26. Soli

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘From Anchialus Alexander came to Soli. He installed a garrison there, and imposed a fine of two hundred talents of silver in punishment for the city’s pro-Persian tendency.’
(Arrian II.5.5)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

In the event, Soli paid Alexander 150 talents of silver. Perhaps because he was flush with victory after the Battle of Issus, Alexander waived the final fifty. At the same time, he sent the Solian hostages that he had taken from the city back home (Arr. II.12.2).

Soli, Asia Minor

Credit Where It’s Due
The Ruins of Soli: Wikipedia

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25. Anchialus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘[Alexander] set out from Tarsus, and on the first day reached the city of Anchialus, which legend tells was founded by Sardanapalus the Assyrian.’
(Arrian II.5.2)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Sardanapalus who lived a very chaste and abstemious life

Credit Where It’s Due
Sardanapalus: Wikipedia

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24. The Cydnus River – Tarsus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘It was [at Tarsus] that Alexander fell ill. Aristobulus’ account attributes it to exhaustion, but others say that Alexander, sweaty and overcome by the heat, had wanted a bathe and had dived into the river Cydnus for a swim (the Cydnus runs right through the city of Tarsus, and with its springs in the Taurus mountains and a course through open country its water is cold and clear). The result was an attack of cramp, violent fever, and persistent inability to sleep.”
(Arrian II.4.7-8)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

The Cydnus River

Credit Where It’s Due
The Cydnus River: Sketchings and Other Life Reflections

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23. The Cilician Gates

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘[Alexander] pressed on to the Cilician Gates. When he reached the site where Cyrus had camped in his expedition with Xenophon, and saw that the Gates were strongly guarded, he left Parmenion there with the heavier-armed infantry brigades while he himself, at around the first watch, took the foot guards, the archers, and the Agrianians and advanced towards the Gates under cover of night, intending to fall on the guards when they were not expecting an attack.’
(Arrian II.4.3)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

The Cilciian Gates today

Credit Where It’s Due
Photo of the Cilician Gates: Wikipedia

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22. Gordium

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘When Alexander arrived at Gordium he was taken with a keen desire to go up to the acropolis, where there was the palace of Gordius and his son Midas, and to see for himself Gordius’ wagon and the knot on its yoke.’
(Arrian II.3.1)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Alexander cuts the Gordian knot

Credit Where It’s Due
Alexander cutting the Gordian knot: History

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21. Calaenae

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘Four days later [Alexander] reached Celaenae, where the acropolis, rising steep on all sides, was held under the satrap of Phrygia by a garrison of a thousand Carians and a hundred Greek mercenaries. They sent envoys to Alexander assuring him that they would surrender…’
(Arrian I.29.1-2)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

… but only if Darius didn’t send reinforcements by a certain date. Alexander regarded the acropolis as ‘completely unassailable’ (Arr. I.29.2) and so agreed. He left a detachment behind and set off for Gordium.

For the second day in a row we see Alexander recognising his limits and acting accordingly. Of course, the two cases are sightly different. From what Arrian says, it seems that Alexander believed he could take Telmissus but not quickly enough so decided to leave it. As above, Celaenae looked too strong to take in the first place. 

What happened between Celaenae and Tyre? How could he ever have thought that the former was impervious to attack and the latter wasn’t? I suspect here that Alexander was swayed by the Celaenians offer to surrender. The acropolis looked hard, really hard; I could stay, but… they are offering to surrender; let’s call it impossible and move on to a better target.

A medieval picture of Alexander taking Calaenae

Credit Where It’s Due
Alexander takes Celaenae: Wikipedia

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20. Sagalassus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘[Alexander] set off for Sagalassus. This too was no small city, populated likewise by Pisidians, who were reputed to be the most warlike of this generally warlike race. They were waiting for him now…’
(Arrian I.28.2)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Yesterday, I mentioned that after leaving Aspendus, Alexander set off for Telmissus. According to Arrian, however, he never took or entered the city – the home of his favourite seer, Aristander. Why? Well, after arriving outside it Alexander saw that it was too strong to be taken quickly. 

Why was he so impatient to move on? Arrian doesn’t tell us but I suspect Alexander’s appetite for glory had a lot to do with it: he wanted to attack his enemies NOW; win glory NOW rather than next week or after. 

Against this view, Alexander had to work hard to take Miletus and Halicarnassus. Perhaps Aspendus just wasn’t important enough a target to spend time on?

A Nymphaeum in Sagalassus

Credit Where It’s Due
Sagalassian Nymphaeum: Flikr

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19. Aspendus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘… Alexander marched for Aspendus. Most of Aspendus is built on a strong acropolis which rises sheer, with the river Eurymedon running past it.’
(Arrian I.26.5 – 27.1)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

The Aspendians were lucky not to be killed and their city razed. Previously, they had met Alexander on the road* and surrendered the city to him with a request that no Macedonian garrison be placed there. Alexander agreed. 

Now, as Alexander left Syllium, Aspendus reneged on the deal. Confident of its protection, the Aspendians took refuge in their acropolis. They thought that Alexander would send one of his generals who, naturally, would fail to dislodge them. 

However, Alexander himself came. When they saw him, the Aspendians panicked and tried to negotiate their surrender on the same terms as before. Because he was not equipped to lay siege to the acropolis, the Macedonian king accepted their surrender. But only on harsher terms. Wisely, the Aspendians accepted.

Upon leaving Aspendus, Alexander returned to Perge and from there made his way to Telmissus in Phrygia.

*Just after he left Perge – No. 16 in this series

Map of Asia Minor

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of Asia Minor: Turkey Trex

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18. Syllium

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘Leaving a garrison in Side Alexander advanced against Syllium, a strong position with a garrison of foreign mercenaries as well as the local barbarians themselves.’
(Arrian I.26.5)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Map of western Asia Minor (The location of Syllium can be seen just to the left of the horizontal stroke of the ‘L’ in ‘Pamphylia’)

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of western Asia Minor: Travelogues

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17. Side

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘Alexander proceeded towards Side…’
(Arrian I.26.4)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Map of Asia Minor (Side can be seen just below the notice for Pamphylia)

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of Asia Minor: Wikipedia

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