To vanquished peoples he did not leave only their ethos ; he also left them their civil laws, and often even the kings and governors he had found. He would put the Macedonians at the head of his troops, and native men at the head of the government, preferring to run the risk of some individual betrayal (which did sometimes happen) than of a general revolt. He respected the old traditions, and all the monuments of the glory or vanity of the peoples. The kings of Persia had destroyed the temples of the Greeks, Babylonians, and Egyptians : he restored them ; few nations submitted to him on whose altars he did not make sacrifices. It seemed he had conquered only in order to be the individual monarch of each nation, and the first citizen of each city. The Romans conquered everything in order to destroy everything ; he wanted to conquer everything in order to preserve everything ; and whatever countries he visited, his first thoughts, his first designs were always to do something that could increase their prosperity and might. He found the first ways of doing so in the greatness of his genius, the second ways in his frugality and personal economy ; the third ways in his immense prodigality for grand things. His hand would close for private spending ; it would open for public spending. When it came to managing his household, he was a Macedonian ; when it came to paying the soldiers’ debts, informing the Greeks of his conquest, making the fortune of every man in his army, he was Alexander.
He committed two evil acts : he burned Persepolis, and killed Clitus. He made them famous by his repentance ; so his criminal acts were forgotten and his respect for virtue remembered ; so they were considered more as misfortunes than as his own doings ; so posterity finds the beauty of his soul almost next to his extravagances and weaknesses ; so he had to be pitied, and it was no longer possible to hate him.
I am going to compare him to Cæsar. When Cæsar tried to imitate the kings of Asia, he drove the Romans to despair for a matter of pure ostentation ; when Alexander tried to imitate the kings of Asia, he did something that entered into the plan of his conquest.