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the wars of alexander the great

  1. 1. WALDEMAR HECKEL isProfessor of Ancient Historyat the University of Calgary.His publications includenumerous articles on the historyof Alexander the Great, The LastDays and Testament of Alexanderthe Great (Stuttgart 1988) andThe Marshals of Alexanders Empire(London 1992). Together withJohn Yardley he has producedthe Penguin edition of QuintusCurtius Rufus: The History ofAlexander (1984), a commentaryon Justins books on Alexander(OUP 1997) and most recentlyLivy: The Dawn of the RomanEmpire for Oxford WorldsClassics (2000).PROFESSOR ROBERT ONEILL,AO D. PHIL. (Oxon), Hon D.Litt. (ANU), FASSA, Fr Hist S,is the Series Editor of theEssential Histories. His wealthof knowledge and expertiseshapes the series content andprovides up-to-the-minuteresearch and theory. Born in1936 an Australian citizen, heserved in the Australian army(1955-68) and has held a numberof eminent positions in historycircles, including the ChicheleProfessorship of the History ofWar at All Souls College,University of Oxford, 1987-2001,and the Chairmanship of theBoard of the Imperial WarMuseum and the Council of theInternational Institute forStrategic Studies, London.He is the author of many booksincluding works on the GermanArmy and the Nazi party, andthe Korean and Vietnam wars.Now based in Australia on hisretirement from Oxford he is theChairman of the Council ofthe Australian Strategic PolicyInstitute.
  2. 2. Essential HistoriesThe Wars ofAlexander the Great336-323 BC
  3. 3. Essential HistoriesThe Wars ofAlexander the Great336-323 BCWaldemar Heckel
  4. 4. First published in Great Britain in 2002 by Osprey Publishing, For a complete list of titles available from Osprey PublishingElms Court, Chapel Way, Botley, Oxford OX2 9LP UK please contact:Email: info@ospreypublishmg. com Osprey Direct UK, PO Box 140,© 2002 Osprey Publishing Limited Wellingborough, Northants, NN8 2FA, UK. Email: info@ospreydirect. co. ukAll rights reserved. Apart from any fair dealing for the purposeof private study, research, criticism or review, as permitted under Osprey Direct USA, c/o MBI Publishing,the Copyright, Design and Patents Act, 1988, no part of this PO Box 1, 729 Prospect Ave,publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or Osceola, WI 54020, USA.transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrical, Email: info@ospreydirectusa. comchemical, mechanical, optical, photocopying, recording or www. ospreypublishing. comotherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyrightowner Enquiries should be made to the Publishers.Every attempt has been made by the publisher to secure theappropriate permissions for material reproduced in this book. Ifthere has been any oversight we will be happy to rectify thesituation and written submission should be made to thePublishers.ISBN 1 84176 473 6Editor: Rebecca CullenDesign: Ken Vail Graphic Design, Cambridge, UKCartography by The Map StudioIndex by David WorthingtonPicture research by Image Select InternationalOrigination by Grasmere Digital Imaging, Leeds, UKPrinted and bound in China by L. Rex Printing Company Ltd.02 03 04 05 06 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 21
  5. 5. Contents Introduction 7 Chronology 13 Background to war The decline of the city-states and the rise of Macedon 14 Warring sides The Persians, the Macedonians and allied troops 22 Outbreak Alexanders rise to power 28 The fighting Alexander conquers an empire 35 Portrait of a soldier Two generals and a satrap 72 The world around war Rome, Carthage and India 76 Portrait of a civilian A historian, athletes and courtesans 81 How the war ended The death of Alexander 84 Conclusion and consequences The struggle for succession 86 Further reading 90 Glossary 92 Index 94
  6. 6. IntroductionThe conquests of Alexander the Great form Mycenaean-Minoan Greeks. Even after thea watershed between the world of the Greek fall of Troy ended what the historiancity-state {polls) and the so-called Hellenistic Herodotus regarded as the first great struggleworld, the eastern kingdoms, where between east and west, and after the collapseAlexanders successors applied a veneer of of the Bronze Age civilisations - underGreek culture and administration to a circumstances that are still not clear - newbarbarian world. These ancient Near Eastern waves of Greek migrants splashed against theterritories had always been the battleground shores of Asia Minor. From there, they spreadbetween eastern and western civilisations, to the Black Sea coast and the Levant, andand would continue to be so well beyond eventually to the west as well.the chronological confines of the ancient By the sixth century BC, however, Greekworld. settlements in Asia Minor became subject to Western contact with the Near East had the authority of the Lydians. This kingdombegun in the Bronze Age, in Hittite Asia had allied itself with the Medes, who ruledMinor, in the Orontes valley of Syria and in the Persians from Ecbatana (modernthe Nile delta of Egypt. The spectacular Hamadan) until they were overthrown byfrescoes and other artefacts of the prehistoric Cyrus the Great. Croesus, whose name iscivilisations of the Aegean depict contact, synonymous with fabulous wealth, was thefriendly and hostile, between foreigners and last of the Lydian rulers and, in 548/7, he raised an army against the Persian upstart, misled by Greek oracles into thinking that he would acquire a greater empire. After an indecisive battle near the Halys, the Lydian troops disbanded, as was their practice - for it was not customary to wage war over the winter months - but Cyrus brought his Persians up to the walls of Sardis, seized its citadel and put Croesus to death. (Greek tradition was embarrassed by the oracles deception and maintained that Apollo intervened at the last minute, saving Croesus from the flames and transporting him to an idyllic world. ) Between 547 and 540 Cyruss generals subdued coastal Asia Minor, while he turned his attention to the Elamites and Babylonians. By the end of the century, the Achaemenids ruled an empire that extended from the Indus to the Aegean and from Samarkand to the first cataracts of the Nile. The title King of Kings was thus no empty boast. Marble head of Alexander (Greek Ministry of Culture)
  7. 7. 8 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great Persian domination of Greek Asia Minor administered as the Persian satrapy ofthreatened the city-states of the peninsula to Skudra, and at some point thereafter thethe west, as well as the islands that lay in Persians received the submission ofbetween. In 513 Darius I crossed the Macedon. Even the isolationist states to theHellespont (Dardanelles), the narrow strait south, in particular Sparta, were forced tothat separates the Gallipoli peninsula of take notice.Europe from what is today Asiatic Turkey. The Athenians and the Eretrians ofPortions of Thrace were annexed and Euboea had aided a rebellion by the Ionians,
  8. 8. Introduction 9 The tomb of Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Persian Empire (d. 530 BC). Alexander had Poulamachos, a Macedonian, impaled for desecrating the tomb. (TRIP) descendants, the Gortyae, fought Alexander at Gaugamela. Then Datis landed on Athenian soil at Marathon; however, contrary to expectation, a predominantly Athenian force defeated the Persian army. The Athenian victory provided an immense boost to Greek confidence, which would be put to the test ten years later, when Darius son and successor, Xerxes, came dangerously close to defeating a coalition of Greeks and adding the lower Balkans to the Persian Empire. Only the great naval victory at Salamis (summer 480) prevented the Persian juggernaut from crushing all resistance in Greece. That victory hastened the retreat of Xerxes with the bulk of his army; those who remained under Mardonius were dealt the decisive blow on the battlefield of Plataea in 479. The ill-fated expedition of Xerxes resulted in strained but stable relations between Greece and Persia, a balance of power that in some respects resembled the Gold War of the twentieth century. The Greek world, however, was itself divided and polarised, with the Spartans exercising hegemony over the Peloponnesian League as a counterweight to Athens, which, under the guise of liberating the Hellenes from Persia, had converted the Delian League - originally, a confederacy of autonomous allies - into an empire. By the middle of the fifth century, Athens was reaping the financial benefits of the incoming tribute and unashamedly extolling the virtues of power politics. The inevitable clash of Demosthenes on Persiaa futile (as it turned out) attempt to throw I consider the Great King to be theoff the Persian yoke (499/498-494/493). common enemy of all the Greeks... NorVictorious over the rebels, Darius launched a do I see the Greeks having a commonpunitive campaign against their supporters: friendship with one another, but somein 490 his general, Datis, crossed the Aegean trust the King more than they do someand destroyed the city of the Eretrians, many of their own [race]. of whom were subsequently enslaved in the Demosthenes 14. 3heart of the Persian Empire - their
  9. 9. 10 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great
  10. 10. Introduction 11Greek powers took place between 431 and had closed ranks in order to resist the404 and was known as the Peloponnesian War common enemy, Persia. But when the threat(see The Peloponnesian War in this series). receded, the Hellenic League dissolved andWhen it was over, the Athenian Empire the political horizons of the Greeksexisted no more and the gradual decline of narrowed. Certain intellectuals neverthelessthe Greek city-states through internecine promoted the concept of Panhellenism, evenwarfare set the stage for the emergence of a if it meant the forcible unification of thegreat power in the north: the kingdom of city-states. When Philip achieved this, byMacedon. means of his victory at Chaeronea and the The struggle for hegemony amongst the creation of the League of Corinth, hecity-states of Sparta, Thebes and Athens attempted to renew Panhellenic vigour bymade it clear that Greek unity - the elusive reminding the Greeks of the commonconcept of Panhellenism - was something enemy, the Persians.that could not be achieved peacefully, The concept of a war of vengeance was,through negotiation or commitment to a however, a hard sell. Although somegreater purpose; rather it was something to appealed directly to Philip to bring about thebe imposed from outside. Earlier the Greeks unification of Greece and lead it against
  11. 11. 12 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatPersia, others, like Demosthenes, who poleis who favoured unity under thecriticised the interference of the Persian King hegemony of their own states. In the face ofin Greek affairs, espoused Panhellenism only Macedonian imperialism, Demosthenes wasif it could be accomplished under Athenian content - at least, according to his accusers -leadership or for Athenian benefit. And there to accept Persian money to resist Philipwere like-minded politicians in the other and Alexander.
