The Knowledge (of Alexander)

The website Knowledge has an article titled The Danger of Being Alexander in which the writer, Venugopal Gupta, discusses the importance of collaboration in order to achieve one’s goals.

Alexander is mentioned variously and cited as an example of someone who did not collaborate and so failed to achieve his goals.

Let’s take a look at what else Gupta has to say about the Macedonian king and how closely – or otherwise – he sticks to the sources.

***

When Alexander the Great’s father returned home after conquering an important new territory, he found his son unusually depressed. His son’s worry: that his father would win everything and leave nothing for him to win.

This anecdote comes from Chapter 5 of Plutarch’s Life of Alexander. Gupta presents Alexander’s depression as the result of a single incident but Plutarch says that ‘whenever he heard that Philip had captured some famous city or won an overwhelming victory, Alexander would show no pleasure at the news’ (my emphasis).

Also, as can be seen, Plutarch represents Alexander as being angry rather than depressed at his father’s successes.

Gupta’s assertion that Alexander was concerned ‘… his father would win everything and leave nothing for him to win’ is faithful to Plutarch, though only to a point. The Greek historian says that whenever he heard of one of his father’s victories, Alexander

… would declare to his friends, ‘Boys, my father will forestall me in everything. There will be nothing great or spectacular for me with your help to show the world.’

A desire to win is implied by the desire to perform ‘great or spectacular’ deeds, but unlike Gupta’s Alexander, Plutarch’s is not concerned with only winning but with showing the world what he is made of. He is outward rather than inward looking.

***

Fuelled with passion, Alexander piled up victories from Europe into Asia, until, all of thirty-two years of age, Alexander stood at the doorstep of India, to see the culmination of a world dominion that stretched from West to the East.

Gupta is certainly correct to say that Alexander ‘piled up the victories from Europe into Asia’.

At the age of 32 (i.e. in the summer of 324 B.C.), however, the Macedonian king was in Persia on his way back to Babylon rather than ‘on the doorstep to India’.

Alexander’s arrival at ‘the doorstep of India’ came much earlier – as early as Spring 329 B.C. when he made his first crossing of the Hindu Kush. That year, he entered Bactria, which today is part of Afghanistan, Tajikistan and – which is relevant to us – Pakistan. In 329 B.C., Alexander turned 27.

As you can see, I have interpreted Gupta’s reference to India as a reference to ancient India. Just in case he is referring to Alexander’s arrival at the doorstep of modern India, I’ll add that the Macedonian king passed its border when he came to the Hyphasis (Beas) River in the summer of 326 B.C. In that year, he celebrated his 30th birthday.

***

At the camp, one day, Alexander’s personal staff found a strange oily substance that was both transparent and odourless. Knowing their leader to be extremely superstitious, this news was promptly relayed to the court diviners. They reported that oil was given by gods as a reward for hard work and therefore the appearance of this substance at the camp was a good omen.

The incident that Gupta is referring to here took place on the banks of the Oxus River in Spring 328 B.C. when Alexander was marching north to subdue those Sogdians who had refused to accept the authority of his governor. The discovery of the oil is described by Plutarch in Chapter 57 of his Life and Arrian in Book IV.16 of his Campaigns of Alexander.

Plutarch says the ‘head of Alexander’s household servants, a man named Proxenus… uncovered a spring of… smooth and fatty liquid’ and that when

… the top of this was strained off, there gushed forth a pure and clear oil which appeared to be exactly like olive oil both in odour and in taste, and was also identical in smoothness and brightness.

There is no mention in Plutarch’s Life of ‘the court diviners’ being informed of the find on the grounds that Alexander was ‘extremely superstitious’.

However, we know that they were told about it because Plutarch says that the diviners called the oil a ‘refreshment’ and an omen for

… a campaign which would be a glorious one but also arduous and painful’.
(Plutarch Life 57)

This is in contrast to Gupta who has the soothsayers calling the spring of oil ‘a reward for hard work’ already done.

Moving on to Arrian, he doesn’t say who specifically found the ‘oily substance’. Neither does he describe its appearance. He is clear, however, about what happened next: the find was not reported to ‘the court diviners’ but to Ptolemy, who then informed the king.

Arrian agrees with Plutarch that ‘the court diviners’ were told of the oil’s discovery. He – Arrian – states specifically that

Aristander declared that the spring of oil was a sign of difficulties to come and of eventual victory.

Although there is no suggestion that the diviners ‘reported that [the] oil was given by gods as a reward for hard work’ it is clear that in Arrian’s account as well as Plutarch’s and Gupta’s article, the oil was regarded as a good omen.

By-the-bye, I don’t feel that at this point in his life Alexander would have been regarded as ‘extremely superstitious’ by his men. I hesitate to say more, though, as it is not an aspect of his life that I have yet looked into deeply. I am disagreeing with Gupta out of my guts rather than with my head.

***

After receiving news from the diviners, Alexander’s enthusiasm knew no bounds. He asked the army to prepare for war. While the army shouted valiant war cries, their spirit was worn out. They had run a long campaign before getting up to India and not had enough time to rest and repose. Worse, they had trouble acclimatising to the new weather and were perilously low on provisions.

Following the discovery of the oil, Alexander continued his pacification of Sogdia and Bactria. There was no call for the army ‘to prepare for war’ – it was already effectively in the middle of one – and so no ‘valiant war cries’ in response from the men.

Equally, the Macedonian army was not yet tired nor worn out.

Not that everything was perfect for them. Many soldiers did want to go home, and this desire can be traced back to at least the death of Darius in July 330 B.C.

Back then, Alexander had been so concerned by his men’s homesickness that he had called them together and given a rousing speech in order to persuade them to continue east with him (see Diodorus XVII.74).

When Gupta talks about the ‘long campaign’ and its consequences, he is, I think, building upon Diodorus. The Macedonian army

… had spent almost eight years among toils and dangers… and no relief from fighting was in sight. The hooves of the horses had been worn thin by steady marching. The arms and armour were wearing out, and Greek clothing was quite gone. They had to clothe themselves in foreign materials, recutting the garments of the Indians. This was the season also, as luck would have it, of the heavy rains. These had been going on for seventy days, to the accompaniment of continuous thunder and lightning.
(Diodorus XVII.94)

Arrian also talks about the men becoming depressed (A V.25). However, both authors are referring to a later period (summer 326 B.C.) than that of Gupta (Spring 328 B.C.). To the best of my knowledge, none of the major sources talk about the Macedonians being low on provisions.

