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Bill Thayer

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This webpage reproduces a Book of the
History of Alexander

Quintus Curtius

published in the Loeb Classical Library,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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(Vol. II) Quintus Curtius

History of Alexander
Book VI

6 1 [link to original Latin text] It was in fact at this time that Alexander gave loose rein to his passions, and changed continence and self-control, eminent virtues in every exalted fortune, to haughtiness and wantonness. 2 Regarding his native customs and the discipline of the Macedonian kings, wholesomely restrained and democratic, as too low for his grandeur, he strove to rival the loftiness of the Persian court, equal to the power of the gods; 3 he demanded that the victors over so many nations in paying their respects  p51 to him should prostrate themselves upon the ground, and gradually sought to accustom them to servile duties and to treat them like captives. 4 Accordingly, he encircled his brow with a purple diadem, variegated with white such as Darius had worn, and assumed the Persian garb, not even fearing the omen of changing from the insignia of a victor to the dress of the conquered. 5 In fact, he used to say that he was wearing the spoils of the Persians; but with them he had assumed also their customs, and insolence of spirit accompanied the magnificence of his attire. 6 The letters also which were to be sent to Europe he sealed with the device of his former ring; on those which he wrote to Asia, the ring of Darius was impressed, so that it appeared that one mind was not equal to the fortune of the two realms. 7 Moreover, he compelled his friends, the cavalry, and with them the leaders of the soldiers, to wear the Persian dress, which was indeed repugnant to them, but which they did not dare to refuse. 8 Three hundred and sixty-five concubines, the same number that Darius had had, filled his palace, attended by herds of eunuchs, also accustomed to prostitute themselves.

9 These practices, corrupted by luxury and foreign customs, were openly detested by the veteran soldiers of Philip, a people novices in voluptuousness, and in the whole camp the feeling and the talk of all was the same, namely, that more had been lost by victory than had been gained by war; 10 that it was then above all that they themselves were conquered men, when they had surrendered themselves to alien and foreign habits. With what face, pray, would they return to their homes, as if in the attire of prisoners? The king was already ashamed of them since, resembling  p53 the vanquished rather than the victors, he had changed from a ruler of Macedonia to a satrap of Darius.

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Page updated: 1 Apr 09