  12. 12. Chronology560-550 The rise of Cyrus the Great 333 Alexander cuts the Gordian547 Cyrus defeats Croesus of knot; defeats Darius III at Issus Lydia 332 Capture of Phoenician coastal513 Darius Is invasion of Europe cities; siege of Tyre and Gaza results in near disaster north of 332/331 Alexander in Egypt; founding of the Danube Alexandria at the mouth of the499-493 The Ionian Revolt Nile490 Battle of Marathon 331 Darius III defeated for the second480-479 Xerxes invasion of Greece time at Gaugamela in northern478-431 The Delian League becomes an Mesopotamia Athenian Empire 331/330 Capture of Babylon, Susa,449 Peace of Callias Persepolis and Ecbatana431-404 The Peloponnesian War 330 Death of Darius and end of the401 Battle of Cunaxa; March of the official Panhellenic War; Ten Thousand Alexander moves into396-394 Agesilaus in Asia Minor Afghanistan; execution of394-387/386 The Corinthian War Philotas and Parmenion371 Battle of Leuctra 329-327 War in Central Asia between the360/359 Perdiccas killed in battle Amu-darya and Syr-darya (the with Illyrians; accession of Oxus and Iaxartes rivers) Philip II 328 Death of Cleitus; Alexanders359-336 Reign of Philip II of Macedon political marriage to Roxane356 Birth of Alexander the Great 327 Failed attempt to introduce353 Philip IIs victory over the proskynesis at the court; Phocians in the Crocus Field conspiracy of the pages;346 Peace of Philocrates; Philip Alexander invades India becomes master of northern 326 Battle of the Hydaspes (Jhelum) Greece river; the Macedonian army338 Battle of Chaeronea; Philip refuses to cross the Hyphasis becomes undisputed military (Beas) river leader (hegemon) of Greece 325 Alexander at the mouth of the337 Formation of the League of Indus Corinth 324 Alexander returns to Susa and336 Death of Philip; accession of punishes those guilty of Alexander the Great maladministration in his335 Alexander campaigns in Illyria; absence destruction of Thebes 323 Death of Alexander in Babylon334 Beginning of the Asiatic 323-281 The Age of the Successors and expedition; battle of Granicus formation of the Hellenistic river; major coastal cities of Asia kingdoms Minor fall to Alexander 323-330 The Hellenistic Period
  13. 13. Background to warThe decline of the city-statesand the rise of MacedonDecline of the Greek city-states it was followed by Theban invasions of the Peloponnese, the foundation of MegalopolisThe victory of Sparta in the Peloponnesian as a check on Spartan activities in the south,War (431-404 BC) and the destruction of the and the liberation of Messenia, which hadAthenian Empire ended the balance of power hitherto provided Spartas helots and itsin the Greek world. Sparta emerged as an economic underpinnings.oppressive and unimaginative master.Nevertheless, the price of victory had beengreat and domination of Greece made The Thebans comment on the nature ofdemands on Sparta that she could not easily Spartan imperialismmeet. Sparta was notoriously short of Now we are all aware, men of Athens,manpower and the needs of empire - that you would like to get back themaintaining garrisons and fleets, and empire which you used to have. Surelyproviding Spartiate officials abroad - strained this is more likely to happen if you go toher resources and undermined the simple the help of all victims of Spartanbut effective socio-economic basis of the injustice... In the war with you [thesestate and its military power. Newly states], at the urgent entreaties of Sparta,enfranchised helots (state slaves) performed took their share in all the hardships andgarrison duty, and wealth infiltrated Spartan dangers and expense; but when thesociety; personal wealth and the use of gold Spartans had achieved their object, didand silver had been banned by the legendary they ever get any share of the power orlawgiver Lycurgus. glory or money that was won? Far from But the problems were not only domestic. it. The Spartans, now that things haveHostility to Spartan power, which was gone well for them, think it perfectlyexercised in a ruthless and often corrupt proper to set up their own helots asmanner, led to a coalition of Thebes, Corinth, governors, and meanwhile treat their freeArgos and a resurgent Athens against the new allies as though they were slaves... Whatmasters of Greece. Although Sparta withstood they gave them was not freedom but athis initial test, which is referred to as the double measure of servitude.Corinthian War (394-387/386), the bitter This arrogant dominion of Sparta isconfrontations of this war were the easier to destroy:... the Spartans, few inforerunners of a life-and-death struggle that number themselves, are greedilywould see the brief emergence of Thebes as the dominating people who are many timesdominant hoplite power. as numerous as they and also just as The famous Theban wedge began as a well armed. defensive measure in 394. Soon, however, it Xenophon, Hellenica 3. 5. 10-15 (Rexbecame clear that it had tremendous Warner trans., Penguin)offensive potential and, as a result of thesuccessful execution of Theban tactics by therenowned Sacred Band, Thebes replaced Greek encounters with PersiaSparta as the leader of Greece, at least onland. Spartas defeat at Theban hands in the These convulsions in central and southernbattle of Leuctra (371) was catastrophic and Greece must be viewed against the
  14. 14. Background to war 15 Monument commemorating the Theban victory over during an unstable period known,Sparta at Leuctra (371 BC). The victory was attributable misleadingly, as the Peace of Nicias - theto the Theban wedge and the courage of the SacredBand. For Sparta the defeat was staggering, and the Athenians had suffered a devastating defeatTheban general Epamonidas exploited Spartan weakness in Sicily. For a state that was ringed withby invading Peloponnesus, establishing the city of enemies, the collapse of the army in the westMegalopolis and freeing the Messenians. Theban power had much the same effect as Napoleons andcame to an abrupt end at Chaeronea in 338 BC, and Hitlers disastrous Russian campaigns. For thethree years later the city was destroyed by Alexander(Photo by the author) subject states of the empire, it was the signal for rebellion, and defections occurred on a grand scale.ever-present backdrop of the Persian Empire. Economically battered and militarilyIn the middle of the Peloponnesian War - shaken, Athens now resumed the war against
