Posts Tagged With: Persian Gates

Alexander: January / Winter Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

334/333
Winter Alexander conquers Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia and Phrygia (Landmark Arrian*, Livius)
Winter Alexander son of Aeropos arrested (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander subdues Pisidians (Landmark Arrian)

333/332
Winter Alexander asks Tyrians permission to sacrifice to Herakles in Tyre (Landmark Arrian)
332
January (?) Byblos and Sidon submit to Alexander (Peter Green**)
January-July The Siege of Tyre (Livius, Michael Wood***)
NB Landmark Arrian says that the siege took place between winter and summer

332/331
Winter Alexander into Egypt (Landmark Arrian, Wood)
Winter Alexander is informed that the Persian Navy has been defeated in Aegean (Landmark Arrian)
Mid-winter Alexander visits Siwah (Wood)

331
January Alexander in Heliopolis and Memphis (Livius)
January Alexander founds Alexandria (Wood)
NB Landmark Arrian says Alexandria was founded in ‘winter’
331/330
Winter Alexander takes Susa (Landmark Arrian)

330
Winter Macedonian army enters Persia (Wood)
20th January Battle of the Persian Gates (Livius)
30th January Alexander arrives at Persepolis (Livius)
Jan-May Alexander at Persepolis (Livius)
NB Wood agrees that the Battle of the Persian Gates and Alexander’s arrival in Persepolis both took place in January but doesn’t give the specific date of either event; Green places the sack of Persepolis in January but only with a question mark next to the date

330/329
Winter Spitamenes’ second revolt takes place (Landmark Arrian)

329
January Alexander approaches Kabul (Wood)

329/328
Winter Alexander at Zariaspa (Green, Livius, Wood)
Winter Alexander gives orders for Bessos to be mutilated (Landmark Arrian)

328/327
Winter Alexander at Maracanda (Livius)
Winter
Alexander is based at Nautaca (Livius, Wood)
Winter While in Nautaca, Alexander appoints new satraps (Landmark Arrian)
Winter The Rock of Sisimithres is captured (Wood)
Winter After the Rock of Sisimithres falls, Alexander returns to Zariaspa (Wood)
Winter Callisthenes refuses to perform proskynesis to Alexander (Landmark Arrian)

327/326
Winter Alexander stops at Maracanda and Nautaca (Livius)
Winter Hephaestion to the Indus via Khyber Pass (Wood)
Winter Alexander enters the Swat Valley and campaigns there (Wood)
Winter Macedonians at Nysa [where they get drunk en masse] (Wood)
Winter Alexander attacks the Massaga (Wood)

326/325
Winter Alexander campaigns against the Mallians and is badly wounded. His men are unsettled until they see him alive (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Mallians and Oxydrakai submit (Landmark Arrian)

325
January Alexander campaigns against the Mallians and is wounded (Livius)
NB Wood has the Mallian campaign taking place in December
325/324
Winter Alexander reunites Nearchus and Craterus in Carmania (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander Return to Persepolis (where he orders Orsines to be executed (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander visits Pasargadae where he orders Cyrus the Great’s tomb to be restored (Landmark Arrian)

324
January Alexander meets Nearchus in Carmania (Green, Livius)
January Alexander returns to Persia (Wood)
January Alexander’s second visit to Persepolis; also visits Pasargadae (Wood)

324/3
Winter Alexander requests divine honours for Hephaestion (Livius)
Winter Alexander campaigns against Cossaeans (Landmark Arrian, Livius)

* The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)
** Green Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)
*** 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.
  • As can be seen, I have noted where The Landmark Arrian, Livius, Michael Wood and Peter Green have disagreed on the dates; these notes, however, are not comprehensive. My focus has been on recording what each author has said rather than synthesising the dates.

Alternative/Modern Names
Nautaca – ‘Uzunkir near Shakhrisyabz’ (Wood)
Nysa – Jelalabad
Zariaspa aka Bactra – Balkh

Categories: Chronology of Alexander's Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alexander: December and Winter Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

336
Nov-Dec Alexander wins Greek support for war against Persia (Livius)

335
Nov-Dec Alexander holds festivals in Dion and Aegae (Livius)

334/333
Winter Alexander conquers Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia and Phrygia (Landmark Arrian*, Livius)
Winter Alexander son of Aeropos is arrested (Landmark Arrian)
Winter The Pisidians harass Macedonian army but are subdued (Landmark Arrian)

333
Dec (?) Darius tries to negotiate with Alexander (Livius)

333/332
Winter Alexander asks Tyrians if he can enter the city to sacrifice to Herakles; he is denied access (Landmark Arrian)
Winter The Siege of Tyre begins (Landmark Arrian)

332/331

Winter Alexander enters Egypt (Landmark Arrian, Michael Wood**)
Winter Alexander founds Alexandria (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander visits Siwah (Landmark Arrian)
Green suggests that the foundation of Alexandria could have taken place in April
Winter Alexander is informed of the Persian navy’s defeat in the Aegean (Landmark Arrian)
Mid-winter Alexander visits Siwah (Wood)
Green has Alexander’s visit take place in early Spring

331
Early Dec Alexander takes Susa unopposed (Peter Green***)
15th Dec Abulites surrenders Susa to Alexander (Livius)
22nd Dec Alexander leaves Susa (Livius)

331/330
Winter Alexander reaches Persia (Wood)
Winter Alexander takes the Susian Gates (Green)
Winter Alexander takes Susa (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander subdues the Ouxioi (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander passes the Persian Gates and enters Persepolis (Landmark Arrian)

330/329
Winter Spitamenes’ second revolt is put down (Landmark Arrian)

329/328

Winter Alexander at Zariaspa (Green, Livius, Wood)
Winter Bessus is mutilated ahead of being executed (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Bessus is executed (Green)

328
December Spitamenes is captured (Livius)

328/327
Winter Alexander in Maracanda and Nautaca (Livius, Wood)
Winter Alexander captures the Rock of Sisimithres (Wood)
Winter Alexander returns to Zariaspa (Wood)
Winter Callisthenes objects to Alexander’s attempt to introduce proskynesis (Landmark Arrian)
Winter In Nautaca, Alexander appoints new satraps (Landmark Arrian)

327/326

Winter Hephaestion to the Indus River via the Khyber Pass (Wood)
Winter Alexander enters the Swat Valley (Wood)
Winter Alexander at Nysa (Wood)
Winter ‘The Dionysus episode’ (Green) i.e. Macedonian army gets drunk en masse
Winter Alexander attacks the Massaga (Wood)
Winter Alexander campaign in the Swat Valley (Wood)

326

December Alexander campaigns against the Mallians (Wood)
December Siege of the Mallian city  (Wood)
The Landmark Arrian gives the Mallian campaign as happening during the winter of 326/5

325
December Satraps punished for wrong-doing (Green, Livius)
December Alexander joins up with Craterus in Carmania (Livius)
December Macedonian army reaches Hormuz (Wood)

325/324
Winter Alexander joins up with Craterus and Nearchus (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Alexander orders the restoration of Cyrus the Great’s Tomb (Landmark Arrian)
Winter Orxines is executed (Landmark Arrian)

324/323
Winter Alexander requests divine honours for Hephaestion (Livius)
Winter Alexander campaigns against Cossaeans (Landmark Arrian, Livius)

***

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

***

Notes

  • This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know.
  • As can be seen, I have noted where The Landmark Arrian, Livius, Michael Wood and Peter Green have disagreed on the dates; these notes, however, are not comprehensive. My focus has been on recording what each author has said rather than comparing it to the others.

***

Modern Names
The Mallian city – Multan
Nysa – Jelalabad
Zariaspa aka Bactra – Balkh

Categories: Chronology of Alexander's Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Susian Rocks

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 68 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Alexander Enters Persia
Does Fortune Really Favour the Brave? An Enquiry
Macedonian Surprise Attack Destroys Ariobarzanes’ Army

The Story
If Fortune had smiled on Alexander when he came to Uxian pass, she was in a less indulgent mood five days later when he came to the Susian Rocks. Before, she had not only allowed the king to perceive how difficult it would be to defeat Madetes and his men, but given him a guide whose knowledge of the pass ensured that the Macedonians won an easy victory against the rebels. Now, the Macedonian king was made to suffer before Fortune would look kindly on him once more.

The Susian Rocks lay at the top (?) of a pass that cut through the Zagros Mountains and were being defended by Ariobarzanes ‘with a force of twenty-five thousand infantry and three hundred cavalry’. At first, Alexander’s advance went well. But only because Ariobarzanes’ men were waiting high above for the moment to attack. It came when the Macedonians had reached the half-way mark. Then, the Persians set boulders rolling down the cliff walls. They crashed into the Macedonian soldiers. Javelins and stones followed. Unable to take the fight to the Persians, Alexander ordered his men on.

Diodorus reports that no Persians were killed or injured in this ambush – not even, it seems, the stone-throwers who threw their missiles at ‘close-quarters’ to the Macedonians. By contrast, ‘many’ of Alexander’s men were killed and ‘not a few’ injured. To compound things, Diodorus states that ‘practically all the [Macedonian] attacking force [was] disabled’.

With his army badly compromised, Alexander had no choice but to sound the retreat. The army turned round and made camp 300 furlongs away.

After setting up camp, Alexander interviewed Persian natives (he was now in Persia aka Persis) to see if they knew of any alternate routes through the Zagros Mountains. They didn’t. The best suggestion was that he simply go round them.

This idea did not appeal to Alexander as it would, in his eyes, be ‘discreditable to abandon his dead’. Neither did he wish to to ask Ariobarzanes’ permission to retrieve their bodies before going on his way as that would have been an admission of defeat in their brief engagement.

Alexander started interviewing his prisoners. And now, Fortune began to smile once more. She brought a Lycian into the king’s presence. He told Alexander he ‘had been brought [to Persia] as a captive’ years ago and was now a goat shepherd. ‘He [knew] the country well and could lead a force of men’ along a secret path that he knew of, one that would bring the Macedonians into the Persian rear.

Promising the man great wealth, Alexander had him lead the way. He did, and the Macedonian army crossed ‘the mountain at night struggling through deep snow’. Presently, it arrived at Ariobarzanes’ first line of defence, which itwas destroyed. The second line was captured, and the third ‘routed’.

Comments
If the ‘Susian Rocks’ sounds an unfamiliar name (it did to me) that is because they are otherwise – and more popularly? – known as the Persian Gates.

The other Alexander historians give more detail regarding what happened. For example, (and this from the Footnotes), Arrian states that ‘Alexander… sent… his main body of troops toward Persis along the royal road, and only undertook this pass with a  flying column’.

Since I started this series of posts a month ago, a handful of events/incidents have for one reason or another made a deep impression on me. One of them was the Siege of Halicarnassus (which I wrote about here) where Alexander came closer to defeat than anywhere else (that I can currently remember. Please feel free to remind me of anywhere else in the comments box!). Alexander wasn’t in battle when the Persians forced him to retreat but the fact that he had to still makes an impression because it happened so rarely. In fact, I think this is the first occasion in Diodorus’ narrative that he has had to do so. As above, let me know if I am wrong.

As I said above, Alexander promised a big reward to the Lycian – Curtius says that he gave him no less than thirty talents! I suppose his goat herding days were over after that.

From “Persia: An Economic History 559 B.C. – A.D. 651” by Walter Turnip III

… records discovered during an archaeological dig in Persepolis in 1972  reveal that in early 329 B.C. goat prices across Persia sky rocketed. By autumn, the price of a single, healthy goat had entered the millions of dollars. Not long later, a man could not buy a goat for love nor money.
…..For forty years, historians wondered what could have caused this extraordinary activity. Had disease almost wiped Persia’s goat population out, dramatically raising the price of the survivors?
…..Recently discovered records – also unearthed at Persepolis – give the answer, for they refer to the fact that at the start of the year, one man (unnamed) bought the country’s entire herd.
Who was this man?
…..It is believed that he is none other than the Lycian goat herder who helped Alexander the Great cross the Zagros Mountains in the winter of 329 B.C. and thus defeat the Persian marshal Ariobarzanes at the Persian Gates. In return for his help, Alexander gave the man thirty talents. Historians believe that rather than spend his money elsewhere, the man stuck to what he knew: goats. No one else had the money; no one else had the motive. Or, I think, the compulsion. As one of my esteemed colleagues said to me, recently, “A man’s goat to do what a man’s goat to do.”

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

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