Gesta Romanorum

Date: 1877

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Chapter XL Medieval Tales



Dead Alexander


We read that at the death of Alexander a golden sepulcher was constructed, and that a number of philosophers assembled around it. One said, "Yesterday, Alexander made a treasure of gold; to-day, gold makes a treasure of him." Another observed, "Yesterday, the whole world was not enough to satisfy his ambition; to-day, three or four ells of cloth are more than sufficient." A third said, "Yesterday, Alexander commanded the people; to-day, the people command him." Another said, "Yesterday, Alexander could enfranchise thousands; to-day, he cannot free himself from the bonds of death." Another remarked, "Yesterday, he pressed the earth; to-day, it oppresses him." "Yesterday," continued another, "all men feared Alexander; to-day, men consider him nothing." Another said, "Yesterday, Alexander had a multitude of friends; to-day, not one." Another said, "Yesterday, Alexander led on an army; to-day, that army bears him to the grave."

Application. — My beloved, anyone may be called Alexander who is rich and worldly minded; and to him may the observations of the philosophers be truly applied.

1 , translated by Charles Swan, revised by Wynnard Hooper. London, 1877. George Bell and Sons.

2Gesta Romanorum, No. 31.


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Chicago: Charles Swan, trans., "Dead Alexander," Gesta Romanorum in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 419. Original Sources, accessed September 29, 2023,

MLA: . "Dead Alexander." Gesta Romanorum, translted by Charles Swan, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 419. Original Sources. 29 Sep. 2023.

Harvard: (trans.), 'Dead Alexander' in Gesta Romanorum. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.419. Original Sources, retrieved 29 September 2023, from