Report By E.R. Mast
ALEXANDER OF MACEDON by Harold Lamb
As a boy, Alexander learned the lexicon of war from his father, and the discipline of the brain from Aristotle. He read the Iliad and the Tale of Troy, until he knew much of them by heart. He was tutored by a kinsman on his mothers side. He was taught that mountain folds like the Macedonians, had to climb mountains. And each morning after his run, he offered sacrifice before breakfast. The Great God was Zeus of his nation.
The kinsmen were training Alexander to be a king. But the boy always clung to his books. It was a lonely life altho companions studied with him. One of these the son of Philip of Macedon, it was believed by another woman, his name Ptolemy.
Alexander had blue eyes and red-gold curls and his mother’s delicate skin which reddened rather than darkened to a brown under the sun. The people of Macedon were mountain people but in the valleys, they raised barley, grapes and cattle.
Alexander, because of the influence of his mother’s kinsmen, had read the works of the Greek writers of that time. Had read Herodotus, Demosthenes, Homer, Aristotle and even had Aristotle for a tutor, for he came to teach young Alexander and his companions.
Plato believed that out upon the Atlantic portion of the outer ocean there existed islands known as the Blessed Isles, or sometimes as the ‘lost Island of Atlantas.’ He said that civilization also seemed to have advanced from east to west. Science was known in Asia before it was in Crete. Apparently the Greeks had learned from Asia and especially in Egypt. The Iliad mentioned the threshold of Asia, the ‘water gate’ of the Dardanelles where Troy stood. How the Argonauts had come thru the Dardanelles and just suppose that the Argonauts had been actually searching for gold washed down from the mountains instead of the legendary ‘golden fleece?’ Still, they had ventured into the mythical mountains at the end of the farthermost sea, those mountains called the Caucasus Mountains. The voyagers to the Greek colonies reported seeing the loom of vast mountains rising into cloud level covered by everlasting snow. And yet they said a gate gave access to the unknown farther east. They believed that in this region was the inland sea called the Caspian, where giant birds lived, and also unknown Celestial powers. That if this Caspian Sea existed, it might flow northward toward the outer ocean. With all this in mind, then Alexander believed that perhaps to the east, the True God might still exist. So Alexander’s mind was by what he read as to the unknown areas of the east. So something in his make-up drew him to the east. Herodotus described the great eastern city of Babylon with its lofty towers and great hanging gardens. And one Phoenician reported that the name Babylon meant the Gate of God. Alexander knew nothing of the Phoenician language. Still he caught at this idea of a gateway. There had to be a source of two great rivers than because the Tigris and Euphrates both flowed by Babylon. So where and from whence was their source that was the question.
Most legends Alexander discovered originated in the far distant east. There, men said that the very ‘waters of life’ flowed out of the ground, the waters that preserved life forever in those who drank of them. There too, was situated, by all accounts, the ‘Tree of Life’ the fruit of which imparted Celestial knowledge.
Thou Alexander, the young daydreamer, was drawing a map of the world to the east. And from the legends, it was pretty accurate. But his teacher ridiculed it and both, his teacher and his father, stride to steer him in to politics and political rule. After all, he had to live in a literal world.
After all, the Macedonian still retained traces of tribal life and there were many tribes and nations to contend with and it took strong leaders to maintain these Aryan people wandering in their destiny patterns.
Socrates, to many Greeks, it was thought had limited their effort to the past, to the ‘now’ of creation, and the nature of Divine power. Socrates thus had as his objective, the purpose for which the world existed, not the source from whence it came.
Then as a young man, Alexander was thrust on the royalty stage by the wounding of his father, and sent home to rule his homeland. He then became a warrior protecting his people from wandering tribes. His father then joined him and they conquered the cities of Greece. Here were educated people and Alexander heard tales of ancient Egypt where the Sphinx had been heard to utter prophecies. And here in the modern Thebes and Athens, Alexander missed seeing children around, and was told that there weren’t too many because they practice a new thing called abortion. It kept the population down. This was so unlike Macedonia, in those mountains, where their women seemed to have litters. Here also, Alexander sees the great statutes to the goddess Pallas Athena, and he remembers the small altar of the God-Father Zeus at home.
It was Alexander’s father who dreamed of marching east to the land of the Persians and beyond. But then Phillip the Macedonian was assassinated and at twenty years of age, Alexander took his fathers place and attempted to put order back in all the conquered land. He found compelled by circumstances to lead men in conflict the least thing he liked to do. But Illyrians and Celtic warriors watched from the forests as he led his troops. And since his father had decided on the venture, then Alexander would lead the 25,000 men eastward across the Dardanelles and beyond. Out of Asia came an ever increasing flow of coins and precious metals, and ivory, alabaster, and traders and slave dealers. But the trad routes did not enter the Macedonian mountains, and the usurers and money lenders had not as yet taken their places with their scales in the doorways of the temples.
Since the trade routes did not enter the Macedonian mountains, then the Macedonians must go out for a sea coast. So the decision came. At the rising of the star Arcturus, in the year 442 B.C., the journey to the east was to be started. And from this journey, Alexander would never come back to Macedon.
The expedition arrived at the ancient city of Troy or rather the ruins of that ancient city and they were surprised at the small size and poverty of the ruins. But were happy to be camped among the graves of the old heroes. But already they learn that the horsemen of Asia are coming to do battle. Led by the man called ‘great King’, thousands are coming to battle the Macedonians here.
