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Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great

By

Krzysztof Nawotka

Alexander the Great, by Krzysztof Nawotka This book first published 2010 Cambridge Scholars Publishing 12 Back Chapman Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE6 2XX, UK

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

Copyright 2010 by Krzysztof Nawotka All rights for this book reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. ISBN (10): 1-4438-1743-0, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-1743-1

CONTENTS

Preface ....................................................................................................... vii Chapter I: Childhood, Family, Macedonia .................................................. 1 1. Birth of Alexander 2. Macedonia 3. The Argead dynasty 4. Philip II and the rebuilding of the Macedonian state 5. Philip II and Alexanders Macedonian army 6. Alexanders childhood and school years Chapter II: The Heir to the Throne ............................................................ 43 1. At his fathers side 2. Chaeronea 3. The congress at Corinth and the beginning of the Persian war 4. The Pixodarus affair 5. Cleopatras wedding 6. Death of Philip Chapter III: The New King........................................................................ 83 1. The takeover. Philips funeral 2. War in the north 3. The destruction of Thebes Chapter IV: From Abydus to Alexandria ................................................ 109 1. Granicus the first victory 2. Freedom for Greeks of Asia 3. From Halicarnassus to Cilicia: the campaign in Asia Minor 4. The battle of Issus 5. Phoenicia. Syria and Palestine 6. The son of Ammon

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Chapter V: King of Asia.......................................................................... 213 1. From Memphis to Mesopotamia 2. The revolt of Agis III 3. The battle of Gaugamela 4. Babylon, Susa and Persepolis 5. The death of Darius III 6. Philotas affair and the fall of Parmenion 7. The conquest of eastern Iran 8. Time of intrigues and anxiety Chapter VI: Expedition to India .............................................................. 295 1. From Sogdiana to the Indus 2. Taxila and Porus 3. Hyphasis the end of the expedition 4. Towards the Ocean Chapter VII: The Last Years ................................................................... 331 1. In the footsteps of Cyrus and Semiramis 2. Empire in crisis 3. The weddings at Susa 4. The mutiny at Opis 5. Greece in 324: the exiles and a new god 6. The death of Hephaestion 7. Return to Babylon Chapter VIII: Death, Last Plans, Tomb ................................................... 371 1. The king died 2. Alexanders legacy 3. Alexanders tomb Bibliography............................................................................................ 387 Index........................................................................................................ 419

PREFACE

Alexander III, King of Macedonia, son of Philip II and heir to Achaemenid kings of Persia, is one of the most fascinating and frequently discussed figures of world history. By contemporaries he was more commonly hated rather than admired or loved, but soon after his death his legend began and it is still alive today. A belletristic account of his life and deeds the socalled Alexander Romance was in ancient, the medieval and early modern times one of the most universally known books in Europe, Asia, and Africa having some 80 versions written in 24 different languages. The books protagonist was the first in Western Civilization to be hailed Great, in all probability a title already bestowed upon him when the generation remembering his deeds was still alive, at the court of his onetime brother in arms Ptolemy I of Egypt. Alexanders brief reign marks a borderline between two great epochs of ancient times: the Classical and the Hellenistic. And this is by no means merely a convention in historiography. Without any exaggeration one can say that after his death the world was no longer the same as when he had ascended the Macedonian throne, regardless of whether one believes that this was a direct consequence of Alexanders actions or simply the effect of general historic processes that were underway in the second half of the 4th century BC. Someone who so much personifies this great turning point in the history of the Western civilization naturally attracts scholarly interest. On the other hand, the specific aura and charisma of this young ruler, the scale of his conquests and the exotic landscapes and peoples encountered during a tireless trek of over 35,000 km spanning three continents is what the broader public have always found particularly appealing. That is why for a long time now not even a year has passed without a new book on Alexander. Apart from detailed studies, a number of complete monographs now exist whose authors frequently stress that they are not biographies. Strictly speaking if we were to apply the same rigorous definition of what a biography is to antiquity as we do to later epochs, virtually no biography related to this period could be written. But since so many non-biographies of Alexander already exist, I believe that there is space for a new biography, if only somewhat relaxed genre defining criteria are applied. This necessitates presenting Alexander as a component of the historical processes in his epoch and considering his

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influence on the developments in Greece, Macedonia, the Persian Empire and neighbouring countries. Another reason for focusing more on Alexander as a person is the growing awareness that ancient societies were far less institutionalised than was assumed in modern times and in fact they operated on a much more personal level. Today we know that concepts as obvious in modern states as automatic procedures or Weberian impersonal rational bureaucracies were quite unheard of not only in the feudal Persia of the Achemenids but also in 4th-century Greece and Macedonia. In a world where borders as we understand them today did not exist and relationships between people from various countries were frequently stronger than loyalty to a particular state, the significance of such a powerful personality on the shaping of events cannot be overrated. Finally, although Alexander is considered to be the greatest military commander of ancient times and, indeed, much of this book deals with the wars fought during his reign, it was not this authors intention to make a meaningful contribution to military history. Instead it is hoped that this book will interest the reader in Alexander as a man and politician of outstanding talents and unparalleled charisma, but also one who erred in judgment and more than once displayed grave character faults. Three reasons may be found to justify the writing of yet another book entitled Alexander the Great. First, of the many books on this subject the last comprehensive, serious and, indeed, in this authors opinion, the most important monograph was published over twenty years ago (Bosworth 1988) and since then our perception of various aspects of antiquity has changed. Of particular value has been the rapid progress in study of the Achaemenid Persia, which has been experiencing an extraordinary boom in its last three decades. Ancient Persia has in many ways now been rediscovered. This has come about thanks to: the Persepolis tablets (some of which have only recently been published), other oriental and archaeological sources, detailed analyses of references made by the classical authors and a general movement away from the purely western perspective that had prevailed for years. Especially since P. Briants monumental synthesis (1996), our understanding of how the Achaemenid state was run and therefore also the Macedonian conquests from the Persian perspective have had to change. Moreover, our general knowledge of eastern societies and their response the Macedonian invader has been broadened by a systematic uncovering of sources from these regions, particularly ones originating from Babylon. Finally, in recent years many important monographs have come out on: history and topography of territories covered by Alexanders expedition (in general Wood, 1997); Macedonia (Hammond, 1989; Borza, 1990; Errington, 1990) Iran, India,

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and other regions of the ancient world (e.g. Holt, 1988; Eggermont, 1993; Karttunen, 1997; Habicht, 1999; Debord, 1999; Sartre, 2001, 2003; Speck, 2002); specific aspects of 4th-century history such as the attitude of mainland Greece towards Macedonia (Jehne, 1994; Blackwell, 1999); the way the elites functioned in Greece (Herman, 1987; Mitchell, 2002) and Macedonia (Heckel, 1992); the position of women in Macedonia (Carney, 2000) and Persia (Brosius, 1996); Macedonian colonization (Fraser, 1996); finances and numismatics (Le Rider, 2003; Holt, 2003); history of art and ideology (Stewart, 1993; Cohen, 1997) as well as the first monographs on Darius III (Briant, 2003), Olympias (Carney, 2006), and new biographies of Philip II (Hammond, 2002; Corvisier, 2002; Worthington, 2008). To that there is a plethora of new books on military history, although without much real progress except for the critical assessment of study of Macedonian army logistics pioneered by Engels in 1978 (Roth, 1999). All this new knowledge and all these new interpretations clearly require the actions and personality of Alexander to be once again reviewed. Second, for a long time it has been a common knowledge that the most serious obstacle faced in Alexander research is the number and quality of historical sources available. A few authors were already writing about Alexander in his lifetime and over a dozen more wrote about him not long after his death when they still had access to eyewitness accounts. Unfortunately all these works have disappeared almost without a trace. The earliest extant historical work to mention Alexander at least in passing is that of Polybius, who wrote in the mid 2nd century BC, whereas the most important ancient accounts date from the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. The quality of these accounts depends not only on the considerable time that had elapsed between the time of writing and the epoch of Alexander, but also on the methods the authors used, frequently relying on a single source. Ancient Alexander historians are customarily classified into two groups depending on the sources they use. One is the works of Flavius Arrianus (Arrian) and the anonymous Itinerarium Alexandri, which are based on the writings of Alexanders companions the King of Egypt Ptolemy I and Aristobulos. Their accounts are of greater value for events prior to 327 BC, for they made use of the now missing books of the famous historian Callisthenes of Olynthus, who also accompanied Alexander. The second category, commonly called the Vulgate, includes Diodorus, Curtius Rufus and Justin, who above all based their writings on the Alexandrian historian Cleitarchus, Ptolemys contemporary. Plutarch cannot be included in either of these groups, for this outstandingly erudite scholar made use of the works of as many as 24 different authors, mainly Alexanders contemporaries, in an extraordinarily modern way. To the

Preface

modern reader Arrians rhetoric is more palpable than that of the Vulgate authors and for this reason he was for many years considered to be the most trustworthy source. However, his methodology in fact simply relied on rejecting information that might in any way cast Alexander in a negative light and thus his stance primarily reflects the Macedonian propaganda version of events. W.W. Tarn and N.G.L. Hammond both largely rely on Arrian and to give him greater credibility they maintain the theory regarding the existence of the Royal Journal (ephemerides), which was allegedly kept at Alexanders court throughout his reign and later taken to Alexandria in Egypt, where it served as a source for Ptolemy and thus also indirectly as a source for Arrian. Source research in recent decades has uncovered so much new information regarding Alexanders history that writing a new biography has become both possible and necessary. Commentary on Arrian and other studies by A.B. Bosworth (1980, 1988a and 1995) have shed new light on Arrians methods, his reliance on earlier sources and generally allowed us to wonder whether the significance of this ancient author regarding the life and times of Alexander may have been somewhat overrated. At the same time the value of the so-called Vulgate authors have undergone a positive reappraisal, particularly thanks to new commentaries (Atkinson, 1980, 1994 and 2009) and other studies (Baynham, 1998a) on Curtius Rufus, who for all his extravagant rhetoric and moralising is a very valuable author especially in that he was well informed about events within the Persian camp. Although today hardly anyone believes in the existence of the so-called mercenary source, i.e. an account written by a Greek mercenary in the Persian camp that Curtius Rufus and Diodorus had seen, evidence corroborating what these authors write about the Persian camp has been found. Therefore we can assume that the Vulgate authors had indirect access to this information from earlier historians who had actually heard the oral accounts of Greek mercenaries on Persian pay. Interest in Plutarch is currently undergoing a genuine revival, whereas the commentary to his Alexander (Hamilton, 1999; 1st edition in 1969) is rightly considered to be classics of the genre. Historical and philological commentaries have also appeared to his other work: On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great (DAngelo, 1998; Cammarota, 1998; Nawotka, 2003). Finally scholars have now more boldly made use of smaller anonymous works such as the Metz Epitome (which is associated with the Vulgate group though it makes no references to the others and is based on the works of historians a generation after Alexander) or extant fragments of the writings of Alexanders contemporaries Ephippus and Chares. The author of this book agrees with

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those (Plezia, Bielawski, 1970) who argue that the document found in an Arab manuscript is the translation of a genuine letter from Aristotle to Alexander regarding the treatment of Greeks and barbarians. With newly discovered 4th-century Greek inscriptions as well as already well known but newly researched ones we have an increasingly better understanding of Alexanders policies towards the Greeks and how they were received differently on the east coast of the Aegean and differently on the west coast. Of particular value is the steadily increasing amount of eastern sources, which not only allow us to more accurately establish the dates of key events but also move away from the Eurocentric view held in some earlier studies. That is also the value of later, even mediaeval Zoroastrian sources maintaining the Persian tradition, which unlike the western sources was consistently hostile towards Alexander. Third, one should note how historical interpretations have changed over recent decades. In the period immediately after World War II the immense influence of W.W. Tarns book (1948) gave Alexander the image of a benign propagator of the Western civilization and the brotherhood of the various peoples within one empire. The work of another great scholar from that period, F. Schachermeyr (1973), gave us the heroic image of this great Macedonian and it is not surprising that the first edition of his monumental biography (1947) is entitled Ingenium und Macht. However, scholars subscribing to this traditional view of Alexander (e.g. Hammond or Lane Fox) are now very much a minority among historians. The tragic consequences of 20th-century militarism and totalitarianism, a gradual departure from European colonialism and the mission of taking up the white mans burden as well as from the traditional world outlook in the postmodern era inevitably led to a revision or even deconstruction of Alexander the Greats character. The process of diminishing Alexanders greatness has been continuing since the 1950s. A decisive blow to the predominance of Tarns image of Alexander was delivered by E. Badian (1960, 1964), for whom the Macedonian prefigured the 20th-century dictators Stalin and Hitler, being preoccupied with organising large-scale purges and surrounded by the loneliness of power. The next step in the new trend was to reject the notion that Alexander was motivated by any grand ideas or non-military objectives. Todays chief proponents of this minimalist view, represented above all by P. Green, A.B. Bosworth and I. Worthington, have reduced Alexanders life to purely a matter of military history. Excluding his talents as a commander (although sometimes questioned too), Alexander has now all too frequently been depicted as a megalomaniac, alcoholic (most vividly: OBrien 1992; more balanced: Kets de Vries, 2004), tyrant and hothead who for no profound reason laid

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waste to the local cultures of Europe, Asia and Africa and thus, as it is sometimes asserted, is to be blamed for radical Islams hatred of the West (Prevas, 2004). Such extreme views may only be expressed if one treats sources very selectively, and that surely indicates that the pendulum of reaction against the over idealisation of the great Macedonian has swung too far in the opposite direction (Holt, 1999a; Briant, 2002). Nonetheless, I believe, that without either idealizing or deconstructing Alexander, his times may be reassessed from a non-military perspective. For instance in the light of recent research of 4th-century Greek society it is worthwhile to consider the reasons why Macedonian policies succeeded or failed on either side of the Aegean Sea. The last quarter centurys breakthroughs in research into Achaemenid Persia in fact demand that the effectiveness of Alexanders policies in the various countries of the Persian Empire be reviewed in terms of his attitude towards Achaemenid tradition and cultural conflicts during his campaign in the East. Although for a long time yet to come no doubt no one will dare formulate any grand theories the way Tarn did, there is now enough room to make careful generalisations and sum up the historical discussions of the last few decades. This book presents the story of Alexander strictly on the basis of ancient sources. In the footnotes I have endeavoured to refer to all primary and most secondary ancient sources. On the other hand, for all effort to synthesise modern scholarship in this book, no attempt has been made to cite all modern literature concerning Alexander and his epoch. The sheer volume of such works would make the task quite unfeasible and, from the point of view of most readers, both tedious and unnecessary. Those specifically interested in historiography concerning Alexander the Great can refer to specialist literature dealing with this subject (e.g. Seibert, 1972). Footnotes in this book may serve to inform the reader of the most important historical discussions of recent decades. The names of ancient authors and the titles of their works are quoted using the abbreviations also applied in the Oxford Latin Dictionary and Liddell, Scott, Jones GreekEnglish Lexicon. The titles of periodicals are abbreviated according to LAnne Philologique. When ancient times are discussed in this book, unless otherwise stated, all given dates are BC/ BCE. Finally, I have the pleasant task of thanking all the people and institutions without whose help this book would never have been published. The several years of research and especially the enquiries made in the libraries of Vienna and Oxford were possible thanks to generous grants from the Polish State Committee for Scientific Research and the Lanckoroski Foundation as well as the hospitality of St Johns College

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Oxford within the Oxford Colleges Hospitality Scheme and on other occasions. I am grateful to the University of Wrocaw for financing my trips to Turkey and Iran for the purposes of seeing for myself the topographic problems Alexanders expedition must have encountered. The English version of this book is based on the Polish edition of 2007, with numerous improvements and corrections. The translation was produced by Witold Zbirochowski-Kocia, whose careful attention to details, linguistic skills and patience I would like to acknowledge in this place. It could be made thanks to a grant from the Foundation for Polish Science which had also supported the Polish edition of my book. I have presented various research problems at conferences in Rzeszw, Barcelona, Krakw and Wrocaw as well as historical society meetings and seminars in Wrocaw, Warsaw, Toru, Liverpool, Taipei, Delhi, and Delphi. I would like to thank those, too many to name here, who provided insightful and frequently critical comments during the discussions that followed my lectures. Some mistakes I have been able to correct thanks to talks with many scholars. Among those I am particularly grateful to, are: Prof. Fergus Millar, late Prof. Jzef Wolski, Prof. Ewa Wipszycka-Bravo, Prof. John Davies, late Prof. Tadeusz Kotula, Prof. Alicja Szastyska-Siemion, Prof. Maurice Sarte, Prof. Christopher Tuplin, Prof. Leszek Mrozewicz, Prof. Andrzej o, Dr. Zofia Archibald, Dr. John Ma, Dr. Gociwit Malinowski, Nicholas Purcell and Robin Lane Fox. But I dedicate my most heartfelt thanks to my wife, Magorzata Modyska-Nawotka, who has over the years provided the unstinting support that allowed me to research and write this book.

CHAPTER I: CHILDHOOD, FAMILY, MACEDONIA

1. Birth of Alexander
In Antiquity people believed that the birth of someone destined to be great was accompanied by signs, portents and strange happenings. Alexanders biographer, Plutarch, states that his mother, Olympias, dreamt of a fiery thunderbolt that had entered her body, whereas his father, Philip II, envisioned in his dream a seal on his wifes body in the shape of a lion, which allegedly foretold the extraordinary lion-like nature of his son. Another persistently repeated tale has Philip seeing in a dream on the night of consumption Olympias having sexual intercourse with a giant serpent, presumably an incarnation of the god Ammon from the Siwah Oasis in the Libyan Desert. According to a much later legend, emerging no doubt after Alexanders visit to Siwa, Philip was then told by the Apollo Oracle at Delphi to henceforth offer sacrifices to Ammon and was also told a prophecy that he would lose the eye with which he had seen the deity lying next to Olympias.1 Such tales could emerge from the traditional view that Olympias had in her native Epirus engaged in mysterious Orphic rituals, which were much feared by the Greeks, and an important element of this practice was the breeding of serpents in her home.2 The belief that Alexander was conceived by the god Ammon did not mean in the opinions of contemporaries that he was not the son of Philip. After all, they knew the myth of Alexanders forebear Heracles, who was the son of Alcmene but also of the god Zeus. At various stages in his career, Alexander himself sometimes boasted that he was the son of Philip and at other times allowed people to believe that he was conceived by the god Ammon.3
1

Ephor., FGrH, 70 F217; Plu., Alex., 2-3; Paus., 4.14.7; Luc., Alex., 7; Just., 11.11.3, 12.16; It. Alex., 12; see Baynham, 1998, p. 149; Hamilton, 1999, pp. 4-6. For an alternative version of the legend, but one still maintaining the notion of divine conception and lion shaped seal, see: Ps.-Callisth., 1.4-8. 2 Cic. Div., 2.135: Plu., Alex., 2.9; see Lane Fox, 1973, pp. 44-45. 3 Ogden, 1999, pp. 27-28.

Chapter I

The Greek authors, always eager to synchronize historic events, state that Alexander was born the same night one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, was burnt down by Herostratus in the desire of immortalizing his name. The goddess was too busy assisting Olympias in the birth of Alexander to protect her own temple from destruction. Iranian magi living next to the temple lamented, for they foresaw that what had happened that night would bring great misfortune to Asia, which meant the Kingdom of Persia.4 Plutarch reports an anecdote that Philip, while laying siege to the town of Potidaea, in one day received news that his army commander Parmenion had routed the Illyrians, that his race-horse had won a race at the Olympic Games, and that his wife had given birth to Alexander. We know nothing more about the battle with the Illyrians and therefore have no means of establishing the date. There is an image on Philip IIs coins of a cloaked rider with a Macedonian hat (kausia) on his head commemorating an Olympic victory, though we cannot be certain whether they refer to an individual horse race or a chariot race. Far more significant is that fact that this was almost certainly the first ever Macedonian victory at the Olympic Games. Although Herodotus does in fact report an earlier success at the time of Philips predecessor Alexander I, this was possibly just a propaganda ploy invented by the Macedonian court, for this kings name has not been preserved on the list of Olympic victories. Philips Olympic success probably occurred on 26th July 356, whereas Alexander was born on the sixth day of the Athenian month Hekatombaion, called Loos in Macedonia, which according to modern calculations would have most probably been either 19th or 20th July 356.5

2. Macedonia
Alexanders fatherland was situated to the north of Thessaly with borders that have not been precisely defined but most certainly did not resemble the borders of todays Macedonian state (FYROM)6 and were much closer
Hegesias, ap. Plu., Alex., 35-36 (FGrH, 142 F3); Timae., ap. Cic., N.D., 2.69; Cic., Div., 1.47; Plu., Alex., 2.7. Burning of Artemisium by Herostratus: Str., 14.22.1; Solinus, 183.23. Magi in Ephesus: Str., 14.1.23. See Briant 1996, p. 875; Shabazi 2003, pp. 7-14. Asia as the Persian empire: Nawotka 2004. 5 Plu., Alex., 3.5-8; Plu., mor., 105a; Just., 12.16.6. Brown 1977, pp. 76-77; Badian 1982, p. 38; Bosworth 1988, p. 19; Hammond 1992, pp. 356-357; Hamilton 1999, pp. 7-9. Alexander I at the Olympic Games: Hdt., 5.23; but see Borza 1982, pp. 813; Thompson 1982, p. 113. 6 On fluidity of the name Macedonia see: Czamaska, Szulc 2002.
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to the borders of todays Greek province of Macedonia. The fluidity of Macedonias borders even in Antiquity means that from the political history point of view it is most convenient to define the borders as the circumference of those territories ruled by Macedonian kings excluding the conquered areas of Greece, Thrace and Asia. During the reigns of Philip II and Alexander the kingdom was divided into two: Lower Macedonia in the east and Upper Macedonia in the southwest. At the start of his reign Philip II only had control of Lower Macedonia, which was indeed the cradle of the Argead dynasty. Upper Macedonia is a mountainous region stretching from the Emathia Plain to the Pindos Mountains and including the catchment area of the river Haliakmon as well as the upper reaches of the river Axios (Vardar). Almost the entire region (90%) is over 500 m above sea level, whereas 50% is above 1,500 m. In that part of the Balkan Peninsula the main mountain ranges run longitudinally. The Haliakmon Valley is situated between two such ranges, those of the Pindos Mountains and the southern ranges of the Dinaric Alps (Peristeri, Vitsi, Vourinos). In Antiquity Upper Macedonia was divided into several smaller states and in the Haliakmon Valley itself there were: Orestis in the north, Tymphaeaa to the south and Elimeia to the east of Tymphaea. The remaining Upper Macedonia states were situated further east and separated from Lower Macedonia by the Vermion range, namely: Palagonia in the north and Lyncestis and Eordaia in the south. Upper Macedonia was ethnically mixed. Apart from the Macedonian tribes such as the Elimeians and Lyncestis, there were tribes more closely related to the Greek Molossians of Epirus, such as the Orestians. Illyrian elements have also been traced among the inhabitants of this part of Macedonia. The ethnic diversity of Upper Macedonia is considered an important factor accounting for its looser ties with the central authorities in Lower Macedonia. The Upper Macedonia tribes were ruled by their own dynasties, the most important of which was the Lyncestis royal family, the Bacchiads once expelled from Corinth by the tyrant Cypselus. Relations between the Argeads and the ruling families of Upper Macedonia were frequently marked by mutual distrust and political rivalry. If we add to that the basic weakness of the Lower Macedonia government, it is hardly surprising that before Philip ascended to power, bonds between the Argead kingdom and the Upper Macedonia states were at best loose.7 Lower Macedonia was situated by the Thermaic Gulf, in an alluvial valley where the silt had accumulated from the rivers Haliakmon, Axios,
7

Errington 1990, chapter i; Billows 1994, p. 3.

Chapter I

Ludias and Gallikos. It was surrounded by mountain ridges (Paiko, Voras, Vermion and Pieria) and the Pieria plain at the foot of Mount Olympus. One has to remember that in the 4th century BC the shore of the Thermaic Gulf was some 30 km further inland than it is today and thanks to the river Ludias seafaring ships could sail up to the port of Pella, the capital of Philip and Alexanders kingdom. A large part of low-lying Emathia situated above that river was in Antiquity a barren uninhabitable marshland. The area was not drained until the 1920s, and no traces of earlier permanent human settlement have been found there. Attempts to drain these marshes during Philips reign were doomed to fail because contemporary technical knowledge was quite inadequate to deal with the sheer scale of the task. Worse still, the predominance of marshland in parts of Lower Macedonia resulted in malaria epidemics that affected not only the local population but also agricultural output. Settlements were concentrated on terraces on the sides of the bordering mountains. On the south side of the lower course of the Haliakmon and to the south of the Emathia, close to todays village of Vergina, lay the first Agread capital Aegae. The fertile and well irrigated parts of Macedonia allowed for the growing of crops and rearing of cattle. In the 4th century many Macedonians were still engaged in herding, taking cattle up in the mountains in the summer and then taking the herds down to lower lying areas for the winter. We also know that wine was produced, though on account of its cooler climate outside of the seacoast there were no olive trees, so typical for the Mediterranean zone. At least 1/3 of ancient Macedonia was covered with forests and all wood collected from these forests belonged to a royal monopoly. This was both economically and politically very important because the sea powers of the Greek world, particularly Athens, lacked their own forests and therefore were forced to import wood from Macedonia.8 By the end of Philip IIs reign the Kingdom of Macedonia covered a territory of 43,000 km2, which was several times larger than even the largest of the ancient Greek states. Thanks to the conditions of its soil and climate Macedonia was able to produce abundant crops capable of feeding a large number of people despite obviously primitive agricultural methods. Although no sources provide enough data to adequately estimate the number of Philip II or Alexanders subjects, the number of soldiers these rulers were able to deploy in Macedonia itself indicates that the demographic potential must have been large, though probably not over
8

Geography of Macedonia principally after: Borza 1990, pp. 23-57, 287-299; also Corvisier 2002, pp. 37-41; Thomas 2007, pp. 23-32.

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

two million as Hammond believed.9 Historians have tried to calculate ancient Macedonias population on the basis of 19th-century census records, assuming that under the backward and unindustrialised Ottoman Empire the population size would have been more or less the same as it had been in the same area in Antiquity when it was supported by cattle herding and primitive agriculture. According to such estimates Macedonias population at the start of Alexanders campaign was approximately 1-1.5 million. However, there are other theories which suggest that populations in the pre-industrialised age did grow, though so slowly as to be indiscernible. Accordingly the population of Macedonia at the end of Philip IIs reign would have amounted to approximately 660,000. Even if we take the lowest of these estimates, at the time of Philip and Alexander there would have been roughly three times more Macedonians than inhabitants of the largest Greek polis of Athens, with populations well under 300,000 and in that 100,000 citizens of both sexes at the most.10 The matter of ancient Macedonians ethnicity is one of the most hotly discussed issues regarding those times. Ancient sources frequently mention speeches or simple remarks being uttered in Macedonian by Alexander or other Macedonians of his day or from the later times of the Diadochi. For years scholars have been arguing whether or not by stating that something was said in Macedonian meant that they were merely using a Greek dialect or in fact a quite separate language. The academic dispute has become even more heated on account of the more than century-old political conflict over territory and independence. Both sides of the political dispute have tried to gain a moral advantage over their opponents by resorting to historical arguments as to the right to land on account of its ethnic past. At the turn of the 20th century Macedonia the southernmost state of the Balkans at the time of the emergence of modern nationalisms was ethnically a very complex country with a predominance of Slavic elements. That was when the Greeks started claiming there rights to the land on account of its ancient history. The reason the Greeks felt they had a stronger claim to Macedonia than for instance the Bulgarians was because, according to them, the Macedonian state had for so long had a Greek ethnicity and it was already clearly visible in Antiquity, especially during the reigns of its most illustrious rulers Philip II and Alexander the

Hammond 1994, p. 40, n. 38. Billows 1994, pp. 198-206. Population of Attica: Hansen 1991, pp. 90-94. Low estimates for Attica (ca. 200,000) and Macedonia (660,000) are after Corvisier 2000, pp. 32-44. Thomas 2007, p. 49 lists 700,000 for Macedonia under Philip II.
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Chapter I

Great. This official Greek stance is shared by many Western historians.11 However, the other, Southern Slavic (Macedonian and Bulgarian), side also willingly use historic arguments. They stress the non-Greek ethnic character of ancient Macedonians and claim that they were the predecessors of todays Southern Slavs. With such reasoning they have even tried to posthumously Slavicise Alexander the Great.12 Unfortunately, pre-Hellenistic Macedonians are one of the mute nations of history in that they have not left any traces of literature or monumental inscriptions. Even the quite numerous graves of Macedonian aristocrats contain no inscriptions. Only half of the 140 or so words claimed by ancient authors to be Macedonian are undeniably of Greek origin and even in these cases contemporary linguists do not discern a typically Greek evolution of particular words. Moreover, although all the ancient inscriptions discovered in Macedonia, especially in recent decades, are in Greek, this does not mean this was the everyday language of Macedonians. Indeed, the rulers of Thrace, Scythia and Illyria commissioned monuments with Greek inscriptions and yet we know that Thracians, Scythians and Illyrians had their own non-Greek languages. At the time Greek was simply the preferred language among the cultural elites of much of the Mediterranean area, as Latin later was in medieval Europe. It should be remembered that in the pre-Hellenistic age all Greeks spoke and wrote in their local dialects, not in the standardised form of the language, koine, which in fact developed only at the start of Hellenistic epoch. Ca. 6300 inscriptions found in Macedonia are predominantly in (Attic) koine, some in various Greek dialects of the coastal cities and only a tabula defixionum of Pella possibly in the local dialect close to NorthWest Greek. Obviously the Attic dialect or koine could not have been the native language of the local inhabitants. Indeed, the predominance of Attic dialect inscriptions may in fact indicate that for the local population Greek was a foreign language and that the literary Attic form had been learned only at school. Ancient authors testify that the ordinary Macedonian did not fully understand Greek.13 This fact did not stop the most outstanding supporter of the claim that ancient Macedonians were actually Greeks, N.G.L Hammond, from espousing the quite curious view that the
11 Presentation of Greek position: Kallris 1954-1976; similar: Lane Fox 1973, p. 30; Cawkwell 1978, pp. 22-23; Hammond 1979, pp. 39-54; Hammond 1999, pp. 31-33; OBrien 1992, p. 26; Corvisier 2002, pp. 49-50; Worthington 2004, pp. 7-8; Panayotou 2007. See: Borza 1990, pp. 3-12, 90-97. 12 Mikoajczak, Stamatoski 2002; Moroz-Grzelak 2002; Danforth 2003. 13 Borza 1990, pp. 90-94; Borza 1994; Borza 1999, pp. 41-43. See now Panayotou 2007 for Macedonian as a Greek dialect.

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

Macedonian language was, indeed, a Greek dialect but one unintelligible to the Greeks.14 Although most of the evidence does suggest that in the 4th century Macedonian was a separate language to Greek, one cannot consider this issue closed. After all, there is no clear dividing line between a different dialect and a different language. For instance, many consider present-day Macedonian to be in fact a dialect of Bulgarian. However, ethnic identity is not only determined by language, it also depends on the awareness of belonging to a different ethnic group or nation. Belonging to an ethnic group depends on a subjective conviction that some common factors exist binding a group of people together and distinguishing them from other ethnic groups. Such factors may include: common ancestry, a common history, culture, association with a particular territory or a sense of group solidarity. Analysis of all extant sources unequivocally shows that in the 5th and 4th centuries the Greeks did not regard Macedonians to be part of their ethnic group nor did the Macedonians themselves ever claim to be Greek. It was only in the Hellenistic epoch that Macedonians became fully Hellenised and it was only with the growing dominance of Rome in the Balkan Peninsula that a sense of affinity developed between the Macedonians and Greeks. It was then that Alexander the Great was belatedly included in the pantheon of Greek national heroes. By the time of the Roman Empire Plutarch was willingly using Alexander of Macedonia as an example of how Greek military prowess was equal to that of mighty Rome. However, in Alexanders day the Macedonians had a separate ethnos. What is more, they were aware and proud of it. The undeniable closeness of Macedonian to Greek would have made the latter language partly intelligible to most Macedonians. A similar situation can be seen today among Scandinavian or Slavonic nations whose members can understand respectively another Scandinavian or Slavonic language even if they have never been taught it.15 Even if 4th-century Macedonians distinguished themselves ethnically from their Greek neighbours they most probably had the same proto-Greek roots as members of the historic Greek tribes. Moreover, the Macedonian royal court was already becoming Hellenised in the 5th century and especially intensively during the reign of Archelaus the patron of many Greek artists including Euripides. This state of affairs was partly due to a desire to have political influence in the Greek world, but no doubt also due
Hammond 1995; now also Worthington 2008, p. 8. Weber 1968, p. 389; Badian 1982; Haarmann 1986, pp. 260-262; Borza 1990, pp. 90-97, 305-306; Borza 1992; Borza 1996; Hall 2000, pp. 19-26, 170-172, 177; Nawotka 2003, p. 27; Thomas 2007, pp. 32-37.
15 14

Chapter I

to Macedonian awareness of the attractive aspects of contemporary Greek culture, which indeed fascinated many Mediterranean countries of that epoch. Naturally the ruling dynasty and aristocracy were the first to be Hellenised. The frescos and numerous artefacts found in recent decades in Macedonian graves from the second half of the 4th century show that the royal court favoured Greek and especially Attic art.16 During the reign of Philip II Macedonia was still predominantly a rural country where cities, unlike in Greece, played a very peripheral role in both the political and economic sense. Despite efforts made by the administration (incidentally a fact much exaggerated by many historians), Philips kingdom remained poor. Before Philips reign there was virtually nothing that could be called a city in Upper Macedonia, though archaeologists have uncovered the remains of fortified settlements which must have been the commercial centres of the rural communities. In Lower Macedonia the only urban centre of note was the kingdoms capital Pella, which was by no means the poor and small town described by Demosthenes. In fact the length of its defensive walls at the time of Philip II (7-8 km) was comparable to the length of the walls of Athens (6.5 km), and although it might not have been as populous as Athens, Pella needs to be regarded as an important urban centre.17 The other towns of Edessa, Dion and Aegae were much less significant though the last of these, even after it ceased being the capital, still maintained its status as the burial place of Macedonian kings and the centre of their cults. Ancient sources do not clearly state when the royal residence was transferred from Aegae to Pella, but historians believe it occurred during the reign of the states reformer Archelaus. Pella had no natural defence advantages and this was a malarial region, but it was situated on an important trade route, along which at the time of the Early Roman empire the famous road via Egnatia was built. Furthermore, while the coastline remained under the control of the Greek colonies of Pydna, Methone and the Chalcidian League, Pella, with its access to the Aegean via the river Ludias was the Kingdom of Macedonias only seaport. This allowed Macedonia to export timber brought down the river Axios from the nearby mountains as well as no doubt minerals and agricultural products.18 It was not their economic but their political significance that distinguished Macedonian cities most from those of Greece. In the Greek world the city and surrounding rural areas (chora) generally constituted a
Barr-Sharrar 1982. Diod., 18.66. Montgomery 1985; Montgomery 1997; Hammond 1994, p. 56; Thomas 2007, pp. 81-83. 18 Greenwalt 1999; Corvisier 2002, pp. 53-57.
17 16

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

separate state (polis). Of course there were numerous exceptions to this rule. There were large poleis, such as Athens, which would include more than one urban settlement with inhabitants who had typically urban occupations. On the other hand, there were also many small states that did not have a single urban centre. Nevertheless, by the mid 4th century for the Greeks the polis was almost always associated with citizenship and the natural political centre. In accordance with contemporary convictions they would also naturally have a democratic system of government.19 In the Classical period no Macedonian urban settlement could be characterised as a polis. At most some had limited autonomy but still under the supervision of a royal prefect. Thus Macedonia avoided the political fragmentation so typical in Greece, while all the subjects considered themselves to be Macedonians first and only next the inhabitants of, for instance, Pella, Edessa or Dion.20 This form of social organisation, different from the polis concept and called ethne, was also present in neighbouring Thessaly as well as to a large extent in Thrace. Moreover, these three countries, which were much larger than Greek states, also kept the tribal system throughout the Classical period. In Thrace it was still present at the time of the Roman empire. On account of the fact that everywhere this social structure was eventually succeeded by the polis, one cannot regard ethne to have been a viable alternative but instead an earlier stage in the evolution of society. A typical structure for ethne societies, even in 4th-century democracy dominated Greece, was the oligarchy or aristocracy. The political significance of the ruling classes rested on their control of outlying territories or of smaller towns which, as in Greece, did not have the status of independent states.21 The 4th-century Greek historian Theopompus states that in Macedonia during the reign of Philip II there were 800 aristocratic hetairoi whose revenues from landed property equalled that of 10,000 of the wealthiest Greeks.22 It is now impossible to verify this statement and it may be a rhetorical exaggeration. Significant, however, is the very fact that contemporary observers perceived Macedonia to be a country dominated by a wealthy aristocracy. Their wealth has been confirmed by the archaeological uncovering of some 100 warrior graves whose lavishness resembled more those of nobles from the Mycenaean age or those of contemporary Thracian aristocrats than those of Greeks of classical age.
19 20

Arist., Pol., 1286b20. See Gauthier 1984, p. 86; Quass 1979. Errington 1990, pp. 222-234. 21 Archibald 2000. 22 FGrH, 115 F225b.

10

Chapter I

The most sumptuous sepulchres are the royal graves at Vergina, which shall be discussed in detail in Chapter III. The number of hetairoi during Philip IIs reign rose to approximately 1,800. This would have been so not only because of a natural rise in the number of Macedonian aristocrats resulting from the countrys prosperity, but also from a large influx of foreigners, especially Greeks. The closeness between the king of Macedonia and his aristocrats is apparent in their name, hetairoi, which simply means companions the kings companions. The hetairoi accompanied the king in battle as well as in hunting and feasting, yet in the monarchs regular presence they were bound by none of the submissiveness and strict adherence to court ceremony that was so typical of ancient states of the East. The lack of an administrative or court hierarchy meant that both Philip II and Alexander ruled with the aid of their closest entourage, especially a group of seven to eight Somatophylakes (personal bodyguards). Despite their name, the latter were not only to physically protect their king but also serve as officers carefully selected from the kings most trusted men to carry out special missions. The king, who wore no unique garments or head covering distinguishing him from his wellborn subjects, was probably addressed by name. Indeed, the ancient authors draw our attention to the fact that there was generally little social distance between Macedonian kings and their subjects, who in the Classical and Hellenistic periods still had easy access to their monarch and relative freedom to speak out (parrhesia) in his presence. The abilities of riding a horse, using weapons and hunting were an essential part of every young Macedonian aristocrats education. The hunting down of the first wild boar and the killing of the first enemy in battle were elements of the Macedonian rites of passage. It was only then that a young aristocrat was entitled to wear a belt and feast, as was the fashion in the ancient world, in a half reclined position. The Greeks were shocked by a peculiar form of pederasty practiced by Philip IIs hetairoi in which the adult could be the passive partner in a homosexual relationship.23 Macedonian aristocrats loved breeding horses which originated from the famous Median Nesaian breed brought over to Macedonia during the Persian rule.24 Little is known about Macedonias lower social orders before the Hellenistic period as they were not an object of interest to ancient authors. The usual custom in the Balkan states was for the aristocracy to rule over a serf majority, who in Thessaly were called the penestai. And such was no
Theopomp., FGrH, 115 F225. Flower 1994, pp. 109-119. Errington 1990, pp. 152-154, 219-220; Billows 1990, pp. 19-22; Borza 1990, pp. 85-88; Badian 1996, pp. 11-12; Heckel 2003, pp. 206-208.
24 23

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

11

doubt also the social structure in aristocratically dominated Macedonia.25 This social structure probably determined the composition of the Macedonian army, whose only valuable element was the aristocratic cavalry. This would have been so on account of the fact that in most ancient states the army was composed of citizens or subjects who were obliged to equip themselves for war at their own cost. Therefore lacking their own adequately protective (and expensive) armour, proper training and no doubt motivation, serfs were a lightly armed infantry of virtually no military value, especially when pitched against the phalanx: the basic Greek formation of classical times which had for centuries dominated battlefields in the Mediterranean zone. The phalanx was also a product of the given social structure and mentality of the polis, inhabited as it was by a predominantly free and relatively well-off peasantry. The polis citizen would acquire his own hoplite equipment, which included a breastplate, helmet, greaves, a large circular shield, a spear and a sword. It is estimated that in all such equipment would have cost approximately 300 drachmas, which was more or less as much as a hired worker could earn in a year. This meant that genuinely poor landless people who had to support themselves by working for others could not become hoplites. On the other hand, hoplite armour was considerably cheaper than the purchase of a warhorse, which could cost from 500 to 6,000 drachmas. Moreover the feeding and care of such a horse could be compared to the annual expenditure of a family of six. The fact that riders were expected to cover all these costs meant that only the very richest could afford to serve in the cavalry, which traditionally remained the preserve of aristocracy.26 Therefore the predominance in Greek armies of hoplites, i.e. middle-class soldiers, reflects the egalitarian and democratic aspect of the polis. Apart from being relatively well trained, the hoplites were noted for their courage, determination, ability to maintain discipline on the battlefield and solidarity among brothers in arms. These were characteristics associated with the civic nature of the polis, where the decision to wage war was decided at public gatherings by the votes of citizens after open and free debates. The amateur composition of the citizens army determined its preferred military tactic which was to try to resolve a war with one rapid hoplite attack. The phalanx was usually eight ranks deep and would advance on the enemy by breaking into a run in an attempt to break his lines with a massed full frontal assault, i.e. without any complicated manoeuvres or use of tactical reserves. The only
25 26

Billows 1994, pp. 9-10. Figures after Hanson 1999, especially pp. 104-105, 226-227.

12

Chapter I

contemporary formation capable of withstanding such an attack was another phalanx. Greek city-state armies were, however, reluctant to fight protracted wars far from their polis. Such was the prestige of the phalanx as the most important formation in the Greek army that for a long time some of the wealthier citizens chose to serve in the heavily armed infantry rather than the traditional preserve of the aristocracy, the cavalry. This exceptional prestige stemmed not only from the fact that the infantry decided the outcomes of battles and therefore also the fate of the city-state, but also because being a hoplite required particular courage and physical prowess. What is more, in some states, such as Sparta, weaker men served in the cavalry, whereas the phalanx was reserved for the very best warriors. This image of Greek city-state armies started to change in the 4th century when the cavalry regained importance and highly trained mercenary light infantry (peltastai) units were introduced. Nevertheless, up to the Battle of Chaeronea or even later faith in the citizen hoplite armys ability to deliver the decisive blow was upheld in Greek military doctrine.27 Ancient sources provide no convincing evidence of the permanent existence of a fully battle worthy infantry in the Macedonian army before the reign of Philip II and Diodorus actually claims that Philip was the creator of the Macedonian phalanx.28 Some historians even claim that on account of the social conditions the creation of such a hoplite infantry would have been impossible. Contemporary states lacking appropriate social or cultural conditions to have their own citizens hoplite army usually hired mercenaries. Such a course of action was taken up by the Great King and satraps of the western provinces of Persia, the rulers of Egypt as well as the tyrants of Thessaly, though in the last of these countries attempts to form its own heavy infantry had been made since at least the 6th century. The primitive level of agriculture combined with the aristocratic character of the state meant that Macedonian kings lacked the financial resources to hire very well trained but expensive Greek mercenaries. Before the reign of Philip II Macedonias army was usually limited to the aristocratic cavalry and primitive light infantry, both of which stood little chance against the Greek phalanx on the battlefield. That is why throughout most of the Classical period Macedonian was a militarily weak state on whose territories the armies of stronger Greek states frequently intervened.29 This situation changed radically under
Hanson 1999, pp. 84-141; van Wees 2000, pp. 87-88; Lendon 2005, pp. 102105. 28 Diod., 16.3.1-3. 29 Greenwalt 1999, p. 171; Archibald 2000, p. 230.
27

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

13

Philip II and his reorganisation of the Macedonian army will be discussed later in this chapter.

3. The Argead Dynasty


Macedonian tradition, preserved by Herodotus and Thucydides, speaks of wanderings of the ancestors of the Macedonians, their conquest of Pieria and other lands in Lower Macedonia as well as of the expulsion or subjugation of the original inhabitants. Modern research has confirmed that such events indeed took place around 650. It was then that the Makedones conquered Lower Macedonia or at least the part of it in the vicinity of Aegae, which today is associated with the archaeological remains near the village of Vergina. Aegae became a Macedonian bastion and the first capital of the Macedonian state, if at this early stage one can use such a term.30 Other Macedonian tribes occupied the lands of the Elimeia and Lyncestis in Upper Macedonia. In all probability while these tribes were still moving the Makedon warriors were led by the Argeads, the first Macedonian royal dynasty. It was under their leadership that over the last 100 or 150 years the tribes went on to conquer the whole of Lower Macedonia. According to Herodotus, the Macedonian dynasty was descended from Temenos of the Heraclids, the refugee from Argos. Scholars who accept this version call it the Temenid dynasty and explain the relative stability of their position in Macedonia as a result of their external origins.31 However, Herodotuss version is not confirmed by other ancient sources, whereas the key elements origins traced back to the Greek heroes, especially Heracles are a bit too typical of the genealogical tales deliberately made up for Greek or Hellenised aristocrats to be believed. Presumably it was invented no earlier than after the Persian wars at the court of Alexander I, which was then trying to use Hellenophile propaganda to sway Greek public opinion and improve relations with Athens. Philip II and Alexander III, on the other hand, had specific political motives to stress their genealogical affinity with Heracles in particular.32 Alexander I was the actual founder of the Macedonian state and historically its first ruler. As a very talented political player he was consummately able to exploit not only the Persian occupation of Thrace
30 31

Hdt., 8.136-138; Th., 2.99. Borza 1990, pp. 84-85. Hdt., 8.137-139. Hammond 1979, pp. 3-14, 152. 32 Badian 1982, pp. 34-36; Borza 1982, pp. 7-13; Huttner 1997, pp. 65-85; Hall 2000, p. 64.

14

Chapter I

and Macedonia but also their subsequent defeats at Salamis (480) and Plataea (479) by the league of Greek states. During the time of Persian dominance Alexander I was a loyal vassal of Darius I and Xerxes I. He gave away his sister Gygaia to the Persian aristocrat Bubares and adopted the Persian system of administration as well as elements of Persian culture. Thanks to his ties with Persia, Alexander I consolidated his control over Lower Macedonia and subjugated the mini states of Upper Macedonia.33 But at the same time he also maintained contact with Athens, selling her Macedonian timber to build a fleet. Although tales of the Macedonian king helping the Greeks during the 480-479 wars with Persia, particularly just before the Battle of Plataea, are most probably apocryphal, Alexanders loyalty to the Persian suzerain certainly did not survive Xerxes European defeat. Alexander Is adroitness in liaising with both the Persian invader and the ultimately victorious Greeks, particularly Athens, enabled a peripheral and backward Macedonia to become for a short while a regional power in its part of the Balkans.34 The next attempt to build a strong Macedonian state was undertaken by Archelaus (413-399). He was an ally of Athens in the final phase of the Peloponnesian War and tried to reform his weak and peripheral state by building roads and fortresses. It was presumably his decision make Pella Macedonias capital because, according to Xenophon, in 382 it was the most important city in the land and it is hard to imagine that the shifting of the capital would have occurred in the years of chaos that followed Archelauss death.35 Besides, the reasons for the move could only have been economic as in military terms Pella was in a more vulnerable position than the old capital at Aegae. Indeed, thanks to the river Ludias, Pella had access to the sea, which allowed the king of Macedon to make additional profits from the export of timber and other forest products (pitch and resin) as well as other natural resources. Political stability as well as the external security provided by Archelaus reign allowed Macedonia to become prosperous, as is testified by the high quality of its silver in two-drachm coins that were issued in that period. Thucydides also attributes Archelaus with arming his soldiers with the hoplon, which for a long time was interpreted as evidence that he had created a heavy (hoplite) infantry. Currently a more sceptical opinion prevails which notes the lack of any
33 Fol, Hammond 1988, p. 249; Borza 1990, pp.100-105; Brosius 2003a, pp. 230231. 34 Borza 1990, pp. 113-115, 123-131. 35 X., HG, 5.2.13. Hammond 1979, pp. 139-140; Borza 1990, pp. 166-171; Greenwalt 1999, pp. 163-164.

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

15

trace in the sources that such weapons were used by Macedonians at the time as well as the fact that the ancient authors suggest Macedonias military weakness at the start of the 4th century. However, we know that Archelaus conducted an aggressive foreign policy and towards the end of his reign he ordered military intervention in Thessaly on the side of the Aleuad aristocratic family. It was thanks to this intervention that Macedonia gained the borderland region of Perrhaebia, which provided it with an important link to Greece. Moreover, a Macedonian garrison was briefly installed in Thessalys chief city Larissa. However, Archelaus successes were short-lived as Macedonian troops had to withdraw from Thessaly as Spartan forces, then imposing hegemony over the whole of Greece after the Peloponnesian War, moved in. Nonetheless the Thessalian expedition is noteworthy in that it showed the direction of Macedonian expansion which became so important in the times of Philip II and Alexander. Even if Archelaus had actually formed some hoplite units, they would have in all certainty been disbanded in the years of chaos that followed his death.36 This monarch had promoted the Hellenisation of the Macedonian elites by organising theatre festivals in Dion and inviting to his court numerous Greek artists, including Zeuxis, Agathon, Timotheos and Euripides, who reportedly was torn apart by a pack of dogs in Pella.37 It was this policy of Hellenisation that would prove to be his lasting legacy.38 Archelaus other achievements, administrative ones, came to nothing in the anarchic early decades of the 4th century, when the Argead dynasty was blighted by assassinations and political coups. Mini states broke away from Argead control in Upper Macedonia and the whole country was subjected to repeated invasions and looting by neighbouring nations, particularly the Illyrians. At the time of the Theban hegemony over Greece Macedonia became de facto a Boeotian fief. As a guarantee of his loyalty, King Alexander II had to give to the Thebans hostages, including his own brother Philip, who spent three years in Thebes and returned to Macedonia in 364. Shortly afterwards war broke out between Macedonia and the Illyria, which was then rising in power and whose king, Bardylis, defeated in battle Philips brother, King Perdiccas III, killing him and some 4000 of

Th., 2.100.2; Polyaen., 2.1.17; X., HG, 5.2.40. Milns 1976, pp. 92-93; Markle 1978, p. 485; Cawkwell 1978, p. 31; Borza 1990, pp. 165-166; Snodgrass 1999, p. 116. 37 Satyr., Vit. Eur., fr. 39.21; St.Byz., s.v. Bormskoj. Schorn 2004, pp. 310-311, 340. 38 Borza 1990, pp. 161-177.

36

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Chapter I

his troops.39 Most history books state that the battle took place in 359, though some historians believe that it happened somewhat earlier in 360.40

4. Philip II and the rebuilding of the Macedonian state


Born in 383 or 382, as the third son of King Amyntas III and Princess Eurydice probably originally from the Upper Macedonian kingdom of Lyncestis, Philip was a long way down the line of succession to the throne. For this reason he was probably not regarded to be a particularly important member of the family, which would account for the fact that he was so willingly selected to be handed over to alien powers as a hostage when it became a political necessity. When his father was still alive Philip was given to the Illyrians to ensure Macedonian tributes were paid on time and then in 367/366, together with 30 other Macedonians, he was next handed over to the Thebans. Though we know very little about the young Macedonian princes stay in Thebes, historians stress its significance of this episode in the life of Philip the future king and military innovator. According to a legend preserved in a work by Diodorus Philip lived in the house of the father of the Theban leader Epaminondas and together with the latter was taught Pythagorean philosophy. This must be an apocryphal tale as by then Epaminondas would have been around fifty and most certainly engaged in warfare and power politics rather than learning Pythagorean doctrine. Much later anecdotal Greek sources present Philip as a rather uneducated man who was hardly likely to have studied philosophy. We can only presume that from his stay in Thebes Philip gained respect for the Boeotian army and the innovative tactics employed by their generals as well as personal contacts with the elites of Thebes, which was then the most powerful state in Greece.41 After his return to Macedonia, Philip received from his brother Perdiccas III a province to govern, and it was then that he began to form his own military units. Philip did not take part in his brothers battle against Bardylis, and when Perdiccas was killed, Philip along with his nephew Amyntas, became the obvious candidate to the Macedonian throne. Various ancient sources provide two versions of what happened next. One states that on account of the crisis the Macedonians immediately
39 40

Diod., 16.2.4-5; Polyaen., 4.10.1. Pajkowski 2000, pp. 148-155. Borza 1990, p. 200. 41 Diod., 16.2.2; Plu., Pel., 26.4-8; Plu., mor., 334c-d ; Just., 7.5.1-2; Scholia in Aeschin., 3.112; Suda, s.v. Kranoj. Ogden 1999, pp. 12-13; Carney 2000, p. 41; Hammond 1994, pp. 8-10; Corvisier 2002, pp. 69-73.

Childhood, Family, Macedonia

17

handed the throne to an already experienced, probably twenty-three-yearold Philip rather than the still infant Amyntas. The other claims that the child was made king while his uncle ruled in his name as a regent. For historians studying Macedonias political situation after Perdiccas death the notion of putting an infant on the throne seems absurd, thus opinions that Philip immediately succeeded his bother as ruler prevail, being at the same time a guardian of the heir Amyntas.42 Philips early ascension to the throne is also confirmed by an inscription of Olveni in Lyncestis. However, another inscription (of Lebadeia in Boeotia) seems to confirm that the royal title was also held by Amyntas. If these contemporary inscriptions refer indeed to Amyntas IV and Philip II, they prove beyond doubt that both were rulers of Macedonia. In such a case Philip may have been a regent for his nephew and received the royal title two years after Perdiccas death. This is the version of his biographer Satyrus, who states that Philip reigned for 22 years, whereas he died 24 years after his brother Perdiccas. If we take into account not only the political aspects of the Macedonian monarchy but also the religious ones, the thesis that Philip II and Amyntas IV reigned simultaneously becomes more plausible. Whilst Philip had de facto political and military control, Amyntas was left with religious functions that were his by right of inheritance. With time Philips position in Macedonia became so strong that for the rest of his life Amyntas IV was never in a position to have his uncle cede him some of the authority that was his by right. One can assume that Philip never considered Amyntas to be a serious political rival and for this reason did not kill him, though the murdering of relatives with rival claims to the throne was quite common in the Argead family.43 The Illyrian victory over the Macedonians in 359 put both Philip and his country in such a difficult position that its very existence as an independent state became uncertain, for apart from Bardylis victory new threats appeared from the Paionians, Thracians, Athenians as well as a number of claimants to the throne from other branches of the Argead clan. The way in which Philip II pulled Macedonia out of this crisis proved to be characteristic of his entire reign: he was able to correctly prioritise foreign policy issues; he usually preferred to use diplomacy but was able to decisively use military force when the former proved unreliable or
Just., 7.5.9-7.6.2; Satyr., F25 ap. Ath., 13.5; Diod., 16.1.3, 16.2.1. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 27-28; Griffith 1979, pp. 208-209, 702-704; Borza 1990, p. 200; Anson 2009. 43 Philips inscription: Hatzopoulos 1995; Amyntas inscription: IG, vii.3055; Satyr., F25 ap. Ath., 13.5. Goukowsky 1991; Tronson 1984, p. 126 ; Hammond 1994, pp. 23-24; Corvisier 2002, pp. 74-76; Schorn 2004, pp. 423-424.
42

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Chapter I

ceased serving its purpose and he was also skilled in using bribery to achieve his political goals. First Philip had to deal with all the pretenders to the Macedonian throne: Argaios (who was supported by Athens), Pausanias (who was backed by Cotys the king of the Odrysians), Archelaus, Arrhidaeus and Menelaus. By withdrawing Macedonian troops from Amphipolis, Philip avoided a conflict with Athens, which had always wanted control of this city. It was with money that Philip managed to stave off the danger of another Paionian invasion and persuade the son of Cotys, who had in the meantime been murdered, to get rid of Pausanias. The invasion force of 3,000 Athenian mercenaries in support of Argaios came later than had been planned and though initially they managed to capture Aegae, ultimately they were defeated. The Athenians were forced to hand over their pretender to Philip, but they were allowed to keep Amphipolis. The Macedonian army was reorganized in the first year of Philips reign, and in 358 he was already deploying it in serious military operations beyond Lower Macedonias borders. At the start of that year, he made use of the Paionian kings death and subjugated their state. Next, having rejected peace proposals, he launched an offensive against Bardylis. In a pitched battle at Lyncestis the Illyrians lost 7,000 soldiers and had to cede all the territories in Upper Macedonia they had previously captured from the Kingdom of Macedonia. Peace was secured through the marriage of Philip to the Illyrian princess Audata.44 The hold over Upper Macedonia was, on the other hand, made safer thanks to his marriage to Phila, who was most probably a member of the royal family of Elimeia. These were the first of a series of matrimonial unions which, in the short-term rather than the long-term, worked to Philips political advantage. They are presented as such in more or less chronological order by his biographer Satyrus: Philip always married a new wife with each new war he undertook. In the twenty-two years of his reign at any rate he married Audata of Illyria, and had by her a daughter, Cynane; he also married Phila, a sister of Derdas and Machatas. Wishing to put in a claim to the Thessalian nation as his own besides others, he begot children by two women of Thessaly, one of whom was Nicesipolis of Pherae, who bore to him a daughter called Thessalonice, while the other was Philinna of Larissa, by whom he became the father of Arrhidaeus. He acquired also the kingdom of the Molossians by marrying Olympias, by whom he had Alexander and Cleopatra. And when he subjugated Thrace, Cothelas the Thracian king came over to his side, bringing with him his daughter

44

This paragraph mostly after: Hammond 1994, pp. 23-28.

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19

Medea and a large dowry. By marrying her he thus brought home a second wife after Olympias.45 Having successfully protected Macedonia against all the dangers that immediately followed Perdiccas death, Philip started Macedonias gradual expansion to become a powerful Balkan empire. His pretext to intervene in Thessaly in 358 was the disputes between successive tyrants of the city of Pherae near the Gulf of Pagasae. The citys tyrants were trying to unite the country, which was traditionally ruled by an inland aristocracy, by force. Philip sided with the aristocrats and married a woman called Philina, who was most probably a member of the Aleuads, the largest aristocratic family in Thessaly. He returned to Thessaly in the years 354-352 when the Pheraean tyrants, in alliance with the brilliant Phocian leader Onomarchus, tried once again to take over the country. This was when Philip faced his most critical test as a military and political leader. The Macedonians were defeated twice in battle, but Philip gained the support of the Thessalian League, which appointed him lifelong archon and thus also gave him command of its troops. The office of archon (president) had in fact been created by the Thessalian League quite recently, in 369, to reorganise and consolidate its military forces against a contemporary tyrant of Pherae. Philip now had at his disposal the united forces of Macedonia and Thessaly including some 20,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry with which at the Battle of the Crocus Field in 352 he finally defeated Onomarchus army, including approximately the same number of infantry but only 500 cavalrymen. With this victory Philip was able to force the tyrants out of Pherae and become the unquestioned ruler of Thessaly. Perhaps he also received the title of tagos, which had been held by an earlier ruler of Thessaly, Jason of Pherae, whose relative Nicesipolis Philip married. The reaching of an understanding between Philip and the Thessalian aristocracy was facilitated by the fact that both Macedonia and Thessaly were still relatively primitive civilizations with value systems more reminiscent of the Homeric era than the Greek polis of the second half of the 4th century. A characteristic feature of their culture was the binding of ritualised friendship (xenia) between the elites of different states by exchanging gifts and appropriate favours to the aristocracies. The most famous example of this tradition is related in Book 6 of The Iliad where Diomedes and Glaucus, from opposing sides, meet on the battlefield outside Troy but do not fight when they realise they are bound by the ties of xenia between their families. In the Archaic period, when the state was
45 Satyr., F25 ap. Ath., 13.5, perhaps after Theopompus. Schorn 2004, pp. 421-430. Carney 2000, pp. 51-81 relates the long scholarly discussion on this passage.

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Chapter I

still a relatively new and weak entity, aristocrats from various Greek poleis and even from beyond Greece world were bound together by xenia, which meant there was greater solidarity within their social group than political loyalty towards their particular countries. Such was the world of the charismatic leader of the Athenian aristocrats Alcibiades at the time of the Peloponnesian War, but by the 4th century identification with ones polis became a stronger force dictating the political actions of the social elites rather than their ritualised friendships, which were now strictly relegated to their private lives. Yet this was not the case with Thessaly, which was still ruled by great aristocratic families, whose representatives now showered Philip with gifts and with whom he was now bonded by two of his seven marriages. On account of the countrys strategic location, the subjugation of Thessaly and its subsequent loyalty throughout Philip and Alexanders reigns was the foundation stone of the empires of both of these two great Argeads. By controlling Thessaly they not only had control of the road between central Greece and Macedonia, but also the ability to raise a very large army, especially an unmatched cavalry of 3,000-6,000 riders, whose contributions to the victories at Issus and Gaugamela cannot be overrated.46 The threat from the Illyrians brought Macedonia closer to the Molossian kingdom in Epirus. This tribal state was, like Macedonia itself, situated on the borderlands of the Greek world. It was ruled by the Aiacid dynasty, which traced its origins to Neoptolemus the son of Achilles. After Neoptolemus death the Molossian throne was taken over by his brother Arybbas. In 357 Arybbas sealed his alliance with Philip II of Macedonia by giving him as wife his niece Olympias, who in her childhood may have also been called Myrtale or Polyxena. Plutarch cites from an unknown source a story in which Philip becomes enamoured of her during their first encounter while she was performing initiations in the Cabiric mysteries at Samothrace. Regardless of the historical veracity of this romantic tale, this is widely regarded to have been a political marriage. Soon afterwards the weak Molossian kingdom became a de facto vassal state of Macedonia. Most probably in 342 Philip II installed Olympias brother Alexander on that kingdoms throne. Alexander had spent several years at the Macedonian court, where he gained the trust of his powerful brother-inlaw. According to some sources, he had also become an object of Philips

Cawkwell 1978, pp. 58-62; Griffith 1979, pp. 220-223; Buckler 1989, pp. 48, 58-84; Rhodes 1994, pp. 585-586; Sprawski 2000; Sprawski 2004; Hammond 1994, pp. 45-49; Corvisier 2002, pp. 205-222. On xenia see: Herman 1987 and Mitchell 2002. Thessalian cavalry: Lendon 2005, pp. 98-102.

46

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21

homosexual desires. The hapless Arybbas and his sons had to seek refuge in Athens.47 Of equal importance was Macedonias expansion to the northeast. Here the first city Philip conquered was Amphipolis, an important colony founded by the Athenians in 437/436 on the river Strymon not far from its estuary into the Aegean. After 424 it broke away from Athens but continued to be much desired territory and was repeatedly but each time unsuccessfully besieged by the Athenians. Unlike the Athenians, who in preceding years had in vain tried to make Amphipolis surrender by imposing a blockade, Philip captured the city in 357 after an aggressive siege during which the walls were demolished with battering rams. Amphipolis was permanently incorporated into the Macedonian kingdom. That same year Philip II also took Pydna. This city was allied to Athens, but at the time the Athenians were engaged in war with rebellious members of the Second Maritime League. The next city he took over in 357 was Crenides in Thrace together with its adjacent gold mines. This was done in response to a request made by the Greek inhabitants themselves, who preferred the Macedonian ruler to the Odrysian king Cersobleptes. Under Philip IIs rule Crenides maintained its Greek character and system of government, like Amphipolis, but it did change its name to Philippi, which was the first instance in the Greek world of a city being named after its founder. Exploitation of the mineral resources of Thrace gave Philip the incredibly vast by ancient Greek standards annual revenue of 1,000 talents and went a long way to cover the costs of his constant wars. By 355 Philip gained full control of the Thermaic Gulf. Methone was the last city Philip captured on this seaboard, during the siege of which he lost his right eye, struck by an arrow fired from the beleaguered city. The struggle to subjugate Thrace lasted intermittently almost throughout Philips reign as a result of which a large part of that country was indirectly ruled by the Macedonian king perhaps on the principles of the Persian satrapy system. However, the most important stage in the conquest of territories to the east of Macedonia was the conflict with the Chalcidian League. In the 4th century Greek cities on the Chalcidice Peninsula formed a federal state with common citizenship, law, coinage and a powerful army. When he was still weak Philip II won the leagues favour by ceding it Potidaea. But in 349 he waged war, the
Diod., 16.72.1, 19.51; Plu., Alex., 2; Plu., Pyrrh., 1; Satyr., ap. Ath., 13.5; Paus., 1.11.1; Just., 7.6.10, 8.6, 9.7, 17.3.14; Tod, GHI, 173. Griffith 1979, pp. 305-308, 504-506; Borza 1990, pp. 207-208; Hammond 1994, pp. 30, 120-122; Carney 1987, p. 41; Carney 2000, pp. 62-64; Carney 2006, pp. 12-16; Corvisier 2002, pp. 91-93.
47

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Chapter I

climax of which was the siege of Olynthus. Athenian indecision, procrastination and finally inadequate help sealed the fate of the city, which was stormed and destroyed by Philip in 348. The conquest of Thrace and Chalcidice allowed Philip to grant generous allotments of land to his hetairoi and other veterans, which increased the number of Macedonias potential army recruits, and among the beneficiaries ensured feelings of gratitude to the king. Philips and Alexanders commitment to founding settlements in freshly conquered land is attested in 4th-century inscriptions from that area.48 The primary reason Philip II of Macedonia got involved in Greeces internal politics was the Third Sacred War, which like all the sacred wars was fought in defence of the Delphic Shrine of Apollo, to whom Philip showed particular reverence since the start of his reign. The wars outbreak may be seen as an outcome of the political chaos in Greece towards the end of the first half of the 4th century, when after the death of the great Theban general Epaminondas at the Battle of Mantinea in 362 none of the contemporary major powers were strong enough to impose full hegemony. Many Greek states also experienced internal strife (stasis), in which foreign powers got involved. This is what affected the tiny polis of Delphi. In 363 a group of supporters of neighbouring Phocis were expelled from Delphi on the instigation of Thebes and her allies in the Amphictionic Council, which was in charge of Apollos sanctuary. In 357 the Amphictionic Council passed a motion (probably raised by Delphi and supported by Thebes and her allies) imposing a heavy fine of 500 talents on the Phocians, who were charged with farming land belonging to Apollo, i.e. the Delphic sanctuary. The Phocians did not pay the fine, for which they were condemned at the next gathering of the Amphictionic Council in 356. It was then that the Phocian political leaders Philomelus and Onomarchus, having secured the backing of Sparta, which had also been burdened with an equally heavy fine for crimes perpetrated against Thebes, managed to persuade the Phocian League to invade Delphi and take over her treasures and the sanctuary. Indeed, that was what happened, as a consequence of which Philomeluss troops also massacred Locrian soldiers who had come to defend Delphi. This lawlessness was accepted by Athens and Sparta, which by de facto supporting the Phocians wanted to punish Thebes and use the fact the latter would be preoccupied with the

Momigliano 1975, p. 132; Kienast 1994, pp. 24-27; Borza 1990, pp. 212-216; Hammond 1994, pp. 31-40; Spawforth 2007, p. 92. Inscriptions: Syll.3 332, SEG 36.626, 40.542; see Errington 1998.

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Delphic conflict to achieve their own political objectives. In October 356 the Amphictionic Council declared war on the Phocians.49 A relatively weak Phocian militia was augmented with mercenaries hired for money that had been stolen from the Delphic sanctuary. Taking the Amphityonic Councils side in this armed conflict were the Boeotian League, Thessaly and other smaller states which wished to punish the sacrilegious plunderers. In 355, chiefly supported by Thessaly, Thebes defeated the Phocians at the Battle of Neon. Erroneously considering this victory the end of the conflict, Thebes, for Persian money, now sent her best commander Pammenes and 5,000 hoplites to Asia Minor. Meanwhile the new Phocian leader Onomarchus raised a new mercenary army and restarted the war. Philips aforementioned victory over the Phocians at the Battle of the Crocus Field in 352 gave him control of Thessaly, but it, too, did not end the Sacred War, for there were other Greek states on the Phocian side. Among them was Athens, where Demosthenes, the leader of an anti-Macedonian party and one of the greatest orators of Antiquity, was now rising to prominence. However, Philips subsequent victories in Thrace and on the Chalcidice Peninsula forced Athens to finally try and secure a status quo through the Peace of Philocrates (thus named after the head of the Athenian delegation to the King of Macedonia) in 346. Soon afterwards Philip ended the Sacred War by occupying Phocis without a battle and accepting the capitulation of the Phocian army from their leader Phalaikos. The Amphityonic Council ordered the Phocians to disarm and remain disarmed until they had repaid the last instalment of their reparations for the plunder of Delphi. Philip, on the other hand, was rewarded for his services by being granted the Phocians seat at the council. On top of that he was awarded the privilege of having precedence in consulting the oracle (promanteia). This prestigious right had previously belonged to the Athenians, who were now also being punished for their sacrilege. These were the rewards for thirteen years of building up Macedonias strength which ratified Macedonias position of a fully fledged Greek power. A tangible sign of Philips new status was the emission of gold coins, which historians first date immediately after the Peace of Philocrates.50

Buckler 1989, pp. 5, 9-29. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 62-68, 77-113; Montgomery 1985, pp. 42-44; Buckler 1989, pp. 30-142; Hammond 1994, pp. 45-49, 90-108; Corvisier 2002, pp. 222236.
50

49

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Chapter I

5. Philip II and Alexanders Macedonian army


The dominance Philip II gained over Greece and much of the Balkan Peninsula followed by Alexanders conquest of the Persian Empire would not have been possible without a powerful army. Philip built his army virtually ex nihilo and continued building it throughout his reign. The number of Macedonian soldiers Philip deployed in the 358 pitched battle against the Illyrians included 10,000 infantry and 600 cavalry,51 which, considering the battles significance, must have represented the Macedonian states full military might. When 24 years later Alexander led 12,000 phalangites and 3,500 cavalry into Asia, he left another 12,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry in Europe. Such a massive rise in numbers over a time of just one generation was only possible thanks to territorial expansion and therefore also a population expansion allowing for a larger number of army recruits. On the other hand, the Macedonian armys expansion also reflected Philip IIs revenues, for all these soldiers, be they Macedonians or mercenaries, had to be paid. The basic type of military formation in Philip IIs army was the Macedonian phalanx, which differed quite considerably from the similarly named Greek phalanx. Diodorus describes how this infantry was formed as follows: Having strengthened the army units and properly equipped the soldiers, he constantly organised armed exercises. He also invented a form of tight formation and the equipment for his phalanx.52 Attempts have been made to interpret this passing comment as referring to the fact that Philip had his soldiers arm themselves in accordance with his own stipulations from their own private funds.53 This, however, is an over interpretation of Diodorus text, in which he clearly states that Philip provided the equipment for his men. In all probability in 359 Philip II made a breakthrough in military history by deciding that his troops would be supplied with arms at the states expense. This was of course a huge burden for the royal treasury, but as later events in his reign showed it was one the state was able to bear. This was so especially when we consider that a thus equipped army resulted in future victories, which in turn gave the monarch additional revenues in the form of loot, tributes, slaves (who were always an easily sellable commodity), taxes and various other assets that could be gained from conquest. In this way Philip was able to create a fully armed infantry out of all sorts of recruits, be they even serfs or people simply not rich enough to buy their own hoplite
51 52

Diod., 16.4.3. Diod., 16.3.1-2 after Philips contemporary Ephorus; see Hammond 1994, p. 25. 53 Griffith 1979, pp. 420-421.

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panoplia.54 The fact that the king was able to provide armour for each infantryman meant that the creation of an army was limited only by the availability of men in the recruiting age, which in populous Macedonia could be tens of thousands of recruits. By contrast, in a typical polis the figure would not even be in thousands but more often than not in hundreds, for the number of adult males usually ranged between 230 and 1250.55 The most basic and famous element of the Macedonian phalangites weaponry, one which distinguished them from the soldiers of other contemporary formations, was a spear or pike called the sarissa.56 Though no complete sarissa has survived to this day, accounts from ancient sources, iconographic images and quite numerous metal remnants of various types of sarissai have provided considerable information about this spear. We know that the shaft was made of very hard and elastic cornel-wood (cornus mas), which grew in abundance in Macedonia. The philosopher Theophrastus, who was a contemporary of Philip II and Alexander and knew Macedonia well, states that the longest sarissai of that period measured 12 cubits. Unfortunately it is difficult to determine its precise length in modern measurements as a cubit (the length of a forearm) could vary between 44 and 52.5 cm. Most historians estimate that the sarissa in Philip II and Alexanders day measured between 4.5 and 5.5 m. According to Polybius, the spears length was extended in the Hellenistic period to approximately 16 cubits (over 6 m), which increased its range but diminished the Macedonian phalanxs manoeuvrability.57 The infantry used three quite different types of sarissa. The lightest version weighed approximately 3 kg. It was also one of the two shorter versions, measuring 4.5 m, and had a relatively light iron spearhead. The other shorter version was of the same length, but as well as having a longer spearhead and ferrule (together measuring c. 0.5 m) it also had a metal spike at the base. Thus it weighed approximately 5.35 kg. The longer version of sarissa measured 5.5 m and its wooden shaft was considerably thicker than in the shorter types so as to reduce its vibrations when in use. The spearhead was with a ferrule and as in the other shorter version the butt end also had a metal spike. On account of its additional length and thickness it weighed c. 6.2 kg. These measurements have been arrived at on the basis of excavated metal parts of the sarissa and reconstructions of the spear made by
54 55

Errington 1990, pp. 238-239; Billows 1994, pp. 13-14. Ruschenbusch 1985. 56 On sarissa mostly after Markle 1982. 57 Thphr., HP, 3.12.2; Plb., 18.29.2. Griffith 1979, p. 421; Mixter 1992; Noguera Borel 1999.

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Chapter I

archaeologists. There were several reasons why the sarissa was weighted down by a metal spike at the base. Firstly, it counterweighted the spearhead and ferrule, thanks to which the phalangite could grasp the spear further back with 2/3 or even 4/5 of the spear in front of him. Thus the range of phalangite sarissai was considerably greater than that of the spears of their opponents. The metal spikes could also be fixed in the ground when the sarissai were used against cavalry attacks. Finally, if a sarissa was broken in battle, a phalangite could continue fighting with the rest of the shaft by using the spears pointed butt as a replacement spearhead. The phalangites weaponry was supplemented with a sword or dagger. Macedonian swords excavated at Vergine are about 55 cm long and their shape indicates that they were used for both cutting and thrusting. In battle the sword was a reserve weapon to be resorted to once the sarissai were broken and of no further use. The sword was also used when the phalanx formation was broken as the sarissa, unlike hoplite spears, was not suitable for man-to-man fighting. Swords were also naturally used when storming city walls in situations where sarissai were totally ineffective.58 Archaeologists examining an ancient cemetery at Vergine have uncovered the graves of ordinary Macedonian soldiers who had most probably served in the phalanx and were buried with elements of their fighting gear. One of the reasons why these finds are so significant is the fact that they date from immediately after the reign of Alexander the Great and therefore provide us with an insight into how soldiers of that time were equipped, many of whom would have served under Alexanders command. The graves contain the spearheads of both sarissai and hoplite spears, though the latter actually outnumber the former by approximately three to one. No doubt to a certain extent this reflects proportions in which both types of weapon were used in Alexanders army. The phalangites would have been trained to use both the sarissa and the hoplite type of spear, just as they would have been taught to use the sword and no doubt also the javelin. All sorts of weapon were used depending on the situation and the sarissa was in all probability reserved for pitched battles. The lack of spearheads of an indisputable sarissa type to be found during the excavation of Olynthus has even led some scholars to believe that originally Philips phalanx was armed with ordinary hoplite spears and that the sarissa was introduced only towards the end of his reign.59

58 59

Markle 1982, pp. 101-102. Markle 1978; Markle 1982, pp. 98-99.

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No source actually states that Macedonian phalangites did not wear abdominal armour, but, on the other hand, nor is such armour mentioned in any of the major sources. It is not mentioned either in the inventory of the Macedonian soldiers gear inscribed at Amphipolis during the reign of Philip V or in Polyaenus description of how Philip II trained his phalanx: Philip used to train the Macedonians before battles, making them take their arms and march for 300 stades [54 km] carrying their helmets, shields, greaves, sarissas, plus in addition to their arms a stock of provisions and all the utensils necessary for daily life. It is difficult to treat the exclusion of such an important item as body armour from both lists as a mere coincidence and it is therefore fair to assume that in all probability, with the exception of officers, most 4th- and early 3rd-centrury phalangites did not wear metal body armour. Some of them at least, however, are very likely to have worn non metal armour, e.g. linen or leather corselets.60 Various explanations are given by military historians for this. Some are of the opinion that this was Philips decision reflecting new trends in Greek armies. Certain sources suggest that after the Peloponnesian War there was a discernable trend in reducing the amount of protective armour worn by hoplites, some of whom went into battle in leather jerkins instead of the heavy and expensive bronze armour. This could have been a result of hoplites imitating the highly effective peltast mercenaries, who did not wear armour. It could also simply mean that people were now being recruited to serve in the phalanx who could not afford a full set of armour. Another possible reason could have been the sheer advantage of dispensing with armour that weighed from over a dozen to 20 kg during long marches. Thus alleviated soldiers had a far greater ability to surprise the enemy and perform much more flexibly in the battlefield, for such phalanx could carry out the more complex manoeuvres; ones for which the armies of Philip and Alexander were famous. Finally, armour was superfluous when arrows and javelins raining down on the Macedonian phalanx could be deflected by a dense forest of sarissai. Moreover the greater length of the sarissai meant that Greek hoplite spears could not anyhow reach the Macedonian phalangites.61 These are all very hypothetical arguments, however, especially when even sources describing successive battles fought by Alexander tell us that the Macedonian phalanx incurred loses in clashes with Greek hoplites. Therefore even with their longer sarissai Macedonian phalangites were
Feyel 1935; Polyaen., 4.2.10 in Krentz translation. Griffith 1979, pp. 422-423; Lush 2007. 61 Markle 1982, p. 94; Borza 1990, pp. 288-289; Hammond 1994, p. 18-19. On deflecting arrows by the dense forest of sarissai: Plb., 18.30.3-4.
60

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not invulnerable. Above all the argument that armour was superfluous is countered by the fact that phalangite officers wore it. In accordance with the universal custom of that period, officers were recruited from higher social groups than ordinary soldiers and therefore they would have been able to afford to buy armour if it offered them significant protection during battle. This suggests that there may have been non-military reasons for not equipping Macedonian phalangites with abdominal armour, which, apart from the shield, was the most expensive item of a phalangites gear. It is therefore plausible that Philip took into account the fact that most phalangites could not afford abdominal armour and, what is more, on account of the cost of constant wars, nor could his treasury. In other words he realised he would have to economise on this particular expenditure. Having to decide between a small, at most a couple of thousand-strong, hoplite army and a much larger though less well armoured army of phalangites, Philip chose the latter. As it turned out, he made the right decision.62 Thus a phalangites protective armour was generally limited to the helmet and shield. The phalangites helmet did not offer as much protection as that of the hoplites (among whom the most popular sort was of the Corinthian type), but it was lighter to wear and did not limit the field of vision so much. Both these factors would have been significant for the Macedonian phalanx, which had to be very mobile and flexible. The phalangite suspended his shield on a strap around his neck and shoulder as he needed to hold his long sarissa with both hands. Moreover, his shield, called the telamon, was much smaller than the hoplite aspis shield; the former measuring on average 60 cm in diameter as opposed to ca. 90 cm in diameter of the aspis. This reduced size meant that the shield would not hinder movement when marching in battle formation. Although the telamon offered less protection, it allowed the Macedonian phalanx to fight in a tighter formation than its Greek equivalent.63 Even the shortest sarissa was more than twice as long as the hoplite spear, which in the 4th century measured approximately 2.1-2.2 m and weighed slightly over 1 kg. These two different types of weapon were used differently. The hoplite would grip his spear with his right hand more or less in the middle and when attacking the enemy he would raise it above his head so as to thrust it on the opponent from above. The phalangite, on the other hand, need both hands to hold his long sarissa. The best description of a phalanx attacking with sarissai is provided by Polybius:
62 63

Griffith 1979, pp. 423-424; Billows 1990, p. 31; Billows 1994, pp. 12-13. Markle 1982, pp. 92-93; Markle 1999; Lendon 2005, pp. 123-124, 417-418.

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That when the phalanx has its characteristic virtue and strength, nothing can sustain its frontal attack or withstand the charge can be easily understood for many reasons. For since, when it has closed up for action, each man, with his arms, occupies a space of three feet in breadth, and the length of the pikes is according to the original design sixteen cubits, but has now been adapted to the actual need of fourteen cubits, from which we must subtract the distance between the bearer's two hands and the length of the weighted portion of the pike behind, which serves to keep it couched four cubits in all it is evident that it must extend ten cubits beyond the body of each hoplite when he charges the enemy grasping it with both hands. The consequence is that while the pikes of the second, third, and fourth ranks extend farther than those of the fifth rank, but even those of the fifth rank extend two cubits beyond the bodies of the men in the first rank. Of course this is only possible when the phalanx has its characteristic close order as regards to both depth and breadth This description is both true and fine, and it is evident that each man of the first rank must have the points of five pikes extending beyond him, each at a distance of two cubits from the next. From this we can easily conceive what is the nature and force of a charge by the whole phalanx when it is sixteen deep. In this case those further back than the fifth rank cannot use their pikes so as to take any active part in the battle. Therefore they do not severally level their pikes, but hold them slanting up in the air over the shoulders of those in front of them, so as to protect the whole formation from above, keeping off by this serried mass of pikes all missiles which, passing over the heads of the first ranks, might fall on those in front of and behind them. But these men by the sheer pressure of their bodily weight in the charge add to its force, and it is quite impossible for the first ranks to face about.64 Written virtually as an addendum to his account of the 197 battle of Cynoscephalae, Polybius description of a contemporary Macedonian phalanx includes many significant characteristics in common with the phalanx formation of the last of the great Argeads. The most significant feature mentioned is the extension of the sarissai held by five ranks of phalangites in front of the first rank. Of course one should not imagine that these pikes were held in a stationary position in all probability each phalangite would be manoeuvring and thrusting his weapon in an attempt to get at the enemy. With five ranks taking part in the fighting that was two ranks more than in the Greek phalanx, and that of course gave the Macedonian phalanx a natural advantage. The Macedonian phalanx in
64

Plb., 18.29-30.

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Chapter I

Philip IIs time and for most of his sons reign was most probably eight ranks deep. According to the account of Callisthenes, that was, indeed, how many ranks there were in Alexanders phalanx at the Battle of Issus in 333.65 The three ranks that did not directly engage in battle formed a tactical reserve which could, for instance, turn about if the enemy tried to attack the phalanx from behind. Ancient sources testify that various manoeuvres were carried out by the phalanxes of Philip II and Alexander: the last ranks turning round to face the opposite direction; moving aside to let through charging chariots or feigning a retreat from the battlefield. We also know that the Macedonian phalanx was able to fight in both loose and tight formations, depending on what the situation required. If we add to this the ability of phalangites to expertly use diverse weapons, it becomes very apparent that these skills were acquired through persistently long and rigorous training. The above-mentioned sources (Diodorus and Polyaenus) recount intensive exercises with weapons and 30-stadion marches fully armed, with provisions and other necessary equipment. Such training not only developed physical strength and endurance, but also made the phalanx act as a single unit automatically and reliably able to follow the commanders orders even in the thick of battle. In fact Philip required such toughness and staying power not just form the phalangites but from all his soldiers. Polyaenus recounts an anecdote about Philip dismissing a mercenary officer, Dokimos of Tarentum, for taking a warm bath, which apparently even Macedonian women would not do after giving birth to a child.66 Philips phalanx comprised large units called taxeis (taxis in the singular), each including approximately 1,500 soldiers. At the start of his Asian campaign Alexander had eight such units. During his reign particular taxeis were recruited from particular regions. We know of taxeis being recruited from the Upper Macedonia regions of Tymphaea, Orestis and Lyncestis as well as Elimeia. We do not know if the whole Macedonian army was recruited on a territorial basis, but it is certain that at the time of his expedition to Asia Alexander respected this rule, allocating troops sent on by Antipater to army units recruited from the same region. Respecting soldiers territorial loyalty was a way of building a sense of unity, solidarity and pride in the Macedonian army. Smaller military units called lochos comprised 240-256 soldiers. The smallest

Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35. Griffith 1979, p. 420. Cawkwell 1978, p. 34; Manti 1992, pp. 37-38; Lloyd 1996, pp. 171-174; Hanson 1999, p. 150; Corvisier 2002, pp. 102-105. Polyaen., 4.2.1.
66

65

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military unit, called the dekas, in Philip IIs time comprised ten soldiers, whereas under Alexander the number was increased to 16.67 On account of the significant reduction in armour Macedonian phalangites could not be categorized like the hoplites of the Greek phalanx as a classical heavy infantry. Yet despite this formal dissimilarity, the Macedonian phalanx performed exactly the same role in the battlefield as the Greek phalanx, only the Macedonian phalangites generally performed their task better. One of the significant organisational differences between Greek hoplite phalanxes and those of Philip II was the elimination of supply trains and a reduction in the number of army servants. In the Macedonian army there was a servant to every cavalryman and one servant to every ten phalangites, whereas in the Greek army every hoplite was usually accompanied by his own servant who actually took no part in the fighting. The limited number of servants greatly enhanced the Macedonian armys mobility and logistical capabilities. Unable to rely on supply trains and servants to be employed as porters, the phalangites were forced to greatly limit the amount of camp equipment they took on expeditions. Moreover, given that similar numbers of soldiers were involved, the Macedonian army required more or less half as much food as a Greek army regardless of whether they were fighting on behalf of their own polis or as mercenaries serving the Persians. Without the supply trains the Macedonian army was able to move surprisingly quickly and stay in occupied territories for much longer, living, as was the military custom of those times, off the enemys land, i.e. plundering or commandeering food and other property.68 The Greek armies of the 4th century included elite groups of heavy infantry of which the most famous was the so-called Theban Sacred Band, founded in 378. This fairly small unit of just 300 hoplites, according to ancient sources, comprised specially selected pairs of homosexual lovers. In the opinion of Greek military theorists, this guaranteed that each soldier would rather get himself killed in battle than show himself up in front of his lover as a coward. Apart from the sexual orientation, purely physical attributes were also taken into consideration and each such soldier underwent thorough infantry and cavalry training so as to make the Sacred Band a fully professional unit whose military value could at least be compared to that of todays commando units. They were commanded by
67

Anaximenes, FGrH, 72 F4; Diod., 17.57.2; Curt., 4.13.28; Arr., An., 3.16.11. Milns 1976, pp. 89, 103-105; Errington 1990, pp. 242-243; Lloyd 1996, pp. 171172; Sekunda 2007, pp. 330-331. 68 Fron., Str., 4.1.6. Garlan 1994, p. 689; Hanson 1999, pp. 149, 174-176; van Wees 2000, p. 109; Carney 2006, pp. 67-68.

