In antiquity, Greeks did not completely accept Macedonians as being one of them. Herodotus (V. 22) tells us that Alexander I (reigned 498-454 B.C.) was permitted to take part in the Olympic Games, but only after proving his Greek descent.
Today, of course, the country has no doubt and is rightly proud of the achievement of Macedon’s most famous son, Alexander the Great. In proof of this, here is the first paragraph of an article on the Al Arabiya News website.
When Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met with presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on April 28, he presented him with the Sword of Alexander in appreciation of Sisi’s status and efforts. Some, however, have questioned the sword’s significance and why it was given to him.
You can read the full article here. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is a Field Marshal in the Egyptian army, and the leading candidate to become the country’s next president following the downfall of Mohamed Morsi last summer.
The BBC website has an article about Sisi here. As I don’t know a great deal about Egyptian politicians I can’t vouch for its fairness but I trust that the BBC – while not being a perfect organisation – would not publish anything hopelessly bad.
One thing that jumped out at me as I read the BBC article was this quotation from Sisi regarding a dream he had had,
I saw President Sadat, and he told me that he knew he would be president of Egypt, so I responded that I knew I would be president too.
It immediately reminded me of the way Alexander’s Successors claimed to see/speak to Alexander in their dreams as part of their political strategy. By-the-bye I can just about remember seeing the footage of Anwar Sadat being assassinated in 1981; it is interesting to see that his memory has not been forgotten in the last thirty or so years.
To go back to the article, though, the gift of the sword is a dramatically two-sided one. The article explains that it was given to Sisi as a symbol of his bravery for standing,
…by the Egyptian people on June 30 last year [upon the fall of Morsi]. He struck a knot and took a brave stance. This is what Egypt needs, and what Sisi needs to do.
But, of course, swords are not instruments of peace and one might also say that Dimitris Avramopoulos’s gift also alludes not only to Sisi’s military background but the ability that the Field Marshal will have – if he becomes president – to orchestrate violent actions in defence of his rule. I know it could be said that as a high ranking military official he already has that ability. But either way, whoever wins the election, I hope and pray that peace is restored to Egypt and her people.