The battle was bloody, and Alexander was hurt twice. But his men protected him and at last it was over, and Alexander learns the lessons of command quickly. After that, no man refused to follow him.
The Macedonians find that there are better lands than their rocky soil of home, and they are excited about the things they are seeing. But Alexander then realizes that here these people are also of his own race and it would be well if they were all joined together. However, most were so enmeshed in their own lives, that they would only give lip service to this idea. But winter is soon coming on and the army must be secured in their quarters for the winter. So when the Pleiades settled in the southern sky, the Macedonians sent the married men home for the winter, and they were to return in the spring. The rest of them started inland for a winters march over the snowy plateau. After all, they were mountain men and they didn’t mind this weather. They would go to the city of Gordium, for here was supposed to rest this famous wagon from Asia. It was said that if any man could untie the knot that bound the yoke to the wagon shaft then he would become a great king of Asia. This cord was of cornel bark and was so tied that its ends were tucked inside that they could not be seen. Many had tried this feat, but no one so far could untie the knot. Alexander, so the story goes, pulled out the pin of the wagon pole, and as he drew it out the yoke was free and the cord came loose. And as hd did this, then thunder was heard in the sky, and the rumor spread across that snow bound plateau of Asia Minor, that this golden haired Macedonian youth had in him Divine power and he was destined to rule these lands.
Finally Spring came. It was learned that an enemy fleet was established at the Dardanelles, already waiting for the Macedonians. So new plans of attack must be made. They were told that in this ancient country they were approaching, that they had strange gods....the Dragon and Baal before whom children were burned as an offering. They were told that Tyre had been built by a Semitic people called Phoenicians, that metallic stones had fallen from the sky and now lay like blackened iron on the face of the earth. That one of these meteorites lay within the city called Jerusalem covering an opening that led down into the middle of the earth. That the walls of Jerusalem had been built by a man named Nehemiah above a salt inland sea where plants were poisonous and the earth salted.
As the Macedonians came down into this area, they sent a column ahead and reached Tarsus before the enemy could defend or demolish it. Then Alexander contacted a fever, and the army tried to move carrying him on a litter. The great army of the enemy moved to surround the Macedonians and their sick commander, but the enemy had misjudged these mountain men. So Darius the great King gave up the battle before it was lost. And the enemy now became friends and they welcomed Alexander as their king retreated to the east. The Macedonians then took Beirut, which is a Semitic name and it means w---The Wells.
Alexander always gave orders that the women of the other armies be respected as their own, and not their conquered enemy are their friends. So this rule was followed vigorously. Any man who violated a woman was to be treated as a wild beast. Alexander had no prostitutes following his camp.
After taking the city of Tyre, then the Macedonians head for Egypt and there they built the city of Alexandria. For at Heliopolis and Memphis, he had beheld cities of permanent stone of dark porphyry and gleaming limestone. Some of these Temples had stood for a millennium or so before stones were laid in place on the small Acropolis at Athens. And the people here had existed a long time. Unchanging carvings of their records in picture graphs and script were upon these walls of stone. Alexander absorbed this as he remembered passages as Homer talked about this spot where he now stood...... ‘An Island lies within sounding surf, an Island Pharos on the Egyptian shore.’ So here at Alexandria, Egypt, Alexander called for a Temple to be built like the one they built earlier in their journey at Sardis....a gymnasium and sports arena such as he had built at Sidon and a great library...a whole building to house books such as he had seen at Memphis. The city of Alexandria prospered and it grew. And today more than 2277 years later, this city is still a great naval base. And something of an international settlement. But it is no longer a world center of worship and learning.
The Macedonians on their journey had encountered Semitic gods, but didn’t pay particular interest in them. At Tyre, they selected Heracles as the ruling deity, but in Egypt, they observed lofty monoliths called Obelisks, visible for a day’s march across that level valley. Ammon-Ra was depicted as sailing in a ship across the sky. So if this tall beardless figure in the sky ship did not look like Zeus, they would be mistaken. So was not Zeus in fact this Ammon-Ra.....just as Apollo might be Osiris who was slain only to return to life again, the visible evidence of the Divine power among mortals? Alexander had to be sure of this and he heard that the oldest sanctuary of Ammon-Ra lay along a long way out in the desert. So he insisted on going there. The robed Priests welcomed this young Macedonian. He asked for assurance that his mission would be successful, and was told that it would be. Those who had followed Alexander to Siway declared that the oracle had pronounced him the son of Ammon-Ra.
During the time in Egypt, only his guards were with Alexander, the rest of his army were scattered in numerous settlements as far back as Tarsus. But when he appeared on his big black horse with his white cloak, he was greeted by him men as they saw him coming and raced to him, and others would bow, for now he was the Pharaoh of Egypt. Alexander had been King of Macedon, tribal head, as chosen by the council, and protector of the Delphi Shrine. He became captain, General of Hellenes, and Over-Lord of the Ionian cities, military leader of Tyre, and the Syrian coast as well as the Islands. And now in Egypt, he had become a Pharaoh and a god. Ptolemy, with Alexander, said, ‘when you write it down, it doesn’t make sense. But then nothing of this expedition makes sense for instead of taking a spoil, they had to treat even the Egyptians more respectfully than the Ionians who at least could speak Greek. But Alexander had in three years accomplished what seemed to be a miracle. He had taken the eastern end of the Mediterranean in three years. From Troy to Memphis, Alexander made no changes in the local governments. This is the way he controlled all this vast area. He remembered that Aristotle said, ‘It is more difficult to organize Peace than to win a war. But the fruits of victory will be lost if the Peace is not well organized.’
