Friday, May 1, 2009

Alexander the Great birth portents and invincibility

Philip was commanded to consult the Delphic oracle to gain auspicious omens on the condition that he honor Ammon above all the gods.He was prophesied to lose that eye which he used to peep on the serpent (Ammon in its form) (through the peephole) in company with his wife.

Eratosthenes told Alexander of his divine extraction on his first expedition. The "she" I affirm(?) refers to Olympias disavowing that story of her son's extraction and made the references of her being slandered to Juno.

  • the sixth of Hecatombaeon Alxander's date of birth -auspicious- the temple of Diana of Ephesus was burnt. This was an omen the soothsayers thought to be destructive of all of Asia. Note the account of Hegesias of Magnesia.

  • Accounts and portents seem plentiful in the ancient world which I do surmise that the plenitude of these accounts attest that the ancients were connected, for better or worse,with events of the upper world, in a way we can only fathom by subsequent mythologizing, a scenario after the fact often accomplished.

  • Note Philip's 3 messages after having taken Potidaea.These demonstrate the invincibility of Alexander ,. again portents.

  • The statutes of Lysippus are done in his best likeness,

  • He was fair and light passing to ruddiness and had a sweet odor about him according to the memoirs of Aristoxenus. Theophrastus conceives sweet smells being concocted of moist humors by heat, and hot climate of the Mediterranean was the occasion of Alexander's military marches. He was moderate as to bodily pleasures. His love of glory was vehement and of high spirit. He was unlike his father Philip who demonstrated his eloquence to the point of pedantry. He looked with indifference if not dislike on athletes.

  • He appointed prizes in tragedy music and rhapsody for which the contestants out vied each other and delighted in hunting and cudgel playing.but did not encourage contests of boxing or the Pancratium.

Philip, after this vision, sent Chaeron of Megalopolis to consult the
oracle of Apollo at Delphi
, by which he was commanded to perform sacrifice, and
henceforth pay particular honor, above all other gods, to Ammon; and was told he
should one day lose that eye with which he presumed to peep through the chink of
the door, when he saw the god, under the form of a serpent, in the company of
his wife. Eratosthenes says that Olympias, when she attended Alexander on his
way to the army in his first expedition, told him the secret of his birth, and
bade him behave himself with courage suitable to his divine extract
ion. Others
again affirm that she wholly disclaimed any pretensions of the kind, and was
wont to say, "When will Alexander leave off slandering me to Juno?"
was born the sixth of Hecatombaeon, which month the Macedonians call Lous, the
same day that the temple of Diana at Ephesus was burnt; which Hegesias of
Magnesia makes the occasion of a conceit, frigid enough to have stopped the
. The temple, he says, took fire and was burnt while its mistress
was absent, assisting at the birth of Alexander. And all the Eastern soothsayers
who happened to be then at Ephesus, looking upon the ruin of this temple to be
the forerunner of some other calamity,
ran about the town, beating their faces,
and crying, that this day had brought forth something that would prove fatal and
destructive to all Asia.

Just after Philip had taken Potidaea, he received these three messages at one time, that Parmenio had overthrown the Illyrians in a great battle, that his race-horse had won the course at the Olympic games, and that his wife had given birth to Alexander; with which being naturally well pleased, as an addition to his satisfaction, he was assured by the diviners that a son, whose birth was accompanied with three such successes, could not fail of being invincible.
The statues that gave the best representation of Alexander's person, were those of Lysippus, (by whom alone he would suffer his image to be made,) those peculiarities which many of his successors afterwards and his friends used to affect to imitate, the inclination of his head a little on one side towards his left shoulder, and his melting eye, having been expressed by this artist with great exactness. But Apelles, who drew him with thunderbolts in his hand, made his complexion browner and darker than it was naturally; for he was fair and of a light color, passing into ruddiness in his face and upon his breast. Aristoxenus in his Memoirs tells us that a most agreeable odor exhaled from his skin, and that his breath and body all over was so fragrant as to perfume the clothes which he wore next him; the cause of which might probably be the hot and adjust temperament of his body. For sweet smells, Theophrastus conceives, are produced by the concoction of moist humors by heat, which is the reason that those parts of the world which are driest and most burnt up, afford spices of the best kind, and in the greatest quantity; for the heat of the sun exhausts all the superfluous moisture which lies in the surface of bodies, ready to generate putrefaction. And this hot constitution, it may be, rendered Alexander so addicted to drinking, and so choleric. His temperance, as to the pleasures of the body, was apparent in him in his very childhood, as he was with much difficulty incited to them, and always used them with great moderation; though in other things he was extremely eager and vehement, and in his love of glory, and the pursuit of it, he showed a solidity of high spirit and magnanimity far above his age. For he neither sought nor valued it upon every occasion, as his father Philip did, (who affected to show his eloquence almost to a degree of pedantry, and took care to have the victories of his racing chariots at the Olympic games engraved on his coin,) but when he was asked by some about him, whether he would run a race in the Olympic games, as he was very swift-footed, he answered, he would, if he might have kings to run with him. Indeed, he seems in general to have looked with indifference, if not with dislike, upon the professed athletes. He often appointed prizes, for which not only tragedians and musicians, pipers and harpers, but rhapsodists also, strove to outvie one another; and delighted in all manner of hunting and cudgel-playing, but never gave any encouragement to contests either of boxing or of the pancratium.

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