Canto the Second

All these difficulties were weighed
And represented to him;
But Alexander
Was not easily to be diverted
From anything
He was bent upon.

For fortune having hitherto seconded
Him in his designs
Made him resolute and firm in his opinions
And the boldness of his temper
Raised a sort of passion in him for surmounting difficulties
As if it were not enough to be always
Victorious in the field
Unless places and seasons and nature Herself
Submitted to him.

In this journey
The relief and assistance the gods afforded him
In his distresses
Were more remarkable
And obtained greater belief than the oracles
He received afterwards
Valued and credited the more
On account of those occurrences.

For first,
Plentiful rains that fell
Preserved them from any fear of perishing
By drought
And, allaying the extreme dryness of the sand
Which now became moist and firm to travel on
Cleared and purified the air.

Besides this,
When they were out of their way
And were wandering up and down
Because the marks which were wont to direct
The guides were disordered and lost
They were set right again by some ravens
Which flew before them when on their march
And waited for them when they lingered and fell behind.

And the greatest miracle,
As Callisthenes tells us
Was that if any of the company went astray in the night
They never ceased croaking and making a noise
Till by that means they had brought them into
The right way again.

Having passed through the wilderness
They came to the place where the high priest
At the first salutation
Bade Alexander welcome from
His father Ammon.

And being asked by
Him whether any of his
Father's murderers had escaped punishment
He charged him to speak
With more respect
Since his was not
A mortal father.

Then Alexander,
Changing his expression
Desired to know of him if any
Of those who murdered Philip
Were yet unpunished
And whether the empire of the world
Was reserved for him?

The god answered
He should obtain
And that Philip's death was fully revenged
Which gave him so much satisfaction
That he made splendid offerings to Jupiter
And gave the priests
Very rich presents.

But Alexander,
In a letter to his mother
Tells her there were some secret answers
Which at his return he would communicate
To her only.

© 2004 by Michael J. Farrand

Story taken from the life of Alexander found in Plutarch's Lives, written originally as Parallel Lives by the Greek historian Plutarch, who lived roughly 50-125 A.D.

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