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the very best Theban commanders: Epaminondas, Pelopidas and Pammenes. In pitched battles the Sacred Band would be positioned opposite the strongest section of the enemys frontline. Its task was to break through the ranks of this part of the enemys phalanx and kill the enemys leader, at which point the battle was usually victoriously ended. There are also known cases of the Sacred Band carrying out military operations on its own.69 Historians presume that here too the Theban example inspired Philip, who, according to Theopompus, decided to form an elite infantry battalion comprising the tallest and strongest Macedonians. In Philips time they were called the pezhetairoi (foot companions) and modelled on the aristocratic cavalry hetairoi (companions), which no doubt served to raise the new battalions prestige and sense of self-esteem. The pezhetairoi served as the royal guards and the elite unit must have been created early on because, according to Demosthenes, it was already present in 350. Alexander, wishing to win over the infantry, extended the prestigious name pezhetairoi to refer to the whole phalanx, whereas the elite unit, comprising by then most probably 3,000 soldiers, was re-named hypaspists. The new name was derived from the word aspis, the hoplite shield, which suggests that the hypaspists were armed similarly to the hoplites. In the Macedonian army, especially under Alexander, the hypaspists were entrusted with performing the most difficult and physically demanding tasks such as the capturing of cities or crossing mountainous barriers, while in the battle they often covered the exposed right flank of the phalanx.70 The continuous stress on creating a strong Macedonian infantry did not mean the Macedonian cavalry was neglected. On the contrary, Philip II greatly enlarged and enhanced this part of his army. During his reign the number of cavalrymen rose from approximately 600 at the time of his first battle in Illyria to 3,500 by the end of his reign. These figures only refer to the Macedonian cavalry, but from 352 Philip II and Alexander also had at their disposal large cavalry units recruited from Thessaly and other countries. The Macedonian cavalry comprised two basic formations: the hetairoi or Companion cavalry, originating from the traditional aristocracy who had formed the core of the Macedonian army before Philips rise to power, and the prodromoi or Scouts. The hetairoi wore abdominal armour
DeVoto 1992. Theopomp., FGrH, 115 F348; D., ap. Phot., s.v. peztairoi; EM, s.v. peztairoj; Hsch., pezetaroij; Anaximenes, FGrH, 72 F4. Milns 1976, pp. 89-96; Griffith 1979, pp. 414-418; Errington 1990, pp. 244-245; Billows 1990, p. 32; Ashley 1998, p. 40; Lendon 2005, p. 125; Thomas 2007, pp. 78-79.
70 69

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33

and helmets, and in terms of protective as well as offensive gear they were better equipped than most of the opposing cavalries they encountered in Philip II and Alexanders time. The prodromoi, on the other hand, were a typical light cavalry. They also had good horses and a high military value equivalent to that of the Thessalian cavalry. Thessalian horsemen wore less armour than the hetairoi and instead of the sarissa, each rider had two javelins and a curved sword. The light cavalry also included contingents from Thrace and Paionia.71 The fact that another verified name for these mounted scouts is sarissophoroi allows us to assume that their chief weapon was the sarissa. This was also a weapon of the hetairoi. Iconographic sources show that unlike the Sarmatian cavalry or Macedonian infantry the Macedonian cavalry held the sarissa with just one hand, not both. This was possible because the sarissa used by the cavalry, alternatively called the xyston, was shorter (4.5 m, and some historians even believe it to have been no longer than 3 m) and lighter than its equivalent used in the infantry. Another difference in the cavalry version was an iron sleeve in the centre of the shaft. Its purpose is not entirely clear and one cannot be certain that historians who claim that it was used to bind two separate parts of the shaft are right: the sleeves length (16 cm) was just not long enough. Perhaps the sleeve was put on a single dogwood shaft to give the rider a better grip on the spear. Like the heavy infantry sarissa, the cavalry equivalent had an iron tipped stub serving as a reserve spearhead if the front part of the spear was broken, which happened quite frequently in battle. Moreover it provided a counterbalance so that the cavalryman was able to hold 60% of the spear (counting from the tip of the spearhead) in front of him, which meant that he had a better chance of spearing an opponent before being struck himself. We do not know when Philip II equipped his cavalry with sarissai. Some historians presume that they were first used at the Battle of Chaeronea. Apart from the sarissa, riders also had slightly curved swords used for cutting and javelins. The hetairoi, fitted in armour and holding long spears, should not be compared to a European cavalry in the Middle Ages, for in antiquity two basic pieces of equipment later considered to be indispensable were quite unknown: the saddle and the stirrups. Without these not only controlling a horse was much more difficult than in later times but also the riders stability on the horse left a lot to be desired. This of course made the training of riders a very long and difficult process, but it also affected the method of fighting. The Macedonians were the first in
71

Garlan 1994, p. 687; Hammond 1996, pp. 31-32; Hanson 1999, p. 150; Lush 2007, pp. 16-17.

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the west to successfully master cavalry charges with lances where the momentum of the charging horse greatly increased the weapons impact. However, the hetairoi could not use their sarissai like a medieval lance which was aimed at the easiest target, i.e. the opponents chest and stomach, for without a saddle the recoil from the impact could easily knock the charging rider off his horse. To avoid this, Macedonian riders aimed their sarissa at the opponents head. Though this was a much more difficult target to hit, if correctly executed, it greatly reduced the risk of being thrown off ones horse.72 The 4th century brought to Greece a cavalry renaissance, for in preceding centuries it had been a completely marginalised part of the armed forces. Poleis, at least the larger ones, now expanded their old cavalry units or founded quite new ones. In Athens the number of riders was increased to 1,000. However, the Greek cavalry still by and large played secondary roles: carrying out reconnaissance, protecting the phalanx flanks during battle and chasing the defeated enemy. The great reformers of the Boeotian army Pelopidas and Epaminondas had experimented with using the cavalry to attack the flanks of enemy phalanxes and that could not have escaped Philips notice. But it was only when Philip became king that the cavalry started being used to attack and break up enemy infantry formations on a large scale, and later this method of warfare was further developed with great success by Alexander. The Macedonian cavalry attacked in a wedge formation, which was an idea adopted from the Scythians either directly or via the Thracians. The hetairois basic tactical unit, called the ile, comprised 136 cavalrymen who when attacking formed a wedge of sixteen ranks in which the number of riders in each rank was follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16. Such a configuration enabled the cavalry unit to effectively search for weak points in the enemys infantry formations. It also made a difference in the midst of the battles chaos and noise when normally the commanding officers verbal orders or signals could go unnoticed by the riders. With the commanding officer at the front of a wedge shaped formation the hetairoi could always see him and therefore even in the thick of battle they were able to tactically retreat and carry out other manoeuvres.73

72

Markle 1982, pp. 89-91; Manti 1983; Manti 1994; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 74-75; Borza 1990, pp. 203-205; Mixter 1992, pp. 25-27; Hammond 1996, pp. 30-31. 73 Arr., Tact., 16.6. Markle 1978, p. 486; Lane Fox 1973, p. 75; Daniel 1992; Corvisier 2002, pp. 107-108; Worthington 2004, p. 12; Carney 2006, pp. 65-66; Sekunda 2007, pp. 331-332.

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However, the greatest breakthrough in 4th-century western warfare concerned military engineering and siege techniques. The first ever war machines in Greek history were used by Pericles in 440/439 during the Athenian siege of Samos. They included a battering ram and special sheds (chelonai) to protect the soldiers beneath the walls. Siege machines were also used during the Peloponnesian War, though here they did not prove to be very successful. More often than not cities were forced to surrender after a long blockade or alternatively a traitor was found to open the gate. Thus even the armies of great military powers frequently needed many months to defeat a relatively small city-state; the most spectacular example was the two-year (429-427) siege of Plataea by the Peloponnesians and Thebans. The taking and not only besieging of enemy fortresses was begun by the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysius the Elder in the long lasting war against the Carthaginians in Sicily. In 397, during the famous siege of the islands main Punic fortress Motya, he successfully used siege towers. This machine he had in fact copied off the Carthaginians, who had preserved the Near Eastern techniques of siege warfare. It was also during this siege that catapults, a Greek invention, were for the first time used.74 Though Dionysius military engineering achievements had been known in Greece since around 375, the large scale application of these methods was first begun by Philip II. Already in 357, at the start of his reign, he captured Amphipolis using battering rams to destroy part of the citys walls. In his next important siege Olynthus 349/348 he used not only battering rams but also machines throwing projectiles. During excavations in this town archaeologists have discovered many large bronze spearheads measuring 6.6-7 cm. Some bear Philips name and were therefore without a doubt fired by the Macedonian kings soldiers. These had been the heads of 1.8 m-long spears with an approximately 2.5 cm diameter that could be fired some 300 m from a catapult which did not resemble later machines of that name. This original catapult, referred to in some sources as the oxybeles, was more similar to the medieval crossbow and, indeed, it fired bolts.75 It was after the capture of Olynthus that the greatest advances in siege warfare were made. At the 340 siege of Perinthus Philip had at his disposal battering rams, bolt firing machines, city wall scaling ladders and siege towers that were 36 m tall, therefore higher than the cities fortifications. At that stage the towers were probably not yet mobile. Instead they were transported in parts and reconstructed close to the enemy fortress walls. At the next battle, that of Byzantium,
74 75

Diod., 12.28.2-3, 13.54.7, 14.49-53. Aen. Tact., 32.8; Diod., 16.8.2. Marsden 1977; Snodgrass 1999, pp. 116-117.

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Philips army now had improved siege machines constructed by Polyeidus of Thessaly. Undoubtedly these would have already included stone throwing catapults which utilised the energy accumulated in coiled ropes lines made from human hair.76

6. Alexanders childhood and school years


Extant ancient sources provide surprisingly little information on the first 13 years of the future great conquerors life. What we have are chiefly anecdotes mainly preserved in the works of Plutarch. The obvious purpose of these anecdotes was to illustrate Alexanders personality and his philosophical virtues, which were incidentally compatible with the method Plutarch had formulated himself: For it is not Histories that I am writing, but Lives; and in the most illustrious deeds there is not always a manifestation of virtue or vice, nay, a slight thing like a phrase or a jest often makes a greater revelation of character than battles where thousands fall77 At the same time, however, events that we would consider to be noteworthy are frequently left out. For example, we know Alexander had a sister called Cleopatra but we do not know the date she was born and historians can only speculate that it was either in 355 or 354. Cleopatra was to play an important role in Macedonias history after her brother had set off on his expedition to the East.78 No doubt soon after his birth Alexander was handed over to a wet nurse, a well born Macedonian woman by the name of Lanice. It is possible that the honour of feeding the royal son led to a very strong family tie with Argead dynasty because three of her sons served Alexander, two of whom fell at Miletus. Lanices brother Cleitus the Black became one of Alexanders closest companions, who saved his life at the Battle of the Granicus only to be later, in 328, speared to death by Alexander when the latter was in a drunken rage. Historians agree that in his childhood Alexander was very much under his mothers care and that he had inherited from her his characteristic impulsiveness, whereas from Philip level headedness. Alexanders rivalry with his father has frequently been used as an example to stress how close he was to his mother. These, however, are mere speculations and historical sources do not allow us to make such assumptions. On the other hand Olympias may have been
76 Diod., 16.72-76; Ath. Mech., 10.5-10 and Vitr., 10.13.3 (both after Agesistratos). Marsden 1977; Ferrill 1997, pp. 170-175; Hanson 1999, pp. 155160; van Wees 2000, p. 403; Worthington 2008, pp. 31-32. 77 Plu., Alex., 1.2. Unz 1985, p. 171; Hamilton 1999, pp. xxxviii-xxxix. 78 Satyr., ap. Ath., 13.5. Carney 2000, pp. 75-76.

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instrumental in appointing various teachers for Alexander, among them Leonidas, who was for a time her sons main tutor, and Lysimachus from Acarnania, a land neighbouring to Epirus. We know the professional specialisations of some of the teachers, for example his teachers of music, but of course there also had to be teachers who were experts of grammar, arithmetic, rhetoric and astronomy. The names of these teachers are given in the Alexander Romance but they are not confirmed in other sources and are therefore not utterly credible. Though sources do not mention this, an obvious part of the Macedonian princes education, as of every Macedonian aristocrats education, would have been horse riding and use of weapons.79 Leonidas was a stickler for discipline and it was in such a spirit that he educated the young Alexander. One day he rebuked Alexander for using sacrificial incense too liberally saying that he would be able to make such offerings of incense only once he had conquered the lands from where it came. Alexander took this incident to heart and later from among the things he had plundered in Gaza he allegedly sent his teacher 500 talents of incense and 100 talents of Myrrh, urging him to show the gods magnanimity.80 With regard to Lysimachus there is a tale that he introduced the fashion for Alexander and his circle to adopt the names of Homeric heroes. Lysimachus called himself Phoenix after Achilles companion; Alexander became Achilles and his father Peleus. We do not know whether it was Lysimachus who instilled into Alexander his fascination with Homer but it is certain that Homer was Alexanders favourite author. Indeed, more than once in his life Alexander tried to achieve things equal to those achieved by Homers heroes Achilles in particular. It is possible as well that Alexanders admiration of Achilles was fostered by his mother Olympias who counted Achilles among her ancestors.81 Alexander had quite a thorough education in literature, he knew Euripides by heart and had read other tragic authors, as well as the dithyrambic poets Telestes and Philoxenus, the historian Philistus and certainly other authors too. Most of this literature must have been read

Curt., 8.2.8-9; Plu., Alex., 5.7-8; Arr., An., 4.9.3-4; Just., 12.6; Ps.-Callisth., 1.13.4. Berve 1926, no. 462; Wilcken 1967, pp. 53-54; Hamilton 1965, p. 117; Hamilton 1974, pp. 29-32; Hamilton 1999, p. 16; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 45-46; Carney 1987, p. 42; Carney 2000, pp. 64-65; Fredricksmeyer 1990, p. 301; Heckel 1992, pp. 34-37. 80 Plu., Alex., 25.6-8; Plu., mor., 179e; Plin., Nat., 12.62. 81 Plu., Alex., 5.8, 8.2; Plu., mor., 327f ; Hom., Il., 9.168-169. Berve 1926, no. 481; Dascalakis 1965, p. 170 ; Hamilton 1999, p. 14; Carney 2006, p. 6; Thomas 2007, p. 97.

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during his school years rather than in adult life when he was so preoccupied with politics and military affairs.82 Although they are far from coherent with one another, all the stories of the young princes upbringing indicate that from the earliest years his parents devoted a lot of attention to it. In the case of Philip, who made all the most important decisions in the palace and state, this would suggest that from the start he envisioned Alexander to be his successor instead of his other son Arrhidaeus, who was born almost at the same time as Alexander. This could be associated with the fact that the mental retardation of Arrhidaeus was noticed early in his childhood and this made the Philips other son quite unsuitable as a candidate to the throne.83 Ancient sources include anecdotes showing Alexander to have been a boy of great physical dexterity, emotionally mature well above his age, interested in the outside world, ambitious and aware of his own importance. He excelled in running but, despite the insistence of his father and colleagues, refused to compete in the Olympic Games on account of the fact that unlike him the other competitors would not be monarchs. Indeed a later legend has him competing in a chariot race at Olympia against the sons of other kings and satraps. Such tales served to foretell Alexanders negative attitude to sport or rather his disregard for sportsmen. When later looking at statues of Olympic and Pythian victors displayed at Miletus Alexander asked: and where those men of such magnificent bodies were when the barbarians besieged your town? His biographer Plutarch interprets Alexanders reservations regarding sport as an element of the perceived image of a philosopher king who valued the fine arts, literature and philosophy more than athletic challenges. Alexanders intellectual maturity and early plans (or perhaps just dreams) of conquering Asia are illustrated in an anecdote about how at the Macedonian court, at a time when Philip was absent, emissaries of the Great King were received by Alexander. He was said to have amazed the ambassadors by not asking questions as most people his age would have done about the legendary wealth, the hanging gardens and other wonders of the Achaemenid court, but about the network of roads, the distances to places and the position held by the Great King in battle formations. Finally, Alexanders ambitions and urge to act are expressed in the concern he is said to have shown on receiving news of his fathers victories that as a consequence there would be nothing of significance left for him to later conquer. The most famous incident related by biographers
82 83

Plu., Alex., 8.3 ; Nikobule, FGrH, 127 F2. Carney 1987, p. 42.

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from Alexanders childhood, one illustrating his ability to control men and beasts as well as to succeed where others failed, is his taming of a horse called Bucephalus. This magnificent black Thessalian stallion had been offered for sale to Philip by a man called Philoneicus, but the horse would not allow itself to be mounted. Later legend even has it devouring human flesh. However, Alexander, who had cleverly noticed that the horses wild behaviour resulted from the fact that it was afraid of its own shadow, was able to calm the animal down, mount it and then ride it. The onlooking Macedonians, who after all had expert knowledge of horses, were amazed and his proud father, Philip, was said to exclaim: My son, seek thee out a kingdom equal to thyself; Macedonia has no room for thee! Bucephalus was then given to Alexander as a gift by his fathers Greek companion Demaratus of Corinth, having bought it for the record sum 13 talents at a time when the average mount cost just one fifth of a talent. Bucephalus was Alexanders favourite charger throughout his mission east, right up to India, where it died at an exceptionally old age for a horse. The association of famous personalities with exceptional horses is a popular topos in ancient biographies. Nonetheless, with the exception of the amazing claim that the horse ate human flesh (alluding to the myth of Heracles and the man-eating mares of Diomedes), the authenticity of the taming of Bucephalus cannot really be doubted. It was probably first related by Chares, Alexanders court-marshal.84 In 343/342 Philip employed a new preceptor for Alexander: Aristotle. He educated Alexander for two years, until 340. The place selected for their studies was near Mieza, to the south of Macedonia at the foot of Mount Vermion. This academy also served as a garden shrine to the Nymphs, with benches and cloisters, and it had already become a tourist attraction by Plutarchs times. The encounter of the most famous of the Greek philosophers with a pupil who would become the greatest military leader of antiquity is the ideal stuff of legends, and, indeed, very much was made of this episode in the medieval perception of Alexanders life history. However, in 343/342 Aristotle had not yet written the great works that would ensure him unrivalled renown over the centuries and so at that stage he was merely one of many intellectuals active in Greece at the time. Therefore it would not have been because of his academic status, or rather not only for this reason, that he was selected to be Alexanders tutor from
84 Diod., 17.76.6; Plu., Alex., 4.8-6.8; Plu., mor., 179d, 331b, 342b-c; Chares, ap. Gel., 5.2.1-3; Plin., Nat., 8.154; Ps.-Callisth., 1.13, 15, 17, 19; EGen., b208; EM, s.v. boukfaloj. Brown 1977, pp. 77-78; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 47-48; Baynham 1995, pp. 5-9; Stoneman 1997, p. 15; Hamilton 1999, pp. 13-16; Nawotka 2003, pp. 26-31, 132-133.

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among other Greek luminaries (including Isocrates) willing to be employed by the generous ruler of Macedonia. Working in Aristotles favour was family tradition, for his father, Nicomachus, had been the physician of King Amyntas III. Therefore we have reason to believe that Aristotle was more trusted by the Macedonian court than most other Greek intellectuals. Someone having such close family connections with the court and Macedonia in general would not also have raised concerns among the Macedonian barons, whose opinions Philip had to take into consideration. According to an attractive though not confirmed by any sources hypothesis put forward by Werner Jaeger, Philips selection of Aristotle to become his sons tutor was due to the philosophers ties with Hermias of Atarneus. This former student of Plato Academy had succeeded Eubulos (who had been murdered) to become the tyrant of Atarneus and Assos in Mysia and Erythrai in Ionia and there built a small state independent of the Great King of Persia. He invited to Assos a group of philosophers from Platos school. Among them was Aristotle, to whom Hermias gave away his adopted daughter Pythias. Before he was arrested by the Greek commander Mentor on the orders of Artaxerxes III in 341, Hermias had entered into secret negotiations with Philip of Macedonia as a possible ally against Persia. Werner Jaeger suggests that Aristotles departure from Assos to Pella may have been associated with these secret negotiations.85 Of course this is just a hypothesis and it is at least equally likely that Philips decision to employ Aristotle was based on the philosophers high qualifications as a scholar and mentor.86 Regardless of whether or not Aristotle had participated in those secret political negotiations, his task in Macedonia was to educate Alexander. In 4th-century Greece there was no royal route to philosophy and therefore we may assume that the young princes curriculum was no different to that of other boys from good homes. Isocrates, who had been greatly disappointed by the fact that not he but Aristotle had been selected for the post, wrote a letter to Alexander accusing his tutor of, indeed, not teaching practical subjects that would be of use to the prince when he became king of Macedonia. According to Plutarch, the subjects Aristotle selected included ethics, politics and medicine. He also gave Alexander a copy of The Iliad which he himself had revised; thus it may be said that the young princes
Plu., Alex., 7; Ps.-Callisth., 1.13.4; Diod., 16.52.5-8; D., 10.31-34; Did., In D., col. 4.59-6.66. Jaeger 1948, pp. 120-122; Hamilton 1965, p. 118; Brocker 1966; Wilcken 1967, pp, 54-55; Chroust 1967; Plezia 1968; Green 1974; pp. 52-54; Badian 1982, p. 38; OBrien 1992, p. 19; Rubinsohn 1993, pp. 1308-1309; Debord 1999, pp. 417-419; Corvisier 2002, p. 263; Green 2003. 86 Griffith 1979, pp. 518-522; Errington 1990, pp. 77-79.
85

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41

education started the conventional Greek way with literature and Homer in particular. It is difficult not to presume that the heroic ideology and cult of manly virtue (aret) so very apparent in Alexanders adult life had some connection with the education he had received from Aristotle the author of a dithyrambic poem praising Hermias aret and heroic death cruelly inflicted upon him by the Persians. Other authors Aristotle instructed Alexander to read may have also included Pindar; for when in 335 having Thebes destroyed Alexander ordered Pindars house to be spared. In all probability Alexander also received elementary instruction in dialectics and eristics (the art of disputation). A major issue that remains unknown is the impact Aristotle as a political thinker had on Alexander. There is no evidence that as a monarch Alexander adopted his mentors views regarding the ideal state, which was inspired by the Greek model: a polis counting approximately 5,000 citizens. Alexander also did not heed advice to treat barbarians as enemies or even animals, though, in accordance with his teachers views, he did treat the Greeks living in Asia Minor as allies. Extant Arabic translations of Aristotles letters to Alexander as well as references to their correspondence by other authors show that the two must have for a long time exchanged views on political matters. There can be no doubt that Aristotles school inspired or at least consolidated in Alexander the conviction that Greek culture was supreme in the entire world. However, the Hellenisation of the East and cultural homogeneity stretching from the Adriatic to the Hindu Kush following Alexanders conquests were no doubt an unforeseen consequence of this education. Perhaps of greater importance than the formal knowledge passed on during lectures at Mieza was the personal contact Alexander had in his formative years with the greatest mind of the ancient world. The intellectual curiosity that was aroused at the time indubitably accounts for the fact that Alexander took learned men with him on his expedition east, gave instructions to pass back to Aristotle information about the plants and animals found there and gave financial support for Aristotle to conduct his research.87 Scholars assume that Alexanders education at Mieza was not in the form of private lessons but provided in the company of other young Macedonian aristocrats including those who would later become his
Plu., Alex., 7.5-8.3. Ehrenberg 1938, p. 92; Merlan 1954; Wilcken 1967, pp. 5558; Plezia 1968; Stern 1968; Bielawski, Plezia 1970; Seibert 1972, pp. 72-73; Green 1974, pp. 57-62; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 53-56; Bosworth 1988, pp. 20-21; Rubinsohn 1993, pp. 1310-1312; Thomas 2007, pp. 196-197. Plutarch devoted his De fortuna seu virtute Alexandri to the topic of Alexanders arte and his cultural mission in the East.
87

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closest companions. Indeed, the young prince was surrounded by wellborn Macedonians of his own age who were his playmates. But he was also accompanied by older boys who Philip selected so that through their (aristocratic) behaviour and advice they would help his son enter the adult world. At the Macedonian court Philip must have run an institution of sorts comprising royal boys (pages). They were the descendants of aristocratic dynasties who were brought up among the kings entourage, frequently carrying out tasks normally reserved for personal servants on the basis that to be able to give instructions well one should first learn to listen to instructions. Indeed graduates of this school later became hetairoi and army commanders. However, while they still served as royal boys at the royal court, they remained, in a sense, hostages ensuring the loyalty of their aristocratic families. Among the young Macedonians sent to Mieza to be together with Alexander educated by Aristotle there may have been his closest friend Hephaestion. Other contemporaries who the sources claim were brought up alongside Alexander included: Cleitus the Black, Perdiccas and the sons of Aristotles friend Antipater. It is perhaps therefore not surprising that Alexanders companions on his expedition east were not only military commanders but also people with intellectual interests: they kept journals, grew exotic plants, studied the languages of the east and learnt about the spiritual world of India.88

Wilcken 1967, p. 55; Green 1974, pp. 55-57; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 51-54; Heckel 1986, p. 302; Heckel 1992, pp. 205-208; Thomas 2007, pp. 126-127; Heckel 2009a, p. 71.

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CHAPTER II: THE HEIR TO THE THRONE

1. At his fathers side


By 340, when his education at Mieza was drawing to an end, Alexander probably had already acquired the features and posture remembered by his contemporaries and subsequent generations. Later, after he had ascended to the throne, Alexander nurtured a canonical image of his person by commissioning works from the epochs greatest artists: sculptures by Lysippus, paintings by Apelles and gem engravings by Pyrgoteles. Today credence is no longer given to the existence of an artistic monopoly allegedly granted to these artists by their most famous patron; nonetheless their works did form a canon of how Alexander was visualised and this image has been reproduced over the centuries.1 For many years after the great Macedonians death the mere sight of his statue made Cassander, who remembered him well, shake with fear. Therefore it is safe to assume that the portraits made during his life accurately captured his characteristic features. 2 Although none of these works have survived, their countless copies as well as Plutarchs portrayal and mentions in the works of various other authors allow us to visualise the kings external appearance. Perhaps Alexanders external feature that contemporaries found most striking was his height, which belied his heroic fame and the expectations of those who already knew how great he was. Being admitted to the tent and invited to be seated, they had fixed their eyes on the kings face, because, I suppose, to those who estimated spirit by bodily stature his moderate size seemed by no means equal to his reputation. Curtius Rufuss words describing the reaction of Scythians on seeing Alexander can certainly also apply to many others who had first heard of the Macedonians achievements and only later saw him in person. This ancient author claims a similar impression was made on Queen Thalestris
Plu., Alex., 4.1; Plu., mor., 335a-b; Arr., An., 1.16.4; Cic., Fam., 5.12.7; Hor., Ep., 2.1.237-241; V.Max., 8.11, ext. 2; Plin., Nat., 7.125 2 Plu., Alex., 74.6. Bosworth 1988, p. 20; Hamilton 1999, pp. 206-207.
1

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of the Amazons, who had also expected the greatness of the famous leader to be matched by an appropriately great physique. 3 Some historians in good faith assume that Alexander was of average height and therefore on the basis of measurements of skeletons found in contemporary Macedonian graves estimate that he was approximately 1.7 tall. But this must be an exaggeration for the sources leave us with no doubt: Alexander was short, to the extent that when he sat on the captured throne of (the tall) Darius III, a table had to be provided for him to rest his feet on. On the other hand, thanks to physical exercise Alexander developed a strong and muscular body.4 A feature of Alexanders posture that has frequently been noticed and imitated is his raised head with the neck slightly skewed to the left. That is indeed how Lysippus presents him, but the very fragmentary references in historical sources do not allow us to establish whether this was a symptom of some illness or simply a manner adopted over time by Alexander. It is thanks to Plutarch and the polychromy on the so-called Alexander Sarcophagus that we know he had a fair complexion with ruddy cheeks, neck and chest. Citing Aristoxenus, the 4th-century peripatetic philosopher, Plutarch states that Alexanders body and breath had a pleasant smell. This, historians interpret as being a reflection of the tradition that Alexander was of divine or heroic status, for the ancient Greeks believed that pleasant scents were a characteristic attribute of both gods and heroes. The images on the Alexander Mosaic, on coins and in the form of sculptures all show Alexander to have a straight nose, a slightly protruding jaw, full lips and eyes deep set beneath a strongly pronounced forehead. Alexanders hair, which according to Aelian was fair but in the Alexander Mosaic appears to be brown, was combed back above the forehead with a centre parting so that it fell to the sides like a lions mane. According to the unverified and late tradition of the Alexander Romance, Alexander had heterochromic eyes, one being light in colour and the other dark. This same source maintains that he had sharp teeth, like those of a snake. Such features served to stress the legend of Alexanders superhuman nature.5 Contemporaries were struck by the fact that the young ruler had a smoothly shaven face, in sharp contrast to the Greek tradition of adult men
3 4

Quotation is: Curt., 7.8.9. Curt., 3.12.16, 6.5.29; Diod., 17.37.5. Stewart 1993, pp. 72-73. Diod., 17.66.3; Curt., 5.2.13-15; It. Alex., 14. 5 Plu., Alex., 4.1-4; Plu., mor., 55d, 335a-b; Plu., Pomp., 2.1 ; Plu., Pyrrh., 8.1 ; Ael., VH, 12.14 ; Ps.-Callisth., 1.13.3; Iulius Valerius, Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, 1.7; S. Aurelius Victor, Epitome de Caesaribus, 21.4; Johannes Tzetzes, Ep., 76; idem, Chiliades, 11.368. Bieber 1964, pp. 50-55; Bosworth 1988, pp. 19-20; Killerich 1993; Stewart 1993, pp. 72-78; Hamilton 1999, pp. 11-12.

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having beards. In the 4th century the lack of a beard had the unequivocally negative connotation of a shamefully passive homosexual lover. Such an image was particularly ill-suited to the image of leader and conqueror; therefore it is unsurprising that in c. 330 a Greek vase painter from Apulia, unaware of how the Macedonian king really looked, depicted him as a bearded warrior. Yet, although indubitably aware of the negative associations, Alexander consciously decided to look the way he did, to demonstrate as he did more than once in his life that the social canons, customs and general outlooks held by ordinary mortals did not apply to him. His role model and point of reference was an ancestor on his mothers side: Achilles. In the 4th century Achilles was presented in Greek art as a young and beardless hero. The rhetorician Polyaenus (perhaps in an attempt to rationalise this aesthetic decision) even claims that Alexander ordered his soldiers to shave their beards so that the enemy would not be able to catch hold of them. 6 Like with other aspects of Alexanders appearance the fact that he shaved was subsequently imitated by many others that was how rulers of major Hellenistic monarchies had their likenesses presented in countless portrayals, especially on coins. With this effective promotion of self-image, Alexander became the first ever person in Western culture known by name to have started a fashion trend. The impression Alexander made on contemporaries comprised a mixture of contradictory stimuli. The energetic gait, muscular and athletic physique, and hoarse voice all contributed to the image of a tough, masculine warrior and leader of men. This contrasted with his smooth face; the hair combed back, the impression of moist slightly bulging eyes and fair complexion, all of which were in the 4th-century cultures of Macedonia and Greece associated with gentleness and effeminacy. When to this he added the upward gaze and characteristic turn of the neck, Alexanders appearance and posture must have given him an electrifying, charismatic aura.7 However strong the impression Alexander made on his contemporaries, he was not considered outstandingly handsome in his lifetime. It was in a later tradition started in the 2nd century AD that he became a model of male beauty, reflecting a general idealisation of the Macedonian ruler that was far greater than the reality of his times.8

Chrysippos, ap. Ath., 13.18; Polyaen., 4.3.2. Dover 1978, pp. 71, 87, 144; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 40-41; Stewart 1993, pp. 74-75, 78-86, 150-157. 7 Plu., Alex., 4.1-2; Plu., mor., 53c, 335b; Plu., Pyrrh., 8.1-2 ; It. Alex., 15. Bosworth 1988, pp. 19-20; Stewart 1993, pp. 73-74. 8 App., BC, 2.151; Arr., An., 7.28.1; Apul., Fl., 7. Stewart 1993, p. 73.

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It must have been sometime between the finishing of his education and 338 (a year of intensive war and politics) that an anecdote passed on by Athenaeus from Alexanders contemporary Theophrastus and regarding the Macedonian royal couples problem with Alexanders upbringing took place. It was then that a worried Olympias ascertained that her teenage son lacked interest in the opposite sex. Theophrastus explained this lack of interest as a consequence of Alexanders excessive drinking. Alcoholic abuse was indeed characteristic of Macedonian aristocrats, including his father Philip. A lack of libido, however, was most certainly not a typical Macedonian trait. With Philips approval, Olympias recruited a ravishing Thessalian hetaira called Callixeina (perhaps referred to elsewhere as Pancaste) to seduce the heir to the throne. We cannot be sure, however, whether she, or his mothers requests were able to change Alexanders lifestyle.9 While Alexander pursued his studies under Aristotles instruction at Mieza, Philip made use of Athenss military standstill following the Peace of Philocrates and continued Macedonias expansion north. In 342 he completed the subjugation of Epirus by installing Olympiass brother Alexander on the throne. In a sense as if making use of this situation, he also conquered and annexed to Epirus the Greek cities of Cassopia, situated between the Ambracian Gulf and the Adriatic.10 That same year, 342, Philip started another campaign in Thrace against Cersobleptes, from whom he had already taken the town of Crenides and the gold yielding mountains of Pangaion. In fighting lasting until 340 Philips annexations of Thracian territory reached Mount Haemus (Stara Planina) and the Black Sea coast. Philips sway over Thrace was augmented with garrisons and newly formed cities, the most important of which was Philippopolis, and through the installation of a Macedonian strategos (general) as the new ruler of this land that was conquered by Macedonia but not incorporated into it.11 The Peace of Philocrates was resented by many in Athens. In 342 this resentment led to an undeclared war with Macedonia simultaneously waged on several fronts. Swift Athenian intervention prevented Ambracia, an important city in western Greece, from falling into Philips hands. In the Thracian Chersonese a unit of mercenaries supporting a newly formed party of Athenian cleruchs and commanded by the general Diopeithes
Ath., 10.45 after Theophrastus (F578); Ael., VH., 12.34. Odgen 2009, p. 209. Diod., 16.72.1; D., 7.32. Hammond 1994, pp. 120-122; Corvisier 2002, pp. 167170. 11 Diod., 16.71.1-2; D., 82, 35; Arr., An., 1.25.2. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 116-117; Hammond 1994, pp. 122-125; Corvisier 2002, pp. 184-186.
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attacked Cardia, which was allied to Philip. As a result they captured a Macedonian envoy. Another Athenian army attacked Philips Euboean allies in Oreos and Eretria. These local conflicts strengthened in Athens the arguments of the anti-Macedonian party led by Demosthenes, who was striving to create a league of Greek states against Philip and unsuccessfully trying to gain financial support of the Persian ruler Artaxerxes III. Probably already in 342, when broad negotiations concerning trade, combating piracy as well as rights to the town of Potidaea and the disputed Island of Halonnesos in the north Aegean had all failed, the prospect of war became inevitable and only a pretext was needed to start it.12 Open hostilities erupted in 340 when Philip decided to attack the city of Perinthus, which had refused to support him in his war with Thrace and was politically gravitating towards Athens. The element of surprise and the advantage of Macedonian siege technology were to ensure a rapid victory. However, quite unexpectedly, the Perinthians put up stiff resistance. By the time Macedonian battering rams broke through the defensive walls new fortifications had been set up deeper within the city, which was shaped like an amphitheatre on the side of a mountain. Entrance into the Marmara Sea via the Hellespont was guarded by an Athenian squadron and the Macedonian fleet was too weak to force its way through and impose a blockade on the city. Thus Perinthus was able to constantly receive supplies from the sea. The Byzantines provided the beleaguered city with arms and their very best soldiers. Also the Great King instructed his satraps in Asia Minor to supply Perinthus with food, money, arms and mercenaries. 13 As the siege was protracting, Philip decided to simultaneously attack Byzantium the largest city on the trade route between the Black Sea and the Aegean through which a fleet sailed annually to deliver vital grain to Athens. In September 340 the first thing Philip did was to unexpectedly seize the entire grain fleet of 230 ships before it met up with its escort. This brought him handsome profit but also meant open war with Athens, which was indeed soon afterwards officially declared. The Athenian squadron, commanded by the famous general Phocion, together with reinforcements from Chios, Rhodes, Kos and Persian Asia Minor came to Byzantiums aid. This second siege also
Cawkwell 1978, pp. 118-135; Griffith 1979, pp. 510-516; Hammond 1994, pp. 125-132; Corvisier 2002, pp. 236-247. 13 Diod., 16.74.2-76.4 (our principal source here; Diodorus probably follows Ephorus); Plu., Alex., 70.5; Plu., mor., 339b; D., 11.5; Arr., An., 2.14.5; Paus., 1.29.10; Theopomp., FGrH, 115 F222; Did., In D., col. 10.34-62. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 135-136; Griffith 1979, pp. 567-573.
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ended in failure. This no doubt gave a great sense of satisfaction to the Macedonian kings enemies but had little effect on the future course of the war.14 When setting out with his army on the campaign in the Marmara Sea basin, Philip was on this occasion able to leave Macedonia under the charge of his successor. Alexanders studies under Aristotles instruction at Mieza were now finished, he was sixteen years old, and in ruling families boys of that age were considered to have reached adulthood. Alexander could therefore now be entrusted with running affairs of the state. Statements made by the Athenian orators Isocrates and Aeschines confirm that at least since 342 or perhaps even since 346 Alexander was considered to be the official heir to Macedonian throne, though at such an early age he did not yet have any serious responsibilities. That did not happen until he finished his studies in 340. That was when control of the country was symbolically handed over to Alexander together with his fathers royal seal, which gave the young prince the right to issue edicts. Of course in his independent actions Alexander could rely on the guidance of his fathers carefully selected advisors, among whom the most important was Antipater over a dozen years Philips senior, he was a highly talented servant of four generations of Argead rulers. It was during this regency the Alexander won his first military victory in quelling the anti-Macedonian rebellion of the Maedi, a Thracian tribe inhabiting the Strymon Valley. This ended a whole campaign to expel the Thracian population from their chief city and replace them with settlers from other regions. Thus Alexandropolis was founded, the first of many towns allegedly founded by Alexander. In naming the colony the way he did Alexander was following the example of the naming of Philippopolis, showing that he was striving to equal and later outmatch his fathers achievements. If, quoting from an anonymous source, Stephanus of Byzantium is right in stating that Alexander was 17 when the city was founded, it would have been towards the end of his regency in 339.15

Diod., 16.76.3-772; D., 11.6; 12.53; 18.76, 244, 302; 50.6, 19; Aeschin., 3.256; Plu., Phoc., 14; Theopomp., FGrH, 115 F292; Philoch., FGrH, 328 F54, 55; Just., 9.1. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 136-140; Griffith 1979, pp. 573-591; Ashley 1998, pp. 142-144; Corvisier 2002, pp. 247-248. 15 Plu., Alex., 9.1; Isoc., Ep., 4 and 5; Aeschin., 1.167-169; St. Byz., s.v. Alexndreiai. Wilcken 1967, p. 58; Griffith 1979, p. 558; Hatzopoulos 1986, p. 288; Bosworth 1988, pp. 21, 245-246; Greenwalt 1989, p. 40; Hamilton 1999, pp. 22-23; Heckel 1992, pp. 38-49; Fraser 1996, pp. 26, 29-30 (for identification of the third Alexandreia of Stephanus of Byzantium with Alexandropolis).

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The next time Alexander participated in a northern campaign it was at his fathers side. According to our main source, Justins rather unclear text, the objective of this campaign was to capture the realm of the Scythian king Atheas. The opposing armies clashed in Dobruja, probably not far from the city of Istros (Histria). The Scythians were defeated in a pitched battle, their elderly king was killed and allegedly 20,000 of them were captured as were an equivalent number of Scythian horses. It was perhaps soon after this event that the Greek cities on the west coast of the Black Sea came under Macedonian rule, for by Alexanders reign the region was administered by a certain Zopyrion, whom the sources refer to as the governor of the Hellespont or Thrace. On their way back home after the defeat of Atheas Scythians the Macedonian army was confronted by a Thracian or Illyrian tribe called the Triballi. They demanded a share in the spoils in return for permission to pass through their territory. Philip refused and a battle ensued in which the booty was lost and the Macedonian king was wounded in the thigh. As a result Philip would be lame for the rest of his life.16

2. Chaeronea
The Scythian campaign only for a while drew Philips attention away from the situation in central Greece, where in 339 local disputes over the city of Amphissa in Locris led to the outbreak of the Fourth Sacred War. The Thessalians mobilised their forces very gradually. This was perhaps for fear of Athens and Boeotia reacting. But another reason may have been an understanding reached with Philip for the Thessalians had requested the Macedonian king to enter the war. In the autumn of 339 the Macedonian army seized the city of Elatea, which was situated in Phocis close to the Boeotian border. This sent a shockwave through the Greek world and inclined Thebes, which had until then been an ally of Macedonia, to accept Demostheness offer of making an alliance with Athens in a war against Philip. From that moment on the new allies swiftly mobilised a citizen army as well as 10,000 mercenaries who took up strategic positions blocking all the mountain passes into Boeotia. Partisan warfare and minor skirmishes lasted from the end of 339 to mid 338. Then in the summer of 338 Philip managed to dislodge the mercenaries from the mountain passes, which enabled him to take Amphissa and end the Fourth Sacred War. The
Just., 9.1-3, 12.2.6; Luc., Macr., 10.10; Arr., An., 5.26.6; Curt., 10.1.44; Did., In D., col. 13.3-7. Nawotka 1997, pp. 30-31; Hammond 1994, pp. 135-137; Musielak 2003, pp. 54-56. See Bloedow 2002 on Philips goals in this war.
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most significant outcome of this, however, was now the presence of Philips army in Boeotia, where a showdown between Macedonia and a coalition led by the two most powerful Greek states was certain to ensue.17 After peace negotiations initiated by Philip failed the problem could only be solved by force. The decisive battle the largest in Philips reign took place at Chaeronea in Boeotia. Plutarch states that it happened on the seventh day of Metageitnion, which would have been sometime in August or early September. The Greek army took up a good defensive position between the hills and the Kephissos stream which Philip had to break through in order to reach lower Boeotia and Thebes. The battlefield was on flat terrain about 3 km in breadth, which was ideal for hoplite formations and as the commanders reckoned unsuitable for the Macedonian cavalry. When taking into account that it was part of Greek military tradition to strive to resolve wars in one pitched battle, which so far had always been won by citizen hoplite armies, and that now such an army had taken up such a favourable battle position, the Greek commanders must have taken up the Macedonian challenge with confidence. Philip deployed 30,000 infantry and over 2,000 cavalry against 35,000 Greek infantry and 2,000 horsemen. The Macedonian armys inferior numbers and worse tactical position were compensated by the superior quality of its troops and above all a far superior command. Philip led the Macedonian phalanx on the right wing and entrusted the left wing and cavalry to his son and heir accompanied by Macedonias best chief officers. On the Greek side the Athenians held the left wing, mercenaries and detachments from allied states positioned themselves in the centre, whereas the Boeotians with the very best hoplites held the right wing. Owing to the excellent training of his troops, Philip slightly withdrew the right wing in the first phase of the battle, making the Athenian hoplites stretch and somewhat break up their battle formation. It was then that Philip attacked. After some heavy fighting the Athenians were forced to retreat. However, the battles outcome was actually resolved on the other wing, where the Macedonian cavalry under Alexanders command managed to break through Boeotian ranks. Thus the strongest section Greek line was crushed, which signified the entire armys defeat. The Athenians and Boeotians, defeated on their respective wings, fled for their lives. Only the Sacred Band of Thebes held their ground. According to Plutarch all 300 soldiers of this elite unit were killed in battle by Alexanders men. Much later the famous Lion of Chaeronea was
Cawkwell 1978, pp. 140-144; Griffith 1979, pp. 585-596; Londey 1990; Borza 1999, pp.58-64; Hammond 1994, pp. 143-148; Ashley 1998, pp. 149-152; Corvisier 2002, pp. 249-254.
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erected above their grave, in which archaeologists later uncovered 254 skeletons arranged in seven rows. Perhaps only that many soldiers took part in the battle or maybe the rest of the Sacred Band were just wounded and survived. A thousand Athenians lay dead on the battlefield as did a similar number of Boeotians and considerable numbers of other Greek allies who had fought in the centre, especially the Achaeans. The Macedonians captured 2,000 Athenians and many other Greeks.18 The annihilation of the Sacred Band symbolically marked the end of hoplite dominance on the battlefield as indeed the political dominance of the type of state they defended the powerful Greek polis. From the purely military point of view, Chaeronea marked a turning point in the history of Western warfare in that for the first time a battle was essentially won by the cavalry. Here the infantry secured a large part of the front line thus allowing for a horseback riders offensive. This was also probably the first time the Macedonian cavalry fought using sarissae, which were so effective against the Boeotian infantry. At Chaeronea the infantry was deployed to hold the front line against a greater number of enemy troops and then the decisive blow was delivered with a heavy cavalry charge. This would become Alexanders favourite tactic with which at the head of his charging companion cavalry he carried off successive victories against the Persians. To his fathers joy, the outstanding role in the fighting played by the heir to the throne made the Macedonians hail Alexander as their king, whereas Philip remained their military leader.19 After the battle Philip treated each of his chief vanquished enemies very differently. With Macedonian troops now able to access all parts of Boeotia, the king had his erstwhile allies, the Thebans, completely at his mercy and punished them very harshly. They not only had to pay ransoms for hostages but also for the privilege of burying their fallen soldiers. A Macedonian garrison was now installed in the Theban citadel of Cadmea. Anti-Macedonian politicians were either executed or exiled, whereas 300 previously exiled supporters of Philip were now allowed to return. On top of this, the Boeotian cities that the Thebans had destroyed were now rebuilt, which greatly weakened the position of Thebes in the Boeotian League. Philips harsh treatment of the Thebans may have resulted not only from the correct assumption that this polis was the linchpin of Greek
18

Diod., 16.85.5-86; Plu., Alex., 9.2-3; Plu., Cam., 19.9; Polyaen., 4.2.2, 4.2.7; Fron., Str., 2.19; Paus., 7.6.5, 9.40.10 ; Str., 9.2.37 ; Just., 9.3. Cawkwell 1978, pp. 144-149; Griffith 1979, pp. 596-603; Hammond 1994, pp. 148-154; Carlier 1996, p. 111; Ashley 1998, pp. 154-157; Hamilton 1999, p. 23. 19 Plu., Alex., 9.4; Plu., Pel., 18.5. Borza 1990, p. 225; DeVoto 1992, pp. 17-19; Sabin 2007, pp. 127-128.

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resistance against Macedonia but also because of its traditionally strong ties with Persia. The Thebans had not only backed the Persian side during the Greco-Persian wars at the start of the 5th century but also in more recent times when they helped Artaxerxes III in quashing the satrap revolts in Asia Minor and in his conquest of Egypt in the years 343-341. The Theban stance could not have gone unnoticed by Philip, who was already planning war with Persia at the time. Other Greek states were also punished. Macedonian garrisons were installed in Corinth, Ambracia and Chalcis, thus placing strategic routes into the Peloponnesus and Euboea as well as northwestern Greece under Macedonian control.20 After Chaeronea everyone in Athens was expecting the Macedonians to launch a direct attack. In what now seemed to be an unavoidable situation, extraordinary military and political measures were resorted to. The strategos Lysicles was made a scapegoat for the defeat at Chaeronea, while political leadership was held firmly in the hands of the war party headed by Demosthenes, Hypereides and Lycurgus. The Attic populace were evacuated into the city, whose walls underwent repairs and were next manned with soldiers. The Athenians took in anti-Macedonian refugees. For the sake of increasing army numbers, unconstitutional steps were even considered such as actually granting citizenship rights to the metoikoi and liberating those slaves who were able to fight. Athens could afford to resist Philip for a long time on account of her powerful fleet assuring a constant flow of provisions into the city. But the showdown never materialised. Instead the victorious Macedonian king released from captivity Demostheness political opponent Demades, which was a clear signal that he was willing to start peace negotiations. Captured Athenians were set free without a ransom, whereas the remains of those who had fallen were delivered to Athens by a delegation of the highest ranking Macedonian officials including Alcimachus, Philips closest companion Antipater and the heir to the throne Alexander. With the emerging possibility of finding a peaceful end to a war that had already been lost the mood in Athens changed. Negotiations were entrusted to pro-Macedonian or rather just anti-war politicians Aeschines, Phocion and Demades. There were prices to be paid by the Athenians for peace, the heaviest of which was the loss of Thracian Chersonese and thus also control of the Black Sea grain import route. Other territory, however, remained in the hands of the Athenians. It was also probably then that Philip magnanimously granted the Athenians the Oropus region, which had been disputed with Boeotia

20

Cawkwell 1978, pp. 167-168; Corvisier 2002, p. 255; Zahrnt 2009, pp. 19-20.

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and was now ceded to Athens no doubt in order to enflame anew an almost forgotten disagreement between Athens and her Chaeronean allies.21 Philips conditions for ending the war with Athens were milder than had been expected. The Athenians expressed their gratitude by granting, probably on motion of Demades, the Macedonian dignitaries appropriate awards. Athenian citizenship was bestowed on Alcimachus, Antipater, Philip and therefore in a way also automatically on his son and heir Alexander. Moreover, a statue of Philip was erected in the Agora, whereas Alcimachus and Antipater were also awarded the honorary title of proxenos. The Macedonian kings very moderate treatment of Athens after the Battle of Chaeronea is usually put down to political motives. Philip was planning war against Persia and therefore could not afford to prolong the conflict in Greece; besides, the Athenian fleet of an estimated 350 warships could be of considerable use to him. Besides, plundering of Attica, once occupied by Xerxes, would weaken Philip Panhellenic cause in the planned war with Persia. There are also opinions that the determination and energy the Athenians had shown in preparing for the continuation of war inclined the Macedonians to conversely seek a peaceful solution. However, we may also assume that for the parvenu Macedonian laying siege to and eventually destroying Athens in the words of Thucydides, the school of Hellas was contrary to what throughout his life he had striven for, full acceptance in the Greek world.22

3. The congress at Corinth and the beginning of the Persian war


From the battlefield of Chaeronea the Macedonian army marched to the Peloponnesus and there accepted the capitulations of the poleis that had sided with Thebes and Athens. The army also conducted a punitive raid into Laconia as a result of which Sparta lost border territories to Macedonias allies Argos, Messenia and the Arcadian states. Sparta was thus weakened, but Philip did not punish it further, no doubt because he
Griffith 1979, pp. 604-609; Hammond 1994, pp. 155-157; Habicht 1999, pp. 1112; Brun 2000, p. 65; Corvisier 2002, p. 256. On the date of transfer of Oropus to Athenian control (338 or 335) see Faraguna 2003, p. 100. 22 Hyp., Philippides, fr. 8; Hyp., ap. Harp., s.v. Alkmacoj; IG ii2 239; Plu., Dem., 22; Paus., 1.9.4; Scholia in Aristid., Panathenaikos, 178.16; Just., 9.4.5. Cawkwell 1978; p. 167; Cawkwell 1996, pp. 98-99; Osborne 1983, pp. 69-70 (T69); Griffith 1979, pp. 619-620; OBrien 1992, p. 26; Whitehead 2000, p. 41; Badian 2000, pp. 54-55; Brun 2000, pp. 64-65; Hammond 1994, p. 157; Carlier 1996, p. 116; Corvisier 2002, p. 256 ; Worthington 2008, pp. 155-156.
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wished to use it as a counterbalance: fear of the regions former ruling power seeking to exact revenge would in the future naturally incline the other Peloponnesian states to maintain their alliance with Macedonia. Thus two major land powers of Greece, Thebes and Sparta, were weakened and kept in check by their neighbours.23 In the autumn of 338 Philip sent an invitation to all the Greek states, described by many as more like a veiled order, to attend a meeting which was to be held at Corinth the following spring. The choice of Corinth was not made by chance. It was there that in 480 the majority of states in continental Greece formed a symmachia (alliance) which victoriously opposed the great army of Xerxes I. More recently, in 344, the Corinthians sent the famous general Timoleon to overthrow the Carthaginian tyranny in Sicily and victoriously fight for freedom of the Greeks in the West. The historic symbolism of Corinth destined it to become the place where yet another initiative was made to unite the Greeks in a common cause.24 Alexander in all probability did not accompany his father in the Peloponnesian campaign but instead, after his mission to Athens, he was sent back to Macedonia. There are some scant references in our sources that at the time there was trouble on Macedonias northern border. It must have been then that Alexander engaged in the short and victorious war against the Illyrians which is mentioned by Curtius Rufus in his description of events that happened much later.25 However, we know of no other details about this war. With the exception of Sparta, all the poleis of mainland Greece as well as some of the island states, such as Chios and Eresus on Lesbos, accepted Philips invitation. During two sessions in 337 they accepted a resolution ratifying a new state of affairs in Greece. We know it thanks to an inscription found in Athens containing an extensive extract of the oaths made by the Greek states in their treaty with Philip. The signatories were obliged to: remain at peace and not to wage wars on other member states; not to occupy their cities, forts or ports; not to oppose Philips rule or that of his successor (i.e. Alexander); not to interfere in the internal affairs of any other state and to oppose anyone who breached the treaty as specified by the synedrion (council) and ordered by the hegemon of the league, who was naturally the king of Macedonia. If, as modern historians believe, the charter drawn up by Antigonus Monophthalmus and Demetrius Poliorcetes in 302 repeats the resolutions made in 337, then at Corinth some other
Ryder 1965, pp. 150-162 ; Hammond 1994, pp. 157-158; Ashley 1998, pp. 159160; Corvisier 2002, pp. 258-259; Faraguna 2003, p. 101; Zahrnt 2009, p. 20. 24 Lane Fox 1973, p. 93; Flower 2000, p. 98. 25 Curt., 8.1.25. Heckel 1979, p. 390.
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important decisions were made to guarantee a conservative social peace, namely, a ban on expelling citizens against current laws as well as a rejection of the traditional lower class demands such as the redistribution of land or annulment of debts. The treaty accepted in Corinth took the form of a universal peace (koine eirene) and the Greek states that signed this treaty in modern historiography are known as the League of Corinth.26 In the 4th century, which experienced plenty of wars and general chaos, the koine eirene was a popular diplomatic device resorted to as many as six times in attempts to restore political stability though not to great effect. But the Corinth universal peace included new solutions. Apart from naming a hegemon, it also called into being a council (synedrion) in which each member state had a number of delegates proportionate to its size. Thus all signatories to it formed a Philip-led alliance (symmachia) at the same time. For Philip the universal peace formula was a convenient tool to impose Macedonian hegemony over Greece without immediately exposing the political implications. According to the treaty signed in Corinth hegemony was only a means of guaranteeing a universal peace demanded by Greek public opinion. One should not interpret the League of Corinth as a mere tool of Macedonian tyranny, though nor was it, as Philip and Alexanders apologists claim, a voluntary union of Greek states under the benevolent leadership of the Macedonian descendents of Heracles.27 The principle agreed at Corinth of not interfering in the internal affairs of other states effectively meant a universal, be it foisted, agreement to support pro-Macedonian oligarchies and tyrannies even though such forms of government were by then outdated in Greece. Although not even his enemies in Greece questioned Philips leadership, the free hand he was granted to act against breaches of the treaty went far beyond the nominal principle of equality in the koine eirene. On the other hand, the universal peace did force Macedonia to act within the law and not at will. On more than one occasion the synedrion acted as a mediator in disputes between smaller Greek member states. Epigraphic evidence presents a case of the council arbitrating in a dispute between Melos and Kimolos over three islets one which was eventually resolved in favour of Kimolos. This of course does not alter the fact that the universal peace signed in 337 and then again when Alexander succeeded his father enshrined in legal terms

[D.] (=Hypereides?), 17; Diod., 16.98.3; Just., 9.5.1; IG ii2 236 = Syll.3 260; Moretti, ISE 44. Heisserer 1980, pp. xxiii-xxvi; Bosworth 1988, pp. 189-193; Blackwell 1999, pp. 38-40; Faraguna 2003, p. 101; Poddighe 2009, pp. 103-106. 27 Opposing views: Cawkwell 1969, p. 167 and Hammond 1994, pp. 158-164; 1996, pp. 22-23. Ryder 1965, p. 106; Adams 1999.

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Macedonian control over Greece at the end of Philip IIs reign and under Alexander.28 In the autumn session of 337 the decision was also made to wage war against the Great King under the pretext that Persia had broken the universal peace.29 This decision officially set in motion a chain of events leading to war with Persia, Alexanders conquest of the Achaemenid Empire and the start of what 2,200 years later was referred to as the Hellenistic Epoch. This was a genuine turning point marking the start of one of the most profound revolutions in Mediterranean civilization, though we may assume that for those participating, the importance of these events was not as apparent as it would be for observers in later centuries. The resolution was passed by the synedrion of the League of Corinth at a time when Alexander was still the heir to the throne and so the decision to wage war on Persia actually belonged to his father. The momentous consequences of this decision have made it the subject of great controversy among modern historians, particularly with regard to the moment when Philip decided to attack the powerful Persian Empire and also as to what his objectives in this war were. In the 4th century the Greek attitude towards Persia was quite ambivalent. The most powerful empire that had ever existed both terrified and fascinated the Greeks. Its sheer size, the fact that it encompassed virtually all known lands to the east of Greece, meant that it was frequently simply referred to as Asia as if in a sense the empire and the continent were one and the same a continent of whose boundaries before Alexanders expedition the Greeks had no idea. Its population, at the start of the expedition an estimated 30 to 35 million people, greatly exceeded the demographic potential of not only individual poleis or Macedonia but even the entire Greek world. The Greeks called the ruler of Persia the Great King or simply the King. Unlike the kings of Sparta, Macedonia or of the Molossians in Epirus, who were all referred to by name, the Persian monarch was a king par excellence. The way Greeks referred to the Persian monarch indeed reflected the way Persian monarchs wished to be referred to in writing. For instance Darius Is inscription at Behistun states: I am Darius, the great king, king of kings, the king of Persia, the king of countries. The king of kings title, adopted from Urartu no doubt via the Medes, demonstrated the Persian rulers superiority over local princes and kings as well as the universal character of his monarchy. The Great King
Tod, GHI 179. Bosworth 1988, pp. 191-192; Billows 1990, pp. 190-194; Jehne 1994, pp. 7-28; Blackwell 1999, pp. 39-48; Adams 1999; Corvisier 2002, pp. 257262; Zahrnt 2009, pp. 23-25; Poddighe 2009, pp. 103-106. 29 Billows 1990, p. 193; Faraguna 2003, p. 102; Poddighe 2009, pp. 105-106.
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was surrounded by an abundance of luxury that would have greatly impressed Greek observers and his courts opulence and magnificence was quite unmatched elsewhere. One of the aspects of this lifestyle was huge feasts in which even as many as 15,000 banqueters could participate. However, by all accounts contemporary Greek observers did not know that this was a form of redistributing royal wealth among the banqueting court aristocracy and palace guards. Among the court attendants Greek sources mention the ubiquity of eunuchs. Their prominent role in ancient Persia was for a long time interpreted by modern historians as a clear symptom of chronic decadence in the Achaemenid state, one whose history had descended into a continual series of harem intrigues. Today we know that only some of these so-called eunuchs were castrated slaves employed in harems; whereas others described as such in Greek sources were in reality high-ranking dignitaries and no doubt members of the Iranian aristocracy. The Great King wore special attire. In the case of Artaxerxes II it was allegedly worth 12,000 talents, which was 15 times more than the cost of building the Parthenon in Athens. He travelled in a richly ornamented chariot which he ascended using a gold stool. In the palace courtyard Lydian carpets were laid out for him so that his foot never touched the ground. He would meet his subjects on formal occasions which precluded normal conversation. Anyone who approached him had to wear a white cloak out of respect for the sacredness of the Persian monarchy. Although he was served by hundreds of courtiers, the king always ate his meals alone, separated by a screen from his own family and the court aristocracy. The Great King only drank water from the river Choaspes in Elam and Chalybian wine from Syria, supplies of which were taken with him wherever he travelled. Delicacies were served at the monarchs table from all parts of his domain to symbolically reflect his material and political strength. Such complex court ceremonies, which the Greeks found quite astounding, were meant to create an image of an authority of superhuman proportions of a hero guarding a universal monarchy.30 Modern scholarship used to advance a theory that a symptom and also a cause of the decline of the Achaemenid state was an alleged economic crisis in the 4th century. In his classic book A. Olmstead compares the Achaemenid rulers to a vampire sucking blood in the form of tributes out of its victim, the economy. Instead of reinvesting these tributes, the Persian rulers were supposed to feel satisfied with a primitive thesaurization. The
Eddy 1961, pp. 44-47; Frye 1964, pp. 36-37; Cook 1985, pp. 225-231; Briant 1996, pp. 202-216, 236-237, 274-326; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 29-30, 39-41; Aperghis 2001, p. 77; Llewellyn-Jones 2002 (astoundingly conservative approach to eunuchs issue); Nawotka 2004; Brosius 2007, pp. 26-27.
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economy thus deprived of ores and state care was supposed to have experienced crisis that terminally weakened the empire, which was then easily defeated by Alexander. Today we know that such theories based on Greek sources overly sticking to certain stereotypes are untenable. Actually only a small proportion of collected taxes were thesaurized, whereas most of the revenue was spent on the army, the administration, the royal and satraps courts. 4th century documents attest uninterrupted continuation of the royal economy with taxes, storage, redistribution throughout the Persian empire from Bactria to Idumea. Moreover, the state was investing in major irrigation projects to stimulate agriculture and economic growth. Not only is there no proof of a shortage of ores but numismatic evidence shows a steady rise in the use of coins in trade, especially in Egypt and Asia Minor. The long period of peace could not but have benefited traditional trading nations such as the Phoenicians and Greeks of Asia Minor. Evidence of this is not only an increased circulation of money in 4th-century Ionia but also the number of monumental building projects in that part of the Greek world, which was noticeably larger than in the preceding century.31 Among the major achievements of the Achaemenid Empire to be particularly noticed and admired by the Greeks were the excellent roads linking its major centres. Their total length has been estimated to be 13,000 km. Archaeologically uncovered sections of ancient Persian highways reveal a very carefully levelled, 5-7 metre wide gravel road. Where necessary such roads cut through rock. Thanks to these highways more or less kept safe by the state authorities and with postal stations approximately every 30 km a royal messenger could cover 2,400 km from the Aegean coast to Susa within one or two weeks, while a normal journey on this road would not exceed three months. The royal court was nearly always on the move. Every year it travelled hundreds of kilometres along these highways, known as the Royal Road, between the four capitals of Babylon, Susa, Persepolis and Ecbatana, spending a few months in each. As custom dictated, on his journeys the monarch would always be greeted by the local people with gifts.32 Although he was never deified by his Persian subjects, the Great King ruled by the grace of the Iranian Lord of Wisdom Ahura Mazda. According to the doctrine formulated by the prophet Zarathustra and least the later Achaemenids if not all of them were its adherents Ahura
Olmstead 1948; contra: Kuhrt 1990; Stolper 1994, p. 259; Carlier 1995, p. 145; Dandamayev 1999, pp. 296-298; Debord 1999, pp. 22-23; Briant 2009. 32 Hdt., 5.50.3. Mellink 1988, p. 216; Cuyler Young 1988, pp. 79-81; Graf 1994; Debord 1999, pp. 34-36.
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Mazda fought a cosmic battle against the essence of evil Angra Mainyu (Ahriman). It was the kings mission to lead the state along the road of justice, enlightenment and truth. This did not imply suppressing the religious practices of his pagan and non-Iranian subjects but naturally those who opposed the Great King as the guardian of the Truth were amoral followers of lies and indeed are described as such in royal Achaemenid inscriptions. Awareness of the Zoroastrian doctrine in Greek literature is famously expressed in The Histories of Herodotus, where he states that young Persians were taught three things: horse riding, archery and telling the truth. The empire was bound by numerous cultural and religious taboos. According to Ahura Mazdas law the king of Iran could only be a Persian Aryan from the Achaemenid dynasty who happened to be endowed with a special charisma of kingship, in ancient Persian called khvarenah. Connected with fire and light, it was an internal force (mana) which predestined someone to hold power. However, it could not be acquired by force but only inherited down the male line of the ruling dynasty. A monarch possessing khvarenah stood at the head of a hierarchical society personifying perfect unity in a multi-ethnic monarchy. Numerous works of Persian art, particularly friezes at Persepolis, present the image of a just, sovereign and unlimited royal rule over many nations and symbolically over the entire world.33 The Greeks were shocked by the behaviour of Persian women, which was far more open than that of women in their own country. This was especially true of the Persian court, where aristocratic women were granted a higher status and were therefore more visible. Persian women did not hide within the walls of palaces or houses but played an active role in social and economic life; they owned property and managed it themselves. Worse still, Persepolis tablets show that even women who were commoners could have active professional lives. Generally misogynistic Greek authors saw in all this yet another symptom of Persian decadence. Notice was taken of the fact that apart from official wives, the Great King also had 360 concubines and a similar number of female musicians who played and sang for his pleasure. From among the Kings numerous children only the sons of official wives had the right to succession, whereas the children of his concubines, a vast array of royal relatives well documented in the sources, accompanied the monarch at banquets, during hunting and in military expeditions. According to Curtius Rufus, Darius III would be accompanied by 200 propinqui and 15,000 cognati. But the number of those children entitled to the throne was also
33 Frye 1964, pp. 45-46; Schwartz 1985, p. 677; Cuyler Young 1988, pp. 99-105; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 30-33; Briant 1996, pp. 183-195, 222-229.

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very large, which, as naturally happens, made succession a very emotive political issue in Persia. In the last 70 years of the Achaemenid rule violence became a practically inseparable part of the process of succession. Shortly after ascending the throne in 405/405 Artaxerxes II had to fight a war against his brother Cyrus the Younger. Artaxerxes IIs son Artaxerxes III protected himself against potential pretenders by conducting a great purge among the male members of the dynasty. He himself perished in 338, apparently in the Greek tradition of being poisoned by a highly placed courtier called Bagoas, though an almost contemporary Babylonian tablet seems to indicate that the king died of natural causes. In 336 Bagoas also murdered Artaxerxes IIIs son and successor Artaxerxes IV, who was also known by his earlier name of Arses. After eliminating the main Achaemenid line the ambitious Bagoas helped install on the throne a member of a lesser branch of the dynasty stemming from Darius II called Artashata, by Justin probably erroneously called Codomannus, who on the throne adopted the name Darius III. And it was Darius III who finally outsmarted Bagoas by forcing him to drink a poison that the latter had actually prepared in order to kill the king. Naturally the problems with succession weakened the Persian state, which could not have escaped Philip IIs notice, all the more so because Pella became the natural refuge for those who rebelled against the Great King, such as the satrap Artabazus and the mercenary general Memnon.34 4th-century Greeks were generally very ignorant not only about the Persian Empires geography but also about the actual state. Although many years had passed and contacts with Persia had been intensive, knowledge of the Persian Empire and her peoples did not go far beyond what had been written by Herodotus. Unfortunately the writings of Ctesias of Cnidus, a physician at the court of Artaxerxes II in the early 4th century and therefore someone who knew Persia well, are more noted for their lightness of style and penchant for tales of romance and intrigue than for insight into Persian realities. The Greeks were very familiar with the western provinces of the Achaemenid Empire, but their knowledge of its core territories to the east of the Zagros Mountains, i.e. Iran, was more in the realms of legend than reality. Tablets found in Persepolis testify that the Persian state closely monitored the travels of foreigners east of the Zagros Mountains and that there is no evidence of Greek travellers or
34

Curt., 3.3.9-25; Just., 10.3.3; Diod., 16.52.3. 17.5.3-6; SEG 27.942; Babylonian tablet BM 71537. Badian 1985, p. 422; Cook 1985, pp. 226-228; Guyot 1990, pp. 189-190 (no. 17); Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 82-85; Brosius 1996, pp. 83-97, 123-180; Brosius 2003a, p. 235; Briant 1996, pp. 292-296, 789-790, 799; Briant 2003, pp. 64-65; Hammond 1994, p. 129-130; Heckel 1997, p. 197; Walker 1997, p. 22.

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diplomats ever visiting that particular Persian capital. 35 Greeks, most probably forced labourers, employed in Fars were deliberately disfigured because the Persians knew that in such a state taboos concerning beauty and the flawlessness of the human body would effectively prohibit their return to Greece. As far as we can tell, Persepolis, which played such a crucial role in the Persian state, was basically unknown to the Greek public before Alexanders expedition. The Persian capital where the Great King usually accepted Greek envoys was Susa in Elam to the west of the Zagros Mountains.36 Indeed, in Greek literature written before Alexanders expedition Susa is mentioned at least 36 times, whereas Persepolis no more than twice.37 Furthermore the Greeks did not understand that the Achaemenid Empire was basically a feudal state, not a tyranny ruled by an almighty despot. They knew that the state was divided into satrapies, but they were not aware of the way in which satraps were subordinate to the Great King. The 26 satrapies that had functioned under Darius III were taken over virtually unchanged by Alexander during his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire. The fact that there was a network of trusted informants poetically called the kings eyes and ears by Herodotus is also confirmed in Eastern sources, but the Persian state was not controlled by a secret police force. Nor was it controlled by the states efficient and well developed bureaucracy operating in the Achaemenids home province of Fars about which we know from thousands of the clay tablets found at Persepolis. As is usual in a system not based on a written constitution but on custom and the charisma of kingship, the significance of the central government and its ability to mobilise forces rested to a large extent on the rulers personality. With someone of the strong and outstanding personality of Artaxerxes III no one could resist the state, whereas when the ruler was weak, the state became sluggish. Many of the satraps were members of the ruling family, but all of them were bound by the feudal principle of loyalty and fealty. According to Xenophon, in a conversation between King Agesilaus and the satrap Pharnabazus the satrap turned down the Spartans proposal to defect and free himself from the Great King by replying: If the king sends another as general and makes me his subordinate, I shall choose to be your friend and ally; but if he assigns the command to me
Cook 1985, p. 241. Curt., 5.5; Diod., 17.69.3-4; Just., 11.14. Briant 1996, pp. 755-756; Tuplin 1996, pp. 137-140. 37 Under the name Parsa/Persai: Arist., Mir., 838a; Ctes., FGrH, 688 F36. Ctesias, however, could have in mind Fars (Persis) or even Pasargadae and not Persepolis, Gombiowski 1981, pp. 19-21.
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so strong, it seems, is the power of honour you may well be assured that I shall wage war upon you to the best of my ability. This expression of feudal mentality is a good illustration of how the Persian Empire was administered. There once someone was made a satrap he held that position for life and any attempts to remove him from his post frequently led to rebellion. A satrap, like every high-ranking Persian official, was a vassal. The Persian word for vassal was bandaka, which the Greeks, not understanding Persian social structures, translated as doulos, i.e. slave. To modern historians studying Persian history mainly from Greek sources the Achaemenid Empire for a long time gave the impression of being a despotic state where the monarchs subjects were basically his slaves. Today we know that the Great King was not a tyrant standing above the law. His government also served the interests of the aristocracy and magi. Moreover, together they were all bound by tradition and established ideology to serve as the guardians of what was for Iranians the one and only true religion.38 Another factor to consider was the great war of Xerxes I in the years 480-479, his occupation of mainland Greece and the destruction of Athenian temples, which for centuries was considered to be the quintessential act of eastern barbarity. Although defeated in the great 5thcentury wars, Persia had not ceased being a threat to Greek states in the century that followed, though there were no more epic battles where Greek hoplites had to defend the freedom of their poleis against many thousands of barbarians driven on with whips as recorded by Herodotus. Aware of the ineffectiveness of earlier military efforts, the Persians now changed their policy. Intricate diplomacy and financial support distributed to various Greek states in the last part of the Peloponnesian and during the Corinthian War in the beginning of the 4th century let Persia to eventually recover all its lost territories in Asia Minor. The empire also gained control of numerous Greek islands in the Aegean, whereas the chaos of the 4th century allowed successive Persian rulers to continue influencing events in mainland Greece through the skilful use of subsidies, diplomacy and the threat of military intervention. No wonder that to Greek public opinion Persia was the enemy par excellence. Even in 341 Demosthenes, who was after all looking for Persian help against Philip II, had to assure

38

X., HG, 4.1.37 in Brownsons translation (Loeb). Frye 1964, pp. 36-37; Barcel 1993, pp. 217-218; Hornblower 1994, pp. 54-56; Billows 1994, pp. 60-70; Carlier 1995, pp. 143-144; Briant 1996, pp. 350-351; Klinkott 2000.

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the Athenians that the Macedonian monarch was an even greater threat than the Great King.39 Many Greek physicians, artists and architects were employed in the courts of the Great King and his satraps, whereas for good pay Greek mercenaries served in Persian armies in their thousands. The best Greek commanders fought in the many wars that took place in the western regions of the vast Achaemenid empire in the 4th century including: King Agesilaus of Sparta, Pammenes of Thebes, the Athenians Conon, Iphicrates, Timotheos, Chabrias, Chares, Charidemus as well as the brothers Mentor and Memnon of Rhodes. Yet Greek authors, particularly Diodorus, who is our major source for this era, overstate the importance of Greek generals and mercenaries in wars fought by Persia in the 4th century. They concentrate exclusively on the role played by Greek soldiers on the Persian pay. That is why many modern historians have succumbed to the illusion of Persias military weakness against Alexanders imminent invasion and have willingly portrayed it as a colossus with feet of clay. Looking at Alexanders defeat of Persia with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to forget that for most of the 4th-century before the Macedonian conquest, despite internal problems, the Achaemenid state had generally experienced political successes. Artaxerxes II recovered the Greek cities of Asia Minor that had been lost in the 5th century. At the start of his reign Artaxerxes III quelled the rebellion of the western satraps, next in 345 he crushed the resistance of Phoenician cities before finally in 343 reconquering Egypt, which for 61 years had been independent of Persia. In Asia Minor, which was much closer to Greece, tyrants attempting to gain quasi-independence, such as Hermias of Atarneus, were removed. The Great Kings authority over the satraps was once again restored and, after ending his military actions, Artaxerxes III ordered them to disband their mercenary armies, so as they would no longer be able to act too independently. The reign of Artaxerxes IV (338-336) was too short-lived to allow us to assess it. On the other hand, his successor, Darius III, will probably always be associated with the odium of defeat and incompetence, because he had the misfortune of facing in battle the greatest military leader of ancient times Alexander the Great. However, when Darius ascended the throne he was already a known figure. Under Artaxerxes III he had acquired fame as a warrior. Moreover, the fact that he had managed to take over the throne and dispose of Bagoas without causing political unrest indicates that he must have acquired the trust of the Iranian aristocracy and magi. We also know that at the start of his reign he briskly
39

D., 10.33.4. Badian 1985, p. 427; Hammond 1994, p. 165; Tuplin 1996, pp. 153154; Flower 2000, p. 104.

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quelled Khababashs rebellion in Egypt thus once again restoring peace to the Persian Empire.40 In 4th-century Greek literature there is a strong tendency to contrast the manliness and triumphant valour of the Greeks with Persian effeminacy induced by excessive luxury. To a certain extent this was a continuation of a theme that had already appeared in the work of Herodotus, whilst at the same time it also reflected the popular views of the school of Hippocrates which noted how climate and living conditions affected human character and behaviour. Ctesias gossipy and sensationalistic Persica provided colourful examples to support such theories. According to the most important political writers of 4th-century Greece Plato, Aristotle, Isocrates and Theopompus the Persians were typical barbarians degenerated by luxury, gluttony and sex. They were regarded to have the mentality of slaves, whose behaviour betrayed a mixture of cowardice, servility, arrogance and pride. These views were expressed most effectively by the writer, soldier and philosopher Xenophon. His most famous work, Anabasis, relates the story of Greek mercenaries (including Xenophon himself) who, serving the pretender to the Persian throne Cyrus the Younger, venture as far as Babylon and then after Cyruss death fight repeated battles against the Persians until they reach Greek settlements on the Black Sea coast. On the other hand, in his Hellenica the same author glorifies the Spartan king Agesilaus and his struggle for the freedom of Greek cities in Asia Minor. Xenophon contrasts hard, athletic, seasoned Greek fighters with feeble and unmanly Persians: And again, believing that to feel contempt for one's enemies infuses a certain courage for the fight, Agesilaus gave orders to his heralds that the barbarians who were captured by the Greek raiding parties should be exposed for sale naked. Thus the soldiers, seeing that these men were white-skinned because they never were without their clothing, and soft and unused to toil because they always rode in carriages, came to the conclusion that the war with them would be in no way different from having to fight with women.41 These well written and popular books as well as the works of other anti-Persian authors, particularly Ephorus of Cyme author of the first Greek universal history, which was later used as a source by Diodorus, Strabo, Plutarch and Pompeius Trogus give the impression that the
Parke 1933, pp. 105-112, 122-132, 165-169; Starr 1976, pp. 63-66; Ruzicka 1993, pp. 85-91; Hornblower 1994, pp. 45-48; Burstein 2000; Brosius 2003, pp. 170-171. One new book (Briant 2003) is largely devoted to the image of Darius III in historiographic tradition. 41 H., HG, 3.4.19 in Brownsons translation (Loeb). Momigliano 1975, pp. 129137; Starr 1976, pp. 50-60; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 80-85; Tuplin 1996, pp. 153-162.
40

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Persian Empire was weak and the only forces of value were the Greek mercenaries. Xenophon relates what Antiochus of Arcadia, a envoy to the Persian court, said: the King had bakers, and cooks, and wine-pourers, and door-keepers in vast numbers, but as for men who could fight with Greeks, he said that though he sought diligently he could not see any. Nonetheless such views cannot be regarded as reflecting the true state of affairs but merely the Hellenocentric outlook of the authors, who regarded the polis to be the universal model for a proper state and a states military power to be measured by its ability to deploy a citizens army of hoplites. Yet the basic Persian military formation was the Iranian cavalry, whereas Greek mercenaries were only hired in the western part of the empire. Despite the large numbers of mercenaries employed, as many as 20,000 soldiers in the 340s, they never formed independent armies realising Greek political aims. Instead they were merely a part of the Persian army, following the orders of the Great King and his satraps. These mercenaries were commanded by Persian or Greek officers, in return for whose loyal service the king would frequently grant them land and gradually incorporate them into the ruling aristocracy. Naturally the lack of a native infantry was a potential source of danger to the state, but only in the eventuality of the Great King no longer being able to recruit Greek mercenaries. As long as the market for mercenaries remained open, the recruitment of Greeks was not a sign of any weakness or decline but of Persian appreciation of the difference between Greek and Asian infantry. In antiquity infantry soldiers were drafted from the peasantry and those in the Asian part of the Persian Empire were too poor to be able to afford hoplite armour, they lacked the social models of how to behave like phalangites and, besides, serfs never made good recruitment material for such military formations. Therefore, on account of Persias social structure, the Great King could not use his Asian subjects to form large efficient infantry units and thus the drafting of Greek mercenaries was the simplest alternative. The only Persian infantry formation of military value, though also inferior to the Greek hoplites, was what the ancient authors call the immortal guard. The name itself is actually yet another example of how little the ancient Greeks understood Persia. The Persian name for the guard was anuiya meaning servants or companions, whereas the Greeks confused the name with another Persian word anua, which indeed means immortals. Thanks to the skilful use of Greek mercenaries, Iranian cavalry and a fleet provided by Greek and Phoenician cities, the rulers of Persia were for a long time able to successfully realise their foreign policy.42
42 X., HG, 7.1.38, after Brownson (Loeb). See also Plb., 3.6.9-12 for the importance of Xenophons picture of Persias weakness. Hornblower 1994, pp. 80-83, 92;

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This fact, even though it was painfully felt by the Greeks, especially those living in Asia Minor, had no effect on the popularly held myth of contemptible Persian military ineptitude and low morale. The 4th-century Persian victories over the Greeks were explained simply by the lack of unity among Greek states. It is worth noting that in the 4th century, especially after 386 when the Persians regained full and, as it seemed, permanent control of Greek cities in Asia Minor, Greek political authors began treating compatriots living in that region as one political entity and it was then that calls for their liberation first appeared. Some scholars assume that many of the contemptuous opinions about Persians were inspired by Greeks living in Asia Minor, who were hoping for a new Greco-Persian war that would free them from the Great King. By emphasising the structural weakness of the Achaemenid Empire they wished to facilitate the decision of mainland Greeks to invade. Plutarch even names an associate of Plato, Delios of Ephesus, who was apparently sent as an envoy from Asia Minor to Alexander to persuade him to invade Persia and liberate the Greeks there. 43 Unfortunately we do not know Plutarchs source. The main theme in Greek political literature after the Peloponnesian War concerned a lack of political stability and constant conflicts, which no doubt reflected the mood among the Greek public. The remedy advocated by writers and orators was to unite the conflicting poleis with a common cause. It was at the start of the 4th century that the idea of Panhellenism first appeared in speeches given by the famous sophist Gorgias of Leontini and the Athenian rhetorician Lysias. This concept stressed that, despite their various differences, the Greeks had much more in common with each other than with barbarians. The most influential 4th-century propagator of Panhellenism was Isocrates. After years of unsuccessfully searching for a polis capable of uniting the Greeks, in 346 Isocrates decided that Philip II was the best suited ruler to become hegemon and tried to persuade Greek public opinion that this was the case. According to a plan that Isocrates had formulated most fully in several works (Panegyricus, Philippus and letters he wrote to Philip II), the union of Greek states was to be built on a common cause to fight their arch enemy Persia. One of the things the Athenian author could not bear was the fact that, unlike his Greek compatriots, the barbarians in Asia were living in prosperity and their
Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 90-92, Briant 1996, pp. 803-809. About mercenaries in general see now: Trundle 2004. 43 Seager, Tuplin 1980; Flower 1994, p. 89; Hornblower 1994, p. 211. The embassy of Delios: Plu., mor., 1126d; see Brunt 1993, p. 291; Flower 1994, p.107; Ruzicka 1997, pp. 124-125.

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economy was thriving. One could say that this conflicted with his sense of justice. Isocrates was not alone among the Greeks in thinking that they were created by nature to rule over barbarians like the Persians. Experiences of the great Persian wars in the 5th century served as evidence that by diverting its energies away from internal conflicts to overseas expansion a united Greece would ultimately defeat Persia. For Isocrates the key issue was to remedy Greek demographic and social problems without starting a revolution involving the redistribution of land and other actions that could harm the rich. Through the large-scale colonisation of conquered land in Asia, war with Persia was to be a painless way of alleviating Greeces social tensions. Philip would be rewarded with wealth and fame as well as esteem among the Greek peoples. In keeping with the Greek literary tradition, Isocrates enhanced his arguments with references to mythology, which in J. Burchkhardts words, was the ideal basis of Greek existence. Isocrates argued that as the descendent of Heracles Philip was bound to conquer Asia and there found new cities. Finally it should be stressed that in Antiquity there was nothing unethical in conquering other countries for, quite unlike today, war was seen as a natural state of affairs, though of course prolonged conflicts were not considered a good thing.44 Although Isocratess views are well known, the extent to which he and other Panhellenists influenced the decisions made by Philip II and later by Alexander remains highly controversial. Indeed, Isocrates does not overtly claim that Philips decision to invade Persia was made on his persuasion. The only fairly certain thing is that both the Greek elites and the general Greek public feared and disliked Persia. The Greek elites were people the Argead kings were very much in touch with and whose acceptance they on more than one occasion were eager to gain. Moreover, among the proponents of war with Persia were Aristotle and Callisthenes, who were very close to Philip and Alexander. The fact that Persia was indeed perceived as the arch enemy of Greece should lead us to rejecting the opinion that the Panhellenic idea of invading Persia was just a propaganda ploy or a mere marketing tool used by Isocrates to draw the attention of potential clients, especially Philip II, to his school. Sanctioned by the League of Corinth, Philips declaration of war against Persia had two official goals: to liberate the Greeks in Asia Minor and to avenge crimes committed by the Persians 150 years earlier, particularly the destruction of Greek temples by Xerxes. Regardless of how sincere these declared reasons for war were, they corresponded well with the public mood and
Wilcken 1967, pp. 34-38; Dobesch 1968, pp. 137-149; Markle 1976; Perlman 1976; Jehne 1994, pp. 7-19; Hammond 1994, p. 164-165; Huttner 1997, pp. 81-85; Flower 2000, pp. 98-104.
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would certainly have helped Philip become popular in Greece. In return for participation in the war, Philip, and Alexander after him, offered the Greeks a share in the plunder, including newly conquered territories, as well as the satisfaction of righting the wrongs previously perpetrated by Persia. From Philips point of view an additional advantage in calling for a universal attack on Persia could have possibly been greater unity within the League of Corinth, which apart from the negative goal of preventing intestine conflicts had also a positive aim of defeating Persia. On top of that, victory would provide everyone and especially Philips supporters in Greek cities with wealth from the booty, which would make stronger their political position. This in turn would strengthen the ties between the poleis and Macedonia. Moreover a defeated Persia would no longer be able to interfere in Greek politics and thus threaten Philips position as hegemon.45 We do not know when exactly the plan to invade Persia was born. Ancient sources do not give us an unequivocal answer, whereas the extreme views of modern historians such as claims that Philip had already planned to invade Persia as early as the late 350s are only hypothetical as are claims associating the idea with Hermias of Atarneus. Philips actions in that period can be explained perfectly well in the context of his Greek policy and therefore it does not seem necessary to add hypothetical explanations unsupported by evidence. The only thing we can be certain of is that Isocrates had been advocating war with Persia since at least 346. It is very likely that the planning of the invasion of Persia only began with the conquest of Thrace and its reorganisation modelled on a Persian satrapy in 342. However, Philip started implementing these plans only after the Battle of Chaeronea. In 341 Philips arch enemy Demosthenes could just presume that the Macedonian ruler had anti-Persian intentions but he still had no concrete evidence. Artaxerxes III only started regarding Macedonia as a threat after the siege of Perinthus in 340/339; from that moment on we can talk of Philips anti-Persian plans with a high degree of certainty.46

Diod., 16.89; Arr., An., 2.14.5-8; Just., 11.5.6; revenge as a pretext for Philip: Plb., 3.6.12-14. Varying interpretations of modern scholarship: Markle 1976; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 24-28; contra Flower 2000. See Lane Fox 1973, pp. 92-93; Badian 1982, p. 38; Errington 1981, p. 83; Errington 1990, p. 103; Gehrke 1996, p. 26; Brosius 2003a; Bloedow 2003; Poddighe 2009, pp. 99-107. 46 For a review of modern scholarship see Errington 1981. Badian 1983, pp. 67-68; Bosworth 1988, p. 18; Errington 1990, pp. 88-89; Hornblower 1994, p. 95; Corvisier 2002, pp. 262-263, 271-276.

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Another historical controversy concerns Philips war objectives, particularly whether he intended to conquer the whole of the Persian Empire or only the part in Asia Minor. In his Philippus Isocrates lays out three scenarios for the Macedonian ruler: destruction of the entire Persian Empire, the conquest and Greek colonisation of Asia Minor from Synope to Cilicia or at least the liberation of the regions Greek cities. The arguments used in Darius III letters to Alexander indicate that Philips plans or rather what was being said about his plans referred to the conquest of Asia Minor scenario. If one can argue ex post, it is characteristic that the actions of one of the most talented among the Successors and Philips contemporary Antigonus Monophthalmus concentrated on the eastern Mediterranean zone but not Iran. Perhaps this also reflects the scope of territorial interest that had been formulated by Philips entourage.47 It would be a gross oversimplification to view Persian Asia Minor prior to Philip and Alexanders planned expedition from the point of view of Greek political authors and see there exclusively a dichotomy of politically subjugated Greeks and the oppressive Persian rulers. Of course in Asia Minor there was a developed Persian administration and the country was divided into at least six satrapies: Hellespontine Phrygia, Lydia, Great Phrygia, Caria, Lycia and Cappadocia. In the Persian system of government which we know most about from Greek sources in reference to Asia Minor the satrap had great power, imitating the authority of the Great King locally. On his territory the satrap had civil authority: the right to collect taxes, part of which was kept for the needs of his army and administration, whilst the rest he sent on to the capital. The satrap most usually governed his territory through a more often than not local aristocracy, which in many cases meant permission to run their regions with considerable autonomy, like local principalities. It was a general rule that the satraps were totally responsible for the provinces entrusted to them: only some of the empires most important garrisons had soldiers directly under the Great Kings command. Satraps were nominated almost exclusively from among members of the Iranian aristocracy. The most notable exception from this rule was Caria, where the position of satrap in the 4th century was held by members of a local dynasty, the Hecatomnids of Mylasa: Hecatomnus, Maussolus, Idrieus and Pixodarus. This dynasty indeed shows a tendency noted in other regions of Asia Minor if not the entire empire, to make the office of satrap hereditary in one family. After the collapse of the Achaemenid Empire some of these
47

Billows 1990, pp. 3-4; Ellis 1994, pp. 788-789; Hatzopoulos 1997, p. 43.

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great Iranian families went on to found new, gradually Hellenised dynasties that ruled over states in Asia Minor. Not all of Asia Minor was actually ever under effective Persian rule. Some peripheral areas maintained de facto or even quite official independence from the Great King, the best example of which was the large Greek city of Heraclea on the Black Sea coast. Moreover, the pragmatic Persians were more interested in colleting tributes, which was easier, than subjugating highland regions that were difficult to control, frequently inhabited by wild tribes, as in Cilicia Trachea, and economically worthless. Such areas, though frequently bounded from all sides by Persian satrapies, were allowed to run their own affairs as they pleased. Furthermore, one should not think of states in ancient times the same way we think of their 20stcentury counterparts. Regardless of whether they were in Asia Minor or on any of the islands under the Great Kings rule, a state was not cut off from the outside world (not even the Greek world) by some iron curtain. In antiquity political borders were wide open for trade and demographic mobility.48 Certain parts of Asia Minor including the Daskyleion in Hellespontine Phrygia, the regions of Celaenae and Colossae in Great Phrygia and Paphlagonia were intensively colonised by Iranian cavalrymen who received land for their military service. Much larger landed estates in Asia Minor were awarded to Persian aristocrats who in return were obliged to muster hundreds of horsemen in the event of war. Persian kings willingly provided refuge for members of the Greek elites forced for one reason or another to leave their poleis. Apart from the famous Greek refugees ostracised at the time of the 5th-century Persian wars such as the victor of Salamis, Themistocles, or the Spartan king Demaratus there were dozens of other less well known migrs. These distinguished people were also granted vast estates in return for providing armed forces. The cavalry recruited from these three sources together with the cavalry units from some of the native populations were the basis of satraps armies in Asia Minor, which were nearly always on standby, ready to fight. Both Greek and Persian culture influenced the local populace and also competed with one another as models for the social elites. The local upper echelons of society were Hellenised and Iranicised in more or less equal measure as is particularly well illustrated in the archaeological remains of Lycian culture and the few extant inscriptions from that region. Although Lycian was the primary language of the local administration, the Lycian aristocracy spoke Greek and employed Greek
48 Jacobs 1994, pp. 117-146; Hornblower 1982; Hornblower 1994, pp. 74-82, 214222; Sartre 1995, pp. 7-14, 45-48; Debord 1999, pp. 139-140.

