Canto the Sixth

After Alexander had reduced all Asia
On this side the Euphrates
He advanced towards Darius
Who was coming down against him
With a million men.

In his march
A very ridiculous thing happened:
The servants who followed the camp
For sport's sake divided themselves
Into two parties
And named the commander of one of them Alexander
The other Darius.

At first they only pelted one another
With clods of earth
But presently took to their fists
And at last, heated with contention
They fought in good earnest with stones and clubs
So that they had much ado
To part them
Till Alexander
Upon hearing of it
Ordered the two captains to decide the quarrel
By single combat
And armed him who bore his name himself
While Philotas did the same
To him who represented

The whole army were spectators
Of this encounter
Willing from the event
To derive an omen
Of their own future

After they had fought stoutly
A pretty long while
At last he who was called Alexander had the better
And for a reward of his prowess had
Twelve villages given him
With leave to wear
The Persian dress.

© 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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