Knowing and understanding a man’s speech helps in discerning his character and personality. An in depth analysis of Alexander III remains incomplete without looking into his words.
Renowned for his empire that ranged from Greece to Persia, Egypt and Iran, one of his famous quotes provides an insight into his mind: “Are you still to learn that the end and perfection of our victories is to avoid the vices and infirmities of those whom we subdue?” This is as quoted in Lives by Plutarch, as translated by Arthur Hugh Clough from a conversation that Alexander had with his soldiers.
Let us take a look into some of his famous quotes:
What an excellent horse do they lose, for want of address and boldness to manage him! … I could manage this horse better than others do.
Alexander made this statement upon seeing Bucephalas being led away as useless and beyond training. it is to be noted that this is the same horse that he trained and made his own. He rode to all his victories on this powerful horse.
Holy shadows of the dead, I’m not to blame for your cruel and bitter fate, but the accursed rivalry which brought sister nations and brother people, to fight one another. I do not feel happy for this victory of mine. On the contrary, I would be glad, brothers, if I had all of you standing here next to me, since we are united by the same language, the same blood and the same visions.
This heart rending speech was addressed to the dead Hellenes, which included the Athenean and Thebean Greeks of the Battle of Chaeronea, as quoted in Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus HYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintus_Curtius_Rufus”CurtiusHYPERLINK “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quintus_Curtius_Rufus” Rufus.
I do not steal victory.
Thus replied Alexander to the suggestion by Parmenion, before the Battle of Gaugamela, that he attack the Persian camp during the night, reported in Life of Alexander byPlutarch, as quoted in A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (1900) by John Bagnell Bury.
Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have been trained in the hard school of danger and war. Above all, we are free men, and they are slaves. There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service — but how different is their cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay — and not much of at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it. As for our foreign troops — Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians, Agrianes — they are the best and stoutest soldiers in Europe, and they will find as their opponents the slackest and softest of the tribes of Asia. And what, finally, of the two men in supreme command? You have Alexander, they — Darius!
Addressing his troops prior to the Battle of Issus, as quoted in Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian Book II, 7, the brave Alexander proves his merits as a commander who can boost the morales of his soldiers greatly.
To the strongest!
Said Alexander the Great after being asked, by his generals on his deathbed, who was to succeed him. It has been speculated that his voice may have been indistinct and that he may have said “Krateros”, which was the name of one of his generals, but Krateros was not around, and the others may have chosen to hear “Kratistos” — the strongest. As quoted in The Mask of Jove: a history of Graeco-Roman civilization from the death of Alexander to the death of Constantine (1966) by Stringfellow Barr, p. 6
Though these are but a few of his famous quotes, they nevertheless, provide us an insight into the workings of a great mind that was Alexander.