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artists and craftsmen to carve monuments expressing themes deeply rooted in Iranian culture, for instance extolling the skills of riding and archery. Likewise the stelae and other monuments at Daskyleion, the capital of the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia, give evidence of a Greco-Iranian cultural synthesis and its impact on in this case the Phrygian elites. Traces of Iranian cultural influence, for instance in the form of Iranian cults, could still be found in Asia Minor at the time of the Roman Empire.49 We do not know whether there was a clearly formulated Achaemenid policy regarding what form of constitution Greek states within the Persian Empire should have. Nevertheless, Greek sources do show a clear evolution of political systems in Asia Minor from democracies in the second half of the 5th century supported by powerful Athens to oligarchies in the 4th century. Most probably the main reason for this was a natural tendency for satraps to choose political solutions that were most convenient from their perspective. That would have been to entrust power to elite social groups within poleis under their control, and thus oligarchies were formed. For the Persian aristocrats who represented Achaemenid authority in Asia Minor, the rule in the cities of wealthy elites must have also appeared the natural and most familiar way of running affairs. This was the system that had predominated for much longer also in cities that were only now being Hellenised, for instance in Caria. Moreover, the Hecatomnid dynasty, particularly the famous Maussolus, was known as a protector of the oligarchic system in Greek states such as those of Rhodes, Chios, Kos, Erythrai and Miletus.50 With the mandate he had received at the 337 second council session of the League of Corinth, in the spring of 336 Philip sent to Asia Minor a corps commanded by Parmenion, Amyntas and Attalus as an advance force of the main Macedonian and allied armies. The situation in the Achaemenid Empire seemed to be favourable from the Macedonian point of view. The much feared Artaxerxes III died and the weak government of his son Artaxerxes IV, soon to be murdered, augured an inadequate Persian response to an attack by Philips forces. While he was still alive, Artaxerxes III had disbanded the vast mercenary army that had quelled rebellious nobles and tyrants such as Hermias of Atarneus. Moreover the
49 Starr 1977; Mellink 1988, pp. 213-231; Boyce, Grenet 1989, pp. 197-209; Hornblower 1994, pp. 230-232; Briant 1996, pp. 718-719; Debord 1999, pp. 20-21, 183-188; Kaptan 2003; Shabazi 2003, pp. 11-12; Raimond 2007; Briant 2009, pp. 156-160. 50 Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 171-175; Hornblower 1982, pp.107-137; Hornblower 1994, pp. 227-229; Nawotka 1999, pp. 33-34; Nawotka 2003a, pp. 21-26; Debord 1999, pp. 328, 404.

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commander of this mercenary army, Mentor of Rhodes, was by then most probably dead, for the sources no longer mention him after 338. The Macedonian advance force with an estimated strength of approximately 10,000 men initially had a number of military successes and occupied large swathes of land in Asia Minor. Although there was no general antiPersian uprising, there is on the other hand no evidence to support the view that virtually all the poleis in Asia Minor resisted the Macedonians. At least some of the Greek cities greeted them as liberators. A genuine democratic revolution erupted at Ephesus, no doubt led by Heropythus, and a statue honouring the Macedonian king was raised at Artemisium. The important cities of Cyzicus and Erythrai allied themselves with Macedonia. It is perhaps also then that the satrap Ariobarzaness statue was pulled down in the Troad. Already before the start of the Asia Minor campaign Philip had managed to gain influence on the islands. Most notable was an alliance with the tyrants of Eresus on the island of Lesbos, who even became members of the League of Corinth.51 The series of Macedonian successes came to an end when Darius III nominated Memnon of Rhodes, brother of Mentor, to take over command of the defensive war. This probably happened after Philip IIs death but still in 336. Ancient sources do not record any information of the new Macedonian king, Alexander, overseeing the campaign in Asia Minor that year. Instead he most probably left all the decisions to the commanders his father had nominated. Heading a force of 5,000 Greek mercenaries Memnon started a vigorous campaign against a numerically far superior Macedonian army, but one commanded by less talented generals. The Macedonians suffered the first defeat at the Battle of Magnesia. The sources do not provide an unequivocal answer as to which of the cities bearing that name the battle refers: the more northern Magnesia ad Sipylum or the Magnesia on the Maeander to the south of Ephesus. As a result of this defeat the invading army turned back north towards the Hellespont. We know that at Ephesus Memnons mercenaries helped in carrying out a counter-revolution that re-established a pro-Persian oligarchy headed by Syrphax. Philips statue at Artemision was destroyed as was the grave of the citys heroised democratic leader. One may assume that in most of the other cities in Asia Minor pro-Persian governments were restored too. Memnon next crossed Mount Ida and quite
51 Diod., 16.89.2, 16.91.2, 17.2.4, 17.7.7; [D.], 17.7; Arr., An., 1.17.11; Just., 9.5; IG xii.2.526. Cawkwell 1978, p. 170; Ruzicka 1993, pp. 84-85; Hammond 1994, pp. 167-168; Lott 1996; Briant 1996, p. 837; Debord 1999, pp. 421-425; Nawotka 2003a, pp. 23-24. Heckel 1997, pp. 194-195 formulates an unfounded hypothesis of universal resistance to Macedonian army.

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unexpectedly attacked Cyzicus, almost capturing it. Meanwhile Parmenion, whose mission it officially was to liberate Greeks, somewhat ironically captured the Greek town of Gryneion and sold its inhabitants as slaves. This was the last Macedonian victory in this part of the war. Memnon successfully relieved the beleaguered city of Pitane, which like Gryneion was situated in Aeolis, and next we known that in the Troad he fought another victorious battle against the Macedonians, this time led by Calas, who may have temporarily taken over command from Parmenion. The Macedonians were now forced to retreat to the promontory of Rhoeteium on the Hellespont. The ancient authors do not provide information allowing us to establish the exact chronology of these events. Nevertheless, their description of Memnons campaign, especially the elements of swiftness and surprise in his attacks would suggest that it was a short campaign, perhaps lasting from the autumn of 336 to the summer of 335. Philip IIs death as well as the uncertainty that accompanied Alexanders transition to the throne and confirmation as the new hegemon delayed the expedition of the main Greco-Macedonian force into Asia Minor by one and a half years. Left to fend for itself the first expeditionary corps suffered defeat and only some of the men would have survived to later see the arrival of Alexanders army at Abydos.52

4. The Pixodarus affair


Plutarch is the only source noting a serious conflict between Philip and Alexander caused by a diplomatic offer made by Pixodarus, the satrap of Caria and Lycia. This last male member of the Hecatomnid dynasty wanted an alliance with the Macedonian king which would most probably have implied greater autonomy or even complete independence from Persia. The offer was to arrange for a marriage between Philips son Arrhidaeus and Pixodarus oldest daughter, Ada II she is called Ada II to distinguish her from Pixodarus sister Ada I, whom he overthrew as satrap in 341/340. With these diplomatic negotiations underway Alexanders mother, Olympias, as well as some of his friends started to fear that this was a sign of Philips intention of now making Arrhidaeus his heir. They therefore persuaded Alexander to act. Through the mediation of the actor Thettalus, Alexander suggested to Pixodarus that he should marry his daughter. When Philip discovered this, he went to Alexanders quarters
Diod., 17.7; Arr., An., 1.17.11; Polyaen., 5.44.4-5; Just., 9.5.8-9. Parke 1993, pp. 178-179; Cawkwell 1978, p. 177; Errington 1990, p. 104; Hammond 1994, pp. 168-170; Briant 1996, pp. 837-838; Ashley 1998, pp. 160-162; Debord 1999, pp. 423-426.
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accompanied by Parmenions son Philotas. There Philip berated Alexander for besmirching his good name and wishing to associate himself with the daughter of a Carian, a barbarian rulers slave. In addition to this the king now expelled from Macedonia Harpalus, Nearchus, Erigyios and Ptolemy. The king had most probably himself nominated them to be Alexanders advisers but at a critical moment it turned out they had given the heir erroneous counsels, that is, ones contrary to the kings intentions. The four men were recalled from exile immediately after Alexanders ascension to the throne and accompanied him on his expedition as members of his closest circle of friends. With his Macedonian matrimonial plans foiled, Pixodarus remained loyal to the Great King and gave his daughter in marriage to the Iranian aristocrat Orontobates. After Pixodaruss death, Darius III nominated Orontobates his father-in-laws successor as satrap of Caria and Lycia.53 Even if Plutarch is our single source, this story is plausible as it contains elements that were typical for Philips practice of using marriage as means of gaining temporary goals. What does need to be reviewed, however, is the traditional dating of the Pixodarus affair to have happened in the spring of 336. Although in his biography of Alexander Plutarch describes this incident after the far more serious conflict at Cleopatras wedding, this does not mean the events really followed each other in that chronological order. Evidence that this was not so is the presence of Olympias in the Pixodarus affair though she was not in Macedonia in the period between Cleopatras wedding and Philips death. Moreover, the uncompleted marriage arrangements conducted in parallel with other negotiations must have lasted some time. The most probable year would have been 337, when Philip was searching for allies in Asia Minor for his war against Persia and when the chaos following the death of Artaxerxes III could have inclined Pixodarus to search for alternatives to remaining loyal to the Persian monarchy.54 This affair is the first recorded symptom of tension between Alexander and Philip, which exploded into a violent conflict at the time of the kings last marriage. It is curious how easily Alexander allowed himself to be convinced that Arrhidaeus could become a serious rival to the throne, even though objectively speaking no such danger existed. Alexanders mentally retarded half-brother was able to ride a horse, participate in the offering of
Plu., Alex., 10.1-4; Str., 14.2.17. Debord 1999, p. 59. On Alexanders friends see Heckel 1992, pp. 205-208. 54 Bosworth 1988, pp. 21-22; Develin 1981, p. 95; Ruzicka 1992, p. 101. The story is put in doubt by: Hatzopoulos 1982; Hammond 1996, p. 27; Debord 1999, pp. 59-62; Corvisier 2002, pp. 267-268.
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sacrifices and other ceremonies, such as sitting passively on the throne if nothing else was required of him. This, however, was probably the most he was able to do and thus the sources do not mention anything he ever did independently. Later, after his ascension, it became clear that Alexander saw no danger from his half brother because he spared him his life even though Arrhidaeus was the only other remaining male member of Argead dynasty. It would appear that for reason the atmosphere at the Macedonian court in 337 inclined Alexander to feel very insecure as heir to the throne, so much so that he could have behaved irrationally.55 Perhaps the failed attempt at getting a wife for Arrhidaeus, marrying off one of Philips daughters to Amyntas IV and the not much later last marriage of Philip were giving Alexander and Olympias an impression of Philips designs to isolate them at the court.56

5. Cleopatras wedding
In 337, shortly after his return from Corinth, Philip married for a seventh time. On this occasion the bride was a Macedonian by the name of Cleopatra though Arrian called her Eurydice the niece of Attalus, the one who later on together with his father-in-law, Parmenion, headed the first Macedonian expeditionary force into Asia Minor. The sources relate this marriage in the context of growing tensions between Alexander and Philip, exacerbated by Olympias, who is usually portrayed as an ill-willed and quarrelsome woman. During the wedding feast there occurred an incident that created serious rift within Argead dynasty and the consequences almost led to an important international conflict. The Alexander Romance includes an anecdote that on entering the banqueting hall Alexander promised his father to invite him to his mothers wedding when he, Alexander, would give her away to another king. From then on it only got worse. An essential part of all Macedonian feasts was the drinking of vast quantities of undiluted wine, which inevitably led to inebriation. It was in such a state that Attalus raised a toast wishing the newly weds to produce future kings that were pure blooded and legitimate heirs. Alexander was never so drunk as not to notice even an imagined insult let alone one that was real. No doubt expressing the secret opinions of much of the Macedonian aristocracy, Attalus was referring to Alexanders mothers foreign origins and, what was less obvious, to the presumed fact that she was an adulteress. A livid Alexander shouted out
55 56

Badian 1963; Bosworth 1988, p. 22; Carney 2001, pp. 65-80. Weber 2009, p. 86.

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But what of me, base wretch? Dost thou take me for a bastard? and next hurled his goblet at Attalus, who responded by throwing his cup at Alexander. Apart from the markedly unreliable Alexander Romance, none of the other sources claim that any of the missiles hit their intended targets. We may assume that Attalus at least missed for Philip abruptly rose with drawn sword in defence of the formers honour. The king fortunately did no one any harm for according to Plutarch and the Alexander Romance anger and the surfeit of alcohol had denied him control of his legs: the manoeuvre just ended with him falling flat on his face. Alexander is reported to have then mockingly remarked: Look now, men! here is one who was preparing to cross from Europe to Asia; and he is upset in trying to cross from couch to couch. Justin presents a less spectacular version of this incident in which the king was physically restrained from killing his son and heir by friends. Whichever way it happened, the consequence was that Alexander and Olympias immediately left Pella and headed for Epirus to the court of Olympiass brother Alexander. The heir to the throne next travelled to an Illyrian kingdom that the sources fail to name.57 Modern historians have for a long time been trying to politically interpret these events. For a while credence was given to Justins statement that Philips marriage took place after he had divorced Olympias. Such a version of events suited both Roman and later European views on marriage in civilised societies, i.e. that it ought to be monogamous. However, save for the unreliable Alexander Romance, this version is contradicted by all the other sources. The authors of these two later works did not realise that Argead views on marriage were quite different from those associated with civilised behaviour in their day and age. Meanwhile if only the aforementioned passage from Satyrus suggests that Philip had throughout his adult life more than one wife and that perhaps polygamy was traditional in Macedonias ruling dynasty. Olympias was not Philips first wife and she had had younger women vying for the kings attention before, but such rivalries had not previously led to conflicts, at least not ones to be mentioned in the sources. Therefore neither sexual jealousy nor the fact that Philip had married yet another woman while he was at least still formally the husband of Olympias could have been the reason for the rift in the royal family.58 As far as is known, the Macedonian court differed from polygamous courts in the East in that there was no formal hierarchy among the
57

Plu., Alex., 9.5-11; Arr., An., 3.6.5; Paus., 8.7.7; Just., 9.7.2-6; Satyr., F25 ap. Ath., 13.5; Ps.-Callisth., 1.20-21. Excessive wine drinking: Ephippus, ap. Ath., 3.91. On the name of Philips new wife see Badian 1982a. 58 Carney 1987; Greenwalt 1989; Ogden 1999, pp. xiv-xvi; Carney 2006, pp. 22-26.

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monarchs wives with no official first wife. In practice, however, the mother of the successor to the throne became the most important wife of the king. At a relatively early stage it had become apparent that Alexander was the designated heir. Indeed, it was Alexander who had been provided with an expensive education under Aristotles instruction, it was he who already as a child had received foreign envoys and as a teenager had governed as regent. Besides, he had no competition for in 337 Philips only other son was the mentally retarded Arrhidaeus. Arrhidaeuss disability had become apparent no later than in his school age and therefore he could not have been seriously considered as a successor at least since then. Justin claims that after Philips death Alexander murdered a brother called Caranus but we cannot even be certain that Caranus ever existed. He is not included in the list of Philips descendants compiled by Satyrus from all the sources known to him. Moreover, Justin says that Caranus was the son of Philip and Cleopatra. Thus if Pompeius Trogus or his epitomiser Justin had not simply invented Caranus, he would have naturally been born after the wedding incident. If we accept anthropological findings regarding states with a polygamous ruling family, we can assume that Macedonia lacked a clear and codified procedure for succession to the throne. We only know that the successor had to be a member of the Argead family. Unless the throne was taken over as the result of a coup, which indeed happened all too often, the successor was usually a son the deceased king had nominated to be his heir, though not necessarily the eldest son. While Alexander was the only known heir, his position and that of his mother Olympias were secure. All this could now change. Philip was still only 45 or 46 years old and could well have occupied the throne for another 20 years or more. Therefore if Cleopatra bore him a son and if Philip so wished, nothing could stop him from nominating this younger son to be his heir instead of Alexander. Worse still, Olympias was an Epirote whereas Cleopatra was a Macedonian. That the matter of the successors nationality was important to many among the aristocracy is quite apparent in what Attalus said at the wedding feast. Therefore it is easy to understand why this particular marriage was so worrying to Olympias and her son.59 Philips decision to marry Cleopatra is generally regarded to be an aspect of his internal policy. By marrying a Lower Macedonian aristocrat whose uncle and guardian was the apparently influential Attalus the king
59

Badian 1963, p. 246; Hatzopoulos 1986; Carney 1987, pp. 37-48; Greenwalt 1989; Ogden 1999, pp. 3-4, 18-19, 24; Mirn 2000, pp. 39-44; Carney 2006, pp. 32-36. The case of Caranus: Just., 11.2.3, 9.3.7; Satyr., ap. Ath., 13.5; Heckel 1979; Unz 1985; Carney 2000, p. 77.

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intended to strengthen his ties with the Macedonian elite. This thesis, though popular in modern historiography, lacks substantiation in ancient sources. We know nothing about the origins of Attalus and Cleopatra. It is only from our general knowledge of Macedonian society that we can assume they were aristocrats. However, this does not entitle us to speculate as to their exact position within Macedonian society. Events following Philips death and the ease with which Attalus was removed from any position of authority indicate that this aristocrat was far less powerful than has been commonly assumed. Moreover, Satyrus biography of Philip cited by Athenaeus and Plutarch clearly state that the king married Cleopatra out of love. The moralist Plutarch adds that Philip fell in love with her despite his senior age. It is hard not get the impression that such unequivocal information from the sources is simply being ignored by supporters of the theory that Philips marriage to Cleopatra had an essentially political objective,60 and that this stems from the opinion that Philip (as perhaps all outstanding political figures) was always rational, weighing up every single decision in terms of profit or loss. Yet with the lack of any powerful arguments to dismiss the information provided by Plutarch and Satyrus it is more sensible to accept it. It would not have been the first or the last time a middle-aged man lost all common sense and fell in love with a woman young enough to be his daughter.61 Accepting hypothetically that the motive was love, not political calculation, most certainly does not imply the situation was any less worrying to Olympias and Alexander. After all, if the king was able to take such an extraordinary step as allowing his emotions to decide on yet another marriage, one could expect anything of such a man. The falling out between Philip and Alexander did not last long. Ultimately Alexander was still the only heir to the Macedonian throne and a very competent one at that. Philip was certainly aware of the fact that the outburst of rage he had provoked and his sons departure for Illyria did not serve the Macedonian state. Experiences from the earlier history of the Argead dynasty showed that quarrels between a monarch and family members often led to the emergence of pretenders to his throne. That is why Philip willingly accepted the excuses provided by the trusted hetairos Demaratus of Corinth and through his mediation got Alexander to return to Macedonia. A similar reconciliation with Olympias was out of the question. Besides, she was at the time actually trying to persuade her
E.g. Hamilton 1965, pp. 120-121; Hamilton 1999, p. 24; Green 1974, pp. 88-91; Corvisier 2002, pp. 265-267; Carney 2006, pp. 33-34. On Attalus: Heckel 2009, p. 27. 61 Heckel 1986, pp. 295-298; Borza 1990, pp. 206-208.
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brother to wage war on Philip in defence of her honour and position. Indeed these were certainly more than empty threats as Philip felt it necessary to take diplomatic steps to strengthen the bond between himself and Alexander of Epirus. The latter already had reasons to be grateful to Philip for installing him on the throne in place of his uncle Arybbas, but now Philip offered him his and Olympiass daughter Cleopatra, and therefore the Epirote kings own niece, as a wife.62

6. Death of Philip
The wedding ceremony was to take place at the original capital of Macedonian, Aegae. Once peace in the Balkans was secured with the marriage of Alexander of Epirus to his daughter, Philip intended to set off with his Macedonian and allied forces on the planned invasion of Asia Minor. In accordance with custom the king first consulted the Delphic Oracle to learn whether he would defeat the Persians. The answer he received was as follows: Wreathed is the bull. All is done. There is also the one who will smite him. As on many other occasions, Pythias words were subjected to conflicting interpretations. For Philip it implied the slaughter of Persians like the slaughter of sacrificial beasts. Diodorus, however, sees in these words a clear prophesy of Philips own death. It used to be believed that the wedding between Alexander of Epirus and Philips daughter Cleopatra was held in the summer of 336, but according to more recent research into the chronology of events concerning Alexander the Greats reign it seems more likely that the wedding took place in the autumn of that year, perhaps in October, though some scholars very precisely date Philips death to have occurred on 25th September. The wedding took place the day before the Macedonian kings death. At dawn the following day games were to be held at the citys theatre, which was then filled to capacity with guests from Macedonia and Greece. Philip approached the theatre accompanied by his son and heir as well as by his son-in-law; having instructed his bodyguards to keep some distance away, so that he could show the Greeks friends and allies gathered there how much he trusted them. If archaeological assumptions regarding the location of Philips palace at Aegae are correct, it was just some 60 metres from the theatre. On the way the Macedonian king had fallen a short distance behind his companions. That was when a young man from among his bodyguards called Pausanias ran up and thrust his sword through Philip thus killing him. The assassin next started to flee, but before he could get
62

Plu., Alex., 9.12-14; Just., 9.7. Bosworth 1988, pp. 22-23.

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to his horse, he stumbled on a vine and fell. This allowed the royal guards to catch up and instantly spear Pausanias to death. Among the guards Diodorus mentions Alexanders later companions: Leonnatus, Perdiccas and Attalus.63 In a letter written to Darius III four years later Alexander accused the Persian king of dispatching the assassins who killed his father. Alexanders most famous modern biographer, W.W. Tarn, calls this accusation which today would be termed indirect perpetration of murder the official Macedonian courts version. 64 Unfortunately we do not know when this version emerged. Certainly none of the ancient sources relating what happened at Aegae in 336 mentions it. Therefore it could have merely been invented for propaganda purposes in the war against Darius III in 332. In describing the events of the autumn of 336 the ancient authors devote a lot of attention to Philips assassin, Pausanias. Fairly typically for the Macedonian court, it was apparently a sordid homosexual affair that drove this bodyguard to commit the crime. For Pausanias, originally from the Upper Macedonian land of Orestis, had in his early youth been Philips lover. When Philip found another homosexual lover, also by the name of Pausanias, the future assassin offended his rival in such a way as to make him commit suicide. But before committing suicide the other Pausanias related everything to Attalus, the uncle of Cleopatra. Later at a banquet Attalus let Pausanias the future assassin get drunk and, according to Justin, together with other guests proceeded to rape him. Diodorus, on the other hand, claims Attalus had his muleteers gang rape him. This most probably happened in 337 or at the start of 336, not long before the departure of the first Macedonian expeditionary corps to Asia Minor. The rape victim complained to Philip, but the king did not punish Attalus, who was then very much a court favourite as the uncle and guardian of the kings newly wed wife Cleopatra. Instead Philip tried to appease Pausanias with gifts and promotion to the rank of a somatophylax (personal bodyguard). Now Pausaniass anger turned against the king and, what is worse, he recalled from the teachings of the philosopher Hermocrates the thought that one can acquire the highest fame by killing someone who had achieved the greatest things. Thus personal revenge and

63

Diod., 16.91-94; Just., 9.6; Plu., Alex., 10.5. Date in October: Bosworth 1980, pp. 45-46; Hatzopoulos 1982a. Date on 25 September: Grzybek 1990, pp. 21-28; Hauben 1992, p. 146. Careers of Leonnatus, Perdiccas and Attalus: Heckel 1992, pp. 91-106, 134-163, 180-183. Archaeology of Aegae: Andronicus 1984, pp. 38-47. 64 Arr., An., 2.14.5; Curt., 4.1.12. Tarn 1948, I, p. 3.

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a desire for fame are the most frequently mentioned motives behind the murder.65 The ancient authors also mention a story originating from other sources now difficult to unequivocally identify which claims that Olympias persuaded Pausanias to commit the murder and that Alexander at least knew if not actually actively encouraged the assassin too. Olympias allegedly even paid homage to the dead assassins body by placing a gold wreath on it, arranging a funeral with sacrificial offerings and offering the assassins sword to Apollo. The fact that Pausanias had had a prepared escape the horses were also allegedly left for him by Olympias would imply the existence of a conspiracy against Philip. Thus modern historians have suggested that Pausanias was not arrested and put on trial but instantly killed for fear that he would reveal the names of other conspirators. 66 However, it is difficult not to get the impression that attempts to establish who would have been party to this real or presumed conspiracy are more to do with whether or not one believes in the culpability or innocence of Philips successor than with scrupulous analysis of very equivocal sources. Olympiass involvement would seem plausible if we consider her very bad relationship with Philip and the very real sense of danger following Philips marriage to Cleopatra. After Philips death the successors mother, Olympias, gained a position of unquestioned authority, and the many times she showed ruthlessness clearly demonstrate that she was capable of any crime. The same arguments may be used to also implicate her son. Furthermore neither any of the Lyncestis princes nor anyone else from beyond Philips dynasty had enough authority to wrest control of the state from the Argeads, who had ruled it for centuries. 67 Opponents of this theory point to the fact that Olympias has had an extremely bad press, presumably ever since her mortal enemy Cassander started inciting against her. Thus ancient authors found it easy to suspect her of any crime. This was especially so as Olympias clearly breached the conventions regarding women of her time, and all the ancient authors relating the death of Philip were males with fairly conservative outlooks. However, neither she nor her son is
Arist., Pol., 1311b1-3; Diod., 16.93-94; Plu., Alex., 10.5-6; Just., 9.6. Date: Fears 1975, p. 120; Mortensen 2007, p. 374, n. 15; Miller 2007, p. 138. 66 Diod., 16.94.3; Plu., Alex., 10.5-6; Just., 9.7. C.B. Welles, n. 2 to p. 101 in Diodorus in Loeb Series; Green 1974, p. 107. The strongest case for a conspiracy involving Olympias and Alexander: Worthington 2008, pp. 184-186. 67 Khler 1892, pp. 497-514; Hamilton 1965, pp. 120-122; Develin 1981; Carney 1987, pp. 46-48; Badian 1963; Badian 2000, pp. 54-58; Corvisier 2002, pp. 268269.
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implicated in Aristotles account of the assassination, which is the only extant version written by a contemporary and also an exceptionally valuable one on account of the philosophers excellent connections with Macedonian elites. Finally, the personal motive of the assassin is plausible and fully sufficient to explain this extreme action. 68 Of course such arguments, largely based on the silence of the only available contemporary source, can be dismissed, but only in the realms of speculation. Thus the case of Philips murder remains not entirely solved. We only know that Alexander was the greatest beneficiary of his fathers demise as he now inherited the throne, but that does not automatically make him a conspirator. 69 Not every inheritor resorts to murder, and fortuitous coincidences also occur in the lives of ordinary people, not only those of ruling families.

Fears 1975; Ellis 1981; Burstein 1982, pp. 69-70; Borza 1990, p. 227; OBrien 1992, pp. 36-40; Hammond 1994, pp. 175-176; Briant 2002, p. 9; Mortensen 2007. 69 Lane Fox 1973, pp. 21-25; Carney 2006, p. 39.

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1. The takeover. Philips funeral


In extant ancient sources there is no complete account of the critical events that occurred at the time of Philips murder. Remarks scattered here and there allow us to establish what happened though not necessarily the chronological order in which it occurred. It is not hard to imagine that immediately after Philips death there was chaos, but it did not last long. Alexanders friends rallied to his support, most probably all like Alexander of Lyncestis according to Arrian armed as for battle to ensure his safety and thus also to declare their allegiance in his claim to the throne. Antipater, Philips oldest and most respected general and advisor, delivered a speech assuring the support of the Macedonian army, which was stationed in and around Aegae. Bearing in mind the might of the Macedonian army, one can assume that immediately after declaring their personal allegiance, Alexanders supporters went to speak to the soldiers. It was most probably at a rally of soldiers that took place then and not at a more formal meeting assumed by some modern historians but unknown to the ancient sources that Alexander was declared king. It was also then that he would have personally promised to relieve his subjects of all duties other than military service. He would have then proclaimed the continuation of Philips policies, which had been so popular in Macedonia; symbolically this continuation was confirmed by keeping Philips coinage unchanged until 333. The situation must have been serious for Alexander to have thought it necessary to make such promises when the states finances were in such a sorry state barely 60 talents in the treasury and 200 or even 500 talents of debt left behind by Philip. In all certainty on the day of the assassination Alexander, before letting them leave, turned to the Greek dignitaries gathered at the theatre to appeal for their loyalty.1

Arr., An., 1.25.2, 7.9.6; Ps.-Callisth., 1.26; Diod., 17.2.2; POxy. 1798 = FGrH 148 F1 with emendation as in Parson 1979. Wilcken 1967, pp. 61-62; Badian 1963;

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Although Alexander had been for a long time designated by Philip as his successor, this did not mean his ascension to the Macedonian throne was a matter of certainty. The rights to succession have been a hotly debated issue among modern historians, who correctly view this as part of a broader question of the Macedonian states constitution. This matter is worthy of attention not only because it explains changes in the historic process that occurred in 336 and at other times during Alexanders reign, but also because of the relative popularity of the constitutionalist school in history of Macedonia, most notably represented by N.G.L. Hammond. This stance was first formulated in a German study of state law which described Macedonia under the Argeads and during the Hellenistic period as a constitutional monarchy. According to this study successors to the throne were either elected or their nominations were ratified in a legally defined way by an assembly of Macedonians. At times of war, especially when it was waged in a distant land, the Macedonian army would supposedly take over the rights of the Macedonian assembly. According to historians of the constitutionalist school this assembly also had the right to ratify international agreements and to try those accused of treason. In most situations, however, the Macedonians, though quite aware of their rights, allowed their monarchs to rule in an uninhibited way.2 This theory is to a large extent based on the statement that Macedonian kings ruled ode bv, ll nmJ, which roughly translated means not by force, but on the basis Macedonian law words which Arrian has the philosopher Callisthenes say in a speech praising Macedonians. The other major pieces of evidence are four known cases of formal assemblies of the Macedonian army regarding legal issues: during the trial of Philotas in 330, on the Hyphasis in 326, at Opis in 324 and during the election of Alexanders successor in 323. However, the greatest importance should be attached to the words Arrian attributes to Callisthenes as they allow for the interpretation of the other events. If Macedonia was ruled according to a set of laws that applied to everyone, not just the subjects, then we may assume that in 330 Alexander had Philotas tried by an assembly of soldiers as he himself did not have the right to condemn him for treason. Few
Thompson 1982, p. 116; Bosworth 1988, pp. 25-26; Baynham 1994, p. 337; Le Rider 2003, pp. 48-63. Debts: Plu., mor., 327d (after Onesicritus). 2 Grainier 1931; Aymard 1950; Wilcken 1967, pp. 24, 61; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 34-36, 304-305, 492-497; Briant 1973, pp. 318-320; Ellis 1976, pp. 24-25; Hammond 1979, pp. 153, 160-162; Griffith 1979, pp. 389-392; Bosworth 1988, p. 26; Hammond 1989, pp. 60-70; OBrien 1992, p. 40; Hatzopoulos 1996, i, pp. 261322; Hammond 1994, pp. 6-7, 37-38, 185-188; Worthington 2003, pp. 72-73; Rzepka 2006.

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words in the Greek language have more different meanings than nomos, the term used by Arrian. It can mean custom, constitution or even melody. One of the meanings is obvious: law and constitutional norm, but to assume that Arrian had this meaning in mind without knowing the strict legal context is dangerous. One hardly needs to mention that the encomium Callisthenes delivered in honour of Macedonians to officers of Alexanders army did not concern matters of jurisprudence, which naturally require very precise legal language. If, on the other hand, we reject the notion that the word was intended to mean law and constitutional norm, we demolish the methodological basis on which modern historians of ancient Macedonia have founded their constitutionalist theory. One also needs to remember that this speech, like generally all speeches in the works of ancient authors attributed to historical figures, does not relate the actual words uttered by the philosopher but words used by Arrian over half a millennium after the lives of Callisthenes and Alexander. Therefore it could be argued that we are referring to the views of an ancient author rather than the actual views of the historical figure he is writing about. Epideictic orations, which combined all the known resources, images, concepts and formulations used by orators, were very popular in Arrians day and so here we are probably dealing with a topos frequently appearing in Greek literature, one that contrasts force with law and custom. If that is the case, Alexander probably had Philotas tried by his soldiers not for legal reasons but for political ones (more on this in Chapter V.5). The decisions imposed on Alexander by his own army on the river Hyphasis and at Opis should be all together excluded from the debate over the Macedonian constitution as both were the rebellions of soldiers against their leader, but ones in which they did not so much want to dispose of him as to make him change decisions that happened to be unfavourable to them. Therefore these rallies of Macedonian soldiers were not a consequence of constitutional rights but a show of force, rebellions in which the soldiers temporarily got the upper hand.3 Once the constitutional theory started being questioned as based more on a priori imaginings of how an ancient society evolved rather than on sources regarding the history of Macedonia, a different interpretation emerged in historiography. According to some historians, Macedonian monarchs had absolutist aspirations, which they tried to realise insofar as they were able to overcome opposition from powerful Macedonian barons. The barons were to make up a royal council which, if there were controversies within the royal family, would resolve the matter of royal
3 Arr., An., 4.11.6. Lock 1977; Errington 1978; Anson 1991; Virgilio 2003, pp. 3537. On the word nomos see Ostwald 1969, pp. 20-54.

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succession.4 Unfortunately, there is also no evidence in the sources that such a permanent royal council ever existed. There was of course a meeting of Macedonian leaders to decide Alexanders successor after his death at Babylon but the exceptionality of this event does not allow us to presume that such a royal council was a regular institution. Likewise it is very dangerous to draw general conclusions, as some constitutionalists do, from the way Macedonian soldiers behaved during Alexanders expedition and worse still to imply that soldiers also behaved in such a way before Alexanders time. Soldiers who spent over a dozen years on a campaign beyond there homeland mostly in each others company developed a type of solidarity that is characteristic for mercenaries. As had already been observed more than once among mercenaries in Greece, at times when there was a conflict of interests and the future seemed uncertain, a kind of military democracy emerged to usurp power for the sake of a common cause. That was what happened in the Macedonian army towards the end of Alexanders reign and at the start of the Hellenistic age, but there is no evidence that such a system functioned in Macedonia before the Asian expedition. 5 To recapitulate: both perennial succession crises in Macedonia and the lack of evidence of a universally accepted system of succession allow us to assume that no such system existed.6 The effective rejection of claims made by pretenders was effectively a kind of rites of passage for new rulers who had to prove they were worthy of the position of power they held. That too was Alexanders situation after Philips death. After being acclaimed king the first step Alexander had to take was to avenge his fathers death. Alas Pausanias was already dead, so the most Alexander could do was have his corpse strung up. Meanwhile a search was started for accomplices. An unnamed individual was immediately sentenced to be pounded to death. The exceptional cruelty of the sentence and the context in which this fragmentary piece of information appears indicates that the victim must have been considered in some way responsible for Philips death. 7 Alexanders position continued to be uncertain. Plutarch even writes that All Macedonia was festering with revolt and looking towards Amyntas and the children of Aeropus. Insofar as the sons of Aeropus, i.e. the princes from Lyncestis, could not seize power on their own, there can be no doubt they were important members
4

Errington 1978; Greenwalt 1989, pp. 19-20, 31, 34-36. The alleged royal council: Hammond 1979, pp. 158-160. 5 Borza 1990, pp. 231-242. 6 Borza 1990, pp. 234, 243-245; Ogden 1999, pp. 3-4. 7 Just., 9.7; POxy 1798 = FGrH 148 F1. Perhaps Diod., 17.2.1 and Plu., Alex., 10.7 allude to this event too.

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of an aristocratic opposition to the faction supporting Alexander. The existence of a large aristocratic opposition to the new ruler is confirmed by the defection of some high-ranking Macedonians to the court of the Great King and their later emergence in his army. Amyntas IV, in turn, had lived in the shadow of his uncle Philip when the latter was king though by the Macedonian courts standards his fate was not the worst. Philip had indeed stripped him of any meaningful power but he had spared him his life, sent him on diplomatic missions and even gave him his daughter Cynane as a wife. Thus after Philips death Amyntas became the natural focus for those who were dissatisfied with Alexanders ascension to the throne. Much later Philotas would be accused of helping Amyntas, which regardless of the veracity of the charge confirms the significance of this particular Argead in 336. Alexanders situation was unexpectedly weakened even more with the return from Epirus of a vengeful Olympias. One of her victims was the newly born child of Philip and Cleopatra (a daughter by the name of Europa), killed in the mothers arms, though probably not baked alive as Pausanias relates on the basis of some sensationalist source. The distraught Cleopatra committed suicide, perhaps forced to take her life by Olympias. Some modern historians try to justify Olympias on the grounds that infant deaths were of little meaning to people in those times and that dynastic murders within the Argead family were very frequent. Thus, they argue, Olympias had not actually broken any social norms. Ancient sources, however, view it differently. His mothers actions angered Alexander for they stirred up an unnecessary conflict with Cleopatras uncle Attalus, who was still very popular in the army, and potentially also with Attaluss father-in-law, Parmenion. Olympias had allegedly also burned the body of Philips murderer, Pausanias, ceremonially adorned with a gold wreath, on a pyre and then burying the remains. Even if these claims are no more than spiteful rumours, the deaths of Cleopatra and Europa happened for real. In order to cover up this very bad impression Alexander could do no more than allow the bodies of Cleopatra and Europa to be buried in Philips grave. Meantime Attalus, who was in Asia Minor, decided not to rebel against Alexander, although he did exchange correspondence with Demosthenes, who was urging him to do so.8
8

Plu., mor., 327c; Arr., An., 1.17.9; Arr., Succ., fr. 1.22; Curt., 3.11.8, 6.9.17, 6.10.24; Paus., 8.7.7; Plu., Alex., 10.7, 20.1; Diod., 17.2.3, 17.3.2, 17.48.2; Polyaen., 8.60.1; Just., 9.7, 12.6. Wilcken 1967, pp. 62-63; Badian 1963; Bosworth 1971, pp. 102-103; Bosworth 1988, pp. 25-26; Errington 1978, pp. 94-95; Burstein 1982, pp. 159-161; Ellis 1982; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 38-39; Prandi 1998; Baynham 1998, p. 147. Apology of Olympias: Carney 1993; Carney 2006, pp. 43-48.

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Alexander did not allow his real or perceived political rivals live long, though there is no reason to assume as E. Badian does that immediately after his ascension a great purge was started in which all potential enemies were eliminated. This certainly did not happen straight away as is best testified by the case of Attalus, who if only for his quarrel with Alexander at Cleopatras wedding should have been the new kings first victim. And yet Attalus was still alive at the start of 335 during Memnons counteroffensive against the Macedonian expeditionary corps in Asia Minor. The first to be killed were the two princes from Lyncestis, Arrhabaeus and Heromenes, charged with being involved in the conspiracy to murder Philip. Their brother Alexander of Lyncestis saved his life by prudently declaring his support to king Alexander immediately after Philips death. Besides, he was the son-in-law of Antipater, the most powerful member of Alexanders circle, which may have been another reason why Alexander refrained from the Macedonian custom of sentencing to death all the members of a family accused of conspiracy against the monarch. It was for such a conspiracy that Alexanders rival to throne Amyntas IV was killed. This must have happened before the summer of 335, for then Alexander could offer the hand of Amyntas now widowed wife, Cynane, to his ally Langarus, king of the Agrianians. In face of such vigorous measures taken by Alexander to secure his position, Attalus tried to save his own skin by showing himself to be totally loyal to the new monarch and submitting to him the letters he had received from Demosthenes. But all this was to no avail for Alexander had decide to eliminate the man who had dared insult him verbally and then raise his hand in anger at him during Cleopatras wedding. The king sent a unit of soldiers to Asia Minor headed by his trusted officer Hecataeus. This unit joined the army commanded by Attalus and Parmenion and then killed the first of these two commanders. There can be no doubt that the murder of a popular general in the middle of his camp could not have been carried out without the active cooperation of the other Macedonian commander, Parmenion, who put his allegiance to the increasingly more powerful monarch above loyalty to his son-in-law. We do not know when exactly Attalus was killed, but it most probably happened in the second half of 335. In any case Alexander saw to it that before his expedition to the East no member of Cleopatra and Attaluss family remained alive. Scholars believe that Parmenion made a secret deal with Alexander by which in return for Attaluss head Parmenion was guaranteed a position of power and influence under the new king. This may largely explain why by the start of the Asian expedition so many

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posts in the Macedonian army were held by Parmenions relatives and protgs.9 On the symbolic level the most important undertaking in the first days of Alexanders reign was to organise a funeral befitting his tragically killed father. Indeed Diodorus, Justin and a fragment of an anonymous history of Alexander found on an Oxyrhynchus papyrus all mention that one of the first actions of the new monarch was to have his servants arrange the burial of Philips body.10 Although there is no mention of it in the sources, it is generally assumed that Philips body was burnt on a pyre and next his charred bones were deposited at the Argeads traditional burial site. Archaeologists have serendipitously located this very necropolis of the Macedonian kings situated in Aegae, todays village of Vergina. Already in 1855 the French archaeologist L. Heuzey discovered the significance of the areas most prominent feature, the so-called Great Tumulus. The Great Tumulus is an artificial mound with a 110 m diameter and 12 m high that Antigonus Gonatas had erected to protect royal Macedonian graves from total plunder; indeed, already in 274/273 they had been broken into by Celts from an Aegae garrison that Pyrrhus had founded. In 1976 excavations at the Great Tumulus carried out under the direction of Manolis Andronikos revealed three graves. Only one of them, Tomb I, had already been robbed in ancient times. In keeping with Macedonian custom, these do no bear any inscriptions, but the lavishness and high artistic quality of the items found within undisturbed graves leave no doubt that they were those of Argead family members from the second half of the 4th century.11 Up to this point the opinions of all historians concur. The controversy begins with attempts to associate the charred remains found in specific tombs with specific historical figures. Naturally, the controversy primarily concerns Tombs II and III, which were found intact. The mere fact that an ancient royal tomb was uncovered that had not been robbed is extremely rare in archaeology, but here we can talk of an even greater find in that the Vergina graves are those of the Argeads from a period when this dynasty greatly influenced the world. The remains of the most famous of the Argeads, Alexander the Great, are not to be found there he was buried in Egypt therefore scholars have concentrated on finding the last resting
9

Diod., 17.2; Curt., 6.9.17; Arr., An., 1.5.4; Arr., Succ., fr. 1.22; Just., 11.2, 11.5, 12.6.14. Badian 1964, p. 193; Burstein 1982, pp. 159-161; Ellis 1982; Will 1986, pp. 31-32; Heckel 1986, pp. 299-300; Bosworth 1988, pp. 26-28; OBrien 1992, p. 44; Prandi 1998. 10 Diod., 17.2.2; Just., 11.2.1; POxy 1798 = FGrH 148 F1. 11 Andronicos 1984, pp. 17-62.

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place of his father. The less problematic of the two tombs is No. III, where a teenage king was buried. This was in all probability Alexander IV, the son of Alexander the Great and his Iranian wife, Rhoxane, who was born in 323 and murdered in 310/09. The matter looks quite different with Tomb II. It comprises two chambers: thee main chamber contains the remains of a man who had died at approximately the age of forty+ and then there is also an antechamber containing the remains of a woman at a younger age. Only two Argeads could possibly be associated with the mans body: Philip II or his son Arrhidaeus (Philip III), who was murdered in 317 and formally buried in spring the following year. Already in 1978 M. Andronikos announced that this was Philip IIs resting place and this despite reservations expressed by some non-Greek scholars from the start was generally accepted as a fact and continues to be the official stance of Greek academics to this day. If this could be confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt, Andronikoss find would be one of the most astounding archaeological achievements of all time. The Greek archaeologist has based his claim on several premises: the age of the man being estimated at around 46 rather than 40 (which was the age of Arrhidaeus when he was killed); the apparently hasty manner in which the tomb was built; the fact that one leg of the skeleton is slightly shorter than the other, which could be explained by the wound Philip had received and the discomfort it later caused him when wearing standard length grieves as well as the discovery of five ivory heads which could represent Philip, Olympias and Alexander. Finally attention is drawn to the style of the mural paintings in the chambers, which is more appropriate to the years 336-335 than to 316. Encouraged by Andronikoss hypotheses pathologists from the universities of Manchester and Bristol, equally familiar with research into ancient Egyptian mummies as with modern forensic science, conducted detailed examinations of the bone fragments and established that buried in grave II was a man aged from 35 to 55 and a woman who had died at an age anywhere between 20 and 30. Fragments of the mans skull allowed for a simulated reconstruction of his face. And in this reconstruction the experts even noticed a deformation in one of the eye sockets, which was interpreted as resulting from damage caused by an arrow. The socket also includes protrusions which the experts interpreted as a consequence of the healing process and the specific work of the muscles after the loss of an eye perhaps the eye Philip lost at the siege of Methone.12
Andronicos 1978; Andronicos 1984, pp. 97-232; Green 1982; Lane Fox 1980, pp. 77-95; Bernhardt 1992, pp. 72-73; Prag, Musgrave, Neave 1984; Musgrave 1991; Hammond 1994, pp. 179-182; Drougou 1996; Prag, Neave 1997, pp. 53-84; Worthington 2008, pp. 234-241.
12

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These arguments do not satisfy everyone. The age at death of those found in Tomb II, calculated insofar as contemporary science would allow, could apply equally well to the ages of Philip II (c. 46) and Cleopatra (c. 20) as to the ages of Philip III (c. 40) and his wife, Adea-Eurydice. Using the ivory heads found in Tomb II as an argument is also not valid because the identification of only 5 out of 20 is reasonably certain. Even more dubious are the arguments concerning the wall paintings; certain elements in them, especially lion hunting scenes, had not appeared in Greek art since the archaic period and only reappeared after Alexanders expedition to Asia and intensive contact with Oriental monumental art. Some scholars even note that the architectural form of the Macedonian tombs at Vergina, especially Tombs II and III, resemble the house-tomb of Cyrus the Great at Pasargadae, which Europeans saw for the first time only after 331. More importantly, the barrel-vaulted roofs appear in Europe for the first time in their fully developed form at Vergina and we may assume that this form was introduced to Greek architecture from Iran thanks to Alexanders expedition. Moreover, the grieves of uneven length found in Tomb II do not match what would have been Philips physical proportions, as the longer one would have been worn on his right leg, the leg which in fact was shorter on account of the incurred wound. Such grieves were, on the other hand, used by Persian archers who had one grieve shorter for freer movement of the leg when firing arrows from a semi-kneeling position. On coins the Persian king is frequently portrayed as an archer and therefore such grieves could have been part of a captured royal Persian outfit. This would have included a spear that Persian archers used, and that too was found in the tomb, as was an oriental quiver (gorytos). The very opulence of the artefacts found in Tomb II contradict Andronikoss thesis insofar as sceptics query whether the treasurys virtually empty coffers at the start of Alexanders reign would have allowed for the purchase of such a quantity of high quality items crafted out of precious materials, including large amounts of gold. The most important counter arguments concern the ceramic items found in Tomb II: two Athenian salt cellars that have been dated as originating from some time between 325 and 295. The chronology of Athenian ceramics has been established to an estimated accuracy of ten years. As the salt cellars could not have been placed in the burial chamber before it was sealed, Tomb II could not have been created before 325. Alexander would have buried his father before the start of his Asian campaign in 334, a campaign from which he never returned. This argument is enforced by the examination of ceramic items found in a Macedonian grave at Derveni which are very similar to those from Tomb II at Vergina and have been dated as originating form the last quarter of

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the 4th century. Also some metal artefacts from Tomb II point to a markedly later date than 336. 13 A renewed examination of the bone fragments attributed to Philip did not confirm any evidence of damage caused by an arrow or indeed any other deformities claimed in earlier studies. Moreover, the changes and cracks in the mans long bones are characteristic for a body that had been buried for some time before being cremated. We know that the body of Philip III Arrhidaeus was buried in the autumn of 317 only to be exhumed and cremated in the spring of 316. No sources, however, mention Philips body being burnt after an initial period of interment.14 In other words, the less attractive theory that Philip III Arrhidaeus and his wife Adea-Eurydice were buried at Tomb II of the Great Tumulus at Vergina appears to be closer to the truth. Despite the marginalisation of this mentally retarded monarch, he was the king of Macedonia at a time when the great empire created by Alexander was still intact, at least in theory. The opulence of the tomb is therefore hardly surprising, especially as Cassander would make every effort to please those Macedonians loyal to the Argead dynasty by showing his respect to Olympiass victim Philip III Arrhidaeus. By organising a lavish funeral for the son of Philip II, Cassander declared that he was the rightful successor to the Argead dynasty. This association he soon afterwards formalised by marrying Philips daughter Thessalonice. Apart from the crown, Philip III Arrhidaeus also inherited from his half-brother other treasures and regalia, some of which were presumably also deposited in his burial chamber. The sceptre, shield, armour and helmet had in all probability belonged to Alexander. The weapons and armour found with the remains of the young woman in the antechamber may be explained by the historically well documented military training Adea-Eurydice had received. In light of what has been said above, it seems most probable that the cist grave known as Tomb I of the Great Tumulus, which had already been robbed in ancient times, was the burial place of Philip II. The tomb may not have contained artefacts as precious as those found in Tombs II and III, but the archaeologically discovered bones of a middle aged man, young woman and infant would seem to have belonged to Philip II, his last wife Cleopatra and their child, which had been born just days before her fathers death. A full report regarding the archaeological findings in this
13

Boyd 1978; Lehman 1980; Lehman 1982; Green 1982; Burstein 1982, pp. 144146; Rotroff 1982; Rotroff 1984; Borza 1990, pp. 260-263, 272-274, 311; Faklaris 1994, p. 616, n. 61; Themelis, Touratsoglou 1997, pp. 183-185, 220-222; Borza 1999, pp. 69-70; Pelagia 2000, p. 191; Gill 2008. 14 Bartsiokas 2000; Schuster 2000; Gill 2008.

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grave has not yet been published, but all the indications seem to show that the mans body had been inhumed and not cremated. This undermines conventional views regarding ancient Macedonian burial customs.15 Having taken over control of Macedonia, the young king Alexander had yet to secure for himself a position in Greece as had been enjoyed by his father before his death. Numerous delegations had arrived from Greece to attend the games that were to be held after Cleopatras wedding at Aegae. It was to them that Alexander now turned as the new king of Macedonia asking them to remain loyal. This appeal was to no avail for the death of the feared Philip to be replaced by a young and as yet inexperienced Alexander at a time of crisis was too much not to have awakened in many a Greek state the hope of breaking free of the existing political order. Indeed, it immediately became apparent that the many did not accept the new balance of power. As usual, we know most about how the situation developed in Athens. Phocions sober remark that with Philips death the Macedonian army had lost only one soldier had no affect of the populace. Instead Demosthenes anti-Macedonian rhetoric triumphed and the Athenians sent out delegations to other states to encourage them to break their ties with Macedonia and voted honours for Philips assassin. The Thebans voted to expel their Macedonian garrison. The Aetolians renewed their confederation, which had been disbanded by Philip, and contrary to the universal peace helped those whom the Macedonians had earlier banished return to Acarnania. The Macedonian garrison at Ambracia was expelled. Almost every state in the Peloponnese broke its ties with Macedonia: the Arcadians refused to recognise Alexanders hegemony; there was a general uprising in Elis and Argos, whereas the Messenians expelled the leader of the local oligarchy that had been supported by Philip. With Philips death unrest also awakened among the barbarian tribes to the north of Macedonia.16 In light of this situation some of Alexanders advisors recommended caution. They felt Macedonia should pull out of Greece and concentrate on defending her northern borders as this had always been the most dangerous region. This seemed especially sensible when Alexander encountered opposition from perhaps the least expected quarter: the Thessalians blocked the Tempe pass linking their country with Macedonia
Borza 1990, pp. 245-246; Borza 1999, pp. 70-71; Carney 1992; Pelagia 2000, p. 191; Gill 2008. 16 Aeschin., 3.77-78, 160; Theopomp., FGrH, 115 F235; [D.] 17.3.3, 4.7; Plb., 18.14.5-7; Diod., 17.3; Plu., Alex., 11.1-3; Plu., Dem., 22-23.2; Plu., Phoc., 16; Just., 11.2.4-5. Bosworth 1988, p. 188; Brun 2000, pp. 71-72. A putative Athenian honorific decree for Pausanias: SEG 19.63, as restored in Miller 2007.
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and declared full independence. The young king, however, rejected the cautious approach and set about resolving the first international crisis of his reign by actually dealing with Thessaly first and thus he immediately demonstrated a style of leadership that would be characteristic throughout his reign. Instead of trying to force the pass, Alexander led his army along the coast and instructed his soldiers to carve steps out of the side of Mount Ossa. The speed and unconventionality of this manoeuvre caught the Thessalians quite off guard, who gave up the moment they saw the Macedonian army appear behind them. At a council meeting of the Thessalian League Alexander delivered a speech in which he reminded those gathered of their common ancestor, Heracles, gave them appropriate pledges so that they could trust him. In return, like Philip before him, Alexander was elected archon.17 This time it did not come to war in central and southern Greece. The Amphictyonic Council at Delphi immediately voted for Alexanders continued leadership of Greece. He acquired the support of Ambracia by graciously recognising her independence. The Macedonian army next appeared post-haste in Boeotia, which was enough to cow the Thebans and incline them to return to an alliance with Macedonia. In response to news of these events, the Athenians resorted to their traditional strategy in times of danger of evacuating the rural population to behind the Long Walls. At the same time they tried to avert war by sending a delegation to Alexander. The young king accepted the delegation courteously, all the more so as the main leader of the war party Demosthenes, who was officially supposed to be part of this delegation, instead decided to return home. Now all Alexander had to do was summon the most important council in Greece, the synedrion of the League of Corinth. Having politely listened to Alexanders speech and no doubt reflected on the swiftness of his armys actions, the delegates elected the young king the supreme commander of Greek forces in the war against Persia. Moreover, they declared the participation of all the poleis in this war, which was to avenge all the wrongs previously committed by Persia against Greece. As Alexanders hegemony in Greece now seemed secure, the Macedonian army marched north to quell disturbances on the northern border. Now it also seemed possible to resume preparations for the invasion of Asia Minor, which, although interrupted by Philips death, was due to start in 335.18 As before, a small Macedonian garrison was left behind in the Peloponnesus. The
Diod., 17.4.1; Plu., Alex., 11.3-4; Polyaen., 4.3.23; Just., 11.3.2. Ellis 1981, p. 108; Bosworth 1988, pp. 28, 189; Stoneman 1997, p. 20. 18 Aeschin., 3.161; Arr., An., 1.1.2; Diod., 17.4.2-9; Plu., Alex., 11.4, 14.1; It. Alex., 16.
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commander of this garrison, Corrhagus, became a key player in one of the most glaring breaches of the universal peace, which forbade forcing a change in the constitution of any member state of the League of Corinth. Thanks to his help a famous wrestler called Chairon overthrew a democracy at Pellene and set up a tyranny instead. No attempt was made at the synedrion of the League of Corinth to resolve the problem, even though this was very much its remit. Such violations of the Leagues charter could not but have tarnished the appraisal of the king of Macedonia as hegemon of the League.19 It is in association with his stay at Corinth that one of the best known anecdotes about Alexander originates. Flocked by Greek politicians and intellectuals Alexander was puzzled by the distinct absence of the Cynic philosopher Diogenes of Sinope and so decided to pay him a visit. The king found the philosopher on the outskirts of Corinth basking in the sunlight. Alexander approached Diogenes and asked him if there was anything he wanted. In response Diogenes asked Alexander not to stand between him and the sun. Alexanders entourage burst out laughing and it was then that Alexander, astounded by the philosophers casual manner and complete unconcern for worldly affairs, is said to have uttered the famous words: If I were not Alexander, I should be Diogenes. This story, mentioned in ancient literature as many as 22 times, is almost certainly apocryphal; probably invented by a pupil of Diogenes the Cynic Onesicritus, who served Alexander as a steersman. To Greek writers the scene is attractive as it shows the confrontation of two men from radically different parts of society the monarch and the Cynic who rejected all forms of property and the conventions of the polis both, in their own way, were free to philosophise.20 Another apocryphal tale is said to have taken place during Alexanders return from Corinth to Macedonia. At Delphi the oracle refused to foretell Alexanders future, so the king entered the temple and pulled out Pythia by force. It was then that the priestess explained that Alexander was invincible, which was indeed the prophecy he had been hoping for. The actual visit to Delphi most probably took place at the end of 336 or at the beginning of 335 and during that visit Alexander may well have donated the 150 gold coins (philippeioi) to the temple which are featured in the Delphic register.21

[D.], 17.10; Paus., 7.27.7; Ath., 11.119. Bosworth 1988, p. 194. E.g. Plu., Alex., 14.2-5; Plu., mor., 331f-332c, 605d-e, 728a-b. Berve 1926, ii, pp. 417; Nawotka 2003, pp. 106-107; Heckel 2006, p. 113, s.v. Diogenes [1]. 21 Plu., Alex., 14.6-7; Syll.3 251. Stoneman 1997, pp. 21-22; Hamilton 1999, pp. 34-35; Miller 2000, p. 271; Squilace 2005, p. 308; Poddighe 2009, pp. 101-102.
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2. War in the north


In the spring of 335 Alexander set out from Amphipolis to Thrace with an army of no more than 15,000 soldiers. It included specially selected detachments of phalanx from Upper Macedonia, cavalry units also from Upper Macedonia as well as Bottia and Amphipolis, light infantry, archers and slingers. The composition of this army and its size would indicate that the objective was to be a short preventive war to secure Macedonian rule in areas that Philip II had not managed to fully pacify. The borderland had to be secured before the great expedition to Asia. The entire war is know to us mostly from Arrians account, who used Ptolemy as a source, and it is hard not to get the impression that it is an exaggerated glorification of a war that was after all quite a minor one. The paucity of geographical information makes it difficult for us to trace the movements of Alexanders army in the Balkan Peninsula. The Macedonian troops marched north via Philippopolis and other territories subjugated by Philip II until they reached the Haemus mountain range (Stara Planina), which was part of still free Thrace. It is impossible to establish which pass Alexander chose, Shipka or Trojan, but either way the army had to force its way through. Arrian writes about Thracians lying in wait on the mountain ridges above the given route hoping to break up the Macedonian phalanx as it passed by sending wagons hurtling down the steep slopes. Alexanders response to this was to tell the soldiers to try and get out of the way, and if that was impossible, to lie flat on the ground and cover themselves with their shields. At the same time Alexander ordered his archers to fire at the Thracians, while he together with an elite unit of hypaspists and Agrianians prepared on the left flank to attack. Though on account of the technical difficulties of rolling wagons down mountain slopes as well as the very limited protection small Macedonian shields could possibly offer this fragment may have well been invented, there is no reason to doubt that Alexander won that battle. The more lightly armed Thracians were unable to withstand the Macedonian phalanx and having suffered heavy losses, allegedly as many as 1,500 were killed, fled from the mountain. Alexander had all the plundered booty, the most valuable of which was Thracian women and children, shipped for sale to Macedonia via the Greek seaports.22 The next phase of the war was against the Triballi, who lived on the river Lyginos (perhaps Rositsa). The king of the Triballi, surrounded by women and children, took shelter on an island called Peuke on the Danube.
22 Arr., An., 1.1-2.1; Polyaen., 4.3.11; Diod., 17.8.1-2; It. Alex., 16. Bosworth 1988, pp. 28-29; Bloedow 1996; Heckel 1997, pp. 189-191; Ashley 1998, pp. 166-169.

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On account of Arrians description of an island with steep banks and fast flowing waters, it is unlikely to have been the Peuke Island, known from other sources, which is situated where the Danube flows into the Black Sea. Perhaps it is as Illiescu presumes an island further west, nearer the Iron Gate Gorge. The Triballian army avoided the Macedonians, not daring to fight them in the open, and instead returned to areas the Macedonians had vacated. Alexander, who always had good reconnaissance, realised the Triballian tactic and launched a surprise attack on the enemy as it pitched camp in a wooded valley. First the Macedonian archers started firing arrows. In response to this the Triballi left the forest to attack the archers, but instead they found themselves in a trap. The Macedonian cavalry was positioned on both wings of the Macedonian phalanx as well as in the centre. The Macedonians fired missiles at the barbarians and then moved in for the final kill. The fleeing barbarians lost some 3,000 men, whereas the Macedonians reportedly lost only 11 horsemen and 40 infantrymen. Alexander next marched to the Danube, which he reached three days later. There he met up with ships he had ordered to sail to the Danube from Byzantium via the Black Sea. This flotilla, however, turned out to be too weak to force a landing on the steep banks of the island occupied by the barbarians. To make matters worse, in the meantime a Getae army of 4,000 horsemen and over 10,000 infantry assembled on the opposite bank of the Danube. Alexander would not have been himself if he had not interpreted this situation as a challenge to be taken up. It is in relating these events that Arrian speaks for the first time of Alexanders uncontrollable longing (pothos) to cross real and imagined barriers, which in this case told him to cross to the other side the Danube despite the facts that an enemy army had gathered on the bank and that the Macedonian lacked enough vessels to take them there. The latter problem was soon dealt with by the confiscation of all local boats and construction of rafts out of leather tents stuffed with hay. During the night time crossing, perhaps somewhere between todays town of Svishtov on the south bank and Zimnicea on the north side, the Macedonians managed to transport 1,500 cavalry and 4,000 infantry. The following day Alexander led his army against the Getae, who were surprised not only by the achievement of the Macedonian engineers but also by the quantity and quality of the Macedonian phalanx. The Getae did not withstand the impact of the Macedonian cavalry, personally commanded by Alexander, and fled to their weakly defended fort situated 5.5 kilometres from the Danube. However, when the Macedonians caught up with them, they abandoned

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their positions and fled into the steppe. Alexanders army captured their city, razed it to the ground and returned to the southern bank.23 One cannot accept the late Roman Itinerarium Alexandri claim that Alexander continued his northern campaign from the Danube along the Black Sea coast all the way to the Sea of Azov and on the way back also defeated the Dacians, Getae and Maedi.24 There is no trace of this in other sources and besides, in the very eventful spring of 335 there would have been no time for such a long campaign. Instead there followed a short lull in the fighting whilst Alexander concentrated on diplomacy. After Alexanders impressive display of military might in two victorious battles the Triballian king sent envoys, no doubt to establish conditions for capitulation. These conditions must have included the supplying of Alexander with soldiers for Diodorus mentions a Triballian contingent among detachments of Odrysians and Illyrians in a 7,000-strong North Balkan corps in his army that invaded the Persian Empire in 334. News of the Macedonian victories spread far and wide enough for Alexanders camp on the Lower Danube to be also visited by envoys from other peoples that had not yet been conquered, including Celts from the North Adriatic region. Not knowing the Macedonian kings future plans but seeing the speed and effectiveness of his actions, the Celts preferred to diplomatically demonstrate their peaceful disposition and thus avert a possible invasion. There is no evidence to suggest that Alexander was actually planning such a campaign at the time, so there probably was no need for serious negotiations with the Celtic envoys. Alexander must have nevertheless been very pleased with himself after such a successful campaign for he asked the Celts what they feared most; expecting of course that they would say it was him. However, instead they said they feared one day the sky would fall on their heads. Despite his obvious disappointment with this answer, he nonetheless agreed to an alliance and probably did not impose on them the same obligations as on the defeated Thracians or Triballi.25 In the early summer of 335 Alexanders army left the Danube region and marched south to Macedonia. On the way Alexander stopped in the land of the Agrianians, ruled by his ally, King Langarus. Return to the homeland was temporarily made impossible for news had arrived from territories to the northwest of Macedonia of hostile actions by the Illyrian ruler Cleitus, the son of Bardylis, whom Philip had defeated in 359.
23

Arr., An., 1.2-4; Plu., Alex., 11.5-6. Iliescu 1990; Hammond 1996, pp. 47-49; Ashley 1998, pp. 169-170. 24 It. Alex., 16. 25 Arr., An., 1.4.6-8; Str., 7.3.8; Diod., 17.17.4. Alessandri 1997, pp. 131-148.

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Cleitus was supported by Glaucias, the king of the Illyrian Taulanti tribe from the vicinity of Epidamnus, as well as by the Autariatae. This posed a threat to Upper Macedonia, especially to Lyncestis. Alexanders decision to conduct a swift counterattack suggests he wished to show he was particularly interested in maintaining security in this land, where dissatisfaction must have been smouldering ever since less than a year earlier he had two members of the countrys former royal family executed. Langarus and part of the Agrianian army attacked the Autariatae, the weakest tribe in the coalition, ransacked their land and made it impossible for them to join Cleitus or Glaucias. Alexander crossed Paionia and marched his army along the Erigon (Crna) to reach the Lyncestis fortress of Pellion, which was held by Cleitus (the exact geographic location of this fortress is unknown). After offering up human sacrifices the barbarians went to confront the Macedonians, but soon they were forced to retreat to within the walls of their town. The following day the conducting of the siege was hampered by the arrival of large detachments of Taulanti. Alexanders relatively small army now found itself between the forces of Cleitus and Glaucias, who had been constantly trying hard to trap Alexander in mountainous terrain. But able to rely on the excellent training of his men the Macedonian king skilfully turned his army around and marched it through the mountains occupied by the Taulanti. Surprised by this unexpected military manoeuvre the Taulanti did not dare to attack the Macedonians. The last element of Alexanders manoeuvre was to cross the river Eordaicus with Macedonian archers and catapults keeping the barbarians at a safe distance. Arrian relates that during their retreat the Macedonians did not lose a single soldier. In the war, however, Alexander did allegedly suffer injuries after being hit by a stone and later receiving a blow with a mace. Once Alexanders army was on the other side of the river, the armies of Cleitus and Glaucias were able to unite and form a single camp. Convinced that the Macedonians happy to have escaped the trap had headed for their homeland, the Illyrians felt so safe that they did not bother to fortify their very large camp and even failed to put guards on watch. This of course did not escape the notice of Macedonian scouts. Alexander was thus aware of the enemys carelessness and on the third day after his retreat he decided to attack the Illyrians. He personally commanded the night time river crossing of the first detachments comprising Agrianians, archers, hypaspists and some of his phalangites, after whom the rest of the Macedonian army followed. Alexander did not wait for all of his army to assemble and instead chose to make full use of the element of surprise: he ordered the Agrianians and archers to attack the enemy immediately. Suddenly aroused from sleep the Illyrians did not put

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up much resistance. Many were killed in the camp, whilst others fled for their lives abandoning their weapons. Many of those who were not taken as slaves were killed during a chase that lasted all the way to the mountains where the Taulanti lived. After a short while Cleitus resolved not to defend Pellion, so he had it torched and fled to the land of the Taulanti. 26 The victorious Illyrian campaign could not be continued on account of extremely disturbing news from Greece, but this was not an empty victory without any political consequences. After their defeat in 335 the Illyrians did not threaten Macedonias border for the rest of his reign. There was an Illyrian contingent in the army that crossed the Hellespont the following spring, therefore there is also reason to presume that Alexander was able impose terms for peace on their rulers in a treaty that has not been recorded in historiography. Finally, in the 335 campaign Alexander had won a series of victories with very small losses and this without a doubt earned him the trust of his army, which at the start of this young rulers reign had been far from certain.27

3. The destruction of Thebes


During Alexanders war with the Illyrians members of the antiMacedonian faction that had been expelled after the Battle of Chaeronea secretly returned to Thebes. They were helped by allies within the city who were also hoping to free their country from the imposed treaty with Macedonia. Although the sources do not explicitly mention this, the first thing the returned exiles and their allies at Thebes must have done was to overthrow the citys pro-Macedonian oligarchy. The exiles also managed to lure two Macedonians out of their garrison at the Cadmea and kill them. Most probably the following day they appealed to the gathered Theban populace to break their treaty with Macedonia. The mood in many Greek states at the time was favourable to such ideas. Despite the adroitness with which he had forced some and just persuaded others to renew their commitment to the universal peace they had originally agreed with his father, Alexander was still a new and as yet untried force in Greece. Moreover, the mildness with which in the autumn of 336 he had treated the states that had tried to renege the Macedonian treaty did not allow those states to foresee the consequences if they attempted to go back on their word again. In a society that valued age and experience Alexanders
Arr., An., 1.5-7; Diod., 17.8.1; Plu., mor., 327a; It. Alex., 16. Bosworth 1982, pp. 65-73; Hammond 1996, pp. 49-58; Pajkowski 2000, pp. 158-164. 27 Diod., 17.17.4. Bosworth 1988, p. 32; Hammond 1996, pp. 54-58; Ashley 1998, pp. 174-175.
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youth was an opportunity for politicians like Demosthenes to win over crowds by calling him a boy. Yet another factor were the covert activities of Persian diplomacy. Orators mention vast sums which Demosthenes received from Darius III Demosthenes mortal enemy Aeschines mentions 70 talents and Dinarchus speaks of as many as 300 talents. One cannot assume these sums mentioned in political speeches against Demosthenes to be accurate, but there can be no doubt that Persian money was handed to anti-Macedonian politicians in order to make diversionary actions in Persias favour. Allegedly after the capture of Sardis documents got into Alexanders hands listing the amounts of money given to Greek politicians by the Persians. We know that some of the money that the Persians gave to Demosthenes was passed on to Thebes. In all likelihood Demosthenes also used this money to purchase weapons and armour, so that all that citys citizens, even those who did not belong to the hoplite class, could fight. As one would expect in a society without mass media, Greece most probably learned of events that occurred during North Balkan campaign from the spring to the early autumn of 335 from rumours. And the rumour was that Alexander, already absent from Macedonia for several months, had been wounded or even killed by the Triballi. Demosthenes was eager to spread such stories, though he himself would not have invented them. From the legal point of view, childless Alexanders death would have automatically terminated the Treaty of Corinth and ended Macedonian hegemony.28 It was in such an atmosphere that the words of the Theban exiles would have been well received. Anti-Macedonian politicians in the city council presented a plan to wage war on Macedonia to the assembly and it was accepted. The first action of this war was to surround the Macedonian garrison at the Cadmea citadel with a double palisade thus cutting it off from the Macedonian army if and when it came. The Thebans were preparing to destroy the garrison but they ran out of time. Meanwhile they turned to Athens, Argos, Elis and the states of Arcadia for help. Influenced by the anti-Macedonian party and its leader Demosthenes, the Athenians resolved to send military reinforcements to Thebes. These troops, however, did not manage to set out from Attica to Boeotia before it was too late. It was also probably then that emissaries were sent to Darius III who were later captured by the Macedonians after the Battle of Issus. It seems the Aetolian League and Sparta also considered opposing Alexander militarily.
Din., 1.10, 1.18; Aeschin., 3.239; Diod., 17.8.6; Plu., mor., 327c-d, 847c; Plu., Dem., 20.5, 23.1-2; Arr., An., 1.7; Just., 11.2. Wilcken 1967, pp.70-71; Bosworth 1980, pp. 73-75; Bosworth 1988, pp. 194-195. Rumors in Greece: Lewis 1996, esp. pp. 75-96.
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In Elis there was most probably a coup because of which Macedonias supporters were forced to leave the state and it was only after Alexanders defeat that they could return. The Arcadian League sent its army to the Isthmus and officially stayed neutral for this part of the war until more became known. Thus the situation in Greece was developing in a way that could lead to another Chaeronean Coalition and, what was worse, this time financed by the Great King. Antipaters diplomatic efforts did stop the Peloponnesians from marching north to help the Thebans but Alexanders intervention now became essential.29 Cutting short his Illyrian campaign, Alexander marched his army across the western lands of Upper Macedonia, Eordaia and Elimeia to reach Thessaly within seven days. From Thessaly the Macedonians marched south through the Thermopylae pass to reach Boeotia six days later, in the second half of September 335. This, typically for Alexander, very rapid advance generally surprised his enemies because at such a rate contemporary communications could only forewarn them of the approaching army by a matter of hours, not days. And this is what happened this time as well. The Thebans had not only failed to block Thermopylae pass, which would have enabled them to stop the invasion until the reinforcements arrived, but also only learned of Alexanders army when it had already reached Onchestus in Boeotia. Initially the Thebans deluded themselves this was Antipaters corps or a Macedonian army commanded by Alexander of Lyncestis; they may have still believed King Alexander of Macedonia had been killed by barbarians. The following day all became clear when a huge Macedonian army of 30,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry personally commanded by Alexander started pitching camp outside the walls of Thebes. The Macedonian monarch was hoping that the mere show of strength would incline the Thebans to start negotiations for capitulation. Despite verbal support from various states, above all Athens, the Thebans were alone and able to deploy no more than 7,000 hoplites from among the citizens plus some armed metoikoi and liberated slaves. And as if this situation was not bad enough, the Macedonians were joined by the mortal enemies of Thebes, Phocians, Plataeans, Thespians and Orchomenians, all eager to avenge the destruction of their towns and other wrongs inflicted upon them by Thebans in the past. Their and Thessalian presence at Thebes gave Alexanders intervention semblance of a just war waged by the united Greeks against those who breached the Panhellenic
Din., 1.18-21; Diod., 17.8.2-9.1; Plu., Dem., 23.1-2; Arr., An., 1.7.4, 1.10.1, 2.15.2; Fron., Str., 2.11.4; Just., 11.3.9. Bosworth 1980, pp. 233-234; Bosworth 1988, pp. 194-195; Heckel 1997, pp. 191-192; Habicht 1999, pp. 14-15; Faraguna 2003, p. 103.
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treaty of Corinth. Units of Theban cavalry and light infantry first launched an attack on the encamped Macedonians which after the initial shock was repulsed with ease. Alexander chose to delay his attack and give time for the besieged to think. However, among the gathered Thebans voices to continue the armed struggle prevailed. Alexander still tried to weaken their resolve by announcing that any Theban went over to his side would fully benefit from the Greek universal peace. In response the Thebans declared that anyone from the enemy camp who wished to fight for Greek freedom together with the Thebans and the Great King could come over to their side. Plutarch adds that the Thebans replied to Alexanders demand for the handing over of their anti-Macedonian politicians by proposing that in return for peace the Macedonians should hand over their highest ranking officers Antipater and Philotas.30 In the war of words the Thebans triumphed. The well aimed ridicule, their spiteful mockery of the universal peace and the long preparations for the anti-Persian campaign of united Greek states under the Macedonian kings command in defence of Greek freedom touched a raw nerve. Alexander was livid but that now also meant that the fate of Thebes was sealed. Three days after the exchange of words the preparations for storming the city were finished and the fighting began. Basically two extant sources relate what followed: the rhetorical and pro-Theban account of Diodorus and Arrians very concise description based on the account of Ptolemy, who was very seriously wounded in the fighting and therefore unable to witness the entire battle. It is indeed the brevity of Arrian/Ptolemys report that arise suspicion, especially when it is compared with Arrians extensive descriptions of Alexanders armys much less important manoeuvres during the war in the north a few pages earlier. By being so laconic in his description of the battle, Ptolemy gives the impression of not wishing to expose all its aspects. For instance, unlike other sources, it does not mention the heroism of the Thebans defending their homeland against an enemy numerically many times superior. It is certain that the most intensive fighting was at the palisade cutting the Cadmea off from the main Macedonian forces and that the Theban hoplites confronted their enemy outside those walls. Thanks to their numerical superiority the Macedonians were able to fight the Thebans in the field and simultaneously attack the palisade. The first attack on the palisade by a detachment of Ptolemys phalangites, archers and Agrianians was repulsed, while the numerically inferior but extremely well trained
30

Diod., 17.9.1-5, 17.11.2; Plu., Alex., 11.6-8; Arr., An., 1.7.4-11; Just., 11.3. Bosworth 1988, p. 32; Hammond 1996, pp. 58-60; Hamilton 1999, p. 30; Poddighe 2009, pp. 107-108.

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Theban hoplites were for a long time able to hold off the Macedonian phalanx. Then Alexander ordered a reserve detachment commanded either by Perdiccas (according to Diodorus) or Antipater (Polyaenus) to launch a direct assault on a part of the citys fortifications that were left unmanned. Bearing in mind the concentration of Theban soldiers around the palisade, there would have most certainly been more than one unmanned section of the citys walls, while numerical superiority made it easy for Alexander to deploy troops in another section of the front. News of the citys wall being breached was immediately spread by the Macedonians, which provoked panic in Theban ranks at the Cadmea. Making use of this confusion the trapped Macedonian unit broke out of their garrison and attacked the Thebans from behind. The Macedonians gave chase to the Theban soldiers now fleeing in disarray to their city. The battle for the city was over and instead began the indiscriminate slaughter of defenders and unarmed civilians. The only Thebans not to be massacred were the cavalry, which had not taken part in the fighting and now managed to escape from the captured city.31 Apart from the Macedonians, Phocians and soldiers from smaller Boeotian cities hostile to Thebes participated in the slaughter. 6,000 Thebans were massacred, but this was a costly victory for the Macedonian army, which lost 500 men much more than had been killed during the entire north Balkan campaign. A large difference in losses between the defeated and victorious side was typical in ancient warfare for when one side fell into disarray the other side could and would kill many with impunity. Therefore the relatively large numbers of Macedonians killed seems to confirm Diodoruss version of a lengthy and heroic resistance put up by the Thebans. Along with the slaughter, there was looting and rapes. Plutarch relates an anecdote about a woman called Timoclea who was raped by a captain of the Thracian mercenaries but later managed to kill her oppressor. Alexander, who had always had a good understanding for what we would today call public relations, ordered the woman to be set free, all the more so when it turned out that she was the sister of Theagenes, the commander of the Sacred Band who had fallen at Chaeronea. Similar mercy was not shown to other Thebans. Alexander did not wish to personally pass sentence on this city and left the decision as both Arrian and Diodorus claim to his Greek allies. On account of the lack of available time it is doubtful that he summoned the synedrion of the League of Corinth; instead a council was probably held at the Macedonian
31

Diod., 17.11-12; Arr., An., 1.8; Plu., Alex., 11.4-5; Polyaen., 4.3.12. Lane Fox 1973, p. 87; Bosworth 1980, pp. 79-84; Bosworth 1988, pp. 32-33; Flower 2000, p. 96.

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camp outside Thebes, comprising representatives of neighbouring antiTheban states. The defeated were reminded of their earlier offences, especially their collaboration with Persia during the great war of 480-479, for which at the time the city was already condemned to be demolished. Added to this were additional charges regarding the destruction by Thebes of other Greek cities and its current contacts with the Great King. There is no doubt that Alexander could have rejected the extreme demands of the citys Phocian and Boeotian enemies just as Sparta had rejected the demands of her allies to destroy Athens after the Peloponnesian War. However, he chose to accept the decision, as Polybius says, in order to strike fear into the hearts of Greeks before his departure for Asia. Formally only carrying out the resolution of his allies, Alexander ordered the destruction of the whole of Thebes with the exception of the temples, the poet Pindars house and the Cadmea citadel, where a Macedonian garrison remained. With the exception of the priests, people bound by ritualised friendship (xenia) with Macedonians and Macedonias political supporters, the approximately 30,000 Thebans who survived the slaughter were sold as slaves. The sale of such a vast number of slaves could only lower their unit price, but for Alexander, who was beset with financial problems, the 440 talents he in this way received was of great use and perhaps helped reduce the debt he had inherited after his father. The rural territories belonging to Thebes were divided up among Boeotian poleis allied to Alexander. The Macedonian king also had the cities of Orchomenos and Plataea, which had been destroyed by Thebes, rebuilt and surrounded with defensive walls because these cities were in particular considered to be Macedonias mainstay in Boeotia.32 The ruthless destruction of Thebes deeply shocked Greece. The orators lamented and Cassanders proclamation to rebuild Thebes in 316 gained him a lot of popularity. Despite a prohibition that was imposed on all allies the same day as the sentence on Thebes was passed, Athens and Akraiphia accepted refugees from that city. To Greeks the destruction of Thebes was a terrible act but one, according to contemporary rules of war, which was quite legal and even just. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 334 a bronze chandelier looted from Thebes was accepted as an offering from Alexander to the temple of Apollo at Cyme. Aeschines argued that the destruction of Thebes was just at the Athenian court of law, which would
32 Clitarch., ap. Ath., 4.148d-f (= FGrH, 137 F1); Plb., 38.2.13; Diod., 17.13.514.4; Plu., Alex., 11.10-12.6; Plu., mor., 259d-260d, 1090c; Arr., An., 1.8-9; D. Chr., 2.33; Ael., VH, 13.7; Plin., Nat., 7.109; Just., 11.3-4. Wilcken 1967, pp. 7374; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 87-88; Bosworth 1980, pp. 84-91; Bosworth 1988, pp. 195-196; Hamilton 1999, pp. 30-32; Le Rider 2003, pp. 41-42.

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indicate that even there many were of this opinion. Rejoicing at Thebes destruction of the personified Mt. Kithairon in Alexander Romance echoes the same opinion albeit shrouded in mythological garb. Besides, there were many hypocrites among the Greeks. For instance, for all his lamenting over the fate of Thebes, the orator and Alexanders political opponent Hypereides was not discouraged from purchasing a Theban female captive for 20 minas, one who later became his mistress.33 As a political move the destruction of Thebes was a success for although it certainly did not earn Alexander the love of the Greeks, it did force them to respect him. Just like Philips destruction of Olynthus, so too Alexanders destruction of Thebes served as a fierce reminder to the Greeks, ensuring peace and pro-Macedonian order during his Asian campaign. Meanwhile a hasty delegation of noted pro-Macedonian politicians from Athens instantly arrived to congratulate Alexander on his victories over the Triballi and Illyrians as well as his quelling of the Theban uprising, even though Athens had actually actively encouraged it. In response the Macedonian king demanded the handing over of prominent anti-Macedonian politicians and generals on the charge of being responsible for Chaeronea, hostility to Philip and himself as well as inciting Thebes to rise. They were to be judged by the synedrion of the League of Corinth. The sources give several versions of this list of Macedonias enemies but all of them include the names of Demosthenes, Lycurgus, Polyeuctus and the general Charidemus. The fate of Thebes made it obvious that Alexanders demands had to be treated with the utmost seriousness and so a heated debate ensued in Athens. Phocion advised those mentioned on the list to selflessly take their lives for the sake of their motherland and so that the city of Athens could be spared. Demosthenes, as could well be expected, was of the opposite opinion and likened the idea to sheep handing over their sheepdogs to the wolves. But, like Philip sometime before him, Alexander was not looking for a showdown with Athens and his heavy demands should be regarded more as a bargaining tool to pacify Greece as fast as possible at a very small cost to Macedonia. To that, waging war on Athens would have undercut the Panhellenic stance of Alexander on the eve of the expedition to Persia. Thus ultimately the pro-Macedonian orator Demades, allegedly for five
Orators: Aeschin., 3.133; Din., 1, passim. Other reference to public opinion: Diod., 19.54.2; Plin., Nat., 34.14; Arr., An., 1.9; Plu., Alex., 13; Idomeneus, ap. Ath., 13.58 (= FGrH, 338 F14); Plu., mor., 849d ; Ps.-Callisth., 1.46a. Exiles: Diod., 17.14.3; Plu., Alex., 13.1; Paus., 9.23.5. Bosworth 1988, p. 196; Heckel 1997, p. 193; Flower 2000, p. 97; Nawotka 2003a, p. 30; Faraguna 2003, pp. 103104; Poddighe 2009, p. 108.
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talents given to him by politicians on Alexanders list, helped negotiate a compromise in which the accused would only be punished if their guilt was proved according to Athenian law. Only Charidemus was forced to leave Athens, and he headed for Darius IIIs court. The whole incident changed Athenian politics for a long time. Politicians of the antiMacedonian camp realised erstwhile efforts to start a military conflict with a powerful Macedonia had been ill-conceived and could only result in a catastrophic defeat. Thus while Alexander lived, Athens maintained a cold peace with Macedonia. Instead the Athenians concentrated on building up their finances and arming themselves for a confrontation with Macedonia at a later stage.34 If Athens with her powerful fleet and legendary defensive walls was suing for peace with Macedonia, smaller Greek states must have been doing the same with even greater anxiety. Arcadia recalled its troops from the Isthmus and threatened to punish with death anyone inciting actions against Macedonia. Expelled supporters of Macedonia now returned to Elis. Requests for forgiveness were also sent to Alexander by the Aetolian tribes, which was tacit signal that the Aetolian League, disliked by Macedonia, no longer existed.35 The situation in Greece was now under control and the Macedonian army could return north. The Greek uprising had caused the campaign against Persia to be delayed by another year, but at least Alexanders soldiers could return home in the autumn (October) in time for the Zeus of Olympus feast, which was celebrated over nine days in Dion. Apart from sacrifices, the festivities included dramas and competitions. Diodorus describes a lavish banquet arranged by Alexander for friends, officers and ambassadors which was held in a tent capable of fitting a hundred banqueting couches. The army was rewarded with the meat of the sacrificial beasts. It also must have been in the autumn of 335 that Alexander reputedly received special advice from two of his most important officers, Antipater and Parmenion. Both men suggested that before his departure for Asia Alexander should marry and conceive an heir to the throne. Bearing in mind that this king had the habit of personally leading his army into battle and that after the purges of 336-335 their were no other Argead claimants to the Macedonian throne, there is every reason to accept that Alexanders advisers were right to express such concern
34 Aeschin., 3.161; Diod., 17.15; Plu., Dem., 23.3-5; Plu., Phoc., 17; Arr., An., 1.10; Just., 11.4; Suda, s.v. 'Antpatroj. Bosworth 1988, pp. 196-197; OBrien 1992, p. 54; Rubinsohn 1997, pp. 117-118; Habicht 1999, pp. 15-18; Flower 2000, p. 97; Brun 2000, pp. 74-77; Heckel 2009, p. 29. 35 Arr., An,, 1.10.1-2. Bosworth 1988, p. 196.

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over the states future. However, there is another aspect to this story in that both Parmenion and Antipater had unmarried daughters historians believe there were five in all. If Alexander were to marry one of these daughters, the brides father would naturally guarantee for himself great influence in the Macedonian state. We know that Alexander rejected this advice, no doubt because he did not wish to offend the powerful adviser whose daughter he would have to consider less worthy of marriage. For the time being the young king preferred to keep rival parties at his court parties in balance.36

36

Diod., 17.16; Arr., An., 1.11.1. Baynham 1994, p. 334; Baynham 1998; Weber 2009, p. 87.

CHAPTER IV: FROM ABYDOS TO ALEXANDRIA

1. Granicus the first victory


If we take into consideration the differences in human and material resources as well as the differences in territorial size between Macedonia and the Persian Empire, then Alexanders expedition must be the most remarkable military feat in world history. It should also be remembered that in its 3,000-year history Iran has only been successfully attacked and conquered from the west twice: in the mid 7th century AD by the Arabs, at a time when Persia was severely weakened by total defeat in a war against the Eastern Roman Empire, and by Alexander, at a time when the Achaemenid Empire was actually experiencing a territorial and military revival. An ocean of ink has been spilled on a generally futile debate over Alexanders real motives for taking on such an immensely powerful neighbour.1 As is usually the case, the state of the sources is to blame. Only Arrian writes about Alexander being driven by an overwhelming urge (pothos). It is probable that Arrian had derived this notion from a source citing the exact words uttered by Alexander at key moments in his career. Therefore even if we do not accept the romantic image of Alexander constantly trying to achieve the seemingly impossible, we cannot entirely reject pothos as a factor. It was indeed a part of Macedonian culture to identify oneself with heroes from the past as well as the need to prove ones worth in the eyes of ones companions (hetairoi) through feats that others had failed to achieve. Therefore this overwhelming urge to cross ever newer boundaries served to confirm that Alexander reigned supreme over everyone else in terms of aret (manliness/virtue). As the descendent of Heracles and Achilles, who in Antiquity were unquestioningly considered to be historic figures, and also as an avid reader of Homer, the young king was wont to measure his achievements on a heroic scale. That is why more than once in his career he tried not only to equal or outdo his contemporaries but also the deeds of
1

Discussion related in Seibert 1998.