Early in the spring of 331 B.C., the Macedonian army was gathering by order at the new base of Tyre. And here, occurred the first bitter quarrel between Parmenio and Alexander and many of the staff. Some of the staff felt they had fulfilled all of Alexander’s father’s plans, no need of going further....the others, that there was no security as long as the main Persian army existed inland to the east. Darius the last, had offered ten thousand talents for his wife and family who he had left behind, and to cement the friendship between Alexander and himself, he offered one of his daughters in marriage, and would surrender all the territory between the river Euphrates and the Greek Sea. But Alexander would have none of this and he gave the command to move to the east. He now only had the texts of Herodotus’s narrative, the Anabasis of Xenophon, and the world plan of Hecataeus to depend on that something still lay to the eastward.
The Macedon army moved inland, passing around Mount Hermon, thru Damascus and angling north to keep to the fringe of good grazing land. And they finally crossed the Euphrates River and found themselves on the Kings Way, leading to Babylon. His army was not swelled by the arrival of another years recruits from home, and Alexander found that the wagon train had grown and now they carried more of the engineer’s machines for all purposes as well as some of their women. So perhaps 35,000 now found their way on this great plain between the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The new recruits wondered what drove their commander on into this great unknown. They heard of a great army to oppose them, and it was not fear. But they still wondered what lay ahead. Alexander, however, led them north eastward toward the second great river, staying always close to the mountains for here they were more at home, more confident.
As they forded the Tigris River there was an eclipse...a total eclipse of the moon. And the Phoenicians among the engineers argued that the darkening of the moon foreshadowed the approach of the lady of the Underworld, who was also called Astarte, and held great power among the two rivers. This lady was served by the beasts of three worlds, the sky, the earth, and the underworld. So she might appear mounted on a Dragon, a lion, or a great serpent.
The Macedonians learn that the Great King Darius now waited to attack on the edge of the plain....with him, Scythians and Bactrins who were great horsemen. And more horsemen than infantry now awaited the Macedonians. Alexander had hoped they would come into the lower foothills to attack and he camped there for three days. This battle would decide who was to rule Persia. He could wait. Finally, with Alexander mounted on his famous black horse, the two forces joined. The outsides of the Macedonian force were carrying the brunt of the attack..out-numbered four to one, when the advance group with Alexander on his black horse struck at the center of the Persian army, where their king was in his chariot. And again, as he had done before, Darius in his chariot, raced back out of the fight thus pulling the whole force gradually back....the leader not leading and that force then ceased to exist. Roman historians much later recorded this battle in all its details, noting how the Macedonians held together under stress because of their leadership.
The Macedonians gathered strange spoil from that battle plain...armored elephants, scores of chariots equipped with scythe blades, gilded spears, and whole regiments of mountain men speaking a strange language called Armenian, and skilled horsemen wearing loose trousers and flowing turbans called Kurds. These captives indicated that they came from the mountain wall to the east.
Darius, in his flight, was found to have gone eastward and spread out his forces to the south and to the east. So as yet, Alexander was leading his 30,000 men out against the manpower of millions. This Darius, however, was not the Great King Darius the 1st, and the mighty Xerxes, even who had in turn ruled and whose likeness appeared carved in stone upon palace and cliff walls. Alexander just sent ahead two official messengers to the two nearest capitols, Babylon and Susa, and these officials, just announced that the new Great King was coming so just welcome him and he would grand freedom to worship to all temples, and would not disturb any provincial government nor exact tribute of any personal property. Thus, Alexander came to Babylon and was welcomed.
The Macedonians were amazed at what they saw here. Nothing about it was Greek. The sign of the Lady of the Beasts, the crescent moon, rested over the towering gateways. They found that these gigantic walls and summits were built of clay, molded by the hands of slaves and baked in ovens or dried in the sun. Even the ornamental tile were no more than earth cleverly glazed. Learned Chaldeans showed them libraries of tablets and thin squares of clay, stamped with wedges and then dried so that they never yielded to age. Such tablets recorded marriages, loans and gifts made centuries before. The bricks of the lower walls carried the stamp of Nebuchadnezzar. Building out of the earth itself, the Babylonians had tried to escape the earth’s surface by rising their edifices in step-back pyramids to the upper levels of cooler air. Such a structure had been called the tower of Bal-El, meaning the Gate of the Lord, in the time when the wandering Hebrews had lived by the waters of Babylon. These hanging gardens were a wonder to the Macedonians. They also found that there was much more to this kingdom, for beyond the mountains, were the three other capital cities of Susa, Persepolis, and Ecbatana.
Here at Babylon, Alexander confiscated the treasury of Babylon, but left the civil government intact with only the Macedonian officer and a small garrison to see to it. The schools, the temples, the tithes, and charities, of the metropolis were to remain as they had been until his return. He prepared for his march on to the east. And as they marched from Babylon thru the Ishtar Gate, they turned east along the highway up into the mountains. A messenger came bearing the message that the city of Susa welcomed the new Conqueror. Susa had been the home for the kings during spring to fall....Babylon their winter home.
