« PreviousContinue »
had with him. He did not propose to them any thing that was trifling, and like one of his age; such, for instance, as inquiring about the so much boasted gardens suspended in the air, the riches and magnificence of the palace and court of the king of Persia, which excited the admiration of the whole world ; the famous golden plantane tree; * and that golden vine, the grapes of which were of emeralds, carbuncles, rubies, and all sorts of precious stones, under which the Persian monarch was said frequently to give audience: Alexander, I say, asked them questions of a quite different pature ; inquiring which was the road to Upper Asia ; the distance of the several places ; in what the strength and power of the king of Persia consisted ; in what part of the battle be fought; how he behaved towards his enemies; and in what manner he governed his subjects. These ambassadors admired him all the while; and perceiving even at that time how great he might one day become, they observed, in a few words, the difference they found between Alexander and Artaxerxest, by saying one to another, " # this young prince
is great, and ours is rich.” That man must be vastly ine significant, who has no other merit than his riches !
So ripe a judgment in this young prince, was owing as much to the good education which had been given him, as to the happiness of his natural parts. Several preceptors were appointed to teach him all such arts and sciences as are worthy the heir to a great kingdom; and the chief of these was Leonidas, a person of the most severe morals,
and a relation of the queen. Alexander himself tells us afterwards, that this Leonidas, in their journey, together, used frequently to look into the trunks where his beds and clothes were laid, in order to see if Olympias his mother had not put something superfluous into them, which might adminism ter to delicacy and luxury..
But the greatest service Philip did his son, was appointing Aristotle his preceptor, the most famous and the most learned philosopher of his age, whom he entrusted with the whole care of his education. $ One of the reasons which prompted Philip to choose him a master of so conspicuous a reputation and merit was, as he himself tells us, that his son might avoid committing a great many faults of which he himself had been guilty.
Philip was sensible how great a treasure he possessed in the person of Aristotle ; for which reason he settled a very Athep. 1. xii. p. 137.
+ Artaxerxes Qchus. Opäis, outos, Basileut meget e di emeteres, blusion. Ś Mur, in Apoph. p. 37%.
considerable stipend upon him, and afterwards rewarded his pains and care in an infinitely more glorious manner ; for having destroyed and laid waste the city of * Stagira, the native place of that philosopher, he rebuilt it, půrely out of affection for him ; reinstated the inhabitants who had fied from it, or were made slaves; and gave them a fine park in the neighbourhood of Stagira, as a place for their studies and assemblies. Even in Plutarch's time, the stone seats which Aristotle had placed there were standing ; as alsó spacious vistos, under which those who walked were shaded from the sun-beams. · Alexander likewise discovered no less esteem for his master, whom he believed himself bound to love as much as if he had been his father; declaring, 7" that he was indebted “ to the one for living, and to the other for living well.”. The progress of the pupil was equal to the care and abilities of the preceptor. He grew vastly fond of philosophy ; and learned the several parts of it, but in a manner suitable to his birth. Aristotle endeavoured to improve his judgment, by laying down sure and certain rules, by which he might distinguish just and solid reasoning from what is but speciously so; and by accustoming him to separate in discourse all such parts as only dazzle, from those wħich are truly solo id, and should constitute its whole value. He also exercised him in metaphysics, which may be of great benefit to a prince, provided he applies himself to them with modera. tion, as they explain to him the nature of the human mind; how greatly it differs from matter ; in what manner he perceives spiritual things ; how he is sensible of the impression of those that surround him, and many other questions of the Jike import. The reader will naturally suppose, that he did not omit either the mathematics, which give the mind so just a turn of thinking ; or the wonders of nature, the study of which, besides a great many other advantages, shows him how very incapable the mind of man is to discover the secret principles of the things to which he is daily an eye-witness. But Alexander applied himself chiefly to morality, which is properly the science of kings, because it is the knowledge of mankind, and of all their duties. This he made his serious and profound study; and considered it, even at that time, as the foundation of prudence and wise policy. How much must such an education contribute to the good conduct of &
A city of Macedon, near the sea-shore. + Ośdi ekeinon men zon, dia touton de kalos zon.
Retinuit ex sapientia modum Tacit,
prince with regard to his own interests and the government of his people}
* The greatest master of rhetoric that antiquity could ev. er boast, and who has left so excellent a treatise on that sub, ject, took care to make that science part of his pupil's edu. cation ; and we find that Alexander, even in the midst of his conquests, was often very urgent with Aristotle to send him a treatise on that subject. To this we owe the work enti. tled Alexander's Rhetoric ; in the beginning of which, Aris. totle proves to him the yast advantages a prince may reap from eloquence, as it gives him the greatest ascendant over the minds of men, which he ought to acquire as well by his wisdom as authority. Some answers and letters of Alexan. der, which are still extant, show that he possessed, in its greatest perfection, that strong, that manly eloquence, which abounds with sense and ideas; and which is so entirely free from superfluous expressions, that every single word has its meaning ; which, properly speaking, is the eluquence of kings.t
His esteem, or rather his passion for Homer, shows, not only with what vigour and success he applied himself to por lite literature, but the judicious use he made of it, and the solid advantages he proposed to himself from it. He was not prompted to peruse this poet merely out of curiosity, or to unbend his mind, or from a great fondness for poesy; but his view in studying this admirable writer was, in order to borrow such sentiments from him as are worthy a great king and conqueror, courage, intrepidity, magnanimity, temperance, prudence, the art of commanding well in war. and peace. And, indeed, the verse which pleased him most in Homer, I was that verse where Agamemnon is represent
a good king, and a brave warrior." After this it is no wonder that Alexander should have sa high an esteem for this poet. ' Thus, when, after the battle of Arbela, the Macedonians had found amongst the spoils of Darius a gold box, enriched with precious stones, in which the excellent perfumes used by that prince were put ; Alex. ander, who was quite covered with dust, and regardless of essences and perfumes, ordered that this box should be ém.' ployed to no other use than to hold Homer's poems, which he believed the most perfect, the most precious production, of the human mind, He admired particularly the Iliad,which
• Aristotle in rhetoric. ad Aler. p. 608, 6o9. + Imperatoria breyitate. Tacit. I Ampkoteros, Basileus t'agathos, krateros, t' aichmeteo. Iliad. ii. v. 172.
