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Alexander Gallery

'Alexander and the Gordian knot'

'If then such praise the Macedonian got
For having rudely cut the Gordian Knot'
.....
Waller ...to the King

(original medallion)


The father of gods had ordained that when it came time for the people to select a king, they must choose the first person to ride up to the temple of Zeus in a wagon. Gordius innocently fulfilled the oracle and was made king. (The system might be an improvement over a methods of election held today. Certainly it would eliminate political campaigns). In any event, Gordius seems to have done very well. One of his first acts was to dedicate his wagon to Zeus and to place it near the temple, the yoke tied to the pole by an intricate knot of cornel bark. Another oracle declared that anyone who succeeded in untying the knot would be the conqueror of all Asia. The knot stayed tied until the arrival of Alexander. Then, as everybody knows, he cheated on the oracle by cutting the knot with his sword instead of untying it. Zeus honored his initiative by making the prophecy come true.

'Turn him to any cause of policy,
The Gordian Knot of it he will unloose,
Familiar as his garter' ....Shakespear (HenryV, 1.i)

'The Gordian Knot 'Three sayings used by pompous orators for hundreds of years as classical figures of speech are "as rich as Croesus", "I came, I saw, I conquered", and "to cut the Gordian Knot". All three had their original home in Türkiye. The first applied to a Lydian king; the second was said by Julius Caesar after a battle in Asia Minor, 47 B.C., in which he defeated Pharnaces II, King of Pontus; the last refers to a legend of ancient Phrygia. The city of Gordium, now called Gordion, is about a hundred miles west of Ankara. It was the capital of ancient Phrygia. One of its rules was a peasant named Gordius, who gave his name to the city after fulfilling an oracle of Zeus.

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Alexander was reputedly a strong, handsome commander with one eye dark as a night and one blue as a sky, always leading his army on his faithful stallion Bucephalo, accompanied by the best military formation of the time, the Macedonian Phalanx which was armed with sarisses, the fearful five and half meter long spears.

Parmenion the general shown here on the left of Alexander (also called the Lion of Macedon) had acquired great popularity in the army. As Phillip's general his reputation was of a general who had never lost a battle. During the siege of Tyre, the Persian king Darius sent a letter to pay ransom of 10,000 talents for his family and cede all his lands west of the Euphrates to Alexander. On that occasion Alexander's general Parmenion advised him to accept. "I would accept, were I Alexander." Parmenio said ; "I too, were I Parmenio!" was Alexander's famous retort;

Alexander III of Macedon died in his 33rd year; and had reigned for 12 years and eight months. ('Alexander and the Gordian Knot' Oil Painting 52" x 53" by John Hagan ©1996)

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