Alexander the Great, an enormously powerful symbol and as such (not surprisingly) is also claimed by some Slavs occupying small part of Macedonian Territory, now under the Yugoslavia regime. Needless to say for the Greeks, and in particular the Greeks of Macedonia, he is one of the most cherished and ever present historical icons and an enduring source of national pride. The potential for conflict over this historical figure was therefore obvious.
In one of the few speeches that can confidently be attributed to him, and in one of his well known letters, Alexander the Great himself offers his input as to his own "ethic" orientation and that of his people.
Alexander's address to his troops before the Battle of Issus (335 BC)
Alexander now send for his infantry and cavalry commanders and all officers in charge of allied troops and appealed to them for confidence and courage in the coming fight. Remember, he said, that already danger has often threatened you and you have looked it triumphantly in the face; this time the struggle will be between a victorious army and an enemy already vanquished. God himself, more ever, by suggesting to Darius to live the open ground and Crain the his great army into a confined space, has taken charge of operations in our behalf. We ourselves shall have room enough to deploy our infantry , while they, no much for us either in bodily strength or resolution , will find their superior members of no avail. Our enemies are Medes and Persians, men who for centuries have lived soft and luxurious lives; we of Macedon for generations past have trained the hart 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 be fighting for pay - and not much of it al that, we , on the contrary shall fight for Greece, and our harts 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 -Darious!...Arrian "Anabasis of Alexander", (book II, 7) Alexander' response to a letter by Darius, King of Persia (333 BC)
"Your ancestors invaded Macedonia and the rest of Greece and did us much harm though we had done nothing to provoke them. As supreme commander of the Greeks, I have invaded Asia to take vengeance on Persia for this act..." Arian, Anabasis of Alexander", (Book II, 14).