Alexander the Great (1956) Script

It is men who endure toil and dare dangers that achieve glorious deeds.

And it is a lovely thing to live with courage, and to die leaving behind an everlasting renown.

War! This is what Demosthenes calls for, war!

Aeschenes puts words in my mouth. If you mean truth, I put it there.

I know of no other way for it to come from your mouth!

Your audience performs well today.

Philip's money is well spent. The words I used were "arms" and "money".

I quarrel with the words you did not use: "Men" and "blood".

If these words must be used... yes, men and blood.

Athenian men and Athenian blood?

To save Athens, whose blood should be shed?

To save Athens, not Olynthus! And if Olynthus falls to the barbarian, what stands between Athens and destruction?

Peace! Move for peace and I'll support you.

Men of Athens, are there still madmen among you...?

Who wish to live? I'm mad. I'm stark, raving mad.

Are there sane men among you who still think that we have the power to debate the question of war or peace?

Who will fight? You or us?

Why do you speak thus? For love of country or love of Philip's gold?

No! No! No!

Philip has been at war with us ever since he razed the first Greek city to the ground.

And as each Greek city fell, Philip, too, kept proclaiming peace.

And, to our eternal shame, we stood by and never once cried out against his barbaric acts.

Are you blind that you cannot see that this is the plan for Philip's conquest... to extend his rule city by city, state by state, by bribery, treachery, force of arms?

Yes? From Macedonia. Message for the king.


Philip, wake up. There's a messenger from Macedonia.

Ah, such dreams I had.

Such strange and troubled drunken dreams.

A messenger...?

What news do you bring? Good or bad? You have a son.

A son? Born to the queen three weeks ago.

I have a son. Alexander.

That's the name the queen gave him. Alexander. And the queen?

She sends you greetings. Greetings?

"To Philip. Hail and rejoice."

"On this day to Olympias, your queen and wife, a god was born."

A god? Those were the queen's words.

What mother in Greece has not dreamed that her first-born was a god?

Hail, Philip, conqueror.

Hail, Egyptian.

I want to see my son.

Looks like you... the hair, the eyes.

Even his beard!

You named him well: Alexander.

Alexander of Macedonia.

Alexander of Greece.

Little lion.

Little god.

I say, uh...

I've heard that legend.

There were signs of greatness at his birth.

Quakes and storms shook the earth, and in the skies a star fell.

And two eagles perched upon the roof of the queen's chamber.

And in far off Asia, the Temple of Ephesus was struck by lightning and burnt to the ground.

How did you read these signs, soothsayer?

The two eagles... that he was born to rule two worlds.

The burning of the temple... that a torch was kindled that day that would one day consume all the world, and this torch, your son.

And the falling of the star?

That a god was born to me... of a god.

There were other signs and portents of divinity.

Before his birth, the queen had a dream.

I had a dream, too, soothsayer.

One night on the battlefield of Olynthus I had a dream.

I dreamed of death.

And when I awoke, I didn't know whose death it was.

We want Philip!

Foretell it to me. Those shouts are for you.

The people have been waiting for hours to see the king and his son.

And if you kill him, what? Pleasure, bloody pleasure.

And if you're wrong? An Egyptian soothsayer dies.

And king Philip says to the world...? That he is also a man.

A madman! And if you are, play the role and also kill her and the boy.

Kill her?

And the boy? Why not?

Isn't it the ancient law of the wild Macedonian chiefs?

You knew her when you married... proud and jealous, as wild as the mountains from which she came and the gods she worshipped.

What she thinks I don't know, but this I do know: She's a woman and she taunts you.

Taunts me?

Tears me.

And what do you believe, Parmenio?

Even the oracle at Delphi proclaims his divinity.

I've bought shrines and burned them. I accept the will of the gods.

And what do you believe?

I believe in the glory of Macedonia, in the kingdom.

In the army, forged with your will and your strength and your belief that we were stronger and more fit to rule than anyone in Greece, even in Athens.

And you're right, Philip. We are.

We must proclaim to the world that Macedonia will not fall apart, that she will continue to rule through you and through your son.

And then, Philip, we shall have truly lived.

Go to her.

You loved her once. At least you can live in peace with her.

Accept the boy. He's yours.

And give them what they want.



Achilles, too, was born of a god.

And at his birth it was foretold that he would be greater than his father.

And he was.

And this destiny shall be yours, too, Alexander.


They want to see the prince... and the queen.

Greetings, Aristotle. Greetings, Alexander.

Whose kill? His. Alone, on foot.

You should have seen it. It was like a duel to decide which of them was king.

That duel need never have been fought.

Cleitus is back.


Cleitus. Black Cleitus!

King. Companion.

Lucky Cleitus, to be the only one amongst us chosen to go to war.

For war you need men. Three years doesn't make a man.

What does, Philotas?

The news, friend. The news. My father?

He's well. He sends you greetings. As do all your fathers.

Were there many victories? Does the sun rise every morning?

We even raided Persian soil. Persia!

Across the Bosphorus one night... a quick, short, sharp raid.

Before they knew it, we'd sacked three towns.

A Greek army on Persian soil... the dream of Greece for 200 years, and to Philip goes the glory.

Hail, Philip.

Hail, Philip!

Cleitus, why did my father send you here?

To train new troops and bring them back.

And us? To train you, too, as always.

And bring us back, too? I have no orders concerning that.

Hail, Philip! Your father means you well.

I mean him well, and love him. But he hoards his glory like a miser, while we sit at the feet of Aristotle and learn of great wonders of science, of mathematics and of logic.

And maybe one of us will write a book and be known as the pupil of Aristotle!

Aristotle... forgive me.

For what? You spoke like a king.

I, like a teacher.

Your blood ran quick, too? At Cleitus' tale of the Persian raid? Yes.

For in that act I saw something that might unite our torn and bloody land, and put an end to Greeks killing Greeks, and send them marching under Philip on their holy mission... to conquer Persia and destroy it.

Will Greece follow my father?

