Posts Tagged With: Troy

4. Arisbe

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘From Troy Alexander came to Arisbe, where his entire force had encamped after crossing the Hellespont.’
(Arrian I.12.6)

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

Alexander marched from Troy – Abydos – Arisbe. Parmenion crossed the Hellespont from Sestos – Abydos

Credit Where It’s Due
Map of eastern Asia Minor: Pinterest

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3. Troy

Crossing Asia Minor with Alexander

‘[Alexander] then went up to Troy, sacrificed to the Trojan Athena, and dedicated his full set of armour in her temple, taking in its place some of the consecrated arms still preserved there from the Trojan War… the prevailing account also has him sacrificing to Priam at the altar of Zeus of the Forecourt, to avert Priam’s anger at the race of Neoptolemus, of which he himself was a descendent.’
(Arrian I.11.7-8)

Arrian also records that according to ‘some historians’, Alexander paid his respects to Achilles at the latter’s tomb while Hephaestion did the same at Patroclus’. 

Arrian notes that Alexander did not have a Homer to record all of his achievements and that this is why he is writing his history. Do you think it does Alexander justice?

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

Alexander pays homage to Achilles

Credit Where It’s Due
Alexander at the statue of Achilles: Wikimedia Commons

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Selected Search Enquiries (2)

Some more interesting search enquiries have led people to this blog. Here are answers to some of the questions.

“where is troy located?”
The ruins of Troy can be found near the Turkish city of Hisarlik (See Google Maps here). Several settlements have been built on the site of Homeric Troy (with the first dating to c. 3000 B.C. According to About, the Tojan War took place

… either at the time of the level known as Troy VI (1800-1275 BC) or Troy VII (1275-1100 BC).

Alexander cannot have been greatly impressed by Troy on the occasion of his visit in 334 B.C. The Landmark Arrian says that by his day it had become ‘a dusty tourist town’.

“what did diodorus say about babylon”
So far as Alexander is concerned, not a lot. The Macedonians’ arrival at Babylon is covered in XVII.64 of the Library of History. Diodorus describes the Babylonians as receiving Alexander ‘gladly’ and providing quarters and plenty of food to the Macedonian army. There was so much food that Alexander stayed in the city for a month before moving on to Susa. And that’s pretty much it.

There are a number of other references to Babylon scattered throughout Book 17:

  • Chapter 31 Darius orders his forces to muster in Babylon before marching towards Issus (see the picture below)
  • Chapter 39 Darius rushes back to Babylon after being defeated at Issus. There, he gathers the survivors of the first royal army together and writes to Alexander offering him part of his territory in return for ‘a treaty of friendship’
  • Chapter 53 Darius leaves Babylon with his second royal army – it will eventually meet Alexander at Gaugamela.
  • Chapter 64 Alexander’s arrival in Babylon, as mentioned above
  • Chapter 65 After leaving Babylon, Alexander is met by reinforcements from Macedon.
  • Chapter 71 Persepolis is so rich that Alexaner is obliged to send ‘for a vast number of mules from Babylon and Mesopotamia, as well as from Susa’ where the treasure was due to be sent to.
  • Chapter 108 Alexander had given his friend Harpalus ‘custody of the treasury in Babylon’. Unfortunately, Harpalus abused that trust. Believing that Alexander would never return from India, he gave himself up to licentious living and ‘squandered much of the treasure under his control on incontinent pleasure’.
  • Chapter 110 After Hephaestion’s death, Alexander ordered Perdiccas to take his body back to Babylon
  • Chapter 112 Alexander did not immediately follow Hephaestion’s body back to Babylon. Instead, he launched a campaign against a mountain dwelling people called the Cossaeans. When he did finally set out for the city, he travelled ‘in easy stages, interrupting the march frequently and resting the army’. As he approached Babylon, some Chaldean priests warned him that the stars were portending his death if he entered the city. For a short while, Alexander heeded their warning and stayed outside. Finally, however, some Greek philosophers led by Anaxarchus, persuaded him to ignore the priests. He entered the city. Once again, he and the army were greeted ‘hospitably’ by the populace. The Macedonian soldiers ‘turned their attention to relaxation and pleasure’.
  • Chapter 116 Alexander receives an omen of his death when a man sits upon the royal throne. Diodorus says that the king was angry with the Greek philosophers who had persuaded him to enter the city.

As you can see, Diodorus’ references to Babylon focus on people and actions rather than the city itself. The only time that he really moves beyond that is when he says – at the end of Chapter 112 – that so far as ‘relaxation and pleasure’ were concerned, ‘everything necessary was available in profusion’ – a sure allusion to Babylon’s reputation for being a licentious city. I wonder if Diodorus talks more about the city in his other books? If you have any references, feel free to let me know in the comments box.

