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Secrets From Aristotle and Alexander’s Conversations Revealed!

Secrets From Aristotle and Alexander’s Conversations Revealed!

Aristotle and Alexander the Great need no introduction. While one is a venerable Greek philosopher who shaped Western thought and civilisation, the other transformed the world through his conquests of far-flung lands such as Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia and others. The Secret of Secrets, a book believed to have been written by the revered philosopher to guide his most famous student Alexander, during his global conquests, included letters between the two great minds and covered a vast range of topics such as politics, ethics, astrology, medicine, alchemy and others. The esoteric treatise became popular after it began to be translated in other languages such as Syriac, Arabic, Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Hebrew, Spanish and Latin. It is widely read across the world even today owing to some wonderful insights it provides us for an ethical and moral life. Here are some meaningful excerpts.

Alexander: O my excellent preceptor and just minister, I inform you that I have found in the land of Persia men possessing sound judgement and powerful understanding, who are ambitious of bearing rule.  Hence I have decided to put them all to death.  What is your opinion in this matter?

Aristotle: It is no use putting to death the men you have conquered; for their land will, by the laws of nature, breed another generation which will be similar. The character of these men is determined by the nature of the air of their country and the waters they habitually drink. The best course for you is to accept them as they are, and to seek to accommodate them to your concepts by winning them over through kindness.

(The treatise mentions that after following Aristotle’s advice on the matter of killing or not killing the Persians, Alexander achieved immense success in his Persian conquest.)

“By following his {Aristotle’s} good advice and obeying his commands, Alexander achieved his famous conquests of cities and countries, and ruled supreme in the regions of the earth far and wide, Arabs as well as Persians coming under his sway; nor did he {Alexander} ever oppose him {Aristotle} in word or deed.”

The above exchange highlights the importance of acceptance and kindness, which is applicable even in today’s times. By not killing his new subjects, Alexander was able to learn new the ways of their cultures and also teach them the ways of the Greek world, which facilitated a rich cultural exchange between Greece and various other countries and led to the development of a globally united and interconnected civilisation. The influence of the Hellenic culture pervades modern civilisation even today, in the form of Greek philosophy, poetry, prose, art, architecture and socio-cultural concepts such as democracy, theatre and the world-famous Olympic Games!

The Secret of Secrets also touched on matters regarding politics and good counsel, which are relevant especially in today’s modern managerial environment, for sound judgement and decisions.

Aristotle: Let there be five ministers to you, and consult them all separately in all your affairs. That will better serve you. And do not reveal to them your own thinking and intention, and do not let any of them know whose counsel you prefer, and do not let them think that you stand in need of their counsel, or else they may have contempt for you. And collect together all their counsels in your own mind as the brain does with that which the senses bring to it. Then ask the help of God in your affair, and lean towards that counsel which is opposite to your own desire.

Have only one counsellor, and take counsel with him in all your intentions and listen to his advice, even if it be contrary to your desires, for then that advice would be a true one.

The above text, though seemingly contradictory, talks about having multiple advisors who are trustworthy, reliable and objective. Different opinions can provide one with different views and ideas on a particular subject, which can help widen one’s horizons and choose the best alternative from an available set of options. Moreover, if one is confused about a particular decision, it is best to approach a wise person who can provide an objective view about the situation and safeguard you from follies and errors which could have incurred otherwise.

Though the lessons available from The Secret of Secrets are few and limited, if imbibed well, they can power our lives greatly and guide us to better living.

Read Also: The Most Famous Teacher-Student Pairs The World Shall Never Forget

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