Megaloprepes

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Ἦν δὲ καὶ πρὸς οἶνον ἧττον ἢ ἐδόκει καταφερής, ἔδοξε δὲ διὰ τὸν χρόνον, ὃν οὐ πίνων μᾶλλον ἢ λαλῶν εἷλκεν, ἐφ’ ἑκάστης κύλικος ἀεὶ μακρόν τινα λόγον διατιθέμενος, καὶ ταῦτα πολλῆς σχολῆς οὔσης. ἐπεὶ πρός γε τὰς πράξεις οὐκ οἶνος ἐκεῖνον, οὐχ ὕπνος, οὐ παιδιά τις, οὐ γάμος, οὐ θέα, καθάπερ ἄλλους στρατηγούς, ἐπέσχε· δηλοῖ δ’ ὁ βίος, ὃν βιώσας βραχὺν παντάπασι πλείστων καὶ μεγίστων πράξεων ἐνέπλησεν. ἐν δὲ ταῖς σχολαῖς πρῶτον μὲν ἀναστὰς καὶ θύσας τοῖς θεοῖς, εὐθὺς ἠρίστα καθήμενος· ἔπειτα διημέρευε κυνηγῶν ἢ συντάττων ἢ διδάσκων τι τῶν πολεμικῶν ἢ ἀναγινώσκων. εἰ δ’ ὁδὸν βαδίζοι μὴ λίαν ἐπείγουσαν, ἐμάνθανεν ἅμα πορευόμενος ἢ τοξεύειν ἢ ἐπιβαίνειν ἅρματος ἐλαυνομένου καὶ ἀποβαίνειν. πολλάκις δὲ παίζων καὶ ἀλώπεκας ἐθήρευε καὶ ὄρνιθας, ὡς ἔστι λαβεῖν ἐκ τῶν ἐφημερίδων. καταλύσας δὲ καὶ τρεπόμενος πρὸς λουτρὸν ἢ ἄλειμμα, τοὺς ἐπὶ τῶν σιτοποιῶν καὶ μαγείρων ἀνέκρινεν, εἰ τὰ πρὸς τὸ δεῖπνον εὐτρεπῶς ἔχουσι. καὶ δειπνεῖν μὲν ὀψὲ καὶ σκότους ἤδη κατακλινόμενος ἤρχετο, θαυμαστὴ δ’ ἦν ἡ ἐπιμέλεια καὶ περίβλεψις ἐπὶ τῆς τραπέζης, ὅπως μηδὲν ἀνίσως μηδ’ ὀλιγώρως διανέμοιτο· τὸν δὲ πότον ὥσπερ εἴρηται μακρὸν ὑπ’ ἀδολεσχίας ἐξέτεινε. καὶ τἆλλα πάντων ἥδιστος ὢν βασιλέων συνεῖναι καὶ χάριτος οὐδεμιᾶς ἀμοιρῶν, τότε ταῖς μεγαλαυχίαις ἀηδὴς ἐγίνετο καὶ λίαν στρατιωτικός, αὐτός τε πρὸς τὸ κομπῶδες ὑποφερόμενος, καὶ τοῖς κόλαξιν ἑαυτὸν ἀνεικὼς ἱππάσιμον, ὑφ’ ὧν οἱ χαριέστατοι τῶν παρόντων ἐπετρίβοντο, μήθ᾽ ἁμιλλᾶσθαι τοῖς κόλαξι μήτε λείπεσθαι βουλόμενοι τῶν αὐτῶν ἐπαίνων· τὸ μὲν γὰρ αἰσχρὸν ἐδόκει, τὸ δὲ κίνδυνον ἔφερε. μετὰ δὲ τὸν πότον λουσάμενος, ἐκάθευδε πολλάκις μέχρι μέσης ἡμέρας· ἔστι δ᾽ ὅτε καὶ διημέρευεν ἐν τῷ καθεύδειν. αὐτὸς μὲν οὖν καὶ ὄψων ἐγκρατὴς ἦν, ὥστε καὶ τὰ σπανιώτατα πολλάκις τῶν ἀπὸ θαλάττης αὐτῷ κομιζομένων ἀκροδρύων καὶ ἰχθύων ἑκάστῳ διαπεμπόμενος τῶν ἑταίρων ἑαυτῷ μόνῳ μηδὲν καταλιπεῖν. τὸ μέντοι δεῖπνον ἦν ἀεὶ μεγαλοπρεπές, καὶ τοῖς εὐτυχήμασι τῆς δαπάνης ἅμα συναυξομένης, τέλος εἰς μυρίας δραχμὰς προῆλθεν· ἐνταῦθα δ’ ἔστη, καὶ τοσοῦτον ὡρίσθη τελεῖν τοῖς ὑποδεχομένοις Ἀλέξανδρον.
(Plutarch, Bios Alexandrou 23)

He also had less of a penchant for wine than was generally thought. He gained this reputation because he dragged out the time he took over each cup, but it was time spent talking rather than drinking, since he was constantly presiding over some lengthy conversation or other, at any rate when he had plenty of time. When action was called for, unlike other commanders he was not detained by wine, sleep, some trivial pursuit or other, marriage, or a showas is proved by his life, which for all its brevity he packed with exploit after major exploit. When he had time on his hands, however, he would get up and sacrifice to the gods, and then immediately sit down to eat his morning meal. Then he would go on to spend the day hunting or arranging his affairs or teaching some aspect of warfare or reading. If he was on a leisurely journey he would try to improve his archery during it, or practise mounting and dismounting from a moving chariot; as we can learn from the Royal Diary, he also often used to hunt foxes and birds for fun. Once he had found quarters for the night, he would ask his bakers and cooks, while he was busy with bathing or washing, whether they had everything they needed for his evening meal. He used to take to his couch and eat his evening meal late, after dark, and take an astonishing amount of care and consideration at the table to make sure that everyone got equaland equally generousportions. As I have already said, he would prolong the after-dinner drinking with conversation. Although he was basically better company than any other monarch, and had all the social graces, during these conversations he tended to flaunt his achievements in a disagreeable manner and become too boastful. And not only did he indulge in selfglorification, but he also allowed himself to be ridden by flatterers, who made things difficult for any particularly refined people present, because they had no desire to try to beat the flatterers at their own game and yet did not want to lag behind in praising Alexander; they found the first option degrading, but the second was risky. After he had finished drinking, he would wash, and then go to sleep, often until midday, but occasionally for the whole of the next day. He was also self-controlled where savouries were concerned. In fact, when especially rare fruits and fish were brought to him from the coast he used to have them sent to each of his Companions, often until he was the only one left with nothing. But his evening meals were magnificent affairs, and the cost of them increased along with his successes, until in the end it reached 10,000 drachmas. It stopped there, however, and this was the stipulated amount which those who entertained Alexander were to spend. (tr. Robin Waterfield)

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