Teacher

During his early teen years, Alexander is tutored by the famous philosopher Aristotle,
who trains him in rhetoric, literature, science, medicine and especially philosophy.
Aristotle's influence plays a considerable role in forging Alexander's renowned bibliophilia,
but eventually they have a falling-out. The (somewhat oversimplified) reason is that Aristotle
is a bigot, while Alexander is fascinated with and tolerant of foreign cultures.


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11/25/2009: All instruments complete, vocals not recorded yet.
8/2/2010: Vox recorded, principal recording is done!
8/19/2010: Beta mix.


Lyrics

Alexander:
Teacher, my teacher your legacy shines
Scientist, author, philosopher prime
The minds of our age admit freely if asked
From statesmen to engineers, owe you their craft
Teacher, my teacher, so clearly you've shown
The judgment and skills I'll require on the throne
So tell me again, for I don't understand
Why a man who is different is less than a man

Aristotle:
Now listen well, my arrogant boy
You're clever, it's true, and much you have learned
But soon you will learn the world is not your toy
That duty is love and reason is joy
That those who make beauty can also destroy
That you'd revile the foreign art you now enjoy
If you'd fought against Xerxes when Athens burned

Alexander:
Teacher, my teacher, your lesson's unclear
We're foreigners both to the land you revere
And the south realms the same as all states in all times
From Achilles to Plato commit the same crimes
Teacher, my teacher, your logic is sound
But your premise is flawed so the error compounds
Foreigners can't be inferior when
We're the only two equals among lesser men

Aristotle:
Barbarian brat, you go too far!
Hitch your broken cart to a fallen star
You naively admire the brutal scum of the earth
Because you're blinded and flawed by the land of our birth
You'll never surpass your drunken father in war
Nor garner men's devotion like your mother, the whore
Shall I always regret this insipid thing that I've done?
Curse my folly for tutoring a barbarian's son

Alexander:
Teacher, my teacher, such insults you've hurled
But this wound like others will finally heal
When someday before me all nations shall kneel
Teacher, my teacher, my final appeal
To your logical mind as my own fate I seal
Observe my career and we'll see how you feel
When this "barbarian" rules the world


A word of explanation:

I know it seems odd to think of an imperialist conqueror as a champion of diversity,
while calling a cornerstone of Western philosophy a bigot, but that's pretty much the
case. Aristotle considered all non-Greeks to be barbarians, an attitude all the more
baffling since he, like Alexander, was Macedonian. Perhaps Aristotle thought of
Macedon as an extension of Aeolian Greece, or possibly he considered himself
a Greek by xenogenesis. In one famous example, Aristotle counseled Alexander to be
'a leader to the Greeks and a despot to the barbarians, to look after the former as
after friends and relatives, and to deal with the latter as with beasts or plants'.

Conversely, Alexander considered himself Macedonian but respected Greek culture
on it's own merits, in much the same way he was intrigued with the achievements of the
Egyptians and particularly the Persians, whose enmity with the Greeks was the stuff
of legend even in Alexander's time. Although in some cases Alexander inflicted
notoriously brutal punishment on defeated foes he felt had been unreasonably
recalcitrant, his treatment of those he considered honorable was remarkably generous
by the standards of his time. In fact, he personally adopted many of the customs of
conquered peoples, and recruited formerly hostile officers and men into his army
at significant cost to the morale of the more conservative elements in his own ranks.


Copyright 2009 Jeff Buser.

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