THE MAN WHO CONQUERED THE WORLD

Canto the Fourth

At his return
Out of Egypt into Phoenicia
He sacrificed and made solemn processions
To which were added shows of lyric dances and tragedies
Remarkable not merely for the splendor of the equipage and decorations
But for the competition among those who exhibited them
For the kings of Cyprus
Were here the exhibitors
Just in the same manner as at Athens
Those who are chosen by lot out of
The tribes.

They showed the greatest emulation
To outvie each other
Especially
Nicocreon, King of Salamis, and Pasicrates of Soli
Who furnished the chorus
And defrayed the expenses of the two most celebrated actors
Athenodorus and Thessalus
The former performing for
Pasicrates
And the latter for
Nicocrean.

Thessalus was most favored by Alexander
Though it did not appear till Athenodorus
Was declared victor by the plurality of votes
For then at his going away
He said the judges deserved to be commended
For what they had done
But that he would willingly have lost part of his kingdom
Rather than to have seen Thessalus
Overcome.

When Athenodorus
Was fined by the Athenians
For being absent at the festivals
Of Bacchus
Though he refused his request
That he would write a letter
In his behalf
He gave him a sufficient sum to satisfy
The penalty.

Darius wrote him a letter
And sent friends to intercede with him
Requesting him to accept as a ransom
Of his captives
The sum of a thousand talents
And offering him in exchange
For his amity and alliance
All the countries on this side of the river
Euphrates
Together with one of his daughters
In marriage.

These propositions
He communicated to his friends
And when Parmenio told him
That for his part
If he were Alexander
He should readily embrace them
"So would I," said Alexander
"If I were Parmenio."

His answer to Darius was
That if he would come and yield himself
Up into his power
He would treat him with all possible kindness
If not
He was resolved immediately to go himself
And seek him.

But the death of Darius's wife in childbirth
Made him soon after regret
One part of this answer
And he showed evident marks of grief
At thus deprived of a further opportunity
Of exercising his clemency and good nature
Which he manifested
As far as he could
By giving her a most sumptuous
Funeral.

© 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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