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mythological figures. 2 Of course modern historiography desires to find more rational motives for an undertaking as great as the conquest of the Achaemenid Empire, whose success, apart from the young kings personal valour and ingenious army manoeuvres in the battlefield, would have required effective intelligence gathering and hard-headed logistical planning on a quite unprecedented scale. Meanwhile the sources tell us nothing about Alexanders objectives and plans. We do not even know if at the start of the campaign he merely intended to realise his fathers limited aims, or whether from the outset he planned to conquer the entire Persian Empire. The fact that the sources are silent on these issues does not necessarily mean they are defective or written too long after the events they describe. Conversely, they could just as well be reflecting the actual situation, i.e. the lack of consideration of such matters in Alexanders circle. Perhaps it is as W.W. Tarn put it that Alexander decided to conquer Persia because he never thought of not doing it. Decades before these events Plato had written3 that the natural state of politics was war. And indeed in the Greek world a state could always expect to be at war with its neighbours unless they were bound by a peace treaty, whereas such treaties were anyhow usually only valid for a limited period. If that was how the Greeks thought, then war would have been even more natural to the king of Macedonia, who was traditionally above all a tribal leader and only later a legislator, judge or administrator. Moreover, one cannot forget that Alexander had to do something with the immensely powerful and efficient but equally expensive war machine he had inherited from Philip II. The Macedonian kings permanent revenues from the exploitation of forests, mines, including gold mines, customs duties and taxes were not enough to cover the cost of maintaining such an army. Besides, Philip II had left his son a legacy of glorious victories but an empty treasury. Even the booty taken from Illyria, Thrace and Thebes was soon spent. According to the sources, by the spring of 334 Alexander had only enough provisions to last his army for 30 days and 70 talents, which would have sufficed for no more than two weeks of his armys pay.4 Therefore if neither Macedonias permanent revenues nor her traditional
Ehrenberg 1938, pp. 52-61; Brunt 1965; Goukowsky 1975, pp. 325-326; OBrien 1992, p. 50; Stewart 1993, pp. 78-88; Austin 2003, pp. 121-123. 3 Tarn 1948, p. 8; Pl., Lg., 625e. 4 Duris and Phylarchus after Chares, Aristobulus and Onesicritus all quoted in: Plu., Alex., 15.2; Plu., mor., 327d-e, 342d. Badian 1985, p. 423; Ashley 1998, pp. 187-189; Hamilton 1999, pp. 36-37; Le Rider 2003, pp. 39-40; Nawotka 2003, pp. 36, 91; Austin 2003, pp. 122-124; Thomas 2007, pp. 59-61, 141-142 on Macedonian monarchy.
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plundering zones in the Balkans were enough to maintain such a huge army, Alexander was left with the options of either demobilising this army or invading Asia. As has been soberly noted by Seibert, although the first option could have theoretically refilled the royal coffers within one or two years, it is highly unlikely that this would have been a practical solution if only on account of the fact that since his ascension to the throne Alexander had had to fight for his political existence and was only victorious thanks to the very army he had inherited from Philip.5 From the ideological point of view, Alexanders plans were supported by the mission of the follower of Plato, Delios of Ephesus, who had been sent by some Greeks of Asia Minor to urge for a war of liberation against their Persian oppressors.6 The decision to wage war was made and in the early spring of 334, most probably in March, the Macedonian army began its trek to the East. The soldiers were personally commanded by Alexander. The administration of Macedonia and control of Greece and the Balkans was handed over to the tried and trusted Antipater, who was also left with 12,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry. The sources give various figures for Alexanders army at the start of the expedition. Citing after Callisthenes, Polybius states that Alexander landed in Asia with 40,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry. Arrian claims there were 30,000 infantry and over 5,000 cavalry, whereas Justin states there were 32,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry. The most detailed information regarding Alexanders army is provided by Diodorus. He mentions 32,000 infantry, 12,000 of whom were Macedonians, 7,000 allies (Corinthian League), 5,000 mercenaries, 7,000 soldiers from Odrysian, Triballian and Illyrian tribes as well as 1,000 Agrianians and archers. The cavalry was to include 5,100 horsemen: 1,800 Macedonians, 1,800 Thessalians, 600 from the League of Corinth and 900 riders from Thrace and Paionia. Plutarch, known as having examined the largest number of no longer extant sources, does not give a detailed breakdown of the numbers of troops included but does state that the lowest figure for Alexanders army was 30,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry, whereas the highest figure was 43,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. Both these assessments came from authors who were Alexanders contemporaries Ptolemy and Anaximenes of Lampsacus. None of these figures is so great as to be rejected as a rhetorical exaggeration, which ancient authors indeed frequently used when relating the size of armies or of battle losses. Only the much later Itinerarium Alexandri stands out by stating that there were 5,000 cavalry and only 10,000 infantry, though even here the infantry figure is given only in reference to Alexanders own soldiers and therefore in all
5 6

Seibert 1998, p. 55; but see Wirth 1971, pp. 139-142. Plu., mor., 1126d; see above n. 43 to chapter II.

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probability Macedonians. Perhaps the different numbers given for Alexanders army arises from the particular moment the sources relate them. The lower number could refer to the size of Alexanders army that left Macedonia, whereas the higher number could refer to Alexanders army after the expeditionary corps of 336 joined it at Abydos. If that was the case, we can estimate the overall number of Alexanders most essential infantry, i.e. the phalanx, to be c. 15,000. Wishing to illustrate Alexanders heroic and generous nature, Plutarch relates the following anecdote: on leaving Macedonia the young king reportedly distributed among his friends all his royal possessions, and when asked what he would keep for himself, he replied hope. Despite its romanticism, this story seems to be at least partly confirmed in an inscription at Calindoea in Mygdonia in the north of the Chalcidice Peninsula stating that Alexander had granted individual Macedonians land there. Of course this does not imply that he gave away all his property for in Macedonias later history royal lands certainly existed. It is, however, very plausible that he simply left some of his property as a deposit against loans he had acquired for the military campaign; Alexander had apparently raise 800 talents that way.7 Alexander was accompanied on his expedition to Asia by Thracian princes. They were invited to do so in order to give the impression that this was a privilege, but in reality they were also hostages ensuring that there subjects and fellow tribesmen would not dare to rise. Historians believe that this was also the purpose of taking the League of Corinth contingent. This contingent was small, especially if we consider that Justin claims the League of Corinth was able to muster 200,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry, but that does not appear to have mattered to Alexander. We do not see him using this contingent in any important actions in battles, more often than not the king entrusted it garrison duties a necessary task but one of secondary importance. Some scholars presume that the Greek states dispatched only such soldiers they were glad to see the back of. Regardless of that, it would be difficult to see great cohesion and military value in a contingent of 7,000 hoplites from dozens of different poleis who had never been on the same battlefield before, at least not on the same side. Moreover, one has to remember that there were many Greek mercenaries in the Persian ranks whom Corinthian League soldiers would not have
Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (= Plb., 12.19.1); Diod., 17.17.3-5; Arr., An., 1.11, 7.9.6; Plu., Alex., 15.1-6; Plu., mor., 327d-e; Just., 11.6; It. Alex., 17-18; Fron., Str., 4.2.4. Milns 1966, p. 167; Hamilton 1974, p. 53; Hamilton 1999, pp. 36-37; Green 1974, pp. 155-156; Dbrowa 1988, p. 33; Bosworth 1988, pp. 259-260; Le Rider 2003, pp. 46-47; Worthington 2004, p. 48. Inscription of Calindoea: SEG 36.626; see Errington 1998, pp. 79-82.
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been eager to fight. It is also characteristic that of the mighty Athenian fleet said to comprise as many as 400 triremes, only 20 ships were sent to Asia and there is no mention of their making any significant contribution to the campaign. The above comments could most certainly not be said about the Thessalian contingent. Their cavalry was in no way inferior to that of the Macedonians and in battles it played an equally important role.8 The Macedonian army marched alongside Lake Kerkini, crossed the River Strymon at Amphipolis and then marched to the south of the Pangaion Mountains via Abdera and Maroneia, crossed the river Hebros (Maritza), passed the city of Pactya and crossed the river Melas at the foot of the Thracian Chersonese (Gallipoli) to finally reach Sestus on the Hellespont. Olympias escorted Alexander for the start of the journey up to Amphipolis, where they parted company and she saw her son no more. The whole route from Macedonia to the Hellespont was approximately 500 km long and it took Alexanders army 20 days to cover. The choice of route was no doubt simply dictated by the road condition and the terrain, but it is also worth noting that it was with slogans of vengeance for Persian sacrilege in Greece that the campaign was started and now Alexander was retracing in the reverse order the route taken by the great army of Xerxes in 480.9 As today, in ancient times the Hellespont was considered to be the border between Europe and Asia. The symbolic significance of this strait is presented in Book vii of Herodotuss The Histories, where he describes the great Persian army crossing the Hellespont on a pontoon bridge straddling two continents as well as the speeches, sacrifices and prayers that accompanied this momentous event. Regardless of the historical veracity of this image, it did function in the collective memory of the Greeks as a symbol of Persian might but also of something that displeased the gods, namely Xerxes excessive pride or hubris in building a bridge across two continents and thus overreaching the boundaries of what was permissible to mere mortals. The Greeks knew that it was indeed his hubris that sealed the ultimate fate of that entire expedition. Therefore it is unsurprising that at the start of this campaign to avenge crimes committed by Xerxes Alexander alluded not only to his expedition but also to the very first pan-Hellenic campaign: the Trojan War, which in Alexanders time was not considered to be a mere work of fiction but a genuine historical fact and actually the very beginning of Greek history. It was also
8

Fron., Str., 2.11.3; Just., 9.5, 11.5. Bosworth 1988, pp. 264-266; Heckel 1997, p. 191. 9 Arr., An., 1.11.5; It. Alex., 18. Engels 1978, pp. 26-29; Bosworth 1988, p. 38; Brosius 2003a, p. 228.

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in association with the Trojan War that in 396 the Spartan king Agesilaus began his expedition into Asia Minor to liberate Greek cities by offering sacrifices at Aulis as Agamemnon had done before his expedition. Therefore there was already an established symbolism associated with political enterprises of the type that was undertaken in the early spring of 334. Before he crossed the Hellespont, Alexander headed for Elaius on the southern end of Chersonese to offer sacrifices to Protesilaos, the first Greek warrior of the Trojan expedition to set foot in Asia and be killed. Arrian relates that the sacrifices were made with an intention that this expedition would be more providential than that of Protesilaos. The visit to this Greek warriors sanctuary linked the symbolism of the Trojan War with the need to avenge the crimes committed by Xerxes. In 480 this was the first Greek religious edifice in Europe to be destroyed by the Persians, and indeed it was for the sacrilegious destruction of shrines that Alexander was now intending to punish Persia. The emphasis on Panhellenic symbolism was particularly important on account of the fact that Macedonian leadership had so recently been questioned by Thebes. The visit to Elaius and other religiously symbolic gestures cost the entire expedition time. It has been estimated that the excursions to sanctuaries Alexander made at the start of the expedition added 70 km to the route. In other words, they must have delayed the armys progress by several days although speed was such a high priority for the Macedonian king. This illustrates just how important it was for Alexander to gain the favour of the gods in what was much more than merely a logistical and strategic undertaking.10 The crossing of the Hellespont commenced only after Alexanders return from Elaius. The passage was between Sestus and Abydos, which had clearly remained under Macedonian control ever since the expedition in the spring of 336. The great operation of moving the army across the Hellespont was entrusted to Parmenion, the most experienced of the Macedonian commanders, who had at his disposal 160 warships and an unspecified number of merchant vessels. Even if the strait was no more than 1.5 km wide, the transporting of 40,000 troops as well as many herds of horses and wagons must have taken some time. Even before the ships started sailing Alexander ordered alters to be raised for Zeus, Athena and Heracles, and exactly the same was next done on the Asian side. Alexander sailed with part of the fleet (of 60 ships according to Diodorus) personally steering the flagship. Halfway across the Hellespont he
10

Arr., An., 1.11.5. The story of Protesilaos: Paus., 4.2.7 (after the Kypria). Instinsky 1949, pp. 9-22; Zahrnt 1996, pp. 130-134; Flower 2000, pp. 108-109; Faraguna 2003, pp. 108-109.

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sacrificed a bull and a liquid offering poured out of a gold bowl to Poseidon and to the Nereids. Naturally the offerings to the sea god and nymphs were to ensure a successful crossing of the Macedonian army, but their form and location also corresponded to what Herodotus had written about Xerxes sacrifices to the Sun on the day his army crossed over to Europe. Again this was an allusion to the Persian wars at the start of the fifth century and to the revenge which at that time was the main theme of Alexanders expedition.11 The sources do not explain why at that time the far mightier Persian fleet was not mobilised to attack the Macedonians crossing the Hellespont and thus thwart the entire invasion. P. Briant assumes that at the time Darius IIIs attention could have been focused on quelling Khababashs revolt in Egypt and some disturbances in Babylon.12 The place where the fleet landed was called the Harbour of Achaeans in memory of the landing of the Greek force bound for Troy. The first member of the Macedonian expeditionary force to set foot on Asian land was Alexander himself. By doing so he was following in the footsteps of Protesilaos. Legend stated that Achilles had hesitated and did not land first because he knew that the first Greek to do set foot on Asian soil would die there. Thus Alexander was once again referring to the symbolism of the Trojan War and at the same time rivalling Achilles for us a mythical figure but for Alexander his real ancestor. The epic landing in Asia was preceded by the thrusting of a spear into its soil a gesture whose historical veracity there is no need to doubt. Even if Arrian does not mention it, most of the other sources do. Moreover, it is not only perfectly consistent with the logic of Alexanders actions but also provides justification for his successors, the diadochi. According to both Greek and Persian custom one of legitimate ways of getting possession of a country was to wrest it from an enemy by force, and in the political terminology of the day such territory was called land captured with the spear (doriktetos chora). Therefore with this gesture Alexander was stating his intention to conquer all or part of Asia and not to just plunder enemy land. It is in reference to this that Plutarch sums up Alexanders achievements: For he did not overrun Asia like a robber nor was he minded to tear and rend it, as if it were booty and plunder bestowed by unexpected good fortune, after the manner in which Hannibal later descended upon Italy, or as earlier Teres descended upon Ionia and the Scythians upon Media. This was a significant addition to the so far declared character of the expedition as Panhellenic war of vengeance. Just as the earlier aspect of the mission had been stressed for the benefit of the Greeks, so this new aspect was now
11 12

Diod., 17.16.2; Arr., An., 1.11.6-7; Just., 11.5. Instinsky 1949, pp. 41-53. Briant 2003, pp. 67-70.

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expressed more for the benefit of the Macedonian members of the expedition. Later, Alexanders companions, the diadochi, would claim their right to govern parts of his empire using the argument that the land had been conquered with the spear, and no one questioned the legitimacy of this line of reasoning.13 After this ceremony and after sacrifices being made to Zeus, Athena and Heracles, Alexander and his retinue headed for Troy. In 480 it had also been visited by Xerxes, who sacrificed there a thousand oxen to the goddess Athena. In 334 this was a small town basking in the glory of the epic war, the genuine or more likely fake relics of which were enthusiastically shown to tourists. The inhabitants asked the distinguished guest Alexander if he would like to see Pariss lyre (whose name was also Alexander), to which the king sarcastically replied either that he already had it or that he would willingly listen the Achilles lyre, the sound of which, singing of the fame of men, relaxed him. The inhabitants of Troy did not realise that Alexander had come for a more serious purpose than just sightseeing. Still at the start of his expedition, Alexander wished to fulfil all the religious obligations and once again emphasise the campaigns pan-Hellenic character. Rulers and military commanders frequently offered up sacrifices at Troy as this was the last (or first, depending on where to the army was bound) Asian sanctuary on the route to Europe, a continent which can indeed be seen from there. Alexander visited the graves of the heroes in the town, honouring the memory of his ancestor Achilles, another of Greek champions, Ajax, as well as of Priam. The offering given to Priam was to avert his anger from Alexander as on his mothers side the Macedonian was a descendent of Neoptolemus, the one who had murdered the old king after the fall of Troy. At Achilles grave Alexander expressed envy that the Greek champion had had Homer to praise his deeds. Later literary tradition has Alexander laying a wreath on the grave of Achilles, and Hephaestion laying a wreath on the grave of Patroclus, thus drawing an obvious parallel between the mythical friends and Alexander and his closest companion. At the temple of Athena Alexander left his panoplia as a votive offering to the goddess and in return took some armour that had allegedly been kept there since the Trojan War. These valuable mementos Alexander had carried before him into battle. Thus Athena, the guardian of the Greeks at Troy, became the
13

Diod., 17.17.2; Just., 11.5; It. Alex., 18; Plu., mor., 330d; Ps.-Callisth., 1.28. Wilcken 1967, p. 83; Instinsky 1949, pp. 23, 31-38; Schmitthenner 1969, pp. 32-38; Green 1974, p. 166-167; Briant 1980, p. 40; Briant 1993, p. 13; Mehl 1980; Bosworth 1988, pp. 38-39; Flower 2000, pp. 119-120. Historicity of this event put in doubt by Zahrnt 1996; contra Seibert 1998, pp. 56-57.

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deity leading Alexander against his enemies.14 Strabo erroneously dates Alexanders visit to Troy after the Battle at Granicus. He states that the Macedonian king returned to Troy the status of a city and exempted it from the obligation of paying tributes. Later, in a letter sent to Troy, Alexander was to have promised to convert it into a great city. The expansion of Troy was actually achieved through synoikism by Lysimachus after Alexanders death. 15 The Macedonian kings stay at Troy in all likelihood was not limited to a few hours only as while he was there some of the regions notables visited him. Arrian names one of them: Chares, an Athenian commander of mercenaries who had been granted property at Sigeion by Artaxerxes III. He was one of the numerous lords of the Troad, some of whom decided to side with Alexander.16 The sources remain silent as to the impact Alexanders Trojan visit had on Greek public opinion but it certainly raised the citys status in the Hellenistic era. Still in the 4th century Troy became the centre of a confederation of Troad cities, focused on the Sanctuary of Athena Ilias. Soon also Hellenistic rulers Alexanders companions and their successors funded the raising monumental edifices there.17 Once the entire Macedonian army had crossed the Hellespont, Alexander joined his soldiers at Arisbe, whence the army marched briskly east towards Daskyleion, the capital of the Hellespontine Phrygia. On the first day the Macedonians reached Percote (today Urumbey) on the Hellespont. On the second day they bypassed Lampsacus and camped by the river Practius, which flowed into the Marmara Sea. The following day Alexanders army reached Hermotus, this time circumventing the city of Colonae but accepting the surrender of the town of Priapus, where a Macedonian garrison was left. The examples of Lampsacus and Colonae show that Alexander was deliberately avoiding large cities that had no yet declared their allegiance. His priority was clearly to find a quick solution on the battlefield. Thus by merely posing a threat, Alexander wished to lure the satrap Arsites out into open territory and in a pitched battle score a major victory at the very start of his campaign. Of the two roads from Lampsacus to Granicus, Alexanders army would have probably chosen the easier route to the north of the marshy lake Ece Gl, then across a plain
14 Diod., 17.17.2-3, 17.17.6-18.1; Plu., Alex., 15.7-9; Plu., mor., 331d-e; Arr., An., 1.11.7-8, 1.22.2; Ael., VH, 9.38, 12.7; Just., 11.5; It. Alex., 18. Bosworth 1988, p. 39; Stewart 1993, pp. 83, 249, n. 62; Zahrnt 1996, pp. 144-145; Erskine 2001, pp. 105-106, 226-234. 15 Str., 13.1.26. Debord 1999, pp. 427-429. 16 Arr., An., 1.21.1. Hornblower 1994, p. 220. 17 Erskine 2001, pp. 230-234.

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already marching in battle formation. Modern scholars in general claim the two armies clashed in May. Considering the facts that Alexanders army had left Macedonia in early spring (March) and that it generally advanced rapidly, the Battle of Granicus must have occurred in early May. E. Grzybek, who has radically revised the dates of battles in Alexanders time, has calculated that the Battle of Granicus took place on 8th April 334. This, however, seems improbable if we consider that the army would have left Macedonia at the start of spring and therefore in late March.18 The Persian authorities would have known of Alexanders expedition for some time, perhaps as early as the moment it left Macedonia. However, this time, unlike in 336-335, the Great King did not nominate a general to conduct the defensive war and instead entrusted the task to the regions satraps just as if this was merely a local conflict. The reason for this was most probably a simple underestimation of the danger: Alexander had yet to prove himself abroad as a commander and the previous Macedonian expeditionary force had been easily defeated by barely 5,000 Greek mercenaries, even if commanded by the brilliant general Memnon of Rhodes. Darius contempt of Alexander may be reflected in the formers spurious letter quoted in the Alexander Romance in which Darius addresses Alexander as a spoiled child and has his ambassadors deliver him toys. On the ground meantime the Persian army assembled to the east of the river Granicus, thus blocking the road to Zeleia. Its strongest formation was the cavalry, comprising over 10,000 men, as stated by Diodorus, rather than 20,000 as Arrian claims. The armys composition included Iranian military settlers from the western satrapies, contingents from Paphlagonia, Hyrcania and Cilicia as well as detachments commanded by nobles from satrapies in Asia Minor. Arrian claims that there were approximately 20,000 mercenaries on the Persian side, but that is highly unlikely as such large mercenary armies were raised only very occasionally after a long period of preparation and under the personal command of the Great King. It is clear that no such preparations had been made prior to the Battle of Granicus and therefore we should accept that only a small fraction of those 20,000 troops were mercenaries, whereas the vast majority were local detachments of little military value. Diodorus claim that the Persians had 100,000 infantry and Justins estimate that the entire Persian army numbered 600,000 men obviously belong to the realm of fantasy. There can be no doubt that the Persians had a far weaker infantry than the Macedonians but that their cavalry was numerically superior. Before the battle the Persian commanders held a council at Zeleia
18 Arr., An., 1.12.6-13.1. Foss 1973, pp. 495-496; Higgins 1980, p.132; Seibert 1985, pp. 30-32; Harl 1997, p. 313; Grzybek 1990, pp. 61-66.

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presided over by the satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, Arsites, who was also the overall commander of the Persian army by right of the fact that the enemy was on his territory. As an experienced commander who knew this particular enemy well Memnon was also invited to join, but not, as was erroneously for a long time believed, as the commander of Greek mercenaries. Memnon arrived at Granicus at the head of cavalry detachment he had mustered, like other aristocrats, on his own estate. This is certain because in their accounts of the battle our sources clearly report him commanding such a cavalry unit. Although Memnon was undoubtedly the best possible commander of infantry, the Greek mercenaries at Granicus were commanded by a Persian called Omares.19 During this conference Memnon pointed to the disproportionate strength of the Macedonian infantry when compared with the Persian infantry and the fact that the enemy was personally commanded by King Alexander whereas the Persians had no royal commander. For these reasons he suggested that the Persian army should avoid battles and instead retreat, employing a policy of destroying food and fodder for horses on the way and even destroying towns. Next he suggested that the war should be moved into Europe. Such advice indicates not only a sober appraisal of the military might of the opposing forces but also good intelligence on the enemys provisions for men and horses. According to the calculations of D.W. Engels, a pioneer of research into ancient logistics, the transporting of one days provisions (food and fodder) for the Macedonian army required the employment 1,100 pack animals. In Antiquity the transporting of an armys provisions was possible for more or less ten days. Afterwards provisions had to be replenished, either by ship or by living off the enemys land. Of course there is no way of knowing how Memnons suggested tactics would have worked, but at that time of year, before the harvest, when food was difficult to come by, especially for such a large army, there is good reason to believe that this scorched earth policy would have considerably hindered Alexanders actions and at least delayed the first really decisive battle, in the meantime compelling him do disperse his army into foraging parties. Memnons advice, however, was rejected by Arsites, who declared that he would not allow a single house to be burnt down in his satrapy. Other Persians
Diod., 17.18.2, 17.19.4-5; Arr., An., 1.12.8-10, 1.15.2, 1.16.3; Just., 11.6; Ps.Callisth., 1.36. Badian 1977, p. 283; McCoy 1989, pp. 414-417; Briant 1996, pp. 718, 840-841; Debord 1999, p. 430; Heckel 2006, pp. 162, 183; Sabin 2007, pp. 130-131; Heckel 2009, pp. 29-30. Erroneous opinion of Memnon commanding mercenary soldiers is popular even today: Worthington 2004, p. 54; Matthews 2008, passim.
19

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supported this view, declaring (according to Diodorus) that Memnons decision was below their dignity or (according to Arrian) quietly suspecting that Memnon wished to prolong the war and thus be nominated overall commander by Darius III. One has to note that Alexander and his army also helped Memnons credibility to be undermined by sparing his land, which, like the properties of his brother Mentor, was presumably situated in the Troad on the former estates (peraia) of Chios and Mytilene. This and the failure to give Memnon command of the infantry can only confirm the claim in the sources that the satraps were jealous of him. Some historians also suppose that the satraps wished to defeat Alexander with the Iranian cavalry to in a sense compensate for the defeat of the earlier Macedonian expedition by the Greek infantry. P. Briant also points to an important aspect of Persian culture that prohibited them from accepting scorched earth tactics. It was a fundamental part of Achaemenid ideology that the Great King and his representatives, the satraps, were duty bound to protect royal subjects. It was indeed this duty that gave the state the moral right to demand tributes and other services from the people. Memnons suggestion contravened this important principle and therefore if only for this reason the satraps could not accept it.20 Thus the decisions fell and now all there was left to do was fight the battle. The Granicus is now known as the Kocaba ay, which in its lower reaches up to the Marmara Sea is called Biga ay. It was along this stretch of the river to the north of a tributary (today called Koa ayi) that the battle was fought. On a 5 km long section from Koa ayi to the Iel trench, confined by marshes in the north, there is a stretch of flat terrain that was very suitable for cavalry. The ancient authors present Granicus as a large river with a strong current and steep banks that made it difficult to cross: for one can see that many parts of it are deep; its banks, as you see, are very high, sometimes like cliffs, but most of his army were afraid of the depth of the river, and of the roughness and unevenness of the farther bank, up which they would have to climb while fighting, and precipitous positions covered with infantry and cavalry, and through a stream that swept men off their feet and surged about them. Today the Kocaba ay (Granicus) has a channel 15-25 metres wide, whereas in May, the month the battle is said to have taken place, the river is no more than 5-7 metres wide, half a meter deep, and flows slowly. The eastern bank, which was occupied by the Persians, is higher than the western bank, but both sides
20

Diod., 17.18.2-3; Arr., An., 1.12.9; Polyaen., 4.3.15. Engels 1978, pp. 18-22; Briant 1980, pp. 43-45; Briant 1996, pp. 841-842; Seibert 1985, p. 37; McCoy 1989, pp. 428-430; Wirth 1989, p. 16; Heckel 1997, p. 195; Ashley 1998, pp. 187190; Debord 1999, pp. 434-435.

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could be crossed by the cavalry. However, if the infantry tried to cross, the phalanx line would undoubtedly have been broken and the resulting confusion would not have rendered its attack effective.21 We have three major accounts of the battle, of: Arrian, Diodorus and Plutarch. Their rhetoric is somewhat confusing and the accounts also differ from each other with regard to certain details, such as the time of the day the battle was fought. All the authors agree that the Macedonian army reached the Granicus in the afternoon, but there are two versions of what happened next. According to Diodorus the Macedonians set up camp and attacked the Persians at dawn the next day. According to Arrian and Plutarch the Macedonians attacked immediately, and this was possible because on their way to the river they were already marching in battle formation. Both Arrian and Plutarch also mention a council held by the Macedonian commanders. According to Arrian, Parmenion advised Alexander to postpone the attack until dawn the following day assuming that the much inferior Persian infantry would not dare spend the night near the river and that at daybreak it would be easy to cross. In response Alexander is said to have uttered one of his famous sentences: I should feel it a disgrace if, after crossing the Hellespont so easily, this small stream should bar our way for a moment. Ancient authors more than once relate disputes between Alexander and Parmenion regarding not only military tactics but also the strategy of the entire war. In these accounts a careful Parmenion weighing up the pros and cons of each possible move is contrasted with a young and impatient Alexander eager to achieve great things. In these confrontations, befitting his literary persona, Alexander not only always wins the battle of words but is also always successful in victoriously realising the very plans the old general advised him against. Such accounts are therefore a literary topos, which makes it virtually impossible to conduct historical analysis if we cannot even establish whether such discussions between the Macedonians ever took place. This topos was probably started in Callisthenes book, where Parmenion was presented as foil to enhance Alexanders glory. In the case of Granicus, delaying the battle would have given the weaker Persians an opportunity to escape; whereas Alexanders determination to march swiftly shows that he wanted a confrontation as soon as possible. Moreover the kings option of attacking in the second part of the day was logical as it meant that the Persians would have to fight with the sun in the eyes, whereas in the morning the Macedonians would have been facing the sun in the east. The
21

Arr., An., 1.13.4; Plu., Alex., 16.2, 16.4. Topography of the battlefield: Janke 1904, pp. 126-135; Nikolaitis 1974; Foss 1973; Harl 1997, p. 304; Sabin 2007, p. 129.

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experienced Parmenion would have known that too. Therefore in all probability the Macedonian army attacked at the first available opportunity: in the afternoon the same day the army reached the banks of the river Granicus.22 The Persian cavalry was positioned along the entire section of the rivers eastern bank, whereas the Persian infantry was stationed on slightly higher ground a certain distance behind the cavalry. Such a positioning of the Persian army has been frequently criticised by modern historians as it did not allow the Persian cavalry to gather enough momentum to make full use of the force of its charge. It is obvious that the cavalry needed some distance from the river bank to do this. However, the fact of the matter was that the Persian cavalry tactic at the time was not to charge at the enemy in tight formation with lances this was only first tried against Alexanders army at Issus. An earlier tactic, still used at Granicus, was to approach the enemy and thrown javelins at it, so as to disrupt the advancing battle formations. Only then did they start to attack with curved swords. In the escalating confusion the fast and well trained Persian horsemen usually gained the upper hand. And that must have been what the Persians hoped would happen on this occasion. Alexander traditionally commanded the right wing together with the companion cavalry, whereas the left wing was entrusted to Parmenion, who had the Thessalian cavalry and the Greek allies under his command. The first unit to attack was composed of scouts armed with sarissai, Paionians and one ile (squadron) of hetairoi all commanded by Amyntas, the son of Arrhabaeus. The Persians in turn had concentrated their best forces on their left wing this was where we are told the satraps Arsamenes (or Arsames) of Cilicia, Spithridates of Lydia and Ionia and Arsites himself were positioned. The commander of the Cappadocian cavalry, Mithrobuzanes, was also probably a satrap. According to Arrian the Persians had spotted Alexander in his magnificent armour and wished to resolve the battle by clashing with him directly. Of course this was also what Alexander wanted to achieve, and this feudal code of conduct respected by aristocrats on both sides would ultimately work to his advantage.23 Amyntas detachment was attacked as it tried to ascend the eastern bank. First Persians threw javelins at the Macedonians and then advanced towards the enemy, thus descending the bank and entering the river. That was without doubt exactly what Alexander wanted to happen for he
22

Diod., 17.19.3 (similar in It. Alex., 20); Plu., Alex., 16.2-3; Arr., An., 1.13.2-7. Badian 1977, pp. 271-277; Bosworth 1988, p. 41; Ashley 1998, pp. 191-192. 23 Diod., 17.19; Arr., An., 1.14. Badian 1977, pp. 277-287; Harl 1997, pp. 306-313; Debord 1999, pp. 430-431.

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immediately attacked the Persians in the river channel, where they no longer had the advantage of holding the high ground. The Macedonians were better armed than the Persians, especially as they had longer spears which were especially important in the first moment impact. The ferociously attacking Companion cavalry personally led by Alexander gradually pushed the Persians back up the eastern bank until both sides were out on land above the river channel. Alexander himself was the focal point of the entire battle, personally fighting many duels with Persian aristocrats desperately trying to kill him. Alexanders spear broke at the very start of the clash but one of the hetairoi, Demaratus, gave him his own. It was then that Mithridates, Darius IIIs son-in-law, attacked Alexander but was instantly killed with the sarissa spearhead thrust into his face. Hereupon Rhoesaces, Spithridates brother, struck Alexander on the head, crushing his helmet and possibly wounding him. Despite this, the Macedonian king managed to kill the assailant with his spear. Meanwhile Spithridates had raised his sword and was poised to strike down on Alexander. Now it was Cleitus who managed to forestall the disaster by hacking off the Persians arm at the shoulder. Alexander and those Macedonians around him were also attacked by another group of Persian aristocrats, courtiers and relatives of the Great King, among them Pharnaces, the brother-in-law of Darius III, and Mithrobuzanes. Meanwhile the battle was also being fought on the Macedonians left flank, but we know virtually nothing about it apart from the fact that the Thessalian cavalry distinguished themselves with superior riding skills and manoeuvres. One can assume that when the Macedonian companion cavalry defeated the elite cavalry squadron of Persian aristocrats, the rest of the Persian cavalry fell into disarray and fled. But Alexander quickly halted the chase to unite the Macedonian cavalry with the phalanx, who in the meantime had crossed the Granicus. Now together they attacked the Persian infantry. The local detachments immediately fled, whereas the Greek mercenaries tried to negotiate terms for capitulation. But Alexander refused to negotiate and instead personally led the attack. The fighting was vicious though probably not as spectacular as in the earlier phase of the battle. Alexanders horse was killed and most of the Macedonian casualties were incurred in this particular clash. Of course the vast numerical superiority of the Macedonians meant that the outcome was a foregone conclusion. Despite a valiant effort, the Greek mercenaries were defeated, with 2,000 of them taken captive. Alexander decided to make an example of these prisoners by punishing them harshly: they were cast in chains and shipped off to Macedonia as slaves. In doing so he was

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fulfilling the mandate of the League of Corinth which prohibited all Greeks from militarily serving Persia.24 The Battle of Granicus was a decisive Macedonian victory. Here Alexander displayed attributes as a military commander that would also serve him well in other battles: an ability to assess the terrain and select the most advantageous place to attack the enemy, an understanding of when to attack and a strong faith in his own abilities as well as those of his soldiers. Added to this was Alexanders reckless courage. He would risk his life without considering the dramatic consequences his death, without a nominated successor, would have to Macedonia.25 There is considerable divergence in claims of how many soldiers were killed on either side. On the Macedonian side figures vary from 34 (according to Plutarch, who derived these figures from Aristobulus) to 129 (Justin). The Persians were to have lost from 1,000 (Arrian) to 2,500 (Plutarch) cavalry and between over 10,000 (Diodorus) and 20,000 (Plutarch) infantry. Of course one has to bear in mind that ancient authors would minimise the number of those killed on whichever side they considered theirs and exaggerate the enemy losses. Thus only Justins figure for the number of Macedonians killed seems in any way plausible, especially when we consider that as many as 25 hetairoi fell and therefore losses among the less well trained and equipped soldiers must have been proportionally higher. There can be little doubt that the Persian losses were indeed high for Alexander was wont to chase and destroy the defeated enemy, so that it could not regroup and fight again. Many distinguished Persian aristocrats were also killed, fighting courageously in the most difficult section of the battle against Alexander and his Companions. The Persian commander-in-chief, Arsites, managed to escape from the battlefield but, blaming himself for the defeat, soon afterwards committed suicide. Alexander now undertook every measure to gain from this military victory as much political and propaganda capital as possible. He ensured that his wounded soldiers were cared for and personally visited them. The families of those killed were exempted from taxation. Alexander honoured the memory of the 25 fallen hetairoi with bronze statues at Dion, the commission for which was given to Lysippus, the greatest sculptor of the era. Of what was plundered from the Persians Alexander sent to Athens 300 complete sets of armour as a votive offering to the goddess Athena with the inscription Alexander the son of Philip and all the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians from the
Diod., 17.19-21; Arr., An., 1.15-16; Plu., Alex., 16.3-14; Plu., mor., 326f-327a; P.Hamb. 652; It. Alex., 21-23. Badian 1977, pp. 287-291; Bosworth 1988, pp. 4243; Harl 1997, pp. 313-324. 25 Badian 1977, p. 293; Bosworth 1988, pp. 42-43.
24

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Barbarians who dwell in Asia. Thus at the Acropolis, whose temples had been desecrated by Xerxes 146 years earlier, there was now visible evidence that Alexander was realising the Panhellenic vendetta. It is also possible that there was irony in Alexanders gesture, because among those captured at Granicus and sent in chains as slaves to Macedonia there could have been many Athenians though probably not majority as claimed in Itinerarium Alexandri. Their release from captivity was for a long time an object of Athenian diplomatic efforts. 26 The purple gowns, precious utensils and other valuable items found in the Persian camp now became the victors property. These things Alexander sent as a gift to his mother, which she most probably next submitted as expensive offerings at Delphi.27 A direct consequence of the Battle of Granicus was the capture of Daskyleion, the capital of Hellespontine Phrygia, which surrendered to Parmenion without putting up resistance. Alexander nominated the Macedonian Calas his satrap in Phrygia and stipulated that the amount of tributes collected was to be the same as it had been under Persian rule. These first administrative decisions to be made on conquered land became guidelines to be applied with only a few exceptions, discussed later in all lands subsequently acquired by Alexander during his campaign: as an heir of the Achaemenids Alexander took over their territories without changing the established administrative and financial systems. Insofar as we are able to judge on the basis of very imperfect numismatic evidence, it was indeed as an Achaemenid successor that Alexander was perceived by the Greeks of Asia Minor for he appears in satrap attire on coins autonomously issued by some of their cities.28

2. Freedom for Greeks of Asia


The main Macedonian force commanded by Alexander now headed for Sardis. The sources do not specify which route the army took other than that it was through Lydia. This would imply that the Macedonians chose the main road to the south east from Zeleia to the Macestus river valley, thence via Thyateira and the Hermus river valley to Sardis. Such a route is c. 270 km long and therefore the march would have lasted until the end of May 334. Sardis, the capital of the former Kingdom of Lydia, was in
26 Diod., 16.21.6; Arr., An., 1.16.3-7; Plu., Alex., 16.15-18; Just., 11.6; It. Alex., 23; Curt., 3.1.9; P.Hamb. 652. Hanson 1999, p. 130. 27 Plu., Alex., 16.19; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.1; Ps.-Callisth., 1.28; Syll.3 252. Carney 2000, p. 86. 28 Arr., An., 1.17.1. Heckel 1992, pp. 355-357. Coins: Debord 2000.

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Persian times a large, multi-ethnic city. Most of the population, however, were Lydians and in the second half of the 4th century Lydian social elites were intensively influenced by Hellenic culture, as is apparent in the citys artwork from the late Achaemenid period. The citys other inhabitants included Greeks, Carians, Babylonians, Iranians and other people bearing Asianic names. The populace worshipped both local and Iranian gods Ahura Mazda and Anahita. At Hierokome, situated in the rural district of Sardis, there was a temple of Anahita run by magi right up to Roman times. In Persian times and immediately after Alexanders conquest Sardis maintained a certain degree of autonomy which allowed it to have independent diplomatic relations with Miletus, but it had not yet acquired the status of a Greek polis, which was to come in the Hellenistic period. Sardis was significant as the seat of the satrap of the Sparda (the territory of the former Kingdom of Lydia), who frequently also governed Ionia. Being linked by the Royal Road with Susa, Sardis was also the unquestioned centre of Persian authority in the whole of Asia Minor. The garrison at the Sardis citadel was directly subordinate to the Great King as was the keeper of the local royal treasury. For Alexander the capture of this treasury was of prime importance for, despite the victory at the Granicus, his finances were in a critical condition. According to both literary sources and archaeological findings the citadel at Sardis, where the treasury must have been located, was virtually impossible to capture without a long, drawn-out siege.29 Yet this did not happen. Before Alexander reached the city, he was met by the commander of the Sardis garrison, Mithrenes, accompanied by the citys most influential citizens, who surrendered to the Macedonian king the acropolis and treasury. Our sources do not explain why it happened this way, but we can certainly not conclude that this was a spontaneous gesture. Later examples of great cities surrendering without resistance during Alexanders campaign Babylon or Susa show a certain procedure. The surrendering commander always greeted the victor some distance away form the city and showed his respect. Such was the established custom not only in Achaemenid times but at least since the time of the Neo-Assyrian Empire. Failure to surrender to the approaching army outside the city was a sign of hostile intentions. Once this greeting ceremony was completed, the official victor formally entered the city as its new master. Although the sources do not always mention this directly, the
29

Diod., 17.21.7. Magie 1950, pp. 797-799; Seibert 1985, pp. 35-37; Bosworth 1988, pp. 44-45; Briant 1993, pp. 18-19; Briant 1996, pp. 722-725; Hornblower 1994, pp. 214-217; Debord 1999, pp. 432-433; Sartre 2003, p. 16. Dusinberre 2003 is a monograph of Sardis in Achaemenid period.

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formal capitulation of great and powerful cities was normally preceded by secret negotiations to establish the terms and conditions of surrender, not least compensation to the availing commander of the surrendering fortress. That is what must have happened before the surrender of Sardis and Mithrenes had a lot to bargain with; in return for capitulation he guaranteed for himself a position in Alexanders closest circle as the first Iranian, indeed first Asian to be so honoured. After the Battle of Issus Alexander sent him on a mission to Darius IIIs captured family and later appointed him satrap of Armenia. Mithrenes defection was no less significant from Alexanders point of view, for it started an immensely important process, never fully understood or accepted by contemporary Greeks and Macedonians: the winning over of what P. Briant calls the ethnoclass ruling the Achaemenid empire or, more simply put, the Iranian aristocracy. With time, after battles personally lost by Darius III himself, many Iranians would follow in Mithrenes footsteps. However, according to Curtius Rufus, who frequently was well informed about the mood on the Persian side at given times, the commandant of the Sardis citadel was initially seen as a traitor among his compatriots. Having been greeted by Mithrenes, Alexander set up camp 20 stades (c. 4 km) from Sardis and instructed Amyntas the son of Andromenes to occupy the Sardis citadel. Only then did he himself formally enter the city. In Sardis Alexander resolved to build a temple to the Olympian Zeus. Interpreting as a sign from the said deity a thunderclap that struck a spot where the palace of the Lydian kings had once stood, Alexander decided to have the temple built there. To the local population the thunderbolt had a symbolic meaning suggesting that Alexander was the continuator of the ancient Lydian dynasty that Cyrus the Great had overthrown over two centuries earlier. Continuing Achaemenid administrative solutions, Alexander divided authority over Sardis between three officials: Asander, the son of Philotas, became the satrap of Lydia; Nicias was entrusted with the collection of taxes and Alexanders Companion (hetairos) Pausanias was given command of the garrison, which was to include a contingent from Argos. Soon afterwards Alexander occupied part of the Aegean coast and islands, which he added to Asanders satrapy, though most probably as a separate hyparchy (administrative unit) governed by the Macedonian Philoxenus. This way the administrative structure from before the 5th-century Persian wars was restored. Alexander instructed Calas and Alexander of Lyncestis, who commanded the Peloponnesian contingent, to confiscate Memnons estates situated in what was now Calass satrapy. This was an ostentatious measure taken against one of the Great Kings fiercest generals, but no mass confiscations of the property of Iranian aristocrats in this region

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followed. In later times many of their descendants belonged to social elites of the poleis of Asia Minor. In Achaemenid times these Iranian aristocrats had held land in royal territories but after 334 their estates were gradually incorporated into the poleis rural territories (chorai). The process almost certainly began during Alexanders reign. The earliest extant documentary evidence is a decree of the city of Amyzon in Caria issued in 321/320. Both this decree, passed on the initiative of the satrap Asander, and later actions by the Seleucids incorporating aristocratic property into the chorai of poleis show that the monarchy was the main driving force behind the process of transforming the administrative structure of Asia Minor. We do not know what was meant in Arrians statement that Alexander had allowed the Lydians keep their freedom as the satraps authority and the level of tributes remained the same.30 Having made the essential administrative decisions, Alexander headed for Ephesus, which lay on an offshoot of the Royal Road. In a story written much later by Pausanias, sometime after a hunting excursion during that four-day march Alexander fell asleep and in his dreams he saw the goddess Nemesis, who showed him where to rebuild Smyrna. Although this is a well established story, later officially commemorated on coins issued in Smyrna, unfortunately one cannot dismiss the possibility that like many stories of historical or mythological figures founding cities this one was invented in Roman times.31 Ephesus, historically the second most important Ionian city after Miletus, had always been of considerable interest to the Persian authorities. They surrounded the city with care, especially the temple of Artemis, and under Tiberius the Ephesians were still referring to the citys right to asylum granted by the Persians. The degree of respect to what was after all a pagan goddess accorded by the Persian Zoroastrian state is apparent in the fact that at the turn of the 4th century the satrap Tissaphernes issued coins with her image. The city also had an Iranian colony and even centuries later the temple servant (neokoros) of the Artemision was also called megabyzus, a word derived from the Persian name Bagabuxa meaning satisfying or serving the god.32 News of the Persian defeat provoked in Ephesus the second revolution within three years. Greek mercenaries of the small garrison of Ephesus
Curt., 3.12.7; Arr., An., 1.17; Diod., 17.21.7; Plu., Alex., 17.1; It. Alex., 24. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 140-141; Robert 1983, pp. 97-118; Briant 1985; Briant 1993; Heckel 1992, pp. 176-178, 385; Debord 1999, pp. 159-160, 185. On surrendering cities see below chapter V.4. 31 Paus., 7.5.2. Debord 1999, p. 435. 32 Boyce, Grenet 1989, p. 206; Briant 1996, pp. 721-722; Shabazi 2003, pp. 7-14.
30

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commandeered two triremes and escaped from the city, taking with them Amyntas the son of Antioch, who was a Macedonian aristocrat opposed to Alexanders rule. Alexander entered Ephesus accompanied by the previously expelled supporters of Macedonia and personally ended oligarchic rule, establishing or rather re-establishing in its place a democracy. No longer fearful of the oligarchs a crowd dragged their leaders: Syrphax, his son Pelagon and his nephews, from the temple and stoned them to death. But once the leaders were killed Alexander forbade further retributions and, according to Arrian, the wisdom of this decision earned him great popularity among the populace. A considerable part of Alexanders actions in Ephesus focused on the Temple of Artemis the goddess who according to legend had failed to save the Artemisium from fire because she was preoccupied with assisting Olympias in labour. Alexander now laid offerings to the goddess and arranged a military parade. He also extended the asylum area around the temple to one stade (c. 180 m) we do not know the size of the original asylum area. This was an important privilege, and Ephesus would have to wait another 300 years for it to be further extended. Moreover, Alexander decided that the tribute from the city due to him should be deposited in the temples treasury. The Artemisium lay within the citys boundaries and, as the division of church and state was unknown in Antiquity, the temples treasury was actually administered by the city; therefore Ephesus was paying itself tribute. Strabo records an anecdote about an offer by Alexander to rebuild the Artemisium from his royal funds which was rejected by the proud Ephesians, who wanted for themselves the glory of rebuilding the temple. Yet so as not to offend the monarch they explained that it was not befitting for deity to build a temple for another deity. Although anecdotal nature of this account does not necessarily undermine its historical veracity, it is highly unlikely that something like that could have happened during Alexanders first and only visit to Ephesus. Firstly, the current state of his finances would have prohibited him from making such an offer. Secondly, the Greeks attitude to religion was much too serious for them to have proclaimed this young Macedonian ruler a god as early as in 334. Nevertheless this story does illustrate Alexanders consistent interest in Artemis of Ephesus, for whom he was willing to give donations even when royal revenues were at their lowest. 33 Whilst in Ionia Alexander must have also made a very generous donation for the construction of a

33 Arr., An., 1.17.10-18.2; Str., 14.1.22-23. Bosworth 1980, pp. 132-133; Higgins 1980, pp. 132-134; Badian 1996, pp. 24-25; Nawotka 2003a, pp. 23-24, 29.

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temple to the goddess Athena Polias in the city of Priene as it is recorded in an inscription on the temple to this day.34 Arrian writes that while Alexander was in Ephesus emissaries came from Magnesia and Tralles to surrender their cities to him. The king accepted their capitulation and provided these Greek cities military protection by sending there Parmenion with a force of 5,000 infantry (half of whom were Macedonian and the other half mercenaries) as well as 200 hetairoi. He sent another force under the command of Alcimachus to the cities of Ionia and Aeolis with instructions: He ordered the oligarchies everywhere to be overthrown and democracies to be established; he restored its own laws to each city and remitted the tribute they used to pay to the barbarians. In Caria somewhat later that year Alexander said that he had started the war with Persia in order to liberate the Greek cities. These two simple remarks quoted in the sources have aroused a major historical debate regarding Alexanders attitude towards the Greek cities of Asia Minor. Stances in this debate are between two extreme views. One claims that Alexander genuinely restored freedom to the poleis of Asia Minor and invited them to join the League of Corinth. The opposite view claims that actually nothing changed: tributes continued to be extracted even if under a different guise and that the pro-Persian cliques called oligarchies were merely replaced by pro-Macedonian cliques forming puppet regimes called democracies. If nothing had indeed changed, then the decisions made by Alexander at Ephesus would have only been for propaganda purposes.35 Historical debate has allowed us to establish that in all probability, unlike certain island states, the poleis of Asia Minor never became members of the League of Corinth. The sources do not mention anything like this happening, whereas for Alexander the League was never such an important political tool as to make it necessary for him to recruit so many new members. Other controversies, however, remain. Perhaps a way out of this academic deadlock would be to look at the liberation issue from the point of view of the Greeks in Asia Minor and on the basis of their concepts of sovereignty and freedom. To the 4th-century Greeks a free polis was one which had its own laws, controlled its rural territories, could decide on the settlement or expulsion of foreigners, had its own foreign policy and made independent financial decisions, including ones concerning taxes. The most important of these criteria was the first, which
IPriene, 156. Heisserer 1980, pp. 143-144, 156-158. Arr., An., 1.18.2; Diod., 17.24.1. Detailed discussion of the issue of freedom of Greeks in Asia Minor with reference to all extant sources: Nawotka 2003a. Now see also Mileta 2008, pp. 21-40. Here I provide a summary and conclusions.
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the Greeks called autonomia though today we would call it sovereignty rather than autonomy. A free polis could belong to a military alliance and pay contributions to a common cause. However, the imposition of a duty to pay tributes was contrary to their concept of sovereignty. In the 4th century a view emerged and became predominant from the 330s onwards that democracy was the typical system of government for a free polis. Therefore not only tyranny (which is obvious) but also oligarchy was considered incompatible with what they believed to be the natural constitution of a free Greek state. One of the visible and therefore important to modern scholars aspects of ancient Greek democracy was the transparency of government, namely the freedom to express views and a tendency to publish the results of public debates, i.e. the decrees of the council and people. Oligarchies felt it important to have unwritten laws that were only fully known to the initiated ruling elite. Conversely, democracies in many cases even forbade the use of laws that had not been published in writing and therefore indeed followed principles that also apply to modern states today. It is fortunate that at least some inscriptions in stone of the resolutions passed by ancient Greek democracies have survived to this day. However, this is only a small fraction of evidence giving us merely a tiny glimpse into the histories of numerous poleis; such local histories were of only minor and sporadic interest to the ancient authors. Although most of the ancient inscriptions are gone, the numbers that have survived from particular poleis may be assumed to be statistically proportionate to the original numbers. The association of the number of inscriptions a polis produced with the type of government it had is very well illustrated in the states of continental Greece. That is why we have approximately 1,400 decrees from democratic Athens and only a few similar documents from very large but oligarchic poleis such as Sparta, Thebes or Corinth. More significantly, in the history of Athens alone we can trace that many more inscriptions were produced in periods of democratic rule than in its periods of oligarchic rule. The same principle of associating the number of public inscriptions decrees of the council and people with the type of government may be applied to the poleis of 4th-century Asia Minor. The inscriptions of about half of the 60 or so ancient poleis of Ionia, Aeolis and Caria have survived to this day. Although taking into account the problems with the exact dating of Greek inscriptions, one can say that in the years 334-301 three times more public documents were produced in this region than in years 400-335 preceding Alexanders expedition. Thus the average annual number of decrees passed rose six fold after Alexanders arrival in relation

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to the average year before his arrival. The trend is most noticeable in large cities producing a proportionately large number of inscriptions. The most striking example is Ephesus, where from the entire 4th century up to Alexander the citys popular assembly left behind just one extant inscription, whereas for the last third of the century as many as 44. Both their large number as well as the evidence of working of the legislative process at the time show that this was a vibrant and active democracy. This indeed also confirms the image of Ephesus presented by the ancient authors, especially Arrian, of a city whose population predominantly opposed its oligarchic government, which had to basically rely on the support of the Persian garrison. There are other examples that can be shown but it is more important to see the general picture of political changes within the Greek poleis of Asia Minor in 334 as transpires from extant epigraphic sources. In Ionia, Aeolis and the Greek cities of the Carian coast the arrival of the Macedonian army was followed by a legislative explosion, which is a typical sign of democratic government. Not all the poleis under Persian rule were ruled by oligarchies, but even those that did manage to preserve their democratic systems became much more active and radical after Alexanders arrival. An example of such democratic revitalisation and a greater opening up of public initiative is Iasus in Caria, which in 334 was liberated from the restrictions imposed upon it by its Hecatomnid rulers. In Alexanders time we have not only an active assembly but even evidence of assembly pay (ekklesiastikon) being paid to enable participation of even the poorest citizens without their having to suffer financial loses. In Greek political theory assembly pay was an aspect of the most radical type of democracy and its appearance in Asia Minor at that time is a measure of how deep the political changes were after Alexanders arrival. The decision to topple oligarchies and establish democracies in Ionia, Aeolis and Caria had fundamental and far-reaching consequences. Whereas up to Alexanders reign oligarchies and democracies had been considered equally legitimate forms of government, the Hellenistic era saw the decided predominance of democratic systems of government in the Greek world. Though Alexanders decisions were not the only reason for this change, they did contribute to the triumph of democracy. Fortunately, to this day we have an extensive fragment of inscribed text from Alexanders address to the Ionian city of Priene which sheds light on another two important issues concerning the status of poleis in Ionia, Aeolis and Caria: the control of rural territories and state finances. After his victory at Granicus Alexander considered himself the rightful successor of the Achaemenids and therefore he felt authorised, as is

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recorded in this inscription, to carefully delimitate royal territories from those belonging to Priene. Only the inhabitants of the former were obliged to pay tributes (phoros), whereas the inhabitants of the rural areas belonging to Priene as well as the inhabitants of the city itself were not. This confirms the abovementioned passage from Arrian stating that Alexander freed the Greek poleis from the paying of tributes. Unlike other Greek states in the region, Priene was also relieved from having to pay contributions (syntaxis) for the war against Persia, most probably on account of it taking on other military obligations. To many historians the difference between tribute (phoros) and contribution (syntaxis) seems to be no more than in the way they sound. To them the latter was simply the same tax with a nicer name but nonetheless going to a ruler who decided everything. However, 4th-century Greeks had a very different opinion on the subject and in all known documents from the period the two forms of taxation were carefully distinguished. We know that the poleis of Asia Minor made individual alliances with Alexander through treaties and although we do not know their content, we can assume that they formed the basis for collecting syntaxis. One needs to remember that to most of these cities the war against Persia was one of liberation. Insofar as we are able to discern, only the oligarchies, which relied on Persian support to remain in power, thought differently. Therefore the collecting of contributions, like in other military alliances, was something quite obvious. Priene, some of the island poleis as well as some of the Asian mainland Greek states provided soldiers and ships for the war effort and therefore did not have to pay contributions. It is probable that Alexander collected syntaxis up until 330, that is, while he was still fighting the war with the Corinthian Leagues mandate. Although the level of contributions was probably similar to that of the tributes, at least some of the poleis soon began to feel the financial benefits of the political change for now their territories were integrated with the landed properties of Iranian aristocrats and that meant a broader tax base for the citys treasury. These facts should not, however, be used to paint an idealised picture of Alexander in 334 being the altruistic liberator of Asia Minor willingly supported by the regions poleis. The examples of Miletus and Aspendus as well as of Tyre beyond the Greek zone (see Chapter IV.5) show that in the war between Alexander and Darius III there was no option of remaining neutral. In those days neutrality was a privilege of only very powerful states or ones of such marginal importance that the belligerent powers saw no need to have them on their side. Some of the poleis in Asia Minor joined Alexanders side of their own free will. The Macedonian king offered alliances with all states in Ionia, Aeolis and Caria that

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guaranteed independent rule and even the running of independent foreign policies, though of course not as far as the war against the Great King was concerned. Inscriptions show that after 334 the poleis of Asia Minor were sending out ambassadors and signing treaties with other states, even those beyond Alexanders sphere of influence. They also acquired the support of influential foreigners by granting them citizenship and official rewards for services rendered. In other words, they had their own foreign policies like normal Greek states. As usual we can only make assumptions as to what Alexanders true intentions were. Purely military considerations were without doubt of considerable importance. Despite his victory at Granicus, Alexander was still in a much weaker position than the powerful Persian Empire and he needed allies. The poleis of Asia Minor, which ten years earlier had supplied Artaxerxes III with 6,000 hoplites for his Egypt expedition, possessed considerable military potential. The experiences of Ephesus, Miletus and the island states show that Macedonian or Persian garrisons, generally composed of small Greek mercenary units, could only function with the support of the citizens. The hostile stance of the Ephesians made the citys mercenary garrison flee, whereas the public support for the oligarchy at Miletus allowed it to fight the Macedonians. Moreover many poleis in Asia Minor were surrounded by defensive walls and were therefore mighty fortresses. Alexander did indeed have siege engines that made it possible to capture any of these cities individually, but he lacked the time and means to make laying siege to all of them feasible. By winning the cities over to his side Alexander avoided the necessity of expensive and time consuming sieges. One must also not forget the ideological aspect. The war against Persia was started under the slogan of liberating the Greeks of Asia Minor. Therefore at the very start of his campaign Alexander had to convincingly liberate some of these cities to remain credible in the Greek world. With the perspective of time we can clearly see that this positive image was indeed the one Greeks of Asia Minor saw in him. For centuries later Alexander was still recognised in their collective memories as a benefactor and liberator. Some cities even worshipped him as a god. Alexander also gained the support of adjacent islands. Some had taken Philips side during Parmenions offensive and even joined the League of Corinth. However, once Memnons counteroffensive started proving to be successful, most switched back to the Persian side. After Granicus the situation changed yet again and the supporters of Macedonia returned to power. The best illustration of this an inscription from Chios which contains an edict issued by Alexander in 334 to settle affairs after yet

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another political change. In this document Alexander appears as the hegemon of the League of Corinth. As such he orders the return to Chios of the pro-Macedonian exiles and for their political opponents to be brought before the Leagues court to be tried for treasonable collaboration with the Persians. Moreover, he calls together a college of legislators to write a democratic constitution for the polis. This may have been a violation of the Corinth resolutions, which forbade the imposition of constitutional changes, but it certainly suited Alexanders Asia Minor policy of relying on democracies in Greek states. Finally Chios, along with other island poleis, was obliged to contribute to the war effort. In its case it provided 20 triremes, that is, as many as the mighty Athens.36 Alexander most certainly did not rest his further military plans solely on political declarations, even if they were as far-reaching as the restoring of liberty to the Greek cities of Ionia and Caria. Having fulfilled his religious obligations at Ephesus, he set off with the rest of his army to Miletus. It was to this city that some of those defeated at Granicus had fled, including for a time Memnon, before he moved on to Halicarnassus. Hegesistratus, the commander of the Greek mercenary garrison serving the Persians at Miletus, sent letters to Alexander expressing his willingness to capitulate. No doubt he was under the impression of Macedonian successes in other parts of western Asia Minor. Yet in the meantime the Persian side had started preparing its revenge for these early defeats. The Great King had appointed the tried, tested and trusted Greek military leader Memnon commander-in-chief of his land army and navy in that part of Asia Minor. Now a huge Persian armada comprising 400 ships provided by Phoenician, Cypriot and Greek cities still under Persian rule sailed towards Miletus. Expecting this relief to arrive in time, Hegesistratus changed his mind and decided to defend the city after all. However, a much smaller fleet of 160 ships commanded by Alexanders admiral Nicanor managed to precede the Persian fleet by three days. Despite its numerical inferiority, this fleet was able to take up an advantageous position in the Miletus roadstead by the island of Lade, which could now be defended by a formidable crew of Thracians and 4,000 other mercenaries. When the Persian fleet eventually arrived it was forced to moor near the Mycale peninsula, some 15 km from Miletus. All it could now do was to try and entice the enemy into battle out in the open sea. According to Arrians here somewhat implausible account, the usually cautious Parmenion was also supposed to advise Alexander to do so, but Alexander sensibly rejected this idea on account of the quantitative and
36

Syll.3 283. Heisserer 1980, pp. 79-95.

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qualitative superiority of the enemys fleet, being as it was manned by more experienced crews. Alexander forbade his men to respond to the Persian fleets daily provocations. Instead he had his troops guard the mouth of the river Maeander, from where the Persian sailors had been taking drinking water. Henceforth the Persians had to sail to their base at Samos for their daily supplies of food and water, which further hindered their freedom to manoeuvre around Miletus.37 Miletus was situated on the tip of a peninsula, 2 km long and 1 km wide, jutting out northwards into the sea. The city, even if smaller than in Hellenistic and Roman times, was surrounded by strong walls. Outside there was a weakly fortified settlement (so-called external town) situated most probably on Kalabak-Tepe hill, where the centre of old Miletus had been in Archaic times. It was taken over by Alexanders troops without resistance. For two days the Macedonians tried, unsuccessfully, to breach the main citys walls and finally Alexander ordered siege engines to be brought up. This development, together with the effective see blockade, changed the mood within the city. Now Glaucippus, the leader or one of the leaders of the local oligarchy speaking on behalf of the citizens and the Greek mercenaries, put forward an offer to Alexander: the city would remain neutral and the port would be open to both sides of the conflict. Alexander responded by instructing Glaucippus to tell the Milesians to prepare for battle because the city was to be stormed at sunrise. The siege engines destroyed a large section of the wall and Macedonian soldiers entered the city. The defenders, deprived of the support of their fleet, which was forced to look on helplessly, now only thought of saving their own lives. On account of the Macedonian fleet being in the port, the 300 Greek mercenaries were unable to get to the Persian ships, so instead they waded over most probably to what was one of two islets c. 250 m to the north east of the Miletus peninsula. After what had happened to their comrades at Granicus, they were ready to fight to the end; meanwhile the Macedonians had already lowered the ladders from their ships and were poised to attack. This time, however, Alexander was merciful to the brave Greek soldiers and spared them their lives on condition that they served him. The inhabitants of Miletus were also more fortunate than those of most cities that were taken by force at the time when the victors law meant a right to plunder and the selling of captives as slaves. But this wars official mission was Panhellenic revenge for Persian crimes against the Greeks and in this context no other city, except for perhaps Athens, was more ideologically symbolic than Miletus. This city had led the Ionian
37

Arr., An., 1.18-19 (principal source); Diod., 17.22.1. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 131133.

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revolt of 499 and six years later it was captured by the Persians, destroyed and its people deported to Asia. A repetition of the Theban solution here could have led the Greek public to draw on very obvious parallels with the actions of the maligned Xerxes. Alexander therefore had no option but to forgive Miletus for taking the wrong side in the war. A visible sign of the grace of the new ruler was his acceptance of the title, though not the responsibilities, of Stephanephoros, the eponymous official in Miletus, who gave the name to a year.38 Despite the important role it had played in the siege, Alexander decided to disband his fleet after the capture of Miletus. This surprising and controversial decision Alexander justified by the fact that his ships would be unable to compete out at sea with the much stronger Persians and that he could defeat the enemy fleet by capturing the seaports of Asia Minor with his land forces. This was a risky assumption as it is difficult to imagine how Alexanders army could have held all the important centres along the coastline. Indeed, a year later Alexander saw it fit to start rebuilding his fleet. Nevertheless, capturing the seaports could significantly hinder the Persian fleet as ancient ships needed to moor next to the land at night for the oarsmen to rest and were unable to carry large supplies of food and water. Therefore their effective fighting range did not exceed 30 nautical miles from their bases. However, the real reason for disbanding the fleet was no doubt the lack of financial resources, a problem which is indeed mentioned in the sources. Even the relatively small number of 160 ships with approximately 32,000 sailors and oarsmen would have probably cost Alexander 160 talents at month, for it was the royal treasury that had to cover these costs rather than the cities that actually provided the ships. Up to that point ancient authors do not record any really significant amounts of captured booty. It has been estimated that the keeping of the army and fleet cost Alexander 450 talents a month, which greatly exceeded the funds he had at his disposal. That is most probably why Alexander decided to take only enough ships to transport his men and equipment, whereas the Athenian contingent no doubt served primarily as guarantee of Athens loyalty.39

Arr., An., 1.19; Diod., 17.22; Plu., Alex., 17.2; Milet i.3.122.ii.81. Bosworth 1980, p. 141, Bosworth 1988, p. 250; Romane 1994; Graeve 2000. 39 Arr., An., 1.20.1; Diod., 17.22.5. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 134, 143; Bosworth 1980, pp. 141-143; Bosworth 1988, p. 47; Badian 1985, p. 428; Romane 1994, p. 69; Briant 1996, p. 845; Ashley 1998, pp. 91-92; Le Rider 2003, pp. 103-108, 115-117.

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3. From Halicarnassus to Cilicia: the campaign in Asia Minor


The capture of Miletus did not end Persian resistance on the south-western coast of Asia Minor. The most important Persian fortress in the region was Halicarnassus, which Alexander could not leave to the rear of his army for fear of it becoming the base for a counteroffensive in Ionia. Here Memnon managed to raise a large army of mercenaries, no doubt partly composed of garrison detachments that had escaped from other cities in Ionia and Aeolis. Additional help could also be provided by the crews of Persian ships. Control of the seaport also meant that the fortress had a constant supply of provisions. Memnons tactic was in all likelihood to try and wear out Alexanders army in a hard, protracted siege so that later, with Halicarnassus still in Persian hands, the Asia Minor counteroffensive could be launched. Although the city had existed since the start of the 9th century, the Halicarnassus the Macedonians saw in 334 was really the creation of Maussolus, who in 370 moved his capital there from Mylasa. Maussolus greatly increased the citys size by populating it with the inhabitants of neighbouring towns that had been incorporated into Halicarnassus through synoikism. One of the reasons why Maussolus transferred his capital to Halicarnassus was the desire to have greater control over the Greek seacoast and island states, something which the inland Mylasa could not provide. The citys most important feature was its defensibility. It overlooked the bay and Maussolus had over 5 km of massive walls built for its protection. Citadels were built at the end of the two peninsulas on both sides of bay: the one on Zephyros rock was also the satraps palace, whereas the other on the Salmakis peninsula was simply a military stronghold. There were jetties extending from both peninsulas that further narrowed the entrance into the bay and made the city easier to defend from the sea, though this was not that significant in 334 as the Persian fleet dominated the sea anyway. Whilst waiting for Alexanders army to arrive, Memnon carefully strengthened weak points in the citys fortifications. Before the fighting began he also sent his family to Dariuss court, ostensibly on his own initiative to ensure their safety, but more likely than not this was the Great Kings guarantee that his Greek commander would remain loyal.40 The Macedonian army reached Halicarnassus by the end of summer or in early autumn, having occupied on the way the coastal cities of Caria.
40 Ar., An., 1.20.2-3; Diod., 17.23.4-6; Vitr., 2.8.10-11. Bean, Cook 1955; Ruzicka 1992, pp. 34, 137-138; Debord 1999, pp. 303, 375-376, 385-386.

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We may assume that at least Iasus went over to Alexanders side of its own accord for Gorgus, a prominent citizen of that city, remained in Alexanders circle for years and in the Macedonian command reached the important post of hoplophylax (warden or arms). 41 Correctly expecting Halicarnassus to put up a stiff resistance, Alexander had his army pitch camp 5 stades (900 m) from the citys walls. Immediately on the first day the Macedonians attacked the fortifications, to which the defenders responded with a sally from the Mylasa gate. Both the attacks were unsuccessful but a certain pattern in the fighting already emerged. Halicarnassus could not be taken without siege engines and until those arrived, the only option was to impose a blockade. In the meantime Alexander tried to capture Myndus situated on the eastern edge of the Bodrum peninsula. Apparently someone had promised to secretly open the gate, but the night-time attack failed. The collaborator had either changed his mind or been discovered. The defenders put up a stiff resistance and were supported by soldiers shipped over from Halicarnassus 16 km away. It turned out that without siege engines and ladders, which the Macedonians had also failed to take, the town could not be taken. Alexander ordered a retreat to the camp outside Halicarnassus.42 However, even before the siege began in earnest Alexander did have a significant political success. He was offered the support of Maussolus sister Ada (I), who had ruled Caria in the years 344/43 341/40. Persians only recognised as satraps the male members of the Hecatomnid dynasty. That is why Artaxerxes III did not intervene when control of Caria was wrested from Ada by her brother Pixodarus, the same one who in 337 had tried to become Philip IIs ally by offering the hand of his daughter Ada (II) to Arrhidaeus in marriage. After Pixodarus death Darius nominated Adas (II) eventual Iranian husband Orontobates to be the next satrap. Meanwhile Maussolus sister had to make do with just the fortress at Alinda (later renamed Alexandria ad Latmum). With the arrival of the Macedonian army in Caria Ada sensed the opportunity. She surrendered Alinda to Alexander and offered to recognise him as her son. This was in accordance with a Near Eastern tradition of extending paternal or maternal terminology to include people beyond the biological family if it served the legitimisation of rule over conquered territories. Adas support could prove to be of key importance in also gaining the support of the Carian people whilst their satrap Orontobates was at war with the Macedonians. Alexander therefore accepted the Carian princesss kind offer. He left her
Ephippus, FGrH, 126 F5. Heisserer 1980, pp. 169-203; Debord 1999, pp. 146148. 42 Arr., An., 1.20.4-7.
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in control of Alinda and after the capture of Halicarnasus nominated her satrap of Caria, though he gave actual command of the regional army to the Macedonian Ptolemaios. This division of power formed a certain pattern that was also visible in Alexanders later nominations. Whilst giving military control to Macedonians, Alexander entrusted civilian control to oriental rulers who knew local conditions, customs and the ins and outs of the Achaemenid administration. According to an anecdote passed on by Plutarch, Ada took up her new maternal role in all seriousness. Every day she sent Alexander treats and offer him the services of the very best bakers and cooks. According to this tale Alexander naturally declined these offers, putting physical exertion always above the delights of the table.43 Alexander continued a military technique practiced under Philip II whereby siege engines were first dismantled, transported in component parts usually by sea and within a relatively short space of time reassembled just outside the besieged citys walls. The Macedonians were fortunate in that the Persian fleet failed to capture their shipment of siege engine parts. After Halicarnassus the same siege engines were also used at Tyre and Gaza. They belonged to a new generation of machinery that had been constructed with the benefit of experience gained from the great sieges at the end of Philip IIs reign. Their chief constructor was Diades the apprentice and from 334 successor of Philip IIs master engineer, Polyeidus of Thessaly. 44 Among his inventions was a drill called the trypanon, which had a roof to protect it against missiles cast down by the defenders as it was brought up against a city wall. Wall fragments could also be dislodged with the korax or raven. One of the most difficult and refined of the available technical constructions was the mobile siege tower.45 Once the machines were reassembled a series of attacks on the city commenced. The accounts of these attacks given by Arrian and Diodorus differ from each other substantially. As with his description of the siege of Miletus, Arrian considerably downplays the difficulties Alexander must have encountered and gives the impression that the siege was a short struggle easily won by the Macedonians. We can almost be certain that this was not the case, for why then would Alexander have spent so much
43

Arr., An., 1.23.6-8; Diod., 17.24.2-3; Plu., Alex., 22.7-8; Plu., mor., 127b, 180a, 1099c. Berve 1926, no. 674; Wilcken 1967, pp. 93-94; Bosworth 1980, pp. 152154; Bosworth 1988, pp. 229-230; Hornblower 1982, pp. 45-51; Ruzicka 1992, p. 144; Brosius 1996, pp. 21-22; Debord 1999, pp. 139-140, 160. 44 Diod., 17.24.1; Ath. Mech., 10-15.9; Vitr., 10.3-8. Marsden 1977. 45 Ath. Mech., 14.4; Vitr., 10.3.7.

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time camped outside Halicarnassus? Despite his oratorical style, Diodorus account seems much more plausible as it most probably was based directly or indirectly on an account given by one of the citys defenders, and therefore someone not inclined to glorify Alexander. 46 The Macedonians began by filling up the moat. Next they brought up the siege towers and roofed battering rams. This way they managed to create an opening in the wall through which they tried to enter the city. However, amid the rubble the defenders, ably commanded by Memnon, were able to repulse the attackers. In the night Memnon organised a sally beyond the walls to set fire to the siege towers. The initially surprised Macedonian guards did manage to put out the flames in time and there ensued a ferocious battle beneath the walls in which Memnons soldiers were supported by citys defenders raining down missiles on the Macedonians from the walls. 47 Later on the siege engines toppled two of the citys towers, but Memnon managed to get a new wall raised behind the rubble and thus seal off the breach. Nor did he idly observe further Macedonian attempts to breach the walls but instead raised a wooded tower on the other side from which catapults fired missiles at the attackers. Soon afterwards another battle began beneath the walls. The ancient authors claim that this mle was started accidentally by two drunken Macedonians who decided to raid the city on their own and got into a fight with some Halicarnassian volunteers, to which gradually soldiers from both sides joined. The scale of this incident and the sheer improbability of it being started without the prior knowledge of commanders on either side suggest that it may have in fact been another raid by the defenders which was noticed by the Macedonian drunks, who then raised the alarm. Alexanders personal intervention eventually forced the defenders to retreat into the city. Nevertheless it was Alexander who now requested a truce so that the bodies of fallen Macedonians could be taken away, which in Antiquity signified the acknowledgement of a lost skirmish. Despite the opinions of the Athenian mercenary commanders Ephialtes and Thrasybulus, Memnon did allow the bodies of the fallen to be taken away. Arrian, who glorifies Alexander, naturally fails to mention this episode.48 The following day the siege engines were moved up to the improvised wall behind the breach. During a successive raid the defenders had managed to burn down one siege tower and several siege sheds. Nonetheless the defenders situation was worsening on account of
Bosworth 1980, p. 147. Diod., 17.24.3-25.5; Arr., An., 1.20.8-10. Bosworth 1988, p. 48. 48 Diod., 17.25.5-6; Arr., An., 1.21.1-4. Lane Fox 1973, p. 138; Bosworth 1980, p. 146; Romane 1994, pp. 72-73; Ober 1996, pp. 56-61; Wheeler 2007, p. 212.
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persistent Macedonian attacks against ever weaker fortifications. It was for this reason the Memnon summoned a war council to decide what to do next. He accepted the suggestion of the Athenian Ephialtes to launch yet another sortie but this time with a much larger number of men. Ephialtes himself was put in charge of two thousand of the best soldiers, half of whom were given torches. At daybreak the mercenary hoplites personally commanded by Ephialtes formed a deep phalanx and attacked the Macedonians while the torchbearers set fire to the machines. Once again Alexanders swift intervention saved the engines from destruction, but in the battle that now raged between the old and new walls Ephialtes and his men were decidedly gaining the upper hand. With missiles raining down on them from the walls, the Macedonians were forced to retreat. Making use of the moment, Memnon sent another unit of men to attack. Alexander was saved from defeat by a detachment of veterans that now entered the fray. Once the valiant Ephialtes, who had been fighting at the very front of the phalanx, was slain, the defenders of Halicarnassus were forced to retreat. They suffered heavy casualties, especially when a bridge they were fleeing across to return to the city collapsed. Arrian states that on that day Memnon lost 1,000 men, whereas Alexander lost only 40. The latter figure is of course unacceptable when one considers that the battle lasted hours and the Macedonian casualties included the commander of the kings bodyguards, the commander of the archers as well as other officers. Though victorious on the battlefield, Alexander stopped his soldiers from chasing the defenders into the city. Arrian explains this as a desire to give the Halicarnassians a chance to surrender and thus spare the city. Such reasoning is rather unconvincing in a situation where the decision whether or not to surrender rested with Memnon, not the citys inhabitants. The battle had shown the defenders determination to fight. For this reason and on account of the lateness of the day Alexander most probably decided not to risk turning a hard-fought victory into defeat in an all-out assault on the city.49 Nevertheless the scale of inflicted losses and the serious damage to the fortifications made putting up further resistance pointless; another Macedonian assault could well have resulted in the citys capture and the loss of all the armed forces gathered there. That is why that same night Memnon and Orontobates resolved to evacuate Halicarnassus. At approximately midnight the wooden towers on the walls, the ammunition sheds and the houses closest to the walls were all set ablaze. Behind this
49

Diod., 17.26-27.4 (principal source); Arr., An., 1.22; Curt., 5.2.8, 8.1.36. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 138-139; Green 1974, pp. 197-199; Bosworth 1980, pp. 147-148; Bosworth 1988, p. 49; Ashley 1998, pp. 208-209.

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screen of smoke and flames Memnon evacuated weapons from the military magazines and some of the soldiers to the island of Kos. The remaining soldiers occupied the Salmakis fortress and the citadel on the Zephyros rock. At dawn Alexander saw the smouldering ruins of Halicarnassus and two strongholds still very much in enemy hands. A long and costly siege was at most only a partial success. On the one hand, thanks to advanced Macedonian siege techniques and the immense energy and determination of Alexander and his soldiers the city of Halicarnassus was taken, which no doubt gave the Macedonians some satisfaction. On the other hand, the military situation in Asia Minor did not change significantly for in Caria Memnon was still holding a military base, although with much reduced harbour. Alexander decided not to try and capture the two fortresses. Instead he ordered the city to be razed to the ground, sparing only the Mausoleum and temples. One can assume that for a time Halicarnassus as a city was dead, perhaps the synoikism was dissolved and the inhabitants moved back to their original settlements. Alexander left Ptolemaios in command of 3,200 soldiers to guard the two Persian fortresses, which were surrounded by moats and embankments.50 The siege of Halicarnassus had dragged on until at least the middle of autumn. The onset of winter did not mean a break in the hostilities, but Alexander did expect the intensity of the fighting to lessen for a while. For this reason he sent back to Macedonia under the command of his bodyguard, Ptolemaios the son of Seleucus those soldiers who had recently married, so that they could spend the winter with their wives. Arrian claims that this act, more than any other, won the Macedonian troops over to Alexander. The campaign must have cost many more lives than the ancient authors record for the officers sent back to the homeland together with the newly-weds were ordered to raise as many infantry and cavalry reserves as possible. One of the officers, Cleander, was dispatched to Peloponnesus to levy mercenaries at Cape Tainaron, the main recruiting centre in Greece.51 The rest of the army was divided in two. Parmenion together with the baggage train, one ile of hetairoi, the Thessalian cavalry and Corinthian League detachments headed for Sardis. His next objective was Phrygia. This regions satrap, Atizyes, had fought at Granicus but managed to escape and now took refuge in his satrapy. Phrygia had undergone intensive Iranian colonisation and therefore Macedonian occupation of this

50

Diod., 17.27.5-6; Arr., An., 1.23. Bosworth 1988, p. 49; Ruzicka 1992, pp. 145146; Ashley 1998, p. 209; Heckel 2006, p. 235, s.v. Ptolemy [5]. 51 Arr., An., 1.24.1-2; Curt., 3.1.1. Heckel 1992, p. 286.

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territory would deprive the Persians of a major recruiting ground. 52 Alexander and the bulk of the army now moved east to Lycia and Pamphylia. This campaign no doubt lasted until the start of 333 and its objective, according to Arrian, was to occupy the coastline. Obviously this could not have meant the occupying of the entire myriad of natural harbours in this province, but only the cities that had furnished ships to Memnon and that could provide him with a base. The late season in the year paradoxically worked to the advantage of the Macedonians for, although it somewhat hindered troop movement, it more importantly deprived enemy seaports of the protection that would otherwise have been provided by the powerful Persian fleet. The construction of ancient ships was too weak to withstand the waves of a rough sea, therefore military vessels suspended all operations from November to March. Thus in the winter Memnons predominance at sea had very little significance. According to Arrian thirty cities surrendered to Alexander without a struggle; the author actually mentions Hyparna, Telmessus, Pinara, Xanthus, Phaselis and Patara with its important harbour. But our sources do not tell us the exact route taken by the Macedonian army. Bearing in mind Alexanders war objectives and the winter conditions, which would have made crossing the mountains between Lycia and Pisidia very difficult if not impossible, it is most likely that the Macedonians chose the seacoast route. Though it only became apparent a year later, one of the consequences of the Lycian campaign was the acquisition of the Lycian fleet.53 It is likely that Alexander stayed at Phaselis until the end of the 334/333 winter. It was reportedly there that he received news of the real or only supposed treason of the last son of Aeropus of Lyncestis, Alexander, an experienced officer and commander of the Thessalian cavalry, which was the second most important cavalry formation after the hetairoi. Parmenion captured a Persian called Sisines, whom as a trusted envoy, Darius III had ostensibly sent to the satrap Atizyes. Sisines, however, revealed that the real objective of his mission was to reply to secret correspondence that had been sent by Alexander of Lyncestis via the Macedonian fugitive Amyntas. Sisines was supposed to tell Alexander that Darius pledged to give the traitor 1,000 talents of gold in return for the assassination of his namesake, the Macedonian king. After discussing the matter with his friends, the king instructed Parmenion to have Alexander of Lyncestis arrested and imprisoned. The arrestee was eventually executed without trial shortly after the end of the Philotas affair.
52 53

Arr., An., 1.24.3. Bosworth 1980, pp. 155-156; Debord 1999, p. 449. Arr., An., 1.24.3-6, 2.20.2. Keen 1996; Debord 1999, pp. 449-450.

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Command of the Thessalian cavalry, which remained part of Parmenions army, was most probably taken over by Philip, the son of Menelaus, who had up until then commanded the allied Peloponnesian cavalry. This version of how the treason was discovered is given by Arrian, whose source was Ptolemy, and it is indirectly confirmed by Justin. Diodorus, however, gives a different version in which the arrest occurred many months later, shortly after the Battle of Issus, and Alexander received news of the planned assassination in a letter from Olympias. Arrians version is also unconvincing because it includes a lengthy episode in which the Macedonian king discovers the evil intentions of Alexander of Lyncestis through mysterious omens. This seems to suggest that Arrian himself had doubts about Sisiness alleged mission and therefore tries to further justify the arrest with signs from the heavens. Whatever the truth, it is at this time that the sources fall silent about Alexander of Lyncestis. Moreover, even if he was only arrested after the letter from Olympias, there is no reason to doubt that Parmenion had actually sent Sisines with his story to Alexander. One way or another, Alexander, the son of Aeropus, was certainly out of favour with the king by 333.54 Alexanders next step in his campaign in the coastal provinces of Asia Minor was the occupation of Pamphylia. The first objective in this province was the city of Perge. Some of the army with supply wagons travelled along a road specially built by Thracian soldiers over Mount Climax, while Alexander and rest of the army took the road along the coast of the Gulf of Antalya. When the winds blew from the south, parts of this road would be flooded by the sea. However, when Alexanders army reached these sections the winds changed direction and blew from the north, thus allowing the army to pass. This of course was interpreted by Alexander and his soldiers as a sign that the gods were favourable to them.55 In Pamphylia Alexander took Perge and next headed for Side. On the way he received envoys from Aspendus with whom he made an agreement that in return for a lump sum payment of 50 talents and a herd of horses specially bred for the Great King he would not station soldiers in their city. After capturing Side and installing a local garrison, Alexander learned that Aspendus was not intending to keep its part of the deal. At stake were not only prestige and the money from the tribute but also the strategic significance of Aspendus, which lay at the estuary of the river
Arr., An., 1.25.3-9; Just., 11.7.1; Diod., 17.32.1, 17.80.2; Curt., 7.1.5-9. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 143-148 (questions Arrian); Bosworth 1988, pp. 50-51; Heckel 1992, pp. 357-359; Hammond 1996, pp. 88-89. 55 Callisth., FGrH, 124 F31; Arr., An., 1.26.1-2; Plu., Alex., 17.6-9 (quoting Menander, fr. 751); J., AJ, 2.16.5; App., BC, 2.149; Ps.-Callisth., 1.28.
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Eurymedon. For these reasons Alexander immediately led his army to that city. At the mere sight of the Macedonians the Aspendians again changed their mind. This time the terms and conditions of capitulation were much harsher: the previously agreed war contribution was doubled; now there was also an obligation to pay tributes; the city was put under the control of the local satrap and now it was also obliged to submit hostages. Being situated in Pamphylia, Aspendus was clearly not included in the declared restoration of freedom that applied to the cities of Ionia, Aeolis and Caria, and as a polis that had broken a treaty it could not expect much mercy from its conqueror.56 It was most probably then that Alexander nominated Nearchus, a trusted companion since his early youth, satrap of Lycia.57 From Aspendus the Macedonian army returned to Perge and thence it headed for Phrygia. The first and perhaps greatest obstacle was the city of Termessus (today Glk). Situated some 40 km to the north-west of Perge in Pisidia, Termessus guarded a pass into the Maeander valley. On account of the inaccessible Pisidian Mountains surrounding it, the city had not been subjugated to the rule of Persian satraps and now its inhabitants also had no intention of allowing the Macedonians to pass through their land. The terrain was shaped in such a way that there was only one road leading through a narrow valley between two mountains at an altitude of 1,000 m. This road the Termessians easily blocked, but deceived by the sight of the Macedonians appearing to be calmly bivouacking, they returned to their city leaving behind only some guards to keep watch. Alexander then launched a surprise attack with Macedonian archers, light infantry and some specially selected hoplites. Next he led his army through this dangerous zone. Despite Strabos claim, the Macedonians did not take the city of Termessus for they lacked the necessary siege equipment. 58 However, the fight with the Termessians inclined the inhabitants of another Pisidian city called Selge, who were bitter enemies of their neighbours the Termessians, to offer an alliance with the Macedonian king. Alexander willingly accepted their offer and next marched his army for Sagalassus, which was situated 80 km to the north and belonged to a chain of fortresses stretching all the way to Celaenae. Thanks to the farming of fertile valleys this was a large and prosperous city. Its Pisidian inhabitants had the reputation of being good soldiers and their defensive position was all the more difficult to capture on account of it being located on a 20056 Arr., An.,1.25.5-27.4; It. Alex., 26. Debord 1999, p. 451-452; Nawotka 2003a, p. 30. 57 Arr., An., 3.6.6. Bosworth 1980, p. 284; Heckel 1992, p. 228. 58 Arr., An., 1.27.5-8; Str., 14.3.9. Magie 1950, pp. 263-264; Bosworth 1980, pp. 169-170.

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300 m ridge. Moreover, they were now supported by a detachment of their kinfolk, the Termessians, who had already once been defeated by Alexander. At the start of the battle of Sagalassus, the Pisidians initially had the upper hand. They successfully repulsed an attack by the Macedonian archers and even killed their commander, Cleander. However, they were unable to withstand an attack by the Agrians and a much better armoured phalanx. Approximately 500 Pisidian soldiers were killed and the rest fled from the battlefield. The escape of those lightly armoured barbarians was made easier because, though better in battle, Macedonian armour was heavier and this made it harder for the soldiers wearing it to keep up. Moreover, the mountainous terrain precluded the use of cavalry. However, the Macedonians were able to capture the city and the occupation of the rest of Pisidia posed not further major problems.59 Alexanders army next set its course for Phrygia to meet up with Parmenions corps. Their route cut across the Anatolian Plateau from Sagalassus via what is today the city of Isparta, thence west to the northeastern shore of the salt lake Ascania (Burdur Gl) and next north to reach Celaenae, some 30 km to the north west of the said lake, on the fifth day. Being the residence of the satrap of Phrygia, the city had a garrison comprising 100 Greek mercenaries and 1,000 Carian soldiers, whose armour and training were traditionally considered equal to those of the Greek hoplites. These soldiers abandoned the city and instead decided to defend just the acropolis. Arrian grossly exaggerates in calling it impenetrable for it was connected to the ridge of a neighbouring mountain to the southeast. Alexander occupied the city and began beleaguering the acropolis. However, the good fortifications and without doubt the defenders fighting skills made the siege a prolonged affair. The defenders offered to capitulate if a relief force did not arrive within 60 days. And that is what eventually happened. Alexander left a garrison of 1,500 soldiers at Celaenae. As satrap of Phrygia he appointed Antigonus Monophthalmus (the One-Eyed), who had so far commanded the allied Greek infantry. Antigonus who in 333 was around 49 and therefore much older than Alexander became a leading figure in the Diadochi period after the kings death. His nomination as satrap was the first really important appointment in his career and it was only now that he was able to show his considerable leadership and administrative skills as well as charisma which would later distinguish him from all the other Diadochi. His satrapy was of key strategic importance in Asia Minor as it encompassed the junction of major routes including the Royal Road, which any army
59

Arr., An., 1.28; Plu., Alex., 18.1; It. Alex., 26. Magie 1950, p. 1139; Bosworth 1980, pp. 159-172; Debord 1999, p. 454.

