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After conquests in Africa in the 80s BC, he returned to Rome to be hailed “Magnus” (or “Pompey the Great,” as he is still known), in direct imitation of Alexander.And as if to drive the point home, in his most famous surviving portrait statue (now in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek in Copenhagen), Pompeius is shown aping Alexander’s distinctive hairstyle, with a rising “quiff” (or anastole as the Greeks called it) brushed back from the center of his forehead. When he visited Alexandria, where Alexander’s body had finally ended up (hijacked in its hearse on the way back from Babylon to Macedon and claimed for Egypt by one of Alexander’s “successors”), he made sure to make a pilgrimage to the tomb: one demented despot paying homage to another, as the Roman poet Lucan derided the stunt.An invasion of Italy would have been a tougher test than the invasion of India, which “he strolled through on a drunken revel with an intoxicated army.”Even Cicero, in his more hardheaded moments, could see the problems in Alexander’s career.In a now fragmentary passage of his treatise On the State, he seems to have quoted an anecdote that would turn up again, almost five hundred years later, in the pages of Saint Augustine.

Detail of the ‘Alexander Mosaic,’ circa 100 BC, recovered from the floor of the ‘House of the Faun’ in Pompeii, showing Alexander the Great (with a Gorgon’s head on his breastplate) charging toward King Darius of Persia in what is thought to be the Battle of Issus, 333 BCIn 51 BC, Marcus Tullius Cicero, who had reluctantly left his desk in Rome to become military governor of the province of Cilicia in southern Turkey, scored a minor victory against some local insurgents.

The story was that a petty pirate had been captured and brought before Alexander.

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