  15. 15. 16 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatSparta, which at the same time had found a opposite them, the effort was for naught,paymaster in the Persian King. Although since Cyrus himself was killed in an attackAthens had made peace with Artaxerxes I - on his brother in the centre of the line.the infamous and much disputed Peace of Struck under the eye with a javelin, CyrusCallias (449) - this agreement needed to be fell, and with him collapsed the dream forrenewed, and there had apparently not been the fulfilment of which an army hada formal agreement with Artaxerxes struggled against distance and difficultsuccessor, Darius II (424-403). Darius at first terrain, and ultimately a vastly moreallowed his satraps to distribute funds to numerous enemy. But it was not entirely inSparta and her allies in the hope of vain, at least as a lesson to the Greeks: forrecovering the Greek coastal cities. the ease with which a relatively mobile and The compact with Persia that followed, efficient army could strike at the heart of thewhile militarily expedient, was politically empire exposed the weaknesses ofharmful to Spartas reputation amongst the Achaemenid Persia. One of the Greeks whoGreeks. For, in the struggle to defeat Athens, participated in the campaign, Xenophon,which had once espoused the liberty of the wrote a colourful account of the adventure,Hellenes, Sparta was agreeing to hand back which made delightful reading for GreekGreek city-states in Asia Minor to Persia. In schoolboys. It was almost certainly read by407, Darius sent a younger son, Cyrus, to Alexander in his youth, and its lessons didsupply the Spartans with the resources to not elude him.defeat their enemies. In the process, Cyrus In the meantime, Athens too haddeveloped a strong bond of friendship with attempted to revive its maritime power,the Spartan admiral Lysander. The latter had creating the Second Athenian League. Butpolitical ambitions at home, and the former this fell far short of the Delian League of thewas eager to bring about a Peloponnesian fifth century, for the member states werevictory in the war so that he could, in the wary of Athenian imperialistic ambitions andnear future, draw upon their soldiery, whichhe regarded as the best in the ancient world. The health of Darius II was clearly failing, Xenophons observations on the nature ofand the heir to the throne was Cyruss elder the Persian Empirebrother, Artaxerxes (II). He appears to have Generally speaking, it was obviousbeen a rather lethargic man, already that Cyrus was pressing on all the wayapproaching middle age. A faction at court, with no pause except when he halted forencouraged by the efforts of the queen provisions or some other necessity. Hemother, sought to win the kingship for Cyrus. thought that the quicker he arrived theBut, in order to challenge his brother, Cyrus more unprepared would be the Kingwould need a military edge. And this, he when he engaged him, and the slowerbelieved, could be supplied by a Greek he went, the greater would be the armymercenary army. Darius died soon after the that the King could get together. Indeed,collapse of Athens, and in 402/401, Cyrus set an intelligent observer of the Kingsin motion his scheme to overthrow empire would form the followingArtaxerxes. A force of some 11, 000 mercenaries estimate: it is strong in respect of the- they were to become known (after some extent of territory and numbers ofdefections and casualties) as the Ten inhabitants; but it is weak in respect ofThousand - accompanied a vastly greater its lengthened communications and thebarbarian force from Lydia to Mesopotamia. dispersal of its forces, that is, if one can Not far from Babylon, at a place called attack with speed. Cunaxa, the armies of the feuding brothers Xenophon, Anabasis 1. 5. 9 (Rex Warnermet. Although the Greeks won an easy trans., Penguin)victory against the barbarians stationed
  16. 16. Background to war 17the Athenians themselves incapable of constantly threatened by the Illyrians to theasserting their domination by force. In the west and the imperialistic (or, at least,event, it mattered little, since the debilitating hegemonic) tendencies of the Athenians andwars of the city-states to the south had Thebans. By the queen Eurydice, Amyntasdiverted Greek attention from the growing had three sons, all destined to rule.danger in the north. Alexander II held the throne only briefly (369-368) before he was murdered. A brother-in-law, Ptolemy of Alorus, then served as regent for the under-aged Perdiccas III, until he too was assassinated in 365. Perdiccas was now master of his own house and throne, but the kingdom continued to be threatened by the Illyrians to the west, and in 360/359 these destroyed the Macedonian army, leaving Perdiccas dead on the battlefield and only a child (Amyntas) as heir to the throne. During the reign of his brothers, the youngest son, Philip, had spent some time as a hostage in Thebes, at that time the most powerful military state in Greece. Here he had witnessed the Theban infantry reforms and had given thought to applying the lessons to the Macedonian army. Hence, when the emergency created by the Illyrian disaster of 360/359 brought him to power, as regent for Amyntas IV, Philip knew not only what to do but how to do it. Indeed, he dealt with the crisis so effectively - combining military action with diplomacy, or even duplicity - that the claims of Amyntas were swept aside. It was Philips reforms that made the army invincible: little did he realise that, while he was struggling to ensure Macedons survival, he was training and organising an army of world conquerors. Philip rapidly mastered northern Thessaly, with its chief town of Larisa, and sealed his political gains by marrying Philinna, a woman of the ruling family. The Phocians A wonderful feat of surgery Critobulus enjoys great celebrity for having removed the arrow from Philips eye and ensuring that the loss of the eye did not leave his face deformed. Pliny, Natural History 737 (J. C. Yardley trans. )
  17. 17. Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Greathad plundered the treasures of Delphi in For a while, Philip directed hisorder to buy mercenaries, and the inability of attention to the north-east, to thethe Thessalians and the Thebans to deal with Thraceward area and Byzantium. But inthem cast Philip in the role of the gods 338, he crushed the combined armies ofchampion. After his victory at the Crocus Athens and Thebes at Chaeronea, and wasField in 353, his men wore laurel wreaths on able to impose a settlement on Greece,their heads, symbolising their service to through the creation of the League ofApollo. By 346, by the terms of the Peace Corinth, which recognised him as its leaderof Philocrates, Philip had made himself (hegemon). The foreign policy of the Greeksmaster of northern Greece. He spoke for was securely in his hands, but PhilipsThessaly and he held the deciding votes greatest challenges were to come from hisof the Amphictyonic Council that own kingdom; indeed, from his owncontrolled Delphi. household.
