The importance of the Harpalus affair in Athenian history has always been recognised, and many scholars have laboured to clarify its obscure details and to evaluate its consequences. What has, on the whole, not been attempted has been to see it against the background of Alexander's Court—yet that alone can enable us to make historical sense of it. The reason for this apparent neglect is to be found in the nature of our sources: as is well known, Alexander, within a generation of his death, became a legendary figure—a superman or demon, a subject for nostalgic worship or philosophic animadversion. The injection of corrective doses of Court historiography, though in itself an improvement, yet did a great deal of harm with its illusion of restraint and objectivity, which captured a large part of subsequent scholarship from Arrian to Tarn. As a result, between legend and apologia, both (for us) fragmentary and adulterated, and in the absence of really important documentary evidence, we cannot at all easily write an account of Alexander's reign that will satisfy the reader accustomed to genuine political history and unimpressed by eulogy and denunciation. Yet there is more to be done than might at first sight appear: detailed study of individual incidents, approached through the relations and movements of men and (as far as this can be recovered) the chronological sequence of events, will often establish a pattern into which scattered items in the sources can then be fitted. Naturally, not all these results will be equally secure; but probability is often cumulative, and a pattern, once established, will give value to pieces that fit into it and that might otherwise have been ignored or rejected. This concrete approach, which has made other periods of history intelligible to us, may then provide some criteria that will enable the traditional argument about the sources and their relations to aid rather than retard the progress of scholarship. Above all, it may tear away the veil of unreality that still envelops the history of Alexander's reign, so that the modern student can see it in terms of human history, as he can, for instance, see the reigns of Augustus or of Napoleon.