Sisi and Alexander the Great’s sword

When Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos met with presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on April 28, he presented him with the Sword of Alexander in appreciation of Sisi’s status and efforts. Some, however, have questioned the sword’s significance and why it was given to him.

The sword symbolizes the legend of the Gordian Knot linked to Alexander the Great. The term is used to describe a problem that requires a brave act or a difficult decision to resolve. The story goes that once upon a time, the people of Phrygia did not have a legitimate king, so an oracle from Telmissus, Phrygia’s ancient capital, predicted that the next man to enter the city driving an oxcart would become the monarch.

The sword symbolizes the legend of the Gordian Knot linked to Alexander the Great.

Abdel Latif el-Menawy

A poor peasant named Gordias was the first to enter on an oxcart, so the priests declared him king. To show gratitude, Gordias’s son Midas presented the cart to Sabazios, whom the Greeks identified with Zeus, and the cart was tied with a knot, where no end to unbind it could be seen.

The cart was still at the palace of Phrygia’s old kings when Alexander the Great entered Gordium in the 4th century BC. Back then, Phrygia was a province of the Persian empire. In 333 BC, while Alexander spent the winter in Gordium, he attempted to untie the knot.

Think outside the box

When he could not find the end to unbind it, he struck it with his sword. Alexander’s biographers wrote that the oracle had also claimed that whoever untied the knot would be the conqueror of Asia. Alexander conquered Asia, and reached the Amu Darya and Indus rivers.

Courage is thus the significance of the sword given to Sisi, who stood by the Egyptian people on June 30 last year. He struck a knot and took a brave stance. This is what Egypt needs, and what Sisi needs to do.

The country needs to think outside the box, and search for unorthodox solutions to overcome political, economic and social problems that have accumulated and worsened in the last three years. Egypt needs someone who can wield Alexander’s sword, so the country can restore the status it deserves.

This article was first published in Egypt's al-Masry al-Youm on April 30, 2014.

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 Abdel Latif el-Menawy is an author, columnist and multimedia journalist who has covered conflicts around the world. He is the author of “Tahrir: the last 18 days of Mubarak,” a book he wrote as an eyewitness to events during the 18 days before the stepping down of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Menawy’s most recent public position was head of Egypt’s News Center. He is a member of the National Union of Journalists in the United Kingdom, and the Egyptian Journalists Syndicate. He can be found on Twitter @ALMenawy


 

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