  18. 18. Background to war 19 Alexander relates Philips achievements civilized you... Thessaly, so long your Philip found you a tribe of bugbear and your dread, he subjected to impoverished vagabonds, most of you your rule, and by humbling the Phocians dressed in skins, feeding a few sheep on he made the narrow and difficult path the hills and fighting, feebly enough, to into Greece a broad and easy road. The keep them from your neighbours - men of Athens and Thebes, who for years Thracians, Triballians and Illyrians. He had kept watching for their moment to gave you cloaks to wear instead of skins; strike us down, he brought so low - and he brought you down from the hills into by this time I myself was working at my the plains; he taught you to fight on equal fathers side - that they who once exacted terms with the enemy on your borders, from us either our money or our till you knew that your safety lay not, as obedience, now, in their turn, looked to once, in your mountain strongholds, but us as the means of their salvation. in your own valour. He made you Arrian 7. 9 (A. de Selincourt city-dwellers; he brought you law; he trans., Penguin)Medallion showing the head of Philip II. The fact that the left side of his face isshown may be significant: Philip was struck by an arrow in the right eye duringthe siege of Methone in 354 BC. (Archaeological Museum ofThessaloniki)
  19. 19. 20 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatRemains of theTemple of Apollo at Delphi. The Pythia,the priestess of the god, declared that Alexander wouldbe invincible. (Authors collection)
  20. 20. Background to war 21The lion of Chaeronea, a monument to the Greekswho fell at Chaeronea in 338 BC fighting Philip II.(Authors collection)
  21. 21. Warring sidesThe Persians, the Macedoniansand allied troopsThe Persians which in turn was subdivided into ten groups of 100 (sataba), and these into tenFrom the time of Darius I (521-486), the units of ten (dathaba). These were, in reality,Persian Empire was divided administratively only nominal strengths, and thus we caninto 20 provinces known as satrapies, each explain, at least in part, the wildlygoverned by a satrap - at least, such was the exaggerated numbers of Persians in theGreek approximation of khshathrapavan, a Greek sources, especially in Herodotusword that is Median in origin and appears to account of the Persian Wars.have meant protector of the realm. Thesesatrapies were assessed an annual tributethat ranged from a low of 170 talents ofEuboean silver paid by the dwellers ofthe Hindu Kush region to a staggering4, 680 talents from the neighbouring Indians.(It is pointless to attempt a conversion ofancient into modern values, but it is worthnoting that in the late stages of thePeloponnesian War, i. e. about 80 years beforeAlexanders invasion, 1 talent was sufficientto maintain a trireme, with its complementof 200 men, for a month. ) Sums collected inexcess of these amounts were presumably forthe satraps personal use. In addition to the satraps of these20 provinces, there were rulers of smalleradministrative units known to the Greeks ashyparchs (hyparchoi), but the use ofterminology is often inconsistent in Greeksources and the titles satrap and hyparchare sometimes used interchangeably. Bothcan be found commanding regionallyrecruited troops. The Persian army was composed primarilyof satrapal levies, each of the Achaemenidprovinces providing troops in accordancewith wealth and population. These troopswere then divided into units based on tens.Herodotus and Xenophon speak regularly ofmyriads and chiliarchies, units of 10, 000 and1, 000, which the Persians themselves calledbaivaraba and hazaraba. Each baivarabam hadits baivarpatish (myriarch); and there was ahazarapatish (chiliarch) for every hazarabam,
  22. 22. Warring sides 23 One unit, however, did maintain its full When Alexander crossed to Asia, Darius IIIstrength of 10, 000 and hence was known as had only recently become king as a result ofthe Immortals. This unit formed the elite - the convulsions at the Achaemenid selected for their physical excellence The ruthless Artaxerxes III Ochus hadand their valour - and appears to have elevated to positions of great power at theincluded a contingent of 1, 000 spear-bearers, court - he was hazarapatish or chiliarch - andwho followed the Kings chariot. In addition in the army, a eunuch by the name ofto these came the Kings special guard of Bagoas. In 338 BC, however, Bagoasspearmen, known from the golden apples murdered first Ochus, and then his sons.that constituted their spearbutts as Hence, the kingship devolved upon a certainmelophoroi or apple-bearers. These alsonumbered 1, 000 and preceded the Kings The Persian Immortals were the elite troops. Their namechariot in the royal procession. Similarly, the derives from the fact that their numbers were neverKing was accompanied by units of 1, 000 and allowed to dip below 10, 000, Nineteenth - century10, 000 cavalry. chromolithograph of the frieze at Susa. (ARPL)
  23. 23. 24 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatArtashata, whom Greek writers (for reasons The Macedoniansthat are unclear to us) called Codomannus,and who took the dynastic name Darius (III). Macedon, by contrast, was the product of aUnlike the sons of Ochus, Darius was a union of Upper and Lower Macedonia,mature individual, already in his early forties, which had been completed in the time ofand an experienced warrior - he had defeated Philip II and to which were added new citiesa Cadusian champion in single combat - who containing new - that is, naturalised -was wise to the machinations of Bagoas and citizens. Several of Alexanders closest friendsforced him to drink his own poison. When (hetairoi) belonged to the latter group:he turned his attention to the Macedonian Nearchus and the sons of Larichus,invaders, he had only just returned from Laomedon and Erigyius, in particular.suppressing a fresh uprising in Egypt. Generally speaking, the country was not highly urbanised and most were herdsmen; the state did not have the material for a The Royal Procession of the Persians citizen hoplite army, since most lacked the ... in front, on silver altars, was resources from which to supply themselves carried the fire which the Persians called with hoplite armour. But Macedonia had a sacred and eternal. Next came the Magi, large and robust population, which, if it singing the traditional hymn, and they could be armed cheaply and effectively, were followed by 365 young men in could prove too much for its neighbours. scarlet cloaks, their number equalling Originally, the core of the Macedonian the days of the year. Then came the military was the cavalry, particularly the chariot consecrated to Jupiter nobility that formed the kings guard and [Ahura-Mazda], drawn by white horses, rode into battle with him as his comitatus. followed by a horse of extraordinary Here we first encounter the term hetairoi, size, which the Persians called "the Suns companions (or friends). Philip appears to horse". Those driving the horses were have formed an elite battalion of infantry, equipped with golden whips and white which he named his foot-companions robes... and these were followed by the (pezhetairoi). Later the name came to mean cavalry of 12 nations of different the Macedonian infantry in general - that is, cultures, variously armed. Next in line the territorial levies, many of them from the were the soldiers whom the Persians Upper Macedonian cantons of Elimeia, called the "Immortals", 10, 000 in Lyncus, Orestis and Tymphaea. The elite number... After a short interval came foot-guard now became known as the the 15, 000 men known as "the Kings hypaspistai or shield-bearers, and even these kinsmen"... The column next to these were separate from a group of noble guards comprised the so-called described variously as the royal hypaspists Doryphoroe,... and these preceded the or the agema. royal chariot on which rode the King In the army that followed Alexander to himself... 10, 000 spearmen carrying Asia there were 9, 000 pezhetairoi, dispersed lances chased with silver and tipped among six brigades (taxeis) - each taxis with gold followed the Kings chariot, comprised 1, 500 men - and 3, 000 and to the right and left he was attended hypaspists. Although some have regarded the by some 200 of his most noble relatives. hypaspists as more lightly armed than the At the end of the column came pezhetairoi, the truth is that they were 30, 000 foot-soldiers followed by 400 of identically armed and only the basis of the Kings horses. recruitment was different. Quintus Curtius Rufus, The History of The weapon that distinguished the Alexander 3. 3. 9-21 Macedonian infantryman or phalangite was known as the sarissa, a hardwood lance
  24. 24. Warring sides 25Arrowhead. This one bears the name of Philip. Allied troops(Archaeological Museum ofThessaloniki) Both Macedonians and Persians made(often cornel wood) with a metal point and extensive use of Greek hoplites, while thebutt-spike. This ranged in length from 15 to Macedonians also employed Greek cavalry.18ft (4. 5-5. 5m), though longer ones seem to But the numbers of Greeks in the Persianhave come into use, and weighed about 141b army were substantially larger - an(6kg). Since it required two hands to wield, embarrassing statistic for Alexander, whosethe shield, about 2ft (0. 6m) in diameter, propaganda had attempted to sell hiswas either suspended from the neck, thus campaign as a Panhellenic war, fought forrendering the breastplate virtually the good and the pride of all Greeks againstsuperfluous, or else attached by means of a a hated to the upper arm. The helmet was In Alexanders army, the Thessalian cavalrythat of the Phrygian style, worn also by equalled in strength the Macedoniancavalrymen, though the latter are often Companions (1, 800-2, 000) and fought on thedepicted sporting the so-called left wing under the general command ofBoeotian helmet. Parmenion; but since Thessaly belonged to the The Macedonian cavalry, known as the political orbit of Macedon and Alexander wasCompanion Cavalry, was subdivided into the archon of the Thessalian League, thesesquadrons called ilai. The strength of an ile was troops must be regarded as distinct from thoseprobably about 200, though the Royal of the allies. Nevertheless, it is worth notingSquadron {He basilike) comprised 300 men. that, once the Panhellenic phase of theEight ile of Companions were supplemented by conquest was declared over, the Thessaliansfour ilai of scouts (prodromoi) or sarissa-bearers were allowed to return home, though they (sarissophoroi) and one of Paeonians. Whereas sold their horses and returned on foot.the Companions were generally armed with Other allied horsemen are attested,the cavalrymans spear (xyston), the including Peloponnesian horse, Thracianssarissophoroi, as their name implies, wielded the and mercenary cavalry. An inscription from cavalry sarissa, a shorter version of the Orchomenus records the names of local infantrymans lance, probably in the 12—14ft cavalrymen who served with Alexander. In (3. 5-4. 25m) range, weighing about 41/2lb (2kg). 334, Alexander led 7, 000 allies and
  25. 25. 26 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great Surrender of the Greek mercenaries leaving it to him to do what he would To the envoys of the Greeks, -who with them; if not, they must take what begged him to grant them terms for the steps they could for their own safety. whole mercenary force, Alexander They replied that they placed replied that he would make no compact themselves and the rest in Alexanders with them whatever; men who fought hands, and urged him to send an officer with the barbarians against Greece to lead them under safe conduct to his against the decrees of the Greeks were camp. guilty of grave wrongs. He ordered them Arrian 3. 23. 8-9 (P. A. Brunt trans., Loeb to come in a body and surrender, Classical Library)
  26. 26. Warring sides 27Bronze greaves from Tomb II at Vergina, believed by many The Persians, of course, employed largescholars to have belonged to Philip II, the father of numbers of Greek mercenaries: 20, 000 areAlexander the Great. Note the mismatched pair attested at the Granicus, and 30, 000 at Issus.(Archaeological Museum ofThessaloniki) Captured Greeks were, however, sent by Alexander to hard-labour camps, and it was5, 000 mercenary infantry to Asia, and there only with difficulty that their countrymenwas a steady flow of reinforcements secured their release. Even when Darius wasthroughout the campaign, but also large fleeing south of the Caspian, shortly beforenumbers of Greeks deposited throughout the his murder at the hands of Nabarzanes andempire as garrison troops. At the time of Bessus, significant numbers of GreekAlexanders death, some 10, 000 in the Upper mercenaries remained with him, commandedSatrapies were planning to abandon their by Patron the Phocian and Glaucus ofposts and return to Greece, something they Aetolia. Eventually these orphaned mercenarieshad previously attempted upon hearing the were forced to place themselves atfalse news of the Kings death in 325. Alexanders mercy.
