The Gordian Knot

The Gordian Knot, on of the world's most ancient and fascinating puzzles, is attributed to the great Macedonian king and warrior, Alexander the Great. Legend has it that in a province of ancient Greece, Phrygians, an ancient oracle foretold that a simple farmer would become it's king. A peasant named Gordian fulfilled the prophecy by appearing with an oxcart which was tied next to the palace by an intricate woven knot, referred to as the Gordian Knot.

As no one was able to untie this knot, the cart remained tied next to the palace for centuries until one day, the great Macedonian king Alexander the Great passed by with his army on the way to fight the Persians who had conquered most of Asia, including part of Greece. Alexander tried as hard as he could to untie the intricate knot, but could not do so the conventional way as there appeared to be no rope end to it to untie. Alexander, being a bit impatient as he had an empire to conquer, decided that the best way to "untie" the knot was simply to cut it in half with his sword � which he did. He found out later that the ancient oracle said that whoever was successful in untying the knot would be the conqueror of all of Asia.

Alexander proved the prophecy to be correct, as he eventually let his armies all the way to India. He found out to his chagrin that he did not fulfill the entire prophecy as he was forced to turn back after his forces sustained several disastrous defeats at the hand of Indian Maharajas who used a new form of battle tactic involving elephants. Alexander himself wound up contracting a fever on the way back home and died in Babylonia at the age of 31.

The lesson that is supposed to be learned from the metaphor of the Gordian Knot is that by using a short cut to solve the riddle or problem, the final outcome will not always turn out to be as planned. Alexander was also an "outsider" and not a part of the royal priestly family connected with the oracle and his cutting of the knot was not considered as the correct manner to solve the oracle.