Gates of Fire

by

Steven Pressfield

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Alexandros Character Analysis

Alexandros is a noble Spartan youth enrolled in the agoge whose service Xeo enters after he’s rejected by the helots. He and Xeo become close friends. Alexandros is Olympieus’s and Paraleia’s son. He is a gentle spirit and an accomplished musician. He struggles with the demands of agoge training and is scorned and tormented for this by Polynikes. Dienekes works with him to try to master his fear, and he succeeds in becoming a Spartan warrior. At Thermopylae, he joins a daring raid into Xerxes’s tent and dies of his wounds.

Alexandros Quotes in Gates of Fire

The Gates of Fire quotes below are all either spoken by Alexandros or refer to Alexandros. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Bantam edition of Gates of Fire published in 1998.
Chapter 9 Quotes

We talked for hours in secret on the pursuit of esoterike harmonia, that state of self-composure which the exercises of the phobologia are designed to produce. As a string of the kithera vibrates purely, emitting only that note of the musical scale which is its alone, so must the individual warrior shed all which is superfluous in his spirit, until he himself vibrates at that sole pitch which his individual daimon dictates. The achievement of this ideal, in Lakedaemon, carries beyond courage on the battlefield; it is considered the supreme embodiment of virtue, andreia, of a citizen and a man.

Related Characters: Xeones (speaker), Alexandros, Dienekes
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“Mankind as it is constituted,” Polynikes said, “is a boil and a canker […] Fortunately God in his mercy has provided a counterpoise to our species’ innate depravity. That gift, my young friend, is war.

War, not peace, produces virtue. War, not peace, purges vice. War, and preparation for war, call forth all that is noble and honorable in a man. It unites him with his brothers and binds them in selfless love, eradicating in the crucible of necessity all which is base and ignoble. There in the holy mill of murder the meanest of men may seek and find that part of himself, concealed beneath the corrupt, which shines forth brilliant and virtuous, worthy of honor before the gods. Do not despise war, my young friend, nor delude yourself that mercy and compassion are virtues superior to andreia, to manly valor.”

Related Characters: Polynikes (speaker), Alexandros
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:
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Alexandros Character Timeline in Gates of Fire

