Alexander with Aristander from the movie “Alexander” (2004)
During Alexander’s Pan-Hellenic Campaign in Asia, ancient sources occasionally mention prophecies which foretell the defeat of Persians by the Greeks. Here we present the most important of them.
The Chaldean Prophecy – Greeks will overthrow the Persian Empire
Curtius Rufus (3.3.6-7)
“Already in a state of anciety over his immediate concerns, he was further troubled by dreams of impending events, which derived either from his mental agitation or from a genuine premonition fo the future. He dreamed that Alexander’s camp was alight with a blazing fire. Shortly after this Alexander was brought to him in the same clothes Darius himself had worn and then rode on horseback through Babylon before suddenly vanishing along with his horse.
The soothsayers had further compounded his worries by offering conflicting interpretations. Some declared the dream was auspicious for the king: the enemy camp had been in flames and Darius had seen Alexander brought before him without his royal robes, in the dress of a Persian commoner.
Others disagreed, predicting that his dreaming of the Macedonian camp ablaze portended glory for Alexander; that he was going to seize control even of Asia was perfectly clear, since Darius had worn those very clothes when he was declared king. As generally happens, too, past omens had bee brought back to mind by the present worry. They recalled that at the start of his reign Darius had issued orders for the shape of the scabbard of the Persian scimitar to be alterd to the shape used by the Greeks, and that theChaldeans had immediately interpreted this as meaning that rule over the Persians would pass to those people whose arms Darius had copied.
Eclipse of the Moon – Egyptian seers declare that the sun is the Greeks while the moon the Persians who will suffer defeat.
Curtius Rufus 4.10.1-7
Alexander encamped there for two days and had marching orders proclaimed for the third, but at about the first watch there was an eclipse of the moon. First the moon lost its usual brightness, and them became suffused with a blood-red colour which caused a general dimness in the light it shed […]
Alexander summoned a full meeting of his generals and officers in his tent and ordered the Egyptian seers (whome he belived to possess epert knowledge of the sky and the stars) to give their opinion. They were well aware that the annual cycle follows a pattern of changes, that the moon is eclipsed when it passes behind the earth or is blocked by the sun, but they did not give this explanation, which they themselves knew, to the common soldiers. Instead they declared that the sun represented the Greeks and the moon the Persians, and that an eclipse fo the moon predicted disaster and slaughter for those nations. They then listed examples from history of Persian kings whom a lunar eclipse had demonstrated to have fought without divine approval. Nothing exercises greater control over the masses than superstition.[..]Thus the dissemination of the Egyptians’ responses restored hope and confidence to the dispirited soldiers.
Jewish Priests show Alexander the Book of Daniel – One of the Greeks should destroy the Persian Empire
[Antiquities of the Jews 11.329]
And when he [Alexander] went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him 1 wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended.
Book of Daniel – Alexander the king of Greece overthrows the Persian Empire
Daniel’s Vision of a Ram and a Goat
1 In the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, had a vision, after the one that had already appeared to me.
2 In my vision I saw myself in the citadel of Susa in the province of Elam; in the vision I was beside the Ulai Canal.
3 I looked up, and there before me was a ram with two horns, standing beside the canal, and the horns were long. One of the horns was longer than the other but grew up later.
4 I watched the ram as he charged towards the west and the north and the south. No animal could stand against him, and none could rescue from his power. He did as he pleased and became great.
5 As I was thinking about this, suddenly a goat with a prominent horn between his eyes came from the west, crossing the whole earth without touching the ground.
6 He came towards the two-horned ram I had seen standing beside the canal and charged at him in great rage.
7 I saw him attack the ram furiously, striking the ram and shattering his two horns. The ram was powerless to stand against him; the goat knocked him to the ground and trampled on him, and none could rescue the ram from his power.
8 The goat became very great, but at the height of his power his large horn was broken off, and in its place four prominent horns grew up towards the four winds of heaven.
19 He said: I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.
20 The two-horned ram that you saw represents the kings of Media and Persia.
21 The shaggy goat is the king of Greece, and the large horn between his eyes is the first king.
22 The four horns that replaced the one that was broken off represent four kingdoms that will emerge from his nation but will not have the same power.
The Sibylline Prophecies
The Sibylline Prophecies were a miscellaneous collection of Jewish and Christian portents of future disasters and were accumulated among Christians of Late Antiquity
And the race of the Lydians rich in gold.
And then shall Hellenes, proud and impure,
Then shall a Macedonian nation rule,
210 Great, shrewd, who as a fearful cloud of war
Shall come to mortals. But the God of heaven
Shall utterly destroy them from the depth.
