New post coming up.
Back again with more Alexander stories…
As I have mentioned earlier, Alexander the Great was educated by one of the world’s greatest philosophers and polymaths – Aristotle. According to the myths and legends, King Philip II and Queen Olympias of Macedon [ the famous parents] thought that no ordinary educator would be good enough for their son Alexander, who could easily be led by reason but refused to submit to compulsion. Iliad [ Homer’s epic poem describing the siege of Troy] was his favorite book and Achilles his favorite hero [more about that at a later post].
When Alexander was 16, Philip left him in charge of Macedon while he went away to campaign against the people of Byzantium. During this period, in the absence of Philip, the Thracians [eastern Macedon] rebelled and Alexander led an army against their larger city. He was victorious in this move and took over the city, renaming it Alexandria – after himself.
In 338 BC, Philip put Alexander in command of the cavalry at the Battle of Chaeronea [a battle between the forces of Phillip II of Macedon and an alliance of the Greek city-states, the principal cities of which were Athens and Thebes] and Alexander led the charge that broke [ this alliance] the Theban Sacret Band. This early bravery made Philip so fond of his son that he liked nothing better than to hear his soldiers say than he [Philip] was the general but Alexander was the king.
Well, as it was eventually shown at a much grander scale, action and eternal glory, rather than pleasure and wealth, were what Alexander wished to have above anything else. Fame was his obsession. When he would hear of Philip’s many conquests and their associated power and glory, Alexander would not be happy for his father’s success [according to the myths and legends.] Wealth, which eventually was going to become his in the form of his inheritance, was of no interest to him…instead he was sad that…” there would be no worlds for him to conquer.”…and therefore no glory. He was telling his closest friends that the way things were going…with his father conquering everyone…nothing will be left for him to do once he became a king…well that was a very wrong calculation on behalf of Alexander…to the disappointment of the Persian Empire. The rest is history…which I will tell you about …
More about Alexander very soon … xoxoS
Aristotle is one of the “big three” in ancient Greek philosophy along with Plato and Socrates. Socrates tought Plato who in turn instructed Aristotle, who eventually became the teacher of the famous pupil Alexander the Great of Macedon.
Aristotle (Greek Aristoteles) was born at 384 BC at Stragira Mecedon. He was a Greek philosopher and polymath – his writings cover many subjects including metaphysics, physics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates, Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. His writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy encompassing morality, and aesthetics, logic, and science, politics and metaphysics.
Aristotle was invited by Philip II of Macedon to become the tutor to his son Alexander the Great in 343 BC. He was appointed as the head of the royal academy of Macedon – during that time he gave lessons not only to Alexander, but also to two other future kings of Macedon: Ptolemy and Cassander.
In his Politics, Aristotle states that only one thing could justify monarchy, and that was if the virtue of the king and his family were greater than the virtue of the rest of the citizens put together. Aristotle wrote many dialogues, but, only fragments have survived. Some of the most important works that survived are, Physics, Metaphysics, Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, De Anima (On the Soul) and Politics. He not only studied almost every subject possible at the time, but made significant contributions to most of them. In physical science, Aristotle studied anatomy, astronomy, embryology, geography, geology, meteorology, physics and zoology. In philosophy, he wrote on aesthetics, ethics, government, metaphysics, politics, economics, philosophy, rhetoric and theology. He also studied education, foreign customs, literature and poetry. His combined works constitute a virtual encyclopedia of Greek knowledge.
It has been suggested that Aristotle was probably the last person to know everything there was to be known in his own time.
Here are some of Aristotle’s most famous quotes:
We are what we repeatedly do.
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Law is mind without reason.
We make war so we can live in peace.
Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.
All human actions have one or more or these seven causes: chance, nature, compulsion, habit, reason, passion and desire.
We must as second best…take the least of the evils.
A whole is that which has beginning, middle and end.
The gods too are fond of a joke.
Hope is a waking dream.
Well begun is half done.
To be conscious that we are perceiving or thinking is to be conscious of our own existence.
It is not always the same thing to be a good man and a good citizen.
Education is the best provision for the journey to old age.
For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.
A likely impossibility is always preferable to an unconvincing possibility.
They should rule who are able to rule best.
