grieved for the death of Philip
as one grieves for the loss of his father, and of the burial of
the old king: how he was borne on men’s shoulders to bale, how his
barons and knights followed him as he was laid to rest in his own
land, and how all men of the land, rich and poor, noble and simple,
grieved for the loss of the great king. The next day Alexander
sat on his throne, a bright gold crown studded with gems on his
head, and in his hand the sceptre of his father. Then the heralds
proclaimed that all the court should draw near, and that all men
should do their liege homage to him, and they came at his call,
and all men acknowledged him as lord on their bended knees, and
Alexander put off his crown from him and laid it on the throne,
and rose up and spoke to his people in this wise: “Fair lords, I
will in no wise be contrary to your wills, nor to your deeds. But I
show to you that I hate frauds and malice, and as I have loved you
during my father’s life, so will I do in time to come. And I both
counsel and pray you that ye dread the gods, and obey them; and
that ye choose for king him that shall best provide for the good
estate of his people, and that shall be most courteous and merciful
to poor folk, him that will best keep justice and the right of the
feeble against the mighty, and him that most boldly shall put him
in array to destroy your enemies; for such ought to be chosen king
and none other.”

Now when the lords of the land had heard his reasons abovesaid,
and considered his great discretion, wit, and understanding, they
marvelled greatly, and answered him thus: “We have heard and
understand thy great reasons, and have received thy good counsels,
and therefore we will and beseech thee that thou reign over us, and
have the lordship upon us. During thy life may there be none who
shall deserve to be our king rather than thou.” And thus they chose
him to be their king, and crowned him, and gave him their troth,
and prayed the gods to bless and maintain him.

That night as Alexander lay on his bed he dreamed, and in his
dream he saw Anectanabus, the wise Egyptian, come to him; on his
head were two ram’s horns, and his coat was brown. It seemed that
he came to him as he lay, and put his hand on his shoulder and
said, “Stay thou not in this land of Macedon, but go forth into
all lands, for thou shalt conquer them, and they shall be subject
to thee, and thou shalt not die, except on a soil of iron, beneath
a sky of gold.” Then came to him one dressed in robes of blue and
purple and gold, covered with all manner of embroidered figures,
and on his head was a strange crown of gold and pearls and precious
stones, and he said, “The God whom I serve shall teach thee to
destroy the empire of the Persians.” And last there came to him a
very fair lady, tall and graceful, and she looked on him with love,
and said, “O Alexander, my heart’s lord, when thou hast overcome
the Persians, indeed thou shalt reign over them, and I shall be thy
queen and lady-love. Let this be the sign between thee and me, that
we meet first at the feast of the Lord of Persia.”



As to the giving in marriage of the daughter of Darius, the Emperor
of Persia, it is to be told that on a set day the wise men of the
land came before him, and the painter brought out to them the
portraits he had made, and they examined them but found none that
was worthy to rule, for one was covetous, and another quarrelsome,
and a third given to much speaking, and these faults the wise men
read in the faces on the parchment. Then they came to the likeness
of Alexander and all men said “This man is born to be lord of men”
and they brought it before Darius, and he sent for his daughter
Roxana, and made her stand by the picture, and when she did so, she
was taller than the figure painted thereon. Then Darius turned
away and said nought, but shook his head, and Roxana took with her
the cast-away drawing and bore it to her own rooms, and kept it
safe; and she vowed offerings to the gods if they would make this
man her lord and husband.

But Alexander gathered together all the warriors of the land, and
made them a speech: “Lo, barons of Macedon, Thrace, and Thessaly,
and all true Greeks, how like you now your liege lord: look on my
face and let fear depart: hold up your hearts, and flee from no
alien while Alexander lives. The gods have granted me that all the
barbarians shall obey me: and there shall be no nation so rich or
great under heaven that my name shall not be honoured there, for
we of Greece shall be praised and feared over the wide world. Now,
then, prepare ye for war; he who has arms of his own, trusty and
good, let him take them; he who has them not, let him come to me,
and I will furnish him for battle.”

Then answered him with one voice all the old knights and peers of
his father’s army: “Sire, we have fought often in hard fields with
Sir Philip, your father, and many winters have gone over our heads;
now our force fails us and our flesh is weak, for be the flower
never so fresh it fades at the last. Sir, all the days of our youth
are long past, we are over-travelled and tired, our heads are white
and too weak to bear the helmet or to seek adventures of arms.
Excuse us, Lord, we pray, and take with thee younger men, stout in
battle, and fit to deal heavy strokes.”

“Nay, by my crown,” said the king, “I cannot spare my old men; an
army of young men will often break their line in battle, trusting
to their own strength. I choose the older men who do all their
works by plan and counsel.” And the old knights yielded to his
wishes, and all men praised his wisdom.

Now the time had come when kings go out to war, and Alexander took
ship from the coast of Greece and sailed towards Italy. So at
the first his army turned towards Chalcedon, a strong and mighty
city, and he besieged it. And when the men of the city fought but
faintly, Alexander rode up to the walls and cried out with a loud
voice: “O men of Chalcedon, either fight bravely or yield up your
town without delay”; and they of the city were so fearful that
at the sound of his voice they owned him for master, and all the
land took him for lord. Then Alexander sailed into Italy and took
tribute of all men; even the mighty Romans sent him sixty thousand
gold pieces, and Europe was subject to him.

From Europe the king sailed over the great sea into Africa, and
many days he sought an enemy and found none, for the fame of
him had gone before him. On a day he sought a temple of the god
Ammon with his earls and mighty men, and there happed on the way
a marvel. For it fell as he was going, that a hart with a huge
head leaped forth before them; hardly had man ever seen so noble a
beast. Then said Alexander: “Lo, the emperor of harts, slay him ere
he escape.” And all men shot, but so fleet was the hart that none
could reach him. Then Alexander bent a bow, and with a mighty shout
let fly at him, and the arrow struck him and pierced him through,
though all men deemed that the hart was far out of bowshot. Then
his men wondered greatly, and the country folk who saw the shot
deemed that Alexander was indeed some god, and the name of the
place is called in their tongue Bowshot to this day. But the king
went into the temple and offered great gifts.

Then went Alexander on his way and came to a very fruitful land,
a land with twelve rivers running into the sea. And on a night as
he lay on his bed he saw in a dream the god of the land, tall and
fair, clad in a chestnut-brown robe, wearing on his head a gold
crown, and having two horns like ram’s horns. And as he dreamed
the god said to him, pointing to a high mountain: “King Alexander,
canst thou lift yonder hill and carry it on thy shoulder.” “Nay,”
said Alexander, “who is there under heaven who might try?” “King,”
said the god, “your name shall ever be remembered, till yonder hill
is removed from its place.” Then Alexander laughed out with joy,
and he said to the vision: “I beseech thee now, O Shining One, tell
me as at this time ere thou pass away how I shall die, and when my
day shall come?” Then the god looked on him sadly, and said: “Truly
I hold it better that a man should not seek to know that which
shall come upon him; yet since thou hast asked me, I tell thee that
thou shalt conquer all nations, and die by poison, and thy years
shall be finished ere thou reach middle age. Ask me no more of this
as now; far in the Land of the East thou shalt be told the end of
thy days by number.” And with these words the light in the room
flickered and blew sideways, and Alexander started up, and behold
there was no man with him. Then in the morning the king ordered his
men to build him there a city, and that city remains to this day,
and the name of it is Alexandria.

Now when the city was built, and men from Greece had come thither,
with merchants from Tyre and from far lands, to dwell, to buy, and
to sell, Alexander went forth with his host through all the land of
Egypt, and the men of that land feared him as one of the high gods.
And as he came to a certain city he found in it an image of a king
carved in black stone, a crown on its head, and a royal sceptre in
its hand; but below it were many words carven--the words which the
god had told the men of the land many years before. Then Alexander
asked the chief men of the city: “Sirs, what statue is this, and
what be the words that are written beneath it?” And the men of that
place answered him: “Truly, O king, this man was Anectanabus, once
king of all this land; yet because he was bidden of the gods he
left us, and the writing below tells us that he shall come again
and free us from the Persians, and make us a great people. And some
men say that it shall be a son of his that shall do these great
things.” Then Alexander knew that this was that same Egyptian who
had been his fosterer, and he said to the men of the place: “I knew
the man, and for his sake I will make ye free from all men, rich
and happy shall ye be.” And he fell at the feet of the statue and
kissed it, and they stood by him in silence.

But on a day it was told him that they of Tyre had destroyed a ship
of Alexandria, and had spoken evil of him, and Alexander marched
into Syria with all his host to subdue it and to conquer Tyre. Now
Tyre was a fair city, built on an island in a bay, with the sea
washing up to its walls. And it was so strong that no army had ever
taken it, and so rich that its merchants were princes and hired
armies to defend them, and all the country round owned the men of
Tyre as their lords. But they of the city said: “What king shall
injure Tyre, for our walls defend us, and our ships sail every sea,
and bring to us the good things of earth and food and drink, and
our wealth is great, and all men shall serve us for it?”

But Alexander and his host were marching towards them, and one
day the men of Tyre saw the army of Alexander on the plain before
them, for he had taken two strong cities, Damascus and Sidon, and
had made all the land subject to him. And as they looked the camp
seemed to grow and tents were raised, and no man could count their
number. So Alexander’s army was before the town, and he thought
that he should take it easily, but not a few troubles were suffered
before Tyre submitted to him.

Now it fell that many days had been spent in fruitless assaults on
the city before Alexander found out that its walls were too high
for him to take it by storm. Everywhere were turrets and towers of
defence, and the wild waves of the sea outside beat on the walls to
as much purpose as the army of Alexander. Then men began to murmur
and complain first of one thing, then of another, and Alexander
ordered them to construct a great castle beside the city in the
sea, and raise it up to the height of the walls of the city, that
he might prevent ships coming into it to bring food and riches. But
when the tower was nearly finished the army was in sore strait, for
food was wanting in the camp. Princes, dukes and fierce knights
were famishing, yea, all men were starving.

Then Alexander pitied his men, and resolved to get provision and
help for them, so he sent special messengers to those tribes which
were near, bidding them to send him help both in men and in food.
And among others he sent to Jaddua, chief bishop in Jerusalem, and
admonished him to send fresh men for the fight and food for the
folk that were with him, and to pay all the tribute due to Darius
to the Greeks. And he told his scribe to put into the letter gentle
words, saying that it was better to be the helpers of the men of
Macedon than to be the servants of Darius.

Now when the messengers came to Jerusalem they were received by the
chief bishop in a great hall, and when they gave him the king’s
letter he went away into an upper room to read it by himself. But
when he had read it he stayed a little, and then coming down the
steps into the hall he gave this answer to the envoys: “Sirs,
return to Alexander, and say thus: Many years have passed since I
made oath never to harm Persia, nor to pass in arms against Darius
all the days of his life.” When Alexander received this answer he
was very wroth, and he vowed to teach the Jews whose orders they
should obey; yet he would not leave the siege of Tyre, but sent
away a part of his army to obtain food for him and the rest of the



Now the chief of the band he sent was Meleager, one of Alexander’s
most valiant knights, and he had with him five hundred lances and
their men-at-arms. His orders were to ride through the valley to
the city of Kadesh, which belonged to Tyre, to drive together all
the cattle and flocks in the plains, and to bring them to the army
of Alexander. So he set out, and with him was Sir Sampson, a bold
knight of the land, who knew all the country round about. They were
so successful that they gathered together a host of beasts beyond
number, and soon they turned towards Tyre with delight in their
hearts. But before they had travelled a mile all the country was
alarmed, and rose in arms against them, and a very valiant knight,
Theosell, came riding out to meet them, and to prevent their
getting away before the host appeared. Now Theosell and his men
were armed in plate, and they made such a sudden rush on the Greeks
that they struck many down and overrode them, so that those who
fell to the ground never rose after, and their blows were mighty.
Then Meleager was moved with wrath when he saw the Greeks turn and
flee, and mounted as he was on a young horse he seized his spear
and spurred against the enemy, striking great blows. Sampson, on
the other hand, broke his lance at the first encounter, and struck
out right and left with the broken end, hewing down his foes;
also Aristes, a noble knight, was one of those who were chief in
their resistance to the foe, and Caulus had no less an enemy than
Theosell himself. The first stroke of Caulus’ sword fell on the
helmet of Theosell, and struck down through the wooden crest--the
great wild boar’s head--down into the helmet, and before Theosell
had recovered from the blow a great swing of the sword struck off
his head. Now when this noble knight was fallen to the ground all
the folk that followed him, and were able, fled away, and Meleager
and his men rejoiced that they had slain the leader of their foes
and had won the field.

Suddenly they were interrupted by the sound of a horn, and they
saw an army marching out of Kadesh against them under the command
of Beritinus, a great lord of the country. The tale tells that
there were with him thirty thousand lances clad in plate armour
and mounted, with others following on foot, so that clouds of dust
covered them, and the earth seemed to shake at their tread. Then
the Macedonians were sore dismayed to see such a great host come
out against them, and Meleager was in great mind to send a message
to Alexander, asking him for aid before they joined battle. But
there was no man who would go on such an errand, or leave his
comrades in danger of death, and all men set their faces to live
and die together.

The first onset of the foe was a fierce one, and not few of them,
with their chief Beritinus, met their death, but the Macedonians
lost Sampson and many another noble. Then began a long struggle
between the few Macedonians and their foes, till at last they were
beaten down to a little group of tired, wounded, and bleeding
soldiers, breathless and faint, hardly able to strike a blow, yet
resolved not to flee. Then the brave knight Aristes, although sore
wounded himself, slew one of the enemy, and, leaping on his horse,
spurred off to Alexander for help before all the little band was
destroyed. Little need to tell that the king was sore grieved, and
gathering together in haste as many of his knights as he could,
he rode off to the rescue of Meleager through the valley, leaving
Tyre and the camp. And ever as he went his eyes dropped tears as he
thought of his good knights slain, and most of all he grieved for
Sampson, whom he loved well.

But while Alexander was riding through the valley away from Tyre
the men of the town were busy. He had finished a great tower in the
water over against the city wall, and had left a guard within it to
keep it till his return. But Sir Balaan of Tyre, one of the chief
men of the town, prepared great machines and engines for casting
stones into the tower, and when he had driven the guard from its
walls, he sallied out of the town with a host of armed men and
attacked it. Then the men of the tower defended it sharply, and
sent out showers of darts and great stones. But Balaan fought so
bitterly, and sent such a cloud of stones, that none of the Greeks
could show themselves on the tower, and his slaves brought engines
and threw down the top of the tower and tilted it into the sea,
and all the men in it were slain. Then he got boats and barges and
attacked the bottom of the castle, and broke down all its lower
part, and threw the heaps into the sea, and the winds and the sea
helped him, and a storm arose and beat the pieces small, so that
not one beam remained fastened to another. Thus this great work was
destroyed in a day, and Balaan returned to the city and barred the
gate as before.

By this time Alexander had come out of the valley and reached
the plain of Kadesh. Before him he saw here and there a few of
his men fighting in scattered groups, while others of the enemy
were collecting the cattle and sheep to drive them home again.
All over the plain he saw his men struck down surrounded by heaps
of the enemy. Then his eyes flamed out with wrath at the sight
of their danger, and he struck spurs into Bucephalus his horse,
and springing out with a spear rode straight at the thickest of
his foes; and ever as he rode he struck them to earth, so that
through the thickest of the throng his way was marked by a clear
wide path and his nobles rode after him. And when his lance broke
he drew out his long sword and struck down all before him till no
man of the enemy was on the plain who was not stricken down and a
prisoner. Then he turned to those of his men who were still alive
and comforted them with fair words, and much he praised their
valour, and then bound up their wounds, and the king left order
that the dead should be buried under stone or marble monuments, and
gathering together the prey, great and small, flocks and herds, he
returned with his men to Tyre.

The tale tells that as he rode out of the valley and came into view
of Tyre his first look was towards the great tower he had built,
and sore was he grieved when he found that it had been destroyed,
and that his soldiers that were in it had perished; and all the
Macedonians mourned, and they trusted no longer that Tyre would be
taken. But that same night Alexander was sleeping by himself in his
tent, and he thought that he saw a great vine before him, and that
he put out his hand and plucked one grape out of a ripe cluster.
Then he flung it on the floor and put his foot on it, and when he
had broken it, lo! wine flowed out, so much that it was a wonder to
see. In the morning, when the king rose, he called to him a wise
man, and bade him tell what the dream should mean; and the wise man
said: “O king, fear not; Tyre is thine own; for this berry that
thou didst break is the town of Tyre, and thou shalt tread under
thy feet its towers within few days.” Then the king rejoiced, and
set about to make many plans, if by any means he might come within
the walls of Tyre.

Soon another tower was in building, right in the same place as the
first had been, half as large again and higher than the town-walls,
firmly anchored and fastened so that it could not move, close
against the sea-wall of the town. And when the tower was built
Alexander clad himself in armour of steel, its plates shining in
the sun, and went to the top of it and looked over the town and
saw its walls, and then he looked to his camp and saw the Greeks,
and he resolved to make no more delay but to take it by storm at
once. So he ordered the Macedonians to make ready for the battle,
and when they saw him on the walls of Tyre to lose no time, but
each man to follow him. Then began the beating of drums and the
loud blare of the trumpets till the town and camp rang with their
brazen strokes, and all men rushed to the assault of the walls.
The archers came within bowshot of the walls, covered with great
shields which they held before them, each shield covering two men,
and shot keenly at every mark that showed itself, and their arrows
were deadly as adders; nor were they of the town less eager to
return their bowshot, and from the walls they cast great stones
among the Greeks. Suddenly the gates of the town opened, and the
Tyrians made a sally out, wounding and killing many of the archers,
for they were good spearmen, and could cast the dart.

But Alexander and his princes had passed up into the tower, and
some of the lords were armed with lances, and some bore huge
two-handed swords, and many carried the battle-axe, and a few
had cross-bows which shot great bolts of steel. Then from the
tower they passed on to the sea-wall of Tyre and fought their
way among a crowd of foes, Alexander ever the first. Long were
it to tell of the fight and of his valour, for they of the town
worthily withstood him, and ere they made sure their footing on
the town-wall, many knights had been stricken down backward into
the deep water. But when they saw that, the Greeks became maddened
with rage, and no wound could make them pause, and as they obtained
a footing they fell to shooting with cross-bows, and with their
great catapults, each stone like a man’s head, and the yeomen
got out great crowbars and began to tear down the turrets and
battlements; while the knights hurried forward beating down their
opponents. At last a breach in the walls was made, and then the
host of Alexander rushed into the town, eager to revenge the death
of so many of their comrades, and the men of Tyre thronged thick
to the wall to guard the entrance. But Alexander forced his way
through them all and over the broken wall into the city, and the
first man he met was Balaan. Short was the fight, for one stroke of
his mighty sword laid Balaan low, and he was thrown into the sea
beneath the walls. Then when the Tyrians were driven from the walls
the Greeks clambered up them with all manner of ladders, on each
step a cluster, and those who had no ladders climbed up the stones
without them, and in short time Tyre was in their hands, for after
the death of Sir Balaan no man could lead the men of the town or
give them heart to fight.

Then Alexander commanded to cast down the walls of Tyre, and when
it was done it came into his mind to punish the men of Jerusalem
for their refusal to send him help against Tyre, and his army moved
down towards the city. And on his way he conquered the land of the
Philistines, and burned down the city of Gaza.



When the word was brought to Jerusalem that Tyre was taken, and
that Alexander was on the march towards the city to punish it for
its disobedience, there was heavy grief and woe, and Jaddua the
bishop was in great awe, for he said to himself: “Now have I but a
few days ago refused to obey this great warrior, and when he the
most needed help I denied it him; better had it been for me that
anything should have happened before I grieved this man, and did
not his command. Woe is me and my city.” And Jaddua called together
the men of the city, and said: “Now is Alexander at hand, and will
destroy our city and us unless heaven help us.”

So men went through the streets, and it was ordered that all the
inhabitants of the city should fast for three days, men, women
and children, and that they should appear in the temple and cry
with clean hearts to the King of Heaven to keep them safe from
this mighty conqueror. And so it was that the whole city fell to
prayers and fasting, and woe was on every face. But on the third
night, when all the city was asleep and the sacrifices ended, then
a shining one stood by the bishop and spoke joyful words to him,
saying: “Sir Bishop, I bring thee tidings of bliss and solace. I am
sent to thee from the Master of men to bid thee be not cast down.
Now, therefore, rise up early and array all thy city, its streets
and its houses, in fair attire, open its gates wide, let every man
be apparelled in clean and milk-white clothes. And as for thee and
thy priests and prelates, clothe thee in the dress of thy rule, and
when this conqueror comes, go ye forth to meet him. And fear not to
greet him nobly, for he must ride and reign over the round world to
the day of his death.”

Then when the day broke the bishop rose and called together all the
chief of the people, and told them his vision and what the voice
had bade him do; and all his clergy and the city assented that so
it should be, that the city should be adorned and that all men
should go forth to meet this their sovereign. So all the people
hurried home and brought out their richest treasure to adorn the

The broad streets were arched over with awnings of rich and rare
stuffs. The ground was covered with Tartary silk and with taffeta,
that so noble a ruler should not tread on bare earth. The pavement
was covered over with woven stuffs, and canopies of fine linen
were stretched on high over the gates of the city to keep off the
heat of the sun, and they were gathered on either side with silken
ropes, and drawn back like curtains, while the houses were hung
with Indian stuff of bright blue embroidered with stars, even to
the eaves. Thus was the town adorned, and when the gates were
opened, men without might deem that they looked in on one of the
seven heavens.

And now the people of the city began to come out in procession,
clothed in their richest robes. First came the bishop with the
priests of the temple, dressed in royal magnificence. He wore under
all a long robe covered with birds and beasts embroidered in blue
and purple, and on that a robe with gold skirts, with many shining
stones sprinkled all over, and set stiff with sapphires and other
gems, and powdered with pearls of the purest hue. Over this he cast
on a cope of chestnut colour with rich ribands of gold, and round
the hem a border of violet flowers, embroidered with satyrs and
fauns and the wild beasts of the forest. And on his head he wore
a great mitre forged out of pure gold, bordered with pearls, and
covered with such precious stones that no man might look upon it,
for it struck out shimmering shafts of light like the beams of the
bright sun. And with the bishop came the doctors of law, the judges
of the city, and they were all dressed in tunics of scarlet silk
brought from Tartary, and were loaded with their golden chains of
office; and after them the clergy, all clothed in their brightest
dress. Such a sight had never been seen before, nor will it be seen

After the bishop and his attendants the whole city came in order,
Mayor, merchants, masters and men, widows and wives, all came with
their companies, and each of them dressed in white linen pure as
the driven snow. Then a company of children came forth with bells
and banners and blazing torches; some bore censers with silver
chains and burning spices within, whose smoke rose to the clouds,
two bore a cushion of brown velvet embroidered with pearls to
be held before the bishop for his book to rest on, others bore
candlesticks of gold and of silver, and the relics of the temple,
the richest of the world. And all the procession went on till they
came to a little place outside the town whence they could see the
temple, and there they abode the coming of the king.

And now they heard the tramp of feet and the distant sound of
arms and horses, for all men kept silence in fear and doubt and
half-hope, and they knew not how soon they might be ridden down
and slain or made slaves, or whether they should indeed be saved
as the bishop had told them. Then they saw Alexander riding up
with a host of dukes and princes and earls, and at the same time
the king caught sight of their array, and when Alexander saw this
multitude of men in milk-white clothes he thought it a marvel, and
he turned and saw the crowd of priests in maniples and stoles, and
the doctors of the law and the prelates in their robes; and amidst
them all, the chief amongst them, the bishop, dressed in his array
of gold and purple and fine linen; and the king’s eyes fixed on him
and looking up he beheld on his mitre a plate of fine gold, and on
it was graven the great name of The Maker of Men. Then the king
commanded his knights to approach no nearer on pain of their lives,
but all, great and small, to remain behind, and he spurred on his
horse till he came up to the spot where the bishop was standing,
and then jumping down he fell on his knees before the bishop on the
cold earth, and beating his breast worshipped the Holy Name that he
saw written on his head.

Then all the people bowed themselves down before Alexander as he
stood up, and meekly kneeling they cried with a keen voice: “Long
may he live, long may he live.” Then the fairest lady of them
all came out and cried: “Lo, Alexander, the noblest lord under
heaven, long may he live, the mighty emperor, the wielder of all
the world, the mightiest on the earth.” And all the people of
the city answered her with one voice: “Long may he live, long may
he live.” Then stepped out a man and he cried out: “Lo, he that
overcometh all men, who shall be overcome never; The greatest, the
most glorious, that ever was made by God.” And all the people cried
out at once: “Long may he live, long may he live.”