I do not know. Neither does he. Men do not easily forget years of slaughter and burning and pillage, and deep and bitter hatreds.

And the cry of "Philip the Barbarian" still echoes through the land.

He may conquer, but he will not rule.

Do you know how vast the Persian Empire is?

From the Nile to the Indus, from Samarkand to Babylon.

And beyond. Do you know how many different people live there?

By heart. Carians, Armenians, Jews, Parthians, Egyptians.

I know their customs and their gods. Yes.

For this is more than an empire, this is Colossus.

To rule it would take a man as great as you can be.

That is why I say patience.

Patience? My time is short.


When the great god Zeus, father of Achilles, gave him his choice between a long life of obscurity and a short one filled with glory, he chose glory.

So did I.

Achilles died young.

Your friends are waiting for you on the field. It's your turn to throw.

We Greeks are the chosen, the elect.

Our culture is the best, our civilisation the best, our men the best.

Now watch. All others are barbarians, and it is our moral duty to conquer them, enslave them, and, if necessary, destroy them.

Wonders are many, but none is more wonderful than man himself.

The Persian way of life has the seed of death and fear in it, the Greek, of life and courage.

The gods of the Greeks are made in the image of man.

Not men with birds' heads and bulls with lions' heads, but men who can be understood and felt.

"Thus beneath great-hearted Achilles his whole-hooved horses trampled corpses and shields together, and with blood all the axle-tree below was sprinkled, for blood drops from the horses' hooves splashed them, and blood drops from the tyres of the wheels."

"But the son of Peleus pressed on to win glory, flecking with gore his irresistible hands."

To place such responsibility on his shoulders, to thrust manhood on a boy!

Aristotle, we waste words. You waste a great man. In another year...

Another year?! In a year I once swept through half Greece.

In another year they may sweep me back.

This time victory is not on my spears. You asked for my opinion.

I treasure it. You won't take it.

Tell him why. There are many whys.

I know them all. I know one. The queen.

I know that one. Listen to him.

Listen to what? Does he say the boy's not loyal?

To you? To me.

He'd lay his life down... I for him.

But you are asking him to make a choice between the mind and the heart.

He'd make the right one. I hold him to be a man.

An Illyrian spear through the knee.

What's an arm or a leg or an eye for the sake of glory?

You've grown. A year ago, when I left you here...

Almost two. So it is.

Tall and straight as a spear.

A Macedonian spear.

Do you come from Pella? No.

Straight from the battlefield, to see you. Me?

How's your mother? When I last saw her, well.

When was that? Several months ago. Why?

Aristotle tells me you excel. Except in patience.

He's told me that, too. And that you thirst for glory.

When we hear news of your victories... Victories? There are none.

For the first time in 20 years, Macedonians retreat.

I've heard that, too. And what do you think?

That my father's name is Philip of Macedonia.

Can you rule in Pella while I fight?

Rule in Pella? There is a revolt there.

In my capital, in my palace! That's why I'm back.

There must be loyalty here to the House of Philip.

Can you rule? Aristotle stands opposed.

Who else?


And you?

I rode 200 leagues to Mieza.

I can rule.

At all costs? I can rule.

Tomorrow morning, when the sun is high, I want you and your companions to ride into Pella.

And there, in full view of the entire populace, I'll proclaim you regent in Macedonia.

I'll go and tell the others. Alexander.

There's work to do. Farewell, Aristotle.

Farewell. Take these words with you, and use them for what they're worth.

Alexander is many things. He's logic and he's dreams.

He's warrior and he's poet. He's man and he's spirit.

He's your son, but he's also hers, and he believes himself to be a god.


The night was a thousand years. When I heard last night that you...

You heard last night that I was coming? From whom?

Oh, a man... a soldier... a messenger. I don't remember.

I couldn't wait. I wanted to come to you, to warn you.

To what? No. No, not to warn you. To beg you.

To warn me? To beg me? I vowed to the gods that...

Mother, say what you want to say.

He's gone mad. No one was safe in Pella this night.

Philip has gone mad.

Send them away. They're my friends, here for safety.

Send them away!

What's all this about my father?

To the sword, the cross, the rack, men that have been his friends for years.

Now everyone is his enemy. He accuses everyone of conspiring against him.

Even me. You'll hear that story, Alexander. You'll hear it from him.

But you mustn't believe it. You mustn't. You don't, do you?

Why should he accuse you?

He wants to get rid of me. He's been wanting to for years.

He wants to marry again.

Who? Attalus's niece.

You be careful of Attalus. You be careful of all of them.

She's no fool.

She won't let him throw her away like he's done with all the others. She's young.


Whatever he asks of you, do. Whatever he says, agree with.

For when you're regent...

When you're regent, then... we'll rule.


Your father will see you now.

Have you seen your mother?


An act of revolt against the state is treason.

In giving you the regency, I give you power.

Power is absolute... if you don't use it, you lose it.

My father always spoke bluntly. Did he?

That's not what people say. They say "Philip, the cunning", "the fox".

Speak bluntly now. I do not choose to.

Then I do not choose to answer. Who says choice is yours? Alexander!

All I ask is truth.

I've been at Mieza all this time. You saw her. Many times you saw her.

Whenever I could. And never did you hear about this plot?

It's your choice as king to put me on the rack.

There's a man on the rack now, a kinsman of your mother's, who, before he died, screamed her name.

Torture makes men scream blasphemies.

Is it blasphemy to speak her name? In foul lies, yes.

And if I brought you proof that this revolt was brewed by her?

If I brought you proof, and you brought me proof, and we swore to heaven?

Here we stand, and you believe in me or you don't!

I want to.

And I want you to. Then listen.

And listen carefully, boy. This woman...

My mother. ...wants to rule.

She is the queen.

You asked for blunt words... so she's called.

There is no love between us. She can only rule through you. You are her power.

And her pawn.

I'm no one's pawn. Are you sure?

A rumour here in Pella... the Macedonian army is defeated.

Philip is dying. Philip is dead. Rumours, rumours.

