The Greek Alexander Romance (Penguin Classics)
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Since his death in the third century BC, each age has woven its own legends around the figure of Alexander the Great.
If the Hebrew tradition saw him as a preacher and prophet, to the Persians he was alternately a true king and an arch-Satan, while in modern Greece he is revered more as a wise man than as a conqueror. All these very disparate traditions share roots in The Greek Alexander Romance.
One of the most influential works of late classical Greek literature, it reached Europe in the Middle Ages, and its effects are still visible to us in illuminated manuscripts and cathedral sculptures portraying Alexander's fabulous adventures - his taming of the horse Bucephalus, the encounters with Amazons and Brahmins, the quest for the Water of Life, the ascent to heaven in a basket borne by eagles. Nowadays the Romance should be read not only as a literary masterpiece but also as fast-paced and wonderfully exuberant entertainment.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
lest the wild beasts should come and tear it apart, since it was dark and the place was deserted. Touched now with a feeling of affection for his sire, he tied his belt around Nectanebo’s corpse, lifted him on to his shoulders and carried him back to his mother, Olympias. Olympias was surprised when she saw him and asked him what had happened. ‘I am a second Aeneas,’ replied Alexander, ‘carrying my Anchises.’ And he told her the whole story in detail, as he had heard it from Nectanebo. Olympias
breastplates, carrying white shields of chain-mail as well as arrows and quivers, daggers and spears. He reviewed them and found that there were 80,000 of them. Then he drew up his lines against Athens, marched on the city and began to besiege it. The archers were innumerable, and the sun could not be seen for their arrows. γ-text]26 He led a campaign against the Illyrians, Paeonians and Triballians, who had revolted from his rule. During this campaign, there was unrest in Greece. A rumour
played the trumpet-call for battle. Some began to throw stones, others to shoot arrows, which dropped from the sky like rain; others threw hunting spears, and others hurled lead slingshots until the sky was dark. There was a tremendous mêlée of soldiers striking and soldiers being struck. Many were wounded with missiles and killed; others lay half-dead on the ground. The air was dark and reeked of blood. When many of the Persians had been horribly killed, Darius in terror pulled round the reins
A-text] Do not despise us for the colour of our skin. In our souls we are brighter than the whitest of your people. We have eighty flame-throwers ready to do harm to those who attack us. My messengers will bring you 100 solid-gold ingots, 500 young Ethiopians, 200 sphinxes,103 an emerald crown made of 1,000 pounds of gold, 10 strings of unweighed104 pearls, [10 staters], 80 ivory chests, and all kinds of animals that are common among us: 5 elephants, 10 tame panthers, 30 bloodhounds in cages, 30
was at a loss. 30. Alexander sat down on the bank and ordered the men to build a rampart across it. When this had been done according to Alexander’s plan for crossing the river, the water suddenly dried up and became sand instead. Then Alexander saw how to cross the river. He ordered square containers to be constructed of wooden planks. These were then placed on the river-bed, and when the first one was in place, it was filled with stones so that it would not move. Next, he ordered his men to