***

During this time, the Indian king, Porus, arrived at the camp and spoke with Alexander.

‘Please tell me the purpose of your campaign’ asked Porus, ‘if you wage the war for water and food, then we are obliged to fight as they are indispensable to us’

‘If, however, you come to fight for riches and possessions, as they are accounted in the eyes of the world, and you find me better provided in them, I am ready to share those with you. Else, if fortune has been more liberal to you, I have no objection to be obliged to you,’ Porus offered a compromise.

While Alexander congratulated Porus on his wisdom, he said, ‘No matter how obliging you are, you shall not have the better of me’ he told Porus, asking him to prepare for war. To Alexander, agreeing to Porus was equal to capitulating before him.

Alexander and Porus certainly met, but only after the Battle of the Hydaspes River. As a result, they did not have the conversation that Gupta imagines taking place between them. According to Plutarch (Life 60) Alexander asked the defeated Porus how he would like to be treated and received the equally famous response ‘As a king’. Arrian (V.19) records the conversation slightly differently, saying that Alexander asked Porus what he thought he – Alexander – should do with him. ‘Treat me as a king ought’ came the response.  Curtius (VIII.14.41-43) follows Arrian in respect of Alexander’s question but has Porus give a very philosophical reply. Do ‘[w]hat this day tells you to do’, he says, ‘[this] day on which you have discovered how transitory good fortune is.’

***

Despite an army ten times as strong, Alexander only barely managed to win. While the victory reinforced Alexander’s legendary invincibility, the army lost countless men and their will to fight. Their spirit was battered beyond repair.

Before reading The Danger of Being Alexander I did not know off-hand the size of the Macedonian army at the Battle of the Hydaspes River in and of itself or relative to Porus’. Here is what I found after having a look at the sources:

Arrian
Macedonian army
Infantry 6,000
Cavalry 5,000
(Arrian V.14)

Porus’ army
Infantry 30,000
Cavalry 4,000
Chariots 300
Elephants 200
(Arrian V.15)

Curtius
Macedonian army
No figures given

Porus’ army
Infantry 30,000
Chariots 300
Elephants 85
(Curtius VIII.13.6)
NB
C. doesn’t say how many cavalrymen Porus had. They were present in his army, though, as C. states that 4,000 (maybe all of them?) were sent to attack Alexander as he approached the battlefield (C. VIII.14.2)

Diodorus
Macedonian army
No figures given

Porus’ army
Infantry 50,000+
Cavalry 3,000
Chariots 1,000+
Elephants 130
(Diodorus XVII.87)

Plutarch
Macedonian army
No figures given

Porus’ army
Infantry 20,000
Cavalary 2,000
(Life of Alexander 62)

Justin
Gives no figures for the size of either army

Despite an army ten times as strong
As you can see, only Arrian gives us any figure at all for the size of Alexander’s army. The notes to my Penguin Classics edition of The Campaigns of Alexander state ‘Arrian… writes that the boats took as many of the infantry as they could, perhaps not all had been transported across the river by this time’.

The numbers for Porus’ army vary. The lowest is Plutarch’s 22,000. This means that Alexander would have needed to have over 200,000 men in his army to meet Gupta’s requirement of being ten times stronger. Is it likely that Arrian’s figure is that inaccurate?

Alexander only barely managed to win.
Curtius is the only writer who gives the impression that the Macedonians might conceivably have lost this battle. ‘Victors moments before, the Macedonians were now casting around for a place to flee’ (C. VIII.14.24). ‘… the fortunes of the battle kept shifting, with the Macedonians alternatively chasing and fleeing from the elephants’ (C. VIII.14.28). There is no sense in his text, though, that the eventual Macedonian victory was a close run thing, ‘just’ that it was a very tough battle.

the [Macedonian] army lost countless men
Arrian (V.18) states that Alexander lost 80 infantry, 10 mounted archers, 20 Companion Cavalry and 200 ‘of the other cavalry’ in the Battle of the Hydaspes River.

Diodorus (XVII.89) ‘the only other writer to mention casualties’ (according to the notes to my edition of Arrian) says that Alexander lost 700+ infantry and 280 cavalry.

Given how fierce the battle was, Arrian’s figure seem much too low. Diodorus’ are surely more realistic. But even he has downplayed casualty numbers, I again get no sense from the texts the battle that the Macedonian army lost the high numbers in the manner that Gupta suggests happened.

and their will to fight. Their spirit was battered beyond repair.
Weeks after the battle, the Macedonian army mutinied on the banks of the Hyphasis River. If anything, therefore, its spirit was ‘battered beyond repair’ even before the fight against Porus. However, Gupta is definitely on the right track here.

***

A victorious Alexander wanted to move forward but his army revolted against him. He was forced to turn back. He made Porus a king under his empire and allowed him to govern not only his original kingdom but many more provinces.

Actually, Alexander did move forward, albeit not very far. Gupta’s other statements here are all correct. As mentioned above, the army revolted a few weeks later on the banks of the Hyphasis River, forcing Alexander to turn back. Similarly, Porus was not only given his kingdom back but given additional territory, too (Arrian V.19, Curtius VIII.14.45, Plutarch Life 60).

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Iran, Beards, and Money Management

In an article title From Alexander The Great To Mohammed Bin Salman (here), the editor-in-Chief of the Arab Times, Ahmed Al-Jarallah, has written an article criticising the ‘elderly leaders of Iran’ who have poured ‘mercenaries into Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Bahrain’ resulting in the deaths of ‘thousands of people’ and the displacement of others. He reminds Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei

… of Alexander the Great, who chased the Persians out of Central Asia and put an end to their empire when he was in his thirties

Of course, Alexander never ‘chased the Persians’ out of anywhere. What he did do – as Ahmed says – was overthrow the Persian Empire.

There are a number of dates which may be counted as the point when it fell (For example, October 331 following the Battle of Gaugamela or later that same month upon Alexander’s entry into Babylon) but if we take – what I propose to be – the latest one: the death of Darius III in July 330 B.C. then that would mean Alexander ‘put an end’ to the Persian Empire when he was just 26 years old.

Perhaps Ahmed, despite his obvious disapproval for the leaders of Iran, didn’t want them to feel too bad.

***

The Mens XP website has 20 Facts Every Man Should Know About Beards. One of which is

IMG_1857

Leaving aside the fact that the Battle of Arbela has been spelt incorrectly, there is nothing in the five principle sources for Alexander’s life to back up the claim that he made his men shave or that they grew their hair long at the back.

The quotation may be rubbish but it hasn’t been made up by the writer of this article. A bishop of the late fourth/early fifth century, St Synesius, referred to it in a playful work titled A Eulugy of Baldness. In it, he claims that Alexander made his men shave before the Battle of Gaugamela and gives Ptolemy I as his source. You can read more here.

I strongly suspect Ptolemy or Synesius or someone in between was pulling his reader’s leg; unfortunately, this has been forgotten leading to the picture above.

***

Forbes magazine isn’t the place one would normally expect to see a piece of fan-fiction in, but yet, at the start of an article on the American health care system, there it is – a short story starring Alexander at the tomb of Achilles.

At the heart of the narrative is Alexander’s recognition that nothing lasts, that all things fail. I am open to correction on this, but in reality, I believe Alexander spent precisely zero time worrying about the future. He was too busy winning fame in the present.

 ***

Money Management reports on the semi-retirement of ‘TAL chief executive and ardent All Blacks supporter, Jim Minto’ here.

Reflecting upon the good which life insurance delivers to people, Minto ascribed to Alexander the Great final words to the effect that the good deeds people do are remembered long after the people themselves.

However in this age of Google, interwebs, etc those at the media table quickly came to the view that notwithstanding Minto’s laudable sentiments, Alexander the Great’s final words were claimed by most experts to have been “I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world”.

I have absolutely no desire to cast aspersions on the quality of Money Management‘s journalism, but if the website had actually spoken to any expert on Alexander the Great it would have discovered that he did not say any such thing.

Upon receiving the call from this journal, the expert would have opened up his copy of Arrian up and said ‘Arrian gives three different possibilities for Alexander’s last words.

‘The first, which comes from Ptolemy and Aristobulos, is that he – Alexander – did not speak at his death as he had lost the use of his voice a day or so earlier (vide Arrian VII.26).

‘The second – which comes from unnamed writers – is that, after being asked to name his successor, Alexander said he left his empire to ‘the best man’ (Arrian VII.27).

‘The third – again, from unnamed writers – is that ‘… he went on to say that he knew very well there would be funeral ‘games’ in good earnest after he was dead’ (Ibid).

Putting Arrian to one side, the expert would then turn to Curtius and Diodorus, and tell Money Management that they elaborate on Arrian’s statements. –

[Alexander] bade his friends draw near since, by now, even his voice had started to fail, and then took his ring from his finger, and handed it to Perdiccas. He also gave instructions that they should have his body transported to Hammon. When they asked him to whom he bequeathed his kingdom, he answered, ‘To the best man,’ but added that he could already foresee great funeral games for himself provided by that issue. When Perdiccas further asked when he wished divine honours paid to him, he said he wanted them when they themselves were happy. These were Alexander’s last words; he died moments later.
(Curtius X.4-6)

and Diodorus –

When [Alexander], at length, despaired of life, he took off his ring and handed it to Perdiccas. His Friends asked: “To whom do you leave the kingdom?” and he replied: “To the strongest.” He added, and these were his last words, that all of his leading Friends would stage a vast contest in honour of his funeral.
(Diodorus XVII.117)

Next, Plutarch.

‘Sadly,’ our expert would have said, ‘Plutarch does not record Alexander’s last words. By-the-bye, he agrees with Arrian that Alexander lost his voice (vide Life 76) but it is not clear whether this remained the case until the end or if Alexander regained the power of speech before his death.’

Finally, Justin. ‘He has Alexander say a few things’ our expert would have said.

On the fourth day, Alexander, finding that death was inevitable, observed that “he perceived the approach of the fate of his family, for the most of the Aeacidae had died under thirty years of age.”… he asked his friends that stood about him, “whether they thought they should find a king like him?” All continuing silent, he said that, “although he did not know that, he knew, and could foretel[l], and almost saw with his eyes, how much blood Macedonia would shed in the disputes that would follow his death, and with what slaughters, and what quantities of gore, she would perform his obsequies.” At last he ordered his body to be buried in the temple of Jupiter Ammon. When his friends saw him dying, they asked him “whom he would appoint as the successor to his throne?” He replied, “The most worthy.”… On the sixth day from the commencement of his illness, being unable to speak, he took his ring from his finger, and gave it to Perdiccas, an act which tranquillized the growing dissension among his friends; for though Perdiccas was not expressly named his successor, he seemed intended to be so in Alexander’s judgment.
(Justin XII.15)

Putting his copy of Justin to one side, the expert would then have said to Money Management, ‘My dear friend, I hope that has been useful for you. But, pray, do not be disappointed. The words you thought Alexander said do belong to antiquity, only, they sound more like something one would read in the Bible rather than a pagan text.’

The words that Jim Minto ‘ascribed to Alexander’, though equally inaccurate, at least sound like something Alexander would say. I suspect, though, he was conflating his reading of Alexander with his watching of Gladiator.

Either way, I hope he enjoys a long and happy retirement.

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander | 2 Comments

Shields and Public Shaming

The Global Times frames an article on Europe’s future within the context of Macedon’s and Greece’s past. It writes,

In the 4th century BC Macedonia, a Greek-speaking kingdom of Northern Greece, under the leadership of Phillip II, set out to unify the Mediterranean world. Macedonia’s quest for hegemonic stability brought it into a direct conflict with old established Hellenic powers like Thebes, Sparta and most of all Athens.

The ancient Macedonians did not speak Greek. As I understand it, their tongue was a Greek dialect (which could not be understood by the Greeks).

During Philotas’ trial, Alexander asks Parmenion’s son if he will give his defence using his ‘native language’. When Philotas replies that he will speak Greek, Alexander uses this to score a nationalist point against him (see Curtius VI.9.34-36). Ironically, the reason why Philotas decides to use Greek is because he wants more people to understand him.

Rather than use the word ‘unify’, which for me suggests that Philip wanted to make all peoples equal under his rule, I would say simply that he wanted to conquer them. I have to admit here I am no expert on Philip’s foreign policy so what I say could be wide of the mark; however, I don’t get the impression that Philip was an idealist. He was in the business of winning power. Had he lived longer, maybe that would have changed – we’ll never know.

Macedon never came ‘into direct conflict’ with Sparta. In fact, both Philip II and Alexander left the Spartans alone. Not because they were afraid of the Lacedaemonians but because the latter were militarily and politically irrelevent. There was simply no need to waste time subduing them.

The article concludes

Germany must lead Europe without being hubristic toward other EU states. When Alexander the Great, Phillips’s heir, won his first battle against Persia, he dedicated his triumph to Athens and adorned the Parthenon with the shields of the Persian generals.

The exact truth of this statement depends upon which of the sources you read and trust.

Plutarch (Life of Alexander 16) states that the Macedonian king sent 300 shields (‘captured from the enemy’) to Athens. He writes

… over the rest of the spoils he had this proud inscription engraved: Alexander, the son of Philip, and the Greeks except the Spartans won these spoils of war from the barbarians who dwell in Asia’.

Arrian says that Alexander sent 300 panoplies to Athens as

… an offering to the goddess Athena… with the following inscription: Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks (except the Lacedaemonians) dedicate these spoils, taken from the Persians who dwell in Asia

If we follow Plutarch, the article is right to say that shields were sent, though not necessarily from ‘Persian generals’.

Was this a humble gesture on Alexander’s part? It is hard to say as Plutarch doesn’t give the king’s motive for sending them.

The article says that Alexander dedicated his victory at the Granicus to Athens. Plutarch doesn’t say this, and Arrian disagrees. He states that the panoplies were sent as ‘an offering to… Athena’. That makes sense; they were going to the Parthenon, after all.

Sending the panoplies as ‘an offering to… Athena’ sounds like a very humble gesture. However, as the notes to my Penguin Classics edition of Arrian point out, Greeks only played a small part in the Macedonian victory. And note what Alexander says about the Spartans. This inscription – and therefore the spoils – have less to do with humility, therefore, and much to do with propaganda (as my notes suggest) and public shaming. These two things are not evidence of hubris but neither are they good examples of behaviour for Germany or anyone else to follow.

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

To Whom Does This ‘No’ Belong?

The Daily Star of Bangladesh begins a column on the country’s well-being,

War-time British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill ‘mobilised the English language and sent it into battle’, so said American journalist Ed Murrow. Churchill in a major address to the House of Commons quoted Alexander the Great as saying, “Why the Asians were slaves? It is because they have not learnt to say ‘no’.”

Adding, Churchill said, ‘I don’t want that epitaph for Britain.’ He was inspiring the Britons to stand up to the tyrannical Hitlerite blitzkrieg on London at an extremely crucial phase of World War II. Although Alexander’s remark was demeaning to Asia, going back to around 300 B.C when the native rulers were quarrelsome, the Asians were to give a much better account of themselves as history bore out subsequently.

The obvious thing to point out here is that if Alexander did make the remark ascribed to him, he did not say it ‘around 300 B.C.’ unless through a medium. By the turn of the century, he had, of course, been dead for 23 years.

Leaving the issue of the date to one side, is Churchill’s quotation an accurate one?

I certainly cannot think of any occasion when Alexander accused Asians (whether by this we mean those who lived in Asia Minor, India or anywhere in between) of being slaves for any reason let alone the lack of ability to say ‘no’. Certainly, in his own dealings with them, he did not treat them as slaves.

Against that, I have to admit that while I have read the four major histories (plus Justin) on Alexander’s life, I have not read every last reference and fragment. Maybe an author I have not heard of gives those words to him?

Is it worth searching to find out, though? A quick Google search reveals that not only does it appear that Churchill did not mention Alexander in a ‘major address to the House of Commons’ but – contra the Daily Star‘s report – he did not quote him, either.

According to The Churchill Centre, Churchill gave a broadcast speech to ‘the United States and to London’ (presumably the U.K. is meant here) on 16th October 1938. It is during this speech, that he said

Alexander the Great remarked that the people of Asia were slaves because they had not learned to pronounce the word “No.” Let that not be the epitaph of the English-speaking peoples or of Parliamentary democracy, or of France, or of the many surviving liberal States of Europe.

I appreciate that while Churchill doesn’t quote Alexander directly he does say that the Macedonian king said the words that the Daily Star now puts into his mouth; however, the Daily Star has still inaccurately recorded both Churchill’s speech and, I believe (along with Churchill), Alexander’s opinion of Asian/barbarian history.

***

By-the-bye, I could only smile wryly when I read the column’s dismissal of Alexander as belonging to the ‘hoary past’ but then end with a reference to the Gordian Knot. That’s life in the old king’s example, yet.

Categories: By the Bye, Of The Moment, On Alexander | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Shadow Story

I am currently reading The Hunt for Zerzura by Saul Kelly, which tells the story of the interwar desert explorers who criss-crossed the Egyptian desert in search of the lost oasis of Zerzura.

They never found Zerzura but did manage to map a great deal of previously unknown territory. These maps eventually ended up in the hands of both the Axis Powers and British armies after the outbreak of the Second World War.

***

There is much I could say about the book and the people involved in the exploration, but in this post I just wanted to highlight a comment made by ‘The Director of Military Intelligence, Brigadier Freddie de Guingand’ (p.187) regarding the contribution made to the desert war on behalf of Britain and her allies by the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG).

The LRDG was founded by one of the desert explorers, Ralph Bagnold, with orders ‘to make trouble for the Italians, and later the Germans, anywhere in Libya’ (p.136).

As the war progressed, the LRDG’s role also developed so that its commanding officer, Guy Prendergast could say that it

… found itself more and more in the position of ‘universal aunts’ to anyone who has business in the desert behind the enemy lines. An increasing stream of Commandos (European and Arab), L. Detachment, I.S.L.D., G(R)., bogus Germans (BUCK), lost travellers, ‘escape scheme’ promoters, stranded aviators, etc., has continued to arrive at SIWA needing petrol, rations, maintenance, information, training, accommodation, and supplies of all kinds.
(p.188)

***

In 1942, spying was at the top of the LRDG’s list of priorities as a 24-hour watch was kept on the Via Balbia, ‘Rommel’s main line of communication’ (p.187). Every vehicle and man that passed this way was noted and a report sent back to Cairo. The information sent by the LRDG’s observers was important as it

… enabled Military Intelligence in Cairo to check the Axis vehicle figures it was getting from Enigma so as to arrive at a reasonably accurate figure, in particular of the number of serviceable tanks, which Rommel could put in the field.
(p.187)

I’m sure I don’t need to say why it was important for the British army to know how many tanks the Desert Fox had at his disposal. And, indeed, this information was not just important but absolutely critical to the British war effort. So much so that de Guingand

… later maintained that the road watch was the LRDG’s most valuable contribution in the fight against the Axis in North Africa.
(ibid)

The raids behind enemy lines, the harassment of enemy forces, the soldiers ferried about, aviators rescued – no doubt all were valuable works but the most important thing that the LRDG did was lie down on the ground for hours on end and jot down names and numbers. That’s quite a thought.

***

Reading the above passage made a deep impression on me as it brought home once again how an army simply does not win its battles only on the battlefield. That may be where the greatest amount of glory is won but clearly, without the efforts of those behind the (battle) scenes, the ultimate outcome of any clash of arms has the potential to be a lot less certain.

Over the last few months, this thought has lead me to consider Hephaestion’s role as Alexander’s chief-logistics officer. I might now also consider who else served him in an equally unglamorous but perhaps vital way.

One person does immediately spring to mind: Eumenes, his chief war secretary. I might also mention Perdiccas who worked with Hephaestion on the logistics side. And then there is Chares, Alexander’s Royal Usher when the king was taking on Persian dress and customs and so a link between the traditional and progressive factions at court. Also, Leonidas and Lysimachus, the king’s tutors. Leonidas is well known but Lysimachus (not to be confused with the general of that name) perhaps less so. Alexander considered him important enough to rescue at great risk to his own life when the old man’s strength failed him during a brief campaign against arabs in Anti-Lebanon (Plutarch Life 24).

I’m sure I could go on but, hopefully, you already see my point – the chief story of Alexander’s life is definitely the battles, sieges and brave deeds he did, but there is definitely another – even if more shadowy – story to tell alongside that one. I must thank Saul Kelly (and, ultimately, Brigadier Freddie de Guingand) or reminding me of this in his excellent book.

Categories: Of The Moment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad News from Greece: Amphipolis Tomb to be sold?

Bad news from Greece. The following article appeared in yesterday’s print edition of Kathimerini. The translation is my own.

Alexis Tsipras could be about to face his first crisis as leader of the Hellenic Republic after suggesting that Greece might sell the site of the Kasta Tomb in Amphipolis, Macedonia.

The revelation came when Tsipras answered questions during a dinner at the Maximos Mansion in Athens, the Prime Minister’s official seat, in honour of Thanos Anoitos, the founder of Greece’s largest technology company, FutureTech.

The Prime Minister was asked what future he saw for the tomb. “Actually, none.” he told startled guests, “That place represents a Greece that died 2,000 years ago. Who cares about that? I don’t. My eyes are set firmly forward, to the world – I must say – of brilliant organisations like FutureTech.”

When questioned further about his surprising response, Tsipras replied, “Let me tell you something. One month ago I received a letter. It was from the Historical Society of America. They are big people. Super rich businessmen run it; the President of America is its patron.

“The HSA wrote to say that it wants to buy the Kasta Tomb and either make it the centre of a theme park based on ancient Macedonia – just like Disney World – or dig the whole thing up and take it to America like they did with London Bridge so many years ago.

“And you know what? I’m happy for them to do either – I just want it out of the way. Even as I speak we are in negotiations with the HSA and I hope to have good news for the country within a few weeks.”

Gasps of astonishment went round the hall as Tsipras spoke and he was asked if he seriously intended to let sell such an important site, but the Prime Minister was unrepentant.

“To whom is the tomb important? Greece? I said a moment ago that it represents a Greece that died 2,000 years ago. Actually, that is nonsense! Macedonia was never part of Greece! Greeks hated Alexander the Great. If the people of his own lifetime hated him why should I – a proud Greek – like him now? No, if we get a good enough offer for the Tomb, it will enter foreign hands and – maybe – foreign territory. Good riddance, I say. Let us build a FutureTech phone mast on the site instead. Goodbye imperialist junk, good day to a tower that will help empower all Greek people.”

It is rumoured that several people at the dinner left in disgust at the Prime Minister’s words but this has not been confirmed.

That, however, may be the least of Tsipras’ problems. Senior officials in his Syriza party as well as opposition leaders have condemned the Prime Minister’s words and there have been calls for a vote of confidence to be held in Parliament. If this were to go against Tsipras he could be forced from office only months after winning the election.

We wait to see what happens next. Hopefully, sense will prevail.

Categories: Uncategorized | 8 Comments

The Man Who Conquered A Land That Wasn’t There

1280px-Herodotus_World_Map

The world as Herodotus knew it.

The Russian Machine Never Breaks is a ‘relentlessly fun Washington Capitals blog hopelessly devoted to Alex Ovechkin, Dmitry Orlov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov’, which sounds splendid if a little tiring.

For anyone who doesn’t know – and until I came across the blog a few days ago, I’m afraid I didn’t – the Washington Capitals are an ice hockey team in the American National Hockey League. According to Wikipedia, Ovechkin is one of their ‘star players’.

The reason I mention RMNB is because of an article it has lately published, titled Here’s Alex Ovechkin as Alexander the Great. In it, the writer states,

Alexander of Macedonia (a.k.a. Alexander the Great) was a Greek leader who ruled a vast empire– including Russia– in the fourth century BCE. He’s been a hero in Russian culture ever since. (I may or may not have read the entire Wikipedia article last night.)

In fact, Alexander never conquered Russia. He could not have done so as it did not exist until the ninth century A.D.

Neither did Alexander conquer what became Russian territory. The closest he came to doing so was when he conquered Sogdia. It’s lands are now part of  Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which were both part of the Soviet Union.

I can’t speak to how well Alexander is liked in Russia today – though I am delighted to read that he is well regarded – but as there is no reference to the country in  the Wikipedia article on Alexander, if the writer did indeed read it, he might have done so a little too quickly; maybe he reads at the same fast pace as ice hockey is played.

