Author Archives: M J Mann

Catching Up

My last blog post was on 22nd August. Since then, I have been very busy on my Alexander the Great Facebook page.

In an effort to give it purpose, I decided to start writing short daily posts for it. I began in September, and have not missed a day since.

To date, the posts have usually – though not always – been along the following lines:

Monday – ‘Marshal Monday’ in which I use my copy of Waldemar Heckel’s Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great to write three sets of three facts about one of Alexander’s marshals
Tuesday – Random. Could be a quotation, a link to a video, something about one of his generals etc
Wednesday – Art. A work of art either by itself or with a quotation or some of my thoughts added
Thursday – Usually a quotation from one of the Alexander historians and perhaps a few of my thoughts
Friday – ‘The Road to Alexander’ A chronology of dates from the Persian Wars to Alexander using Timothy Venning’s A Chronology of Ancient Greece
Saturday – Humour. One or more funny memes
Sunday – ‘Scholarly Sunday’ a quotation from an Alexander scholar, either by itself or with some of my thoughts added

Writing these posts has been very enjoyable. The downside, of course, is that it has totally distracted me from the blog. So, now I am wondering what its purpose is.

This is not a prelude to me saying I am going to stop writing it. What I would like to do is occasionally or on a regular basis publish some of the Facebook posts here, either as they are, or, adapted. My preference would be to do the latter. Simply copying and pasting them would be rather dull; wouldn’t it be much better to use the original versions as springboards to learning something new and sharing it?

For now, here is a brief outline of what I wrote about last week:

Facebook aside, I have started reading two books about Alexander:

Philip & Alexander by Adrian Goldsworthy. I’m only a few chapters into this so its much too early to offer an opinion of it. I have read one or two of Goldsworthy’s books and liked him so have high hopes for this one.

Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great by A. B. Bosworth. I am reading this for the Alexander the Great Reading Group, which I am a member of on Facebook (check the group out here). Again, I am too early in the book to be able to say much about it.

Any Other Business
I receive daily Google Alerts relating to Alexander. Recently, I received one that linked to yet another online article that states that Alexander was unable to conquer Afghanistan. Apart from the fact that Afghanistan didn’t exist in Alexander’s day, he did conquer the two countries that occupied what is now Afghan territory – Bactria and Sogdia. It was a very difficult conquest, and not a very stable one, but conquer it he did. Something I would like to do soon is write a post or two outlining as clearly as possible what happened between 330-327 BC when he was in the region.

A while ago, I realised that I did not have a clear outline in my mind of Alexander’s Indian campaign – when it started, when he was in particular places, when it ended, etc. To rectify this, I have started putting together a chronology based on the chronologies provided by the Livius website (here) and some of the Alexander books I own.

I have only just started this project and I fear I will not get firm answers to some of my questions. For example, I have seen Alexander’s arrival in India as ranging from Autumn 327 to February 326.

Finally, I am always interested in finding points of connection between contemporary events and Alexander. For example, in respect of the coronavirus, it’s interesting how in the thirteen years of his kingship his army was never once seriously troubled by disease. This despite their lack of knowledge about hygiene. Curtius mentions an outbreak of disease caused by the decomposing bodies on the battlefield of Gaugamela (Curt. V.1.11) but it didn’t cause the Macedonians too much trouble: they dealt with it simply by moving on. He also mentions the fact that some of Alexander’s men were afflicted by a skin disease after entering a salt lake near the Indus River. It was contagious but seems to have been easily treatable (Curt. IX.10.1-2). I’d like to do more of this kind of thing, and dive a little deeper, too, if I can.

Categories: By the Bye | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Skeletons Found in Persepolis

The headline reads 13 Skeletons discovered in hidden layers of Persepolis. Below it is a video report. You can watch it on the Mehr News Agency website, here.

Intriguingly, the article that accompanies the video explains that ‘the discovered skeletons, probably murdered, may belong to Achaemenids [sic] era and the time Persepolis was raided by the Alexander the Great and his army.’

Alexander arrived in Persepolis at the end of January 330 BC. There, ‘cruelty as well as avarice ran amok in the captured city’ (Curt. V.6.6).

According to Curtius, Alexander held a meeting with his generals prior to entering the city. He told them that ‘no city was more hateful to the Greeks than Persepolis’ (C. V.6.1), because from it came the soldiers who had made war on Greece 160 years earlier. ‘To appease the spirits of their forefathers’ (C. V.6.2) Alexander allowed his men to loot and destroy the city.

Many Persians fled the city before the Macedonians arrival. Of those who remained, some were murdered by the invaders while others chose to kill themselves and their families. No one was granted mercy. The Macedonians appear to have used rape as part of their vengeance because Curtius adds that Alexander had to issue an order ‘for his men to keep their hands off the women and their dress’ (C. V.6.8).

Curtius states that Alexander ‘eventually’ issued this order, so presumably he permitted his men to rape Persian women for an amount of time before then. This puts a limit on how much we can say he respected women, though it is surely significant that he issued the order at all. It would surely have been far easier for him to let the men do as they wished until he was ready to bring a halt to the rampage.

The Macedonian Assault on Persepolis
Arrian III.18.10
Curtius V.6.1-8
Diodorus XVII.70
Justin XI.14.10
Plutarch Life of Alexander 37

Arrian does not mention the Macedonians’ assault at all. He states simply that they arrived ‘before the garrison had plundered the treasury’. So not only does he not mention what the Macedonians did, he makes the Persian garrison look like the bad guys. Whitewashing of the first order (having said that, a few lines further on he does freely criticise Alexander for burning Xerxes’ palace down).

Diodorus‘ account of the Macedonian assault is so similar to Curtius that you can see they were using the same sources (Cleitarchus and eye-witness testimony). Like Curtius (C. V.6.4), Diodorus mentions that the Macedonians turned on each other in their greed. He doesn’t, however, mention Alexander’s order to leave the Persian women alone. He notes only that women were taken into slavery. Diodorus tells us that the Macedonian rampage lasted for a day, at the end of which, they were still greedy for more.

Unsurprisingly, given the brevity of his whole account, Justin says very little about Persepolis – simply that Alexander captured it.

Unfortunately, Alexander’s arrival at Persepolis is missing from Plutarch’s Life of Alexander. It covers the period immediately after the attack on the Persian Gates to the end of his account of the Macedonian assault on Persepolis. All that remains is a reference to a ‘terrible massacre of prisoners’ that occurred.

The destruction of Persepolis, rape and murder of her people is one of the darkest moments of Alexander and the Macedonian army’s career. Having said that, we cannot be surprised that Alexander let his men loose on the city: this was one of the perks of their jobs. What is a surprise is that he permitted it relatively rarely. If memory serves, the last time he cut his men loose was in Tyre two years earlier, although that was in the context of the siege of the city. After Persepolis, nothing like it occurs until – ? I need to look this up, as I’m not sure. India? Outside of battles, I don’t think Alexander put any Bactrian or Sogdian cities to the sword. I’m happy to be corrected on this.

One final point – can we trust Curtius’ account? He is not always very trustable. Unfortunately. Arrian’s silence and Justin’s brevity make it difficult to assess Curtius’ case. Diodorus backs him up but then he would as he was surely using the same sources.


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Nationalism and an Outflanking

Just a quick post to bring to your attention the following:

Firstly, an article by Alexander scholar Robin Lane Fox on ‘Did nationalism exist in the classical world?’. You can read it here.

Although the article is headed by a detail of the Alexander Mosaic it isn’t (exclusively) about him. With that said, it is well worth reading if you would like to expand your knowledge of how people in antiquity thought.

***

Earlier today, I had a very enjoyable few minutes looking at the history memes on Reddit. While doing so, I came across the following:

The meme is both funny and pretty accurate; well, from panel two onwards, anyway (we’ll ignore the fact that Alexander made a mole rather than a peninsula). In regards the first panel, the Tyrians were not at all so rude or aggressive towards the Macedonian king. They tried to use diplomacy to protect the city only to be outflanked when Alexander told the diplomats that he intended to worship Herakles in the city. The Tyrians were not minded to allow that: if they allowed Alexander in, that might cause trouble with Persia (assuming the latter won the war). So, the gates were closed to him and the mole built.

The comments attached to this meme were fun to read. I’ve included the first in case you didn’t know why modern Tyre is now one city that stretches out into the sea:

The Reddit page from which the above comes from can be found here.

Categories: Alexander Scholars, Humour | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Chaeronea: Philip Confirms His Domination Over Greece

The Battle of Chaeronea

Source Diodorus Siculus XVI.86
Date 2nd August 338 BC
In his book The Generalship of Alexander the Great (Da Capo Press, 1960), J.F.C. Fuller also suggests 1st September as a possible date of the battle; the Notes to the Loeb (1963) translation of Dio. XVI.86 also suggest 4th August
Combatants: Macedonian Army under Philip II vs A Greek Alliance comprising principally of Athenian and Theban soldiers
Location West of Thebes on the map below

Source: Wikipedia

The Battle

  • The two armies ‘deployed at dawn’
  • Philip II stationed Alexander, then 18 years old, ‘on one wing’. In the Loeb translation, Diodorus does not specify which wing it was but scholars believe it to have been the left (NB In his translation of Diodorus XVI, Robin Waterfield also does not specify which wing Alexander was on)
  • Philip put ‘his most seasoned generals’ with Alexander. The prince had already seen combat (e.g. against the Maedians in 340) but obviously still had much to learn
  • Philip directed the battle from ‘the other’ wing – presumably the right (see Notes below)
  • Diodorus says that ‘the Athenians assigned one wing to the Boetians (i.e. Thebans) and kept command of the other themselves. So, according to Diodorus, the Athenians were in charge of the alliance.
  • Once the battle started, it was ‘hotly contested for a long time’. There were many casualties on both sides
  • Finally, however, Alexander managed to break through the front line of the enemy right wing
  • Diodorus adds that Alexander was fired by a desire to show ‘his father his prowess’ and utter determination to win
  • Once Alexander broke through the enemy front line, the enemy soldiers fled for their lives
  • After Alexander had broken through the enemy front line, Philip advanced. Whether it was on foot or on horseback, Diodorus appears to suggest that Philip led his men from the front
  • Philip forced the enemy back. Overwhelmed, they began to flee

Notes

  • The Notes in Loeb say that ‘It seems certain that Philip, on the Macedonian right, did not engage the Athenians until the Thebans on the allied right, had been shattered by Alexander’
  • As you can see above, the Notes clarifies that the Thebans were Alexander’s opponents and the Athenians, Philip’s
  • The Notes assume Philip was on the Macedonian right because that is where Alexander usually fought during the battles of his war against the Persian empire (the right wing being the ‘traditional position of the Macedonian king’)
  • Among the Allied soldiers who fell in battle was a Theban general named Theagenes. In 335, his sister Timoclea was raped by the leader of some Thracian soldiers during the Macedonian attack on Thebes. After the assault, the leader demanded to know where her valuables were. Timoclea told him she had thrown them into a well. He went to look. As he did so, she pushed him in and then stoned him to death. The leader’s men brought her to Alexander. Although tied up, Timoclea approached and spoke to Alexander proudly and with dignity. Impressed by her, he gave orders for Timoclea and her children to be set free. This incident is recorded by Plutarch in his Life of Alexander 12
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Sweet Summer Child

In this post, I would like to share a few thoughts based on Alexander’s deeds in the month of July, as outlined in this post.

July is undoubtedly the most important month of the year for anyone interested in the life of Alexander of Macedon as it is the month in which he was born.

The date usually given for Alexander’s birth is 20th/21st July, and for the past few years, I have celebrated it by visiting a Greek restaurant for lunch on one of those dates.

Thanks to the coronavirus I won’t be able to to do so this year – or at least, not this month – but there is no way I am going to let the big day go by without a glass or two of Greek wine. There is a lovely Greek bakery/delicatessen on the corner of Farringdon Road and Topham Street in London so I shall pop in there and buy a suitable bottle of vino tinto and drink to the conqueror.

If you would like to read an account of Alexander’s conception and birth, Plutarch’s Life of Alexander is the book to read.

As it happens, Plutarch is the only one of the principle Alexander historians (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, and Justin) to have any interest in Alexander’s life before he became king. All the others, excluding Curtius, begin their narratives in 336 BC when Alexander becomes king. It’s rather like how St. Luke is the only Gospel writer to be very interested in Jesus’ conception and birth. A note on Curtius – perhaps he too wrote an account of Alexander’s birth; unfortunately, the first two books of his history have been lost so we don’t know.

In July 333 BC, Alexander left Gordium in central Asia Minor having either cut or untied the famous knot. What happened with the Gordian Knot is one of those moments in Alexander’s life where you pays your money and makes your choice. Plutarch again tells us that according to ‘most writers’ Alexander cut the knot but that Aristobulos says he untied it.

Which to believe? Aristobulos’ explanation – that Alexander undid the knot by first removing the dowel pin around which it was tied and then the yoke of the cart is elegant and simple. That’s a problem, though: are difficult problems ever so neatly solved? And then there is the issue of Aristobulos’ reputation for always trying to make Alexander look as good as possible.

That Alexander simply cut the knot sounds much more realistic (after all, if the knot could be undone by simply removing the dowel pin and yoke, surely someone would have thought of that before) and like the kind of thing he would do. Like I said, you pays your money and makes your choice.

July is also the month in which Memnon of Rhodes died. Of all Alexander’s enemies, he was probably the most dangerous. Before the Battle of the Granicus River, he proposed the adoption of a scorched earth policy to the Persian satraps, as a way of starving the Macedonian army out of Asia Minor.

The local populations would have suffered grievously but it was surely an excellent strategy for dealing with the Macedonians. Despite this, the satraps turned it down.

Afterward the Granicus, Memnon’s naval campaign in the Aegean Sea could well have forced Alexander, either to return home to protect Macedon and Greece, or send back troops he needed to be successful in his expedition.

Before the campaign could reach its fulfilment, however, Memnon died. The commanders who succeeded him were not able to keep the naval campaign going before Alexander defeated it from the land.

In July 332 BC, the Siege of Tyre finally came to a close when the Macedonian army finally broke into the city. The Tyrians had held Alexander at bay for seven months, and paid the price for it as the Macedonians cut down anyone they came across during their rampage across the city.

Tyre still exists and can be found sticking out into the Mediterranean Sea in the south of Lebanon. It does so because of Alexander’s mole. In the centuries following the siege, silt built up over the mole, creating the land that was needed to join the old and new cities together.

Zipping forward to July 330 BC, we come to the assassination of Darius III in Parthia (along the path of the Silk Road) on or around 17th July.

What would have happened to Darius if Alexander had caught him alive? Would he have let his defeated rival live? I very much doubt it. As long as Darius lived, he represented a threat to Alexander’s Great Kingship. He would surely have been put to death just as Alexander’s rivals to the Macedonian throne were.

I started this post with a beginning and so will end it with an ending.

In July 326 BC, the Macedonian army’s mutiny at the Hyphasis River took place. As I have seen written elsewhere, the army didn’t actually mutiny. That is to say, Alexander didn’t issue an order to cross the river, which the army then refused to carry out. Rather, they arrived at the river, and the army told their king we will not go any further. Alexander tried to talk them out of their refusal but to no avail.

Arrian’s account of the debate between Alexander and Coenus is a dramatic piece of literary theatre (in which light it should be seen rather than as an account of what was said on the day) and it’s interesting that although Coenus died not long afterwards there is no suggestion in the sources, and not much made by modern historians, that Alexander had him eliminated as a kind of revenge (Coenus, after all, was speaking as much for the army as himself). Men were killed by Alexander for much less.

Alexander’s anger and frustration as the army sails down the Indus River is also very notable. Never more so than on the two occasions when he impatiently climbs siege ladders by himself. Fed up of the army’s tardiness – now on their way home, the soldiers’ motivation to risk death had gone – Alexander decides to take on the enemy himself. On the second occasion, he is almost killed as a result. Afterwards, his senior commanders finally tell him off for risking himself too much!

Categories: Chronology of Alexander's Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Eurydice I of Macedon

I have just started reading Women and Monarchy in Macedonia by Elizabeth Donnelly Carney. The following quotation has made a big impression on me. For context, the Eurydice being talked about here is the mother of Alexander II, Perdiccas III, and Philip II – Alexander’s father.

Eurydice’s political career marks a turning point in Macedonian history; she is the first royal woman we know of who took political action and successfully exerted political action and successfully exerted political influence.

Elizabeth Donnelly Carney Women and Monarchy in Macedonia p.40

Carney goes on to note how active royal women were in Macedon for the rest of the fourth century until, early in the third century, their influence waned after the Antigonids came to power.

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Arrian I.27.1-8

In This Chapter
Aspendus and Telmissus Rebel

When Alexander arrived at Aspendus, he found that its inhabitants had deserted the city and taken refuge in its acropolis. Alexander encamped in the empty houses to consider his next move. As it turned out, however, it was made for him. The Aspendians were spooked by the sight of the Macedonian king – ‘they had not expected’ (Arr. I.27.3) him to come in person – and brought Alexander’s deliberations to a halt by offering to surrender on the terms previously agreed.

Alexander could have been forgiven for accepting them for he did not have a strong hand; he ‘could see the defensive strength of the place, and had not come equipped for a long siege’ (Ibid) but on this occasion it did not suit him to grant the Aspendians their request. He demanded hostages as well as horses, a hundred talents instead of fifty, and told the city it would be put under the rule of a satrap and made liable for taxes. The city’s territorial expansion would also be scrutinised – no doubt with a view to reversing it. The Aspendians gave way, and Alexander went on his way.

Why did the Aspendians rebel? I think they were just chancing their arm. They thought that at worst a Macedonian general would march on them but that they would be able to resist him. When Alexander came, though — that was a different matter. Already in his young career he had done enough to make the power of his name sufficient to inflict psychological damage upon his enemies. In the case of the Aspendians that damage was enough to defeat them.

Alexander marched back to Perge. From there he set out for Phrygia. Telmissus lay ahead. He should have found the city open and friendly (See Arr. I.24.4) but before even getting there, he found the road closed to him with the entire Telmissian army standing guard over it.

Alexander made camp. But he didn’t intend to stay put. He guessed that as soon as the Telmissian army saw hat he was doing it would return home. And he was right. The larger part of the army left with only a detachment remaining behind. Alexander immediately raised his lighter armed men and marched on the guards. They quickly gave way, and fled. Alexander took his men through the guard post and camped close by Telmissus.

Chapter 27, then, is a tale of two cities, one of which could have been treated a lot worse but still risked destruction for the sake of its freedom, and the other that actually had Alexander’s friendship but for no obvious reason (according to Arrian), rejected it.

We have already looked at why Aspendus rebelled. I think in the case of Telmissus there must have been opposition to Alexander within the city and this won control prior to his march from Perge. This is the only scenario that makes much sense to me – Alexander had given no reason for any particular city to think that it could rebel against him and get away with it.

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

See previous posts in this series here

Categories: Arrian | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Arrian I.26.1-5

In This Chapter
From Phaselis to Syllium

With Alexander of Lyncestis now under guard, Alexander III left Phaselis. He split the Macedonian army into two. Part of it – presumably under Parmenion – was sent inland, to make its way to Perge via a specially built road. The rest of the army followed Alexander along the sea shore. A strong northerly wind was blowing and it kept the sea at bay enabling the Macedonians to keep walking. Had the wind been coming up from the south they would have had to turned back.

The army reunited at Perge. After leaving the city, Alexander met envoys from Aspendus who had been given the authority to surrender their city. They had a request, though: that Alexander not leave a garrison there. The king agreed. The city was not left completely alone, though; Alexander ordered it ‘to pay a fifty-talent contribution to his army’s wages and to hand over the horses which they bred as their tribute in kind to the King of Persia’ (Arr. I.26.3). The envoys accepted these demands and left. The word ‘contribution’ is doing an awful lot of work here.

As for Alexander, he marched further along the coast to the city of Side. Here, Arrian pauses to tell a story about why the Sidians don’t speak Greek. He says – according to the people themselves – the first settlers lost all knowledge of their home language immediately after arriving in Asia Minor, and started speaking ‘a new and hitherto unknown dialect of their own’ (Arr. I.26.4). It’s an interesting story, anyway, even if not likely to be true. And if true it shows that the Sidians were an inquisitive people who asked questions about themselves and were interested in finding answers.

Side was not as lucky as Aspendus – Alexander left a garrison there before moving on to Syllium.

Syllium was strongly defended by a joint native and mercenary force. Alexander tried and failed to assault it. While he was still considering what to do next a messenger arrived with bad news: Aspendus had rebelled. Alexander immediately set out to deal with the city.

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

See previous posts in this series here

Categories: Arrian | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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)

See previous posts in this series here

Categories: Arrian | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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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