Posts Tagged With: Cilicia

Alexander, Slicer of Knots

Justin’s Alexander
Book XI Chapters 6-9
Part Two
Other posts in this series

For this post I am using this translation of Justin’s Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus

Chapter Six
When deciding upon a title for the first post in this series, I considered ‘Alexander the Pragmatist’ as that seemed to be a key feature of his early kingship. I eventually decided against it as I didn’t think Alexander could be fully described by one word alone.

Nevertheless, his pragmatism was an important element of his rule, and we shall see it more than once today. For example, Justin reports that as the Macedonian army advanced through Asia, Alexander exhorted his men not to destroy the land – as it was their property.

Having mentioned this, Justin allows himself for a brief moment to be in awe of his subject. The Macedonian army was a small force consisting of just 32,000 infantry and 4,500 cavalry. Justin remarks,

Whether, with this small force, it is more wonderful that he conquered the world, or that he dared to attempt its conquest, is difficult to determine.

Another example of Alexander’s pragmatism then follows. He entered Asia not with an army comprised of ‘robust young men, or men in the flower of their age’ but veterans, ‘masters of war’. Further to this, Justin says that none of the officers were under sixty.

He is exaggerating the age of Alexander’s army. But why would he do so? I wonder if it is an attempt to rationalise the magnitude of Alexander’s achievement, one that – in his opinion – was surely beyond the power of young men to attain.

Having said that, it’s true that Alexander began his expedition with much older men riding alongside him – Parmenion, for example, and perhaps Erygius? He knew the value of experience.

In his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it account of the Battle of the Granicus River, Justin notes that Alexander’s ‘conduct’ – his bravery – was as much responsible for the Persian defeat as ‘the valour of the Macedonians’. And again, ‘the terror of his name’ is said to have played as large a part in defeating Darius’ lieutenants as his weapons did.

Chapter Seven
A further example of Alexander’s pragmatism begins this chapter. On hearing of Alexander Lyncestes’ alleged treachery, the king doesn’t have him executed but put under arrest. He knows that he is still close to Macedon to avoid trouble from the pro-Lyncestian faction there.

Another feature of Alexander’s character that we saw in the first post was his respect for history, albeit when it suited him. Here, he is not so much selective about what he says but particular in his interpretation.

Justin reports that Alexander took Gordium,

… not so much for the sake of plunder, as because he had heard that in that city, in the temple of Jupiter, was deposited the yoke of Gordius’s car; the knot of which, if anyone should loose, the oracles of old had predicted that he should rule all Asia.

Alexander searched for the ends of the knot but was unable to find them. Unwilling to give up (and risk his army being unsettled by the bad omen), he simply cut the through the knot and announced that he had undone it. He had certainly put, as Justin puts it ‘a forced interpretation on the oracle’. Most importantly, though, it was accepted.

Chapter Eight
Justin says that Alexander ‘crossed Mount Taurus’ (to reach Cilicia) because he feared its defiles. This is certainly not the witness of Curtius.

We move on to the severe illness that afflicted Alexander after he went to bathe in the Cydnus River, and which left him gravely ill.

With a little kindness, we might say that having been warned by Parmenion that Philip of Arcanania meant to poison him, the king was very brave to trust his doctor’s medicine. I suspect Justin is right, though, when he says that ‘Alexander, however, thought it better to trust the doubtful faith of the physician, than to perish of certain disease.’

Chapter Nine
Issus. As the Macedonian and Persian armies approached each other, Justin reports Alexander as being concerned by the small size of his force versus the huge one opposite him. He calmed his nerves by recalling the ‘powerful people he had overthrown’ and marched on.

That was fine for Alexander, but what about his men? Justin notes that to stop them worrying, the king decided a. not to avoid giving battle (so as to not give the men time to panic), and b. to stop and start as they marched towards the Persians to enable his men to get used to what lay before them.

As you might expect, he also encouraged his men with a stirring speech, or rather, several – one tailored for each nationality represented.

He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy’s wealth and treasures, and the Greeks by putting them in mind of their wars of old, and their deadly hatred towards the Persians. He reminded the Macedonians at one time of their conquests in Europe, and at another of their desire to subdue Asia, boasting that no troops in the world had been found a match for them, and assuring them that this battle would put an end to their labours and crown their glory.