  27. 27. OutbreakAlexanders rise to powerThe assassination of Philip crisis, and the attractions of the young Cleopatra were a pleasant diversion fromThe outbreak of the Macedonian war of the affairs of state and the demands of hisconquest was in fact a two-part process, the shrewish queen, Olympias, the mother offirst arrested by the assassination of its Alexander the Great. Philips infatuationinitiator, Philip II. Once he had crushed blinded him to both the politicalGreek resistance at Chaeronea in late expectations of his new wifes family andsummer 338, Philip forged an alliance of the resentment of his son and, known, after the place where its At the wedding-feast, Cleopatras uncle,council met, as the League of Corinth. This Attalus, had toasted the marriage with theconvened for the first time in spring 337, tactless prayer that it should produceelected Philip as its military leader (hegemon) legitimate heirs to the Macedonian throne.and laid the foundations for a Panhellenic Alexander (understandably) took issue withexpedition against Persia. this remark, and hurled his drinking cup at What Philips exact aims were, in terms of Attalus. Philip, in turn, besotted with loveterritorial acquisition, are not clear. Many and wine, drew his sword and lunged at hissuppose that he would have contented son. But he stumbled and fell amid thehimself, initially at least, with the liberation couches of the banquet, impaired by drinkof Asia Minor. This would certainly have and an old war injury.been in keeping with Philips practices in the When the groom awoke the next morningpast. From the time that he overcame to the sobering reality, Alexander was alreadyinternal opposition and secured his borders on his way to Epirus, the ancestral home ofagainst barbarian incursions, Philip his mother, who accompanied him. Fromexpanded slowly and cautiously over a there he meant to journey to the kingdom ofperiod of almost 20 years. Unlike Alexander, the Illyrians, the traditional enemy ofwhose practice it was to conquer first and Macedon, intending to reassert his birthrightconsolidate later - and, indeed, later never with their aid. But this right had never reallycame in some cases - Philip was content to been challenged by Philip, at least notacquire territory systematically, without intentionally, and diplomacy servedoverextending Macedonian power. eventually to bring about the sons return But Philips conquests were pre-empted by and a reconciliation.assassination, and the stability of the The abrasive Attalus had, in the interval,kingdom was disrupted by an ill-advised been sent with Parmenion and an army tomarriage. Macedonian kings, at least from establish a beachhead in Asia Minor. Butthe time of Persian influence in the region there were nevertheless in Macedonia those(after 513), were polygamous, and Philip who resented Attalus and feared themarried for the seventh time in October 337. fulfilment of his prayer. Many looked toThe bride was a teenager of aristocratic Philips nephew, Amyntas son of Perdiccas,Macedonian background - most of Philips who had ruled briefly as a minor, but hadbrides had, in fact, been foreigners - but been forced to yield the kingship to histhe union was the result of a love affair uncle. Instead of eliminating him as arather than politics. Indeed, Philip was potential rival, Philip allowed him to live as aexperiencing what we would call a mid-life private citizen and married him to one of his
  28. 28. Outbreak 29 Cleopatra Philips marriages The name Cleopatra is commonly In the twenty years of his rule Philip associated with Egypt: virtually everyone married the Illyrian Audata, by whom he is familiar with Cleopatra VII, the had a daughter, Cynnane, and he also mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark married Phila, sister of Derdas and Antony, who died in 30 BC. But the Machatas. Then, since he wished to name occurs already in Homers Iliad extend his realm to include the and was popular in ancient Macedonia. Thessalian nation, he had children by Archelaus Is queen, Philips seventh wife two Thessalian women, Nicesipolis of and Alexander the Greats sister were all Pherae, who bore him Thessalonice, and Cleopatras. It was actually the daughter Philinna of Larissa, by whom he of the Seleucid king Antiochus III who produced Arrhidaeus. In addition, he became the first Cleopatra to rule Egypt, took possession of the Molossian when in 194/3 she married the young kingdom by marrying Olympias, by king Ptolemy V Epiphanes. whom he had Alexander and Cleopatra, and when he took Thrace the Thracian king Cothelas came to him with hisdaughters, Cynnane. Now in 337/336 he daughter Meda and many gifts. Afterbecame the focus of a dissident group, an marrying Meda, Philip also took herunwilling candidate for the throne, supported home to be a second wife along withby a faction from Upper Macedonia that Olympias. In addition to all these wivesplanned the assassination of Philip. he also married Cleopatra, with whom This at least was the official version that he was in love; she was the daughter offollowed the deed; the version promulgated Hippostratus and niece of Attalus. Byby Alexander, perhaps with the aim of bringing her home as another wifediverting attention from the true culprits - for alongside Olympias he made a total shambles of his life. For straightaway,Medallion with the head of Alexanders mother right at the wedding ceremony, AttalusOlympias, from a series of medallions commissioned by made the remark "Well, now we shallthe Roman Emperor Caracalla (AD 212-17). This queen, certainly see royalty born who areone of Philips seven wives, had a profound influence on legitimate and not bastards". Hearing her sons character and also created considerable this, Alexander hurled the cup he had in political mischief in Macedonia during Alexanders absence in Asia. (ISI) his hands at Attalus, who in turn hurled his goblet at Alexander. After that Olympias took refuge with the Molossians and Alexander with the Illyrians, and Cleopatra presented Philip with a daughter who was called Europa. Athenaeus 13. 557 (J. C. Yardley trans. ) there were many who held Alexander himself responsible, or, failing that, the jilted queen, his mother. It was an act in keeping with her character, and certainly she voiced no public disapproval, though we may doubt that she crowned the assassin, Pausanias of Orestis, who had been killed as he tried to escape and whose body was subsequently impaled.