Now there were with Alexander many of the rulers of the land of
Syria who had yielded up their lands to him, and when they saw him
bow down, as they thought, to the bishop of the Jews, they held it
a great wonder. Then Parmeon, one of Alexander’s princes, went up
to him, and asked him why he bowed down to the bishop of Jews, when
all other men bowed before him instead. And Alexander answered him:
“Nay, I neither hailed him nor bowed down to him, but to the King
of Heaven alone, the Father of gods and of men. For many days ago,
when I was in Macedon, one appeared to me in such a dress and shape
as this man now wears. And I mused in my mind how I might win Asia,
and he bade me fear not, but that all the land should be mine, and
when I saw this man, verily he seemed the same god who had spoken
to me. Now have I good hope, by the help of this God whose Name is
written yonder, to conquer Darius and to destroy the empire of the

And now the bishop had greeted Alexander full lowly, and all men
had done him homage, and they prayed the king to enter into the
town, and Alexander marvelled to see how fair a city it was, and
the people of the land received him with reverence and joy as he
were the leader of them all, or as one come down from the gods.
Then went they through the town, and the bishop brought them to the
temple that the great knight and king, Dan Solomon, had built, and
the wise men of the temple came forth, and Alexander heard of their
lore. Then came one of the oldest of them all and spoke words to
the bishop, and he arose and bowed down before Alexander and said:
“O king, verily there are words concerning thee and thy deeds in
the books of our holy place,” and he ordered the temple guardians,
and they brought out a huge roll, a broad book full of dark sayings
of the times to be, and there was the saying of a mighty seer, one
Daniel by name, and Alexander read how that the men out of Greece
should utterly destroy the people of Persia.

Thereupon was Alexander merry of heart, for he deemed that the
time had come, and that he should indeed beat down Persia, and
he ordered his men to fetch great gifts, and to each man he gave
chains of gold, and jewels of pearls and of rubies, and to the
bishop he gave store of bezants, great round heavy golden coins,
such as bishops love, and he showed him a heap of golden talents,
but the bishop feared to take such riches. Then said the king: “O
Bishop, ask what thou wilt in this world, anything mayest thou ask
that I may give, and I will grant it thee ere I go hence.” And the
bishop bowed him down to the ground and said: “O King Alexander,
this thing of all others I deeply desire, durst I name it, that
thou wouldst grant us the use of our law, as our fathers before us
have obeyed it, and if it may be, grant us that we pay no tribute
for seven years, in memory of the joy of thy coming, then shall all
men pray for thee and serve thee, and, if I may but add one thing,
grant to those of Media and of Babylon that they may freely obey
our law.”

“That grant I thee,” said the king, “ask now for thyself, and be
served.” “Nay, lord, no more, if I may have your love and your
lordship while my life lasts,” said the bishop, and he and all men
meekly thanked Alexander. And Alexander appointed a lord to dwell
in the town, hear what men said, and be his viceroy, and the bishop
blessed him, and he departed into the cities near at hand, and all
of them came out to welcome him and to acknowledge him their lord.



But it fell that some of them of Tyre had fled into the court of
Darius, and they complained to him of their city destroyed, and
“all this,” said they, “we suffered because we obeyed the great
king, the Emperor Darius.” Then began the Emperor to question them
concerning this Alexander, what manner of man he was, what was his
stature and his strength, whether he were brave or no. And they,
willing to bring shame on the name of their enemy, shewed Darius a
painting of him on parchment. But when Darius looked on it he burst
into laughter, and all men smiled, and he said: “Well for ye, ye
men of Tyre, if ye were beaten by such a man as this, for never saw
I such a warrior,” for they had painted him a little shrivelled
creature, more like an ape than a man, with long arms, and one leg
longer than the other, blinking and stupid, the most miserable
object that had ever been seen. And Darius drove the men of Tyre
from his presence, and asked his wise men concerning Alexander, who
and what manner of man he was; and they told him how he was the
king’s son of Macedon, and how they had chosen him as fit to be the
husband of Roxana, and how he had rejected him because of his small

Then Darius bade search for his portrait and bring it before him
that he might look on him; but when they sought it they found it
not among the other likenesses, for it is to be said that Roxana
the Queen had borne it with her and treasured it up with her chief
treasures. So he thought within himself that he would prove the
heart and wit of the Greek, and he commanded, and they brought him
presents for Alexander, and first was a ball covered with gold;
“for,” said he, “he must have something to play with;” then he
added a hat, “and,” said he, “this is better than a crown;” and
last they brought him a head-covering made of twigs and osiers;
“this is better for such an one as thou, O Alexander, than a bright
steel helm.” And Darius fell back upon his throne, laughing, and
ordered messengers to take them to Alexander, bearing with them a
letter under his broad seal.

So Darius called for his scribes, and they came before him, and he
ordered them to write a letter to Alexander, and this was the form
of the letter he wrote:

“DARIUS, the Emperor, king of kings, lord of lords, predecessor of
princes, equal to the Sun, the lord of the earth, to Alexander, our
subject and our servant.

“For it is reported to us that thou, through the vanity and
vainglory of thy heart, hast got together warriors to lay waste
parts of our kingdom, and hast now with thee a number of wretches,
thieves and vagabonds, and by their means dost think to wield at
thy will the power of Persia:

“Now, therefore, be warned in time, for thou art weak before me,
even if thou hadst gathered against my empire all the men in the
world outside it, for my people are so many that they are like to
the stars of heaven in number. Submit in time; the Persians are
famed to be unbeaten.

“It is told me that thou, a dwarf and weakling, dost covet the rule
of all the lands under the wide heavens, and that, like a storm of
wind-blown snow, driven hither and thither, thou passest over all
lands with a train of ruffians behind thee. I have not yet armed my
men against thee; beware, when my hand shall be raised, thy life is
done. Turn again, boy, to thy mother’s care; take these toys I send
thee. Know that the riches of Persia are so great, that a heap of
its gold would shut out the light of the sun, and blame thyself for
all the evils that shall fall on thee if thou disobey.

“Now, therefore, return at once to Macedon, or, not as the son of
Philip, but as a leader of a band of petty thieves shalt thou be

And when the letter was written the bearer of the kind’s seal
came forward, and the letter was closed, and cords of green silk
run through the edges, and dipped in wax, and the great seal was
stamped upon the wax, and it was given to the messengers of the
king, with strait commandment that they should tarry neither
night nor day until the king’s letter was given into the hands of

[Illustration: When he saw the letter, his heart was filled with
rage nevertheless he read it out in the hearing of his knights &
nobles & they were moved with fear.]

Now, Alexander was standing in the midst of his barons when the
messengers of Darius arrived, and as their commandment was urgent,
he bade them to be brought to him at once. And when he saw the
letter his heart was filled with rage, nevertheless he read it out
in the hearing of his knights and nobles; and when these heard it
their hearts were moved with fear of the mighty words of Darius.
So Alexander looked on them and he saw that they were afraid, and
he spoke to them: “What now! my worthy warriors, my bold knights
and barons, the best under heaven that ever king had, let it never
be told against you that the proud boasting of a letter of Darius
brought you to doubt yourselves, else were it shame indeed. Look
you, now, every day we ride through a village you may hear as
loud a yelping from any cur at a cottage door, but loud as they
bark they never bite. But methinks his letter should rather make
you rejoice, when he tells you what treasure of gold he has, for
it needs but to be bold and that treasure shall be yours.” And
then the anger in the king’s heart broke out, and turning to the
messengers of Darius, he said: “But for ye, that dare to bring such
threats to a Greek, ye shall learn the anger of Alexander. Take
them by the throats,” said he to the attendants, “and for their
master’s sake, hang them on the gallows.”

Then the messengers were amazed, and with a keen cry called to
Alexander: “Alas, O king, what fault lies in us, if it please thee,
that we should die thus suddenly.” “The sayings of your sovereign
lord,” said he, “force me to such deeds as I would never have
done else: lo, now, he calls me a thief in this letter.” But they
fell on their knees before him and said: “O king, Darius himself
dictated those words, for he knew not of your knighthood, nor of
your strength, nor of your worthiness, and so he wrote boldly; but
grant us our lives, and leave to go, and we will show him all your
power and your might.” So Alexander forgave them and made them a
great feast in his own tent, and made much of them, so that he
won their hearts; and they said to him: “Sir Alexander, send with
us, we pray thee, but one thousand of your knights, and we will
deliver Darius into your hands.” But the king answered them with
little love: “Rejoice in your feast, O messengers; verily no knight
of mine shall be sent to aid in betraying your lord.”

But in the night, one of the Persian messengers, a little man and a
crooked, having one arm longer than the other, came to the tent of
the king, and when he was admitted he asked that all men might be
put forth. So they were left alone, and the messenger drew from his
breast a leathern roll, and in it was a blue embroidered silk bag
of fair work, the lion on one side and the rising sun on the other,
and he laid it in the hand of the king. Then Alexander opened it,
and found within a scarf of green covered with fair half-open
flowers, and he looked on the messenger, and he answered: “O king,
the fairest dame in Persia sends thee this to the end that thou
mayest wear it in thy helm. One day, if the gods will, thou shalt
see her and know her name.” Then the messenger bowed low, and went
his way to his fellows, and all men slept.

The next day the messengers were called before Alexander and his
council, and a letter was given them, closely sealed up, to bear to
Darius. Now this was the form of the letter:

“I, ALEXANDER OF MACEDON, son and heir of Philip the defender of
Greece, and of Olympias the fair, to thee Darius, prince of the
Persians, the conqueror of every land--as you say yourself--thus
write under my seal.

“Let no man despise any neighbour who seems to be smaller and
poorer than himself, since the lowest is often raised to the
heavens, and the proudest ground to dust. And thou, Emperor of the
World as thou callest thyself, dost dishonour to thy name when thou
sendest such gifts out of Persia. Thou speakest as if thou wert one
of the gods that cannot die. I am but a mortal man, and will attack

“Thou hast destroyed thine own renown. If I am beaten, thou thyself
hast called me but a petty thief, and no honour shalt thou have:
if I overcome thee, the greater glory is mine, and men shall ever
tell how I have conquered a king, the greatest in the world.
Nevertheless I hope that one of thy tales is true, that of the
greatness of thy riches, for it has raised our hopes, and sharpened
our wits, and made us eager for battle, that we may the sooner
exchange our poverty for thy riches.

“But as for thy presents, know, O Darius, that the ball thou hast
sent represents the world, and thou hast handed over the mastery
of the world to me: the hollow hat held before the head when it
is bowed, shows that all kings shall bow before me: and this
headpiece of twigs is to say that ever shall I overcome, and be
overcome never. In the day of thy defeat, O Darius, remember my
interpretation of thy gifts.”

Then great gifts were given to the messengers, and they were sent
out of the camp to Darius, and Alexander made all his preparations
for the war against the Persians. But when Darius had read the
letter of Alexander, and heard the words of the messengers, he was
sore angered, and he made up his mind to fall on the Greeks and to
destroy the power of Alexander. So he wrote to two of his greatest
satraps, the duke Priam and the duke Antigonus, ordering them to
get their forces together and to go out and seize this insolent lad
who was so bold as to defy the army of the Persians, and who had
entered the borders of Asia with such a large number of followers.
“Then,” said Darius, “bring him bound to me, that he may be well
beaten with scourges and then I will sew him up in a mantle of
bright purple and send him to his mother. Since he is so proud, the
punishment of a child will be best for him, and when all is over he
may play at home at bowls or handball with his mother’s servants.”

Now this letter reached the dukes soon after they had fought a
great battle with Alexander’s men and had been defeated; so when
they had broken the king’s broad seal and turned the leaf to read
the letter, they looked on one another, and they thought that
Darius could not know what manner of man Alexander was, or how
hard it was to stand before him in battle. So Sir Priam the duke
wrote to Darius by a special messenger that this child, whom they
had been ordered to seize, had wasted all their lands, and had
passed through the province, and that when they had raised an army
to meet him, neither prince nor soldier could face him sword in
hand: and the letter ended by begging the king to come at once to
their aid with as many men as he could, that the honour of Persia
might not be put to shame.

So Darius called a council to advise him as to the best means of
meeting Alexander, but before they were met another messenger came
with tidings that the Greeks had crossed the river that was called
the boundary of Persia, and that they were now in the Emperor’s own
land. And when this was told the council all men wondered how that
Alexander should be so bold as to enter Persia, or to disobey the
letter of Darius, and they advised the king to write once again to
him, reproving him, and that if he still disobeyed, that he should
be crushed to the earth, and the king did so, for he knew not how
a man could disobey his order.

The tale tells that when this letter reached Alexander it found
him in great grief, for messengers had come from Macedon telling
that his mother was like to die, and Alexander had bidden his men
strike their tents and return home to Macedon. So the messengers
drew near trembling, and gave the letter of Darius to Alexander,
and with it was a glove full of poppy seeds, which are almost the
smallest of all seeds. So Alexander read the letter and he laughed
out, for Darius had told him that even the gods obeyed him on
earth, and now bade him return to Macedonia ere his wrath should
arise. “And as a token,” added Darius, “I send thee this glove full
of seeds, count them if thou canst, and thou hast the number of
knights in my army. But the seeds are numberless, and so are the
soldiers I rule.”

Then Alexander called to him the messengers, and said: “Hearken,
and tell the king that which you see and hear.” Then he took the
glove and poured out some of the seeds into his hand, and biting
them he said: “Here I see that the soldiers of Darius are passing
many, but they seem to be soft and feeble, as these seeds prove.
But be they soft or hard, it matters but little.” And he wrote
a letter to Darius telling him that though he was returning to
Macedon it was not on account of the threats of the Persians, but
because his mother was at point of death, and that he would return
with an army larger than before. “And in answer to thy glove full
of seeds, I send thee a purse full of black pepper, that thou mayst
see the comparison between the Persian and the Macedonian.”



The tale tells that when the messengers of Darius departed, loaded
with rich presents, to carry the message of Alexander to their
lord, Alexander and his host set out on their homeward way, and
passing through Arabia, a great army of Persians fell on them,
under the leadership of duke Amonta, the head of all that province.
Long were it to tell of this fight, for Amonta was one of the
bravest of the Persians, and it seemed that Alexander had found an
equal. Two days the fight had lasted, from the grey morning till
dark night; many were the noble knights overthrown on both sides,
and such showers of blood fell that the fetlocks of the horses were
covered with blood. But on the third day, the story tells that
in broad mid-day the battle was at its highest, when suddenly the
sky began to grow dark, and, looking up, men saw darkness over the
face of the sun. Then all men feared for the wrath of the gods, but
Alexander cried out to the Greeks with a mighty voice: “See, the
Greeks have conquered the sun of Persia,” and with a great shout,
the men of Macedon fell again on the Persians, and they turned and
fled from the field, and many of them were slain, struck from their
horses by the mighty blows of the Greeks. Then Amonta the duke was
borne away from the field by the mad rush of the frightened horses,
and his wounds were sore, so that he could not face the enemy, and
at the last he fled with the rest.

But so it was, that when he came to the Court of Darius, that he
found there the king’s messengers, who had just arrived from the
camp of Alexander, for they had ridden slowly with the letter and
the gifts. And Darius the emperor was seated on his daïs, holding
the letter in his hand unopened, and he questioned the messengers:
“What said he of the seeds I sent him?” Then the messengers
answered: “The king caught up a handful of them and bit them, and
he said, truly the Persians were many, but there was one thing that
pleased him, they were but soft.” Then Darius put forth his hand to
the purse and bit at one of the grains in it, and he said: “Truly,
be his men even as few as these, if they be but as keen and sharp,
all the world would be too weak to meet them in arms.”

Then the Duke Amonta spake up among the peers who were standing
round, and he said: “By your leave, my most gracious lord, this
king leads but few men, but never were there fiercer in the field
than they are. For I fell on them with an army greater than their
own by five thousand men, and yet they defeated us and slew many
fierce earls and brave knights, and threw down my banner. Three
days we fought with hard blows on either side, yet at the last
hardly did I escape unslain from their hands. Yet was Alexander
none the prouder for their victory, but he buried the dead Greeks
and Persians side by side in the grave with all honour.” Then
the King of Persia grieved for the death of his knights, but he
rejoiced more at the going of Alexander.

The march of Alexander took him on through Cilicia and over the
mountains of Taurus and into the land of Troy, and there he saw the
place where Troy had once been, and the famous river Scamander, and
grieved because there was no noble poet like Homer to tell of his
deeds. And at the last he came to Macedon, and there he found his
mother mended of her malady, and great was his joy. Then he stayed
with her some days rejoicing, and he got together fresh soldiers,
and set his face against the land of Persia, ready to begin a
journey from which he was never to return.

Now Alexander marched through the land of Greece, and the story
tells of many adventures which fell to his lot, for some cities
welcomed him gladly, and others closed their gates against him, and
once the horses of his army were like to have been lost for want
of forage, so that his knights feared, and murmured against him;
but the tale tells chiefly how he warred against Thebes and Athens,
and what there befell him. Now the town of Thebes was famous for
deeds of arms, and Alexander sent to the town to ask for four bold
knights to go with him to the war with Darius; but the folk of
Thebes shut the gates of the town, and bade him pass on if he did
not wish to meet his death at their hands. Then Alexander laughed
out in scorn and said: “Ye be brave men, O Thebans, the mightiest
on earth, and now ye have proffered war to my princes and to me.
Why shut ye your gates, for honour bids you come out and meet me in
the field to maintain your words?”

Then the siege of Thebes began: he placed four thousand archers
round the town, with orders to shoot at every wight that showed
himself on the walls; he set two thousand men, armed with coats
of mail and plate armour, to dig down the walls and buildings;
one thousand were told off to fire the gates of the town, and
three thousand were appointed to the engines of war. Alexander got
together too a body of slingers to help any of these that were
overpowered. Now when all things were set, the trumpets blew out
and the assault commenced. First the archers advanced, covered with
their broad shields, till they got within bowshot of the walls, and
all at once the hemp cords were drawn and the arrows flew through
the air. Then the arbalasters bent their cross-bows and out whirred
the quarrels, crashing through the coats of mail. The engines shot
out their great stones into the towers, and then the fire began to
burst out at the gates, and soon the four gates of the town were
in flames, and the town itself began to burn. Then those who were
unslain in the town yielded them up.

But there were two minds in the camp as to Thebes; some of
Alexander’s peers rejoiced to see the town burning, but a minstrel
of Thebes, Hismon by name, came before Alexander with a sad face,
asking Alexander to have some mercy on the town. Then said the
king: “Why art thou so sad of cheer, my clerk, before me?” and the
minstrel answered: “O mighty conqueror, if by any means thou canst
show mercy on our rich town.” Then was Alexander wroth that any man
should be sad before him at what the king had willed, and without
more words he gave strait command that the walls of the town should
be beaten down and every house in it burnt; and that done he went
on his way with his men, and many of the Thebans went with him, for
that they had no longer a city.

The tale tells that one of the knights of Thebes who followed
Alexander’s host, a valiant and a mighty man, asked at the temple
of his god when Thebes should be rebuilt and who should build it,
and the god answered: “He who shall build the town shall conquer
thrice in strife; when that shall be, then shall he raise the
walls.” Now as the knight returned to the army of Alexander he
heard the herald proclaiming with the sound of a trumpet that the
king would hold a tournament at Corinth, and that great games
should there be played. So when the day came the Theban knight
came into the ring, and asked of Alexander permission to wrestle,
and the king appointed a champion to wrestle with him, and soon
the champion was thrown. Then another wrestler came forth, and he
too was cast to the earth. And Alexander said: “Now, in faith, if
thou conquer but once again, thou shalt be crowned for the noblest
wrestler in Greece.” Then came forth a mighty man, the tallest of
the Macedonians, and the Theban knight deemed that he should indeed
be beaten, but he thought on the words of the god, and the love of
his city filled him, and they scarce grappled before he threw the
giant on the ground, and a great shout went up from all men.

Then he was brought to the king and knelt before him, and Alexander
took a fair gold crown filled with precious stones, and set it
on his head; and the heralds came to him and said: “Tell us thy
name, O noble knight, that we may write it in our books,” And he
said: “Truly, sirs, my name is Cityless.” “How so,” said the king;
“what name is that, and how got you it?” “My lovely lord,” said
the knight, “before you came I had a people and a town, now have I
none, and Cityless am I, and Cityless must be my name.” Then the
king knew that he was a knight of Thebes, and his heart relented
for the city, and he gave orders to cry aloud that all men might
return with the knight to rebuild the town in its first state. So
was the saying of the god fulfilled.

So Alexander went on his way through the land of Greece, and from
each town he received help and tokens of his lordship. But two
great cities refused at first, the cities of Athens and Sparta,
though afterwards they obeyed him. Then he came to the ocean and
sailed over into Asia, and with him were two hundred thousand men,
and tidings came to Darius, and he called his council and said
unto them: “Lo, how this Greek grows in might, the more I despise
him the greater his power. I sent him playthings, but now he will
master us if we take not heed.” Then said the king’s brother to
him: “If your majesty do not as this man does, we may leave our
land to him, for in strife he helps his men in all their needs, and
so his name increases.” And another lord spoke: “This Macedonian
is like a lion who leaps on his prey with joy.” “How so?” said
Darius, and the knight answered: “Years agone, I was sent with
your heralds to Philip his father to claim our tribute, and then I
saw and heard him. For your herald told how all men would gather
at your orders against the foe of the empire--Medes, Parthians,
Italians--and the youth said: ‘Yes, but one wolf will worry many
sheep, and a Greek army will rout many barbarians,’ for so he
called the army of the great king.” So Darius got together his army.

The tale tells that Alexander on a day went to bathe in a river,
and the king was heated and the river cold, so that he fell sick
of a fever and was like to have died. And all the men of his army
mourned, and said: “Did Darius but know this he would fall on us
with his might;” and truly they did well to grieve, for the health
of the head keeps all the body well. Then one Philip the Leech,
a young man, but well skilled in all manner of medicine, came
to the tent of Alexander, and said: “My lord, I can cure you in
few hours with a syrup of herbs.” When the duke Parmenides heard
this he was jealous of Philip, for he feared that Alexander would
promote him to great power, so he came privily to the king, and
said: “O king Alexander, take not the drink of Philip, and trust
him not, for verily it has been told me that Darius has offered his
fair daughter and great wealth to the man that shall slay thee,”
and with that he showed the king a letter in which these things
were written. Now Philip had brought the cup to Alexander, and
the king stretched out his hand, and looked him in the face, and
took the cup, and drank it, and gave the letter to Philip, and the
physician looked on it, and said: “My life for thine, O king, as I
am guiltless of evil towards thee.” So Alexander fell into a sleep,
and all men kept such watch that no noise was heard in the camp,
and when he awoke he was whole and healthy. So he called Philip
the Leech to him, and gave him great rewards, but Parmenides the
traitor he beheaded.

Then marched he through the land of Media and Armenia till he came
to the great river, the river Euphrates; and there was no ford over
which the army could pass, so needs must they make a bridge, and
men brought boats and bound them together with chains, and then
they passed over, first the horses and the baggage, and then the
army. And when they were all over the king took his axe and smote
the chains in sunder so that the swift stream drove down the boats,
and the bridge was broken; then turning to his men, he said: “If we
flee, here shall we be overtaken and slain; better is it that never
we turn our back to the foe, for he that follows has the flower of
victory, and in no wise he that flees. Be happy and rejoice, for
never shall we see Macedon till the barbarians bow before us--then
shall we blithe return.”



Now for the first time the armies of the Macedonians and the
Persians came in face of each other, and hopes of victory were on
either side, for the Persians were many, and their battle-leaders
were five hundred noble knights. The sun shone brightly, the
trumpets rang out against each other, and the long streamers of
the lances danced in the wind; the horses pranced, and the young
knights clashed their arms. Soon Darius ordered the battle to
begin, the knights laid their spears in rest, and each, with his
shield hung before him, spurred his horse; the Greeks came on to
meet them, and they crashed into each other with a thundering noise
and a shout, and all the fair field was covered with stumbling
steeds and knights dismounted and wounded and dead; and the clash
of sword-strokes cutting through coats of mail sounded like the
noise of a giant’s smithy. For few minutes the field was covered
with clouds of dust, and Alexander could see nothing of the result,
but soon it appeared that the Greeks had driven back the foe, and
that the first attack of the Persians had failed. So he called
the Greek knights around him, and after a breathing space he gave
orders that in their turn they should ride on the enemy.

But Darius had seen how his men were being borne down, and had
noted how their king was first among the Macedonians, and how
that no man stood before his blows, so he called to him one of
his bravest champions, and said to him: “Sir Knight, seest thou
yon leader of the Greeks, look you now, he wears the colour of my
daughter; go thou, arm thee in fresh armour as a man of Macedon,
and slay him. And if thou so doest, I will give thee my daughter
Roxana to wife, and thou shalt be after me in the land of Persia.”
Then that knight answered and said: “Thou art my lord; whatsoever
thou biddest that will I do, and I will smite his head from off his
shoulders, that no man may hereafter stand against the Emperor.” So
he arrayed him in clean bright armour, and over his armour he put
on a silk surcoat in colour like to that of the Macedonians, and
rode out among them.

Now Alexander was ranging his knights for their grand attack on the
Persians, and the trumpets blew, and all together they charged down
on the foe. Close behind Alexander rode the Persian knight, and no
man could see who he was, for the bars of his helmet were closed.
And Alexander, as his wont was, rode into the thick of the fight,
and struck great blows here and there, and no man stood before him.
Then the knight drew his sword and spurred on his horse, and struck
the king such a blow that it cut through his helmet and down into
his cheek, and then as the king wheeled round his horse the sword
broke in the helmet. And when the knights around saw the blow they
rushed on the disguised Persian, but Alexander stayed them from
hurting him, and said:

“What, my knight, why hast thou wounded thy lord and thy helper?”

“Nay,” said the knight, “I am no knight of thine; this did I for
Sir Darius, who promised me his daughter if I hewed off thy head.”

“Take him away,” said the king, “but harm him not till I give order
about him.”

Then Alexander turned to his lords and said:

“What shall be done to him for this deed?”