Spread by whom? By her. Here in Pella, chaos.

Who rules? She does.

Antipater, my regent, dare not oppose her, for she claims she rules for you.

To back up that claim, she calls on her brother, the king of Epirus.

For the first time since I took power in Macedonia, a foreign army stands on its borders.

Now she has the power she seeks, for Antipater dare not use his troops in war.

So he gives in to her, for he knows that I may need those troops. And I do!

Now there's no longer chaos in Pella, there's murder.

Some of my best men died.

What does it matter that the Macedonian Empire crumbles? She rules in Pella!

This is why Attalus stood opposed last night at Mieza.

Is it?

And why Parmenio stood in silence.

They were afraid of her hold on you.

I am not.

Alexander, as your first act as regent, send your mother away.

Exile my mother? Back to her kinsmen in Epirus.

She'll be happy. Is that the cost of my proof?

How do you think I came to power? My brothers...

I know. You slew them. Do you want me to do that, too?

Why didn't you ask me this last night in Mieza?

And if I do this, then, Father, I'll be your pawn, won't I?

Aristotle was right. You're not ready to rule.

All you're fit for is to fight and die like any Macedonian soldier.

Then at least live like one. Get drunk. Choose a woman.

I do!

I choose her!

Young fool!

Fool! You fool!

By my right as king, I give you, Alexander of Macedonia, the seal of regency.

With this seal, you rule in my absence as though you were king.

You have the power to collect taxes, raise troops, make war and hold royal court.

For as it is with the king, according to ancient Macedonian law, so it is with his regent.

He is, in his single person, lord of all things, both open and secret, at once general and absolute.

I am leaving Antipater here as your adviser.

Alexander, there's another ancient law of kingship...

to trust no one,

and to learn how to be alone.

Are you asleep?


You're regent now.

Not because he wanted it so, but because he had no choice.

You're regent now.

Good night, Mother.

Alexander, I swear to you... Do not swear, Mother.

Who else should I have fought for except you?

What other love do I have?

There were rumours of his death. He was being defeated.

There were others who claimed the crown.

Why, Mother?

The crown is mine by right of birth, isn't it?

You wanted to swear before. Swear that!

By divine right.

Good night, Mother.

Good night, Alexander.

There's peace in the hills. The tribes revolted against the king.

Your father may need these troops. The regent is, in my father's words, lord of all things, open and secret, general and absolute.

You will rebuild your city here and name it Alexandropolis.

No man's pawn.

I return this seal of regency, as ordered.

The news is that you move against Athens.

The news here is that you move against hill tribesmen.

That you set men free whom I imprisoned. That you set up statues to yourself.

That you name cities after yourself. That you're all heroes.

Mine were the orders, they obeyed. Yes.

You ruled well in Pella... for yourself.

How many Macedonian troops that I could use have you lost on your road to glory?

This leg of mine!

How could you, sir, regret a wound that at every step reminds us of your conquests?

Alexander, walk with me.

You have my temper. I know.

And my ambition. More, I think.


At least wait until I die.

I've given you command of the left wing of my cavalry.

This time we'll crush them.

I'll ride into Athens. And what'll they cry then?

"Philip the Barbarian" or "Philip, captain general of all Greece"?

You will ride with me.

Alexander, this girl, Attalus' niece, she means very much to me.

My name is Eurydice.

I know your name.

Are you afraid to speak to me?


Forgive me for using the word "afraid" to Alexander.

Laughter sits well on your face. And on yours.

Could there be a bond between us? A bond?

I will not have you frown. Command comes easily to you.

It was not a command. An entreaty, a wish.

You are very young.

Older than you by a year.

And very beautiful.

You look at a woman like your father does.

Perhaps I'm... jealous.

I am... of his love for you.

Flattery comes easily to you, too. Does Alexander need flattery?


Why did you come here?

To find out if there will be hate between us.

Once, when I was much younger... Much?

Very much. father took a new woman into the house. I went to him and spoke out.

For my father has had many wives and mistresses, and many children by them.

There will be hate between us.

As I said, I was young and did not understand my father.

"Why" I asked "must there always be new rivals for the throne?"

He threw back his head, laughed, and he said

"My boy, if I surround you with competitors you will have all the more reason to surpass them in merit."

My father, as I said, had many wives and mistresses.

Tears spring easily to your eyes. I do not wear a mask as you do.

What I am is on my face, and what I see is on my tongue.

And what do you see?

A young girl, an old man and an ambitious general called Attalus.

And love? You do not see that at all, do you?

This is not the way I wanted it. What do you want?

To be able to love Philip, and to be loved in turn... in peace.

As his mistress, his wife or his queen?

As his queen.

So be it.

Alexander, I told you before, this girl means very much to me.

The Thebans will not let us pass. We fight tomorrow.

To fight means perhaps to die.

Again, please, let there be no quarrel between us.

I said... so be it.

Again, the Macedonian is on the march... the wolf, Philip, and his whelp, Alexander.

Again, all we hold sacred is in peril.

But here, at Chaeronea, the fate of Greece will once and for all be decided.

Shall it live under freedom? Or tyranny?

For this sacred struggle, even the graves of our fathers will yield up their dead.



Demosthenes declares openly that the battle of Chaeronea will decide once and for all who is to be master in Greece.

Macedonians, give him his answer!

Hail, Alexander, hero. Hero of Chaeronea.

We Athenians would like permission to bury our dead.

Let them lie and rot on the field of Chaeronea till they stink to the heavens.

To the hero of Chaeronea!


And now... to the victor.

To me! To Philip!

To Philip.

Fierce in battle, generous in victory.

You see, Memnon?

I defeat you and I invite you to dine with me.

Isn't that the way an Athenian gentleman behaves?

I could destroy Athens now, but I won't.

To destroy a centre of culture would be the act of a barbarian.

And that, Philip is not.

Is he, Memnon?

Is he, Athenians?

Is he, Demosthenes?

Is he, Demosthenes?

Is he?

