Posts Tagged With: Amyntas son of Andromenes

Death in a Cold Climate

The Nature of Curtius
Book Seven Chapters 1-3
For other posts in the series click here

Chapter One
Old Scores Are Settled
Following Philotas’ execution, Alexander Lyncestes was put on trial and executed. Alexander Lyncestes’ brothers had been killed by Alexander III in the purge following the latter’s accession to the throne. Alexander Lyncestes had saved his skin on that occasion by being ‘the first to salute Alexander as king’. Now, however, stage fright overtook the Lyncestian and rendered him unable to give a defence of himself. Curtius presents his death as little less than a summary execution during the trial.

The chapter continues with the trial of Amyntas and Simmias (the sons of Andromenes) who were charged with being part of Philotas’ conspiracy and as well as with other minor misdemeanours. Despite the fact that a third brother, Polemon, had deserted after hearing about Philotas’ torture, Amyntas was able to put up a very good defence.

As with the trial of Philotas, those of Alexander Lyncestes and Andromenes’ sons all took place indoors.

Chapter Two
Parmenion’s Downfall
The trial of Amyntas and Simmias was halted when guards brought in Polemon who had just been caught. Amyntas took his brother’s arrival in hand and succeeded in winning over not only the Assembly but Alexander, too. As a result, the trial ended with all the brothers’ acquittal.

After the trial, Alexander turned his thoughts to Parmenion. He ordered the general’s friend, Polydamas, to ride to Ecbatana with three letters – two for Parmenion (one in Alexander’s name and one written as if by Philotas*) and one for the other generals there. The latter contained the order to murder his friend.

Knowing how quickly rumour could travel, and how fatal it would be for him if Parmenion were to hear of Philotas’ death, Alexander ordered Polydamas to make haste. When the latter left the Macedonian camp, therefore, he did so on camelback**. In order to shorten their journey, Polydamas and his Arab guides (or guards) rode across ‘stretches of arid desert’. After ten days, they arrived in Ecbatana.

The letters were handed over to their recipients. The next day, Parmenion was stabbed to death in a grove.

* Presumably to make sure that Parmenion was distracted while the generals unsheathed their weapons

** And, Curtius says, dressed as an Arab. As Arabia was not on Polydamas’ route, perhaps this is an example of Curtius not knowing his geography (see below) or of him knowing that Arabs did indeed travel across the desert between Drangiana and Media.

Chapter Three
Mountain Bound
With Parmenion’s death, the Philotas Affair was finally over. Alexander now struck camp and led his army out of Drangiana and into Arimaspia – the land of the Euergetae, the Benefactors, whose kindness had once saved the army of Cyrus the Great.

Four days into his march across Arimaspia, the king learnt that Satibarzanes had returned to Aria. Rather than go back to confront the traitor himself, Alexander sent his friend Erygius along with Caranus, Artabazus and Andronicus to do so for him.

As for Alexander, he stayed in Arimaspia long enough to reward the natives for helping Cyrus, before proceeding to Arachosia. There, he subdued the natives (‘whose territory extends to the Pontic Sea’ Curtius says, inaccurately*) and met Parmenion’s soldiers who had been brought out as reinforcements. There was no backlash between them.

With his army now strengthened, Alexander moved on to the land of the Parapamisadae – ‘a backward tribe, extremely uncivilized even for barbarians’. Their country ‘touches Bactria to the west and extends as far as the Indian Ocean in the south’. In Alexander’s day, Bactria lay due north ( and Aria to the west) while Arachosia and the Oreitae stood between the Parapamisadae and the ocean.

Curtius writes that Paropamisus** is such a cold and barren land few trees grow there, and there is ‘no trace… of birds or any other animal of the wild’. It seems that even the sun rarely comes that way for the ‘overcast daylight, which would be more accurately called a shadow of the sky, resembles night and hangs so close to the earth that near-by objects are barely visible’.

The cold caused the Macedonian army great suffering as it trudged eastwards. Men suffered from frost-bite, snow-blindness and exhaustion; those who stopped to rest became too stiff to get up again.

Alexander did his best to help his men, and he lifted them up and supported them with his own body. ‘At one moment he was at the front, at another at the centre or rear of the column, multiplying for himself the hardships of the march’. That is why, despite all, they loved him so much.

Presently, the army came to ‘a more cultivated area’ where it set up camp.

