A Letter from Alexander to Aristotle. Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf in the letter of | پژوهشهای ایرانی.دریای پارس.

A Letter from Alexander to Aristotle. Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf in the letter of

می دانیم بر اساس کتابهای تاریخی که اسکندر نامه هایی به استادش/ارسطو/ ارستو

نوشته  اما اینکه این متن دقیقا  همان متن اولیه است  ما نمی دانیم.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is dedicated to making original primary sources available on the Internet. An important aspect of using primary source material is learning how to critique a source. It is quite possible, for example, for a source to be invented, to be edited, or to be mistranslated. Checking into the authenticity and reliability of a source is called source criticism. The text and commentary here present an example of how sources may be invented, and misused, and of the way historians respond.

In September 1998 the  website posted the following text on its pages. [See  for the text as on RoM site]. Here various parts are highlighted for later discussion.


        To Aristotle of Stagirus, director of the school at Athens

My great and beloved teacher, dear Aristotle!

It is a very, very long time since I wrote to you; but as you know I have been over-occupied with military matters, and while we were marching through Hyrcania, Drangiana, and Gedrosia, conquering Bactria, and advancing beyond the Indus, I had neither the time nor the inclination to take up my pen. I have now been back in Susa for some months; but I have been so overwhelmed with administrative business, appointing officials, and mopping up all kinds of intrigues and revolts, that I have not had a moment till today to write to you about myself. Of course, you know roughly from the official reports what I have been doing; but both my devotion to you and my confidence in your influence on cultivated Hellenic circles urge me once more to open my heart to you as my revered teacher and spiritual guide.

I remember that years ago (how far away it seems to me now!) I wrote you an absurd and enthusiastic letter on the tomb of Achilles; I was on the threshold of my Persian expedition, and I vowed then that my model for life should be the valiant son of Peleus. I dreamed only of heroism and greatness; I had already won my victory over Thrace, and I thought that I was advancing against Darius at the head of my Macedonians and Hellenes simply to cover myself with laurels worthy of my ancestors. I can say that I did not fall short of my ideal either at Chaeronea or at Granicus; but today I hold a very different view of the political significance of my actions at that time. The sober truth is that our Macedonia was constantly threatened from the north by the Thracian barbarians; they could have attacked us at an unfavorable moment which the Greeks would have used to violate their treaty and break away from Macedonia. It was absolutely necessary to subdue Thrace so that Macedonia should have her flank covered in the event of Greek treachery. It was sheer political necessity, my dear Aristotle; but your pupil did not understand this thoroughly then and gave himself up to dreams of exploits like those of Achilles.

With the conquest of Thrace our situation changed: we controlled the whole of the western coast of the Aegean; but our mastery of the Aegean was threatened by the maritime power of Persia. Fortunately I struck before Darius was ready. I thought I was following in the footsteps of Achilles and should have the glory of conquering a new Ilium for Greece; actually, as I see today, it was absolutely necessary to drive the Persians back from the Aegean Sea; and I drove them back, my dear master, so thoroughly that I occupied the whole of Bithynia, Phrygia, and Cappadocia, laid waste Cilicia, and only stopped at Tarsus. Asia Minor was ours. Not only the old Aegean basin but the whole northern coast of the Mediterranean was in our hands.

You would have said, my dear Aristotle, that my principal political and strategic aim – namely, the final expulsion of Persia from Hellenic waters – was now completely achieved. But with the conquest of Asia Minor a new situation arose: our new shores might be threatened from the south – that is, from Phoenicia or Egypt; Persia might receive reinforcements or material from there for further wars against us. It was thus essential to occupy the Tyrian coasts and control Egypt; in this way we became masters of the entire littoral. But simultaneously a new danger arose: that Darius, relying on his rich Mesopotamia, might fling himself upon Syria and tear our Egyptian dominions from our base in Asia Minor. I therefore had to crush Darius at any cost; I succeeded in doing this at Gaugamela; as you know, Babylon and Susa, Persepolis and Pasargadae, dropped into our lap.