And then shall be another kingdom, white
And many-headed, from the western sea,
215 Which shall rule much land, and shake many men,
And to all kings bring terror afterwards,
And out of many cities shall destroy
Much gold and silver; but in the vast earth
There will again be gold, and silver too,
220 And ornament. And they will oppress mortals;
And to those men shall great disaster be,
When they begin unrighteous arrogance.
And forthwith in them there shall be a force
Of wickedness, male will consort with male,
225 And children they will place in dens of shame;
And in those days there shall be among men
A great affliction, and it shall disturb
All things, and break all things, and fill all things
With evils by a shameful covetousness,
230 And by ill-gotten wealth in many lands,
[208. Hellenes.–The Græco-Macedonian kingdom is here evidently intended.
213. Another kingdom.–That of Rome, here called white, or brilliant, in allusion to the white toga worn by the Roman magistrates. Competitors for office were called candidati, because of the white robe in which they presented themselves. Martial (Epig., viii, 65, 6) speaks of candida cultu Roma–“Rome white in apparel,” The epithet many-headed has been supposed to point to Rome while she was yet a republic and had her hundred or more senators as rulers. But there may be an allusion to the biblical symbolism of Dan. vii, 6, and Rev. xiii, 1.]
But most of all in Macedonia.
And it shall stir up hatred, and all guile
Shalt be with them even to the seventh kingdom,
Of which a king of Egypt shall be king
235 Who shall be a descendant from the Greeks.
And then the nation of the mighty God
Shall be again strong and they shall be guides
Of life to all men. But why did God place
This also in my mind to tell: what first,
240 And what next, and what evil last shall be
On all men? Which of these shall take the lead?
First on the Titans will God visit evil.
For they shall pay to mighty Cronos’s sons
The penal satisfaction, since they bound
245 Both Cronos and the mother dearly loved.
Again shall there be tyrants for the Greeks
And fierce kings overweening and impure,
Adulterous and altogether bad;
And for men shall be no more rest from war.
250 And the dread Phrygians shall perish all,
And unto Troy shall evil come that day.
And to the Persians and Assyrians
Evil shall straightaway come, and to all Egypt
And Libya and the Ethiopians,
255 And to the Carians and Pamphylians–
. Seventh kingdom.–Or seventh king (comp. line 765) of the Greek Egyptian dynasty. This would point to Ptolemy Philometer it we reckon Alexander the Great as the first king, but Ptolemy Physcon if the line of the Ptolemies alone are reckoned. Ewald adopts this latter view, Alexandre the former. All the Ptolemies were of Greek (or Macedonian) origin.
237. Again strong.–The writer seems in the spirit and hope of Old Testament prophets to conceive a triumph for the chosen people, is following hard upon the evils of his own time.
242-245.–This passage is in part a repetition of lines 188-190 above.]
765 The seventh of Egypt, shall rule his own land,
Reckoned from the dominion of the Greeks,
Which countless Macedonian men shall rule
910 And a great store of bows and arrows barbed;
For forest wood shall not be cut for
But, wretched Hellas, stop thy arroganceAnd be wise; and entreat the Immortal One
Magnanimous, and be upon thy guard.
[900-903. Cited by Justin Martyr, Cohort. ad Græcos, xvi [G., 6, 273].
907-911. Comp. lines 815-816 above, and note.
912. Wretched Hellas.–Addressed apparently to the Greek dominion of Egypt under the Ptolemies.
The Persian story of ZULQARNEEN – Alexander the Grecian
It has been mentioned above that, according to the majority of historians, there were no other prophets sent between Nûh and Ebrahim, except Hûd and Sâlah. Some of the ancients, however, tell us that the greater Zulqarneen had been honoured after Sâlah and before Ebrahim with the exalted dignity of ambassadorship and prophecy; and Mujâhad has informed us after A’bdullah Bin O’mar—u. w. b., etc.—that the greater Zulqarneen was one of the prophets sent by God, and that the reason for the truth of this assertion is, because the glorious Lord of unity had honoured him with the allocution, ‘O Zulqar*neen!’* which cannot be addressed except to the perfect essences and virtuous spirits of prophets, u. w. b. p. According to the most correct tradition Zulqarneen was not Alexander the Grecian, whose biography is recorded in the history of the kings of Persia, because his genealogy ascends to Yâfuth the son of Nûh, whereas Alexander the Greek is one of the descendants of A’yss the son of Esahâq, of the children of Sâm the son of Nûh.
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