The soldiers needed to rest – before them lay the Caucausus Mountains (i.e. the Hindu Kush)

In one direction it faces the sea that washes Cilicia, in another the Caspian, the river Araxes and also the desert areas of Scythia. The Taurus range, which is of lesser height, joins the Caucasus, rising in Cappadocia, skirting Cilicia and merging into the mountains of Armenia. Thus interconnected in a series, these ranges form an unbroken chain, which is the source for practically all the rivers of Asia, some flowing into the Red***, some into the Caspian, and others into the Hyrcanian**** and Pontic Seas.

Obviously, Curtius’ geography is inaccurate. What the above quotation shows, however, is how much smaller the world was for him. That’s not something I dwell upon often enough so I record it here as much for my benefit as anyone else’s.

Curtius says that the Macedonian army crossed the Caucasus in seventeen days. Along the way, it passed the ‘rocky crag’ where ‘Prometheus was bound’. At the foot of the Caucasus Alexander decided to build a new city.

* The Pontic Sea is the Caspian. In Alexander’s day, and surely afterwards?, a number of countries separated Arachosia from the Pontic. For example, Drangiana, Aria, Parthia and Hyrcania.

** Curtius doesn’t give us the name of the Parapamisadae’s land; ‘Paropamisus’ is what Diodorus calls it

*** The Persian Gulf

**** The Hyrcanian, Caspian and Pontic Sea are, of course, all one.  The Notes suggest that Curtius is ‘mistakenly’ talking about different parts of the same water

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Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 65, 66 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Fresh Troops Reach Macedonian Army
Alexander Enters Susa
EXPOSED: Darius’ Secret Order
POLL Should Alexander Have Used Darius’ Table?

The Story

Chapter 65
Leaving Babylon, Alexander started marching east towards the royal city of Susa. He was still in Babylonia when fresh troops from Macedon arrived at the camp. Here are their numbers as Diodorus gives them.


  • Cavalry 500
  • Infantry 6,000


  • Cavalry 600


  • [infantry?] 3,500


  • Cavalry ‘little less than’ 1,000
  • Infantry 4,000

Along with the soldiers ‘came fifty sons of the king’s Friends sent by their fathers to serve as bodyguards’. The fact that these men are identified as their fathers’ sons makes me wonder if they weren’t actually pages come to serve Alexander and be hostages to their fathers’ good behaviour.

Six days after leaving Babylon, Alexander entered Sittacene, which lay between Babylonia and Susiana. The country was a rich one ‘abounding in provisions of all sorts’ so Alexander let his men rest for a few days to allow them to recover from the excursions of their march.

While his men caught their breath, Alexander set about reviewing his army’s organisation. ‘He wanted to advance some officers and to strengthen the forces by the number and the ability of the commanders’. Officers who had proven their worth were promoted. He also made changes to the ‘situation of… individual soldiers’ in order to improve their lot.

Diodorus tells us that Alexander’s promotions and improvements increased his army’s devotion and obedience to himself. No doubt that was an intention of the reform, but the Footnotes suggest that he may also have been adapting the army for ‘impending mountain and steppe warfare’, a type of fighting that the traditional phalanx was not suited for.

Upon resuming its march, the Macedonian army made its way through Sittacene and into Susiana and hence to the capital, Susa, which he took ‘without opposition’. Indeed, Diodorus says that Abuleutes (Footnotes: Abulites according to Arrian and Curtius) the satrap had been told by a Darius to let Alexander take the city. Why? Darius thought Alexander would be distracted by Susa’s wealth and glamour thus allowing him more time to raise his third army.

Chapter 66
Susa had no shortage of wealth. It gave Alexander’s coffers 40,000 ‘talents of gold and silver bullion’ and 9,000 ‘talents of minted gold in the form of darics’.

During his tour of the royal palace, Alexander lifted himself onto the Great King’s royal throne. The dais upon which it stood was so high off the ground that Alexander’s feet were unable to reach the footstool and were left dangling.

A quick-thinking page placed a nearby table under his feet. Alexander approved of this solution. One of a Darius’ eunuchs, however, started to cry. When asked what was wrong, he explained that he was ‘grieved’ to see an object that was so highly regarded by Darius be used in such a base manner by Alexander.

Alexander sympathised. Believing that he had acted arrogantly he ordered the page to take the table away. At this point, Philotas interjected. You did not act arrogantly, he told the king, for your action ‘”… occurred through the providence and design of a good spirit.'”

