Posts Tagged With: Syllium

Arrian I.26.1-5

In This Chapter
From Phaselis to Syllium

With Alexander of Lyncestis now under guard, Alexander III left Phaselis. He split the Macedonian army into two. Part of it – presumably under Parmenion – was sent inland, to make its way to Perge via a specially built road. The rest of the army followed Alexander along the sea shore. A strong northerly wind was blowing and it kept the sea at bay enabling the Macedonians to keep walking. Had the wind been coming up from the south they would have had to turned back.

The army reunited at Perge. After leaving the city, Alexander met envoys from Aspendus who had been given the authority to surrender their city. They had a request, though: that Alexander not leave a garrison there. The king agreed. The city was not left completely alone, though; Alexander ordered it ‘to pay a fifty-talent contribution to his army’s wages and to hand over the horses which they bred as their tribute in kind to the King of Persia’ (Arr. I.26.3). The envoys accepted these demands and left. The word ‘contribution’ is doing an awful lot of work here.

As for Alexander, he marched further along the coast to the city of Side. Here, Arrian pauses to tell a story about why the Sidians don’t speak Greek. He says – according to the people themselves – the first settlers lost all knowledge of their home language immediately after arriving in Asia Minor, and started speaking ‘a new and hitherto unknown dialect of their own’ (Arr. I.26.4). It’s an interesting story, anyway, even if not likely to be true. And if true it shows that the Sidians were an inquisitive people who asked questions about themselves and were interested in finding answers.

Side was not as lucky as Aspendus – Alexander left a garrison there before moving on to Syllium.

Syllium was strongly defended by a joint native and mercenary force. Alexander tried and failed to assault it. While he was still considering what to do next a messenger arrived with bad news: Aspendus had rebelled. Alexander immediately set out to deal with the city.

Text Used
Hammond, Martin (tr.) Arrian: Alexander the Great (Oxford, OUP, 2013)

See previous posts in this series here

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19. Aspendus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘… Alexander marched for Aspendus. Most of Aspendus is built on a strong acropolis which rises sheer, with the river Eurymedon running past it.’
(Arrian I.26.5 – 27.1)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

The Aspendians were lucky not to be killed and their city razed. Previously, they had met Alexander on the road* and surrendered the city to him with a request that no Macedonian garrison be placed there. Alexander agreed. 

Now, as Alexander left Syllium, Aspendus reneged on the deal. Confident of its protection, the Aspendians took refuge in their acropolis. They thought that Alexander would send one of his generals who, naturally, would fail to dislodge them. 

However, Alexander himself came. When they saw him, the Aspendians panicked and tried to negotiate their surrender on the same terms as before. Because he was not equipped to lay siege to the acropolis, the Macedonian king accepted their surrender. But only on harsher terms. Wisely, the Aspendians accepted.

Upon leaving Aspendus, Alexander returned to Perge and from there made his way to Telmissus in Phrygia.

*Just after he left Perge – No. 16 in this series

Map of Asia Minor

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of Asia Minor: Turkey Trex

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18. Syllium

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘Leaving a garrison in Side Alexander advanced against Syllium, a strong position with a garrison of foreign mercenaries as well as the local barbarians themselves.’
(Arrian I.26.5)

Text used: Arrian ‘Alexander the Great‘ OUP 2013 (translated by Martin Hammond)

Map of western Asia Minor (The location of Syllium can be seen just to the left of the horizontal stroke of the ‘L’ in ‘Pamphylia’)

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of western Asia Minor: Travelogues

Categories: On Alexander | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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