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Alexander with horns of Ammon, Temple at Siwa


A Note by Noble Notas i Alexander like other enterprising peacemakers before him was quite fond of oracles, wherefore, after being declared Pharaoh at Memphis, he went out of his way to the Siwa Oasis in Egypt to consult the oracle of ram-headed Ammon, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus note that dissenting scholars insist that the Greeks clearly distinguished the Egyptian Ammon from the Greek Zeus. Many reasons are supposed for Alexander's arduous trek into western Egypt to a temple where no Pharaoh had gone before. The way thereto was always beset with curious travails. Aristotle's pupil certainly did not associate the Delphic injunction, "Know Thyself", with a diminutive humble self defined by immediate circumstances. Quite to the contrary: he made a career of going way out of the way to extend himself, and his empire to boot.

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Perhaps Pharaoh Alexander wanted to firmly establish his dominion on the Carthaginian frontier. Furthermore, it has been speculatively noted that he wanted to outdo his heroic ancestors, Perseus and Heracles, who had visited the god before him. Cato the true conservative would make a visit some time thereafter, before his famed Stoic suicide. Indeed, a visit to the temple should be included in any self-respecting poet's standard odyssey. Yet critical authors were quick to point out that a universal god is everywhere; besides, Zeus would not be such a fool as to place his temple in the middle of nowhere, making it exceedingly difficult for anyone to worship him. Some say Alexander was told during his youth that Zeus was his ideal father, hence now he wanted divine verification. Not that he disrespected his real father, Phillip. The priest at Siwa greeted him as the "son of Ammon" - of course all pharaohs are by nature sons of God. Most likely he wanted confirmation of his fondest dream of all, that of successful conquest. However that may be, the priests took the egg-shaped idol from the inner sanctum and paraded it around the temple in its sacred arc or boat. In the procession the priests were by chance moved to turn this way and that, and the motions were in turn interpreted. Alexander must have received the answer he craved. He kept it secret - and methinks he was wise to do so, knowing how critics love to bring positive mental attitudes to ruin. Thus he continued along the royal road of fame and fortune, with either his fortune or his godliness, or perhaps both, well assured.

Noble Notas is a nom de plume used by David Arthur Walters for his academic notations.

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