In This Chapter
The Ending and Aftermath of the Battle of the Granicus
The Macedonian Army Dominates
Arrian describes the Persians as now being ‘harried on all fronts’ by both elements of the Macedonian army; i.e. cavalry and infantry. He says that the Macedonian light troops ‘intermingled’ with their cavalry and caused ‘great damage’ to the enemy.
That is not a surprise – the Persian horsemen only had two arms, and they were needed to fight / protect themselves against the Macedonian cavalry. They simply could not defend themselves against light armed troops who were sneaking around and stabbing them from below.
Conclusion of the Battle
The battle effectively ended when the Persian centre gave way. This lead to the Left and Right wings of the Satrapal army fleeing. Unsurprisingly, the infantry collapse happened under pressure from Macedonian troops led by Alexander himself.
I say ‘unsurprisingly’ with a little cynicism – it is very convenient that the Persian army should break at the point where Alexander physically stands.
Arrian states that a thousand Persian cavalry were killed in the battle. Alexander did not long pursue those who fled, whether they were cavalry or infantry; instead, he ordered his men to surround the Persians’ Greek mercenaries, who were still stationed a little behind the main army. They had not fought in the battle, but could not be permitted to walk away; they had betrayed Greece. Alexander ordered them to be killed. Most were; any survivors were taken away in chains to the mines of Macedonia.
The Satrapal army suffered serious losses in its officer class. Here are the chief casualties according to Arrian:
- Spithridates (Satrap of Lydia)
- Mithrobuzanes (Governor of Cappadocia)
- Mithridates (Son-in-Law of Darius III)
- Arbupales (son of Darius who was the son of Artaxerxes)
- Pharnaces (Brother of Darius III’s wife)
- Omares (Mercenary Commander)
- Arsites (He didn’t die on the battlefield but committed suicide after fleeing home)
- 25 Companion Cavalry
- 60+ Non-Companion Cavalry
- 30 or so Infantry
Alexander honoured both his own and the enemy dead.
The twenty-five dead Companion Cavalry men had bronze statues to them set up in Dium – Alexander had Lysippus, the only sculptor he permitted to reproduce his image, make the statues. The families of all the Macedonian dead were exempted from paying land taxes as well as ‘other forms of personal state service or property levies’.
The Macedonian dead were buried with their arms. The Persian dead were also buried. This stands in contrast to what happened after the Battle of Guagamela, when – according to Curtius – the Persian dead were left on the battlefield and Alexander had to move camp more quickly than expected due to the outbreak of disease caused by the rotting bodies (Curtius V.I.11).
The Macedonian wounded were not ignored. Alexander visited and invited them to tell him how they had received their injuries, letting them brag if they wished.
The only people to be treated badly after the Battle of the Granicus were the surviving Greek mercenaries. As mentioned above, they were sent to the mines.
In light of what happened to the Greek mercenaries, the Spartan state may be grateful that it received only a tongue lashing from Alexander. He sent 300 panoplies (complete sets of Persian armour) to Athens,
… to be dedicated to Athena on the Acropolis… [with] the inscription… ‘Alexander the son of Philip and the Greeks except the Spartans dedicated these spoils for the barbarians occupying Asia.’Arrian I.XVI.7
The following are the things that really jump out at me in this chapter:
- The statement that the Persian centre broke ‘at the point where Alexander was at the forefront of the action’. In the chaos of a battlefield, would you really be able to tell where exactly a collapse began? Maybe, but I strongly suspect Ptolemy placed it just where Alexander was for the benefit of his king.
- The fact that the Satraps did not use the Greek mercenaries. They were the best infantry soldiers in their army. Their first mistake was not listening to Memnon and employing a scorched earth policy against Alexander to force him back home; their last was not to use their best soldiers.
- The number of senior officers in the Satrapal army who died. Not just one or two but at least nine. I think this speaks to their bravery and sense of honour; they truly lead from the front.
- Alexander’s honourable response towards not just his dead but the Persian dead as well. When we ask ‘What kind of man was Alexander?’ We might say, one who lived for glory and leave it at that. That’s true, but as may be seen here, he did not do so without a care for those who died as a result of his quest.
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)