Is he, Demosthenes?

Is he, Demosthenes?

Philip the Barbarian.

Philip the Barbarian Philip the Barbarian Philip the Barbarian dances over your dead bodies, you Athenians!

Father, you're Philip of Macedonia, now captain general of all Greece.

You're right. My victory, my kingdom, my Greece!

Not yours!

Philip the Barbarian!


Too much to drink.

Much too much to drink.



Saved my life.

He could have been king. Saved my life.

Don't ever forget that.

Philip the Barbarian Philip the Barbarian Philip...

A young girl... and a drunken, foolish old man.

In tribute to the heroic Athenian dead, I send their ashes back to Athens under the escort of my son Alexander.

And there, in Athens, a treaty of peace will be drawn up between us by my son Alexander.

To all those who died like men on the bloody field of Chaeronea, all hail!

Alexander rides to Athens, and I stay here.

It was a wise decision.

To win the war and lose the peace is folly.

There'd be no cheers for you in Athens.

Only hatred, and perhaps an assassin's dagger at your throat.

When and where will I meet that dagger, friend?

To my humble home, Alexander, and in the name of Athens, I bid you welcome.

Oratory, Demosthenes, is a noble profession, and, I am told, a rewarding one. How humble is your home, Aeschenes?

Almost Macedonian... empty of all, save victories.

Well said. Well rehearsed.

And well acted.

I have heard that there are no two better actors than Demosthenes and Aeschenes.

I should like to witness a performance. And I should like to know, where were all these wonderful physiques when we defeated you at Chaeronea?


Had so great a victory been mine, I would have said the same.

My wife, Barsine.

Barsine. And this, Stratocles, Athenian senator.

Thocian, general. Charidemus, commander of the Athenian fleet.

Barsine is a Persian name. I am both Persian and Greek.

Athens is now my home. Both my husband and I love it very much.

My father once said "Athens is neither a city nor a state. It's an idea."

I can understand that now that I'm here.

And Aristotle taught me that an idea is greater than a man. An idea is divine.

Do you believe that?

We demand no ransom nor tribute.

All Athenian prisoners of war shall go free.

We ask that all Greek city states and nations agree that no Greek in any part of the world shall bear arms against us.

And that is all? No.

Each state here agrees to supply men, arms and ships for the war against Persia.

Unlimited men? Unlimited arms? Unlimited ships?

Till victory be won. Whose victory?

These are the terms.

You see? We have lost the right to choose for whom and for what we are to die.

What have you gained?

For the first time in history, Greece is able to measure its strength with any empire.

A nation with a destiny, a divine mission to bring Greek culture to all the world.

Or have your ideas grown greater than your men?

Now you have that unity and strength to fulfil that mission.

And this is what I have brought you.

Philip of Macedonia further decrees that no Macedonian troops...

Philip of Macedon used words to gain his ends.

This boy believes in what he says.

Mother, I have brought you many tales from Athens, and many gifts... gifts for a queen.

Bring them to her, not to me. I am queen no longer.

Queen no longer? Divorced by your father's royal decree.

Philip has said to all Greece that his wife, your mother, is unfaithful.

I am leaving Pella. Also by royal decree?

Not by his words, by his deeds.

Here I am alone.

Behind my back, laughter.

Olympias wants no one's pity. I'll be treated like I once was or...

I did not think I had any tears left to shed.


No, Alexander.

Go to his wedding in peace. Accept it as the will of the gods.

I have my destiny, you have yours.

Greetings, companion... my son.


How do I tear down this wall that stands between us? By breach? Assault? Storm?

You built the wall. How? By marrying Eurydice?

You said "So be it." Were my words all you needed?

No. Then why seek my approval now?

Because you're my son.

Your divorce stated my mother was unfaithful.

Everyone worships the gods in their own way. Your mother...

But it states... That was a mistake.

A mistake that threw dirt on my name. I was angry, sick.

I acted without thinking. Not you, Father.

You've never done a thing without weighing it on the scale of your ambition.

You give, not because you want to. You made me regent.

You gave me my command at Chaeronea, sent me to Athens.

You, Alexander! You high-minded philosopher, you god among men, why did you accept, if not for love of the same things?

In heaven's name, let's talk of things as they really are.

A Macedonian princess!

Not from Epirus, nor Athens, but Macedonia.

Is it in your mind to cut me out of the succession?

You play a dangerous game with me, boy.

And you with me.

If you think victory at Chaeronea made you greater than you are, you'd better measure your shadow. I have measured it.

Why should that be in my mind?

Because you now see me as a rival, not as a son.

If I did, you wouldn't be alive.

Give me your hand.

Give it to me!

To the new queen!

And may the gods at long last give to Macedonia a legitimate heir to the throne.

You stupid, drunken fool!

You dare to call me a bastard?!


Look at him, Macedonians.

This is the man who is preparing to pass from Europe into Asia, but cannot even pass from one couch to another.

Mother, get dressed. We leave Pella tonight.

To all men in Greece, hail and rejoice.

On this day, to Philip of Macedonia and his queen, Eurydice, a son has been born.

These are Philip's words:

Let all strife cease.

Let all crimes be pardoned.

Let all in exile return home.

Your father bids you welcome.

The city states have sent their quota in men and arms.

We march on Persia before the month is out. There will be three armies.

You will command the one that marches east.

And Attalus?

He marches south with me. The ceremonies that will be held at Pella...

For the birth of his son? For many reasons.

...are very important.

All the ambassadors of Greece are here, as an expression of their loyalty.

It's fitting that you appear at your father's side.

My mother is to be treated with honour? Agreed.

I want the king's word for that.


Within the week, four of your companions are to be banished.

Harpalus, Ptolemy, my son Philotas, and Pausanias.

Why? Because I think it best.

Is their loyalty to me treason? When it sets you against me.

I believe this is what they have done from Chaeronea onwards, even during the months that you were in exile.

I've heard reports. And I have, too.

I know the reason that I'm back here in Pella.

