Obviously I am particularly interested in shared themes between Great Books’ authors and the Bible, given my particular interest in the Bible. Of course, it is also fun to find things that sound familiar for other reasons. Having defeated Darius and conquered Persia, Alexander was giving his troops a rest for several months and was being very generous is spreading the spoils of war around. Plutarch writes:
But when he perceived his favourites grow so luxurious and extravagant in their way of living and expenses that Hagnon, the Teian, wore silver nails in his shoes, that Leonnatus employed several camels only to bring him powder out of Egypt to use when he wrestled, and that Philotas had hunting nets a hundred furlongs in length, that more used precious ointment than plain oil when they went to bathe, and that they carried about servants everywhere with them to rub them and wait upon them in their chambers, he reproved them in gentle and reasonable terms, telling them he wondered that they who had been engaged in so many single battles did not know by experience, that those who labour sleep more sweetly and soundly than those who are laboured for, and could fail to see by comparing the Persians’ manner of living with their own that it was the most abject and slavish condition to be voluptuous, but the most noble and royal to undergo pain and labour.
Full selection. This reminds me of the scenes following the big heist in mafia movies in which the crew gets a little ostentatious with its spending and gives the boss angina.
Alexander is quoted as reminded his troops, “Are you still to learn that the end and perfection of our victories is to avoid the vices and infirmities of those whom we subdue?” I’d like to hear this in a speech about the Global War on Terror.