The prose life of Alexander

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Letter of Alexander to Darius

ettre which he brought witnesses; 'A, A lorde ', quoth they, our emperor sent thus to you for your power & your might was unknown unto him. But we beseech you let us go, and we shall make known unto him your great glory, your royalty, & your noblaye.

Then king Alexander bade his knights lowse them, and bring them into his hall, to the meet. And there he made them a great feast & a riot. And as they sat at the meet, their messengers said unto Alexander, ' lorde,' quoth they, 'if it be pleasing to your high majesty [send] with us a thousand of doubty men of arms, and we shall deliver them the Emperor Darius, and Alexander assured again and said, "Sit still,' quoth he, '& make thou merry. For I tell you in certain, for the betraying of your king, I will not grant [though a knight with thou'.] Upon the morn, Alexander the Great write a letter [vr.=] to Darius, whereof the tenor was this.

Ye letter of Alexander

'Alexander, the son of Philippe & of Queen Olympias, unto Alexander, Darius, king of the land that shines with the gods of Persia, we send. If we greatly and [sothefastly] beheld our self there is nothing that we here have that we may by rights call ours, but all it is lent us for a time. For all we that are whirled about with the wheel of fortune, now are we brought for reaches into port: now for mirth & joy into sorrow & [heaviness?] and againward: and now from hate, we are plunged into lawness. Therefore there should not [man] that is set in high degree tryest to mekill in his highness, that, through pride and vain glory, he should despise the deaths of other men less than he. For he [wate never how sone] the wheel of fortune may turn about, and cast him down to low degree, that sits high aloft: and raise him to high worship and great noblaye that before was poor and in low degree. And therefore they ought to think great shame, that such a worthy emperor as men [haldez] they should send such

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The war begins.

a message unto me so little a man) and so poor. For thou art even like to the son, as thyself says, sitting in the throne of[Midas?] with the gods of Persia. But gods that evermore are [liffaunde] & nevermore dies, dies not for to have the fellowshps of deadly men. Secretly I am a deadly man; and to the [ ] I come as to a deadly man, for to fight with them. But thou that art so great & so glorious & calls thyself undeadly, thou shall win nothing of me, if all thou have the overhand of me. For thou has overcome but a little man and a thief, as thou says. And if I have the overhand over them, It shall be to me the greatest worship that ever befell me, for as [mekitt] as I shall have the victory of the worthiest emperor of the world. But there thou said, that, in the room of Persia, is so great plenty of gold, thou has sharpened our hearts, and made more bold for to fight with them, & for to win that gold; for to relieve our poverty withall:, & put away our need which thou says we have. In that also, that thou sent us a handball and other [barne-laykaynes], thou prophesied [riste], and betakend' before, things that we knew, through god's help, shall fall unto us. By the roundness of the ball, we understand all the world about us, which shall fall under our subjection. By the tane of the [laykanes] as thou sent us which is made of wands and crooks downward that overend, we understand that all the kings of the world, and all the great lords, shall [lowte] to us. By the tother [laykan], that is of gold, and has upon it, as it were, a man's head, we understand that we shall have the victory of all men and never be overcome. And thou that art so great & so mighty has now onward sent us tribute, in as [mekelt] as thou sent us a handball, and other things I rehearsed before, which contains in them such great dignities.

When the letter was written, Alexander called to the messengers of the Emperor of Persia, and gave them rich gifts and betook them the letter, and bade them bear it to their lord. And then Alexander sembled his Oste, and began for to wend toward Persia. When the messengers of Persia come to the emperor they told him of the great royalty of king Alexander and took him the letters that Alexander sent him. And

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Darius writes to his Satraps.

the emperor [garte] read them. And when he heard them read, he was wonder wrathe, and sent a letter [belyue] unto the great lords that had the governance of the empire under him say unto them on this [wiese].

Darius king of kings and lord of lords unto our true lieges Primus & Antyochus, greeting and ioy. We hear tell that Alexander, Philippe son of Macedonia, is so heghe raised in pride, that he is rebelling against us, & is coming into Asye, and has destroyed it utterly. And [shall?] him think not this enough, but he proposes him for to come near us, and do the same to other countries of our empire as he has done to Asye. Wherefore we command thou [o pain] of your legeance, that they semble the great men and be worthy of our empire, with other of our true lieges; and, in all the haste that they may, [gase & counters zone] childe, taken him, and bringen him before our presence, that we may lash him well, as a wanton child should be: and clothe him in purpose; & so send him to his mother Olympias well chastised. For it seems not to be a fighter : but for to use child games.

Their two lords Primus and Antiochus, when they had read this letter of the emperor, they wrote again unto him on this ways. 'Unto Darius, king of kings, great god', Primus & Antiochus, service that they can do. To "our high majesty we make it known, that the child Alexander, which thee speak of, has all utterly destroyed your country. And we sembled a great multitude of folk, and fought with him; but he has discomfitted us, and wer were fain for to flee. For [unneth] might any of us win away with the life. Therefore we that [5e] say are helpers unto thou, beseek your high majesty that you send some succor to your true lieges. When Darius had read his letter, there come another messenger to him and told him that Alexander and his Oste had [lugede] them upon the water of Strume. And when Darius heard that he wrote another letter unto Alexander, of which this was the tenor.

Darius, king of kings, and lord of lords, unto our [servant?] Alexander. Throughout all the world the name of

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Darius writes again to Alexander.

Darius is praised and commended. Our gods also has it written in their books. How then darest thou be so bold, for to pass so many waters, and see Mountains and crags, for to [werraye] against our royal majesty. A great worship methink it were to thee, if thou might [mawgre] ours, have in possession the kingdom of Macedonia all only, without more. Therefore [the es better amend Ipe of thy mysededis], than we take such wreke upon thee, that other men take [bisne] thereby, since all the earth without our lordship, may be called [wedowe]. Torn again therefore, we counsel thee, into thine own country, or our wrath and our [wreke] fall upon thee. Nevertheless, that our worship & our great noblaye be somewhat known to thee, we send thee a mouthful of [chesebotte] seeds, in taking thereof. Look if thou may number & [tette] all their [chessebotte] seeds, & if thou may not do that then may the folk of our oste be numbered. And if thou may not do that our folk may not be numbered. Therefore turn him again into thy country and leave thy folly that thou has begun, and take no more upon thee such a presumption, for I tell thee we have men of arms without number.

When the Messengers of Darius come to Alexander, they took him the letter and the mouthful of [chessebotte] seeds. Alexander then [gerte] read the letter. And [sythen] he put his hand" in pe male, and took of the [chessebotte] seeds & put in his mouth, & chewed it, & said, 'I see well', quoth he, 'that he has many men, but they are right soft as these seeds are.' In the meantime there come a Messenger to Alexander from Macedonia: and told him that his Mother Olympias was grief-sick. And [when] Alexander heard this, he was wonder [heuy]. Nevertheless, he wrote unto Darius a letter, that spoke on these ways.

Alexander the son of Philippe & of queen Olympias unto Darius king of Persia, we send. We do thee well to [wiete] that we have heard certain things, which [gers] us against our will: do that we now shall say. But trow thou not that we for fear or doubt of thy pride and thy vain glory turned him again now to our own country, But all only for to visit

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The Persians defeated in three days battle.

our Mother Olympias, who looked grief-struck. But [wete] thou well, within short time, we shall haste us again, with a great number of fresh knights. And right as thou sent us a mouthful of [chessebolle] seed; [right?] so we send thee here a little pepper. For thou should with that [ri^te] as the sharpness of this little pepper passes the multitude of the [chessebotte] seeds, [ri5te] so the great multitudes of the Persians shall be overcome with a few knights of Macedonia.

This letter beckoned Alexander to the knights of Darius, the pepper also, & bade them there to the emperor. And he gave them great gifts and rishes, and sent them further. And then he turned again with his Oste toward Macedonia.

There was the same time a wonder wise man) of [war?] the [whilke highte] Amorca, and he was [prynce-werres] in Araby, and lay there with a great multitude of men in await of Alexander & his Oste. And when he heard tell of the coming of Alexander, he readied him for to keep him. And when they met, they fought together all the days from the morn to the evening. And so they did all these three days. And there was so much folk dead in that battle, that the sun was eclipsed and withdrew his light, [vggande] for to see so much shedding of blood.

But at last the Persians were so thick-fold felled' to the grounde, that their prince Amorca turned thee back and fled, and [vnnethe] might win away, a a few with him. So hastily fled Amorca, that he come [nerehand] alone to Darius, as his messengers did that come from Alexander, and found Darius holding the letter in his hand, that Alexander sent him, and [spirrande] what Alexander did with the [chessbotte] seeds. And the messengeres answered and said, 'He took of the [chessbotte] seeds,' quoth they, 'and chewed of them, & said 'I see well,' quoth he, ' that Darius has many men), but they are wonder soft ; and then Darius took of the pepper, that Alexander sent, and put in his mouth and chewed it. And when he felt the strength of it, and the great heat, he sighed [sare], and said: 'Alexander's knights ', quoth he, 'and they be as strange as themselves, as this pepper is in itself, they shall finde none in this world that may again stand them.' And then answered Amorca & said, 'Forsoothe, lord,' quoth he, 'thee

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