I saw it in the streets. You need me here.

On this, I'm firm. And I am, too!

Let theirs be the choice.


I accept.

Then it's done.



How will you be able to live without your... god, Alexander?


I accepted exile, not disgrace.


And Philip laughed?

As though I were a stable boy.

Your quarrel's not with Attalus, but with Philip.

For Philip could have done you justice, but he laughed.

Come take the sword, this wretched hand of mine.

One deed, one act of glory.

My father once asked what a man should do to hand his name down to posterity.

He replied "kill the person who has accomplished the greatest deeds, and then, whenever that person is spoken of, he too will be remembered."

Mother! Alexander!

Pausanias, friend, you've had much to drink.

Go now and sleep. And tomorrow...


Tomorrow... king!

Mother... what thoughts do you put in his head?

None that are not already there. And what's in yours?

A name. Whose?

A baby's, the king's new son.

Philip has named him karanos.

A name, like any other.

The king who founded the Macedonian royal family was named karanos.

What's in Philip's mind?

What's in Philip's mind? What's in Philip's mind?

What's in Philip's mind?


Walk in front of me.

I'll walk alone.


Leave him alone.


May the gods curse the killer from now till evermore, whoever the killer may be.


neither on my hands... nor in my heart.

I swear it.


I hear you wait to declare who is to be your king.

According to ancient privilege, it is the right of the army, both by law and force of arms, to decide who shall be their king.

The hand that plunged the dagger into my father's body was the hand of my friend.

And I slew my friend.

My father's murder was carefully planned.

My friend was a tool used by others for larger ends, by men whose purses bulge with Persian gold, and who, for this gold, would betray their country and their holy cause.

From Demosthenes, the rabble-rouser in Athens, to men here in Pella.

And there is not world enough nor time enough for these men to escape my vengeance.

Soldiers, you were assembled here on the plains of Axios by my father, Philip, to be led to the greatest glory and riches that any army since the world began has ever yet achieved... the conquest and destruction of the Persian Empire.

Nothing is changed but the name of the king!

Alexander! Alexander! Alexander!


Delegates of the Greek states here assembled, at the Treaty of Corinth you elected my father captain general of all Greece, and pledged him loyalty.

I claim that loyalty, and his titles, now.


We pledge it.





Do you place value on pledges given at the point of spears?

If broken, I'll not hesitate at the gates of Athens, as my father did.

I do not doubt that, Alexander. And you do not have my oath.

For it is sacred only when, as a Greek, I have free choice.

Memnon, to be exiled from Greece for the rest of his life.

With, of course, the approval of Athens.

I also order the arrests of Aeropas and Hermanes for high treason.

To be executed in accordance with our ancient law.


She was very dear to me. She was as my child.

Then bury her like a queen, not like a thief in the night.

We Macedonians are a religious people.

A suicide must be buried in the night. Suicide?

So it will read. She took her own life.

The babe? Plucked from her, and thrown into the sacrificial flames in front of her.

For your mother is a religious woman and seeks to appease the gods.

Is the tale too horrible for your ears?

Shall I tell you, too, who placed the noose around her pretty, white young neck?

But I am a religious man, and accept the will of the gods.

What's man's fate is man's fate, both yours and mine.

O Father...

O Father Zeus, I will lay victories upon your altar the like of which no man or god has ever seen.

You god, that gave him to me, and for whom I have kept him all these years, do not break your vow.

If his life be short, as is the prophecy, give him in that short span of life that which is the prophecy also:

Eternal glory to the end of time.

I now claim the whole of Asia... land won by the spear.

I oppose meeting Alexander, now in battle, at the River Granicus.

This is Asia, where space is as vast as time, and both are on our side.

Here to the east... mountains, desert, wasteland, 2,000 thirsty miles to Babylon.

Here, along the shores of Asia Minor... rich cities, good harbours.

Here... Alexander, with neither enough men, money or supplies to do anything now but live off the land. He must move down the coast.

What do you propose?

Retreat and destroy everything before him.

Let him conquer nothing but burned-out land.

And when his supplies are gone, his lines cut... At a time and place of our choosing.

Retreat before this boy, this adventurer, this pirate?!

This boy brought Greece to its knees in 16 months. It took his father 20 years.

This is the Persian Empire. If necessary, we can put a million men against him.

But not at Granicus. There we stand equal in numbers. I fight one battle at a time.

Then let us fight it and have done with talk!

Talk?! Then fight it by yourselves. Memnon!

Darius, Emperor, you hired my skill in war.

He also hired your courage. If I doubted either, he would not be here.

Speak, Memnon.

My lords of Persia, listen well.

Alexander is like a lion on the scent of blood.

He needs a fight, a kill, and he needs it quickly.

If you feed the growing legend of his invincibility, if you give him victory in Persia, if we are defeated at Granicus...

You seem too sure of that, Greek.

The cities along the shores of Asia Minor will go over to him.

For they still consider themselves Greek. Persian for 200 years.

Greek or Persian, a man's roots are a man's roots.

Are they?

Is there also a doubt here of my loyalty?

My lords, let me speak bluntly.

I am a Greek, as you did call me, taking arms against a Greek.

This is not a game for me or for my men. We have to win, as do you.

This is a professional army we face.

You spoke bluntly, now I will.

These lands you speak of burning are ours. The crops are ours.

Handed down to the nobles of Persia by the great kings of Persia thousands of years ago... when men still lived like beasts on those Greek islands of his.

Not a foot of land, not a grain of wheat will be destroyed.

This is our decision, Darius, Emperor.

We will meet Alexander at Granicus, and we will destroy his army!

And I will kill him.

On your heads. On our heads.

Do you have stomach for this fight, Memnon?

Break of day?

Our women also wait.

For time is a thief.

I am not sending you to Babylon.

Who, then, will the king hold as hostage for your loyalty?

You'll go to Miletus with the rest of the women and wait for news of Granicus.

As you will. As I will.

I will many things.

I can't believe in what you're doing. Nor do I think that you do.