Who would Alexander side with – the eunuch or Philotas? He chose the latter, justifying his decision by regarding Philotas’ words as an omen, and the table stayed where it was.

The new Macedonian and allied cavalry and infantry were brought by Amyntas son of Andromenes, who we saw leave for home in Chapter 49 (here).

When I read Chapter 65, I found myself wondering who the Trallians were. The Footnotes helpfully state that they were a Thracian tribe.

If the Footnotes are right that Alexander’s re-organisation of his army was carried out in order to adapt to the new forms of warfare that lay ahead then we can take it as an example of his genius as a general, able to not only adapt to new conditions but develop new forms of military organisation as well.

Diodorus’ anecdote regarding the satrap of Susa’s orders are not, the Footnotes say, mentioned by any other Alexander historian. The idea that Darius thought the Macedonians would be distracted by Susa’s wealth made me smile, though, as it presumably means that he thought the Greeks were decadent in the same way that the latter thought the Persians were. I had not considered this before.

The story of the throne reminds me of Curtius’ account of Orsines’ downfall at the hands of Bagoas. I have my doubts regarding the truth of that story (certainly as Curtius writes it) because it portrays Alexander in far too simplistic a manner: Bagoas has a word in his ear, the next thing you know, Orsines is dead. The same happens here: Alexander sits on the throne, the eunuch complains so he pacifies him, then Philotas has a word so Alexander does what he says. It’s all too neat (rather like the two Gordian knot traditions, which I wrote about here)

The Crying Eunuch would make a great name for a pub
“We deliver service with a smile… unless you move the tables, in which case the resident eunuch will start to bawl”

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The Siege of Tyre

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 42-46 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Macedonian Assault of Tyre Begins
Tyre’s Brave Defence
Macedonians Breach Wall: Street-to-Street Fighting
Tyre Falls to Alexander

The Story

Chapter 42
‘[A]larmed at the advance of the mole’ the Tyrians sent out ships armed ‘with both light and heavy catapults’ as well as with ‘archers and slingers’ to attack the Macedonian workers. Their attack was successful – Diodorus reports that there were so many workers on the mole that the missiles could not help but hit their target.

Seeing the Tyrian attack, Alexander led his ships to Tyre’s harbour. His plan was to cut off the Tyrian sailors’ retreat. The sailors feared he would ‘seize the harbour and capture the city while it was empty of soldiers’. Both sides rowed towards the harbour with all their might. The Tyrians made it back first – just, and some at the end of the column were lost to the Macedonians.

The mole continued its approach to Tyre, this time with a fleet of ships screening it from attack. But they could do nothing about the next assault, which left Alexander ‘at a loss [on how] to deal with the harm done to his project’. This is because he was now attacked by ‘a powerful north-west gale’ that blew up ‘and damaged a large part of the mole’.

Alexander was then tempted to give up the siege but ‘driven by ambition’ decided to persevere. Huge mountain trees were cut down and rolled into the sea beside the mole where they acted as breakers.

The damaged part of the mole was repaired. When Tyre came within firing range, Alexander had his siege engines forward. The fight for Tyre now began in earnest.

One Stone throwers were employed to attack Tyre’s walls; light catapults were aimed at the walls’ defenders. Archers and slingers also joined the offensive.

Chapter 43
Two Tyre defended itself against the new onslaught with ‘ingenious counter-measures’. Catapult missiles were broken against or deflected by a spinning wheel. The stone-throwers’ balls were caught by ‘soft and yielding materials’ (See also Thirteen below).

Three While the first assault was taking place, Alexander sailed round the city to inspect Tyre’s walls. By doing so, he ‘made it clear that he was about to attack the city alike by land and sea’.

Four During his tour, Alexander sank three Tyrian ships at the city harbour mouth. Tyre actually had two harbours; Diodorus doesn’t say which one these ships were moored at. After sinking the ships, Alexander returned to his camp.

Five In an effort to give the city extra protection, the Tyrians now (or perhaps earlier?) built a second wall five cubits (seven and a half feet) inside the outer wall. The new wall ‘was ten cubits [fifteen feet] in thickness’. The space between the two walls was ‘filled with stone and earth’.

Six Alexander, meanwhile, began his sea-borne assault of the city by tying a number of triremes together and mounting siege engines upon them. The attack was successful. If I read Diodorus correctly, a one hundred foot wide hole was punched through the inner outer and inner wall.

