Aristotle’s advice to Alexander the Great on Persian elites

Artistotle's advice to Alexander the Great

One of the most frequently copied and widely disseminated books in Europe from the thirteenth to the fifteenth centuries was the Secret of Secrets.  Formally it contains advice from the great philosopher Aristotle to the world-conqueror Alexander the Great.  Aristotle’s advice covers everything from Alexander’s diet and personal hygiene to how to conduct war.  Enmeshed with this technical advice are elite political interests responding to changing political circumstances across more than a millennium.

The Secret of Secrets includes a purported exchange of letters between Aristotle and Alexander.  According to Arabic manuscripts probably conveying text written before 987, Alexander wrote to Aristotle:

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? [1]

Aristotle responded:

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. [2]

According to the Secret of Secrets, Alexander followed Aristotle’s advice.  The Persians hence became Alexander’s most loyal subjects.   The Secret of Secrets credits Aristotle for Alexander’s famous conquests:

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. [3]

This account of Aristotle’s advice to Alexander bolsters the value of counselors, secretaries, and administrative elites.  Such persons undoubtedly played an important role in ensuring that the Secret of Secrets was frequently copied and widely disseminated.

The political context of Aristotle’s advice to Alexander in the Secret of Secrets can plausibly be specified more precisely.  The Arab conquerors of the Persian Sassanian Empire needed skilled administrators.  Politically ambitious Persian men such as ibn al-Muqaffa sought from the Arab conquerors recognition as persons “possessing sound judgment and powerful understanding.”[4]  The Arabs were naturally suspicious of the Persians’ political loyalty.  The political question for the Arab rulers was whether to wipe out the Persian elite or co-opt them into Arab-ruled government.  Aristotle’s advice favored Arab accommodation of the Persian elite.

Aristotle’s specific reason for Alexander accommodating the Persian elite draws upon Galenic-Hippocratic technical knowledge.  In his treatise On Airs, Waters, and Places, Hippocrates described the importance of a place’s airs and waters in shaping the characters of persons.  In the mid-ninth century, Hunayn ibn Ishaq translated Hippocrates’ treatise into Arabic.  Hunayn also wrote a commentary on it.  Hunayn’s nephew Hubaysh translated into Arabic Galen’s commentary on Hippocrates’ treatise.[5]  Aristotle’s advice on the Persian elites was based upon Greek knowledge known in Arabic by the mid-ninth century.

In the Secret of Secrets, a story of a Zoroastrian and a Jew supports Aristotle’s advice by teaching Islamic confidence in God’s justice in dealing with treacherous others.  The Zoroastrian was riding on a mule and carrying ample provisions.  The Jew was walking and bereft of provisions.  The Zoroastrian asked the Jew about his faith.  The Jew described his faith and declared that it was lawful for him to shed the blood and take the possessions of non-Jews.  The Jew in turn asked the Zoroastrian about his faith.  The Zoroastrian declared that he wished well to all persons.  The Jew questioned the Zoroastrian further:

Said the Jew: “But if you are treated with cruelty and oppression, what will you do?”  The Zoroastrian replied, “I know that in Heaven there is a God who is all-knowing, just and wise.  Nothing is hidden from Him of what His creatures do.  He rewards those who do good for their good deeds and punishes the evil-doers for their evil actions.” [6]

The Jew then asked to the Zoroastrian to give him food, drink, and to let him ride on the mule.  The Zoroastrian did so.  The Jew then galloped off on the Zoroastrian’s mule.  The Zoroastrian, alone, without provisions, feared that he would die.  He prayed to God for justice.  The mule then bucked off the Jew and grievously injured him.  When the Zoroastrian came upon the mule and the Jew, the Zoroastrian re-mounted and started to ride off.  The Jew pleaded for pity and help.  The Zoroastrian picked up the Jew and carried him to the city.  There the Zoroastrian placed the Jew in the care of his relatives.  This didactic story probably wasn’t meant to teach that Jews are evil.  The ethics ascribed to the Jew are practical ethics undoubtedly common across human tribal groups.  The Zoroastrian’s goodness and Islamic-like faith seems to be the primary point of the story.  The story provides clever narrative support for the Persian elite living under formerly tribal Arab rulers now proclaiming Islam.