Happiness depends upon ourselves.
All men by nature desire knowledge.
It is unbecoming for young men to utter maxims.
All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind.
Liars when they speak the truth are not believed.
With regard to excellence, it is not enough to know, but we must try to have use it.
It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.
One swallow does not make a summer.
Man perfected by society is the best of all animals; he is the most terrible of all when he lives without law, and without justice.
Again, men in general desire the good, and not merely what their fathers had.
Nature does nothing uselessly.
The only stable state is the one in which all men are equal before the law.
Piety requires us to honor truth above our friends.
In the arena of human life the honours and rewards fall to those who show their good qualities.
To perceive is to suffer.
Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.
It is in justice that the ordering of society is centered.
Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.
Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a particular way…you become just by performing just actions, temperate by performing temperate actions, brave by performing brave actions.
Dignity consists not in possessing honor, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.
Aristotle inspired and encouraged Alexander the Great toward eastern conquest, and his attitude towards Persia was unabashedly ethnocentric. In one famous example, he counsels Alexander to be a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as with beasts and plants. Alexander’s reply was his famous quote:
I am not interested in the descendance of the citizens or their racial origins. I classify them using one criterion: their virtue. For me every virtuous foreigner is a Greek and every evil Greek worse than a barbarian.
How Great was Alexander the Great!
Near the end of Alexander’s life, Alexander began to suspect plots against himself, and threatened Aristotle in letters. Aristotle had made no secret of his contempt for Alexander’s pretense of divinity, and the king had executed Aristotle’s grandnephew Callisthenes as a traitor. A widespread tradition in antiquity suspected Aristotle of playing a role in Alexander’s death, but there is little evidence for this.
Aristotle’s contribution to us is priceless…and Alexander’s achievements were enchanced and fueled by his great teachings and wisdom. Knowledge is power!
I rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.
I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well. Alexander the Great King of Macedon
Image above. Alexander the Great
I will be back with more details about the Alexander the Great Charity I am trying to create whose objective is to enhance education to everyone especially young men and women.
Ephesus was an Ancient Greek city located on the west coast of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. Its history stretches back to 1,000 BC.
Being one of the largest cities in antiquity, it was the center of travel and commerce. Stretched on the Aegean Sea the city of Ephesus was one of the greatest seaports of the ancient world and it was famed for its cult for the Goddess Artemis in a Temple whose magnificence permit it to be classified among the seven wonders of the ancient world.
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Thanks to the Temple of Artemis the bustling port of the city grew large and wealthy. Beautiful stone buildings lined its streets and a huge amphitheater/stadium for gladiatorial games kept the populus entertained. At its height, some 250 thousand lived in Ephesus making it one of the largest cities of the ancient world.
Following his conquest of the Greek city of Ephesus and several other Greek cities on the Asian coast, King Croesus [King of Lydia, an ancient kingdom in Asia Minor] build the temple to honor its Goddess Artemis. Completed around 550 BC, the temple was designed by the Greek architect, Chersiphron and it was revolutionary in design – was said to have rivaled the Parthenon in size and fame. This ancient wonder made of marble with a cedar roof, and ornamented inside and outside with gold, was overflowing with treasures.
The temple of Artemis had 127 columns (each around 66 feet tall) with the front rows decorated with intricate sculpture. A statue of the Goddess Artemis — an Anatolian Mother Goddess, with its enormous power and influence associated with, stood in the middle.
Artemis was the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity, and young girls and twin of Apollo. At Ephesus, a goddess whom the Greeks associated with Artemis was passionately venerated in an archaic icon. She was worshiped primarily as the “Mother Goddess. This was the Artemis of Ephesus.
Image of Greek Goddess Artemis-Left
Image of Ephesian Goddess Artemis – Left
Artemis of Ephesus was carved of wood, with many breast-like protuberances apparently emphasizing fertility over the virginity traditionally associated with the Greek Artemis. The statute of the many-breasted Artemis was the symbol of the temple as well the symbol of abundance, hunting and wild life. The temple became an important attraction visited by merchants, kings,and sightseers, many of whom paid homage to the goddess in form of jewelry and various other treasures. It also offered sanctuary to those fleeing persecution or punishment, a tradition linked to the myth of the Amazons who twice fled these seeking the goddesses’ protection from punishment firstly by Dionysus and later by Heracles (more about the Amazons on a later post).
