Document 2 – The Legend of the Helmet

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HOW GREAT WAS ALEXANDER THE GREAT? 6th Grade Ancient Civ Mrs. Longwell

Document 2 – The Legend of the Helmet

The army was crossing a desert of sand; the sun was already blazing down upon them, but they were struggling on under the necessity of reaching water, which was still far away. Alexander, like everyone else, was tormented by his thirst, but he was nonetheless marching on foot at the head of his men. It was all he could do to keep going, but he did so, and the result (as always) was that the men were the better able to endure their misery when they saw that it was equally shared.
As they toiled on, a party which had gone off looking for water found some – just a wretched little trickle collected in a shallow gully. They scooped up with difficulty what they could and hurried back . . . to Alexander. Then, just before they reached him, they tipped the water into a helmet and gave it to him. Alexander, with a word of thanks for the gift, took the helmet, and , in full view of his troops, poured the water on the ground. So extraordinary was the effect of this action that the water wasted by Alexander was as good as a drink for every man in the army.

Source: Lucius Flavius Arrianus, The Campaigns of Alexander, circa 130CE

Note: This legend was told by some of the ancient biographers of Alexander the Great. While details of the story might not be true, these stories can reveal information about Alexander that are probably accurate.

  1. When was this document written? __________ How long after Alexander’s death is that? ______

  2. Is this document a primary or secondary source of information? _________________ How do you know it is? __________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  3. Why do you feel Alexander behaved the way he did even though he was king? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  4. How do you think Alexander would have defined the word ‘equality’? ______________________ __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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