“who are sophites”
Sophites (aka Sopeithes, Sophytes) was an Indian king whose realm

… was situated between the Hydraotes and Hyphasis, and between that of the Adrestae and Cathaeans and of Phegeus’
(Heckel Who’s Who in the Age of Alexander the Great).

He is mentioned by Diodorus (XVII.91-92), Curtius (IX.1.24-35) and Arrian (VI.3). Caution needs to be exercised regarding the location of Sophites’ kingdom – the notes to my copy of Arrian say that both Diodorus and Curtius got it wrong and that we do not know where it was located.

“the offspring of incest couples”
Incest does not play an important part in Alexander’s story. It did, however, become common practice in the Ptolemaic dynasty from the time of Ptolemy II Philadelphos onwards. Earlier this year, I wrote this post about who married who in the Ptolmaic dynasty. Allowing for any mistakes that I have made (the Ptolemaic family tree is, as you might imagine, rather complicated), there were a total of eight brother-sister marriages and twelve children born to brother and sister parents.

As I understand it, brother-sister marriages had for a long time been common practice for the Egyptian pharaohs. That it began with Ptolemy II Philadelphos suggests to me that while the Ptolemies did in some respects (perhaps most?) keep themselves apart from the natives – to the point where Cleopatra VII (she of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony fame) was the first Ptolemy in 300 years to speak Egyptian – they were adept at adopting such Egyptian practices as were required for the maintenance of their power. I wonder what Ptolemy I Soter would have made of it all.

“laura gill helens daughter”
The Mieza Book Club read Gill’s novel The Young Lion last year; you can read the transcript of the club’s meeting here. If you would like to read more of her writing, however, you can do so via her blog here.

Het_optrekken_van_Darius_voor_de_Slag_bij_Issus_Rijksmuseum_SK-A-3999(Picture: Wikimedia Commons)

 

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Among the Wounded

III. The Battle of Gaugamela
(III.15)
Read the other posts in this series

About sixty of Alexander’s Companions were killed; among the wounded were Coenus, Menidas, and Hephaestion himself.

I am intrigued by the translation ‘and Hephaestion himself‘ (my emphasis). If it reflects what Arrian wrote, the ‘himself’ cuts Hephaestion off from Coenus and Menidas. It is as if Arrian mentions them for one reason – I believe their rank, unless they had another connexion to Alexander that I am not aware of – and Hephaestion for another – undoubtedly his friendship with the king, which Arrian has already firmly established.

***

Arrian doesn’t mention any particular source for the information he provides. This is in contrast to i. his account of Alexander at Troy where he writes that ‘[o]ne account says that Hephaestion laid a wreath on the tomb of Patroclus’. Of course, Ptolemy or Aristobulos could be that ‘one account’ but if they are it does seem strange that Arrian doesn’t name them, and ii. the anecdote of Sisygambis’ mistake, which Arrian specifically says doesn’t come from Ptolemy or Aristobulos. Can we, then, make any deductions regarding who the source of the Gaugamela quote might be?

I think Arrian got his information from Ptolemy but that Ptolemy used a source common to himself and Diodorus and Curtius, the other two Alexander historians who mention Hephaestion in this context. My reason for saying this is because all three accounts are very similar. Here is Diodorus’ version.

Of the most prominent group of commanders, Hephaestion was wounded with a spear thrust in the arm; he had commanded the bodyguards. Perdiccas and Coenus, of the general’s group, were also wounded, so also Menidas and others of the higher commanders.
(XVII.61)

And here Curtius’,

Hephaestion suffered a spear-wound in the arm; Perdiccas, Coenus and Menidas were almost killed by arrows.
(IV.16.32)

So, all three accounts state that Hephaestion was injured. Diodorus and Curtius add the detail that he was stabbed in the arm with a spear. All three accounts also state that Coenus and Menidas were injured. Diodorus and Curtius, however, tell us that Perdiccas was among the wounded.

This is why I think Arrian’s source is Ptolemy. In the first years of the Wars of the Successors, Perdiccas was Ptolemy’s mortal enemy. I think Ptolemy excluded him from his memoir as a form of payback. If he wrote his memoir after 310 B.C., over ten years after Perdiccas died, it was a very petty form of payback but that’s beside the point.

On the issue of Ptolemy’s pettiness, could that be why he doesn’t give Hephaestion’s injury – he’ll mention him if he has to, but he’ll go no further than that.

