Page 0649

649

MACEDONIA-ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

admiration and affections of the people. Returning by way of Memphis, he

carefully examined the several mouths of the Nile. Having rejected both

Pelusium and Canopus as unsuited in situation for the contemplated city,

he passed to the western side of that branch of the river on which the

latter town was located, and there selected a site for the proposed

metropolis. To Dinocrates he assigned the work of laying out and

founding the city; and as if to trust his fame to an enterprise of peace

rather than to the havoc of war, he ordered that the new Egyptian

capital should bear his name-Alexandria.

It will be remembered that the family of Philip of Macedon, not without

pride, traced its mythical origin to the great heroes, Perseus and

Hercules. It appears that Alexander was not above the half superstitious

vanity of claiming these fabulous personages as his ancestors. Such an

element of vainglory in his nature it may have been which induced him,

while still tarrying in Egypt, to undertake a pilgrimage across the

desert to the shrine of Ra or Jove, in the oasis of Amun. Possibly,

however, the impulse which urged him thither was the ambition to do what

Cambyses had failed to accomplish. Nor is it unreasonable to suppose

that the Macedonian was willing to avail himself of this means to

heighten his reputation among the African races by consulting the oracle

of their great deity in the desert.

Of course the journey to Amun was accompanied with miraculous

indications of the favor of heaven. When the Macedonians were well-nigh

dying of thirst, rain poured down in torrents. When the band of pilgrims

had lost its way in the desert, two tremendous serpents suddenly

appeared and marshaled them toward the oasis. Ravens likewise flew

before the pilgrims. So they came to the beautiful site of the shrine of

Jove. The Macedonian was received with every mark of distinction by the

obsequious priests who, after the manner of their kind in all ages, were

willing:

"To bend the pregnant hinges of the knee That thrift might follow

fawning."

Ostensibly, Alexander had visited the oasis to consult the oracle of

Amun as to the