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BIRTH OF ALEXANDER
WHEN Philip died, he was succeeded by his son
Alexander, a young man of twenty, who had already
earned a good name by leading part of the army at the
battle of Chæronea. His efforts, as you know, had
defeated the Sacred Battalion of the Thebans, and
helped much to secure the victory.
Through his mother, Olympias, Alexander was a
descendant of Achilles, the well-known hero of the
Trojan War. He was born at Pella, a city of Macedon,
three hundred and fifty-six years before Christ. His
father was so pleased to have a son, that he said that
all the boys born in his kingdom on the same day should
be brought up with Alexander in the palace, and become
Thus you see the young prince had plenty of playmates;
and, as there was nothing he liked better than
fighting, he soon began to play soldiers, and to train
his little regiment.
From the very first, the Macedonians had declared that
Alexander was born to greatness, and several noted
events that took place on the day of his birth served
to confirm this belief.
In the first place, Parmenio, Philip's general, won
a grand victory on that day; then Philip's horses,
which had been sent to Olympia, got the prize at the
chariot races; and, lastly, the famous temple at
Ephesus, dedicated to Diana, was burned to the ground.
The first two events were joyful in the extreme; but
 the burning of this temple, which was among the wonders
of the world, was a great calamity. Every one was
anxious to know how it had happened; and all were very
angry when they found out that it was not an accident,
but had been done on purpose.
The man who had set fire to it was crazy. His name was
Erostratus; and when he was asked why he had done
such a wicked thing; he said that it was only to make
his name immortal. The people were so indignant, that
they not only condemned him to die, but forbade all
mention of his name, hoping that it would be forgotten.
In spite of this care, Erostratus' name has come down
to us. It is immortal indeed, but who except a crazy
man would wish to win such fame, and could bear to
think that all who ever heard of him would condemn his
action, and consider him as wicked as he was insane?
Alexander was first given over to the care of a nurse.
He loved her dearly as long as he lived, and her son
Clytus was always one of his best friends and most
As soon as he was old enough, Alexander began to learn
the Iliad and Odyssey by heart; and he loved to hear
about the principal heroes, and especially about his
own ancestor, Achilles.
He admired these poems so much that he carried a copy
of them with him wherever he went, and always slept
with it under his pillow. Both the Iliad and the
Odyssey were kept in a box of the finest gold, because
Alexander thought nothing was too good for them.