***

The two maps that accompany this post show how Herodotus and the Greeks in the fifth century B.C. and Strabo, along with the Greeks and Romans in the first century A.D., understood the world to look. As can be seen, the land that would one day become the state of Russia did not figure on their horizon.

Strabo_Map_of_the_World

The world as Strabo knew it.

***

While we are on the subject of Russia, it has been reported that Irbis, a Cossack group, is making a bronze bust of Russian President to honour his achievements as President.

Andrey Polyakov, leader of Irbis, is quoted in The Independent as saying that “This is the man who brought order and to stop wars in the Caucasus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transnistria…”.

The bust (below) may be inspired by those of Roman Emperors but there is definitely a touch of Alexander in Putin’s faraway gaze. As for Polyakov’s words, they reminded me of what Curtius said about Tyre.

After experiencing many disasters and rising again after its destruction, now at last, with long peace completely restoring its prosperity, Tyre enjoys tranquility under the merciful protection of Rome.
(Curtius IV.4.21)

Emperor Putin?

Emperor Putin?

Picture Credits
‘Herodotus’ Map: Wikipedia
‘Strabo’ Map: Wikimedia Commons
Bust of Putin: New York Post

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander | Leave a comment

Torture in Curtius (3)

Concluding my look at Curtius’ use of the word ‘torture’ in his history of Alexander. In this post, I look at its usage in the context of the Pages’ Plot.

Read other posts in this series here

  • Book VIII contains 2 references to torture
  • Book IX contains 1 reference to torture

Book VIII.8.20
The fate of the conspirators in the Pages’ Plot

… Alexander closed the meeting and had the condemned men transferred to members of their own unit. The latter tortured them to death so that they would gain the king’s approval by their cruelty. Callisthenes also died under torture.

Book VIII.8.22
Callisthenes’ fate

Callisthenes was a man of the finest character and accomplishments who had restored Alexander to life when he was determined to die after the murder of Clitus. Alexander had not merely executed him but had tortured him as well – and without trial.

Book IX.7.8-9
Rebellion among Greek settlers is quelled

[The Greek guards] decided that Boxus should be executed immediately, but that Biton should be tortured to death. As the torture-irons were already being applied to his body, the Greeks for some unknown reason rushed to arms like madmen and, when those who had been ordered to torture Biton heard the uproar, they abandoned their task, fearing that the cries of the rioters were intended to stop them.

Here are my observations based on the above quotations. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section

  • In the first six books of Curtius’ history (stopping just before the Philotas affair) the word ‘torture’ is used eight times and in seven different ways. The Philotas affair adds seven more contexts for its use. The Pages’ Plot, however, adds just one (being the reference to an aborted attempt to torture someone):
    • 2 reference to torture being carried out (VIII.8.20, VIII.8.22)
    • 1 reference to torture having been carried out (VIII.8.20)
    • 1 reference to individual motives for torturing during the act (VIII.8.20)
    • 1 reference to an aborted attempt to torture someone (IX.7.8-9)
  • VIII.8.20 On the one hand, returning traitors to their units for punishment makes perfect sense. Of all the soldiers in the army, their fellow unit members would have been the ones most let down by their actions. Let them, therefore, carry out the punishment due. On the other, it also seems to be a very cunning and manipulative action by Alexander: By having the men execute the condemned, he ensures that if there are any more among them who are having second thoughts about his leadership, they are now part of his ‘tyranny’ in a way they weren’t before having taken part in the execution of the rebels. In this light, the return of the traitors and their executions becomes a kind of psychological warfare carried out against anyone still against him.
  • VIII.8.22 Curtius has a very idealistic view of Callisthenes that was not shared by everyone. I would see his description of the historian as another example of his propensity to exaggerate.
  • IX.7.8-9 Biton certainly had a lucky escape. Why did the Greeks rush ‘to arms like madmen’? As I see it, there were two factions in Zariaspa, where this action took place, at the time – the loyalists (those for Alexander) and the rebels (who wanted to return to Greece). The rebels were led by a man named Athenodorus and were the dominant force. Biton was also a member of the rebels. He had a ‘personal rivalry’ with Athendorus and this led him to kill him. Afterwards, Biton tried to persuade ‘most of the people’ that he acted in self-defence but they weren’t convinced. Nevertheless, when ‘Greek soldiers’ tried to kill him, Biton was saved by a mob – surely inspired by his supporters. Biton then bit the hand that fed him by conspiring ‘against those responsible for saving him’. This time, he was arrested, and about to be tortured when the Greeks rose up in arms. I would have suggested that they were inspired by Biton’s supporters (which is what the torturers thought) again except for the evidence of what happened next. We know this because Biton was taken away from the torturers and brought before the people. Curtius says that the sight of him ‘brought about a sudden transformation of their feelings’. Prior to that moment, then, they had been happy for him to be tortured and, no doubt, executed. Having been twice saved from death, Biton finally took the hint and left the city. As for the people, I can only imagine that their actions were informed by the general unrest of that time. It is not hard to imagine members of either party being inspired to take up arms to fight their rivals. Blood had already been spilt, after all, with soldiers from the rebel party killing loyalists in the initial uprising.

As I come to the end of this little survey of Curtius’ use of the word ‘torture’ I now ask myself what I have learnt from it.

The first thing is that Curtius uses the word much more broadly than I would have guessed without reading his text. In the first six books of his history, he makes 8 references to torture using it in 7 different ways. The Philotas Affair contains 17 references overall with the word being used in 11 different ways – 7 of which are new. The Pages’ Plot contains just 3 references but 4 different contexts. Of course, only 1 of those is new. However, that is still 15 different ways in which he uses the word throughout his book. I would love to be able to make some searingly original and profound insight into Curtius’ literary method but I’m afraid what is most in my mind at the moment is a simply appreciation of how flexible the English language is! Curtius will have to wait.

The second thing I have learnt from this exercise is that Curtius is certainly not shy when it comes to discussing torture. Unlike Arrian and Plutarch, he mentions it a lot (specifically with reference to Philotas) and graphically. In contrast to Arrian who omit any reference to Philotas being tortured and Plutarch who passes quickly over it, we find in Curtius Philotas being ‘racked with the most cruel tortures… fire and beatings’ his body swellling ‘with weals’ and Hephaestion, Craterus and Coenus not only interrogating him but striking their former colleague ‘in the face and eyes’ with their spears.