The frame for the story of the Zoroastrian and the Jew emphasizes that the Zoroastrian is a true Muslim.  The story is introduced thus:

O Alexander, do not consult about your actions any one who is not a true believer and has no faith in God.  And the best of believers is he who believes in religion as well as in your Law and faith.  Take care that the same thing may not happen to you that happened to two men {the Zoroastrian and the Jew} who were going together on the way.

Here’s how the story ends:

The Zoroastrian was moved with pity, and lifting the Jew up on the mule brought him to the city and made him over to his relations.  The Jew died after a few days.  The king of that country hearing the account of the Jew and the Zoroastrian, made the latter his companion and friend.  The Zoroastrian on account of his wisdom and sincerity of faith was soon made his wazir and one of the chosen grandees of his court. [7]

The introductory advice to trust only those with true faith in God and the concluding reward for the Zoroastrian with universal pity can be reconciled with particular political understandings.  Alexander maps to the Muslim-Arab Caliph.  He must reject tribalism to live.  The true believers are those with the universal values of Muslims.  The Zoroastrian was thus a Persian Muslim avant la lettre.   He received the high government post that he deserved.

The Secret of Secrets rewrote Aristotle’s position in prior history of Alexander the Great.   Alexander, like the later Arab conquerors, struggled with how to incorporate the Persian elite into his rule.  After a dispute with his fellow Macedonians, Alexander appointed Persians to high commands (he named the Persians “kinsmen”).  The Macedonians were stunned.  Alexander subsequently reconciled with them.  At a public banquet, he “prayed that the Macedonians and Persians might enjoy concord and partnership in the empire.”[8]  Plutarch claimed that Alexander acted contrary to the advice of Aristotle:

For Alexander did not follow Aristotle’s advice to treat the Greeks as if he were their leader, and other peoples as if he were their master; to have regard for the Greeks as for friends and kindred, but to conduct himself toward other peoples as though they were plants or animals; for to do so would have been to cumber his leadership with numerous battles and banishments and festering seditions.  But, as he believed that he came as a heaven-sent governor to all, and as a mediator for the whole world, those whom he could not persuade to unite with him, he conquered by force of arms, and he brought together into one body all men everywhere, uniting and mixing in one great loving-cup, as it were, men’s lives, their characters, their marriages, their very habits of life.  He bade them all consider as their fatherland the whole inhabited earth, as their stronghold and protection his camp, as akin to them all good men, and as foreigners only the wicked; they should not distinguish between Grecian and foreigner by Grecian cloak and targe, or scimitar and jacket; but the distinguishing mark of the Grecian should be seen in virtue, and that of the foreigner in iniquity; clothing and food, marriage and manner of life they should regard as common to all, being blended into one by ties of blood and children. [9]

Plutarch’s account of Aristotle’s advice to Alexander is consistent with some of Aristotle’s writings.[10]  Alexander’s policy of Persian-Macedonian fusion, including intermarriage, is well-documented.[11]  Persian intellectual elites under their Arab conquerors had an interest in reversing Aristotle’s advice to Alexander.[12]  Galenic-Hippocratic medical reasoning provided an intellectual basis for rationalizing, with constructed advice from Aristotle, Alexander’s actual practices as conqueror of Persia.

As the Secret of Secrets traveled through history away from Persian elites seeking places in the early Arab-Islamic empire, politically ambitious writers adapted it to new political circumstances.  Drawing upon medical and numerical analysis (five senses, five is a perfect number), the Secret of Secrets advised having five ministers:

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. [13]

As the Secret of Secrets diffused from the grand Abbasid caliphate in pre-tenth-century Persia westward and forward in time, it was adapted to advise having only one minister:

Have only one counselor, 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. [14]

That change plausibly reflects the decreasing scope of political rule.  Rulers with smaller courts could not support as many advisers.  Moreover, the politically ambitious purveyors of the Secret of Secrets seem to have become concerned about Byzantine Greeks and northerners.  In the Secret of Secrets, the story of the Zoroastrian and the Jew came to be replaced by this advice:

I command and warn you not to choose as wazir a blue-eyed man, especially if he is ruddy {red-haired}; him beware of most of all; do not trust a man having these two characteristics with any of your affairs; be carefully on your guard against him; beware also of your relatives as you beware of the Indian snakes which kill with their look.  And know that excessive ruddiness together with blue eyes is a sign of vileness and deceit and treachery and envy, essential in human nature, and grounded in the formation of man. [15]

An Arabic text on physiognomy, which was based on a ancient Greek text, described “inhabitants of the northern parts” as “tall, white, red-haired, blue-eyed.”  The “pure Greek” was “white in color, mixed with red,” had hair “soft and red,” and “moist, bluish-black” eyes.[16]   The Secret of Secrets, styled as Aristotle’s advice to Alexander, came to warn about persons who looked like Aristotle.

The Secret of Secrets documents technical knowledge closely tied to elite political interests.  That’s not a good form for communicating true knowledge.  Seeking truth and sharing true knowledge are natural human propensities.  So too are pursuing a variety of personal interests.  Good forms for communicating true knowledge align human propensities for truth and sharing with other personal interests.

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Notes:

[1] Kitab sirr al-asrar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets), from Arabic trans. Ali (1920) p. 177.  In Latin translation Kitab sirr al-asrar was known as Secretum Secretorum or Secreta Secretorum.  On dating the letters before 987, see Manzalaoui (1974) p. 158.   The prologue of Kitab sirr al-asrar describes the work as Yahya ibn al-Batriq‘s translation from Greek into Syriac and then into Arabic.  Al-Batriq worked from 796 to 806.   However, the Arabic style does not appear to be that of al-Batriq.  Id. p. 159.  Id., pp. 162-6, 193, suggest that the letters originated as Hellenistic pseudo-Aristotelian epistles and were translated into Arabic during the Umayyad caliphate (661-750).

[2] Id. trans. Manzalaoui (1974) p. 195.   Apparently less literal but similar is the translation of Ali (1920) p. 177.

[3] Id. trans. Ali (1920) pp. 176-7.

[4] From letter of Alexander to Aristotle, cited in note [1] above.  Ibn al-Muqaffa translated Kalilah and Dimnah into Arabic about 750.  On ibn al-Muqaffa’s circumstances, thinking, and aspirations, see Kristó-Nagy (2013) and London (2008).

[5] Manzalaoui (1974) pp. 194-5, 215-6.   Reference to Hippocrates’ On Airs, Waters, and Places in the late-ninth-century Tarikh of Ya’qilbi seems to have come from a translation other than Hunayn’s.  Id. pp. 215-6.  If Aristotle’s advice to Alexander was written earlier than Hunayn’s translation of On Airs, Waters, and Places (mid-ninth century), and Aristotle’s advice was not translated from a Greek source, then apparently On Airs, Waters, and Places was known in Arabic prior to Hunayn’s translation of it.

[6] From Arabic trans. Ali (1920) p. 240.  This story occurs in nearly identical form in al-Tawhidi’s tenth-century al-Imta’wal-mu’anasa, as preserved in al-Tha’alibi history of Persian kings.  For an English translation, see Bürgel (1999) pp. 207-8.  Similar themes occur in the parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) and in the tenth-century Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa (Epistle 38, on resurrection, partial translation of dialogue).  Ames (1957) argues that the story has its source in Greco-Roman non-Christian polemic against Jews.  Manzalaoui (1974), p. 183, places the story’s origin in Sassanian Persia.  In any case, its use in the Secret of Secrets seems to me to be related to the position of the Persian elite in Persia after the coming of Islam.

[7] The introductory and concluding framing in Kitab sirr al-asrar, trans. Ali (1920) pp. 239-40, 241. On the concluding framing, cf. Luke 10:33-5 (Samaritan’s care for wounded man). The story of the Zoroastrian and the Jew and its framing, along with Aristotle’s advice to Alexander, seem to me most relevant to Persia about 750.  That’s about the time of ibn al-Muqaffa’s translation of Kalilah and Dimnah.

[8] Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri (Campaigns of Alexander), 7.11.1-9, trans. Mensch (2010) pp. 287-90.  Here’s an older translation freely available online.  On Alexander’s Persian-Macedonian personnel policies, see Badian (1958) and Romm (2010).  On Persian interests and responses to Alexander, see Briant (2002) pp. 850-5.

[9] Plutarch, De Fortuna Alexandri (On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander), I.6, from Moralia, trans. Loeb Classical Library, vol IV (1936).  Plutarch’s account is highly rhetorical and tendentious.  Nonetheless, the contrast between Aristotle’s advice and Alexander’s practice is probably historical.  Badian (1958) p. 443.

[10] Aristotle, Politics, 1.8, 7.7 (barbarians as naturally slaves intended to be ruled; Greeks as having natural capacity for rule).

[11] Alexander married Persian women and arranged at Susa a mass ceremony of marriage between Macedonian men and Persian women.  For relevant discussion, Romm (2010).

[12] The first-century Roman geographer Strabo cites Eratosthenes as referring to “those who advised Alexander to treat the Greeks as friends but the Barbarians as enemies.”  Strabo notes:

Eratosthenes goes on to say that it would be better to make such divisions according to good qualities and bad qualities; for not only are many of the Greeks bad, but many of the Barbarians are refined — Indians and Arians, for example, and, further, Romans and Carthaginians, who carry on their governments so admirably. And this, he says, is the reason why Alexander, disregarding his advisers, welcomed as many as he could of the men of fair repute and did them favours — just as if those who have made such a division, placing some people in the category of censure, others in that of praise, did so for any other reason than that in some people there prevail the law-abiding and the political instinct, and the qualities associated with education and powers of speech, whereas in other people the opposite characteristics prevail! And so Alexander, not disregarding his advisers, but rather accepting their opinion, did what was consistent with, not contrary to, their advice; for he had regard to the real intent of those who gave him counsel.

Strabo, Geography, 1.4.9 (translated Loeb Classical Library, Vol. 1 (1917)).  Strabo, who was of the intellectual elite, rationalized ex poste “the real intent of those who gave him {Alexander} counsel.”  Badian (1958), p. 433 with ft. 34, described Strabo’s rationalization as “peurile.”  As the textual history of the Secret of Secrets suggests, Strabo supporting those in his socio-intellectual class more generally reflects typical intellectual practice.

[13] Kitab sirr al-asrar, trans. Ali (1920) p. 232.  I’ve modernized this and subsequent translations from id.

[14] Id. ft. 2, W manuscript variant.  That’s the variant that occurs in Yehuda al-Harizi’s translation of Kitab sirr al-asrar into Hebrew in Muslim Spain about the year 1200.  See Gaster (1908) p. 132 (English translation).

[15] Kitab sirr al-asrar, trans. Ali (1920) p. 239, ft. 8, W manuscript variant.  The Hebrew translation here essentially follows the W variant.  It refers to persons who are “red-haired” rather than “ruddy” as in the W manuscript.  For the Hebrew translation, Gaster (1908) p. 137.  The physiognomy section of the Hebrew translation apparently inserted a warning about Ashkenazi Jews:

Know that a clear white complexion with a tinge of blue and much sallowness betokens shamelessness, cunning, lust, and unfaithfulness. Behold the people of ‘Ashkenaz’ who have all these qualities and are foolish, unfaithful, and impudent.

Id. p. 148.  James Yonge was an English official in Ireland.  In his translation of the Secret of Secrets in 1422, Yonge inserted into the story of the Jew and the Zoroastrian a reminder that Arthur MacMurrough had betrayed the father of the patron for whom Yonge was translating the work.  Yonge’s apparent point: don’t trust your enemy the Irish.  See Ames (1957) pp. 45-6.  Yonge’s version of the Secret of Secrets is included in Steele (1898).  For the story of the Jew and the Zoroastrian (here called the philosopher), see id.  pp. 164-7.

[16] Leiden Polemon, from Chapters 32 & 35, from Arabic trans. Hoyland (2007) pp. 423, 427.

[image] Aristotle sending a letter to Alexander the Great, Historia de proelis (Le Livre et le vraye hystoire du bon roy Alixandre); France, Central (Paris), c. 1420; from British Library manuscript Royal 20 B XX, f. 85v.

References:

Ali, Ismail, trans. 1920.  Kitab sirr al-asrar (The Book of the Secret of Secrets). Pp. 176-266 in Steele (1920).

Ames, Ruth M. 1957. “The Source and Significance of ‘The Jew and the Pagan.'”  Mediaeval Studies. 19 (1): 37-47.

Badian, E. 1958. “Alexander the Great and the Unity of Mankind.”  Historia: Zeitschrift Für Alte Geschichte. 7 (4): 425-444.

Briant, Pierre. 2002. From Cyrus to Alexander: a history of the Persian Empire. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Bürgel, J. Christoph. 1999.  “Zoroastrianism as Viewed in Medieval Islamic Sources.” Ch. 12 (pp. 202-212) in Waardenburg, Jean Jacques. 1999. Muslim perceptions of other religions: a historical survey. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gaster, Moses. 1907-8. “The Hebrew version of the Secretum Secretorum: a mediaeval treatise ascribed to Aristotle.”  Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society.  Oct., 1907, pp.879-912 (Hebrew text); Jan., 1908, pp.111-162 (English translation)’ Oct., 1908, pp.1065-1084 (discussion in English).

Hoyland, Robert. 2007.  “A New Edition and Translation of the Leiden Polemon.”  Ch. 8 (pp. 329-464) in Swain, Simon, ed. 2007. Seeing the face, seeing the soul: Polemon’s Physiognomy from classical antiquity to medieval Islam. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kristó-Nagy, István T. 2013. La pensée d´Ibn al-Muqaffa.  Studia Arabica XIX.  Editions de Paris.

London, Jennifer. 2008. “How to do things with fables: Ibn al-Muqaffa’s frank speech in stories from Kalīla wa Dimna.” History of Political Thought. 29 (2): 189-212.

Manzalaoui, Mahmoud. 1974. “The Pseudo-Aristotelian Kitāb Sirr al-asrār: Facts and Problems.” Oriens. 23/24: 147-257.

Mensch, Pamela, trans. and James S. Romm, ed.. 2010. The Landmark Arrian: the campaigns of Alexander; Anabasis Alexandrous : a new translation. New York: Pantheon Books.

Romm, James S. 2010. “Alexander’s Policy of Perso-Macedonian Fusion.” Appendix K (pp. 380-7) in Mensch & Romm (2010).

Steele, Robert, ed. 1898.  Three prose versions of the Secreta secretorum. London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner.

Steele, Robert, ed. 1920. Opera hactenus inedita Rogeri Baconi.  Vol. 5. Secretum secretorum, cum glossis et notulis : Tractatus brevis et utilis ad declarandum quedam obscure dicta. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

8 thoughts on “Aristotle’s advice to Alexander the Great on Persian elites”