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wishing to control this part of the continent had to use. One has to remember that so far only a small part of Asia Minor the Aegean coast and a few inland regions in the west of this vast peninsula was in Macedonian hands. The Persian generals were now raising an army in the north of Asia Minor. Bearing indirect testimony as to their preparations for a counteroffensive was the large-scale production of coins at the mint in Sinope; this money was needed to pay the soldiers. Thanks to these coins we know the names of the chief Persian commanders: Mithropastes, Hydarnes and the satrap of Caria Orontobates. No doubt on the Great Kings instructions, these generals were preparing to cut Alexanders line of communication with the Asia Minor coast and thus themselves gain access to the Persian fleet. Before he left Celaenae or according to Arrian later in Gordium, Alexander received envoys from Athens who requested him to release their fellow citizens who had been captured at Granicus. These prisoners were, however, much too valuable as hostages ensuring Athenss continued loyalty at what was still a very uncertain time. Therefore Alexander promised the envoys that he would release the captives but only once the war was ended.60 From Celaenae Alexanders army marched across Phrygia to Gordium, where it was supposed to meet up with Parmenions corps. The 290-km journey must have taken the soldiers about a month, though they were marching on the well built Royal Road. Taking into account the several month long campaigns in Lycia, Pamphylia and Pisidia as well as the trek across Phrygia, one can assume that Alexander reached Gordium no earlier than in May 333. The fact that the sources record no incidents during the march across Phrygia suggests that the area had already been pacified by Parmenion. Alexanders complicated itinerary so far as well as the actions undertaken on his instructions by his commanders suggest that occupying the entire coastline to deprive the Persian fleet of a base was not the Macedonian kings only objective. The aim of this campaign seems also to have been the conquest of the whole of southern and central Anatolia, which, despite their defeat at Granicus, was still in Persian hands.61 Gordium, situated on the river Sangarius, on the border between both Phrygias (Great Phrygia and Hellespontine Phrygia) and onetime capital of
Curt., 3.1.1-10 (principal source); Arr., An., 1.29.1-3, 5-6. Magie 1950, p. 983; Bosworth 1980, pp. 172-174; Atkinson 1980, pp. 80-84; Seibert 1985, pp. 54-56; Briant 1996, p. 851. The career of Antigonus Monophthalmus: Briant 1973; Billows 1990; Heckel 1992, pp. 50-56. 61 Arr., An., 1.29.3; Diod., 17.27.6; Curt., 3.1.11. Bosworth 1980, p. 174; Seibert 1985, p. 56; Debord 1999, p. 455.
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the Phrygian state, was long past its former glory. First destroyed by the Cimmerians at the start of the 7th century and then again by Cyrus the Great in 547/546, it was now rebuilt but its previous political importance was gone. In Persian times it was not the residence of satraps but of lower ranking officials. The city itself was quite large, archaeologists have established that it covered an area of 100 hectares, but now it was chiefly a centre for local crafts and trade. The district that at the time of the Phrygian state had been inhabited by powerful political elites, in Alexanders day was the site of workshops.62 The most important edifice in the Gordium acropolis was the temple of the Phrygian deity called Basileus (King). The Greeks and Macedonians associated him with Zeus, therefore the father of Heracles, the mythical ancestor of the Argeads. It was there, or according to certain authors in a palace in that acropolis, that Gordiass legendary cart was kept. Gordias was the father of Midas, the founder of the Phrygian dynasty. According to legend, Gordias was a simple peasant who once whilst ploughing received a sign from Zeus in the form of an eagle landing on the yoke of his oxen. The famous cart was fastened to the yoke by an intricate knot (or knots) of cornel bark with the ends of the fastening hidden. Legend also had it that whoever managed to untie this knot would become ruler of Asia. Towards the end of his stay in Gordium Alexander went to the acropolis to examine the famous cart. Though according to popular 4th-century legends the Phrygians original homeland was Macedonia, one need not suppose that this was why Alexander decided to go there. He could have simply wanted to see the cart out of curiosity, according to Arrian, driven by an insurmountable urge (pothos). Assuming that the Gordian knot legend originated from the time of the Phrygian monarchy, i.e. at the start of the first millennium, the word Asia would have had its original Hittite meaning, referring to the north-western part of Asia Minor, in other words, more or less the area covered by the Phrygian monarchy. With time the meaning of the word was extended to encompass the entire continent, and in the political sense the Achaemenid Empire (see Chapter V.3). Bearing in mind his intention, officially declared at the Hellespont, to conquer the Persian Empire and the fact that he always attached great importance to symbols and prophesies, Alexander could not but rise to the challenge, especially when he was accompanied by a crowd of Macedonians and local inhabitants. With the ends concealed, the knot was impossible to untie, so Alexander was forced to resort to an unconventional solution. The sources provide us with two versions as to what happened next. A version originating from
62 Arr., An., 1.29.5; Just., 11.7.3. Bosworth 1980, p. 175; Mellink 1988, pp. 228231; Voigt, Young 1999, pp. 191-241.

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Aristobulus states that Alexander removed a pin that was slotted through the carts shaft and this way also separated the yoke from the shaft. The other version, belonging to the Vulgate and therefore originating from Cleitarchus, states that Alexander cut the knot with his sword completely (Arrian, Curtius) or partially (Plutarch, Justin); in the Plutarch and Justins version Alexander merely wished to find the ends of the binding bark which enabled him to next untie the knot. Arrian himself was unable to decide which version of separating the yoke from the cart was more plausible, therefore today scholars can only conclude that the version where Alexander cut the knot with his sword, being so much more vivid and characteristic of the young kings impetuous nature, was generally preferred by the ancient authors. Whichever version was true, Alexander and his companions returned from that site convinced that a prophecy had been fulfilled, as was confirmed that very night by Zeus with thunder and lightning. The following day a grateful Alexander offered sacrifices to the gods.63 It was at Gordium that, after a long trek across Asia Minor, the newlymarried men returned from their winter stay in Macedonia. Accompanying them were new reserves: 3,000 infantry and 300 cavalry from Macedonia and as well as 200 horsemen from Thessaly and 150 from Elis. This was the first of three batches of reinforcements from Macedonia and Greece that Alexander would receive in 333. The constant need for new troops resulted not only because of larger numbers of soldiers left on garrison duty in newly and not necessarily completely conquered territories but also because of losses incurred as a result of the war. Apart from those killed in the actual fighting, which the sources inform us about, there must have also been losses which the sources ignore, for instance, as a result of wounds after which soldiers were incapacitated and perhaps eventually died. Moreover, it should be noted that if in European campaigns in early modern times twice as many soldiers died from diseases than were killed in battles, then proportion must have been at least similar in Alexanders day. This problem would have been compounded in the Macedonian army by the state of ancient medicine, which may have been adequate for treating wounds but virtually helpless against diseases. Finally, the

Arr., An., 2.3; Curt., 3.1.14-16; Plu., Alex., 18.2-4; Just., 11.7; Marsyas, FGrH, 135/6 F4. Tarn 1948, ii, pp. 262-265; Bosworth 1980, pp. 194-188; Hamilton 1999, pp. 46-47; Zahrnt 2001; Squilace 2005, pp. 211-213. Alexanders visit and the legend of origins of the Phrygians: Fredricksmeyer 1961. Pothos as curiosity: OBrien 1992, p. 50. Asia in this context: Schachermeyr 1973, p. 192; Atkinson 1980, p. 87; Oost 1981, pp. 265-266; Nawotka 2004.

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necessity to recruit more soldiers in 333 was also of course associated with the impending confrontation with the great army of Darius III.64 The Persian counteroffensive of 333 began with the arrival of spring. Darius III now appointed Memnon the commander-in-chief of the entire war and further strengthened his position with additional funds for him to be able to maintain the great fleet and mercenary army. Memnon almost certainly realised the futility of trying to confront the superior Macedonian army in a pitched battle and that is why he reverted to his original plan once proclaimed in Zeleia to the satraps of Asia Minor and consisting of shifting the war to Greece. The first step to this end would be an occupation of the Aegean archipelago, which would provide Memnon with a base for operations in Greece. This would also make it possible to next occupy the Hellespont and thus effectively cut Alexander off from Macedonia. War in Greece and a serious threat to Macedonian security would force Alexander to return to Europe. A similar manoeuvre had been successfully conducted by Persia 60 years earlier, when they skilfully applied diversionary tactics in Greece to effectively stop the Spartan King Agesilaus military operations in Asia Minor. From his base on the Island of Kos Memnon set sail with 300 ships north towards the largest island poleis. At least some of these were ruled by oligarchies that towards the end of Philip IIs reign had switched to his side and joined the League of Corinth. Now in face of Memnons formidable fleet they quickly changed sides again. Chios switched allegiance without a struggle. Four of the five states on Lesbos surrendered instantly: Antissa, Methymna, Pyrrha and Eresus. In the largest state Mytilene, however, the garrison of mercenaries that had been sent there by Alexander and the citizens decided to resist. Memnon therefore cut the city off from the other states by constructing a double stockade stretching to the sea on either side and also blocked the seaport with his ships, thus depriving the defenders of any hope of receiving help. He then managed the lure the much weaker Mytilenean fleet into a sea battle which his navy easily won. Memnon also had time to concentrate on things other than the siege of Mytilene. The Greek states of the Cyclades came over to his side, others he was able to win over with bribes. The pro-Macedonian camp was now beset by terrifying rumours of an imminent invasion of Euboea.65

64 Arr., An., 1.29.4. Bosworth 1980, pp. 174-175; Ruffin 1992; Salazar 2000, pp. 68-72. 65 Arr., An., 2.1.1-2; Diod., 17.18.2, 17.29; Fron., Str., 2.5.46. Burn 1952, pp. 8283; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 152-153; Hamilton 1974, p. 63; Hammond 1996, pp. 89-90; Debord 1999, pp. 457-459.

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News of Memnons successes demonstrated all too vividly just how dangerous Alexanders decision to disband his fleet in the autumn of 334 really was. He could now only passively look on as events in the Aegean unfolded. His attempt to defeat the Persian fleet by depriving it of ports in Asia Minor had so far failed. It is possible that Alexander extended his stay at Gordium for more than initially intended because of what was happening in the Aegean and uncertainty as to whether or not he would have to return to Macedonia.66 It was then that his strategy changed; allied states were instructed to start rebuilding ships, which were next to join up at the Hellespont with the remnants of the squadron Alexander had kept after his capture of Miletus. Hegelochus was appointed commander of the Hellespontine region and Alexanders trusted officer, Amphoterus the younger brother of Craterus, was appointed his subordinate commander of the fleet. They were entrusted with what was at that stage the quite impossible mission of liberating Lesbos, Chios and Kos. For this purpose they were given 500 talents. Another 600 talents was sent to Antipater, thanks to which a second Macedonian squadron of ships was assembled for the defence of Greece. The ships were sent from Euboea and the Peloponnesus and the fleet was commanded by Proteas.67 We will of course never know whether or not the much delayed steps to build a Macedonian naval force would have been able to stop the Persian counteroffensive, had Memnon lived longer. As it happened, during the siege of Mytilene Memnon fell ill and died. If there was a turning point in this phase of the conflict between Alexander and Darius, it would be the death of Memnon, a man trusted by the Great King and endowed with a strategic perception and tactical skills that no contemporary could match, apart from Alexander. On his deathbed, Memnon appointed as acting commander, until a further decision was made by the Great King, his brother-in-law Pharnabazus. The new commander was assisted by another Persian aristocrat Autophradates. Initially nothing changed in the way the Persian forces prosecuted the war; under the new command the Persians vigorously attacked Mytilene. Soon the inhabitants decided to capitulate, but they secured for the mercenary garrison the right to freely leave the city. Pharnabazus terms for capitulation were as follows: an annulment of the citys alliance with Alexander; the return of exiles, who were to receive back half of their previously owned property; the acceptance of Persian suzerainty and, under the pretext of saving the vanquished citizens face, a restoration of
Murison 1972, pp. 404-405. Arr., An., 2.2.3-4; Curt., 3.1.19-20. Atkinson 1980, pp. 92-95; Heckel 1992, pp. 6-12.
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the provisions of the Kings Peace of 387/386 even though they had never really applied to Lesbos. One of the former exiles was appointed tyrant of Mytilene and a Persian garrison was now installed in the city, which was commanded by Lycomedes of Rhodes and no doubt comprised Greek mercenaries. Pharnabazus also ordered the defeated city to pay a contribution, which was the first sign that in the Aegean the Persians were beginning to have financial problems. Their monthly expenditure exceeded 300 talents and now there were no more tributes coming in from Asia Minor.68 After the settling of these affairs at Mytilene the Persian commanders split up: Autophradates continued the conquest of other Greek islands, while Pharnabazus sailed with the mercenary army to Lycia. This could have led to the opening of a new and important front in Asia Minor for the army of the Persian satrap Orontobates was still stationed in neighbouring Caria. However, before this could happen, command of Pharnabazus mercenaries was taken over by Memnons nephew Thymondas, sent by Darius III to bring these troops over to the royal army. As a consolation, Pharnabazus was officially appointed to the post previously held by Memnon. So Pharnabazus now rejoined Autophradates and, commanding 100 ships, together they sailed for the island of Tenedos (today Bozca Ada). The island capitulated on similar terms to those that had been imposed on Mytilene. Hegelochus, the Macedonian commander of the Hellespontine region, still did not have enough ships to be able to help allies. This success was important insofar as it gave the Persian fleet a base just off the coast of the Troad from which access to the Hellespont could be easily controlled. And in those times it was via the Hellespont that all the most important trade routes ran, for instance, the transport of Black Sea grain to Athens. Meanwhile the ships of Autophradates, operating from the island of Samothrace, posed a serious threat to Macedonia. Coins provide evidence that Autophradates army actually landed in the Troad. It was in the late summer or early autumn of 333 that they also landed in Ionia and fought a victorious battle against detachments from Ephesus. However, the Persians failed to capture this great city. A smaller Persian squadron of ten Phoenician ships under the command of Datames sailed in the opposite direction towards the Cyclades and lowered anchors by the shore of the island of Siphnos. On receiving news of this the Macedonian Proteas sailed with 15 ships from Chalcis in Euboea and attacked the
68

Arr., An., 2.1.3-5; Diod., 17.29.2-4, 17.31.3-4; Plu., Alex., 18.5; Curt., 3.2.21. Wilcken 1967, pp. 96-97; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 153-154; Bosworth 1980, pp. 112113, 181; Briant 1996, pp. 851-852.

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enemy, capturing eight ships. This is the only recorded Macedonian victory at this stage of the sea war.69 Despite this setback, Pharnabazus with his fleet of 100 ships retook the island of Siphnos, having previously also captured Andros. Although Curtius Rufus states that these events happened after the Battle of Issus, the general chronology seems to indicate a lower chronology. The Battle of Issus took place in late autumn, when the sailing season was already finished, and therefore it is highly unlikely that major sea operations happened soon afterwards. In the spring of 332, on the other hand, the Persian fleet was already seriously depleted. It is therefore most likely Pharnabazus actions in the Cyclades occurred in the early autumn of 333. The weak island poleis had no option but to surrender to Pharnabazus, but that there was anti-Persian feeling among the inhabitants is indicated by the sources mentioning the installation of garrisons. Such garrisons were not needed against the Macedonian fleet, which was too weak to make longer excursions beyond its base. The islanders were also forced to remit tributes, but this was not enough to pay for the fleet as big as this Memnon had in 334. The sources record ever smaller numbers of Persian ships engaged in successive sea operations: in the spring of 334 there were 400 at Miletus, the following spring Memnon had 300 at his disposal, whereas in the autumn of that same year Pharnabazus had 100 in the Cyclades. The other Persian fleet, commanded by Autophradates and operating near the Hellespont, was so weak that a Greek fleet on the Macedonian side was able to defeat it. Athens alone supplied the Macedonian fleet with 100 triremes, thus Persian supremacy at sea was steadily being whittled away.70 A widely held opinion that Miletus was recaptured by the Persians is most probably wrong as the only evidence for it is an amended passage in Curtius Rufus. As the dominant sea power on this stretch of the Asia Minor coast, the Persians under Pharnabazus command were able to exact payments from Miletus and, no doubt, from other seaport towns that relied on sea trade as an important part of their economy, but nothing more. The financial problems at Miletus that resulted from these forced payments are evident in the fact in 332/331 the expensive office of the eponymous Stephanephoros was given to the god Apollo. Whenever a deity was appointed to this office, the temple treasury covered the costs, but this only
69 Arr., An., 2.2; Curt., 3.3.1; Polyaen., 7.27.2; Plu., mor., 339f. Atkinson 1980, pp.114-117; Bosworth 1980, pp. 183-184; Bosworth 1988, p. 53; Seibert 1985, pp. 59-60; Debord 1999, p. 460. 70 Curt., 4.1.36-37; [D.], 17.20. Atkinson 1980, pp. 288-290; Seibert 1985, p. 60; Bosworth 1988, p. 53; Debord 1999, p. 461.

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happened when the economic situation was so bad that no mortal was able to bear the financial burden of holding the states most prestigious office.71 Memnons death dashed Darius IIIs hopes of stopping Alexanders invasion by the traditional means of attacking the enemy from behind, i.e. by employing diversionary tactics in Greece. Diodorus and, in a rhetorically modified version, also Curtius Rufus relate a conference between the Great King and a circle of notables concerning future plans for the war held at Babylon, which was the nearest Persian capital to the actual fighting. Most of the Persian advisors were in favour of the king personally leading the army, which in Persian history was something that happened very rarely, in exceptional cases. The Athenian Charidemus, who had fled from Alexander to the Persian court, was of a different opinion and suggested that Darius III should keep far away from the fighting while an army of hundred thousand troops, a third of which Greek mercenaries, would march to confront Alexander. The Athenian himself could command such an army. Darius was initially inclined in favour of this more sober suggestion. However, the Persian notables did not like this idea at all. Genuinely or just in the fervour of debate, they even accused the Athenian of intending to treacherously hand over the Achaemenid Empire to the Macedonian king. Charidemus had not had time to learn Persian customs and assuming this to be a political debate like the ones he knew from democratic Greece responded in a shockingly free manner: he questioned the Persians courage. Unfortunately this insulted the Great King, who by touching the Athenians belt sentenced him to death. The sentence was immediately executed. Thus Darius III lost yet another brave and competent Greek general, this time as consequence of a cultural misunderstanding, and now he had no other option than to lead his army himself.72 Alexander most probably stayed in Gordium until early summer (June/July) 333 to allow his troops to rest after the arduous autumn and winter campaigns and to wait for news from Greece and the Aegean Sea. There he received envoys from Greece and Asia Minor. His authority was put to the test when he ordered the tyrant of Heraclea Pontica, Dionysius, to receive back those who had been banished by his father, Clearchus, and restore democracy to his state. Unfortunately, Macedonian authority did not stretch that far north and so the tyrant was able to ignore Alexander with impunity. Soon after the Gordian knot incident (two days later according to Arrian) Alexander and his army set off on the Royal Road in a northeast direction. The first major city they encountered on this new
71 72

Curt., 4.5.13, 4.1.37; Milet i.3.122.iiI 83. Debord 1999, pp. 462-463. Diod., 17.30; Curt., 3.2.10-19. Atkinson 1980, pp. 108-114.

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campaign was Ancyra, situated some 100 km from Gordium. It was there that he was met by envoys from Paphlagonia, a land that was part of Hellespontine Phrygia but which for much of the 4th century was ruled only indirectly by the Persian satrap; his deputy was a local monarch who was always eager to show his independence. It is possible, as Curtius Rufus writes, that Alexander launched a short campaign to subjugate Paphlagonia. The country remained part of Hellespontine Phrygia and was put under the authority of Alexanders appointed satrap, Calas. That this rule was weak or perhaps only nominal is reflected in the fact that no tribute was imposed. Hostages were taken to ensure loyalty, but the next year Paphlagonia returned to the Persian side.73 The next objective of the Macedonian invasion was Cappadocia; or rather so-called Great Cappadocia for Pontic Cappadocia on the Black Sea coast may have been a separate satrapy which remained always outside Macedonian control. Ariarathes, this countrys king or perhaps satrap, not only acquired at that time independence but even managed to gradually expand his domain. The royal dynasty he founded was to rule Cappadocia for the next three centuries. On account of its central location and intensive Iranian colonisation, Great Cappadocia was strategically important to anyone who wished to rule over Asia Minor. The sources report no battles in this region. After occupying this province Alexander appointed an oriental noble as satrap, most probably a local Cappadocian. His real name is now impossible to identify as the ancient authors call him either Sabictas (Arrian) or Abistamenes (Curtius Rufus).74 It was in Cappadocia that Alexander learned of Memnons death and it was presumably soon after receiving this news that he decided to cross the river Halys, which on more than one occasion in history delineated an important border for the territorial aspirations of great powers. If that was the case, Alexanders next objective must have been Mazaca the residence of the satrap of Cappadocia. After that he led his army through Tyana and over the Taurus Mountains to Tarsus, the capital of Cilicia. In face of this sudden turn of events the countrys satrap, Arsames, tried to apply the scorched earth policy that had once been suggested by Memnon. Curtius Rufus criticises Arsames for not deciding to defend the Cilician Gates (today called Glek Bogazi), the 1,050 metre high pass and Tarsus
Arr., An., 2.4.1; Curt., 3.1.22-24; Plu., Alex., 18.5; Memnon, FGrH, 434 F4.1. Burstein 1976, pp. 73-74; Atkinson 1980, pp. 96-97; Bosworth 1980, p. 188; Seibert 1985, pp. 62-63; Debord 1999, pp. 301, 455. 74 Arr., An., 2.4.2; Str., 12.4.1; Curt., 3.4.1. Bosworth 1980, p. 189; Atkinson 1980, pp. 135-136; Seibert 1985, p. 63; Jacobs 1994, pp. 140-144; Heckel 2006, p. 44. On Pontic Cappadocia see: Briant 1996, p. 761; Sartre 2003, p. 15.
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river valley that joins the Anatolian Highlands with the Cilician lowlands, from what was in Alexanders day called the Camp of Cyrus (today Pozanti) to Tarsus. However, the Cilician Gates could be easily bypassed and even a determined defence could not have stopped Alexanders army. On the other hand, the version of events given by Curtius Rufus was based on an anonymous eyewitnesss account and is therefore more credible than Arrians glorifying tale of Alexander personally leading a select unit of soldiers against the Persian guards. However, Arsames scorched earth tactics that devastated some of the land beyond the Gates also proved ineffective. The inhabitants of Tarsus, who were terrified by Arsames plans to burn their city, warned Alexander of what the satrap was doing. The king immediately dispatched Parmenion with the cavalry and the fastest marching troops to save the city. They covered the 55 km distance from the Cilician Gates to Tarsus in a short enough space of time (according to Justin in one day) to save the city. Arsames next joined up with Darius IIIs army.75 Alexander reached Tarsus at the end of summer, after a short but tiring campaign in central Anatolia. His stay there could well have marked the end of his spectacular career, not because of any wounds incurred in fighting the Persians but because of an illness. Aristobulus is of the opinion that the king was simply exhausted. However, another source (one the ancient authors do not identify) claims it was consequence of his bathing in the river Cydnus, which flowed through Tarsus. Probably the original and most plausible version was that Alexander bathed in water that was too cold. Aristobulus, however, would not have wished to say Alexander imprudently immersed himself in icy-cold water in summer and therefore preferred to explain that the illness was a result of exhaustion. The water of the Kydnos River, like that of other rivers flowing from the snow covered mountains of Taurus, is extremely cold. Much later, on 10th June 1190, it was as consequence of bathing in one of them (Calycadnus also known as Saleph and today as Gksu) that Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who had been leading an up to that moment victorious Third Crusade, lost his life. Alexanders dip in the Cydnus resulted in convulsions, a high fever and insomnia. Such symptoms are usually associated with pneumonia. The only physician in the camp to agree to try and cure him was Philip of Acarnania, who prepared for the king a potent medicine, according to Arrian a purgative. The ancient authors add greater drama to the situation by relating a letter from Parmenion warning the king against this very physician, who had allegedly been given 1,000 talents by
75 Plu., Alex., 18.5; Arr., An., 2.4.3-6; Curt., 3.4.1-15; Just., 11.8.2; It. Alex., 26-27. Bosworth 1980, pp. 189-190; Seibert 1985, pp. 63-64.

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Darius III to poison Alexander. As always, Alexander is said to have ignored the advice of his most important commander, drunk the potion prepared by the accused physician and then given him the letter to read. The physician swore he was innocent and promised that the kings health would improve. Indeed, after some time Alexanders condition got better and eventually he recovered his health. One can assume that this was thanks to Alexanders extraordinarily powerful constitution, which was able to overcome the disease and not succumb to Philips of Acarnania medicine. Even if some of its more dramatic elements were merely invented by the ancient authors, Alexanders serious illness was a fact and it explains why he remained at Tarsus until the end of September 333.76 It was presumably during Alexanders illness, when there was a serious danger of him dying and therefore of Macedonian control of Cilicia and the whole of Asia Minor collapsing in chaos, that Harpalus made his first escape. As a member of the ruling family in Elimeia and a relative of one of Philip IIs wives, Harpalus had been one of Alexanders hetairoi when he was just the heir to the throne. Along with the successors other companions he was banished from Macedonia by Philip II for his involvement in the Pixodarus affair but returned when Alexander ascended the throne. On account of a physical disability Harpalus was unable to serve in the Macedonian army but Alexander rewarded his loyalty by appointing him the states treasurer. An evidently emotionally weak Harpalus was unable to withstand the tense atmosphere during Alexanders illness and on the whispered advice of a mysterious figure called Tauriscus he absconded to Greece. There he spent most of his time in Magara. Almost two years later, in 331, he returned to Alexander and was quickly reappointed to his previously held position.77

4. The battle of Issus


Before he had fully returned to health, Alexander ordered the resumption of the Cilician campaign and sent east his top commander Parmenion, leading the Corinthian League army, Greek and Thracian mercenaries and the Thessalian cavalry. Their objective was to secure a pass in the Amanus Mountains between Cilicia and Syria. The Macedonian commander
Arr., An., 2.4.7-11; Diod., 17.31.4-6; Curt., 3.5-6; Plu., Alex., 19; Luc., Dom., 1; Ps.-Callisth., 1.41 (rec. b); Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.6; POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148), fr. 44; V. Max., 3.8, ext.6; Just., 11.8; It. Alex., 28-30. Wilcken 1967, p. 98; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 202; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 161-162; Green 1974, pp. 220-221; Bosworth 1980, pp. 190-192; Salazar 2000, pp. 190-192. 77 Arr., An., 3.6.7. Bosworth 1988, p. 57; Heckel 1992, pp. 213-217.
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occupied eastern Cilicia including the city of Issus, in the vicinity of which the first battle between Darius III and Alexander was to be fought. Unfortunately, the fairly vague descriptions in the sources do not allow us to establish for certain which of the two passes Parmenion was heading for: the Pillars of Jonah (Merkes Su) or the more distant Syrian Gates (Belen Pass). If we accept Plutarchs suggestion that the Macedonian strategy at the time was to shift the war into Syria, it seems more probable that Parmenion secured the latter of these two passes. Next this expeditionary force returned west to meet up with Alexanders army.78 By about mid October 333 Alexander had fully recovered his health and the first thing he did was to take a daylong journey to the south west of Tarsus to the city of Anchialos. Here was what in Antiquity was called the Tomb of Sardanapalus, but it may have also been a monument to the Assyrian King Sancheribs victory over a rebellious Cilicia. Sardanapalus was a legendary figure whose name was derived from that of the last great Assyrian king, Assurbanipal. On this tomb there was engraved a message, reputedly in Assyrian: These are still mine what I ate, and my wanton love-frolics. This was an allusion to the Assyrian kings love of banqueting and sexual promiscuity. In all probability the inscription was invented by the ancient Greek authors to contrast an unmanly and debauched Sardanapalus with the energetic and chaste Alexander.79 From Anchialos the Macedonian army marched 20 km further west to the coastal city of Soli. Here Alexander founded a democratic system of government, installed a garrison and charged the inhabitants an extraordinarily high fine of 200 talents. He also took hostages, for which reason three quarters of the fine soon filled the royal treasury. This drastic action indicates that Alexanders finances were in a critical state at the time. This is further confirmed by the fact that when after the Battle of Issus the Macedonian army had acquired a lot of booty, Soli was relieved from paying the rest of this fine. Military operations in western Cilicia were ended with a seven-day campaign in the mountains around Soli that were inhabited by independent and fairly primitive tribes. However, this did not complete the conquest of Cicilia. Balacrus, whom Alexander had appointed satrap of Cilicia, had to continue the pacification of the Taurus mountain region and was indeed killed in fighting with the highlanders.80

Arr., An., 2.5.1; Diod., 17.32.2; Curt., 3.7.6-7; Plu., Alex., 20.4. Chronology: Bosworth 1980, p. 192. Topography: Seibert 1985, pp. 64-65. 79 Arr., An., 2.5.2-4; Plu., mor., 330f. Bosworth 1980, pp. 193-195; Hammond 1996, p. 94; Nawotka 2003, p. 86. 80 Arr., An., 2.5.5-6; Curt., 3.7.2-4. Bosworth 1980, p. 195; Debord 1999, p. 164.

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Meanwhile war flared up again in a region that had seemed to have been conquered: Caria. Its Persian satrap Orontobates, supported by the citadels in Halicarnassus, managed to recapture several cities, including Myndus and Caunus. In September or October 333 the Macedonian generals Ptolemaios and Asander finally defeated Orontobates in a major battle. Among those killed were the Persian satrap himself as well as 700 Persian infantry and 500 cavalry. The victory restored Macedonian control of the coastline in the Ceramic Gulf, thus depriving Pharnabazus still powerful navy of harbours in that part of Asia Minor. At the end of his stay in western Cilicia Alexander held a military parade as well as gymnastic and musical competitions before leading his army back to Tarsus. 81 The time he spent on operations of secondary importance in western Cilicia and the division of his forces into two indicate that Alexander was quite unaware of the manoeuvres by the main Persian forces, which at this stage posed a very serious threat to his army. Darius III gave instructions for his army to gather at Babylon. According to the ancient authors the size of this army ranged from 312,000 (Curtius Rufus) to 500,000 (Justin) or even 600,000 (Arrian and Plutarch). Of course all these figures are grossly exaggerated, in keeping with the tradition of ancient historians to always overstate the size of Persian forces. The first to do so was Herodotus, who claimed the army of Xerxes which in 480 invaded Greece comprised as many as 1,700,000 soldiers. On the other hand, one cannot doubt that the Persian army was considerably larger than the Macedonian force. Curtius provides a detailed breakdown of Darius IIIs army including (on information originating from Callisthenes) 30,000 Greek mercenaries. Even if this figure is also exaggerated, one can be certain that Greek hoplites were the primary force in the Persian infantry. Although the other figures given by Curtius will also not be accurate, the lack of a contingent from eastern Iran, the land of the famous Persian cavalry, should not be doubted. It cannot be explained by the sheer geographic distance of the east Iranian satrapies to the battlefield as over one and half years had elapsed from Alexanders arrival in Asia Minor to the point when his army reached Issus. Even in ancient times in one and a half years such distances could be covered several times over. But it seems most probable that Darius only decided to personally lead his army against Alexander after Memnons death, and it would have only been then that the Persian sides whole strategic concept of the war

81 Arr., An., 2.5.7-8; Curt., 3.7.3-4. Bosworth 1980, p. 197; Ruzicka 1992, pp. 147149; Debord 1999, p. 461.

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changed. This would have left too little time for the entire imperial army to be mobilised.82 The Persian forces most probably set out from Babylon in September, after the hottest part of the Mesopotamian summer ended and the harvest had filled granaries to provide the soldiers with sufficient provisions. Weighed down by huge baggage trains the Persian army needed two months to cover the 900 km distance from Babylon to Cilicia, where in November the battle against the Macedonians would be fought. The crossing of the Euphrates itself lasted five days. Curtius Rufus colourfully contrasts the elaborate Persian procession with the simplicity and toughness of the Macedonian army. According to custom, the Persian army would start marching at dawn. At the head of the column the sacred fire would be carried on silver alters. This most characteristic of Persian military rituals was also practiced in the Sassanid era, a thousand years later. Following the flame there would be magi singing religious songs, and behind them 365 youths dressed in purple. Both their number and the colour of their attire were symbolic. Their number signified the days in the Persian year and alluded to cosmic nature of the monarchs authority, whereas purple was the colour of warriors. Behind them travelled Ahura Mazdas (Jupiters, according to Curtius) chariot drawn by white horses and Mithras (the Suns according to Curtius) horse. Next came a squadron of cavalry and behind it marched the guard of 10,000 immortals and 15,000 specially selected horsemen, the so-called Kinsmen who were not necessarily the monarchs relatives but nevertheless granted this honorary title by the Great King. Then came the Royal bodyguards called the doryphoroi (spearmen) or at other times the melophori after the appleshaped (melon) butts of their spears. Behind the bodyguards rode the Great King wearing his ceremonial cloak and tiara, surrounded by 400 relatives. The monarchs chariot was gilded and adorned with symbols of Ahura Mazda and Mithra (Ninus and Belus according to Curtius) as well as the Achaemenid eagle. Following him were 30,000 infantry, the royal horses, and in carriages the monarchs mother, wife and children as well as 360 Royal concubines. Archers escorted the Royal treasure chests, which were carried by 600 mules and 300 camels. And following on behind were the courtiers, the servants and the rest of the army. To sum up, Darius IIIs

82

Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (= Plb., 12.18.2); Curt., 3.2.2-9; Diod., 17.31.2; Just., 11.9.1; Arr., An., 2.8.8; Plu., Alex., 18.6; POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148) F44, col. 2.2/3. Atkinson 1980, pp. 99-108; Vogelsang 1992, pp. 219-221.

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marching army had as many aspects of a procession celebrating the sacred nature of the Persian monarchy as it did of a military operation.83 The great Persian army eventually reached Sochoi, situated somewhere in northern Mesopotamia in a place unknown to modern historians but definitely on the eastern side of the Amanus Mountains, behind which Parmenions corps was stationed. Darius now prepared for battle. In order to increase his armys mobility he despatched most of the baggage trains and courtiers to Damascus. According to the ancient authors, Alexanders command was unaware of the Persian forces up until they were just a few days march away from the Macedonian army. Unbelievable as this may seem, this might well have been the case. Once his army progressed beyond Caria, Alexander ceased being anyones liberator; beyond that boundary population was more sympathetic to the legal Persian authorities. The sources describe this attitude quite unambiguously in the cases of the inhabitants of Soli and Issus. That is why it now became difficult for the Macedonians to acquire reliable information about the enemy, and this nearly led to their undoing. Darius, on the other hand, was kept very well informed by his loyal subjects about the whereabouts of the Macedonian invader.84 Having returned from western Cilicia, Alexander marched his army further east across the coastal plain to the south of Tarsus without reentering the city. Soon afterwards he further divided his army into two. He ordered Philotas to continue advancing with the cavalry across the Aleian Plain to the river Pyramus (today Ceyhan), whereas he himself proceeded with the infantry and the royal ile of cavalry to the seaside town of Magarsus (today Karata). This town was actually the port to the city of Mallus and it lay where in Antiquity the river Pyramus flowed into the Mediterranean Sea. The only reason for Alexanders visit mentioned in the sources was to offer sacrifices at the local temple to Athena. Alexanders soldiers built a bridge (at an unknown place) to get across the Pyramus and then his army proceeded to Mallus. One can suppose that it was in this city or in its vicinity that Alexanders army was reunited with Philotass corps. There the Macedonians also quelled some disruptions, perhaps fighting between a democratic pro-Macedonian faction and a pro-Persian faction. Alexander did not force the inhabitants of Mallus to pay tributes, not because he was reverting to his previous policy of liberating Greek cities but for the ideological reason that he was supposed to be related to them.
Curt., 3.3.8-25. Engels 1978, pp. 42-43; Atkinson 1980, pp. 120-133; Boyce 1982, pp. 286-287; Seibert 1985, pp. 68-69; Nylander 1993, pp. 150-151. 84 Arr., An., 2.5.5, 2.6.1; Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (= Plb., 12.17.2); Diod., 17.32.2-3; J., AJ, 11.8.3.
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Legend had it that the city was founded by colonists from Argos, which was also the homeland of Heracles, the mythological ancestor of the Argead dynasty. However, as in the case of Soli, Mallus was obliged to supply ships. The next stop on Alexanders itinerary was Castabalum, which lay a days journey from Mallus. It was there that Parmenions corps joined up with the main Macedonian army.85 While he was still at Mallus Alexander learned that Darius was encamped in Sochoi. In response to this news he summoned a council. Next he marched his army closer towards the Persians until he reached the city of Myriandrus, whose exact location is unknown. We only know from Xenophons Anabasis that the city lay 5 parasang (27 km) from the Syrian Gates, therefore somewhere in the region of todays city of Iskenderun and c. 140 km from Mallus. It took the Macedonian army five days to cover this distance. The ancient sources do not concur as to what Alexanders actual plan was. Arrian states that objective of the march was to attack the Persian army where it was stationed. Curtius Rufus, on the other hand, states that Alexander accepted Parmenions advice to seek confrontation in a mountain pass where the terrain would not allow the Persians to make use of their numerical advantage. However, although the Battle of Issus did indeed take place in an area where numerical superiority failed to work in the Persians favour, Alexanders actions contradict Curtiuss explanation. Not only did he not secure all of the mountain passes into Cilicia but, what is worse, he himself actually went through one of them to the other side, where he expected to find the Persian camp. Therefore the first version seems more probable, that is, an offensive plan to seek out the enemy forces and attack them where they were stationed. That was why Alexander crossed over to the other side of the Amanus Mountains. On the way Alexanders army passed through Issus, which had previously been occupied by Parmenion. This fairly small town was in a place known today as Kinet Hyk, on a low (20 m) hill half a kilometre from the sea and 7 km to the north west of todays town of Drtyol. The Macedonians set up a field hospital at Issus for their wounded and sick soldiers; thus the army was now free to move much faster. It has been estimated that Myriandrus was over 30 km from Issus and the Macedonian army covered that distance within one day. After this forced march, the Macedonian army had to stop over at Myriandrus on account of a violent storm. It was also there that Alexander received the disturbing news that Darius army was no longer at Sochoi and had now reappeared behind them. At first he could not believe this to be true, but the crew of a thirty-oar ship was sent
85

Arr., An., 2.5.8-9; Curt., 3.7.5; Str., 14.5.17; It. Alex., 31. Bosworth 1980, pp. 197-198; Huttner 1997, pp. 91-92.

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out to reconnoitre and later it confirmed that the Persians were now indeed camped on the coast behind Alexanders army.86 Sochoi was situated on a broad plain that would have been ideal for the massed Persian cavalry if the Macedonians had crossed one of the mountain passes. The reason why the Great King left this strategically advantageous position and moved into mountainous Cilicia, where the terrain did no allow him to use his armys numerical superiority is one of the greatest puzzles of the Macedonian-Persian war. Curtiuss suggestion that the Great King decided to move into Cilicia on receiving news of Alexanders illness is quite unconvincing on account of the chronological sequence of events. Alexanders illness lasted some time and was then followed by the Macedonian campaign in Cilicia, which in a way can explain the Persian armys haste. Arrian writes about Dariuss drawn out stay at Sochoi and uncertainty as to what Alexander was planning on account of the surprisingly long time he was spending in Cilicia as well as the imprudent advice of his Persian flatterers. The sycophants convinced the Great King that Alexander was too fearful of the mighty Persian army to advance any further. They encouraged Darius to engage Alexander in battle in Cilicia, for even there the excellent Persian cavalry was capable of defeating the Macedonians. Arrian and Plutarch show that the Macedonian fugitive Amyntas who knew Alexander well assured the Great King that the impetuous young ruler would be eager to fight. One only had to wait for him to turn up wherever a prepared Persian army was stationed. In Curtius account this were some anonymous Greek mercenaries who offered Darius this more sensible advice badly received by the Persian courtiers. We know that the Great King did not heed the sober words of the real expert or experts, but the sources do not tell us why he took the decision he did other than making some general comments about fate and a propensity to follow bad advice.87 There is no reason to doubt the reports of sensible advisors in the Persian camp, even if Curtius Rufuss account of mercenaries giving advice is probably erroneously borrowed form the incident between Charidemus and Darius at the Babylon conference. It is possible that one of the reasons why such advice was rejected mentioned here by Curtius and also referred to in descriptions of councils in the Persian camp concerned the mistrust held by the Iranian aristocracy towards the Greeks,
X., An., 1.4.6; Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (=Plb., 12.17.2, 12.19.4); Arr., An., 2.6.1, 2.7.1-2; Curt., 3.7.9-10. Engels 1978, pp. 47-51; Bosworth 1980, pp. 199202; Bing 1993. 87 Arr., An., 2.6.3-7; Plu., Alex., 20.1-4; Curt., 3.7.1, 3.8.1-11. Atkinson 1980, p. 170.
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whom they suspected of treason or at least being more concerned with their personal interests than with those of the Persian state. The Great King also had to consider logistical problems: in Antiquity an army as large as his could not last long without new supplies of food, fodder and water. The delivery of new provisions was not feasible at Sochoi, which was not situated close to a river let alone near the coast. Even with the necessity of bringing the provisions in on wagons and pack animals the local resources of northern Mesopotamia and western Syria could not feed the great army for long; that is why one way or another Darius had to move his soldiers on from Sochoi. It was also no doubt for logistic reasons that the decision was made to send the main baggage trains 300 km away to Damascus; this way two parts of the great army did not have to seek provisions in the same area. Another factor may have been ideological: a representative of the heroic Persian monarchy could not idly wait for a numerically inferior enemy to take the initiative. According to Murisons attractive theory, the decision to move could have been made when intelligence reports came in regarding the movements of the Macedonian army. Perhaps having learnt that the enemys army had divided into two detachments, those of Alexander and Parmenion, the Persians decided to launch a surprise attack and deal with each of them separately. The manoeuvre was indeed surprising. Dariuss army left Sochoi and marched north along the River Karasu Valley passing the southern Amanus mountain range. The Persians eventually crossed the mountains by passing through the so-called Amanic Gates. This could have been one of two passes: Bahe, which today has road and rail links running through it, or Hasanbeyli, which is situated a bit further south. This 150-km march of the Persian army was not noticed by the Macedonian scouts. However, Darius failed, if such was his intention, to attack Parmenions corps when it was alone for it had in the meantime rejoined the main Macedonian army. It also turned out that there would be no battle between the two armies on the extensive Cilician Lowlands for the previous day the Macedonians had headed south. Apparently the Persian army had entered Cilicia the same night the Macedonians entered Syria and thus they passed each other by a few dozen kilometres. The Macedonian field hospital at Issus fell into the hands of the Persians, who realising the failure of their manoeuvre now vented their frustrated anger on the Macedonian patients. Some of the sick soldiers were murdered while others had their hands hacked off and next, having been shown the sheer size of the Persian army, they were allowed to escape, no doubt in the hope that their terrifying tales would break the

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Macedonian will to fight. Indeed, these mutilated soldiers were the first to inform Alexander that the Persians were now behind his army.88 The Persian strategy had surprised Alexander, who was now cut off from his bases in Cilicia and the rest of Asia Minor. When we also consider the superiority of the Persian fleet, which could cut off the supply of provisions by sea, it becomes apparent that the Macedonian army was now in a trap and the only way out of it was to defeat Darius III in a battle. Alexander must have certainly been aware of the threat from the Persian fleet for it was then that he performed the ceremony of driving his chariot into the sea to pay homage to the sea gods Poseidon, Thetis, Nereus and Nereids. Indeed, the Persians needed no more than an undecided draw on the battlefield to further extend their strategic advantage.89 Fortunately for the Macedonians, the Persian command also planned to rout their enemy in a pitched battle. Having obtained information from the captured Macedonians and the local population about where the enemy was located, Darius sent his army south in the direction of the coastal plain around Myriandrus and Syria, where there was a greater possibility of fighting a battle in open territory. He was now aware that the coastal plain of Iskenderun Bay was too narrow for him to make full advantage of Persian numerical superiority. During a days march his army got no further than the river Pinarus and there the Persians set up camp. Meanwhile Alexander, having realised that the Persian army was no longer in Cilicia, summoned a war council and declared his decision to confront the enemy in battle. Arrian relates a speech Alexander is supposed to have given on this occasion in which he drew attention to the tactical advantages of fighting the battle in a confined space and of the superior combat quality of the Macedonian soldier over feeble Asiatic slaves and mercenaries with no real incentive to fight for Darius. He is also said to have mentioned the rewards (booty) to be gained from defeating the Great King. Finally he referred to historic examples, particularly Xenophons recorded experiences of how in 401 Greek mercenaries victoriously marched from Babylon to the Black Sea. Although speeches related by ancient author are usually little more than demonstrations of a given historians rhetorical talents, here one should not doubt that Alexander did actually gave a speech. There was a tradition for commanders and politicians to deliver
88

Curt., 3.8.3-5, 3.8.13-13; Arr., An., 2.7.1; Plu., Alex., 20.4-5. Wilcken 1967, pp. 100-101; Murison 1972; Hamilton 1974, p. 67; Engels 1978, pp. 45-46; Bosworth 1980, pp. 199-201, 203; Bosworth 1988, p. 59; Seibert 1985, p. 59; Dbrowa 1988, p. 50; Hammond 1996, p. 95. 89 POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148) fr. 44, col. ii. Tarn 1948, i, p. 24; Green 1974, p. 226-227; Briant 1996, p. 43.

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speeches to an assembled audience when important decisions were made, so it is difficult to imagine that Alexander would have simply ordered his soldiers to march towards superior enemy forces without words of encouragement or explanations. Arrians account of what Alexander said is presented in reported speech and therefore one cannot accuse him of showing off with flowery language, which often occurs when ancient authors claim to cite someone directly. Besides, Alexanders fairly obvious arguments are confirmed in other accounts of a speech to his soldiers before the battle by Curtius Rufus and Justin.90 Having spoken to his officers, Alexander ordered the soldiers to have their dinner and at the same sent a unit of riders and archers to survey the Syrian Gates, through which his army now had to return. The Macedonian army occupied the mountain passes at around midnight, there the soldiers rested among the rocks for the remainder of the night. Much later Cicero, as a governor of Cilicia fighting highlanders, would as also pitch camp there. Here too Alexander made sacrifices to the gods of the land where he would engage in battle against Darius. At dawn the army proceeded through the Syrian Gates, marching in a broad column stretching to both sides of the narrow valley with the infantry first and the cavalry, which was less useful in mountainous terrain, following on behind. Then when the valley opened out, Alexander ordered his men to proceed in battle formation as if to expect the Persians to attack at any moment. Parmenion, commanding as usual the left wing, received categorical instructions to keep to the coastline, so that the Persians would not be able to outflank them. Callisthenes relates that Alexander had his army proceed for the last 40 stades (7.2 km) towards the enemy in battle formation. Polybius, who is a harsh critic of this historian and eyewitness, notes that the unevenness of the Cilician terrain would have sooner or later disrupted the line of the phalanx and thus greatly weakened its military value against the enemy. Therefore perhaps battle formations were made at a later stage; both Curtius Rufus and Diodorus claim they were not drawn up until the Persians were 30 stades away. One should also remember that Alexanders army needed a lot of time to get through the mountain pass (7.5 hours according to Engelss estimate), which suggests that the battlefield was not

90

Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (= Plb., 12.17.3-4); Plu., Alex., 20.5-6; Diod., 17.33.1; Arr., An., 2.7; Curt., 3.10.3-10; Just., 11.9.3-4. Wilcken 1967, p. 101; Bosworth 1980, p. 204.

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far from the Syrian Gates if the two armies managed to clash that same day in November 333.91 The battle known in historiography as the Battle of Issus was actually fought some distance away from that town at one of the short rivers flowing from the Amanus Mountains into the Iskenderun Bay, which the sources call Pinarus, on a narrow stretch of lowland measuring 14 stades (2.5 km) in width. The very limited topographical information that can be derived from the ancient sources as well as the hydrological changes that must have occurred in this part of the Mediterranean coast over the centuries do not allow us to identify with any reasonable certainty which of todays watercourses was once called Pinarus. Therefore it is very difficult to accurately locate where the battle took place. Three possible locations have emerged from an academic debate that has lasted over a century: Deli ay, Kuru ay and Payas. At 20 km from Iskenderun, Payas is the southernmost of these rivers. Kuru ay flows into the sea 3 km further north, and it is another 8 km to the Deli ay. The attention of modern scholars was first drawn to the Deli ay because it is the largest of these rivers, the generally level terrain to the south would have made a 40stade march in battle formation possible and the gently sloped and low 2-3 m banks would not have precluded the cavalry charge described by Arrian. On the other hand, the sources in no way suggest that Pinarus was the largest river in the area, the Macedonians probably marched in battle formation for a shorter distance than 40 stades and the coastal plain at Deli ay stretches for 7.5 km, which is much more than the 14 stades described by Callisthenes. Moreover, the distance from Deli ay to the Syrian Gates is much too great to imagine that the Macedonian army could have descended the mountains, reached this river and fought a battle all on the same day. Inspections of the region by more recent historians (Hammond and Lane Fox) have suggested that the Payas best fits the descriptions given by the ancient sources. Its banks are steeper but the plain around it is just 4 km wide which is much closer to the 14 stades mentioned by Callisthenes than the 7.5 km at the mouth of the Deli ay.92

Plb., 12.17-20; Arr., An., 2.8; Diod., 17.33.1; Curt., 3.8.24; Cic., Att., 5.20.3. Engels 1978, pp. 131-134; Bosworth 1980, pp. 206-207, 219; Bosworth 1988, p. 60. Date: Arr., An., 2.11.10. 92 Most important works arguing for identification of the Pinarus with these three rivers are: for Deli ay Janke 1910; Seibert 1972, pp. 98-102; Atkinson 1980, pp. 471-476; for Kuru ay Bosworth 1988, p. 60; for Payas Lane Fox 1973, pp. 169-170; Engels 1978, pp. 131-134; Hammond 1992, pp. 395-396; Hammond 1996, pp. 97-101.

91

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Descriptions in the ancient sources of the battle fought between the two armies in the afternoon of the same day the Macedonians had passed through the Syrian Gates are not entirely clear. This results not only from the fact that ancient authors were mainly interested in the personality of Alexander but also because of the inherent chaos of battles in Antiquity, where even the participants on the ground (and not for instance observers from city walls or some other raised position) had a problem with understanding what was actually happening. Already Polybius noted that the description provided by Callisthenes, who was a contemporary to these events, is unreliable on account of it not being compatible with the battlefields topography. For the above reasons the following description of the course of the Battle of Issus is also hypothetical. We know that the Persians first positioned some cavalry and light infantry on the southern bank of the Pinarus while the bulk of the Persian army assembled on the northern (right) bank. Before the battle commenced the Persian cavalry and light infantry returned to the right bank to join the main forces. The Greek mercenary infantry was positioned in the centre with the Persian cavalry to their right accompanied by a local infantry. Taking up positions at both wings of this formation were the kardakes probably an Iranian heavy infantry though no doubt of much lower quality than hoplites. Indeed, apart from including them in the order of battle, the sources make no mention of the kardakes in the actual fighting. This might mean that they simply fled from the battlefield or alternatively that the ancient authors were only concentrating on particular participants, above all Alexander but also the Greek soldiers fighting on both sides. The left Persian wing extended at an angle to the rest of the front line far into the slopes of the mountains surrounding the coastal plain. The Great King took up a central position but nearer the left wing and was surrounded by bodyguards and elite cavalry. The Persian plan was most probably to stop the Macedonian phalanx in the centre with the mercenary hoplites, have the local infantry positioned on the hillside tie down as many of the Macedonian troops as possible through diversionary tactics and then use their cavalry on the right wing to deliver the decisive blow. 93 On the opposite side Alexander arranged his phalanx eight ranks deep and positioned it in the centre. Mercenary detachments were positioned behind the phalanx. Parmenion was given command of the left wing, with comprised the allied cavalry, Thracian foot soldiers and light infantry. Alexander himself took command of the right wing, comprising the
93

Plb., 12.17.6-18 (after Callisthenes); Arr., An., 2.8.5-9, 2.8.11; Curt., 3.9.1-6. Bosworth 1980, pp. 208-209; Atkinson 1980, pp. 203-208; Hammond 1996, pp. 101-103; Briant 1996, pp. 819-821; Sabin 2007, pp. 134-135.

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Macedonian and Thessalian cavalry. And it was with this force that he had planned to resolve the final outcome of the battle. But before it even began, Alexander learnt that most of the Persian cavalry was positioned opposite Parmenions weaker detachments on the left wing, so he reinforced it with his Thessalian cavalry. The Thessalians moved to the other wing from behind the Macedonian formations, so that the Persians would not notice the change. Against the local infantry facing his right wing Alexander positioned two squadrons of cavalry as well as some Agrianians and slingers.94 These last Macedonian units had the greatest fortune for the local infantry on the Persian side did not take up the fight and just fled. Thus the all-important Macedonian right wing faced no danger. The infantry who were now no longer needed there moved to reinforce the phalanx in the centre.95 The rest of the Macedonian army had the much more difficult task of attacking the Persians across the river Pinarus. They were greeted by a shower of arrows so dense that they collided with one another in the air, as Diodorus with some artistic licence would have us believe. But the sources do not tell us how effective this hail of missiles was. The left Macedonian wing was unable to make progress against the massed Persian cavalry, which managed to repulse Parmenions attack and then chase his squadrons over to the southern side of the river. Here both sides were engaged in intensive fighting up until the Persian frontline collapsed on the other wing. 96 In the centre the mercenary hoplites attacked the Macedonian phalanx before it had finished crossing the river. As the Macedonians tried to ascend the fairly steep and brambly bank, parts of their phalanx line got disjoined. This the Greek mercenaries exploited mercilessly by concentrating on those sections in particular. On this occasion the Greek hoplites fought with a far greater doggedness than was normal for mercenaries. This was because the phalanx symbolised Macedonian military dominance in Greece and therefore the mercenaries were also fighting out of national pride and to show who the better professional in the field was. In this clash the Greeks proved to be at least no worse than the Macedonians. Even the Alexanders arch apologist Arrian states that over 120 soldiers of the Macedonian phalanx perished, which is more than the total number of Macedonian losses he records for other battles such as Granicus (115) or Gaugamela (100). Bearing in mind
94

Plb., 12.19-21 (after Callisthenes); Arr., Ann., 2.8.9-11; Diod., 17.33.2; Curt., 3.11.2-3; Plu., Alex., 20.8; It. Alex., 35. Hammond 1996, pp. 103-104. 95 Arr., An., 2.9.4. 96 Arr., An., 2.10.3, 2.11.2; Callisth., FGrH, 124 F35 (= Plb., 12.18.11); Diod., 17.33.3; Curt., 3.11.13-15; It. Alex., 35.

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that Arrian always minimises the figures for Macedonian casualties, it is safe to presume that the actual number of Macedonian phalangites lost at Issus was somewhat greater than 120. Moreover, throughout Alexanders reign we can be certain that it was in this battle the Macedonian phalanx faced its greatest challenge and came closest to defeat.97 On the right flank Alexander with his Macedonian cavalry very quickly attacked the local infantry and cavalry, intending this way to break their resolve to fight. Without doubt he was consciously heading straight for Dariuss chariot to kill or capture the enemys commander and thus resolve the war with one blow. The strategic consideration was sure strengthened by heroic principles of Alexander imitating or rivalling his mythical ancestor Achilles in striving for glory in single combat with the enemy leader. In order to protect the Great Kings chariot the elite Persian cavalry moved forward commanded by Dariuss brother Oxyathres and including distinguished Iranian aristocrats, of whom the sources mention Sabaces the satrap of Egypt, Arsames, Atizyes, Bubaces and Rheomithres. We know that the fighting with this elite force was ferocious; all the above mentioned Persian aristocrats perished and Alexander was wounded in the thigh. According to a romantic tale invented by his chamberlain, Chares, this wound was inflicted by none other than Darius himself. It is difficult not to get the impression that Darius had made a tactical mistake in concentrating too much cavalry on the right flank, where on account of the lack of space it could not effectively make use of its numerical superiority. On the other hand, he had not deployed enough soldiers to effectively secure his left flank, which was where Alexander directed the main thrust of his attack. The Macedonian cavalry was gradually prevailing over the enemy and posing an ever greater threat to the Great King. Then all of a sudden the horses of the Royal chariot, wounded by Macedonian spears, took fright and refused to respond to the drivers bridles. For a while it looked as if they would throw the Royal passenger off the chariot and into enemy hands. This moment of extreme peril for the Great King is depicted in the famous Alexander Mosaic, found at the House of the Faun in Pompeii. The Alexander Mosaic is reportedly a second-century copy of a masterpiece painted, according to Pliny, at the end of the 4th century by Philoxenus of Eretria for King Cassander of Macedonia. It is said that at a critical moment Darius himself took hold of the reigns and restored enough control over the horses so that at least a second chariot could be brought up for him to board. The situation was still extremely dangerous. In order to escape enemy capture
97

Arr., An., 2.10.4-7. Bosworth 1980, p. 214.

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the Great King next mounted a mare that had been specially kept tethered behind the chariot and, casting away his Royal insignia, he rode away from the battlefield. The escape was not an act of cowardice. Darius had more than once proved his valour, and even in this battle he incurred a wound whilst fighting. Nor did he leave at the very start of the fighting as Arrian claims, but only after the situation on the battlefield made it apparent he was in direct danger of being captured or killed. According to Iranian beliefs, grave responsibilities rested on the monarchs shoulders when commanding a war. For such situations were not only an armed conflict between men but also a cosmic one where the Persian side represented the forces of truth, goodness and light, whereas the enemy represented the forces of lies, evil and darkness. Therefore in such a struggle the Great King should not die or, worse still, get himself captured; in such cases it was better for a monarch to retreat in order to be able to continue the struggle at a later stage.98 Though consistent with the Zoroastrian principles of political theory, regrettably, Dariuss escape could not have had a positive affect on the logic of the battlefield. The Persian cavalry that had so far fought valiantly in defence of the King now began to withdraw from the battlefield too. Alexander could not immediately give chase for the situation in the centre and on the left wing demanded immediate intervention. There the ever weaker position of the Macedonian forces could still turn the battle in the Persians favour. A determined attack was now launched on the flank of the mercenary hoplites, who had up to that moment been successfully bearing down on the Macedonian phalanx. But despite what Arrian says, a resurgent Macedonian phalanx did not ultimately defeat the hoplite mercenaries. Instead it must have been, as Curtius writes, that on seeing their employer, the Great King leave the battle ground, they too started to withdraw in an ordered fashion. This is confirmed by the fact that in battles over the next three years there appeared some complete detachments of several thousand Greek veterans of the Battle of Issus. News of Dariuss escape and the retreat of the mercenaries spread throughout the Persian ranks and led to the breaking up of other detachments, including the cavalry on the left wing. By dusk the entire
98

Plb., 12.22.2 (after Callisthenes); Arr., An., 2.10.3, 2.11.4-8, 2.12.1; Diod., 17.33.5-34.7; Curt., 3.11.7-11; Plu., Alex., 20.8-9 (quoting Chares: FGrH, 125 F6); Plu., mor., 241b-c; Just., 11.9; Ael., NA, 6.48; It. Alex., 35; Ps.-Callisth., 1.41. Atkinson 1980, pp. 229-237; Bosworth 1980, pp. 215-216; Bosworth 1988, pp. 6162; Nylander 1993, pp. 149-151; Hammond 1996, pp. 108-109; Briant 1996, pp. 239-242; Lendon 2005, pp. 136-138. Alexander Mosaic: Plin., Nat., 35.110. Stewart 1993, pp. 130-150; Cohen 1997.

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great Persian army was in full retreat. Alexander triumphed in this first major battle for the control of Asia thanks to his courage, determination and tactical genius, which compensated for the strategic shortcomings, for in that particular respect, in the autumn of 333, the enemy proved to be superior. It should also be stressed that the Battle of Issus was primarily and almost single-handedly won by the Macedonian cavalry, which was better trained and better armed than its Persian opponent.99 It was only once he was certain of victory on all sections of the front that Alexander sought to capture Darius. But by then the Great King had covered a lot of ground moving rapidly and changing horses on the way. Moreover, the chase was hampered by crowds of fleeing Persian soldiers. Alexander is said to have pursued the Great King for 60 stades (11 km), but now it was dark and, seeing the futility of advancing any further, Alexander decided to turn back. As a consolation prize he had the Great Kings chariot and his royal insignia: a bow, a shield and an outer garment called the kandys.100 As happened so often in ancient battles, the reported numbers of losses on the losing side were disproportionately higher than the losses on the victors side, though of course we should not treat literarily the ancient authors rhetorical descriptions of piles of killed Persians, their bodies covering the entire field or of mountain ravines being filled with corpses. Undoubtedly, as well as a given authors sense of fantasy, the figures provided in the sources reflect Macedonian propaganda. The most frequently cited figure for the number of Persians killed is 100,000 or 110,000 (Arrian, Diodorus and Curtius) as opposed to 270-450 Macedonians killed. Justin reduces the number of Persian casualties to 61,000. No doubt the figures given by the anonymous historian on the Oxyrhynchus papyrus are much closer to the truth: 1,200 Macedonians killed, 53,000 Persians killed and a number of Greek mercenaries killed which we do not know because that bit of papyrus is damaged. We cannot accept that Dariuss army incurred the extremely heavy losses described in the sources as several of its most important units, including the Persian cavalry and the Greek infantry, left the battle in an orderly fashion and therefore could not have been slaughtered like routed soldiers. The high number of wounded Macedonians (4,500) given by Curtius probably accurately reflects the consequences of a battle whose

Diod., 17.34.7; Curt., 3.11.11-16; Arr., An., 2.11.4-7; Just., 11.9; It. Alex., 35. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 173-174. 100 Curt., 3.11.26, 3.12.1; Arr., An., 2.11.5-7; Plu., Alex., 20.10; POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148), fr. 44, col. iii; Ps.-Callisth., 1.41.

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fate for a long time hung in the balance and in which the victorious side also incurred heavy losses.101 While Alexander was still pursuing Darius, the rest of victorious Macedonian army with ease captured the Persian camp and found there the families of the Persian aristocrats as well as servants. The property of the defeated enemy was plundered, whereas the hapless Persian women were given to the Macedonian army rabble to be humiliated and raped. Only tent or rather portable palace of Darius and his family were spared this unseemly fate. Alexanders men secured it from the other soldiers as their victorious leaders rightful property. Though most of the Persian baggage train with the servants and treasure chests had been sent on to Damascus, 3,000 talents were found at the Persian camp after the battle. After returning from his unsuccessful chase Alexander enjoyed a bath in Dariuss gold tub and next attended a banquet in the Great Kings captured tent, where, according to Plutarch, on beholding all the items of luxury he is said to have commented: This, as it would seem, is to be a king. The itinerant nature of the Persian state gave this tent a very important status as the mobile residence of the Great King. Therefore its capture was also symbolically very significant. As 200 years earlier Cyrus the Great had sealed his victory over the king of the Medes, Astyages, by capturing his tent and throne, so now the capturing of Darius IIIs tent by Alexander was seen as a portent of the imminent defeat of the entire Achaemenid monarchy.102 However, Alexanders most valuable trophy was not Darius property but his family, which, according to Persian custom, accompanied him even to where the fighting was. The Macedonians had captured Dariuss mother, Sisigambis, his wife, Stateira, his daughters Stateira and Drypetis as well as his son, Ochos. The sources relate a romantic tale, originally ascribed to Callisthenes, regarding Alexanders first contact with Dariuss family. He is said to have discovered that the family was in the Persian camp when he entered the Great Kings tent and heard the Persian women lamenting Dariuss death for that is what they believed at the time. The Macedonian victor wished to console them with the news that Darius had actually escaped and was still alive. First he instructed Mithrenes to tell them this news, but then, realising that the sight of a Persian traitor might be too painful for them, decided to send his hetairos Leonnatus, who also
101 Arr., An., 2.11.8; Diod., 17.34.8-9, 17.36.6; Curt., 3.11.27; Just., 11.9.10; POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148), fr. 44, col. iv. Bosworth 1980, p. 216-217. 102 Arr., An., 2.11.9-10; Diod., 17.35.2-36.1, 17.36.5, 17.37.2; Curt., 3.11.19-23; Plu., Alex., 20.11-13; POxy. 1798 (= FGrH, 148), fr. 44, col. iii; Just., 11.10.1-5. Briant 1996, pp. 200-201, 267-268.

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spoke Persian, instead. The following morning Alexander personally visited the distinguished captives. In keeping with Persian custom the women performed a ceremonial bow (proskynesis) before their new ruler. Unfortunately they mistook the new ruler to be Hephaestion, who was standing next to Alexander and visibly taller than him. When the eunuchs explained the mistake to the women, a panic stricken Sisigambis is said to have fallen to Alexanders feet apologising profusely for this obvious insult to his majesty. This gives Alexanders biographers the opportunity to present him raising the women to her feet with the words: Never mind, Mother. For actually he too is Alexander. The Macedonian king allowed the distinguished captives bury their fallen compatriots with honours and ensured that they lived in conditions no worse than they had enjoyed at the court of the Great King. Moreover, he promised to find worthy husbands for Dariuss daughters and an appropriate education for his son. The ancient authors stressed that Alexander showed due respect and propriety towards his defeated enemys daughters and wife, even though she was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the whole of Asia. This was not a consequence of his homosexuality but of virtue and self-restraint. It reflected Alexanders famous comment about Persian women being torments to the eyes in the sense that their ravishing beauty hurt him because of his self-imposed temperance. Nevertheless in this case Alexanders behaviour seems to reflect his (or his advisors) deep understanding of the Oriental ideology of authority. The women of the ruling house also symbolised the state and in that sense they could transfer the legitimacy of power from the defeated ruler to the victor. The victor, on the other hand, should not only prove himself militarily but also show a kingly respect for his opponent, particularly his mother. Therefore Alexanders dignified treatment of Darius IIIs family was another step towards his aim of gaining recognition among the Persian elites as the rightful successor of the Achaemenid dynasty. 103 The first was after Granicus, when he tried to win over the Iranian aristocrats. The following day the bodies of fallen Macedonian soldiers were buried with honours. Those who had distinguished themselves in battle received rewards and Alexander personally visited the tents of wounded soldiers, thought he himself was still suffering from the wound inflicted during his fight with the Persian cavalry. This way he not only
103

Arr., An., 2.11.9, 2.12.3-8; Diod., 17.37.3-38.7; Curt., 3.12.1-26; Plu., Alex., 21; Plu., mor., 338d-e; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.5; Apion, ap. Gel., 7.8.1-3; Just., 11.9; It. Alex., 35, 37; Ps.-Callisth., 1.41. Keaeney 1978; Bosworth 1980, pp. 220-222; Bosworth 1988, pp. 63-64; Brosius 1996, pp. 21-22; Nawotka 2003, pp. 123-124.

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strengthened the bond with his army but also created for posterity a heroic image of someone able to overcome physical injury in order to remain fully active. It was also then that he appointed Balacrus, one of his bodyguards, satrap of Cilicia. To commemorate the great victory at Issus, the town closest to the battlefield, was renamed the city of victory Nicopolis. With time, however, Issus reverted to its original name. Shortly after the Battle of Issus the Tarsus mint issued Alexanders first coins in Asia. These were large silver coins (tetradrachms), one of which equalled four days of pay for a Macedonian or mercenary foot soldier. They bore the images of the gods Zeus and Heracles, which were popular images on coins in both Macedonia and Cilicia. The remarkable resemblance between the Zeus on Alexanders tetradrachms and the image of Baal on coins that had been produced at Tarsus for the satrap Mazaeus towards the end of Persian rule in Cilicia indicates that Alexander had simply taken over the same mint and the same staff now used the same dies to strike the new coins. Naturally the issuing of coins is above all an economic enterprise; one which was made possible thanks to the capture of considerable amounts of precious metal at Issus. On the other hand, one cannot but also associate it with the historic importance of the Battle of Issus itself. After this great victory Alexander began speaking more openly about his intention to rule over the entire Achaemenid Empire. From the propaganda point of view this was therefore a good moment to issue a new coin that stressed this claim.104

5. Phoenicia. Syria and Palestine


After an all-night flight the defeated king of Persia arrived at a place called Onchai (exact location today unknown) somewhere on the Amik Plain in western Syria (today Turkey, near Antakya in Antiquity Antioch on the Orontes). He had gathered troops on the way, so that at Onchai there were with him either 4,000 Greek mercenaries (according to Curtius) or 4,000 troops in all (according to Arrian). The king and these soldiers next made a forced march east to cross the Euphrates at Thapsacus and thence to Babylon. Despite the defeat, Darius had absolutely no intention of surrendering. 105 We know that, apart from the soldiers accompanying Darius, also large numbers of other Greek mercenaries had survived the
Curt., 3.12.13; Arr., An., 2.12.1-2; It. Alex., 36; St. Byz., s.v. Issj. Heckel 1992, pp. 260-261; Salazar 2000, pp. 186-187, 194; Le Rider 2003, pp. 161-169. 105 Arr., An., 2.13.1; Curt., 4.1.1-3; Diod., 17.39.1. Bosworth 1980, p. 222; Atkinson 1980, pp. 267-268; Seibert 1985, p. 70.
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Battle of Issus. Unfortunately the sources give us inconsistent information regarding the size of the groups and the routes they took to rejoin the rest of the Persian army. At least 8,000 commanded by the Macedonian Amyntas as well as the Greeks Aristomedes, Thymondas and Bianor reached the city of Tripoli (in Lebanon), where Persian ships were stationed. From there they sailed to Cyprus, where they divided into two groups. 4,000 of these soldiers next sailed with Amyntas to Egypt, which seemed to be an easy prey after the countrys satrap Sabaces had been killed at Issus. In Egypt Amyntas, claiming to have been appointed by Darius III the new satrap or overall commander of troops, succeeded in capturing the important fortress of Pelusium. Next he sailed up the Nile to Memphis, defeated the citys garrison in a pitched battle and allowed his soldiers to plunder the area around the Egyptian capital. It was then that Mazaces, who had genuinely been appointed Sabacess successor as satrap of Egypt, launched a sally out of the beleaguered city and slaughtered Amyntass dispersed soldiers.106 Another 8,000 Greek veterans of Issus, no doubt including the remaining 4,000 mercenaries that had originally sailed to Cyprus, eventually turned up in Crete, where they entered the service of King Agis III of Sparta in his conflict against pro-Macedonian party on that island.107 The rest of the Persian army that had survived the Battle of Issus made its way into the interior of Asia Minor, where it continued the war against Alexander. In the winter of 333/332 a significant number of Iranian detachments together with their commanders, including the highest ranking official in Persia, the hazarapati Nabarzanes, gathered in Cappadocia, Paphlagonia and Cilicia. Some scholars presume that these Persian forces were acting on the Great Kings orders and that their mission was to cut Alexanders supply lines, recapture territories right up to the coast so as to re-establish contact with the Persian fleet and even to retake Sardis. Unfortunately, the ancient sources do not provide evidence that could univocally lead us to such a conclusion. There is even no evidence that there was any coordination between the actions of the various Persian commanders. This would have indeed been extremely difficult considering the means of communication between forces in those times, that is, by using runners who would have had to have constantly cut across enemy occupied territory. The Persian commanders did, however, levy fresh troops in Cappadocia and Paphlagonia, and next entered Lydia.
Curt., 4.1.27-33; Diod., 17.48.2-5; Arr., An., 2.13.1-3. Parke 1933, p. 199; Bosworth 1980, pp. 222-223. 107 Arr., An., 2.13.2; Diod., 17.48.1; Curt., 4.1.39-40. Badian 1961, p. 26; Atkinson 1980, p. 291.
106

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The Macedonian satrap of this district, Antigonus, did not have a large force, but by skilfully exploiting the regions network of roads he was able to separately defeat each of the three Persian armies in turn. After these victories his army entered Lycaonia, while another Macedonian commander, Calas, invaded Paphlagonia. These battles did not mark the final defeat of the Persians in Asia Minor, large parts of which the Macedonians never managed to conquer. Nevertheless, thanks to the exceptional military talents of Antigonus the crisis in the region was overcome and Alexander no longer had to fear his land connections with Macedonia being cut.108 It was also in 332 that the fate of the Persian fleet was sealed and that of the Aegean Sea campaign with it. In the spring Pharnabazus lost successive squadrons of Phoenician kings returning to their homeland on news of the advancing Macedonian army. Most switched their allegiance to Alexanders winning side, whereas the ships of Tyre hurried to save their beleaguered city. That same spring the squadrons of the Cypriot kings also suddenly sailed away from Pharnabazuss fleet and joined forces with the victorious Macedonian land army. Unrest spread across the Greek islands of the Aegean. When a fleet of 160 ships commanded by Hegelochus and Amphoterus led to a Macedonian occupation of Tenedos, fighting started between pro-Macedonian and pro-Persian factions on Chios. Pharnabazus managed to intervene in time. He imprisoned the supporters of Macedonia and left a small detachment of troops to keep the island secure for the pro-Persian politicians Apollonides and Athenagoras. However, thanks to secret allies within the city, Hegelochus and Amphoterus occupied Chios, arresting not only the pro-Persian politicians but also Pharnabazus. Soon they also captured a pro-Persian tyrant of Methymna in Lesbos, who sailed into the port of Chios with five ships quite unaware that it was now in Macedonian hands. Then in the summer of 332 the Macedonian flotilla sailed to Lesbos, where the sources report that only the tyrant of Mytilene, Chares, put up resistance with the 2,000 mercenaries the Persian commanders had left behind. After a short siege Mytilene capitulated on such terms that Chares and the mercenaries were allowed to sail to Imbros. Charess resistance had been short-lived on account of the pro-Macedonian stance of most of the inhabitants of this largest of the poleis on Lesbos; it was for this stance that in 331 Alexander rewarded Mytilene with financial compensation and land in Asia Minor closest to the Island of Lesbos. The Macedonians went on to capture the large island of Kos, while other islands not named in the sources now also
108

Diod., 17.48.5-6; Curt., 4.1.34-35, 4.5.13. Goukowsky 1975, p. 263; Billows 1990, pp. 41-46; Briant 1996, p. 851; Debord 1999, pp. 462-465.

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went over to their side. In November or December 332 Hegelochus could report to Alexander that the war in the Aegean was over. The Macedonian king ordered the captured leaders of the pro-Persian oligarchies to be sent back to their home states to be punished; only Apollonides of Chios and his companions were kept interned in Elephantine in southern Egypt.109 Immediately after the Battle of Issus Alexander dispatched Parmenion to Damascus to capture the baggage train that was stationed there. Curtius presents a very detailed and dramatic account that is not contradicted by any of the much more concise accounts of other authors. Parmenion set off with a small number of soldiers and after a forced march reached Damascus on the fourth day. On the way he had capture a courier bearing a message from the commandant of Damascus to Alexander with an offer to give up the treasures. Unfortunately this messenger next escaped, which made the Macedonians fear this was just a trap and the Persian general uncertain whether his offer of capitulation was accepted. That was why the Persian baggage train left Damascus in the middle of a ferocious blizzard. Parmenion sent three ilai of cavalry after this train which caught up with it and forced it to return to Damascus. Vast amounts of treasure fell into Macedonian hands, including 2,600 talents, 7,000 pack animals and 30,000 captives. The greatest beneficiary was of course Alexander himself. But the captured treasures of Issus and Damascus also enriched many of the soldiers; according to Plutarch, the Thessalian cavalry in particular had deliberately been sent with Parmenion to reward them for their valour in the battle. Alexander received from Damascus a precious container which Darius had allegedly used to keep perfumes; henceforth Alexander used it to hold his copy of the Iliad and it accompanied him everywhere he went. A real or fictitious letter from Parmenion cited by Athenaeus states that among the captured royal servants there were: 329 female musicians, 46 wreath makers, 277 cooks, 29 cooking specialists, 13 dairy specialists, 17 drinks specialists, 70 pourers of wine and 40 perfumers. Among the relatives of satraps and Persian notables captured at Damascus was a Persian woman renowned for her exceptional beauty and Greek education called Barsine, an Achaemenid after her father, Artabazus, and successively the widow of first Mentor and next of Memnon. Now she became Alexanders concubine; the fruit of their relationship was a son called Heracles, who was born around 327 but was never recognised as Alexanders legitimate heir. Also captured at Damascus were ambassadors sent to the Great King by Greek states obviously in the expectation of Alexanders defeat and of gaining some political benefits for themselves
109

Arr., An., 3.2.3-7; Curt., 4.5.14-22, 4.8.13; IG xii.2.6. Bosworth 1980, pp. 266269; Heisserer 1980, pp. 96-111, 118-139.

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out of it. The envoys from Athens and Sparta were to be kept under guard in the Macedonian camp up until Darius IIIs ultimate defeat. The Theban delegates, on the other hand, were released both on account of Alexanders qualms about destroying their city as well as because Thebes and Macedonia were officially at war and so their pro-Persian stance was fully justified.110 The main Macedonian forces most probably stayed for some time near Issus. It was then that Alexander carried out the administrative measures and soon afterwards also made the first appointments concerning Syria. Arrian mentions a certain Menon, son of Cerdimmas, whom he appoints satrap of Coele-Syria, whereas Curtius states this same territory was put under the control of Parmenion. In all probability both these sources are using terminologies from later eras: Curtius is referring to the Koile Syria of Hellenistic times, when it denoted the entire Syrian-Palestinian coast, whereas Arrian is referring to the Early Roman Empire period, when Coele-Syria exclusively denoted the north-western part of Syria. Therefore we can assume that Menon was made military commander of northern Syria, whereas Parmenion was given military control of the central and southern coastal regions, a responsibility he soon passed on to Andromachus. Sometime in 332 there also appears an Iranian satrap called Arimmas, who is put in charge of civilian administration.111 Alexanders armies no doubt set off south towards Phoenicia before the end of 333. By choosing this direction, i.e. to conquer the Persian satrapy of Ebirnari (Beyond the River, i.e. Euphrates) and later Egypt, Alexander may have made the most important strategic decision of his life. After his victory at Issus, Alexander was afforded the rare luxury in politics of having the freedom to choose from a number of options. Instead of heading for Phoenicia, he could have pursued Darius III, who was then fleeing to Babylon. If successful, this other option incidentally much more in keeping with Alexanders impulsive nature could have ensured a swift victory in the war against the Great King. Some modern historians have criticised Alexander for not opting for this rapid strategic solution. But here we should only note that Alexanders strategy of conquering Syria

110

Curt., 3.12.27-3.13.17; Arr., An., 2.15.1-5; Diod., 20.20.1; Curt., 10.6.11; Polyaen., 4.5.1; Ath., 13.87; Plu., Alex., 21.8-9, 24.1-3, 26.1; Plu., Eum., 1.7; Paus., 9.7.2; Just., 13.2.7; Plin., Nat., 7.108; It. Alex., 41. Brunt 1975; Carney 2000, pp. 102-105. 111 Arr., An., 2.13.7, 3.6.8 (followed by It. Alex., 38); Curt., 4.1.4, 4.5.9. Bosworth 1980, pp. 224-225; Sartre 2001, p. 90.

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and Egypt first and defeating Darius later not only proved successful but also minimised the risks of enemy diversions behind his line.112 The route the Macedonian army took most probably ran through the Syrian Gates to the valley of the river Orontes (today Asi), thence via the river Eleutherus valley between the Amanus Mountains and Lebanon to the Mediterranean coast. When the Macedonian army entered Phoenicia, Alexander was greeted with a gold crown handed to him by Straton according to Arrian, the son of Gerostratus, the ruler of Aradus (which the Phoenicians called Arwad today, Ar-Ruad in Syria). By then Straton had probably already decided to take over the throne from his father for Curtius describes him as the king of Aradus and in fact there are coins from that land with this legend. It is even possible that Straton made this decision while his fathers ships were still part of Autophradatess fleet and the arrival of the Macedonian army gave the young pretender an excellent opportunity to switch sides in the conflict for his personal gain. Aradus was the northernmost Phoenician state and that is why the Macedonians entered its territory first. In Persian times Phoenicia was not a single administrative region (satrapy or province) but a collection of small separate states individually subordinate to the satrap of Ebirnari. These states had considerable autonomy. There were native monarchs ruling as vassals of the Great King but also as the highest priests to the local gods. The power of the monarchs was shared with councils of elders, comprising the wealthiest Phoenicians. For most of the Persian period relations between the autonomous Phoenician states and the central authorities were exemplary. The naval might of the Achaemenid Empire was based on the excellence of the Phoenician fleet. However, in the 4th century these relations somewhat soured, most notably when Tabnit (Tennes in Greek), the ruler of the largest Phoenician city-state, Sidon, rebelled against Artaxerxes III, as a result of which the city was destroyed and reputedly as many as 40,000 inhabitants slaughtered. When the Macedonian army entered Phoenicia there was no longer any city-state that dominated the others politically. Straton, the king of the first Phoenician state to side with the conquering Macedonians was officially confirmed as ruler of his kingdom by Alexander.113 When the Macedonian army was in the city Marathus (today Amrit in Syria, 11 km to the south of Tartus), which was part of the kingdom of Aradus, a messenger brought Alexander a letter from Darius III. This was
Badian 1985, p. 432; Ashley 1998, pp. 237-238. Arr., An., 2.13.7-8, 2.20.1; Curt., 4.1.6; It. Alex., 38. Moscati 1968, pp. 24-29; Bosworth 1980, p. 226; Atkinson 1980, p. 270; Seibert 1985, p. 80; Grainger 1991, pp. 5-34; Maier 1994, pp. 319-330.
113 112

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the start of a long diplomatic correspondence between the two rulers. All the major sources mention this exchange of letters, but the way in which they present Dariuss successive proposals and Alexanders responses to them is so convoluted that any attempt to reconstruct these events can only be hypothetical. One can only be certain that Darius wrote to his adversary on three occasions and that on each occasion he increased his offer. The ancient authors all agree that in the letter received by Alexander at Marathus Darius demanded the release of the captured members of his family. According to Arrian, who gives the most detailed account of this first diplomatic exchange, Darius also accused Philip and Alexander of breaking their alliance with Persia and unjustly invading the country, whereas the outcome of the Battle of Issus he attributed to the will of the gods. In response Alexander recalled real and imagined wrongs committed by Persians against Greece and Macedonia, accused Darius of lacking the legitimacy to rule and finally declared himself by right of being victorious in battle to be the rightful monarch of Asia, in other words, the Persian Empire. In a much more general manner Curtius also relates this exchange of views regarding responsibility for the war as well as other rival claims and there is no reason to doubt that the two monarchs referred to each other in this way. Alexanders letter was not addressed exclusively to Darius but also to a much wider audience. His use of the arguments of Panhellenic propaganda (Persian crimes in Greece) and his questioning of Dariuss right to the Persian throne must have been directed more to public opinion. In this letter Alexander for the first time so openly declares his aspirations to the Persian throne. He refers to himself as the king of Asia, which could only mean the ruler of the Achaemenid empire, reserving for Darius at most the position of vassal. We know that at the moment of writing this was far from the case as Darius still had control of most of the empire, but it is the declaration itself that is important. For the first time Alexander openly announced that he intended to capture the Achaemenid throne and that this was his real war aim. Both Arrian and Curtius mention Dariuss offer of peace and friendship in return for the freeing of his family, but only Curtius also mentions the offer to pay a ransom, which would have been quite natural in such situations. This last offer in the peace negotiations is also mentioned in other sources and there is every reason to believe that it was actually made. What we do not know is the actual size of the ransom for the only sum mentioned in the sources 10,000 talents in Itinerarium Alexandri was probably copied from a later offer made by Darius. Nevertheless, the amount offered must have been vast because this was, after all, a ransom for the family of the Great King. An exceptionally important part of Dariuss letter was his offer of peace

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and friendship since this was a de facto recognition of Alexander as a king equal to ruler of Persia. In other words, Darius was resigning from the so far maintained Achaemenid political theory that placed the Great King above other monarchs and states. On the other hand, there is no mention made of any territorial concessions, which at first sight might seem strange in light of the war so far and the loss of much of Asia Minor. However, this was only Dariuss first offer and he must have wanted to reserve some concessions so that they could be used at a later stage in the negotiations. Alexander rejected all of Dariuss proposals and responded with a letter that was deliberately insulting. The impression seems to be that on this occasion, as in later diplomatic exchanges, Alexander was trying to provoke his adversary to confront him again militarily, so that the war could be ultimately resolved on the battlefield. Moreover, in light of inconsistencies in the sources regarding Dariuss offers, one cannot reject outright the idea suggested by Diodorus that Alexander kept the Persian monarchs real letter hidden and revealed to those around him a forgery which concentrated mainly on who was responsible for the war. The real offer might have been so beneficial to the Macedonian side that its rejection would have angered those of Alexanders soldiers and officers not interested in the continuing of the war after having already gained so much. The genuine letter would have been kept hidden by the royal secretary and not revealed until after Alexanders death. If that were the case, our sources could have combined elements of one version of the Great Kings letter with the other. However, this is only a hypothesis, as there is not enough primary evidence to prove or disprove it.114 The Macedonian army left Marathus most probably at the start of January 332 and headed south along the Phoenician coast. The next Phoenician state they entered after Aradus was Byblos (Gubal, today Jbeil in Lebanon), and it too capitulated without resistance. The decision to surrender must have been made by the council of elders as the last king of Byblus, Ainel (Enylus in Arrians Greek transcript), was still commanding the Byblos squadron of ships in Autophradatess fleet.115 Soon afterwards, under pressure from his subjects, the king of the next Phoenician state, Sidon (today Saida in Lebanon), was also forced to capitulate. However, despite his capitulation, King Abdashtart III (in Greek sources Straton) of
114

Arr., An., 2.14; Curt., 4.1.7-14; Diod., 17.39.1-2; Just., 11.12; It. Alex., 39-40. Tarn 1948, i, pp. 36-37; Wilcken 1967, pp. 106-107; Griffith 1968; Lane Fox 1973, p. 180; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 222-227; Bosworth 1980, pp. 227-233; Mehl 1980, pp. 185-186; Briant 1980, pp. 51-64; Bloedow 1995; Hamilton 1999, pp. 70-71. 115 Arr., An., 2.15.6, 2.20.1; Curt., 4.1.15. Moscati 1968, p. 26; Atkinson 1980, p. 279; Dbrowa 1988, p. 59; Sartre 2001, pp. 42-43.

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Sidon did not gain Alexanders trust perhaps because he was a son of the king appointed to the throne by Artaxerxes III after the quelling of the rebellion of Sidon. Therefore Alexander had him removed from power and most probably executed. The ancient sources devote a great deal of attention to the matter of the succession to the Sidonian throne. There is a tale that in Hellenistic and Roman times would become a classic example of the omnipotence of Tyche, the goddess of fortune, who could unexpectedly topple people from the highest positions of authority and raise others from the depths of obscurity. Having deposed Abdashtart, Alexander learned that there was no rightful successor to the throne and so, wishing to maintain the same political system as before, he asked his closest companion Hephaestion to find an appropriate candidate. Well born Sidonians informed Hephaestion of Abdalonymus, who was the only surviving male member of the royal dynasty but a mere gardener. The ancient authors with relish portray a scene of officials and soldiers approaching this humble man at work in a garden, have him dressed in ceremonial robes, presented before Alexander and then installed on the throne. Regardless of whether or not this colourful description of events is true, we know for certain that Abdalonymus did become king. Moreover, he was the first Asian to be included among Alexanders Companions. Abdalonymuss greatest contribution to posterity happened years later when he commissioned the famous marble Alexander Sarcophagus. One of the longer sides depicts Alexander and his companions fighting the Persians at the Battle of Issus. The other side presents a lion hunt, which is often interpreted as one of outings the newly nominated king of Sidon organised in the Lebanon hills to entertain his benefactor and hetairoi.116 In the winter of 332 Alexander reached the last of the major Phoenician cities Tyre. This would have been in February for we know from Curtiuss account that at the time the inhabitants of Tyre were celebrating the feast of Melqart-Baal and other sources state that this feast was always held in that month. The victorious Macedonian march was supposed to stop at this city until summer. Initially there were no signs of the trouble that lay ahead. King Azemilcus was away with his Tyrian squadron supporting Autophradatess fleet, so his son headed a delegation appointed either by the peoples assembly (according to Arrian) or, more probably, by an aristocratic council of elders. They greeted Alexander with
116 Arr., An., 2.15.6; Ath., 12.41; Curt., 4.1.15-26; Diod., 17.47 (Diodorus mistook Tyre for Sidon); Plu., mor., 340c-e (Paphos is the setting of the story); Just., 11.10.8-9. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 180-181; Atkinson 1980, pp. 278-283; Grainger 1991, pp. 30-31, 34-35; Stewart 1993, pp. 294-306; Heckel 1997, p. 199; Sartre 2001, pp. 44, 72; Nawotka 2003, pp. 128-129.

