Plutarch on Alexander the Great

At first he wore this habit when he conversed with the barbarians, or
within indoors, with his intimate friends and companions, but
afterwards he appeared in it abroad, when he rode out, and at public
audiences, a sight which the Macedonians beheld with grief; but they
so respected his other virtues and good qualities that they felt it
reasonable to gratify his fancies and his passion of glory, in
pursuit in which he had hazarded himself so far, that, besides his
other adventures,he had but lately been wounded in the leg by an
arrow, which had so shattered the shank-bone that splinters had been
taken out. And on another occasion he had received a violent blow
with a stone on the nape of his neck, which diminished his sight for
a good while afterwards. And yet all this could not hinder him from
exposing himself freely to any dangers, insomuch that he passed the
river Orexartes, which he took to be the Tanais, and putting the
Scythians to flight, followed them above a hundred furlongs, though
suffering all the time from a diarrhea

Well, this paragraph should be entitled So you think you have

In a previous post, we learned from Laura Foreman about his having
had his leg struck at Gaza, and an arrow wound in the shoulder, and
so here again, we find Alexander suffering an arrow wound that
shattered his shinbone. The previous paragraph was describing his
conversion to new wearing apparel, and the next sentence was simply
continuing the thought before embarking upon the descriptions of his
various wounds which he has suffered

In reading this paragraph one realizes that "lost in translation"
probably occurs a lot here. First of all, the logical thing is to
wonder whether this information is a result of studying the
physician's records or if this a result of listening to storytelling.

There is no doubt that the physicians would have maintained full
records which would have given information important to historians
about each and everyone of Alexander's physical problems. The last
line about diarrhea makes me wonder as to why and how that got there
as anyone knows that diarrhea is one way to cripple a person from
performing tasks which require walking, riding, or anything
ambulatory. Of course, as the Mongolians are said to have done, the
Macedonians likewise could have "pooped" all over their horses as
they drove them senselessly. I actually believe that that is the
conclusion that is to be expected in this pithy statement

I cannot help but wonder at how comfortable that would be ride sans
underwear as many note that the Macedonians had done, with runny,
watery poop running down their legs and the horse's backs

So what does all this say about Alexander? As I recall reading a
long time ago, that he was carried around after the stone hit him on
the nape of the neck and the arrow had shattered his shinbone. He
was on a gurney of some kind, so that he had to wait til his wounds
healed before he could go running off again, but he did mend quickly
enough to continue his efforts. All this appears to be condensed in
this paragraph by Plutarch according to the Great Books edition

So again, the author is probably in all likelihood trying to give
Alexander a character study that shows how impervious he is to his
bad luck at receiving so many serious injuries. When one's sight is
impaired it is even more difficult to lead a group of men, but the
idea is that he is undaunted and fearlessly continues to pursue his
enemies, in this case, the Scythians.

The sad part is that this same author is letting the reader know that
the Macedonians were greatly grieved by Alexander's method of
changing costume styles in his dress, yet we know that he had already
noted how readily the inhabitants accepted the Persians instead of
the Greeks. But grief is a strong word, and a very sensitive
word...again this author is trying to convey a message but lets us
know that they forgive him for his other virtues which he then goes
on to name, sustaining injuries without complaint, and valiantly
leading his army to defeat his adversaries. All under the harshest
of conditions...

It is said that Alexander ate little, that he was very circumspect in
his diet, and so one would wonder how and when and where he acquired
the diarrhea. This shows again difficulty with his intestinal tract
which it would appear he has suffered several times...

It is important to realize that this author is making Alexander
appear as having superhuman strength to do all these feats. And the
end result is his army's admiration and devotion to him as they
continue to recognize and respect his own dutiful nature.

But more importantly, it is worthwhile to consider the pain that
Alexander was suffering, when splinters are taken from a shinwound,
and vision impaired. He did not have painkillers such as we have
today and one must imagine at how he groaned and held his tongue when
the leg was examined, cleansed, and set. He knew enough about
medicine himself, having learned from Aristotle, that he could and
did often tend the wounds of his soldiers, so that when it was his
injuries to be set he would have had an advantage in assisting with
the wound with his own compliance to the attendant physician on hand.

He is a man who likes to set an example for others to follow, so
there is little doubt that he would do everything necessary to heal
as quickly and immediately as he could. Again, being the person he
was, he was certainly under the greatest of care, and no doubt, was
nursed hourly until his wounds healed sufficiently for him to carry

After all, there was no other soldier so necessary to the Macedonians
than their leader

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