And one man advised to hang him, and another to cut off his head,
and another to burn him alive. But Alexander looked displeased, and

“Nay, he has but done his duly to his lord, in that he obeyed his
word, and his lord has all the blame of his deed. He that condemns
him judges himself, for did I order one of you to slay Darius that
must ye do. Let him depart and go to his lord, for he strikes a
good stroke.”

So that Persian knight went unharmed from the camp of Alexander,
and told all these things to Darius.

Then Darius feared, for his army was put to flight, and his knights
began to compare him with the king of the Macedonians, and he
rode away to a strong city near that place, and there he stayed
but short time, for Alexander followed him, and came against that
city and took it, and found there treasure untold, and the wife of
Darius, and his mother, the wisest woman in all Asia; but Darius
himself escaped him and fled away. There came one of the princes of
Persia to Alexander and offered to deliver Darius into his hand,
for that he had served that king for twenty years, and yet he had
never given him reward; but Alexander refused to take Darius by
treachery, and he said: “One king must not betray another.” So
day by day the Persian lords came into the Greek camp and owned
Alexander as their emperor.

Now was another army and a greater one being got together, for
all the lords of Persia and the kings of the countries about, and
Porus, king of India, were summoned for a set day. But letters
came from the king of India saying that he was sore sick, and could
give no aid till he was recovered, and that then he would come; and
letters came from the mother of Darius, an exceeding wise woman, in
which she bade him make peace with Alexander and submit to him, or
otherwise the empire of the Persians would be utterly overthrown.
But he would not obey her, for he hoped to destroy the army of the
Greeks from the face of the earth. So all the might of Persia met
at its chief town, Susa.

After short time the army of the Greeks had got them ready for the
fight, and they began to follow up the war against Darius, and they
went not so quickly as the Persians, since they were in an enemy’s
land; but at the last they came in sight of the town of Susa, and
behold, it lay in a great plain, and a river a furlong broad lay
between it and them. So Alexander purposed in his mind to send a
herald to challenge the Persians to fight, for he would not be said
to attack them without granting them due time. That night, as he
lay asleep in his tent, he dreamed a dream, and a man of Macedon
stood by him, dressed in rich attire, with two horns on his head,
and he knew that it was one of the gods, and the god said to him:
“My son, send no messenger to Susa, but go thyself, so shalt thou
see Darius and his court, for I will be with thee, and no harm
shall come to thee.” Then Alexander arose early in the morning and
told his knights his dream, and how the god had promised to guard
him. So he dressed himself as a herald, and rode off with one of
his knights before the sun rose to the army of Darius. Now when
they came to the great river Granton, which lay between them and
the town of Susa, they found it frozen over with ice a foot thick,
so he bade the lord that was with him to wait there for him, and he
himself rode over the river alone to the camp of Darius.

The tale tells that this river was wondrous cold by nature,
and that whether by art magic, or because it was so cold every
night, it froze into ice after the sun went down, and the ice was
exceeding thick; but when the sun rose and the day warmed, then
the ice cracked and melted, and the river ran so fast that no man
might swim in it, nor might any boat cross it but with danger, and
no bridge could be built across it for the ice. When the day broke
the ice began to thaw, but Alexander was safely over, and he rode
slowly towards the town. Now when he came to the wall of Susa he
stopped at the barrier, and bade the men bring him before Darius,
and they obeyed him, for his rich clothing and his speech showed
him to be some great man. And Darius asked him: “What man art thou,
and what doest thou here?” Then Alexander answered him: “O king,
I am sent to thee by Alexander, he bids thee prepare for battle;
why dost thou stay in the walls of thy town; either come out and
fight him or own him for master.” And Darius said: “Wert thou the
man himself thou couldst not speak more proudly, but I care never a
deal for all thy bold sayings. Still for thy sovereign’s sake that
sent thee hither, thou shalt sit at supper with me this even;” and
Darius did him great honour, for all men in those days reverenced
the heralds.

So the heralds of Persia welcomed him, and there came clerks and
wise men and talked with him of the lands of Greece and of the
West, and they told him of the nobles of Persia and of the wonders
of the land and its richness, and of the land of India and the
marvels that men spoke of it. Now among the clerks was one who
was short and crooked and ungainly, and the others took little
heed of him, and he stayed for a while behind and listened, saying
nought. Then Alexander noticed him and said within himself: “Such
a crooked and misshapen man would not be in the court of a king
if he were not exceeding wise,” so he spake to him, and the clerk
answered him in few words but weighty. But when those of the court
were without for a space, the clerk said: “Were Alexander here,
he would see the fairest maid on earth at the supper this even;
and much honour would she do the knight who wore her scarf in the
front of battle.” And with that he drew back, nor did he speak when
Alexander drew out the scarf from his breast. Then the clerks and
wise men departed and the great lords came to ask him of the arms
of the Greek lords, and of their deeds in battle, and of Alexander.

When even was come the king gave his hand to Alexander and led
him into the hall of his palace, and he sat at meat with Darius.
And ever he thought within himself: “This barbarian does me great
honour in this hall, but soon shall the hall be mine by right.” Now
the hall of the palace was of beaten gold; the walls, the seats,
the tables, the floor, all were covered with thick plates of gold,
and the vessels of service, the cups and dishes and platens, were
of fine gold. And those of the Persians that were there looked upon
Alexander with curiosity, and they thought little of him since he
was so short, for the heralds of the King of Persia were taller
than any man in Persia, and the Persians are tall men; but they
knew not the wisdom and the valour of the man, for they wist not
that it was Alexander himself.

As they sat down to meat, Alexander was put in a seat on the left
hand of Darius, and as he looked around him he saw at the table on
the right hand of the King the fairest damsel that man had ever
seen, and his eyes saw, almost without seeing, that her robe was of
green covered with fair opening buds, the crown of spring and the
promise of summer. And as he looked on her she lifted her eyes on
him, and saw the scarf of green he wore, and she looked on his face
eagerly and then looked down and away, and fear and longing and
content and hope and joy struggled in her heart, but her face was
that of a king’s daughter in the palace hall of her father. Then
Alexander rejoiced in his heart and he said: “This maid shall be my
very love and my queen.”

Now the feast began, servants ran to and fro, busily helping one
another and serving the guests diligently; lutes and harps were
played by the minstrels, and as fast as one dish was taken from the
table another was brought, and the butlers brought forth the wine
in great goblets of gold, studded with gems, and handed them to the
guests. Now Alexander did after the manner of heralds at the feast
of a king, for when he had drunk from the cup that which was in it,
he took it up and put it in the breast of his doublet. Then Roxana
the Queen called to her the servants and they brought her a cup of
wine, and she bade them carry it to the herald of the Greeks from
Roxana the daughter of the Emperor, and they did so. Then Alexander
bowed low, and rejoiced, and drank from the cup, and when it was
empty, he put it also in his breast. So the servants of the Persian
King saw it and they were envious and wondered, and one said to
another: “Let us see if he will do it again;” and they brought him
a third cup, yet more precious, and Alexander took it, and again
when he had drunk he put it in his breast for himself. Then these
servants went and fell before the king and told him of the case,
how that the Greek herald had drunk from the golden cups, and had
put them in his breast to take them away from the feast. So Darius
rose up in his seat, and with a proud, disdainful look, said: “O
friend, why dost thou take my vessels from me? That is shame to
thee and me.” “Sire,” said Alexander, “it is custom in our king’s
feasts that the goblet given to the guest is his with what is in
it; but since you keep not this custom here, I give you your cups,”
and taking them from his breast he gave them to the butlers. So all
men’s eyes were on Alexander, and they wondered that he could stand
before the face of Darius, and they began to consider his face, his
form, and his voice.

Now amongst them that were at meat with Darius that even was one
Anepo, the Herald of the Sun, he who had formerly visited Macedon,
and to whom Alexander had given a golden chain in earnest of the
days to come. And Anepo looked on him, and said to himself: “Is not
this the son of Philip?” and just then their eyes crossed, and he
saw the face of Alexander, and noticed how that the eyes were of
two colours--one blue, one dark--and getting up from his seat he
came softly near Darius, who was sitting on his high seat, and he
said to him: “Verily, O king of kings, this messenger that sitteth
here is no herald, but Alexander the Macedonian himself, or I am no
true herald.” Now Alexander had seen the eyes of Anepo, and when he
got up he watched him, and he heard the sound of his name in the
whisper, and he rose from the table as if he would handle a lute,
but instead he snatched a torch from the hands of one of them that
stood by, and was out of the hall towards the stables before any
man could say he was gone.

Now by good fortune his horse was fed, so he loosed him and sprang
on his back, and out of the court like a spark from a fire, and no
man could stop him. But when the alarm was given, Darius ordered
all men to follow, and men rushed in all directions; they searched
the rooms of the palace, they searched the stables, some clad
them in armour and rode out into the night, and some to the city
gates. But little avail they made, for there was no moon, and
the clearness of the night served but to mislead them, and their
shouts served to warn Alexander of where they were, and if they
kept silence one rode against another, and many rode into the deep
ditches of the fields or stumbled in the miry ways, and at last,
one by one, they came in, and no man among them all had heard or
seen aught of Alexander, and well was it for them that they had to
face the wrath of Darius, rather than the sword of the Greek.

In that same hour that Alexander fled out of the palace of Darius
a golden image of the emperor of Persia fell to the ground, and
when men came to raise it they found it broken into fragments, and
they feared greatly; and when Darius heard of it he fell aweeping,
and he said: “Surely this tokens trouble to the empire, and death
to me;” and he sat in sore grief thinking of the boldness of
Alexander, and his courage left him, so that he became weak as a

Of Roxana it is to be told how her heart was glad that she had
seen the lord of Macedon, and great thanks she gave to the gods
because he had seen her face, and noted how fair she was, for she
had watched without looking at him the turning of his eyes toward
her, and the joy of his heart in her beauty. That night she sat
with her maidens, and ever she sent one or another for tidings of
the herald, and none brought answer, and at the end one came and
told how all the knights had come back from the pursuit. Then her
maidens came round about her and praised her beauty above all other
times, and she gave a great gift to that one who had brought the
news of the safety of the Greek, howbeit the maiden knew not that
it was the meed of her tidings, and thought it was the pay of her
flattering words.



But Alexander had ridden out into the night, and knew not at first
in what direction he was riding, but soon, when the lights borne by
the mounted men began to scatter over the fields, he reined in his
bonny steed and looked up to the sky, and there low down he saw the
seven stars rising from the plain, and he turned his horse’s head
and rode slowly towards them, and ever he waited for some sign, for
he knew that he was coming near the river Granton. But while he was
waiting he saw a great flame rise in the air far on his left hand,
and its rays lay along a stretch of smooth ice, and beside it was
a man on horseback, and he knew him for his companion that he had
left at the river, and he shouted to him in the Greek tongue, and
when he heard the answer he spurred his horse and rode on to the
ice. But it was well for him that the fire was before him, for far
on the right the river ice began to crack and grind, since it was
not yet firm, and suddenly his horse slipped and both sank into the
river; and the man struggled out by the help of the thin ice which
broke off piece by piece before him till he touched bottom, but
the good steed was belike struck by the ice, for it sank and was
drowned. Now when he came to the shore he was amazed, for there was
neither fire nor light, so he called to the Greek knight, and when
he came up he questioned him, and he found him sore afraid, “for,”
said he, “a great dragon has circled me about for hours, so that I
feared to raise my head.” Then Alexander straitly charged him that
he should not speak of this thing, and they returned to the camp,
and all men rejoiced to see him.

On the next day King Alexander called to him his dukes and his
captains, and they brought up their men in fifties and in hundreds
and in thousands, till they were assembled on the plain; and
Alexander rose on high and told them how that he had seen the might
of the Persians, and he encouraged them and told them that never
should the crowds of the Persians equal the Greeks, for, said he,
“It takes many flies to make war on wasps, be they but few;” and
all the army laughed and rejoiced in his bravery and knowledge.
Now by this time Darius had assembled his host and led them forth
on the plain to the shores of Granton, and there he set up the
tents, and prepared him a royal seat and passed his army before
him in review. First the war-chariots drove by, drawn by swift
coursers, and on either side the chariots were set with scythe
blades, keen and sharp as knives, then the knights passed him in
full armour, and every man followed by his squire and his footmen,
and then passed a host of archers and crossbowmen: and as each
host passed, they went on into the field and set themselves in
array, and the knights mounted their huge war-horses. And on their
side the Greeks were drawn up in array, and Alexander was at their
head, mounted on his steed Bucephalus, the best horse under heaven.
Now Alexander spurred out into the open space and rode before the
army of the Persians, and dared any of their champions to come out
and fight with him, but not one of them durst meet him, for their
hearts were stricken with fear.

So with the sound of trumpets both sides advanced to the attack,
and in few minutes they were at the sword’s point. The tale tells
that for two miles there was a fight all along the line between
the Persian and the Greek knights. From sunrise to sunset the
slaughter lasted and both sides fought bravely, the air was thick
with arrows, a hail-storm of winged darts; and now the Persians
began to give way, their noblest captains were dead, and nowhere
had they driven back the Greeks. King Darius had set himself on
his golden car at the early dawn, and all day he had watched the
fiercest of the fight, and messengers had told him of what befell,
but in the end he lost hope, and took to flight; and suddenly
darkness came upon the land, so that men feared to move, for the
great war-chariots were thundering over the plain, and whoso got in
their way was cut to pieces by the blades on their wheels, and the
hosts of Persians were mowed down like corn before them. So Darius
reached the Granton which his men had crossed so proudly the day
before, and he rejoiced that he found it frozen over, and he rode
over the stream in the dead of night, and many of his great nobles
were with him. Then after him came the flying host of the Persians,
and on they came, till the broad stream was covered with men and
horses. But their weight was too much for the ice, and it bent down
and broke away from the banks, and then of a sudden it broke into
thousands of pieces, and the night was filled with the screams of
horses and men and their shouts and cries, and the dark water was
filled with struggling crowds striving to pull themselves up on to
little pieces of ice that would not bear their weight; until one
by one their struggles ceased, and the rush of the river bore them
away, so that of that mighty host scarce a tenth reached the shore
in safety.

Now over against the plain was a certain castle, not very strong,
and Darius had brought thither his daughter Roxana, that she might
see the battle, for she had much besought him to let her see the
field, though she told him not that her chief desire was to see the
glory of the Lord of Macedon. But when the battle was over, and the
Persians were fleeing, the lord of the castle shut the gates, and
set a ward, opening to no man small or great. So on the morrow the
host of the Greeks came near and summoned this lord to yield up the
castle to Alexander, but he withstood them and laughed at them.
Then Alexander came near, and swore by the gods that if he yielded
not up the castle in an hour he would hang every man in it on its
battlements, but if they yielded to his power he would save them
alive. Then the lord came forth and sought speech of Alexander, and
prayed him concerning the safety of Roxana, and the King laughed
out and said: “Where should she be safer than with her mother and
her grandam, who are with me in my camp?” So the lord of the castle
opened his gates and they brought forth Roxana in her litter to
Alexander, and he opened not the litter, but bowed before it, and
bade them bear it to her mother in the camp; and great was the joy
of the queens when they met, for Alexander bore him to them as a
son and not as a conqueror.

Then was Darius in sore grief; for his empire was broken, his
mother and his wife and his only daughter were in the hands of his
enemy, and nought of hope was there save the help that Porus had
promised him: so he sent messengers to Alexander offering him all
his wealth if he would return his family into his hands, and go to
his own land. But when the messengers had come to Alexander and
had done their errand to him, Alexander received them roughly, and
though all the Macedonians rejoiced, he said, “Why does your master
speak thus to me; if I have conquered him, let him own me as lord;
if not, let him come out and meet me in the field. As for his gold,
it is mine when I wish to take it, without his offer.” And the
messengers returned to Darius loaded with gifts and honour, while
Alexander’s men were gathering together the bodies of them that
were slain and tending the hurts of the wounded. And after the army
was rested, Alexander gave them leave and they scattered over the
plain up and down, and they found the old-time palace of the kings
of Persia and the tombs of the lords of the land, and one of these
was made of a noble amethyst, graven over with palm trees and with
birds, and so clear was it, that men might see within it the body;
and the name written on it was Ninus. Others among them came on a
great tower, and they forced it open and found in it men of all
nations, Greeks and barbarians, who had been put there by Darius,
and some had lost a hand, and some an eye, and some a foot. So
when they were brought before Alexander, they cried to him, and
he set them free and gave to each of them a talent, and they went
their ways whither they would, blessing the Greeks.

Now when the messengers returned to Darius and told him the words
of Alexander, and how that he needs must give up his empire if he
could not conquer him, the Persian set him to try one last chance
to recover his power, and he sent letters to Porus, king of India,
offering him great wealth and honour if he would come and fight
with Alexander, and saying that he would pay the wage of the armies
himself, and that all the spoil of the Greeks should be theirs. And
the messengers went their way to India, but one of the chief men
of Darius’ council came by night secretly to Alexander, and told
him all that was in the mind of Darius. So Alexander was wroth, and
he swore that he would never take the name of Emperor till Darius
was slain, and he began to prepare his soldiers for an attack upon
Susa, but ere he had given his orders tidings came that Darius was

And this was the manner of his death. When it was told in Susa that
the Greeks were preparing to assault the town, all men feared, even
the knights of Darius, and the king withdrew himself into an inner
room of his palace. There came to him two of his knights whom he
loved, and whom he had raised up from the lowest of the people,
and had made great and rich, so that they were equal with great
peers. These foul traitors had said within themselves, “Surely
Alexander has sworn the death of Darius, and he will give us great
praise and honour if we slay him,” so that when they came into the
room to the king, they drew their swords and looked on one another,
and smote at Darius. But their hands failed them for fear, so
that they slew not the king at first, and he cried out, “O sons,
why slay ye me; is not my sorrow great enough, that ye of all men
should turn against me? Yea, and the lord of the Greeks will reward
ye and avenge my death at your hands.” But his words moved them
not, and they thrust their swords through him, so that the royal
robes were covered with blood, and he fell down, as if dead; while
the knights went out, and none knew that they had been with the

Long did he lie there alone, for his servants feared to come in
before him, but at last his nurse, an old dame of eighty winters,
made as if she had a petition to offer, and opened the door of the
room, and saw him stricken to death. So she cried aloud, and the
servants ran in, and bore him to a bed in the palace.



Then came messengers to Alexander bringing word that Darius lay in
his palace nigh death, and that there was no man among the Persians
who might give orders or make head against him. So the king bade
arm his knights, and he rode into the city of Susa, and when the
men of the city saw them coming the chief of them went out to the
gate of the city and received him royally with reverence and joy,
saying, “Welcome be thou, O warrior, famed o’er all the world,”
while the hearts of those who had rebelled against Darius failed
them, and they fled from him and hid their heads till they should
know Alexander the King’s thought of the death of the lord of the

Then Alexander rode through the town to the palace of Darius, and
when he entered it he wondered at its beauty, that any mortal man
should make one so fair. The floor was wrought of clear stones
and crystal in divers colours, the walls were covered with golden
plates, on which were set gems and stars of blue, whose sight
dazzled the eyes, and high over all rose a beautiful dome covered
with enamel and ornaments of trees and flowers. Now when Alexander
had seen these things he went through the hall and into the chamber
of Darius, and there he saw him laid on his bed at point of death;
for he was so sore smitten that no man could bind up his wounds,
and at every breath the blood gushed out. And the king of the
Greeks was moved by pure pity, and he leaned over the dying man
and kissed him, and said, “Comfort thee, my lord, and rise and be
emperor still in all thy former honour and dignity, for as for
these defeats they are the fortune of war, which exalts one man
and puts down another; but I, O King, will defend thee and avenge
thee on thine enemies;” and he burst into sobs of grief. And Darius
raised him on his bed, and kissed his hand and his neck, and said,
“O son, this is but the common fate of man, nor must I grieve
overmuch. I was rich and grew proud, now am I poor. Bury me, my
son, among my fathers, the lords of Persia, and rule thou the land.
My mother and my wife are with you; guard them as you have done
and help them. My daughter Roxana I leave to you for wife; it suits
well that a noble king should have the fairest wife on earth. Take
heed of what I have said; be tender of my knights,” and Darius the
king fell back and died.

So it was that in few days after the chief men of Persia and of
Medea came to Alexander and led him to the throne of Darius, and
crowned him with the golden crown, hailing him Emperor of the
World; and they brought to him the fair damsel Roxana, the daughter
of Darius, covered with a thick veil, and set her on the throne
beside him. Now Alexander had not seen the damsel, except once
at the supper of Darius her father, though she had been in his
camp for many days, but she knew him, for she had preserved his
portrait since the time that Darius had thrown it aside, and her
heart was glad that she was to be his queen. And as the rulers of
Persia brought Alexander to the throne they showed him that it had
seven steps--the first an amethyst, which showed the king should be
of sober mind; the second an emerald, to show that a king should
see clearly; the third a topaz, to remind him how things are not
what they seem always; the fourth step a garnet, to remind him of
fame and honour; the fifth an adamant, to show a king should be
steadfast; the sixth of pure gold, to show a king should be chief;
the seventh of earth, to remind the king that he must die. And at
each step the wise men explained its meaning to him, and on the
seventh they crowned him, and fell down before him, and Roxana with
them, and he lifted her up and raised her veil before them, and
when he saw her he loved her, and with his own hands he put a crown
on her head.

After Alexander was crowned he sent messengers into all parts of
the land to spread the news, and to give orders for the safety of
the land, and he made a proclamation offering their due reward to
the slayers of Darius. When they heard this the two knights came
forward in hope, and looked to get great riches, but he ordered
them to be hanged near the grave of Darius, and all the Persian
nobles rejoiced, for they loved Darius, and had grieved sore at his
murder. Then Alexander appointed one of the uncles of Darius to
be lord and governor of Persia, and he married Roxana, and made a
great feast through the land, which lasted for eight days, and all
the land of Persia rejoiced and was glad.

In few days, however, the warlike spirit of Alexander came upon him
again, and he resolved to set out and conquer the king of India,
Porus, who had threatened him with war if he attacked Darius. So
he gathered together a great host of Medes and Persians, and added
them to his own Greeks, and with them he marched out of Persia
towards the borders of India, through the great desert which lay
between them, leaving Roxana his queen behind with her mother and
uncle. And after they had spent many days in the passage, and were
wearied of the wild waste where no water was, and the high hills
and the hollows and the broad plains, the Greeks began to murmur
among themselves, and to ask, “Why should we do more, since we
have conquered the Persians, and seized the empire which formerly
took tribute of our fathers? This land of India is inhabited but
by beasts, and as for Alexander, he lives but for fighting, and if
he lived in peace he would die as if he were starved. Let us leave
him to fight with these barbarians, and go home in peace.” When
Alexander heard them, he gathered together his knights and peers,
and reproached them. He told them how he had saved them in their
troubles, how he had exposed himself to danger on their behalf, and
how he had always been first in battle among them. Then he said
that if they feared and deserted him, he would keep on alone till
he had fulfilled his fate, nor would he return to Greece until he
had conquered all lands under heaven. And when he had finished his
speech the hearts of his princes turned to him, and they sought his
grace, and promised to follow him everywhere to the death, without
question or murmur.

In these days a messenger arrived from Porus bearing a message of
threats and sneers to Alexander, and when the message was given
to him in the presence of his men, some of the Greeks feared, for
this was a new land to them, and they knew not what wonders Porus
might bring against them. But Alexander cared never a whit for any
of his words, and the message he sent back was bolder than that
he received, so that Porus became very angry when he heard it,
and he assembled his army in haste and sent them out forthwith
against Alexander, without waiting for a part of it not yet come to
him. And though he had not all his army, yet he had more soldiers
than Alexander, and he had with him chariots armed with scythes,
ten thousand at least, and he had unicorns in his host, and more
than all he had four hundred elephants, each with a castle on its
back and thirty men in armour. Now the Greeks had never fought
against elephants, nor had they even seen them, so that they were
sore afraid, for their swords could not pierce the skin of the
elephants, and the great beasts trampled them down, and the men
on their backs threw darts at them and shot arrows, and there was
no means of turning them back. Thus the Greeks and the Persians
were driven back that day by the Indians through their elephants.
But when night came on Alexander ordered all his men and they got
great suits of armour and hammered them together, and they filled
them with coals and lit great fires round about them, so that they
became red hot, and all the night the Greeks made these brazen men
and kept them hot, and at first dawn the fires were put out and
these red-hot brazen men were brought before the host, and when the
elephants attacked them as before and threw their trunks round them
to cast them on the ground and trample them, the hot metal burnt
their trunks and their feet, and they turned and fled, and trampled
down their own men, hooting horribly. Then Alexander ordered the
Persians to attack the Indian army while it was in confusion, but
Porus rallied them and there was a great battle; but at the last
Alexander with his men came to the aid of the Persians, and the
Indians were defeated and Porus took to flight, and fled away in
haste, and Alexander and his host were left masters of the field.

