Alexander the Great Quotes 20 Sourced Quotes

Alexander III (late July, 356 BC – 10 June 323 BC) was the Ruler of Macedon, and creator of an empire that included Greece, Persia, Egypt, and many regions beyond them; commonly known as Alexander the Great (in Greek: Μέγας Ἀλέξανδρος : Megas Alexandros). He was undefeated in battle and is considered one of the most notable military commanders in history.

Here are 20 real Alexander the Great quotes ordered by their popularity online. The most quoted quotes on the web appear first. Questionable and fake quotes are excluded. Sources and related information are shown after each quote. We hope you find these quotes useful. If there is anything we can do to improve this article, your feedback is welcome. If you find these quotes helpful, please share them.

1. “To the strongest!”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: After being asked, by his generals on his deathbed, who was to succeed him. It has been speculated that his voice may have been indistinct and that he may have said "Krateros" (the name of one of his generals), but Krateros was not around, and the others may have chosen to hear "Kratistos" — the strongest. As quoted in The Mask of Jove: a history of Graeco-Roman civilization from the death of Alexander to the death of Constantine (1966) by Stringfellow Barr, p. 6.

2. “There is nothing impossible to him who will try.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: On taking charge of an attack on a fortress, in Pushing to the Front, or, Success under Difficulties : A Book of Inspiration (1896) by Orison Swett Marden, p. 55.

3. “Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted in the Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.15.1-4.

4. “If I were not Alexander, I should wish to be Diogenes.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: After Diogenes of Sinope who was lying in the sun, responded to a query by Alexander asking if he could do anything for him with a reply requesting that he stop blocking his sunlight. As quoted in "On the Fortune of Alexander" by Plutarch, 332 a-b.

5. “Now you fear punishment and beg for your lives, so I will let you free, if not for any other reason so that you can see the difference between a Greek king and a barbarian tyrant, so do not expect to suffer any harm from me. A king does not kill messengers.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted in the Historia Alexandri Magni of Pseudo-Kallisthenes, 1.37.9-13.

6. “For my part, I assure you, I had rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent, than in the extent of my power and dominion.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Quoted by Plutarch in Life of Alexander from Plutarch's Lives as translated by John Dryden (1683)

7. “Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source and Related Info: As quoted in Alexander the Great (1973) by Robin Lane Fox.
• Unsourced variant : Only sex and sleep make me conscious that I am mortal.

8. “Holy shadows of the dead, I’m not to blame for your cruel and bitter fate, but the accursed rivalry which brought sister nations and brother people, to fight one another. I do not feel happy for this victory of mine. On the contrary, I would be glad, brothers, if I had all of you standing here next to me, since we are united by the same language, the same blood and the same visions.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Addressing the dead Hellenes (the Athenean and Thebean Greeks) of the Battle of Chaeronea, as quoted in Historiae Alexandri Magni by Quintus Curtius Rufus.

9. “Your ancestors came to Macedonia and the rest of Hellas [Greece] and did us great harm, though we had done them no prior injury. I have been appointed leader of the Greeks, and wanting to punish the Persians I have come to Asia, which I took from you.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Alexander's letter to Persian king Darius III of Persia in response to a truce plea, as quoted in Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian; translated as Anabasis of Alexander by P. A. Brunt, for the "Loeb Edition" Book II 14, 4.

10. “I do not steal victory.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Reply to the suggestion by Parmenion, before the Battle of Gaugamela, that he attack the Persian camp during the night, reported in Life of Alexander by Plutarch, as quoted in A History of Greece to the Death of Alexander the Great (1900) by John Bagnell Bury.

11. “So would I, if I were Parmenion.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source:  • Variants: I too, if I were Parmenion. But I am Alexander.
So would I, if I were Parmenion.
So should I, if I were Parmenion.
So should I, if I were Parmenion: but as I am Alexander, I cannot.
I would do it if I was Parmenion, but I am Alexander.
If I were Parmenion, that is what I would do. But I am Alexander and so will answer in another way.
So would I, if I were Parmenion, but I am Alexander, so I will send Darius a different answer.
If I were Perdicas, I shall not fail to tell you, I would have endorsed this arrangement at once, but I am Alexander, and I shall not do it. (as quoted from medieval French romances in The Medieval French Alexander (2002) by Donald Maddox and Sara Sturm-Maddox, p. 81).

12. “I consider not what Parmenio should receive, but what Alexander should give.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source and Related Info: On his gifts for the services of others, as quoted in Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: Giving the Derivation, Source, or Origin of Common Phrases, Allusions, and Words That Have A Tale To Tell (1905) by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, p. 30.
 • quoted in Alexander : A History of the Origin and Growth of the Art of War from Earliest Times to the Battle Of Ipsus, B. C. 301 (1899) by Theodore Ayrault Dodge.

13. “Shall I pass by and leave you lying there because of the expedition you led against Greece, or shall I set you up again because of your magnanimity and your virtues in other respects?”

—Alexander the Great

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Source and Related Info: Pausing and addressing to a fallen statue of Xerxes the Great
• Plutarch. The age of Alexander: nine Greek lives. Penguin, 1977. p. 294.

14. “What an excellent horse do they lose, for want of address and boldness to manage him! … I could manage this horse better than others do.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Statement upon seeing Bucephalas being led away as useless and beyond training, as quoted in Lives by Plutarch, as translated by Arthur Hugh Clough

15. “Know ye not that the end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered?”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted in Lives by Plutarch, VII, "Demosthenes and Cicero. Alexander and Caesar" (40.2), as translated by Bernadotte Perrin.

16.Alexander the Great, reflecting on his friends degenerating into sloth and luxury, told them that it was a most slavish thing to luxuriate, and a most royal thing to labor.”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted by Barrow in a quote in "Pearls of Thought" in the "Labor" section.

17. “Are you still to learn that the end and perfection of our victories is to avoid the vices and infirmities of those whom we subdue?”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted in Lives by Plutarch, as translated by Arthur Hugh Clough.

18. “Dinocrates, I appreciate your design as excellent in composition, and I am delighted with it, but I apprehend that anybody who should found a city in that spot would be censured for bad judgement. For as a newborn babe cannot be nourished without the nurse's milk, nor conducted to the approaches that lead to growth in life, so a city cannot thrive without fields and the fruits thereof pouring into its walls.”

—Alexander the Great

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Alexander the Great. “Alexander the Great Quotes: 20 Sourced Quotes.” Last modified November 15, 2017. https://www.quotescosmos.com/people/alexander-the-great-quotes.html#18

Source: Vitruvius, De Architectura Bk.2, Introduction, Sec.3.

19. “If it were not my purpose to combine barbarian things with things Hellenic, to traverse and civilize every continent, to search out the uttermost parts of land and sea, to push the bounds of Macedonia to the farthest Ocean, and to disseminate and shower the blessings of the Hellenic justice and peace over every nation, I should not be content to sit quietly in the luxury of idle power, but I should emulate the frugality of Diogenes. But as things are, forgive me Diogenes, that I imitate Herakles, and emulate Perseus, and follow in the footsteps of Dionysos, the divine author and progenitor of my family, and desire that victorious Hellenes should dance again in India and revive the memory of the Bacchic revels among the savage mountain tribes beyond the Kaukasos…”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: As quoted in "On the Fortune of Alexander" by Plutarch, 332 a-b.

20. “Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have been trained in the hard school of danger and war. Above all, we are free men, and they are slaves. There are Greek troops, to be sure, in Persian service — but how different is their cause from ours! They will be fighting for pay — and not much of at that; we, on the contrary, shall fight for Greece, and our hearts will be in it. As for our foreign troops — Thracians, Paeonians, Illyrians, Agrianes — they are the best and stoutest soldiers in Europe, and they will find as their opponents the slackest and softest of the tribes of Asia. And what, finally, of the two men in supreme command? You have Alexander, they — Darius!”

—Alexander the Great

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Source: Addressing his troops prior to the Battle of Issus, as quoted in Anabasis Alexandri by Arrian Book II, 7.

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