By R. Stoneman

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Only Sparta politely insisted that ‘their ancient traditions did not allow them to serve a foreign leader’; but they did not look like making trouble. Alexander’s progress into Greece ended at Corinth where he was 20 acknowledged as leader of the Hellenic League, and thus of the war against Persia. But before he returned to Macedonia two interesting and significant events took place. The first was his encounter with the Cynic philosopher Diogenes. The Cynics (the name means ‘dog-like’) set themselves against normal human standards and aimed to live ‘in accordance with nature’ by eschewing such comforts as beds and drinking-vessels.

The long reign of Cambyses’ successor Darius (521–486) was interrupted by an unsuccessful revolt of the Ionian Greeks in 499. The involvement of Athens and Eretria in this revolt prompted a campaign against Greece in which the Persians were decisively defeated by the combined forces of the Greeks at the battle of Marathon (September 490). But when Darius’ son Xerxes came to the throne he prepared new plans for the conquest of Greece. Again the Greeks defeated the Persians in a series of great battles, by sea at Salamis (480) and later at Mycale (479), and by land at Plataea (479), where Thebes had fought on the Persian side.

Bosworth takes a more lenient view than Badian of Alexander’s behaviour here (1988, 252–4): the settlement of Priene, for example, is ‘generous’ – but only because it did not matter militarily. Alexander wanted to leave a permanent mark of his visit at Ephesus, and offered to restore the temple of Artemis which, according to tradition, 28 had been burned down on the night of Alexander’s birth by a madman named Herostratus who wished thus to make his name immortal. 22), and the offer was refused.

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