This gave us control of the Persian Gulf;  but so as to protect these new dominions against possible invasions from the north we had to set out northward against the Medes and Hyrcanians.

Now our dominions stretched from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf but lay open to the east; I advanced with my Macedonians to the borders of Area and Drangiana, I laid waste Gedrosia, and gave Arachosia a thrashing, after which I occupied Bactria as a conqueror; and to safeguard these military victories by a lasting union, I took the Bactrian Princess Roxana to wife. It was a simple political necessity; I had conquered so many Eastern lands for my Macedonians and Greeks that willy-nilly I had to win over my barbarous Eastern subjects by my appearance and splendor, without which these poor shepherds cannot imagine a powerful ruler. The truth is that my old Macedonian Guard took it badly; perhaps they thought that their old commander was becoming estranged from his war comrades. Unfortunately I had to have my old friends Philotas and Calisthenes executed; my dear Parmenion lost his life, too. I was very sorry about this; but it was unavoidable if the rebellion of my Macedonians was not to endanger my next step. I was, in fact, just preparing for my expedition to India. I must tell you that Gedrosia and Arachosia are enclosed within high mountains like fortifications; but for these fortifications to be impregnable they need a foreground from which to undertake a sally or a withdrawal behind the ramparts. This strategic foreground is India as far as the Indus. It was a military necessity to occupy this territory and with it the bridgehead on the farther bank of the Indus; no responsible soldier or statesman would have acted otherwise; but when we reached the river Hyphasis my Macedonians began to make a fuss and say they were too tired, ill, or homesick to go any farther. I had to come back; it was a terrible journey for my veterans, but still worse for me; I had intended to reach the Bay of Bengal to secure a natural frontier in the east for my Macedonia and now I was forced to abandon this task for a time.

I returned to Susa. I could be satisfied at having conquered such an empire for my Macedonians and Hellenes. But so as not to have to rely entirely on my exhausted people I took thirty thousand Persians into my army; they are good soldiers and I urgently need them for the defense of my Eastern frontiers. And do you know, my old soldiers are extremely annoyed about it. They cannot even understand that in winning for my people Oriental territories a hundred times greater than our own country I have become the great King of the East; that I must choose my officials and counselors from amongst the Orientals and surround myself with an Oriental court; all this is a self-evident political necessity which I am carrying out in the interests of Greater Macedonia. Circumstances demand of me more and more personal sacrifices; I bear them without complaint, for I think of the greatness and strength of my beloved country. I have to endure the barbarous luxury of my power and magnificence; I have taken to wife three princesses of Eastern kingdoms; and now, my dear Aristotle, I have actually become a god.

Yes, my dear master, I have had myself proclaimed god; my good Eastern subjects kneel to me and bring me sacrifices. It is a political necessity if I am to have the requisite authority over these mountain shepherds and these camel drivers. How far away are the days when you taught me to use reason and logic! But reason itself bids me adapt my means to human unreason. At first glance my career must appear fantastic to anyone; but now when I think it over at night in the quiet of my godlike study I see that I have never undertaken anything which was not rendered absolutely necessary by my preceding step.

You see, my dear Aristotle, it would be in the interests of peace and order, and consistent with political interests, if I were recognized as god in my Western territories as well. It would free my hands here in the East if my own Macedonia and Hellas accepted the political principle of my absolute authority; I could set out with a quiet heart to secure for my own land of Greece her natural frontiers on the coast of China. I should thus secure the power and safety of my Macedonia for all eternity. As you see, this is a sober and reasonable plan; I have long ceased to be the visionary who swore an oath on the tomb of Achilles. If I ask you now as my wise friend and guide to prepare the way by philosophy and to justify my proclamation as god in such a way as to be acceptable to my Greeks and Macedonians, I do so as a responsible politician and statesman; I leave it to you to consider whether you wish to undertake this task as a reasonable and patriotic work and one which is politically necessary.

Greetings, my dear Aristotle,

from your Alexander



Arrian: Speech of Alexander the Great, 

from The Campaigns of Alexander

I observe, gentlemen, that when I would lead you on a new venture you no longer follow me with your old spirit. I have asked you to meet me that we may come to a decision together: are we, upon my advice, to go forward, or, upon yours, to turn back?

If you have any complaint to make about the results of your efforts hitherto, or about myself as your commander, there is no more to say. But let me remind you: through your courage and endurance you have gained possession of Ionia, the Hellespont, both Phrygias, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Phoenicia, and Egypt; the Greek part of Libya is now yours, together with much of Arabia, lowland Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylon, and Susia; Persia and Media with all the territories either formerly controlled by them or not are in your hands; you have made yourselves masters of the lands beyond the Caspian Gates, beyond the Caucasus, beyond the Tanais, of Bactria, Hyrcania, and the Hyrcanian sea; we have driven the Scythians back into the desert; and Indus and Hydaspes, Acesines and Hydraotes flow now through country which is ours. With all that accomplished, why do you hesitate to extend the power of Macedon–your power–to the Hyphasis and the tribes on the other side ? Are you afraid that a few natives who may still be left will offer opposition? Come, come! These natives either surrender without a blow or are caught on the run–or leave their country undefended for your taking; and when we take it, we make a present of it to those who have joined us of their own free will and fight on our side.

For a man who is a man, work, in my belief, if it is directed to noble ends, has no object beyond itself; none the less, if any of you wish to know what limit may be set to this particular camapaign, let me tell you that the area of country still ahead of us, from here to the Ganges and the Eastern ocean, is comparatively small.

You will undoubtedly find that this ocean is connected with the Hyrcanian Sea, for the great Stream of Ocean encircles the earth. Moreover I shall prove to you, my friends, that the Indian and Persian Gulfs and the Hyrcanian Sea are all three connected and continuous.

Our ships will sail round from the Persian Gulf to Libya as far as the Pillars of Hercules, whence all Libya to the eastward will soon be ours, and all Asia too, and to this empire there will be no boundaries but what God Himself has made for the whole world.

But if you turn back now, there will remain unconquered many warlike peoples between the Hyphasis and the Eastern Ocean, and many more to the northward and the Hyrcanian Sea, with the Scythians, too, not far away; so that if we withdraw now there is a danger that the territory which we do not yet securely hold may be stirred to revolt by some nation or other we have not yet forced into submission. Should that happen, all that we have done and suffered will have proved fruitless–or we shall be faced with the task of doing it over again from the beginning. Gentlemen of Macedon, and you, my friends and allies, this must not be. Stand firm; for well you know that hardship and danger are the price of glory, and that sweet is the savour of a life of courage and of deathless renown beyond the grave.

Are you not aware that if Heracles, my ancestor, had gone no further than Tiryns or Argos–or even than the Peloponnese or Thebes–he could never have won the glory which changed him from a man into a god, actual or apparent? Even Dionysus, who is a god indeed, in a sense beyond what is applicable to Heracles, faced not a few laborious tasks; yet we have done more: we have passed beyond Nysa and we have taken the rock of Aornos which Heracles himself could not take. Come, then; add the rest of Asia to what you already possess–a small addition to the great sum of your conquests. What great or noble work could we ourselves have achieved had we thought it enough, living at ease in Macedon, merely to guard our homes, accepting no burden beyond checking the encroachment of the Thracians on our borders, or the Illyrians and Triballians, or perhaps such Greeks as might prove a menace to our comfort ?

I could not have blamed you for being the first to lose heart if I, your commander, had not shared in your exhausting marches and your perilous campaigns; it would have been natural enough if you had done all the work merely for others to reap the reward. But it is not so. You and I, gentlemen, have shared the labour and shared the danger, and the rewards are for us all. The conquered territory belongs to you; from your ranks the governors of it are chosen; already the greater part of its treasure passes into your hands, and when all Asia is overrun, then indeed I will go further than the mere satisfaction of our ambitions: the utmost hopes of riches or power which each one of you cherishes will be far surpassed, and whoever wishes to return home will be allowed to go, either with me or without me. I will make those who stay the envy of those who return

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