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The Great Empires of Prophecy, from Babylon to the Fall of Rome - Contents
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    Demonstrates His Capabilities—Alexander Generalissimo—Alexander’s Matchless Celerity—Final Departure from Greece

    Alexander the great, the son of Philip, at twenty years of age succeeded Philip as king of Macedon and head of Greece, B. C. 336. Darius Codomanus succeeded Ochus in the throne of Persia the same year. Thus the last king of Persia and his conqueror-that was to be, began to reign in the same year.GEP 151.1

    2. Alexander inherited all the ambition of both his father Philip and his mother Olympias; while the ambition of either of these was a sufficient portion for any human being. Indeed, it was more than sufficient for human beings; for each of them aspired to divinity.GEP 151.2

    3. Olympias was the “daughter of Neoptolemus, prince of the Molossi, and descended from the ancient Molossian kings, who boasted of a heroic Eakid genealogy.” Philip first met her “at the religious mysteries in the island of Samothrace, where both were initiated at the same time. In violence of temper, in jealous, cruel, and vindictive disposition, she forms almost a parallel to the Persian queens Amestris and Parysatis. The Epirotic women, as well as the Thracian, were much given to the Bacchanalian religious rites, celebrated with fierce ecstasy amid the mountain solitudes, in honor of Dionysus. To this species of religious excitement, Olympias was peculiarly susceptible. She is said to have been fond of tame snakes playing around her, and to have indulged in ceremonies of magic and incantation. Her temper and character became, after no long time, repulsive and even alarming to Philip.” Grote. 1[Page 151] “History of Greece.” chap 86, last par. Philip finally divorced her, and “successively married several wives,” the last of whom was a young lady whose name was Cleopatra.GEP 151.3

    4. Philip was in the very act of celebrating his own divinity when he was slain by Pausanias. For at that moment he was making a grand and majestic entry into the great and crowded theater, having been preceded only shortly before by a procession of the twelve great gods, and “immediately after them the statue of Philip himself as a thirteenth god.” “The hour for his leaving the palace having arrived, he went forth in a white robe, and advanced with a majestic air, in the midst of acclamations, toward the theater, where an infinite multitude of Macedonians as well as foreigners waited his coming with impatience.”—Rollin. 2[Page 152] “Ancient History,” Philip, sec. vii, par. 5. “As he approached the door ... he felt so exalted with the impression of his own dignity, and so confident in the admiring sympathy of the surrounding multitude, that he advanced both unarmed and unprotected, directing his guards to hold back. At this moment Pausanias, standing near with a Gallic sword concealed under his garment, rushed upon him, thrust the weapon through his body, and killed him.”—Grote. 3[Page 152] “History of Greece,” chap 90, par. 7 from end Besides this, Philip was given both to drunkenness and licentiousness, in addition to his utter perfidy in politics. 4[Page 152] “The contemporary historian Theopompus, a warm admirer of Philip’s genius, stigmatizes not only the perfidy of his public dealings, but also the drunkenness, gambling, and excesses of all kinds in which he indulged, encouraging the like in those around him. His Macedonian and Grecian body-guard, eight hundred in number, was a troop in which no decent man could live; distinguished indeed for military bravery and aptitude, but sated with plunder, and stained with such shameless treachery, sanguine rapacity, and unbridled lust, as befitted only Centaurs and Laestrygons.”—Grote’s “History of Greece.” chap 90, last paragraph but one.GEP 152.1

    5. From such parentage as this on both sides, it is easy to understand the violent temper, the indulgence in strong drink, and the aspiration to be a god, that marks the whole public career of Alexander the Great.GEP 152.2

    6. From the age of thirteen “for at least three years,” Alexander was “under the instruction of Aristotle, whom Philip expressly invited for the purpose.” Thus he who is called the greatest conqueror in the world of arms was taught by him who has been called “the greatest conqueror in the world of thought.”GEP 152.3

    7. When, at the sudden death of Philip, the crown was placed “on the head of Alexander the Great, no one knew what to expect from the young prince thus suddenly exalted at the age of twenty years.... It remained to be proved whether the youthful son of Philip was capable of putting down opposition and upholding the powerful organization created by his father.GEP 152.4

    8. “But Alexander, present and proclaimed at once by his friends, showed himself, both in word and deed, perfectly competent to the emergency. He mustered, caressed, and conciliated the divisions of the Macedonian army and the chief officers. His addresses were judicious and energetic, engaging that the dignity of the kingdom should be maintained unimpaired, and that even the Asiatic projects already proclaimed should be prosecuted with as much vigor as if Philip still lived.GEP 153.1

    9. “By unequivocal manifestations of energy and address, and by despatching rivals or dangerous malcontents, Alexander thus speedily fortified his position on the throne at home. But from the foreign dependents of Macedon—Greeks, Thracians, and Illyrians—the like acknowledgment was not so easily obtained. Most of them were disposed to throw off the yoke; yet none dared to take the initiative of moving, and the suddenness of Philip’s death found them altogether unprepared for combination. By that event the Greeks were discharged from all engagement, since the vote of the confederacy had elected him personally as imperator. They were now at full liberty, in so far as there was any liberty at all in the proceeding, to elect any one else, or to abstain from re-electing at all, and even to let the confederacy expire.GEP 153.2

    10. “Now it was only under constraint and intimidation, as was well known both in Greece and Macedonia, that they had conferred this dignity on Philip, who had earned it by splendid exploits, and had proved himself the ablest captain and politician of the age. They were by no means inclined to transfer it to a youth like Alexander, until he had shown himself capable of bringing the like coercion to bear, and extorting the same submission. The wish to break loose from Macedonia, widely spread throughout the Grecian cities, found open expression from Demosthenes and others in the assembly at Athens.” Demosthenes “depreciated the abilities of Alexander, calling him Margites, the name of a silly character in one of the Homeric poems, and intimating that he would be too much distracted with embarrassments and ceremonial duties at home, to have leisure for a foreign march.”—Grote. 5[Page 154] Id., chap 91, par. 14. But “the Greeks of Thebes and Athens little knew what sort of man had taken the place of Philip.... They had to reckon with one who could swoop on his prey with the swiftness of an eagle.” 6[Page 154] Encyclopedia Britannica, art. Alexander the Great par. 3; Daniel 7:6; 8:5, 21.GEP 153.3

    11. “Apprised of these impulses prevalent throughout the Grecian world, Alexander felt the necessity of checking them by a demonstration immediate, as well as intimidating. The energy and rapidity of his proceedings speedily overawed all those who had speculated on his youth, or had adopted the epithets applied to him by Demosthenes. Having surmounted, in a shorter time than was supposed possible, the difficulties of his newly acquired position at home, he marched into Greece at the head of a formidable army, seemingly about two months after the death of Philip. He was favorably received by the Thessalians, who passed a vote constituting Alexander head of Greece in place of Philip; which vote was speedily confirmed by the Amphictyonic assembly, convoked at Thermopylae.GEP 154.1

    12. “Alexander next advanced to Thebes, and from thence over the isthmus of Corinth into Peloponnesus.... His great force, probably not inferior to that which had conquered at Chaeronea, spread terror everywhere, silencing all except his partizans. Nowhere was the alarm greater than at Athens. The Athenians, recollecting both the speeches of their orators and the votes of their assembly ... trembled lest the march of Alexander should be directed against their city, and accordingly made preparation for a siege.... At the same time, the assembly adopted ... a resolution of apology and full submission to Alexander; they not only recognized him as chief of Greece, but conferred upon him divine honors, in terms even more emphatic than those bestowed on Philip. The mover, with other legates, carried the resolution to Alexander, whom they found at Thebes, and who accepted the submission.GEP 154.2

    13. “After displaying his force in various portions of Peloponnesus, Alexander returned to Corinth, where he convened deputies from the Grecian cities generally.... Alexander asked from the assembled deputies the same appointment which the victorious Philip had required and obtained two years before—the hegemony, or headship, of the Greeks collectively for the purpose of prosecuting war against Persia. To the request of a prince at the head of an irresistible army, one answer only was admissible. He was nominated imperator, with full powers by land and sea.GEP 154.3

    14. “The convention sanctioned by Alexander was probably the same as that settled by and with his father Philip. Its grand and significant feature was that it recognized Hellas as a confederacy under the Macedonian prince as imperator, president, or executive head and arm. It crowned him with a legal sanction as keeper of the peace within Greece, and conqueror abroad in the name of Greece.”—Grote. 7[Page 155] “History of Greece,” chap 91. pars. 10-14, 16-18.GEP 155.1

    15. Alexander “summoned, at Corinth, the assembly of the several States and free cities of Greece, to obtain from them the same supreme command against the Persians as had been granted to his father a little before his death. No diet ever debated on a more important subject. It was the Western world deliberating on the ruin of the East, and the methods for executing a revenge that had been suspended more than an age. The assembly held at this time will give rise to events, the relation of which will appear astonishing and almost incredible; and to revolutions which will change the appearance of things nearly throughout the world.GEP 155.2

    16. “To form such a design required a prince bold, enterprising, and experienced in war; ... but above all, a monarch who had supreme authority over all the States of Greece, none of which singly was powerful enough to make so arduous an attempt; and which required, in order to their acting in concert, to be subject to one chief, who might give motion to the several parts of that great body by making them all concur to the same end. Such a prince was Alexander. It was not difficult for him to rekindle in the minds of the people their ancient hatred of the Persians, their perpetual and irreconcilable enemies, whose destruction they had more than once sworn, and whom they had determined to extirpate, in case an opportunity should ever present itself for that purpose.... The deliberations of the assembly were therefore very short, and that prince was unanimously 8[Page 156] According to Grote, it was not exactly unanimous. He says the Lacedaemonians did not acquiesce in the vote.—Chap. 111, par. 17. appointed generalissimo against Persia.”—Rollin. 9[Page 156] “Ancient History,” Alexander, sec. ii. pars. 15, 16.GEP 155.3

    17. While Alexander left “Macedonian officers in the exercise of their new imperial authority throughout Greece and the islands,” he himself “returned home to push the preparations for his Persian campaign. He did not, however, think it prudent to transport his main force into Asia until he had made his personal ascendency felt by the Macedonian dependencies westward, northward, and north-eastward of Pella—Illyrians, Paeonians, and Thracians. Under these general names were comprised a number of distinct tribes, or nations, warlike, and for the most part predatory. Having remained unconquered until the victories of Philip, they were not kept in subjection even by him without difficulty; nor were they at all likely to obey his youthful successor until they had seen some sensible evidence of his personal energy.”—Grote. 10[Page 156] “History of Greece,” chap 91, par. 26.GEP 156.1

    18. But they were soon effectually treated to a “sensible evidence of his personal energy”—in about one month he had swept the country from the borders of Macedonia through the midst of Thracia and Moesia to, and across, the Danube at about the twenty-sixth degree of longitude, there to attack the Getae. “The Getae, intimidated not less by this successful passage than by the excellent array of Alexander’s army, hardly stayed to sustain a charge of cavalry; but hastened to abandon their poorly fortified town, and retire farther away from the river. Entering the town without resistance, he destroyed it, carried away such movables as he found, and then returned to the river without delay. Before he quitted the northern bank, he offered sacrifice to Zeus the Preserver, to Heracles, and to the god Ister (Danube) himself, whom he thanked for having shown himself not impassable. On the very same day, he recrossed the river to his camp; after an empty demonstration of force intended to prove that he could do what neither his father nor any Grecian army had ever yet done, and what every one deemed impossible—crossing the greatest of all known rivers without a bridge and in the face of an enemy.”—Grote. 11[Page 157] Id., chap 91, par. 29.GEP 156.2