You have eyes and cannot see. I see that I have no choice.

No choice but to lead Greeks to death? They're mercenaries. They fight for pay.

And you? You ask me that now?

Shall I ask it of your body when it's brought back?

Would you have me play the traitor? What would you betray?

Half the night I've sat and listened to your talk of Babylon, the king, his nobles.

Even in your troubled sleep, the words you spoke drew a picture of twisted men to whom wheat stands higher than a man's life.

Who else opposes Alexander?

Who else should? Every man who hates tyranny.

Which do you hate most, tyranny or Alexander?

Those words are strange. This empire for which you fight is old and corrupt and begs destruction.

The world we live in begs destruction. No. It needs a new force, a new idea.

And that idea has come to Asia, as it came to Greece.

And like Greece, it's here. You see it, but you don't understand it.


I am both Persian and Greek, and I know both worlds.

Perhaps the Athens in which we believe is old and corrupt, too, but its ideas and glories are worth keeping alive.

Whose glories? Athens' or Alexander's?

Both, if needs be. A Persian victory will not do this. Alexander's will.

If you could not see it when he spoke in Athens, you must see it now.

Did you, when you went into exile with me?

I wasn't sure. But you went.

I am your wife. That's a word in your heart?

You ask me that now? Yes, now.

For I believe he's never left either your mind or your heart, has he?

It's a bitter farewell. Memnon...

For you, Memnon, I plead for you.

At Troy, Achilles found his Hector and killed him.

Who will be my Hector?

To the god of battles!


Alexander! Duck!

You treacherous, murderous Persian dogs!

We ask for quarter.

Every Greek in the world was pledged by sacred oath not to take arms against me.

I gave no such oath. But you were bound by it, like your men.

We now stand on the field of battle... you the victor, we the vanquished.

No. I as captain general of all Greece, and you as traitor to your people.

Not for myself but for my men, again I ask for quarter.

Ask it of the Persians, who deserted you.

How will you celebrate this victory?

At Chaeronea your father danced over the bodies of Greeks who fought for freedom.


You fight for pay! Earn it!

Then let it be to the death.

Of all the Greeks who fought at Granicus, no one escaped alive.

This, Alexander, is the legend of the Gordian knot.

In many years past, when we were sorely pressed, it was said that a king would arrive in a village cart who would help us and become our ruler.

This came about. And the king was Gordius, who left his cart here, as it stands, with this message:

That anyone who could unravel this knot would become ruler of Asia.

Many have tried.

All have failed.

Ephesus, Sardis, Helicarnassus.

He is cutting off the Persian fleet from every port along the coast of Asia Minor.

Alexander's turning the Aegean Sea into a Greek lake!

Alexander, your wound!

These Greeks to Macedonia, to till the soil and work in the mines to the end of their days.

The entire population to be sold into slavery.

And you, Athenians, you citizens of the capital of the world, you representatives of its culture, you dignitaries, emissaries, whom I find in Persia still conspiring with Darius as you did against my father, you will be held with us as hostages for Athens' fickle favours.

Do you think to win her favour by what you did at Miletus or Zeleia or Granicus?

Do you think those at home will ever forget such savagery?

And for those of us who might have come over to you, we have had our warning.

Against you it must be to the death!

Yours the victory, yours... the spoils.

You will be treated... according to your rank.

Barsine. Alexander, conqueror!

Is he? That's for you to say.

No, you. You sacked a city.

Look at me. Burned it.

Look at me! Looted, pillaged, taken a woman.

What do you expect to see?

What I saw in your eyes when I awoke. Because you want it so?

What I saw in your eyes in Athens. There I betrayed Memnon with my soul.

Here at Miletus, Alexander must be loved.

And where is Alexander's love? "You will be treated according to your rank"!

I did not mean... Those were your words!

My rank is hers. I will share both her glory and her shame.

(WHISPERS) Alexander!


I did not speak. Your lips formed words.

What do you now fear to say that you did not fear to say last night?

What thoughts drive through your storm-tossed brain?



You chose to go.


My head turns.

It swims.

And why must you always choose to be alone?

Alexander... now look at me.

These were found on the battlefield.

From Demosthenes... to Darius.

We need wait for the Athenian fleet no longer. Let's face it here, now, in Miletus.

Athens is not with us, neither is Greece. We have been betrayed!

Betrayed. It's over.

Whose voice do you speak with? I speak for myself.

The quarrel is not here. The issue is.

It has not been stated.

I see it in all your eyes... and your thoughts:

"Turn back. Turn back."

There is nothing in my eyes, nor in my thoughts, that is not on my tongue.

Nor ever will there be. Command, and I'll follow.

That is not enough. You're Macedonians, not Persian slaves. I want your hearts!

You propose to go on... without the Athenian fleet, without support, with a lifeline that stretches back more than a thousand leagues into Macedonia.

This is what your father would have done.

He would have left a garrison here, taken back the spoils to Macedonia in what little fleet we have left, forced Athens into supporting us, then invaded with an army five times as strong.

This your father would have done!

My father! My father! My father!

I am Alexander, not my father!

The hand that plunged the dagger into my father's body was the hand of my friend.

And I slew my friend.

Mine the sin, too.

The crown is mine by right of birth, isn't it?

Philip the Barbarian, Philip the Barbarian And nothing can stand in the way of Alexander's destiny, can it?

What's man's fate is man's fate, both yours and mine.

Macedonians, I am disbanding our fleet and sending it back to Macedonian shores.

We came here to Asia to conquer, to win... or to die.

Do you need further words from me?

You Greeks in chains, who fought for Persian pay, are free to go back to your homes or to serve under me as you choose.

For it is your birthright as Greeks to live under no tyranny, but as free men with a free choice.

You, too, are free to go back to Athens, if you wish, as I no longer need Athens.

For if she will not lead in this holy war, then she must follow.

For I will embrace in my cause any man...

Greek, Carian, Lydian, lonian... who believes in it.

Greece is where you are.

Where you walk.

