Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 64 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here
Darius Makes for Ecbatana
Alexander Enters Babylon
Marvellous Macedonians Make Merry!
Alexander’s New Appointments: Full Details Inside
After fleeing from Gaugamela, Darius made his way to the upper satrapies – just as he had done following his defeat at Issus. On that occasion, his final destination had been Babylon. This time, however, knowing that Alexander would be heading there, he rode for Ecbatana in Media.
Darius’ strategy was just the same as after Issus – to bring together and re-equip the survivors of his latest defeat, and enlist men for a new army. To that end, he ordered the neighbouring tribes to send men. No doubt mindful of the precariousness of his position, he also sent couriers to the ‘satraps and generals’ of the upper satrapies and Bactria, asking them to stay loyal to him.
As Darius rode towards Ecbatana, Alexander buried the Macedonian dead and made his way to the village of Arbela. There, he found ‘abundant stores of food, no little barbaric dress and treasure, and three thousand talents of silver’.
Having taken possession of these riches, Alexander left for Babylon straight away – he did not want his men to get ill from the polluted air caused by the unburied Persian dead on the battlefield. Leaving the bodies for the natives to dispose of he began the journey south.
Alexander entered Babylon unopposed. Indeed, the Babylonians were very happy to see him. The new Lord of Asia remained in the city for ‘more than thirty days’. During that time, the locals helped the army to party hard (If you would like to know more about what happened, the Footnotes state that Curtius ‘gives a lurid description’ of the entertainment), and Alexander made the following appointments.
- Agathon of Pydna guard of Babylon’s citadel (with a force of 700 soldiers)
- Apollodorus of Amphipolis and Menes of Pella Joint military governors of Babylon and all satrapies between there and Cilicia. They were given 1,000 silver talents and orders to enlist as many men as possible.
- Mithrines Satrap of Armenia
He also gave the following rewards. To each
- [Macedonian] cavalryman 6 minas
- allied cavalryman 5 minas
- Macedonian member of the phalanx 2 minas
- mercenary 2 months pay
The Footnotes say that 1 mina ‘contained’ 100 hundred drachmae and was equal to a sixtieth of a talent.
I once read that Bactria was the homeland of the Persian Great Kings (I think from Darius I onwards?). If this is correct, it shows how precarious Darius’ position had become that he felt the need to ask for the Bactrian satrap’s loyalty.
I said, above, that Alexander left the Persian dead for the natives to bury. Would they have done so? I need to find out more about Persian funerary rites.
Mithrines in Armenia appears to be one of Diodorus’ errors. The Footnotes point out that Armenia had not been conquered (by Alexander) at this time.
If you remember being in Babylon… YOU WERE NEVER THERE
‘The Hanging Gardens’ was originally a sexual position
Popular Sayings: “Your secret is safe on the ziggurat”