The wealth and splendour of the temple and the city of Ephesus were taken as evidence of Artemis Ephesian’s power, and were the basis of her local and international prestige – a gift and honor to the goddess brought prosperity. The splendor and beauty of the temple at the time is described by a visitor, Antipater of Sidon who commented: …But when I saw the sacred house of Artemis that towers to the clouds, the [other of the seven wonders of the ancient world] were places in the shade, for the Sun himself has never looked upon its equal outside Olympus.
On the night of July 21, 356 BC a man named Herostratus set fire to the temple in an attempt to immortalize his name. According to historian Plutarch, the burning of the temple coincided with the birth of Alexander – Artemis was too preoccupied with Alexander’s delivery to save her temple from its fiery destruction. This destruction was considered a very bad omen by the Persian magi who interpreted this as the destruction of the Persian empire.
Alexander the Grea – King of Macedonia statue
When Alexander the Great defeated the Persian forces [who at that point had conquered the Lydians], in the battle of Granicus in 334 BC, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated – Alexander was greeted warmly when he entered Ephesus in triumph. Legend has it that Alexander offered to rebuild the destroyed temple, after all the Goddess Artemis was overseeing the safe delivery of his birth and was not able to save her temple. He was told however, that it was not fit for a God such as himself [as he was considered by many] to build a temple honoring another God. Alexander gave the city of Ephesus special privileges. A different version of the story is, that the Temple was restored with the help of Alexander.
In 262 AD the temple was destroyed again, it was restored but this great monument eventually began to lose its importance as many began switching to Christianity and the town of Ephesus was eventually deserted. In recent years, archeologists have discovered and excavated the town. The British Museum in London counts some of the temples sculptures among its treasures.
…more about Alexander the Great and the cult of Artemis of Ephesus [which I find incredibly fascinating] coming up soon…
“There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”
Alexander the Great King of Macedon 356 – 323 BC
Alexandros III of Macedon (an ancient Hellenic kingdom in Northern Greece, and my birth place) was born in July 356 BC in Pella, was one of the greatest military genius in history. He conquered much of what was then the civilized world driven by his divine ambition of the world conquest and the creation of a universal world monarchy. He was the first great conqueror who reached Greece, Egypt, Asia Minor, Persia and Asia up to the western India. He is famous for having created the ethnic fusion of the Macedonians and the Persians. From victory to victory, from triumph to triumph, Alexander created an Empire which brought him eternal glory. He brought Greek ideas, culture and life style to the countries which he conquered, and assured expansion and domination of Hellenistic Culture which, together with the Roman Civilization and Christianity, constitutes the foundation of what is now called Western Civilization.
His parents were Olympias and King Philip II of Macedon and according to some legends and oracles Alexander has divine origins: Zeus and Achilles. According to tradition, Olympias’ ancestor was the mythical hero of Iliad – Achilles, while his father Philip II of Macedon, was said to descent from the Zeus’ son – Heracles. Alexander was born on the same day the famous Temple of goddess Artemis at Ephesus (more about the story of Artemis – Ephesus on the next post) was destroyed by
fire. This was a horrible omen for the Persian magi who foretold a great disaster for the Persian Empire. The legend however, begins even before he was born. His parents were in their dreams warned about his birth. They were initiated in the mysterious cults of Kabrina of Samothrace , and they had believed in the messages in dreams, so that they invited the most renowned prophet of that time Arixstandros Telmisy to interpret them. Olympias had a dream of a loud burst of thunder and lightning that had hit her womb, while in Philip’s dream, he was sealing her womb with the seal of a lion. Arixstandros determined that Olympias was pregnant, and that the child would have the character of a lion. The oracle of Delphi advised Philip to worship Zeus more than any other god.
Even as a young boy Alexander was fearless and strong. At the age of twelve, he tamed the beautiful and spirited Buchephalus, a horse that no one else could ride. Philip was so proud of Alexander’s horsemanship that he said:
“oh my son, seek out a kingdom worthy of thyself, for Macedonia is too little for thee.”
Note: Alexander the Great’s story will continue with future gradual posts…