Alexander the manipulator at his finest.

One thing that is on my mind though is, did he really intend to stop his eastward expedition after Issus (presuming he thought that there would be no further fighting between it and Babylon?) or was he simply lying?

Following the Battle of Issus, Justin takes us into the Persian royal women’s tent where he describes Alexander as being ‘touched with the respectful concern of the princesses for Darius’. His sympathy for, and the help he subsequently gave to, Sisygambis, Stateira I, Stateira II and Drypetis is undoubtedly a high point in Justin’s treatment of him.

Impressions
Again, I come away from the book with a sense of Justin’s being on the whole positive towards Alexander. He does describe the Macedonian king as doing some negative actions but they are not dwelt upon. I rather feel at the moment that the real story of Justin’s attitude is to be found between the lines rather than it what he says upfront.

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Alexander: October / Autumn Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

336
Livius Philip II is assassinated
Livius Alexander III becomes king of Macedon
Michael Wood* and Peter Green** place Philip II’s assassination and Alexander’s accession in the summer
The Landmark Arrian*** places Philip II’s assassination and Alexander’s accession in autumn

333
Livius Parmenion is sent to the Syrian Gates
Livius Alexander campaigns in ‘West-Cilicia’
Michael Wood places Alexander’s Cilician operations in the summer
The Landmark Arrian has Parmenion’s departure and Alexander’s operations in Cilicia take place in the summer (TLA not specific about which area of Cilicia Alexander is in; MW refers to Alexander being in central Cilicia)
Peter Green ‘?September-October’ The Battle of Issus

331
Livius, Michael Wood 1st October The Battle of Gaugamela
Livius 22nd October Mazaeus surrenders Babylon to Alexander
The Landmark Arrian Arrian makes no mention of Mazeus surrendering the city (he has the Babylonians in general surrendering it).
The Landmark Arrian and Michael Wood state that the Battle of Gaugamela took place and Babylon surrendered in Autumn
Peter Green ’30 September or 1 October’ The Battle of Gaugamela
Peter Green ‘Mid October’ Babylon falls

324
Livius Alexander arrives in Ecbatana
Livius Late October Hephaestion dies at Ecbatana
The Landmark Arrian and Michael Wood state simply that Hephaestion died in Autumn

* In the Footsteps Of Alexander the Great A Journey from Greece to India (BBC Books 2004)
** Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)
*** The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)

This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know.
At the moment, Livius‘ chronology is the one by which I test the others. That may change; I’ll note it if it does.

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The man who had it all

The Nature of Curtius
Book Four Chapters 1 – 4
For other posts in the series click here

Chapter 1
The King Without a Crown
In the last post, we saw how Darius lost the Battle of Issus but was able to escape from the battlefield using horse relays. At the beginning of this chapter, Curtius makes the very poignant point that the Great King fled

through terrain which he had filled with armies almost beyond number but which was now deserted – to form one vast and solitary wilderness.

So, having lost the symbols of his kingship when he removed his royal insignia at the start of his flight it was now as if Darius had now lost his very kingdom. The earth had turned its back to him.

And I think that the earth could not have deserted (if you’ll excuse the pun) a more appropriate king. We know from the other Alexander historians that Memnon of Rhodes recommended a scorched earth policy prior to the Battle of the Granicus River, and that while the satraps had rejected his advice, as Alexander mentioned in his response to Darius’ letter, the Persians had form for carrying out such devastating actions*.

And, of course, there is Arsames – the satrap of Cilicia – who did indeed destroy his land upon Alexander’s approach.

Speaking of Alexander’s letter, it led to what must have been a very long journey for Thersippus who was given the responsibility of delivering it. If you have seen the film 300 you will know that messengers were not always treated very well (see the film clip below).

Admittedly, 300 is not your go-to film for an example of historical accuracy but if we jump forward to chapter 2 of Curtius’ book for a moment, what do we find happening to Alexander’s heralds after they entered Tyre to warn the Tyrians to make peace with the Macedonian king? They were killed and their bodies thrown over the city walls and into the sea. This. Is. Tyre!

In Sidon**, Alexander overthrew the king and gave the job of nominating a successor to Hephaestion. He offered the kingship to the two noblemen he was lodging with only for them to turn it down as they were not members of the royal family.

Impressed by their humility, Hephaestion invited them to chose the new king. They turned to a poor gardener named Abdalonymus who was ‘distantly related to the royal family’.

In what must be one of the nicest scenes in any biography of Alexander, the two noblemen visited Abdalonymus as he worked in his garden. There, they told him to take off his rags, clean himself up, and put on the royal clothing they had brought him.

The choice of Abdalonymus as king did not meet with everyone’s approval. So, Alexander summoned him in order to assess his character. How did you endure your poverty? He asked him. Abdalonymus replied,

‘These hands of mine satisfied my needs. I had nothing, but lacked nothing.’

I don’t know anything about Abdalonymus’ later career except that the Alexander sarcophagus may have been made for him.

I wonder, though, if Curtius was telling us something about Abdalonymus’ future when, as the two noblemen greeted him, the king-to-be was described as pulling up weeds. Weeds today, corrupt officials tomorrow***?

* In his letter, Alexander referred to how Xerxes I ‘left Mardonius in Greece so that he could destroy our cities and burn our fields’
** Or Tyre according to Diodorus, who also called Abdalonymys ‘Ballonymus’ (see here)
*** I must also mention the fact that when the noblemen met Abdalonymus he had no idea that Alexander and Darius were contending with one another for control of the latter’s empire. He was wise, humble and aloof.

Chapter 2
Re-Maker of Worlds
In this post, we have seen nature used as a metaphor – for the loss of a kingdom and for wisdom. At the start of the second chapter, Alexander threatens the Tyrian envoys by using what appears to be hyperbole. You think you are safe, he tells them, because you live on an island,

‘… but I am soon going to show you that you are really on the mainland.’

As it happens, the envoys believed him. To its cost, however, the city did not.

Alexander’s prophecy came true in two ways. Firstly, when his mole finally reached the island. And secondly when, over the years, the mole caused the sea to silt up around it to the point where the old city and island city could be completely joined. For images of joined-up Tyre today, see this post.

Alexander’s ability to not only use the land but change it according to his wishes stand in stark contrast to the impotent figure of Darius as he rides through the lonely wilderness.

Alexander intended to build a mole (i.e a causeway) to carry his army to the gates of the city. He was opposed not only by the Tyrians, but also the weather.

For example, Curtius says that a gap of four stades (under half a mile) separated Tyre from the mainland. That gap was assaulted by a strong ‘south-westerly wind, which rolled rapid successions of waves on to the shore’.

Then there was the depth of the sea which, beyond the shoreline, fell into a ‘fathomless’ depth. Although this was an exaggeration, as it turned out, the sea was still deep enough to fill the Macedonian soldiers ‘with despair’ when they saw it.

But Alexander was stronger than their hopelessness, and he got his men to work. The mole soon began to rise out of the sea.

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Echoes of War

The Nature of Curtius
Book Three Chapters 7 – 10
For the other posts in this series, click here

Chapter Seven
The City of Issus
Once Alexander had recovered from his illness he marched south from Tarsus via Soli to Mallus on the Cilician coast. In order to enter the city, he had to cross the Pyramus River. He did so by constructing a pontoon bridge.

Curtius gives no details regarding how the bridge was built but perhaps Alexander used the same method by which he crossed the Danube in 335 B.C. and would cross Jaxartes in 329; namely, by having his men stitch their tents together and filling them with hay so that they acted as floats.

As it happens, Alexander was not the only bridge builder at this time. Just before he crossed the Pyramus, Darius had crossed the Euphrates, possibly at Thapsacus according to the Notes. In order to do so, the Great King also built a pontoon bridge. Again, Curtius doesn’t explain how the bridge was built. But it must have been sturdy, as it was good enough to survive the trudge of soldiers’ feet for five days while the Persian army made its way across.

From Mallus, Alexander made his way to Castabalum – a day’s march along the road. There, he met Parmenion. The old marshal made up for having incorrectly accused Philip of Arcanania of betraying the king by delivering some good news*.

He reported that not only had he taken control of a ‘pass through which [the Macedonians] were obliged to march to reach the city called Issus’ but he had won the city itself. Furthermore, his men had ‘dislodged the Persians holding positions within the [Taurus] mountains’.

Alexander marched on through the newly won pass and into Issus. There, he called his senior officers together to discuss whether to continue marching or wait for reinforcements that were on the way from Macedon**.

Parmenion was unequivocal in his response – they should wait in Issus. If they did so, the ‘narrow pass’ outside the city would nullify the size advantage of the Persian army. If they carried on into the plains, the Persians would be able to constantly replenish their front line or use their superior size to surround or trap the Macedonian army in a ‘pincer-movement’. Alexander saw the sense in this argument and ‘decided to await his enemy at the narrowest part of the pass’.

* One can only wonder whether Parmenion’s good news was enough to make Philip forgive him
** The Notes say that no other source mentions these reinforcements and that they may be Curtius’ invention

Chapter Eight
Darius’ Inflexibility
The similarities between Darius’ and Alexander’s journeys extend beyond the building of pontoon bridges. The Great King too received advice regarding how to fight his enemy, and Darius also had the chance to influence where his army would form up against the Macedonians. But unlike Alexander, Darius proved unable to accept the advice and was therefore unable to influence where the battle would take place.

When I say unable I mean he could have accepted it but through weakness failed to do so. Let’s look at what happened.

At an unspecified point after crossing the Euphrates River, Darius received a message from his Greek mercenaries. They ‘strongly urged’ him ‘to retreat and head for the plains of Mesopotamia’.

At the very least, the mercenaries said, you should split the army in two so that if even if you lose the upcoming battle your kingdom will not be put in peril.

To his credit, Darius took the advice seriously – in contrast to his courtiers who not only dismissed the counsel but said that the idea of splitting the army up showed that the mercenaries wanted to ‘hand over to Alexander whatever part was entrusted to them’!

Again, to his credit, Darius dismissed the courtiers’ wild claims. But critically he did not do as the mercenaries advised. Instead, he sent a message back thanking ‘them for their concern’ and confirming he would not retreat as that would destroy his reputation, which would ‘certainly’ cause the loss of his kingdom to Alexander.

Darius also rejected the idea of splitting the army up. And here is why he was weak. To break the army in two, he said, would mean ‘breaking with tradition’. In any case, Alexander – ‘formerly… a fearsome figure… had taken to a hiding-place in the narrow parts of a mountain valley’ and was ‘deceiving his own soldiers with a feigned illness’.

To be fair, Darius’ concern for his reputation is a reasonable point. Arsames’ scorched earth policy, which we read about in the last post, caused him to lose his with his mountain guards who then promptly deserted. I find it hard to believe, though, that Darius’ influence over his men was so light that they would desert simply as a result of any decision to retreat.

Darius’ decision to keep the army whole on the grounds that that’s what his ancestors did is lamentable. In a way, he didn’t need to split his army – after being defeated at Issus, he still managed to form a new one for the Battle of Gaugamela – but that is besides the point. Darius’ reason for keeping it as one shows that he was unable to adapt to circumstances.

I can’t help but feel that when Darius told the mercenaries that Alexander was feigning illness, he was not acting on even faulty intelligence, but simply deluding himself. He wanted – or needed – to believe that his enemy was a fraud and so convinced himself of the ‘fact’.

In this, Darius was being every bit as inflexible as the French generals who did nothing to protect the Ardennes forest against a Nazi advance as they were determined to believe that Hitler’s troops would attack along the Maginot Line.

So, Darius continued on his way, and his delusion continued with him. Around the time that the Persians passed through the Amanic Gates, Darius discovered that Alexander had left Issus. Why? The delusion provided the answer: He had abandoned it and was in retreat.

A number of stragglers from the Macedonian army were caught. Darius had them mutilated before making them inspect the Persian forces. He wanted them to tell Alexander what they had seen and put the fear of Darius’ strength in him.

When that was done, Darius crossed the Pinarus River in pursuit of his ‘fleeing’ rival. The mutilated stragglers, meanwhile, caught up with their army and reported to Alexander what they had seen. The king could not believe that the Persians were behind him, so sent scouts to investigate.

They passed along the coast and the sound of crashing waves soon gave way to the duller thud thud thud sound of marching men.

Alexander had been concerned to learn whether Darius was coming with his entire army. On hearing that he was, he happily set up camp in the pass they were currently situated. So much Darius’ attempt at shock and awe.

From passes to ridges. That night, Alexander climbed ‘to the top of a high ridge’ and ‘sacrificed to the tutelary gods of the area’. The next day, the Macedonian army approached the Persian force in a narrow defile. When told about this, Darius was incredulous, and his army ‘alarmed’.

As the Persians took up their weapons, some of the men climbed hilltops to get a view of the enemy. Darius thought about doing the same with a view of using it to organise an encircling movement of the Macedonians. In the end, Curtius says, he was undone, by fortune. ‘Some of the Persians were too frightened to carry out their orders, [while] others obeyed them to no effect’.

How different it might have been Darius he had listened to the mercenaries and returned to the Mesopotamian plains.

Chapter Nine
In the Defile
This short chapter covers the disposition of the Macedonian and Persian armies. At the end, Curtius notes the very simple way in which Alexander adapted to his environment. While the defile remained narrow, the phalanx marched with no protection on its flanks (except that afforded by the rocks). As it widened, though, Alexander placed cavalry cover there.

Chapter Ten
The Art of Rhetoric
At the start of the battle, the two armies sought to gain a psychological advantage by issuing their battle cries. These echoed ‘from the mountain tops’ no less ‘and vast forests’.

Alexander rode ahead of his men, inspiring them with talk of conquering the entire world. ‘It would not be fruitless labour on the sheer rocks and crags of Illyria and Thrace: they were being offered the spoils of the entire East.’

And just as he adapted his strategy according to the lay of the land, Alexander adapted the way he spoke to his men in order to get the best result from them. ‘Since the Illyrians and Thracians usually made their living by looting, Alexander told them to look at the enemy line agleam with gold and purple… They [the Illyrians and Thracians] should exchange their rugged mountain-tops and barren hill-trails permanently stiff with frost for the rich plains and fields of the Persians’.

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Alexander: September / Autumn Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

335
Livius c.12th September Thebes is razed to the ground after rebelling against Alexander’s rule
Peter Green* places the fall of Thebes in ‘early Spring’
The Landmark Arrian** says simply that it took place in Spring

333
Livius and Peter Green (September) Alexander falls ill after going to bathe in the Cydnus River in Cilicia. Parmenion sends word to him warning that Philip of Arcanania, the only royal doctor prepared to treat the king, has been bribed by Darius III to kill him. Alexander takes Philip’s medicine anyway and went on to make a full recovery
The Landmark Arrian places Alexander’s illness in the Summer of 333

332
Livius (September – November) The Siege of Gaza
The Landmark Arrian and Michael Wood*** both state that the Siege of Gaza took place in Autumn

326
Michael Wood (early September) Mutiny at the Hyphasis River
Livius (September) Macedonian army starts construction of fleet of ships
Michael Wood (Autumn) Macedonian Army returns to the Hydaspes River
The Landmark Arrian (Autumn) Alexander begins journey down the Hydaspes and Acesines Rivers.

325
Livius (15th September) Nearchus ‘starts on his voyage’ [i.e. from Pattala, down the Indus River and into the Indian Ocean en route to the Euphrates River]
Livius (September) Alexander crosses Gedrosia
Peter Green (‘? September’) Macedonians cross the Gedrosian desert
The Landmark Arrian (Autumn) Nearchus ‘prepares his fleet’. Subjection of the Oreitae. Many Macedonians die during crossing of Gedrosian desert

* Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)
** The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)
*** In the Footsteps Of Alexander the Great A Journey from Greece to India (BBC Books 2004)

This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know.
At the moment, Livius‘ chronology is the one by which I test the others. That may change; I’ll note it if it does.

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The Siege of Halicarnassus

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 24-27 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Alexander Restores Ada to her Throne
Ada Adopts Alexander as her Son
Alexander Lays Siege to Halicarnassus
Memnon Breaks the Siege
[Correction: In earlier editions of the paper we incorrectly said that Memnon broke the Macedonian siege. At the time of writing it looked like he had. After the paper went to press, however, the Macedonian veterans made their decisive intervention in favour of Alexander. The man responsible for this error has been executed]
Halicarnassus Falls; Memnon Flees to Cos
Halicarnassus Razed

The Story
Upon hearing that Memnon was in Halicarnassus, Alexander sent ‘his siege engines and provisions’ to the city via sea. As the ships set off, he and his army began their march through south-western Asia Minor ‘winning over the cities that lay on his route by kind treatment’.

Alexander’s march took him out of Lydia and into Caria. While there, he met Ada its deposed queen.

Ada belonged to the Hecatomnid dynasty. One of her brothers was named Mausolus. When he died (c. 353 B.C.) his sister-wife Artemisia II ordered a great tomb to be built for him. The mausoleum was so magnificent it became one of the wonders of the ancient world.

Ada asked Alexander to restore her to power. He did so. She must have been a popular figure as Diodorus says that Alexander ‘won the loyal support of the Carians by the favour that he bestowed on [her]’.

Arriving outside Halicarnassus, Alexander set up camp. His siege engines having already arrived he laid siege to the city. Here is how it unfolded.

One Alexander began just as he did at Miletus – with continual assaults carried out by ‘relays of attackers’.

Two Diodorus says, that at a later – though unspecified – point, Alexander ‘brought up all sorts of engines of war, filled in the trenches in front of the city with the aid of sheds to protect the workers, and rocked the towers and the curtains between them with his battering rams’.

Three ‘Whenever he overthrew a portion of the wall’ Alexander sent men in to force their way into Halicarnassus itself. This strategy, however, was unsuccessful as Memnon was able to repel the attacks.

Four Memnon did not simply wait for the Macedonian soldiers to come. At night, he sent men out of the city with orders to set fire to the siege engines. This led to fierce fighting between the two sides. Diodorus says that the Macedonians were the better fighters ‘but the Persians had the advantage of numbers and… fire power’: as they attacked on the ground, Persians on the wall shot arrows at the Macedonians.

Five As the fighting continued men on both sides cheered their comrades on.

Six Meanwhile, Macedonian soldiers did their best to put out the fires on the siege engines. Behind the crumbling city walls, Persians hastily built secondary walls – stronger than the first – in an effort to thwart the Macedonian attack.

Seven As Memnon directed operations from within Halicarnassus, his commanders joined their men on ‘the front line and offered great rewards to those who distinguished themselves’.

Eight Both sides had a great ‘desire for victory’, and the fighting was fierce and bloody. Whenever any soldier seemed to be ‘on the point of yielding’ he was ‘put in heart by the appeals of [his] officers’ and thus ‘renewed in spirit’.

Nine As the battle raged, two towers fell and two curtain walls were pulled down.

Ten It was night time when some Macedonian soldiers under Perdiccas’ command got drunk and ‘made a wild… attack’ on the city. A Persian detachment sallied out and fell upon them. The Macedonians were routed.

Eleven The mêlée was noticed by other Macedonian soldiers who rushed to their comrades’ support. Before long, Alexander himself arrived at the scene of the fighting. The Persians were forced back and retreated into the city.

Twelve In accordance with the rules of war, Alexander had a herald ask the Persians for a truce so that the  bodies of the Macedonian dead could be recovered. Two Athenians (Diodorus names them as Ephialtes and and Thrasybulus) who were working for the Persians advised Memnon against granting the truce but he gave permission for the bodies to be taken.

Thirteen At the next council of commanders, Ephialtes recommended that a counter-attack be launched. Seeing ‘that Ephialtes was eager to prove himself and, having great hopes of him because of his courage and bodily strength’ Memnon gave permission for the attack.

Fourteen Ephialtes left the city at daybreak with 2,000 men. To half he gave torches. The other half were formed up to fight the Macedonians.