  29. 29. 30 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great The assassination of Philip II under the name Myrtale, which was the In the meantime, as the auxiliary name that Olympias bore as a little girl. troops from Greece were assembling, All this was done so openly that she Philip celebrated the marriage of his appears to have been afraid that the daughter Cleopatra to that Alexander crime might not be clearly demonstrated whom he had made King of Epirus. The as her work. day was remarkable for its sumptuous Justin 9. 6. 1-4, 7. 8-14 (J. C. Yardley, trans. ) preparations, which befitted the greatness of the two kings, the one giving away a daughter and the other taking a wife. There were also splendid games. Philip was hurrying to see these, flanked by the two Alexanders, his son and his son-in-law, without bodyguards, when Pausanias, a young Macedonian nobleman whom nobody suspected, took up a position in a narrow alleyway and cut Philip down as he went by, thus polluting with funereal sorrow a day set aside for rejoicing... It is thought that Olympias and her son... incited Pausanias to proceed to so heinous a crime... At all events, Olympias had horses ready for the assassins getaway. Afterwards, when she heard of the Kings murder, she came quickly to the funeral, ostensibly doing her duty; and on the night of her arrival she set a golden crown on Pausanias head while he still hung on the cross, something which no one else but she could have done while Philips son was still alive. A few days later, she had the murderers body taken down and cremated it over the remains of her husband; she then erected a tomb for him in the same place and, by inspiring superstition in the people, saw Marble bust believed to be Aristotle. As a boy, Alexander to it that funerary offerings were made had been educated by Leonidas and Lysimachus, tutors to him every year. After this she forced selected by his mother In 343 BC, Aristotle, whose father Cleopatra, for whom Philip had divorced Nicomachus had been a physician at the court of Philips father Amyntas III, was summoned to Macedonia from her, to hang herself, having first Asia Minor and taught Alexander at Mieza. His attitudes murdered her daughter in the mothers towards barbarians (non-Greeks) whom he regarded as arms, and it was from the sight of her inferior and worthy of being slaves of the Greeks, did not rival hanging there that Olympias rub off on his pupil. (Ann Ronan Picture Library) gained the vengeance she had accelerated by murder. Finally she Alexander was quick to mete out consecrated to Apollo the sword with punishment, freeing himself at the same which the King was stabbed, doing so time of rivals for the throne. Antipater, who had in the past served as regent of Macedon
  30. 30. Outbreak 31in Philips absence, supported Alexandersclaims, and it was an easy matter to roundup and execute rivals on charges ofconspiracy. Attalus too was found to havebeen corresponding with the Athenians - anunlikely scenario - and executed on the newkings orders by his colleague, Parmenion. Abloody purge masqueraded as filial piety, andthose who could saved themselves byaccommodation with the new king or byflight. Both types would resurface during thecampaign, having delayed rather thanaverted the extreme penalty.Alexander, the worthy heirPhilips abortive expedition thus representeda false start. But Alexander acceded to morethan just the throne of Macedon; he alsoinherited his fathers Persian campaign. Hewas doubtless eager to depart, for we aretold that as an adolescent he complained tohis father that he was leaving little for himto conquer. Things did not, however, proceed asplanned. The accession of Alexander incited Bust of Demosthenes. The Athenian orator was a bitterrebellion amongst the subject states and the opponent of Macedon and of Philip II in particular At the time of Alexanders accession he mocked him as a childbarbarian kingdoms that bordered on and compared him with the simpleton, Margites. ButMacedonia. And the new king was forced to Demosthenes soon discovered his mistake. Copy of theprove himself, especially in the south, where original by Polyeuktos produced c. 280 BC, Copenhagen.the Athenian orator Demosthenes, the (Ann Ronan Picture Library)implacable enemy of Philip II, was deridingAlexander as a child and a fool. Sparta, however, refused to join the Resistance to the new king in Thessaly was League or make public recognition ofcrushed by speed and daring, as steps (known Macedonian suzerainty, for they claimed thatas Alexanders Ladder) cut into the side of they could not follow another, since it wasMt Ossa allowed the Macedonians to turn the their prerogative to lead. SpartanThessalians position. They responded with intransigence was to flare into open rebelliongestures of contrition and recognised in 331, when Agis III attacked MacedonianAlexander as archon of the Thessalian League, troops in the Peloponnese, only to bea position previously held by his father. An defeated and killed at Megalopolis. For theinitial uprising by Thebans, Athenians and time being, however, Alexander was contentSpartans was stifled by Alexanders timely to ignore them, as they bore their militaryarrival in Greece, where he summoned a impotence with ill grace.meeting of the League of Corinth, the very Nevertheless, the Greek city-states wereexistence of which was symbolic of not yet ready to renounce all claims toMacedonian power. The meeting elected him independence and leadership. Alexanderhegemon and Philips successor as strategos clearly thought that he had cowed them into(general) of the Panhellenic crusade. submission with the mere show of force, and
  31. 31. 32 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatThe remains of Pella, birthplace of Alexander the Great. left to his son, and Macedonian dominion in(Greek Ministry of Culture) the east was built on the foundations of Philips military reforms.he now turned to deal with the border tribes But Alexanders activities in the northof the Illyrians and Triballians before turning gave rise to rumours - false, but deliberatelyhis attentions to Asia. Both were subdued in spread - that the King had been killed inshort order, though in each case the training Illyria. In spring 335 the Thebans threw offand discipline of the Macedonian troops the Macedonian yoke, besieging the garrisonmade the task seem easier than it was. It was that Philip had planted on their acropolisan efficient fighting machine that Philip had (the Cadmea) after Chaeronea and claiming
  32. 32. Outbreak 33 Alexanders response was quick and brutal: within two weeks he was before the gates of Thebes. Athens and Demosthenes proved that they were more capable of inciting others to mischief than of supporting the causes they had so nobly espoused. Through their inaction, they saved themselves and stood by as Alexander dealt most harshly with Thebes, which would now become an example to the other Greek poleis: Alexander would tolerate no rebellion in his absence, and he would regard those who preferred the barbarian cause to that of their fellow Greeks as Medisers and traitors to the common cause. Indeed, the city had a long history of Medism, and there was a Panhellenism and anti-Persian sentiment I maintain that you [Philip] should be the benefactor of Greece, and King of Macedon, and gain to the greatest possible extent the empire of the non-Greek world. If you accomplish this, you will win universal gratitude: from the Greeks for the benefits they gain, from Macedonia if your rule is kingly and not tyrannical, and from the rest of the world if it is through you that they are liberated from Persian despotism and exchange it for Greek protection. Isocrates, Philip 153 (A. N. W. Saunders trans., Penguin). A contrary view For, personally, I am not in agreement with the Corinthian Demaratus who claimed that the Greeks missed a very pleasurable experience in not seeingto champion the Hellenic cause. The Alexander seated on Darius throne.cornerstone of Macedonian propaganda had Actually, I think they might have hadbeen the claim that Philip had unified the more reason to shed tears at the realisationGreeks for the purpose of attacking Persia, that the men who left this honour tothe common enemy of Greece, and Alexander were those who sacrificed theavenging past wrongs. In this he was merely armies of the Greeks at Leuctra, Coronea,borrowing the sentiments of Isocrates and and Corinth and in Arcadia. other Panhellenists. But the Thebans now Plutarch, Agesilaus 15. 3-4 (J. C.proposed to use Persian funds to liberate Yardley trans. )Greece from the true oppressor, Macedon.
  33. 33. 34 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great tradition that the allied Greeks, at the time of Xerxes invasion, had sworn the Oath of Plataea, which called for the destruction of the city. Officially, the razing of Thebes could be presented as the initial act of the war of vengeance. (Gryneum in Asia Minor would suffer a similar fate, with the same .. justification. ) Terror would prove more effective than any garrison. To avert the charge of senseless brutality, Alexander portrayed the decision to destroy the city and enslave its population as the work of the Phocians and disaffected Boeotians, for even in those days, inveterate hatred knew no respect for human life. Persuaded by Demades, the Athenians sent an embassy to congratulate Alexander on his victories in the north and to beg forgiveness for their own recent indiscretions. The King demanded that they surrender the worst trouble-makers, ten prominent orators and generals, including Demosthenes, Lycurgus and Hyperides, but in the event only one, Charidemus, wasIvory portrait head of Alexander (Archaeological offered up, and he promptly fled to the courtMuseum ofThessaloniki) of Darius III.