The timeline below shows where the character Alexandros appears in Gates of Fire. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
...Then, “luck or a god’s hand” delivered him into the service of the Spartan youth, Alexandros, and his mentor, Dienekes. This saved Xeo’s life. (full context)
Chapter 5
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Later that evening, 12-year-old Alexandros, who was Tripod’s close friend, takes a walk with his mentor, Dienekes. Since Xeo is... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Dienekes goes on the explain to Alexandros that what Tripod displayed that day was more reckless than brave; he cost the city... (full context)
Chapter 8
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
...and not yet employed as Dienekes’ squire. He was working as the sparring partner of Alexandros, Dienekes’ protégé and the son of a Spartan war leader, Olympieus. (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Alexandros, the son of a noble family, is an accomplished musician and a gentle spirit. Once,... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Just before the last night of the drill, Alexandros gets in trouble with Polynikes, the 23-year-old Knight and Olympic champion. He has accidentally “defamed”... (full context)
Chapter 9
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...one of the strongest boys in the unit collapses and dies of dehydration and exhaustion. Alexandros blames himself for this, and when his unhealed nose leads to an asthmatic condition, he’s... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Alexandros’s asthma attacks seem to be brought on by fear. Dienekes works with him on the... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Alexandros pushes himself all the harder in training, quietly supported by the other boys and by... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...battle train head out, Xeo is abruptly awakened by Agathe, a Spartan girl of whom Alexandros is fond. He follows her to a dark copse of trees where he finds Alexandros... (full context)
Chapter 10
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Xeo and Alexandros push on in pursuit of the Spartan army, who are half a day ahead of... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Alexandros and Xeo arrive at the port of Rhion a little after midnight on the third... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Alexandros asks Xeo to tell him about his survival in the mountains with Diomache and Bruxieus.... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...the Antirhion shoreline is still not visible, and they are beginning to succumb to hypothermia. Alexandros swears that he will not abandon Xeo, whatever happens. An hour later, they collapse on... (full context)
Chapter 11
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
When Alexandros and Xeo arrive late on battle site, finding a vantage point on a bluff, the... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...begin taking their place on the line, Dekton leads two ceremonial goats to King Leonidas. Alexandros points out that the Antirhionians are so frightened that the plumes on their helmets are... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...the slaughter, and the Spartans begin searching among the dead for fallen friends. Xeo follows Alexandros down the slope onto the field as his friend searches for his loved ones. Both... (full context)
Chapter 12
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
As punishment for joining Alexandros in pursuing the army, Xeo is removed from his friend’s company and forced to march... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...hanging heavily over the city. Late one evening, in the Peers’ dining hall, Polynikes calls Alexandros forward and begins to interrogate him about his experience watching the battle. “How did you... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...this is intended to harden a boy’s will and is best deflected by humor, “but Alexandros possessed no gift for the wisecrack.” He answers each question with “excruciating candor” and is... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Xeo also suspects that Polynikes resents Dienekes’ fondness for Alexandros. He can tell that Polynikes has always envied the city’s respect for Dienekes, even though... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...He gently asks his protégé why he doesn’t lie like every other boy under questioning. Alexandros replies that the company would see right through him. Polynikes defers to the other Peers,... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Outside the mess hall, Dienekes speaks to Polynikes, demanding to know why he hates Alexandros. Polynikes replies that Alexandros does not love glory, which is the supreme virtue of a... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
After this, Dienekes takes a walk with Alexandros and comforts him, reminding him that Polynikes really would die for him, and that Spartan... (full context)
Chapter 13
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...finding Dienekes’ wife, the lady Arete, awake, along with her four daughters. With them is Alexandros’s mother, Paraleia. She immediately begins questioning Xeo about her son’s interrogation. (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...a satisfactory dose of information.” He accordingly does. He tells Paraleia everything about his and Alexandros’s journey to Antirhion and how Alexandros behaved there. Xeo stands up under an hour of... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...concludes the interrogation by asking Xeo to evaluate her son’s andreia. Xeo points out that Alexandros was the only Spartan boy to dare follow the army, fully knowing that he’d face... (full context)
Chapter 14
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
The following evening, both Alexandros and Xeo are whipped for having gone to Antirhion—Alexandros by his father before the peers,... (full context)
Chapter 15
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
...a daughter. Xeo vows to think no more of Diomache, as it would be impious. Alexandros, too, now a Peer of the army himself, marries Agathe and soon fathers twins. (full context)
Chapter 16
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
...to become a Spartan, and again he turns it down. Later that night, Xeo finds Alexandros arguing with Rooster. Rooster has decided to flee that night to the Temple of Poseidon,... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
...into the hut and bind Rooster. Polynikes is one of them. In outrage, he tells Alexandros that his presence there constitutes treason. Alexandros refuses to leave. He and Xeo are bound,... (full context)
Chapter 17
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...mess hall butchery. Olympieus and Dienekes join the other Peers. It quickly becomes clear that Alexandros had tried to persuade Rooster to accept the honor of becoming a Spartan, but, treasonously,... (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...the agoge the following day. But before they can drag Rooster off to be executed, Alexandros asks to speak. He points out that, given Rooster’s hero status among the helots, he... (full context)
Chapter 19
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Kingship, Loyalty, and Freedom Theme Icon
...in the ridgepole of the tent, which nearly struck him that night. He explains that Alexandros, Dienekes, and Polynikes were there, too. Xerxes examines the axehead and then tells Mardonius, “Tell... (full context)
Chapter 20
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...of Three Hundred on the Spartan plain. As expected, Dienekes is among them. More surprisingly, Alexandros, only 20 years old, was also picked. The Spartans believe that a mix of green,... (full context)
Chapter 23
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
As Alexandros stirs awake, he gazes toward the king’s fireside as well and wonders aloud, “How will... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...possesses pure andreia, more than any other he has known, is his wife, Arete, and Alexandros’s mother, Paraleia. Dienekes suspects that the women’s “higher valor” holds the key to his question... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
Then Alexandros speaks up. He argues that there’s more to women’s courage than Ariston has said. It’s... (full context)
Chapter 24
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Xeo eventually finds Dienekes and Alexandros, collapsed in exhaustion on the ground, as the platoon is relieved by allied units. Dienekes... (full context)
Chapter 25
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...takes stock on the evening of the first day of battle, it’s found that both Alexandros’s father, Olympieus, and his brother-in-law, Ariston, have been killed in battle. At first, in the... (full context)
Chapter 26
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...Dienekes asks him if he’s had enough of glory. Polynikes doesn’t reply, but he holds Alexandros’s hand while the latter is having his broken jaw set, instructing him to squeeze until... (full context)
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Dienekes watches Alexandros with a bitter expression as his injured protégé volunteers to take the place of Suicide,... (full context)
Chapter 28
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...an ancient Messenian coin to be given to his wife. Then he tells Xeo and Alexandros that the Persians are going to find a way through the Spartan rear and will... (full context)
Chapter 30
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
...spares a party of 11 soldiers to raid Xerxes’ tent. It includes Dienekes, Rooster, Suicide, Alexandros, and Xeo. Rooster, after all, has only been detained, not executed. They’re divided into two... (full context)
Chapter 31
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Faith and Divine Intervention Theme Icon
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...of one’s brother warriors allows “himself and his actions [to] touch the sublime.” He tells Alexandros that he thinks this is the reason Alexandros was chosen for the Three Hundred; he... (full context)
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Later, Dienekes speaks to Xeo, reminding him of the earlier conversation with Alexandros and Ariston about fear and its opposite. He says that Elephantinos and Suicide have given... (full context)
Chapter 32
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...the ridgepole of the tent. Then a mass of Egyptian marines pours into the tent. Alexandros is one of the few who’s still fighting at the fore, and Xeo watches as... (full context)
Chapter 33
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...king’s tent.  Taking the Spartans for allies, they even offer bandages and other supplies for Alexandros. Alexandros is clearly in shock. He asks Dienekes in a childlike voice, “Am I dying?”... (full context)
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Even though the wound on his severed hand has been clamped, Alexandros is still spurting blood. He’s also been wounded in the lungs, but nobody realizes this... (full context)
Chapter 34
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
...and they are arming themselves and “dressing their hair, preparing to die.” When they bury Alexandros, Polynikes comments that Alexandros was “the best of us all.” (full context)
Cities, Identity, and Belonging Theme Icon
Warfare and Brotherhood Theme Icon
Kingship, Loyalty, and Freedom Theme Icon
...out, eagerly accepting the liberty that Leonidas has granted him. He promises to report on Alexandros’s bravery. He also reports that Leonidas has released all squires from service as well. Dienekes... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Fear, Courage, and Love Theme Icon
Female Strength and Influence Theme Icon
...the file, for the first time not carrying his bow but a fallen man’s spear, Alexandros’s shield, and the helmet and cap of other fallen Spartans. He fights alongside Suicide and... (full context)