Fifteen The Persian phalanx met the enemy as their comrades set fire to the siege engines ‘causing a great conflagration to flame up at once’.

Sixteen Alexander responded by dividing his army in three. The best fighters were placed at the front, ‘picked men’ in the middle, and another section of good fighters at the back. Men were also sent to put out the fires.

Seventeen The Macedonians marched forward and another fierce battle ensued. Diodorus tells us that the Macedonians stopped the fires from spreading but that ‘Ephialtes’s men had the advantage in the battle’. Once again they were greatly helped by Persians on a (replacement) wall who showered the Macedonians with missiles.

Eighteen Diodorus reports that Ephialtes personally killed many in hand-to-hand combat. Perhaps the real damage, though, was done by the missile throwers who not only claimed many victims but forced the surviving Macedonians to recoil ‘before the thick fire of missiles’.

Nineteen No doubt perceiving that victory was now there for the taking, Memnon came out of the city and ‘threw himself into the battle with heavy reinforcements’. Things were looking extremely bad for the Macedonians, so bad in fact, that ‘even Alexander found himself quite helpless’.

Twenty But just when all seemed lost for the Macedonian king, his veterans – men who were technically too old to fight – decided that enough was enough. The young pups were clearly not capable of getting the job done so they might as well. They ‘closed ranks’ and ‘confronted the foe, who thought himself already victorious’.

Twenty-One What happened next? I think you can guess. The veterans got stuck in. They killed Ephialtes as well as many others’ and ‘forced the rest to take refuge in the city’.

Twenty-Two It was dark when the Macedonians pushed forward and entered Halicarnassus. The Halicarnassians must have thought that this was it; the end of the city and their lives. But even as the Macedonians broke in, a trumpeter sounded the retreat. Alexander’s army withdrew to camp.

Twenty-Three That night, Memnon held another council with his senior officers. They decided to abandon Halicarnassus. A detachment was left in the city’s acropolis, though, while the rest of the army sailed to Cos.

Twenty-Four Alexander did not find out what had happened until daybreak. He destroyed the city and laid siege to the citadel. At the same time he sent a detachment ‘into the interior [of Caria] with orders to subdue the neighbouring tribes’.

Twenty-Five Diodorus states that ‘the whole region as far as greater Phrygia’ was subdued.

Twenty-Six As for Alexander, Diodorus doesn’t say what happened to the citadel just that the king ‘overran the littoral [i.e. coastline] as far as Cilicia, acquiring many cities and actively storming and reducing the strong points’. Rather annoyingly, he concludes by saying that one of those strong points was taken ‘with such a curious reversal of fortune that the account of it cannot be omitted’. Which he then does.

Comments
The appearance of Ada is a lovely interlude as Alexander marches towards his second siege. One of the headlines above states that she adopted him as her son. This comes from Arrian rather than Diodorus. It is said that Ada sent her new charge delicacies and even a cook although Alexander declined his lavish services, preferring a simpler diet.

Regarding the siege it surely shows men at their best and worst. On the one hand we see them fighting bravely for the sake of glory. Then there is Memnon who rather sportingly allows Alexander to retrieve his dead. And Alexander himself refusing to let his men sack Halicarnassus at the end. On the other hand, though, we have Macedonian discipline breaking down when Perdiccas’ soldiers not only get drunk but decide to attack the city!

If I forget all else, though, the one thing that I am sure I will remember about this siege is the decisive intervention of Alexander’s veterans. Men who were, let me say again, technically too old to fight. Let no one ever say again that old people have nothing to contribute to society.

To be fair, these men were more likely in their 40s than 60s or 70s (though I have to admit I don’t know the cut-off age for being in the Macedonian army). Their precise age, though, is besides the point. The fact is, whatever age they were, despite being regarded as too old for the field of battle, they not only entered it but conquered it.

I can only guess at Alexander’s emotions on the night after the siege ended. Of course he would have been happy that Halicarnassus had now fallen but might he not have been a bit annoyed – even if just inwardly – at the fact that it was his father’s men who had made the critical difference?

Interesteingmanmeme

Categories: Diodorus Siculus | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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