Alexander the Great, conqueror of Greece and the Persian Empire, is considered one of the greatest military geniuses of all times who inspired the conquerors such as Hannibal the Carthaginian, the Romans Pompey and Caesar, and Napoleon who followed him in history. When Philip made 16 year old Alexander the ruler of Macedonia said in great despair, “I feel ashamed to leave you only this petty kingdom of Macedon. It is too small to your valor.” But Alexander proved his capacity by conquering the world.
Alexander, after conquering many kingdoms covering the three continents of the world known at his time, was returning home. Unfortunately on the way, he fell ill which could not be cured by his physicians. His instinct prompted him the thought that he was counting his last days.
With death staring him in his face, Alexander realized how his victorious conquests, his powerful army that brought the whole world under him, his sharp sword that could pierce through every opposition and all the enormous wealth he plundered and collected were of no use.
He longed to reach home fast before his death to see his mother’s face and bid her adieu. But, he was quite aware that his sinking health would not permit him to reach his distant homeland even to see his mother’s face. Hopelessly and desperately lay the great warrior on his deathbed waiting to breathe his last. Suddenly he called his guards and said, “I know my end is near. Will you please execute my three wishes when I die?”
With tears flowing down their cheeks, the guards promised to carry out the three wishes without fails.
“My first wish is that”, said Alexander the Great in a feeble voice, “only my physicians should carry my coffin.” After a short break, he continued, “Secondly, I wish you to strew the path through which my coffin is carried with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.”
The king felt quite exhausted after saying this and he was gasping to say his third wish. Struggling for words, he somehow managed to state his third wish. “Keep both of my hands dangling out of my coffin.”
Alexander’s generals and others were standing around him speechless, puzzled at the strange wishes of the great king. Nobody dared to ask him anything. At last one of his closest generals asked him why he had proposed such strange wishes.
After taking a deep breath, the great conqueror said, “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have learnt just at the end of my life. I wish my physicians to carry my coffin because the world should realize that no physician on this earth can cure anybody completely since they are powerless and are unable to save a person from the clutches of death. They should be ready to face death at any time. Secondly, they should realize that not even a fraction of gold or wealth I have collected will come with me to my grave. But foolishly I have spent all my life with the greed for power and in amassing wealth which I cannot take with me. The chase for wealth is a sheer waste of life.” He was struggling more for words and breathe.
“Dangle my hands out of the coffin so that the world may know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.” He could not even finish his last words. He closed his eyes and his face became paler. Death conquered the great warrior even before he could utter his last words.