Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Campaigns of Alexander, Book Seven: consider who you are in comparison to Alexander

Anyone who reproaches Alexander should not simply cite those deeds that deserve to be reproached. Instead, after collecting in one place all of Alexander’s qualities, let his critic then consider who he is and what sort of fortune he has had that he reproaches Alexander, a man who became so great and attained such a peak of human success as the undisputed king of both continents whose name reached every land—whereas he is a lesser man, toiling at lesser things and not even handling them with any ability.

- 7.30.1, The Landmark Arrian: The Campaigns of Alexander, translation by Pamela Mensch

Compare to the excerpt from Robert Lowell’s "Death of Alexander" from History (1973):

No one was like him. Terrible were his crimes—
but if you wish to blackguard the Great King,
think how mean, obscure and dull you are,
your labors lowly and your merits less...

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