$ Pretiofiffimum humani adimi opus, Plio. 1, vii, c, 19.
he called, " *the best provision for a warrior." He always had with him that edition of Homer which Aristotle had revised and corrected, and to which the title of the "edition of the box” was given ; and he laid it, with his sword, every night, under 'his pillow.
rond, even to excess of every kind of glory, he was dis. pleased with Aristotle, his master, for having published, in his absence, certain metaphysical pieces, which he himself desired to possess only ; and even at the time when he was employed in the conquest of Asia, and the pursuit of Darius, he wrote to him a letter, which is still extant, wherein he complains upon that very account, Alexander says in it, that he had much rather surpass the rest of men in the “knowledge of sublime and excellent things than in the “greatness and extent of his power.” He, in like manner, requested $ 'Aristotle not to show the treatise of rhetoric above mentioned to any person but himself. I will confess, that there is an excoss in this strong desire of glory, which prompts him to suppress the merit of others, in order that His only may appear ; but then we at least must confess, that it discovers such a passion for study as is very laudable in a prince, and the very reverse of that indifference, not to say contempt and aversion, which most. young persons of high birth cxpress for all things that relate to learning and study.
Plutarchi tells us in a few words, the infinite advantage that Alexander -reaped from this taste, with which his master, than whom no man possessed greater talents for the education of youth, had inspired him from his most tender infancy. “He loved," said that author, "to converse with learned umen, to improve himself in knowledge, and to studyll;" three sources of a monarchi's happiness, and which enable him to secure himself from numberless difficulties; three certain and infallible methods of learning to reign without the assistance of others. The conversation of persons of fine sense instructs a prince by a way of amusement, and teaches him a thousand curious and useful things without costing him the least trouble. The lessons which able masters give him, on the most exalted sciences, and particularty upon
*Tes polemikes oreles epbodion. This word, which I have not been able to reader better, tigaifies that we find in the iliad whatever relates to the art of war and the qualities of a generał ; in a word, alt chinge necessary to form a good commander. +Aul. Gel. I, IX, 5.
Ego de Bouloimen an tais-peri ta arista empeiriais etaie dunamesen diapherein.
SArist. p. 609, ||En philologosgi kai philomothes, kai philanagnosek.
politics, improve his mind wonderfully, and furnish him withi rules to govern bis subjects with wisdom. In fine, study, especially that of history, crowns all the rest, and is to him a preceptor for all seasons, and for all hours, who, without ever growing troublesome, acquaints him with truths which no one else would dare to tell him,and, under fictitious names, exhibits the prince to himself, teaches him to know himself as well as mankind, who are the same in all ages. Alexan. der owed all these advantages to the excellent education Aristotle gave him.
*He had also a taste for the whole circle of arts, but in such a manner as became a prince ; that is, he knew the value and usefulness of them. Music, painting, sculpture, architecture, flourished in his reign, because they + found in him both a skilful judge and a generous protector, who was able to distinguish and reward merit.
But he despised certain trifling feats of dexterity, that were of no use. Some Macedonians admired very much a man, who employed himself very attentively in throwing small pease through the eye of a ģ needle, which he would do at a considerable distance, and without once missing. Alexander seeing him at:this exercise, ordered him, as we are told, a present suitable to his employment, viz. a basket of pease.
Alexander was of a sprightly disposition ; was resolute, and very tenacious of his opinion, which never gave way to force, but at the same time would subunit immediately to rea. son and good sense. It is very difficult to treat with persons of this turn of mind. Philip accordingly, notwithstanding his double authority of king and father, believed it necessary to employ persuasion, rather than force, with vespect to his son, and endeavoured to make himself beloved rather than feared by him.
An accident, suade him entertain a very advantageous opinion of Alexander. There had been sent from Thessaly to Philip a war-horse, a noble, strong, fiery, generous beast, called: 1 Bucephalus. The owner would sell him for 13 talents, about 19001. sterling. The king went into the plains; attended by his courtiers, in order to view the perfections of . * Plut. de fortun. Alex Serni, ii, p. 333.
Martyra elabon koi theaten, ton arista krinai to kator. thoumenon, kai maltista amripsas-thui dunamenon.
Quintil. lib. ii..cap. 21, $ We may fuppose it was some inftrament in the Chape of a needle.
Some think he was called fo because his head was like that of