Next day he marched to a city near that place, the chief of all
that Porus was lord of, and no man hindered, so that Alexander
entered it and found there the palace of Porus, and his house was
noble and fair. It had four hundred pillars of gold, and between
each was a grape vine with carved leaves and grapes of all precious
stones, some of clear crystals, some of pearls, some of emeralds,
and of other gems. And all the walls were covered with thick plates
of gold, the thinnest of them was an inch thick, and they were set
with stones like the stars of heaven, and the doors of the rooms
were of ivory carved and adorned, and the bars and bolts were of
ebony; the upper rooms were all of cypress or of cedar, and in all
the rooms there were golden statues and images seated on thrones
of gold, and over them hangings of rich embroidery; and in the
palace hall there was a fair tree, and on the branches of it were
all manner of birds, each painted and made like to its nature, but
with their bills and claws of fine gold, and whenever the king
wished they made as sweet a melody as if it were the month of May.
But time fails us to tell of all the beauties of this palace. And
when Alexander entered the palace he wondered greatly and went
through it till he came to a room which was shut, and on it was
a label, “For Alexander alone.” Then he stayed, and he would not
enter the room, for he feared some wile of the Indian King, and he
got together his wise men, and with them he opened the door. But
when he did so, he heard a burst of merry laughter, and he looked,
and lo, before him was a fair young girl, and she said to him,
“It is bravely done of thee, O Alexander, to open this door with
such aid; am I then so fearful?” And Alexander was abashed for a
moment, but he said, “O damsel, the presents of Indian kings are
not always so charming as thou art,” and he sat down beside her and
talked with her. But while she was speaking, one of the wise men of
Greece had watched her, and he liked not the manner of her eyes,
and he came near to the king and spoke to him, “O King, beware
of this damsel, for methinketh that she is not of human kind like
to other women.” Then the damsel said, “Away with this dotard, O
King, kiss my lips and see if I be not a woman.” And the wise man
said, “O Alexander, verily this is one of the poison-maidens of
India, for in this land they feed girls from their birth on deadly
poison, so that poison is their food, and food their poison, and
whoever kisses them dies immediately.” Then one of the lords of
the Persians came forward and said, “O fool, how tellest thou such
a tale to my lord Alexander,” and turning to Alexander, he said,
“May thy slave show this dotard is wrong?” And the king doubted,
but he trusted his wise man, so the Persian lord leaned forward and
kissed the girl on the lips, and fell down dead. Then she laughed
merrily, and said, “O Alexander, if thou hadst not been guided by
the counsel of thy wise men, such would have been thy fate.” But
all the Greeks fled out of the room. Then the maiden blew a whistle
and two great serpents came from their holes in the corner of the
room, and circled round her.

Now the next morn, when men went to fetch the damsel before King
Alexander, they found the room empty, but for one great snake that
lay on the divan, and they came and told the King, and he knew that
the damsel had been left there to cause his death, and he was on
his guard.



Within a month came tidings that Porus had gathered together
another army, and would wage war with Alexander, for the hosts
that had been on the march to him were there, and those of the
Indians who had fled from the first battle, and all were anxious
to overcome the Greeks. Alexander set out with his men, though it
was in August, in the hottest of the year, for it was his habit
to attack the enemy and never let them attack him. But his men
suffered greatly from the heat, and some died of it alone, since
their way led them into a desert place where they had to wear all
their armour, for the land was full of snakes and adders shining in
gold and bright colours, and if a man put off his armour and one
of these bit him, his death was certain.

And when they passed the place of the snakes they came into a dry
land where were no rivers or wells of water, and the army suffered
greatly, for the water in their vessels dried up, and no man had to
drink. For two days they toiled on, searching for water and finding
none, and in the evening a certain knight, Severus by name, came
on a little water in a hollow beneath some stones, and put it in
his helmet and brought it with joy to Alexander and offered it to
him. Then Alexander thanked him greatly, and before all his knights
he took it up in his hands, as if he were going to drink it, and
then he put it down and said, “If I drink this, will it sustain
all the army, or shall I only be refreshed, and they thirsty
still?” And the knight said, “Lord, our will is that you be first
refreshed.” “What, and all ye perish?” said the Prince, and he held
out the helmet before his lords, and poured out the water on the
dry ground. “I will thirst first and feast last of all my men.”
And the hearts of all his army were rejoiced, as if they had drunk

And that night the wind began to blow, and the camels smelt water
on the breeze, and they lifted themselves up and went towards it,
and none could stop them, all the hosts followed them, and they
led them after four hours’ journey to a little stream full of
reeds. The soldiers of the host drank therein, but when it came to
watering the beasts they found that there were too many of them,
for all the goods of the camp were loaded on elephants, and on
camels, and on mules. Then they searched about, but they found
no other water near, so they made up their minds to follow this
brook till they came to its end in some great river or lake, and
in a day’s time they came to a great castle in a lake all full of
reeds. So the beasts and the men drank, and when they had rested
they began to enquire whose was this castle, and what was inside
it. Now they rode round the lake, but nowhere did they see any
road by which the castle could be entered, nor any gate to it,
but there seemed to be men on the walls who were looking at them
and their array. At the last, however, they saw two rows of great
trees running across the lake towards the castle, and some of the
knights spurred their horses into the water between them, and found
a passage where the water came up to their horses’ necks. Then they
sounded the trumpets from the shore, but there was no answer from
the castle, nor any banner displayed. So the knights rode into the
water along the causeway, and on and on till they came near the
castle, and saw a great gate closed, and over it a notice carved in
great letters filled with bright gold.

And when they had read it they tried to pass on to the castle, but
they found that the road sank, so that their horses had to swim,
and great beasts like sea lions rose through the water, and threw
them off their steeds, so that they turned their horses’ heads and
came to land again, and shewed all these things to Alexander.

Now these were the words on the stone:


And as the day began to fall, the whole camp heard a roar as
of many wild beasts, and they looked and saw an army of tigers
and dragons coming against them, and Alexander and his men drew
their swords, but the beasts of the army were so terrified by the
roaring of the wild beasts that they fled away and no man could
stop them, and needs most the knights and soldiers follow them.
But not far from there was a small lake of sweet water, and the
horses and mules, the camels and the elephants, crowded into this
pool, and gathered together in a ring in the middle of it, and
stood there trembling and shivering. Then Alexander ordered his men
to pitch their tents round this pool and to remain on guard, and
they began to cut down wood for fires, and to prepare to lie there
at their ease for some days. When night fell the moon rose over
the mountains, and men ceased work and rested to enjoy the sweet
coolness of the evening air, and the quiet rest of all things in
the moonlight.

On a sudden, the plain seemed covered with crawling monsters
making for the pool round which the Greeks were encamped; giant
crayfish, of many colours, scorpions, and scaled adders. At first
their coming was silent, and they could only be seen in the bright
moonlight coming nearer and nearer, and then the hiss of the adders
and the dash of the shells was heard, and then the sound grew
louder till it seemed that all the hills resounded with it, and men
heard the keen cry of great dragons coming down among them. Under
the moon the knights could see the dragons’ crested heads and their
golden breasts, and their eyes flashing out flames of fire, as they
came on and on, nearer and nearer the line, and they said one to
another, “Verily, this is a night of fear, beyond all other.”

And Alexander looked to the safety of all men, for he went round
the camp, and saw that all men were in their place, and he called
to him his knights and strengthened their hearts, and bade them
take example by him and do as he did. Then he armed himself and
took a shield and a sword, and with his knights went out before the
line and began to slay the loathsome beasts that had come against
them, while his archers and bowmen were shooting them down. But
ever as they slew and slew, the reptiles swarmed up, and now and
then the shrill cry of a man in agony would show that one of his
knights or archers was overborne by the flood of writhing beasts,
and carried away or slain. For hours the fight lasted, but when the
moon was high in the heaven the flood of reptiles seemed to cease,
and in a few minutes there were no more living round the camp, and
Alexander gathered his knights and found that twenty knights and
thirty archers had been slain in this attack.

After the fight was over, men began to light fires around the camp,
and there was soon a ring of flames round the host, but before an
hour had passed and men called the fourth hour of the night, the
watchmen raised a cry, and all the army saw a host of great crabs
drawing near the camp. So the knights in armour of plate came out
against them with their lances, for no swords could smite through
their shells. And again the fighting was fierce, for the lances
were shivered against the crabs, and when men hewed off their claws
they clung still to the armour and bit through it, till at the last
the knights snatched up brands from the fires and thrust them into
the open jaws of the crabs, and they turned and fled, and left the
camp at peace.

And when the watchmen called the fifth hour of the night, there
came up from the desert a band of fierce great lions, white and
large as bulls. These the knights went out to meet, and a fierce
battle took place, but the Greeks feared them not, and soon these
also were put to flight. And there followed them a rush of wild
boars, with great teeth and stout bristles, and these too were
slain or driven away.

Now the sixth hour of the night drew nigh, and the moon was low
down in the heavens, and the burden beasts of the army began to
come to shore and lie down, and the men of the host were a-weary,
when the watchmen cried out with a loud voice and there came up a
host of wild men of the woods, having six hands, and these came up,
and they feared not to rush on the knights, for they knew not the
use of iron, but with bowshots and handblows they were driven off,
and they escaped to the hills and the woods.

And in the seventh hour there came up a great fierce beast against
them, with a black head, and on it were three huge horns, and he
was larger than an elephant, and so sore was his attack on the host
that he slew eight and twenty men, but Alexander ran up to him,
and with his sword he slew him, and men rejoiced, for their hearts
began to fail them for the long watch of the Night of Fear.

Now the day began to break, and the earth was lightened, though as
yet there was no dawn, and the watchmen called the eighth hour, and
there came up mice as large as foxes, and they came near and fed on
the bodies of those things that were slain, and when men or beasts
came near them, they bit them, and whatever was bitten fell down
dead, and the archers shot at them and drove them away. Then came
a crowd of foul bats as large as doves, and they flew about and
flapped their wings in the face of the soldiers and bit them where
they could on cheeks, or nose, or chin, or ears, and none could
deliver themselves from them, but suddenly the dawn came, and the
sun leaped up over the hills, and the black bats fled away, and men
saw birds of a red colour come flying in among them, yet without
harming them, as if to wish them joy of the day; and the Night of
Fear was over.

Then the trumpeters of the Greeks sounded out their morning blast,
and when it was over men heard another blast of the trumpets
from the castle that they had seen the day before, and a great
drawbridge was let down, and a boat was brought to it and set on
the lake, and into it entered an old man dressed in long flowing
robes, bearing a precious casket in his hands, and with him were
heralds and trumpeters. And when they came to the shore they were
met by the guards whom Alexander had sent to meet them, and they
came on to the camp, and at the gate of the camp the aged man
halted, and Alexander came out to him. Then they greeted each
other, and the elder told Alexander who he was, and that the
castle was set there to guard a precious thing, the greatest and
the lightest thing in the world, and to show those who came there
what they should do in times to come. Then Alexander was glad of
heart, and he besought him to show him some of his wisdom. So the
elder took a gold crown out of the casket he bore, and put it on
Alexander’s head, and bade him come with him to the castle, for
that there he should see all these things.

In going to the castle, Alexander went by boat with the elder,
and his chief knights rode after him on horseback along the path
through the water, and when they came to the deep place the
drawbridge was let down to them and they mounted it and rode
through the gateway into the courtyard of the castle, and Alexander
and the elder were with them. So they were led into the great hall
of the castle, and when they entered it they saw, at the place
where the seat of the lord should be, a niche cut in the wall,
and on the arch over it were written the words, “THE GREATEST
TREASURE,” and below it were the words, “AND THE LEAST.” Now when
they went up to it, they saw a rich cushion, and on it was lying
an egg-shaped stone, and as they looked on it they saw a circle of
brown on it and inside a clear black ring; and the stone was clear
as crystal, and when one looked into it one saw men, and houses,
and riches, and wealth, and all that man could desire or think
of. So they brought out this treasure and laid it in the hand of
Alexander, and lo! it became so heavy that he could not hold it,
and they laid it on a beam of a balance, and in the other pan they
placed gold and silver, a great quantity, and it weighed more than
all. Then they cast on the beam all the treasures they had, and the
stone outweighed them all. Then Alexander sent for the gold that he
had with him, but the stone was heavier than all the treasure of
the Persians and the Greeks. And Alexander said. “Truly, this is
the greatest of treasures.”

Then the elder bade them take away all those treasures to their
owners, and he took up a pinch of dust from the ground and laid it
on the stone, and lo! from being so great, there was no mean thing
that did not outweigh it; a blade of straw, a scrap of wood was
heavier than this, and all its beauty and goodness were gone from
it, so that no man would desire it or look upon it. Then Alexander
asked of him what was this wonder, and why it did thus, and the
elder told him the meaning of all this, and the name of the stone,
and he said that the castle was put there to guard the way to the
Wells of Life, and he told Alexander things that should come to
pass. Then Alexander asked him how long he should live, and how
should he die, and the elder told him not, but he said that he
should learn from the trees of the sun and of the moon when he came
to the shores of the great sea. And he told him that first must he
go north into the desert and meet and conquer King Porus, and that
then he should pass into the east through the Valley of Terror till
he saw the Three Wells of Life, and that then he should find the
Temple of the Sun and the trees which should tell him of what was
to befall him. And Alexander gave him great gifts and left him and
returned to his camp.

Thus Alexander turned northward, and in few days he was in the land
of Bactria, and all the men of the land came to him with presents
and gifts, and he received them, and abode there thirty days,
that his men might recover their strength. And there came to him
messengers and told him that Porus was encamped with his host a
four days’ journey off; and Alexander disguised himself as one of
those that supplied the camp with wine and flesh, and driving some
cattle before him he came into the camp of Porus, that he might see
how many men he had and what was their mind towards him. The guards
of the camp laid hold on Alexander, for that he was a stranger, and
brought him before Porus, and the king asked him who he was and
whence he came. Then Alexander answered that he was a poor man of
that land, and the Macedonians had taken away his cattle and his
goods, but he had escaped with some which he was trying to sell.
And Porus asked him had he seen Alexander, and what was he doing,
and Alexander answered that he was sitting in his tent warming
himself at a fire. Then Porus laughed out, and he was glad to hear
that his enemy was so feeble that he had to sit in his tent, and
he asked how old he was. And Alexander answered that he was a
poor herdsman and knew not the king’s matters; so Porus gave him a
letter to Alexander and a great reward, and promised him more if he
should bring an answer again, and Alexander returned to his camp.

Now the letter of Porus was a challenge to Alexander, offering to
meet him in single combat, for he said that no king or emperor
should be such a coward as to send men to battle unless he joined
in it himself, and that it would be better if only the kings on
each side fought, for it would spare the blood of the people; and
he offered to let the whole matter rest on this combat, so that
if Alexander won he should be king of India, and if he won then
all the lands should obey him. Now Porus was a tall man, a head
and shoulders taller than any man of his army, while Alexander was
short even among little men, and Porus counted on an easy victory.

When the armies drew near in line of battle, Alexander sent out
a herald to Porus accepting his offer, and in short time all was
ready for the fight, and the two kings, armed in full armour, were
opposite one another. When the fight began, Porus advanced, proud
of his strength and size, and ignorant of the great strength of
Alexander, and both spurred at each other full tilt, and their
lances broke to shivers, but neither was unhorsed. So they turned
their horses and drew their swords, and Porus struck Alexander with
his sword, and cut into the helmet, but the blow of Alexander was
so fierce that it struck Porus out of his saddle and threw him to
the ground senseless. Then all the knights of India cast up a keen
cry, but Alexander dismounted, and caused the heralds to take off
the helmet of Porus and to give him aid; and when Porus came to
life again he owned him vanquished, and Alexander gave him back his
kingdom, and from an enemy he became a friend and a subject to the
lord of the Greeks.

On a night after Alexander lay in his tent musing alone, and he
fell to thinking of his short life, and of the way he had come, and
of the wonders of the land, and of the deeds he should do, when it
seemed that there was with him in the tent his fosterer, the whilom
King of Egypt, and he said to him, “O my son Alexander, many deeds
shalt thou do, and many wonders shalt thou see, yet trust thou not
to thy sight. Remember the stone in the Castle of the Lake, which
was but the eye of man, for while he lives it may not be satisfied.
Trust men who seem thy friends, but trust them not overmuch: fear
the gods and them alone, for I am with thee to help thee.” Then the
god departed, and Alexander lay alone asleep.



Many hundred years before, one of the great heroes of the Greeks,
Hercules by name, had come into India, and had conquered the people
of the land, and had set up great pillars of marble wherever he had
come. So Alexander, now that he had beaten Porus in battle, made
up his mind to follow in the footsteps of Hercules and to see the
wonders of India; and King Porus promised to go with him and to
guide him. But before this he sought to find the Wells of Life of
which the Elder had spoken to him in the castle in the lake. But
Porus knew not of the way, nor any of the men in his army. So he
turned again towards the South as the Elder had bidden him, and
fared on his way.

Now as the host was on its march, it fell that the Greeks came
among a poor folk which lived in holes and caves of the earth,
and so poor were they that no man or woman of them had clothing
or ornament, but they all went naked, save that their king wore a
ring of gold on his head. As Alexander and his host drew near, this
folk sent messengers to him asking what he wanted among them, and
telling him of their poverty, so that he could win nothing from
them. Then the king made strait inquiry into their lives, and he
found that they were indeed so poor that they lived in caves and
holes of the hillside, and he was moved by compassion, and made up
his mind that they should be the better of his coming to them, so
he offered to give them what thing they should ask of him, however
great it should be. Then the king of that folk of naked wise men
drew near, and said: “O Alexander, this is our request; that thou
grant us never to die, for nothing else do we need.” Then said the
king to them: “O people, needs must that I die one day myself; how,
then, may I grant ye this thing?” And the naked wise men said:
“Since thou must die, O King, why dost thou hurry from one side of
the world to the other to slay a peaceful folk?” For a short while
Alexander was silent; then he spoke: “Know, O feeble folk, that as
the sea is stirred not by itself but by the breath of heaven, so
I am driven to do the will of the gods.” Then the naked wise men
left him and returned to their own place, for they would take no
gifts from Alexander lest they should become rich.

Two days after the parting with these men the host of Alexander
came on a desert place in which men saw a great temple, but no
man was therein. Then entered the priests and wise men, and they
saw nought save two great images, one of gold and the other of
silver. And as they considered the images they saw thereon writing
in the old language of the Greeks, and when they had read it they
understood that these were the images of Hercules which he had set
up when he came into India. When Alexander saw them he wondered at
their size, and could not believe that they were of solid gold, so
he ordered his men to pierce them through, and they found no hollow
within, but all was of pure metal. Now by the finding of these
images Alexander knew that he was in the right way, because here
it was that Hercules had turned back when he came into the land;
but Alexander and his host went on, for he desired to see all the
marvels of the land of India. So it was that, on the third day from
their parting from the temple, they heard the sound of a river, and
going near it, they found that it was very broad and deep; and when
the men came up they found that in no wise could men swim in it to
cross it. On the further side they saw women carrying great maces
and battle-axes of gold and silver, but there was no man among
them, or any weapon of iron or bronze, only of gold or silver.
Then Alexander and his men sought to cross the river in boats, but
great black beasts rose out of the river and bit the boats in half,
so that scarcely did they escape to land with their lives, and
they gave up the thought of seeing the land guarded by women, and
marched on by the side of the river.

As they were in camp next evening, they heard suddenly the sound
of trumpeting, and the watchmen told of a host of elephants coming
toward them. Then Alexander asked Porus and his men, but none knew
of any king of this land who could gather such a host, so men on
horseback rode out to see them, and when they came near they saw no
man with the elephants, and they returned and told the king. All
men were in fear, and the Indians most of all, for they knew the
madness of elephants, but Alexander bade a few of his men mount
their steeds, and to drag with them each man some swine before the
elephants, for he knew how that the elephant loathes the swine and
cannot remain in his presence. And it fell as Alexander had said,
for when the elephants heard the squealing and grunting of the
swine their wrath fell, and they turned, with lowered trunks and
flapping ears, and hurried away from the loathsome sound. Then the
Indians praised the wisdom of Alexander, for that, though he was
mighty in fight, he would not risk the lives of his men when he
could use craft to save them.

Now no man in the army had ever been in this land before, and their
hearts began to fail them when they thought that Hercules had
turned back from the journey, and they grew afraid, and Alexander
began to think that the gods were angered at his boldness, and had
sent the herd of elephants to drive him away; and so next day he
moved the camp to the west instead of keeping on his march to the
south, and pitched it on a great plain where there was no shelter
of hills or trees, save that to the south many miles off there was
a range of hills. When even was near, suddenly the clear sky became
covered with thick clouds, the sun became red and then seemed to go
out, and from the thick gloom a storm broke on the camp. The winds
blew, as it seemed, from all sides, north and south, east and west;
they tore down the tents and scattered them, so that no shelter
was left; and then the thunder rolled, the lightning flashed, and
the hail and rain ran along the ground. Never had the Greeks and
Indians seen such a storm, and they said among themselves, “We are
rightly served for leaving the road we were told to follow, till
we had seen the things we were bidden to see.” So at morning light
Alexander turned his face towards the south, and the army marched
towards the hills. Now though these hills seemed small and near,
yet they were really great and far off, so that it was five days
before they came to a valley near them by which they could enter
into the hills; and as they came near it they found but a narrow
passage into it, and well-trodden. When they were in it they found
that the valley was broad, and shut in between high hills on all
sides, that no man could climb them, and there was no water in that
valley, and no living or green thing. Here then they pitched their

Next morning when they awoke they found the air thick with snow,
and the cold was piercing, so Alexander ordered great fires to
be lit on all sides, while the varlets were bidden to tread down
the snow and stamp it flat with their feet. Then, as it grew near
mid-day, the air grew darker and a cloud filled the valley, and
they heard a great noise as if the earth was being torn apart, and
sparks of fire fell through the cloud, so that the tents were burnt
where they fell, and if they fell on men they burnt into the flesh
and left a scar. Then all the host were in terror, and Alexander
bade them offer incense and sacrifices to the gods, and they did
so, and a wind sprung up and drove away the clouds, and left the
air clear and cold. When men had rested for a short time and given
thanks to the gods for their safety, they began to move to the
other end of the valley to pass out, and they came to an altar in
the midst, with the bones of dead men lying round it, but they had
not been slain there, for there was no mark of wound or gyves. On
sight of this the leaders of the host halted around it, but none of
them could read the marks on it or know to what god it was raised.
Now while they were gathered round it men came running in haste
from the front, and they bore news that there was no way by which
men could leave the valley, and that they must needs turn back by
the way they came in. Then Alexander gave orders to return, but
when the army did so, lo, there was no way out in that direction or
in any other, for no man could tell the way by which they had come
into that vale. In short time all men were seeking for a road, but
none could be found, though great rewards were offered by the king
to him who should come upon the path. Then were the host in great
fear, for they said that the gods were wroth with them, and had
brought them into this land to slay them; but Alexander had trust
in the words of his god and feared not.

The wise men of the army and the priests of the gods were all
this time gathered round the altar in the midst of the valley,
trying to make out the meaning of the marks upon it, and now an
old Egyptian diviner came and stood before Alexander and said to
him, “O King, I have read the writing on the altar, and I can tell
thee the way out;” and the king said, “Say on.” Then said he, “O
Alexander, this valley is the Valley of Terror, of which ancient
stories tell, and whatsoever men come into it, they cannot leave it
except one man of them stays behind a willing victim, to save the
rest, wherefore on the altar are these words, ‘THE ALTAR OF WILLING
VICTIMS.’ Now, O King, we cannot leave this valley till one man of
the host stands at the altar and offers himself to stay here for
the safety of the army, with a willing mind.” And when the other
wise men heard this, they bade the king to make speed before the
whole army should die of fear, or of hunger. So Alexander called
the host together by the sound of the trumpet, and when they were
all in one place, he rose up and told them how that the whole
army was doomed to die, except that one man would offer himself
willingly to die for the host. Then all men burst into grief for
many men there were who would not fear death for the army, but
there was none who would willingly die. So for the space of half
an hour no one came forward. Then Alexander the Emperor arose and
said, “O Greeks, Persians, and Indians, seeing that I have led ye
into this land it is fitting that I lead you out, and since this
may not be, I myself will stay here so that ye may safely depart.”
Then the leaders came round him with tears and sobs, but he would
not listen to them, but bade them prepare for their journey. The
trumpets sounded again, and all men kept silence, for they saw
Alexander with his left hand on the Altar of Willing Victims, and
his right hand raised on high, and they heard him devote himself to
the God of the Valley--a willing victim for the release of the army.

[Illustration: Now when all had left the valley but Alexander,
standing at the Altar of Willing Victims, and Bucephalus his horse
by him, it was already evening, & the earth seemed to shake & the
way out was closed up.]

Soon as the words were said, a crash was heard at the head of the
valley, and when men looked they saw that a huge cliff had fallen,
and had opened a broad way out into the open plain beyond, and
men hurried to load their beasts and the knights rode on, and at
the last Porus rode on with them, for Alexander had bidden him
fear nothing, for the gods had promised him that he should not
die save between a soil of iron and a sky of gold, so that needs
must he escape from this Valley of Terror, and Alexander had told
the leaders of the host to abide forty days for him on the plain
outside if need be. Now when all the army had passed through, and
no man was left in the valley but Alexander, standing at the Altar
of Willing Victims, and Bucephalus his horse by him, it was already
evening, and the earth seemed to shake, and the way out was closed
up. When night fell, and all was dark, then the air seemed full of
fright, and from one side or another groans were heard, but none
came near. As hours drew on, the horse shivered with fear, and
when Alexander patted his flanks they were covered with cold dew,
and at last Bucephalus put his head under his master’s cloak, and
stood still, trembling. But Alexander stood all that night by
the altar with one hand on it, and he saw nothing, and heard but
the groans which echoed through the air.

When day dawned all was still in the valley, and as Alexander
looked about he saw around him nothing but high rocks coming sheer
down from the mountain sides, but when the sun shone into the
valley, he took heart and began to ride round the sides to examine
them for himself, and this he did three times, but he found no
way out. Then he sat down by a great stone, on which was marked a
five-pointed star, with many letters written on it, and as he did
so the words of Anectanabus came into his mind, how that this star
was put for a seal over spirits in prison, and he remembered the
mighty words that call on the spirits of the air and the earth,
and he said them, and bade the spirit under the seal answer him.
Then a voice came from under the stone and answered him, and told
who he was, and how he had been shut under that stone for hundreds
of years to work the will of the gods; and he asked Alexander
to let him go free. So Alexander knew that if he set free this
spirit he would destroy the enchantment of the Valley of Terror,
and he determined to let the spirit go, but first he questioned
him as to the way out, and the road to the Wells of Life, and how
he should know them. Then said the spirit, “O Alexander, there be
three Wells of Life, nor is it easy to find them. These be their
properties. The first is the Well of Life, and in it if any dead
thing is put, it straightway comes to life again. The second is
the Well of Youth, and in it all who bathe come again to the age
of twenty-five, be they an hundred winters old. The third is the
Well of Never-dying Men, and he who bathes in it shall not die of
any disease or hurt of iron, yet may he suffer pain of disease and
hunger, but he cannot die. Nor can this well be seen of all men,
or at any day, for but once in a year can it be seen, and then no
more of any man for another year. For the way out, I myself will
lead you and your horse, and I will give you the stone Elmas, which
shall guide you to the wells, for it shall shine and sparkle while
you are in the right way, and when you are in the wrong it shall
grow dull and dark. Long and dreary shall the road be, and few may
go with thee to that land.”

Then Alexander drew his sword and cut away the words marked on the
five-pointed star, and when they were rubbed out, he hacked away
the comers of the star, and as he did so, the earth-shook, and the
stone rolled over, and a young man stood by him holding a ruby in
his hand, and he said, “O King, take the stone Elmas, and set it in
the handle of thy sword, and come thou and thy horse with me, for
the valley is open, and men shall call it no longer the Valley of
Terror.” So the king came with his horse, and he passed out where
the army had gone, and mounted his horse, and turned to thank his
guide, and lo I he was alone. Then he rode into camp, and all men
rejoiced to see him.

Now, as Alexander came into the camp of the Greeks from the valley,
an old man of the country came up on the other side, and the guards
brought him before the King. Then he asked him concerning the land,
and who was the lord of it, and the old man said that no man ruled
in it, and few lived in it. Then Alexander asked him of the Wells
of Life, and the old man answered that he had seen them in his
youth and had bathed in the Well of Youth. Then Alexander asked him
if he would guide him to them, and the old man said he would, but
that he would not bathe in them, for he wished not to live past his
time. So he went with Alexander and his host as they travelled far
into the land of Ind.

For many days the host travelled, till at last the old man said
that they were near the land of the Wells of Life, and then
Alexander bade the army to halt, and he chose out a few of his
Greeks and with them he set out on his search. It had been told
Alexander that in the land there were many wells, and that none
could tell one from another, till they came to the right one, so
that he had prepared a way to find them out. Now the first well
they should come to was the Well of Life, and Alexander bade all
his men take in hand a salt fish, and wash it in every well they
came to, till they should see some strange thing, when they were
to tell it to him. It must be said that they of the host knew not
what Alexander was seeking, nor what was the reason of this washing
of salt fish. So the men went from one well to another, laughing
and joking, and washing their salt fish, till one of them, Andreas
by name, dipped his fish into a certain well, and suddenly the
fish came to life in his hand and slipped out into the well. Then
he cried out with a loud voice, and all the men near came running
up to him, but he could say or do nothing but point to the fish
swimming about in the spring. So they fetched Alexander to the
spring, and he gave orders to fill a cask with the water of it, but
the old man said that the water was useless except it were drunk
when it was drawn from the spring.

Then he came to the Well of Youth, and it was in a dry land where
no man dwelt, for there was no river or tree near. And Alexander
would fain have the old man bathe in that well, but he would not,
for he said that it was good to be young once, and to be foolish
once, but to be young twice would be to be always a fool, and old
age was best when a man was tired of life. So the young men bathed
in the spring and their hearts grew hopeful, and they rejoiced in
their youth.

There remained the Well of Never-dying Men to be sought for, but
the old man told them that this was not here, nor was there any
way to it from that place, for they must seek it in the dark
desert. On this Alexander asked him of that desert, and he said
that there the land was dark day and night, the sun shone not
there, and there was no track or path for men to travel by. “Yet,”
said the old man “it will be easy for thee to enter into the land
and to find the well, for thy stone Elmas will guide thee to it
when thou art in the land.” And with these words the old man turned
away, and when Alexander looked for him, behold, he was not with
them. Then Alexander and his men returned to the army.




Now the tale tells that by this time the army was encamped near the
great river of India, the river Ganges. The river was very broad so
that men could just see across it from one bank to another, and it
was full of all manner of living beasts, crocodiles, scorpions, and
snakes, so that men dare not swim in it nor drive in their horses.
It happened on a day, that three men came to the other side of the
river, and stood there, so that the guards came to Alexander and
told him of it, and he came to the bank over against them. Then the
king bade one of his nobles ask them who they were, whence they
came, and what was their wish; and they answered, “We be Brahmans,
that never thought or did harm, and we bear a message from our
lord Dindimus to the lord of this army, Sir Alexander of Greece.”
And when he heard this the king ordered a carpenter to make a boat
to pass the river, and as soon as it was ready, he sent a knight
over the river with a message inviting them to come: so they
crossed the river and stood before him. Now they were very old men.

Then Alexander spoke to these Brahmans of one thing and another,
and found that they lived in another manner than the Greeks; for
what he esteemed rich and noble and good, they set little or no
store by, and what they admired he thought mean and poor. But since
he was a wise king, and one who desired to learn the secrets of
things, he sent a letter to the chief of the Brahmans asking him to
describe what their nation did, “for,” said he, “you differ from
us very greatly, it cannot harm you to tell us about yourselves,
and we may learn from your example. A candle when it is alight can
light many others without burning less brightly.” And with this
letter of Alexander’s the Brahmans went away to their lord, and in
due time they returned bearing an answer.

The tale tells in full of these letters, though it likes me not to
write them here at length, but the answer of Dindimus astonished
the Greeks. He told them that the Brahmans were a lowly folk, who
neither ploughed nor reaped, fished nor hunted, who lived on the
fruits of the earth, and who drank water, who fought not and
lied not, who studied not, nor wore fine clothing, who loved the
sun and the sea, the woods and the song of birds, and who cared
neither for iron nor for gold. Then he went on to reprove them
for their worship of evil gods, for their pride, cruelty, and
avarice. However, Alexander answered him fairly, but only drew on
himself a worse reproof. Then Alexander seized eight of the chief
Brahmans, and put to each of them a question, saying that the one
who answered worst should be put to death first.

So the first of them was brought before him, and he said to him,
“This is thy question: Why have you no graves in which to bury
your dead?” The old man said, “We are buried in the cave in the
hillside where we pass our days, that we may know that our present
life is but a training for the future.” Then came the second, and
the king asked him, “Which are more in number, the dead or the
living?” “Those that are dead are more in number than the living,
thou thyself knowest how many men thou hast slain,” said the old
man. Then came the third and Alexander said, “What is the most
wicked thing in creation?” “Man is the most wicked thing, and thou
thyself art one of the worst of men, for many men hast thou slain,
and few hast thou saved from death.” “Is night older than day, or
day older than night?” was the next question of the king, and the
Brahman answered him that night was older than day. Then he asked
the others these questions, and to each of them the wise men gave
him a good answer. “How do you live, and now do you die?” “Is death
mightier than life?” “Who is it that has never been born?” “Which
is man’s strongest limb, his right hand or his left?”

At the last the lord of Macedon forgave their bold speech and let
them go; but, before they went, Alexander asked them, as his custom
was, what were the wonders of their land?

Then the eldest of the Brahmans told him of a wonderful well in
the land, that few men dare drink of, for he that was miserly or
unfaithful to his trust and drank of it, went mad on the spot.
But Alexander did not fear this, for no man had ever thought him
miserly, for when he had shared the spoil at Macedon, he left for
himself only hope and glory. Then the king asked to be led to that
place, and he went with few of his knights without fear, for the
Brahmans were an unarmed folk. Now, as he went on his way with the
Brahman, he came into a certain town of the land, and saw two men
pleading before the Judge, and he drew near to listen to them. The
first of them stood up before the Judge, and said, “Sir, in time
past I bought a house from this man, and dwelt in it; now, long
after, I have found in it a treasure hid under the earth of the
garden, which is not mine. Accordingly I offered to deliver the
treasure to him, and carried it to his house, but he has refused
it and will not take it. Wherefore, sir, I beseech you that he be
compelled to take this treasure, since he knows full well that it
is not mine, for I have no right to it.” Then Alexander said to
the Brahman, “Surely this man is foolish, for he might keep this
treasure to himself.” But the Judge turned to the other man, and
bade him answer what was said against him. So he stood up and said,
“Sir Judge, that same treasure was never mine, but he has digged
in a place that no other man who had the house has digged, and
hath made that his own which before had no master. And, therefore,
I have no right to take it.” Then Alexander said to the Brahman,
“Surely this man may take it, for the land was his, and the other
man wishes him to take it.”

As he spoke, the two men talked together for a moment, and then
they turned toward the Judge, and begged him to take the treasure
himself, for they would have none of it. Then the Judge answered,
and said, “Since ye say that ye have no right thereto, so that
neither he to whom the heritage belonged in time past, nor he
to whom it now belongs may have it, how should I have any right
thereto, that am but a stranger in the matter, and never before
heard a word spoken of it. Would you escape the burden that falls
on you, and give me the charge of the treasure; that were evil done
of you.” And, after awhile, he took them and asked of him that had
found the treasure whether they had any children or no: so one of
them answered that he had a young son. Then he asked the other if
he had a daughter, and he said that he had. When he heard that,
the Judge was glad, and he ordered them to make a marriage between
the two, and that they should give them the treasure between them
as a marriage portion. And when Alexander heard this judgment, he
had great marvel thereof, and said thus to the Judge: “I trow there
is not in all the world so righteous a judge as thou art.” Then
the Judge looked on him with wonder, for he knew that he was an
outlander by his speech, though he wist not that he was Alexander,
and he asked him whether any Judge in his own country would have
done otherwise. “Yea, certainly,” said Alexander, “in many lands
would they have judged otherwise.” Then the Judge had great marvel
thereat, and he asked the king whether it rained, and if the sun
shone in that land; as if he would give him to understand that
it was strange that the gods should send any light, or rain, or
other good things to them that do not right and true judgment. But
Alexander had greater marvel than before, and he said there were
but few such nations upon earth as the people of this land.

Then king Alexander went with the old Brahman in search of the
well, and at the last they came to the place where the well was,
and it was a great square tank, built down into the ground with
blocks of stone, the sides covered with green moss, and the steps
damp and slippery, the water at the bottom dark and clear, but
the Brahman put forth his hand and said to the King, “O foolish
of heart, bathe not in this well, for thou art both miser and
unfaithful. Miser art thou for thy words about him who found the
treasure: unfaithful in that thy heart judged not as the Judge of
the land did.” And Alexander turned away in silence, for his heart
judged him, and he dared not enter the well, so he returned to his

And as Alexander went out of that land he passed through a city, in
the which all the houses of the city were of one height, neither
was any house greater in show than another. Now before the door
of every house was a great pit dug, and this pit was always open.
Then Alexander asked for the lord or judge of that city, and they
told him that there was in their city no judge or lord. And the
king wondered greatly how such a thing should be, that a city could
remain without a head or a judge; and he asked of the inhabitants
thereof whereto such things should serve. So the dwellers in that
place answered him and said: “O king, whereas thou dost wonder that
we have no lord over us to do justice among us, know thou that we
have learnt to do justice ourselves, wherefore we need no man over
us to do it for us.” Then said he to the men of the city: “Why do
ye make these pits before the doors of your houses?” And they
answered him: “Know, O Alexander, that these pits are our graves,
which every man makes before his door to be his own house, to which
each of us must go, and there dwell until his deeds are judged.”
And Alexander asked them yet another question: “Why are your houses
built of one height?” and they answered him: “O King, love and
justice cannot be even among all the people of a place if some of
them are greater than others, and no house nor family shall be
greater than other in this our town.” Then Alexander departed from
them, wondering, but well pleased.

The tale tells that before Alexander fought against Porus he sent
messengers to all lands in Asia, and among the rest to the land
of the Amazons. It is said of that land that only women live in
it, and it is governed by women, and whatever man comes into it
he is straightway slain; for the first founders of that land were
the wives of the men that were called Goths, the which men were
cruelly slain, and then their wives took their husbands’ armour
and weapons, and fell on their enemies with manly hearts, and took
revenge of the death of their husbands. For by dint of sword they
slew all men, both old men and children, and saved the females,
and parted out the prey, and purposed to live ever after without
company of men. And by the example of their husbands they had
ever two queens among them, one to lead the host and fight against
enemies, the other to govern and rule the kindreds. In short time
they became such fierce warriors that they had a great part of Asia
under their lordship nigh a hundred years; and among them they
suffered no man to live or abide, but of the nations that were nigh
to them they chose husbands, and they nourished their children till
they were seven years old, and then their sons they sent to their
fathers, but they saved their daughters and taught them to shoot
and to hunt. It is told that the great Hercules was the first who
daunted their fierceness, and that was more by friendship than by

Now came messengers from Calistris, queen of the Amazons, to
Alexander, bearing letters from her in answer to his demand of
tribute, for she had heard how Alexander had followed in the
footsteps of Hercules, and had gone into India, and the letters
told of her land and its customs, and of the number of warriors she
had, and she went on: “I wonder at thy wit, that thou purposest
to fight with women, for if fortune be on our side, and if it hap
that thou be overcome, then art thou shamed for evermore, when
thou art overcome of women; and if our gods be wroth with us, and
thou overcomest us, it shall be little honour to thee that thou
hast overcome a band of women.” And when Alexander looked over the
letter he laughed, and wondered on her answer, and said that it
was not seemly to overcome women with sword and anger, but rather
with love and noble dealing: and therefore he sent messengers
to them offering friendship and a treaty. Then the queen of the
Amazons came with many of her maidens, and they reached Alexander
when he returned from the land of the Brahmans, and abode with him
many months, and at the last they departed from him and went to
their own land, being subject to his empire, not by violence, but
by friendship and by love.

And after these things Alexander reared up a pillar of marble, and
upon it he wrote in the tongue of the Greeks and of the Indians.
Now the inscription in Greek characters was but this:--

  Α Β Γ Δ Ε

the first five letters of the alphabet, and they stood for the same
words as those in the Indian inscription:


“King Alexander the God-born built this:” and he graved it deep on
the sides of the pillar.



Few days after Alexander and his army entered into a plain full of
fair flowers and trees. Now the trees of this land were fruitful
and bore all manner of food for man, and amongst them were apples
and almonds, vines and pomegranates, and plums and damsons; and it
was in this land that the Greeks first ate of damsons, for they
did eat of them three days while they were in the forest. But as
they went through the wood, they came upon giants twice as high
as other men, clad in coats of skin, and covered with long hair.
So the Greeks and the Indians were sore afraid lest these giants
should fall upon them and slay them, while the giants called one
to another, and came together through the trees to gaze on them,
for they had never seen men before. When the Greeks saw that these
giants were calling to one another and coming together, they drew
up in line of battle, and the knights clad in armour mounted their
battle horses, and the archers and spearmen prepared their weapons
for the onset: for the Greeks had never heard of giants who did
no harm to men. But these giants were great stupid oafs who stood
gazing with open mouths at Alexander and his men preparing to slay
them, and their food was grapes and pomegranates. And when the army
was drawn up in line, and all men were ready, Alexander gave the
word and they raised a loud shout so that the woods rang again, and
the giants turned and fled, for they had never heard sound of man
or of trumpet. Then the knights followed them and slew some six
hundred of them in the field and in the chase, so that none of them
were left in the land round about.

The tale tells that Alexander passed on with his army, still
seeking the wonders of the land and finding no man in this part of
it, till he came to another river where he halted for many days.
And there came men of the land to him, and Alexander asked them of
the wonders of the land, so they told him of certain trees near by
which grew with the sun, and when it was high they were great, and
as the sun fell below the earth so the trees grew smaller and sank
down into the soil. But when the king would set out to see this
marvel, they told him that no man could go near it for there was
a wild man who guarded the wood and suffered no one to pass. Then
Alexander sought counsel of his wise men, and they bade him take
a fair white maiden such as the wild man had never seen and hold
her before him, and so they did, and the wild man became quiet and
still at the sight of her, so the Greeks crept up to him and bound
him in great chains, and brought him before the King’s tent: now
this wild man was covered with hair stout and strong, and his arms
were great, and his strength was as that of ten men. And when the
King had gazed on him they bound him to a tree, and slew him, and
burnt him to ashes, for he had slain much folk of that country.

Next day the King and his company came to the place of the trees,
and they wondered at the sight, how they grew as the day grew, and
the height of them was a spear’s length, and on them were fruits
like to apples, and men called them the trees of the sun. Now
the tent of the King was over against the place where the trees
grew, and in the hot sunlight he felt thirst, so he bade one of
his carles fetch him an apple, and the man sprang forth to do his
bidding, but when he laid his hand on the fruit he fell to the
ground as if he was slain. There were birds on those trees among
the branches and some men wished to put their hands on them, for
they did not fly away from them, but as they did so, flames of fire
came out from the trees; and the men of the country told them that
no man could touch these trees and live. Then Alexander asked them
of the Land of Darkness, for the stone Elmas shone brightly, and he
knew that he was drawing near that land: but they said that no man
went to that land, for the way was through a desert that none could

Then Alexander chose him out of all his army three hundred young
men, able to endure hardship, and they made them ready to go with
him to the Land of Darkness, while the army was left in the hand
of King Porus; and he gave orders that the young men should carry
with them stores of food and water to pass through the desert to
the land they sought. Now there was a certain old man in the army
named Bushi, who had two sons chosen to go with the King, and he
bade them to take him with them to the Land of Darkness, but they
said to him that the King had straightly commanded that no old man
should go with them. Then said the old man, “O Sons, make strong
a box, and put me inside it, and set the box on a mule and carry
it with the baggage, and it shall be for your good, for a party
without old men to advise can come to no good.” So his sons did
as he bade them, and closed him in a box, and set him on a mule’s
back, and carried him with them to the land. And as Alexander went
on his way they met men of the land, journeying in the desert,
and these told them of the Well of Life, and how a man had drunk
of that well, but he could not find his way out of the Land of
Darkness, and ever he wandered to and fro, up and down, till at
last he gave up the search, and dwelt in a tower alone, and as the
years rolled on he grew smaller and smaller, and more and more
cruel, and when men came into that land, he slew them and fed on
their flesh.

Now when Alexander drew near the Land he came to a desert land,
where was neither well nor living thing, and they hastened through
it for five days, but on the morrow of the sixth day the sun rose
not, and there was no light of day: and so the king knew that he
had come on the Land of Darkness, but the tales that he had heard
came to his mind, and he feared, for he had no mind to wander
through that land without a guide. Then he went back with his men
for half a day’s journey, and lo! the light of the evening, so he
camped in that place and waited for morning light. On the morrow he
took counsel with his men, as to the way of return, and he offered
great reward to any man who should show the way of a safe journey
back, but his young men said, “O King, it is ours to go where thou
dost order us, and what thou biddest, that will we do:” and he
found no counsel in them. Then the two sons told their father how
the King had stopped and asked for counsel, and Bushi bade them
bring him before Alexander, and when they feared he bade them be
bold, for he had good counsel to give.

The tale tells that the King was sitting sorrowful in his tent that
day, for he dared not enter the Land without some means of safe
return, and he was unwilling to go back to the army without having
reached his object; and when the guards entered and told that an
old man sought speech of him, he thought that one of the gods must
have come to his help. So he made him to sit in his own seat, for
the man was very old and feeble, and asked him what he would. Then
Bushi answered and said, “O King, hear the words of an old man;
there is no love like the love of a mother for her young. Now thou
hast here with thee, many asses with their foals. This is my word
to thee. Leave here on the borders of the Land, half thy men with
their baggage trains, and leave with them the young foals, and go
thou with their mothers and the rest of thy men into the Land, and
do thy heart’s desire: then when thou wilt return from this Land,
loosen the mothers and leave them free, and take them for thy
guides, and they will lead thee back to the place where their young
ones be.”

Then Alexander the King praised him greatly, and gave rich reward
to the young men, his sons, and he offered to take the old man
to the Well of Life, but he would not, for he said, “How should
I desire to live for ever, being such a man as I am, for the
bitterness of death is past to me.” Then he gave counsel to the
King that no man should bathe in any well in the land, till he had
seen it, for if he did the well would disappear for a year. So
Alexander did as the old man Bushi advised him, for he divided his
men into two bands, and one he left on the borders of the Land of
Darkness, with their baggage and with the young foals, and one he
took with him, and the men he took with him he straightly charged
to come to him when they found the well, and on no account to bathe
in it. So he entered the Land, and the stone Elmas shone with a
light like a star, and guided them on the road for three days. But
on the fourth day it grew duller, and Alexander knew that he had
passed the place of the Well of Life; and he ordered his men to
search for the well in all directions, but not to go out of sound
of the trumpets which rang out every hour, and to come into the
camp when it sounded. Seven times did the trumpet sound, and the
scouts came in, but on the seventh time, one of them, Philotus by
name, came in with his hair wet, and Alexander knew that he had
disobeyed the word of the king, and had bathed in the well. Then
said he to him, “O Philotus, canst thou lead me to the well thou
hast bathed in,” and the man answered, “Yea, Lord;” and they set
out together, but no well could be found. Then the wrath of the
King burst out, for he knew that he should see the Well no more for
a year if he remained in that place, and that all the labour of his
expedition was spent for nought but to make this Indian immortal,
and he bade men bring great stones, and build them in a pillar
round the Indian and close it at the top, and they did so, and he
was left alive inside the pillar, for indeed the Greeks could not
slay him. This done, Alexander put the reins on the necks of his
asses, and they turned and led the way to their young, and in three
days he was out of the Land of Darkness and on his way to the army.

In few days the King set out again with his host and went on his
way towards the mountain lands, and ever the way led upward till
after eleven days’ journey they came to a great plain among the
mountains, covered with trees and plants, and well watered by noble
rivers. The fruits were of the finest savour, and the water was
sweeter than milk or mead, and clearer than crystal. So they went
on through the land for many days, but they found no man in it,
and no houses or temples of the gods; until they came to a high
mountain which seemed to reach even to the clouds, and no way was
there of crossing it, it was so steep and rugged. But when they
came up to this range they found two passes which led through the
range, and where they met was a great temple, and the one path
led to the East, the way of the sun-rising, and the other to the
North. Now there was no man to tell them where these paths led, or
what was to be met in them. Then Alexander thought within himself
that he would go to the East, for the Gods had predicted that in
the East he should learn when and where was the end of his days,
and the army of the King went through the pass for seven days.

But on the eighth day, a sudden death fell on many of the men in
the host, for when they came to a certain spot or place among
the mountains, ever one or another noble knight would fall down
suddenly and lie dead on the road, nor did all men who passed the
place die, but some only. Then fear came upon all men, and those
who had passed the place dared not move either forward or backward,
and those who had not passed it would not go forward, nor indeed
did the King command them, for all men said, “The wrath of the gods
is upon us for coming into this land.” So Alexander sought to find
the reason for this death, and he went with one of his knights up
the mountains at the side of the pass, till he came to a place
whence he could see the whole of the pass and the mountains behind
it, and looking down into the valley he saw in one of the clefts
of the hills a loathly serpent, old and wrinkled, his thin long
neck and great head lying on the ground before it. And while the
King looked down, the ungainly worm slowly raised its heavy head
and looked down on the valley, and let it fall again, and a cry of
grief from his men told him that two more of his knights had fallen
dead on the pass, and Alexander knew that his eyes saw the Basilisk.

The tale tells that this beast is the most deadly of all serpents,
for its venom is such that whatsoever living thing it looks on it
slays, yea, the very grass is withered by its deadly breath. And
no man may slay it unawares easily, for once a man slew one with a
lance, and the venom of it was such that he died from it, though he
came no nearer the body than a spear’s length. This the king knew
and he sought not to slay it with a weapon, but he worked so that
the worm should kill itself; for he caused his men to make a shield
larger than a man, and on this shield he bade put a bright polished
mirror, and he wrapped his feet in linen, and put off his armour,
and going softly he bore the shield with its mirror before him, and
set it down before the den of the basilisk, and went his way. But
the basilisk raised its head as its manner was, and looked before
it, and saw its face in the mirror, and the poison of its own look
killed it, so it fell dead with its eyes wide open, and lay along
the path. Then the knight who was on the mountain watching blew his
horn, and all men heard it and rejoiced and praised the brave king
who had delivered them from the basilisk.