Here also, the Macedonians found great treasure. They found statues that Xerxes had carried off from Greece generations before. Among them were the bronze figures of Harmodius and Aristogeton. And Alexander had them sent back to Greece. Susa had been the vital center of Elam. Ecbatan (modern Hamadan) had been the great city of the tribal Medes. Babylon had been the metropolis of the neo-Babylonians who had risen along with the Medes upon the ruins of Assyrian power. Only Persepolis, city of the Persians, had been built by the Great King of their homeland upon the Persian plateau itself.
The Macedonians were now marching against time toward the heart of Persia itself, hoping to arrive before Darius could mobilize man power. Leaving the foothills around Susa, they headed south and east. And they were climbing into the mountains. They found a narrow summit pass, and it was walled up and defended in force. They took a few prisoners and then fell back. From the prisoners, they learned that a trail led over the mountain on the right, to the river beyond the pass. So Alexander and a chosen company went over this trail by night leaving the main company in the valley in the hands of the new leader Craterus. As they moved on the trail, they moved only by night and rested in the day time, well out of sight of the Persians. And always, they saw high above the great peaks of the mountains. By the second night, they were behind the Summit guarding force, and as the trumpet sounded, the Macedonians attacked from the front, and the rear and the battle was soon over. Alexander sent men on ahead to build bridges over the river for the wagons following the troops. But Alexander pushed on to Persepolis and took that city before the people knew what was happening. A fire started and as Alexander moved thru the fire fighters, he saw a stone slab bearing the likeness of Xerxes on the throne. This was the portrait of the great king who had destroyed Athens generations before. So Alexander left the statue lying there.
Winter was coming and they must rest for a month or two until the main strength of the winter is over. The administration of this conquered territory was immense. Couriers arrived to consult. Ptolemy arrived, and even the women left at Babylon begin to once more catch up with the troops here in winter quarters. Even the wine grape roots caught up and were planted in the ground. These things just seemed to happen. If the troops stayed in one place a while, everything in their order finally arrived. Alexander was always trying to understand the symbols of the land. And here, he found a pair of Eagle’s wings carved in stone over entrances of tombs. He had seen these eagles wings in Egypt where they formed the emblem of Osiris, the Sun god. They found them in Babylon attached to the bas-relief of the grotesque god Marduk. And here they supported only the head of Ahura, the Lord of Wisdom who shared in the power of the Sun. Alexander wondered why the rulers of Persia were related to the sun, and to the wings of the Eagle, also. Then he found that the only temples of this land were stone altars on high places where fire burned at night. He questioned these Zarathustrians who the Greeks called Zoroastrians who attended these stone altars. They said that the great Eagle formed a link between men and sky. They believed that the spirit of the Eagle descended to the hilltops to aid men. The Zoroastrians believed that the human spirit endured thru eternity struggling to raise itself out of darkness to light, losing strength when it came under the power of evil, gaining strength when it progressed toward light. The sky is their Zeus, the soldiers said to these Zoroastrians.
It seemed to Alexander that the Persian Zoroastrians had drawn their knowledge from the same source as the ancient Greeks, only the names differed. He also discovered that the ancient speech of the Persians did resemble Greek. At sometime in the past, then the Greeks and Persians had been related. The Zoroastrians said,.... ‘from the north and the east...from ancient Iran-Venj......their lost Paradise,.....there far off in the limbo of the Steppes, they had been close to the Divine power. Emerging from the Steppes, they had bred horses, and ridden horses. And they had worked metal. The early tribes had migrated out of the lost Paradise thru the land of Soghd, thru Bactria, and Parthia and around the waters of the clear inland sea. This Iranian tribe called Parsa, had given their name to Persia, to the great Plateau which grew good grass and fed their herds of horses. The foremost of this clan called Cyrus by the Greeks, had gained supremacy over the Medes of the mountains and had swept with his horsemen westward as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Only two centuries before, Cyrus had reigned in at the waters of the sea, and united the different peoples under his rule. He couldn’t understand the Greeks. Their food was sold in the market place. Among his people food was given, not sold. But now in Alexander’s time, the tomb of Kurush (Cyrus) was a place only to be visited. Alexander told the Zoroastrians to keep on with their guard for he did not want that tomb to be molested. He saw the rock tombs of Darius the Great and Ahasuerus (Xerxes), they also all had the eagle’s wings and the disk of the sun above the threshold. No city was near these tombs, only a single altar tended by priests.
The Zoroastrians told Alexander that there had been no war for two centuries. That they had tried to make their homes here like they had been in lost Paradise, like the first Aryans. Alexander thought that this lost sanctuary must then lie still further to the east. He sent a message home to Aristotle asking for some of his old school to come travel to this new region if he could not come himself. Aristotle did not come, but he sent his nephew. And in the spring of 330 B.C., the Macedonians began the march even eastward keeping to the higher ridges. The last Darius kept away from them as they pursued him. They took city after city and the people even came to him before their cities were captured and he left them as they were. Then information reached the Macedonians that the last Darius had passed thru the narrow defile called the Caspian Gates. They learned that the last Darius was not in trouble, had even been taken captive by his own officers. Alexander then took a picked number of men and they crossed the desert in pursuit. But when they found Darius, he was dead in his cart, killed by his own men. Alexander threw his white cloak over the body of the dead king.
