A L E X A N D E R
(356 -323 B.C.)
A L E X A N D R O S
In an amazing eleven-year journey of conquest, young Alexander of Macedonia conquered all the way from Egypt to India. Behind him came Greek institutions and the Greek language, which became the standard of the ancient world. The intoxication of power caused Alexander to become strange to his friends, and he died unhappy.
My intention is not to write histories, but lives. Sometimes small incidents,= rather than glorious exploits, give us the best evidence of character. So, as portrait painters are more exact in doing the face (where the character is revealed) than the rest of the body, I must be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks of the souls of men. By these, rather than the historical events they participated in, I try to portray their lives. I leave the task of a more complete historical chronicle to others.
On the day that Alexander was born, the temple of Diana at Ephesus 1= STRONG> burned down, an omen which the fortune-tellers of the East interpreted as a sign that on that day, the force that would destroy Asia had entered the world.
Alexander had light skin, blond hair, and melting blue eyes. A sweet natural fragrance came from his body, so strong that it perfumed his clothes.
Action and glory, rather than pleasure and wealth, were what Alexander wanted from life. Fame was his passion. When he heard of the conquests of his father, King Philip of Macedonia, Alexander was not happy about the additional wealth and power that he would inherit, but instead was sad that there would be less left for him to conquer. Alexander often lamented to his friends that the way things were going, nothing would be left for him to do once he became king.
Alexander wanted a kingdom involved in trouble and war, where he would have an ample field to exercise his courage and make his mark on history. He disdained a life of comfortable sloth. This young warrior was always a great patron of the arts and of learning. He enjoyed and encouraged hunting and the martial arts, except for boxing.
* * *
Bucephalus was Alexander's horse throughout most of his career. Some horse traders had brought this magnificent animal to King Philip and offered him for sale, but no man could ride him. The traders were taking Bucephalus away when Alexander remarked that it was a shame to lose such a fine horse just because no one knew the right way to manage him. Philip at first ignored the boy, but Alexander persisted. Finally Philip said: "Do you presume to criticize those who are older than you, as if you knew more, and could do better?" Alexander boldly declared that he would ride the horse, and everyone laughed. He bet the price of the horse, and got the chance to try.
Alexander had noticed that Bucephalus was afraid of his own shadow, so he turned the horse to face the sun and settled him down, then walked him in that direction for a while, stroking him whenever he became eager and fiery. Suddenly, Alexander jumped on his back and drew in the bridle gently, but firmly, until all rebelliousness was gone. Then he let Bucephalus go at full speed, urging him on with a commanding voice.
Alexander's father and the others looked on nervously until they saw Alexander turn at the end of his run and come back in triumph. "Oh my son," said King Philip with tears in his eyes, "find yourself a kingdom equal to and worthy of yourself, for Macedonia is too little for you."
After this, Philip sent for Aristotle 2 to be Alexander's tutor. Ordinary teachers would not be enough for Alexander, who could easily be led by reason but refused to submit to compulsion. All kinds of learning and reading interested him, but Homer=92s Iliad 3= STRONG> was by far his favorite book. He always took a copy, annotated by Aristotle, along on his campaigns. Aristotle had a profound influence on Alexander, who said that he loved Aristotle as much as Philip -- his father had given him life, and his teacher had taught him to use it.
* * *
When Alexander was sixteen, Philip left him in charge of Macedonia while he went away on a campaign against the people of Byzantium. The Maedi rebelled while Philip was gone, and Alexander led an army against their largest city. He moved out the Maedi and renamed the city "Alexandropolis," after himself.
Philip put Alexander in command of the cavalry at the Battle of Chaeronea, 4= STRONG> and Alexander led the charge that broke the Theban Sacred Band. 5 This early bravery made his father so fond of him that Philip liked nothing better than to hear his soldiers say that Philip was their general, but Alexander was their king.
Philip had a stormy home life with Alexander's mother, Olympias. Philip had spied on her once and seen a snake in her bed, and ever since then they had been estranged . Philip's new marriages enraged Olympias, who was a violent, jealous, and unforgiving woman. The trouble in the women's chambers spread to the whole kingdom. Olympias even managed to turn Alexander against his father.
The breaking point came when Philip married Cleopatra, the very young niece of Attalus. At the wedding feast, Attalus (who was drunk), in his toast, asked the Macedonians to pray to the gods for a lawful successor to the kingdom through his niece. This so irritated Alexander that he threw a cup at Attalus and shouted: "What am I then -- a bastard?" Philip (who was also drunk) took Attalus' side and came at Alexander with a sword, but he slipped and fell down on the floor. Alexander derided his drunk and clumsy father and then left Macedonia, along with Olympias.
An old friend of the family came to visit Philip, and Philip asked him if the Greeks were at peace with each other. The visitor replied: "It is strange that you are so worried about Greece when your own house is torn apart by so many wars." Philip got the point, and called Alexander home. But soon another matter came between Alexander and his father.
By yet another wife, Philip had a son named Arrhidaeus, who had been a healthy boy until Olympias gave him some drugs that damaged his brains. The satrap of Caria asked for a marriage between his daughter and Arrhidaeus, hoping to ally himself with Philip's family. Olympias, aided by a few of Alexander's companions, filled Alexander's head with suspicions that Philip was preparing to hand over the kingdom to Arrhidaeus. So Alexander sent Thessalus, an actor, to the satrap with instructions to disparage Arrhidaeus and to offer a marriage with Alexander instead.
Of course the satrap was much happier with the prospect of Alexander rather than Arrhidaeus as his son-in-law. But when Philip heard about Alexander's proposal, he emphatically told his son that it was unworthy of the power he was due to inherit to beg for an alliance with a man who was no more than the slave of a barbarian king. Philip had Thessalus sent to him in chains, and he banished some of Alexander's companions who had talked Alexander into this.
Shortly afterwards, Philip was was murdered. The assassin was Pausanias, who was angry because Philip had refused to give him justice for some injury done to him by Attalus. But it was Philip's wife who was the instigator. Olympias took this enraged young man and made him the instrument of her revenge against her husband. Once Philip was out of the way, Olympias tortured her hated young rival, Cleopatra, to death.
So, at the age of only twenty, Alexander became king of Macedonia.
The neighboring states and the cities of Greece rebelled against Macedonian rule now that they saw a boy on the throne. Alexander's council advised him to give up trying to subjugate the Greeks and to concentrate his resources on keeping the barbarian nations of the north under control. Treat the Greeks kindly, they said, and that will dissipate the first impulses of rebellion.=
But Alexander rejected this advice. If any sign of weakness were perceived at the beginning of his government, everyone would be encouraged to attack, so only in bravery was there safety. First Alexander marched to the Danube and beat down all opposition from the tribes in that area. When everything there was peaceful again, he turned south and marched to Greece.
There had been a revolution in Thebes. The demagogues there were urging all of the other Greeks to join Thebes and free themselves from Macedonian domination. Athens also was being agitated by talk of war and rebellion, particularly from the demagogue Demosthenes. 6= STRONG>
After a march of two weeks, Alexander appeared at the walls of Thebes and demanded that the city send him the two leaders of the rebellion. To show how willing he was to forgive what was in the past, Alexander offered a full pardon for all those that would take it. The Thebans gave him an insulting reply, so Alexander killed six thousand of them, demolished their city, and sold all of the surviving inhabitants as slaves.
This severe example would make the other Greeks think twice about the consequences of disobedience. And soon the Athenians repented and reaffirmed their allegiance to Macedonia. Whether Alexander's new gentleness toward the Athenians was the result of remorse over the horrible cruelty done to Thebes, or merely that his passion for blood was satisfied, is not certain. However, from then on Alexander always showed kindness to any Theban survivor he could find.
Soon afterwards, representatives of the Greeks assembled at Corinth and named Alexander to lead them in a war against Persia. 7= STRONG> While Alexander was at Corinth, politicians and philosophers came to congratulate him, but he noticed that the famous philosopher Diogenes, who lived there in Corinth, did not come.
So Alexander went to visit Diogenes at his home and found him lying down, sun-bathing. Diogenes raised himself up a little when he heard the crowd approaching, and Alexander asked the philosopher very courteously if there was any favor a king could do for him. Diogenes only said: "Yes, please take your shadow off me." Alexander's companions, on the way back, were making fun of the simple-minded old man, but Alexander told them: "Laugh if you must, but if I were not Alexander I would choose to be Diogenes."
* * *
Between 30,000 and 43,000 infantry and between 3,000 and 4,000 horsemen followed Alexander into Asia Minor [334 B.C.]. He had only 70 talents for their pay, and no more than thirty days' provisions. Alexander was 200 talents in debt, having spent everything he had in making sure that his best men were able to provide for their families. When one of his generals asked what he had kept for himself, Alexander answered: "My hope." This general then refused the pension that Alexander offered him, saying: "Your soldiers will be your partners in that."
With such desire and determination, Alexander and his army crossed the Hellespont into Asia and came to Troy. 8 At the tomb of Achilles, who was his ancestor on his mother=92s side, Alexander anointed the gravestone with oil and then ran around it naked with his companions, according to the ancient custom. Achilles, he said, was a lucky man to have had a good friend while he was alive and a good poet to preserve his memory after he was dead. 9
Meanwhile, the Persians had camped on the other side of the Granicus River to prevent Alexander from crossing. The Persian force numbered 20,000 infantry and 20,000 cavalry, and their position was strong. The river was deep, and its banks were high. The task of assault seemed to be impossible, but Alexander immediately led thirteen squadrons of horsemen across under a shower of arrows. With frenzied persistence= they managed to get up the muddy banks and close with the enemy.
Alexander's white plume and brilliant armor made him easy to pick out, so the bravest Persians clustered where he was, and that is where the fight was most furious. One Persian chieftain knocked Alexander dizzy with a battle-ax, but Clitus saved Alexander's life by spearing the assailant before he could finish the kill.
The Macedonian phalanx, meanwhile, had managed to get across the river and form up on the other side. The Persians could not stand up against their push, and soon the whole Persian army was running for their lives. The losses on the Persian side were 20,000 infantry and 2,500 cavalry, but Alexander lost only 34 men.
This first victory changed everything. All of the cities on the coast surrendered to Alexander, except for Halicarnassus and Miletus, which he had to take by force.
Now Alexander faced a difficult decision: whether to consolidate= his conquests, in order that their resources could provide a secure base for later operations, or to move immediately against the Persian king Darius in the heart of his empire. Consolidation was Alexander's choice, so he moved down the coast to take control of Lycia, then turned north to Phrygia.
There, in the city of Gordium, he accepted the challenge of the Gordian Knot. A very intricate knot tied together the yoke of an ancient chariot, and there was a legend that whoever could undo the knot would become the master of the world. Alexander pulled out his sword and chopped through the Gordian Knot, instead of involving himself in its mysterious entanglements.
King Darius of Persia was on the way from Susa with an army of 600,000 men. For some time, Alexander stayed in Cilicia, which Darius and his advisors attributed to Alexander=92s fear of encountering the overwhelmingl= y large Persian force. The real reason for Alexander's delay was that he was getting over a serious illness.
All of Alexander's attendants were afraid to try any remedies, because if their remedy failed, and Alexander died, the Macedonians might blame the physician. But there was one, Philip the Acarnanian, who dared to try, and he risked his own life to save Alexander's. Alexander received a letter from Parmenio, warning of treachery by this physician, who, said the letter, had been bribed by Darius to give poison instead of medicine. Alexander read the letter, then put it under his pillow, showing it to no one. When Philip came in with the potion, Alexander took out the letter and handed it to him, and while Philip read the letter, Alexander drank the potion with a smile. In a short time, Alexander was well.
The Persians had camped in flat and open country, where they could take advantage of their superiority in cavalry. But as weeks passed with no sign of Alexander (who was recovering from his sickness), Darius' flatterers convinced him that the Greeks were afraid to fight, and therefore Darius should move his army to Issus to cut off their escape. Darius marched to Issus at the same time that Alexander marched into Syria to meet him, and the two armies passed each other. When Alexander heard that the Persians were behind him at Issus, he immediately turned back and hurried to fight there.
Darius was in an equal hurry to get out of Issus, because when he saw the rough terrain, which made his cavalry useless, and split up his army, he realized that the Greeks could have the advantage. Before Darius could escape from his own trap, Alexander had arrived. Alexander personally commanded the right wing, which crushed the Persian left. Darius panicked and rode away, leaving behind his chariot, his bow, his shield, his mantle, his army, and 110,000 Persian casualties. 10
* * *
Among the captives taken in the Persian camp were the mother, wife, and daughters of Darius. Alexander assured these women that they had nothing to fear from him or his men, since he fought with Darius only for his empire, and not for personal spite. He guaranteed that they would continue to be treated according to their rank and would have everything they used to have from Darius. Alexander was always very chaste and courteous in his relations with the opposite sex, and he had a great respect for the institution of marriage. He used to say that two things reminded him that he was human, and not a god: sleeping and the act of generation, as if to say that both weariness and lust are produced by the same weakness and imbecility of human nature.
In eating, also, Alexander was totally in command of his appetite, and neither a glutton nor a gourmet. When offered the services of some cooks who were said to have great skill, he declined, saying that the best stimulus to a good appetite was a long march before breakfast and a moderate breakfast to create an appetite for dinner. It was generally believed that Alexander was addicted to wine, but that impression arose from the fact that he liked to stay up late over wine talking.
When he had free time, Alexander would read, write, or hunt. He would not have dinner until after dark, and this would be a very long meal because he loved good conversation. Usually, his own talk was amusing and intelligent, but Alexander sometimes would lapse into braggadocio= . This gave his flatterers a chance to ride him, and put his friends in the unpleasant position of choosing between shame and danger -- they disdained to compete in flattery but were afraid not to join in.
* * *
After the Battle of Issus [333 B.C.], Alexander sent some men to Damascus to take possession of the money and baggage that the Persian army had left there. Every soldier in the Greek army became a rich man, with beautiful women for slaves. Alexander allowed this because he wanted them to get a taste of barbaric luxury that would make them more eager to conquer more territory. He considered it to be like giving bloodhounds the scent.