All this while the march of the host had lain between mountains,
and when men climbed to the top they saw nothing but other
mountains stretching away as far as they could see, no towns, no
villages, no living things, and on the day after the basilisk was
slain, the road suddenly stopped among the mountains, and the host
could go no further. Then Alexander the King bade them turn back
to the parting of the ways, and as they passed the place where
the basilisk had been he bade them burn it in asbestos cloth,
and take its ashes, for the ashes of the basilisk are a precious
thing, able to turn lead into pure gold, but the men found it not,
though the great mirror was still there. And at the last they came
to the temple at the parting of the ways, and the army lay round
the temple for a day to rest, for they were sore wearied with the
passage through the Eastward way. The next day at sunrise two aged
men came out of the temple, and Alexander spoke with them and they
told him of the ways, how that Bacchus, one of the gods, had made
this road when he came into India and conquered it, and how he had
caused the mountains to come together and block it up, so that no
man should pass through by it after. Then Alexander asked them of
the Northward way, and they told him how it led to the Trees of the
Sun and Moon: and they told of the wonders of the trees, and how
they spoke with men’s tongues, and told what should be in time to
come, and Alexander the King rejoiced.



Howbeit Alexander made no sign to them of his joy, for he seemed
not to believe the old men, and he said: “Have I spread the might
of my name from the East even unto the West to no end but to
become a sport to old men and dotards.” Then the old men made oath
by the gods that this thing was true, and they told the King how
that these trees spoke both in the Greek and the Indian language;
and Alexander asked them of the way to this marvel, and the men
answered: “O King, whosoever thou art, no greater marvel shalt thou
see than this we tell thee of. The way to it is a journey of ten
days, nor can your army pass because of the narrow paths, and the
want of water, but at the most four thousand men with their beasts
of burden and their food.” Then all the friends of the King and his
companions besought him to go and see this great thing, and he made
as if he hearkened to their prayers, and consented to go with them.
So he left the army with its baggage and the elephants in the hands
of King Porus his friend, and set out on the Northward Way to seek
the trees which spoke to men.

Now the Northward Way was like the Eastward one, a narrow road
among high mountains, and little ease was there in going through
it, and for three days they came to no water, but at noon on the
fourth day they came to a spring which flowed out of a cave on the
hillside. Then the Indians told Alexander that this cave was sacred
to Bacchus, so he entered it and offered up a sacrifice to the god,
and prayed him that he might return safe to Macedon, lord of the
world, but he got no sign from the god that his prayer was heard.
Then on the morrow he set out, and on the tenth day at even they
came to the foot of a great cliff, shining in the setting sun from
thousands of brilliant points like diamonds, and from chains of red
gold leading from step to step up the face of the rock, high up
beyond the ken of men. And as the sun shone on it the steps seemed
carved from sapphires and rubies, so deep were the blue and red of
their colour. Then Alexander the king set up altars to the gods of
heaven, and offered sacrifices to each one of them, and he and his
men lay that night at the foot of the cliff.

Early in the morning he arose, and when he had called to him his
twelve tried princes, he began to ascend the steps on the side of
the mountain, and as he went up it seemed to him that he was going
into the clouds, and when he looked down, the path by which he had
come seemed as a silver ribbon among the hills, and the men of
his host seemed smaller than bees, and nothing that might happen
seemed strange to him, for his joy and lightness of heart. So on
and on they went and at length they came to the last of the steps,
two thousand five hundred of them, and they found that on the top
of the cliff was a wide plain, and in the distance they saw a fair
palace set in a garden, and a noble minster shining in the sun
like gold. All the plain was full of rich and noble trees bearing
precious balm and spices, and many fruits grew on their branches,
and the inhabitants of the plain fed on them, for there were many
men on the plain, and all men and women were clothed in the skins
of panthers or of tigers sewn together, and they spoke in the
Indian tongue. As the Greeks drew near the palace they saw it, what
a fair home it was, and how it had two broad doors to its hall, and
seventy windows of diverse shape, and when they came to the doors
they found them covered with beaten gold, and set with fair stones.

But the doors of the palace opened and shut, and there stood before
them a negro, ten feet high, with great teeth showing over his
lips, his ears pierced and a great pearl in each, and clothed in
skins. And when he had saluted them he asked them why they had come
to that land, and they said that they wished to see the trees that
spoke, and to hear something from them. Then the negro bade them to
take three of them, and to put off their shoes, and their weapons
and ornaments, and to clothe themselves in fair white linen, and
Alexander and two of his companions did so, and the negro brought
them within the palace, leaving the rest of their companions
outside. And as they went in they marked the fair garden, and in it
were golden vines bearing on them grapes of rubies and carbuncles,
and they saw how precious a place it was, so that Paradise alone
excelled it.

Now when they were come to the inner door of the hall, the negro
bowed himself down before them, and opened the door before them,
but went not in himself, for that room was the chief of the palace,
and when they lifted up their heads they saw before them a couch
and on it was a man. Now the hangings of the couch were of golden
brocade, and its coverlet was blue, embroidered with shining ones
in bright gold, and the bedhead was embroidered with cherubim with
glancing wings, and the canopy with the bright seraphim. The
curtains were of silk and on them was a fair garden of needlework,
and in it were beasts and birds, and the pillars were of the same,
and all the points and ornaments were of pearl. The romance tells
that he who rested in that room was one of the noblest-looking men
that ever had life, with a face bright and bold as fire, his hair
was long and grey, and his beard was as white as the driven snow.
When the King and his peers saw him they knew that he must be of
the blood of the gods and not of mankind, and they knelt down on
the ground before him, and saluted him with all reverence. Then
he reached out his arms to them, and raised him on the bed, and
answered them: “Hail, Alexander,” said he, “All hail, thou who
wieldest the earth, thou and thy princes are welcome. Sir, thou
shalt see with thy sight such marvels as never before man saw; and
thou shalt hear of what shall come, things that no man hath heard
but thee.” Then was the King astonished that his name was known,
and he said, “Oh, holy happy man, how dost thou name my name, since
thou hast never seen me before?” And the god answered: “Yea, I knew
thee ere a word of thy fame had spread over the earth.” Then he
went on: “Wish ye to look upon the trees that bloom for ever, the
trees of the sun and of the moon, that can speak and tell thee of
what is to be?” And Alexander the king said, “Yes by my crown, this
would I do more than anything else in the world.” Then the god
said, “Art thou clean of body and mind, thou and thy friends; for
no man may enter the place where they are who is not pure of all
stain?” and Alexander answered that they were. So the Elder arose
from his bed, and cast on him a mantle of gold, and the ground
glittered for the glory of his weeds, and he led them to the door,
and there stood there two elders like to those Alexander had seen
at the Parting of the Ways, and he gave them into their hands,
and bade them lead them to the place where they would be. Then he
turned and departed, and Alexander and his friends Ptolemy and
Antiochus went with the elders.

As they went the elders asked them if they had any metal or rich
thing with them, and bade them cast it off, and one of the elders
stayed at the door of the minster while the other led them through
it, and after that the three Greek lords passed through a wondrous
thick wood, full of most precious trees, olives and sycamores,
cypresses and cedars, with balm and myrrh trickling down the trunk
and all manner of incense and aromatic spices. In this wood they
came upon a little round clear space, and when they looked they
saw a great tree whereon was neither fruit nor leaves, bark nor
bast, and it was one hundred feet high. And on it they saw a bird
resting on one Of its branches, and the bird was of the size of a
peacock, with a crest such as the peacock has, and its cheeks and
jaws were red like a fowl, and its breast was of golden feathers,
and its back and tail of blue speckled with crimson, and its body
of gold and red speckled with grey. Then Alexander the king stayed
and considered this bird and wondered at it, and the guide answered
his thought: “Why dost thou wait and wonder, yon is the Phœnix, the
bird that lives a hundred years, and has no mate:” and he turned
them a little way and they saw a spot where two trees grew side
by side, the trees of the Sun and the Moon. “Behold now,” quoth
the guide, “these holy trees; form in thy mind the question thou
wouldst ask of them, but say it not in words that can be heard; and
thou shalt have an answer in plain words, such as no other oracle
gives. And this shall be a sign to thee that the gods are good to
thee, since they read thy thoughts and need not words to tell them
thy question.”

The tale tells us that these trees were not like others, but their
boles and leaves shone like metal, and the tree of the sun was like
gold, and the tree of the moon was like silver, and the tree of the
sun was the male, and that of the moon the female. Then Alexander
asked his guide: “In what way will the trees answer me?” and the
Elder answered him: “Truly, O King, the Sun-tree begins to speak
in the Indian tongue, and ends in Greek; but the Moon-tree, since
it is female, speaks in a contrary manner, for it begins in Greek
and finishes in Indian, and thus in two tongues each tells us its
mission of fate.” Then he wished to offer sacrifices before the
trees to honour them as gods, but the Elder forbade him, for he
said that no living thing was to be injured in this place, and no
fire must be brought there, but that the only sacrifices offered
to the trees were kisses on the tree-boles. And when he heard this
Alexander the King knelt down on the ground and kissed the boles of
the trees one after the other, and asked within himself whether he
should return to Macedon, where his mother dwelt, having conquered
all the earth.

Now, when he had asked this question in his mind, and he and his
fellows were kneeling on the ground before the tree, suddenly it
began to move, and the leaves began to quiver, though all was still
and calm in the forest, and there was a sound of going in the
tree-tops, and a sighing as if the wind was rustling through the
leaves, and the sighing and moaning of the leaves grew louder, and
with a swaying sough this answer came to the King: “O Alexander,
unbeaten in war thou art, and shalt be lord of all the world, yet
never shalt thou see the soil of thy sires, or return to thy dear
land of Macedon; thou shalt see thy mother and thy land no more.”
When they heard these things the companions of Alexander fell down
to the ground as if dead, so great was their grief, and they heard
no more of what was said; but Alexander knelt down before the
Moon-tree to ask of it a question. Then the Elder came to him and
said: “O King, the tree of the Moon answers not till the night has
come, and the moon is full in the sky.” So the King turned to his
companions, and comforted them with his kind words and gifts, and
bade them be of good cheer.

When the night was come Alexander rose up again to go before the
Moon-tree, and to hear its oracles, and his companions told him
of the danger of being unarmed and alone by night, but Alexander
feared not, for it was not lawful to slay any one in that forest,
neither was there any man in it save the guide and themselves. And
having adored the tree and kissed it, he knelt down before it, and
thought to ask when and where should be his end. Then at the moment
when the rays of the moon made the leaves shine with splendour,
he heard a voice from the tree: “Alexander, the end of thy life
draws near; this year shall be thine, but in the ninth month of
the next thou shalt die at Babylon, deceived by him in whom you
fully trust.” Then he was filled with grief and he looked at his
friends, and he knew that they were ready to die for him if need
be, and he thought of the other companions in whom he trusted, and
that if he slew them he might save himself, and then he thought of
the endless suspicion and sorrow he would live in for the rest of
his days, and he remembered the words of the god when he told him
that it was not good for men to know the end of their days, and he
strengthened his heart and comforted his friends, and he bade them
swear never to reveal the things they had heard, and again they
returned to the minster, and found tents thereby where they might
rest, and beds of skins, and on an ivory table there was food and
drink set for them, fruit and bread, and water from the stream. So
they slept and rested.

Then in the morning the Elder woke him from sleep, and led him
before the bare tree, and bade him ask of it what he would, and
he knelt before it and kissed it, and asked in his mind, “Who is
it that shall harm my mother or sisters or myself?” Then he had
this answer from the tree: “O mighty lord, if I should tell thee
the man who should betray thee it were easy for thee to slay him
and to overcome thy fate, and the oracles would be made of none
effect. Therefore thou shalt die at Babylon, not by iron, as thou
deemest, nor by gold, silver, nor by any vile metal, but by poison.
Thy mother shall die by the vilest death, and shall lie unburied in
the common way, to be eaten by birds and dogs. Thy sisters shall
live long and happy lives. Short as thy life shall be, thou shalt
be lord of all lands. Now ask no more, but return to thy army and
to Porus thy friend.” And the Elder came up to him and said: “Let
us depart with speed, for the weeping and moaning of thy companions
have offended the holy ones of the trees,” and Alexander and his
companions departed from the forest. Then he asked the Elder who
was the god of the palace, and he told the King it was Bacchus, who
had sent him to the temple at the Parting of the Ways, and who had
welcomed him in the palace. So Alexander came to his peers, and
with them went down the golden stairway and joined the host, and
hurried on day after day until he came to the Parting of the Ways,
and there he found his army under the command of Porus his friend.

And after the army was gathered together, Alexander the King spoke
of his journey to the oracles, and how he had climbed the stairway,
and how he had been guided by the god, and had asked the trees of
his fate, and he told them that the trees had promised him that
he should conquer the world, and return to Macedon, and live a
long life, and all the army shouted with joy. But the comrades of
Alexander and his twelve peers were sad, for they knew what was
foretold, yet they said not a word of it, but shouted with the
rest. Then Porus the Indian doubted of the truth, and he questioned
the king’s companions closely, but they told him not of the oracle:
howbeit he was assured in his heart that Alexander was to die, and
he thought to seize on the empire, and he began to contrive the
king’s death; and Alexander knew of his questionings, and kept
watch over his doings.

Then orders were sent to the host to prepare for their march, for
Alexander was minded to set out and conquer the nations that had
not yet submitted to him, yet before he started, he bade men set
up two marble pillars at the temple of the Parting of the Ways,
and between them a pillar of gold, and on it was written in the
language of the land, how that Alexander the king had come to this
spot and had conquered all nations, and it said how that there was
no passage to the Eastward but to the Northward only. And when this
was done all the tents were struck and the host moved into a land
to the north, where they had not yet been; and the people of the
land brought him tribute.




After these things the host of the Greeks and the Persians and
the Indians was gathered together, in one place, and messengers
came from all the kings of the land to it to Alexander the king,
bringing gifts of rare and precious things, of gold and spices, of
the skins of a fish like to a leopard’s skin, of living lions and
other wild beasts. Now, among these was the messenger of a Queen
of the land, Candace by name, the widow of a great king friend
and cousin of Porus; and they brought with them letters to King
Porus from her. And when Alexander heard tell of her, he asked the
King of India concerning her, who she was, and what manner of men
she ruled over, and Porus answered and told him how she was the
fairest woman in India, and how she had married his near kinsman,
and had borne him three sons, Candoyl, Marcippus, and Caratros.
Then he told him how he had sent his daughter to her for safety,
and how she had married her to Caratros, her youngest son, who
should reign after her, as the custom of that folk was: and he told
of the gods she worshipped, and of the people she ruled, and of the
riches of the land. Then Alexander was fain of her presence, and
sent rich gifts, and a golden image of Ammon his god, and a letter
in which he asked her to journey towards the mountains and meet him
there, and he gave the messengers wealth and a strict command to
tarry not till they brought him word again. But Porus purposed evil
in his heart, for he sought to stir up wrath against Alexander in
Roxana the Queen.

Thus the messengers came to Queen Candace and they laid before her
the letter of Alexander, and his gifts, and told how she had been
honoured by the wealth given to her messengers, and besought her
to meet the Lord of the Greeks, but she would not, for she knew
the double mind of Porus, and would not adventure herself where
she could meet him, yet was she willing to please Alexander, so
she sent again her messengers, and richer gifts than before, and
a letter praising his knighthood and his valour, and the power of
his gods. Now these were her gifts, a crown of gold set with a
hundred precious stones, and two hundred and ten chains of red
gold, and thirty rich goblets carved with pelicans and parrots,
five Ethiopian slaves of one age, a rhinoceros, a thousand beryls
in caskets of ebon-wood, and four elephants to carry this wealth,
and on the back of each was the skin of a spotted panther, rich and
precious. So the messengers went their way, and with them Queen
Candace sent a cunning painter, and she prayed him in private to
make her a portrait of the king on parchment, noting all his shape
and proportion. And it was done as she said, for Alexander received
her gifts and well entreated her messengers, and sent them home;
and when they came the painter brought his drawing before her, and
she rejoiced, for she had longed to see what manner of man the
Greek lord was, and now was her wish fulfilled.

It fell on a day that Alexander was in his tent, and one of his
clerks was there with him, and as men went out and he chanced to be
alone with the king, he fell on his knees before him, and besought
grace. Then Alexander comforted him and bade him speak out boldly
and fear not. So this clerk told the king how Porus knew that the
death of Alexander was near, and that he had gathered together
men from all parts to slay him, and he told him how that the men
of Gog and Magog were on the march from the frozen lands of the
North at the pay of Porus. Then Alexander asked how this should
be, and the clerk told him that he had been sent to them in years
back by Darius, and that then it had been a full year’s journey,
but now had they come nearer, so that one month saw the beginning
and the end of the way to them, when Porus had sent him. Then the
Lord of the Greeks grew wrathful and began to doubt all men, for
he remembered that he should die by the hands of a friend whom he
trusted, wherefore he sent messengers for Porus, and when he came
he said to him: “O Porus, is not the half of my throne sufficient
for thee, but thou must adventure to slay me by the hand of the
outer barbarians? True knight thou art not, or thou wouldest scorn
to do by another what thou durst not attempt thyself.” But Porus
the king stood silent, and turned red and purple and white in
turns, and then he tugged off his glove and threw it at the feet
of Alexander on the ground. Then said Alexander: “O Porus, though
mayhap it were better to slay thee as a traitor, yet thou hast been
my fellow at board and bed, and I will meet thee as thou wishest,
that at least thou shalt die as a true knight, if thou couldst not
live as one.” Then he called for his page and he bade him take up
the glove and put it in his helmet against the set day.

On the third day at sunrise all men rose up early and came to the
field of war outside the camp, and each man took his place round
the field, the Greeks on the south, the Indians on the north,
and the Persians where they would on either side. And as they
looked they saw the tent of Alexander hung with green silk and
embroideries at the east end of the field, and the tent of Porus
hung with cloth of gold at the other. Before the doors stood pages
and trumpeters, and from time to time long calls rung out in the
air, notes of defiance and of confidence. From end to end of the
field ran a partition dividing it into two strips, for the battle
was to be fought out with the lance alone, and in the middle was
a high seat in which Ptolemy the king’s lieutenant was to sit as
judge. Beside and below him were places for the heralds, and as
time wore on they took their seats. And now the bustle round the
tents increased, and men went in and out, and the noise of the
hammer on the rivets rose between the calls. Then came a pause,
and the squires brought long lances and laid them before the
heralds, and they measured them side by side, and returned them to
the squires, who bore them back to their tents. A long call was
sounded, and a troop of men brought in between them the famous
white horse Bucephalus, and at the sight of him all the warriors
of Greece shouted, for many times had they followed him in battle,
and they deemed him the best horse in the world, though he was now
stricken in years; and when this shout died away another was raised
by the Indian knights as their lord’s great black horse came in to
the field, and the two horses smelled each other from afar, and
neighed out their defiance.

Now sounded the drums and clarions, and from afar the procession of
the lord of the lists came into the field, and amid the shouts of
the army Ptolemy sat down on the throne, and all men kept silence.
Then the heralds rose and saluted him, and he spoke to them, and
soon they broke up into two parties, and went one to each tent, and
each man’s eyes followed a party, this way or that. As they came
before the tent doors, the squires drew aside the curtains and the
kings stood before the heralds, clad in armour from head to foot.
Then the processions re-formed and with lowly reverence the knights
were brought before the lord of the lists, where they repeated one
by one the solemn oath that they had used no charm or magic against
their foe, but that the battle should be fought, man to man and
horse to horse, till death: and as they stood side by side the
giant Porus showed taller and stronger when compared with the Lord
of Macedon.

Then the knights mounted their horses, and saluting each other and
the lord of the lists, they turned away and rode to the end of the
lists and stood there two images of bright steel, waiting for the
sign of battle. A few moments pass, the lord of the field rises,
and the trumpet-call rings out, first low and steady and strong,
then higher and louder till it seems to carry men’s hearts with it
to the clouds, and in the midst of its last and loudest call the
baton is thrown down, and the two knights are spurring towards one
another; no man breathes, each stride brings them nearer, their aim
seems true, when a shout rises from the Greeks, and next second
both knights are on the ground, the air is filled with curses and
cries, the lists are peopled with heralds and knights and squires,
the black horse is galloping wildly over the field, Alexander
is kneeling by the side of his horse Bucephalus, and Porus is
lying still on the field, for he had shifted his lance and taken
traitor’s aim at the good horse and slain him, while Alexander had
struck him on the helm and thrown him far on the ground.

So the lord of the lists stood up and bade the heralds bring the
knights before him, but they came back and told him how Porus
lay deathlike on the field, yet was he unhurt to all seeming, so
Ptolemy spake to Alexander and said, “Sir Alexander, thou hast
done thy duly as a true knight, thine adversary is at thy mercy to
slay or to spare.” Then Alexander answered, “Were it not for his
traitorous dealing to my good steed I would forgive him yet again,
nor may I slay him unarmed, but by to-morrow morn I will meet
him again on foot, sword to sword, till one of us die.” Then the
squires carried Porus away to his tent, and the Indian knights went
away from the field shamefast, but the Persians and the Greeks
rejoiced in the fame of their lord, and mourned over the death of
the good steed Bucephalus. That day Alexander built a tomb for his
horse and laid him there, and bitter were the tears he shed, for
it seemed to him that the best days of his life were beginning to
leave him, and his evil days had begun.

When the morrow came all men went again to their places, and the
heralds and the trumpeters sat down in their seats, and Ptolemy
bade silence. Then the two knights were brought before him, on
foot, armed with sword and dagger, and he placed them before each
other, and bade them fall to when the trumpet sounded. The heralds
rose and made proclamation: “Lo ye, all men here present, these
knights, Sir Alexander of Macedon and Sir Porus of India, be met
for the agreement of certain differences between them; if now any
man shall enter this field, or aid them in any way, he shall fall
under pain of death, until this difference be voided.” Then all men
kept silence, till the lord of the field let fall his sceptre and
the trumpets rang out one shrill call.

Scarcely had the sound died away before the two knights began
circling round each other, like birds watching an opportunity to
dart in and seize their prey; but they dared not adventure, for
Porus was tall and long of reach, and Alexander was nimble and
long-armed and very mighty, and each man wished to strike a blow
that would end the fight at once, and time after time they came
near each other and stepped back again, till at the last Porus
struck at the left shoulder of Alexander, which was just in his
reach, and Alexander caught the blow on his shoulder, and running
forward struck with his right arm alone, and drove his sword-edge
through helm and cheek-bone and skull, and Porus fell dead on the
ground, and the Greeks shouted with joy. Thus was the treason of
Porus, his evil thoughts and his unknightly deeds, avenged by
Alexander. But when he was dead the Lord of Macedon gave him burial
like one of the kings, and he built over him a temple, with walls
and towers and priests to pray for him perpetually.

At this time it fell that Candoyl, the eldest son of Candace the
queen, came before his mother and said to her, “Fair mother and
queen, grant me that I may leave thy lands and journey out into the
world;” and she said, “Go, my son, with my blessing and leave, and
tarry not till thou return.” So he got together much wealth and
departed, with his wife and his servants, and came to a certain
strong city called Bebrik, and harboured there, and when the morrow
was come and he departed, the king of Bebrik came round and met him
on a certain bent, and slew many of his men, and one of the king’s
knights took the lady and bore her off to the town, shrieking
and lamenting so as to pierce the heart of any true knight: for
it is to be said that the king of Bebrik had loved her for many
years. Then was Candoyl sore troubled, and he went on his way to
the army of Alexander to seek his grace, if by any means he would
help him to recover his lady and love. Soon he came near the camp
and entered it, and the watchmen took him and brought him before
Ptolemy, the most noble of the Greeks after Alexander, and he asked
him, “What manner of man art thou, and what dost thou here? What is
the cause of thy coming? Let us know thy name?” “Sire,” said he, “I
am Candoyl, the son of Candace the conqueress,” and he told him of
his coming, and of what befell him in the way. Then Ptolemy hurried
from the tent, leaving Candoyl in ward of a knight, and went into
the cabin where the King was lying, and found him asleep. So he
waked him gently and told him the tidings, how a knight, the son of
Candace the queen, had come to crave his help against the king of
Bebrik, who had reft his wife from him.

