The Story of the Greeks
Page: 107He had been exposed to the hot sun, and had thus become terribly overheated, when he came to the river Cyd´nus. This stream was a torrent whose waters were very cold, but, in spite of all that his attendants could say, Alexander insisted upon taking a bath in it.
The sudden chill brought on a cramp, and he would have been drowned had not some of his people plunged into the water, and pulled him out. As it was, his imprudence brought on a serious illness, and for a short time Alexander's life was in great danger.
His physician, however, was Philip, a Greek doctor, who had attended him ever since he was born, and who now took great care of him. When the fever was at its worst, he said he hoped to save the king by means of a strong medicine which he was going to prepare.
Just after Philip went out to brew this potion, Alexander received a letter which warned him to beware of his physician, as the man had been bribed by the Persian king, Darius III., to poison him.
After reading the letter, Alexander slipped it under his pillow, and calmly waited for the return of his doctor. When Philip brought the cup containing the promised remedy, Alexander took it in one hand, and gave him the letter with the other. Then, while Philip was reading it, he drank every drop of the medicine.[Pg 241]
When the physician saw the accusation, he turned deadly pale, and looked up at his master, who smilingly handed back the empty cup. Alexander's great trust in his doctor was fully justified; for the medicine cured him, and he was soon able to go on with his conquests.
Alexander was marching southward, and Darius was hastening northward with a vast army, hoping to meet him and to prevent his advancing any farther.
By a singular chance it happened that the two armies missed each other, and passed through separate defiles in the same range of mountains. Alexander became aware of this first, and retraced his steps without delay, for he was anxious to find and defeat the enemy.
The two armies soon met at a place called Is´sus, where the Persians were routed. Darius was forced to flee, and his mother, wife, and family were made captives.
As soon as the battle was over, Alexander went to visit the royal ladies in their tent, to assure them that they would be treated with all respect. He was accompanied by his friend Hephæstion, who was somewhat taller and larger than he.
As they entered the tent, in their plain armor, the queen mother, Sis-y-gam´bis, mistook Hephæstion for the king, and fell down upon her knees before him, begging his mercy for herself and her children. When[Pg 242] she found out her mistake, she was greatly dismayed; but Alexander kindly reassured her by leaning upon his friend's shoulder, and saying of him, "He is my other self."