Alexander the Great by Faye Huntington

He was the son of King Philip of Macedonia, and was born at Pella three hundred and fifty-six years before Jesus came to this earth. His father was a strong brave soldier, and his mother was a strong fierce woman, and their son is said to have been like them both. When he was thirteen years old he had one of the greatest men in the world for his teacher. This man's name was Aristotle.

Another "A," you see; but I shall have to leave you to discover his greatness for yourselves.

When Alexander was sixteen, his father left him to manage the country while he himself went to war.

When he was eighteen he won a great victory in the army. Very soon afterwards his father was killed, and Alexander with his great army fought his way into power, and made people recognize him as ruler of the Greeks.

From that time on, for years, his story might be told in one word, War. Battle after battle was fought and won; cities were destroyed; in Thebes, just one house was left standing, which belonged to a poet named Pindar. I know you are curious to hear why his house was spared, and I know that the industrious ones will try to look it up, and the lazy ones will yawn and say, "Oh, never mind; what do I care?"

Alexander's next wish was to conquer Persia. I am sure you would be interested to read the account of his triumphant march. The people were so afraid of him that they would run when they heard that his army was coming; sometimes without an attempt to defend their cities; and all that Alexander would have to do when he reached the town would be to march in and take possession.

This series of battles was closed at a place named Gordium.

Have you ever heard of the "Gordian knot?"

The story is, that at this place, Gordium, there was a car or chariot, which had been dedicated to the gods; and a certain god had said that whoever should succeed in untying the knot which fastened the pole of the car to the yoke, should rule over Asia. No one had been found who could untie it. But what did Alexander do when he found he could not untie it, but cut it in two with his sword! And the people accepted him as the man who was to rule!

War, war, war! The great Persian soldier, Darius, had such a high opinion of his own large army that he let Alexander get with his soldiers to a point where they could fight, and could not well be taken, and another great victory was the end of the story. When Darius saw his mistake, and tried to coax Alexander into being friends, by offering his daughter for the conqueror's wife, and a great deal of land in the bargain, Alexander replied that he would marry the daughter if he wanted her, whether her father was willing or not; and that all the land belonged to him.

Now comes a dreadful story of wrong. Alexander heard that a plot to take his life had been discovered by one of his men named Philotas, but that he had not told of it for two days. When asked why he did not, he said that the story came from a worthless source and was not to be believed. But Alexander did not trust him and decided that he should be killed. As if this was not enough, he had him tortured to make him tell the names of others who were suspected. It is said that Alexander stood by, and watched the writhings, and listened to the screams of this man who had fought by his side in many battles!

Yet he seemed sometimes able to trust people. Once, when he was sick, word came to him that his physician had been bribed to poison him. When his next dose of medicine was ready, Alexander laid the letter which told this story, before his friend, the physician, then drank the medicine, to show how fully he trusted him.

Before he was thirty-three years old this wonderful, sad life was ended! I do not know anything sadder than a great, bad man. I cannot help wondering how it would have been if Alexander had lived about three hundred years later, and met Jesus Christ. Yet he might have known Jesus as Abraham did, and David, and Samuel, and all that long list of great men.

The story of his last sickness is very dreadful. It seemed to have been brought on by his awful grief over the death of a friend. But he had such a strange way of grieving! All night he would spend in drinking liquor, and all day he lay and slept off its effects. But one morning he found himself unable to rise, and he never rose again. When he was asked who should succeed him as ruler of the kingdom, he said, "the strongest." But he gave his signet ring to one of his generals named Perdiccas.

So closed this great little life. The greatest soldier who ever lived, as men talk about soldiers, but an utter failure in the sight of him who said: "He that ruleth his own spirit, is greater than he that taketh a city."