David Stern is retiring soon, because apparently Satan’s powers are more limited than once thought, but before the man leaves us with the yawn-fest that is on-court NBA basketball, we get one more parting gift of his organization’s focus on profits at the expense of integrity.
In 331 B.C., Alexander III of Macedonia journeyed from a new city on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt, a city that would soon give rise to one of the seven ancient wonders of the world, and which three-hundred years later would provide the last gasp refuge for Mark Antony and Cleopatra against the onslaught of the first Roman emperor, Augustus.
Modestly dubbed Alexandria by the conqueror of the known world, he walked through roughly 300 miles of barren desert from the city to the Siwa oasis, home of the Oracle of Amun, who promptly (one can only assume it was prompt, what with the conquerer of the known world showing up on your doorstep in the middle of the Sahara desert) informed Alexander he was the son of Zeus, a child of the Gods, helping to solidify his rule in Egypt. And providing a bit of an ego boost, I would imagine.
No simple task given the failure roughly two-hundred years earlier by the King of Persia, Cambyses the Second, son of Cyrus the Great and predecessor to Darius I, who himself gained fame by beginning a campaign of retribution against the Greek armies of Athens and Sparta, among others, and who died before the ultimate defeat his empire suffered not long after led to the rapid Hellenization of the world and much, much later to this:
Anyway, Cambyses II took his own palm reading from the oracle badly (history is unclear on exactly why the temple needed to be razed to the ground, but my money says the oracle made gentle, good-natured fun of Cambyses the Second’s name and lineage, and there was, as the ancients were often wont to do, a bit of an overreaction) and sent an army of 50,000 men to destroy the temple. To a man, they were lost in the swirling sand storms, becoming a legend, a historical question mark that passed through the ages and also led much, much later to this, if a little indirectly: