Posts Tagged With: Telmissus

Arrian I.27.1-8

In This Chapter
Aspendus and Telmissus Rebel

When Alexander arrived at Aspendus, he found that its inhabitants had deserted the city and taken refuge in its acropolis. Alexander encamped in the empty houses to consider his next move. As it turned out, however, it was made for him. The Aspendians were spooked by the sight of the Macedonian king – ‘they had not expected’ (Arr. I.27.3) him to come in person – and brought Alexander’s deliberations to a halt by offering to surrender on the terms previously agreed.

Alexander could have been forgiven for accepting them for he did not have a strong hand; he ‘could see the defensive strength of the place, and had not come equipped for a long siege’ (Ibid) but on this occasion it did not suit him to grant the Aspendians their request. He demanded hostages as well as horses, a hundred talents instead of fifty, and told the city it would be put under the rule of a satrap and made liable for taxes. The city’s territorial expansion would also be scrutinised – no doubt with a view to reversing it. The Aspendians gave way, and Alexander went on his way.

Why did the Aspendians rebel? I think they were just chancing their arm. They thought that at worst a Macedonian general would march on them but that they would be able to resist him. When Alexander came, though — that was a different matter. Already in his young career he had done enough to make the power of his name sufficient to inflict psychological damage upon his enemies. In the case of the Aspendians that damage was enough to defeat them.

Alexander marched back to Perge. From there he set out for Phrygia. Telmissus lay ahead. He should have found the city open and friendly (See Arr. I.24.4) but before even getting there, he found the road closed to him with the entire Telmissian army standing guard over it.

Alexander made camp. But he didn’t intend to stay put. He guessed that as soon as the Telmissian army saw hat he was doing it would return home. And he was right. The larger part of the army left with only a detachment remaining behind. Alexander immediately raised his lighter armed men and marched on the guards. They quickly gave way, and fled. Alexander took his men through the guard post and camped close by Telmissus.

Chapter 27, then, is a tale of two cities, one of which could have been treated a lot worse but still risked destruction for the sake of its freedom, and the other that actually had Alexander’s friendship but for no obvious reason (according to Arrian), rejected it.

We have already looked at why Aspendus rebelled. I think in the case of Telmissus there must have been opposition to Alexander within the city and this won control prior to his march from Perge. This is the only scenario that makes much sense to me – Alexander had given no reason for any particular city to think that it could rebel against him and get away with it.

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

See previous posts in this series here

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Arrian I.24.1-6

In This Chapter
As the newly-weds return home, Alexander campaigns in Lycia

When was Alexander most popular with his troops? Apparently, it was now, in the winter of 334/3 BC.

By the time he had conquered Halicarnassus, it was late in the year, so Alexander took the decision to send home the men who had married just before the start of the expedition so that they could spend winter with their wives. ‘This one act ensured Alexander’s popularity among the Macedonians as much as any other’ (Arr.1.24.2).

Our leaders may drive forward great projects; the gifted among us may achieve wonders, but at the end of the day, what a man really appreciates most of all is time with his beloved. I doubt it is any different, today.

After the newly weds had returned to their homes, the officers-in-charge went on a recruiting drive both in Macedon and the Peloponnese. More Greeks had fought against Alexander than with him at the Granicus. Although he didn’t trust them to be frontline soldiers, it seems he still wanted them there, if only for propaganda purposes.

Back in Asia Minor, Parmenion was sent on to Phrygia via Sardia. Sardis lay to the north of Caria. Alexander himself went east, following the road to Lycia and Pamphylia ‘to gain control of the coast and so deny the enemy any use of their navy (Arr. I.24.3).

Along the way, he assaulted Hyparna, taking it easily; in line with his post-Granicus reconciliatory policy towards mercenaries, he gave the ones here safe passage out.

Entering the region of Lycia, Alexander ‘won over’ (Arr. I.24.4) Telmissus. This was the home city of his favourite seer, Aristander, and it’s hard not to imagine that the peaceful outcome was not for or thanks to him.

After Telmissus, Alexander received the surrender of a host of small towns, and some larger ones, including Xanthus, Patara, and Pinara.

‘By this stage it was already the depth of winter’ (Arr. I.24.5) but Alexander kept moving. He must have been very concerned about the possibility of the Persians returning to their port cities and establishing a bridgehead in south-eastern Asia Minor. At this point, though, he turned north, and entered the mountainous region of Milyas. While here, ‘envoys from Phaselis came to offer friendship and to crown Alexander with a golden crown’ (Arr. I.24.5).

They weren’t the only ones; Arrian says that envoys came from ‘most of the Lower Lycians’ (Ibid); that is to say, those who lived closest to Pisidia. And it was because of the Pisdians that they came. Arrian tells us that ‘[a] little later (Arr. I.24.6) Alexander visited Phaselis and there destroyed a fort that ‘had been built by Pisidians to threaten the district, and was used as a base from which the barbarians caused much damage to the Phaselite farmers.’ (Ibid). Phaselis was a coastal city so the whole region must have been under threat from the Pisidians. No doubt the Lower Lycians suffered most from the incursions of the enemy on account of their geographical closeness to them and so were the keenest to win Alexander’s favour – hence the gold crowns.

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

See previous posts in this series here

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21. Calaenae

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘Four days later [Alexander] reached Celaenae, where the acropolis, rising steep on all sides, was held under the satrap of Phrygia by a garrison of a thousand Carians and a hundred Greek mercenaries. They sent envoys to Alexander assuring him that they would surrender…’
(Arrian I.29.1-2)

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

… but only if Darius didn’t send reinforcements by a certain date. Alexander regarded the acropolis as ‘completely unassailable’ (Arr. I.29.2) and so agreed. He left a detachment behind and set off for Gordium.

For the second day in a row we see Alexander recognising his limits and acting accordingly. Of course, the two cases are sightly different. From what Arrian says, it seems that Alexander believed he could take Telmissus but not quickly enough so decided to leave it. As above, Celaenae looked too strong to take in the first place. 

What happened between Celaenae and Tyre? How could he ever have thought that the former was impervious to attack and the latter wasn’t? I suspect here that Alexander was swayed by the Celaenians offer to surrender. The acropolis looked hard, really hard; I could stay, but… they are offering to surrender; let’s call it impossible and move on to a better target.

A medieval picture of Alexander taking Calaenae

Credit Where It’s Due
Alexander takes Celaenae: Wikipedia

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20. Sagalassus

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘[Alexander] set off for Sagalassus. This too was no small city, populated likewise by Pisidians, who were reputed to be the most warlike of this generally warlike race. They were waiting for him now…’
(Arrian I.28.2)

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

Yesterday, I mentioned that after leaving Aspendus, Alexander set off for Telmissus. According to Arrian, however, he never took or entered the city – the home of his favourite seer, Aristander. Why? Well, after arriving outside it Alexander saw that it was too strong to be taken quickly. 

Why was he so impatient to move on? Arrian doesn’t tell us but I suspect Alexander’s appetite for glory had a lot to do with it: he wanted to attack his enemies NOW; win glory NOW rather than next week or after. 

Against this view, Alexander had to work hard to take Miletus and Halicarnassus. Perhaps Aspendus just wasn’t important enough a target to spend time on?

A Nymphaeum in Sagalassus

Credit Where It’s Due
Sagalassian Nymphaeum: Flikr

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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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15. Sardis and Phaselis

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

  • Sardis (Parmenion)
  • Phaselis (Alexander)

‘[Alexander] came in person to Phaselis and helped the inhabitants to destroy a strong fort which had been built by Pisidians to threaten the district, and was used as a base from which the barbarians caused much damage to the Phaselite farmers’.
(Arrian I.24.6)

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

After settling affairs in Caria, Alexander ordered Parmenion to go to Sardis and hence to Phrygia. Sardis had already surrendered (see Arr. I.17.3) so it looks like Parmenion was meant only to use it as a staging post.

As for Alexander, he himself marched for Phaselis. Before arriving there, he assaulted and took ‘the fortress of Hyparna (Arr. I.24.4). He then entered the region of Lycia, where he ‘won over the people of Telmissus by agreement’ (Ibid) and received the submission of the following: Pinara, Xanthus, and Patara, as well as ‘about thirty smaller towns’ (Ibid).

The main road at Phaselis

Credit Where It’s Due
Phaselis: Wikipedia

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