Friday, August 17, 2007

Plutarch: Alexander's Moralia

Many times we have hear or read the Alexander biography. Double times we have also to same think regarding the Alexander character.

Conqueror, bloodthirsty, clever, fool, liar, gay, bisexual, man e.t.c.

What from the above is right ?

All these modern writers used as main sources the ancient writers.Names like Arrian, Diodoros Siculus, Kallisthenis and Plutarch are very familiar to every body.

But all these modern writers have a common habit.

They forget to quote the most known ancient work regarding the character of the Alexander. On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander Περί της Αλεξάνδρου Τύχης ή ΑρετήςPeri ths Alexandrou Tixis h AretisThis work is forgotten from all, including and us. This book written from Plutarch and is a part from a general work that name as Moralia. Lets examine together some intresting points of this work.I will start for the known question, a question that born in the middle of 20th century and has circulated all over the world.

Lets see some quotes that show the character of this Greek leader. Plutarch had given to us a unique quote as about Alexander sexuality. He compared him with Socrates.

But let us compare the actions of men who are admitted to be philosophers. Socrates forbore when Alciviades spent the night with him. But when Philoxenus, the governor of the coastlands of Asia Minor, wrote to Alexander that there was in Ionia a youth, the like of whom for bloom and beauty did not exist, and inquired in his letter whether he should send the boy on to him, Alexander wrote bitterly in reply «Vilest of men, what deed of this sort have you ever been privy to in my past that now you would flatter me with the offer of such pleasures?»

[Fortune, 12]

Any question as about the sexuality of Alexander dear modern writers?

The second one is the relationship with the other Greek tribes. We have hear many scholars like Borza-Baddian e.t.c that ancient Macedonians was not Greek and the Macedonians finally Hellenizing by adopted the ancient Greek culture.

Plutarch had given a quote regarding the Thebes destruction from Alexander.

Again, however, Fortune stirred up Thebes against him, and thrust in his pathway a war with Greeks, and the dread necessity of punishing, by means of slaughter and fire and sword, men that were his kith and kin, a necessity which had a most unpleasant ending.

[Virtue, 11]

But he said,

ʺIf I were not Alexander, IΒ should be Diogenesʺ;

that is to say:

ʺIf it were not my purpose to combine foreign things with things Greek, to traverse and civilize every continent, to search out the uttermost parts of land and sea, to push the bounds of Macedonia to the farthest Ocean, and to disseminate and shower the blessings of Greek justice and peace over every nation, I should not be content to sit quietly in the luxury of idle power, but I should emulate the frugality of Diogenes. But as things are, forgive me, Diogenes, that I imitate Heracles, and emulate Perseus, Band follow in the footsteps of Dionysus,the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Greeks should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage muntain tribes beyond the Caucasus......

[Fortune, 10]

Any question as about the origin of Alexander dear modern writers?

One more critical point as about the Alexander character is what considers as barbarian. Barbarian according Icocrates is the one that has not adopted the Hellenic culture and education (panygirika 50). Plutarch had given to us a unique quote as about Alexander opinion in the barbarian.

For Alexander did not follow Aristotles advice to treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, and other peoples as if he were their master; to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred, but to conduct himself toward other peoples as though they were plants or animals; for to do so would have been to cumber his leadership with numerous battles and banishments and festering seditions. But, as he believed that he came as a heaven sent governor to all, and as a mediator for the whole world, those whom he could not persuade to unite with him, he conquered by force of arms, and he brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving‐cup, as it were, mens lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life.

He bade them all consider as their fatherland the whole inhabited earth, as their stronghold and protection his camp, as akin to them all good men, and as foreigners only the wicked; they should not distinguish between Grecian and foreigner by Grecian cloak and targe, or scimitar and jacket; but the distinguishing mark of the Grecian should be seen in virtue, and that of the foreigner in iniquity; clothing and food, marriage and manner of life they should regard as common to all, being blended into one by ties of blood and children.

[Fortune, 6]

Many times we have heared or read that the best Great Alexander's statues were that sculpured from Lysippus.