Then said Alexander, “Go back again to thy tent, put on thy head
the richest diadem I have, a crown of red gold, and a king’s
mantle, and seat thee in the king’s seat as though thou wert
myself, let my knights come about thee and call thee by my name
with all due reverence, and then send messengers for me, and call
me Antiochus, and I shall obey thy bidding as I were thy liegeman.
And when I come to thy call, and kneel before thee, declare to me
all the case of Candoyl’s adventure openly before him, and be not
abashed when I bow, nor bid me not to rise, but let thy countenance
be solemn when thou art speaking, and say then, ‘Antiochus, my
noble, let us see thy wisdom in this matter, do thou wisely advise
me.’” So Ptolemy hurried away and clothed him in the dress of an
emperor, and sent for Alexander in the name of Antiochus, and when
he was come, he told him the tale before Candoyl, and asked his
advice. Then answered Antiochus, “Were it your will, noble Emperor,
I would fare with this knight to recover his wife, and would bid
the king of Bebrik on pain of his eyes restore her, and if not, we
should grind his city and him to dust.” Then Candoyl bowed before
the king, and said, “Sir Antiochus, of all men be thou happy, thy
wisdom is worthy of a king clad in gold with crown and sceptre.”
So Alexander and Candoyl rode forth that same night, and when it
was dawn they came before the walls of Bebrik. Then the watch on
the gate saw them, and cried out, “Who are ye, O knights; whence
and what is your errand?” And Alexander answered, “It is Sir
Candoyl, that has come for his spouse, and I am the messenger of
the Lord of Macedon, and I bid you, if you will save your city from
destruction, to yield his bride to him without delay.” Then the
burghers of the city were filled with fear, though they were a
stiff-necked folk, and they went in a body to the palace of their
king, and burst open the gates and brought forth the dame, and led
her to her husband in all honour. So Candoyl thanked him heartily,
and said, “I pray thee, dear prince, pass with me to my mother,
that thou mayst have the honour and reward thou hast merited for
thy deeds.” Then was the King rejoiced at these words, and he said,
“Go we to Alexander to ask his leave, and gladly will I follow thee
and do thy will;” for he would not have him to think him other than
Antiochus; so they went to Ptolemy and he gave him full leave to

Now drew they near the city of Candace the queen, and she heard of
the coming of Candoyl her son and his wife, and how she had been
taken prisoner by the king of Bebrik, and released by a knight of
Macedon, who was with them, and she was glad in her heart, and
greatly rejoiced. Into a chamber she went and changed all her
weeds, and put on a robe of red gold and a rich mantle over it,
a crown and a kerchief clustered with gems, and came down from
her palace gate surrounded by her knights, and found them before
it. So she clasped her son in her arms and kissed him, and said,
“Welcome be thou, my loved son, and thou, my dearest daughter, and
I am glad of your guest, as the gods give me joy:” and Alexander
looked on her, and his heart rejoiced, for he thought her likest
of all women to Olympias his mother; fair and fresh was she as a
falcon, or as some spirit from another world. So they came into
her castle-hall, full of precious stones and adorned with gems,
its pillars of porphyry, and its floor of bright crystal, clear
as a river, and there they sat at meat--Alexander and Candace and
Candoyl, served together at the high table.

On the morrow at first light Candace the queen came with her
ladies and took the Greek knight Antiochus through the palace and
showed him how richly it was built, and all the wonders in it,
great and small. And when he had seen all these things she asked
him of the palace of Alexander, and he told her how it was not so
rich as hers, but was a home for fighting men to rest in, and to
prepare for new wars, while the palaces of the Kings of the East
were fitter to make men long for ease than to give them heart for
the toil and danger of battle. Then said the Queen, “Other wonders
still shall I show thee, O Antiochus, wonders that no king hath the
like of,” and she bade her servants go forth, and giving her hand
to the Greek led him into a room, covered with cypress and with
cedar from floor to roof, where they sat down on two thrones in the
room. Soon a mighty sound was heard, and as the Greek looked out
he saw the trees and the fields and the town moving round him, and
he knew that he was in a chamber that turned round by some hidden
power. It is to be said that this room was turned round by the
strength of twenty tame elephants that the queen kept for this end,
and everyday she came and sat in the chamber and looked from the
window while it was turned for a space. So as the false Antiochus
looked he wondered and said, “Verily, O Queen, were such a wonder
as this in our land of Macedon, proud would our lord the king be of
it above all his treasures”; and Candace looked on him and said,
“Alexander, this is but little to the wonders that the men of this
land can show the Greeks.”

Then Alexander sprang up from his seat at the calling of his name,
for well he knew the danger he was in, and all his face turned
pale, since any of the kings of India would give his weight in
gold to have him in their power, and he said, “Nay, lady, my name
is Antiochus,” but she rose and took him by the hand with a kindly
laugh, and going to the recess drew back the tapestry banging and
shewed him a picture in parchment whereon he was painted dressed in
his royal robes. “See for thyself,” said she, “that I have made no
mistake.” Then as the king looked on the picture his face turned
yellow, and his flesh trembled. “Why fades thy fair hue?” said the
lady, “thou warrior of all the world, the conqueror of Persia and
of India, the Medes and the Parthians! Lo, now, thou art here in
a woman’s ward, in spite of all thy worthy deeds. Where is now
thy praise that reaches up to heaven? It is gone at once, at the
turning of the breath of a woman.” Then she waited for a space,
but the lord of Macedon answered her naught, for his heart waxed
hot within him, and he ground his teeth with rage as he looked
hither and thither, so she said, “Why dost thou vex thy soul, Sir
Conqueror, what may thy manhood avail thee, or all thy rage?” Then
the King answered her and said, “For one thing only I grieve, that
I have not my sword, nor may I see any weapon.” “And, my fair
knight, what bold brave deed would thy sword help thee to, if thou
hadst one?” “Since I am taken unawares,” quoth he, “surely I would
slay thee where thou sittest, and myself after.” Then Candace the
Queen laughed out, “That were the deed of a true knight,” said she,
“but not yet are we to do and suffer such things; hast thou not
rescued my son’s wife from the hands of the king of Bebrik? Surely
I shall save thee unharmed from my folk. Yet were it known that
thou wert here, not all my power could save thee, since thou hast
slain the Lord of India, good Porus, whose daughter my youngest
son Caratros has taken to wife. But no man has seen thy picture
from the day I had it till now.” Then the Lord of Macedon came near
her, and she took him by the hand and led him into the hall of the

Now when Candace the Queen left Alexander in the hall she came on
her two sons Candoyl and Caratros, and they were in sore strife.
For after the Queen had borne away with her the Greek, Caratros
said to his brother Candoyl, “Now has this Greek Lord slain my
father-in-law, Porus the Good, and needs must I have revenge or my
wife will go mad. I will slay this lord Antiochus, his friend and
messenger, and when he comes to revenge his servant, I will go out
and slay him in combat.” But Candoyl answered him, “My brother,
the Lord of Macedon has helped me, and this knight, Sir Antiochus,
has recovered for me my wife: I brought him hither, and I shall
lead him in safety to his lord’s tents.” Then Candace the Queen
said, “Caratros, my son, what honour will come to thee for slaying
a guest and a friend? Shall anything come of it but sorrow?” But
Caratros grew angry and said, “What ails thee brother, that we
should strive with each other in this matter, leave me to do my
will.” Then Candace the Queen went quickly and took Alexander
into council and told him how her son wished to slay him, and how
Candoyl would fight for him. “Lord Alexander,” said she, “I pray
thee, make peace between my children.” Then Alexander rose up,
and came to the room of the brethren, and the clash of swords was
heard, so he caught up a weapon and ran between them and beat down
their swords, saying, “Fair lords, this must not be, ye must not
fight alone.” And after he had quieted them, he spake to Caratros
in fair words, saying, “My good lord, if you end my life, you can
win no praise for it, since I am in thy hands. Alexander has seven
hundred knights as good as I am, if I were precious to him, would
he have let me come in a strange land without ward or retinue?
Not so, my lord, but if in truth you desire to look on Alexander,
you need but give me the goods I crave for and I will immediately
put that prince into your hands.” Then Caratros rejoiced, and
kissed his brother in his joy; and Candace the Queen called to her
Alexander and said, “Happy should I be, if you were ever with me,
then should all my foes be destroyed.” So she gave him a crown of
amethysts and diamonds, and a noble mantle, and dearly she kissed
him, and bade him farewell. And the Lord of Macedon departed and
with him Candoyl went as his guide, for he thought that Caratros
his brother might again change his mind and work him evil, if the
Greek knight returned alone to the camp; and he purposed to lead
him through the mountains and to shew him the place where Candace
his mother worshipped the great gods, and heard oracles of things
to come, and teamed the mysteries of the gods.



Candoyl and Alexander rode from the city out into the open country,
and all day passed through it, till as the sun went down they came
near the hills, and they found there a cave, great beyond measure,
hidden between two hills, and there they harboured all night. And
when evening was come Candoyl spoke to Alexander and said, “Sir,
in this cave men say that the gods appear, and tell men what shall
come to pass.” Then was Alexander rejoiced and gave thanks to the
gods, and went in to the darkest part of the cave, but Candoyl
abode at the mouth. And as Alexander drew near he saw a great cloud
and from it a light glimmering like stars, and as he gazed him
thought he saw in the midst of it a throne, and on it was a great
grisly god whose eyes shone out fierce like lanterns. Then was
Alexander sore dismayed, and fell to the ground. “Hail, Alexander!”
quoth that high god. “Sire, what is thy name, and now shall I call
thee?” said the king. “Thinthisus is my name, and all the world is
under my hand. Yet hast thou built a city in thy name, and thou
hast set me there no temple.” “Sire, if I return to Macedon, I will
build thee a temple as master of the gods: none shall be like it in
any land.” “Nay, nay, long not thereafter; thou shalt never look
on that land. Go further, and behold.” Then the king looked and he
saw another cloud not far off, so he went thither, and lo! another
grim god seated before him. Kneeling on the earth he asked, “Who
art thou, Lord?” and the god answered him, “I am Serapis, the god
of thy father, the father of gods.” Then said Alexander, “Tell me,
I pray thee, the name of the man that shall slay me:” but the god
answered him, “O king, in time past I told thee that should any man
know the cause of his death beforehand, he would suffer greatly;
be of good heart, thou hast conquered many nations, thou shalt yet
do great deeds; thou hast built a mighty city which shall endure
for ever; many men shall resort there, and many races of kings
shall rule it; thou shalt die and be buried in a noble city far
from thine own land.” Alexander bowed himself down before the god
and returned to the mouth of the cave, and found Candoyl waiting
for him in the morning dawn, and the plain lay before him covered
with his armies, and he bade farewell to the son of Candace, each
departing to his own.

It fell as Alexander rode on towards his camp that he began to
doubt in his mind that something was wrong, for all things looked
to be untended, and no guards were set round the army, and as he
drew nearer he heard shouts and cries, so he spurred up his steed
and rode into the camp, and no man stopped him, for all were drawn
to one place. But when he had come thither he found that the
Greeks were drawn up in array, and that the Indians and Persians
were running hither and thither, shouting and crying; so that
every now and then a band of them would turn against the Greeks
and make as if to force their way among them, and when they were
driven back they would again begin to cry and shout. So the Lord
of Macedon rode up among them, and no man of the Indians knew him,
for his helmet was closed, and he came to his own men and they
knew him, and shouted for joy and opened a way for him. Then he
sent for Ptolemy, and when he was come he asked him what was the
cause of this trouble and why the Indians were so sore afraid. But
it is to be said that at the sound of Alexander’s voice all men
had returned to their tents and the guard had gone out round the
camp. Then Ptolemy told the king how that men had come to the camp
three days agone telling of a new and strange folk coming from the
north, frightful beyond bearing, and how they destroyed all things
they came across and spared nothing that was good, but what they
consumed not they wasted, and whom they kept not for slaves they
killed in their wanton sport. And they were short, shorter than
any men, and no man might look on them without fear. So these men
had fled from before them, and they had come to King Alexander to
preserve them from their enemies, and Ptolemy charged them to tell
their tale to no man. But when they had been in the camp two days
and had not seen the Lord of Macedon, their fear broke out again,
and they told their tale to whoever would hear them, and the story
spread, and a saying arose among the Indians that this foe was
right at hand, and they clamoured for Alexander to come out and
lead them, and they threatened to tear the camp to pieces if he
came not.

Then were these ambassadors of fear brought before Alexander, and
he questioned them of this people and of its coming, and they told
him how that they were scarce ten days’ journey from them, and that
they were settled in that land and had sown a crop, for it was ever
their custom to come into a land at sowing time and to make the
men of that land their slaves, so that they reaped the harvest
for them, and then to slay them or drive them out to starve. And
the ambassadors told how this race of dwarfs raged horribly at the
name of Alexander, and said they had come to destroy him and the
Greeks from the face of the earth, and they told last how these men
were enemies of the Gods themselves above all things, so that evil
was their good and good their evil. Then Alexander asked which of
them had seen this folk, but no man had seen them, save one who had
been far off them. So he sent for the clerk who had told him of the
double-dealing of Porus and straitly questioned him, and he told
the king how these folk were scarce two cubits high, but stronger
than mortal men. “For in winter they wear no clothing, but they are
covered with hair from their waist downward; their mouths are huge
and set with fangs like a wild boar, their hands are like lion’s
claws, no man may look on their eyes when they are set on him, and
their ears are so great that in sleep they serve as coverlets. Two
princes have they, whose names are Gog and Magog.” Moreover the
clerk said mayhap the saying of the ambassadors was true, that they
would wait where they were till next spring time, yet mayhap they
might move before winter came on. Then Alexander decided that he
would attack these dwarfs in the land where they were and drive
them back to their own land.

The tale tells that the march of the army lay through a strange
land and many wonders there befell them, for they passed through
the valley of serpents and fought the griffins; they came to the
shores of the sea and saw there wondrous beasts, and many things
of which it were long to speak. On the third day of their march
they came into a dark valley smelling sweetly of all spices, there
cloves and ginger, and the pepper plant grew. But among these
shrubs were many serpents and adders, who lived on the plants and
had none other food, and these snakes had on their heads an emerald
crown, as it were of goldsmith’s beaten work. Now the people of
that land, when they wish to gather the pepper, set fire to this
wood, and the flame drives away the snakes, but blackens and rivels
the pepper. In the hills of this place were many precious stones
called smaragds, and Alexander set his heart on gathering them,
and sent men to climb the hills, but when they came near the place
where the stones were, beasts came out and fell on them, in shape
like lions but with cleft claws a yard across, and among them
were griffins, with birds’ wings and beak and claws but otherwise
like to a lion, and each of them so strong that it might bear
away a knight full armed on his horse. Then came up Alexander and
encouraged his dukes, and bade them shoot with a will, and the
archers and arbalasters shot altogether, and the knights struck
down and killed many of the beasts with their lances and their
battle-axes, but the griffins tore the knights from their saddles
and with their tails blinded them so that they could not see where
to strike, and at last the Greeks were driven down, and over two
hundred of those who wore golden spurs were slain in that fierce
fight. Yet were a few of the griffins beaten down, and four of them
were bound in strong chains and borne away by Alexander.

On the morrow after the host had come clear away from these hills,
it came to a great and mighty river running straight down to the
shores of ocean, and its banks were covered with huge reeds,
longer than the highest tree, and so heavy that twenty men could
scarce lift them. Of these reeds Alexander bade them make barges
and ferry over his host, for the river was twenty furlongs broad,
and two days were spent in the crossing over of the army. And
when Alexander and his men were on the further side of the river
the people of the land came to him, and they were a simple folk,
clothed in the skins of great fish and of beasts. Nor were they
inhospitable, for they brought sponges, white and purple, mussels
so great that six men might make a meal of one, eels from the river
thicker than a man’s leg, and lampreys weighing twenty pounds
each. Then Alexander thanked them for their gifts, and gave them
great rewards, and asked them of their land and its wonders, and
they told him of the sirens who lived in that river, women with
long hair for clothing who lived in the water like fishes. Yet
when these creatures saw any man they drew him into the water,
if he knew not their craft, and kept him there till he died, and
sometimes they bound him to the great reeds and forced him to make
sport for them till at the last they killed him, for they had
neither love nor hate nor any care or thought, naught of mankind
save its outward semblance. Then Alexander bade his men to search
for these beasts and offered great rewards, and at the last two
of them were taken and brought before him, and they were white as
snow, their hair came down to their feet round their body, and they
were taller than men have custom to be, yet they could not live
without water, and in few hours’ time both were dead.

And Alexander the king spoke with their wise men of the combat with
the dwarfs from the desert of the north, since the men of that
land were exceeding wise, and they told him of the way by which
he could fall on them at unawares; and when they knew that he had
with him in the host the griffins they rejoiced and told him of a
marvellous thing. Then the Lord of Macedon caused his smiths to
make him a chair of black iron, and on the top of it at each corner
was a large smaragd stone, and they brought the chair to the top
of an exceeding high mountain in that land, and when they had come
thither they bound the griffins to each corner of the chair at the
bottom with great and very strong chains, for Alexander was minded
to be carried up into the air by the griffins that he might see
all lands. So when he was set in his chair and covered round with
great bars of iron, he bade them uncover the eyes of the griffins,
and they saw the smaragd stones fixed high above them and all at
once they flew up towards the stones, for the sight of that stone
is meat and drink to these animals, and they hunger to gather it
together and to bear it off to their dens, neither care they for
any hurt they receive in the getting of it. So they flew and soon
Alexander was borne out of sight of men, high above the clouds, and
he saw the earth below him like a basin, and the lands, and the
way to the dwarfs, the men of Gog and Magog, and still they flew
higher and the earth grew small like a mill-stone and the ocean and
the rivers seemed like a writhing adder, and then the gods struck
the griffins with fear, and they shut their eyes and stretched out
their wings, and sunk lower and lower till they lay at the last on
the ground in a green field in a strange land, and Alexander looked
round and saw far on the towers of Jerusalem. But the griffins
arose, and flew away till they came to their nest in the mountains,
and when they came thither the Lord of Macedon left his seat and
made his way through the hills till he came to the river, when he
crossed it and came to his army again.

Then marched the host on its way and at the last it came near the
country of the ambassadors where the abominable dwarfs were, and
when they came there the ambassadors went forward to bring the news
of the coming of the Greeks. It chanced that the third day after
the coming of the ambassadors was a feast of the dwarf-folk, and
all the men of that country kept the news of the coming of the
Greeks from them so that they met in all their number in one place.
It was of custom among them that every feast some one should be
slain in torment that the chief men of the dwarf-folk might give a
presage of what should befall the folk, and that feast one of them
was to be slain for he had given food to a man that was starving
in a prison cell. So the ambassadors returned and told Alexander
what was to be done; and he deemed it well to fall on them when
they were all in one place. And this he did, and the fight was long
and sore between him and the dwarfs, for the dwarfs were so small
that they escaped the lance point, and they ran under the horses
and houghed them, and their skins were so tough that the arrows
glanced off them, if they did not hit straight, and the sword edges
slipped, but the claws of the dwarfs and their teeth and their
arrows availed them little against the armour of the Macedonians.

In the night after the battle of the first day the guards cried
out for that lights were moving on the field of battle, and soon
three dwarfs came near holding in their hands peeled white wands;
and when the guards saw them they brought them to the tent of
Alexander. Then the eldest of them said, “O leader of the Greeks
from Macedon, truly ye be braver than the Persians or the men of
India, give us now an ounce of gold and a sword for each man and
we will return whence we came.” Then Alexander said, “O leader of
the dwarfs, haters of God and men, meseems I am not come to this
land but to free mankind from you. If ye abide my face till day I
will slay you all, and if ye flee I will pursue you till ye return
to your own land.” Then he bade his men to take them and lead them
from the camp.

It was of custom among this folk to travel in great waggons, and
to make of these their forts in times of danger, so on the morrow
when the Greeks and the Persians drew out in battle array, the
dwarf-folk came not forth all to attack them as on the day before,
but the more part stayed within the waggons, and when the knights
rode up to the waggons their progress was stopped and they could
go no further, and the dwarfs stood on the waggons and mocked and
jeered at them as they shot their arrows at them, and the knights
were sore angered and brought up firebrands but the dwarfs had
covered the waggons with hides so that they burnt not. So that day
wore on, and when night came the Greeks returned to their camp,
and they spent the night in plans for the morrow. When it was light
the army of Alexander got them ready for another day’s fighting,
but when they came out on the plain, they found not the hordes of
the dwarfs for they had departed, burning all the country round.
Then Alexander provided good store of food and drink and began to
follow up the abominable dwarfs, for well he knew that he should
find neither on the road, for these wretches destroy all the crops
and poison and defile all the springs of water they pass. And after
many days he came to the land of the dwarfs, and there he found
two-and-twenty kings, and fought a great battle with them, and made
them give up all the iron and copper in their land, and then he set
his men to build a great wall at the entrance to their land.

Now the land of the dwarfs lies behind two very high mountains
and there is no way by which men may come in or go out of it but
between these mountains, so Alexander built a wall across from
one to the other and he strengthened it with the iron and the
copper of the dwarfs, and wrought mighty spells on it, so that no
dwarf should pass over it, and left them there. And all the world
rejoiced and praised the name of Alexander, and this deed of his
was counted the greatest of his life. And in after days a tale
grew, and men told how every day the dwarf-folk came down to the
wall and tore it down bit by bit with their claws, and night by
night the spells of Alexander prevailed and the wall was made whole
again, because this folk feared not the gods, nor obeyed them. But
the tale tells that when the enemy of the gods and the deceiver of
men shall come on earth, he will teach them to name their children
“Inshallah,” which means, if the gods will, and then when they call
their children to help them, they will tear down the wall, and come
out from their prison, and destroy the cities of Alexander, and the
works of men since his time, and bring death on all men, if the
gods stay them not.

Furthermore men told of this dwarf-folk, that they have among
them sorcerers who work such spells that the might of the dwarfs
is increased an hundred-fold, and that when the time shall come,
these sorcerers will run through the air between heaven and earth,
swifter than the wind, and will slay a child, and will dip the
weapons of the dwarf-folk in its blood, and each of the dwarfs
shall have with him a hundred warriors on horseback, armed with
mace and spear. And when they ride out through the broken wall and
through the iron threshold that Alexander built to strengthen the
wall, the hooves of their horses shall wear away a span-depth from
the lower threshold of iron, and their spear-points shall wear away
a span-height from the upper threshold of brass. And these sayings
of men show how great was their fear of the dwarf-folk, and their
thanks to the Lord of Macedon, who freed the land from them.

After these things the heart of Alexander was lifted up and he
thought within himself that he was even as one of the high gods,
for he had travelled through the air, where no man had been before,
borne by griffins on an iron throne, and he had saved all men from
the foes of mankind, and he had raised himself above all men in
power and dignity, nor had any man conquered him or stood before
his face. So when his army turned and came to the shores of ocean,
a new thought came into his mind how that he would see the wonders
of the sea, and the things that live there, and come not up to the
surface of the deep.

So he ordered, and his cunning men began to make for him great
sheets of green glittering glass, and to shape it into a box, and
bind it with great girths of iron, that he might sit in it and see
all things that were without it, while he himself was untouched.
Then he bade them take it to the borders of ocean, and bind great
chains to it, and take it in a boat, and when he was entered into
it to let it sink to the bottom of the sea for a set space of time.
And as all things were ready, and he had given in charge to Roboas,
son of Antipater, whom he loved, to draw him up after the set time,
there came to him a clerk who had been sent to him by Roxana the
Queen on a special errand. So the clerk drew near, and said, “O
Alexander, thus saith Roxana thy Queen and thy love: Many nights
have I been troubled concerning thee, for a man with two horns on
his head has stood by me, and has warned me of evil that may hap
to thee. Now, therefore, I send thee a ring, one of the treasures
of Darius, my father; slay and offer a sacrifice to the gods, rub
the ring with the blood, and wear it, and no evil shall happen thee
on the sea or under it.” Then Alexander did as the messenger bade
him, and offered the sacrifice to the gods, and put the ring on his
finger, but none of those who stood by understood the matter, for
the message was a secret one.

[Illustration: Alexander sees the wonders of the sea]

The tale tells that Alexander entered into the vessel of glass,
and quickly shut the wicket; and his princes pointed it with pitch
so that no water might come in at the joints, and in a moment he
entered the deep with a heavy plunge. There saw he fish whose
figures he had never dreamed of, with forms diverse and horrible,
and creeping things and four-footed things crawling on the sea
bottom, and feeding on strange fruits of corals and sea weeds and
trees growing on the sand and sea ooze, and great monsters came
sailing up to the side of the cage and looked in and turned away
affrighted, and other sights he saw such that he would never tell
to any man till the day of his death, for they were so horrible
that tongue could not tell or man hear them told, and Alexander
fell down on the floor of his vessel of glass and lay there for a
time without life.

Now when the set time was come that Alexander was to be drawn up,
it fell that Roboas, the son of Antipater, was struck by some god
with blindness, for he loosened the chain from the ship and let
it fall so that it ran into the sea and sunk. And as he saw what
he had done, and how he had destroyed the life of his lord, he
plunged into the sea straightway, if so be he might die with him,
for his comrades were like to tear him in pieces. But the great
iron chains falling into the sea broke the vessel of glass, and the
gods saved Alexander again, for the chains crushed him not, and the
glass wounded him not, and he was borne to the surface of the sea
whether by the rush of the water or by the virtue of the ring of
Roxana, and his princes saw him come to the surface and they took
him up, for they thought it was Roboas, and when they found it was
Alexander great was their joy, and Roboas also they brought up, and
Alexander forgave him, for much did he love him.



Furthermore after the descent of Alexander into the sea, messengers
came from Susa with the word that the king of Babylon, Nabuzardan,
had refused the tribute that he ought to pay, and had declared war
against the Lord of Macedon, for he deemed that Alexander would
not return from the far lands to which he had departed, and he
thought that the city Babylon could not be taken of man, for it was
exceeding great and strong, and needed help of no man when it was
closed up. Then Alexander the king grew very wroth, and bade all
men prepare to go to Babylon, for he would gather all the armies
of the empire against it, and he turned his face towards the land
of Babylon and marched towards it, and they went through mighty
deserts and strange lands, and many strange things they saw and
wild beasts of strange shapes, and some that breathed out fire, and
had teeth and claws like iron, and were covered with scales like
brass. But above all wonders of the land men brought him a certain
bird called Caladrius. Now this bird is white of colour and hath no
part of blackness, and its nature is such that when a man suffers
from great sickness, and this bird turneth away its face from him
that is sick, then without doubt the man shall die. And if the sick
man shall escape, the bird setteth its sight on him and beholdeth
him as it were fawning and playing. And Alexander made proof of its
wondrous gifts.