Then Alexander proceeded down the coast to the city of Tyre, which refused to surrender to him. While his army sat down for a siege at Tyre [332 B.C.], Alexander went into Arabia.
One day, he fell behind the rest of his army because his old teacher, Lysimachus (whom he used to compare to Phoenix, the guardian of Achilles) could not keep up. Night found Alexander in a very dangerous position: far behind his army and without any fire to combat the cold. He noticed some enemy campfires, so he ran over to one, killed two soldiers with his knife, then carried back a burning stick to his men. This was typical of Alexander -- he was always encouraging his men by a personal example of readiness to work and face danger.
During the seven months that it took before Tyre finally was sacked, Darius wrote to Alexander and offered to pay ransom for the prisoners held by Alexander. Darius also offered to give Alexander one of his daughters in marriage if Alexander would be satisfied with dominion over all of the countries west of the Euphrates. Alexander told his friends about the offer, and asked their advice. Parmenio said, "If I were you, I would take it gladly."
Alexander responded, "So would I, if I were Parmenio, but I am Alexander, so I will send Darius a different answer." This was Alexander's answer to Darius: "All of Asia is mine, including all of its treasure. This money you offer is already mine. As for your daughter, if I want to marry her, I will do so, whether or not you approve. If there is something you want from me, you may come in person and ask for it. Otherwise, I will have to go to where you are."
* * *
After Tyre and Gaza had been taken, Alexander went into Egypt. He founded the city of Alexandria [331 B.C.] at the mouth of the Nile, pursuant to a dream he had. His fortune-tellers predicted that Alexandria would become a great city that would feed many strangers, and so it came to pass.
Then Alexander decided to take a long journey to an oasis in the middle of a vast desert, to visit the temple of the god Ammon. 11 Not only would water be scarce along the way, but sandstorms had buried whole armies there before. All of these dangers and difficulties did not matter to Alexander, who could not be diverted from his plan once he had decided to do something. Alexander's good luck made him firm in his opinions, and his natural courage made him delight in overcoming difficulties, as if conquering armies was not enough, and only Nature herself was a fit opponent for him.
Alexander's good luck continued. Heavy rain solved the water problem, and also prevented sand from blowing. When the Macedonians lost their way, some ravens came to guide them. These birds flew ahead to indicate the right direction, and at night the ravens' calls kept them on the right path.
At the temple of Ammon, Alexander asked the oracle whether he would be allowed to conquer the world, and the oracle said yes. Returning out of Egypt, Alexander accepted the surrender of all countries west of the Euphrates. Then he went after Darius, who by this time had gathered another army, this time of a million men.
The two armies came in sight of each other one night at Gaugamela [also known as Arbela, on October 1, 331 B.C.]. The noise and campfires of the vast barbarian camp were so frightening that some of Alexander's generals advised a night attack because it would be too dangerous to take on such a huge force in daylight. But Alexander replied: "I will not steal victory." To some, this sounded immature and conceited , but it was a wise strategy: if Darius lost this battle, in broad daylight on a field he had chosen, he would have no excuse for defeat, as he had before at Issus. With his heart broken, Darius would not try again. The war would be over, even though in his empire Darius had plenty of men and resources to keep up the fight for a long time. So Alexander and his men rested until late the next morning. 12 He awoke alert and cheerful after a long sleep.
As long as Alexander was riding around before battle, he used another horse besides Bucephalus, who by now was growing old. But when the time came for fighting, he mounted Bucephalus, and commenced the attack. On this day Alexander gave a long speech to the Thessalians and other Greeks, who answered him with loud shouts, whereupon he put his javelin into his left hand and lifted up his right to the gods in a prayer for victory. Just at that moment, an eagle soared over him and then flew toward the enemy, and this omen put fire in each man's heart. The horsemen charged at full speed, followed by the Macedonian phalanx. The Persians did not wait for them, but fell back, and Alexander kept herding them into the center, where Darius stood, along with his best men. These fugitives crowded in and impaired the ones who stood their ground, so that none of them could do any fighting. Dead Persian bodies piled so high around Darius that they almost covered the horses of his chariot. Darius mounted a mare, and once again he left his army behind him. 13
Parmenio, who had command of the left wing, sent an urgent message to Alexander, saying that if reinforc= ements were not sent from the front to the rear, the Greek camp and all of the baggage would be lost to the Persians. Alexander replied to Parmenio that he should remember that if they won, they would not only recover their own baggage but also take the enemy's; and if they lost, then they would not have to worry about possessions because their only business would be to die like brave men.
* * *
Without opposition, Alexander marched to Babylon, which immediately surrendered. Then he went to Susa, where he took possession of an immense amount of gold and other treasures. He continued on into Persia itself and took Persepolis, the capital, where he spent the winter with his army [January - May, 330 B.C.]. Darius, meanwhile, escaped to the north with a small remnant of his once-splendid force.
Before going to find Darius, Alexander held a party for his officers. He even let them bring women with them, one of whom was a certain courtesan named Thais from Athens. After the drinking had gone on for some time, Thais announced that she would like to burn down the palace built by King Xerxes, who had burned down Athens. Thus, she said, it might be said that even the women who followed Alexander took greater revenge on the Persians than all of the Greek generals who had tried before. This flattering and amusing proposal naturally got a good reaction from the drunken crowd, and Alexander went along. He led the way with a lighted torch in his hand, and the others followed, yelling and dancing. When the rest of the Macedonians heard the noise and found out what was going on, they joined in. They hoped that by burning the palace of the monarch of Persia, Alexander would clearly indicate his intention to return to Macedonia instead of settling among the barbarians. However, after the fire had burned for a while, Alexander gave orders to put it out.
Of all the things that Alexander won from Darius, the most precious was an exquisite box. He asked his friends what treasure he should keep in it. There were various suggestions, and good arguments why each was the most precious thing that he owned, but Alexander finally declared that the honor would not go to any of these but to his annotated copy of the Iliad.
Among the presents that he sent back to Greece, a huge quantity of frankincen= se and myrrh went to his tutor, Leonidas. The reason for this gift was that one day, when Alexander was still a boy, Leonidas had told him not to use so much of these spices in the sacrifice he was performing, saying: "When you have conquered the countries where these things grow, then you may be more liberal, but for now do not waste the little that we have." Alexander sent the following note with the gift: "We send you plenty of frankincense and myrrh so that in the future you will not be a niggard to the gods."
Alexander's natural generosity increased along with his wealth, and he gave with the grace that makes a gift really appreciated. For example, Ariston had killed an enemy, and as he showed Alexander the head to prove it, he mentioned that the customary reward for such a service in his country was a gold cup. Alexander smiled and said: "Yes, an empty one. But here is one full of good wine, and a toast to your good service and friendship."
Another time, one of the common soldiers was driving a mule that carried some of Alexander's treasure. The mule was too exhausted to go on, so the soldier put the load on his own shoulders. Alexander saw the man staggering along, and he asked what was the matter. The soldier told him that the mule was too tired to carry the load, and that he was about at the end of his endurance too. "Don't give up now," said Alexander, "but carry what you have there to the end of the journey, then take it to your own tent, to keep for yourself."
Alexander was always more displeased with those who refused his generosity than with those who abused it.
His mother, Olympias, wrote to Alexander often, and she repeatedly advised him not to make his friends so rich that they would become kings themselves, with the power to buy their own retinue, while Alexander became poor and weak through his generosity. Alexander sent his mother many presents, and stayed in close touch with her, but he declined to follow her advice. This made Olympias angry, and Alexander patiently endured her wrath. Olympias also tried to meddle in the government of Macedonia, and he bore with this as well. Antipater, his governor in Macedonia, wrote Alexander a long letter full of grievances against Olympias, and Alexander said to his friends: "Antipater does not realize that one tear of a mother erases ten thousand letters like this."
* * *
Now that they were rich, and addicted to pleasure, Alexander's soldiers began to be lax about their military training. He gently scolded them, saying that he wondered how they could not have learned, after all of their battles and hardships, that those who labor sleep better than those who are labored for, and that luxury leads to slavery, while royalty goes with pain and work. "Haven't you learned yet," he said, "that the honor and perfection of our victory consists in avoiding the vices that have made our enemies so easy to beat?"
Alexander was particularly concerned about their lack of exercise. He made his point by saying that no one could claim to be a soldier if he did not take care of the equipment that was nearest to himself, i.e. his body -- even though he might have splendid armor and a fine horse. Alexander led by his own example in this: instead of enjoying lazy days of pleasure, he hunted lions. But his followers had become arrogant now that they were rich. They were tired of marching and fighting. Finally, their bad attitude led them to say bad things about their leader.
At first Alexander was patient with them, saying that a king should do good to others, even if he is paid back with evil words. He continued to show kind attention to his friends. But there was one thing Alexander would never tolerate: any disrespect to his reputation as a soldier, which was more precious to him than his life and possessions.
* * *
Finally, the time came to track down Darius. After covering four hundred miles in eleven days, Alexander and his soldiers were nearly dead from thirst. Some Macedonian scouts had brought back a few bags of water from a distant river, and they offered Alexander a helmet-full. Although his mouth was so dry that he nearly was choking, he gave back the helmet with his thanks and explained: "There is not enough for everyone, and if I drink, the others will faint." When his men saw this, they spurred their horses forward and shouted for him to lead them. With such a king, they said, they would defy any hardships.
News came that one Bessus had betrayed Darius and made him a prisoner in his own camp. Alexander moved on at a furious pace, and no more than 160 of his horsemen could keep up with him. When they got to the camp, they found that Bessus had left Darius to die. Darius was barely alive, and as he died he told one of Alexander's men that it was the culmination of all of his bad luck not to be able to live long enough to pay back Alexander for the courtesy he had shown to his mother, wife, and children. Darius died before Alexander could get to see him [July 330 B.C.]. Alexander put his own cloak over Darius and sincerely lamented his death. The body was sent to Darius' mother for an honorable funeral, suitable to his rank. The reward of the traitor Bessus was to be torn apart by bent trees.
* * *
In Parthia, Alexander rested his army. It was there that he first put on barbarian clothes, which at first he wore only when he talked to the barbarians, as if to win them over by conforming to their customs. But afterwards he dressed that way in front of his soldiers. This filled them with grief, but they were willing to indulge a few eccentricitie= s in such a brave commander.
Alexander continued into Bactria and conquered it [328 B.C.]. There, among the captives, he saw Roxane, the daughter of the king. It was true love at first sight, and Alexander married her. Instead of taking Roxane by force, Alexander went through all of the Bactrian ceremonies for an official marriage. This demonstration of his self-control and respect for their culture endeared him to the barbarians.
Hephaestion was the friend who most approved of Alexander's adoption of foreign customs, and he imitated Alexander in these changes. But Craterus continued to adhere to Macedonian ways. Alexander used Hephaestion in dealing with the barbarians, and Craterus in dealing with the Greeks. He showed more affection for Hephaestion, whom he called Alexander's friend, and more respect for Craterus, whom he called the king's friend. These two friends always had a secret grudge against each other, sometimes even quarrelling openly in front of the soldiers.
In the army there was widespread resentment over Alexander's change to foreign clothes and customs. To the barbarians, he would demand the groveling due to an oriental despot, and would claim the title of Son of God. 14 But to the Greeks, Alexander was more modest. He used to say that God was the common father of all of us, but especially of the best. Among his friends he made no effort to keep up the persona he projected to the barbarians.
* * *
Philotas, the son of Parmenio, had a reputation among the Macedonians second only to Alexander himself. Philotas was brave and able to endure any fatigue of war, and he was almost as generous to friends as Alexander.
But Philotas carried his arrogance and his pride of wealth too far. In him there was none of the grace and gentleness of true greatness, so his spurious majesty drew a lot of envy and hatred. For a long time Alexander had heard complaints about Philotas. Philotas' father, Parmenio, knowing this, advised Philotas to behave more modestly.
One of the slaves that Philotas had won was Antigone of Pydna. One day, Philotas was drunk, and he boasted to Antigone that he and his father had won all of the victories, even though the boy Alexander had taken the credit. Antigone passed this on to another woman. Eventually, Craterus heard about this remark, and he brought Antigone secretly to Alexander. Alexander listened to her account and then told her to continue to pump Philotas and bring him reports of what he said. But Alexander did not take any action because he was afraid to disturb his army still further.
The breaking point came with the matter of Limnus. This Limnus, a Macedonian, conspired to assassinate= Alexander, and he tried to bring in Nicomachus, who refused to go along. Nicomachus confided the secret to his brother, and the two brothers went to Philotas and asked to see Alexander on a matter of the greatest importance. Both of them tried again and again, but Philotas kept putting them off by telling them that Alexander was too busy.
So the two brothers went to someone else, who arranged an interview with Alexander. The brothers told Alexander about Limnus' conspiracy , then went on and told how Philotas had prevented them from warning him earlier. This enraged Alexander. He sent a soldier to bring Limnus in for questioning. When this soldier reported back that Limnus had died avoiding arrest, Alexander became even more angry because he had lost all means of finding out who else was involved.
But Philotas' enemies told Alexander that certainly such an insignifi= cant person as Limnus could not be the ringleader of the conspiracy. They suggested that interroga= tion should start with those who apparently had such an interest in preventing detection . Once they had Alexander's attention for this sort of insinuation, they went on to show a thousand reasons why Philotas should be suspected . They succeeded so well that Alexander ordered Philotas arrested and questioned under torture. Although Philotas denied that he had any part in the conspiracy , Alexander had him executed. Alexander also sent assassins to kill Philotas' father, Parmenio, who was second in command of the army and had been a loyal friend of Alexander=92s father, King Philip.
These proceedings made Alexander a terror to his friends. And soon afterwards, Alexander personally killed his close friend Clitus. 15 Alexander had received a present of fresh fruit from Greece, and, as was his custom, he invited some of his friends to come and share the fruit with him. Among these was Clitus.