The Macedonian men then moved on to Ecbatana, a city windswept, cold as his native Pella. It also was a mountain fortress, but definitely more majestic. In fact, this city now far to the east, still had what looked like Greek architecture. It also commanded a chain of mountains that dwarfed the knobby heights of Greece. And unseen in the north, lay the snow peak of Urartu or Ararat. Armenians from Ararat told Alexander that back there lay lakes as vast as inland seas, and mines still unexploited. The Armenians had submitted to the rule of the Great King who had outlawed warfare because of the mild influence of the Zoroastrians who lived in huts by these lakes. The mountain folks...Armenian and Kurdish tribes, had accepted the faith of the Zoroastrians, and built fire altars in the cold air of the highest places. These Zoroastrians believed themselves, to be engaged in such a conflict where they bowed down to the image of no god. Often these Aryans spoke of simple things such as fire and water and life. Alexander could understand their words which were similar to Greek. They explained how they in fold memory, survived the flooding of the waters around Ararat. And they expected to survive the last catastrophe which was of fire, when a comet should strike the earth ending this battle between light and darkness, good and evil, so that some would perish in the fire and others pass over into tranquility of everlasting Paradise. They introduced Alexander to what they called everlasting fire, which bubbled out as a dark liquid out of the cleft in the rock and flowed down to a pool which burned without cessation.....it was petroleum.
Already, the Macedonians from the last of the column were beginning to reach this land with their seeds from home. And only the ivy failed to grow in this eastern soil. Alexander had brought along in the pipeline, the things even needed to build ships and the men to run them. He was eager to find an inland sea. The Greek language has been understood as far as Babylon, then from there eastward...it was Persian language which some of them quickly mastered. And now, Alexander reigned over much in the east, while still King of Macedonia. But always, Alexander had the conviction that all of these people who were Aryans, could be fused together. This was supposed to be the end of Alexander’s battles. All had been won, now they could go home. But still, Alexander dreamed of going eastward toward the rising sun. Something seemed to draw him that way. Many of the lieutenants and men disagreed and a bargain was struck. Those who wanted to go home were paid and arrangements made for their journey back. Others elected to follow him eastward to the land of the Indus. Along this river, he was told that Aryans dwelt there also. Along the way, was the Inland Sea above the Caspian Gates, he also wanted to find. And beyond, at some point, unknown to men, lay ocean itself, encircling the continental mass.
But here in the east, the Macedonians were learning something besides warfare and agriculture. They were learning of luxuries and conveniences never known in the Macedonian hills. They developed tastes for oriental bath scents, and even for silver nails in their sandals. Alexander was not turning Asia in to Greek, only Greek leadership leaving intact the Aryan governments underneath which his mother at home thought ridiculous. His men were now strung out over an area of 650 thousand square miles. And he tried to keep in touch with courier dispatches. Alexander went to great lengths to impress on his men that this was not a conquest of people but a reconstruction of the world state of the Great King. Even the young sons of Darius were educated and cared for. Alexander saw to that. But Alexander was also beginning to show the strain of his many duties. Men began to have other allegiances rather than to Alexander. And thus the road ahead had stretched too far. And yet, they marched on, ever to the east. But suddenly, they were lost....at least the column advancing with Alexander was lost. Oh, they knew they were on the surface of the earth, but just where? The last land marks of the Greeks were left behind at the twin rivers...Euphrates and Tigris. Now they could no longer calculate according to these old land marks. And the Persian scientist now could not help them for they moved more by the pictures in the heavens of certain star constellations. The people of this area said that if Alexander turned north, he would in four marches, be at the shore of the great inland sea. This they did, and actually this was the Caspian Sea. But the scientists could not agree on what was eastward.
As the army rested, Alexander gathered information and it excited him. He was told that if he kept on to the east, he would be on the track of the ancient Aryan migration form the land of the sun, the land of Kurush...the Great King. If he continued on, he would reach two rivers flowing out of Paradise, the river of sand and the river of the sea. If he kept on bypassing these rivers, he would come within sight of the greatest of mountain ranges, towering above timber lines, above the level of bird life, dwarfing these mountains, he has passed thru. These mountains they called the Paranisades.
This was in the winter of 330-329 B.C. And the advanced guard were now near what is now the northern frontier of Afghanistan. But here the cold was intense and some of the men began to think that surely, their leader had gone mad. The people of this area were not friendly and did not come into contact with the Macedonians, as the people earlier had done. Horsemen raided out of ravines and vanished. These Aryan mountain people like the Macedonians, themselves, had known no military yoke. They regarded the Macedonians as European invaders....infidels. Thus, another strategy must be tried in this far distant land...colonization. Cities were built, and some of the Aryan tribes were subdued. But only one at a time. This proved to be a slow task and Alexander was wounded twice. To avoid these horsemen of the plains, Alexander moved east into the foothills and here at the city of Maracand (modern Samarkand), he left a strong garrison while he pushed on to the north and east seeking these Scythians, these horsemen who had been plaguing the Macedonians. And now there was trouble behind them as well,..for the Scythians raided deep into his supply lines. They decided to build another city of protection. And the Scythians were puzzled by what Alexander did next. The sick and those who had served their time, were quartered inside with the farmers of the countryside, while the engineers built rafts and floats for crossing the river. Here a battle between the Macedonians and the Scythians took place as they crossed the river. And finally, the Macedonians won. And later they said the Scythians sued for Peace. But Alexander had to be carried back from the river on a litter.
Then word came that back at Samarkand, they are also in trouble encircled by Scythians. So Alexander ordered a relief column sent and 135 miles was covered in three days and three nights. And at dawn on the fourth day, they came in to the valley. Many were dead when the relief column came, and the besiegers had run away.
