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The Story of the Greeks

Page: 106

In spite of the size of the Persian army, which was much larger than his own, Alexander won a complete victory at the Granicus. Then, marching southward, he took the cities of Sardis and Ephesus without striking another blow. These towns were very rich, and offered of their own free will to pay him the same tribute that they had given to the Persians.

Alexander, however, would not take it, but bade them use the money to rebuild the Temple of Diana, which had been burned to the ground on the night he was born. As the sacred image of the goddess had been saved, the E-phe´sians gladly built a second magnificent shrine, which was visited many years later by Paul, the disciple of Christ.

From Sardis and Ephesus, Alexander marched on into the province of Ca´ri-a. Here the queen of the country warmly welcomed him, adopted him as her son, and even proposed to give him her best cooks, so that they might prepare his food for him on the march.

Alexander thanked her heartily for this kind offer, but declined it, saying that his tutor Aristotle had given[Pg 238] him the very best recipe for making him relish his meals.

The queen, whose appetite was fanciful, eagerly asked what it was; and Alexander smilingly answered, "A march before daybreak as the sauce for my dinner, and a light dinner as the sauce for my supper."

This was, as you may see, a very good recipe; and if Alexander had always remembered to be temperate, as Aristotle had advised, he would not have died of over eating and drinking at the age of thirty-three.


XCVI. THE GORDIAN KNOT.

Alexander did not stop long in Caria. Marching onward, he soon came to the city of Gor´di-um, in Phryg´i-a, where Mi´das had once reigned. In one of the temples the people proudly showed Alexander the cart in which this king rode as he entered their city.

The yoke was fastened to the pole by a rope tied in a peculiar and very intricate knot. Now, it seems that an ancient prophecy had declared that whoever untied the Gordian knot would surely be master of all Asia.

Of course, as Alexander had set his heart upon conquering the whole world, he looked at this knot with great interest; but a few moments' careful examination made him feel sure that he would not be able to untie it.

Rather than give it up, however, Alexander drew his sword, and cut it with a single quick stroke. Ever since then, when a person has settled a difficulty by bold or [Pg 240][Pg 239]violent means instead of patiently solving it, the custom has been to say that he has "cut the Gordian knot," in memory of this feat of Alexander's.

Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot. Alexander cutting the Gordian Knot.

From Gordium, Alexander next passed on to Tar´sus, which also became subject to him; and shortly after that the young conqueror nearly lost his life.


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