Arrian I.25.1-10

In This Chapter
Alexander Lyncestis’ Plot Against The King

Alexander Lyncestis was a man lucky to be alive. He and his two brothers, Heromenes and Arrhabaeus, had been implicated in the plot to kill Philip II but while they had been executed he had survived. Arrian says that Lyncestis had been,

… one of the first of [Alexander II’s] friends to rally round him after Philip’s death and had gone armed at his side when Alexander entered the palace.

Arrian I.25.2

The fact that he was married to Antipater’s daughter could only have helped him as well. Not that he relied on this important connection to save himself. The potentially chaotic aftermath of Philip’s assassination and return to the palace where more assassins may have been laying in wait to complete what Pausanias started were acutely dangerous moments. No wonder he did well for himself, afterwards:

[King] Alexander held [Lyncestis] in an honoured position in his entourage, sent him to be his general in Thrace, and appointed him to the command of the Thessalian cavalry…

Arrian I.25.2

Alexander the king certainly put a lot of trust in the man who for all his loyalty was still ‘implicated’ in Philip’s murder. It’s true that Alexander was far more prepared than we ever would be to take in men who had once been his enemies but I suspect that this implication was founded not on a suspicion of actual guilt but opportunism: Alexander Lyncestis was the son of Aëropus who was the cousin of Eurydice, Philip II’s mother; this gave him a claim to the Macedonian throne. The murder of Philip II gave Alexander an opportunity to eliminate potential rivals for that throne and escape criticism by claiming that the victims were involved in the plot to kill his father. Lyncestis must have known this, hence – whether or not he had anything to do with Philip’s murder – he went to great lengths to prove his loyalty.

So, Alexander Lyncestis had done well for himself, but now his career came to a sudden halt. In Arrian I.17 we read about Amyntas son of Antiochus who so disliked Alexander III he ran away from Macedon. He ended up in Ephesus only to be forced to flee again just before Alexander arrived there. Arrian says that Amyntas arrived at Darius’ court with a letter from Alexander Lyncestis. This inspired the Great King to send a man named Sisines to negotiate with him. Arrian doesn’t tell us what the letter said, but from what he does say we can infer that it contained an offer to kill the Alexander III because Sisines was authorised to inform that if he did so,

… Darius would install him as king of Macedonia and present him with a thousand talents of gold as well as the kingdom.

Arrian I.25.3

But Sisines was captured, and (under torture?) spilled the beans to Parmenion.

Parmenion was either on his way to, or in, Phrygia at the time so sent the Persian under guard to Alexander. Sisines repeated his story. Alexander summoned his friends and discussed what he should do next.

Rather amusingly, and a sign of the closeness of the friends to their king, they rebuked him for having trusted Lyncestis in the first place. They also turned their minds to an incident that had occurred during the Siege of Halicarnassus when a swallow had settled on Alexander’s head and kept singing until he was fully awake. Alexander had asked Aristander to interpret what happened. The seer told him that ‘it signified a plot by one of his friends’ (Arr. I.25.8).

So it had proved, and now the loyal friends recommended that Lyncestis be executed. But the matter was a very delicate one: if Alexander executed Lyncestis, Antipater was in a position to do him a great deal of harm, perhaps even overthrow him. For that reason, therefore, he decided that Lyncestis should not be executed but simply put under house arrest. It appears that he was with Parmenion’s detachment at this time because agents were sent in disguise to the general to inform him verbally what Alexander had decided. Lyncestis was duly arrested and would continue to travel with the expedition until being put to death in Drangiana in late 330 BC.

A couple of things before I finish.

The notes to my copy of Arrian suggest that the story of the swallow may be apocryphal – Arrian tells it in ‘indirect speech’

Lastly, one can only wonder why – if Alexander Lyncestis was indeed guilty of plotting against Alexander III – he chose this moment to make his move. Alexander the king had just won his first major battle. He was extremely popular with his men. Anyone trying to overthrow him would have to contend with that afterwards. There’s a reason why the two other major plots against Alexander occurred in Bactria-Sogdia. I don’t know the answer to this question, but I would consider it more likely that either Lyncestis was set up or had indeed been plotting to kill Alexander in the future only for events unknown to force his hand so that he had to act now.

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)

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Arrian I.24.1-6

In This Chapter
As the newly-weds return home, Alexander campaigns in Lycia

When was Alexander most popular with his troops? Apparently, it was now, in the winter of 334/3 BC.

By the time he had conquered Halicarnassus, it was late in the year, so Alexander took the decision to send home the men who had married just before the start of the expedition so that they could spend winter with their wives. ‘This one act ensured Alexander’s popularity among the Macedonians as much as any other’ (Arr.1.24.2).