Seven That Alexander was able to break through both walls and the rubble in-between seems unlikely, but Diodorus does say that after doing this, Macedonian soldiers ‘burst into the city’. The Tyrians fought back, however, and Alexander’s men were repulsed. That night, the damaged wall was rebuilt.

Eight The mole now reached Tyre’s walls. Hand-to-hand fighting took place along them. The Tyrians fought bravely, perhaps even desperately; they knew what a disaster it would be if Alexander captured their city.

Nine The Macedonians set foot on the battlements by means of a bridge flung down from their siege engine. The Tyrians responded by firing barbed tridents, which struck and attached themselves to Macedonians’ shields. The tridents were attached to rope, which were then pulled back. The Macedonian soldier would then face the choice of either releasing the shield and exposing his body to further attack or of being pulled off the siege engine and falling to his death. Another Tyrian tactic was simply to fling fishing nets over the Macedonians as they crossed the bridge. These would then be pulled so that the Macedonian would fall to his death.

Chapter 44
Ten This chapter is dedicated to the various defensive measures employed by the Tyrians. Here is a list of those that Diodorus mentions.

  1. Red hot sand. Heated in bronze and iron shields, the sand was then scattered (‘[b]y means of a certain apparatus’) over the invaders. The sand would get inside the Macedonians’ armour and burn their skin. The victim would scream for mercy only to die in a state of madness.
  2. Fire. Diodorus says that fire was poured (from the walls) and that fire-throwers ‘discharged huge red-hot masses of metal’ at the Macedonians. Once again, there were so many of the latter that the metal always hit someone.
  3. ‘[J]avelins and stones’ – thrown in such numbers that they weakened ‘the resolution of the attackers’.
  4. Poles and ‘spars equipped with concave cutting edges’ were also used to ‘cut the ropes supporting the [battering] rams.
  5. Crows and iron hands – types of grappling hook – that were launched at the Macedonians pulling them to their deaths.

Chapter 45
Eleven Diodorus says that the Tyrians caused ‘extreme terror’ by their use of these defensive measures. And a great deal of death, too. But the Macedonians were unbowed. When one man fell, another came up from behind to replace him.

Twelve Alexander directed the catapults and ‘made the walls rock with the boulders that they threw’. Along with the ‘dart-throwers’ on his towers, the king kept up a constant barrage ‘of all kind of missiles’.

Thirteen Diodorus now refers again to the Tyrians’ ‘ingenious counter-measures’ that we saw in Chapter 43 and at Two, above. This time, he adds that the rotating wheels were made of marble and that the ‘soft and yielding materials’ were ‘hides or pairs of skins’ that were stuffed with seaweed.

Fourteen After a summary of the Tyrians’ fighting performance (bold and valorous) Diodorus adds that some of the defenders used axes ‘to chop off any part of the body of an opponent that presented itself’. By way of an example, Diodorus mentions a Macedonian commander named Admetus – ‘a conspicuously brave and powerful man’ – who was ‘killed instantly when his skull was split by the stroke of an axe’.

Fifteen We now come to a very interesting moment in Alexander’s career. The Tyrians were holding his army ‘in check’. Night was falling so he ordered his soldiers to camp. That night, he decided ‘to break off the siege and march on to Egypt’. But something or someone changed his mind and ‘he reflected that it would be disgraceful to leave the Tyrians with all the glory of the operation’. Diodorus states that only one of Alexander’s Friends supported his decision to continue the siege. You would be forgiven for thinking that that was Hephaestion, but it wasn’t. On this occasion, only a Friend named Amnytas son of Andromenes sided with his king.

Chapter 46
Sixteen Presumably the next day, Alexander addressed his men ‘calling on them to dare no less than he’. The Macedonian fleet was prepared and a ‘general assault’ on Tyre began. It came via land and sea and ‘was pressed furiously’. During the attack, Alexander noticed that the city wall ‘on the side of the naval base was weaker than elsewhere’. He attacked it with the siege engines mounted on the triremes that had been tied together.

Seventeen Unless Diodorus is referring to a different section of wall, it seems that the purpose of the attack wasn’t to demolish the wall. This is because he states that (at an unspecified point), Alexander bridged the gap between trireme and wall. He crossed it first, fearing neither ‘the envy of Fortune nor… the menace of the Tyrians’. Ordering his men after him, Alexander took the fight to the Tyrians with spear, sabre and shield, thus putting ‘an end to the high confidence of the enemy’.

Eighteen At the same time, one of the Macedonian battering rams breached part of the Tyrian wall. Macedonian soldiers entered the city for the first time. Alexander and his men were not far behind. ‘[T]he city was taken’.

Nineteen All may have been lost for the Tyrians but they did not surrender. Far from it. Alleys were barricaded, encouragements shouted, and ‘all except a few were cut down fighting’. Diodorus now gives us the Tyrian casualty figures,

  • Men Dead ‘more than seven thousand’
  • Men Executed ‘not less than two thousand’

As per normal practice, the women and children of the city were sold into slavery. It is at this point that contrary to what he said in Chapter 41 (here), Diodorus now states that ‘most of the non-combatants’ were evacuated to Carthage. Those left behind still numbered ‘more than thirteen thousand’.

Diodorus does not give any figures for the Macedonian dead.

Twenty The siege of Tyre took seven months. After gaining control of the city, Alexander removed Apollo’s golden cords and ordered that he be renamed ‘Apollo Philalexander’. He carried out ‘magnificent sacrifices to Heracles’ just as he said he had wanted to do at the beginning, gave rewards to the brave among his men and organised ‘lavish funerals’ for his dead. Finally, he placed a man called Ballonymus on the throne ‘the story of whose career’ Diodorus tells us, ‘I cannot omit because it is an example of a quite astonishing reversal of fortune’. I agree wholeheartedly with Diodorus on this, and we shall look at what happened in the next post.

This has been a long post, so I shall try and keep these comments brief.

While writing the previous post, I wondered if another reason most of the Tyrian women and children were obliged to remain in the city was because as well as the city’s ports being within range of the Macedonian catapults they were also prey to Alexander’s ships. A Footnote to Chapter 42 confirms that Alexander did indeed have ships at his disposal but doesn’t say when they arrived.

The Tyrians’ ‘ingenious devices’ sound very clever indeed – especially the rotating wheel but did it really exist? The Footnotes confirm that no other Alexander historian mentions them. Perhaps Diodorus heard tell of them elsewhere, or had simply discussed the possibility of such devices with someone and then decided to include them as the kind of thing Alexander would have used if he had the chance.

I must credit the Footnotes again for the conversion of cubit to feet.

Chapter 45 is absolutely fascinating in terms of Alexander’s relations with his generals, with Hephaestion and indeed, Amyntas son of Andromenes.

In terms of the generals, their refusal to support a continuation of the siege represents the first time that I can think of since Alexander became king that he failed to win the support of his Friends for a proposed course of action. In fact, the only other time that I can think of when Alexander was so isolated was when the army mutinied at the Hyphasis River. Then, the army was exhausted. This time, it must have been a professional isolation as there was no bad blood on Alexander’s part once Tyre fell.

Regarding Hephaestion, the fact that he did not support Alexander on this occasion serves as a useful reminder that despite being Alexander’s best friend and intimate – however we choose to interpret that – he was not a cipher and would not always have agreed with the king. We can make of this what we will; I think it points to a maturity in the friendship.

Amyntas has not been mentioned before by Diodorus; had we been reading Arrian, however, we would know him well by now. In the Anabasis, Amyntas is seen at the Battle of the Granicus and Issus, he also accepts the surrender or Sardis and at the attack on Myndus. A friend of Philotas, Amyntas nearly suffered the same fate, but was acquitted at trial.

Having said all that, it should be noted that in his Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great (from where I have taken the above information) Heckel says that while it is ‘plausible’ that Amyntas supported Alexander’s decision to continue the Tyrian siege it is also ‘incapable of proof’.

Match Report
Away win for Macedonia
Tyre made the best use of its resources to mount a sterling defence of the city against a committed Macedonian attack. Such was the Tyrians’ strength and depth that Alexander had to dig deep in order not to let the game get away from him. Fortunately for the Macedonian king, his strikers were in fine form all through the match especially in front of (the) goal. Then, the Tyrians’ lack of a true attacking option came back to haunt them just as 9,000 of their men will now haunt the city. Following a period of co-ordinated forward play, Alexander broke through the Tyrian defence, broke Tyrian hearts and took the well earned win.
Man of the Match Award Admetus. A solid performance only let down by his not so solid head.
Substitutions None, although Apollo did try to excuse himself, the Tyrians prevented him from doing so

Categories: Diodorus Siculus | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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