Snow now blocked the higher passes as winter came and the Macedonians settled in the lower regions to ride it thru. And even the yearly quota of recruits from home now finally caught up, and with them others.......Semitic mariners from along the Mediterranean Sea. Some from the base in Zoroaster land...they called themselves Kharismians. Their stories of the northern Steppes bewildered the Greek geographers, but they interested Alexander. The chieftain of the Kharismians offered to guide Alexander to his great lake and to supply the army on the way, and to show him these Amazons that the Greek philosophers had talked so much about. They also offered to get a Royal Scythian bride for Alexander, but he declined. However, he decided to push on thru the Parapanisades-Hind-I-Kuh into the lands of the Indus. But first he had to secure his highland. And finally with the leader of the Scythians killed, this, he was able to do. Only one resistance force was not left.....a rocky height called the Rock of Soghd. The Bactrian people laughed at the Macedonians trying to scale their rock. It was then decided that they would climb at night, for believing it could not be climbed, there was no guard. Some 300 volunteered and by morning, most of them were up there at sunrise above the defenders of the dome flying the flags they had taken with them. So the defenders surrendered and Alexander went to inspect the settlement. He went to one house on the cliffs edge. The door opened and out came a girl. She had long braids light as new wheat twisted back of her head. She was lovely to watch, and her head glowed in the sunset. When Alexander asked he name, they told him it was Rushanah (Roxana) the daughter of Light. This barbarian child of a Bactrian Lord knowing no Greek, stirred some memory in Alexander. Taking a bracelet from his wrist, he put it on her arm saying, ‘Keep it, for you will be my wife.’ Roxana went with him. And later she would bear him a son. But the army did not approve of this marriage.
Writers have written many tales of Alexander’s exploits and all of them are false. A group of flatterers formed around Alexander and they began to say their King was equal to the hero sons of Zeus. And Alexander began to turn from the Macedonians to the eastern followers and he began to do wrong things....making wrong decisions and began losing his dream.
The people of Macedonians with him had thought that the Indus and the Nile Rivers might be connected on the other side of the earth, for no one they knew ever found their source. Maybe if they went thru the inner earth.....they might connect. After all, there was the River Styx.
Finally, Alexander gets restless. His dream comes again and he moves eastward. He thinks to the shore of the ocean, not realizing it is still so far away. Into his camp then came some soothsayers, and even more women and children. The army had become a moving column of pack animals and carts. So on they pushed to the Khyber Pass to the Valley of the Indus. And now the army, itself ceased to be Macedonian, altho still officered mainly by Macedonians. Some remained from home, but most were from Asia, and they traveled on horseback. Alexander now commanded an International Army. He was leading this force on, not to subject, but to conciliate the Aryan people of India. Already, he had been in communication with them. He knew they were ready to meet him at the edge of the valley of the Indus. They were prepared to grant him peaceful passage thru their land. Thus, he headed northeast toward the higher passes where the Hind-I-Kuh meets the immense ridges of the Himalayas where no army could pass. This...to cross the Indus at its headquarters, and also to keep in the cooler weather for summer. Besides, he was exploring the world for the Greeks did not have a true picture of this. And always, as he moved east, he had to climb higher, to march further. The very rivers had increased in size. So was the last horizon to overlook the ocean, the place of the sun’s rising evidence of Divine power? Did there exist beings who were more than mortal in their wisdom having partaken of the Tree of Knowledge, and having drunk of the waters of Life?? Perhaps Alexander journeyed on to discover if destiny existed.
This spring the Macedonians found ivy growing at the town of Nysa. They had found this no place else since the Dardanelles. And these people here knew many Greek words. The story finally came out that these Nysaeans thought themselves to be the descendants of the heroes who had followed Dionysus in his wandering. Disabled men, so the tale ran, founded this ancient colony. Here the Macedonians reasoned, they had found evidence that Greek heroes had been here before. There was a breed of long horned oxen here and they sent some back to Macedon.
Now, the higher they climbed into the Himalayas, the more unfriendly the tribesmen became. Finally they were forced to turn back and move over the Indus on the boats his engineers provided. And here Alexander’s wife joined him once more. Here the Macedonians see the elephant, the spotted serpent, and the hooded serpents. Men died of these bites in Egypt, so Alexander assembled Indians who knew cures for snakebite. Here the Indus flowed south, so the Nile and the headquarters of this river had to be of no connection. Here one puzzle solved. Here in India, he found Aryans who had drifted down out of the northern plains in Patriarchial clans. They were cattle raisers. They kept one wife only, worshiping at the sacred fire, reverencing only the God of the upper air, whom they had named Indra. They were a warrior caste. Their Priests Brahmins, both holding themselves aloof from the darker skinned aborigines of the land.
