| On the Shores of the Great Sea|
|by M. B. Synge|
|Book I of the Story of the World series. Focuses on the civilizations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea from the time of Abraham to the birth of Christ. Brief histories of the Ancient Israelites, Phoenicians, Egyptians, Scythians, Persians, Greeks, and Romans are given, concluding with the conquest of the entire Mediterranean by Rome. Important myths and legends that preceded recorded history are also related. Ages 9-18 |
KING OF MACEDONIA
"My son, thou art invincible."
 WHEN he was but sixteen years old, Alexander had his first experience of public affairs; for in the summer of this
year, 340, Philip set out on an expedition, leaving his young son "in charge of affairs and of the seal."
Alexander made better use of his time than his father; for where Philip had failed, his son succeeded beyond
all expectation in subduing a restless mountain tribe. His influence now grew rapidly, and the Macedonians
murmured already, "Alexander is king."
But a family quarrel arose; hot words passed between Alexander and his father. There was a scene, in which the
king sprang on his son with drawn sword; but he fell down before he reached him, and Alexander's taunt has
passed into history.
"Here is a man," he cried scornfully, "who has been preparing to cross from Europe into Asia, but he has been
upset in crossing from one couch to another."
After this, Alexander and his mother left the country. But not for long. Before the year was out Philip was
dead—killed by an assassin—and Alexander was king of Macedonia.
He was surrounded by enemies on all sides. Now, since the days of Socrates, when Athens
 was at the height of her glory, Greece had suffered greatly from her want of unity. She had been torn by her
small wars, and even the common danger of Persia had not brought her union. Now there was another common
danger, but the Greeks were slow to realise it. There was one Greek citizen, however, who saw more clearly than
the rest, how yearningly the eyes of Philip were turned towards Greece.
"Let the Greeks cease their quarrels with one another and unite to preserve the liberty, which is their
birthright, against the despot who seeks to enslave them all."
Such was the cry of Demosthenes, this far-seeing man—the most famous orator Greece ever had. But he cried to
the people in vain. Philip came down to Greece, and it was not long before her liberties were crushed and she
became a province of Macedonia. Now, Philip was dead, and the Grecian states hoped to shake off the yoke of
Macedonia. Demosthenes was seen in the streets of Athens, wearing a garland about his head and dressed in
white, as for a holiday, for he knew the enemy of Athens was dead, and he did not know, that Alexander would be
a greater conqueror, than his father had been.
The new young King of Macedonia, though full of foreign schemes, first turned his attentions to Greece. He
marched south to Corinth. City after city in Greece submitted to the new and powerful
 King of Macedonia, until with the fall of Thebes, the last Grecian town to hold out, Alexander's campaign in
Europe was at an end. The rest of his life was spent in Asia.
The world toward which Alexander had set his face, and which he was now preparing to enter, was the great old
world of the East—that world which was great long before Greece and Rome—that world which was being left
utterly behind, in the great march of mankind forwards.
The boundary between Asia and Europe has always been a rigid one. It was the same in the days of Alexander as
it is to-day. The continents are divided by customs, dress, homes, and faith—differences that thousands of
years have never succeeded in altering; for the difference of East and West abides in the very heart of things.
To unite the East and West was the dream of Alexander's life—that is to say, he tried to do what has not been
done even to-day. He wanted to conquer the great old world, to teach the men of the East about Greece, to tame
the old world and bring it into order. He did not succeed in doing this, but he did succeed in a great deal
that he set out to do.
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