    19. From there, in about four months he had marched up the Danube about a hundred and fifty miles; then southeastward to the southern point of Lake Lychnidus (the present Ochrida Lake), in the southern part of Illyria (the present Albania), conquering all as he went; and in less than three weeks after arriving at Lake Lychnidus, he stood with his army in Boeotia, to the south of Thebes, ready to chastise that city for her rebellion during his absence.GEP 157.1

    20. As Alexander had sent home neither messengers nor reports during the whole time of his expedition up the Danube, rumor was busy in saying that he was dead. “Among these reports, both multiplied and confident, one was certified by a liar who pretended to have just arrived from Thrace, to have been an eye-witness of the fact, and to have been himself wounded in the action against the Triballi, where Alexander had perished.”—Grote. 12[Page 157] Id., chap 91, par. 35. This was only too gladly received at Athens and Thebes. Encouraged, and even assisted, by Demosthenes and other prominent citizens of Athens, though not by the city as such, Thebes threw off the Macedonian yoke, proclaimed herself free, and summoned the Macedonian garrison to surrender. As the garrison occupied the citadel, which was strongly fortified and well provisioned, they refused to surrender.GEP 157.2

    21. The Thebans blockaded the citadel, and sent messengers to the neighboring States to come to their assistance. Demosthenes, both on his own part and as the paid agent of Persia, was busy as orator and envoy in behalf of the Theban revolt. However, the other States and cities were unwilling to take any decided steps until they should more certainly know that Alexander was really dead. The Thebans pushed steadily closer and their blockade of the Macedonian garrison, and would shortly have forced a surrender, when they were startled by the fearful news that Alexander was within less than two days’ march of Thebes itself.GEP 157.3

    22. “In this incident we may note two features which characterized Alexander to the end of his life—matchless celerity of movement, and no less remarkable favor of fortune.... He was already within Thermopylae before any Greeks were aware that he was in march, or even that he was alive. The question about occupying Thermopylae by a Grecian force was thus set aside.... His arrival, in itself a most formidable event, told with double force on the Greeks from its extreme suddenness.... As it happened, his unexpected appearance in the heart of Greece precluded all combination, and checked all idea of resistance.”—Grote. 13[Page 158] Id., chap 91, pars. 40, 41; Daniel 7:6. As soon as he was safely within Thermopylae on his hurried march, Alexander exclaimed, “Demosthenes called me in his orations a little child, when I was in Illyria and among the Triballi; he called me a young man when I was in Thessaly; I must show him before the walls of Athens that I am a man grown.”—Rollin. 14[Page 158] “Ancient History.” Alexander, sec. i, par. 5.GEP 157.4

    23. The Thebans were summoned to surrender. They refused. He asked them to deliver up to him the two ringleaders, and offered a general pardon to all who would come over to him. They refused everything, and taunted him by demanding in return the surrender of his two chief officers, and inviting all his army to come over and join them. Through a fierce battle the city was taken by storm, thousands of the people were slaughtered, the whole place was plundered, thirty thousand captives were sold into slavery, and the city of “Thebes was effaced from the earth.”GEP 158.1

    24. Alexander then immediately sent envoys to Athens with a threatening and denunciatory letter “formally demanding the surrender of eight or ten leading citizens of Athens,” of whom Demosthenes was one. An embassy was sent in return to plead with Alexander not to enforce his dreadful demand. He refused even to hear their plea. A second embassy was sent, to whose pleadings he yielded all, except that he demanded the banishment of the two chief military leaders, who accordingly went to Persia and entered the army of Darius.GEP 158.2

    25. Alexander then, without visiting Athens, or even entering Attica, marched direct to Corinth, where he received deputations from various Grecian cities. He there also presided at a meeting of the assembled deputies of the Grecian States, at which he levied the quota of troops that each State should supply in the intended expedition, the following spring, against Persia. This having been settled, “Alexander left Greece for Pella in the autumn of 335 B. C., and never saw it again.” 15[Page 159] “History of Greece,” chap 91, last paragraph but one.GEP 158.3

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