Further east they were to cross another river and this time they ran in to trouble. The enemy was mounted on elephants and a horse will not face an elephant in combat. Suddenly in the battle also, the famous black horse Alexander always rode, went down. It had died under him. He grabbed another horse and the battle was finally over. The crossing of the Jhelum River left its scars upon the Macedonian veterans, however. And the army finally mutinied at the 5th river the Beas....the last of the five rivers at the Punjab, just ahead.....and beyond it was rumored to be the Ganges, a river mightier then all the others. And the men are rebelling. They don’t want to go on. But Alexander assures them that after they cross the head of the Ganges, then the ocean will be next, and they will build boats and sail home. He outlined the eastern world as he thought it should be. And wanted to sail back past India to Egypt. But Coenus spoke up.....’The army believes that some end must be put to its labor in order to hold what it has won. The army is being decimated. See how few are left of the Macedonians and Greeks who started with us. The rest have died in battle or been wounded and left to settle in cities you founded. Take us home. Don’t lead us against our will.’ So Alexander agreed to turn back. What lay behind him, he knew. What lay ahead, he was abandoning and did not know he could not have reached the Pacific, for it lay so far ahead thru hostile country. But now he seemed a changed man, for he drove the army such as he had never drove them before and he drove himself the hardest of all. They started down the Indus River hoping to reach the sea. He scattered his army both sides of the river to keep the inhabitants back. For the first time, it is written that inhabitants were killed. Alexander, himself is finally wounded. An arrow had entered his lung and not he must ride the galley moving down the river. At last, they reached the ocean and there built a naval base. Alexander, now feeling better, explored the area. The Macedonians had never ventured to sea. So it was decided the army should march along the shore, and he would lead them while the rest of the company, the engineers and followers and so forth moved on the ships. But this march was thru sand dunes and mud flats. They were out of touch with the fleet, and finally they had to turn inland for food. And eventually, reached the inland city of southern Persia where the fleet was also to come in. They waited and waited but finally they came. The story of the fleet and its adventures were recorded of how they had met the great sea monsters. How the monsters had moved around and around their ships, and they did not know that they were the great whales of the ocean. But this had been a new experience for them.
As Alexander moves back westward, he finds that the men he left in charge along the way have not followed his orders. Instead the corrosion of wealth had come along, a human tide from the west, a flood of traders, adventurers, all moving toward the new settlements to the east. And now Alexander was forced to sit all day to go over petitions and accounts, and work into the night as well. He now needed an interpreter.....Greek, he had come to understand, but Armenie, Hebrew, Arabic, and Hittite, now had to be explained. He noticed that the order for one sheep, flour, and wine which was to be supplied to the Magi who keep watch at the tomb of Kurush (the Great King) had been stopped. He learned that the tomb had been robbed and after that the Magi was imprisoned. Alexander makes a journey to the tomb to find that it is all true. Things had not been done as he wished. He must take up the administration of this great land he had conquered, of the seventy cities founded.
Roxana is pregnant and still, Alexander made no public arrangements for a son who might succeed him. In fact, he seemed to waste no time on his close kin in Macedonia, or wonder how they might act toward a child of an Asiatic woman. He had started work on canals to bring the water to the cities and settlements he had pushed out, and always he moved as tho in a big hurry.
Then a new idea came to him and at Susa, he stages an immense celebration. He now encouraged his officers to marry Asian women (remember these are Aryans). He selected the eldest daughter of Darius as a second bride. He selected a younger sister of Roxana for Nearchus absent at sea, and so forth. Alexander sees that there must be an Eurasian army in this new state he has carved out, not the Macedonians he started with.....and his original companions disagree. But they feel that he is moving to free himself of their services. Thus, this marriage of Aryan Asians to Macedonians, he hope will defuse the problem. Now they are all seen as family...relatives. Babylon was selected as the capital center of the domain. All Macedonians with wounds were to be sent home with big rewards. Still the old army rebels, and Alexander goes to his men telling how he had led them, and how they have enriched themselves. But also tells them to go home and tell their people how they left their King among subjected foreigners alone. Well, the Macedonians yielded and stayed with Alexander....at least the officers and leaders. It was still a choice with the men, and 10,000 of them decided to go home to Macedon. They were given full pay plus about 15,000.00 dollars for each man. The families of all soldiers who had died were compensated. And any children born to Asiatic women were to be left in Asia, but they were to be cared for and educated there....western style.
The new army was like an international police force. No more did Alexander have an army to follow him such as the Macedonians who started with him. But from the Nile to the Indus River, there was no conflict. And Alexander found that he was least able to control his homeland of Macedon. But more than ten years had estranged the wanderer from his people. The old wound in his lung still caused a fever which was draining Alexander. So he did not try to make the journey home. Instead, in the spring, he journeyed to the mountains of the Caspian Sea area, a fleet would be built there and they could settle the question as to whether it actually connected or drained north in the outer ocean. If so, his ships could reach the northern edge of the habitat world. And also, he would know if the river of Sands, and the river of Sea emptied into the Caspian Sea. He perhaps here, could reach the dark homeland of the Scythian tribes. He no longer expected to find the beginning of the Aryan people, for he had seen the snow line of the Himalayas. He has seen eagles fly over immeasurable chasms. He in his mind, traversed this kingdom of his, this kingdom of natural earth. It had never been so clear in his mind but he could not know that his mind was also failing him.
One of the architects tried to win his favor with a plan for a memorial to Alexander that would dwarf the Pyramids. His idea was to make the stone face of Mount Athos into an effigy of the king who would stand this way for eternity holding a city of 10,000 people in his left hand, while a river flowed from his right hand into the sea. But Alexander would have none of this. He was not after self-gratification. He was very restless here at Babylon and he started on a small expedition against the Kassite Mountain tribes....Ptolemy with him. But soon had to return to Babylon when he learned that envoys from as far away as Libya had arrived to see him. As he neared Babylon, this time a group of Priests from the temple of Marduk (Aryans) stood in his way saying do not enter the gate of Babylon ‘evil will be thy fate if thou doest, for the second time.’ He went on in because Babylon was his capital city and Nearchus, his Lieutenant, was awaiting him. It was decided that next they would travel over the shore of Arabia and on the sea along side the coastline and maybe map the size of Arabia which was thought to be about the size of India. Together, they thought they would reach the land of the Nile, and then they would move to solve the mystery of the great deserts to see what lay to the south. Always, the move was to learn.