Is there a need for Curtius to be so graphic? It’s hard to say. My instinctive reaction would be to reply ‘no, he is simply being sensationalistic’ but this is not a judgement I can readily make as I don’t enough about Curtius’ society to know where he was coming from. For all I know, in comparison to other writers of his time, he was writing in a restrained manner.

The third lesson I take away is simply how bloody (literally) dangerous it was to fall into the hands of your enemies. From the Greek captives tortured by the Persians (V.5.5-6) to Philotas’ fate after receiving Alexander’s right hand and what can only be described as Alexander Lyncestes’ (and Callisthenes’ – according to Curtius, anyway) judicial murder.

As an adjunct to the above, I might add I now have a new appreciation of the importance of rhetoric and the right appearance in the ancient world. I’m now sure that Alexander didn’t want Amyntas and his brothers to be acquitted anyway but they certainly didn’t do their chances any harm by the way they spoke and the way Polemon wept before speaking. The same goes for Biton who ended not having to speak at all. What this reminds me of is the importance of meaning in antiquity. The world was full of it – much more so than today. It’s easy to forget that.

Insofar as one can enjoy reading and writing about torture writing the posts in this series has been enjoyable as well as eye opening. I’d be lying though if I said that it wasn’t a aspect of ancient life that I am also happy to close the book on as well.

Categories: Quintus Curtius Rufus | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alexander the Hungover Conqueror?

In an article for The Sydney Morning Herald, on how we can say and do things that we regret while hungover as well as drunk, columnist Sam de Brito states that

Alexander the Great (who died of alcoholism) conquered most of the known world, putting endless cities to the sword while hungover.

You can read it here.

First of all, I should say that I don’t know the background to the article: it doesn’t reference any particular event and the heading – ‘Victoria Bitterly divorced’ – appears as no more than a pun on the name of an Australian brewer. Perhaps a high ranking member of the family or company that owns it is going through a messy divorce case.

So far as this blog post is concerned, however, that is by-the-bye as I am going to focus solely on de Brito’s statement regarding Alexander.

***

Firstly, he states as fact that Alexander ‘died of alcoholism’. Actually, the cause of Alexander’s death is not known with any certainty. The Macedonian king might have died of alcoholism but he also might have died of malaria, typhoid or been poisoned. The ultimate cause of his death might just have been natural causes – his body worn out by the damage done to it during thirteen plus years of campaigning. In short, though, De Brito has no grounds to assert that alcohol was the killer.

Secondly, he states that Alexander ‘conquered most of the known world, putting endless cities to the sword while hungover.’

This is the kind of statement that seems reasonable until you actually think about it. Yes, Alexander ‘conquered most of the known world’ but is it very likely that a person could conduct a successful thirteen year military campaign in an inebriated state?

I personally doubt it but let’s say – for the sake of argument – that it is, what of Alexander specifically? de Brito’s charge finds no favour with Plutarch. In Chapter 23 of his Life of Alexander, he states

Alexander was also more moderate in his drinking than was generally supposed. The impression that he was a heavy drinker arose because when he had nothing else to do, he liked to linger over each cup, but in fact he was usually talking rather than drinking: he enjoyed holding long conversations, but only when he had plenty of leisure. Whenever there was urgent business to attend to, neither wine, nor sleep, nor sport, nor sex, nor spectacle could ever distract his attention, as they did for other generals. The proof of this is his life, which although so short was filled to overflowing with the most prodigious achievements.

I am sure Sam de Brito researched his article before filing it so it is unfortunate that he missed this.

***

But perhaps de Brito only had a limited amount of time to write his article and happened to use Curtius instead. If anyone is going to present a picture of a warrior-king slaughtering his way across the world while being slaughtered, it is surely him. Curtius writes,

Alexander had some great natural gifts: a noble disposition surpassing that of all other monarchs; resolution in the face of danger; speed in undertaking and completing projects; integrity in dealing with those who surrendered and mercy towards prisoners; restraint even in those pleasures which are generally acceptable and widely indulged. But all these were marred by his inexcusable fondness for drink.
(Curtius 5.7:1)

de Brito’s article gives the impression that he has read the last sentence in the quotation above and used it as the lens through which he sees Alexander, either in ignorance or dismissal of Plutarch’s words.

***

To be honest, I doubt de Brito has read any of the sources – his allegation comes across as the kind of thing someone who-got-it-from-his-mate-who-was-told-it-by-his-old-man-(probably-while-hungover)-who-knew-all-that-old-stuff would say use.

However, let’s take de Brito seriously and ask what does Curtius have to say about the role of alcohol during the course of Alexander’s career? After all, the above quotation certainly speaks of a man whose life was coloured by it. Does Curtius present Alexander as being hung over during his conquests? Let’s find out.

***

de Brito talks about Alexander being hungover while ‘putting endless cities to the sword’. To get a more representative look at what role alcohol might have played in his career, I have picked ten major military actions that Alexander took part in. Obviously, as Books I and II of Curtius’ have been lost, I am starting with Book III.

The Siege of the Celaenaeans’ Citadel
(III.1.1-8)
After entering Celaenae without any difficulty, Alexander laid siege to its citadel. At first, the Celaenaeans were defiant, but as the days passed, and – presumably – their food and water ran low they offered to surrender if Darius did not send a relieving force within the next sixty days. Alexander agreed, and when no Persians arrived, the Celaenaeans duly surrendered. Two months is plenty of time for Alexander to have got drunk once, twice or maybe sixty times. However, not only does Curtius make no mention of any drinking taking place in the Royal Tent, he says that Alexander left Celaeanae after just ten days. He was a man with a mission and didn’t have time to mess around with alcohol.

The Battle of Issus
(III.7-10)
In the lead up to Alexander’s first confrontation with Darius, we see him stopping in Soli and enjoying a holiday. No doubt he enjoyed a drink there but Curtius does not mention it – neither does he record Alexander drinking at any other point before the start of the battle.

The Siege of Tyre
(IV.2-4)
This siege lasted for six months so Alexander undoubtedly enjoyed a few drinks along the way. And indeed, Curtius does state that ‘excessive drinking’ took place – but by the Tyrians. It occurred after ‘a sea-creature of extraordinary size’ beached itself on the Macedonian mole before slipping back into the sea. The Tyrians interpreted this as a sign of Neptune’s* anger with the Macedonians and the sure failure of their siege so started to celebrate.