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a heavy gold crown as a sign of surrender and with food for the soldiers as a sign of hospitality. Alexander accepted these gifts, but also announced to the Tyrians that he wished to lay an offering at the temple of Heracles, which is the name the ancient authors give to the god of Tyre, MelqartBaal. The sources do not fully explain why Alexander made such a request let alone why he was so unyielding about it. Ultimately this request led to a siege that lasted many months and ended with the destruction of Tyre. Modern historians often suggest that, by entering the town with troops to lay offerings at the temple, Alexander wanted to test the sincerity of the Tyrian declaration and confirm its submission. However, this is not the only possible explanation of the events that happened in February 332, all the more so as one cannot point to any sensible strategic considerations that would have forced Alexander to impose on the Tyrians an unconditional surrender even at the cost of a many month long and costly siege. This major conflict could also have been started by a cultural misunderstanding which both sides were subsequently unable to stop from escalating. As many other incidents in his life demonstrate, Alexander had a very scrupulous habit of offering sacrifices to gods, particularly those with whom he felt a close affiliation. And this was particularly true with regard to his mythological ancestor Heracles. According to Tyrian religious principles, on the other hand, no one but the king could lead a procession to lay offerings to the citys god. Therefore, if they allowed Alexander to lead such a procession, they would have to recognise him as their king and thus renounce the sovereignty they had so jealously guarded for centuries. Trying to find a way out that would leave their status of sovereignty intact but also not offend the powerful Macedonian ruler, the Tyrians suggested that Alexander should lay his offerings at a different, allegedly even older temple of Melqart located in Old Tyre on the mainland and therefore beyond the main city of Tyre. This refusal, albeit polite, provoked one of Alexanders famous outbursts of anger. Now in a quite different, indeed demanding tone he gave an ultimatum: they would comply with his request or else he would have the city stormed. After some hesitation, the Tyrians rejected the ultimatum but offered in return to stay neutral and allow neither Macedonian nor Persian troops into the city. Using such an argument in negotiations with Alexander was exceptionally unfortunate, as Miletus had discovered one and a half years earlier. Only one of the ancient authors, Curtius, claims that at this stage Alexander tried to continue the negotiations; in his version Alexander once again sent messengers to the Tyrians, but they had now decided on war and so killed the messengers. Ancient accounts also relate (after Chares) that when ordering the start of the siege, Alexander mentioned that he had had a

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dream in which Heracles took him by the hand and led him to Tyre. Alexanders soothsayer interpreted this to mean that the city would be taken but only after a long hard struggle as foretold in the twelve labours of Heracles.117 Apart from the force of religious conviction, the Tyrians decision to refuse the ultimatum was also based on a faith in the strength of their fleet and the natural impenetrability of their city. For this great city with an estimated population of 50,000 inhabitants was located on an island very close to the shore and on more than one occasion it had proved able to withstand even very large land armies. Phoenician mastery of the art of siege warfare as well as of constructing fortifications was among the most advanced of its day, whereas its fleet, with new five-row type ships, was at least equal to that of the Greeks. Along the edge of the Tyrian island there was a 45-metre wall of cemented together stone. In the past only a sea blockade had been able to force Tyre to negotiate, but at the start of 332 the Persian fleet largely supported by Phoenician ships still prevailed in the Aegean, and this must have certainly given the Tyrians a false sense of security. The inhabitants were also counting on support from their powerful colony Carthage, whose delegates were incidentally present at the metropolis on account of the Melqart festival. Citizens unable to carry arms were now shipped off to Carthage, not only for their own safety but also to make food supplies in the city last longer for the defenders. Diodorus attributes the Tyrians with the intention of holding the Macedonian army tied down for as long as possible so that Darius could have enough time to raise a new army. But perhaps these were just the authors own speculations or those of the source he derived the information from, for in 332 there is no evidence of any coordination between the actions of Darius III and the defence of Tyre. Instead of concentrating his forces and launching an attack on Alexander from behind, the Great King wasted his time on ineffective diplomacy and as a consequence not only lost Phoenicia but also Egypt.118 The island of Tyre was just four stades (700 m) from the shore. Moreover the water in the strait between the island and the coast was very shallow except for the part right next to the island, which was five metres
Arr., An., 2.15.6-16.8, 2.18.1; Curt., 4.2.1-7, 4.215-17; Diod., 17.40.2-3; Plu., Alex., 24.6; Just., 11.10; It. Alex., 42. Wilcken 1967, p. 109; Moscati 1968, pp. 2627, 30-41; Edmunds 1971; Lane Fox 1973, p. 181; Green 1974, pp. 247-248; Atkinson 1980, pp. 298-299; Bosworth 1980, p. 235; Bosworth 1988, p. 65; Bloedow 1998, pp. 270-276. 118 Diod., 17.40.3; Arr., An., 2.18.2, 2.21.4; Just., 11.10. Sartre 2001, pp. 73-74. Population of Tyre: Hammond 1996, p. 113.
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deep. That is why Alexander instructed his men to construct a mole from the mainland. Perhaps he was inspired by the tyrant of Syracuse Dionysius, who in 397 had his engineers construct a causeway to capture the Sicilian Punic fortress of Motya. Ultimately, this Macedonian engineering venture also proved to be successful; today Tyre is connected permanently to the mainland by this mole (a tombolo in fact) in time expanded with accretion of sand. However, its construction and thus the capture of Tyre proved much more difficult than Alexander had originally supposed. The king did not just encourage his men with speeches recorded by the ancient authors but is even said to have himself carried baskets with soil used to create the mole. Initially the builders made rapid progress. Tree trunks were hauled down from Mount Lebanon to create stakes that were easily driven into the muddy seabed. These palisades delineated the moles outline and protected the subsequently deposited rocks and stones from the effects of the waves. The houses of Old Tyre were demolished and their masonry was used as building material for the causeway. Initially merely amused by the Macedonian efforts, the Tyrians changed their mind once the moles structure started to emerge out of the water and came up ever closer to their island. So they decided to counterattack by sailing up in light boats to the edges of the mole and firing missiles at the builders, thus injuring many. In response Alexander had two towers raised at the end of the mole with war engines to ward off such attackers. The Tyrians also conducted a successful land raid, inflicting heavy casualties among the Macedonians employed in the gathering of stones. It was at about this time that highlanders from the Antilebanon Mountains also launched an attack and killed thirty Macedonians. Worse still, the Tyrians managed to sail a fire ship to the end of the mole, which set ablaze the towers and war engines, while missiles from nearby Tyrian triremes prevented Alexanders soldiers from putting the flames out. It is possible that this fire not only destroyed the towers but also the parts of the mole structure, which allowed the waves to wash many of the stones away.119 By then it had probably become obvious that the city could not be captured without the aid of a fleet. That was why Alexander set out with a detachment of hypaspists and Agrianians to Sidon, which he designated to be the gathering point for his navy. This was the time when Autophradatess Persian fleet was already dispersing with its Phoenician and Greeks contingents successively departing. It was also no later than then that the Tyrian squadron commanded by King Azemilcus must have
Arr., An., 2.18.3-19.5; Curt., 4.2.7-3.7; Diod., 17.42-43; Str., 16.2.23; Plin., Nat., 5.76; Polyaen., 4.3.3. Bosworth 1980, pp. 239-241. On the tombolo: Marriner 2009, pp. 49-101.
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returned home as soon afterwards it was taking part in the conflict and, although he had not been there when Alexander first arrived, this king was captured in Tyre when the city finally fell. The ships of the other Phoenician kings, Gerostratus of Aradus and Ainel of Byblus, now sailed to Sidon; together with the Sidonian squadron they formed a force of 80 vessels. Next they were joined by ten ships from Lycia, three from Mallus, three from Soli and probably ten from Rhodes though some sources claim that island went over to Alexanders side only after the capture of Tyre. At least some of the nine kingdoms of Cyprus also decided to contribute to the victors side. The sources mention that among those present at the siege were Androcles of Amathus, Pasicrates of Curium as well as Pnytagoras of Salamis; as a reward for his services the last of these was granted part of the Phoenician kingdom of Citium in Cyprus. However, it is probable that even more kingdoms from that island supported the Macedonian king for his fleet included as many as 120 vessels. The deflection of Phoenician and Cypriot squadrons effectively marked the end of Persian dominance at sea and the ultimate vindication of the strategy announced by Alexander at Miletus. The Cypriot rulers, who had for a long time supported Persia, now wished to ingratiate themselves to Alexander, buy his favour and thus maintain the status quo on the island. That is why we later hear of the gifts offered to Alexander by Pymiathon of Citium. The last element of the Macedonian kings armada was a single Macedonian warship. Cleander also joined Alexanders forces at Sidon with a unit of 4,000 Greek mercenaries that had been hired in the Peloponnese.120 In the spring of 332, while allied sea states gathered their forces at Sidon, Alexander set out from that city on campaign against the Itureans, who inhabited Mount Lebanon and were hampering his soldiers who were collecting logs in this area. Some historians reckon that Alexanders expedition reached as far as the Bekaa Valley, but the sources only mention an episode high up in the mountains, whose nights at that time of year were bitterly cold. Curtiuss inaccurate claim that this expedition occurred before the burning down of the towers and war engines on the mole at Tyre is perhaps motivated by a desire to absolve Alexander for this Macedonian failure. During his absence Alexander entrusted command of the Tyre siege to Perdiccas and Craterus. For his expedition he selected the best and fastest moving units several ilai of cavalry, hypaspists, Agrianians and archers which suggest that he was expecting
Arr., An., 2.19.6-20.3; Duris, FGrH, 76 F12; Curt., 4.2.11; Plu., Alex., 24.4-5, 29.2-6, 32.10; Plu., mor., 334d-e; It. Alex., 42. Bosworth 1980, pp. 241-244; Seibert 1985, pp. 80-82; Heckel 2006, pp. 224, 239.
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stiff resistance. No doubt his caution was well justified for, despite numerous pacifications, the region was still plagued by bandits in Roman times. There was an incident during this expedition that yet again demonstrated Alexanders courage and bravado. His main units had dispersed into this dangerous territory but the king decided to stay behind with a small unit of soldiers and accompany Lysimachus, for his now aged teachers strength had failed him. Dusk fell and his small detachment faced the prospect of spending a bitterly cold night without a fire. Alexander therefore decided to creep up on the enemy, who had fires burning. He stabbed two of the barbarians to death and returned to his men with a lighted brand from the enemys fire. In this way the Macedonians were able to light a huge fire, which terrified some of the Itureans and caused them to flee. The rest of the enemy were defeated in a nigh-time skirmish. The sources provide no further information regarding the results of this ten-day military campaign.121 In response to the Tyrian counterattack and the damage caused by waves Alexander ordered the mole to be widened and new towers to be constructed nearer its centre, so that they would be beyond the reach of missiles fired from Tyrian ships. These works were carried out while Alexander was away in Sidon and later on his expedition in Mount Lebanon. A breakwater of tree trunks was constructed around the mole, which was particularly important in the winter season, when sea storms could easily destroy a construction raised with such difficulty. The greater width of the mole offered the Macedonian soldiers better protection against surprise attacks. Trees dragged down from the hills were used as building material in their entirety and thrown into the sea whole, their roots weighted down with stones. Unfortunately, the defenders soon found a new method of counterattacking: they sent divers to release the stones from the roots of these trees so that the timber floated up to the surface and thus broke up the moles building structure. Curtius writes that in face of these mounting problems Alexander considered giving up on the siege, but eventually he resolved to continue it with the aid of his fleet. Besides, despite everything, the engineering work was making progress. After some time the walls of Tyre found themselves within the firing range of Macedonian siege engines on wooden towers now constructed at the end of the farther extended mole.122

Plu., Alex., 24.10-14 (after Chares, FGrH, 125 F7); Curt., 4.3.1; Arr., An., 2.20.4; Polyaen., 4.3.4. Bosworth 1980, p. 244; Seibert 1985, p. 82; Ephal 1988, p. 148. 122 Diod., 17.42.6-7; Curt., 4.3.8-11.

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Some time after his return from the expedition against the Itureans Alexander ordered the fleet gathered at Sidon to sail for Tyre. These ships were instructed to sail in battle formation with hypaspists on board. Therefore clearly Alexanders intention was to fight a sea battle against the weaker Tyrian fleet. He personally commanded the right wing and entrusted the left wing to Craterus and Pnytagoras of Salamis. The Tyrians did initially wish to engage Alexanders fleet in battle, but when they realised that this fleet included the mighty Phoenician and Cypriot squadrons, they sensibly decided to stay in harbour blocking the entrance with several rows of triremes. Alexander tried a feint attack to lure the ships out to sea, but to no avail. The most Alexanders fleet could do was to sink three of the most protruding Tyrian triremes. Moreover, the Macedonian side also suffered losses; on top of the city fortifications the Tyrians cruelly murdered some Macedonian hostages as their compatriots helplessly looked on from the sea. However, although the sea operation against Tyre was not spectacularly successful, it did at least stop the Tyrian ships from hampering the work of the besiegers.123 However, the Tyrian defenders remained active. Soon they repaired the parts of the city wall that had incurred damage and raised their own wooden towers to fire missiles at the Macedonians on the mole. The defenders used a number of ingenious machines and discovered ever newer ways of weakening the enemys power to attack. They fired ropefastened metal tridents into the besiegers shields which were next violently pulled away to leave the enemy exposed or catapulted them together with the shield to a certain death. Tyrians captured other Macedonians on the mole with hooks or simple nets fired from a war engine called the crow. They lessened the impact of battering rams by literally lowering cushions in the place where they struck the wall and cutting the ropes from which the battering log was suspended with sickles attached to long poles. Metal tipped spears fired from Tyrian war engines also damaged the rigging of the enemys ships and wounded those on board. A simpler but awfully effective weapon in this cruel war was to pour blistering hot sand on the Macedonian soldiers below, which once it got beneath their armour caused unbearable pain. Large stones had been hurled into the sea to prevent the Macedonian ships from getting too close to the city, and it was with the greatest of effort, under fire from the city wall, that that these stones had to be removed by Macedonian divers so as to clear the waterway. Tyrian divers, on the other hand, caused chaos in the Macedonian fleet by cutting the anchor cables, which consequently
123

Arr., An., 2.20.6-10, 2.24.3; Diod., 17.43.3; Curt., 4.3.11-12. Bosworth 1980, pp. 244-246.

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had to be replaced with chains. All such measures further prolonged the siege, forcing Alexander to once again consider whether there was any sense in continuing it. The stiff resistance of the Tyrians as well as that awkwardness of the topography meant that the siege lasted until the summer and the final storming of the city did not occur until the end of July or even early August.124 The Tyrians tried their luck once more in the open sea with a surprise attack on the Cypriot ships that lay anchored blocking their northern (socalled Sidon) harbour. They chose to attack at midday, when the enemy was less watchful and there was practically no one on deck. Earlier they had also screened off the harbour mouth with canvas and now their ships sailed out silently without the steersmen calling the oarsmen to keep in time. The Tyrian squadron, which included modern quad- and quinqueremes, were initially very successful against the moored Cypriot vessels, sinking many including the flagships of Pnytagoras of Salamis and Androcles of Amathus. Their luck turned, however, when an alerted Alexander, who had been stationed on the southern side of the mole, sailed with some hastily gathered quinqueremes and several smaller ships to counterattack the enemy while they were still engaged in sinking the Cypriot vessels. The Tyrians now had to save themselves by returning into the harbour. Although the Tyrians lost only two ships and had inflicted much heavier losses on the enemy, their strategic situation must have now radically deteriorated. The sources make no further mention of the defenders being able to challenge Macedonian dominance at sea.125 Once the Tyrian fleet was confined to port and no longer was able to hamper Macedonian actions, Alexander gave the order to attack. Under the cover of fire from Macedonian catapults, the mole was extended right up to the island. Meanwhile Macedonian, Cypriot and Phoenician engineers constructed yet more siege engines, some of which were mounted on transport ships and triremes, the intention being to attack from both land and sea. This first attack ended in failure: on the moles side the citys mighty wall proved too strong for Macedonian battering rams. Nor did the seaborne attack from north bring any success. From the southern side seaborne siege engines on ships did manage to destroy part of the wall and the Macedonians did lower draw bridges in an attempt to get in through

124

Arr., An., 2.21.1-7; Diod., 17.43.5-45.7; Curt., 4.3.13-4.1; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.7. 125 There are two accounts differing in details: Arr., An., 2.21.8-22.5 and Curt., 4.4.6-9; better being that of Arrian, Atkinson 1980, pp. 309-310. A hypothesis was formulated about two sea battles, both won by Alexander: Abramenko 1992.

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the breach, but this attack was also repelled. Moreover, a storm next damaged some of the siege engine bearing vessels.126 The final assault commenced after a two-day respite when the sea had calmed down. With no winds the siege engines mounted on ships could be effectively used against the city wall, which was considerably weaker from the side facing the sea. This was the 29th day of a Macedonian month that is not named in the sources, but according the Athenian calendar it would have been Hekatombaion, i.e. July/August. Therefore the assault would have most probably occurred in the early August of 332. The Macedonians attacked from all sides and their battering rams managed to destroy a considerable section of the wall. Bridges were thrown over to this breach and elite detachments of hypaspists and phalangites commanded by Coenus landed. The remaining ships sailed round the island with archers on board firing at the defenders to distract them from the main thrust of attack. Alexander himself together with some hypaspists scaled the citys wall from a tower on one of the ships and thence, via the royal palace, reached the city. At the same time Phoenician ships broke into the southern harbour while Cypriot ships entered the northern harbour and their respective crews started occupying the city from both sides. Paradoxically the only side where the sources record no breach was from the mole which had been built with such great effort. Realising that the enemy had entered the city from several directions, the Tyrians rallied to a part of the city called Agenorion. But even there they were unable to withstand the onslaught of Alexander and his hypaspists. Enraged by the difficulties they had had to endure in the long siege, the Macedonians now set about massacring the stubborn citys inhabitants. The number of Tyrians killed has been estimated from 6,000 (Curtius) to 8,000 (Arrian), with another 2,000 said to have been crucified on the mainland coast. Probably rather 13,000 (Diodorus) than 30,000 (Arrian) inhabitants were allegedly taken into slavery. The Sidonians, however, took pity on their compatriots and saved 15,000 Tyrians by taking them on board their ships. The victors mercy was only shown to King Azemilcus, some Tyrian dignitaries and envoys from Carthage, who had all sought refuge in the Temple of Melqart. The only available information regarding the size of Macedonian losses for the entire siege and the two major assaults on the city is 400 soldiers killed: it comes from Arrian and therefore probably has

126

Arr., An., 2.22.6-7; Curt., 4.3.13-18; Diod., 17.43.6-44.5. Bosworth 1980, pp. 250-251.

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as much to do with reality as all the other figures provided by this author.127 Military historians give Alexander high notes for the siege of the seemingly impregnable fortress defended by skilful and determined citizens. The capture of mighty Tyre was an earthshaking event in this part of the world, even recorded in the Bible as a prophesy in the second part of the Book of Zachariah, which was written at the end of the 4th century. Alexander, portrayed as the he-goat defeating the ram representing the Persian king, is also featured in another prophesy (likewise written post eventum) in the Book of Daniel originating from the mid 2nd century. Meanwhile, the day after the citys capture Alexander paid his long awaited visit to the Temple of Melqart. The offering of sacrifices was accompanied with a military parade in full armour, a convoy of ships and a sports contest held near the temple. The votive offerings laid before Heracles/Melqart included a siege engine that had crushed the citys walls and a Tyrian ship that had already once been offered to this god. Alexander nominated a Macedonian called Philotas (not to be confused with a son of Parmenion) as military commander of Tyre and the surrounding areas. Tyre was not completely destroyed and under Macedonian supervision the Phoenicians were allowed to gradually settle there again, but the city never regained its earlier status. It is probably that King Azemilcus continued to rule over the kingdom, but now as Alexanders appointee. The Tyre mint continued to issue King Azemilcuss coins, and by 331 it also started issuing Alexanders coins. The fact that he had captured the most impregnable Persian fortress in the Mediterranean and thus underpinned the likelihood of his claim to the Achaemenid Empire may have inspired Alexander to start issuing in 332/331 staters gold coins, which according to Persian custom signified royal sovereignty. Finally, before he moved on, Alexander received a delegation from the League of Corinth with somewhat belated congratulations for his victory at Issus in the autumn of the previous year.128

Arr., An., 2.23-24; Curt., 4.4.10-18; Plu., Alex., 25.1-3; Diod., 17.46; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.7; It. Alex., 43. Wilcken 1967, pp. 110111; Bosworth 1980, pp. 251-256; Heckel 1992, pp. 58-64; Hammond 1989, pp. 132-134. 128 Za., 9.2-4; Da., 8; Diod., 17.46.6, 17.48.5; Curt., 4.5.9-12; Arr., An., 2.24.6; Just., 18.3, 19.4.1. Schachermeyr 1973, p. 218; Atkinson 1980, p. 325; Seibert 1985, p. 82; Ashley 1998, pp. 247-249; Le Rider 2003, pp. 170-188; Heckel 2006, s.v. Philotas [8].

127

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During the siege of Tyre, at a time unspecified by the sources, Alexander received another letter from Darius III, who had not been dissuaded by the arrogant tone of his enemys response at Marathus to his first peace proposal. Here too the various accounts given by the ancient authors are as incongruous as their accounts of the first diplomatic offer. Plutarch even states that Dariuss messengers reached Alexander during his second stay at Tyre in the spring of 331. However, most of the authors of the two major historical source traditions state that the messengers arrived during the siege and therefore this version is more plausible. The Great Kings demands were the same as before. However, he now made changes to what he was proposing in return: the hand of his daughter Stateira in marriage and a ransom of 10,000 talents (though the latter may have also been a repetition of his earlier offer). On top of that he was now agreeing to cede territory, up to the river Halys (according to Curtius, Diodorus and Valerius Maximus) or up to the river Euphrates (according to Arrian, Plutarch and Itinerarium Alexandri). The offer of ceding territory up to the river Euphrates seems less likely as it would have included regions that were still under Persian control. Moreover, this offer is all the more improbable as it was made at the time when Alexander was preoccupied with the siege of Tyre and therefore not really poised to conquer more territories to the east. The river Halys, on the other hand, marked a traditional boundary between East and West, and it had already been presented as such in Panhellenistic literature in Philip IIs lifetime. The area between the Hellespont and the Halys was the only part of the Achaemenid Empire that had been intensively colonised by Greeks and whose native elites had therefore also been to a large extent Hellenised. This territory the Greeks knew well enough to effectively administer and further colonise. If only for these reasons the acceptance of Dariuss second offer would have been a realisation of Macedonias war aims from the end of Philip IIs reign. That is how Parmenion saw it and said he would accept the offer if he were Alexander. Alexanders response on this occasion or after Dariuss third offer was to say that he also would also accept the offer if he were Parmenion. This was yet another incident demonstrating Alexanders maximalist attitude, as Arrian states: he needed no money from Darius, nor a part of the country instead of the whole; for the money and country all belonged to him. Allegedly, it was only after receiving this second response that Darius began preparing for the continuation of war.129
129

Arr., An., 2.25.1-3; Diod., 17.39.1-2, 17.54.1; Curt., 4.5.1-8; Plu., Alex., 29.7-8; Just., 11.12; It. Alex., 43-44; V. Max., 6.4, ext. 3. Andreotti 1957, pp. 125-126;

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The Tyrian resistance and the sea damage to their mole had not been the only problems to beset the besiegers. D.W. Engels has calculated that in the seven months that the siege lasted the Macedonian army (excluding the allied fleet, which comprised over 40,000 people) consumed over 28,000 tons of grain, which was the soldiers basic diet. The traditional means of feeding an army was to commandeer food from the land it occupied, but that would not have been possible in the area around Tyre as it could have only accounted for 7 % of the above-mentioned amount. It was indeed primarily logistical concerns that drew Alexanders attention to Palestine, which in Antiquity produced a surplus of grain. In the Persian era the inland part of Palestine comprised three small, native entities, Idumea and two autonomous statelets Samaria and Judah, living on hostile terms with one another but being at the same time provinces of the Ebirnari satrapy. The Persian governors in the more northern province of Samaria came from a native dynasty, represented in Alexanders time by Sanballat III. The more southern state of Judah was a theocracy centred on the Temple in Jerusalem and its High Priest. This state did not have a local ruling dynasty but the Great King still always nominated a governor from among the native Jews. We do not know how authority was divided between the governor and the High Priest, especially as both of them issued a similar type of coin. In Alexanders day the Persian governor in Judah was Yehizqiyyah and the High Priest according to Flavius Josephus was probably Jaddua II, though it may in fact have been Johannan. During the siege of Tyre Alexander requested these two Palestinian states to supply him with soldiers and provisions. According to Flavius Josephus, Sanballat III fulfilled these requests and sent 8,000 Samaritan troops to Tyre. For this the governor was rewarded with permission to build a temple on Mount Gerizim that could compete with the Temple in Jerusalem. The High Priest Jaddua, however, allegedly remained loyal to Darius III, which angered Alexander and portended his revenge after the capture of Tyre.130 There is a romantic version of the contacts between the Macedonian ruler and the inhabitants of Judea originating from the Jewish oral tradition, recorded in two independent works that of Flavius Josephus, general considered better, and the Talmud, generally considered too belletristic as well as from some versions of the Alexander Romance. The essential
Wilcken 1967, pp. 111-112; Goukowsky 1975, p. 264; Bosworth 1980, pp. 227229, 256-257; Hamilton 1999, pp. 76-77. 130 J., AJ, 11.8.2-4. Kazis 1962, pp. 4-11; Engels 1978, pp. 55-56; Ephal 1988, pp. 147-152; Tadmor 1994, p. 289; Briant 1996, pp. 734-735; Dandamaev 1999; Briant 2009, pp. 152-155.

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element of this romantic version is victorious Alexanders visit to Jerusalem with the intention of punishing the Judah for not helping him during the siege of Tyre. But then events unfolded in a quite unplanned way. When he met the High Priest, the king is said to have prostrated himself to honour the God Yahweh. The presence of this imagined element inclines some historians to doubt the credibility of the whole tale. But this is exaggerated scepticism: Alexander was known to have been curious of the world in general and of religion in particular, so a visit to a unique monotheistic temple would be very much in keeping with his personality. It is also important to stress that in the Jewish tradition Alexander is a decidedly positive figure, a ruler who showed respect to the Judaic religion and allowed the Jews to live in accordance with their faith and culture. Flavius Josephus writes that Alexander visited Jerusalem after the capture of Gaza. This, however, seems unlikely for by then Alexander would have been preparing to enter Egypt and organising such a major logistical operation would not have allowed him to take time off for any detours. Besides, Arrian mentions that on the eve of the siege of Gaza Palestine was already subjugated to the Macedonian king. This allows us to speculate that Alexander would have had more time to visit Jerusalem during the seven-month siege of Tyre as he had also had time for military and hunting expeditions in Mount Lebanon. It was during one of these hunts that Alexander found himself in grave danger; a lion would have attacked him if Craterus had not killed the beast in the nick of time. Observing this foolhardiness in which the king quite unnecessarily risked his life and thus also the fate of the entire expedition as well as his monarchy, a Spartan ambassador being held captive in the Macedonian camp is supposed to have ironically praised him, saying: Excellent, Alexander, you have been fighting a lion for the realm.131 In Palestine, despite the initial support provided to Alexander during the siege of Tyre, it eventually turned out that Samaria would cause more trouble than Judah. Towards the end of his stay in Egypt, i.e. in the late summer of 331, the Samaritans rebelled. In unknown circumstances Andromachus, the Macedonian military commander of southern Syria and Palestine, was immolated by the Samaritans. Alexander naturally ordered the perpetrators of this deed to be punished, the city of Samaria was destroyed and a Macedonian colony established in its place. From then on
131

J., AJ, 11.8.4-5; Megillat Taanit, 9; Ps.-Callisth., (rec. g), 2.23-24; Arr., An., 2.25.4. Kazis 1962, pp. 4-11; Seibert 1972, pp. 103-107; widerkwna 1996, pp. 86-89, 121; Stoneman 1997, pp. 36-37; Hammond 1989, p. 208; MelezeModrzejewski 1995, pp. 50-55. The lion episode: Plu., Alex., 40.4-5; FD 3.4.2.137; see Hamilton 1999, p. 107; Stewart 1993, pp. 270-277.

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Samaria was a Hellenistic city with a predominantly pagan population, whereas the native Samaritan population lived mainly in Shechem and on Mount Gerizim.132 The Macedonian army marched from Tyre towards Egypt along the Mediterranean coast. They occupied coastal Palestinian cities on the way, some of which belonged to Tyre or Sidon. There was most probably no resistance. The feeding of the army during this 260-km march from Tyre to Gaza would not have posed a major problem as it took place in August, after the harvest, which in Palestine occurred in June. The fertile soils of Galilee, the Plain of Esdraelon (Jezreel Valley) and the costal lowlands could easily support the Macedonian army in the c. 11 days it took to reach Gaza. In some places, however, there was a shortage of drinking water, especially in summer when many of the streams and brooks dried up. One can assume that supplying the army with drinking water was one of the main tasks of the fleet commanded by Hephaestion, which Alexander had instructed to sail alongside the Macedonian land forces. Gaza, a former Philistine city on the border between Palestine and Sinai, was an important fortress which armies moving into Egypt could not avoid. It was also one of the destinations of caravan routes from Happy Arabia (Yemen) used to transport incense and other valuable items for trade in the Mediterranean area. Therefore control of this city gave access to lucrative revenues; whoever held the city could bargain with the nomadic Arab tribes that needed to be able to export the goods they had transported across the desert.133 If Alexander had been hoping Gaza would capitulate without a fight, he was disappointed. Guarding this mighty fortress, built on raised ground overlooking a plain, was a detachment of Arab soldiers. They had abundant supplies of food and fresh water from natural sources. Those besieging the fortress, on the other hand, had to have food and drinking water transported to them over considerable distances. The fortress was commanded by Batis, whom Arrian calls a eunuch, though, as explained earlier, this could simply mean he was a high-ranking Persian official. In the extant fragments of the work of the Hellenistic historian, Hegesias, Batis is called a king; he is also called a king in Semitic inscription (melek) on a coin reputedly issued at Gaza. It is therefore probable that he was a local Arab ruler whom the Great King had appointed to a high Persian

132

Curt., 4.8.9; Chron. Euseb., 2.223. Cross 1963; Seibert 1985, p. 90; Bosworth 1988, pp. 232-233. 133 Za., 9.5-8; Curt., 4.5.10. Delcor 1951, pp. 117, 120; Lane Fox 1973, p. 191; Engels 1978, pp. 57-58; Hgemann 1985, pp. 47-49; Briant 1996, p. 736.

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office and entrusted with the defence of Gaza. 134 An attempt to immediately capture Gaza failed, so Alexander had to prepare a siege and have his war engines shipped over from Phoenicia. He spent two months outside Gaza, probably in September and October 332, overseeing very onerous engineering works. In order to be able to use their siege engines the Macedonians needed to heap the hard sandy soil to build ramps leading up to the knoll on which the fortress stood; at the same time they also excavated the soil beneath the fortresss walls. The defenders did not look on passively and instead organised raids on the besiegers. Alexander was himself wounded twice during this siege once he was injured with an arrow in his shoulder and on another occasion his leg was hit with a stone. Once the ramp was ready the siege engines were brought up and the storming began. The undermined sections of the wall collapsed but, despite this, the defenders repelled three Macedonian assaults. Finally an attack conducted simultaneously from various sides broke the citys defences. The first to scale the wall was Neoptolemus of the royal Aeacid dynasty from Epirus, and therefore a relative of Alexanders. The Macedonians slaughtered the brave defenders; Hegesias mentions 4,000 and Curtius 10,000 killed. In keeping with the customs of that age, the women and children were sold into slavery. Alexander had the captured Batis tied to his chariot and dragged around the city. With this barbaric deed Alexander was, in his own words, following the example of Achilles, who in this way defiled the corpse of Hector at Troy. Gaza was now settled with a new population, but it remained an important military base. Before his departure for Egypt, Alexander sent Amyntas back to Macedonia to raise yet more reinforcements, which would indicate that during the 332 campaign the Macedonians incurred greater losses than the ancient sources record.135

6. The son of Ammon


Egypt was that part of the Persian Empire where the rule of the Achaemenids was the least stabilised. Although it had already been conquered by Cambyses in 525, this country experienced many rebellions and on more than one occasion broke itself free from the Great Kings
Arr., An., 2.25.4; Curt., 4.6.7; Hegesias, FGrH, 142 F5; J., AJ, 11.8; D.H., Comp., 18; It. Alex., 45. Delcor 1951, p. 119; Engels 1978, pp. 58-59; Bosworth 1980, pp. 257-258; Atkinson 1980, pp. 334-336; Briant 1996, pp. 287, 945. 135 Arr., An., 2.25.4-27.7; Curt., 4.6.7-30; Hegesias, FGrH, 142 F5; Diod., 17.48.7; Plu., Alex., 24.4-5; Plu., mor., 341b; Plb., 16.22a.3-6; D.H., Comp., 18; Zonar., 4.10. Bosworth 1980, pp. 257-260; Atkinson 1980, pp. 337-343.
134

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control. The ancient authors routinely criticised successive Persian rulers for treating the native population with cruelty and for not respecting the countrys customs, culture and religion. The most notable example of this allegedly was the killing of the divine Apis bull, first by Cambyses and later also by Artaxerxes III. At least in the case of the first of these rulers Herodotuss claim that he killed the Apis bull with his own hands is false for contemporary sources record how Cambyses honoured the divine bull. The accusations regarding Artaxerxes III are in turn a repeat of Herodotuss topos of the sacrilegious ruler. Nevertheless, these incessantly repeated tales are not merely colourful decorations to accounts of exotic countries but a reflection of predominantly negative opinions of Persia in Egypt passed on to the Greeks by informers from the Egyptian priestly caste. Apart from the inevitable friction caused by differences in mentality and culture between the invader and a subjugated people, Cambyses, the first Persian ruler of Egypt, had deprived Egyptian temples of much of their revenues and privileges. Darius I did help to better establish Persian rule by founding new temples, codifying Egyptian law and building the ancient equivalent of the Suez Canal, indeed linking the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. However, in the 5th century subsequent Persian rulers stopped visiting Egypt and no longer cared as much as Darius I or even Cambyses for maintaining close relations with the political elite of that country. Instead they tried to keep Egypt loyal with numerous garrisons of Iranian, Semitic (in this number Jewish), Carian, Greek and Egyptian soldiers: in Elephantine, Thebes, Abydos, Memphis, Faiyum and several places in the Nile Delta. But neither they nor the bureaucratic and police apparatus, the kings eyes and ears, were able to stop the revolt that in 404 led to Egypt breaking away from the Persian Empire.136 Despite the efforts of successive Persian rulers to recapture this rich province, over the next 60 years Egypt remained an independent state ruled by the last three native dynasties. For two generations the energetic pharaohs of the 28th-30th dynasties employed large armies of Greek mercenaries to protect Egypts sovereignty. As these mercenaries were used to being paid with money rather than in kind, the Egyptian rulers founded a large mint, probably in Memphis, producing such excellent copies of Athenian tetradrachms that for a long time modern numismatists were unable to distinguish them from the original. An unintended but important consequence of this was the acquainting of Egyptians to the use of coin money. With time at least the inhabitants of Memphis were even using bronze coins in minor transactions. Thus even before the
136

Bresciani 1985, pp. 505-520; Ray 1988; Cuyler Young 1988, p. 51.

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Macedonian conquest, the Egyptians had started to acquire the abilities and customs necessary for the functioning of a modern 4th-century economy. It was Artaxerxes III who finally put an end to Egyptian independence in 343. The last Egyptian pharaoh, Nectanebo II, fled abroad according to the Alexander Romance he went on to father the great Macedonian, Alexander. Greek authors paint a decidedly negative picture of Artaxerxes IIIs rule in Egypt. Apart from demolishing the defensive walls of major cities, temples were allegedly robbed; there were acts of sacrilege and the theft of sacred scripts that were later sold back to the priests by the corrupt chiliarch Bagoas. Egyptian sources, however, are more equivocal. Some report the confiscation of land belonging to temples, plunder and disruption in the social order, while others report life continuing as normal and the temples being left undisturbed. As usual some of the Egyptian elite both priestly and secular were able to adapt quickly to the new situation and willingly cooperated with the new authority. Clear evidence of social dissatisfaction with Persian rule came with another rebellion when after the death of the active Artaxerxes III there was no successor of adequate strength of personality to control events. The rebel leader Khababash declared himself pharaoh and in the years 338-336 held power at least in some parts of Egypt, including the capital, Memphis. This rebellion, which was eventually quelled by Darius III, was the source of great chaos for even most Egyptians regarded Khababash to be a rebel rather than a monarch. He was not included in the lists of kings and thus virtually condemned to be totally forgotten. The Persian authority restored to Egypt by Darius III was strong and stable enough to withstand the usurpation by Amyntas in the winter of 333/332.137 The ancient sources do not inform us of the objectives behind Alexanders expedition to Egypt an expedition that delayed the final showdown with Darius III by almost a year. Modern historians assume that the conquest of this country was essential for the complete occupation of the eastern Mediterranean area before the planned expedition into the Asia interior. They note that the food resources of Syria and Palestine would have been exhausted after the prolonged presence of the Macedonian army. These resources had to be replenished before another massive army set off to the East. On the other hand, we do know from the ancient sources that Egypt made a great impression on Alexander. Like many other ancient Greeks, he admired the Egyptian monuments and
137

Bresciani 1985, pp. 526-528; Lloyd 1994, p. 34; Briant 1996, p. 881; Le Rider 1997, pp. 83-88; Le Rider 2003, pp. 220-227; Debord 1999, p. 412; Burstein 2000.

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towards the end of his life even planned to build a pyramid-shaped tomb for his father.138 Gaza, which Alexander had captured in October 332, was 200 km away from the nearest Egyptian city of Pelusium (today Tell el-Farama). The route along the coast of the Sinai Peninsula was particularly inhospitable: initially barren desert with absolutely no vegetation, later the landscape changed into extensive coastal salt marshes. Rains in this part of the Mediterranean coast could not be expected before November, and what few wells there were had only small quantities of brackish water. According to Arrian, the Macedonian army reached Pelusium on the seventh day. No doubt the army marched so fast to minimise the time spent in a territory deprived of food and water. The sources do not provide any information about the logistic problems of this march but we know from other cases of large armies crossing Sinai (from Cambyses to Napoleon) that the previous preparation of food and water supplies was essential. The armys long stay at Gaza made possible the setting up of provisions magazines on the coast. Provisions could also have been supplied by the fleet commanded by Hephaestion, which was floating towards Egypt alongside the Sinai shore. Once the army reached Egypt, it encountered no major problems. The sources do not record any resistance being put up the Persian satrap Mazaces, who approximately half a year earlier had defeated Amyntass mercenaries. We do not know what proportion of the Macedonian army accompanied Alexander to Egypt, though it is certain that considerable forces had to remain in Syria to protect this newly captured country against a possible Persian attack. Perhaps these forces were commanded by Parmenion for none of the ancient authors makes any mention of him being present in Egypt. Nevertheless, the superior strength of the invading Macedonian army was unquestioned and also taking into account the unfavourable mood among the Egyptians that is most probably why Mazaces surrendered Pelusium to Alexander.139 The Macedonian fleet next sailed up the Nile from Pelusium to Memphis, while Alexander and the land army marched along the no longer existing Pelusium Nile Delta arm to n (Heliopolis to the ancient Greeks and today a northeast suburb of Cairo). At n the army crossed over to the
138

Marasco 1964, p. 10; Seibert 1972, pp. 109-111; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 235; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 63-64. 139 Arr., An., 3.1.1-3; Diod., 17.49.1; Curt., 4.7.2-3; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.8; Just., 11.11.1; It. Alex., 48. Wilcken 1967, pp. 112-113; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 194-195; Engels 1978, pp. 59-60; Seibert 1985, pp. 84-85; Bosworth 1988, pp. 68-70.

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west bank of the Nile and marched 40 km up river to Memphis. Satrap Mazaces went out to greet Alexander and surrendered to him the capital and the whole of Egypt. The victors trophies included 800 talents from the satraps treasury. To celebrate the occupation of the capital of such an important satrapy Alexander organised gymnastics and musical contests. Greek artists were invited to perform in these events, and no doubt given a considerable amount of time to arrive. Apart from Alexanders own soldiers, the spectators and audience must have included the so-called Hellenomemphitai, i.e. the members of a Greek community that had existed in Egypt since the 6th century and partly originated from the mercenaries who had served the 26th Dynasty. Recorded events in Memphis show that Alexander from the start took trouble to communicate with the Greek and Egyptian communities separately and in accordance with their different cultures. Apart from the Greek contests, Alexander also laid offerings before the Egyptian gods. The Greek sources mention Ammon-Ra (called by them Zeus), Osiris and Apis deity known but alien to Greek culture. Unlike the offerings he laid before Tyrian god Melqart, whom he associated with Heracles, here Alexander only wished to officially honour the native peoples gods. In other words, he wished to fulfil the traditional religious obligations of the ruler and thus publicly legitimise his claim to authority. No doubt Alexander also laid offerings at a Greek temple (Hellenion) that was located in the Greek district of the city.140 The pharaonic coronation of Alexander, tentatively dated to his first stay in Memphis in December 332 is a matter of scholarly debate. The only source to mention it directly is the Alexander Romance, whose account is vague and unclear but which is generally well informed about Egyptian affairs. According to the Romance, Alexander was led by Egyptian priests to the Temple of Hephaestus (Ptah) at Memphis, dressed in the garments of an Egyptian king and seated on a throne. In fact Egyptian documents issued in Alexanders times bear dates according to regnal years of pharaoh Alexander. Numerous Egyptian reliefs present Alexander in traditional pharaoh attire, and his name is written in the royal cartouches as follows: Horus, who conquered foreign lands; king of Upper and Lower Egypt, chosen by Ra, beloved by Ammon, the son of Ra, Alexandros. A noticeable lack of certain elements that normally appear in a pharaohs title has inclined some historians to reject the Alexander Romance claim that the Macedonian king was crowned in Egypt.
140

Arr., An., 3.1.3-4, 3.5.2; Curt., 4.7.3-4; Ps.-Callisth., 1.34.1-2. Wilcken 1967, pp. 116-117; Bosworth 1980, pp. 262, 275; Thompson 1988, pp. 3-20, 83-84, 95-97, 106; OBrien 1992, p. 86; Stewart 1993, pp. 171-173; Bloedow 1988.

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Monarchs who had not even ever been in Egypt let alone crowned there were also recorded with pharaonic titles; Egyptian priests did that to give the fictitious sense of an unbroken succession of rightful rulers of Egypt, the interruption of which could upset the cosmic order and bring catastrophe to the country. We know that the Egyptian coronation ceremony was a long and tedious affair, which in the opinion of the sceptical modern historians would not have appealed to an impatient Alexander. Therefore they believe that he would have only agreed to engage in the bare minimum of cult activities that could be expected of a foreign ruler and keep the religious caste happy.141 It is easy to notice that such argumentation, on the one hand, is based on a subjective understanding of Alexanders personality and, on the other, it is also based on the fact that the principal sources remain silent about the whole subject. We should, however, remember just how few historical sources, both Greek and Egyptian, have actually survived. For example there is only one source for the full Egyptian title of the great Macedonians son, Alexander IV, and today we only have a mere copy of the original from over 200 years ago. Thorough analyses of Alexanders royal title in Egyptian inscriptions show that it was abbreviated in various ways depending on the nature of the given document. Its most extended form includes three of the five elements of a pharaohs full title. Therefore Egyptian sources do not unequivocally refute Alexanders legitimate claim to authority in Egypt. Indeed, any opinion on whether or not Alexander was genuinely installed as pharaoh will remain hypothetical. Nevertheless, a premise for an opinion can be formed by examining Alexanders policy with regard to Egypts tradition, culture and religion and how it was received by the Egyptian priestly establishment, which was best educated and positioned to appreciate the nuances of the rulers government. Alexander ordered a shrine in the Temple of Thutmose III to be restored in his name. In 330 the high-priest of Thoth, Petosiris, collaborated with the king to rebuild a temple to his god at Hermopolis Magna. Alexander also funded the construction of a totally new religious edifice, the so-called Temple of the Barque, that is, a chapel where the god Ammons sacred boat was kept. This still extant structure is not significant on account of its
141

Ps.-Callisth., 1.34.2; 1st year of pharaoh Alexander in document Hawara Papyrus 2 (Jasnow 1997, p. 95, n. 2). Wilcken 1967, pp. 113-114; Tarn 1948, I, p. 41; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 236; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 196-197; Hamilton 1974, p. 74; Green 1974, pp. 269-270. Tradition of Alexanders Egyptian coronation rejected by: Badian 1985, p. 433; Bosworth 1988, pp. 70-71; Burstein 1991; Burstein 1994; Stewart 1993, p. 174. Egyptian titles of Alexander: Wilcken 1967, p. 114; Burstein 1991; Ladynin 1999.

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size, for it is only 5.7 m by 7.8 m large, but because of it location and adornment. It is found in the central part of the Temple at Luxor, in an area that could only be accessed by the priests and over which they had total control. Although the building of the Temple of the Barque was financed by the king, decisions regarding its detailed design and ornaments were made by the priests of Ammon, who were the only people in Egypt able to appreciate the significance of the various elements. The temples walls are covered with reliefs depicting Alexander as a pharaoh in the company of Egyptian gods. Art historians stress that these reliefs strictly adhere to the classical Egyptian style, which can be distinguished from the vast majority of works of art of the Late Egyptian period. The fact that Egyptian priests made such an ideological and artistic decision shows that they fully recognised the temples financial patron as a legitimate ruler. Among his other investments was the reconstruction of temples that had been raised by Nectanebo II, the last native ruler of Egypt. Therefore Alexander did regard his Egyptian title seriously. He proclaimed himself a continuator of the Egyptian monarchy and thus ideologically distanced himself from the second Persian occupation of that country.142 Both Greek and Egyptian sources mention that Alexander laid offerings to Egyptian gods, including those who took the incarnations of animals and had no Greek equivalents, such as the Apis bull and the Buchis bull. These are of course examples of the same devotion he frequently showed towards Greek gods, but ones where he clearly demonstrated an understanding of the different religious sensibilities of his Egyptian subjects. This attitude is also reflected in a papyrus from Saqqara containing an order made by one of Alexanders military commanders, Peucestas, the son of Macartatus. This document written in Greek and therefore addressed to Greeks and Macedonians forbids soldiers to enter the necropolis of sacred animals at Saqqara, which the order declares to be an area exclusively reserved for priests. One can assume that this order was a repetition of the supreme commanders instructions. By protecting the sanctity of the graves of animals worshiped by the Egyptians, including Apis bulls, Alexander also eliminated a potential source of conflict between his soldiers and the local population. The whole programme of investing in temples and the respect shown to the most important Egyptian gods indicate that Alexander behaved like the rightful pharaoh of the Egyptians and consciously referred to the traditions of the independent Egypt Nectanebo II had defended over a decade earlier. Alexander was informed of Egyptian culture, tradition and expectations by
142

Porter, Moss 1929, pp. 44-45; Bell 1985; Raziq 1988; Burstein 1994, p. 382; Stewart 1993, pp. 172-178; Menu 1998; Ladynin 1999, pp. 95-96.

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local advisors, the high-priests of Ptah in Memphis and of Thoth at Hermopolis as well as by high-ranking officials. It is to his own credit, however, that he willingly made use of this expert knowledge. Thus the king was able to proceed in accordance with the Egyptian theological concept of ensuring the rule of Maat and thus securing Egypts success and prosperity. This was achieved when the monarch performed the appropriate rituals and sacrifices to release the divine world cycle and maintain contact with the sphere of the gods. On the political level this legitimised his authority in Egypt among the powerful priestly elite which in the 4th century was able to deny legitimity even to some native rulers. Alexanders policy of respecting Egyptian religious sensitivity does not prove that he was really crowned pharaoh of Egypt but it does make it plausible. The Alexander Romance provides the description of an evidently genuine pharaoh coronation. The fact that the book claims the ceremony took place at the Temple of Ptah in Memphis may explain why throughout the Hellenistic era the post of high-priest at that temple was unusually held by members of a single family. Moreover, though his reign in Egypt was considerably shorter, Alexanders name appears in Egyptian inscriptions nine times more frequently than that of his predecessor Darius III. This would indicate that Alexander was far more accepted by the countrys religious elites than the last of the Achaemenid kings.143 It was during his first stay in the Egyptian capital or after his return from Siwah (according to Arrian) that Alexander decided on how Egypt should be governed. Arrian states that he appointed two nomarchs or rather in light of what has been found on an Egyptian ostracon from Memphis satraps whose Greek names were Petisis and Doloaspis. The names indicate that the first was an Egyptian and the second was an Iranian. The nominations show that Alexander intended to maintain the Persian system of administration into which he wished to enrol both Persian and Egyptian elites. Petisiss early resignation from his nominated position has led some historians to the not entirely justified theory that the Egyptian elites had become disillusioned with the Macedonian rule. Doloaspis became the sole satrap but his authority was limited to civilian and judicial administration. As usual, Alexander entrusted military commands in this satrapy to his own officers. He appointed the Macedonians Pantaleon and Polemon as commandants of the already existing garrisons at Memphis and Pelusium respectively. The Aetolian
143

Order of Peucestas: Turner 1974. It reflects the will of Alexander referred to in Curt., 4.7.5. Thompson 1988, pp. 138-146; OBrien 1992, p. 86; Stewart 1993, pp. 171-178; Wirth 1993, p. 191; van Voss 1993; Menu 1998; Ladynin 1999, pp. 8687; Briant 2002, p. 117.

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Lycidas as well as the Macedonians Peucestas and Balacrus were also given separate military commands, while the Nile estuary was to be guarded by the Macedonian Polemon with a squadron of 30 ships. Arrian notes that Alexander intentionally appointed such a large number of commanders only answerable to him in Egypt, so that none of them could possibly aspire to take over control of the whole country. Though never on such a large scale as in Egypt, this practice would later also be frequently applied by Alexander in the eastern satrapies. Nonetheless, there was a key figure among the new authorities, Cleomenes of Naucratis, a Greek from beyond the circle of Alexanders hetairoi who most probably acquired this important position thanks to his administrative talent and experience he had perhaps gained serving Persian satraps. Some sources mistakenly call him the satrap of Egypt, though this may result from the informal power he indeed held at the start of Macedonian rule in that country. Alexander accepted an existing system of administration that had been originally formulated during the 26th Dynasty and next adopted by the Persians. It was essentially a centralised fiscal bureaucracy headed by an official called a senti, or dioiketes in Greek. Apart from being appointed to this extremely important position, Cleomenes was put in charge of the building of Alexandria as well as the administration of part of Arabia, presumably territories to the east of the Nile Delta. As well as the normal procedures of collecting taxes, Cleomenes also resorted to unconventional methods of extorting from temples loans the government would never pay back on the threat of confiscating temple property; this practice had first been applied by the Egyptian administration during the last period of independence under the rule of the pharaoh Tachos. Cleomenes additionally saved money by craftily not paying a months wages due to soldiers stationed in Egypt. Moreover, he set up a network of informers in foreign markets to establish where Egyptian grain could be sold at the most profitable price. Cleomenes also ran the mint, most probably at Memphis, which initially continued the issuing of coins from Persian times but towards the end of his government it started striking tetradrachms and staters with Alexanders portrait. Nominated at the end of 332 or beginning of 331, Cleomenes was able to ensure the financing of Macedonian garrisons, realize the building and renovation projects commissioned by Alexander as well as pay for the very expensive founding of the city of Alexandria. And on top of that he was able to amass 8,000 talents in the provincial treasury, naturally at the cost of acquiring the reputation of a ruthless financier.144
144 Arr., An., 3.5.2-7; Arr., Succ.,1.5; Curt., 4.8.4-5; Arist., Oec., 1352a-b; [D.], 56.7-8; Diod., 18.14.1; Paus., 1.6.3; Dexipp., FGrH, 100 F8.2; Ps.-Callisth., 1.34.7;

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From Memphis Alexander went on an expedition up the Nile. We cannot be certain whether he reached the Thebaid, though it is possible as even with the means of transport in those days the excursion need not have lasted longer than a month. On the other hand at some stage Alexander did send a separate expedition to discover why the Nile flooded. We know this from an account of Alexanders historian Callisthenes. What we cannot be sure of is whether or not this was purely a geographic and meteorological fact finding mission or whether its aim also involved ascertaining the military strength and resources of the Kingdom of Meroe, which was situated to the south of Egypt. A delegation from that country visited Alexander at Babylon in 324. Thanks to the findings of this expedition, Aristotle was able to formulate a theory that the Nile floods were caused by seasonal rains falling in the region of the rivers source in Ethiopia.145 On another journey from Memphis Alexander sailed with elite detachments of hetairoi, hypaspists, archers and Agrianians down the westernmost (Canopic) branch of the Nile right up to the sea. Before he returned to the Egyptian capital in April 331, two important events occurred: the founding of Alexandria and the visit to Siwah. Unfortunately the ancient sources do not concur as to the chronology of these events and there are similar differences of opinion among modern historians. The current state of knowledge on this subject makes A.B. Bosworths hypothesis the most plausible: Alexander selected the site for the new city no doubt on the advice of people with expert knowledge of Egypt, such as perhaps Cleomenes of Naucratis during his first visit there, but the actual building began after his return from Siwah. First he had to consult the oracle at Siwah and also make appropriate preparations, such as the drafting of the citys plan. That is why a later date, 25th Tybi which in 331 corresponded to 7th April, was annually celebrated as the day the city was founded. Alexandria was not the first city founded by Alexander but politically, economically and culturally it was by far the most important. The outline of the citys boundaries resembled a military cloak, the chlamys, and measured 80 stades (14.5 km) in diameter. It was marked out in accordance with Macedonian custom with flour, which a huge flock of birds immediately devoured. The king was initially disturbed by this phenomenon, but it was then explained to him that this was a good omen
Just., 13.4.11. Satrap Petisis in a demotic ostracon: Smith 1988; Jasnow 1997, p. 95, n. 2. Bosworth 1980, pp. 275-278; Atkinson 1980, pp. 364-367; Briant 1996, pp. 425, 739, 878-881; Briant 2002, pp. 62-63; Le Rider 1997; Le Rider 2003, pp. 238-262; Heckel 2006, p. 224. 145 Callisth., FGrH, 124 F12a; Arist., FGrH, 646 T2a. Burstein 1976a.

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which meant Alexandria would attract many settlers from all over the world. Plutarch relates a legend in which the idea of founding this city is suggested by Homer, who visits Alexander in a dream. Nonetheless, the most important reason clearly appears to have been commercial. Having taken control of the eastern Mediterranean and gained knowledge of Egypts economic potential, Alexander decided to found a major city on the site of a trading settlement (emporion) called Rhacotis, which is hardly mentioned in ancient sources. Alexandria became the gateway for trade between Egypt and much of the Orient on one side and the lucrative markets of the Aegean and later of the whole of the western world on the other. This role could not be fulfilled by Naucratis as it was located too far from the sea and by then experiencing a period of decline. The ancient sources attribute the actual designing of Alexandria to Deinocrates of Rhodes, who had been member of Alexanders circle of friends since at least mid 332 and is also famous for planning to convert Mount Athos into a huge sculpture of Alexander. The latter plan was rejected, but Deinocrates talents were employed in the urban design of Alexandria. Well positioned on an easy to defend isthmus between Lake Mareotis and the Mediterranean Sea, the street grid was planned in such a way so that strong winds would cool the inhabitants during Egyptian heat waves. Settlers were brought in from the whole of Greece and that nation would dominate the citys ethnic makeup over the next 1,000 years. The native populations of surrounding villages were resettled in a separate district of the city with its own temple to Isis and no doubt sanctuaries to other Egyptian deities.146 Alexander set off from Lake Mareotis and proceeded via Paraitonion (today Marsa Matruh) 600 km south west to the Siwah Oasis the northernmost of the Libyan Desert oases. When Alexander was still by Lake Mareotis (according to Curtius) or halfway to Siwah (according to Diodorus), therefore most probably at Paraitonion, he received envoys from the Greek colony Cyrene in Libya, who brought him a gold crown and gifts, including 300 chargers. Later Alexander considered Cyrene to

146

Arr., An., 3.1.5-2.2; Plu., Alex., 26.3-10, 72.5-8; Plu., mor., 335c-d (architects name is mistakenly Stasicrates); Diod., 17.52; Str., 17.1.6; Curt., 4.8.1-6; Vitr., 2, pr. 2.3; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.11; Just., 11.11; It. Alex., 48-49; Ps.-Callisth., 1.31.-33. Welles 1962; Wilcken 1967, pp. 117-120; Fraser 1972, i, pp. 3-7, ii, pp. 1-11; Fraser 1996, pp. 174-175; Bosworth 1980, pp. 263-266; Seibert 1985, pp. 85-86; Hammond 1996, pp. 124-126; Hamilton 1999, pp. 66-68; Hlbl 2000, pp. 9-10; Brown 2001; Nawotka 2003, p. 114.

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be part of his domain therefore we can presume that this delegation came to declare the colonys fealty and pay a tribute in the form of gifts.147 Situated in a depression surrounded by chalk mountains, Siwah had an ample supply of water (today there are c. 300 wells) capable in ancient times of supporting several settlements. This allowed for the existence of a small Berber state ruled by a local royal dynasty, though not entirely free of Egyptian influence. Its only claim to fame was a temple and the Berber oracle of an ithyphallic deity, which for not entirely clear reasons started being associated with Ammon. The high-priests of this sanctuary were the Egyptianized kings of Siwah. A temple to Ammon was raised at Siwah during the 26th dynasty, and it was still active in Alexanders day. The local cult of Ammon as well as the oracle started to interest the Greeks towards the end of the 6th century, initially just at Cyrene, which was 600 km away, but later also the inhabitants of mainland Greece. Of course, in keeping with their customs, the Greeks called the Siwah deity Zeus.148 The purpose of this long and arduous journey was not to fulfil any Egyptian religious or monarchic obligations because pharaohs never visited this oasis. The real reason was most probably because Alexander, who always attached great importance to religious ritual and the possibility of understanding closer the will of the gods, felt an irresistible longing to visit an oracle that in the Greek world for a long time had been considered infallible. Apart from this desire to ask important questions and, as people of that era perceived it, have them answered, Alexander, as usual, also wished to compete with his mythological predecessors Heracles and Perseus, who had also supposedly visited Siwah.149 On his journey Alexander was accompanied by a detachment of soldiers to protect him from nomads of the Libyan Desert and by baggage carrying camels. The first stage of the journey was along the coast, but from Paraitonion they had to cross 300 km of open desert. During this part of the journey, which took them eight days, the Macedonians experienced a violent sandstorm raised by a southern wind called the Khamaseen. After this storm the desert landscape was quite altered, but the now lost Macedonians were first saved by a shower of rain, which provided them with much needed water, and then by a divine sign; Aristobulus states that two ravens appeared, but the more imaginative Ptolemy claims they were

147 148

Diod., 17.49.2; Curt., 4.7.9; Arr., An., 7.9.8. Seibert 1985, p. 86. Parke 1967, pp. 196-219; Bosworth 1977; Kuhlmann 1988, pp. 9-107; Hlbl 2000, p. 10. 149 Callisth., FGrH, 124 F14a (= Str., 17.1.43); Arr., An., 3.3.1. Wilcken 1967, pp. 121-123; Bosworth 1977, pp. 68-69.

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in fact two snakes speaking human voice. These ravens or snakes led Alexander and his companions to Siwah.150 The first ever visit of an Egyptian monarch must have been a major event in this statelet and of course Alexander was granted special privileges to consult the oracle. He was allowed inside the temple, while his companions had to wait outside and like ordinary pilgrims ask their own questions to the oracle, if they had any, from there. The way it usually worked was that the boat of Ammon would be carried in a procession and the priests would observe and interpret its motions as questions to the oracle were asked. The answers were normally just yes or no, but Alexander was most probably instead or also given much more complex verbal answers. The oldest known sources do not record what questions Alexander asked, which has naturally given modern historians an unlimited scope for speculation. There were no Greek or Macedonian witnesses present to hear what Ammon told Alexander and Alexander himself never revealed what he had been told, so we will never know what really happened inside the temple at Siwah. Nonetheless, the visit to Siwah changed the Macedonian king. Being far away from Siwah and Egypt, he continued to worship Ammon and ask his oracle questions. For the rest of his life he considered himself to be the son of Ammon. When soldiers at Opis found the idea amusing, he burst into a rage. From Ephippus we learn that in 324 at Ecbatana Gorgus of Iasus publicly crowned Alexander with a gold wreath as the son of Ammon. The king would also appear as the incarnation of Ammon with a purple robe and the horns of a ram. An innumerable number of coins struck after Alexanders death present him with Ammons horns, which gave rise to the Arab myth of Alexander the two-horned (Dl-Karnain) later immortalised in the Quran. We know that the moment Alexander entered the Siwah temple he would have been greeted by the priest, like in the case of every pharaoh, as the son of Ammon. But such a standard greeting, which Alexander would have experienced on numerous occasions in Egypt, could not have made such an impression so as to affect him for the rest of his life. Therefore in that temple he must have heard something more, something that confirmed what he already strongly believed in or a very specific prediction that soon turned out to be true and therefore convinced Alexander of the oracles total credibility. The speculations of ancient Greek authors on this subject are diverse: Alexander may have asked if he would be victorious in all his wars and eventually rule the world or he may have asked if all his fathers
150

Callisth., FGrH, 124 F14a (= Str., 17.1.43); Arr., An., 3.3.3-6; Diod., 17.49.3-6; Curt., 4.7.6-15; Plu., Alex., 26.11-27.4; It. Alex., 50-51. Engels 1978, pp. 61-63; Bosworth 1980, pp. 272-273; Hamilton 1999, pp. 68-71.

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murderers had been punished. The alleged response to the latter question stated that his father was Ammon-Zeus and that those responsible for Philips death had suffered the consequences of their crime. Of course these are merely assumptions saying more about the authors themselves than about Alexander.151 Having had his divine affiliation confirmed, Alexander left Siwah and, via the site where Alexandria was to be founded, returned to Memphis. It was during his second stay at the Egyptian capital, most probably in April 331, that reinforcements sent by Antipater arrived: 400 Greek mercenaries and 500 Thracian riders. Moreover, at this time Alexander received envoys from Greek states. It was also probably then that he gave instructions concerning the emission of coins by the Memphis mint, which struck bronze coins bearing the kings portrait. The start of this particular emission did not have to coincide with Alexanders stay in Egypt, it could equally well have been started later by Cleomenes of Naucratis. The decision to use the rulers image instead that of a god, though shocking to contemporary Greeks need not have been a consequence of Alexanders superhuman aspirations. It could equally well have resulted from the traditions of the satrapy mint in Memphis. For modern historians these small coins as well as contemporary coins from Naucratis are significant in that they provide some of the earliest images of Alexander.152 Among the Greek envoys there were delegates from Erythrai bearing positive news for the king from the Athenas oracle and delegates from Miletus reporting miraculous events at Didyma, which belonged to Miletus. When it was ruled by the clan of Branchidae Didyma used to have a great temple and oracle to Apollo. Their pro-Persian stance during the Ionian Uprising and Persian wars forced the Branchidae to leave Didyma and find refuge in Central Asia. The Temple of Apollo was damaged at the start of the 5th century while the oracle fell silent and the sacred source ran dry. Then at the start of 331 the water began to flow again a consequence of stones being removed as some historians presume. The oracle was thus reactivated, this time not run by the now
Callisth., FGrH, 124 F14a (= Str., 17.1.43); Arr., An., 3.4.5; Curt., 4.7.16-32; Diod., 17.51; Plu., Alex., 27; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.10; Just., 11.11; Ps.-Callisth., 1.30; It. Alex., 53; Ephippus, FGrH, 126 F5 (= Ath., 12.53); Syll.3 313. Wilcken 1967, pp. 124-127; Parke 1967, pp. 224-227; Bosworth 1977; Bosworth 1988, pp. 281-284; Goukowsky 1978, pp. 23-25; Heisserer 1980, pp. 182-191; Kuhlmann 1988, pp. 141-142; Hammond 1996, pp. 127-129; Badian 1996, pp. 17-19; Hamilton 1999, pp. 68-70. Quran: 18.83-98. 152 Arr., An., 3.5.1. Borza 1967; Engels 1978, pp. 62-63; Price 1981; Touratsoglou 2000, pp. 62-63; Le Rider 2003, pp. 224-237.
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absent and probably forgotten Branchidae but by a city nominated official called the prophetes. With a wonderful understanding of politics the first prophesy to come from the oracle in over one and a half centuries was addressed to Alexander, and it was with this message that the envoys from Miletus came to Memphis. According to Callisthenes, Alexanders court historian, Apollo was to state that Alexander was the son of Zeus as well as foretell his victory at Gaugamela, Darius IIIs death and the revolt of Agis III. The historically verifiable parts of this tale include the reactivation of the Didyma oracle. The Milesians must have learned of Alexanders aspirations to the divine origins even before he had left for Siwah. It is quite possible that in bringing Alexander such good news the envoys from Miletus were hoping the monarch would graciously offer to finance the rebuilding of the Didymaion. But for this they would have to wait another thirty years when the decision to fund this project was made by the newly proclaimed descendent of Apollo, Seleucus I Nicator.153

153

Callisth., FGrH, 124 F14 (= Str., 17.1.43). Bosworth 1977, pp. 57-59, 74-75; Bosworth 1988, p. 282; Parke 1985, p. 62; Fontenrose 1988, pp. 15-16.

CHAPTER V: KING OF ASIA

1. From Memphis to Mesopotamia


In the late spring of 331 Alexander set off from Memphis to Asia for the decisive battle against Darius III. Shortly before the Macedonian army left Egypt an unfortunate accident occurred in Alexanders closest circle: an overloaded boat sank and one of the passengers was, Hector, Parmenions son. The young man managed to swim to the shore but died soon afterwards. Alexander honoured Hector with a grand funeral in Egypt. The month the Macedonian army set out was more probably May and not April, as some have suggested. In April work was started on the building of Alexandria and it would have taken some time to cover the almost 250 km distance to Memphis, then Alexander received the envoys and performed other duties required of a monarch before he left his domain. Late spring was a particularly good time for large armies to march in Egypt and Palestine for that was the harvest season when it was easy to supply soldiers with their basic diet, grain. Moreover, after the winter rains the streams and wells had enough water for their needs. The march was carefully arranged. Even the entertainment and contests during the stopover at Tyre had to be prepared in advance in order to bring over to Phoenicia the best Greek performers. We know that engineers had constructed bridges over the Nile and canals some time before the army set off. Once the march started, the Macedonian fleet sailed to keep up with the soldiers on the land. The Macedonian naval and land forces both reached Tyre around mid June 331, after the army had interrupted its march with a short campaign in Samaria (Chapter IV.5).1 The stay at Tyre did not last longer than a few weeks. Alexander once again visited the Temple of Melqart-Heracles with a procession, sacrifices and expensive votive offerings. For the army he arranged sports competitions and artistic performances. A stage was specially prepared for
1 Arr., An., 3.6.1; Curt., 4.8.7-8. Engels 1978, pp. 63-64; Seibert 1985, p. 90; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 64-65.

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dithyrambic and theatrical contests. The contestants included the finest Athenian actors, Thettalus and Athenodorus, who in order to perform in front of Alexanders soldiers cancelled a drama competition in Athens during the festival of Dionysus. The cost of a fine that the Athenians had as a consequence imposed on Athenodorus was covered by Alexander. In the contest at Tyre the Macedonian king applauded Thettalus but his highest ranking officers, who were appointed the official judges, announced Athenodorus the victor. However, the Macedonian kings treasury was not burdened with the overall costs of these expensive artistic events with the very best performers. Alexander allowed or instructed the kings of Cyprus to play the role of choregoi (rich Greek citizens who paid for such theatrical performances). The most distinguished patrons were Pasicrates of Soli and Nicocreon of Salamis. It also may have been on this occasion that another famous actor, Lycon of Scarphe, included in a comedy recital a verse requesting ten talents, which an amused Alexander duly paid him.2 Among the kings more important obligations at Tyre was the receiving of envoys from allied Greek states. Ambassadors from Athens brought Alexander a gold crown and yet again congratulated him on his victory at Issus. It was then that after successive pleas the Macedonian king finally relented and released the captured Athenians who had fought on the Persian side at Granicus when their state was officially a member of the League of Corinth. Envoys from Rhodes and Chios also received favourable responses to their complaints about the Macedonian garrisons stationed on their islands, whereas Alexanders allies from Mytilene and Cyprus were rewarded for opting for the right side in the maritime war. Other matters Alexander dealt with at Tyre concerning Greece will be discussed later on in this chapter. Alexander no doubt made many administrative decisions before he left the city, the most important of which would have been the re-employment in the kings service of Harpalus, who had returned from Megara after his infamous flight from Tarsus. No doubt out of appreciation for his financial and administrative skills, Alexander persuaded Harpalus to come back and again appointed him his treasurer. The collection of taxes in Phoenicia Alexander entrusted to the Macedonian Koiranos and in Asia Minor to Philoxenus, whereas Menander, who up until then had commanded the mercenaries, replaced Asander as satrap of Lydia. The most important change occurred in Syria, where the Iranian aristocrat Arimmas, whom Alexander had appointed at the start of 332, was now replaced by the Macedonian Asclepiodorus. The
2

Arr., An., 3.6.1; Plu., Alex., 29.1-6; Plu., mor., 334d-e; Curt., 4.8.16. Hamilton 1999, pp. 75-76; Nawotka 2003, pp. 112-113.

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reason for this change was Arimmass failure to solve the logistical problems concerning the march of the Macedonian army. Not for the last time in the history of Alexanders state administration it turned out that Iranian satraps appointed in accordance with Achaemenid tradition by right of birth proved themselves incapable of performing set tasks up to the standards required by their new ruler. It may have been the case that Arimmass incompetence forced the Macedonian army to remain in Tyre for longer than originally planned in order to allow the new satrap to complete the necessary logistic preparations. Having settled all the most pressing administrative and political matters, at the start of July 331 Alexander and his soldiers set off from Tyre to the town of Thapsacus on the Euphrates.3 The Macedonian army reached Thapsacus in the Athenian month of Hekatombaion (July/August). Darius III had crossed the Euphrates at that same place in December 333 during his escape after the Battle of Issus. It was well known that the great river could be crossed at this point for the towns Semitic name, Tiphsah, means passage or ford. The Euphrates at Thapsacus became navigable for ancient river traffic. The towns exact location is today unknown but of the numerous suggested sites two have recently aroused the greatest interest: todays Dibse, which is situated by Asad Lake, or Qalat Najim, which is some 80 km up river. Both these sites are now in modern Syria on the west bank of the Euphrates.4 Taking into account the route the Macedonian army took on the eastern side of the Euphrates, the more northern location (Qalat Najim) seems more likely. Initially, the army must have marched along the Phoenician coast from Tyre to the place that later became known as Seleucia. Thence it would have turned east, first through the Orontes Valley and then through Aleppo towards the Euphrates. Along the coast the Macedonian forces could have been kept supplied by their fleet and then by the fertile farmlands that stretched all the way to Aleppo. This was a route that had been taken by ancient armies before Alexander and would be taken by other armies after him. The entire distance from Tyre to the Euphrates would have been approximately 600 km, whereas the distance of the section from Seleucia to Thapsacus would have been c. 240 km. Therefore Curtiuss statement that the march lasted 11 days would probably only apply to this later section. The army crossed the Euphrates using two pontoon bridges. There were approximately 6,000 Persian soldiers in the area commanded by the
Arr., An., 3.6.2-7; Curt., 4.8.11-15; It. Alex., 53-54. Engels 1978, p. 64; Bosworth 1980, pp. 278-285; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 65-66; Hammond 1996, pp. 131-132. 4 Arr., An., 3.6.4. Honigmann 1934; Bosworth 1980, p. 222; Seibert 1985, p. 91; Lendle 1988.
3

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experienced soldier and satrap Mazaeus, but instead of attacking Alexanders army they observed its progress from a distance. The decision not to fight at the Euphrates crossing and the kind treatment Mazaeus later received from Alexander at Babylon has inclined some historians to speculate as to whether the Persian may have earlier made a secret agreement with the Macedonian king. However, there is nothing to suggest this in the ancient sources and the sheer disproportion in military strength may have dissuaded Mazaeus from engaging the enemy on the Euphrates.5 From Thapsacus Alexander could have next marched his army along the Euphrates towards Babylon to face the Great Kings army. According to Xenophon, the same route was taken 70 years earlier by Cyrus the Younger, who intended to seize the Persian throne from his brother Artaxerxes II. However, such a route posed serious logistical and physical problems. If the Macedonians reached the Upper Euphrates sometime around the end of July or beginning of August, their march to Babylon would have been in the middle of the Mesopotamian summer, when temperatures frequently rise above 40oC. Covering the distance between Thapsacus and Babylon, 1,000 stades (180 km), would have been a physically extremely demanding task for the soldiers. Most of the route would have been to the south of the 250 mm isohyet where the lack of water meant a shortage of grass and therefore also a shortage of fodder for animals. By then a couple of months had passed since the harvest and all the grain and straw would have been long ago transported to the towns. Therefore the only way for the Macedonians to get hold of food for the soldiers and fodder for the horses and pack animals would have been to rob the granaries of fortified towns, which would have required even more effort and time. It is therefore quite understandable why Alexander chose to take a northerly route across the foothills of the Armenian highland, most probably along an ancient Babylonian military road. It may not have been an ideal route for soldiers but it was better than marching through central Mesopotamia. In the summer the temperatures in the north of this country are and were almost 10oC lower, the wells and what rivers there were (the Balikh and the Khabur) provided enough water and the pastures supplied enough food for the animals. According to Eratosthenes referring to the notes of Macedonian surveyors (bematists) Alexander selected the shortest route between Thapsacus and the Tigris. The army

Arr., An., 3.7.1-2; Curt., 4.9.12; It. Alex., 54. Engels 1978, pp. 65-66; Bosworth 1980, pp. 285-286; Atkinson 1980, p. 382; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 66-67. The alleged secret dealings of Mazaeus: Lane Fox 1973, p. 227.

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covered the 2,400 stades (430 km) to reach the other great Mesopotamian river in the second half of September 331.6 In that time Darius III had managed to gather another army for the decisive battle against the Macedonian invaders. For the first time in 200 years the king of Persia was cut off from the Mediterranean Sea and therefore from the Greek mercenary recruitment market. Now there were only around 4,000 left in his service, which was as many as had retreated with him from Issus. In an attempt to compensate for the shortage of hoplites the Persians provided their Asian infantry with better weapons modelled on the Macedonian example, i.e. longer spears and swords. However, if only because there had not been enough time to train, this experiment did not prove to be successful and the infantry failed to have a discernable impact on the battlefield. The fundamental force in the army amassed by Darius III was, as usual, the Persian cavalry. The long time the Great King had to prepare enabled him to bring over the best horsemen of the empire from eastern Iran: the cavalry of Bactria and of Sogdiana as well as allied Scythian detachments. With their excellent horses, good training and flexible armour the east Iranian riders were of comparable military value to the Macedonian hetairoi and Thessalian cavalry. On the other hand, Dariuss 200 chariots with 2/3 m scythes to cut or terrify the enemy were an exotic anachronism. Fifteen war elephants were brought over from India. All the ancient authors cite huge numbers of soldiers in the Persian army: 200,000 infantry and 45,000 cavalry according to Curtius, 400,000 infantry and 100,000 cavalry Justin, 800,000 infantry and 200,000 cavalry Diodorus, 1,000,000 soldiers Plutarch, Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, or even 1,000,000 infantry and 400,000 cavalry according to Arrian. Even the lowest of these figures given by Curtius is a gross exaggeration but, despite this, Alexanders army was certainly numerically inferior to that of the Persians. It has been estimated that he had approximately 47,000 men. The weakness of Dariuss army was its disparate ethnicity which hindered communication and effective command.7 The Persian army gathered at Babylon. The reason for this was no doubt not only Mesopotamias agricultural potential, which was well able to adequately feed such an army, but also strategic considerations. Darius probably assumed that Alexander would follow the example of Cyrus the Younger and march to Babylon directly from Thapsacus. That would have
6 Eratosthenes, ap. Str., 2.1.38; Arr., An., 3.7.3; Curt., 4.9.13-14; It. Alex., 54. Engels 1978, pp. 67-70; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 68-69. 7 Arr., An., 3.8.3-6, 3.11.7, 3.12.5; Diod., 17.53.1-3; Curt., 4.9.2-4, 4.12.13; Plu., Alex., 31.1; Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151 F1.12; Just., 11.12; It. Alex., 55. Dbrowa 1988, pp. 75-90; Bosworth 1988, pp. 76-78.

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been why he moved the great Persian army out of Babylon north towards Nineveh, so that this time he could make full advantage of his excellent east Iranian cavalry on the extensive Mesopotamian Lowland plain. But of course the two armies did not meet there for the Macedonians chose to march across northern Mesopotamia to the Tigris. Darius therefore was also forced to move his army east across the Tigris and find another suitable site for the decisive battle.8 It was sometime during Alexander march from Tyre to Gaugamela that messenger delivered to him a third letter from Darius with yet another peace proposal. According to Curtius and Justin, despite the previous two flat refusals (see Chapter IV.5), Darius was given the opportunity to yet again turn to Alexander in a conciliatory tone without losing face on account of the death of his wife Stateira. On receiving the sad news Darius is said to have responded by thanking Alexander for the humane treatment of his family and at the same time renewed his peace offer. Plutarch and Diodorus, on the other hand, maintain that Dariuss wife died after he had sent the last peace proposal. Then again Plutarch and Justin write that Stateira died in childbirth. If the expected child was Darius IIIs, his wifes death could not have been later than in the summer of 332. Many of the sources mention the romantic tale of a loyal eunuch who fled back to Darius and informed him of his wifes death but also of the noble way in which Alexander treated his family. On receiving the news Darius was to pray to the Persian gods for victory, so that he could have it in his power to show equal magnanimity towards the Macedonian king; if, on the other hand, he were to be defeated, he asked the gods to let no man other than Alexander sit upon the throne of Cyrus, as he was his only worthy successor.9 Regardless of when Stateira actually died, Alexander certainly received the peace proposal some time before Gaugamela but when he was already in Mesopotamia. Despite all his preparations and the Persian armys numerical superiority, Darius must have been aware of the very grave danger of losing another battle and for this reason he made a very generous offer. In doing so he showed a great sense of responsibility for the state, which did not allow his emotions to get the better of him after Alexanders last very insulting letter. An offer to cede land, especially on such a large scale, was virtually unheard of in the history of Achaemenid diplomacy and Darius was resorting to this measure in exceptional
Diod., 17.53.1-3; Curt., 4.9.6-7. Marsden 1964, pp. 15-19; Badian 1985, p. 434; Seibert 1985, pp. 93-95; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 67-69. 9 Plu., Alex., 30; Plu., mor., 338e; Curt., 4.10.18-11.22; Diod., 17.54.7; Just., 11.12; It. Alex., 57; Arr., An., 4.20.1-3; Karystios, ap. Ath., 13.80.
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circumstances: he was trying to avoid the invasion of Iran, the very heartland of the Persian Empire, and Babylonia, its richest province. In return for peace he was offering Alexander his daughters hand in marriage, land right up to the Euphrates and the unbelievably high sum 30,000 talents. By accepting this offer Alexander would make a territorial gain that was far greater than any of Philip IIs war aims. When Alexander received the offer he only controlled part of the territories to the west of the Euphrates and right up to his death the Macedonians failed to gain absolute control of this vast area. The sky-high ransom would cover all the kings imaginable expenses for many years. Therefore Dariuss offer provoked a major debate in the Macedonian command over whether or not to accept it. In reputedly saying that he would accept the offer if he were Alexander, Parmenion was no doubt expressing the views of many Macedonians. The rulers famous response was to say that would also accept it if he were Parmenion. As usual, Alexander was determined to seek a solution on the battlefield and therefore rejected the peace offer. By then there could be no doubts that he was not after any concessions from Darius but instead he wanted rule over the entire Achaemenid Empire.10

2. The revolt of Agis III


On several occasions during his campaign against Darius III Alexander received news of disturbing events in Greece. The greatest source of trouble was Sparta, in whose dual monarchy the more important role was played by the ambitious Agis III of the Eurypontid dynasty. He became king in 338, having previously ruled as regent during the absence of his father, Archidamus III. He ascended the throne at a time when Sparta had never been weaker. After its victory at Chaeronea Philip IIs army triumphantly marched into the Peloponnesus, confiscated territory from Sparta and gave it to her neighbours (see Chapter II. 3). That same year his father Archidamus III had been killed at the Battle of Manduria in Apulia in Italy. He had been there as the commander of a mercenary force employed by the wealthy Spartan colony of Tarentum in its war against the Lucanians. All this happened in the lifetime of a single Spartan generation that had earlier experienced a catastrophic war against Thebes, the collapse of hegemony in the whole of Greece but especially in the Peloponnesus and the loss of Messenia after 300 years of Spartan rule.
10

Diod., 17.54; Curt., 4.11; Plu., Alex., 29.7-8; Just., 11.12; Constantinus Porphyrogenitus, De sententiis, 195. Griffith 1968, p. 36; Bosworth 1988, pp. 7576; Bernhardt 1988, p. 196 ; Bloedow 1995, pp. 109-110; Briant 1996, pp. 855-859; Stoneman 1997, pp. 37-38.

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Agis III devoted his entire reign in trying to restore Sparta to previous position of power. During his regency and in his first years as king of Sparta he steered clear of the main political disputes by not taking anyones side in the 339-338 war, not participating in the League of Corinth and not allying itself with either Thebes or Macedonia in 335. In 338 Spartas suffered at the hands of Philip but her intransigent attitude to Macedonia earned her respect in Greece.11 Agis attempted to bring Sparta back into the main political arena in 333 when the Persian offensive in the Aegean was at its most successful. He sent two diplomatic missions to Darius III, no doubt to offer an alliance against Macedonia. The Spartan envoys from these missions were subsequently captured together with Theban refugees, Athenian envoys and the Persian baggage train outside Damascus. Agis himself learned of the Macedonian victory at Issus when he was at Siphnos negotiating with the Persian commanders Autophradates and Pharnabazus the terms and conditions of financial and military support for his actions. Despite these negotiations, which are recorded in the sources, they were not immediately followed by any discernable cooperation between the Persians and the Spartan king. In 333 he remained passive, which left the limited Macedonian forces to concentrate on fighting the Persians in the Aegean Sea. The fact that the Persian commanders gave Agis III a subsidy of no more than thirty talents reflects the state of their finances after Issus. To this Autophradates added ten ships. But even this made a difference, for after receiving this help Agis sent mercenaries commanded by his brother Agesilaus to wage war in Crete, which Arrian euphemistically calls restoring order. When in 332 this Spartan expedition was joined by the 8,000 mercenaries that had survived Issus and by the remnants of the Persian fleet, their success on the island was great enough to force Alexander to respond in the spring of 331 by dispatching there a Macedonian squadron commanded by Amphoterus. Nothing is known as to how successful this Macedonian mission was, though it obviously failed to stop mercenary detachments being subsequently shipped from Crete to the Peloponnesus.12 War erupted on the Greek mainland in the spring of 331. Macedonia, governed by Antipater, was simultaneously threatened by the revolt of Memnon, the governor of Thrace, and by Agis IIIs insurrection. There is no evidence in the sources that the two revolts were coordinated but we do
David 1981, pp. 110-113; Kulesza 2003, pp. 284-296. Arr., An., 2.13.4, 2.15.2-5, 3.6.3; Diod., 17.48.1-2; Curt., 3.13-15, 4.1.39, 4.8.15. Badian 1967, pp. 175-179; Bosworth 1988, pp. 187-200; Wirth 1993, pp. 212-213; Blackwell 1999, pp. 53-54; Kulesza 2003, p. 296.
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know that they occurred at a time when anti-Macedonian sentiments were running high. For now Macedonian supremacy was even more feared in association with the possibility of there no longer being an Achaemenid monarchy to counterbalance it. Antipater personally took charge of dealing with Memnons revolt, which also had the support of Thracian tribes, and he sent most of his forces to confront these rebels. The ancient authors do not provide us with any details concerning the military campaign but we can assume that an agreement was eventually reached between the two Macedonian leaders because Memnon held his position as governor for some time. A few years later we know he sent Alexander some Thracian reinforcements to India. In all probability Antipater acted as Philip II would have done and made some concessions so as to be able to next concentrate all his forces on whom he rightly considered to be the more dangerous enemy. 13 That same spring in 331 Agis III started military operations at the head of a large mercenary army, having managed to gain the support of many Peloponnesian states, including Tegea, almost all the poleis of Arcadia, Elis and Achaea except for Pellene. The only states not to back him were those which had Macedonian garrisons or were themselves bitter enemies of Sparta, such as Argos or Megalopolis. The states of Aetolia provided Agis with non-military aid. The Athenians did pass a resolution to send its fleet to help the Spartan king, but the proMacedonian politician Demades ensured that this resolution was never realised. The coalition Agis managed to form posed the greatest threat to Macedonian hegemony in Greece in Alexanders entire reign. The start of the war augured well for Agis for in the Peloponnesus he defeated a Macedonian corps commanded by Corrhagus. 14 News of what was happening in the Peloponnesus reached Alexander during his second stay in Tyre. One cannot doubt that the possibility of Antipater being defeated would have led to the collapse of the Argead hegemony over Greece, next the invasion of Macedonia and finally an end to the unfinished war in Asia, for in such an eventuality even Alexander would not have been able to stop his soldiers from returning home. Yet whether it was because he had so much faith in Antipaters military talent or whether it because he was eager not to delay his confrontation with Darius, Alexander did not decide
Aeschin., 3.133-134; Diod., 17.62; Curt., 9.3.21. Some scholars argue for coordination between Memnon and Agis III: Badian 1967, pp. 179-180; Hamilton 1974, p. 78; Blackwell 1999, pp. 54-55. Contra: Heckel 1997, p. 202; Briant 2002, p. 49. 14 Aeschin., 3.165; Din., 1.34; Diod., 17.62.6-8; Curt., 6.1.20; Plu., mor., 818e-f; Just., 12.1. Bosworth 1988, p. 201; Badian 1994, pp. 268-271; Habicht 1999, pp. 20-21; Blackwell 1999, pp. 55-56, 58.
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to send back any of his land forces. Instead he despatched an allied Phoenician and Cypriot fleet and by diplomatic means ensured that Athens would remain neutral.15 At the time the insurrection was at its most successful. After most of the Peloponnesian states had joined Spartan king, he had under his command 20,000 foot soldiers and 2,000 cavalry as well as considerable freedom to act as there were no immediate threats. The final outcome of this war was resolved by the stance of the strongest Greek polis, Athens, and by a serious strategic mistake made by Agis in not marching his army north. If he had done so, he would have also gained not the just moral support of states in central Greece but also their military backing. After its defeat at Chaeronea Athens not only did not fall into decline but, having entrusted its finances to the outstanding politician and economist Lycurgus, experienced a period of rapid economic growth. State revenues gradually rose to reach a record sum of 1,200 talents a year. This allowed for the modernisation of the citys fortifications, the building of more ships and a reform of the ephebia system, which ensured that new generations of recruits received better army training. In 331 there was a very intensive debate in Athens concerning the conflict between Agis and Macedonia. The most explicit opinion in support of Athens joining the war against Macedonia is speech No. 17 erroneously attributed to Demosthenes but delivered possibly by Hypereides which accuses Alexander of arrogance and breeching the resolutions of the universal peace. Arguing for peace were not only the usual pro-Macedonian politicians but also Demosthenes, known up until then as the greatest anti-Macedonian firebrand. These politicians reminded the Athenians of the promise made at Corinth and of the favours Alexander had bestowed upon Athens, if only, for example, releasing their compatriots who had been captured at Granicus. It is easy to calculate that if Agiss army had been joined by 8,000-10,000 Athenian hoplites with additional detachments of mercenaries and cavalry, his forces would have at least matched those of Antipater. Therefore the decision of Athens to stay neutral proved a fatal blow to the Spartan kings aspirations.16 Having defeated Corragus, Agis now turned against Megalopolis. The siege of this large and well fortified city required a lot of time and precluded simultaneously conducting an offensive against Macedonia. From the political perspective this could not but raise the justified
15 16

Arr., An., 3.6.3. Borza 1972, p. 236; Briant 2002, pp. 49-50. [D.], 17; Aeschin., 3.162, 164-165; Din., 1.34-35; Diod., 17.62.7; Plu., mor., 818e-f. Badian 1967; Bosworth 1988, p. 202; Habicht 1999, pp. 20-25; Blackwell 1999, pp. 56-65; Faraguna 2003, p. 106; Poddighe 2009, p. 115.

