In a word, Athenians are by nature incapable of either living a quiet life themselves, or of allowing anyone else to do so. — Thucydides

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

Alexander and Diogenes

When Alexander marched at the head of his army into Thessaly, not a blow was struck. His presence seemed enough to gain the allegiance of the Thessalians.

The king then went to Corinth, where ambassadors from many of the Greek states met him. Young as he was, they chose Alexander to be general over the Greek troops which were to go with the Macedonians to invade Asia.

Every one in Corinth was eager to see the king. From the surrounding towns, too, the people crowded into the city, that they might look at the young monarch who was going to lead their soldiers on so great an expedition.

They did not dream of all that he would do, how he would spread their customs, their language, their culture over Asia first, and then over all the world. But looking at him they knew that he would be a conqueror.

Among those who wished to see Alexander were many philosophers and great men. But one strange philosopher, called Diogenes, showed no interest in the king.

Alexander heard of this man, who was said to sit all day in a tub or barrel. As Diogenes did not come to see him, he resolved to go to see Diogenes. He found the philosopher outside the gates of Corinth, sitting in a tub which was placed so that the rays of the sun fell upon him.

When the philosopher saw the king and the courtiers who accompanied him, he roused himself from his meditations and looked at the young sovereign.

Alexander spoke kindly to him, and asked if there was anything he wished.

'Yes,' answered Diogenes, 'I would have you not stand between me and the sun.'

The couriers were indignant at such an answer, but Alexander laughed, and being pleased with the philosopher's indifference to his rank, he said to them, 'If I were not Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes.'

Soon after this the king, believing that he had secured the fealty of Greece, went back to Macedon. In the spring of 335 B.C. he hoped to set out to invade Asia.

But the wild tribes on the borders of Macedon began to be restless, and the king was forced to subdue these foes nearer home before he went to Asia. While he was driving them beyond his borders, a rumour that he was dead reached Greece.

If Alexander was dead it was a good chance, thought the Thebans, to drive the Macedonians from their citadel, and without waiting to find out if the rumour was true they revolted. Demosthenes tried to persuade the Athenians to go to the help of the Thebans, but although his eloquence moved them it had not power to make them act.

The Thebans soon found to their cost that Alexander was not dead. He was, indeed, on his way to Greece to punish them for revolting.

Outside the walls of their city he halted, so that the citizens might submit, if so they willed. But they, still dreaming of liberty, refused to surrender.

Then Alexander attacked the city and captured it with little difficulty. He determined to give the other cities in Greece a lesson by punishing the rebels severely. So he pulled down their houses and utterly destroyed their town, leaving untouched only the temples, and a house in which a great poet named Pindar had dwelt.

Demosthenes was bitterly disappointed that the Athenians had not sent to help the Thebans. He feared, too, that Alexander would now march against Athens, and destroy her as he had destroyed Thebes. But the king only sent to demand that eight of the orators who had done their best to incite the people to rebel against him, should be sent to him as hostages.

Demosthenes would have been among the eight, and he urged the Athenians not to 'hand over their sheep-dogs to the wolf.' But Phocion said that it would be wise to do as Alexander asked.

At length the assembly sent Damocles to the king to plead the cause of his comrades, for he was, after Demosthenes, the greatest orator in Athens.

Alexander listened to Damocles and was persuaded to leave the orators in their own city, for he believed that the fate of Thebes would make Athens afraid to rebel.

Of the loyalty of the Greek troops the king was sure, for were they not going to avenge the invasion of Greece by Xerxes?

The king did not mean to return to Macedon to reign, rather did he dream of a throne in one of the great cities which he was going to conquer. So before he marched away, he divided his royal domain and his wealth among his friends.

Perdiccas, one of his friends, was dismayed at the generosity of the king, and asked him what he was keeping for himself.

'Hope,' answered Alexander. Then Perdiccas refused to accept his share of the king's gifts, saying, 'We who go forth to fight with you need share only in your hope.'

Antipater, one of his father's generals, Alexander left in Macedon to look after his kingdom.

At length in the spring of 334 B.C., after saying good-bye to his mother, whom he dearly loved, the king marched with an enormous force to the Hellespont and crossed it. The great expedition had really begun.


Front Matter

The Great God Pan
The Six Pomegranate Seeds
The Birth of Athene
The Two Weavers
The Purple Flowers
Danae and Her Little Son
The Quest of Perseus
Andromeda and Sea-Monster
Acrisius Killed by Perseus
Achilles and Briseis
Menelaus and Paris Do Battle
Hector and Andromache
The Horses of Achilles
The Death of Hector
Polyphemus the Giant
Odysseus Escapes from Cave
Odysseus Returns to Ithaca
Argus the Hound Dies
The Bow of Odysseus
The Land of Hellas
Lycurgus and His Nephew
Lycurgus Returns to Sparta
Training of the Spartans
The Helots
Aristomenes and the Fox
The Olympian Games
The Last King of Athens
Cylon Fails to be Tyrant
Solon Frees the Slaves
Athenians Take Salamis
Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant
Harmodius and Aristogiton
The Law of Ostracism
The Bridge of Boats
Darius Rewards Histiaeus
Histiaeus Shaves His Slave
Sardis Is Destroyed
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus
Earth and Water
Battle of Marathon
Miltiades Sails to Paros
Aristides is Ostracised
The Dream of Xerxes
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Bravest Men of All Hellas
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Artemisium
Themistocles at Salamis
Themistocles Tricks Admirals
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea
Delian League
Themistocles Deceives Spartans
Themistocles is Ostracised
Eloquence of Pericles
Pericles and Elpinice
The City of Athens
Great Men of Athens
Thebans Attack Plataeans
Attica Invaded by Spartans
Last Words of Pericles
Siege of Plataea
The Sentence of Death
Brasidas Loses His Shield
The Spartans Surrender
Brasidas the Spartan
Amphipolus Surrenders
Alcibiades the Favourite
Socrates the Philosopher
Alcibiades Praises Socrates
Images of Hermes Destroyed
Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta
The Siege of Syracuse
Athenian Army is Destroyed
Alcibiades Returns to Athens
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades
Walls of Athens Destroyed
March of the Ten Thousand
Pelopidas and Epaminondas
Seven Conspirators
Battle of Leuctra
Death of Epaminondas
The Two Brothers
Timoleon exiles Dionysius
Icetes Attacks Timoleon
Battle of Crimisus
Demosthenes' Wish
Greatest Orator of Athens
The Sacred War
Alexander and Bucephalus
Alexander and Diogenes
Battle of Granicus
The Gordian Knot
Darius Gallops from Battle
Tyre Stormed by Alexander
Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander Burns Persepolis
Alexander Slays Foster-Brother
Porus and His Elephant
Alexander Is Wounded
The Death of Alexander
Demosthenes in the Temple