The Story of the Greeks
Page: 111On several occasions the young king drank so much that he did not know what he was doing; and once, in a fit of drunken rage, he set fire to the beautiful palace of Per-sep´o-lis, and burned it to the ground.
As he had refused Darius' offers of peace, he soon considered it necessary to continue the war: so, laying aside his jeweled robes, he put on his armor and set out for the north. He was about to overtake the Persian king, when Darius was mortally wounded by one of his followers named Bes´sus.
The traitor thought that he would win Alexander's favor by this crime, and came and boasted of it to him. Alexander was so angry, however, that he bade his guards seize Bessus, and had him put to death in the most barbarous way.
When the Macedonian king finally came up with Darius, he found him bathed in his own blood, and breathing his last. He had only time to assure him of the safety of his family, and to promise to continue to protect them, before Darius sank back dead.
By Alexander's orders the body was embalmed, and carried to Sisygambis, so that it could be properly buried in the beautiful tomb of the Persian kings. This last act of generosity quite won the aged queen's heart; and she felt so grateful, that she loved Alexander as long as he lived.[Pg 249]
Now that Darius was dead, Alexander took the Persian title of "Shah in Shah" (king of kings), and became ruler of all the empire which had been subject to the Persian monarch.
He was so proud of his new state and of his vast conquests, that he entirely forgot that he owed them mostly to his brave generals and soldiers; and he became so obstinate, that he would no longer listen to any advice, and only thought of having his own way.
His father's general, Parmenio, who had always given him the wisest counsel, was no longer in favor, because he tried to restrain the king's extravagance. Indeed, Alexander's once generous and noble nature was so changed, that, when his courtiers accused Parmenio of treachery, he listened to them, and actually put the faithful general to death.
Every day now Alexander indulged in feasts and banquets, always drinking more and more, although it was affecting his health as well as his temper. Clytus, the son of his old nurse, tried to check his excesses, but only succeeded in provoking his wrath.
On one occasion such remonstrances so enraged Alexander, that in his drunken fury he seized a spear and killed Clytus. When he saw him dead at his feet, the king realized what a terrible crime he had committed, and felt deep remorse for a short time.
He reformed, and, instead of giving himself up entirely to pleasure, spent the next two years in the work[Pg 250] of governing Persia, where he founded several cities called by his name.