  34. 34. The fightingAlexander conquers an empireAsia Minor against them. Some sources, and possibly Alexander himself (for official purposes),The Macedonian advance forces under charged the Persian King with trying toParmenion and Attalus encountered stubborn pre-empt the expedition by engineeringresistance in Asia Minor after landing there in Philips assassination. If there was any truthspring 336. Although they captured Cyzicus, to the charge, the act itself had little effect.and thus threatened Dascylium, the capital of Indeed, it replaced a more cautiousHellespontine Phrygia, their push southward commander with a daring and ambitiouswas thwarted by Memnon the Rhodian, a one. The reality of Alexanders presence onson-in-law of the Persian Artabazus and brother Asian soil demanded immediate andof the mercenary captain who had helped concerted action.Artaxerxes III recapture Egypt in the 340s. The Persians continued to hire largeMemnons successes were followed by the numbers of Greek mercenaries, who for oncearrest and execution of Attalus, which probably were fighting for more than pay. Like manydid nothing to raise the morale of the army.Parmenion did, however, take Gryneum,sacking the town and enslaving its inhabitants, The composition of Alexanders armyfor the city had a history of Medism. It was found that, of infantry, thereElsewhere, another colleague of Parmenion, were 12, 000 Macedonians, 7, 000 alliesCallas son of Harpalus, who had perhaps come and 5, 000 mercenaries. These were allout as Attaluss replacement, was confined to under the command of Parmenion. Thethe coastline. All in all, the expeditionary force Odrysians, Triballians and Illyrianshad not made a good beginning. accompanying him numbered 7, 000, The advent of Alexander, with an army and there were a thousand archers andof about 40, 000, altered the situation so-called Agrianes, so that the infantrydramatically. The satraps of Asia Minor led totalled 32, 000. Cavalry numbers weretheir territorial levies into Hellespontine as follows: 1, 800 Macedonians,Phrygia and held a council of war at Zeleia. commanded by Parmenions sonHere they rejected Memnons proposal that Philotas; 1, 800 Thessalians, commandedthey adopt a scorched earth policy, opting by Callas, the son of Harpalus; frominstead to challenge the Macedonian army the rest of Greece a total of 600,at the nearby Granicus river. commanded by Erigyius; and Asia Minor was no stranger to Greek 900 Thracian guides and Paeonians,invasion. In the 390s, Tissaphernes and with Cassander as their commander.Pharnabazus, the satraps of Sardis and This made a total of 4, 500 cavalry.Dascylium, proved adequate to deal with Such was the strength of the armyforces dispatched by Sparta and, in fact, that crossed to Asia with Alexander. Theplayed each other false for the sake of minor number of soldiers left behind ingains. The Macedonian invasion was on a Europe, who were under Antipatersdifferent scale, with much greater avowed command, totalled 12, 000 infantry andintentions, for the Persians were not 15, 000 cavalry. ignorant of the creation of the League of Diodorus 17. 17. 3-5 (J. C. Yardley trans. )Corinth, or of its mandate to wage war
  35. 35. 36 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Greatof their compatriots at home, they doubtless when slain. Most of the prominent Persianregarded Persia as the lesser evil, and leaders were among the dead; Arsites escapedAlexander for his part treated captured the battlefield, only to die by his own hand;mercenaries harshly, as traitors rather than Arsames fled to Cilicia, to fight again at Issus.defeated enemies. The Persian commanders, Upon receiving the news of the Persianhowever, failed to appreciate the personal disaster at the Granicus, Mithrenes, themotivations of the Greek mercenaries and commandant of Sardis, chose to surrender totheir leaders: distrustful of the very men who Alexander despite the citys strong naturalhad nothing to gain by surrendering, they defences. His judgement proved sound, forviewed Memnon with suspicion and negated Alexander kept him in his entourage andthe effectiveness of the mercenary infantry. treated him with respect, eventuallyAt any rate, they stationed their cavalry on entrusting him with the governorship ofthe eastern bank of the Granicus river and Armenia. But the Greek cities of the coastkept the Greek infantry in reserve. Before continued to resist, in part because historythese saw action, the battle had been lost. had taught them that the Persian yoke was The Persian cavalry proved to be no lighter than that of previous liberators, butmatch, in tactics or hand-to-hand combat, also because Memnons army and the Persianfor the European horsemen. Two would-be fleet limited their options.champions were felled by Alexanders sarissa, The cities of Miletus and Halicarnassusa third was in the act of striking the King both offered fierce resistance. The former Alexander at the Granicus which there was plume striking for its Alexander plunged into the river whiteness and its size. Alexander received with 13 cavalry squadrons. He was now a spear in the joint of his cuirass, but was driving into enemy projectiles towards not wounded. Then the Persian generals an area that was sheer and protected by Rhoesaces and Spithridates came at him armed men and cavalry, and negotiating together. Sidestepping the latter, a current that swept his men off their Alexander managed to strike Rhoesaces, feet and pulled them under. His who was wearing a cuirass, with his leadership seemed madcap and senseless spear, but when he shattered this he rather than prudent. Even so, he resorted to his sword. While the two persisted with the crossing and, after were engaged hand-to-hand, Spithridates great effort and hardship, made it to the brought his horse to a halt beside them targeted area, which was wet and and, swiftly pulling himself up from the slippery with mud. He was immediately animal, dealt the King a blow with the forced into a disorganised battle and to barbarian battle-axe. He broke off engage, man against man, the enemies Alexanders crest, along with one of the who came bearing down on them, plumes, and the helmet only just held before the troops making the crossing out against the blow, the blade of the axe could get into some sort of formation. actually touching the top of the Kings The Persians came charging at these hair. Spithridates then began to raise the with a shout. They lined up their horses axe for a second blow but Cleitus (the against those of their enemy and fought Black) got there first, running him with their lances and then, when the through with his spear. At the same lances were shattered, with their swords. moment Rhosaeces also fell, struck down A large number closed in on the King, by a sword-blow from Alexander. who stood out because of his shield and Plutarch, Alexander 16. 3-11 (J. C. the crest on his helmet, on each side of Yardley trans. )
  36. 36. The fighting 37could count on support from the Persianfleet until the occupation of Mycale by Harpalus, the Imperial TreasurerPhilotas deprived it of a base. At Harpalus, son of Machatas, belongedHalicarnassus, daring sallies were made to one of the royal houses of Upperagainst Alexanders siege equipment, but Macedonia, that of Elimea. Afflicted by aeventually the city was betrayed by the physical ailment that left him unfit forcommanders of the army, Orontopates and military service, he nevertheless servedMemnon, who abandoned it to the Alexander in other ways. In the 330s heMacedonians. Alexander restored to the served as one of Alexanders hetairoi, inthrone Ada, the widow of the previous ruler, this case, probably one of the Crownwho had been supplanted by Orontopates, Princes advisers; he was exiled by Philipand allowed her to become his adoptive for encouraging Alexander to offermother - in effect, reserving for himself the himself as a prospective husband of thehereditary claim to Caria. (Philip had taught Carian princess Ada, whom Philip hadhis son that not all power was gained by the planned to marry off to his half-wittedsword.) By winter 334/333, Alexander had son, Arrhidaeus. Harpalus was appointedmade considerable headway in the conquest treasurer early in the campaign, but heof Asia Minor, but he had yet to face Darius became involved with an unscrupulousIII and the weight of the Persian army. individual named Tauriscus, who For Darius, the necessity of taking the persuaded him to flee from Alexandersfield in person was less than welcome, since camp - no doubt he absconded with athe Great King had had only a brief respite sum of the Kings money. Alexander,from the chaos that attended his accession. however, forgave and recalled him,In spite of the debacle at the Granicus, the reinstating him as treasurer.Persian situation was far from critical: a Later in the campaign, when the Kingcounter-offensive in the Aegean was had gone to India and Harpalusbeginning to enjoy some success, with the remained in Babylon, the latter enjoyed aanti-Macedonian forces regaining ground on life of extravagance and debauchery,Lesbos and at Halicarnassus. But Memnon importing delicacies for his table anddied suddenly from illness. To replace him courtesans for his bed. When newsDarius appointed Pharnabazus, who