Now the land of Babylon is the best land to bear all manner of
bread-corn and fruit and wine; full of sweet spices, herbs, and
trees; and most rich of precious stones and of divers metals,
with great plenty of camels, horses, oxen, asses, mules and other
beasts. And the greatness of the city may scarcely be told, for the
walls were fifty cubits thick, and as much in height, and the city
was four hundred and fourscore furlongs about. The walls were of
burnt tiles and brick, and without was a broad ditch and deep. Into
that ditch ran the river Euphrates all about the city. And in the
front of the walls were an hundred gates, and about the walls were
dwelling places for them that should defend the city, and those
places of defence were wondrous huge and strong.

On the day that Alexander came into the land of Babylon, there met
him messengers from his mother Olympias and from Aristotle the
wise, whom he had left to govern the land of Macedon. And Olympias
wrote telling of troubles in the kingdom, now Antipater the father
of Cassander and Roboas had stirred up the people against her,
and how he sought to be king of Macedon, for he had heard that
Alexander should return no more to Greece. But Aristotle wrote
praising the wondrous works he had wrought, and the sights he had

Soon the Lord of Macedon pitched his tents before the walls of
Babylon, and called on Nabuzardan its king to yield himself up. Now
it was the custom of Alexander when he besieged a town that for
three days a white flag hung over his tent, and after that a black
one flew, and if the town yielded while the white flag was flying,
then Alexander received it into the number of his friends, but if
they yielded not then were they treated as enemies and slain or
sold for slaves. And three days did the heralds come to the walls
of Babylon, and sound their trumpets and call on them to yield, but
they did not, and on the fourth day, Alexander brought up great
catapults and sent huge stones into the city, and the people feared
and sent out the dead body of Nabuzardan their king, and yielded
them to the mercy of Alexander. Then the Lord of Macedon entered
into the city with all his men, and they came into it and abode
there many months.

So Alexander reigned in Babylon, and of the gold of India and of
Persia he bade men make him a throne, and they brought the gold on
horses, and on camels, and on elephants, and cast it into a heap
twelve cubits high, and this was the fashion of the throne they
made. It was at the top of twelve steps, and was surrounded by
twelve images, the shapes of his twelve tried princes, and each of
these held up the heavy work of the canopy of the throne. The seat
of the throne was of smaragd stone, green and clear, and above all,
in the canopy, was a lovely carbuncle which shone in the darkest of
the night like a sun, and on the steps of the throne were engraved
the names of all the countries of the world, for they were subject
to his rule. Then made he a crown adorned with noble and precious
stones, rich beyond all telling, and on it was a name telling of
his power and might. And his heart swelled within him and he forgot
the warnings of the gods who had told him of his death.

Then wondrous things began to happen in the land, signs and
marvels, for on one day an ass fell upon a noble lion and kicked it
to death, nor did the lion resist, and on another day a child was
born in shape like a lion from the waist up, and the child spoke a
word and died. So Alexander asked his wise men and the priests of
Babylon, and they told him that it showed evil that should happen
to him. And this is how the evil came. There was a certain great
lord in Macedon, Antipater by name, and he sent to gather poison
from the rock of Nonacris, and so strong was this poison that no
cup or vessel might contain it, save only it were made from the
hoof of a horse. So when he had gathered it he sent messengers to
his son Cassander with the poison, and he bade him fear not to
use it. Now Cassander and Roboas his brother had determined evil
towards Alexander in their hearts since the day when Roboas had let
Alexander loose in the sea, and since the day when Cassander had
come into the camp to Alexander. For when Cassander had done his
homage to his lord, one of the Indian kings came up and fell on the
ground before him, and kissed the ground at his feet, and Cassander
laughed out at the Indian king, wherefore Alexander was offended,
and struck him a blow so that he reeled against the wall. So when
the poison came Cassander rejoiced, and he told his brother, and
they set a day to kill the Lord of Macedon, the noble Alexander.

The tale tells how Alexander held high feast in his palace at
Babylon, seated on his golden throne with his crown on his head,
and Roxana the queen by his side, and with him the twelve princes
of Greece, who had been his companions and his friends from the
days of his youth up. And they rejoiced and were glad, for all
nations were put under their feet, and the burden of warfare was
over, and now they had to rule the folk and to lead happy days,
and they trusted that they should be great kings under Alexander
the emperor. And now men passed the wine, and full draughts were
drunk, and Nearchus told a tale of the wonders that he had seen in
the great sea of ocean when he had sailed there at the orders of
Alexander, and another great lord reached for a lyre and sung a
song of old days. Then men told tales of their deeds in battle, and
each man boasted how near he had been to Alexander in the days of
the great battles, and at the last men fell to talk of that good
steed Bucephalus, and how he bore the king in battle, and served
him faithfully, and fought with him, and Cassander said to Roboas
his brother “What thou hast to do, that do,” and Roboas rose and
brought a cup to Alexander, and said “Dear Lord, this cup is made
from the hoof of thy brave steed, Bucephalus the white; drink we a
cup in memory of this horse, the best in the world.” And Alexander
rose and said “O Bucephalus, my fair horse, thou failedst me never;
were this cup my bane, I would refuse it not from thee,” and he
drank it down. Then he sat down for a space, and then he fell
forward from his seat, and his sword fell from its sheath, and
pierced his side, and he called but twice “Help! Help!” Yet when
his lords ran to him and raised him, he said “Nay, my good lords of
Macedon, it is nought; drink ye and rejoice for the good days to
come,” but he turned to Cassander and said “My faithful liegeman,
go and fetch me somewhat to ease me of this pain,” for he trusted
in Cassander as he did in his nearest friend. But Cassander brought
him that which only increased his pain.

That night Alexander the king lay alone in his palace at Babylon,
for he would have no man near him to watch by him or to guard him,
and as he lay the cold poison weighed on his heart. Then his brain
grew dizzy and faint, and the room seemed measurelessly great,
and all men seemed far away. The beginning of the night seemed to
be long time past, the dawn of day was still too far away to hope
for, the pain became over great to bear, the poison ran through the
veins and seemed to eat his throat with a cold fire, and in the
midst of his trouble and fear the light went out and the darkness
came on him like a net round him. Then he feared indeed, for he
knew that he could not stay there with the terror that was on him,
and he tried to stand and walk, but he could not for his wound and
the poison that he had drunk, he thought of the great cold river
flowing near and the water seemed to call him, so he crawled out
of the room on hands and knees painfully, step by step, till the
morning broke and he found himself in the garden of the palace
close on the bank of the river, and said, “The gods have left me,
and I know not why; but one more effort, and I shall be free of
this burning and wound.” Then he heard a great cry “My lord, my
life!” and Roxana the Queen came running down the garden to him,
and after her the women, and the lords of Greece. So one of them
snatched a shield from the guard that came up and laid it on the
ground for the King, and Roxana sat him on the shield and rested
his head on her bosom, while Ptolemy held up his golden shield over
him to guard his eyes from the rays of the morning sun, and a cry
of confused voices went up round him. Then Roxana the Queen said,
for in truth she knew not what to say, “See, my lord, a canopy of
gold for my Emperor.” “Aye, fair lady love,” said Alexander, “a sky
of gold, and a soil of iron; now are the fates accomplished and my
time is surely come; bear me back to my bed that I may die there.”
Then at the word all men there burst into tears and lamentation,
for the end of all things seemed at hand now their lord was to die
so young, and what words can tell the grief of Roxana the Queen.

So his lords bore him gently to his bed in the palace, and stood
round it, and listened to the words that he spoke, and Alexander
sent for his scribes and bade them bring parchment and an inkhorn
for his will. So it was done and he shared out all the lands that
he had conquered amongst his war-dukes, to every man of them a
kingdom. And he left to the priests of Egypt a thousand talents
of gold and his body that they should keep it for ever, and for
his wife Roxana, if she should have a son he should be Emperor
after him, if a daughter she should be married to the best of
the Macedonians and he should be Emperor. Then Alexander put his
seal to the parchment, and all the dukes put their seals on it as
witnesses, and the will was folded up and laid in a precious casket
before them all.

Now drew on the time that this noble Prince was to die, and all the
world suffered with the pain of losing him. The thunders rolled
and crashed, the lightnings flashed wide over the land, and there
was a darkness of thick clouds, and the earth was rent hither and
thither, and huge towers toppled and fell, so that all that was
strong and well-founded became weak and unstable as water, and the
foundations of all things were shaken. Then men in far-off lands
feared and wondered what these things should mean, and when they
hurried to the temples of the gods to enquire, the oracles answered
“The earth is poorer to-day by the loss of its most noble knight
and king,” and all men knew that Alexander was dying. Then the
seamen heard voices over the sea of weeping and wailing, and they
knew that all people mourned for the death of the Lord of Macedon,
the bravest, the most courteous, and most generous of knights.

But the army of the Macedonians came round the dwelling of their
chief, as it ever was their wont in time of danger, though they
knew that they could not help him, nor he them, in this his day of
passing away from them. Their hearts longed to see him once more,
to look on the face that had led them smiling into danger and out
of it again, and it may be, to touch the hand that had struck such
blows in their aid, or had given such gifts to them as he had.
So Alexander the king was brought on his bed into the great hall
of his palace, and the Macedonians crowded round to see him, and
one of them was over-bold and asked him “Whom dost thou leave to
be lord of thine army?” and Alexander lifted up his head and said
“Perdiccas, I leave my army and my Queen in thy charge, take care
of them: as I have loved thee, love and keep them in my memory.”
Then the Macedonians began to weep and lament and those who were
near kissed the cold hand of their king, and they went out, and the
sound of their sobs and lamentations was like the dying away of a
thunder storm far off.

There stood up in the midst of them a lord of Macedon, Solentius by
name, and said “Men of Macedon, our land was a small one, and our
name was lightly esteemed in Greece, till this man’s father was
born, and he ruled us and made us a mighty people among the Greeks,
and subdued Athens and made us first among the folk of our land.
And when he died, and Alexander our lord came to the throne he went
wide into the world, and rode over it, and conquered it, and he
made the footmen of his army lords over the people and kings among
the barbarian folk, so that no man stands before the Macedonians,
and they are the first of folk under heaven. Now is he at point to
die, and what shall fall to us, for no man has he left behind him
who can take his place. Soon shall the empire of the Macedonians be
broken to pieces, and the name of the country be forgotten.” And
all men said that he had spoken true, and they lamented exceedingly.

And Alexander died: and the sun was eclipsed.

Then Ptolemy sent physicians, and they embalmed the body of
Alexander, and dressed it in his imperial robes, and set it in a
chariot, and with all the army of Macedon, marched from the land
of Babylon to the land of Egypt, to the city of Alexandria which
Alexander had built. And when they were come there, Ptolemy built
a golden sepulchre for him in a high place looking over the city
he had built and the sea, and there he set a chair of state, and
in it was the body of Alexander, clothed as the Emperor of the
World, with his crown upon his head: his right hand held a golden
sceptre, and his left a golden ball, and on his knees lay his
sword, sheathed and swaddled in his girdle, for he should no more
draw it in the face of the foe.

The tale tells of Olympias that when men told in Macedon that
Alexander was dead, Antipater the traitor sent men, and they seized
the lovely queen, and slew her, and cast out her body to the beasts
of the field, and the fowls of the air; and great wars followed
that cruel deed. And other things are told of the son of Alexander
and Roxana, but never did he reach the empire of his father, nor
attain the fame of Alexander.

On a day there came to the tomb of Alexander wise men from all
lands, and one said, “Alexander made his treasure of gold, and the
gold endures, but not Alexander.” The second said, “Yesterday the
whole world did not satisfy him, to-day four ells are enough.”
The third said, “Yesterday he ruled the people, to-day the people
rules him.” The fourth said, “Yesterday he could save a multitude
from death, to-day he cannot save his own life.” The fifth said,
“Yesterday he led his army from the city, to-day they led him to
his burial.” The sixth said, “Yesterday he pressed down the earth,
to-day it weighs him down.” The seventh said, “Yesterday all men
feared him, to-day they hold him in small honour.” The last said,
“Yesterday he had friends and enemies, to-day all men are alike to

Then they went away, and Alexander was alone, sitting in his chair,
of state, watching his city.





The story which has just been told may be looked on as the result
of ten centuries of Eastern and Western imagination. The career
of the historical Alexander is perhaps one of the most important
things, in its way, that have happened on our earth, and could not
fail to give rise to a plenteous crop of legend and of marvels.
Even in his lifetime the Greek orators allowed their language
to run riot in the telling of his deeds, which required no
exaggeration to stand out before the world.

[Sidenote: _Greek Text of Pseud-Callisthenes._]

The form of the story was fixed much as we have it now, certainly
before the third century of our era, and probably much earlier, in
the work of which a corrupt text has come down to us, under the
name of Callisthenes, one of the companions of Alexander. The Greek
text of this work was printed by Muller (Paris, 1877) from three
MSS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, which represent three
different classes of MS. There are about twenty MSS. of the work

[Sidenote: _Probable Alexandrian origin of the Romance._]

The origin of this romance is probably Egyptian. In fact, there
seems little reason to doubt Favre’s guess, that its composition
was due to one of the Ptolemies, who were successors of Alexander
on the Egyptian throne, and willing to legitimatise their rule by
connecting it with that of the last of the ancient kings. The style
of the Greek seems to be Alexandrian, and Nicephorus Calistes (X.
36), speaks of the Life of Alexander written by the Alexandrian.
Other considerations tend to support the Egyptian origin of the
romance. The character of the magic is distinctly Egyptian (see
a very interesting discussion of some points in Budge’s Syriac
Version of the Alexander Story, pp. xxxix. _et seq._). The way in
which magic has been attributed to Anectanabus agrees with Egyptian
tradition, which has always attributed supernatural powers to him.
Reuvens, in his Third Letter (p. 76), gives an account of a papyrus
describing some of his magical powers, and Tertullian, in the “De
Anima” (lvii.), names him as one of the masters of magic.

[Sidenote: _Julius Valerius and his Epitome._]

The story was translated into Latin by Julius Valerius early in
the fourth century, since the translation is one of the sources of
the “Itinerarium Alexandri” (340-345 A.D.). An epitome of Julius
Valerius, made in the ninth century, was published by Zacher
(Halle, 1867). Our earliest MS. of Julius Valerius is at Turin, and
dates from about 800 A.D. He is quoted by Syncellus in the eighth
century, and by Malala in the ninth.

The most important translation--the one which is known as the
“Historia Alexandri Magni de Proeliis”--is, however, due to the
tenth century. Leo the Archpriest seems to have been sent on an
embassy to Constantinople to the Emperors Constantine and Romanus
(920-944) by John and Marius, Dukes of Campania (941-965), and
while there he seems to have collected many books, among which was
the Story of Alexander. On his return he was commanded by Duke John
to translate the story into Latin.

[Sidenote: _Alberic de Besançon. And the decasyllabic poem._]

[Sidenote: _Lamprecht’s Version._]

The Alexander Story came into European literature early in the
twelfth century. As far as we know it was introduced by Alberic
de Besançon. Of his work there exists now only a fragment of
about 105 lines, first printed by Heyse, Berlin, 1856, 8vo. We
can, however, judge of it by the decasyllabic poem, of which two
portions are printed by Meyer. It was founded on Julius Valerius
and the authentic histories of Alexander. Alberic rejects with
disdain the story of Anectanabus’ parentage of Alexander, judging
it a disgrace to any true knight to be base-born. The character of
the missing parts of the poem may also be gathered from the German
version of Lamprecht the preacher, who wrote towards the end of the
twelfth century, and who seems to have made use of Alberic’s poem
till it concluded with the episode of Nicholas. The poems printed
by Meyer here change their versification, and are henceforth in
Alexandrines, the continuator being Simon le Poitevin.

[Sidenote: _Lambert li Tors and Alexandre de Paris._]

The development of the Alexander Story in Europe is due, however,
neither to Alberic nor Lamprecht, but to Lambert li Tors and
Alexandre de Bernay (or Paris), who in the middle of the century
wrote the romance in Alexandrines. The poem was full of the magical
wonders which Alberic had rejected; it adopted the Egyptian origin
of Alexander and the wondrous stories of Bucephalus, and became
instantaneously popular.

[Sidenote: _The Alexander Cycle._]

But medieval listeners were not satisfied with so meagre
information as the Romance of Alexander gave. Here was a great king
foully murdered, beautiful queens beheaded; is there no justice in
the skies? So in quick succession came the “Testament d’Alexandre”
of Pierre de Saint Cloor, and in 1190 “La Vengeance Alexandre”
of Gui de Cambrai. Another poem on the same subject was written
between 1288-1308 by Jean le Nevelois (Nevelaux), and a new cycle
of poems was opened by the “Voeux du Paon” of Jacques de Longuyon,
1312, the “Restor du Paon” of Brisebarre de Douay (before 1338).
The Alexander cycle finishes by Jean de la Mote’s “Parfait du
Paon,” 1340.

[Sidenote: _Eustace of Kent._]

Meanwhile the Alexander Story itself had gone on its way. Eustace
of Kent had incorporated it in his (still inedited) “Roman de
Toute Chevalrie” in the middle of the thirteenth century. Four
manuscripts of this work still exist, and it seems to be the stock
from which many English translations have been made, notably
that published by Weber in 1810. About the same time the prose
translation of the “De Proeliis” was made, a translation which
profoundly influenced the later story-tellers. Soon the Epitome of
Julius Valerius, and a letter of Alexander to Aristotle, giving an
account of the wonders of India, were translated. Frère Jehan de
Vignay wrote a prose romance of Alexander in 1341, unfortunately
lost, and the roll is closed in 1445 by “l’Histoire d’Alexandre” of
Jean Wauquelin.

[Sidenote: _English Versions._]

Our English versions seem to have been later. Very few of them have
been printed, a fact perhaps due to the very insufficient support
extended to the Early English Text Society, which has printed the
portions to be found of two of them. Our earliest version seems
to be that of which some extracts are given in Warton. There was
an English version of 48,000 lines or so of the Alexander Story,
belonging to the Duke of Roxburghe, but the MS. has disappeared.
Weber, in his “Early English Metrical Romances,” gives a rhymed
poem of 8031 lines. Two fragments are known of an alliterative
translation of Lambert li Tors, which must have been of enormous
length; and a nearly complete poem, which follows pretty closely
the “De Proeliis,” is printed under the name of “The Wars of
Alexander.” The three last are published by the Early English Text
Society. Gower, in the “Confessio Amantis,” also makes use of
episodes of the romance. Cockayne printed an A.S. version of the
letter of Alexander.

We have thus run down the line which brought the tale from Egypt
to Chaucer’s doors, so that he could sing that--

      “_Alisaundre’s storie is so commune_
      _That everie wight that hath discrecionne_
      _Hath horde somewhat or al of his fortune;_”

but we would not have the reader think that here is an exhaustive
list, even along the line of descent we have traced, of the forms
of the Alexander Story. Amongst other European versions are the
German prose version (printed in 1478, Aug. Vind., fo.), made by
John Hartlieb Moller, at the command of Albert, Duke of Bavaria.
There are further, early Spanish, Italian, Norse, Swedish, Dutch,
and Russian versions. An early rhyme, preserving an incident of the
story, is printed by Schiller, “Thesaur. Antiq. Teuton,” t. i., in
the Rhythm. de S. Annone, xiv., xv.

It hardly comes within our province to refer to other forms of the
Alexander Story in Europe, except in the briefest possible way. A
work often mistaken for the “De Proeliis” is the compilation of
Radulphus of St Albans, who compiled from Quintus Curtius and other
authors a Life of Alexander. In 1236 William of Spoleto wrote a
Life of Alexander in Latin elegiacs, a work quoted by Warton as of
Aretinus Quilichinus.

[Sidenote: _Independent Legends--Persian, Arabic._]

The Pseud-Callisthenes is often spoken of as the work of Simeon
Seth, protovestiarius of the palace of Antiochus at Constantinople,
and was in the last century considered a translation from the
Persian about the year 1070. Other reasons apart the dissimilarity
between the Egyptian and the Persian forms of the story would
disprove this theory. Just as the Egyptians represented Alexander
as the son of the last of their native kings, so the Persians
represented him (in the popular legend) as the son of Darius
(Codomannus of the Kayanian dynasty), and of a daughter of Philip
of Macedon, who was brought up by his grandfather, and afterwards
overcame his elder brother. An independent tradition seems to have
grown up among the Arabs, making him the son of an old woman, and
born in obscurity, his name being originally Mazban (Lord of the
Marches), son of Marzabah, descended from Yunan, son of Japhet
(Burton, “Arabian Nights”).

[Sidenote: _Syriac Versions._]

An early Arabic version of the Greek must have been made about the
eighth century, from which the Syriac version we have at present
was made, but unfortunately this has not been found. A Syriac
version was made in the eighth century, of which parts exist;
but our most complete version is that made in the seventh-ninth
century, and published with a version by Budge. Eight chapters
of this are missing, and it is noticeable that the source of the
translation did not contain the interpolations from Palladius
(367-431) which the Greek text now does. An Armenian version is
attributed to Moses of Chorene (fifth century), who certainly knew
the story.

[Sidenote: _Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, Persian, Ethiopic, Coptic._]

The story early passed into Hebrew. It is found in Jos. ben
Gorion (lib. II. p. 94, ed. Oxon. 1704, 4to), and a pseudonymous
translation of the work of Ptolemy, son of Lagos, by Samuel ben
Judah ben Sibbon of Granada, appeared in the thirteenth century.
(See a French translation of a Hebrew version by J. Levi, “Revue
des Etudes Juives,” III. 241.) It is found in the Arabic of
Said ibn Batrik (939 A.D.), Patriarch of Alexandria (Eutychus.,
ed. Pocock, Oxon. 1606), and in Gregory Abul Farag (1265). Mohl
believed that Firdusi had an Arab author before him when writing
of Alexander. Among the Persian writers may be named Firdusi
(1024), Nizami (1203), and Mirkond (1497). An Ethiopic version
will shortly be published by Budge; and among others existing are
versions in Coptic, Malay, and Siamese. Several detached incidents
connect themselves with the story. Thus we may mention the “Iter
ad Paradisum,” twelfth century (of Talmudic origin), printed at
Konigsberg, 1859; the Gog and Magog story, &c.

[Sidenote: _Anectanabus._]

The Egyptian king who figures in our story as Anectanabus is known
to history as Necht-neb-f (Nakhtenephen). His mutilated statue
and two inscriptions are in the British Museum. He was overthrown
by Ochus, and retreated into Ethiopia some four years after the
birth of Alexander. We have already referred to the reputation
for magic that attached to him early in the Christian era. The
form Anectanabus is used as being the form (sometimes shortened to
Anec) in which the name appears in Gower and the poet of “The Wars
of Alexander.” His history may be read in Wiedemann, “Aegyptische
Geschichte,” p. 716, or in Maspero, “Histoire du Peuples de
l’Orient,” pp. 566-7.

[Sidenote: _Plutarch and the Alexander Story._]

It is difficult to resist the conclusion that Plutarch had before
him such a collection of tales as the “Pseud-Callisthenes,” and
was thinking of them when he wrote his first pages of the Life of
Alexander. The tradition of his birth from the visit of a dragon
is accounted for by the habits of the Macedonian women, who are
accustomed to pet large snakes. Justin XI. 2, 3, and XII. 16,
and Solinus, cap. XV., also mention the tradition. Other points
where Plutarch is contradicting the legend will readily suggest
themselves. However, this is saying nothing more than that many of
the stories must have grown up about the time of Alexander, or soon
after his death. The filiation of Alexander and Ammon is one of
these, the cartouche of Alexander being “Alexander, son of Amen.”

There has been no attempt to give a Greek character to the story.
Even when the alteration of a letter would have made a good Greek
name, as in the case of Pausanius, it has not been altered, and
Sir Samson, Sir Balaan, speak for themselves. But, on the other
hand, as the tales make him Christian or Pagan by turns, we have
not tried to make him consistent. In the same way, it was found
impossible to leave out the visit to Jerusalem, which makes such a
central point in the medieval stories.

[Sidenote: _Medieval Illuminated Copies._]

A word as to the illustrations--not those of our book, but those
of the veritable medieval illuminators. Among the chief treasures
of the British Museum are its illuminated copies of the Alexander
Romance, notably 19. D. I and 20. B. XX. Some others are older, but
these are filled with most beautiful paintings of the incidents
of the story. I may be allowed to mention one thing here which
I have noticed. In each of them, at the beginning, is a sort of
frontispiece divided into compartments, and labelled The Castle of
Cairo, The Town of Babylon (with Anectanabus shown on the walls
or elsewhere), The Garden of Balm, and The Mills of Babylon. Now,
these seem to have no connection with the French prose translation
in which they are found. Cairo is not mentioned in it, there is no
story of a garden of balm, and there is no story of the mills of
Babylon, which are large floating water-mills like those at Old
London Bridge.


      *      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber’s note:

  Obvious typographical errors and punctuation errors have been
  corrected after careful comparison with other occurrences within
  the text and consultation of external sources.

  Except for those changes noted below, all misspellings in the text,
  and inconsistent or archaic usage, have been retained.

  Pg 25: ‘and gan question’ replaced by ‘and began to question’.

  Pg 55: ‘CHAP. VII’ replaced by ‘CHAPTER VII’.

  Pg 131: ‘and whatsover men’ replaced by ‘and whatsoever men’.

  Pg 163: ‘the earth. Then’ replaced by ‘the earth.” Then’.

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