Who told that ?

of course Plutarch in Moralia

And when Lysippus modelled his first statue of Alexander which represented him looking with his face turned towards the heavens (as indeed Alexander often did look, with a slight inclination of his head to one side), someone engraved these verses on the statue, not without some plausibility,

Eager to speak seems the statue of bronze,

up to Zeus as it gazes

Earth I have set under foot: Zeus

keep Olympus yourself

Wherefore Alexander gave orders that Lysippus only should make statues of him. For Lysippus was, it seemed, the only one that revealed in the bronze Alexander's character and in moulding his form portrayed also his virtues. The others wished to imitate the flexing of his neck and liquid softness of his eyes, but were unable to preserve his virile and leonine expression.

[Virtue, 2]

In the same work we have a small summary in when and where battles Alexander The Great woonded.

On the banks of the Granicus his helmet was cleft through to his scalp by a sword;

at Gaza his shoulder was wounded by a missile;

at Maracanda his shin was so torn by an arrow that by the force of the blow the larger bone was broken and extruded.

Somewhere in Hyrcania his sight was dimmed, and for many days he was haunted by the fear of blindness.

Among the Assacenianshis ankle was wounded by an Indian arrow;that was the time when he smilingly said to his flatterers, 'this that you see is blood, not Ichor, that which flows from the wounds of the blessed immortals.

At Issus he was wounded in the thigh with a sword, as Chares states, by Darius the king, who had come into hand-to-hand conflict with him.

Alexander himself wrote of this simply, and with complete truth, in a letter to Antipater: 'I myself happened,' he writes, 'to be wounded in the thigh by a dagger. But nothing untoward resulted from the blow either immediately or later.'

Among the Mallians he was wounded in the breast by an arrow three feet long, which penetrated his breastplate, and someone rode up under him, and struck him in the neck, as Aristobulus relates.

[Virtue, 9]

below two links that you can read Plutarch Moralia , on the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander

thanks for your time.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Greeks V Hellenes

We have heared many times from those that support the non Greekness of the Hellenic Macedonians that the ancient writers segerated them from the others Hellenes.This is true but......The ancient writers using to segerate them not only the Macedonians but also the Athenians,Spartans, Ionians e.t.c.
some examples of ancient Greek tribes or cities occasionally or repeatedly juxtaposed to "the Hellenes".
I dont not include the Macedonians.
We have the FYROMacedonists Nationalists for that.

  • "...the Lacedaimonians, fearful lest Themistokles should devise some great evil against them and the Hellenes, honoured him with double the numbers of gifts..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.27.3]
  • "In this year (475 BCE) the Lacedaimonians... were resentful; consequently they were incensed at the Hellenes who had fallen away from them and continued to threaten them with the appropriate punishment." [Diodoros Sikeliotis11.50.1]
  • "In a single battle the Peloponnesians and their allies may be able to defy all the Hellenes, but they can not carry a whole war..." [Thukydides 1.141; Oration of Pericles]
  • "When the Eleians not only paid no heed to them [the Lacedaimonians] but even accused them besides of enslaving the Hellenes, they dispatched Pausanias, the other of the two kings, against them with 4,000 soldiers." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 14.17.6]
  • "But Pausanias, the king of the Lakedaimonians, being jealous of Lysandros and observing that Sparta was in ill repute among the Hellenes, marched forth with a strong army and on his arrival in Athens brought about a reconciliation between the men of the city and the exiles. [Diodoros Sikeliotis14.33.6]
  • "He says... the Lacedaimonians... gave to the Hellenes to taste the sweet drink of freedom..." [Plutarch, Lysandros 13]
  • "Agesilaos was accused... that he exposed the city (Sparta) as an accomplice in the crimes against the Hellenes." [Plutarch, Agesilaos 26]
  • "...the Lacedaimonians, who were hard put to it by the double war, that against the Hellenes and that against the Persians, dispatched their admiral Antalkidas to Artaxerxes to treat for peace." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 14.110.2]
  • "The Lacedaimonians... used their allies roughly and harshly, stirring up, besides, unjust and insolent wars against the Hellenes,..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.1.3]
  • "At this time the kings of the Lacedaimonians were at variance with each other on matters of policy. Agesipolis, who was a peaceful and just man and, furthermore, excelled in wisdom, declared that they should abide by their oaths and not enslave the Hellenes contrary to the common agreements." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.16.4]
  • "Thus, the Hellenes were wondering what the state of the Lacedaimonian army would be had it been commanded by Agesilaos or... the old Leonidas." [Plutarch, Agis 14]
  • "Even though the Lacedaimonians had combated the Hellenes many times only one of their kings had ever died in action..." [Plutarch, Agis 21]


  • "When the estrangement which had arisen between the Athenians and the Hellenes became noised abroad, there came to Athens ambassadors from the Persians and from the Hellenes. [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.28.1]
  • "...the Hellenes gathered in congress decreed to make common cause with the Athenians and advanced to Plataia in a body..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.29.1]
  • "He soothed the Athenians' pride by promising them... that the Hellenes would accept their leadership..." [Plutarch, Themistokles 7]
  • "...the Athenians, because of their policy of occupying with colonists the lands of those whom they subdued, had a bad reputation with the Hellenes;..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.23.4]
  • "And we decided upon a twofold revolt, from the Hellenes and the Athenians, not to aid the latter in harming the former... " [Thukydides, 3.13; Oration of the Mytilenaians]
    "When the Athenians attacked the Hellenes, they, the Plataians... Atticized. [Thukydides, 3.62; Theban Accusations]
  • "The Athenians... by this denerous act they recovered the goodwill of the Hellenes and made their own leadership more secure." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.29.8]
  • "And this was the first naval victory that the city (Athens) had against the Hellenes, after the destruction." [Plutarch, Phokion 6]

Hellenes of Asia Minor, the Aegean islands, Crete, Cyprus, Central Greece, the Ionian Land :

  • "The Athenians... reasoned that, if the Ionians were given new homes by the Hellenes acting in common they would no longer look upon Athens as their mother-city." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.37.3]
  • "...and as for the Hellenes, they were emboldened by the promise of the Ionians, and... came down eagerly in a body from Salamis to the shore in preparation for the sea- battle." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.17.4]
  • "Now the Samians and Milesians had decided unanimously beforehand to support the Hellenes..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.36.2]
  • "...although the Ionians thought that the Hellenes would be encouraged, the result was the very opposite." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.36.2]
  • "When the Samians and Milesians put in their appearance, the Hellenes plucked up courage,... and Aiolians participated in the battle,..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.36.4-5]
  • "When the Aiolians and Ionians had heard these promises, they resolved to take the advice of the Hellenes..." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.37.2]
  • "The Cretans, when the Hellenes sent to ask aid from them... acted as follows..." [Herodotos 7.169]
  • "The King (of Persia), now that his difference with the Hellenes was settled, made ready his armament for the war against Cyprus. For Evagoras had got possession of almost the whole of Cyprus and gathered strong armaments, because (king) Artaxerxes was distracted by the war against the Hellenes." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 14.110.5]
  • "The Lokrians... when they learned that Leonidas had arrived at Thermopylai, changed their minds and went over to the Hellenes." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.4.6]
  • "Now the Phokians had chosen the cause of the Hellenes, but seeing that they were unable to offer resistance... fled for safety to the rugged regions about Mount Parnassos." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.14.1]
  • "The Thebans, anticipating the arrival of a large army from Hellas to aid the Lacedaimonians [controlling the citadel of Thebes, the Kadmeia], dispatched envoys to Athens to remind them... and to request them to come with all their forces and assist them in reducing the Kadmeia before the arrival of the Lacedaimonians." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.25.4]
  • "All the Hellenes gladly received the proposal [of Artaxerxes, the Persian King], and all the cities agreed to a general peace except Thebes; for the Thebans alone, being engaged in bringing Boiotia under a single confederacy, were not admitted by the Hellenes because of the general determination to have the oaths and treaties made city by city." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 15.50.4]
  • "Since the Lacedaimonians made peace with all the Hellenes, they were in war only with the Thebans..." [Plutarch, Pelopidas 20]
  • "... the recorders of the Amphictyons [the hieromnemones] brought charges against the Phokians and... if they did not obey, they should incur the common hatred of the Hellenes." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 16.23.3]
  • "And Gelon replied with vehemence: `Hellenes,... you exhort me to join in league with you against the barbarian...' [Herodotos, 7.157]
  • "Gelon [the ruler of the Hellenic city of Syrakousai]... was making ready... to join the Hellenes in the war against the Persians." [Diodoros Sikeliotis 11.26.4]
  • "This is how they (Kerkyraians) eluded the reproaches of the Hellenes. [Herodotos, 7.168]