polytheist extractions

Arrian, Anabasis 4.11.2-9

“Callisthenes broke in and said: ‘Anaxarchus, I declare Alexander unworthy of no honour appropriate for a man; but men have used numerous ways of distinguishing all the honours which are appropriate for men and for gods; thus we build temples and erect images and set aside precincts for the gods, and we offer them sacrifices and libations and compose hymns to them, while eulogies are for men; but the most important distinction concerns the matter of obeisance. At greeting men receive a kiss, but what is divine, I suppose because it is seated above us and we are forbidden even to touch it, is for that very reason honoured by obeisance; dances, too, are held for the gods, and paeans sung in their praise. In this distinction there is nothing surprising, since among the gods themselves all are not honoured in the same way; and what is more, there are different honours for the heroes, distinct again from those paid to gods. It is not, therefore, proper to confuse all this, by raising mortals to extravagant proportions by excesses of honour, while bringing the gods, as far as men can, down to a demeaning and unfitting level by honouring them in the same way as men. So Alexander himself would not endure it for a moment, if some private person were to thrust himself into the royal honours by unjust election or vote, and the gods would have far better cause to be displeased with any men who thrust themselves or permit others to thrust them into divine honours. Alexander both is and is thought to be above all measure the bravest of the brave, most kingly of kings, most worthy to command of all commanders. As for you, Anaxarchus, you above all should have expounded these argument and stopped those on the other side, as you are attending on Alexander as philosopher and instructor. It was improper for you to take the lead in this topic; you should rather have remembered that you are not attending nor advising a Cambyses or Xerxes, but a son of Philip, a descendent of Heracles and of Aeacus, whose forefathers came from Argos to Macedonia, and have continued to rule the Macedonians not by force but in accordance with custom. Even Heracles himself did not receive divine honours from the Greeks in his own lifetime, nor even after his death till the god of Delphi gave his sanction to honouring him as a god. If, however, we must think like barbarians, as we are speaking in their country, even so I appeal personally to you, Alexander, to remember Greece, on whose behalf you made your whole expedition, to annex Asia to Greece. Consider this too; when you return there, will you actually compel the Greeks as well, the freest of mankind, to do you obeisance, or will you keep away from the Greeks, but put this dishonour on the Macedonians, or will you yourself make a distinction once for all in this matter of honours and receive from Greeks and Macedonians honours of a human and Greek style, and barbarian honours only from barbarians? But if it is said of Cyrus son of Cambyses that he was the first of men to receive obeisance and that therefore this humiliation became traditional with Persians and Medes, you must remember that this very Cyrus was brought to his senses by the Scythians, a people poor but free, Darius too by other Scythians, Xerxes by Athenians and Lacedaemonians, and Artaxerxes by Clearchus, Xenophon and their Ten Thousand, and Darius by Alexander here, who does not receive obeisance.’” – Arrian, Anabasis 4.11.2-9


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