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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Letter from Alexander the Great to the Chians, 334 or 333/2 BC

The following is an English translation of this letter (inscribed on stone, see picture to left) from Alexander the Great to the Chians. It dates to 334 or 333/2 BC:

From king Alexander to the people of Chios,
written in the prytany of Deisitheos.

All those exiled from Chios are to return, and the constitution on Chios is to be democratic. Drafters of legislation are to be selected to write and emend the laws so as to ensure that there be no impediment to a democratic constitution and the return of the exiles. Anything already emended or drafted is to be referred to Alexander.

The people of Chios are to supply twenty triremes, with crews, at their own expense, and these are to sail for as long as the rest of the Greek naval force accompanies us at sea.

With respect to those men who betrayed the city to the barbarians, all those who escaped are to be exiled from all the cities that share the peace [of Corinth], and to be liable to seizure under the decree of the Greeks. Those who have been caught are to be brought back and tried in the Council of the Greeks. In the event of disagreement between those who have returned and those in the city, in that matter they are to be judged by us.

A wicked thought enters into my mind: Would it be terribly unfair if we changed the name of Alexander to Bush, Chios to Iraq, triremes to Iraqi soldiers or police...?


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