arrived that Alexander was returningassigned the naval command to Datames from the east, he fled to Athens, takingand met with the Spartan King, Agis, near with him vast sums of money, andSiphnos in the hope of encouraging an attempted to induce the Athenians to gouprising in the Peloponnese. to war. Rebuffed by the Athenians - at At Gordium Alexander had fulfilled - or, least, on an official level - he sailed awayperhaps, cheated - the prophecy that gave to Crete, where he was murdered by onedominion over Asia to anyone who could of his followers, a certain Pausanias.undo the Gordian knot. Frustrated by theintricacies of the knot, he cut it with hissword. Some of the Macedonians were far been struck down by fever - probably a boutfrom convinced that a venture deeper into of malaria - after bathing in the Cydnusthe heart of the empire would be successful: river, and it was not at all certain that heHarpalus, his personal friend and treasurer, would survive.fled shortly before the battle of Issus. The Darius, for his part, had attracted to hisofficial story was that he had been up to cause the largest force of Greek mercenariessome mischief with a scoundrel named employed by a Persian king in the history ofTauriscus, but Harpalus may have had Achaemenid rule - 30,000 Greeks, accordingserious misgivings about his kings chances. to the official historian, Callisthenes.To complicate matters further, Alexander had Amongst these was Amyntas, son of
  37. 37. 38 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the GreatAntiochus, who had been a supporter ofAlexanders cousin and rival, Amyntas IV,and who fled Macedonia soon after Philipsassassination. Another leader of mercenarieswas Charidemus, a longstanding enemy ofMacedon. Charidemus, as it turned out, fellvictim to court intrigue, but Amyntas gavea good account of himself before escapingfrom the battlefield with some4,000 mercenaries, only to find adventureand death in Egypt. Dariuss army, which the Alexanderhistorians (Curtius, Justin, Diodorus andArrian) estimated at between 312,000 and600,000, moved from Babylon to Sochi,where it encamped at the beginning ofautumn 333. Alexander, meanwhile, reachedthe coastal plain of Cilicia and the Pillar ofJonah - the so-called Syrian or AssyrianGates - south of modern Iskenderun, whichgave access to Syria. In fact, it was in order toavoid the Belen Pass that the Persians enteredCilicia via the Amanic Gates (the Bahçe Pass)and reached Issus through Toprakkale. ToAlexanders surprise, the positions of the twoarmies were now reversed, with Dariussituated north of the Pinarus river andastride the Macedonian lines ofcommunication. By the same token, therewas nothing to prevent Alexander frommarching into Syria except the danger tohis rear. But if the protagonists were to meet, itwas advantageous for Alexander to fight inthe restricted terrain of Cilicia, where themountains and sea reduced the mobility ofthe enemys troops and negated hisnumerical superiority. Even Alexander, whoseized the narrows to the south on the nightbefore the engagement, had to march hissmaller army considerably forward into thewidening coastal plain before he coulddeploy his infantry in a line and leavesufficient room for the cavalry to protect theflanks. He positioned himself with theCompanion Cavalry on the right wing, hard Macedonians would not be overawed byagainst the hills that restricted movement. Persian numbers, he took a defensive Darius sent a force south of the Pinarus in position, using the banks of the Pinarus asorder to buy time for the deployment of hisown troops. Now that it was clear that the Relief of Persian guards from Persepolis. (TRIP)
  38. 38. The fighting 39
  39. 39. 40 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Greatan added impediment; where the riverbanks Kardakes, half on each side. Against thesegave insufficient protection, he erected troops the vaunted Macedonian pezhetairoipalisades. A bid to move forces behind the found it difficult to advance, and here theyMacedonian position, in the hills, proved suffered the majority of their casualties,ineffective, and Alexander drove them to including the taxiarch Ptolemy, son ofseek refuge in higher ground by using the Seleucus.Agrianes and the archers; in the event, they Having put the Persian left to flight,were not a factor in the battle of Issus. Alexander now wheeled to his own left, That Alexander, in imitation of the younger slamming into the Greek mercenaries andCyrus at Cunaxa, charged directly at the destroying their formation. Before he couldPersian centre, where Darius himself was come to grips with the Great King, thepositioned, may be more than mere fiction. Persian ranks broke and Darius fled in hisThere was something in the mentality of the chariot. Hampered in his flight by the roughage that required leaders to seek each other terrain, he abandoned his chariot andout. (One is reminded of Alexanders mounted a horse to make good his escape; asapocryphal remark that he would participate an added precaution he removed his royalin the Olympic games but only if he competed insignia and eluded the enemy under thewith princes!) But, if the story is true, this cover of darkness.must have occurred in the second phase of the Some 100,000 Persian infantry werebattle, when Alexander turned to deal with the either killed or captured at Issus, along withGreek infantry that were exploiting a breach 10,000 horsemen, for the armoured horse,in the Macedonian phalanx. which had fought gallantly, dispersed when The Greek infantry occupied the centre of it learned of Dariuss flight, only to sufferthe line and were most encumbered by the more grievously in their bid for safety.terrain. While Alexander routed the Persian Among the captives were found the mother,left, which shattered on the initial assault,the heavy infantry in the centre surged Detail from the Alexander Mosaic at Pompeii. Darius IIIforward, losing its cohesiveness. (The pattern prepares to flee the battlefield. (Ann Ronanwould repeat itself at Gaugamela, with more Picture Library)dangerous results.) Here, opposite them,Darius had stationed his 30,000 Greekinfantry, supported by 60,000 pickedinfantrymen whom the Persians called Alexanders alleged encounter with Darius In this action he received a sword wound in the thigh: according to Chares this was given him by Darius, with whom he engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Alexander sent a letter to Antipater describing the battle, but made no mention in it of who had given him the wound: he said no more than that he had been stabbed in the thigh with a dagger and that the wound was not a dangerous one. Plutarch, Alexander 20 (I. Scott-Kilvert trans., Penguin)
  40. 40. The fighting 41wife and children of Darius himself. By The Alexander Mosaic. Darius and the Persians undercontrast, Alexanders losses were slight. But attack by Alexander (Ann Ronan Picture Library)we have only Macedonian propaganda to goby and figures, like the sensational stories of of the individuals captured there reveal thatAlexander struggling with Darius in person, the city was not merely a convenient placemust be treated with caution. to deposit the treasures and non-combatants, After the staggering defeat at Issus, but that Darius had intended to move hisDamascus fell into the hands of Parmenion. base of operations forward. He clearly didThe amount of treasure and the importance not expect to be routed in a single
  41. 41. 42 Essential Histories • The Wars of Alexander the Great Antigonus the One-Eyed Besieger). After Alexanders death, An officer of Philip IIs generation, Antigonus emerged as one of the leading Antigonus was already approaching 60 Successors and, together with his son, when he accompanied Alexander to Asia. made a bid for supreme power. He died, In the spring of 333 he was left behind as however, on the battlefield of Ipsus in 301, the governor (satrap) of Phrygia, which and Demetrius, who experienced his share had its administrative centre at Celaenae. of victories and defeats, proved to possess There he remained for the duration of the more showmanship than generalship. But war, attended by his wife Stratonice and ultimately his son, named after his his sons, one of whom, Demetrius, was to paternal grandfather, was to establish the become the famous Poliorcetes (the Antigonid dynasty in Macedonia.Detail of Alexander from the Alexander Mosaic, now at Pompeii. Alexanderis intent upon attacking Darius in person. (Ann Ronan Picture Library)
  42. 42. The fighting 43Sisygambis, mother of Darius III, mistakes Hephaestion for satraps to deal with the continued resistance inAlexander the Great after the Persian defeat at Issus in Asia Minor. Antigonus the One-Eyed, a certain333 BC. Painting by Francisco de Mura (1696-1782). Ptolemy (perhaps even a kinsman of(Ann Ronan Picture Library) Antigonus) and Balacrus dealt effectively with what Persian forces remained behind.engagement and forced to seek refuge in thecentre of the empire. For Alexander the victory - particularly in Phoenicia and Egyptthe aftermath of Memnons death - providedthe opportunity of pushing ahead himself with In Phoenicia, meanwhile, the news of Issus ledthe conquest and leaving his newly appointed to defection on a large scale. Representatives of