Posts Tagged With: Memnon

Alexander: March/Spring Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

337
Spring Philip orders Alexander back to Pella (Peter Green*)

336
Spring Parmenion and Attalus lead the Macedonian advance army into Asia Minor (Livius, Peter Green)

335
Early Spring Alexander campaigns in Thrace and Illyria (Peter Green)
NB The Landmark Arrian** dates this campaign to Spring (as opposed to Early Spring. This applies to all similar references below)

Spring Alexander razes Thebes; Greek cities submit (Landmark Arrian)

334
March – April Alexander crosses into Asia Minor; beginning of his anabasis (Peter Green)
NB
Michael Wood*** dates the crossing of the Hellespont to May
The
Landmark Arrian dates the crossing to Spring

333
March – June Memnon’s naval offensive (Livius)

Early Spring
Memnon dies (Peter Green)

Spring Alexander arrives in Gordion where he undoes the famous knot (Landmark Arrian)

Spring (Possibly late spring?) Alexander passes through the Cilician Gates having taken Pisidia and Cappadocia (Landmark Arrian)

NB With reference to the death of Memnon, referred to above, the Landmark Arrian dates it to ‘Spring’ 333, during the Persian navy’s fight against the Macedonians. Contra Livius (below), it adds that after his death, and in the same year, the ‘Persian naval war falter[ered]’

332
Spring The Persian Fleet disintegrates (Livius)
January – September The Siege of Tyre continues (Michael Wood)

331
March Alexander visits Siwah (Livius)
NB Peter Green dates Alexander’s Siwah visit to ‘Early Spring’

Spring Alexander resumes his march towards Darius (Landmark Arrian)

330
Spring Alexander orders the royal palace in Persepolis to be burnt (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Alexander finds the body of Darius (Landmark Arrian)

329
Spring First crossing of the Hindu Kush (Michael Wood)
NB Peter Green dates the crossing to ‘March – April’

Spring Alexander pursues Bessus across Bactria/Sogdia (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Bessus is betrayed by his officers and handed over to Alexander (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Alexander quells an uprising along the Jaxartes (Tanais) River (Landmark Arrian)

328
Spring Alexander campaigns in Bactria and Sogdia (Michael Wood)
Spring The Sogdian Rock is captured (Michael Wood)

327
Early Spring Alexander marries Roxane (Michael Wood)
NB The Landmark Arrian dates the wedding to Spring

Early Spring The Pages’ Plot (Michael Wood)
NB The Landmark Arrian dates the Pages’ plot (and Callisthenes subsequent arrest/possible death) to Spring

Early Spring Callisthenes is executed (Michael Wood)
Spring Pharasmanes and Scythians seek an alliance with Alexander (Landmark Arrian)
Spring
The Sogdian Rock is captured (Livius, Peter Green, Landmark Arrian)
Spring The Rock of Chorienes is captured (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Craterus eliminates the last rebels (following Spitamenes’ death in the Autumn of 328) (Landmark Arrian)
Late Spring Second crossing of the Hindu Kush (Michael Wood)

326
Early Spring The Aornos Rock is captured (Michael Wood)
NB The Landmark Arrian dates the capture of the Aornos Rock to Spring

Early Spring Alexander meets Hephaestion and Perdiccas at the Indus River, which the reunited army then crosses (Michael Wood)
NB The Landmark Arrian dates the crossing of the Indus to Spring

Early Spring Alexander reaches Taxila (Michael Wood)

NB
The Landmark Arrian lists the sequence of events following Alexander’s capture of the Aornos Rock slightly differently to Michael Wood:
Wood Siege of Aornos > Alexander meets Hephaestion & Perdicas at the Indus > Macedonians cross the Indus > Alexander arrives in Taxila
Landmark Arrian Siege of Aornos Alexander sails down the Indus to Hephaestion’s and Perdiccas’ bridge > Alexander visits Nysa > Alexander receives Taxiles’ (‘son of the Taxiles he met in the Indian Caucasus’ the previous summer) gifts > Alexander crosses the Indus > Alexander meets Taxiles

Spring Battle of the Hydaspes River (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Bucephalus is buried (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Alexander founds Nicaea and Bucephala (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Abisares submits to Alexander (Landmark Arrian)

325
Spring – Summer Journey down the Indus River (Michael Wood)
Spring Alexander defeats the Brahmins, Musicanus, and Sambus (Landmark Arrian)

324
February – March Alexander’s journey to and arrival in Susa (Peter Green)
NB The Landmark Arrian dates Alexander’s arrival to Spring. It adds that after his arrival he purged the corrupt satraps, held the mass wedding ceremonies,and forgave his soldiers’ debts/awarded ‘gold wreaths to officers’; this did not, howeverm stop tensions rising ‘over Alexander’s moves to integrate the army’
March Alexander meets Nearchus in Susa (Livius)
March Susa Marriages (Livius)
March Alexander issues the Exiles’ Decree (Peter Green)
March Alexander issues the Deification Decree (Peter Green)
Spring Alexander explores lower Tigris and Euphrates (Landmark Arrian)
Spring The 30,000 epigoni arrive in Susa (Peter Green)

323
Spring Alexander returns to Babylon after campaigning against the Cossaeans (Peter Green)
Spring Bad omens foreshadow Alexander’s death (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Alexander sends ‘spoils of war to Greece; he is hailed as a god by Greek envoys
Spring Alexander makes preparations for an Arabian campaign (Landmark Arrian)
Spring Alexander orders ‘extravagant’ honours to be given to Hephaestion (Landmark Arrian)

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

Notes

  • This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know!
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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

The Siege of Miletus

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 22, 23 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Persian Army Encamps In City
Macedonians Batter City Walls
Persians Flee
Miletan Leaders to Alexander: Mercy!
Alexander Offers Hand of Friendship

The Story
As Alexander made his way through Lydia, Memnon led the Persian survivors of the Battle of the Granicus to Miletus. Upon his arrival at the city, Alexander immediately laid siege to it.

The Macedonians attacked the walls in waves. But this strategy met with little success. Not only were there now many soldiers in the city, Miletus also had a large horde of missiles and other throwable objects with which to repel the attackers.

Eventually, Alexander ‘brought up siege engines and rocked the walls and pressed the siege very actively both by land and by sea’. The walls began to crumble and the Macedonians forced their way inside. Fighting broke out; some Persians were killed, while others were captured. The rest, including Memnon, fled.

The Milesians, meanwhile, with nowhere to go, prostrated themselves before Alexander and ‘put themselves and their city into his hands’.

Alexander forgave the Milesians ‘but sold all the rest’ – which I take to mean his (Persian) prisoners – into slavery. Once that was done, he broke up his fleet, retaining only enough ships to carry his siege engines.

Diodorus begins Chapter 23 with a brief discussion regarding Alexander’s fleet. ‘There are those who say that [its dismissal] was sound’. The reason for this is that Alexander knew that his soldiers ‘would fight more desperately if he deprived them of all hope of escape by flight’. This, ‘they say’, is what he did at the Granicus River ‘where he placed the stream at his rear, for no one could think of flight when destruction of any who were followed into the bed of the river was a certainty’.

Diodorus also notes that a contemporary of Alexander’s, Agathocles of Syracuse, also employed a similar tactic to great success. You can read more about it in Chapter 6 of Justin’s Epitome at the corpus scriptorium latinorum here. Note that he burnt his ships with the army’s consent.

After fleeing from Miletus, the remaining Persians made their way to the home city of the great Herodotus – Halicarnassus (this city is still standing today though it is now called Bodrum). It was a good place for them to be; not only was it a large city but it also contained a number of fortresses.

Around this time, Memnon sought to secure the safe keeping of his family and ensure that he was placed in ‘supreme command’ of the Persian army. He did this by sending his wife, Barsine – who was destined to become Alexander’s mistress – and his children to Darius. Memnon’s hope was that the Great King would treat them as hostages and thus be willing to give him control of the satrapal army.

The ploy worked and Memnon began preparing Halicarnassus for the inevitable siege.

Comments
Diodorus’ account of the siege of Halicarnassus is very brief. That’s just as well as I am still catching my breath after the Battle of the Granicus. I wonder, though, if Diodorus was giving us a break in preparation for his much fuller account of the Siege of Halicarnassus, which we will come to tomorrow.

There is something quite laissez-faire about Alexander’s siege of Miletus. Being a great general you would expect him to be on his game at all times. Instead, upon arriving at the city, he seems rather lazily to say, “Alright men, there are the walls, knock ’em down.” and sit back. Finally, however, he sees that more needs to be done, and that’s when he does what he should have done at the start and bring the siege engines in. I’m sure it wasn’t like that really but I do wonder why he didn’t go all-out right from the start.

Miletus gives us a glimpse into the absolutely fragile nature of life in antiquity. One minute they are are going about their daily business, the next an army is occupying the city, then they are under siege before finally they are begging for their lives. And if Alexander had decided to enslave or kill them all there is nothing at all they could have done about it.

While I don’t feel any need to go along with the idea that Alexander kept the Granicus in his rear in order to ensure that his men fought harder the ease with which ancient armies could collapse when the fight went agains them is noticeable. As we approach the hundredth anniversary of the start of the Great War it would be fascinating to read a comparison of discipline, how it was lost/kept in antiquity and the First World War.

Barsine, who we see here ever so briefly, is destined to become an important figure in Alexander’s story. A woman of great beauty, she is allegedly the only one he slept with before marrying Roxane. I think you can take that story with a handful of salt: it probably wasn’t a Macedonian private who got Stateira I pregnant over nine months after Alexander captured her.

 

These walls are made for falling, and that’s just what they’ll do
one of these days these bricks are gonna tumble all over you.

Categories: Diodorus Siculus | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Plutarch’s Women: Seduced Wives, Ada, Olympias & Cleopatra & Stateira II (Chapts. 22, 25, 27 and 29)

For the other posts in this series click here

We ended the last post with Plutarch showing how Alexander demonstrated his moral superiority to the Persians – by avoiding all contact with women. Except, of course, Barsine, the wife of Memnon; but that was only because Parmenion told him he should have sex with ‘a woman of beauty and noble lineage’. As the meme says, ‘sounds legit’.
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The theme of Alexander the great and sexually pure king continues in chapter 22. He fiercely rebukes an officer named Philoxenus for asking if he would like to buy ‘two exceptionally handsome boys’ being offered for sale by a slave-merchant, and has similarly harsh words for a man named Hagnon who wanted to buy him a young man named Crobylus ‘whose good looks were famous in Corinth’.
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This is not the end of the matter. Plutarch then describes how Alexander dealt with two Macedonian soldiers who had seduced the wives of several Greek mercenaries. He orders the men’s commander, Parmenion, to investigate the matter and, if the alleged adulterers were found guilty, to put them to death, as if they were ‘wild beasts which are born to prey upon mankind’.
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Alexander justifies his order to Parmenion by referring to his own behaviour towards women. Plutarch quotes him as saying,

In my own case it will be found not only that I have never seen nor wished to see Darius’ wife, but that I have not even allowed her beauty to be mentioned in my presence. 

The Alexander that Plutarch gives us here is less a Macedonian king and more a member of the Silver Ring Thing. There’s nothing wrong with being chaste but I do question the historicity of what Plutarch is telling us, especially in regards the Macedonian soldiers. Alexander’s uncompromising attitude towards them just doesn’t ring true. His account, like Curtius’ of Orsines’ fall, is too simple, too straight-forward. It lacks the nuance of reality. I’m not going to say that the story is totally false but I can not help but feel that if Alexander really was the kind of man to be so concerned about his men’s sexual morality we would hear more about it through his life rather than isolated incidents.
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Having said that, if there is any truth to what we have already read, Plutarch’s Alexander does appear to have had a somewhat ambiguous attitude to sex in general. Following on from the above, Plutarch mentions the king’s famous line about sex and sleep reminding him that he is mortal. ‘[B]y this’, Plutarch tells us, Alexander,

… meant that both exhaustion and pleasure proceed from the same weakness of human nature (my emphasis).

So sex is evidence of a weakness? Well. All I can say to that is Alexander is lucky he was a pagan. Had he been a Christian king he would no doubt have been accused of being sexually repressed.
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Chapter 22 ends with an account of how Ada ‘whom [Alexander] honoured with the official title of ‘Mother’ used to treat her ‘son’ in a most motherly fashion – by giving him ‘delicacies and sweetmeats’ to eat. I can’t imagine that Alexander would have given Ada that title had he not met her. For me, then, so much for the Macedonian king not associating with women except for Barsine. For his part, Plutarch uses Ada to show once again how restrained Alexander was. Thus, when Ada offers him the use of her cooks, he declines her offer,

… because his tutor Leonidas had provided him with better cooks… [namely] a night march to prepare him for breakfast and a light breakfast to give him an appetite for supper. ‘This same Leonidas’ [Alexander told Ada,] ‘would often come and open my chests of bedding and clothes, to see whether my mother had not hidden some luxury inside’

I doubt it happened but a part of me does wish that Ada’s response to this letter was to say, ‘Yes, dear, but take the cooks, anyway; you’re looking thin.’.
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We now leave not only Queen Ada but Asia Minor behind and jump forward to chapter 25. After successfully laying siege to Gaza, Alexander,

… sent a great part of the spoils… to Olympias, to his sister Cleopatra and to his friends.

This isn’t the first reference to Alexander doing this – as we saw in chapter 16, he sent (almost all of) the luxury items that he won after the Battle of the Granicus to Olympias. It is nice to see one of his sisters mentioned, though.
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By-the-bye, I can’t help but wonder – is it significant that Alexander did not send any loot back to Antipater? Perhaps Olympias – as the most senior member of the Argead dynasty in Macedon – was simply the correct person to whom to send the loot?
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Olympias is mentioned again in chapter 27 following Alexander’s visit to the Oracle of Ammon at Siwah. Plutarch says that Alexander wrote a letter ‘to his mother’ in which he explained that ‘he [had] received certain secret prophecies which he would confide to her, and her alone, after his return’ to Macedon. It’s interesting that Alexander appears to have intended – at some point – to go back to Macedon. Quite what the secret prophecies could have been though, I can’t imagine. Presumably they related to Zeus-Ammon, somehow, but how?
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In chapter 29, Plutarch describes a letter that Darius III sent to Alexander (written, according to Timothy E. Duff in the Notes, ‘at the time of the siege of Tyre’) in which he offered terms. To end the war against him, Codomannus offered Alexander 10,000 talents in ransom money for Persian prisoners, all territory west of the Euphrates ‘and the hand of one of his daughters in marriage’ Unsurprisingly, Alexander did not accept the offer. Why should he? He had Darius on the run. That aside, which daughter might Darius have been willing to hand over? Well, as we saw in the last post, Alexander eventually married Stateira II in 324 B.C. The supposition is that he chose her over Drypetis because she was the older of the two so maybe she is the one who was being offered now.

Categories: Plutarch's Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Plutarch’s Women: Athena, the Persian Royal Family, Barsine & Callixeina (Chapts. 15, 19 & 21)

For the other posts in this series click here

We pick up Plutarch’s narrative again in chapter 15 of his Life of Alexander when, upon his arrival at Troy, the Macedonian king ‘sacrificed to Athena’. Unfortunately, that’s all Plutarch has to say about her. Understandably, he is more interested in Alexander’s acts of homage to his great hero, Achilles.
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By-the-bye, I could not help but note Alexander’s remark that ‘Achilles was happy in having found a faithful friend while he lived and a great poet to sing of his deeds after his death.’ This comment appears to suggest that Alexander considered that – in contrast to Achilles – he had neither a faithful friend nor a great poet. The latter is true; Callisthenes was no Homer; but where does that leave Hephaestion?
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Going back to Athena, I wish Plutarch had given a context for Alexander’s act of worship. I suppose he assumed, no doubt rightly, that his audience would be aware of why the sacrifice was carried out. We who come to the text so many years later, however, may need a little help. Theoi reminds me that Athena supported the Greeks during the Trojan War (you can read more about her here) so perhaps that is why Alexander sacrificed to her.
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After Athena, no more women are mentioned until chapter 19 when (in 333 B.C.), as he lay seriously ill in bed, Alexander was given a note from Parmenion warning him that his doctor, Philip, meant to poison him. According to Parmenion Darius had ‘… promised [Philip] large sums of money and even the hand of his daughter if he would kill Alexander’.
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When I wrote about this incident a few weeks ago (here) I mentioned my suspicion that Parmenion was using Alexander’s illness to carry out a coup. If we pretend for a moment, however, that the threat was real, who might Darius have married Philip to in the event that the latter did successfully  assassinate Alexander? Darius married twice and had at least three daughters – an unnamed one from an unnamed wife (who was the daughter of a Persian nobleman named Pharnaces) and two by his sister-wife Stateira, namely, Stateira II and Drypetis.
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We don’t know when Stateira II was born, but because Alexander took her as his wife at the Susa Weddings (in February 324 B.C.) she is believed to be Drypetis’ elder sister. As for the ‘younger’ sister, depending on when she was born, Drypetis could have been as young as 12 when Alexander fell ill, or as old as 16. Either way, she would go on to make a good match at Susa in that she became Hephaestion’s wife.
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Sadly, their marriage only lasted a few months as Hephaestion later the same year. After Alexander died the following June, the sisters’ days were numbered and indeed they were both soon killed by Perdiccas and Roxane as part of the dynastic struggle.
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We move on now to chapter 21 of Plutarch’s Life but stay with Stateira II and Drypetis as Plutarch relates how, following Alexander’s capture of the Persian camp after the Battle of Issus,

… word was brought to him that the mother, the wife and the two unmarried daughters of Darius were among the prisoners…

Darius’ mother was named Sisygambis; the wife being referred to here is Stateira I. Upon being taken prisoner by the Macedonians and seeing Darius’ bow and chariot they beat their breasts and cried in the belief that their lord was dead. This is the only insight into their character that Plutarch gives us before detailing Alexander’s most gentlemanly response to the news that his army had captured them. It isn’t much of an insight – perhaps ‘just’ a ritual response? Although even if it is it tells us something about their fidelity to Persian mourning traditions.
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Either way, and in fairness to him, Plutarch does add that the women were ‘chaste and noble’ (Plutarch adds that Stateira I was regarded as being ‘the most beautiful princess of her time’ and that Stateira II and Drypetis ‘resembled their parents’. It’s interesting that propaganda of this nature survived even though the daughters fell victim to more powerful interests after Alexander’s death).
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Chapter 21, and this post, ends with a delineation of Alexander’s moral character, which references a few women. Plutarch tells us that,

… Alexander… thought it more worthy of a king to subdue his own passions than to conquer his enemies…

To this end he avoided meeting the Persian queens and princesses. In fact, Plutarch explains that until his marriage (i.e. to Roxane), he avoided women altogether… almost: Barsine, Memnon’s widow, and daughter of Artabazus ‘who had married one of the Persian king’s daughters’, became his mistress. Citing Aristobulos as his authority, Plutarch adds,

Alexander slept with [Barsine], as… Parmenion had encouraged him to have relations with a woman of beauty and noble lineage.

This reminds me of the story of Callixeina ‘[a]n exceptionally attractive Thessalian heteira‘*. Philip and Olympias were worried that Alexander was showing no interest in women. So, his mother entreated her son to sleep with one. Eventually, Alexander did, with Callixeina being the lucky lady. According to Waldemar Heckel, however, this story is suspect as it comes from a hostile tradition. I’d like to think that Alexander did not sleep with Barsine at Parmenion’s suggestion but why would Aristobulos lie about something like that? Let’s hope his information was just, plain wrong.
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The final reference to women in chapter 21 is an aside that Alexander makes after seeing the other female Persian prisoners. We are told that Alexander,

… took no… notice of them than to say jokingly, ‘These Persian women are a torment for the eyes’ He was determined to make such a show of his chastity and self-control as to eclipse the beauty of their appearance, and so he passed them by as if they had been so many lifeless images cut out of stone.

Timothy E. Duff, in the Notes, compares Alexander’s words to the actions of the Persian ambassadors to Macedonia in Book 5:18 of Herodotus’ Histories. They describe the Macedonian women as a torment to their eyes but, unlike Alexander, are unable to control themselves. We end, then, with women becoming a means by which Alexander may prove his superiority to the Persians. It wasn’t enough to defeat them twice on the battlefield, he had to do it in love as well.
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* Waldemar Heckel Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)

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