After everyone had had plenty to drink, including Clitus and Alexander, some of them started to sing a song making fun of some Macedonians who recently had been defeated in a battle with the barbarians. The older men were displeased, but Alexander and the younger men enjoyed it, and called on the singers to continue. Clitus remarked that it was not good to entertain the barbarians with jokes about Macedonians, especially when the subjects of the satire were better men than those who made fun of them, even if their luck had been worse.
Alexander joked that Clitus was pleading for himself, giving cowardice the name of bad luck. Clitus then got to his feet and said: "This cowardice, as you are pleased to call it, saved the life of the Son of God at the battle of Granicus. Those poor Macedonians you laugh at have, by their wounds fighting for you, made you so great now that you disown your father Philip and call yourself the son of Ammon."
Stung by these words, Alexander threatened Clitus: "Do you think you are not going to be punished for those words, which you say to make the Macedonians rebel against me?" Still Clitus would not shut up. "We are punished enough already," he said, "if this is our reward for our work, and those men are lucky who did not live to see Macedonians have to beg Persians for access to their king, and to see Greeks beaten by barbarian rods." 16 Alexander grabbed a spear and threw it, killing Clitus.
All that night and the next day, Alexander cried bitterly, until finally he ran out of tears and could only lie on the floor of his chamber and sigh. His friends thought that this silence meant he was in danger, so they broke in. 17 But Alexander paid no attention until they brought Callisthenes, a close friend of Aristotle, to see him, along with another philosopher named Anaxarchus.
Callisthenes tried soothing moral arguments, but Alexander was not comforted. Anaxarchus awoke Alexander from his depression by saying: "So there is Alexander the Great, who is feared by the whole world. Look at him lying on the ground, sobbing because he fears what men might say about him -- as if he himself should not give them law, and establish the boundaries of justice and injustice. He who conquers is the lord and master, not the slave, of the idle opinions of little men." With speeches like this, Anaxarchus comforted Alexander but corrupted his character, making him bolder to do wrong than he had been before. 18
These two philosophers, Anaxarchus and Callisthenes, warred over the soul of Alexander. The flatterers and parasites around Alexander already hated Callistenes because of his popularity with both the young soldiers and the old. The old men admired Callisthenes for his simple life and contentment= , and the young men for his eloquence . His detractors said that Callisthenes seemed to have an attitude of superiority= . When he was invited to a party, most of the time he would not come. If he did, he would usually sit silently as if he disapproved of what was going on.
One night Callisthenes was present where a large crowd had been invited to dine with Alexander. When the cup was passed to Callisthenes, he was called upon to make an extempor= aneous oration in praise of the Macedonians. Callisthenes spoke with such eloquence that everyone present gave him a standing ovation and threw flowers. Alexander remarked that it was easy to be eloquent on such a good subject, and he gave Callisthenes a greater challenge: to speak about the faults of the Macedonians, so they might all learn to be better in the future.
It was truly said by Aristotle that Callisthenes was a powerful speaker, but he had bad judgment. Callisthenes did so well at describing the faults of the Macedonians that they all hated him from then on. Some say that Callisthenes died in prison after seven months in chains; others say that he was hanged.
* * *
Alexander wanted to invade India, but his soldiers were so burdened with booty that they moved very slowly on the march. One day, at dawn, after all of the wagons were loaded, Alexander set fire to his own and to those of his friends. Then he commanded the rest of the army to burn their wagons too. By now, Alexander had become very severe and pitiless in punishing any disobedience. Although a few were unhappy, most of the army was glad to see this barbaric baggage burn away so that they could be warriors again.
King Taxiles ruled a large area in India. When he heard that Alexander was coming, Taxiles did not wait, but went in person to meet him in peace. "Why should we make war on each other," Taxiles said, "if the reason for your coming is not to rob us of our water and our food? Those are the only things that a wise man has no choice but to fight for. As for any other riches or possessions, if I have more than you I am ready to share. But if fortune has been better to you than to me, then I have no objection to being in your debt."
These courteous words pleased Alexander, and he replied: "Do you think your kind words and courteous conduct will avoid a contest between us? No, I will not let you off so easily. I will do battle with you on these terms: no matter how much you give me, I will give more in return." Thereupon Taxiles made many fine presents to Alexander, but Alexander responded with presents of even greater value and topped them off with a thousand talents in gold coins. This generosity displeased Alexander's old friends but won the hearts of many of the Indians.
King Porus, however, refused to submit, and he took up a position to prevent Alexander from crossing the Hydaspes River. Porus was a huge man, and when mounted on his war elephant he looked in the same proportion as an ordinary man on a horse. After a long fight, Alexander won the victory, and Porus came to him as a prisoner. Alexander asked him how he expected to be treated, and Porus replied: "As a king." When Alexander asked a second time, Porus explained that in those words was included everything that a man could possibly want. Alexander not only allowed Porus to keep his kingdom as a satrap, but he also gave him more territory.
This was a costly victory, however. Many Macedonians died, and so did Alexander's old war horse, Bucephalus. This grieved Alexander so much that it seemed as though he had lost an old friend. On that spot he ordered a city to be built, named Bucephalia.
Such a difficult victory over only 22,000 Indians [May 326 B.C.] took the edge off the courage of the Macedonians. They had no enthusiasm for Alexander's proposed crossing of the Ganges, a river said to be four miles wide and six hundred feet deep, to encounter an army on the other side consisting of 200,000 infantry, 80,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots, and 6,000 war elephants. Alexander was so angry at their reluctance that he shut himself up in his tent, saying that if they would not cross the Ganges, he owed them no thanks for anything they had done so far. But finally the persuasions of his friends, and the pleas of his soldiers, got Alexander to agree to turn back.
To exaggerate his reputation, Alexander left bridles and armor that were much bigger than normal, and huge altars to the gods. On a flotilla of rafts and barges, Alexander's army floated down the Indus River.
Along the way, they stopped to take some fortified cities, and at one of them Alexander came very close to losing his life. Alexander was the first one up the ladders onto the wall of the city of the Mallians, and then he jumped down into the town with only two of his guards behind him. Before the rest of the Macedonians could catch up and save him, Alexander had taken an arrow in the ribs and had been knocked dizzy by a club. He was unconscious when they carried him away, and he fainted when the doctors cut out the arrow. Rumors spread that Alexander was dead.
* * *
While in India, Alexander took ten of the Brahmins 19 prisoner. These men had a great reputation for intelligence, so Alexander decided to give them a test. He announced that the one who gave the worst answer would be the first to die, and he made the oldest Brahmin the judge of the competition.
Which are more numerous, Alexander asked the first one, the living or the dead? "The living," said the Brahmin, "because the dead no longer count."
Which produces more creatures, the sea or the land? Alexander asked the second. "The land," was his answer, "because the sea is only a part of it."
The third was asked which animal was the smartest of all, and the Brahmin replied: "The one we have not found yet."
Alexander asked the fourth what argument he had used to stir up the Indians to fight, and he answered: "Only that one should either live nobly or die nobly."
Which is older: day or night? was Alexander's question to the fifth, and the answer he got was: "Day is older, by one day at least." When he saw that Alexander was not satisfied with this answer, the Brahmin added: "Strange questions get strange answers."
What should a man do to make himself loved? asked Alexander, and the sixth Brahmin replied: "Be powerful without being frightening."
What does a man have to do to become a god? he asked the seventh, who responded: "Do what is impossible for a man."
The question to the eighth was whether death or life was stronger, and his answer: "Life is stronger than death, because it bears so many miseries."
The ninth Brahmin was asked how long it was proper for a man to live, and he said: "Until it seems better to die."
Then Alexander turned to the judge, who decided that each one had answered worse than another. "You will die first, then, for giving such a decision," said Alexander. "Not so, mighty king," said the Brahmin, "if you want to remain a man of your word. You said that you would kill first the one who made the worst answer." Alexander gave all of the Brahmins presents and set them free, even though they had persuaded the Indians to fight him.
* * *
Alexander's voyage down the Indus took seven months. When he finally arrived at the Indian Ocean, he decided not to take the army home by ship but to march them through the Gedrosian Desert. 20 After sixty miserable days, they arrived at Gedrosia, where they finally found enough to eat and drink. Many died in that desert: out of the 120,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry that Alexander took with him into India, only one in four came back.
The news about the difficulties he had in India, his brush with death, and the huge attrition of his army in the desert, all made the conquered nations think of revolution. The satraps and commanders he had left in the provinces thought that now they could do anything they wanted. Even in Macedonia, Alexander's mother had deposed the man Alexander had left in charge. But still Alexander wanted to go on to new adventures. This time, he proposed to sail around Africa to the Pillars of Hercules [Gibraltar].
The tomb of Cyrus had been looted by one of the Macedonians, and for this Alexander ordered the grave-robber executed. The inscription= on the tomb was: "Whoever you are, and wherever you come from (for I know that you will come), I am Cyrus, the founder of the Persian Empire. Please let me keep this dirt that covers my corpse." It greatly disturbed Alexander to see by this example how fragile human fame could be.
At the same time, Calanus (one of the Brahmins who had accompanied Alexander back from India) asked that a funeral pyre be built for him. Once everything was ready, Calanus did the customary ceremonies for a funeral, then said goodbye to his Macedonian friends. He told them to tell Alexander that Calanus would be seeing him in Babylon soon. Then he climbed on the pyre, lit it, and stayed perfectly still until he was ashes.
That night, Alexander held a banquet for a large number of his friends and officers, and he offered a prize for the man who could drink the most wine. Promachus drank twelve quarts and got the prize, but three days later he died. Forty-one others also died from this debauch.
* * *
At Susa [324 B.C.], Alexander took Statira, the daughter of King Darius, as another wife. 21 At the same time, he married the best-bred ladies of Persia to his friends. These marriages were jointly celebrated by a magnificent festival for nine thousand guests, each of whom got a gold wine-cup. Alexander also paid off all of the debts of his soldiers, which took 10,000 talents.
When he had left for India, Alexander had put 30,000 Persian boys into Greek military training, and by now they had developed into strong and expert fighters. They put on a demonstration of their military exercises, which pleased him, but depressed the Macedonians, who now believed that Alexander had no more use for them.
When Alexander allowed some of the sick and wounded to return to Macedonia, the other Greeks asked to leave too. They added that Alexander no longer needed their services, now that he had such a fine bunch of Persian dancing boys, with which he could go on to conquer the world. This infuriated Alexander, and after a long and abusive tirade he fired all of his guards and replaced them with Persians. Not long afterwards, the Greeks repented. They stood outside Alexander's tent for two days and nights until he finally relented and sent them back with rewards for their services.
Alexander continued on to Ecbatana, where he took care of some business of his empire and then relaxed and enjoyed himself with public spectacles. Three thousand actors and artists had just arrived from Greece to amuse him. But Alexander's happiness did not last long, because his best friend, Hephaestion, died of a fever.
Alexander's grief over Hephaestion went beyond all reasonable bounds. He crucified the doctor who had treated Hephaestion. 22 He ordered all of the manes and tails of the animals in his army to be cut off as a sign of mourning, and he tore down the walls of the cities nearby. He banned all music. Then he went into the country of the Cossaeans and for no reason massacred the entire nation.
The tomb of Hephaestion was to be a memorial of unprecedented= magnificence, and Alexander spent most of his time going over the plans with his architects. On his way to Babylon, the local fortune-tellers prophesied that he would die if he entered the city. But Alexander paid no attention. As he came to the walls, he saw some crows fighting with each other, and some fell near him. Even this omen could not deter Alexander from entering Babylon.
Other strange omens, however, did get Alexander's attention. A donkey kicked his biggest lion to death. And one day there was a man sitting on Alexander's throne in a trance. After this, Alexander lost his confidence in the gods and in his friends. Once he allowed fears of supernatural influence to take root in his mind, he became so easily frightened that the smallest event took on enormous significance. Crowds of fortune-tellers and priests infested his court.
Contempt of divine power makes a man miserable, but, on the other hand, so does superstition. Like water, it seeps in to fill the depressed mind with fear and foolish notions. Alexander drank heavily, and he caught a fever. After suffering for twelve days, he died in Babylon [June 10, 323 B.C.]. 23
Go to Life of Phocion
NOTES:1. The temple of Diana at Ephesus was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world.
2. Aristotle was the pupil of Plato and the most famous philosopher of his time. He left behind a huge body of work on logic, political theory, and natural science.
3. The Iliad has always been a favorite of warriors. The subject is a few weeks in the ninth year of the siege of Troy, when Achilles, a warrior as strong and grand as Alexander, lost his best friend in battle and took ferocious revenge on the enemy. Recent archeological discoveries have revealed that Troy really did exist and that it was as large as Homer described it.
4. At the Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.), King Philip of Macedonia defeated Athens and its allies and became the boss of Greece. Two years later, however, Philip was assassinated.
5. The Sacred Band in the army of Thebes was an elite unit of 300 picked warriors. See the life of Pelopidas.
6. Plutarch's life of Demosthenes has not been included in this collection.
7. A panhellenic war against the Persians had been a dream for some time. Xenophon and the Ten Thousand (mercenaries) showed how easy it would be, and what incredible wealth was there. Agesilaus (see the life of Agesilaus) had easy success until he was called home to fight wars in Greece. However, it took a Macedonian to pull the Greeks together and get them to stop fighting themselves.
8. Troy was the site of the Trojan War (circa 1250 B.C.), where Alexander's ancestor, the great Achilles, grandson of Aeacus, did the deeds immortalized in the Iliad by Homer.
The story of the Trojan War may be found in the Iliad of Homer, the Metamorphoses of Ovid, and the Aeneid of Virgil. Briefly:
Eris, the goddess of discord, was angry because she alone among all of the gods had not been invited to the wedding of Peleus (the father of Achilles) and Thetis (a sea goddess). She showed up anyway and threw in a golden apple, inscribed with the words: "To the most attractive." Three goddesses squabbled over the golden apple: Hera (Juno), the queen of the gods, Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of love, and Athena (Minerva), the goddess of wisdom. To settle the argument, the three goddesses agreed to allow some mortal man to make the judgment and award the apple. The arbitrator selected was Paris, a young prince of Troy, a city that was a major power because it dominated the channel linking trade between the Black Sea and the Aegean Sea.
The three goddesses appeared to Paris and applied their persuasions. Hera offered wealth and power beyond any man in the world. Athena offered wisdom. But Aphrodite offered what this young man could not resist: the most beautiful woman in the world. This is essentially the same choice any young man must make: love, money, or wisdom. The judgment of Paris was for Aphrodite, and Helen was his prize. She happened to be married at the time, however.
Paris sailed off to Sparta and was received as a guest of Menelaus, its king, who was Helen's husband. Paris repaid the kindness of his host by stealing his wife and much loot, which he took back to Troy. Menelaus' brother was Agamemnon, the King of Mycenae, who collected a large army to punish Paris and Troy.
After a ten-year siege, Troy was taken by the stratagem of the Trojan Horse. The Greeks built a huge horse of wood, too big to fit through the gates of Troy, then left this strange monument behind and pretended to sail home. Inside the horse were some of the best Greek warriors. Despite the warnings of Cassandra, the Trojans were completely fooled, and they made a passage through their walls, dragged the horse inside, and then everyone had a victory party. Late that night, as the Trojans were sleeping off their debauch, the Greeks inside the horse came out and opened the gates. The rest of the Greeks, who had turned back and landed again, entered and sacked the city.
That was the end of the Trojans, but Aeneas, one of the princes of their allies, escaped from the slaughter with some companions and founded Rome. Aeneas was the son of Aphrodite (Venus) and a descendant of the original king of Troy.
9. Achilles' best friend was Patroclus, who borrowed Achilles' armor to turn back the Trojans and was killed by Hector when he carried his victory too far. Achilles' extravagant grief over the loss of his friend was imitated later by Alexander when he lost Hephaestion. Homer, of course, was the poet referred to by Alexander.
10. Arrian tells us that the Persians were putting up a good fight until Darius ran. Then they all panicked, and trampled each other trying to escape in the narrow mountain passes. Alexander's losses were very light, only 450 killed and 4,500 wounded, including Alexander, who got a sword cut on his thigh. Arrian is the leading ancient biographer of Alexander, and he wrote shortly after Plutarch. His account is a real history, and therefore is much more complete than Plutarch's.
11. Ammon was a ram with curved horns, supposed to be an Egyptian form of Jupiter. After spying on Olympias and noticing a snake in her bed, King Philip had consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi for the meaning of this strange sight. The oracle replied that the snake was a form of Ammon -- Greek gods were capable of assuming different shapes. Olympias told Alexander the secret that Ammon was his real father, not Philip.
12. Arrian tells us that Darius, who was expecting an attack that night, kept his men standing in formation all night, so that by the next day his army was exhausted.
13. Darius lost even though he outnumbered Alexander by 20 to 1.
14. Arrian tells us that Alexander introduced the Persian custom of prostration in his court, and even Macedonians were expected to grovel on the floor when they saw him. Although it was optional for Macedonians, Alexander clearly was more pleased with those that did than those that did not. It was hard for him to have a consistent policy since he had to be a god to the barbarians and a friend to the Macedonians.
15. Clitus was the brother of Alexander's nursemaid, a senior commander under Philip, and the commander of the Royal Squadron of Alexander's cavalry. He had saved Alexander's life at the Battle of the Granicus River. Clitus was one of the Macedonian commanders that most disliked the change in Alexander from warrior king to barbarian megalomaniac. This incident took place in Marakanda, 328 B.C.
16. Alexander had police recruited from the local population.
17. Alexander tried to kill himself with the same spear he used on Clitus, once he saw what he had done. He called himself the murderer of his friends, which was a fact.
18. Alexander cried when he heard Anaxarchus talk about the infinite number of worlds in the universe. One of Alexander's friends asked him what was the matter, and he replied: "There are so many worlds, and I have not yet conquered even one." This anecdote comes from Plutarch's essay in the Moralia entitled " On Contentment of the Mind."
19. Brahmins were the priests and scholars of India, the highest of the four castes in the Vedic social order. The other castes were the soldiers, the merchants, and the laborers. By the time Alexander came to India, there was already a very ancient and well-developed civilization. Buddha lived approximately two hundred years before Alexander, and before Buddha there was a long tradition of Vedic culture and institutions in India.
20. Arrian tells us that the reason Alexander wanted to try this desert crossing was that no one had ever brought an army through there before. He knew of the difficulties they would encounter. The loot from their expedition had to be left behind for lack of animals to carry it, since most of the animals died of thirst. Anyone who could not keep up was left behind to die. Then when they finally found a stream of water and camped beside it, monsoon rains caused a sudden flood that drowned all of the women and children and all of the surviving animals, and only a few of the soldiers managed to escape drowning in the desert. This took place in 325 B.C.
21. Great men in the ancient world usually were polygamous. Once Alexander was dead, however, Roxane had her rival killed. She and Alexander's baby were murdered later by Cassander in Macedonia.
22. This doctor was not at fault, except that he had left his patient and gone to see a play. Hephaestion took that opportunity to break the diet that the doctor had prescribed, and he ate a whole chicken and drank a lot of wine. This aggravated his fever, and soon he died.
23. "If the rule of due measure is neglected, and great power is put into things too small -- such as sails on ships, food in bodies, or authority to souls -- then there is disaster. No mortal, when young and irresponsible, will ever be able to stand in the highest ruling position on Earth without his mind being filled with foolishness, earning him the detestation of even his closest friends. When this happens, it quickly ruins the soul itself and obliterates all of its power." Plato, Laws, III, 691.
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Here are 1065 useful words and phrases in modern American business English. Clicking on the highlighted words in the text will display their definition in this window. These words have been chosen with two classes of students in mind: (1) those wishing to improve their SAT verbal score, and (2) adult students of English as a second language, who would prefer a serious and classic text and convenient definitions. Studying the words in context, and examining the brief definitions and examples provided in this list, will add significantly to the student's real understanding of proper usage.
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abate (a bate')
Make less; die down.
Example: The city passed a law to abate the noise coming from factories.
Kidnapped; carried away a person by force.
abet (a bet')
Assist; help out, especially in doing something bad.
Example: Nixon had a staff to abet his crimes.
abide (a byd')
Tolerate; stand. In archaic usage, abide means to live there, and the home where one abides is called an abode.
Wipe out by decree; annul.
abroad (a brod')
Outside of your own country.
abrogate (ab' ro gate)
Cancel by an official act.
abscond (ab skond')
Run off with the money.
Not there; missing.
absurd (ab serd')
Makes no sense; stupid; goofy.
Plentiful; there's lots of it.
abuse (ab yous') Noun.
Bad treatment. As a verb, abuse is pronounced (ab youz').
Permission to visit; admittance.
What happened to the money. People who can understand such statements are called accountants.
accuse (ak yuze')
Blame; say someone did something bad.
Recognize; admit to be true.
Someone you know slightly, less than a friend.
acquire (a qwire')
Found to be not guilty of the crime charged.
adept (a dept')
Good at something; skilled.
adhere (ad here')
adjacent (a jay' sent)
Next to each other; contiguous.
adjust (a just')
Improve; change; fix.
Allow; confess to be true.
adorn (a dorn')
Decorate; dress up.
adversary (ad' ver sary)
When the going gets tough.
Spoke in favor of.
affability (af a bil' i ty)
Genteel good humor; jolly but not overbearing behavior. The fine line between affability (which is pleasant) and jocularity (which is irritating) is most important to discover.
affinity (a fin' i ty)
Example: The judge afforded him an opportunity to tell his side of the story.
Afford also means to be able to spend. Example: Most college students can't afford to spend more than $500 a month on rent.
affront (a frunt')
aggravate (ag' ra vate)
Make worse, or more serious.
Example: Bill Clinton aggravated his crimes by his efforts to silence his accusers.
The one who starts the fight.
aghast (a gast')
Extremely astonished and horrified; a state of bewilderment usually expressed with open mouth and bugged eyes.
Disturbed; stirred up.
Be in fearful suspense.
Friendly; in harmony.
alacrity (a lak' ri ty)
Willingness and enthusiasm; energetic joy.
A major effort, using all available resources.
allays (a layz')
Tones down; softens.
Being a friend or ally; loyalty.
alliance (a ly' ans)
Partnership; coalition; team. A relationship based on mutual commitments to defend each other's interests. An ally (al' eye) is your partner in this relationship.
aloof (a loof')
Like you aren't interested in being there; superior and detached in attitude, like a cat more than like a dog.
Raised place for performing ritual killings.
ambiguous (am big' yoo us)
Vague; unclear because it could mean two things.
An ambiguity (am big yoo' i ty) is vague spot in a text.
ambitious (am bish' us)
Greedy; hungry for more power.
ambivalence (am biv' a lence)
The state of not being able to decide if you like it more than you hate it.
ambush (am' bush)
Surprise attack out of hiding.
anarchy (an' er ky)
Nobody's in charge; freedom for the criminals.
Forefathers; prior generations of your family.
animus (an' i mus)
Strong dislike; hostile attitude.
annotated (an' o ta ted)
With additional notes to the text, such as this edition of Plutarch's Lives. Example: Annotated statutes are printed laws supplemented with references to related judicial decisions.
annulled (a nuld')
Cancelled; made as if it never happened.
anomalous (a nom' a lus)
Out of place; shouldn't be there. An anomaly is something anomalous, i.e. something you don't expect to find there.
antagonist (an tag' o nist)
anti- (an' ty)
Against; opposed to.
anxious (ank' shus)
Worried; filled with anxiety.
Imitate without understanding, the way monkeys do.
apologize (a pol' o gize)
Say that you are sorry for what you have done; offer excuses for errors.
appease (a peez')
Give them what they want so they will stop making trouble.
aptitude (ap' ti tude)
Promise; probability of success at learning.
arbitrarily (ar bi trer' i ly)
For no good reason; from a whim of power.
arbitrate (ar' bi trate) Verb.
Decide a dispute by a third party, whose decision the disputants agree to follow. This third party is called the arbitrator, and the dispute resolution process is called arbitration.
Worst enemy; nemesis.
Soldier who shoots arrows.
arete (ah' re tay)
Arete, in English, means something like "virtue" and "excellence" and all of the qualities that together make up good character. The knightly code of chivalry is similar to the Greek idea of arete, but to the Greeks the concept had more metaphysical significance.
arguably (ar' gyu a bly)
It would not be unreasonable to think so; a good advocate could think up some plausible argument to support this position; unbiased and reasonable people would not laugh if you said this.
aristocracy (ar is tok' ra see)
The ruling class, or, as a political system, "rule of the best" (its literal meaning in Greek). Who these "best" are is usually determined by which family they happen to be born in.
Set up; organize.
arrest (a rest')
arrogant (ar' o gant)
Pushy; bossy. The opposite of humble.
A body of technical knowledge or skill. Note that the term is not limited to painting or sculpture, which is properly called "fine art."
Not natural; done by means of technology.
artisan (ar' ti zan)
One who makes beautiful things, for example, a jeweler or a craftsman in wood.
ashamed (a shaymd')
Embarrassed; wish you were dead.
Example: The fact that he was not ashamed proved that he had no sense of honor, and therefore could not be trusted with the office of President.
assailant (a say' lant)
Attacker; one who is trying to harm somebody.
assassinate (a sas' in ate)
Murder a public official.
Example: The crime of assault is complete even if no blow is struck (that's battery), so long as the victim was scared by the attack.
Suppose that it's true.
assurance (a shur' ance)
astonishing (as ton' ish ing)
Up for grabs; the prize for the winner; at risk.
atrocity (a tross' si ty)
Cruel and violent act; an outrage. Atrocious (a tro' shus) means outrageously bad. Example: His table manners are atrocious.
attribute (at' tri bute) Noun.
A quality or characteristic. Note the difference in how this word is pronounced from when it is used as a verb.
attribute (a trib' ute) Verb.
Say it came from that source.
Example: The painting was attributed to Rembrandt.
Loss in numbers.
Example: The attrition rate for first year law students is 35%.
Sold to the highest bidder at an auction, or public bidding procedure.
austere (os teer')
Spartan; serious and disciplined; not ornamented; not luxurious. The quality of being austere is called austerity (os ter' i ty).
The power and right to command.
avenge (a venge')
Get even for; take revenge.
Steer clear of; dodge; evade.
Impressed extremely, to the point of amazement. You are awed by something awesome.
awkward (ok' werd)
Not graceful; embarrassing; clumsy. 100
Withdraw from a commitment; retreat.
Example: When prices rose, they tried to back out of the deal.
backed up by
Supporting; on the side of.
ballast (bal' est)
Additional weight in the bottom of a ship, put there for the purpose of lowering its center of gravity, thereby preventing the ship from tipping over.
Order someone to leave and not ever come back.
When your debts exceed your assets; broke.
banquet (bank' wet)
Dinner party for a large group.
barbarian (bar bay' ri en)
To the Greeks, only Greece had civilization worthy of the name and people worthy of the system, therefore all foreigners who had made it past being savages were considered barbarians, even if they were technologically advanced. Barbarians, such as the Persians, were considered laughably crude and gaudy.
bargain (bar' gen)
Deal; contract. Your part of the bargain is what you are committed to doing under the terms of the contract.
Not fertile; nothing grows there.
Defensive barrier; wall against the enemy.
bear the brunt
Take most of the load.
beat to the punch
Strike first; launch a pre-emptive attack.
begrudge (be gruj')
behold (be hold')
belittle (be lit' tel)
Denigrate another person's abilities; criticize; run down.
Get something good.
betray (be tray')
Turn against. Betrayal is when a person you think is a friend acts as your enemy behind your back.
Cast a spell on; influence by magic.
bizarre (be zar')
Weird; very odd.
When you prevent transportation in or out.
Made a bad mistake.
body politic (pol' i tic)
The politically active population, in general.
Grand and loud but empty. Bombast is called "bullshit" in colloquial American English.
Loot; plunder; ill-gotten gains.
Give orders because you are intoxicated with authority.
Annoying; pestering; being a nuisance.
braggadocio (brag a do' si o)
Produces, as a parent.
Breeding is the education of a person in the social graces by the example of his family. Ill-bred means that you have bad manners, and therefore your parents are presumably bumpkins too.
Briefness; using few words to express your thought.
Example: Brevity is the soul of wit.
Easily cracked; not tough.
Example: After she broke off their engagement, she returned his ring.
The brother of your wife or husband.
Abrupt and blunt, not wasting time with courtesies and formalities.
buffoon (buff oon')
Person who is ignorant of manners and style; redneck.
Badly done; inept.
by means of
Through; using.  = ; 46
cadre (cad' re)
A group of future leaders; hard core of an organization.
Cancel a planned event.
Pacify; mellow out; chill.
came to pass
Turned out; happened as an expected result.
candid (can' did)
Example: After his comically insincere address on national TV, the American people suspected that Bill Clinton was not candid with the grand jury either.
Gets things done.
What you are capable of; how much you can do.
Also capacity means one's legal power, as opposed to personal power. Example: Mr. Smith signed the promissory note in his capacity as President of ABC Corporation, and he signed individually as well at the request of the bank.
Punishable by death.
caprice (ca preece')
Fickleness; unsteady affection; foolish whimsy.
Catch. As a noun, capture means being caught.
casual (cas' yu el)
Not nervous, tense, or strict. Nonchalant (non shal ont').
Those who are hurt or killed.
catastrophic (cat as tro' fic)
Very, very bad news. A catastrophe (cat as' tro fee) is bigger than a disaster or a calamity.
Overtake; close the lead; come from behind.
cavalry (cav' al ry)
Soldiers who ride on horses.
Centaur (sen' tar)
Mythical creature that is half horse and half man.
One who fights on behalf of another. This term comes from the days when lawsuits were decided by combat, and weak litigants were permitted to substitute a champion for themselves. Note that in contemporary American English, champion also means the winner of a tournament.
chaos (kay' os)
Disorganization; a state of total disorder; absolute randomness.
characteristics (kar' ak ter iss" tix)
Features; what you notice as distinctive= about someone or something.
Running at the enemy; assault.
Accuse of; put a burden on.
chasm (kaz' um)
Deep crack in the ground.
chaste (rhymes with past)
Clean; refraining from sexual contact.
chauvinism (sho' vin is m)
Pride in your group identity.
cheered them up
Made them happier.
chronicle (kron' i cul)
Report of events.
circumstances (sir' cum stan ses)
The world around you.
Freedoms and powers; what you can lawfully do in the society.
Note that civil rights does not mean preferential treatment based on your race or gender -- that is called "affirmative action."
One who engages the services of a professional.
Bore the taste.
Example: Her relentless chatter soon began to cloy, and he looked for some excuse to leave.
Bunch or group.
Hostilities, but no all-out war.
colleagues (col' eegs)
Formally gave the job.
What you would expect anyone to know.
commonwealth (com' mon welth)
A social organization where each participant has a share in the governing power, like a corporation.
Sympathy; pity; kind spirit.
compel (com pel')
To force; make someone do something.
competent (com' pe tant)
Can do the job; capable.
Assemble data or documents into a record or book.
Going along with; doing what they want.
Calmness; emotional balance.
Add to, make worse.
As an adjective, compound means added on. Compound interest is added to the principal of a debt, either daily or annually, as it accrues. A compound fracture is a broken bone that pierces the skin.
Pressure; the opposite of persuasion; being compelled. When you are compelled to do something, you're not happy about it but you go ahead and get it done.
comrades (com' radz)
Fellow soldiers; buddies.
conceal (con seel')
Deluded by a high opinion of yourself; pretending to be cool.
What you can think of if you really try. "Every conceivable comfort " means that all possible efforts were made to provide the very best accommodations.
Agreement; common will.
Example: The strength of the Japanese management style is the emphasis on consensus building, rather than autocratic edicts from the big boss.
Note that the common mistake "consensus of opinion" is redundant.
Everybody is working as a team to accomplish a task.
Something given reluctantly.
Example: The school year concluded in June.
Concluded, in a different context, also means decided after thinking about it a while. Example: The company concluded that the exposure from harassment and discrimination lawsuits outweighed any benefit from making its product in the USA.
Express abhorrence; damn.
condemned (con demd') Past Participle, used as an Adjective.
Doomed; facing a bad future.
confer (con fer')
Trust; give secret information.
Establish the truth of; make more firm the opinion.
confiscation (con fis ka' shun)
Seizure of property by the government.
conflict (con' flict) Noun.
Fight. Used as a verb, the accent is on the second syllable.
conform (con form')
Do like everybody else does.
Showdown; potential fight.
congregate (con' gre gate)
Get together as friends.
conscience (con' shens)
Moral sense; what you know from inside.
consent (con sent')
Permit or permission.
consequences (con' sa quen ses)
Results that follow from an action.
Made up of.
Bring together and organize; make sure of.
Plan together to do something evil.
Agreed plan of government.
construe (con stroo')
Figure out the meaning of writings or actions; interpret.
Rome elected two co-presidents each year, called consuls.
Plan together with; seek counsel from.
Those who are alive when you are.
contempt (con tempt')
Disdain; scorn; an attitude of disrespect. Contemptible means worthy of contempt.
Argument, disagreement, competition.
Satisfaction; peaceful spirit.
From time to time, but not every moment.
Note the important difference between continually and continuously, which means without a break.
Go on; keep going.
continuous (con tin' yu us)
Without a break.
contrary to (con' tra ry)
Against; opposite to.
contrast (con' trast) Noun.
Used as a verb, the accent is on the second syllable.
Accomplish with some ingenuity.
Call together for a meeting.
Being convinced; what you believe.
corroborate (co rob' or ate)
Support the testimony of a witness with other evidence, such as the testimony of other witnesses or physical evidence.
Immoral; changed for the worse.
Example: Rust is corrupt iron, just as possessiveness is corrupt love.
Corruption is particularly concerned with the taking of bribes, or payoffs of various kinds to circumvent the civil or moral law. For the definitive treatment of this most interesting and relevant subject, see Bribes by John T. Noonan, Jr. [Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit] (University of California Press 1987).
counsel (kown' sel)
Rely on; depend on; have faith in.
counterfeit (cown' ter fit)
Fake; not what it is purported to be.
Takeover of government by force.
courteous (ker' te us)
Well-mannered; polite; considerate and graceful in conversation and behavior. Courtesy (ker' te see) is the quality of being courteous.
Female entertainer; high-class prostitute.
Hide; conceal; distract attention from.
Being too afraid to act properly.
Example: "Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once." -- Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 2, Scene 2.
Believability; reputation for telling the truth.
One who money is owed to.
credulity (cre du' li tee)
Willingness to believe in what you're told.
crisis (kry' sis)
Important moment; time to worry a lot. The plural is crises (kry' seez).
Holy war; campaign for a good cause.
cuckold (cuk' old)
Husband of an unfaithful wife.
Signal for an actor to say or do something.
Slyness; craftiness; guile.
Ingratiate; suck up; brown nose.
Those who take care of something given to them by another.
According to custom; what's usually done. 109
debacle (de bok' ul)
Big defeat; screw-up.
debate (de bate')
Contest of arguments.
debauch (de bawch')
Orgy; excessive party.
debris (dey bree')
The broken pieces.
Intentionally giving the wrong idea. Deception is what is done by deceit.
Say no to some proposed action; turn down an offer.
decree (da cree')
Official public statement of new rules.
decrepit (de crep' it)
Worn out and falling apart.
deduced (de duced')
Figured out; drew the logical conclusion.
defaulted (de fal' ted)
Failed to meet a promise.
This term is typically used to describe the failure of a borrower to pay back a loan. The loan goes into default when the payments are past due. The promise to pay is made with a promissory note, which must state the amount and a certain date for payment. Without the certain date, it is only an IOU.
defective (de fek' tive)
Something's wrong with it; badly made. If it's defective, it has a defect (dee' fect).
defer (de fer')
To defer to someone means to acknowledge the superior right or ability of another person to take action. To defer some action means to put it off until later.
defy (de fy')
Challenge the power of.
Bummed out; extremely discouraged.
deliberate (de lib' er et)
Carefully considered; cautious.
Used as a verb, to deliberate (de lib' er ate) means to think about something.
False perception; hallucination; mirage.
Public speaker that can arouse a crowd.
demeanor (de mean' er)
How you carry yourself; attitude.
Rule of the people (its literal meaning in Greek). Not Plutarch's recommended form of government: see the Fable of the Snake in the life of Agis.
Destroy completely and systematically.
Discouraged; have lost their morale (mo rall'), or fighting spirit.
Thick; lots of them in a small space.
Be extremely unhappy about.
Example: Her family deplored his atrocious table manners.
Removed from high office; impeached.
Sadness to the point of paralysis.
deprive (de pryv')
Prevent from having.
Taunt; speak scornfully to someone.
descend (de send')
To be a descendant means that you are related by blood to someone who has died, i.e. you are descended from him.
desert (de zert')
Walk out; abandon.
desolate (dess' o let)
Ruined and deserted; empty place.
The state of being desperate, or having the recklessness of despair.
Example: "The majority of men live lives of quiet desperation," said Thoreau in Walden.
View with extreme disgust and contempt.
despot (dez' pot)
Cruel and capricious ruler.
Being caught; discovery.
detest (de test')
Really hate a lot.
detour (dee' toor)
Change in path.
Critics; jeerleaders; those who say bad things about you.
devout (de vowt')
Pious; very religious.
Ruler with unlimited power. A boss who is extremely arbitrary in his management style.
Quiet confidence and pride; the demeanor that goes with high rank.
You have two choices, and neither one is good.
diligent (dil' e jent)
diminish (dim in' ish)
Politeness and guile.
disarray (dis a ray')
Disorganization; a messed up state.
Example: The Americans were in disarray over the wisdom of supporting Clinton's new war.
discipline (dis' i plin)
disclaim (dis claim')
Deny that it's yours.
A disclaimer of warranties is frequently found on used cars, so that the salesman can claim you agreed to buy the car whether it runs or not.
discontent (dis con tent')
Unhappiness; the state of not being contented.
discourse (dis' course)
Speech; skill at talking.
disdained (dis daynd')
Rejected; declined with contempt.
disguise (dis kies')
False appearance; camouflage.
disgust (dis gust')
Discourage; bum out.
Afraid and shocked.
disown (dis own')
Say he's not one of us.
Talk about how bad someone is.
Quarrel; argument over something.
Disagreement; contrary opinion.
dissipate (dis' i pate)
Weaken by scattering.
dissuade (dis wayd')
Talk out of; opposite of persuade, which is to talk into.
distinct (dis tinct')
Not mixed up but different and separate; easy to see.
Standing out from the crowd; fame.
Characteristic and tending to identify.
Example: She could tell who sent her the note by the distinctive handwriting.
distract (dis tract')
Cause to move in a different direction; turn aside.
divine (de vine')
do away with
Get rid of; remove.
doctrine (doc' trin)
System of teachings.
Control by superior strength.
Being the boss.
dose (rhymes with close)
Quantity of medicine taken.
Spy who has been turned. You think he's your spy, by the enemy has made him work for them.
Price paid to a husband by the father of the bride to marry her.
Compelled to be soldiers.
This term is from entomology. In the world of bees, where the queen and all of the workers are female, a few drones are permitted to exist as consorts for the queen.
When the land dries up for lack of rain.
Notice of the intended action of the government and the opportunity to be heard concerning this intended action. "Due process" is a term of art in constitutional law, and it comprises the two elements of notice and opportunity to be heard.  = ; 79
eager (ee' ger, with a hard g, as in good)
Fired up; really wanting to.
Pleasant and calm.
Example: Television viewers still enjoy easy-going Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry.
Off-center; odd; weird in an amusing way.
Capable; competent; it works.
Weak and foolish.
elan (ey lan')
Vigor and style. A French concept, with no English equivalent.
eligible (el' i ji bul)
Qualified; fit to be chosen.
elite (e leet')
Belonging to a chosen group of individuals much better than average.
eloquence (el' o quence)
Get on a ship for a trip.
Steal while you are in a position of trust.
emphatic (em fat' ik)
Vehement; strongly worded; emotional.
Meet; run into.
You can't move easily because of all the stuff you are carrying.
Support, recommendation, backing.
Suffer patiently until the end.
enfranchise (en fran' chize)
Give the right to vote.
Example: He argued that the decline and fall of the United States began with the enfranchisement of women by the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.
Signing up; recruiting.
en masse (on moss')
All together in a compact group.
enrage (en rage')
Make very angry.
Working hard and happy.
entourage (on' tu raj)
The crowd that accompanies a big shot.
envoy (on' voy)
Messenger; person sent on official business.
Want to change places with someone.
essential (es sen' chul)
Not speaking to each other.
Moral system; code of behavior.
eunuch (yoo' nuk)
Castrated male slave. Eunuchs were extensively used in the ancient world as bureaucrats. Wealth was their compensation for the loss of their balls.
euphemism (yoo' fem is m)
Nice way to say it.
Example: The "political correctness" movement has made sensitivity into a joke by ridiculous euphemisms.
eventually (e ven' chwa ly)
Happens later, as expected.
evidence (e' vi dence)
Facts tending to prove the truth of an assertion.
Can be seen.
Hype; make to appear bigger than what is real.
Example: It was plain to the jury that the plaintiff was exaggerating her injury in the hope of getting rich.
exasperated (eg zas' per a ted)
Fed up; angry and impatient.
excessive (ek ses' ive)
Don't have to do what everyone else has to.
An exemption is a waiver of a requirement.
exert (eg zert')
Project one's power; exercise.
exhaustion (eg zaws' chun)
Tiredness; weariness; emptiness.
exhort (eg zort')
Loudly encourage someone.
Absence from your native country, against your will.
A person in this condition is called an exile.
expel (ex pel')
Kick out; send away.
Expulsion is the act of expelling.
expenditure (ex pen' di chur)
When you spend money on something, you make an expenditure.
expertise (ex per tees')
Knowledge of an expert.
Time has run out.
exploit (ex' ployt) Noun.
This word has very different meanings when used as a noun and as a verb. The verb exploit (ex ployt') means to make use of in a greedy way.
Clearly stated, in writing or otherwise.
Very, very nice.
Composed on the spot; not made up beforehand.
extirpate (ex' tir pate)
Root out; completely remove all vestiges of something bad.
extort (ex tort')
Compel to pay by threats. Extortion is a crime.
extraordinary (ex tror' di na ry)
extravagance (ex tra' va gance)
Excessiveness; immodesty; bad taste.
exult (eg zult')
Feel proud openly.  = ; 58
Instructive tale, with animals as the characters.
Group within a larger group.
Deceived by a feint.
familiarity (fa mil' i a" ri ty)
Knowledge from seeing something a lot.
famine (fam' in)
When there is not enough food, and people starve.
fatigue (fa teeg')
Tiredness from hard work.
Example: Most of the directors are in favor of the proposal.
Example: The judge decided in her favor.
Example: He did her a favor.
Giving excessive affection.
feigning (fay' ning)
Long quarrel between families.
Not constant; disloyal.
Find the answer to a puzzle or a question.
finance (fi' nance) verb
Pay the costs of something.
Financial (fi nan' shul) means having to do with money, such as the financial statements of a business. Financing is the process of putting money into an enterprise.
find fault with
Disapprove of; criticize; nit-pick.
Put the final touches on a victory.
By personal experience, rather than the experience of others.
First choice; priority in choosing.
The end of a line of troops.
To outflank the enemy line means getting around them.
Absolutely and bluntly; with no attempt to sugar-coat the message.
Fly; run away; escape.
Fleeing; running away.
Group of warships, less than a fleet.
flourish (fler' ish)
Be healthy and grow.
A person who is obedient to the point of absurdity and shame.
About to be stated.
Stir up; incite; make trouble.
for the sake of
For the intended benefit of.
A succinct definition of this common phrase in English is beyond my power. Study the example of its use in the text, and elsewhere.
Cross a stream of water on foot, by wading through it.
Stop; wipe out; prevent.
In real estate law, foreclosure occurs when a creditor who has not been paid legally stops the ownership interest of the debtor in some property.
foregoing (for go' ing)
What has already been stated in the document.
forewarned (for warned')
Knew what was about to happen.
Give up; abandon.
Construct to make stronger against attack. Fortifications are what is built.
Base; what provides stability for a building.
Easy to break.
Pleasant smell; odor.
Shape; construct a plan.
Example: The writers of the Constitution are referred to collectively as "the Framers."
frame of mind
Attitude; general feeling about things.
Truthful and to the point; honest.
Nuggets of sap from a certain Arabian bush, burned to produce a dense and fragrant smoke.
In a big hurry, with anxiety; freaking out.
A material misrepresentation made with the intent to induce reliance on it. A deliberate lie to cheat someone.
frivolous (friv' o lus)
Silly; a waste of time.
Party of the light-hearted.
One who has only apparent authority; puppet; figurehead.
Example: Many became convinced that Bill Clinton was merely a front man for some sinister forces.
The opposite of smiling.
Extremely reluctant about spending money. This is the nice way to say it. Frugality is the quality of being frugal.
Things are not going according to plan; disappointed and angry.
People that are running away from something.
Not miniature, but the real size of the thing.
If you do something full-time, it's your usual business. A part-time job is something you do for only a few hours.
Provide; give something necessary.
fury (fyu' ry)
futile (few' til)
Bound to fail; hopeless; useless. 60
garrison (ga' ri son)
The soldiers who are controlling a place.
gesticulate (jes tik' u late)
Make excited gestures, or expressive body movements, along with or in lieu of speech.
Leave; extricate one's self from a bad situation.
To get away with something is to escape punishment for it.
get the chance
Have the opportunity.
get the point
get out of
Not have to do it.
Pass through to the end of something bad.
Example: I can't play tennis until I get over my sprained ankle.
get rid of
get tired of
Lose your interest in.
A person who eats too much.
go along with
Indulge; consent; follow.
Freak out; become like an insane person.
Proceeding; taking place; happening.
A time long ago when things were much better. This refers to the first age after the creation of man, in Greek mythology. After the golden age came the silver age, then the bronze age, and finally the iron age. Maybe now it's the plastic age. See note 8 to the Life of Aristides.
Sincerity and honesty in a deal.
Affection and respect.
gourmet (gor mey')
A person who is an expert in food.
When an official takes bribes.
Seriousness; calm dignity.
This word comes from the Latin word gravitas (grah' vi tahs), which is today a term of art in politics, meaning the quality that command attention without effort. In the Hippie Era, such a dude was said to be heavy.
Complaint about bad conduct.
Having no support in reality.
Crawling on the ground in an exaggerated display of fear and subjection.
Animosity; resentment; score to settle.
Unwillingly and with feelings of resentment.
guarantee (gar an tee')
guile (gyle, with a hard g, as in good)
Sneaky tricks; craftiness.
Dance of the naked girls. 33
had in store
Held for the future.
harass (ha rass')
Bother; annoy; bug.
Example: Camping involves hardships such as bugs, cold, bad food, etc., yet some people like it.
harmony (har' mo ni)
Smooth and friendly cooperation.
haughty (haw' ty)
Disagreeably proud; stuck-up.
have a hard time
When it's difficult to do something.
hearing (hee' ring)
Chance to talk to the judge.
hegemony (he gem' o ny)
Someone who inherits.
Example: Because he's blind, he can't help it if he runs into things.
One who announces some news.
hereditary (her ed' it ary)
Passed on in the genes, so you're born with it.
Lives alone and has no interest in meeting people.
hoard (rhymes with board)
Stash; some cache of goods or cash that has been stored.
hold a grudge
Stay angry with someone.
An armored Greek soldier. The panoply of a hoplite comprised a helmet with face guards, armor for the chest and back, greaves to protect the shins, a spear, and a sword. Hoplites were used for close fighting in formation.
Prisoner kept to make sure a bargain is kept.
hostile (hos' tyle)
The process of unfriendly relations is called hostilities.
humble (hum' bul)
Modest; not trying to impress anybody.
Disgrace; shame because of your circumstances.
hypocrite (hip' o krit)
Someone who pretends to be good, but acts otherwise; one who fakes good faith.
For examples, read what Jesus said about the Jews and lawyers of his day (cf. Matthew 23:13-33). 23
ignore (ig nore')
Pay no attention; disregard.
Ignorant (ig' nor ant) means that no attention has been paid to something, so you don't know anything about it.
Can't read or write.
Wrong belief from mistaken perception.
imbecile (im' be sil)
Fool with a weak mind, but not as stupid as an idiot.
imitate (im' i tate)
immense (im ens')
Too big to measure; huge.
immune (im yune')
Can't be harmed; safe from some danger.
Give; transfer to.
Fair; not favoring either side in a dispute; the ideal of a judge.
Can't tell what he's feeling; stone-faced.
Being fired from high office because of misconduct.
About to happen.
imperative (im per' a tiv)
Necessary and in the nature of a command; no argument for or against is needed or invited.
Building an empire; asserting control outside your own country. This word connotes a reckless ambition to expand control. Example: Bill Gates, Hitler, and Napoleon made the same mistake: imperialism.
Bossy; seems to enjoy giving commands and acting like someone important.
implicate (im' pli cate)
Put blame on because of their involvement.
Example: Several lawyers at the White House were implicated in the cover-up scandal.
Following as a reasonable conclusion from words or conduct, although not clearly expressed. Implicit rather than explicit.
Ask passionately; beg.
impudent (im' pyu dent)
Sassy; disrespectful; bratty.
impulse (im' pulse)
Sudden change in momentum; push; whim.
impunity (im pyu' ni ty)
in charge of
in favor of
Likes the idea.
Example: Both the Republican and Democratic parties seem to be in favor of bigger, meaner, and more intrusive government.
in spite of
Example: In spite of his inferiority in size, David defeated Goliath.
in the interest of both parties
Both sides in the negotiation will benefit by this.
in the way Adjective.
An impediment; a nuisance; an obstruction.
inauspicious (in aw spish' us)
Unlucky looking; off to a bad start.
Can't do it.
Event; something that happens.
incite (in site')
Talk into taking bad action.
Being unable to do a job right.
Contradictory; no steady truth.
Example: Clinton's inconsistent explanations led the Americans to doubt his character and fitness to command them.
Hard to believe.
indefatigable (in de fa' ti ga bul)
Doesn't get tired.
indemnity (in dem' ni tee)
Paying for the harm done; insulating against loss. Frequently contracts will provide for one party to indemnify the other in the event of disputes raised by third parties by paying the legal fees and any judgment.
Give a sign; signal.
indictment (in dite' ment)
Formal accusation of a felony, or serious crime, by a grand jury. To be indicted (in di' ted) in the United States is big-time trouble.
Angry, highly offended.
Not direct; roundabout; circuitous.
indiscreet (in dis creet')
Prone to scandal; careless about keeping secrets.
Can't get along without it; necessary; critical.
Cause to act.
Pamper; permit another to do what pleases them.
inept (in ept')
No skill; awkward and clumsy.
inevitable (in ev' i ta bul)
Can't avoid it; has to happen.
infantry (in' fan try)
Soldiers who walk; foot-soldiers.
Spread disease into.
inferiority (in fe ri o' ri ty)
Being less than; the opposite of superiority.
Were present as pests, like roaches in a house.
infiltrate (in' fil trate)
Sneak your forces in.
influence (in' flu ence)
Ability to shape behavior by suggestion.
Example: The Hollywood elite has deliberately misused the power of television to influence the public.
Made very angry.
ingenious (in gee' ni us)
Clever; showing ingenuity; smart.
ingratiate (in gray' she ate)
Make yourself popular; suck up.
Not being properly grateful for benefits received.
Someone who lives there.
Get after someone dies because you are an heir.
initial (i nish' al)
First; at the beginning.
The opposite of justice; unfairness; partiality.
innate (in ate')
Born with it.
in on it
Privy; to be a participant in a project or the sharer of a secret.
insatiable (in say' sha bul)
Can't get enough.
Writing carved in.
insignia (in sig' ni a)
Symbols and marks of rank, such as the stars on the shoulders of a general, or the eagle with arrows on the podium of the President.
Not important; small.
insinuated (in sin' yu a ted)
Hinted in a sly way; snuck in the suggestion.
insolent (in' so lent)
Contemptuous and insulting; arrogantly rude.
The meaning of this word is best approached by examining its etymology: in (in) spire (breath) -- so inspire means to put in a breath, or catch a spirit.
instigator (in' sti ga tor)
Trouble-maker; one who incites another to take bad action.
Established; put in place some system.
intact (in tact')
Not broken; whole.
integrity (in teg' ri tee)
True spirit; honesty; honor.
Aim; purpose. Something that is intended to happen is intentional, or on purpose, and it is therefore not an accident.
intercede (in ter seed')
Plead on behalf of someone in trouble.
On the inside. Internal is the opposite of external, which means on the outside.
Question and answer session.
To step in between disputants, like a referee in a boxing match.
Making afraid; terrorism.
Poisoning of the mind; giddiness.
Complex and full of small detail.
What it's worth as raw materials.
The intrinsic value of a coin is what the metal is worth, regardless of what is stamped on it.
Put in; bring up for consideration.
inveterate (in vet' er et)
Stubborn in bad behavior.
Can't be defeated.
Mixed up with; part of.
Showing irony, or a joke of fate. For an example of irony, study the text in the Life of Philopoemen: what happened to him was what he had just finished criticizing in another -- becoming a prisoner of war. It would not be a case of irony if Philopoemen had said nothing.
irrelevant (ir rel' e vant)
Doesn't matter; beside the point.
Can't resist it; there's no stopping it.
Bother; annoy; bug. 92
jeopardy (jep' ar dy)
Risk of loss; danger.
Appears to be having a good time.
judicious (joo dish' us)
Wise; smart and not excessive.
Critical point in time.
In tune with the truth; honest and fair.
just in time
Almost too late.  = ; 6
keep a lookout
Be on guard against intruders; watch out for trouble.
Made the subject of a joke; teased. Kidding is a flexible term in English, meaning teasing or misleading for the purpose of humor, such as unkind people do to children (kids).
Relation by blood. Your kin are your relatives.
kiss of death
Refers to when the false friend Judas kissed Jesus to identify him to the Jews who were trying to arrest him. 4
labyrinth (lab' er inth)
Maze; place with complicated pathways so you easily get lost there. This term derives from the palace built by Daedelus for King Minos of Crete.
Limping; crippled in the leg.
Expressions of grief and sorrow.
lampoon (lam poon')
Ridicule; make fun of, especially by ridiculous imitation.
Large majority in a vote.
Slip up; break in good conduct.
Stealing or cheating.
Extravagant; profuse; way too much.
leaven the lump (le' ven, rhymes with heaven)
Yeast makes bubbles in bread, in a process called leavening. A little yeast mixed in a lump of dough rapidly multiplies and leavens the lump.
legacy (leg' a si)
Inheritance; what is passed down from generation to generation.
lenience (lee' ni ence)
Example: Children grow up to be violent underachievers because irritable parents show too little lenience for childish exploration.
Foolishly generous; not strict; not frugal; not prudent.
Permission or permissiveness. License is used pejoratively to describe a disordered state of society where anything goes.
lieutenant (loo ten' ant)
litigation (li ti ga' shun)
Court battles; lawsuits.
live up to
Act according to a certain standard.
loath (rhymes with both)
A related word is the verb loathe (rhymes with clothe), which means to hate and have disgust for.
Small probabilities of winning. Odds are the probability that a particular event will occur.
Theft on a large scale; stealing by a mob.
A true friend. 23
Compensated; supplied to fill a deficiency.
Make to appear bigger.
majesty (ma' jes ty)
Kingly conduct; strength and beauty and dignity; grandeur.
major (may' jer)
Relatively large; the opposite of minor.
malcontent (accent on first syllable)
Not happy about anything; always complaining.
malice (mal' iss)
Evil intentions; hate; desire to harm. Malicious (ma lish' us) means done with an attitude of malice.
man of his word
Trustworthy man, whose promises can be relied on.
maneuver (ma noo' ver)
Move your forces around.
martyr (mar' ter)
One who suffers punishment for his beliefs.
massacre (mass' a ker)
masterpiece (mas' ter peese)
In the guild system of feudal Europe, skill in crafts was recognized at three levels: apprentice (learning the basics); journeyman (knows the basics); and master (really good at it). To qualify for recognition as a master, a journeyman had to produce a work so good that it could be admired by masters. This work was his masterpiece.
There's not much there; inadequate.
Example: A medal was a meager reward for his heroism.
Procedure or device used to accomplish something.
Example: The battlecry of evil is: "The ends justify the means."
Help to resolve a dispute.
melee (may' lay)
menial (mee' ni al)
Servile; suitable for those who do boring work.
Strengths and weaknesses.
Motivated by money; hired soldier.
The difference between a soldier and a mercenary is that the soldier fights for a cause, while a mercenary fights for money. No equivalent distinction has been drawn for lawyers, however.
meticulously (me tik' u lus ly)
With great precision and attention to detail.
The opposite of major; small.
misery (miz' er ee)
Unhappiness and discomfort.
Bad luck; a time of trouble.
Doubts and second thoughts.
A project of importance given to you by high authority.
mobile (mo' bul)
Making fun of.
moderate (mod' er et)
Not extreme; temperate.
Not bragging; shy.
Mass times velocity. A moving object has momentum, which is its tendency to keep going in the same direction at the same speed.
monarchy (mon' ar ky)
Government by one person.
Behavior in harmony with laws of spiritual cause and effect.
One who is subject to death; as an adjective, mortal means fatal, or causing death.
mortgage (mor' gaj)
A security interest in property, for a debt. For example, to build a house, the landowner borrows money from a bank, and the bank gets a mortgage on the house and the land, so if the debt is not paid, the bank gets both.
Proposal for a formal decision.
Build enthusiasm; make someone willing to do something.
A reason for doing something.
March on an objective.
When the crew refuses to follow the captain; disobedience of a group to lawful authority.
mutual (mew' chu al)
In agreement; reciprocal.
Fragrant resin from a desert shrub, burned as incense. 44
naive (ny eve')
Ignorant and trusting, like a child.
nausea (naw' ze a)
Feeling you get before you vomit; disgust.
neglected (ne glek' ted)
Forgot about; paid no attention to.
negligent (neg' li gent)
Not paying attention; careless.
The concept of negligence is the foundation of tort law, and accusations of lack of due care consume billions of man-hours in the United States.
negotiate (ne go' she ate)
Try to make a deal; bargain.
Cheapskate; stingy person.
Fast and agile.
Not corruptible; aristocratic; high-minded.
Nobility is a difficult concept to explain to Americans in the late 20th century, when the party line is that everyone is at least as sordid and corrupt as our President. Look it up in the dictionary and meditate on it.
Offered as a candidate for office; proposed a person for election.
notorious (no tor' i us)
Well known to be bad.
Note the difference between notorious and famous. 11
Spring in the middle of the desert.
Promise before God as witness and guarantor.
When witnesses are called in court to testify, they do so under oath, so if they lie, it is a felony called perjury. This is punishable by severe penalties in the criminal law, and presumably by God as well.
objected (ob jek' ted)
Protested; said no to what was happening.
objective (ob jek' tiv) Noun
Goal; what you intend to accomplish.
Used as an adjective, objective means unbiased, fair, based on the facts.
obliged (o blyjd')
Under an obligation, or duty to do something.
obliterated (o blit' er a ted)
Completely destroyed; wiped out.
Difficult to interpret.
Pay attention to, and try to obey.
Jobs; usual work.
Put a military force there to control the place.
Probability of success.
Insults; grosses out; makes angry.
Balance out; counter.
oligarchy (o' li gar ky)
Government by a few.
The alternatives are anarchy (no government at all) and monarchy (government by one).
Cause for superstitious speculation; signal of good or bad things about to happen.
Present on a ship.
on the lookout for
Example: Our company is on the lookout for acquisitions in the area of consumer electronics.
on the run
Fleeing; retreating as fast as possible.
Having the enemy on the run means that the battle is going in your favor.
on the verge of
onerous (own' er us)
Example: The congressman objected to the onerous demands of the federal government for paperwork on small business.
onslaught (on' slawt)
Competitor; enemy; antagonist.
oppress (o press')
Treat your people badly. Oppression is oppressive government.
Spirit that reliably forecasts the future.
Plutarch was for many years one of the two priests serving the Delphic oracle in the temple of Apollo.
Formal public speech, usually long.
Perhaps the most famous example is Antony's funeral oration in Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. An orator (o' ra ter) is one who gives an oration.
ordeal (or deal')
Long and unpleasant experience.
order of battle
How you arrange your forces; formation; setup.
oscillated (os' il a ted)
Went from one extreme to another, like a vibrating string.
Showing off in a vulgar way.
ostensibly (os ten' si bly)
Not really, but pretending to be the reason.
ostracize (os' tra size)
Ostracism was a procedure in Athens whereby anyone deemed too dangerous to keep in the city was banished by popular vote in a secret ballot. Its purpose was to prevent one man from becoming too powerful and beginning a tyranny.
Indignation; being extremely offended and angry.
outdo (owt do')
Perform better than another.
outnumbered (owt num' berd)
At a disadvantage, numerically.
A standing ovation is where the audience stands up while it applauds.
Too bossy; domineering.
Conquer; defeat; beat.
Too much to handle.
Cancel because the boss says no.
Overpower; blow away. 44
Calmed down; tranquilized.
pageant (pa' jent)
Spectacular production, such as a parade or a beauty contest.
paid him back in kind
Did to him what he was guilty of.
paralyzed (pa' ra lyzed)
Unable to move.
paramount (pa' ra mount)
Greatest; most important.
Organism that feeds on another without killing it, like leeches, ticks, and fleas.
Figuratively, it means people who occupy the position of ticks on society.
Let off the hook; exonerate; excuse; absolve.
parsimonious (par si mo' ni us)
Cheap; hates to spend money.
partisan (par' ti zan)
Fighter for a political party.
Used as an adjective, partisan means not candid because blinded by politics.
Division of space.
One who gives money; sponsor.
Notice; be alert; concentrate.
List of employees; people who get a regular payment for services.
A lightly armed Greek soldier, who usually carried a small shield, a sword, and a javelin, bow, or sling. The peltast was not covered with body armor like a hoplite, and therefore was useful only in fighting from a distance.
penalty (pen' al ty)
persistence (per sis' tence)
Refusing to quit; keeping at a task until it's done.
Mask; public image.
Be the living embodiment of.
Talk into; convince.
Concerning; relating to.
pertinent (per' ti nent)
To the point; very relevant.
pervade (per vade')
Spread all through, like water in a sponge.
perverse (per verse')
Stubbornly contrary; determined to do the opposite of what's expected.
pervert (per vert') Verb.
To distort or twist into something wrong.
Example: Spin doctors pervert the truth.
Small; trivial; worthy of a small-minded person.
phalanx (fay' lanx)
Dense formation of tightly linked and heavily armored soldiers, several rows deep, with their spears projecting forward between them. Figuratively, any formidable array.
phantom (fan' tom)
Elite; those selected by merit to form a special group.
Stealing little bits.
Robbing by a conquering army, usually with killing.
pilot (pi' lot)
One who makes sure the ship doesn't crash. This word now is mostly used for the commander of an airplane.
piracy (py' ra see)
Robbery at sea; what pirates do.
placate (play' cate)
Give a little something to keep them quiet for a while.
Mass outbreak of serious desease.
One who writes plays.
Giving reasons for getting favorable treatment.
The papers submitted by the parties to a lawsuit and stating the merits of the case, pro or con, are called pleadings. Papers that pertain to requested action by the judge are called motions.
Directed attention to; what you do when you point your finger at something so that someone else will notice it.
policy (pol' i cy)
Spectacle in ceremonies.
Example: The pomp of an English coronation ceremony is very impressive.
populace (pop' u less)
People in a place.
portents (por' tents)
Signs of the future.
postpone (post pone')
Put off until later.
A medicinal brew.
poverty (pov' er ty)
Being poor; lack of money.
precede (pre seed')
precedent (press' i dent)
Model for future decisions.
Example: Roe v. Wade is a precedent for deciding cases where the right of privacy in abortion is involved.
predicament (pre dik' a ment)
Trouble; tight spot.
predictable (pre dik' ta bul)
You can tell what they will probably do.
prefer (pre fer')
Being treated better than others.
To have a strong bias for or against something; mind is made up already, before hearing the evidence.
Example: Most people are prejudiced against spiders, although some keep them as pets.
preoccupied (pre oc' u pied)
Distracted; all attention focussed on some worry.
prestige (pres teej')
Good reputation; authority earned from good conduct.
presume (pre zyume')
Also, in another context, presume means to behave with unjustifiable forwardness.
pretense (pree' tense)
Pretending; fake reasons.
Putting on airs; pretending to be superior.
pretext (pree' text)
A fake reason for doing something.
prevail (pre vail')
Win; come out on top.
Victim; what a predator hunts.
Son of a king.
Note the difference between principal and principle. Although both are pronounced the same (homonyms) they have completely different meanings.
Not publicly; done by people on their own, and not as part of a group effort.
privilege (priv' lej)
Something you are allowed to do as a favor.
pro and con
For and against.
proceeds (pro' seeds)
Money from the sale.
procrastinate (pro kras' ti nate)
Put things off; neglect to take care of business promptly.
profligate (prof' li gat)
Forbid; order not to do something.
prolix (pro lix')
Talks too much.
Prolixity (pro lix' i ty) is the quality of being a blabbermouth. Example: If brevity is the soul of wit, prolixity must be the soul of stupidity.
prominent (prom' i nent)
Famous; distinguished; great.
promulgated (prom' ul ga ted)
Issued as a law.
propensity (pro pen' si ty)
Suggested course of action.
A proposed rule or deal.
prospect (pross' pect)
What's in view for the future.
prosper (pross' per)
provoke (pro voke')
Cause to react.
Provocative (pro vok' a tive) means tending to cause to react. Example: A red flag is said to be provocative to a bull.
prosecute (pross' e cute)
Go after; continue a project.
prosperity (pross per' i ty)
Wealth; being well-off; good fortune.
prowess (prow' ess)
Skill and strength; effectiveness of a fighter.
Cautiously wise; using good judgment; checking things out a lot beforehand.
Prudence is the quality of being prudent. Antonym: rash.
purported (per por' ted)
Pretended by an express claim to be; passed off as.
Example: American carmakers offer cars purported to be made in the USA, but which are made mostly of imported components.
pursuit (per sute')
Example: He was sorry that he put off doing his homework until the weekend.
Also, to put someone off means to give them some excuse for delay.
put up with
Endure; stand; tolerate; suffer.
Stack of wood for cremation, or burning a body to ashes. 92
Fight; dispute; argument.
quota (kwo' ta)
Required number to have or produce.
Example: The associate at the law firm had a quota of 165 billable hours each month, so he became accustomed to cheating and lying and became a partner. 2
Psych up; stop defeated troops from fleeing.
rampage (ram' page)
rancor (rank' or)
Bad will; hate; spite.
Reckless; too bold; not prudent.
Affirm; specifically approve; okay; make what another has done into your own act.
To affirm a position means to declare publicly that you agree. If a judicial decision is appealed to a higher court, and the higher court agrees with the lower court, the decision is affirmed.
rebelled (re beld')
Refused to follow orders.
A rebellion is when a large group refuses to accept the authority of the purported leaders.
reciprocate (re sip' ro cate)
Do the same in return.
reckless (rek' less)
Careless; thoughtless; extremely negligent; like a child or a fool.
reconcile (rek' on sile)
Make friends again; restore good relations.
recruited (re cru' ted)
Gathered people into a group.
Absence of pollution; spirituality.
Changes for the better; improvements in government.
Martin Luther was disgusted by the Catholic practice of selling tickets to Heaven, so he started the Reformation, which was the beginning of the Protestant churches.
Keep from doing.
refuge (ref' uge)
Safe place; sanctuary.
regime (re zheem')
Period of rule; administration.
regret (re gret')
Be sorry. As a noun, regret means being sorry.
More people to help.
Be happy; celebrate with joy.
relatively (rel' a tiv ly)
relent (re lent')
Ease up; cease giving trouble.
relic (rell' ik)
What remains; holy object.
Enjoy a lot.
Don't want to do it.
remnant (rem' nant)
A small part that's left over; scrap.
remorse (re morse')
Being sorry; regret and shame.
rendered (ren' derd)
Done; caused to be.
rendezvous (ron' de voo)
Place to meet, or the meeting itself.
Payment to cover the damages from your action.
Abrogated; cancelled out by another law.
repent (re pent')
Be sorry for the past; take a new attitude for the future.
reprimand (rep' ri mand)
Unkind words from a boss; a scolding, or rebuke.
Opinion generally held about someone.
resemblance (re zem' blance)
resented (re zen' ted)
Took offense at; considered an insult.
Doubts and fears about a proposal.
reserved (re zervd')
Aloof; distant; quiet.
resist (re zist')
Oppose; act against.
resolute (res' o lute)
Resolution is the quality of being resolute.
Example: "And thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied over with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and moment, with this regard, their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action." -- Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1.
resolve (re zolv')
Settle; finally decide.
Finally have to use this.
Example: When the police got no answer to their knock on the door, they resorted to a battering ram to enter the house and execute the search warrant.
Held back; kept under control.
The concept of self-restraint (sophrosyne in Greek) is key to understanding the ethos and aesthetic of ancient Greece.
resume (re zoom')
retaliate (re tal' e ate)
Hit back; take revenge.
retinue (ret' in oo)
Group of followers.
reverence (rev' er ence)
revile (re vyle')
Scold; criticize harshly; indulge in name-calling.
revive (re vyve')
Bring to life again; wake up.
revoked (re vokd')
Took back; repealed; cancelled.
Turn against the leader; mutiny.
rhetoric (ret' er ik)
The art of verbal persuasion.
rhetorical question (re tor' i cal)
A question that has an obvious answer, asked merely to get the listener to respond.
An irritating habit in ordinary conversation, and a cause for suspicion when used by salesmen and politicians.
ridicule (rid' i cule)
Making fun of somebody.
A rift is to society as a fault line is to geology.
Immediately; without wasting any more time.
Boss of criminals; chief crook.
riot (ry' ot)
Taking a risk, or chance.
Competitor in love or ambition.
routine (roo teen')
Usual; nothing special.
The movable blade at the back that steers a boat.
Have no more. If you run out of money, you are broke.
rustic (russ' tik)
Simple and country-style. 68
sabotage (sa' bo taj)
Sneaky damage intentionally done. A French concept.
Loot, burn, and kill.
sacred (say' cred)
Holy; property of God.
Ritual killing of an animal to please the gods.
sacrilege (sak' re lij)
Impiety; disrespect of religion; misuse of a religious space or object. If you commit a sacrilege, you are sacrilegious (sak re lij' us).
Place to hide.
Attack out of a fortified position.
A safe place.
A hereditary ruler of a large region in the Persian empire, similar in rank to a duke in the European feudal system.
Brutal and mean; scarcely human.
Something for a decent person to be ashamed of.
Rebuked; told off in a long-winded way.
Looked at with contempt.
scrutiny (screw' ti ny)
Careful examination; checking out.
seceded (see see' ded)
Left the group.
Have doubts about what you have decided.
Zone; area of responsibility.
Example: The distinction is often made between the private sector (business) and the public sector (government).
Safe; to make safe.
Just about to boil.
serene (se reen')
No worries; easy in manner.
series (see' rees)
A number of similar things arranged in order; sequence.
Defeat, reversal, or check.
severe (se veer')
Serious; grave; harsh. Severity (se ver' i ty) is how severe it is.
Survivors whose ship has sunk.
This term comes from poker, when the last players left show their cards to determine who takes the pot.
Not apparently a fool.
Avoid with care; refuse to have anything to do with.
Next to each other in a line.
sincere (sin sere')
Meaning what you say; honest.
Chosen from among many others.
False statement made to injure someone's reputation.
Insulting lack of respect.
Laziness; torpor; inactivity.
No flames, but almost burning.
Thinking that you're not a fool.
sniping (sny' ping)
Shooting from a safe distance; being a critic.
so long as
Provided that; on the condition that.
Serious; not dizzy with any excitement.
sole (rhymes with bowl)
One and only.
solemn (sol' um)
Not light and cheerful, but important and serious. Solemnity (so lem' ni ty) is the quality of being solemn.
solicit (so lis' it)
Solicitation is the act of asking for something.
solitude (sol' i tude)
Being alone; loneliness.
Calm; quiet down; ease the pain.
sophist (so' fist)
Person who uses specious arguments.
Sophistry is the black art of confusing the truth.
sorcerer (sor' ser er)
Evil magician; caster of spells.
The black art practiced by the sorcerer is called sorcery.
sordid (sor' did)
Showing a disgustingly bad character; abnormally materialistic.
sovereign power (sov' ren)
Being a king; supreme power in government, which is not subject to any other authority.
Sovereignty (sov' ren tee) is the status of absolute power. In the words of Lord Acton: "Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." See the life of Alexander.
Produced in a large number, as fish spawn eggs.
Led into action, like the head of a spear leads the shaft. The head provides the hardness and sharpness to create an opening, and the shaft provides the mass to assure penetration. This is commonly used macho management lingo.
specious (spee' shus)
Attempting to confuse the truth; made in bad faith.
Example: She made the specious argument that all sex is harassment because of the historical dominance of the male.
One who watches an event.
Mean spirit; hatefulness.
Beautiful in a strong way.
What the winner collects on the battlefield after a battle.
spurious (spyu' ri us)
Not genuine; fake.
Rejected in anger.
Gross, messy and disgusting.
Reluctant to do it because it's disgusting or wrong.
Moving with erratic steps, as if heavily loaded.
A state of dullness and lack of progress. Stagnant water isn't flowing, and a stagnant economy is not growing.
Cause delay on purpose.
stamina (stam' i na)
Endurance; the ability to work without getting tired.
stampede (stam pede')
Panic of a herd.
Begin a journey.
steadfast (sted' fast)
Firm and unyielding.
steady (ste' dy)
Not changing; firm; reliable.
"Going steady" means having a usual companion of the opposite sex.
stealthily (stel' thi ly)
Without attracting attention; sneakily.
Taking care of the property of others.
To be killed by rocks thrown by a crowd.
stood their ground
Didn't back down but defended their position.
Those who fall behind or otherwise lose contact with the main body of a group.
Consecutive; without a break.
stratagem (stra' ta gem)
Trick; ploy; ruse.
strategic (stra tee' jik)
Pertaining to strategy, or the larger plans of a war.
Tactics are the techniques of battle.
strenuous (stren' yu us)
With a lot of effort and hard work.
Angry words and fighting.
Made stupid; spaced out; numbed by shock or amazement.
subjugate (sub' ju gate)
Bring under control; tame.
submit (sub mit')
Give in; surrender.
subordinated (sub or' di na ted)
Made secondary in rank.
Example: A subordinated debenture is a debt that will be paid after the senior debt is paid in full.
Like a servant; serving from a position of inferiority.
subtle (sut' l)
Hard to detect; not obvious; cunning; wily.
subvert (sub vert')
Undermine, or weaken in a sneaky way.
Example: Subversive people subvert an organization by creating bad feelings like resentment and suspicion.
succession (suk sess' shun)
The order in which power passes. For example, in the United States government, the presidential succession goes: President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, Secretary of State, and then other cabinet officers. A person succeeds to an office automatically when the previous occupant dies or retires. The one who steps into the vacated position is the successor.
Endure; have a bad time.
Command to come.
sumptuous (sum' chu us)
Luxurious; very comfortable.
superflous (su per' flu us)
Not needed; extra and useless.
superiority (su pee ri o' ri ty)
Being better by comparison. The opposite of inferiority.
superstition (su per stish' un)
False beliefs, arising from misunderstanding of cause and effect.
Example: Perhaps the most peculiar superstition in modern times is the Cargo Cult of the Trobriand Islands, who believed that they could bring cargo planes back to a deserted airstrip by imitating the actions they had observed done by the ground crew.
suppress (sup ress')
Check; keep under control.
supreme (su preem')
surety (shu' re tee)
Person who must pay a debt if the debtor defaults, or fails to pay the creditor according to the promissory note; guarantor.
surplus (ser' plus)
Excess; the amount that is more than what is needed.
Doubted; thought to be guilty.
Interrupted; put off until later.
sycophant (sy' co fant)
Yes man; toady; suck up; snitch and flatterer. 115
tacit (tass' it)
Unspoken, but understood.
Diplomacy, politeness, intelligent conduct.
Techniques of battle.
take advantage of
take care of
Do what is necessary in that regard.
Be the boss.
take him along
Allow him to accompany you; bring him along; not leave him behind.
take it easy
Go at a slow pace; relax; goof off.
Assume control; take charge.
A takeover is a change in control. A hostile takeover in the business world is when management is replaced by the voting power of unwelcome new shareholders.
6000 drachmas, approximately a day's pay for 6000 laborers, or 20 years of wages for one. A brick of gold, slightly bigger than a common construction brick, and weighing approximately 51 pounds. The amount of gold that a bearer can carry on a long journey.
talk out of
Convince not to do. This is the opposite of talk into, which means persuade to do something.
Docile; not wild; safe to be around.
A project or job to be done.
Someone who puts ketchup on ice cream is said to have bad taste in food. Someone who likes Bach is said to have good taste in music.
Insulting and defiant remark or behavior, typically made with the intention of provoking a fight.
temperament (tem' pra ment)
General disposition of a person.
Moderation; the quality of not getting carried away by pleasure or emotion.
tendency (ten' den see)
What you usually do.
Example: He has a tendency to blame others for his troubles.
tenure (ten' yer)
Time that you can hold an office.
Example: Federal judges in the United States have life tenure to insulate them from political pressures.
The details of a deal.
terrain (ter ayn')
The lay of the land.
Prosper; flourish; grow and be happy.
Put obstacles in the way of; frustrate.
timid (tim' id) [first syllable rhymes with him]
Very cautious; too scared to act; fearful.
Fix, construct, or repair in a small way.
tirade (ty' rade)
to the effect that
Meaning to give the impression that; suggesting that.
to the point
Getting at the important features of a problem, instead of blabbering about things that don't matter.
toady (toe' di)
A flattering leech; suck-up; sycophant.
Short statement before a drink. A custom of unknown origin.
Hard and boring work.
Endure patiently. Tolerable means that you can stand it.
Places for the dead.
Confronted; challenged; selected as an opponent or a task.
Torturer; one who is causing you pain and/or trouble.
Find by patient effort.
Clothes and other marks of rank.
treachery (trech' er y)
Back-stabbing; disloyalty; deceit; false friendship.
Selling out your country; disloyalty.
Contract between sovereigns; deal between states.
Taxes; payment of respect.
Put through the judicial process.
When the fighting stops for a while, by agreement.
trustee (trus tee')
Someone who administers something for the benefit of another, called the beneficiary. The trustee has legal title, but beneficial ownership is in the beneficiary, so the trustee has a fiduciary duty to take good care and not to treat it as his own. The legal arrangement is called a trust.
In modern American English, try to is the preferred form for expressing an attempt to do something.
Example: He tried to make an appointment for next Tuesday, but the dentist was not available.
Boiling with trouble.
Turmoil; a term used in fluid mechanics to denote when a fluid flows in highly disorganized motion, like a river rapids.
Zone of control; domain.
turmoil (tur' moyl)
Trouble and confusion.
turn out to be
It's impossible to give a brief definition of this phrase, which is commonly used in American English. It is best learned by studying some examples: That investment turned out to be a winner. That President turned out to be a crook. We thought it was a pool of water, but it turned out to be a mirage.
Surrender control or possession; give up.
Example: Vince Foster's lawyer refused to turn over some notes of an interview before Foster's death.
tyrant (ty' rant)
Boss who rules by fear.
Government of this style is called tyranny (tir' a nee). Typically, the tyrant is fearful himself, and uses a squad of assassins to silence or kill anyone who opposes him. See the life of Dion, note 6. Dionysius of Syracuse was perhaps the most famous tyrant of the ancient world. 59
Secret reason for doing something; hidden agenda.
ultimatum (ul ti may' tum)
Final warning before war.
unanimous (yu nan' i mus)
Everyone feels the same way about it; all votes are for it.
unbiased (un by' est)
Unprejudiced; open minded..
Example: If the jury is unbiased, the scales of justice are equally balanced at the beginning of the trial.
Subvert; work against in a sneaky way.
This term is from the ancient technique of siegecraft where tunnels were dug under walls and then the tunnel supports were burned to cause the walls to collapse.
undue (un doo')
Not justified by the circumstances.
Don't know about it.
unison (yu' ni zon)
Cooperation of all together.
unprecedented (un press' i den ted)
Never happened before.
unruly (un roo' ly)
Disobedient and troublesome.
Mean; without conscience or humanity; doesn't care how other people are hurt by his career of greed and power.
In the process of doing.
uproar (up' roar)
Very important to act immediately.
usury (yoo' ser y)
Using interest on debts to take over property. Usury connotes an unusually high rate of interest, e.g. loan sharking. 15
vagabond (vag' a bond)
Foolish; unrealistic. In vain means futile.
Value in battle; courage and skill.
Foolish notions of selfish pride.
vehement (vee' a ment)
Angry and emphatic.
vendetta (ven det' a)
Persistent persecution; a feud, or stubborn grudge fight.
A joint venture is a contractual arrangement between two companies whereby they agree to share the costs and profits of a particular project, without binding themselves to a complete merger or partnership.
Investment; there's something in it for you, so you are not objective because what happens affects you personally.
When a person or a proposition is checked out and debated before being submitted for consideration to a decision-maker.
You get blamed for what someone else does.
For example, the company has to pay for what its employee did. This doctrine of vicarious liability is the reason that there are so many lawsuits in America, because lawyers would not pay to create the trouble unless they had rich defendants to extort money from.
vicious (vish' us)
Intending to hurt; mean.
vicissitudes (va sis' a tudes)
Ups and downs; changes of Fortune.
The one who wins the fight or athletic contest.
Energy and strength.
villain (vil' un)
The bad guy; evil person.
vituperation (vy tu' per a" shun)
Spiteful, intemperate language; name-calling.
voluntary (vol' un ta ry)
Not forced; done of your own free will. When you do something voluntarily (vol un tar' i ly) nobody is forcing you to do it.  = ; 21
One who is trying to promote a war.
To identify soldiers on your side as they approach your lines in the dark, a watchword is issued by the commander and learned by the sentries.
Unpredictable; changing for no apparent reason.
Woven of flexible sticks.
Found all over.
Voluntary; done according to one's own will, and not under compulsion.
Smart in a fundamental way; having deep judgment.
Be OK after it happens.
See, and say you saw.
Example: We need two people to witness this will in order to make it valid. Used as a noun, a witness is one who says that he saw something.
Aroused to an emotional fever.
wound up (wownd up')
Resulted; turned out to be the consequence.
Example: Alexander the Great wound up losing all of his friends when he made himself a god.
Circular braid of leaves, used to crown the winners of events at the ancient Olympic games and other games in Greece. The intention was to show that human glory is as temporary as these leaves.  = ; 15
= ; 1065