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suspicion that for Agis the freedom of other Greeks was at most of secondary importance to his clearly first objective of imposing Spartas hegemony over its neighbours. The precious moment when Macedonia was weak and vulnerable was irretrievably lost. As the Spartans remained idle beneath the walls of Megalopolis, Antipater mobilised an army of Macedonians and allied Greeks numbering as many as 40,000 soldiers. With this army he now marched against Agis and his army at Megalopolis, which was half the size of his forces. The better quality and greater experience of the Agiss mercenaries and Spartan soldiers meant that, despite their numerical superiority, the Macedonians had a very hard fight on their hands. Apart from their rhetorical style, the battles descriptions by Diodorus and Curtius Rufus show that for a long time the final outcome hung in the balance. It was only resolved once the Spartan side ran out of strength to cope with the enemys greater numbers. Among the casualties of the Battle of Megalopolis was the valiant but not very prudent King Agis as well as 5,300 of his soldiers and 3,500 men on the Macedonian side.17 Jealous of the fame of this victory, Alexander tried to depreciate its importance by calling it the war of mice. Aware of this aspect of his monarchs character and of the delicacy of Greek inter-state politics, Antipater chose not to personally decide on how those responsible for the war should be punished and deferred the matter to the synedrion of the League of Corinth. After Agis IIIs death his younger brother, Eudamidas I, became the new king of Sparta and it was with him that the post-war peace negotiations were made. The debate, held once the delegates of the League of Corinth had assembled, lasted a long time and eventually came to no definite conclusion. It was as if everyone was trying to avoid being held responsible for the passing of a harsh sentence. Spartas allies, Achaea and Elis, which had together with the Spartan army besieged Megalopolis, were made to pay a fine of 120 talents in compensation to that city. The Tegeans were pardoned, except for those politicians who were responsible for the citys alliance with Agis. However, the synedrion failed to name a punishment for the main culprit in the breaking of the universal peace Sparta. Perhaps that was because a punishment that was too mild may have displeased the victor, Macedonia, whereas the League of Corinth would have been too weak to impose a severer penalty. The preceding months clearly showed how few states were ready to confront Sparta in defence of the universal peace. Thus a decision was made to simply demand 50 hostages from Sparta and leave the ultimate decision
17 Diod., 17.63; Curt., 6.1.1-16; Paus., 1.13.6, 3.10.5; Just., 12.1. Blackwell 1999, pp. 66-69.

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regarding the punishment to Alexander, to whom Sparta could send its own delegates. Negotiations regarding the hostages were conducted by Antipater and apparently the ephor Eteocles arranged it in such a way that instead of 50 boys the Spartans offered to hand over 100 women and elderly people. The ancient sources do not agree as to whether or not the hostages sent to Antipater were next passed on to Alexander. Nevertheless, defeat in a war that was supposed to return Sparta to its former position of a major power and the considerable losses at a time when its number of citizens was already falling made that state politically passive for the rest of the 4th century.18 The chronology of Agiss revolt and particularly the Battle of Megalopolis are the subject of considerable controversies. Curtius states that the war in the Peloponnesus ended before the Battle of Gaugamela, therefore the Battle of Megalopolis could have taken place at the end of September 331. In recent decades, however, historians have estimated that the battle was actually fought in the spring of 330, and with speed with which news travelled in those times Alexander would have learned of the outcome no earlier than in May that year. Such a chronology of events has been used as a basis for interpreting Alexanders actions over the seven months from his victory at Gaugamela to the burning down of the palaces at Persepolis. Awaiting news from the Peloponnese is used to explain his long stay in Susa. Though the sources do not mention it, Alexander is also said to have sent Antipater 3,000 talents to raise mercenaries. Finally the destruction of Persepolis is supposed to be a gesture of Panhellenic revenge calculated to win Greek public opinion over to the Macedonian side.19 It is not hard to notice that this interpretation of Alexanders actions and intentions is purely hypothetical. The only documentary evidence it is based on comes from a passage in Aeschiness Against Ctesiphon, which states that when in the summer of 330 he delivered this speech, the Spartan hostages were still waiting to be sent to Alexander. But Aeschines does not state when the Battle of Megalopolis actually took place and none of the sources claim that the Spartan hostages were shipped east immediately afterwards. Conversely, we know that the synedrion of the League of Corinth was very slow in making any decisions and Aeschines allows us at
18

Plu., Ages., 15.4; Plu., Agis, 3.3; Plu., mor., 235b; Diod., 17.73.5-6; Curt., 6.1.17-20; Paus., 3.10.5. Bosworth 1988, p. 203; Kulesza 2003, pp. 296-297. 19 Curt., 6.1.21. Late chronology of the battle of Megalopolis and its consequence: Cawkwell 1969, pp. 170-173; Badian 1985, pp. 445-447; Hammond, Walbank 1988, pp. 72-83; Bosworth 1988, pp. 203-204; Badian 1994; Carlier 1995, p. 155; Hammond 1996, pp. 159-161; Blackwell 1999, p. 54, n. 67; Faraguna 2003, p. 105. But see: Nawotka 2003b, pp. 70-71.

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most to speculate that Antipater was tardy with reintroducing Macedonian hegemony to the Peloponnesus. Therefore there are no fundamental reasons why we should reject the traditional chronology of Agiss Revolt from the spring to the autumn of 331 as stated by Curtius. It was also most probably only after the Battle of Megalopolis that Antipater sent Alexander 15,000 soldiers to make up for the troops the king had lost during the autumn campaign of 331.20

3. The battle of Gaugamela


Alexanders army marched from the Euphrates to the Tigris virtually unhampered by the Persians. Mazaeuss forces, which were much weaker than the Macedonian army, limited their actions to burning anything that could be of use to the enemy, but this was not enough to stop the march. Alexander learned from a captured Persian scout that Darius IIIs army was already on the other side of the Tigris and this made it easier for him to plan subsequent manoeuvres for his own army. Curtius remark that the Macedonian armys march lasted only four days cannot be true for the distance they covered was at least 430 km. It is very likely that this erroneous information simply results from a mistake made by a medieval copyist and that Curtius had actually stated the march lasted 40 days, especially as we are told that Alexander crossed the Euphrates in the month of Hekatombaion (July/August) and that he was on the eastern side of the Tigris by 18th September. Therefore the march was fairly slow. Plutarch cites after Eratosthenes an anecdote about how out of boredom the Macedonian soldiers using clods of earth, fists and sticks fought a mock battle between two groups, one side pretending to be the Persians. On learning of this battle, the king instructed the leaders of the two groups to fight each other as Alexander and Darius. The soldier representing Alexander won and the rest of the Macedonian army interpreted this as a good omen.21 Despite Darius IIIs order, Mazaeus did not try to stop the invading army on the Tigris, apparently because he thought the river could not be crossed. We do not know whether Darius really wished to prevent the Macedonians from crossing the Tigris but failed or whether, conversely, it
Aeschin., 3.133. Borza 1972, p. 236; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 285; McQueen 1978; David 1981, p. 114; Wirth 1993, pp. 190, 219-221; Bloedow 1995a, pp. 2425; Heckel 1997, p. 202; Briant 2002, p. 18; Kulesza 2003, p. 296; Heckel 2006, pp. 7-8, s.v. Agis. 21 Eratosthenes, ap. Plu., Alex., 31.2-5 (= FGrH, 241 F29); Curt., 4.9.14-15 ; Diod., 17.55.1-2 ; Arr., An., 3.7.4; It. Alex., 55. Atkinson 1980, pp. 382-383.
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was always his intention fight Alexanders army in open territory to the east of the Tigris. Either way, the only obstacle encountered by the Macedonians was the strong current of the Tigris, though in September the level of water after the hot summer months would have anyhow been low. Modern historians have not been able to establish for certain the place where Alexanders army crossed the Tigris. Taking into account the topography of the territory covered by the Macedonians after they had crossed the Tigris we can only assume that it was probably somewhere near todays city of Mosul in Iraq or a bit further north. Once the army reached the eastern bank, Alexander allowed his soldiers to rest for a couple of days before they marched into battle. It was at this time (according to Curtius) or a few days later (Arrian) that the allied Paionian cavalry commanded by a member of that tribes royal family, Ariston, defeated a squadron of Persian cavalry.22 The army of Darius III set up camp near Gaugamela, the place where the last pitched battle between the two kings was fought. The ancient sources, however, generally call this the battle of Arbela (today called Irbil/Hawlir) after a large town some 90 km to the south east in modernday Iraqi Kurdistan. We know that Gaugamela was a large village on the river Boumelos (today called Gomil stream), a western tributary of the Khazir, which flows into the Greater Zab, which in turn flows into the Tigris. The name Gaugamela is preserved in a modern-day village called Gaumal but its actual site is todays Tell Gomel on the Nauqr plain to the north of the Gebel Maqlub range and 35 km to the east of the Tigris. Darius selected as a battlefield a broad plain where he could take full advantage of the numerical superiority of his cavalry and most effectively use his chariots. It because of the chariots that Persian soldiers levelled out the field where they expected to fight the Macedonians. Darius made a serious mistake in not fortifying his camp at Gaugamela. It was for this reason that his army spent the night before the battle armed and on guard in case the enemy suddenly attacked. The lack of sleep could not but have had detrimental effect on Dariuss soldiers on the day of the battle.23 Apart
Curt., 4.9.15-10.1; Diod., 17.55.3-6; Arr., An., 3.7.5-8.2; It. Alex., 55. Atkinson 1980, pp. 384-385; Heckel 1992, pp. 354-355. 23 Arbela/Gaugamela: Diod., 17.62.1, 17.64.1; Arr., An., 3.11.5, 6.11.6; Str., 16.1.3, 16.1.4, 17.1.43; Marmor Parium, FGrH, 239 F106; Anonymi Chronicon Oxyrynchi, FGrH, 255 F1.7; Lib., 18.260; Amp., 16.2.5; Curt., 4.9.9, 5.1.2, 6.1.21, 9.2.23; Plin., Nat., 6.41; Polyaen., 4.3.6, 4.3.17; Fron., Str., 2.3.19; see Nawotka 2003, pp. 86-87. Topography: Marsden 1964, pp. 18-21; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 270, n. 311; Seibert 1985, pp. 129-130; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 70-72; Bernard 1990, pp. 520-521; Hamilton 1999, p. 80. Arr., An., 3.8.7; Plu., Alex., 31.8.
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from that, morale in the Persian camp might not have been very high. Fragments of tablets found at Babylon state that on 18th September presumably in response to news of the Macedonians crossing the Tigris panic erupting in the camp of the ruler of the world, Darius III. On the other hand, Polyaenus also reports of soldiers panicking in Alexanders camp on the Tigris. It appears that there was nervousness on both sides in face of what they knew to be a momentous event that would decide their fates.24 On the third day (20th September 331) after crossing the Tigris the Macedonians saw a lunar eclipse. Sacrifices were immediately made to the Sun, Moon and Earth. Egyptians seers as well as Alexanders personal soothsayer, Aristander, interpreted this phenomenon as a bad omen for the Persians. Indeed, astronomers in Babylon also regarded the eclipse as a portent that their own side would be defeated. Alexanders soldiers, initially disturbed by the eclipse, were much relieved by the seers interpretation. It was with this new found optimism among the men that on the morning of 21st September the Macedonian king ordered his army to march.25 After a slow and cautious march of four days, the Macedonians encountered the enemy. This time Alexander personally led an attack on the enemys cavalry. From the captives he learned that Dariuss camp was situated 150 stades (27 km) away. The Macedonians also managed to chase away Mazaeuss riders, who were continuing their scorched earth tactics, and thus Alexanders men got hold of some intact supplies of grain. With logistical problems settled for the nearest future, the Macedonian army set up a fortified camp and stayed there for four days. The Macedonian baggage train and soldiers who were unfit because of wounds or disease remained there for the battle as well. It was in that time that a letter from Darius to the Greeks in Alexanders army was intercepted. In this letter Darius urged the Greeks to hand the Macedonian king over to the Persians. On the advice of the cautious Parmenion the message in this letter was not disclosed to the soldiers so as not to put any ideas into their heads. 26 Meanwhile Mazaeus barred the Macedonians way to the Persian camp with an elite squadron of 3,000 cavalry. Alexander sent an advance guard of horsemen (most probably mercenaries) commanded by the Macedonian Menidas, but they dared not attack Mazaeus. Mazaeus, on the other hand,
24

Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 330, verso 14; Polyaen., 4.3.26. Bernard 1990, pp. 517521, 524; Briant 2003, p. 80. 25 Arr., An., 3.7.6; Curt., 4.10.1-7; Plu., Alex., 31.8; Plin. Nat., 2.180; SachsHunger 1988, no. 330, verso 3. Bosworth 1980, p. 287; van der Spek 2003, pp. 292-295. 26 Curt., 4.10.8-17; Arr., An., 3.9.1; Polyaen., 4.3.18.

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also did not engage the enemy and instead withdrew to Gebel Maqlub (1,040 m), which overlooks the Nauqr plain. Fear of the mighty Persian army almost verged on panic in Alexanders camp. Yet Mazaeus did not make use of this opportunity to deliver a pre-emptive strike. Instead the following day he withdrew from the mountain and returned to Dariuss camp. Alexander not only managed to calm his soldiers down but also took the opportunity and occupied the strategically important position in the hills that the enemy had vacated. There he set up the last camp before the battle and fortified it, so that his soldiers could rest and build up strength in relative safety before the decisive clash.27 The exact date of the Battle of Gaugamela was for a long time the subject of controversy among modern historians for it cannot be unequivocally deduced from the information provided by the ancient authors. Plutarch, for instance, states that it happened on the 26th day of the month of Boedromion, which cannot be easily converted into a date in our calendar system. Fortunately, thanks to the entry in an exceptionally accurate Babylonian astronomical diary, we can now be certain that the battle took place on 1st October 331.28 Already on the preceding day the Macedonian army stood in battle formation ready to confront the Persians, who were aligned for battle thirty stades (5.5 km) away. Alexanders highranking officers advised him to attack at once, but instead this time he listened to Parmenions advice: he delayed the fight so as to first assess the battlefield and seek out any traps the enemy might have prepared. In the evening, however, it was Parmenion and other more senior officers who were persuading Alexander to attack Dariuss army at night. They argued that the element of surprise would even out the chances against a numerically larger army. Perhaps behind Alexanders proud response that he did not wish to steal a victory there was, as Arrian assumes, not only an unwillingness to risk so much in a night-time battle but also a desire to prove to Darius his inferiority as a warrior in the open field and the light of day. Perhaps he wished to exclude all factors other than quality of command and sheer fighting ability. The rest of the night Alexander and his circle of companions spent on religious ceremonies. We know that sacrifices were also made to Phobos, the god of fear, panic and flight from the battlefield who accompanied Ares the god of war. They went to sleep
27

Curt., 4.12.1, 4.12.4-5, 4.12.14-19; Arr., An., 3.9.1-2. Bosworth 1988, p. 80; Heckel 1992, pp. 362-363. 28 Plu., Alex., 31.8; Plu., Cam., 19.5; Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 330, verso 15-16. Questions pertaining to the date: Dbrowa 1988, p. 74; Hamilton 1999, p. 81. Fixing the date: Grzybek 1990, pp. 42, 58-59; Bernard 1990, pp. 515-528; Hauben 1992, p. 149; Le Rider 2003, pp. 267-268.

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just before dawn. The rest of the Macedonian army slept throughout the night. The Persians, on the other hand, spent the entire night on watch for fear of an attack on their very large but unfortified camp. The Persian camp fires were said to have been visible on the plain right up to the horizon.29 Thanks to information contained in the book of Aristobulus, who had accompanied Alexander on that expedition, we know that after the battle the Macedonians found in the Persian camp the Great Kings written dispositions for the day including the positioning of his forces. Darius personally commanded the centre. He was guarded by the melophori, the elite aristocratic cavalry called the royal kinsmen as well as detachments from India, Babylonia, Sittacene, the Uxians, Carians, Mardi and now a not so numerous detachment of Greek mercenaries. The war elephants and 50 scythed chariots were also aligned in the centre. The right wing included contingents from Syria, Armenia, Cappadocia and northern Mesopotamia, Media, Parthia, Hyrcania as well as allies from Scythia and another 50 scythed chariots. The arrangement of the Persian left wing shows that a lesson from previous engagements had been learned. Here Darius positioned his strongest units the excellent east Iranian cavalry (Bactrians, Dahae and Arachosians), Scythian allies as well as Persians and Susians for he realised they would most probably be facing Alexander, who usually commanded his hetairoi on the Macedonian right wing. Here too he positioned the remaining 100 scythe bearing chariots. It is worth noting that Dariuss army included contingents from countries that had already been conquered by Alexander. At least some of the soldiers from these countries had obviously not given up hope of the Great King and rightful ruler of the Persian Empire ultimately being victorious. We even know of an Egyptian official called Samtutefnacht, who left an account of his stay in Dariuss camp and of the subsequent crushing defeat of the Persians.30 The Macedonian battle positions are well known because on this subject the ancient authors agree. The right wing was held by the Macedonian cavalry officially commanded by Parmenions son, Philotas, but de facto command of this section of the Macedonian frontline belonged to Alexander. Extended even farther to the right were
Arr., An., 3.9.3-11.2; Curt., 4.12.24-13.17; Plu., Alex., 31.8-32.1; Diod., 17.55.656.1; It. Alex., 57-58. 30 Aristobul., ap. Arr., An., 3.11.3-7 (= FGrH, 139 F17); Curt., 4.12.5-13. Treson 1931 (Samtutefnachts stele); Marsden 1964, p. 44; Seibert 1972, p. 131; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 269; Bosworth 1980, pp. 297-299; Vogelsang 1992, pp. 222-223; Hammond 1996, pp. 141-143; Briant 2003, p. 78.
29

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detachments of Agrianians, slingers, Macedonian archers, Greek mercenary cavalry and infantry, Paionian cavalry and Macedonian prodromoi (scouts). The centre was, as usual, held by the Macedonian phalanx with the hypaspist foot guard positioned between its right flank and the whole armys right wing. The left wing was commanded by Parmenion and included javelin throwers, Thracians, Cretan archers, Achaean mercenary infantry as well as allied and mercenary Greek and Thessalian cavalry. Auxiliary units were positioned at the extremities of both wings at slanting angles to the rest of the front line so as to prevent the army from being outflanked. Alexander positioned a second line behind the front line of infantry. The Greek mercenaries, Thracians and Illyrians in the second line were of less military value but they held an important position in the eventuality of the numerically far superior enemy surrounding the Macedonians. The positioning of the entire Macedonian army took on a strange trapezoidal shape which was dictated by the danger of being outflanked on one or both sides. Considering the large numerical difference between the two armies and the flat terrain being attacked from behind must have seemed inevitable to Alexander.31 The battle could not begin at dawn for the commander-in-chief of the Macedonian forces, having spent almost the entire night preparing for the fight, was fast asleep, and no one could or perhaps dared to wake him. Parmenion ordered breakfast to be given to the soldiers and only after they had consumed it did he venture to rouse Alexander, having to shake him several times. Only then did the king deliver a speech of encouragement to his soldiers and ordered the battle to commence. Alexanders seemingly strange behaviour was no doubt based on the sober calculation that since the enemy was to the east, by attacking too early the Macedonians would have the sun in their eyes. In that respect the later in the day they attacked, the better. Nevertheless contemporary Babylonian sources state that the battle began in the morning, or at least before noon.32 At the start it became apparent that the Persian lines extended so far beyond the Macedonian formations that Alexanders right wing found itself directly opposite the Persian centre commanded by Darius. Alexander therefore ordered his wing to move further right, in response to which the Persians began a corresponding manoeuvre to their left. However, the much more numerous and therefore slower moving Persian
31

Arr., An., 3.118-12.5; Diod., 17.57.1-5; Curt., 4.13.26-32; Fron., Str., 2.3.19-20. Bosworth 1980, pp. 300-304; Bosworth 1988, p. 81; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 93-94; Hammond 1996, pp. 143-145. 32 Curt., 4.13.17-25; Diod., 17.56; Plu., Alex., 32.1-4; Just., 11.13; Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 330, verso 15. Atkinson 1980, p. 418.

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detachments could not keep up with Alexanders smaller but faster units. Worse still, by moving further left the Persians were leaving the terrain specially prepared for the chariots, and Darius was clearly hoping that these would play an important role in breaking through the enemys front line. Moreover, the Macedonians were now moving away from the places where the Persians had secretly dug ditches against their cavalry. For these reasons the Great King ordered first the Scythian cavalry and next also the Bactrian cavalry to attack the enemy and stop this manoeuvre. Alexander sent a detachment of Greek mercenary cavalry to counter this attack and soon afterwards other cavalry detachments were sent as well. The excellently trained and armoured east Iranian and Scythian cavalry inflicted heavy losses on the enemy, so, wishing to quickly resolve the conflict, Darius now sent in his chariots. Although this archaic formation did inflict some losses among the enemys frontline troops, it did not have a very significant impact on the ultimate course of the battle since the chariots operated unsupported by the Persian cavalry. As the chariots sped towards them, the soldiers in the phalanx were ordered to stand apart and let them through. At the same time javelins were hurled at the passing chariot horses and immediately after that the slingers and Agrianians finished off the charioteers with impunity.33 Gaugamela was the first recorded battle in history where a European army encountered elephants. The Greeks had known about these animals since the previous century but this knowledge was still very hazy Aristotles research into the subject marked a breakthrough but that was only made possible as a consequence of Alexanders expedition. The only source to mention them being used in the Battle of Gaugamela is the anonymous Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, whose author claims that the Macedonians stopped the animals from advancing on them by scattering sharp metal objects before them. Whether or not this unconfirmed story is true, we can be certain at Gaugamela the military impact of the elephants was even smaller than that of the scythed chariots.34 No doubt as he observed the situation develop on his right wing the Great King also ordered his soldiers to attack the enemy on other sections of the front. The Persians had the greatest success on their right wing. Here too the scythed chariots acting in tandem with the Messagetae cavalry were much more effective. The commander of this wing was the satrap Mazaeus and he managed to get the Macedonians outflanked and
Arr., An., 3.13; Curt., 4.15.1-4, 4.15-17; Diod., 17.57.6-59.1; Polyaen., 4.3.17; It. Alex., 59-61. Bosworth 1988, pp. 81-88; Dbrowa 1988, pp. 96-97; Hammond 1996, p. 145; Ashley 1998, p. 267. 34 Fragmentum Sabbaiticum, FGrH, 151, F1.13. Scullard 1974, pp. 37-52, 64.
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pinned down by his troops. Some of his cavalry now broke through a gap that had appeared as a consequence of the Macedonia centre and right wing shifting further right and now headed straight for Alexanders camp rather than attacking the back of Macedonian phalanx. The Persian captives joined the fight and the poorly armed Thracian detachment guarding the camp was soon defeated. Legend would later have it that Dariuss mother, Queen Sisigambis, chose to stay with Alexander instead of making use of this opportunity to escape. It was at this critical moment that the advantage of the unusual alignment of the Macedonian forces became apparent: the second Macedonian phalanx positioned behind the first turned around and attacked its own camp thus recapturing it. Although some of the Bactrian cavalry was now confined to fighting round the camp, the situation on the Macedonian left wing continued to be dire. Parmenion sent successive messengers to Alexander with urgent pleas for help, but none came for the battles outcome now hung in the balance in the Macedonian centre and on the right wing.35 The sources are very vague about what happened in the centre, saying only that Macedonian phalanx advanced victoriously on the enemy. They focus much more on what Alexander was doing. As at Issus, the Macedonian kings objective was to reach Darius with his hetairoi and he was now leading a charge in that direction. Macedonians who had fought in that battle later claimed that an eagle was flying above their king, which was obviously a sign of the impending victory. The fiercest fighting erupted between the Companion cavalry and the royal kinsmen gathered around the Great King. Although we can assume Arrians claim that Darius was the first to flee is simply a product of Macedonian propaganda, there is no way of knowing the veracity of the opposite claim that he wanted to die but was forced to withdraw by his entourage. Regardless of which version is closer to the truth, Darius did once again leave the battlefield at a time when his army was still fighting in a still equal struggle with the invading enemy. The Great Kings escape resulted in the collapse of resistance in the section he had commanded.36 At first Alexander tried to chase Darius but he was hindered by the general confusion and the clouds of dust that limited visibility. Indeed, Darius made skilful use of these circumstances and under the cover of dust clouds he led the detachments retreating with him in a quite unexpected
35 Curt., 4.15.2-3, 4.15.5-13; Diod., 17.59.5-8; Plu., Alex., 32.5-8; Arr., An., 3.14.56; Polyaen., 4.3.6. Bosworth 1988, pp. 82-84; Hammond 1996, pp. 146-147; Ashley 1998, pp. 267-268. 36 Arr., An., 3.14.1-4; Diod., 17.60.1-3; Plu., Alex., 33.2-8; Curt., 4.15.19-33; Just., 11.14; It. Alex., 62. Schachermeyr 1973, p. 237; Bosworth 1988, p. 83.

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direction. According to Arrian and later quoting after him the Itinerarium Alexandri, Alexander stopped the pursuit after yet another of Parmenions messengers reported to him with urgent pleas for help. The Macedonian king turned round and rushed to save the left flank of his army, which was now on the verge of total defeat. However, it is possible that Arrians account simply reflects the unsympathetic stance towards Parmenion originally held by Alexanders court historian, Callisthenes, who had every reason to present the old general as an incompetent commander who panicked instead of facing the enemy himself. Historians point to the physical difficulties a messenger sent by Parmenion would have had in locating let alone reaching Alexander in the most intensive heat of the battle. Anyhow, news of the Great Kings withdrawal now spread among the Persian soldiers and particular national groups started withdrawing from the battle in order to get back to their countries. In fact Alexander encountered the heaviest fighting against detachments trying to escape from the battlefield and head for their native lands of Parthia, Persis and India. In this clash the Macedonians lost 60 men and many were wounded, including at least three high-ranking officers: Hephaestion, Coenus and Menidas. Once most of the Persian army was in retreat, the Macedonian soldiers on the left flank managed to independently repulse the enemy from their section before effective help from Alexander arrived, if indeed any was sent. In this section the Thessalian cavalry once again played an outstanding role. Meanwhile Alexander continued his pursuit of Darius but the late time of day, the considerable distance that now separated him from the Great King and the other Persian detachments fleeing from the battle precluded any chance of success. The Macedonians pitched camp for the night by the river Lycus (Greater Zab), some 32 km from Gaugamela.37 Darius escaped to Arbela and thence he hurriedly headed for safety in Media to the east of the Zagros Mountains. The Persian capital there, Ecbatana, became the Great Kings residence for the next half year. Darius assumed, correctly as it turned out, that Alexander would not follow him but go for the prizes resulting from the victory at Gaugamela, i.e. the Achaemenid capitals to the west of the Zagros Mountains Babylon and Susa. The Great King was accompanied by the remainder of the Greek mercenaries, now only 2,000, as well as the Bactrian cavalry, which was led virtually unscathed out Gaugamela by the satrap Bessus. At Ecbatana Darius gathered soldiers who had escaped from Gaugamela and prepared for another battle, hoping to get reinforcements from eastern Iran. The day
Arr., An., 3.15.1-5; Diod., 17.60.4-61.3; Curt., 4.16.1-6; Plu., Alex., 33.9-11; It. Alex., 63; Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 330, verso 16-18. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 240-241; Devine 1975, p. 382; Bosworth 1980, pp. 309-312.
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after the battle Alexanders army advanced post-haste to Arbela, losing many Macedonian horses in this murderous march. When they got there, Darius was already gone but some of his treasures remained, 4,000 talents and the royal insignia. Again there is no credible data regarding the losses suffered by both sides at Gaugamela. The ancient authors especially the greatest purveyor of Macedonian propaganda Arrian clearly exaggerate in minimising the number Macedonian losses: from just 100 (according to Arrian) to less than 300 (Curtius) or 500 (Diodorus). By contrast the figures they give for the Persians killed or captured seem ridiculously high: from 40,000 (Curtius) or 90,000 (Diodorus) to 300,000 (Arrian). Arrian actually states that over 300,000 Persians were captured.38 However, an exact figure for how many were really killed or captured is not of the greatest historical significance. One of the consequences of this decisive battle of far greater historical importance was the access Alexander now had to the central and richest provinces of the Achaemenid Empire. Moreover, although Darius had not yet given up the fight, for the rest of his stay in Iran Alexander would not have to fight any more major battles that could have changed the course of events. The Macedonian army did not spend much time on the Gaugamela battlefield, probably only as long as it took to bury their dead. Before they set off an event occurred that Plutarch mentions in one sentence and the other sources simply ignore. Plutarch states that after the battle, and presumably before the march, Alexander was proclaimed king of Asia. Although Plutarch does not cite his source, there is no reason to doubt that this really happened. Literary and epigraphic sources from Alexanders lifetime and the end of the 4th century confirm that he used the title of king or ruler of Asia. In Greek sources the word Asia had both political and purely geographical meaning, in the later sense it signified the Asian continent. In the political sense the word Asia meant the Kingdom of Persia. The sources are unequivocal about this. One, On the Universe, attributed to Aristotle, gives the following definition: All the Empire of Asia, bounded on the west by the Hellespont and on the east by the Indus, was apportioned according to races among under generals and satraps and kings, slaves of the Great King; and there were the couriers and watchmen and messengers and superintendents of signal fires. Therefore the Greeks of Alexanders day would have understood the ruler of Asia to be someone modern historians call the king of Persia. This understanding of the word Asia, quite different to ours, is also confirmed in Egyptian hieroglyphic sources of the 4th century. In clearly reflected the extent of geographic
38

Arr., An., 3.15.5-16.3; Diod., 17.60.4, 17.61, 17.64.1-2; Curt., 4.16.8-5.1.10; It. Alex., 64-65. Bosworth 1980, pp. 312-313; Seibert 1985, pp.95-96.

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knowledge in ancient times, where real Asia fitted within the bounds of the Achaemenid Empire, whereas beyond lay only semi-mythical territories such as India or the land of the Amazons. Among the Persian kings titles there was xyaiya Prsaiy, which means king in Persia rather than king of Persia and it was used above all to stress the legitimacy of their rule over Parsa, meaning Persis or Fars, the homeland of the Achaemenids. However the title most frequently used in contemporary Greek and Persian sources was Great King. Alexander, on the other hand, never used this title, at least not in Greek, perhaps because of the bad associations it had to Greeks. Instead he chose the less popular by no less unequivocal title of king of Asia.39 We have no details of how Alexander was proclaimed king of Asia. Perhaps his army proclaimed him as such, which would have had exclusively political significance, but it would not have been legally valid. It is equally probable that Alexander had a herald proclaim him to be king of Asia in front of his army. In both cases the proclamation would have been in keeping with the universally practiced doctrine of the victor taking over sovereignty, and Alexander was most certainly the victor at Gaugamela. He had already made his claim to the entire Achaemenid Empire in diplomatic correspondence with Darius. Therefore the proclamation at Gaugamela was not unexpected but the victory had raised it from the status of mere propaganda to a statement of fact. Perhaps this was still a bit premature, considering that Darius still held power in Iran, but it was very convincing in the light of what had happened in the most recent days.40 After his victory Alexander made sacrifices to the gods befitting the grandeur of the occasion. Those who had distinguished themselves in the battle were now awarded gifts. The treasures captured from the Persians allowed the king to be very generous to the Greeks and thus stress the Panhellenic character of this anti-Persian war. That was why booty taken from Darius was given to the Plataeans in compensation for the destruction previously inflicted by Xerxes. Croton was awarded by Alexander on account of the fact that in 480 its citizen Phayllus had sailed in his own ship to aid the Greeks fighting the Persians at Salamis. A gift to
39 Plu., Alex., 34.1; Timachides, Chronicum Lindium, FGrH, 532 F1.38; FD 3.4.2.137; Arist., Mu., 398a (translation by J. Barnes). For the discussion of the issue of Kingdom of Asia (with reference to all relevant sources) see Nawotka 2004. 40 Ritter 1965, p. 52; Wilcken 1967, pp. 137-138; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 277-279; Goukowsky 1978, p. 175; Bosworth 1988, p. 85; Wirth 1993, pp. 193-196; Hamilton 1999, p. 9.

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the Temple of Athena in the city of Lindus served to nurture good relations with the island of Rhodes. Marking this occasion there is also a letter in which Alexander declares freedom to the Greeks and the abolition of tyrannies. Unfortunately we do not know the exact addressee though letter could only be referring to the situation in continental Greece, where Antipater maintained control by continuing Philip IIs policy of supporting pro-Macedonian oligarchies and tyrannies. The sources provide no evidence that this policy changed after Alexanders letter. Therefore it must have simply been a declaration of goodwill from a monarch who was ever more distant from Greek affairs and also one who had ever less understanding of the subtleties of politics in Macedonia and Greece.41

4. Babylon, Susa and Persepolis


Alexander limited the time spent on the battlefield at Gaugamela to the bare minimum for fear of an epidemic breaking out in a place strewn with thousands of Persian corpses. Like after Issus, he chose not to continue his pursuit of the defeated Persian ruler because he did not wish to risk leaving behind unoccupied Achaemenid provinces. Alexander ended the chase at Arbela. There is no evidence that after that he returned to Gaugamela. It is more likely that from Arbela the Macedonian army next marched south towards Babylon, the capital of the richest Persian satrapy called Babiru and one of the capitals of the entire empire. But Persian troops who had escaped from Gaugamela had arrived there first. Their commander was Mazaeus, previously the satrap of Cilicia and Ebirnari. The Babiru satrapy had been governed by Bupares, whom Arrian names as the commander of the Babylonian contingent at Gaugamela. The sources make no mention of him after that event, which may mean that he was killed in the battle and that Darius appointed Mazaeus, whom he trusted, the new satrap of this province. Mazaeus certainly had good relations with the local elites as his wife was Babylonian. But this fact would have also made him vulnerable to pressure on important issues such as whether or not to defend the city and whether to surrender or risk destruction.42 Thanks to the ancient authors and the Babylonian Astronomical Diary the chronology of events that occurred during the march to Babylon can be
41 Plu., Alex., 34.2-4; Timachides, Chronicum Lindium, FGrH, 532 F1.38. Hamilton 1999, pp. 91-92; Blackwell 1999, pp. 109-110; Flower 2000, pp. 112113. 42 Arr., An., 3.8.5; Diod., 17.64.3. Berve 1926, no. 221; Frye 1984, p. 139; Jacobs 1994, p. 162; Briant 1996, p. 868; Heckel 1997, p. 204.

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quite accurately traced. Already on 8th October 331, that is, barely a week after the battle, someone from Gaugamela reached Babylon. The diary is damaged in this place, so we do not know for sure who it was. It could have been Mazaeus himself or a messenger with news of Darius IIIs defeat. The distance of 580 km from Gaugamela to Babylon could be swiftly covered thanks to the Persian system of stage posts which allowed horses to be changed. Alternatively it could have been a messenger from Alexander with the first offer to negotiate. Meanwhile the Macedonian army marched, most probably down the Royal Road in the direction of Susa but after a few dozens of kilometres turning towards the Tigris. After four days they reached the town of Mennis, where the soldiers were amazed to see for the first time in their lives perpetual flames emanating from a grotto (burning natural gas) and a stream of petroleum oil spilling out onto the surface. There are two places on the route between Arbela and Babylon known in ancient times to have had oil flowing out onto the surface and burning natural gas. One is Baba Gurgur near Kirkuk and some 80 km from Arbela, but it is the more distant Tuz Khurmatu some 125 km from Arbela that seems more likely to have been the place where the Macedonians saw this phenomenon. In four days Alexanders rapidly moving army would have advanced at least 125 km. Having never seen such a substance emerging from the ground before, the Macedonians experimented with it. One of their experiments was to pour the oil over a young volunteer called Stephanus and setting it alight. The fire then proved very difficult to put out and the unfortunate volunteer suffered serious burns. Not far from this place the Macedonians crossed over to the western side of the Tigris. By 18th October they were in Sippar, 50 km to the north of Babylon. From the above information we can estimate that the army marched on average some 35 km a day. At Sippar they stayed for two days. There can be no doubt that Alexander had started negotiations with Mazaeus and the Babylonian elite already before the army reached Sippar. In these negotiations he promised that his soldiers would not enter the houses in Babylon by that he may have meant the houses of gods, in other words temples. An entry for 20th October in the Astronomical Diary states that the Macedonians were at the Gate of Esagila, and the following day they sacrificed a bull, no doubt to Marduk. After that Alexander entered Babylon and, using the official Babylonian nomenclature, took over Dariuss position as ruler of the world.43
43

Curt., 5.1.11-16; Plu., Alex., 35; Str., 16.4.1, 15; Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 330, retro. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 244-245; Seibert 1985, p. 96; Bernard 1990, pp. 525-528; Atkinson 1994, p. 33; Hamilton 1999, pp. 93-94; van der Spek 2003, pp. 298-299.

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The ancient authors have preserved colourful descriptions of Alexanders entry into Babylon. First Mazaeus with his children and the royal treasurer (ganzabara) Bagophanes came out to greet him, surrender the city and ask for mercy. They were accompanied by priests, magi chanting religious songs, Chaldaean soothsayers as well as Babylonian notables and cavalry in full, extravagant ceremonial dress, while crowds of inhabitants looked on from the citys walls. The king was offered cattle, horses as well as lions and panthers in cages. Mazaeus had flowers specially strewn on the road into Babylon and incense was burned on silver alters along the way. Alexander entered the city in a chariot surrounded by his soldiers marching in battle formation. The first place he headed for was the royal palace and then, having been instructed by the priests, he laid an offering to Marduk. This festive entry, despite the cheerfulness expressed by the Babylonians, was by no means a spontaneous affair. The Astronomical Diary tells us that there were negotiations before Alexander entered the city. Indeed, such triumphal entries of monarchs who had defeated in war erstwhile rulers of Babylon had a long tradition in Mesopotamia. Such a parade was made in honour of the Assyrian king Sargon II after he had defeated the Babylonian ruler Marduk-appal-iddin II in 710, and in 539 Cyrus the Great entered the city in such a fashion after his victory over the Chaldaean Nabonidus. Not every conqueror received such a welcome but only those like Sargon II, Cyrus the Great and Alexander who managed to gain acceptance from Babylons priestly elite. The publics expressions of joy at greeting the new ruler were part of a ceremony rehearsed only for rightful monarchs. And that was how the Babylonian elite perceived Alexander in October 331.44 The traditional picture of Alexander in Babylon presented in modern historiography is based on a literal interpretation of classical sources. Basically Alexander is perceived as the liberator of this great Middle Eastern metropolis from a mindless and cruel Persian regime. The Babylonians were supposed to hate the Persians for the quelling of their rebellion by Xerxes in 479 and the destruction of their temples, including the Temple of Esagila and the famous Etemenanki ziggurat (the Biblical Tower of Babel), as well as the melting down of the gold statue of Marduk into ingots. And that was why Alexander, who had defeated the Persians

Curt., 5.1.17-23; Arr., An., 3.16.3; Diod., 17.64.4. Kuhrt 1990, pp. 121-126; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1993, pp. 139-140; Atkinson 1994, pp. 34-36; Briant 1996, p. 881; Heckel 1997, p. 206.

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and promised to rebuild the temple, was so enthusiastically greeted by the inhabitants of Babylon.45 Such an explanation, however, casts more shade than light on Alexanders stay in Babylon. Both Persian and Babylonian sources present a far more complex picture of the Achaemenid rule. The regions legendary affluence had for ages been derived from an agriculture utilising rich soil as well as sophisticated irrigation and drainage systems. The inhabitants of Babylonia were obliged to supply the royal court, which frequently resided in Babylon, and the Great Kings army with food. The cities, Babylon itself as well as Uruk, Sippar and Nippur, had efficient banking houses and international trading companies. We know most about how such institutions functioned from the cuneiform tablets of the Murashu family from Nippur. The Persian era gave the Babylonian merchants and bankers the benefit of a gradually developing monetary economy. On the other hand, it also had the detrimental effects of obvious incompetence, greed and corruption among the Achaemenid officials. The paucity of historical sources from reign of Xerxes to that Darius III may be the result of a slower than before rate of economic growth in Babylonia. However, the Achaemenid period cannot be perceived as a time of economic or cultural collapse. The Persians themselves regarded Babylonia with a mixture admiration for its wealth and civilizational achievements as well as contempt for its military weakness. That is why in extant Achaemenid records of lands belonging to the Great King Babylonia holds a prestigious third position of importance after Persis and Media but in Persepolis friezes the inhabitants of Babylonia are presented as the only ones not bearing arms.46 Though there were several rebellions, everyday life in Persian occupied Babylonia was generally peaceful and the presence of many Iranian inhabitants in this country is well attested. There were many aristocratic Persian estates in Mesopotamia, whose owners frequently married women belonging to the Babylonian social elites. Both Babylonians and Iranians worked in the Achaemenid bureaucracy; the Iranians only predominated in the higher offices. The region also had military settlers. The Great King granted many allotments of land to his horsemen, archers and charioteers. By the 4th century, however, this system was no longer working properly for the descendants of military
45 Tarn 1948, i, pp. 51-52; Wilcken 1967, pp. 139-141; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 280-283; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 247-249; Green 1974, pp. 302-304; Badian 1985, p. 437; Bosworth 1988, pp. 86-87. 46 Frye 1984, pp. 129-130; Oppenheim 1985, pp. 531, 577-586; Stolper 1994, pp. 241-245; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1994, pp. 311-312; Briant 1996, pp. 742-743.

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settlers frequently sold off parts of their land so that larger allotments were divided up and reduced in size. That may be why military settlers in Mesopotamia did not make a significant contribution to the Persian war effort at the end of the Achaemenid era.47 In Alexanders day Babylon, covering an area of 975 ha and surrounded by 18 km of walls, regarded one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was possibly the largest city on earth. We can assume that it had approximately 200,000-300,000 inhabitants; the average population density in contemporary cities ranged from 100-400 inhabitants per hectare and the population of Antioch on the Orontes with area of 650 ha has been estimated to include between 160,000 and 250,000 inhabitants. How the Greeks imaged the sheer size of Babylon is expressed in Aristotles anecdote stating that it took three days for all the inhabitants to learn that their city had been captured by Alexander. The river Euphrates, which flowed through Babylon, was spanned by a bridge built on stone pillars and the two focal points within the metropolis were the royal palace and the temple complex. The heavily fortified palace of Nebuchadnezzar, still used in Persian times, was situated on a low hill today called Kasr, right next to the citys wall. Because in the late Achaemenid period Babylons status was raised to become one of the Persian capitals, during Artaxerxes IIs reign an Apadana (throne hall) was added to the palace. However, it is not true that stone foundations excavated in one of the palaces corners once supported the so-called hanging gardens of Semiramis (the hanging gardens of Babylon) for these were almost certainly located in Nineveh. There was a 7-20 m wide procession route running from the Ishtar Gate in the northern wall, alongside Nebuchadnezzars palace up to the famous Marduk temple complex in the city centre. There is controversy among historians as to the scale of destruction inflicted by the Persians to the Etemenanki ziggurat and Esagila temple or even whether such an event actually occurred. The traditional view has been challenged by historians who unfortunately base most of their arguments on the total lack of Babylonian records regarding the Persian destruction of these edifices. Moreover, these historians argue that the works carried out on Alexanders instructions which are indeed confirmed in Babylonian tablets were merely symbolic as every good king of Babylon was obliged to at least beautify the Temple of Marduk.48
47 Lane Fox 1973, p. 157-160; Frye 1984, p. 129; Oppenheim 1985, pp. 573-574; Stolper 1994, pp. 245-247, 253-257; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1994, p. 313; Briant 1996, pp. 743-746. 48 Arist., Pol., 1276a. Oppenheim 1985, pp. 583-584; Kuhrt 1990, pp. 126-127; Dalley 1994; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1994, pp. 313, 317; Stolper 1994, p. 259;

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However, archaeological excavations carried out in 1962 have confirmed that the Etemenanki ziggurat had been considerably damaged. During the 479 siege of Babylon Xerxes had directed the flow of the Euphrates into the city and thus washed away many sun dried clay bricks out of which the ziggurat was built. As a result of this damage a section of the Etemenanki collapsed so that when Alexander arrived he found it in a state of partial ruin. Therefore, although damage around the temple had not been intentionally caused by the Persians, it was serious enough to require major rebuilding, especially as far as the ziggurat was concerned. The mere removal of rubble was said to have involved 10,000 labourers and lasted two months. Arrian mentions the rebuilding project in his account of Alexanders entry into Babylon. However, other sources, both Greek and Babylonian, mention construction work being carried out in 329 and 325. This would suggest that in October/November there was only a royal proclamation that the Etemenanki would be rebuilt, whereas the actual work started some years later and was continued up to Alexanders death.49 Alexanders other building projects were of a much smaller scale. The only attributed building of note and here too we cannot be entirely certain was the Greek theatre. No doubt many buildings would have been raised in that city had Alexander lived longer for he did plan to make Babylon the permanent capital of his world empire.50 The significance of Babylon in the Near East of those days did not only rest on the magnificence of its architecture and the economic might of its bankers. Babylon was above all a religious metropolis for the priests of Marduk had managed to secure for this once local god an exceptional position in the Mesopotamian pantheon. A concept was established in Babylon that Marduk was the driving force behind history and that he realised his will through native or foreign rulers. The temple council was in charge of the earthly aspects of running Marduks shrine as well as representing the entire city in dealings with the state authorities. For centuries the Babylonian Temple of Marduk (Esagila) also served as a place for observing the movements of heavenly bodies. These motions were recorded with unprecedented meticulousness in so-called astronomical diaries, which also included entries regarding meteorological
Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 53-54; Kuhrt 1996, pp. 46-47; Briant 1996, pp. 561-562, 694; Margueron 2000; Will 2000, pp. 482-491; Aperghis 2001, pp. 76-77. 49 Arr., An., 3.16.4, 7.17.2; Diod., 17.112.3; Str., 16.1.5; Babylonian clay tablets: BM 36613 = Sachs 1977, pp. 144-147; Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 324. Bosworth 1980, p. 314; Oppenheim 1985, pp. 565-567; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1994, pp. 315317; Schmidt 1995, pp. 92-94; Kuhrt 1996, p. 47; van der Spek 2003, pp. 300-301. 50 Van der Spek 1987, pp. 64-65.

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phenomena, price fluctuations and political events. Because of their scrupulousness they are an exceptionally valuable though incomplete source regarding the political and economic history of Babylonia. The importance of these long series of astronomical observations was known to 4th-century Greeks and their findings were passed on to Aristotle by his relative, Callisthenes, who accompanied Alexander on his expedition. During his first and second stay at Babylon Alexander saw to affairs concerning the rebuilding of temples and offered sacrifices in accordance with the instructions of Chaldaean priests. The work he commissioned in the temple area was not just a matter of building projects for according to Babylonian culture each such undertaking had to be preceded by the issuing of oracular responses, which were not granted to all rulers. The fact that Alexander received them sanctioned his position as the rightful ruler in the theological and political order of Babylonia. Like Cyrus the Great before him, Alexander in this way gained the respect of the Babylonian clerical establishment.51 Alexander made several important administrative decisions in Babylon. Bagophanes was offered a place in the kings entourage, whereas Mazaeus was appointed satrap of Babiru and granted the right to issue coins bearing his name. The coins he issued were silver tetradrachms in the Attic standard, which was the most popular in world in that period, but with Aramaic letters and therefore intended for the local market. The success of these coins (issued 6-7 times in Mazaeus lifetime) is testified by the fact that after the satraps death in 328 they continued to be issued for another half century. Mazaeus was essentially responsible for civilian side of the administration, whereas the military matters were entrusted to the Macedonians Apollodorus and Agathon. Apollodorus was put in charge of the whole satrapy, whereas Agathon was given command of the garrison in Babylon, which included 700 Macedonian troops and 300 mercenaries. Another Macedonian, Asclepiodorus, was made responsible for the collection of taxes. Despite these limitations to his power, which were indeed as normal in the Achaemenid administrative tradition as in Alexanders practice so far, the appointment of Mazaeus to such a high position did mark a significant policy change. Mazaeus was the first Persian official of such a calibre to defect to Alexanders side and be appointed satrap, a position that was also due to him by right of birth and social status under the Achaemenid system. It is worth remembering that Mithrenes, who after Granicus surrendered Sardis, had to wait three years
Porphyrius, ap. Simp., In cael., 7 p. 506. Balcer 1978, pp. 124-125; Oppenhaim 1985, pp. 546-547; van der Spek 1987, pp. 60-63; Kuhrt 1990, pp. 127-128; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1994, pp. 317-318.
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to receive such a nomination. Indeed it was during this first stay at Babylon that Alexander appointed him satrap of Armenia. Moreover, Armenia had first to be conquered before Mithrenes could take up this position; this conquest was most probably the purpose of the campaign commanded by Menon, which according to Strabo began at this time. By appointing satrap of Babiru a man trusted by Darius III and a commander who had almost defeated the Macedonian left wing at Gaugamela Alexander let other high-ranking Iranian officials know that their was an interesting political alternative for them if they chose to defect to the new king of Asia. Indeed, of the twelve satraps nominated by Alexander in the years 331-327, i.e. in the time it took him to conquer and occupy Iran, only one was a Macedonian. The remaining eleven satraps were members of the Iranian aristocracy, whose loyalty the new king tried in this way to ensure.52 Alexander did not stay long in Babylon. After 34 days, therefore on 24th or 25th November 331 the army set off for Susa. With his penchant for moralising, Curtius Rufus suggests that Alexander feared a fall in discipline and military value among the soldiers if they stayed much longer in this city with a reputation for licentious excesses. His colourful description of feasts with denuded girls and married women is not, however, confirmed in any of the other sources. Moreover, it seems too close to the general stereotype of eastern decadence and debauchery to be entirely plausible.53 Whilst still in Babylon Alexander gave the soldiers their premiums from the captured Persian booty: 600 drachms to each hetairos, 500 drachms to each allied cavalryman, 200 to each Macedonian infantryman and an extra three months pay to each mercenary foot soldier, which was the equivalent of 60-90 drachms (the daily rate ranging from 4 obol to 1 drachm). On the sixth day of their march to Susa the Macedonians reached the province of Sittacene, situated on the eastern side of the Tigris and to the south of the river Diyala. This time the army marched at a much more leisurely pace, taking as many as 20 days to cover the 365 km distance from Babylon to Susa. The slow march through a rich province frequently interrupted by stops was intended to allow the soldiers to rest before their planned winter campaign in Iran. It was also during this march that the reinforcements for which Amyntas had been sent even before the occupation of Egypt finally arrived. Among the
52

Curt., 5.1.43-44; Arr., An., 3.16.4-5; Diod., 17.64.5-6; Str., 11.14.9, 11.14.15. Bosworth 1980, pp. 314-316; Seibert 1985, p. 97; OBrien 1992, pp. 97-98; Kuhrt, Sherwin-White 1993, pp. 191-192; Atkinson 1994, pp. 50-53; Briant 1996, pp. 8687, 93-95, 862-869; Le Rider 2003, pp. 273-279. 53 Curt., 5.1.36-39; Just., 11.14. Atkinson 1994, pp. 47-48.

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15,000 troops there were 500 cavalrymen and 6,000 infantrymen from Macedonia as well as 50 Macedonian youths from noble families. The last of these were to join the royal retinue of pages with the prospect of later being promoted to high positions in the army or administration, but in the meantime they also guaranteed the loyalty of their families to the king. The arrival of these reinforcements increased the size of Alexanders army to at least the number of men he had at the start of this campaign. The allocation of new troops to the various detachments provided an opportunity to conduct a general reorganisation and promotions. As well as his heroic behaviour during battles Alexander also demonstrated a shrewd understanding of his soldiers mentality by making sure they received provisions, proper rest, rewards and praise. It was by these means that now, and on earlier occasions, Alexander built a strong bond with his army.54 Fourth-century Greeks regarded Susa (today Shush in the Iranian province of Khuzestan) to be the main capital of the Achaemenid Empire for that was where the Great King usually received their numerous delegations more often than not requesting him to resolve disputes between individual Greek states. Alexander made sure this city would be occupied immediately after the Battle of Gaugamela by dispatching there his officer Philoxenus, no doubt with a large detachment of cavalry. There are no records of fighting and it is much more likely that after some negotiations the satrap, Abulites, peacefully surrendered the city. The Macedonian army reached Susa in mid December 331. The sources record a ceremony similar to those performed with the surrender of Sardis, Memphis and Babylon. Alexander was first met by Abulitess son, while the satrap himself waited to greet him at the bank of the river Choaspes with gifts including camels and 12 elephants. Of even greater importance than the prestige of capturing another capital of the Achaemenid state was the Susa treasury, containing: property of the Great King, whose value the sources do not quantify, precious metals worth 40,000 talents and another 9,000 talents in coins. Although this was only a foretaste of the booty Alexander would later capture on the other side of the Zagros Mountains, the Susa treasures (1,285 tons of silver) were over ten times the value of all the treasures captured in the Greek world in the well documented and militarily eventful period from 490 to 336 (116 tons of silver). For the first time Alexander had unlimited financial resources, 3,000 talents of which he sent to Antipater in Macedonia. Although small in comparison to
Diod., 17.64.6-65.4; Arr., An., 3.16.10-11; Curt., 5.1.39-2.7. Bosworth 1980, pp. 319-321; Krasilnikoff 1992; Krasilnikoff 1993, pp. 88-95; Atkinson 1994, pp. 4862; Keegan 1999, pp. 88-89.
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Alexanders newfound wealth, this was the equivalent of three years of royal revenue in his fathers time and it was no doubt intended to let Antipater pay off debts incurred during the war against Agis III as well as enhance Macedonian control over Greece. The transporting of this large sum to the coast and beyond was entrusted to one of Alexanders bodyguards, Menes, whom he also for a time granted governorship the entire Syrian and Cilician coast. Among the other things at Susa that fell into Alexanders hands by right of victory was the house of Bagoas, the infamous Persian courtier to the last three Achaemenid rulers, two of whom Greek tradition maintains he murdered. This house together with the treasures it contained, said to be worth 1,000 talents and therefore as much as it cost to build the Parthenon in Athens, was offered by the king as gift to Parmenion.55 The palace treasury also contained items Xerxes had taken from Athens in 480 including the bronze statues of the tyrannicides Harmodius and Aristogeiton. Alexander, always willing to please Athens, certainly promised to return these statues, but the sources are not clear as to whether he ever managed to fulfil this promise. It is equally probable that it was Seleucus I and Antioch I who eventually realised this pledge. When Alexander was shown around the royal palace in Susa, he sat on Darius IIIs throne, no doubt with this gesture trying to show the Persian dignitaries that he was the legal successor of the defeated Achaemenid. Unfortunately, on account on the differences in stature between the two men, the throne was too high for Alexander and his feet were dangling in the air. In order to avoid any uncalled for hilarity a page brought a table on which he could rest his feet. On seeing this one of the Great Kings eunuchs burst into tears, explaining that this was the table at which his monarch had taken meals. Realising this unintended indiscretion, Alexander was somewhat troubled, but Philotas and the other Macedonians were immensely pleased. A Greek friend of Philip II, Demaratus of Corinth, was also crying, but with tears of joy at seeing Alexander occupying the Persian throne and thus symbolically avenging the crimes committed against Greece. The cultural differences between Macedonians and Persians also came to the fore on another occasion in Susa when Alexander, wishing to show sympathy and kindness with a simple gift, offered the female members of Dariuss family a supply of captured purple yarn for them to weave whatever they wished. This was a normal occupation for women in Greece and Macedonia even in royal
Arr., An., 3.16.6-10; Diod., 17.65.5-66.2; Curt., 5.1.43, 5.2.8-12; Plu., Alex., 39.10; Just., 11.14. Andreotti 1957, p. 127; Seibert 1985, pp. 97-98; Heckel 1992, pp. 262-263; Atkinson 1994, pp. 51-53; Holt 1999, p. 30; Heckel 2006, p. 164.
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families; in Persia, on the other hand, wellborn women always left such work to the servants. The feelings of the royal captives were hurt to the extent that Alexander considered it important to apologise to Queen Sisigambis for this misunderstanding. Before leaving Susa, Alexander had to make some essential administrative decisions. He reappointed Abulites satrap of Susiana but, as in Babylon, other important posts in the satrapy were entrusted to Macedonians. Archelaus was made commander of 3,000 troops stationed there, whereas Xenophilus, perhaps identical with Philoxenus who had negotiated the surrender of Susa, was made commandant of the Susa fortress, i.e. royal palace, and a garrison of 1,000 Macedonian veterans. Such a large garrison in the city and satrapy of Susa was no doubt thought necessary on account of the treasures kept there. Alexander appointed as treasurer a man called Callicrates, who may have been a Greek rather than a Macedonian.56 The eventful stay in Susa probably did not last long. The next destination was Fars the Achaemenid homeland. On the fourth day after leaving Susa the Macedonian army crossed the river Pasitigris (the Karun today), most probably at the site of todays city of Shushtar in the Iranian province of Khuzestan. The land beyond the Pasitigris was inhabited by the Uxian tribe. The Uxians living between the left bank of the Pasitigris and the fertile Mesopotamian Lowland surrendered without a fight. However, their compatriots living in the Zagros Mountains decided to resist and defend the main road leading to Fars. The highland Uxians were shepherds and in Achaemenid times belonged to those tribes not obliged to pay tributes. Conversely, it was customary for the Great King to provide them with gifts in return for the right to pass through their territory. Now the Uxian highlanders were demanding such gifts from Alexander, who naturally refused and this led to war. We do not know whether the actions of the Uxians were in anyway coordinated with the satrap Ariobarzanes, who was amassing forces on last line of defence at the Persian Gate. Instead we know that the attack on Alexanders forces was not spontaneous and was commanded by the satrap Madates, a relative of the royal family. H. Speck has estimated on the basis of extensive field survey that most of the fighting took place in an area between Shushtar and Masjed-i Soleiman and reached its climax in a place to the northeast of todays Batvand. In the struggle against the stubborn highlanders Alexander selected elite soldiers usually used in difficult terrain:
Curt., 5.2.12-22; Diod., 17.66.3-7; Arr., An., 3.16.7-10; Plu., Alex., 36.1, 37.7, 56.2; Plu., mor., 329d; Plu., Ages., 15.3; Plin., Nat., 34.70; Paus., 1.8.5; V. Max., 2.10, ext. 1. Bosworth 1980, pp. 317-320; Atkinson 1994, pp. 65-69; Heckel 2006, pp. 75, 272.
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hypaspists, Agrianians, Thracians supported by archers, 3,000 Greek mercenaries and other foot soldiers. At the time the rest of the army probably remained in the Uxian lowland. In the highlands the Macedonians plundering several Uxian villages and then fought a battle with the enemys main forces, after a local guide had escorted Alexanders men along mountain paths around the Uxian positions. Next they besieged a large Uxian settlement, which eventually surrendered. Thanks to Sisigambis, her relative Madates was pardoned, whereas the Uxians now became the subjects of the satrap of Susa and were obliged to pay tributes in kind. We do not know whether the Uxians paid this tribute more than once for they started regaining their independence already in Alexanders lifetime. Nonetheless, after a short campaign and most probably before the end of December 331 the Macedonian army was free to move on.57 The distance between Susa and Persepolis (500 km as the crow flies) could be covered along two routes through the Zagros Mountains: the shorter so-called summer route through higher passes and therefore not used in the winter, and the longer so-called winter route. The Macedonian army split up and used both routes. Leading through what is now the wilderness of the Zagros Mountains, these two routes have been only recently discovered thanks to the painstaking research of H. Speck. Along the winter route, traversed by caravans for centuries in ancient times and later, one can still find the ruins of bridges and caravanserais. This was the road taken by Parmenion with the baggage train, Thessalian cavalry, mercenaries and allied contingents. Alexander, on the other hand, chose to take his Companion cavalry, mounted scouts, Macedonian infantry, archers and Agrianians along the summer route and thus reach the heartland of the Achaemenid state. The two armies most probably parted not far to the north east of Haftgel. Parmenions route was probably 450 km long and ran through Bulfaris, Tashan, Bahbahan, the river Fahlian valley, Tang-i Laleh, Tang-i Khollar and thence across the c. 1,700-metre high Marvdasht Plain to Persepolis. Alexanders corps marched east passing nearby todays Band Shavar, thence via the Dishmuk valley to Abadeh, which is not far from the Susian Gate (today Tang-i Tamoradi). Through this pass the Macedonians marched southeast to the Beshar river valley and thence through the Persian Gate (not far from todays Yasuj),

Arr., An., 3.17; Arr., Ind., 40.1; Curt., 5.3.1-16; Diod., 17.67, 19.17.3; Str., 11.13.6, 15.3.4; It. Alex., 66. Seibert 1985, pp. 101-103; Badian 1985, pp. 441-442; Atkinson 1994, pp. 69-72; MacDermont, Schippmann 1999, pp. 304-305; Speck 2002, pp. 23-36, 157; Heckel 2006, p. 156.

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which gave them access to the northern part of the Marvdasht Plain and Persepolis.58 Waiting for Alexanders army at the Persian Gate were Persian forces commanded by Ariobarzanes, who had clearly been informed by his reconnaissance units that Alexander would be taking the summer route. Though differing from one another in details, all the ancient authors generally describe the conflict that followed in a way that presents the Persian Gate as an Iranian Thermopylae, the last line of defence which Alexander now overcame similarly to how Xerxes had succeeded in 480. Ariobarzaness army more realistically estimated to be 25,000 troops by Curtius than 40,700 according to Arrian and Itinerarium Alexandri was not short of men, but the quality of the Asian infantry, who made up most of the satraps army, was much inferior to that of the Macedonian army. On the other hand, the Persians took up an excellent defensive position. They pitched their camp at 1,980 m, i.e. 150 m above the Macedonians, and they also built a wall to close off the end of the valley. The first Macedonian assault ended with a complete fiasco because the Persians bravely defended the wall, rolled boulders down the sides of the valley and also caused many loses with fired missiles. Alexander had to order a retreat and had a camp pitched at a safe distance from the Persians. Fortunately, among the Persian captives there was a Lycian shepherd who undertook to lead the Macedonians along a route bypassing the enemy. Later in Persepolis Alexander would reward this Lycian shepherd with 30 talents. That night Alexander followed the Lycian guide taking his best detachments of Macedonians and Agrianians. So as not to arouse the enemys suspicion, Alexander instructed the Macedonian camps commander, Craterus, to light as many fires as if the entire army was there. After a long and arduous march Alexanders detachments encircled the Persians. Before launching the attack, Alexander subdivided his group into two so as the make the assault more effective. At the same time Craterus on his side also attacked. Ariobarzaness soldiers were completely taken by surprise. The Persians fought desperately to defend the road into their heartland but their brave resistance was futile. Only Ariobarzanes and a handful of cavalry managed to escape the slaughter, to perish soon in another battle near the Araxes river. Now nothing stood in the way between Alexander and Persepolis.59
58

Arr., An., 3.18.1-2; Diod., 17.68.1; Curt., 5.3.16-17; Str., 15.3.6 (Curtius and Diodorus confuse the Persian and the Susian Gates). Speck 2002, pp. 100-165, with reference to earlier works. 59 Arr., An., 3.18.2-9; Curt., 5.3.17-4.34, 5.7.12; Diod., 17.68; Plu., Alex., 37.1-3; Polyaen., 4.3.27; Fron., Str., 2.5.17; It. Alex., 67. Heckel 1980; Bosworth 1988, pp.

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From the Persian Gate Alexanders corps entered the Marvdasht Plain and after marching c. 100 km in a south-easterly direction they reached the river Araxes (today the Kor in Fars), most probably somewhere near todays Dorudzan, where there are the remains of a road from the Achaemenid era. Macedonian engineers had to build a bridge over that river for Alexanders army to cross to the eastern side. This was just some 50 km from Persepolis. Before the river was crossed a messenger had arrived with a letter from Tiridates, the treasurer (ganzabara) in Persepolis, informing the new ruler of the danger of the citys inhabitants looting the treasury. On receiving this news Alexander took command of the cavalry and headed for Persepolis post-haste, leaving the slower infantry to follow on behind. Before they reached the capital, the Macedonians encountered a crowd of Greek captives numbering more probably 800 (according to Diodorus and Justin) rather than 4,000 (Curtius) people who the Persians had branded or amputated body parts not essential for performing work. Alexander offered these unfortunates money and means to return to Greece. After consulting the matter, however, the captives declined this offer for fear of being rejected by Greek society, which worshiped the beauty of the human body. Instead they preferred to remain in the East with their Asiatic families. Therefore Alexander instructed that each Greek captive should receive a pair of oxen, 50 sheep as well as grain, clothes and 3,000 drachms, which was the equivalent of an average ten years of income in Greece.60 Persepolis comprised a complex of palaces on a terrace measuring 12.5 hectares as well as a city inhabited among others by courtiers. The city is only known from the works of ancient authors but the palaces were rediscovered by Europeans in 1620 and archaeologically examined in the years 1931-1939. Today the palace complex and the graves of Achaemenid monarchs located just a few kilometres away are Irans greatest tourist attractions. Unlike other Achaemenid capitals which were built of sun dried clay bricks, the Persepolis palaces were predominantly built of stone, which was found locally and also imported from distant parts of the empire. Another distinguishing feature of this palace complex is the extraordinarily high artistic quality of the architecture and reliefs as well as a unique and deeply thought out iconography that indicates the exceptional role it played in the Persian state. Like no other place it reflected the Achaemenid ideology and that dynastys position in the
90-91; Atkinson 1994, pp. 98-102; Ashley 1998, pp. 274-277; Speck 2002, pp. 4446, 169-170; Heckel 2006, p. 45, s.v. Ariobarzanes [2]. 60 Arr., An., 3.18.10; Diod., 17.69; Curt., 5.5.2-24; Just., 11.14; Ps.-Callisth., 2.18. Atkinson 1994, pp. 104-105; Speck 2002, pp. 162-164.

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cosmic order of a world created by Ahura Mazda.61 Moreover, this was the Achaemenid capital of Fars, the dynastys homeland and therefore a privileged province in their empire. Alexanders corps most probably reached Persepolis in mid January 330. The Macedonian baggage train and troops commanded by Parmenion joined Alexanders forces approximately a week later. Soon after his arrival at Persepolis Alexander allowed his soldiers, tired and angry after the fighting at the Persian Gate, to sack the city. The terrible slaughter of inhabitants, the rapes, the looting and the destruction of homes should not be confused with the burning down of the palaces, which occurred several months later. In January the palaces were still intact.62 The palace treasury at Persepolis, which Tiridates handed over to Alexander untouched, contained the Achaemenids basic reserves of bullion and other treasures they had accumulated for over more than 200 years. The total value was 120,000 talents, therefore much more than the treasure at Susa. With time this vast amount of bullion, which had so far only been thesaurized by the Achaemenids, was converted into coins to cover the costs of war as well as allow Alexander to demonstrate his largess towards artists, philosophers, soldiers and courtiers. The kings expenditure during his entire expedition east is estimated to have been on average 7,500 talents a year. The economic effect of putting into circulation such a massive amount of bullion has frequently been compared to the effect of the influx of South American silver and gold in the 16th and 17th centuries, and more often than not the Persian bullion effect has been estimated to have been greater. Alexander decided to concentrate all the treasure captured from the Persians in Susa. Some of the sources mention captured treasure being transported from Persis to Ecbatana though that could have only happened after the city was taken, i.e. only after June 330. It is possible that these seemingly contradictory accounts are due to the fact that some of the treasure was transported to Susa while the rest was left to cover the costs of ongoing and future campaigns in Iran. And it would have been that the second batch of treasure was ultimately transported to Ecbatana. No doubt the decision to shift the treasure resulted from knowledge that the palaces of Persepolis would be burned down and therefore could no longer serve as the empires main treasury. The exceptionally responsible mission of transporting the bullion and other precious items was entrusted to Parmenion. This was a
Diod., 17.71.3-8. Schmidt 1953-1970; Walser 1966; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 24-26; Cuyler Young 1988, pp. 108-110; Briant 1996, pp. 183-228. 62 Diod., 17.70, 17.71.3; Curt., 5.6.1-9. Badian 1985, pp. 440, 443; Atkinson 1994, pp. 110-115; Bloedow, Loube 1997, p. 349; Nawotka 2003b, p. 68.
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major logistical undertaking requiring 20,000 mules and 3,000-5,000 camels. Some of the pack animals and fodder had to be brought over from Babylonia and Elam. That is why the transporting lasted two months and was probably completed shortly before the end of Alexanders four-month stay in Fars.63 Persepolis was stripped of all its valuables so thoroughly that in levels that could not have been subsequently robbed archaeologists have found no more than twenty-one coins and small amounts of cheap jewellery. The fact that the Macedonians must have spent so much time and trouble to remove everything of value from the palaces indicates that there was already a plan to burn them down.64 In lands he had previously occupied Alexander had always strived to win the support of the local elites and thus legitimise his authority. This policy had proved to be successful in Asia Minor, Egypt and Babylonia. The same was to happen in Iran. After the Battle of Gaugamela Alexander was proclaimed king of Asia and a similar proclamation could have been made in April 330, 65 therefore during his stay in Fars. As the rightful successor of the Achaemenids Alexander not only appointed Persian aristocrats as satraps but also adopted the key elements of Persian attire. The equivocal nature of this latter issue has been the subject of controversy among modern historians. The way the king dressed was not a matter of fashion but of politics. Both the Iranians and the Greeks were aware that the Great King was surrounded by a complex courtly system of ceremonies which also included attire worn exclusively by him. By putting on elements of this royal dress Alexander showed his intention to take over Darius IIIs legacy; this way he demonstrated to the Iranian aristocracy the legitimacy of the authority he had gained through military victories. Alexander most probably never wore the entire Persia costume. However, the major historical sources (Arrian and Vulgate authors) mention situations in the royal court when Alexander appeared with its most important items including a tiara, which was generally regarded to be an emblem of the Persian monarchy.66 It was also then that he founded a unit of bodyguards modelled on the Persian melophori.67
Diod., 17.71.1-3; Str., 15.3.9; Plu., Alex., 37.4. Keynes 1930, ii, pp. 150-152, 291; Bosworth 1988, pp. 92-93; Callata 1989, p. 263; Bloedow, Loube 1997, pp. 347-352; Le Rider 2003, pp. 310-316; Holt 2003, p. 13. 64 Schmidt 1953-1970, i, pp. 16-78; Borza 1972, p. 235; Sancisi-Weerdenburg 1993, pp. 181-182; Bloedow, Loube 1997, pp. 344-346; Nawotka 2003b, p. 73; Shabazi 2003, pp. 19-20 and n. 71. 65 Ael., VH, 2.25. Date: Grzybek 1990, pp. 43-44. 66 Goukowsky 1975; Badian 1985, pp. 450-452; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 105-107; Wirth 1993, p. 223; Briant 1996, pp. 90-94. Alexanders Persian costume: Duris,
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Symbolic gestures were important to Alexander in Fars as a means of acquiring acceptance among the Persians and that is why, for instance, he visited Pasargadae. Located 43 km from Persepolis, this city was founded by Cyrus after his victory over the Medes as the capital of the land of the Pasargadae tribe, to which he himself belonged. A palace complex was built there together a royal garden (paradeisos). After Darius I had transferred the capital to Persepolis, Pasargadae remained a place of investiture for Persian monarchs; the most important edifice there was the grave of Cyrus the Great. The commandant of Pasargadae, Gobares, surrendered the city without resistance and Alexander captured another 6,000 talents from that citys treasury. But the main objective of Alexanders mission was to visit Cyruss gave and pay his respects. This visit was described by Aristobulus who accompanied the king on this expedition.68 However, neither the satrap nominations nor the symbolic gestures made the intended impression on the Persians. Already Ariobarzaness fierce resistance at the Persian Gate gave a foretaste of the problems that would be encountered in Fars. The ancient authors report hostilities between Alexander and the Persian populace and that he had to take fortified towns by force. The most serious fighting was against the belligerent tribe of the Mardi, who were closely affiliated to the Achaemenid dynasty. Alexander led a 30-day campaign against them in the winter of 330. Traces of these events are found in the Iranian Zoroastrian tradition, which is the only one to show Alexander in a decidedly negative light. It alone blames Alexander for Dariuss death, of trying to destroy the true religion, of extinguishing sacred fires, of burning the Avesta, of stealing and translating sacred books, of destroying cities, of murdering aristocrats and magi and of carving up rnahr (Iran). Though not all these accusations are equally valid, for instance the Avesta had not yet been written in Alexanders time, they do reflect what the ancient authors also describe as a campaign of terror to break the sprit of

ap. Ath., 12.50; Arr., An., 4.7.4; Diod., 17.17.5; Curt., 6.6.4; Luc., DMort., 12.4; ME, 2; Just., 12.3.8; Plu., Alex., 45.2; Plu., mor., 329f-330a. Nawotka 2003, pp. 100-101; Olbrycht 2004, pp. 286-293. 67 ME, 2. 68 Aristobul., ap. Str., 15.3.7-8; Arr., An., 3.18.10; Curt., 5.6.10; Ps.-Callisth., 2.18.1. Bosworth 1980, pp. 329-330; Briant 1980, pp. 65-72; Stronach 1985, pp. 838-849; Mallowan 1985, p. 418; Wiesehfer 1996, pp. 26, 32; Tuplin 1996, pp. 88-89.

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resistance among the Persians in Fars. 69 Yet the desire to acquire legitimacy in Fars was probably doomed to fail from the start, especially while Darius III was still alive. The Persians considered themselves to be a chosen people and therefore their king could only be a Persian, an Aryan and a member of the Achaemenid dynasty. For the Persians, who viewed the world largely from a religious perspective, Alexander could only be an anti-monarch, a rebel against Ahura-Mazda.70 Despite successive defeats Darius was still considered the legitimate ruler not only in Fars but also in at least some of the countries Alexander had already conquered. Thanks to extant local sources we know the mood among some Babylonians. Recorded after the Battle of Gaugamela, the Dynastic Prophecy reports Dariuss defeat (at Gaugamela) and the occupation of Babylon by Han (Alexander) but it predicts that the rightful king would be victorious in the next battle, Babylon would be liberated and peace and prosperity would return. 71 Nevertheless, for Alexander the situation was nowhere worse than in Fars. In that regions tradition recorded in Ard Wrz-Nmag book the Macedonians are remembered as a tribe of dishevelled demons from the land of wrath. Their king is nicknamed Guzastag (the Accursed) just like the god of evil, deceit and darkness, Angra Mainyu. The doggedness of Persian resistance in the winter of 330 probably explains why in a letter from Aristotle to Alexander in the summer of 330 there is a suggestion that the Persians, exceptionally among other Asian nations, should be deported to Europe and Africa.72 At that time Darius III was some 600 km from Persepolis in Ecbatana and trying to gather forces for the next battle. The formidable east Iranian cavalry had retreated from Gaugamela relatively unscathed and Darius was also counting on the arrival of allied forces from Scythia, so his army could not be ignored and it would not have been prudent to leave behind a province that was not fully subjugated and inhabited by a population still
Curt., 5.6.11-19; Diod., 17.73.1. Green 1974, pp. 314-320; Atkinson 1994, pp. 118-120; Wiesehfer 1994, pp. 363-364, 395-397; Briant 2002, pp. 90-92; Shabazi 2003. 70 Eddy 1961, pp. 58-62; Balcer 1978, pp. 126-127. 71 Sachs-Hunger 1988, no. 328, col. v. Grayson 1975, pp. 24-37; Marasco 1985; Kuhrt 1987, pp. 154-156; Briant 1996, p. 803; Mehl 1999, p. 34; Brosius 2003, pp. 171-172; Shabazi 2003, pp. 15-19. But some see in the Dynastic Prophecy Darius III as an usurper justly punished: van der Spek 2003, pp. 324-342. 72 Eddy 1961, pp. 12-41; Green 1974, pp. 314-315; Boyce 1982, pp. 12-15, 290; Plezia, Bielawski 1970, chapter 7 of Aristotles letter; Carlier 1995, p. 156; Faraguna 2003, pp. 116-117; Shabazi 2003.
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loyal to the Persian king. Once his efforts to appease proved unsuccessful, Alexander embarked on a campaign of terror which culminated in the burning of Persepolis. The destruction of the palaces with fire, a sacred element in the Zoroastrian religion, was supposed break the spirit of resistance among Persians. The destruction happened towards the end of Alexanders stay in Fars, i.e. in May 330.73 That the Macedonians were conducting an ideological war is confirmed by archaeological findings. Inside the Persepolis treasury approximately 300 fragments of deliberately smashed stone mortar were found. Such mortars were used to produce haoma a potion used in the Zoroastrian cult. 74 In all probability Macedonian soldiers destroyed the mortars as an action against the magi who had been stirring up religious and nationalistic feelings among the native Persians. The burning of the Persepolis palaces has been recorded in all the main historical sources concerning Alexander. The blaze is also confirmed by archaeological findings. In three edifices the Apadana, the Hundred Column Hall and the Treasury the charred remains of cedar wood were found in a 0.3-1 m thick layer of ashes, and we know that cedar wood was used as a building material in Persepolis. The ancient authors give diverse accounts of the course of events and Alexanders motives behind the destruction. According to Arrian, Strabo and the anonymous author of Itinerarium Alexandri, this was an act of revenge for the burning of Greek temples by Xerxes in 480, and such was no doubt the official version of Macedonian propaganda. Diodorus, Curtius and Plutarch give, after Cleitarchus, a colourful description of how during a drinking party an Athenian hetaera (courtesan) Thais persuaded a drunken Alexander to do it. Arrian does not mention this incident as his chief source, the work of King Ptolemy I also failed to mention it; Thais had been Ptolemys mistress for many years and he would not have wished her to be associated with this unprecedented act of vandalism. Three buildings were burnt, but the distances between them and the materials they were built from (brick walls and clay roofs) precluded the possibility of the blaze spreading naturally after just one of the buildings had been set alight by drunken revellers. All three edifices must have been set on fire after some preparation, which is also confirmed by the lack of valuables found on site.

Schwartz 1985, p. 678; Nawotka 2003b. Schmidt 1953-1970, ii, pp. 53-55; Balcer 1978, p. 31; Schwartz 1985, pp. 676677.
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The first torch may have indeed been cast by Thais, but in doing so she would have been doing exactly what Alexander intended.75 A couple of months later it became apparent that Darius III posed a significantly smaller threat than had originally been supposed in May 330. That is why the destruction of the Persepolis palaces the symbol of Achaemenid might turned out to be so costly, not only because of the obvious material loss but above all because it alienated Alexander from Persian elites and ordinary Persians alike. In their eyes the Macedonian was to remain an invader and not the rightful king of Iran.76

5. The death of Darius III


Towards the end of May 330 the Macedonian army set off for Ecbatana, where Alexander knew Darius III to be. This city (today Hamadan in western Iran) was the former capital of Media and on account of its relatively cool climate, being located 1,880 m above sea level in the Zagros Mountains, it later served as the summer residence of the Persian kings. Waiting until May before starting the 600-km trek to Ecbatana was logistically advantageous for much of the route led through the mountains and it was only in late spring that they were entirely free of snow. Moreover, the Median harvest began in June, which made it easier to acquire essential provisions. The Macedonians certainly advanced along the Royal Road, which ran through the province of Paraitacene in the upper reaches of the river Araxes. Alexander conquered this province and appointed as satrap Oxathres (Oxyathres?), the son of Abulites the satrap of Susa. Next the Macedonian army marched into neighbouring Media. It was there that they were joined by reinforcements raised in Cilicia, numbering 5,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry. These forces had most probably crossed Mesopotamia directly into Media and not taken the long route through Persis as Alexander had done a few months earlier. It was in Media that rumours reached Alexander that Darius had now received Scythian and Cadusian reinforcements and was preparing for battle. Therefore, leaving behind his baggage train (including some of the Persepolis treasure) to be guarded by a large escort, he proceeded with most of his forces on a forced march to Ecbatana.77
Clitarch., ap. Ath., 13.37; Arr., An., 3.18.10-12; Diod., 17.70-72; Str., 15.3.6; Curt., 5.7.2-11; Plu., Alex., 38; It. Alex., 67. Nawotka 2003b. 76 Nawotka 2003b, pp. 75-76; Brosius 2003, pp. 181-185; Brosius 2003a, pp. 227228; Heckel 2009, p. 40. 77 Str., 15.3.6; Arr., An., 3.19.1-3; Curt., 5.7.12; Ps.-Callisth., 2.19. Engels 1978, pp. 73-79; Seibert 1985, pp. 108-109; Heckel 2006, pp. 186-187.
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However, the rumours turned out to be only partly true. Darius was indeed counting on the support of his allies and east Iranian vassals. Moreover, he was planning to draw Alexander deeper into the country and weaken his forces through scorched earth tactics. But none of the expected reinforcements came. In Ecbatana Darius was left with merely 3,000 cavalry and 30,000 infantry, of which only some 2,000 Greek mercenaries were of substantial military value. This was much too little to fight another battle against such a formidable enemy. Darius therefore dispatched his baggage train towards the so-called Caspian Gate, usually associated with todays Sar-i Darreh pass in the southern part of the Elburz Mountain Range. He himself remained at Ecbatana for a while but then also began a retreat. It was during this retreat that a dispute began which the ancient authors call a conspiracy. The disagreement was between Darius and three of the highest Persian officials in his camp: Bessus, the satrap of Bactria and Sogdiana, Barsaentes, the satrap of Arachosia (Haruvati) and Drangiana, and the chiliarch Nabarzanes. These officials interpreted Dariuss successive defeats as a sign that he no longer had the support of the gods. They therefore suggested that he should temporarily hand over his authority to someone else, a substitute king, and thus remove the bad omens that were currently imposed on the Great King. Darius flatly rejected this idea. The conspirators therefore decided to isolate their king from his loyal Greek mercenaries and effectively took over control of the army. Patron, the commander of the Greek mercenaries, contacted Darius and offered to have his men guard him. But the Great King rejected this offer for he did not wish his subjects to think he did not trust them. Therefore the mercenaries and Persians who, like the loyal Artabazus, did not wish to side with the conspirators now just tried to save themselves. At a village called Thara Bessus, Nabarzanes and Barsaentes arrested Darius and, bound in chains of gold for this was after all still the Great King, transported him in a carriage towards the eastern satrapies. Bessus, who was most probably a member of the Achaemenid dynasty, symbolically donned the tiara and proclaimed himself king assuming the dynastic name of Artaxerxes (V).78 Meanwhile the Macedonian army was still marching to Ecbatana. On the 12th day a Persian aristocrat called Bisthanes apparently the son of Artaxerxes III surrendered to Alexander and informed him that Darius had left Ecbatana five days earlier. Finally realising that Darius was
78

Curt., 5.8.1-12.20; Arr., An., 3.19.2, 3.21.1, 3.25.3; Diod., 17.73.2; Plu., Alex., 42.5; Just., 11.15.1; Ps.-Callisth., 2.20; ME, 3; It. Alex., 68-69. Bosworth 1980, pp. 333-334, 340-342; Seibert 1985, p. 112; Holt 1988, pp. 45-46; Nylander 1993, pp. 151-153.

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militarily weak, Alexander changed his plans. He decided that continuing the march to Ecbatana was no longer necessary, so he entrusted the capture of that city to Parmenion. As the Great King had left the last capital of his empire, Alexander considered the Panhellenic war ended. It was then or after Dariuss death that he relieved the Greek allies and Thessalians of military duty. Apart from the normal soldiers pay they were given bonus, the sum total of which amounted to 12,000 talents. At same time it was declared that any soldier who wished to continue serving Alexander could do so as a mercenary. Many took up that offer. Parmenion duly captured Ecbatana and deposited there the transported treasure, which was now put under the charge of Harpalus and a powerful garrison of 6,000 Macedonian soldiers and mercenaries. Next Parmenion was to subjugate Hyrcania by the Caspian Sea, but these instructions were changed as Alexander and two other Macedonian commanders had already conquered that land.79 Alexander set himself the task of capturing Darius. The objective was to force the Great King to hand over the crown to the Macedonian conqueror and thus legitimise his rule in Persian eyes. So began the wildest chase in Alexanders career, especially as the Persian conspirators were also aware of the political dangers they faced if Darius were captured by the Macedonians. The difficulties were compounded by the time of year, the start of a scorching summer, and the terrain, mountains and arid desert. The ancient authors relate an anecdote about how one hot day when everyone was suffering from thirst the soldiers, out of concern for the kings health and therefore also their own safety, brought Alexander a helmet full of water. But the king, as always eager to demonstrate his heroic character, of course refused because there was not enough water to be shared with the other soldiers. Alexander was able to keep track of where his quarry was heading on account of Persian desertions: dignitaries and ordinary soldiers who disapproved of Dariuss arrest successively abandoned Bessus and Nabarzaness camp. The best detachments had been selected for this mission: hetairoi, mounted scouts, mercenary cavalry, Agrianians, archers and some phalangites. On the 11th day of a murderous march the Macedonians reached Rhagae (today Rey, in the Greater Teheran metropolitan area), some 80 km from the Caspian Gate, which the Persians had already crossed. Once the Macedonians reached the Caspian Gate, Alexander had to allow his men to rest for five days according to Arrian. It was at this time that Alexander nominated Oxydates satrap of Media. Previously Darius had imprisoned this Persian
79

Arr., An., 3.19.2-8; Diod., 17.74.2-5; Curt., 5.13.1, 6.2.17; Plu., Alex., 42.5. Bosworth 1976, pp. 132-136; Bosworth 1980, pp. 334-338; Heckel 2006, p. 72.

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in Susa for some disloyalty and that made him seem more trustworthy in the eyes of the new ruler. Beyond the Caspian Gate Alexander received a Babylonian called Bagistanes and Mazaeuss son, Antibelos (Ardu-Bel?), who informed him of Dariuss arrest. After two nights of forced marching the Macedonians reached yet another abandoned Persian campsite. Alexander learned that the Greek mercenaries had also left the Persians and that was when he decided to change his tactic. He continued the pursuit with only 300-500 of his best foot soldiers, who were now mounted on horses for the sake of speed. The success of this improvisation incidentally led Alexander to later create a new military formation called the dimachae, who were trained to fight both on foot and on horseback. But instead of following their tracks Alexander chose to intercept the fleeing Persians by taking a shortcut across the Great Salt Desert (Dasht-e Kavir). Most of the horses failed to complete the arduous trek, which according to our sources covered a distance of 400 stades (72 km), so that Alexander was eventually left with only 60 soldiers. This detachment finally managed to intercept the Persian column not far from the town of Hecatompylos (today Shahr-i Qumis). Though numerically superior, the Persians panicked when they saw the Macedonians personally commanded by Alexander. Bessus tried to persuade Darius to leave the carriage, mount a horse and flee with the rest of them. But when Darius refused, Barsaentes and the satrap of Areia Satibarzanes stabbed him with their spears and fled, leaving the Great King to suffer his fate. Though legend would have us believe that Alexander found Darius while he was still alive, it is almost certain that the Great King was dead by the time the victor reached him. All the new king of Asia could do was to cover his body with his cloak.80 According to Arrian, Darius died in the Athenian month of Hekatombaion, i.e. in July 330. This date is confirmed by the Paros Chronicle, where Dariuss death is the first recorded event in the Athenian year 330/329, which began in July. During the spring-summer campaign Alexanders army covered the over 900-km distance from Persepolis to Hecatompylos in just two months, as usual surprising his enemy with sheer speed.81

80 Arr., An., 3.20-21; Curt., 5.12.18-13.25; Plu., Alex., 42.6-43.5; Plu., mor., 332f; Diod., 17.73.2-4; Just., 11.15; Polyaen., 4.3.25; Ael., NA, 6.25; Ps.-Callisth., 2.20; It. Alex., 69; Poll., 1.132. Green 1974, pp. 321-322, 325-329; Bosworth 1980, pp. 338-345; Bosworth 1988, pp. 95-96; Badian 1985, pp. 448-449; Badian 1996, pp. 20-21; Nylander 1993, p. 151; Hammond 1996, pp. 171-173; Heckel 2006, pp. 30, 188. 81 Arr., An., 3.22; Marmor Parium: FGrH, 239 F107. Bosworth 1980, p. 346.

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The treasure that had been taken from Ecbatana by Darius was duly found by Alexanders men in Persian camp Arrians figure of 7,000 talents is probably closer to the truth that Curtiuss 26,000. The new king of Asia ordered the body of Darius to be taken to Persepolis. It was buried in one of the royal graves at Naqsh-e Rustam presumably not the one with unfinished sculptures that Darius had started having built in his lifetime. Concern over providing a royal burial for Darius and the later pursuit of the Great Kings murderer, Bessus, shows that Alexander was clearly taking his role as successor to the Achaemenids on the Asian throne seriously. At Hecatompylos Alexander had to wait for the rest of his detachments to catch up and it is probably there that he made further official nominations. He appointed Amminapes, a member of his retinue, satrap of the as yet unconquered Parthia and Hyrcania. One of Alexanders hetairoi, Tlepolemus, was appointed commander of a garrison of mercenaries. Of greater importance was the inclusion of Dariuss younger brother, Oxyathres, among Alexanders hetairoi. This was the only instance recorded in the sources of an Iranian being bestowed such an honour at this time. Dariuss death, the stay at Hecatompylos and the release from service of the Greek allies were all interpreted by the Macedonian troops as signs the campaign was drawing to a close and that soon they would be heading home, especially as they had recently crossed the Caspian Gate, which the Greeks considered the end of the inhabited world. In this instance Alexander easily managed to persuade his soldiers of the necessity to continue the war by stressing that Bessus was still putting up resistance, which could eventually lead to a counteroffensive or even another invasion of Europe. But this was nonetheless the first clear signal of diverging views between Alexander and his men regarding the war. It was no doubt as consequence of this experience that during his stay in Hyrcania Alexander imposed a censorship policy regarding the correspondence of Macedonian and mercenary soldiers, whose letters were now secretly opened in search of politically incorrect opinions.82 The king did not immediately start the expedition against Bessus but as usual first made sure the territories behind him were secure. His army turned back from the road to Bactria and instead invaded the fertile agricultural land of Hyrcania by the Caspian Sea. There it divided into three groups commanded by Alexander, Craterus and Erigyios. Alexanders corps occupied the satrapys capital, Zadracarta, and there he
82

Aeschin., 3.165; Arr., An., 3.22.1, 3.22.6; Diod., 17.73.3; Curt., 6.2.1-4.1; Plin., Nat., 36.132; Plu., Alex., 43.7; Polyaen., 4.3.19; Just., 11.15. Wilcken 1967, pp. 149-151; Bosworth 1980, p. 345; Stoneman 1994, p. 95; Briant 2003, pp. 45-52; Heckel 2006, p. 188.