* Curtius was a Roman

The Siege of Gaza
(IV.6.7-31)
Part of Curtius’ manuscript is missing here but in the portion we have there is no reference to Alexander drinking at any time during the siege.

The Battle of Gaugamela
(IV.11-14)
From the arrival of the ten ambassadors to the start of the battle at Gaugamela there is once again no mention of Alexander drinking. The night before the battle he stayed up late (IV.13.16) but not to drink – his mind was completely occupied by the fight to come.

The Susian Gates
(V.3.16-4.34)
Neither on the way to the Gates, not despite the humiliation of having to withdraw from them after the Persian boulder ambush, did Alexander turn to drink. Instead, he regrouped, found a new route, and took the fight to his enemy – winning.

The Sogdian Rock
(VII.11.1-27)
Upon his arrival at the Rock, Alexander examined ‘the difficulties of the terrain’ before him. The Sogdian Rock seemed too well protected to be taken and the Macedonian king ‘decided to…’ drink his frustration away? No. ‘leave, but then… was overcome by a desire to bring even nature to her knees’. During the siege, Alexander spent the whole day watching for any sign that his men had successfully completed their ascent. Curtius describes how, when night came and darkness fell, Alexander ‘withdrew to take refreshment’. Perhaps this included a little wine? I expect so but no so much as the king was up before daybreak the next morning to continue his watch.

The Aornos* Rock
(VIII.11.2-25)
At first, Alexander was baffled as to how this outcrop might be taken but soon found help – not from wine but a local guide. When the time came to launch an attack, Alexander was the first to clamber over the makeshift ramp that the Macedonians had built to cover the gap between the rock and surrounding land. The fight was hard fought and when mounting casualties forced Alexander to order a retreat it looked like the Indians had won. But, though forced back, the Macedonians had unnerved them and, two nights later, the Indians tried to flee from the rock. Alexander was sufficiently clear headed to order them to be pursued and cut down.

* Curtius calls it the Aornis Rock

The Battle of the Hydaspes River
(VIII.13.5-27)
When Alexander arrived at the Hydaspes he did not know how to cross its broad expanse without being cut down by Porus’ army, which was waiting for him on the other side. At the Aornos Rock, a guide had shown him the way. This time, he used his own guile – his own clear-headed, no reference to alcohol once again, guile.

The Mallian City
(IX.4.15-33)
Before carrying out what must surely rank as one of the most famous jumps in military history, Alexander had to quell a potential mutiny in the Macedonian ranks. His army had thought that after turning west at the Hyphasis River, they were ‘quit of danger’. Realising that this was not so, they ‘were suddenly terror-stricken’. Alexander met his men’s fear head on and inspired them to follow him into battle once more. Could he have done this while hungover? I doubt it. By now it can go without saying that, there is – yet again – no reference to Alexander drinking at this time.

***

Ten military actions ranging from Asia Minor to India. No direct references to Alexander drinking alcohol let alone being hungover during operations. Curtius accuses Alexander of marring his talents ‘by his inexcusable fondness for drink’, I accuse him (once again) of resorting to sensationalism and exaggeration.

As for Sam de Brito, I am sure he is an excellent journalist, but on this occasion, I can’t help but feel that he trusted to his historical knowledge more than was perhaps wise. Maybe he wrote his article while hungover.

Categories: Of The Moment, On Alexander, Quintus Curtius Rufus | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

David George Hogarth

David_HogarthAUCTOR. David George Hogarth (left) is not an instantly recognisable personality.

In fact, unless you have read a biography of T E Lawrence, or about the Arab Revolt during World War I, you might never have heard of him.

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you might recall that I have mentioned him a few times, but are forgiven if you don’t as despite the fact that Hogarth wrote a book about Alexander he was not a scholar of the Macedonian king.

LECTOR. So, what was he?
AUCTOR. Well, Hogarth was a scholar – being a Fellow at Oxford University – an archaeologist, antiquarian, intelligence officer during the Great War, writer, and President of the Royal Geographical Society.

LECTOR. He certainly got around
AUCTOR. Quite literally so – From what I have read so far, Hogarth appears to have travelled very widely in the Near and Middle East.

LECTOR. What is about him that interests you?
AUCTOR. As soon as I know, I’ll tell you. All I can say at the moment is that there is something in his person and writing that keeps inspiring me to read more of his books. Thus, having read Philip and Alexander of Macedon: two essays in biography, The Wandering Scholar in the Levant, and The Life of Charles M. Doughty, I am currently engaged on Accidents of an antiquary’s life.

LECTOR. Ah. Philip and Alexander!
AUCTOR. Indeed! As a result of starting Accidents, I have learnt that Hogarth’s career as a wandering scholar was inspired by a desire to follow in Alexander’s footsteps. Naturally, I’m delighted to have discovered this, but I don’t think it is the reason why I have become so interested in him.

T.E._Lawrence;_D.G._Hogarth;_Lt._Col._Dawnay

T E Lawrence (left), Hogarth (Middle), Lt. Col. Alan Dawnay (right)

LECTOR. So, does this mean you are quitting Alexander?
AUCTOR. Don’t be silly! No, my interest in Hogarth is, for now, a side project. I’m not going to set up a new blog. If I read something that is relevant to Alexander, I’ll mention it here. If it isn’t, it’ll go onto my general literary blog here. Or…

LECTOR. Typical writer, enjoys keeping people in suspense. Come on. The weekend is almost here.
AUCTOR. Well, all I was going to say is that if you – or anyone who reads this – are interested in Hogarth, I have created a Facebook page dedicated to him here. I am using it to file progress reports on my reading, quotes, titbits of information, etc. The page is – as far as I can tell – the only Fb specific page dedicated to Hogarth, which is a shame but also an opportunity.

So, if you are interested in a late Victorian/early twentieth century English scholar feel free to visit my Facebook page!

LECTOR. If only your blog posts were as short as that.
AUCTOR. Oh, be quiet; it’s your round.

(apologies to Hilaire Belloc for stealing his format)

Categories: By the Bye | Tags: | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 144 other followers

%d bloggers like this: