a Peculiar Longing
Alexander the Great was shorter than average height, with blond hair and one eye blue, the other brown. His first teacher was a demanding man called Leonidas, like the Spartan king who died at Thermopylae, who searched his student’s room every day, overturning trunks and ruffling linens to be sure Alexander was not in danger of succumbing to the decadence of an extra suit. Once, when Alexander offered incense to the gods, this Leonidas sourly observed that the prince was not rich or powerful enough to offer such lavish gifts upon the altar; after Alexander conquered Gaza, with its stores of spices, he sent literally tons of incense back to his old tutor, bidding him not to be so parsimonious with the heavens. What Leonidas thought of this history does not say.
His second teacher was infamous—a man with an orderly, capacious, avaricious mind, who dealt in systems and series, though was not so politic as he might have been. Indeed, when Aristotle published a treatise on the metaphysics he had taught Alexander, the prince was furious: what was the good of knowing something if everyone else could learn it, too?