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Harper's Round Table, August 6, 1895   By:

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[Illustration: HARPER'S ROUND TABLE]

Copyright, 1895, by HARPER & BROTHERS. All Rights Reserved.







It was all glory and glitter one bright day in Babylon. It was that eventful morning, ages and ages ago, when the armies of the East and the armies of the West, with the epigonoi , or brilliant young "sons of the King," twenty thousand in line, with horse archers and foot archers, and slingers and spearmen, and war elephants and war chariots, and all the galleys and barges of the King's navy, marched and countermarched, sailed and manoeuvred, all in honor of one very small boy, who was yet a very important one.

He sat under a gorgeous canopy upon the gleaming portico of the palace of the kings at Babylon, and clapped his hands, and crowed his praises, and laughed aloud in glee, as spears were tossed and shields were clashed aloft, and soldiers shouted and generals saluted, and princes of vassal nations bowed themselves to the ground in homage and admiration all in honor of this very small boy with a very great name. For he was Alexander, the Shield, the Great Lord, Blessed, That liveth forever. He was constitutional King of Macedon, Captain General of Greece, Lord of Egypt, and monarch of Asia. He was the son of Alexander, King of Macedon, called by men the Great and Conqueror of the World.

But Alexander the Great was dead. And in the palace of the kings whose empire he had conquered, the palace in which Belshazzar had feasted and Cyrus had ruled, and in which the all conquering Macedonian had died at thirty two, this helpless baby, less than a year old, and who had never seen his father of the mighty name, held the sovereignty that Alexander the Great had established.

It was a vast possession. It stretched from Greece to India, from Egypt to Siberia; it was such as only a genius could have conquered and only a genius could rule. With Alexander dead and only a baby as its lord it was already in danger. But Roxana the Queen said, boldly, "My boy shall be King," and all the "Companions of Alexander," as his generals and ministers were called, echoed her words: "The boy shall be King!" And so it came to pass that at the great display in Babylon the little son of Alexander was honored and sainted and adored as the successor of his imperial father.

But Alexander the Great had died too soon. He had wonderful plans as to what he would do if he had lived, but none at all as to what was to be done if he should happen to die. He did die suddenly in the year 323 B.C. And thereupon each one of his leading generals, or "Companions," declared that he was the man to step into Alexander's shoes, and have the charge of the empire and the care of the young King until the boy should come of age.

So they began to quarrel among themselves and to make things very uncomfortable for the Queen Roxana in the splendid palace at Babylon, until finally little Alexander's grandmother, the Princess Olympias, declared that she would take charge of the King and his empire. This made the generals angry with Olympias, who was a very determined and a very vindictive old lady, and things became more mixed up than ever. But the Princess Olympias had considerable power, and she managed to get possession of little King Alexander and his mother, and to have them brought, under a strong body guard, from province to province and from camp to camp from one end of the empire to the other, until they reached her home in western Greece.

Gradually the quarrelling generals who were fighting for the possession of Alexander's empire were reduced, by victory or death, to five. And of these five the most ambitious and determined was Cassander, the regent of Macedon. He hated Alexander the Great; he hated the son of Alexander; for the father had slighted him when living, and the son, by living, stood in his way... Continue reading book >>

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