Alexander died. Alexander is dead.
He was ill the whole spring. He stayed long in the mountains, as if he was busy there, as if his stay there was most necessary. He postponed his arrival to Babylon as much as he could. He was ill, I know that, because I was by his side all the time, but he did not want it to be seen, to be found out. He was hiding his weakness, his falls that were more and more frequent. He was hiding them from me, and I think, from himself as well. He did not know how to be ill. A man who does not know how to be ill, does not know how to live either. His life was torn and devastated in the last months as well. He would start one thing and another. For several days he could only think of the construction of the new fleet, the new conquest towards the spacious Arabia, and then he would change his mind. He was only concerned about the taxes, and he would leave this always hard and laborious work as well, angry and dissatisfied with the smaller and smaller inflow of gold, money, precious stones to the royal treasury and he would start creating the new Macedonian-Persian phalange with this piled anger. Even this was not going on according to his plans and ideas because the Macedonians would not mix with Persians. The Persians, as they looked at everything from some heights, also entered the phalange as if they had to honor someone, which was imposed to them and therefore difficult. His anger was also stirred by their constant extortion of better places in the phalange, their sometimes covered, sometimes open blackmails that the Persian officers have more regiments, that they take the positions in the headquarter from which one can see more and do more in all army matters. The situation was the same in the supplies, money, weapons. When he would choke on the anger that these worries brought, he would start cracking on the rebellions in some satraps. The rebellions were most of the time invisible, but they existed as the rennet in the milk – it is little, it is invisible, but it works from within, spoils and changes. Then he would start eating himself up about the mint where the gold that entered did not produce as much money as it weighed, or more silver would melt into the money. This spring Alexander was angry at everything around him, furious. But he was most furious at his illness. I don’t know if there was only one. I think that there were more and that they changed, impeccably as the guards in front of his tent. He had sent Philip, his physician to Babylon so that he would not see his illness. He would keep to himself, he only drank Thessalian wine, which he thought could heal him, together with the mountain freshness of Ecbatana. When we would meet, he looked though me like a window. The illnesses came out in Babylon, he was ill in public, weaker and weaker, more and more powerless and thinner.
He died and now I am torn, uncomposed and scattered. For the first time in my life, when he was ill in Babylon, I started offering sacrifices, I started talking to astrologers, prophets, magicians. And never before this day, before the day of Alexander’s death, have I counted the money I had. This evening, I counted it. I have never given any money to a beggar, and today, when Alexander died, I gave it to all the beggars in front of the palace and the theatre. I have never written anything before. Tonight I started writing. Why? This morning, when he calmed down, he was younger in his death. He looked like that boy from Mieza and I thought of you, my teacher. I wanted you here. And I started talking to you in my head. Tonight I started writing to you.
I am addressing you, my teacher, with some shame and intimidation. You know me. As you once said – I was from those third in line. One of those who distinguish the least, who stand in the back silent. And I started writing to you without knowing what. Sitting, with my elbows on the writing desk, I am thinking: what am I going to write? Why you? I will write of Alexander, about everything that happened to him. I am writing because it calms me down more than everything I have not done before. What I have done so far made my whole life miserable and empty. Now, writing fills me in and empties me at the same time, as the water that runs from a spring waterfall river to a mill’s pot – it is not empty and full, and the water keeps on running, free from the fall and the pot. That is how something inside me is filled and emptied with writing. Why am I addressing you of all people? First – I have nobody else. It seems that those third in line have no friend, they have no people of confidence, no close people, no acquaintances, no people that they met by chance, to whom they can say something that comes to their mouths from their very insides. Therefore, maybe we, as you say, the ones third in line, are quite and withdrawn. Alexander died. And you know that he was my everything, and now, that he is gone, I am torn from my own life, I have nothing to live for. And I also write to you because I know of your endless curiosity. Once, in Mieza, before the evening rest it seemed that you said something to yourself, as if whispering staring at him: “What would become of you?” I didn’t hear well – did you say of you or with you, or maybe – inside you? But I know that you looked at him with curious eyes, closed a bit in your thoughts, as if you had seen him for the first time and at the same time you were interpreting what would become of him. Maybe you had whispered that because I was nearby, or maybe it was just my imagination. Maybe I myself asked those questions looking at your eyes, your wise and concerned face. And maybe at that moment we thought the same, so it felt that you also whispered our thoughts? Alexander died and I am sitting and writing to you about him. I have some blurred and awful feeling that his life is only starting now, with his death. That it is now that will be seen openly what had become of him, in him and with him. You must have followed everything during these years that you have not seen Alexander. You have corresponded. But he never wrote the truth. He informed you of everything that he did, he sent you rare animals and plants, he described the places that he was passing through, but he never told you anything about himself. I know that for sure. And here, in the court, at the headquarters, among the distinguished Macedonians, it was always whispered that Callisthenes, your nephew, while he was alive, sent you secret letters. Maybe, I don’t know. But I know that Callisthenes did not know Alexander although he imagined that he was clear water for him. However, even under the clear water, there might be mud. And Callisthenes did not know this. He was blinded by the glitter of the kingdom, the glory of the victories. He was into all the court intrigues that he considered an unavoidable side of truth itself. But, he did not know Alexander and least of all did he know what Alexander was. It is because of this ignorance, or this wrong knowledge that is the reason why Callisthenes lost his head. He thought that he could do anything with Alexander. He did not know that he could do what Alexander would allow him, to the extent that he would. And I know that it is what Callisthenes could not find out that stirs your curiosity.