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received Persian officials successively surrendering to him after Dariuss demise: the satrap of Hyrcania, Phrataphernes, the chiliarch Nabarzanes and the satrap of the Tapuri, Autophradates (or Phradates), alone among them allowed to keep his position. Artabazus and his sons were accepted into the kings entourage partly as reward for the fathers loyalty to Darius even in the hardest of times and partly because his daughter Barsine had been Alexanders lover for two and a half years (see Chapter IV.5). Alexander initially refused to make any deals with the Greek mercenaries who had served Darius but eventually he relented and promised to forgive them on condition that they now entered his service. Also some ambassadors from Greek states were taken into Macedonian captivity. Alexander, however, released Sinopes envoys as that state had not been included in the universal peace and therefore had had a right to collaborate with Darius. The subjugation of Hyrcania was ended with a short, five-day campaign against the Mardi, who inhabited the south west part of that country. Alexanders ire was raised when this tribe audaciously captured his favourite steed Bucephalus. Threatened with total annihilation, the Mardi returned the horse, submitted hostages and promised obedience to the satrap Autophradates. In Hyrcania Alexander was also reportedly met by the Queen of the Amazons, Thalestris, who came to Macedonian camp for the express purpose of having the greatest war leader father a child by her and it was for this reason that she remained in the camp for thirteen days. If she gave birth to a girl, she intended to keep her, but if she gave birth to a boy, she would have the child sent to Alexander. This tale set in the most distant of imaginable lands was already controversial in ancient times and rejected by more sober minded authors. Plutarch even cites an anecdote about how Onesicritus read the tale of Alexander and Thalestris to Lysimachus and his companions. The kings former bodyguard who had always been at hand suddenly interrupted Onesicritus and sarcastically asked: And where was I at that time?83 Some modern historians believe that the historic part of this tale refers to a genuine encounter with a princess of an Iranian nomadic people called the Dahae.84 A less sensational but much more important development that would influence Alexanders future policies regarding conquered nations was the mass capitulation of Iranian aristocrats, who now formed a sizable group in his entourage. Alexander received them willingly for by then he was
83 Arr., An., 3.23.1-24.1; Curt., 6.4.1-5.32; Diod., 17.75.1-77.3; Str., 11.5.4 (after Cleitarchus); Plu., Alex., 44-46; Just., 12.3; It. Alex., 70-72. Plutarch (Alex., 46) lists now lost sources to the alleged encounter between Alexander and Thalestris. Engels 1978, pp. 83-84; Atkinson 1994, pp. 192-200; Bosworth 1995, pp. 121-122. 84 Lane Fox 1973, p. 276; Bosworth 1995, pp. 102-103.

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well aware of the essential role played by aristocrats in the running of this vast empire. This also probably explains why the king was usually merciful to those who had previously held important positions in the Achaemenid state, including the conspirators Nabarzanes and Satibarzanes who had been involved in overthrowing Darius. Their high status and the speed with which they surrendered saved them from the punishment that would eventually be imposed on Bessus. Such a large presence of wellborn Persians in Alexanders circle naturally enhanced the process of orientalization in his policies, which began soon after his first victories in Asia. This was given even greater impetus after news of Bessuss usurpation, for now Alexander very much wanted to show the Iranian aristocrats that he was the real Great King by adhering to the traditions of the Achaemenid court. A turning point in the orientalization of Alexanders policies occurred during his stay in Zadracarta from August to September 330. Apart from the Persian dress he himself had been wearing for some time when in court, Alexander now persuaded some of his hetairoi to wear certain elements of this attire as well. Henceforth he had two chancelleries: one for documents concerning European affairs, which Alexander sealed with his original signet and a chancellery for royal Persian affairs where Alexander used a signet captured from Darius. At the time Alexander also at least partly adopted the Achaemenid courts hierarchical system and gave Macedonians and Greeks in his retinue Persian court titles. People wishing to speak to Alexander were now ushered in by his chamberlain (eisangeleus), Chares, in command of a team of rabdouchoi (rod-bearers); the Macedonians, who were used to having direct contact with the king, found this procedure particularly objectionable. In these matters Alexander was always walking on thin ice as the two court tradition differed in a fundamental way: the Macedonian adhering to the principle of accessibility of the king, the Iranian built on restriction of access, rituals, hierarchy. A certain Ptolemaios, probably not the later king of Egypt, was appointed the royal food taster (edeatros). The kings closest friend, Hephaestion, received the highest court distinction by being appointed hazarapati (court chiliarch), but he was also appointed chiliarch of Companion cavalry. The combination of these two posts gave him a higher position than was normally held by a Persian hazarapati. It was also then that Alexander formed a Persian guard of melophori and an aristocratic mounted guard. Other adopted Achaemenid institutions included court eunuchs and 365 concubines the most beautiful women in Asia. The first recorded use of the Achaemenids transportable palace was also in Hyrcania. This was a massive tent supported by 50 gilded columns where Alexander granted audiences and

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presided over court hearings. The entrance to this tent was guarded by 500 melophori, 500 Persian archers and 500 Macedonian guardsmen bearing silver shields (argyraspides), and beyond them was a group of war elephants. This orientalization of the court and its rituals displeased the Macedonians and to most of the ancient authors (probably following on after Agatharchides) this is simply an exemplum of Alexanders moral downfall. Plutarch is an exception to this rule in that he sees this as an element of Alexanders broader political outlook in which he was trying win over Asian nations by adopting the external aspects of their cherished native cultures.85 The Macedonian armys next objective was Bactria the satrapy of Bessus, who was now a pretender to the Achaemenid throne. Setting off from Hyrcania, the Macedonian crossed Parthia and on its eastern border entered Areia. It was in the border town of Susia (today Tus, to the north of Meshed in the Iranian province of Khorasan) that the satrap of Areia, Satibarzanes, immediately surrendered. Despite his involvement in Dariuss murder, Satibarzanes was forgiven and re-nominated satrap of Areia. Alexander was eager to defeat Bessus before the latter managed to raise a large army and secure his position as Great King. That is why he had a booty laden baggage train that was holding back his army burnt. However, at this stage the elimination of Bessus was not Alexanders sole military objective. The long list of contingents at Gaugamela from Bactria, Sogdiana, Areia, Drangiana and Arachosia as well as clay tablets discovered by archaeologists at Persepolis and recently published Aramaic documents from Bactria both indicate that in the 5th and 4th centuries these were prosperous and densely populated satrapies important centres of power in the Achaemenid state. Therefore their occupation was an important goal for any claimant to the Persian throne. But as the next three years would show consolidating power there was not an easy task. Before Alexanders army, now freed from the baggage train, reached the Bactrian capital, news arrived that Satibarzanes had revolted and the surprisingly tiny contingent of Macedonian 40 horsemen in Areia had been slaughtered. Alexander immediately turned back with the cavalry and two taxeis of
Phylarch., ap. Ath., 12.55 (= FGrH, 81 F41); Chares, ap. Ath., (= FGrH, 125 F1); Arr., An., FGrH, 156 F1.3; Diod., 17.77.4-7, 18.48.5; Liv., 9.19.1-5; Curt., 6.6, 7.5.40; Plu., Alex., 51.1-2; Plu., mor., 329f-330e; Polyaen, 4.3.24; Ael., VH, 9.3; ME, 1-2. Goukowsky 1975, pp. 276-277; Goukowsky 1978, pp. 30-34; Badian 1985, p. 450; Bosworth 1988, pp. 98-100; OBrien 1992, pp. 111-113; Heckel 1992, p. 226, n. 54; Atkinson 1994, pp. 200-204; Briant 1994, pp. 297-298; Briant 2002, p. 101; Carlier 1995, p. 155; Hammond 1996, pp. 180-181; Collins 2001; Spawforth 2007, pp. 87, 93-97, 101-102; Weber 2009.
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phalanx, leaving the rest of his army under Craterus command. His detachment reached the Areian capital Artacoana (near todays Herat in Afghanistan) within two days covering, according to Arian, an amazing distance of 600 stades (110 km). A terrified Satibarzanes with 2,000 cavalry escaped to join Bessus. When the rest of his army caught up, Alexander instructed Craterus to besiege Artacoana, while he and a part of the army set out against Areians, who had sought shelter in a natural mountain fortress. Modern historians believe this fortress to have been located most probably at Qaleh-ye Dukhtar, c. 20 km to the north of Herat, rather than Qalat-i Nadiri, c. 70 km to the north of Tus. Here an inadvertently started fire helped the Macedonians win. Meanwhile at Artacoana the mere sight of siege towers persuaded the defenders to surrender, and thus also be pardoned. Now Alexander simply nominated a new satrap, a Persian called Arsaces. It was after the capitulation of Artacoana that Alexanders army was joined by 6,500 soldiers recruited from Illyria, Greece and Lydia. Satibarzaness revolt forced Alexander to change his up until now lenient policy of pardoning all Persian aristocrats who surrender even including those who had overthrown Darius III. That is why after quelling the revolt of Areia he started a campaign in Drangiana and Arachosia. The regions satrap and Dariuss murderer Barsaentes fled all the way to India, but he was eventually handed over to Alexander and killed.86

6. Philotas affair and the fall of Parmenion


It was while the Macedonian army was at the capital of Drangiana, Phrada (today Farah in western Afghanistan) after the end of the 330 autumn campaign that the most serious scandal concerning Alexanders closest circle occurred, known as the Philotas affair. Philotas, the son of Parmenion, had already been among Alexanders closest companions in the days when he was still an heir to the throne, but he was never a close friend of his. Thanks to his fathers position and to his own courage and talent he quickly rose through the ranks to become commander of the key formation of the Macedonian army the Companion cavalry. As a talented and effective commander Philotas was respected by Macedonian soldiers but not necessarily liked. People disapproved of his fondness for luxury,
86 Diod., 17.78; Curt., 6.613-36; Str., 15.2.10; Arr., An., 3.25; It. Alex., 72-74. Engels 1978, pp. 86-89; Bosworth 1980, p. 354-359; Bosworth 1988, p. 100; Seibert 1985, pp. 118-120; Vogelsang 1992, p. 221; Atkinson 1994, pp. 206-212; Hammond 1996, pp. 182-183; Heckel 2006, p. 53, s.v. Arsaces [1]; Briant 2009, pp. 148-151.

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aloofness and exaggerated Hellenisation he was reluctant to speak Macedonian. He was particularly despised by officers closest to Alexander, who envied his position. In 332 Craterus persuaded Philotass mistress, Antigone, to report what her lover told her. Thus Alexander was informed of Philotass boastful claims that the king owed all his achievements to Parmenion and his son and of how Philotas had laughed at Alexanders supposed affiliation with Ammon of Siwah.87 This was not enough to accuse Philotas of treason but it was certainly valuable information regarding the opinions of the third most important person in the army after the king and Parmenion. It was Parmenion along with his sons and other relatives who formed the core of the old guard that Alexander had inherited from his father and who advised the young king in nominations to offices of state. Alexander gradually freed himself from their influence by gaining the support of those who owed their privileged positions of power and prestige primarily to him and not solely to their aristocratic connections. Another source of conflict was the growing dissatisfaction among the soldiers with a campaigns new objectives and the resented policy of orientalization. Both Philotas and Parmenion, who was the most important representative of Philip IIs generation, were known to have sceptical views on these subjects and therefore they could be the potential leaders of any internal opposition group. If Alexander intended to rid himself of this latent threat, the autumn of 330 provided him with the best possible opportunity. Philotass position was weakened by the recent death of his last brother, Nicanor, who had commanded the hypaspists, while his father Parmenion was away in Ecbatana guarding the Persian treasure and therefore unable to influence events in Phrada.88 In Phrada a genuine or merely invented conspiracy against Alexander was uncovered. It allegedly involved one of the kings bodyguards called Demetrius and other Macedonian soldiers not previously mentioned in the sources. Among these other soldiers was a certain Dimnus who also tried to recruit his lover, Nicomachus. Nicomachus was supposed to pass this secret on to his brother, Cebalinus, who in turn reported it to Philotas. Two days went by and Philotas did nothing, so Cebalinus resolved to inform Alexander, which immediately resulted in an inquiry. Philotas could be accused of inactivity in face of information about the conspiracy but there was no evidence he himself was a traitor too. Before he could be arrested,
Curt., 6.8.2-4, 6.11.1-5; Plu., Alex., 40.1, 48; Plu., mor., 339d-f. Lane Fox 1980, pp. 274-275; Heckel 1992, pp. 23-33; Hamilton 1999, pp. 132-133. 88 Badian 1960, pp. 326-329; Badian 1964, pp. 194-196; Green 1974, pp. 348-349; Goukowsky 1978, p. 38; Bosworth 1988, pp. 99-100; Heckel 2009, pp. 44-45.
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Dimnus conveniently committed suicide or was killed by soldiers. Questioned by the king, Philotas admitted that he had heard of the plot but did not take any action, presuming it to be merely a false aspersion caste as the result of a spat between two homosexual lovers. Alexander initially promised Parmenions son that no harm would come to him but that same evening he called together a council of friends (Hephaestion, Craterus, Coenus, Erigyios, Ptolemy and Leonnatus), during which Craterus denounced Philotas and the rest agreed with this motion. W. Heckel has even formulated a theory according to which the whole affair was actually a plot hatched against Philotas by a group of childhood friends of Alexander, now officers who hated Philotas. Even if they had not initiated the attack on Philotas, this group strongly supported any actions taken by Alexander against Parmenion and his son, for these two were detested by Macedonians for their arrogance and overbearing influence on the army. All the exits from Phrada were now closed so that no news could prematurely reach Parmenion, whose fate was by then probably sealed. That same night a unit of 300 soldiers commanded by the trusted officer Atarrhias arrested Philotas.89 The following day he was brought before an assembly of Greek and Macedonian soldiers and personally accused of treason by the king. Alexander accused both Philotas and his father Parmenion of conspiring against him and charges were also made by Craterus. The king ordered Philotas to answer these accusations in Macedonian, knowing that his first language was Greek and that speaking with difficulty he would not be able to gain the sympathy of the assembled soldiers. It was for this purpose that Philotas was also exposed to vehement attacks by a certain Bolon, who accused him of adopting non-Macedonian customs. The trial was continued in keeping with the customs of the time, that is, with the application of torture. This was supervised by the kings friends, among whom Philotass personal enemy Craterus showed the greatest zeal. Philotas broke, like almost anyone else would have done in such circumstances, and agreed to confess to everything; with bitter irony he asked Craterus to only tell him which secrets he was to reveal. Such confessions exacted through torture were accepted in Antiquity as valid court evidence and thus sentences could be passed on Philotas and others

89

Curt., 6.7.1-8.22; Diod., 17.79; Str., 15.2.10; Plu., Alex., 49.1-10; Just., 12.4-5. Badian 1960; Green 1974, p. 348; Heckel 1977; Heckel 1986, p. 299; Bosworth 1988, pp. 101-102; Atkinson 1994, pp. 212-214, 218-219, 224-225; Hamilton 1999, pp. 154-156; Heckel 2006, p. 60.

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accused of being party to this conspiracy. They were all executed either by stoning (Curtius) or with spears (Arrian).90 The skilfully evoked atmosphere of hysteria and fear provided the ideal conditions for carrying out a purge in the armys ranks which began immediately after Philotass execution. The next trial was a mere formality: Alexander of Lyncestis, who had been held in prison for three years, was now sentenced to death. Three brothers and friends of Philotas Amyntas, Simmias and Polemon were also implicated in the conspiracy, but Amyntas ably disproved the absurd charges pressed against them and so the king spared them their lives. Ordinary soldiers suspected of political incorrectness by sympathising with the accused were isolated from the rest of the army and put in a penal company.91 While these investigations or perhaps just formalised executions were being carried out in the Macedonian camp at Phrada, Alexander issued instructions regarding Parmenion. The old general enjoyed great prestige among the Macedonians. Moreover, he had at his disposal considerable forces in Ecbatana employed to guard the vast Persian treasures. With his last son sentenced to death after a mock trial, this dangerously powerful man could not be allowed to live. The officer entrusted with the mission of murdering Parmenion was called Polydamas; his loyalty was further guaranteed by the taking of his younger brothers into armed custody. Polydamas and two accompanying nomads (Arabs according to Curtius) crossed the Dasht-e Lut Desert on camels in eleven days and reached Ecbatana before news of the purges in Phrada had arrived. There Polydamas met up with Cleander, the commander of the mercenaries, and the two officers next went to Parmenion to deliver him letters from Alexander and Philotas. As Parmenion started to read the forged letter from his son, Cleander ran him through with his sword. After the murder, the two officers presented to the soldiers the letter form their king, in which Alexander described the old generals alleged crimes. To ease tensions in the camp the Cleander allowed the soldiers bury Parmenions body but first he severed his head, which was sent to Alexander as evidence that his order had been carried out.92 The sources do not question the existence of a conspiracy in the army against the king. Yet, apart from what had been extracted through torture,
90 91

Arr., An., 3.26.1-3; Curt., 6.8.23-11.40; Diod., 17.80.1; Plu., Alex., 49.9-12. Curt., 7.1.1-2.10, 7.2.35-38; Arr., An., 3.27.1-2; Diod., 17.80.2-4; Just., 12.5. Heckel 2006, pp. 24-25, s.v. Amyntas [4]. 92 Curt., 7.2.11-34; Diod., 17.80.3; Str., 15.2.10; Arr., An., 3.26.3; Plu., Alex., 49.13; Just., 12.5. Atkinson 1994, pp. 257-259; Heckel 2006, pp. 85-86, 225-226. Arabs in the meaning of nomads: Briant 1996, p. 373.

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Alexander himself had difficulties in producing any evidence which seriously implicated Philotas let alone his father, Parmenion. Conversely, the executions of Parmenion and Philotas were the consequence of a conspiracy directed against them not so much with Alexanders reluctant approval as on his express orders. The removal of these two generals as well as the potential pretender to the Macedonian throne, Alexander of Lyncestis, freed Alexander from opponents to his increasingly autocratic rule and also the highest-ranking challengers of his policy of garnering the support of Iranian aristocrats and adopting the traditions of the Achaemenid monarchy. On top of that there may have also been a personally grudge that Alexander had felt towards Philotas ever since the later had spoken out against him in the Pixodarus affair (Chapter II.4). In this attack on Philotas Alexander skilfully used the personal animosity felt towards him by other high-ranking officers. In the near future some of these officers would also fall victim to a similar game that was played against Philotas in Phrada. These were successive steps taken by Alexander on the road to achieving absolute power. The price to be paid by Alexander was, as E. Badian put it, the loneliness of power. But for the time being the current victors collected the spoils: Philotass command of the hetairoi was divided between two hipparchs, Cleitus and Hephaestion, while Ptolemy replaced the executed Demetrius as commander of the kings bodyguards. Alexander commemorated the whole incident by having Phrada renamed Prophthasia, i.e. Anticipation naturally in reference to the conspiracy. 93 In order to sanction the overthrowing of two commanders as important as Parmenion and Philotas Alexander shrewdly employed an assembly of soldiers to counterbalance the Macedonian nobility. Though very successful on this occasion, this tactic would with time help convince the ordinary Macedonian rank and file that they were an important and independent political force able to make decisions regarding matters of state. This was something Alexander would learn for himself in India.94

Plu., Alex., 49.1; Plu., mor., 328f; Arr., An., 3.27.5; Just., 12.5; Charax, ap. St. Byz., s.v. Frda. Badian 1960; Badian 1964; Badian 2000, pp. 64-69; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 286-291; Goukowsky 1978, pp. 39-40; Bosworth 1980, pp. 366-367; Bosworth 1988, pp. 102-104; Wirth 1993, p. 179; Fraser 1996, pp. 124-131; Briant 2002, pp. 101-102; Nawotka 2003, p. 97. 94 Errington 1978, p. 114.

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7. The conquest of eastern Iran


Before leaving Prophthasia (Phrada), Alexander made Arsaces satrap of Areia responsible for Drangiana too. Now the army headed south and after five days of brisk marching it covered a distance of c.160 km to reach Ariaspa. In Antiquity this was a prosperous and densely populated territory, one in which archaeologist have identified the remains of over a hundred urban settlements. Situated by the lower reaches of the river Helmand and the Hamun-e Helmand lakes (in todays south-eastern Afghanistan and Iranian Sistan), the region owed its agricultural prosperity to an extensive irrigation system. Ariaspaa legendary wealth and the renowned hospitality of its inhabitants had once saved the army of Cyrus the Great from starvation; now in the winter of 330/329 it supported the Macedonian army for 60 days. Alexanders granting of gifts to the Ariaspians was the first recorded incident where he openly claimed to be acting in tradition of the founder of the Persian Empire Cyrus the Great.95 While Alexander was in Ariaspa the province of Gedrosia by the Arabian Sea (today Baluchistan in Iran and Pakistan) also surrendered to him. The new satrap of Ariaspa and Gedrosia became either Amedines (Curtius) or Tiridates (Diodorus). This was an important step in the subjugation of south-eastern Iran, which Alexander thought to be strategically necessary before launching his campaign against Bessus beyond the Hindu Kush Mountains. It was more or less at this time that he received news of more trouble in Areia: Satibarzanes had started another revolt with 2,000 horsemen provided for him by Bessus. This time Alexander did not have to intervene personally for the revolt could be quelled by the army he had left behind in Ecbatana in the summer of 330, now commanded by Erigyios and Caranus. They were assisted in this task by Artabazus and the satrap of Parthia Phrataphernes. In the spring of 329 a force of 6,000 Greek infantry and 600 cavalry as well as unspecified detachments of Phratapherness Iranian troops entered Areia. After some minor skirmishes the fighting was resolved in the late spring or early summer of 329 in a battle, during which Erigyios killed Satibarzanes in a single combat. The Persians head was then sent, in mid summer, to Alexander as evidence. However, Areia continued to be a troubled province under the rule of the reputedly unreliable satrap Arsaces. Therefore in the autumn of 329 Alexander dispatched one of his hetairoi,
Curt., 7.3.1-3; Arr., An., 3.27.4-5; Diod., 17.81.1-2; Str., 15.2.10; Just., 12.5; ME, 4. Engels 1978, pp. 91-93; Bosworth 1980, pp. 365-366; Seibert 1985, p. 122; Jacobs 1994, p. 85; Fraser 1996, pp. 130-131; Heckel 2006, p. 53, s.v. Arsaces [1].
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the Greek Stasanor of Soli in Cyprus, with instructions to arrest Arsaces and take over his office as satrap. It took Stasanor and Phrataphernes over another year to impose full control over Areia and Parthia, which were finally subjugated in the winter of 328/327.96 Alexander and his army set off from Ariaspa on the campaign against Bessus before the winter had ended in the mountains, therefore probably in February 329. They most probably took a route through the valley of the Arghandab river up to Kandahar and thence north east towards Kabul through a land which in ancient times was called Paropamisus a name that was incidentally also applied to the Hindu Kush mountains. During this march Alexander changed the status of an Achaemenid fortress on the site of old Kandahar into that of a city, called by the ancient authors Alexandria in Arachosia. In the early Hellenistic period this became the most important centre of Greek civilization in this region. A damaged inscription that has been found there may have once borne the name of the cities founder. Unfortunately, all that is left of what A.N. Oikonomides has interpreted to be the name Alexander is the letter A. According to Strabo, Curtius and Arrian, the 500-kilometre march from Kandahar to the Kabul valley lasted from March to April and in that time the Macedonians were hampered by snow and a lack of provisions. A short stay in the Kabul valley allowed the stragglers to catch up and the whole army to gather strength before crossing the Hindu Kush.97 It was during this stay that Alexander founded another city which he named Alexandria in the Caucasus (alternatively Alexandria in Paropamisadai). The Caucasus was frequently a name also applied to the Hindu Kush for in Antiquity the two mountain ranges were believed to be parts of a single group. The citys exact site has not yet been established. Current knowledge allows us to presume that the most likely location would have been todays Bagram (c. 40 km to the north of Kabul), which is strategically situated where the roads north to the Hindu Kush divide. This is also the likely site of the Achaemenid fortress Kapisa and therefore Alexander may well have again chosen the site of an already existing community to found a city. Unlike in the case of Alexandria of Arachosia, however, this time the sources also
Curt., 7.3.2, 7.4.32-40; Diod., 17.81.3, 17.83.4-6, 18.3.3; Arr., An., 3.28.2-3, 3.29.5; Str., 14.6.3. Bosworth 1980, p. 374; Bosworth 1988, pp. 104-105; Seibert 1985, pp. 123-124; Harmatta 1999, p. 129; Heckel 2006, pp. 21-22, 235. 97 Arr., An., 3.28.1; Str., 15.2.10; Curt., 7.3.5-18; Isid. Char., FGrH, 781 F2.19; Ptol., Geog., 6.20.4; Amm. Marc., 23.6.72; St. Byz., s.v. Alexndreiai (12). Engels 1978, pp. 93-94; Bosworth 1980, pp. 368-369; Oikonomides 1984; Seibert 1985, p. 125; Fraser 1996, pp. 132-140; Karttunen 1997, p. 47; Hamilton 1999, pp. 98-99.
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record the settlement in this new city of 7,000 natives and 3,000 so-called volunteers from among Alexanders mercenaries and camp followers. Before moving on, the king nominated a Persian called Proexes as satrap of Paropamisus and left behind a Macedonian garrison under the command of the hetairos Neiloxenus.98 There are seven valleys and high mountain passes that lead from the Kabul river valley (1,800 m above sea level) to Bactria todays northern Afghanistan and southern Turkmenistan. The accounts of the ancient authors do not allow us to know for certain which route was taken by the Macedonian army. Most historians assume Alexander chose the easternmost Khawak Pass, but that might not necessarily be true. Such a route is not only very long but it would also have led the Macedonians much further east beyond the Hindu Kush than where their subsequent operations took place. It is therefore plausible that Alexander instead chose a lower route through the Salang Pass; incidentally the main road from Kabul to Mazar-e Sharif, which forks out, via Kunduz, to Tajikistan today runs through this very pass.99 Having offered prescribed sacrifices to the gods, Alexander resumed the march most probably in May 329. The over 100-km distance over the Hindu Kush from Alexandria in the Caucasus to the city of Drapsaka took the Macedonian army 17 days. Such a slow pace was dictated by the difficult terrain, in places the men and animals were forced to proceed in single file. Shortcomings in Alexanders logistic planning once again resulted in a serious deficiency of provisions, so much so that some of the pack animals had to be slaughtered for meat. After crossing the Hindu Kush the problem with provisions deteriorated further still for Bessus resorted to scorched earth tactics.100 However, this was not enough to stop the Macedonians. With only 7,000 cavalry, Bessus did not dare to confront a numerically superior enemy, though a determined attack on the tired and malnourished troops slowly descending from the mountains could have been successful. Instead the Persian pretender to the throne retreated to Sogdiana on the northern side of the river Oxus (Amu Darya), which was ruled by his ally, Spitamenes. The fortress of Aornos (today Khulm) and the oasis capital of
98

Arr., An., 3.28.4, 4.22.5; Diod., 17.83.2; Curt., 7.3.23; Plu., mor., 328d-f; Str., 15.2.10; Plin., Nat., 6.62; It. Alex., 74. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 294-295; Bosworth 1980, pp. 369-370; Stoneman 1994, pp. 99-102; Fraser 1996, pp. 140-151; Klinkott 2000, pp. 90, 109; Heckel 2006, pp. 174, 232. 99 Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 336-337, 678-681; Engels 1978, pp. 94-95; Seibert 1985, p. 126; Fraser 1996, pp. 157-158 and n. 103. 100 Arr., An., 3.28.4-8; Curt., 7.4.22-25; It. Alex., 75-76. Engels 1978, pp. 95-97; Holt 1993, pp. 595-598.

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Bactra (today Balkh in northern Afghanistan) were captured without much resistance and Artabazus was appointed satrap of this province. The fact that the fortified towns as well as the rural population in Bactria failed to put up resistance, perhaps as a consequence of his scorched earth tactics, marked Bessuss undoing. The only thing holding the Macedonians back from his capture were 400 stades (72 km) between Bactra and the river Oxus of arid desert where temperatures in those summer months frequently reached above 40o C. Alexander ordered his troops to march at night, when it was much cooler. But that still did not solve the problem with water. The soldiers were instructed to take wine with them so that they could mix it with any local water. Unfortunately, some quenched their thirst by drinking the wine undiluted. This usually resulted in violent vomiting, in consequence of which their bodies were further dehydrated, and more often than not this resulted in their deaths. Many other soldiers in turn died as a result of drinking water too greedily once they reached the Oxus.101 Before her waters were wasted on pointless irrigation projects in the Soviet era, Amu Darya was a great fast flowing river which was at its broadest in the summer months. And indeed it was in the summer that the Macedonian army reached its shore. Although circumstantial evidence has been gathered to support the hypothesis that the crossing point was in the place called Kampyrtepe102, it is still a hypothesis only. We are told by ancient sources that at that point it was six stades (c. 1,100 m) wide, that it was too deep to wade across and that Bessus had burnt all the boats. Alexander therefore resorted to the method he had applied in 335 when crossing the Danube (Chapter III.2) he ordered the soldiers to construct rafts out of leather tents stuffed with hay and on these they crossed the river. Before the actual crossing, Alexander had relieved Macedonian soldiers who were too old or otherwise unfit for battle as well as any allied Thessalian soldiers who wished to return home, 900 men in all. It is possible that this way Alexander wanted to rid himself of soldiers who had been closest to Parmenion and therefore those who were the most bitter about the fate of the old general. Each demobilised foot soldier received the astounding some of half a talent (the equivalent of ten years pay), whereas each cavalryman received two talents. Thus Alexander achieved another advantage in turning potential troublemakers into propagators of
101

Arr., An., 3.28.8-29.1; Curt., 7.4.31, 7.5.1-16; Diod., 17.iq. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 297-299; Engels 1978, pp. 98-102; Bosworth 1980, p. 372; Bosworth 1988, p. 107; Holt 1988, pp. 47-49; Holt 1993, pp. 588-589. Geography of Bactria: Holt 1988, pp. 11-32. 102 Rtveladze 2002, pp. 28-66.

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the success of the Persian campaign. It took the entire Macedonian army five days to cross the river and immediately after that it hastily marched to the place where the scouts had located Bessus. But again the battle was averted, though this time because the Bactrian usurper had been arrested by his erstwhile allies Spitamenes and Dataphernes, who next sent a messenger to Alexander with the offer of handing Bessus over. Alexander dispatched Ptolemy, who brought Bessus over naked and in chains. Bessuss chief crime was usurpation of the Achaemenid throne, which was in fact what the Macedonian Alexander had also done. However, the Bactrian satraps involvement in Dariuss murder gave Alexander an excellent pretext to punish him for regicide. Bessus was whipped and then sent to Bactria. Eventually Alexander had Bessus handed over to Darius IIIs brother, Oxyathres, to select an appropriate Persian punishment for traitors of the state. The execution was carried out before a gathering of Medes and Persians (presumably influential Iranians) in Ecbatana in 328. First he was shamefully mutilated by having his nose and ears cut off. Next he was most probably nailed to a cross. Although both Plutarch and to a certain extent Diodorus suggest that Bessus was tied to two specially bound together trees and next ripped apart when the binding was cut, it is much more likely that the Persians crucified him as this was their traditional form of execution for rebels and murderers. Applying the type of execution that had also been used by Darius III would have been important to Alexander for the sake of legitimising his claim as the rightful successor of the Achaemenids in the eyes of the Iranians, particularly their social elites. Unfortunately, we have no record of how the Persians responded to the way Bessus had been put to death. W. Heckel suggests that the ruthlessness with which Bessus was punished actually prolonged resistance in eastern Iran as it dissuaded other Persian rebel leaders from surrendering.103 It was in 329 that new coins were issued by Alexander: now instead of just bearing his name Alexandrou they bore the title basileos Alexandrou, meaning a coin of King Alexander. We can assume that after eliminating the last of the pretenders with a legal claim to the Achaemenid throne, Alexander decided to make absolutely official his claim as the only rightful king of the Persian Empire.104

103

Arr., An., 3.29.2-30.4, 4.7; Curt., 7.5.13-28, 7.5.36-43; Diod., 17.83.7-9; Plu., Alex., 43.6; Just., 12.5; Ps.-Callisth., 2.21; It. Alex., 76-78; ME, 5-6. Lane Fox 1973, pp. 299-300; Green 1974, pp. 353-355; Goukowsky1978, pp. 219-221; Bosworth 1980, pp. 372-377; Bosworth 1988, pp. 107-108; Briant 1994, pp. 286-291; Heckel 1997, p. 209; Hamilton 1999, pp. 114-115. 104 Morawiecki 1975, pp. 108-111.

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At more or less the same time that Spitamenes handed over the arrested Bessus to Ptolemy, the slowly advancing Macedonian army made an astonishing discovery. They encountered a Greek town situated, from their Mediterranean point of view, at the very edge of the world. It turned out that these were the descendents of the Branchidae the caste that up until the start of the Ionian Revolt in the 5th century had administered the Great Temple and oracle of Apollo at the Milesian Didyma. During the Ionian Revolt the Branchidae first refused to use the temples funds to finance the war against Persia but then handed all their money over to Xerxes. Subsequently, after a momentous Greek victory, Greeks who had supported the Persians in 480-479 war now had every reason to fear their compatriots would seek revenge. That is why they took up Xerxes offer to evacuate collaborators deep into Asia. Indeed on many occasions throughout the Achaemenid period settlers, including Greeks, had been sent east Bactria and Sogdiana. This time the descendants of the proPersian Branchidae willingly surrendered their town and greeted Alexander with joy. Their surrender was accepted but among Macedonian commanders there was consternation as to what to do with the successors of those who had betrayed the Panhellenic cause. Alexander asked the Milesians in his camp, but here too opinions were divided. The following day the king granted his soldiers permission to slaughter the unfortunate Branchidae with instructions to raze their town to the ground and even cut down their forests. The truth behind this atrocity, which the court historiography reflected in Arrians account has completely ignored, has moreover been challenged by some modern historians. The original source, however, is Callisthenes, a member of Alexanders expedition who was favourably disposed to his monarch and would hardly invent a story casting him in such a bad light. Besides, this was not the only massacre of civilians in Alexanders career. The slaughter of the Branchidae in Sogdiana really happened, only the circumstances seem doubtful for the sources do not give any convincing motives as to why Alexander made such a terrible decision. Perhaps as H.W. Parke and A.B. Bosworth presume the slaughter resulted from a lack of moral discipline among the Macedonian soldiers after long months of campaigning and enduring extreme conditions raging form the snow capped Hindu Kush to the unbearable heat of Bactria. 105 Archaeologists have discovered in
105 Curt., 7.5.28-35; Diod., 17.k; Str., 11.11.4; Plu., mor., 557b; Suda, s.v. Bragcdai. Tarn 1948, ii, pp. 272-275; Parke 1985; Bernard 1985, pp. 123-125; Bosworth 1988, pp. 108-109; Holt 1988, pp. 73-75; Kulesza 1994, pp. 227-245; Briant 1996, pp. 771-772; Karttunen 1997, pp. 21-22; Panchenko 2002, pp. 245248; Rtveladze 2002, pp. 69-70.

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Afghanistan Greek graffiti dated approximately 500 years after the massacre including the words bronchidai and bronchees. If these words are variants of the name Branchidai,106 this would mean that not all the Branchidae had been killed in 329 and that their community survived for at least another 500 years. The next objective of the Macedonian army was the capital of Sogdiana, Maracanda (today Samarcand in Uzbekistan), where Alexander left a strong garrison of 1,000 soldiers. Next the army marched to the river Jaxartes (Syr Darya), which marked the northern boundary of the Achaemenid Empire. The sources do not record any major battles but the Macedonians did encounter some resistance from the local population. We know that they devastated villages around Maracanda and that during a skirmish with a mountain tribe Alexander had an arrow shot through his calf into his shinbone. The Jaxartes was also called in ancient times the Tanais. In Alexanders time it was frequently confused with a river of the same name flowing into the Azov Sea, todays river Don. In those days that other Tanais (todays Don) was considered a border between Europe and Asia.107 However, the Tanais or Jaxartes Alexanders army reached did not mark a boundary between ethnic cultures as both sides were inhabited by Scythian nomads. On the other hand, unlike their southern relatives, the Scythians living to the north of the river did not belong to the Achaemenid state though they were usually allies of the Persians. Now they sent envoys to the Macedonian king. Alexander responded by sending ambassadors to the Scythians north of the river. These envoys the king selected from among his hetairoi and also secretly instructed them to carry out some reconnaissance work. Of course in the diplomatic exchange both sides declared mutual friendship. Regardless of how sincere his declaration was, Alexander could not take any action to the north of the Jaxartes. This was because a revolt had broken out in newly conquered Sogdiana. The rebel leader was Spitamenes, perhaps the most able and tough Iranian to confront Alexander, and he had the support of some of the Bactrians. The ancient authors do not present the reasons for this revolt presumably because they themselves did not know what they were. Perhaps it was, as F.L. Holt argues, that the Sogdian leaders were willing to accept Alexanders nominal suzerainty but would not tolerate any permanent changes to their social hierarchy. Up to the arrival of the Macedonians, Sogdiana had been a country that recognised the rule of the Great King but
106 107

Bernard 1985, p. 125; Kulesza 1994, pp. 245-246. Arr., An., 3.30.6-11; Curt., 7.6.1-10; Plu., mor., 327a; It. Alex., 79-80; ME, 7-8. Seibert 1985, pp. 129-131; Bosworth 1988, pp. 109-110.

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was in fact governed quite independently by the local nobles. Now this state of affairs appeared to be threatened by a plan to build the city of Alexandria Eschate and the installation of Macedonian garrisons. These measures were to ensure a permanent Greek and Macedonian military presence as well as replace in rural areas the traditional lord and peasant hierarchy with the population being controlled at various levels by cities based on the Greek polis system. The conflict was most probably also caused by cultural differences. The sources record that Alexander tried to stamp out the local practice of leaving the corpses of their dead out in the open to be devoured by animals, which was something the Greeks and Macedonians found quite unacceptable. Whatever the true reason, the smaller Macedonian garrisons were massacred. Meanwhile the Sogdian nobles refused to attend a conference Alexander had summoned in Bactra. They probably did not come out fear for their own safety but this was still an act of disobedience. Now there was no alternative to war.108 As usual, Alexanders response was fast and ruthless. He instructed the best of his officers, Craterus, to besiege the largest of the cities, Cyropolis (Kuru-kaqa?), which may have been located somewhere near todays Kurkat, 40 km to the west of Khojent (Tajikistan). This gave time for Alexander himself to attack the smaller cities. Their primitive fortifications constructed out of sun dried bricks were no defence against Macedonian siege engines. The defenders were treated with exceptional cruelty: the men were killed while the women and children were sold into slavery. Within two days three cities were successfully stormed and captured, while the fleeing populations from another two were slaughtered by the Macedonian cavalry. Alexander personally commanded the storming of Cyropolis, during which he was struck with a stone. But this city was also quickly captured. At that stage it may have seemed that in Sogdiana the only remaining problem was to relieve the Macedonian garrison at Maracanda, which was besieged by forces commanded by Spitamenes. For this task Alexander dispatched 1,400 Macedonian and mercenary cavalry as well as 1,500 mercenary infantry commanded by the Iranian Pharnuches.109

Onesicritus, ap. Str., 11.11.3 (= FGrH, 134 F5); Arr., An., 4.1; Curt., 7.6.11-15; Plu., mor., 328c; It. Alex., 81; ME, 8. Bickermann 1966, pp. 89-90; Holt 1988, pp. 52-60; Vogelsang 1992, p. 230; Bosworth 1995, pp. 13-19; Karttunen 1997, p. 21; Ashley 1998, p. 298; Harmatta 1999, pp. 130-132; Holt 1999, pp. 122-123; Nawotka 2003, p. 94. 109 Arr., An., 4.2-3; Curt., 7.6.16-24; Plu., Alex., 45.5; It. Alex., 82-83; ME, 9. Engels 1978, p. 103; Bosworth 1995, pp. 19-25.

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The king and the rest of the army now returned to the river Jaxartes, on the other side of which a Scythian army had gathered ready to support Spitamenes. The Scythians were worried by Alexanders plans to found a town by the river and feared that these would hinder their nomadic freedom and barter trade. The ancient authors claim that the walls of this newest town, Alexandria Eschate (Alexandria the Furthest), were raised within as little as twenty (Arrian) or seventeen (Curtius) days. Medieval Arab sources suggest that it could be associated with todays city of Khojent on the western edge of the Fergana Valley. There had already been a fortified town on the Jaxartes in Achaemenid times but, unless the accounts of Curtius and Arrian are completely untrue, Alexandria Eschate was probably not built on its foundations. However, the new town could have been built next to the old. It was populated by Greek mercenaries from Alexanders army, Macedonian veterans as well as resettled natives and its original purpose was to guarantee Macedonian military supremacy in the region. Although Curtius and Arrian write about the raising of the Alexandria Eschates fortifications during events that occurred in 329, the process must have lasted longer for we know from the Paros Chronicle that the town was officially founded a year later in 328/327 (Athenian years began in July). Of the many towns Alexander is said to have founded in Bactria and Sogdiana this is the only one whose existence has been incontrovertibly confirmed.110 The Scythians tried to attack and provoke the soldiers raising the fortifications of Alexandria. Alexander naturally took up the challenge. The crossing was delayed for some time because sacrifices did not augur a favourable outcome. However, Alexanders impetuousness eventually proved too strong and he ordered the operation to start. Protected by the missiles fired from boat-mounted catapults that the barbarians had never seen before, the soldiers were able to get across the river. The Scythians repulsed the first attack of phalanx and mercenary cavalry. In a second attack, however, Alexanders skilful use of cavalry, archers and light infantry prevented the Scythians from deploying their traditional tactic of encirclement. After that the Macedonians were able to defeat the enemy in open battle. The routed Scythians were allegedly chased for 150 stades (27 km) to a place where Curtius Rufus and Pliny state Dionysus had left border signs; an alternative version is that Dionysius and Heracles had erected some altars there; these presumably were burial mounds. The
Marmor Parium, FGrH 239 B7; Arr., An., 4.1.3-4, 4.4.1; Curt., 7.6.13, 7.6-2527; Plin., Nat., 6.49; Ptol., Geog., 6.12.6, 8.23.14; It. Alex., 81; ME, 7. Bosworth 1995, pp. 25-27; Briant 1996, p. 767; Briant 2002, pp. 71-72; Fraser 1996, pp. 151156.
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Macedonians ended the pursuit only once Alexander could go no further on account of the injuries he had received during the storming of Cyropolis; at the time he was also suffering from diarrhoea, after having drunk some contaminated water. 160 Macedonians were killed and another 1,000 were wounded in this clash. The Scythians lost 1,000 men and 1,800 of their horses were captured. The Scythian king immediately sent envoys to apologise for the provocative attack, which he claimed had been carried out without his knowledge. Alexander did not raise the conditions for peace because he now had to quickly return to Sogdiana, where the situation had again turned for the worse.111 Already at the start of the sally north of the Jaxartes the fate of the corps sent to relieve the beleaguered Maracanda was known. Although in Arrians book details in the accounts of the expeditions participants, Ptolemy and Aristobulus, differ from one another significantly, the is no doubt that with the help of Dahae nomads Spitamenes annihilated the 3,000-strong detachment of Macedonian troops that had been sent to relieve Maracanda. Moreover, the citys defenders, who had imprudently sallied from their fortress, were also slaughtered. On returning from his expedition against the Scythians Alexander divided his army into two. Craterus was put in charge of the phalanx and instructed to march not faster than normal. Alexander himself took command of the cavalry, hypaspists, Agrianians, archers as well as light infantry and proceeded to Maracanda with considerably greater speed. With some exaggeration Arrian reports that Alexanders corps covered the 1,500 stades (270 km) to the city within three days. But before this larger army arrived, Spitamenes had escaped into the steppe and there was nothing left Alexanders men to do other than bury the dead from Pharnuchess corps. After a fruitless pursuit of Spitamenes the Macedonians vented their fury by massacring the inhabitants of the Polytimetus (Zeravshan) river valley, devastating the villages and destroying local fortresses. A Macedonian garrison of 3,000 soldiers commanded by Peucolaus was installed in Sogdiana, probably in Maracanda. By late autumn Alexander withdrew with the rest of the army to the capital of Bactria, where they spent the winter of 329/328.112 In the spring of 328 reinforcements raised by Antipater and provincial governors reached Alexander in Bactria. The number of new recruits was
111

Arr., An., 4.4.1-5.1; Curt., 7.7.1, 7.7.5-9.19; Plu., Alex., 45.6; Plu., mor., 341c; Plin., Nat., 6.49; It. Alex., 85; ME, 8-12. Engels 1978, pp. 101-102; Seibert 1985, p. 132, n. 26; Bosworth 1995, pp. 27-32; Bosworth 1996a, pp. 146-148; Hammond 1996, pp. 194-195. 112 Arr., An., 4.5.2-7.1; Curt., 7.6.24, 7.7.30-39, 7.9.20-10.10; It. Alex., 86-88; ME, 13-14. Bosworth 1995, pp. 29-37.

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vast as many as 22,000, including 2,600 cavalry. On the other hand, the sources only mention mercenaries. The most likely explanation for this is that ever since the defeat of the imperial Persian forces at Gaugamela Alexander was deliberately relying on mercenaries in order to spare compatriots.113 That spring there was yet another wave of disturbances in Sogdiana. It turned out that the previous years bloody repressions had failed to pacify the situation and may have even exacerbated it. Fearing for the old social order and their place in it, the Sogdian lords were now siding more with Spitamenes and Scythians. Alexander decided to impose his will on the Sogdians by force and marched his army from Bactria to the rebel province. Among those he left in charge of Bactria were Meleager and Polyperchon, both of whom would later play important roles in the diadochi period. Alexander must have assumed Bactria would be a safe province as many of the troops he left there were in convalescence. Once Alexander started operations in Sogdiana, Spitamenes launched an audacious attack on Bactria destroying one of the smaller Macedonian garrisons on the way. The slender forces of the main garrison made an initially successful sortie but in a subsequent clash Spitameness Scythians defeated them. Those killed included seven hetairoi, 60 mercenary horsemen and the courageous kitharode Aristonicus of Olynthus, whom Alexander later honoured with a bronze statue at Delphi.114 However, what eventually worked against Spitamenes was the enemys large numerical superiority. Despite engaging most of his troops in Sogdiana, Alexander still had at his disposal Craterus corp, which was able to catch up with Spitamenes and defeat his forces in battle. 150 Scythians were killed, and although the rest managed to escape into the desert, this was major blow to Spitameness reputation.115 After four days marching the Macedonian army crossed the Oxus, on whose shore the soldiers inadvertently discovered a source of petroleum crude oil. Beyond the river Alexander divided his army into five columns, which were commanded by his high-ranking officers Hephaestion, Ptolemy, Perdiccas, Coenus and himself. Alexander was accompanied by Artabazus, no doubt to serve as an interpreter between the Macedonian Great King and his rebellious subjects. An example of Macedonian ruthlessness during this march to Maracanda were the actions of
Arr., An., 4.7.2; Curt., 7.10.10-13. Milns 1976, pp. 109-110; Bosworth 1995, pp. 39-40. 114 Arr., An., 4.16.1, 4.16.4-7; Curt., 7.10.13, 8.1.3-5, 8.1.6; Plu., mor., 334e-f; It. Alex., 98. Holt 1988, pp. 60-61; Heckel 1992, pp. 165-170, 188-204; Bosworth 1995, pp. 108-116. 115 Arr., An., 4.17.1-2; Curt., 8.1.6. Bosworth 1995, p. 117.
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Alexanders column when it encountered a mountain fortress (Sogdian Rock) commanded by a certain Ariamazes, with reputedly 30,000 soldiers at his disposal. With such an excellent defensive position, large supplies of food and water available from a source within the fortresss premises, the rebel commander had good reason to feel confident. Thus to the demand to capitulate he replied by mockingly enquiring whether Alexanders soldiers could fly. Alexander therefore resolved to terrify the defenders by having his soldiers appear above their heads on a mountain ridge believed to be only accessible to birds. He offered 10 talents (the equivalent of 200 years of a foot soldiers pay) to the first of 300 volunteers to make it to the top. The next ten who got there were promised 9 talents each. During the ascent 32 soldiers fell to their deaths but the rest could eventually be seen by both Alexander and the enemy on the ridge. On seeing these winged soldiers, Ariamazes capitulated. On Alexanders orders, Ariamazes together with members of his family as well as other prominent Sogdians from the fortress were all whipped and next crucified. The remaining defenders were sold into slavery, probably to the inhabitants of newly founded Greek towns in Sogdiana. It soon became apparent that this exceptional act of terror failed to serve its purpose and did not incline other Sogdians to surrender.116 Once he had reached Maracanda, Alexander instructed Hephaestion to build allegedly as many as twelve Greek towns or fortresses to control the country. The sites of none of these towns have been located with any degree of reasonable certainty; currently we can only be confident that the famous A Khanum, which was discovered by French archaeologists, was founded at the start of the Hellenistic period but not during Alexanders reign.117 Another leader, Coenus, was sent to the land of the Scythians in search of Spitamenes. Alexander was still in Maracanda in the summer of 328 when he received envoys from peoples beyond the Jaxartes, the Chorasmians and Scythians (called European Scythians by Arrian). The Scythian king offered Alexander his daughter in marriage as well as brides for other Macedonian notables. These offers were politely declined. The Kingdom of Chorasmia, situated by Lake Aral at the mouth of the Amu Darya, had under the first Achaemenids been part of the Persian Empire. By Alexanders time, unlike the Scythians, the Chorasmians were predominantly settled. In the 4th century the country experienced rapid economic growth so that by the time of Alexanders expedition it was
116

Str., 11.11.4; Curt., 7.10.13-15, 7.11; Polyaen., 4.3.29; It. Alex., 97; ME, 15-18; Holt 1988, p. 61. 117 Arr., An., 4.16.3; Just., 12.5. Holt 1986; Fraser 1996, pp. 154-156; Karttunen 1997, p. 47.

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undoubtedly the most powerful state to the north of the Achaemenid Empire. That is why the visit of the ruler of this state, Pharasmenes, with a mounted escort of 1,500 horsemen should be considered a significant event reflecting the respect the Macedonian conqueror had among peoples beyond the Persian kingdoms borders. Alexander once again politely turned down an offer, though this time it did not concern marriage so much as a campaign against Pharasmeness enemies. The Macedonian king did, however, promise to resolve the matter after his return from India. In the meantime he made a treaty of friendship with the Chorasmians and hoped this way to isolate Spitamenes from potential allies.118 The armys long stay in Maracanda was interrupted by an excursion into one of the Great Kings animal and forest reserves in Bactria where reputedly no human had set foot for four generations. During the hunting, which was organised with beaters, 4,000 animals were killed. Alexander personally killed a great lion in the Near East those animals were the traditional quarry of kings.119 The army next returned to Maracanda, for Alexander resolved to spend the winter in Sogdiana and thus prevent Spitamenes from starting another revolt in this country. How serious this situation was is testified in the fact that in the autumn of 328 Alexander removed from the office of satrap the elderly Artabazus, who probably lacked energy, and replaced him first with Cleitus, and after his death that same year, with Amyntas the son of Nicolaus. The new satrap had to command a large Greco-Macedonian army. Therefore he had to be someone the king could fully trust and whose orders the Greek and Macedonian soldiers would obey without reservations. These were the reasons why he had to be a Macedonian.120 In Maracanda Coenus was left in charge of a strong detachment of Companion cavalry as well as other cavalry units including not only Macedonians but also for the first time mentioned in the sources ones from Bactria and Sogdiana. This shows that as the war in eastern Iran continued Alexander increasingly recruited native soldiers. Bearing in mind the regions social structure, we may assume that the cavalry comprised local aristocrats and their subordinates. This may therefore have been the first sign of a change in Alexanders policy of conquest from one that was solely military to one that was also political and sought to win over the traditional elites of Bactria and

118

Curt., 8.1.7-9; Arr., An., 4.15.1-6; Plu., Alex., 46.3; It. Alex., 95-96. Kraft 1971, pp. 127-128; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 306-307; Bosworth 1995, pp. 101-107. 119 Curt., 8.1.11-19. Tuplin 1996, pp. 100-1-2. 120 Arr., An., 4.17.3; Curt., 8.1.19. Bosworth 1995, p. 118; Klinkott 2000, p. 22, n. 36.

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Sogdiana.121 The most important incident during the Macedonian armys two- or three-week stay at Maracanda was the tragic death of Cleitus (see Chapter V.7). Ten days after this death Alexander retired to winter quarters in a today unknown place called Xenippa, situated somewhere in the fertile lands bordering Scythia.122 The billeting of Alexanders troops around Xenippa caused consternation among the local inhabitants, who had actively or at least passively supported Spitameness revolt. 2,500 Bactrian rebels who had been stationed there were forced to flee but on the way encountered one of Coenuss detachments commanded by Amyntas and after some heavy fighting were defeated. After this defeat Spitameness Sogdian and Bactrian allies surrendered to Coenus. Now the rebel leader was left at the mercy of the Scythians, who, in response to news of Alexanders approaching forces, killed him and sent his severed head to the victor. According to Callistheness version recorded by Curtius Rufus and the more romantic Metz Epitome, which inspired the literary tale of Judith and Holophernes, Spitameness head was cut off by his wife.123 Neither the one and a half year terror campaign nor Spitameness death brought the Sogdian revolt to a conclusive end, though it was of course considerably weakened, especially in face of Macedonian numerical superiority and an increasingly more secure system of towns and fortresses. The centres of resistance were the mountain fortresses of rebel lords. Having spent the harshest part of the winter of 328/327 in the land of Nautaca, which Arab and Iranian sources locate c. 100 km to the north of Termez (now in Uzbekistan), the now united armies of Alexander and Coenus set about capturing these mountain fortresses.124 On the march back to its winter quarters the Macedonian army was caught in a violent storm of snow and hail in freezing temperatures. Some of the soldiers found shelter in the villages, while others lit huge fires and thus tried to keep warm throughout the night. Nonetheless 2,000 soldiers as well as some camp followers perished.125 In the time between military operations Alexander had time to make administrative decisions concerning other parts of the state. In place of the now deceased satrap of Babylonia, Mazaeus, Alexander appointed a
121 122

Arr., An., 4.17.3. Schachermeyr 1973, p. 351; Bosworth 1995, pp. 118-119. Curt., 8.2.13-14; ME, 19. Seibert 1985, p. 140. 123 Arr., An., 4.17.4-7; Curt., 8.2.15-18, 8.3.1-16; ME, 20-25. Holt 1988, p. 65; Bosworth 1995, pp. 119-121; Burstein 1999. 124 Arr., An., 4.18.1; Curt., 8.2.19; Diod., 17.kq; ME, 19. Holt 1988, pp. 66-67; Harmatta 1999, pp. 132-134. 125 Curt., 8.4.3-20; ME, 24-27.

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certain Stamenes, a man we know virtually nothing about apart from the fact that he may have been an Iranian. It also turned out that at least three of Alexanders satraps did not fulfil his requirements. One of them, the satrap Autophradates (Phradates) of Tapuria, refused to appear before the king, which was tantamount to rejection of his suzerainty. The mission entrusted to remove this disobedient satrap was entrusted to the faithful satrap of Parthia, Phrataphernes. The satrap of Media, Oxydates, was replaced by another Iranian, Atropates, who had already been a satrap of that province under Darius IIIs and would become one of Alexanders most successful Iranian nominations. Finally, Arsaces was replaced as satrap of Drangiana by Stasanor, who had just finished his mission of subjugating Areia presumably he now governed both satrapies. It was also then that for the first time after three years Alexander ordered the raising of Macedonian troops instead of mercenary reinforcements. The sources, however, do not tell us anything about the three officers who were delegated to raise these troops or about their mission in the winter of 328/327.126 The episode with the most far-reaching consequences during the last campaign in Sogdiana in the early spring of 327 was the siege another mountain fortress. The campaign was hampered by masses of snow that still lay in the mountains. Not much can be said about the siege itself as the details too closely resemble the siege of Ariamazess Sogdian Rock to be plausible. This time, however, the lord of the stronghold, Sisimithres, was pardoned when he surrendered. Alexander also captured the family of the Bactrian aristocrat and Bessus former ally, Oxyartes. Respect for the dignity of his daughters also eventually persuaded Oxyartes to capitulate.127 Some time later, in the land of Paraitacene, Alexander laid siege to yet another mountain fortress, this one belonging to a certain Chorienes. With the help of Oxyartess mediation Alexander negotiated the strongholds capitulation. This time the vanquished enemy did not only have his life spared but kept his original position and even had his domain expanded. Chorieness loyalty was to be guaranteed by that fact that his sons were became members of Alexanders entourage. The striking difference between the ways Alexander treated the families of Sisimithres, Oxyartes and Chorienes and the way he had treated Ariamazes shows how ever more clearly Alexander was changing his policies in order to find a solution to the conflict. Chorienes accepted Alexanders entire army with
126

Arr., An., 4.18.2-3; Curt., 8.3.16-17. Bosworth 1995, pp. 120-124; Heckel 2006, p. 255. 127 Arr., An., 4.18.4-19.4, 4.20.4; Str., 11.11.4. Holt 1988, p. 66; Bosworth 1995, p. 134; Carney 2000, pp. 106-107.

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great generosity, giving each soldier a two-month ration of bread, salted meat and wine.128 It was probably during a feast given by Chorienes in the victors honour that to Alexander was introduced the Oxyartes daughter, Rhoxane according to all the extant sources the most beautiful woman in Asia beside Darius IIIs wife. The sources almost all maintain that Alexander instantly fell in love with the beautiful Bactrian woman and asked Oxyartes for her hand in marriage. The Macedonian ceremony involved the bride and bridegroom sharing and consuming a loaf of bread between them. At the time Alexander was also said to have encouraged other Macedonians to wed Iranian women, though probably without much success.129 The sources tell us nothing about the level of affection between Alexander and his Bactrian wife. In all probability he did not even leave his earlier lover Barsine, who indeed in 327 bore him a son, Heracles. Although Heracles was never officially recognised as his son and heir, Alexander did have strong emotional ties with Barsine and he did show her great respect to the end of his life. Modern historians have indeed noted that Alexander was generally more attracted to women older than him, and such was Barsine.130 It is therefore not surprising that modern historians generally agree with Curtius and Plutarch in questioning the purely romantic setting for this marriage. In that era marriage out of love was something abnormal rather than normal, as, for example, Philip IIs unfortunate marriage to Cleopatra showed (see: Chapter II.5). One of the obvious objectives of a royal marriage was to produce an heir. And this cannot be ignored even if some modern scholars claim that Alexander had no interest in sex or matters concerning his states future or that he was a homosexual who could never have a relationship with a woman. It is almost certain that Rhoxane accompanied Alexander on his expedition to India and there bore him a son, who died in infancy.131

Curt., 8.4.1-22; Arr., An., 4.21; ME, 19, 29; It. Alex., 102. Holt 1988, p. 66; Bosworth 1995, pp. 124-125, 135-139. 129 Arr., An., 4.19.5; Curt., 8.4.22-30; Diod., 17.l; Plu., Alex., 47.7; Plu., mor., 338d; ME, 28-31; It. Alex., 101. Bosworth 1995, p. 131; Ogden 1999, pp. 43-44; Carney 2000, p. 106. 130 Lyc., 801-804 (see Scholia, ad 801); Diod., 20.20.1; Curt., 10.6.11; Plu., Alex., 21.7-11; Plu., Eum., 1.7; Paus., 9.7.2; Just., 13.2. Baynham 1995a, pp. 68-69; Carney 2000, pp. 102-105; Ogden 2009, p. 206. 131 ME, 70. Heckel 1997a, pp. 290-292; Carney 2000, pp. 106-107; Ogden 2009, p. 206. For homosexual position in scholarship see: Reames-Zimmerman 1999.

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Alexanders marriage to Rhoxane also had political motives which summed up the gradual change in his policy towards the Sogdian and Bactrian elites. Alexander had been progressively moving away from a ruthless terror campaign with which he tried to break resistance in northeastern Iran to one in which he fully pardoned all aristocrats (and their subjects) who defected to his side or surrendered. In return for their loyalty he rewarded them by confirming their rights to inherited territories. By marrying the daughter of one of these lords, Alexander showed that he accepted that aristocrats social group and at the same time this wedding showed that this group also now accepted him.132 Suffice to say that right up to the end of Alexanders reign the sources record no further disturbance in that part of Iran. This could not have been solely due to the presence of a very large garrison of 13,500 mainly mercenary soldiers commanded by the satrap Amyntas. Military force could not have been the only factor for peace in Bactria and Sogdiana as Alexanders much larger army had had to continually struggle to quell rebellions in these provinces for two years. Only the policy of adapting to local customs and accepting local social structures made possible the establishment of long-lasting peace in north-eastern Iran. 133 A recently published Aramaic document found in Afghanistan bears the date in the 7th year of king Alexander (9 June 324). It together with a few, harder to date documents, show the administration working in Bactria along the lines typical of the Achaemenid empire, thus pointing to continuity under Alexander rather than a radical change134. Appreciation of the military value of the inhabitants of these provinces is evidenced by the drafting of 30,000 Iranian youths who were not only to be taught the Macedonian methods of fighting but also the language and elements of Greek culture. This was Alexanders successive step, after the recruiting of Bactrian and Sogdian horsemen, in reforming his army so as not have to rely so much on Greeks and Macedonians.135 The last mopping up operation after the Sogdian revolt was Craterus crushing defeat of the most diehard rebels commanded by Catanes and Austanes in the spring of 327. Craterus corps, comprising the very best Macedonian troops,
Curt., 8.4.25; Plu., Alex., 47.7. Wilcken 1967, pp. 162-163; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 355; Holt 1988, pp. 67-68; OBrien 1992, pp. 140-141; Hamilton 1999, pp. 129130; Ogden 1999, p. 44; Carney 2000, pp. 106-107. 133 Arr., An., 4.22.3. Badian 1985, p. 456; Holt 1988, pp. 68-70; Bosworth 1995, pp. 142-143; Hammond 1996, p. 202. 134 Allen 2005, p. 152. 135 Curt., 8.5.1; Plu., Alex., 47.6. Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 360-361; Hamilton 1999, pp. 128-129.
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slaughtered 1,600 of the enemy on the battlefield. Polyperchon,Craterus subordinate, also pacified a land Curtius calls Bubacene. Next Craterus corps joined Alexanders main forces which were stationed at the time in Bactria.136

8. Time of intrigues and anxiety


The Macedonian armys long stay in Bactria and Sogdiana was marked not only as a time of gritty struggles against local rebels but also of an unprecedented level of tension and unease within Alexanders officer corps and court. A contributing factor or perhaps even the main cause was Alexanders policy of orientalization. This was something even Alexanders closest companions found difficult to accept. The first clash occurred during a feast held in Maracanda in the autumn of 328. Alexanders court inherited the Macedonian tradition of feasting, which thanks to Persian booty became even more lavish. Another incentive for sumptuous banquets was the generally accepted notion in the East that a monarchs feast symbolised his happiness, wealth and providence (the extent to which the gods favoured him). Alexanders feasts could have included up to 200 guests, though a more common number would have been from 60 to 70. The guests would have included artists and philosophers as well as the most trusted of Alexanders hetairoi. One can assume that Alexanders guests formed an elite circle of authority from where generals and satraps were appointed. The king could also sound his Companions over the drinks in matters likely to create rifts among the court elite and army. Macedonian feasts had a set routine which was similar to that of Greek feasts, though with some significant differences. Like in Greece, the guests lay on couches in a semi reclined position, propping themselves up with the left elbow. Like in Greece, the feast was composed of two parts. During the first part the meal was consumed, but we know virtually nothing about what would have been served. The second part involved the consumption of wine. A major difference between a Macedonian royal feast and ones organised by Greek elites is that the former lasted much longer, from early evening till dawn. The other difference, eagerly stressed by Greek authors, was the drinking of undiluted wine, whereas the Greeks always mixed their wine with water. This is partly confirmed by archaeological finds. Apart from weapons, the items most commonly found in the graves of Macedonian warriors are
136

Arr., An., 4.22.1-2 ; Curt., 8.5.2. Seibert 1985, p. 144; Bosworth 1995, pp. 139141.

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vessels for drinking wine. On the other hand, we very rarely find vessels for mixing wine, which were very common in Greece. Among the Macedonians excessive consumption of alcohol was not considered a fault but a virtue. Drinking to get drunk was considered normal and the sources record cases of people losing their lives in competitions to see who could drink the greatest quantity of wine. Philip II was known for his alcoholic excesses therefore, as in everything, Alexander tried to outdo his father in this respect also. There is no evidence in the sources to suggest that Alexander suffered from alcoholism as a disease but it is difficult not to associate his occasional outbursts of extremely violent behaviour and his eruptions of destructive anger with his systematic and excessive consumption of alcohol.137 The feast at Maracanda took place towards the end of the second year of the toughest campaigns the Macedonian army had fought so far. The countless battles, skirmishes and acts of terror committed against the civilian population did not seem to have brought the Macedonians any closer to solving the situation. No doubt many in the army would have agreed with Plutarch in comparing the campaign to fighting the mythological hydra, whose severed heads continually grew back. The tense atmosphere among the soldiers must have been further exasperated by the long time they had now spent in a quite alien environment where communication with the locals was only possible with the help of one or several interpreters. The general tiredness, stress, and combat fatigue also affected the banqueters at Maracanda. In such circumstances the very negative emotions some of the hetairoi had so far kept suppressed could be released with an abrupt outburst by the excessive consumption of alcohol. One of the most distinguished and loyal of Alexanders highranking officers, Cleitus, was enraged by Alexanders courtiers who at the feast were claiming the king was greater than his father, Philip, the Dioscuri, whose festival they were that day celebrating, and even the hero Heracles. To a man of pure convictions, one who treated religious matters seriously, the latter comments seemed to sound too much like sacrilege. But what proved to be the last straw was a song sung by some third-rate poet by the name of Pranichus or Pierion which mocked those Macedonians who had recently been defeated by the Sogdians. Many felt outrage but only Cleitus openly protested. The king responded by claiming that what Cleitus had called a misfortune that had befallen the vanquished Macedonians was in reality cowardice. Cleitus immediately hit back by
Ephippus, ap. Ath., 3.91, 10.44; Ael., VH, 12.26. Tomlinson 1970, p. 309; Borza 1983; OBrien 1992, pp. 6-8; Flower 1994, pp. 107-111; Murray 1996; Rice 1997, pp. 92-93; Spawforth 2007, pp. 85-86.
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reminding Alexander of how he had saved his life at Granicus as well as how he would have never got so far without those Macedonians who had spilled their blood for him, and in these arguments he did not fail to include a spiteful comment regarding the Alexanders supposed godly father. On top of that, Cleitus now also angrily accused Alexander of increasingly absolutist tendencies, the orientalization of his court and of surrounding himself by barbarians because, as Cleitus claimed, he could no longer stand to be among free men. Incensed by these biting remarks and the open questioning of his policies, Alexander threw an apple at the speaker and next reached out for his blade, but one of his bodyguards, Aristonous, managed to hide it from him in time. With considerable civilian courage and alertness Aristonous as well as other Macedonian officers and soldiers present at the feast endeavoured to keep the two drunken antagonists apart. They begged Alexander to calm down. But the king rose to his feet and in Macedonian which was a sign of great emotion summoned the hypaspists guarding the doors. Next he ordered the trumpeter to give the signal summoning the army. When the trumpeter, fearing the grave consequences of such an action, ignored this order, the king punched him in the face and, being instantly held back by his friends, in an attack of hysteria cried out that he had been betrayed as Darius before him. At the same time Cleitus was escorted by force out of the banqueting hall. However, he soon returned and as provocatively as he could, cited Euripidess Andromache: Oh, how perverse customs are in Greece. Riled by this, Alexander grabbed a spear from one of the guardsmen and ran it through Cleitus. Next, with a genuine or affected pang of guilt, he tried to use the same spear to kill himself but was of course instantly restrained by his friends.138 Experiencing deep grief after murdering his friend, Alexander spent the next three days lamenting in total seclusion in his tent, refusing to accept food or drink. His friends, wishing to pull him out of this state of depression, brought him the soothsayer Aristander, who reminded the king that there had been signs preceding Cleituss death and he tried to convince him that this was the will of the gods. They also brought him the peripatetic philosopher Callisthenes to try and cheer him up, but also to no
138

Plu., Alex., 50-51 (the best source, perhaps after Chares); Plu., mor., 71c, 341f; Arr., An., 4.8.1-9.2; Curt., 8.1.19-2.4; Diod., 17.kz; Cic., Tusc., 4.79; Sen., Ep., 83.19; Luc., DMort., 12.3-4; Just., 12.6; It. Alex., 90-91; Suda, s.v. metax. Quotation from Euripides is after Kovacs (Loeb). Wilcken 1967, pp. 166-167; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 364-369; Green 1974, pp. 360-364; Goukowsky 1978, pp. 44-45; Badian 1985, pp. 456-457; Heckel 1992, p. 275; Bosworth 1996a, pp. 98103; Hamilton 1999, pp. 139, 143-144; Trittle 2003.

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avail. The Democritic philosopher Anaxarchus of Abdera, however, had more success by comparing Alexander to Zeus, all of whose deeds were by definition lawful and just. Anaxarchus was in a sense alluding to a theoretical concept present in Greek thought regarding the ideal ruler, which flatterers could associate with Alexander. On the other hand, although the arguments were presented in a traditional form referring to Zeus, the philosophers thoughts were also not devoid of Iranian concepts regarding absolutist monarchy, something that was quite new to the Greek world. That such arguments proved successful says a great deal about the atmosphere of unrestrained flattery that must have surrounded Alexander at the time. Worse still, this incident indicates that Alexander considered himself to be someone quite exceptional who could not be subjected to open criticism.139 Prophets found the reason for Alexanders fury in his mind being obscured by Dionysus. The king had failed to make the god a sacrifice that year and thus, they explained, Cleitus was murdered. There is no reason to doubt that most Macedonians would have quite willingly accepted this explanation. Now there was only the formality of trying Cleitus in absentia before an assembly of soldiers and officially sentencing him to death for treason. For the ordinary soldier a dispute between the king and one of the aristocratic commanders was undoubtedly of much less importance than Alexanders health and safety, on which their own fate and eventual return home depended.140 Alexander in turn, for all the no doubt genuine regret shown after the death of such a loyal companion, was not inclined to change in any way the policy so much criticised by Cleitus and for which the general ultimately paid with his life. It is possible that the whole incident, which actually strengthened the position of the king with regard to his hetairoi, inclined Alexander to rely all the more on his Iranian subjects.141 In the spring of 327 this stance led to another conflict between Alexander and his Macedonian companions. At the time, after another wave of capitulations among the eastern Iranian lords and Alexanders marriage to the Bactrian princess Rhoxane, the kings entourage must have included an unprecedented number of Iranian aristocrats and courtiers. Alexander made a serious effort to adapt his court to the customs practiced by the now prevailing majority of his subjects. No doubt he realised that
139

Plu., Alex., 52.1-7; Plu., mor., 449e; Arr., An., 4.9.3-9; Curt., 8.2.1-11. Goukowsky 1978, p. 46; Bosworth 1988, p. 115; Bosworth 1996a, pp. 103-106; Hamilton 1999, pp. 145-146. 140 Arr., An., 4.8.1-2, 4.9.5; Curt., 8.2.12; Diod., 17.kz. Badian 1964, pp. 197-198; Goukowsky 1978, pp. 45-46; Bosworth 1996a, p. 104. 141 Arr., An., 4.9.9. Wilcken 1967, pp. 167-168.

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he could not be the Great King to some and merely the first among equals to others for long. Already in Hyrcania he had given his hetairoi Persian robes, which they most probably used on certain ceremonial occasions. A groundbreaking measure was Alexanders attempt to extend the proskynesis ceremony to all his subjects. The Iranians had naturally greeted him in such a way since at least Issus; among the first to do so were the captured members of Darius IIIs family (see: Chapter IV.5).142 Proskynesis was a ceremonial bow which everyone standing before the majesty of the king had to take. Reliefs at Persepolis show aristocrats bowed their heads and kissed their own hands, whereas people from the lower orders were expected to fall to their knees and bow their heads to the ground. To the Great Kings subjects and indeed throughout the Near East proskynesis was the universally accepted way of paying respects to the majesty of the monarch. Unfortunately in the Greek world such gestures were reserved for the cults of deities. Many sources show that for a Greek the paying of respect in such a way to a Persian king would have been tantamount to the sacrilege of treating an ordinary mortal as a god.143 No doubt of all the courtly customs proskynesis was the one that marked the greatest difference between the Greeks and Macedonians on the one hand and Alexanders Asian subjects on the other. Regardless of this, if Alexander wished to unite his entire court and his ruling elites according to the same principles, then the introduction of proskynesis was hard to avoid.144 The matter was naturally of an extremely delicate nature and it was feared that it could become the cause of serious tensions. That is why the introduction of proskynesis to Greeks and Macedonians was begun in the spring of 327 when Alexanders army was most probably staying in Bactra and some of the most traditionalist military leaders, including the very much respected Craterus, were absent. It was preceded by debates among Greek court intellectuals (Anaxarchus, Agis of Argos and Cleon of Sicily) who reached the conclusion that, as humanitys benefactor, Alexander was no less worthy of his own cult than the Dioscuri, Dionysus or Heracles.145 The next step was for the act of proskynesis to be performed by a small circle of courtiers and close friends during a small feast. So as not to be overly offensive to the Macedonians and Greeks, its traditional Persian form was specially modified in that the banqueters at first did not face
142 143

Balsdon 1950, pp. 376-377; Bosworth 1996a, p. 110; Heckel 2009, p. 46. Frye 1972; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 320-322; Bosworth 1988, pp. 284-285; Briant 1996, pp. 234-235; Chosky 2002; Spawforth 2007, pp. 102-104. 144 Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 373-374. 145 Arr., An., 4.10.6-7; Curt., 8.5.5-9. Bosworth 1996a, pp. 109-111.

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their king but the house altar. They were to drink wine from a cup, perform proskynesis and next exchange kisses with Alexander. Even this modified version proved unacceptable to the strong convictions of Callisthenes. He did not react ostentatiously but instead he simply endeavoured to exchange kisses with his king without performing the obsequious bow. When one of the courtiers commented on this out loud, Alexander refused to accept the kiss. Not put off, the philosopher simply walked away, commenting that he was merely poorer by one kiss.146 Such passive resistance did not deter Alexander and his closest circle from continuing the experiment of propagating among Europeans, especially as in this semi-private party almost all those present did comply with the kings wishes. The next step was to repeat this experiment at a larger event with also the participation of Asians, who naturally bowed to Alexander in the prescribed way. This time, however, resistance was much more visible. Perhaps whilst taking part in a debate with other Greek intellectuals, Callisthenes spoke out openly in defence of traditional religious beliefs that forbade the boundary between man and god to be crossed. The philosopher even claimed that by introducing proskynesis Alexander was breaking a unwritten law or custom (nomos) of the Macedonian monarchy which was, according to his idealised theory now being approved by many of those listening, to never make such decisions without previously obtaining the assent of his subjects. Knowing that Callistheness arguments were expressing the views of the silent majority among the Macedonians, who in this unpopular philosopher had found an unexpected champion, Alexander desisted from further efforts regarding the introduction of proskynesis and would never return to this issue. To make matters worse, one of the hetairoi had laughed out loud at the sight of an Asian performing the obeisance with exaggerated zeal. Alexander was angered at the man who had laughed but, seeing the attitude of the majority of those present, he did not force his European subjects to perform proskynesis.147 The epilogue to this whole affair came after the great Macedonians death. Then for many the deification of Alexander seemed no less controversial than the divine status of Heracles, who after all had also once been a mortal. It was then that some of the officers recognised their deceased ruler as a god and performed proskynesis facing his vacant throne.148
146

Plu., Alex., 54.3-6 (after Chares); Arr., An., 4.12.3-5. Bosworth 1988, p. 285; Bosworth 1995, pp. 87-88. 147 Arr., An., 4.10.5-12.2; Curt., 8.5.9-24; Just., 12.7. Bosworth 1996a, pp. 110-112; Briant 2002, pp. 105-106. 148 Diod., 18.61.1; Polyaen., 4.8.2. Bosworth 1996a, p. 112.

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It was during that same stay in Bactra that a plot against the king was discovered. The danger lay in the fact that it was hatched by people who had constant access to the king, even at times when he was at his most vulnerable, that is, at night. For the conspirators were royal boys, alternatively called by modern historians pages. These were boys from good Macedonian homes who performed services around the king normally carried out by servants. Moreover, they guarded his bedroom door at night. The pages guaranteed the loyalty of their families to the king while at the same time they familiarised themselves with the functioning of the court and state in preparation for important careers in adult life. The leader of the conspirators was a page called Hermolaus, who, as so frequently happens in such cases, was driven to plotting for personal reasons. During a hunt Hermolaus killed a boar that had been marked out for the king to slay. This angered Alexander greatly. He ordered the boy to be flogged and had his horse confiscated. 149 The significance of this seemingly minor incident became more important in the context of Alexanders adoption of Achaemenid customs. Hunting played an important role in Persian royal ideology, which in turn owed a great deal to the neo-Assyrian tradition. Of course the beast the monarch most willingly hunted was the lion. The Great King frequently hunted in special reserves. One of these was Bazeira, and that was where Alexander took part in a great hunt. It was a Greek and Macedonian custom to hunt on foot but in Asia Alexander followed the Persian example and hunted on horseback. The killing of an animal designated for the king was considered a very serious offence, punishable even by death. It was only permissible (and moreover obligatory) when such an animal posed an immediate danger to the monarch. It was in such a situation that Craterus once killed a lion, a scene immortalised in a relief and inscription at Delphi by his son. On the other hand, legend has it that for killing the kings beast Alexanders bodyguard Lysimachus was cast into a lions den.150 In such a context the whipping of Hermolaus was not an exceptionally harsh punishment. Nevertheless the page evidently did feel that his system of values had been dishonoured to an extent that required revenge. Much more interesting, however, is the fact that in his plot Hermolaus was not only helped by his homosexual lover but also by several other pages who would have been quite unaffected by the wrong committed against the
149

Arr., An., 4.13.1-2; Curt., 8.6.2-7. Heckel 1992, pp. 237-244; Bosworth 1995, pp. 90-94. 150 Curt., 8.1.14-18; Sen., Dial., 5.17.2; Plin., Nat., 8.54; Paus., 9.1.5; Just., 15.3; V. Max., 9.3 ext. 1. Heckel 1992, pp. 268-271; Briant 1993a; Pelagia 2000, pp. 177184.

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ringleader. The sources do not provide us with a straightforward answer as to why this was so. When asked why he had started a conspiracy, Hermolaus gave a whole set of arguments that had already been expounded by Cleitus and Callisthenes, that is, including a protest against orientalization, growing absolutism and the murder of distinguished Macedonian officers. The words in this supposed speech actually belong to Curtius Rufus and to his version of events but the arguments too closely reflect the genuine feelings of Macedonians known from other incidents for them to be dismissed as meaningless rhetoric. A pages career was short, for it ended once he reached the age of maturity and entered military service presumably more often than not in the Companion cavalry. The conspirators of 327 would have had been pages for just two or three years and therefore were in all probability part of the group of 50 boys from good Macedonian homes who had joined Alexanders army at the end of 331 (Chapter V.4). At a young age people are frequently idealistic. For some of the boys Alexanders absolutism, which had been developing over the years, as well as the willing adoption of Persian customs, would have been shocking enough to drive them into secret opposition. It is also possible that some of the boys may have disliked Alexander for not appointing their fathers to high positions, though that alone would not have been a sufficient reason to join a conspiracy.151 The conspirators plan was to murder Alexander in his sleep. What saved the king was his fondness for alcohol. That fateful night Alexander attended a banquet that lasted till morning. It is said he did initially intend to retire early but was urged by a Syrian female soothsayer to stay. Thus the plan was foiled and the conspirators had to wait another seven days before it was their turn again to guard the kings chamber at night. But before that happened one of the conspirators lost his nerve and together with his brother reported the entire conspiracy to Alexander. For this information the conspirator was pardoned and his brother was rewarded with 50 talents, which in those times was equivalent to 1,000 years of average pay. The remaining conspirators were immediately arrested and under torture they all confessed. For such a serious offence they were stoned to death.152 The uncovering of this plot also led to the arrest of Callisthenes. He owed his position as court historian at Alexanders side thanks to the recommendation of his relative, Aristotle. Already at the start of the
151

Curt., 8.7; Arr., An., 4.14.2. Schachermeyr 1973, p. 388; Lane Fox 1973, pp. 327-328; Hamilton 1974, p. 107; Bosworth 1996a, pp. 112-113; Badian 2000, p. 70; Heckel 2009a, p. 79. 152 Arr., An., 4.13.5-14.3; Curt., 8.6.10-8.20.

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expedition Callisthenes was a well-known historian, the author of a book on the Sacred War.153 A gifted writer, he glorified his king with great skill and in that respect for some time he fulfilled Alexanders expectations. Among other things he had formulated daring concepts of the sea bowing before Alexander at Pamphylia and the kings divine father. Successive books from Callistheness history were first read by the king himself and then sent on to Greece, thus helping to create Alexanders legend in his lifetime. It is for these reasons that the king tolerated this philosopher for so long, even though with his very serious and stern manner as well as strongly independent views he did not have the makings of a courtier.154 The line Callisthenes refused to cross was to treat a living mortal, even one as exceptional as Alexander, as a god. In this philosophers strict interpretation of principles such a boundary would be crossed by performing proskynesis. It was during Alexanders painfully unsuccessful attempt to introduce this custom at court that Callistheness opposition became open. Henceforth the philosophers days were numbered. The king now only waited for an appropriate opportunity to rid himself of this intellectual with too many principles for a royal court.155 Alexander had the foresight and patience to plan and prepare his revenge long in advance of dealing the decisive blow. In the Callistheness case the first step was to deprive him of support among the Macedonian military elite, whose champion he had become after effectively protesting against proskynesis. During a banquet Alexander asked Callisthenes to deliver a eulogy of Macedonians. The philosophers speech was rewarded by those attending with applause and a garland of flowers. But then Alexander quoted a verse from Euripidess The Bacchantes: When a wise man has a good cause to argue, eloquence is easy and asked the philosopher if he could speak equally convincingly about Macedonian vices. Being, like most intellectuals, vain, Callisthenes could not but take up the challenge. He delivered a second speech displaying no less oratorical skill than in the first. The delivering of such palinodes was a typical rhetorical exercise but there was no reason why Macedonian officers should have known that. Therefore they easily believed the malicious rumours spread by Alexander about Callisthenes really despising the Macedonians. Besides, for the simple minded soldier such

153

D.L., 5.5; Just., 12.6.17; Suda, s.v. Kallisqnhj. Brown 1966, pp. 225-227; Rubinsohn 1993, pp. 1312-1314. 154 Brown 1949, pp. 227-236; Rubinsohn 1993, pp. 1315, 1319. 155 Plu., Alex., 54.3; Arr., An., 4.14.1.

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accusations were all the more plausible on account of the philosophers aloof behaviour.156 Even under torture none of the pages implicated Callisthenes as a fellow conspirator. Moreover, Alexander himself was fully aware of the philosophers innocence as is clear from what Plutarch states to be his letters written to Attalus, Craterus and Alcetas. Nonetheless, the general hysteria after uncovering of a conspiracy to kill the king was so strong that it was very easy to include Callisthenes on the list of suspects. He was accused of indirectly inspiring Hermolaus, if only by teaching that fame was most easily obtained by killing the greatest of men. It was also remembered that the philosopher had once delivered a speech before Philotas praising the tyrannicides. Thus Callisthenes was arrested soon after the execution of the pages, subjected to torture and nailed to a cross.157 A contributing factor to his downfall was the scheming of another philosopher, Anaxarchus of Abdera, who was competing against him for Alexanders favour.158 The imprisonment and execution of Callisthenes unfortunately also had a negative effect felt by modern historians. He had been an invaluable eyewitness to Alexanders expedition. His no longer existing work was the primary historical source regarding Alexander used by the majority of later ancient authors. The loss of this observer of Alexanders expedition could not be replaced by other participants such as Ptolemy and Aristobulus, whose accounts were limited to recording only the courts official version of events written decades after they had occurred. Callisthenes account was written immediately as events unfolded when neither the lapsing of time nor political considerations (as in Ptolemys case) could distort the picture. 159 Just as Callistheness writing had promoted the image of Alexander the great leader who spread Greek civilization to the East, so too Callistheness death to a large extent contributed to the birth of Alexanders darker legend, the one of Alexander the tyrant, drunkard and violent hothead.160

156

Plu., Alex., 53; Philostr., VA, 7.2; E., Ba., 267, after Kovacs (Loeb). Brown 1949, p. 245; Balsdon 1950, p. 372; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 390-392; Green 1974, pp. 377-378; Hamilton 1999, pp. 147-148. 157 Plu., Alex., 55.3-9; Arr., An., 4.14.3; Curt., 8.8.21; D.L., 5.5. Bosworth 1995, p. 100; Hamilton 1999, p. 156; Badian 2000, pp. 71-72. 158 Borza 1981. 159 Brunt 1995, pp. 16-18; Bosworth 1996, pp. 62-77. 160 Tarn 1948, ii, pp. 297-298; Brown 1949, pp. 225-226, 245-247; Wardman 1955, p. 96; Schachermeyr 1973, p. 609.

CHAPTER VI: EXPEDITION TO INDIA

1. From Sogdiana to the Indus


Alexanders initial plans for an expedition to India have been dated no later than in summer of 328. To the 4th-century Western (Greek) world India was not only a country about which very little was know but even one whose inhabitants were frequently idealised as noble barbarians on a par with the Scythians and Ethiopians. Persian perceptions, however, were different. The Indus Valley had for a time, probably during Darius Is reign, been part of the Achaemenid Empire. According to Herodotus it was its 20th tax district. The name Hindu appears in the monumental Achaemenid inscriptions listed among other countries (bumi) of the empire and its inhabitants are presented on reliefs as subjects of the Great King. These facts, however, say more about persistence of themes in Persian monumental art than about how long India was part of the Achaemenid Empire. Persian conquests in India did not turn out to be permanent and by the 4th century the Persian administrative system of satrapies had ceased to function there if indeed it had ever been installed. On the other hand, the presence of Indian troops at the Battle of Gaugamela indicates that ties between Indian rulers and the Great King persisted right up to the end of the Achaemenid Empire. A more durable Persian presence in India or in the territory of todays Pakistan to be more precise was its cultural influence on the local population from the development of the Kharoshti script, which originated from the Achaemenid Empires official Aramaic alphabet, to the Persian monetary standard as well as to the political customs that the Macedonian conquerors would encounter.1 In the 4th century northern India was divided up into a large number of kingdoms, principalities, oligarchic republics
Hdt., 3.94, 4.44; Arr., An., 3.8.4, 3.8.6; Curt., 4.9.2; Plin., Nat., 6.98. Tarn 1948, I, pp. 85-86; Schachermeyr 1973, pp. 413-416; Dani 1986, pp. 43-44; Vogelsang 1992, p. 227; Briant 1996, pp. 152-153, 185-188, 774-778; Karttunen 1997, pp. 19, 26-30, 37-38; Badian 1998, p. 221; Hahn 2000, pp. 11-13.
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and tribal territories. The largest of these states, the Kingdom of Magadha, situated on middle reaches of the Ganges and at the time ruled by the Nanda dynasty, did not come into contact with Alexanders army, but many much smaller states in north-western India did. Quintus Curtius Rufus does mention that at least some of these states had paid tribute to the satrap of Arachosia and in this sense declared their fealty to the Great King.2 As usual, all the extant sources fail to provide the reasons for what was to be Alexanders successive military expedition. Moreover, no convincing