Translation copyright 2003 Neil W. Bernstein; all rights reserved.

Writings of Alexander

  1. We have read in many accounts of Alexander’s deeds, and more recently in Marcus Varro’s book Orestes, or On Madness (1), that Olympias the wife of Philip responded very wittily in writing to her son Alexander. 
  2. When he wrote as follows to his mother: “King Alexander, son of Jupiter Hammon, sends greetings to his mother Olympias,” Olympias replied in this way: “Please, my son, keep quiet and do not denounce me nor accuse me to Juno. Indeed she will give me great evil, if you reveal in your letters that I am her rival in love.” (2)
  3. This wise and prudent woman’s friendly reply to her fierce son appeared to admonish him, cautiously and with good will, that he ought to renounce the fictitious opinion (which he had swallowed as the result of his tremendous victories and his flatterers’ cajolery and his successes beyond belief) that he was the son of Jupiter. 


  1. The surviving works of Varro (116-27 BC), “the most learned of the Romans”, include an essay on farming (Res Rustica) and part of a treatise on the Latin language (de Lingua Latina).
  2. Alexander represented himself as the son of the god Jupiter and made a famous visit to Jupiter (Zeus) Ammon’s shrine at Siwa in the Libyan desert in 331 BC. Cf. Plutarch, Life of Alexander 27.5.

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