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.
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great honours that a queen can, and shall treat you as if you were the father of the child.’ ‘You must know,’ went on Nectanebo, ‘that the following sign will be given before the god enters your room. If, as you rest at evening in your chamber, you see a serpent creeping towards you, order everyone to go outside. But do not put out the lamps, which I have prepared to give proper honour to the god, and which I will light and give you; no, go to your bed and make yourself ready, cover your face
spells for him, and then he will come to you.’ And she replied, ‘You may have this room from now on.’ She gave orders that he should be given the key to the room. Then he hid his disguise in a secret place, and went in to her as often as Olympias wanted. And all the time she thought it was the god Ammon who came to her. Day by day Olympias’ belly grew, until one day she said to Nectanebo, ‘What shall I say if Philip comes home and finds me pregnant?’ ‘Have no fear, queen,’ replied the wizard.
Olympias, that I will do you no harm, but will accept from you whatever tribute you care to give, and I will not attack your country. Send us as many horsewomen as you think fit. We will pay each of them wages of a gold stater every month, and their food and drink in addition. At the end of a year these shall return to you and you shall send others. Take counsel and inform me of your decision. Farewell.’ When the Amazons received Alexander’s letter, they held an assembly and wrote to inform him
went to his palace. He made Seleucus ruler of the Persians, and set Philip up over the Egyptians, while he himself was in charge of the Macedonians, who were devoted heart and soul to him. 29. Then he assembled all his army and marched towards the nations of the Interior. All the nations became his servants and paid him tribute. Not one of them resisted, because they were all afraid of him. He crossed all the land beneath the sun – no habitable part was omitted. He ordered his people to wait
preceding events. 118. A has Iollas, a more Greek form. 119. Antipater’s son is Cassander. In reality Iolaus was Cassander’s younger brother. 120. γ adds Seleucus, Philo and Scamandrius. Antipater’s son Cassander should not be in this list of those who were ignorant of the plot, and has probably been inserted through carelessness. 121. Antipater’s son. 122. The first four paragraphs of the will are in an extremely pompous style, unlike the following ones, and notable for their overriding