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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Life of Constantine with Orations of Constantine and Eusebius.: Chapter VII

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.—Comparison with Cyrus, King of the Persians, and with Alexander of Macedon.

Ancient history describes Cyrus, king of the Persians, as by far the most illustrious of all kings up to his time. And yet if we regard the end of his days, 3065 we find it but little corresponded with his past prosperity, since he met with an inglorious and dishonorable death at the hands of a woman. 3066

Again, the sons of Greece celebrate Alexander the Macedonian as the conqueror of many and diverse nations; yet we find that he was removed by an early death, before he had reached maturity, being carried off by the effects of revelry and drunkenness. 3067 His whole life embraced but the space of thirty-two years, and his reign extended to no more than a third part of that period. Unsparing as the thunderbolt, he advanced through streams of blood and reduced entire nations and cities, young and old, to utter slavery. But when he had scarcely arrived at the maturity of life, and was lamenting the loss of youthful pleasures, death fell upon him with terrible stroke, and, that he might not longer outrage the human race, cut him off in a foreign and hostile land, childless, without successor, and homeless. His kingdom too was instantly dismembered, each of his officers taking away and appropriating a portion for himself. And yet this man is extolled for such deeds as these. 3068



[Such seems to be the probable meaning of this passage, which is manifestly corrupt, and of which various emendations have been proposed.—Bag.] Perhaps better paraphrased, “But since the test of blessedness lies not in this, but in his end, we look and find that this.” The key to the idea is found in the remark near the end of chapter 11. Cf. also note.


This is the account of Diodorus, who says he was taken prisoner and crucified by the queen of the “Scythians” (3. 11, ed. 1531, f. 80b). Herodotus says that he was slain in battle, but his head cut off afterwards and dipped in a sack of blood by the queen Tomyris, who had rejected his suit, the death of whose son he had caused, and who had sworn to “give him his fill of blood” (Herod. Bk. I, §§205–214). Xenophon says he died quietly in bed (Cyrop. 8. 7).


A malarial fever, but made fatal by drinking at a banquet (cf. Plut. chaps. 75 and 76, Arrian, Bk. 7).


Eusebius’ rhetorical purpose makes him unfair to Alexander, who certainly in comparison with others of his time brought relative blessing to the conquered (cf. Smith, Dict. I, p. 122).

Next: Chapter VIII

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