The new shipyards at Babylon were launching 10 and 30 oared galleys and Alexander went out on one of the new test cruises down the river, then came back and entered Babylon the second time by the Water Gate. That night, Alexander could not sleep. The fever in him raged. This continued for several days and then at thirty-two years of age, plus eight months, Alexander died in Babylon. He had worn out his body and his mind as well in those last years. He died with his dream of dominion only half completed. Perhaps his dream was impossible. But at his death many things happened that he would not have approved of.
When Alexander died in the Palace at Babylon, then Ptolemy, Selencus, Perdiccas, Pencestas and Nearchus were with him. These were the powerful lieutenants, and now they would be in charge. Ptolemy elected to serve as ruler in Egypt. Selencus would rule in Babylon, and the others chose their spheres of influence. Alexander’s sarcophagus should have been sent back to Macedon, but Ptolemy took it to Egypt to increase his prestige. And there, Ptolemy would eventually marry Thais and wield those two fortunes together. At Memphis and at Alexandria, Egypt, Ptolemy established his new dynasty. The boy born to Roxana was to be protected by the soldiers related to that royal family. They were chosen regent in the north.
The dividing up of the kingdom fulfilled Daniels prophecy which said, ‘and the king of the south shall be strong, but one of his captains shall be stronger.’ This was Seleucus who looked upon himself as the trustee of dominion. Ptolemy in Egypt, then occupied himself with the building of that great library at Alexandria which his half brother had started.
Alexander had bequeathed no clear plan of government to his successor, only his example and purpose were there for them to follow. Alexander’s mother Olympias had persuaded the eastern successors to send the Bactrian Princess and Alexander’s son to Pella, Macedon. And then in Macedon in 310 B.C., Cassander the son of Antipater who had been Alexander’s enemy at home, began his work of destruction of the Macedonian kingdom. Alexander’s mother, his wife, and son were killed and this split that dominion into four parts while an independent kingdom of Judeans formed in Palestine. The collapse of older nations, the mingling of people, the use of an international language, set men to grouping for a new fellowship. And later into this path of mingled humanity, were to step the Apostles of a new universal religion, Christianity.
Descendants of the Macedonian settlers left their physical characteristics among the white Kafirs of the Hind-I-Kuh and until recently, the red banner of Samarkand was supposed by the natives to be that of Alexander the Great. Trade flowed all of the dominion that Alexander had laid out. But today (1924), one fact strikes the observer. Of the construction done in the time of Alexander, nothing remains visible today. Even the lighthouse at Alexandria on the Nile has vanished without a trace. British archaeologists have not been able to identify with certainty the site of Alexander’s memorial pillars on the bank of the River Beas. Perhaps this work is buried under more modern works.
Alexandria, Egypt became the knowledge center of their world. Books were copied in great numbers for a reading public. The works of Aristotle were to be preserved in the main thru translation into Arabic. And centuries later, when they were neglected in Europe, after the decline in Rome, they were to be found in Arabic.
The cold, cold concepts of earlier Greek philosophy was quickened and warmed by Asiatic (Aryan) mysticism. The influence of the Magi from Zoroaster land shaped the religion in Judea and Christianity more than the Greek concept was able to do. Alexander’s travels had broken down the limitations of their thought. And then came the Romans about two centuries after Alexander’s death, but they were never able to penetrate much beyond the Euphrates. As Rome collapsed, in the west thru internal deterioration, she survived for a millennium in this eastern or Byzantine Empire. After a century or so, the people finally began to call him... ‘Alexander the Great.’ And with this concept of Global rule, which Alexander did not perfect, the myth bird of the Asiatics, the great winged eagle of the Magi, this bird which flew between mankind and earth, and the seats of the gods in the sky, now came to Europe. It is true that an eagle was the favorite bird of Zeus, was found in its natural form upon standards of the Roman legion. It survived. And was twin on the heraldry of German Emperors, Polish kings, and Tsars of Russia. Asia remembered Alexander more than any of the westerners. But before their legends took shape, the writers with Alexander had finished their accounts. But each land remembered Alexander in a different way. Each adopted him as belonging to it. The records in Greek were lost. The ones of Rome written by Rome, have come down to us. At the end of the first century after Christ, there was a vogue of Alexander books.
In a most curious fashion, perhaps thru the Persians....this held that Kurush (Cyrus the Great) of the Zoroastrians, and these people of Zoroaster land, were servants of YAHWEH, the God of Israel who said to him, ‘Be thou My shepherd,’ and that Alexander appears as tho a vague Messiah-King related to the House of David. Thus many were the tales told connected to Alexander and his travels.
Later when the crusaders entered the near east, they heard the stories. Perhaps they heard the Persians say, ‘He searched for more than any one sought. His story lies still on the horizon’s rim.’
But to the Greeks, the world was much smaller than it really was, and to them Alexander went to the world end.
Our author for two or more years, followed the path of Alexander’s journey except for that within northern India. He also had much help from the fine library in Beirut. ( I wonder if it is still there today, as it would be one more thing the Israeli’s would went to destroy?)
(End of Alexander the Macedon)