HOW TO TAKE A CRITIQUE A lesson from ancient history

May 24, 2020

 

Upon reading the work of Jacob Abbott, I've come across a rather interesting passage that I believe hides a powerful message within. 

Alexander has just launched his audacious campaign to submit the whole of Asia and defeat once and for all the old Greeks foe - the Mighty Persian Empire, then ruled by Darius III. 

He had so far achieved incredible success against the Satraps armies in Asia Minor, preparing to penetrate deeper into Persian dominion.

Darius, while assembling his army (whose historians reported to be from 10 to 20 times the size of Alexander's, who counted at the beginning no more than 35000 heads). Among his troops, said to be composed by people of all nations, there were also Greeks mercenaries. One of them, decided to speak and offer his opinion before engaging Alexander's army in battle. 
 

 

 

There were even some Greek officers and counselors in the family and court of Darius. One of them, named Charidemus, offended the king very much by the free opinion which he expressed of the uselessness of all his pomp and parade in preparing for an encounter with such an enemy as Alexander. "Perhaps," said Charidemus, "you may not be pleased with my speaking to you plainly, but if I do not do it now, it will be too late hereafter. This great parade and pomp, and this enormous multitude of men, might be formidable to your Asiatic neighbors; but such sort of preparation will be of little avail against Alexander and his Greeks. Your army is resplendent with purple and gold. No one who had not seen it could conceive of its magnificence; but it will not be of any avail against the terrible energy of the Greeks. Their minds are bent on something very different from idle show. They are intent on securing the substantial excellence of their weapons, and on acquiring the discipline and the hardihood essential for the most efficient use of them. They will despise all your parade of purple and gold. They will not even value it as plunder. They glory in their ability to dispense with all the luxuries and conveniences of life. They live upon the coarsest food. At night they sleep upon the bare ground. By day they are always on the march. They brave hunger, cold, and every species of exposure with pride and pleasure, having the greatest contempt for any thing like softness and effeminacy of character. All this pomp and pageantry, with inefficient weapons, and inefficient men to wield them, will be of no avail against their invincible courage and energy; and the best disposition that you can make of all your gold, and silver, and other treasures, is to send it away and procure good soldiers with it, if indeed gold and silver will procure them."
The Greeks were habituated to energetic speaking as well as acting, but Charidemus did not sufficiently consider that the Persians were not accustomed to hear such plain language as this. Darius was very much displeased. In his anger he condemned him to death. "Very well," said Charidemus, "I can die. But my avenger is at hand. My advice is good, and Alexander will soon punish you for not regarding it."

 

Jacob Abbott, Alexander the Great, Makers of History

 

 

 

 

 

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