  1. The story goes that later (after Plato), just for a short while, Aristotle went back to the Macedonian capital of Pella for the purpose of tutoring Philip II’s son, Alexander, who was shortly to complete his father’s ambition of conquering the known world. So, despite his disgust with the political intrigue and drunken orgies of a teenager, Aristotle did his best for seven years (from the time Alexander was thirteen) to instill some wisdom and respect for excellence in his restless pupil. But, it is important to note that (contrary to the popular belief) the claim that the Aristotelian method of inquiry and ethics were originally brought to Iran by way of Alexander is false. First of all (about 340 BC), at the age of sixteen, Alexander was called upon to act as regent in Philip’s absence (due to a military campaign), which drastically altered the time available for his association with Aristotle. Then four years later, Philip was assassinated in peculiar and rather mysterious circumstances so that, at the age of twenty, Alexander came to the throne. Soon plotting a campaign of vengeance against Persia, he was to have little further use for Aristotle. Consequently, turning his back on his kingdom (except as a source of manpower), he made for the Persian Empire with the armies his father had so meticulously trained.
    Although (it is given) brilliant through his victories, he, nevertheless, achieved little more than the dismantling and rendering into disorder a great Empire that had successfully maintained its stability and multicultural identity for over two hundred years. Moreover, I can find no evidence (in the Iranian history or folklore) of a virtuous person in Alexander’s unprovoked attack on the Persian Empire or in the obsessive way he tracked down Darius (the story of which is still told aloud even today in the teahouses back home by the old Sufi dervishes). The unrestrained massacres in the middle-Eastern world and his claim that he had actually been born the son of Zeus (godhead) hardly speak of ‘a life of recognition and affiliation that links every human being to every other human being.’ His ill-judged attempt to integrate Persian and Macedonian culture by forcing his rough commanders to marry the elegant Persian noblewomen, failed ignominiously (the commanders discarded their Persian wives as soon as Alexander had died), and the way he burned Persepolis down to the ground (in a drunken orgy) after he was given its treasury, does not signify any kind of (a ‘great’) character.
    Although there are still sophist claims (made by historians who quote Plutarch’s elegy) that Alexander brought men from everywhere into a unified body mixed together as if in a “loving cup” (that he governed them all as to think of the inhabited world as their homeland), the fact remains that Persians learned nothing from Alexander’s cruel, vulgar, absolutist form of governance. In fact (from an Iranian perspective), Alexander’s model of core absolutism is seen as a threat to the Aristotelian habit of living a happy-life.

    1. All the quotes are quotes from the cited text. Evaluating what the text represents is a more complicated question. I’ve given you a lot of help above. You have to take it from there.

  2. You say “the Zoroastrian is a true Muslim” but Zorastrianism and Islam are two different religions. I think you are confusing the two in this article.

    1. You’re right that Zoroastrianism and Islam are two different religions. But a Zoroastrian can act according to Islam. That’s what I meant by “The Zoroastrian’s goodness and Islamic-like faith seems to be the primary point of the story.”

      1. Yes are so historically wrong that offended my Persian blood, Islam is an Arab/Semitic religion a lot more hateful than its ancestor Semitic religion of Judaism and Islam appeared more than a 1000 years after the time of Aristotle, the Arabs (Muslims) hated Zoroastrianism (a peaceful Iranian religion opposite to Islam and Judaism that are Semitic) and tried to exterminate Zoroastrians and burnt all their books and libraries when they conquered Persia, that’s why there is very little remaining pre-islamic litterateur. Persian mysticism later used the peaceful Zoroastrian teachings to create more peaceful and spiritual versions of Islam such as Sufism. Zoroastrianism is thousands of years older than Islam and it was the religion that inspired Jesus to create a peaceful version of Judaism.

    2. You are right, the Zoroastrians view Islam as a violent religion of the nomadic barbarian Arabs of ancient Arabia while the Arabs view Zoroastrianism a form of paganism and dualism that they tried to exterminate for 1400 years including the more recent slaughter of Zoroastrians in Kurdish region by ISIS.

      Islam is an Arab/Semitic religion a lot more hateful than its ancestor Semitic religion of Judaism and Islam appeared more than a 1000 years after the time of Aristotle, the Arabs (Muslims) hated Zoroastrianism (a peaceful Iranian religion opposite to Islam and Judaism that are Semitic) and tried to exterminate Zoroastrians and burnt all their books and libraries when they conquered Persia, that’s why there is very little remaining pre-islamic litterateur. Persian mysticism later used the peaceful Zoroastrian teachings to create more peaceful and spiritual versions of Islam such as Sufism. Zoroastrianism is thousands of years older than Islam and it was the religion that inspired Jesus to create a peaceful version of Judaism.

      1. You haven’t understood what I’ve written. Consider:

        Alexander maps to the Muslim-Arab Caliph. He must reject tribalism to live. The true believers are those with the universal values of Muslims. The Zoroastrian was thus a Persian Muslim avant la lettre. He received the high government post that he deserved.

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