Where you talk, breathe, live.

To Alexander, write:

Every nation of Asia have I, Darius the Persian, king of kings, king of lands of every tongue, ordered to be assembled on the plains of Babylon.

Such an army as the world has never seen before stands against you.

Therefore, we command you, withdraw and return.

Go back to the bosom of your mother Olympias.

For you are still an impudent and shameless boy, who in your madness and ignorance have come to Asia with your band of robbers to do mischief.

I send you a whip, a ball and a bag of gold. The whip to train you.

The ball so that you may play with boys of your own age and not meddle in the affairs of men. And the gold for expenses.

For I have heard that you are poor, and since I have gold as abundant as the sunlight, you need not come to Asia as a thief to steal it.

You should not have informed us of your vast amounts of gold and silver, because now we will fight harder until all your possessions are ours.

Nor have called me "thief" and "boy", for if you slay me, it will not be accounted a great triumph, because you will have slain merely a robber chief.

But if I slay you, which I intend to do, it will be said that this great king and warrior died by the hand of a little Greek boy.

For I am coming against you, and, having entrusted myself to the immortal gods, I shall be victorious over you.

Does he make camp?

Half a league from here they stand at arms, no baggage train, no tents pitched.

He will attack soon, within this night.

And we?

We will wait.

Order each man to stand at arms all through the night and to raise his voice in loud battle cries.




40,000 horse. Nearly a million infantry.

200 chariots, with scythes to cut horses' hooves.

Pits dug as traps for our cavalry.

1500 bowmen. Will the Persian move?

He hugs the earth like a child its mother. Make camp.

Make camp? Attack now, under cover of night. In the dark there is confusion.

On both sides, Parmenio.

I will not steal a victory. If I am to be destroyed, let it be by the light of day.

Tell the men to rest.




Oh! An evil omen! An evil omen!

Macedonians... disaster, destruction, death!

It is an omen of good fortune.

The Persian moon will be eclipsed by the Macedonian sun. Is it not so, Aristander?

Tell the men not to have fear.

The heavens are on our side.

O God of Fear, to you and against failure... I make sacrifice.

I now call upon all the gods to prove to me and to all men that I am truly the son of heaven, by giving me this day... victory.

This aid I beg in prayer with outstretched arms, Ahura Mazda.

Grant me through righteousness the increase of my kingdom, never to be destroyed.

Come to my support at my call.

You generals, companions, officers... this message you will bring to the troops under your command:

This is the final battle.

This day, Greece will be revenged, all Asia will be ours, its riches in our hands, and all our labours ended.

This, then, is the plan of battle.

We are outnumbered in everything save courage and discipline.

But the Macedonian army is such that even if I, Alexander, were to fall in battle, only one man would be lost.

The Persian such that if the head is cut off the rest of the body dies with it.

Therefore, Macedonians, hold and wait.

Hold and wait.

Then, when we charge, have but one thought:

Kill Darius! Kill Darius!

Kill Darius!



Darius's bow, his shield, his chariot.

The great king has fled! He has run away!

The great king has run away!


So this, it seems, is royalty.


My mother weeps for my father.

Grant us this, Alexander... that we may bury him before you put us to death.

Your father is alive.

I bear no hatred toward you or your family, Queen.

He's braver than his father. What's your name?

Ochus. And yours?




We will go to the north, to the Caspian Gate, to raise another army.

My wife and family, how are they?

Ha! Go on. Go on. Ha!

Alexander rides towards us. He is no more than ten leagues away.


Get away.

Get on!

Then die, Darius, Emperor.

Get away, quickly!

This is how I found him. Did he speak?

He asked for water. I gave him some. Did he speak?

Some words I did not understand well, about destiny and fate.

He gave me this to give to you.

Then he prayed. Then he died.

"My son, Alexander, look now what I was and what I am, with no one near me to even close my eyes."

"Let the Macedonians and Persians sit in mourning for me."

"Take my daughter, Roxane, for your wife, so that the seed of Darius and of Philip may be mingled in her, and that our worlds may become as one."

"Into your hands... I commend my spirit."

"That our worlds may become as one."

"Into your hands I commend my spirit."

Let the man who slew my enemy come forward, for I seek to honour him.

Let him fear not, for I swear by the gods and by the life of my mother Olympias that I will make him renowned and exalted over my troops.

Why did you betray, make prisoner and finally murder Darius?

I did not act alone. We agreed that such an act would win favour in your eyes.

And the crown of Persia which you had the arrogance to place upon your head?

You won hatred and death. You swore falsely!

No. You.

For he was both your lord and your kinsman, and you swore loyalty to him.

I will keep my oath. You will be exalted above my troops.

Impaled upon a stake, and there be left for all men to see and remember... that only a king... may slay a king.

I weep, friends.

I weep for all those Greeks who did not live long enough to see such a sight as Alexander on the throne of Darius.

For Ptolemy, a throne, too.

Thrones for all of you, for all of you shall be kings.

Hephaestion, Nearchus, Harpalus, all my companions, generals, soldiers... kings, all of you.

Ask and it's yours.

Gold, silver, spices, jewels, slaves, women... yours.

Cleitus! Where's Cleitus?

Cleitus is drunk. And has what he needs.


I, too, like Alexander, give to you everything I've gained.

For I, too, like Alexander, am rich enough in glory.

My son, to make yourself less great would be far better.

To my king, Alexander of Macedonia, son of Philip, who led us here and will lead us safely home again victorious conquerors.

The war is over! Darius is dead!

The city burns! Our soldiers have set fire to the city.

Look, it's burning. Look!

Look, it's on fire! It burns.

As should this palace, a symbol to all the world that the holy war is ended, that the Persian Empire is no more, that Alexander has revenged Greece.

Women, who followed the camp of Alexander all over Asia and dreamed of this day when we should return to Greece, shall I, Barsine, throw the first torch for you?

Or will you, Alexander, throw it for us?


No. Put them out.

Put the flames out! It's my palace!

My palace! Mine! Mine! Mine!

