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Alexander the Great's first tutor as a young man, Leonidas was a relative of
Olympias. He instilled in Alexander his ascetic nature which became famous
during his future campaigns, where he lived simply, in Spartan way, eating and
sleeping together with his troops. He also provides the most entertaining
anecdote concerning Alexander The Not-So-Great. In his masterly history,
Alexander the Great (now out of print - see Alexander of Macedon), Peter
Alexander did not forget his old bear of a tutor... Once when the young
prince was offering sacrifice, with would-be royal lavishness he scooped
up two whole fistfuls of incense to cast on the altar-fire. This brought
down a stinging rebuke on his head from his tutor. 'When you've
conquered the spice-bearing regions,' Leonidas said, with ...
elaborate sarcasm..., 'you can throw away all the incense you like.
Till then, don't waste it.'
Leonidas was stern and controlling, and was in the habit of searching
Alexander's things to insure that Olympias had not smuggled any luxuries to
her son when he was young
Years later, Alexander captured Gaza, the main spice entrepot for the
whole Middle East. As always, he sent presents home to his mother
and his sister. But this time there was one for Leonidas as well. A
consignment of no less than eighteen tons of frankincense and myrrh
was delivered to the old man, 'in remembrance of the hope with which
that teacher had inspired his boyhood' -- together with an admonition
not to be parsimonious towards the gods.
We like him.
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