300

Celebrating the hardest men ever to live – Alexander’s Macedonians
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You can find more acts of hardness here

via coolfunpics.com

via coolfunpics.com

Date Spring 327 BC Place The Rock of Sogdiana
Rock Hard
The Men Who Scaled the Sogdian Rock

The Deal
Tell me, AOS, tell me about the 300; no, not that 300 – I mean the three hundred Macedonians who scaled the Sogdian Rock, and captured an impregnable position with nothing more than tent-pegs and linen. Compared to that, defending Thermopylae was a playground exercise.
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Reader, you are wise beyond your years. it would be a pleasure to tell you about the hardest 300 who ever lived.
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In the Spring of 327, Alexander learnt that ‘a large number’ of Sogdians had taken refuge on top of the Rock of Sogdiana (AKA the Rock of Ariamazes). Among their number were the wife and daughters of the chieftain Oxyartes. Arrian tells us that the Rock was sheer on every side, that the refugees had stockpiled food in anticipation of a long siege, and that ‘deep snow on the summit’ meant that they had an unlimited supply of water.
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Alexander wanted to take the rock – it was the Sogdians last stronghold against him; if it fell, he knew that his enemies would have nowhere else to run. And yet… it was supposed to be impregnable and the Sogdians were well dug in… what to do?
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As it happens, Alexander’s first response was to offer the Sogdians the chance to surrender. Soft, I know, but he did it. Happily, they responded with contemptuous laughter and a challenge, Find soldiers with wings to capture the Rock for you! they cried. And guess, what; Alexander did.
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Alexander gathered his men together and told them that he would give twelve talents to the first man who scaled the Rock’s sheer cliff face, eleven to the second, ten to the third and so on. Three hundred experienced climbers in the army took up the challenge.
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Climbing Into History
The assault began. When picturing the 300 scaling the cliff you can forget about the modern day specialist equipment that makes rock climbing as safe as can be. These men had little more than tent pegs and flaxen lines. Up they went; foot by dangerous foot, up the ‘steepest part of the rock-face’. Admittedly, this was not because of their inveterate hardness, but because they knew that at the top it would be the least well guarded. In mitigation, however, it was night time.
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Night wore on and the three hundred men climbed higher and higher. Thirty died during the course of the ascent. Their bodies were never recovered. Given how tough they were in life, though, they probably took a perverse pleasure at this in death.
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Finally, as dawn broke, the 270 survivors began hauling themselves over the top of the cliff. Curtius tells us that the Sogdian Rock was 18,000 feet high. I say, ‘Sit down, Curtius, and consider what you’ve just said there; the Macedonians’ achievement was good enough without you exaggerating it’.
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Once at the top, the next step was to let Alexander know that the climb had been successful. The climbers waved pieces of linen cloth proudly at the army below.
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With all the pride of a new father, Alexander ordered a crier to tell the Sogdians what had happened. Their response was pretty much the ancient equivalent of WT Living F??? Arrian says that that the sight of the soldiers was a ‘severe shock to the natives’ (my emphasis) And not only because there were Macedonians with wings but also because they thought that a much larger force had climbed to the summit.
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And They Lived Happily…
Defeated by 270 of the hardest Macedonian souls and the apparent evidence of their eyes, the Sogdians promptly surrendered to Alexander.
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As the Sogdians made their way down from the Rock, one person among them stood out in spectacular fashion. Oxyartes’ daughter, Roxane. According to Arrian, the Macedonians regarded her as the most beautiful woman they had seen in all of Asia with only the exception of Darius III’s wife. Roxane caught Alexander’s eye as well, and in due course, they married. When Alexander died in 323, Roxane was pregnant with his only legitimate child – Alexander IV.
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But enough of women and pregnancies, this post is about the three hundred hard bastards who dared to scale the impossible rock and almost to a man did so. No safety + No hope = Maximum Hardness.
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Rating of Hard 9/10
Pro: They were climbing an unclimbable rock
Against: They did it for money, and as can be seen in the picture above that is a woman climbing; if a woman can rock climb, how hard can it actually be???

Categories: Muscular Macedonians | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “300

  1. “if a woman can rock climb, how hard can it actually be???”

    I look forward to the photos of you freeclimbing a sheer face in due course then – and you’ll be able to tell us firsthand just how easy it was! 😉

    Like

  2. Jemina

    “if a woman can rock climb, how hard can it actually be???”
    Right, women always do the easy, safe things like birthing children. 😉

    Other than that, a very fine article about an event I once read about but totally forgot. Thanks for bringing it back to memory!

    Like

  3. Arkady + Jemina

    You make very reasonable comments. However, as this is post is not about being reasonable but celebrating the hardness of the Macedonians, I’m afraid I can’t agree to them. I’m sure you understand 😉

    (Jemina – your comment came through twice so I have deleted the second one)

    AOS

    Like

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