It must not be said of Alexander that wherever he passed only charred ruins remain as his monument.

It will be said of Alexander what he has always wanted said.

You think me too drunk not to know that you, too, seek to betray me?

Betray? Either that, or you cannot understand.

I understand too well. What?

The fire that burns inside you, put that out, too.

That's heaven's fire. Alexander, let there be an end.

Why? So that you can hold me chained? Yes.

Is this the degree of your love? My love has no degree.

You fear I'll leave you for another woman.

No other woman is my rival except your mother, and your frenzied desire to outdo your father!

I am not Philip's son. I am the son of God.

The world is my domain, and my mission is to rule it and rebuild it.

We will march to the end of the world.

It's men who must follow you, not gods.

Men will. All men will!


Alexander asks that we now formally proclaim him a god, son of Zeus Ammon.

"O Athenians, when will you see your days of glory again?"

Demosthenes once asked.

Well, now you have your answer... never!

Alexander, who could have conquered for us, but now conquers for himself and stands master of two worlds...

Europe and Asia!

In ten short years he has conquered the world.

He has fought his way 2,000 miles to Babylon.

Miletus, Sidon, Tyre... all these great cities have fallen before him.

He has entered Egypt. He has crossed the Euphrates.

Babylon, Persepolis, Susa... all are his treasure houses.

He has done away with Darius, and made himself king of kings over all his domain.

Master of two worlds, he has achieved what no man has achieved in history.

And now he has crossed into the lands of India.

He has gone further than any man or god before him.

He has conquered man.

He has outdone the gods!

Make the resolution, Demosthenes. Proclaim him a god.

Proclaim Alexander a god!

Why should the blood of thousands be shed to gratify the ambition of one man, who has disowned his father and insanely affects kinship with the gods?

This I've heard the soldiers say.

You will proceed to Ecbatana.

You will take command, to ensure our lines of communication against attack.

Farewell, Parmenio.

Philotas, you are under arrest... for high treason.

No more. No more.

Whatever you want me to say, I'll say.

It's true, I plotted against you.


I and my father Parmenio!

For your pleasure, great king, a contest of skill between a Macedonian and a Persian.

20 gold talents, the province of Bactria... my king has been very generous to me...

I'll wager it all against one of your Persian robes, which I, too, must now learn to wear, that my Macedonian there can beat any Persian that you bring against him.

Come, Persians, will you wager? Will you fight?

Will you hold your tongue? No.

That's for slaves to do, not free men.

Either I am that, or do not invite me to dine.

Or drink, for the wine has gone to your head.

Your father, Philip, won many battles as drunk as Dionysus.

Send in your man.

Let him live. No. Let him die, as have so many Macedonians, by order!

Cleitus, brother. Can I be a brother to a god?

It is by the blood of Macedonians that you have grown so great.

We were the victors, not the Persians. There are no victors nor vanquished.

There are vanquished. All those who came with you are vanquished.

If you cannot hold your tongue, go!

Your tongue is thick with wine, too. Is that seemly for the king of kings?

Cleitus is dismissed by Alexander!

In heaven's name, go! No, till I've had my say.

Then stand on your drunken feet, if you can, and say it!

You cast aside every man who's helped you, even your father.


I saved his life at Chaeronea. I saved yours at Granicus.

He bore me a grudge for this. As you bear me one.

As you do to any man who might throw a shadow on your glory.

There is no man alive who can throw a shadow on my glory.

There are dead men who can, and do! Philip, Attalus, Parmenio.

These words are little short of treason! They are not short of truth.

Let those who will bow before your Persian robes and throne, and accept that you have disclaimed your father and pass yourself off as the son of God!

Let go of me! Am I Darius, to be held prisoner by my friends?

Let go!

"Are these your customs? Is it thus that Greece rewards her heroes?"

"Shall one man claim the trophies won by thousands?"

I quote from Euripides, your favourite poet, as did Pausanias and your mother, before Philip's murder!

Go now!

To Philip,

Attalus... and Parmenio.

Cleitus, brother!

Cleitus, brother!

Is this Alexander, who cries because he has killed a man?

Can this be he, who lies there, crying in fear of the law and of the tongues of men, when he himself is the law and the measure of right and wrong?

Whatever is done by supreme power is right.

These are words.

And Cleitus is dead, and I killed him.

We will go back, Macedonians.

And I, Ptolemy, companion of Alexander, later Pharaoh of Egypt, bear witness to the terrible return from India to Babylon.

For the first time in the ten years since he left Macedonia, Alexander, sick and weary, retreated.

But he turned even this retreat into victory.

For within him, out of the death of Cleitus, a new idea was born, a new understanding, a new driving force... that it was not lands that must be conquered, but the hearts of men.

And at the end of the thirsty road, at Susa, Alexander pledged himself and us to this new idea.

Make this union fruitful as the seeds of the earth, and let the children of Alexander, a Greek, and Roxane, a Persian, be of both worlds and live in one.

And let this be true of all you Greeks and Persians who are married here this day at Susa.

And let this be true of all you Greeks and Persians who are married here this day at Susa.

And let this be true of all you Greeks and Persians who are married here this day...


To you, you men and women with whom I have lived and with whom I have died...

Philip, Eurydice, Parmenio, Philotas, Darius... and Cleitus... my brother...

I offer this prayer.

And to you for peace I pray, that Macedonians and Persians and all the people of my empire will always be alike.

Not merely subjects, but people who will live and build together in harmony and unity of heart and of mind.

For we are all alike under God.

And if God is the father, then he is the father of all.


Oh, no.

No, no. Not yet.

There is still so much to do.


Man's fate.

You gods, have I not done enough in this short span of life to sit among you?

Must I be cursed with man's fate?

Barsine, after I am dead, see to it that my body is carried out and cast into the River Euphrates, so that it may disappear, that men will forever believe that from the gods I came... and to the gods... I returned.

To whom do you leave your empire?

To... the strongest.

Wonders are many, but none is more wonderful than man himself.