Front Page Titles (by Subject) LYSIMACHUS. - Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws
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LYSIMACHUS. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 4 Familiar Letters; Miscellaneous Pieces; The Temple of Gnidus; A Defence of the Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 4.
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WHEN Alexander had destroyed the Persian Empire, heresolved to raise a belief, that he was the son of Jupiter. The Macedonians were vexed at seeing that Prince blush at having Philip for his father: their discontent encreased, when they beheld him assume the manners, the customs, and the dress of the Persians; and they reproached themselves for having done so much for a man who began to despise them. But the murmurs of the army did not break out into words.
A philosopher, named Callisthenes, had followed the king in his expedition. One day he saluted him after the manner of the Greeks: on which Alexander cried, “Whence comes it that thou dost not adore me?” “My Lord, said Callisthenes, thou art the chief of two nations: the one were slaves before they had submitted to thee, and are not less so since thou hast conquered them; the other free before they assisted thee in gaining so many victories, and are so still since thou hast obtained them. I am a Greek, my Lord; and that name thou hast raised so high, that we cannot degrade it without injuring thee.”
The vices of Alexander were as extraordinary as his virtues. He was terrible in his anger; it rendered him cruel. He caused the feet, nose, and ears of Callisthenes to be cut off; ordered that he should be shut up in an iron cage, and this carried in the train of his army.
I loved Callisthenes; and whenever business would allow me some hours of leisure, I was used to employ them in listening to him: and if I have any love for virtue, I owe it to the impressions I have received from his discourses. I went to visit him. “I salute thee, said I, illustrious but unhappy Callisthenes, whom I see, like a wild beast, kept in a cage of iron, for having been the only man in the army.”
“Lysimachus, said he, when I see myself in a situation that demands courage and fortitude, I seem to be almost in my proper situation. Indeed, had the Gods placed me upon earth, only to lead here a life of pleasure, I believe they would have given me in vain a great and immortal soul. To enjoy the pleasures of sense, is a thing of which all men are easily capable; and if the Gods have made us only for that, they have made a work more perfect than they intended, and have executed more than they designed. Not, added he, that I am insensible. Thou let’st me too plainly see that I am not. When I saw thee coming, I felt a sudden pleasure at seeing thee perform so courageous an action. But I conjure thee, in the name of the Gods, to let this be the last time. Leave me to support my misfortunes; and be not so cruel as to add to them the weight of thine.”
“Callisthenes, said I, I will visit thee every day. If the king sees thee abandoned by virtuous men, he will no longer feel the least remorse; he will begin to believe that thou art guilty. I hope he will never enjoy the pleasure of seeing, that his chastisements have made me abandon a friend.”
One day Callisthenes said to me, “The immortal Gods have given me consolation; and ever since I feel within me something divine, that has taken away the sensibility of my pains. I have seen in a dream the great Jupiter. Thou wast near him; thou hadst a sceptre in thine hand, and a royal circlet on thy forehead. He shewed thee to me, and said, He will render thee more happy. The emotions I felt awaked me from sleep. I found my hands lifted up towards heaven, and was making an effort to say, Great Jupiter, if Lysimachus is to reign, grant that he may reign with justice. Lysimachus, thou shalt reign: believe a man who must be pleasing to the Gods, since he suffers in the cause of virtue.”
In the mean while Alexander being informed, that I shewed respect to the misery of Callisthenes, that I went to visit him, and even presumed to complain of his treatment, was filled with a fresh transport of rage. “Go, said he, and fight with lions, unhappy wretch, that takest delight in living with wild beasts.” My punishment was, however, deferred, that it might serve as a spectacle to a great number of men.
The day which preceded it I wrote these words to Callisthenes: “I am going to die. All the ideas thou hast given me of my future grandeur are vanished from my mind. I could have wished to alleviate the sufferings of a man like thee.”
Prexapes, in whom I confided, brought this answer: “Lysimachus, if the Gods have resolved that thou shalt reign, Alexander cannot take away thy life; for men have it not in their power to oppose the will of the Gods.”
From this letter I received encouragement: and reflecting, that the happiest and most unhappy of mankind are equal surrounded by the divine hand, I resolved to conduct myself, not by my hopes, but by my courage, and to defend to the last a life on which depended such great promises.
They led me to the circus, where I was surrounded by an immense number of people, who came to be witness of my courage or my fear. A lion was let loose upon me. I wrapped my cloak about my arm: I presented it to him: he would have devoured it: I thrust it far into his mouth, seized his tongue by the roots, tore it out, and threw it at my feet.
Alexander was naturally fond of courageous actions. He admired my resolution; and at that moment the greatness of his soul returned.
He gave orders for my being called to him; and holding out his hand to me, “Lysimachus, said he, I return thee my friendship, return me thine: my anger has only served to make thee perform an action that was wanting in the life of Alexander.”
I received the king’s favour, adored the decrees of the Gods, and waited for their promises, without seeking or flying from them. Alexander died; and all the nations were without a master. The king’s sons were in their infancy: his brother Arideus had not yet come into Persia: Olympias had only the boldness of weak minds, and cruelty was to her courage. Roxana, Eurydice, Statyra, were lost in grief. Every body in the palace gave vent to their groans, and nobody thought of reigning. Alexander’s captains then raised their eyes up to the throne; but the ambition of each was checked by the ambition of all. We divided the empire; and each of us believed that he had shared the price of his fatigues.
It was my lot to be made King of Asia; and now, when I can do whatever I please, I am more in need than ever of the lessons of Callisthenes. His joy informs me that I have done a good action, and his sighs tell me that I have some evil to repair. I find him between my people and me.
I am King of a people who love me. The fathers of families hope for the length of my life, as for that of their children. The young fear to lose me, as they fear to lose a father. My subjects are happy, and I am so too.