Our leaders may drive forward great projects; the gifted among us may achieve wonders, but at the end of the day, what a man really appreciates most of all is time with his beloved. I doubt it is any different, today.

After the newly weds had returned to their homes, the officers-in-charge went on a recruiting drive both in Macedon and the Peloponnese. More Greeks had fought against Alexander than with him at the Granicus. Although he didn’t trust them to be frontline soldiers, it seems he still wanted them there, if only for propaganda purposes.

Back in Asia Minor, Parmenion was sent on to Phrygia via Sardia. Sardis lay to the north of Caria. Alexander himself went east, following the road to Lycia and Pamphylia ‘to gain control of the coast and so deny the enemy any use of their navy (Arr. I.24.3).

Along the way, he assaulted Hyparna, taking it easily; in line with his post-Granicus reconciliatory policy towards mercenaries, he gave the ones here safe passage out.

Entering the region of Lycia, Alexander ‘won over’ (Arr. I.24.4) Telmissus. This was the home city of his favourite seer, Aristander, and it’s hard not to imagine that the peaceful outcome was not for or thanks to him.

After Telmissus, Alexander received the surrender of a host of small towns, and some larger ones, including Xanthus, Patara, and Pinara.

‘By this stage it was already the depth of winter’ (Arr. I.24.5) but Alexander kept moving. He must have been very concerned about the possibility of the Persians returning to their port cities and establishing a bridgehead in south-eastern Asia Minor. At this point, though, he turned north, and entered the mountainous region of Milyas. While here, ‘envoys from Phaselis came to offer friendship and to crown Alexander with a golden crown’ (Arr. I.24.5).

They weren’t the only ones; Arrian says that envoys came from ‘most of the Lower Lycians’ (Ibid); that is to say, those who lived closest to Pisidia. And it was because of the Pisdians that they came. Arrian tells us that ‘[a] little later (Arr. I.24.6) Alexander visited Phaselis and there destroyed a fort that ‘had been built by Pisidians to threaten the district, and was used as a base from which the barbarians caused much damage to the Phaselite farmers.’ (Ibid). Phaselis was a coastal city so the whole region must have been under threat from the Pisidians. No doubt the Lower Lycians suffered most from the incursions of the enemy on account of their geographical closeness to them and so were the keenest to win Alexander’s favour – hence the gold crowns.

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)

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Arrian I.23.1-8

In This Chapter
Halicarnassus Falls to Alexander

Memnon of Rhodes and Orontobates surveyed the damage caused to the city walls by the Macedonians, the injuries the enemy had caused, and the number of men killed; they decided that ‘as things stood they could not hold out’ (Arr. I.23.1) for much longer. As I mentioned in my previous post, morale may also have been a problem after the men guarding the city gates panicked and closed them, locking many of their comrades outside the city, leaving them to be slaughtered by the Macedonians.

The decision was taken to flee the city. Houses of civilians were set ablaze to prevent the Macedonians from following them. But not only houses burned; a siege tower was set alight as well, as were the arsenals. Perhaps Memnon was concerned not to let his weapons fall into Alexander’s hands.

As the wind spread the fire throughout the city, the Persians and mercenaries retreated either to Halicarnassus’ citadel or to an offshore island (actually a peninsula) named Zephyria.

Deserters alerted Alexander to what was going on. He entered the city and gave two orders: to kill anyone caught starting a fire and to spare any Halicarnassan found in their home.

The next morning, Alexander went to see the citadel and Zephyria on the western and eastern points respectively of the harbour exit.

He decided against besieging them, thinking that he would waste much time on them because of the nature of the ground, and that there was no great point now that he had taken the whole city.

Arrian I.23.5

Arrian tells us that Alexander ‘razed the city to the ground’ (Arr. I.23.6). He left enough of it, however, for a garrison to live in so that the Persians and mercenaries would not be able to break out. Two officers, Ptolemy (not the son of Lagus) and Asander were left in charge. The following year, just before Alexander fought Darius at Issus, they would finally defeat Orontobates in battle and end the sieges (Arr. II.5.7).

Back in the present, Alexander also buried the (enemy) dead before leaving for Phrygia. Around this time, he appointed Ada satrap of Caria. For her, the wheel of fortune had now turned full circle: In 344/3, Ada’s father, Hidrieus, had appointed her his successor. In 340/39, however, her brother, Pixodarus, usurped her. Since then, Ada had lived in a fort at Alinda. By the time of Alexander’s arrival in Caria, Ada’s situation had not improved. Pixodarus was now dead but Orontobates – to whom Ada had been married – now ruled instead. Alexander’s victory at Halicarnassus ended that. Ada, who had gone to meet Alexander upon his entry into Caria and offer him Alinda and adoption as her son, was now given Caria to rule just as before. She would continue to do so until no later than 324.

So in the end, Halicarnassus kind of fell with a bit of a whimper. Memnon and Orontobates saw the writing on the wall and ran. Arrian does not (unsurprisingly?) give the impression that they ran Alexander close but it is clear from his text that they had some good ideas – the surprise attack from the Tripylon gate being an example. In the end, though, they weren’t able to translate those ideas into performance. Why? Partly because of the strength of the Macedonian army but also, I think, they just didn’t have the numbers to oppose Alexander’s men. Their attacks were, of necessity, hit-and-run, and that was never going to be enough, with or without the men panicking. In this light, the defenders needed Halicarnassus to be strong enough to save them, and as it turned out, it wasn’t.

Texts Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)
Heckel, Waldemar Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great (Oxford Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)

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Arrian I.22.1-7

In This Chapter
The Siege of Halicarnassus Continues

A few days later, Alexander renewed his assault on the replacement wall. As a sign of his determination to see it destroyed, he oversaw the attack himself.

Perhaps knowing that their wall was in danger of being destroyed, the Persians and mercenaries launched ‘a sally from the city in full force’ (Arr. I.22.1).

The priority of the defenders was two fold; first, to attack the Macedonians; secondly, to destroy the Macedonian siege engines.

To fulfil the first objective, they not only did the obvious and attack the Macedonians out of the gate nearest the siege engines, but also came out of the Tripylon gate. This must have been some distance away from where the Macedonians and siege engines were located as Arrian tells us they weren’t expecting an attack from that direction.

The Tripylon attack undoubtedly gave the defenders the element of surprise that they needed to attempt their second objective. However, they were only partially successful in this. The siege engines were set alight but the Persians and mercenaries were repulsed by ‘a vigorous counter-attack’ (Arr. 1.22.2) from the Macedonians.

The defenders were forced back into the city. Many were lost en route. Those who came through the gate nearest the replacement wall were hampered by the narrowness of the path back and difficulty of climbing over bricks from the collapsed outer wall. Those who came through the Tripylon gate were obliged to pass over a moat built by the Macedonians. Too many tried to do so at once and it collapsed. Those who fell were either trampled underfoot by their own people or shot down in a turkey shoot by the Macedonians.

Panic not only lead to many deaths in the moat but also at the gates. Terrified that the Macedonians might break into the city (as they had nearly done a few days earlier during the drunk attack), the defenders quickly closed the gates trapping many of their own side outside.

After killing the trapped defenders, Alexander called off the attack. Arrian says that ‘he still hoped to save Halicarnassus if the inhabitants would make some positive move to surrender’ (Arr. I.22.7). This reflects his stated attitude towards Thebes (Arr. I.7.7; 10). It would be tempting to call it a humanitarian gesture except that Alexander was more interested in winning glory, and that is hard to come by if there is no one left alive to tell you how great you are.

What might we say about this phase of the Siege of Halicarnassus?

The Tripylon Offensive shows that whoever planned the counter-strike – presumably Memnon and Orontobates (see Arr. I.23.1) – still had their wits about them. The only reason it didn’t work is because the defenders came up against an army that was sufficiently well trained and disciplined enough to, first, soak up the pressure of a surprise attack and, second, launch its own counter-attack.

Speaking of being well trained and disciplined, this is, of course, where the Persians and mercenaries failed. Their morale as they listened to the screams and curses of the men they had trapped outside after they closed the gates must have plummeted. No wonder Memnon and Orontobates straight after decided that they would not be able to resist the Macedonians for too much longer. It wasn’t just the walls that were collapsing.

Finally, not for the first time, and not for the last, we see the fatal effects of panicking. Thus far, the Macedonians have benefitted from causing panic in others. In time, however, even they will be caught cold.

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Arrian I.21.1-6

In This Chapter
The Siege of Halicarnassus Continues

An Alcohol Fuelled Attack
If you know anything about Alexander and his Macedonians, you will know that they liked to drink. One night, two men in Perdiccas’ brigade got drunk and decided that the way to prove how brave they were was by attacking Halicarnassus by themselves. They picked up their weapons and headed for the city wall facing Mysala.

To be fair, Arrian notes that the men did not intend ‘to provoke a dangerous clash with the enemy’ (Arr. I.21.1) – they just wanted to show how tough they were to the other man – but unsurprisingly, a dangerous clash is exactly what happened.

For the Persians and mercenaries, the appearance of two Macedonians boasting about their toughness right in front of them was a provocation that had to be answered: their boasts, after all, were a dismissal of their enemy and that could not be allowed to stand.

The Persians and mercenaries had the advantage in their attack: they were sober and were on higher ground. Despite this, the two Macedonians killed anyone who got close to them. The survivors, despite superior numbers and still being on higher ground, hung back in fright.

Matters went from bad to worse for the Persians and mercenaries when ‘more of Perdiccas’ men ran out to join the fray’ (Arr. I.21.3). More men came from inside the city but the Macedonians managed not just to push them back but back past the city gates.

The Macedonian attack was so strong they came close to breaking into Halicarnassus. At some point, though, they were either forced back or were recalled – Arrian is not clear on this point.

The Siege Resumes (Properly)
The next day, Alexander set his siege engines to work against a wall that had been built in haste to replace a section of wall that had been undermined. The defenders made another attempt to set the siege engines alight; thanks to Philotas son of Parmenion and an officer named Hellanicus, and their men, however, the damage was limited. The fighting continued until Alexander himself appeared whereupon the Persians and mercenaries retreated back into the city.

At the end of this chapter, Arrian notes how – despite their retreat – the defenders still held an advantage over the Macedonians. As well as being on higher ground, they could shoot at their enemy from towers that stood on either side of the wall that Alexander was attacking. In addition, the curve of the city meant that they held positions on the wall that were almost to the rear of the Macedonian attack.

And yet, despite these advantages, the Persians and mercenaries were not able to inflict serious damage on the Macedonians let alone defeat them. This calls into question the quality of the fighting, and their officers. Conversely, it highlights the quality of the Macedonian soldiers.

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Arrian I.20.1-10

In This Chapter
The Siege of Halicarnassus Begins

Alexander Disbands His Navy
After the fall of Miletus, Alexander disbanded his navy. According to Arrian, he did so for the following reasons,

  1. Not enough money to maintain it
  2. The Macedonian navy was not as skilled as the Persians’
  3. He could defeat the Persian navy by continuing to take control of coastal cities (thus depriving them of places to recruit men and replenish supplies) vid. the eagle omen

The second and third reasons above came up in Alexander’s response to Parmenion (Arr. I.18.7-9) but the first is new. What was Alexander’s financial status at this time? Arrian doesn’t refer to it until much later, during the Opis mutiny (Arr. VII.8.1-11.7).

The Opis Mutiny
The mutiny so-called – because as Arrian portrays it, no orders were disobeyed – started when Alexander announced that he was discharging those who were unfit for service. A number of his men sarcastically replied ‘that he might as well discharge the whole lot of them’ (Arr. VII.8.3); they believed he meant to replace the Macedonians soldiers with his oriental subjects. Alexander took grave offence at this and after having those who had spoken out arrested, remonstrated with his men. During his speech, he said,

From my father I inherited a few gold and silver cups, less than sixty talents in the treasury, and Philip’s accumulated debts of some five hundred talents.

Arrian VII.9.6

If this is true, and bearing in mind that up till now on the expedition Alexander has not looted any cities, then it is no surprise that he was short of cash. He presumably got some from the satrapal army’s camp but maybe not so much as he had hoped.

One final point on what happened at Opis – Arrian says that the men were ‘stunned’ (Arr. VII.8.3) when Alexander had ‘the most conspicuous troublemakers’ (Ibid) arrested and sent away for execution. This suggests to me that they did not intend to mutiny, only to vent their frustration at what they saw as Alexander’s medising. They were wholly taken aback, therefore, by his out-of-proportion response.

Arrian says that by this stage of his life, Alexander,

‘had become more quick to anger, and the oriental obsequiousness which now surrounded him had lost him his old easy relationship with the Macedonians’

(Ibid)

Arrian is not afraid to mention Alexander’s faults but doesn’t, like Curtius, attempt to show that his success corrupted him. When he shows corruption, therefore, we have to take it seriously as an indication of what Alexander was really like.

Halicarnassus
With Miletus captured, Alexander set out for Halicarnassus, which still exists today under the name of Bodrum, and which is also famous for being the home of the immortal Herodotus. Along the way he captured a number of other cities.

Halicarnassus was well protected by its walls. Inside, a Persian and mercenary army protected it under the command of Memnon of Rhodes. The city’s harbour was under the control of Persian naval forces. Alexander’s fleet, had it still been available, would have been of little use to him here.

Day One
Alexander approached the Mysala Gate (i.e. the gate which led to the city of Mysala). The defenders came out of the city and attacked the Macedonians but were repulsed.

A Few Days Later
Alexander took a substantial number of men to Halicarnassus’ western wall to see how strong it was. He also wanted to raid the city of Myndus ten miles away.

Myndus
Alexander wasn’t interested in raiding Myndus just because it was there – he believed its location would help in the siege of Halicarnassus. Arrian tells us that the city had promised to surrender if Alexander came at night.

He did so, but the Myndians had changed their minds, and the city gates remained closed. Alexander had not brought any siege equipment with him but did have his phalanx. He set his men to work undermining the walls. They succeeded in bringing down a tower but nothing else before reinforcements sent from Halicarnassus forced him to retreat.

Why would capturing Myndus have been beneficial to Alexander? The notes to my copy of Arrian tell me that in 360 BC, Mausolus, satrap of Caria in which the city lay, made Myndus his capital. There would, therefore, have been propaganda value in taking it.

I imagine, though, that his main reason would have been in order to win control of the surrounding countryside as well, making it more difficult for anyone to come to Halicarnassus’ aid by land. However, as the city’s harbour was still open, control of the land only had limited value, making Alexander’s decision to withdraw an easy one.

Back at Halicarnassus
Alexander had his siege towers moved into place. Seeing the danger, the Persian and mercenary soldiers came out at night time to try and set the towers alight. They were pushed back, however, before they could do so. The night action was a costly one for Memnon’s men – 170 of them were killed against 16 of Alexander’s. The defenders had come out of the city very suddenly and many of the Macedonians who took part in the action went into battle without wearing their armour. As a result, 300 were injured.

Miletus vs Halicarnassus
Memnon pursued a much more aggressive strategy than Hegesistratus. Whereas the latter had abandoned the outer city and let Alexander come on to him, the former twice sent men out to attack the Macedonians.

There was, it seems, a lack of communication between the Persian commanders in Miletus – look at how Hegesistratus left the city’s harbour exposed compared to how Memnon made sure Halicarnassus’ was occupied by his ships. We can only guess at the reason for the communication failure. Or maybe the Persian naval forces refused to take orders from him.

Myndus’ failure to open its gates is the second time (after Miletus) that Alexander was promised one thing by an enemy who then decided to renege on his offer.

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)

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Arrian I.19.1-11

In This Chapter
The Siege of Miletus

The Milesians’ Offer
When the Milesians saw the Persian fleet back off they knew they were between a rock and a hard place. Their response was to send one of their leading men to Alexander with an offer: ‘equal access to their walls and harbours’ (Arrian I.19.1) along with the Persians. Alexander refused to accept it, and told the Milesians to prepare for a siege.

Alexander’s refusal to share the city gives an insight into the uncompromising side of his nature. Yes, he could be pragmatic, but not in all things, small or large. Diodorus records that Alexander refused to share the Persian empire with Darius III telling the Great King’s envoys that ‘… the earth could not preserve its plan and order if there were two suns’ (Dio.XVII.54).

The Siege of Miletus
The next day, Alexander oversaw the undermining of the Milesian walls. He was watched, no doubt, by the Miletians but also by the Persian naval force, which had anchored off Mycale, as well as Nicanor, who was anchored at the island of Lade.

Seeing the siege begin, Nicanor ordered the anchors to be lifted. He led the fleet into Miletus’ harbour so that the Persians would not be able to sail past him to help the city.

Nicanor’s arrival lead some Milesians and mercenaries from the city’s garrison to give up hope of resisting Alexander; they jumped into the harbour and swam towards an islet just outside it. Others attempted a break out in boats; many of them were caught and killed.

The siege didn’t last long. In fact, it looks like from Arrian that it was over in a day, perhaps just a few hours. When it ended, Alexander had won.

The Islet
Once he had taken the city, Alexander turned his attention to those on the islet. Arrian tells us that,

When [Alexander] saw that the men on the island were prepared to fight to the death, he was moved to pity for these evidently courageous and loyal soldiers…

(Arr. I.19.6)

and offered them their lives in return for serving in his army (The Milesians present were simply sent back home).

Alexander’s clemency towards his defeated noble enemy is an established part of his character in the sources (see how he treats Timoclea, Cleophis and Porus*) but I suspect that more than just pity informed his actions at Miletus. For one, the mercenaries on the islet were protected by its cliffs. Alexander had ladders to scale them but he would have known that before ever his soldiers made it to the top, many would be killed by the mercenaries. Secondly, just days or weeks after the event, he also surely knew that he had gone too far in slaughtering the Greek mercenaries at the Granicus. Doing so caused an even deeper breach between himself and Greece – not conducive to maintaining control of the city-states – and he needed mercenaries in his army.

The Persian Naval Force
Despite being unable to stop Alexander take Miletus, the Persian naval force did not fully retreat. Instead, it sallied forth hoping to provoke a battle with the Macedonian fleet. In response, Alexander sent a detachment to Mycale, where the Persians were based, to stop them from disembarking their ships and collecting fresh water from the Maeander river.

With their ability to replenish their water supplies removed, the Persians were forced to sail further away to Samos. Once they had done this, however, they returned. When they did so, they conducted a daring operation. Five ships sailed into the Milesian harbour,

… hoping to catch Alexander’s ships unmanned, as they had discovered that most of the crews were away from their ships, out and about on details to collect firewood, provisions, or fodder.

Arrian I.19.9

Some sailers had indeed left their ships, but others remained. Seeing the Persian ships approach, Alexander sent his men after them. Four made it back to the fleet; one vessel, however, proved to be too slow and was captured. Following this defeat, the Persian naval force retired for good.

* See:
Timoclea – Plutarch Life of Alexander 12
Cleophis – Curtius VIII.10.35
Porus – Arrian V.19.1-3

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)
Bradford Welles C. (tr) Diodorus of Sicily The Library of History Bk XVII (Harvard University Press 1963)

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Arrian I.18.1-9

In This Chapter
More cities come over to Alexander; Miletus resists

Magnesia and Tralles
While Alexander was still in Ephesus, embassies from Magnesia and Tralles came to surrender their cities. Alexander sent Parmenion to take possession of both, assigning him no less than 5,000 men and 200 horse for the mission.

The Aeolian and Ionian Cities
At the same time, he sent Alcimachus son of Agathocles ‘to the Aeolian cities and those in Ionia still under barbarian control’ (Arr. I.18.1).

Arrian records Alcimachus’ orders as being,

… to overthrow the oligarchies and install democracies throughout, to restore [the cities] local legislation… and to remit the tribute they had been paying to the barbarians.

Arrian I.18.2

Alexander gave Alcimachus a detachment similar in size to Parmenion’s. This means that nearly a third of his army had now left the main camp. When you consider that Alexander left 10,000 men in Macedon to protect the country and keep Greece subjugated, the 10,000 that he sent to take the various cities shows that despite his early success(es), he took nothing for granted. Alexander had won a battle but he knew that didn’t mean he had won Asia Minor. Having seen Persian rule fall, any of the cities might make a bid for full independence. They had to know that the Macedonians were in control now – by force if necessary.

The example of Miletus shows that Alexander was right to be cautious.

Miletus
Initially, its garrison commander, Hegesistratus, had offered to surrender the city but when he found out that a Persian naval force was approaching he backed out and the city gates remained closed.

Upon reaching Miletus, Alexander took the outer city with ease – it had been abandoned. The loss of the outer city was of no consequence to Hegesistratus – he knew he would be able to endure a siege as long as the Persian navy could reach him.

However, Alexander still had his fleet, and it reached Miletus before the Persians. Upon seeing it, the Persian naval force backed off.

Alexander vs Parmenion
At this point, Parmenion – now returned from Magnesia and Tralles – tried to persuade Alexander to wage a naval battle. Arrian tells us that he gave several reasons for this; the one Arrian focuses on, though, was the fact that an eagle ‘had been seen perching on the beach astern of Alexander’s ships’ (Arr. I.18.6). For Parmenion, a naval battle was a win-win opportunity: if we win, the whole campaign is given a great boost; if we lose, so what; ‘the Persians… simply retain their present domination of the sea’ (Ibid).

But Alexander was having none of it:-

  • The Persian naval force was much larger than the Macedonian. It made no sense to challenge it on those grounds
  • The Macedonian sailers were not as experienced as the Persians’ (who came from sea faring nations such as Cyprus and Phoenicia)
  • A defeat would, in fact, damage their reputation and encourage their enemies in Greece
  • The fact that the eagle was seen ‘perching on land suggested to [Alexander] that it meant he would defeat the Persian fleet from the land’ (Arr. I.18.9)

In short, Alexander was ‘not prepared to expose Macedonian expertise and daring to the barbarians on an element where there could be no guarantee of success’ (Arr. I.18.8)

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Arrian I.17.1-12

In This Chapter
Alexander takes Sardis and Ephesus

Calas
In the days following his victory at the Battle of the Granicus River, Alexander turned to the now changed political situation in the region. With the death of Arsites, the satrapy of Hellespontine Phrygia was now vacant. He appointed an officer named Calas to the role.

Alexander’s Political Methodology
A consistent feature of Alexander’s kingship is how he dealt with conquered territories on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes, as in the case of Phrygia, he appointed a Macedonian governor. On other occasions, he appointed a Persian to the role, or else let the previous governor remain in office. As we shall see with King Porus, Alexander was also content to allow kings to remain in situ – as long as, of course, they were loyal.

In light of this, we can say that Alexander did not have a philosophy of power. He was, in one sense at least, a pragmatist. Could this be the reason why he refused to change Phrygia’s tax level? After Calas was appointed satrap, Alexander confirmed that the province would be required to keep paying the same taxes as it had under Darius III.

Zeleia and Dascylium
With Phrygia taken care of, Alexander turned to Zeleia and Dascylium.

Zeleians had fought in the satrapal army. After its defeat, the city’s inhabitants fled into the mountains to escape Macedonian reprisals. Now, however, they came back down to surrender themselves. For his part, Alexander told them to go home and absolved them from blame for fighting against him – ‘he recognized that they had been forced to fight on the barbarian side’ (Arr. I.17.2). The way Arrian writes it, it looks like the Zeleians decided to surrender themselves and were then absolved. I suspect, however, that Alexander sent messengers to tell them that they were in no danger. It doesn’t make sense that they would flee and then return without any guarantee of avoiding the fate that they had tried to run away from.

Alexander’s last action before moving on from the Granicus region was to send Parmenion to Dascylium. Its Persian garrison had left the city so taking it was a formality.

Sardis
Alexander marched on Sardis from the Granicus River. When he was still eight miles from it, Mithrenes, ‘commander of the citadel garrison’ (Arr. I.17.3) and the city’s civilian leaders came out to meet him. ‘Mithrenes surrendered the citadel and treasury’ (Arr. I.17.4), and the civilian leaders surrendered the city.

Alexander marched to within two miles of Sardis before sending Amyntas son of Andromenes into it to take control of the citadel. As a reward for surrendering, Alexander ‘kept Mithrenes with him in a position of honour’. He also let the Sardians – and Lydians at large – keep their traditional institutions and independence.

It is interesting to compare Alexander’s response to Sardis and Phrygia. You might have thought that being a glory seeker, he would value those who made a noble stand against him rather than those who simply gave way. Sometimes – as in the case of Porus – he did but as we see here, not always.

Why might this have been so? To paraphrase the writer, there’s a time for fighting, and a time for making peace. Alexander was a glory seeker but he was not a war monger. If he could get his way through peaceful means then he would do it. So, why was it a time for making peace rather than war? At a guess, I would say that Alexander did not want to fight again so soon after the Granicus battle; his men needed time to recover.

Once Amyntas had taken the city, Alexander entered it. He went to the citadel and was impressed by its strength. The idea of building a temple there occurred to him but while he was searching for a suitable building site, a thunder storm struck. Arrian says that the downpour took place ‘exactly where the Lydian royal palace stood’ (Arr. I.17.6). Alexander saw the will of the gods in this and acquiesced: he gave orders for the temple to be built on the site of the palace.

A Tripartite Government
Macedonian rule over Sardis was split between Pausanias (citadel) and Nicias (assessment & collection of tribute). Asander son of Philotas was given the satrapy of Lydia.

Sardis represents the first occasion in Arrian that we see Alexander splitting authority in one place between more than one person. The most famous example of this happening is in Egypt. The likely reason he did so there is because Egypt was too big and too powerful (in terms of wealth and defence capabilities) to be given to one person. Perhaps Sardis was the same: as we saw above, Alexander recognised the strength of the citadel.

Further Orders
Arrian notes that Alexander sent Calas, the new satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, and Alexander son of Aëropus to ‘Memnon’s territory’ (Arr. I.17.8) with a number of troops. Alexander son of Aëropus was a man lucky to be alive: ‘[h]is brothers, Heromenes and Arrhabaeus, were both executed for their alleged complicity in the ‘plot’ to assassinate Philip II’ (Heckel, p.19). Following Philip’s death, the son of Aëropus (who we also call Alexander Lyncestis) was the first to declare Alexander III ‘king’. This probably saved his life. Unfortunately, he subsequently either turned against Alexander or was set up. Either way, he was arrested, and after being held under arrest for some time, executed in the aftermath of the Philotas affair.

Ephesus
Upon hearing the result of the Battle of the Granicus River, the Persian garrison in Ephesus – which was comprised of mercenary troops – fled. With them went Amyntas son of Antiochus. He was a man used to being on the run, having fled Macedon in order to get away from Alexander. Why? Arrian tells us that Alexander hadn’t hurt him but that Amyntas simply disliked or hated the king and ‘thought it would be an indignity to meet with any unpleasant reprisal from him’ (Arr. I.17.9).

Alexander hurried towards Ephesus, reaching it after three days. The city immediately fell into his hands. Alexander allowed those Ephesians who had been forced into exile for supporting him to return. He abolished the city’s oligarchy, instituted a democracy, and ordered that taxes should now be paid to the temple of Artemis.

The oligarchs had ruled Ephesus badly. Arrian records that as well as inviting the Persian army into the city, they had,

… plundered the sanctuary of Artemis… pulled down the statue of Philip [of Macedon] in the sanctuary and dug up the grave of Heropythus, the liberator of the city…

Arrian I.17.11

Retribution against the oligarchs was swift and bloody. It got so bad that Alexander had to step in to prevent further bloodshed – especially against the innocent. Arrian concludes this chapter by saying,

No other action won Alexander as much credit as his handling of Ephesus at this time.

Arrian 1.17.12)

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Arrian I.16.1-7

In This Chapter
The Ending and Aftermath of the Battle of the Granicus

The Macedonian Army Dominates
Arrian describes the Persians as now being ‘harried on all fronts’ by both elements of the Macedonian army; i.e. cavalry and infantry. He says that the Macedonian light troops ‘intermingled’ with their cavalry and caused ‘great damage’ to the enemy.

That is not a surprise – the Persian horsemen only had two arms, and they were needed to fight / protect themselves against the Macedonian cavalry. They simply could not defend themselves against light armed troops who were sneaking around and stabbing them from below.

Conclusion of the Battle
The battle effectively ended when the Persian centre gave way. This lead to the Left and Right wings of the Satrapal army fleeing. Unsurprisingly, the infantry collapse happened under pressure from Macedonian troops led by Alexander himself.

I say ‘unsurprisingly’ with a little cynicism – it is very convenient that the Persian army should break at the point where Alexander physically stands.

Arrian states that a thousand Persian cavalry were killed in the battle. Alexander did not long pursue those who fled, whether they were cavalry or infantry; instead, he ordered his men to surround the Persians’ Greek mercenaries, who were still stationed a little behind the main army. They had not fought in the battle, but could not be permitted to walk away; they had betrayed Greece. Alexander ordered them to be killed. Most were; any survivors were taken away in chains to the mines of Macedonia.

Aftermath
The Satrapal army suffered serious losses in its officer class. Here are the chief casualties according to Arrian:

  • Niphates
  • Petenes
  • Spithridates (Satrap of Lydia)
  • Mithrobuzanes (Governor of Cappadocia)
  • Mithridates (Son-in-Law of Darius III)
  • Arbupales (son of Darius who was the son of Artaxerxes)
  • Pharnaces (Brother of Darius III’s wife)
  • Omares (Mercenary Commander)
  • Arsites (He didn’t die on the battlefield but committed suicide after fleeing home)

Macedonian Casualties

  • 25 Companion Cavalry
  • 60+ Non-Companion Cavalry
  • 30 or so Infantry

Alexander honoured both his own and the enemy dead.

The twenty-five dead Companion Cavalry men had bronze statues to them set up in Dium – Alexander had Lysippus, the only sculptor he permitted to reproduce his image, make the statues. The families of all the Macedonian dead were exempted from paying land taxes as well as ‘other forms of personal state service or property levies’.

The Macedonian dead were buried with their arms. The Persian dead were also buried. This stands in contrast to what happened after the Battle of Guagamela, when – according to Curtius – the Persian dead were left on the battlefield and Alexander had to move camp more quickly than expected due to the outbreak of disease caused by the rotting bodies (Curtius V.I.11).

The Macedonian wounded were not ignored. Alexander visited and invited them to tell him how they had received their injuries, letting them brag if they wished.

The only people to be treated badly after the Battle of the Granicus were the surviving Greek mercenaries. As mentioned above, they were sent to the mines.

In light of what happened to the Greek mercenaries, the Spartan state may be grateful that it received only a tongue lashing from Alexander. He sent 300 panoplies (complete sets of Persian armour) to Athens,

… to be dedicated to Athena on the Acropolis… [with] the inscription… ‘Alexander the son of Philip and the Greeks except the Spartans dedicated these spoils for the barbarians occupying Asia.’

Arrian I.XVI.7

Thoughts
The following are the things that really jump out at me in this chapter:

  • The statement that the Persian centre broke ‘at the point where Alexander was at the forefront of the action’. In the chaos of a battlefield, would you really be able to tell where exactly a collapse began? Maybe, but I strongly suspect Ptolemy placed it just where Alexander was for the benefit of his king.
  • The fact that the Satraps did not use the Greek mercenaries. They were the best infantry soldiers in their army. Their first mistake was not listening to Memnon and employing a scorched earth policy against Alexander to force him back home; their last was not to use their best soldiers.
  • The number of senior officers in the Satrapal army who died. Not just one or two but at least nine. I think this speaks to their bravery and sense of honour; they truly lead from the front.
  • Alexander’s honourable response towards not just his dead but the Persian dead as well. When we ask ‘What kind of man was Alexander?’ We might say, one who lived for glory and leave it at that. That’s true, but as may be seen here, he did not do so without a care for those who died as a result of his quest.

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)

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