I’m against this idea. If we are going to have a go at Ptolemy, we might also ask ‘if he didn’t want too much attention given to Hephaestion, why did he bother to mention him at all?’ Could it be that actually, Ptolemy simply wasn’t interested – as a matter of course – in dwelling on people’s injuries*? He was a soldier, after all.

***

One final point. If Ptolemy, Diodorus and Curtius all used the same source, who could it be? Cleitarchus is the obvious name to mention here but I wonder. I doubt Cleitarchus could have got his information from the Macedonian veterans living in Alexandria at the close of the fourth century B.C. If any of them had fought at Gaugamela near Hephaestion et al I doubt they would have had time to observe them.

Rather, I imagine that Ptolemy took his information directly from Callisthenes’ war reports and/or the royal diaries, which he obtained after stealing Alexander’s body. These would have have confirmed to him what he already remembered learning after the conclusion of the battle in 331 B.C.

* Excluding Alexander. If what I say is correct, Arrian will only mention specific injuries when the narrative demands it or when his source is someone other than Ptolemy

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The Battle of Chaeronea and Its Aftermath

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVI Para 86-88 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

Headlines
Philip Defeats a Joint Athenian-Boeotian Army at Chaeronea
Demades Charms Philip
Lysicles Condemned to Death

The Story
Diodorus’ first substantive reference to Alexander comes at the Battle of Chaeronea (338 B.C.). His account of the battle itself is very brief but he does tell us that when the armies deployed, Alexander – ‘young in age but noted for his valour and swiftness of action’ – was positioned among Philip’s ‘most seasoned generals’, no doubt to learn from them as much as to fight himself.

The battle began at dawn and ‘was hotly contested for a long time’. Finally, however, the Macedonians prevailed. Unsurprisingly, the man whom Diodorus says made the difference was Alexander. Determined to show Philip ‘his prowess’, the eighteen year old prince broke through the Boeotian line and put the enemy to flight.

Seeing what his son had done, Philip now advanced himself. He was, Diodorus says, determined not to concede ‘credit for the victory even to Alexander’!

  • 1000+ Athenians killed
  • 2000+ Athenians captured
  • ‘Many’ Boeotians killed and ‘not a few’ captured

After the battle was over, Philip completed the day’s work by raising ‘a trophy of victory’, giving up the enemy dead so that they could be buried, sacrificing to the gods in thanksgiving for his win and rewarding those of his men who ‘had distinguished themselves’ during the battle.

That was Philip at his best. His worst, unfortunately, soon appeared. Diodorus explains that after drinking neat wine, Philip began mocking his prisoners. But they did not take it lying down; one of them, however, an Athenian named Demades, chastised the Macedonian king. ‘O King,’ he said, ‘when Fortune has cast you in the rôle of Agamemnon, are you not ashamed to act the part of Thersites?’

Demades’ rebuke sobered Philip up. Realising his mistake, he not only freed Demades but made him one of ‘his own company’. But Demades hadn’t finished yet. He used his skill as an orator to persuade Philip to free all the Athenian prisoners.

Back in Athens, the Athenians dealt with their defeat by condemning the losing general, Lysicles, to death upon the accusation of Lycurgus. But what had Lysicles done beyond losing the battle? Had he acted negligently? Betrayed the alliance? No. Lycurgus’ accusation came simply out of anger that after losing the battle, and so many men, Lysicles had the temerity to show his face in Athens again. Rough justice.

Comments
In reading Diodorus’ account of the Battle of Chaeronea I was very struck by his insistence that Alexander did not defeat the Boeotians alone. Alexander, we are told, was ‘ably seconded by his men’ during the battle. As he broke through the line, ‘the same success was won by his companions’.

The way in which Philip ‘steals’ the victory made me smile wryly. That’s how men were, back then – very very competitive – and how they would be during the Wars of the Successors (323-281 B.C.).

Philip’s drunken antics inevitably reminds one of Cleopatra Eurydice’s wedding party latter that year, or in 337 B.C. when he tried to assault Alexander who had just insulted Attalus. Then, Philip’s drinking made him look an idiot as he fell off his couch. Here, it leads to his rejecting the ‘symbols of pride’ that he wore (e.g. his garland). This makes me think that he had an ulterior motive for listening to Demades though I can’t imagine what it would be.

According to Wikipedia, Thersites was an Achaean soldier during the Trojan War. He was an ugly man, bow legged and lame. Rather unwisely, he insulted Agamemnon. In revenge, Odysseus beat him – much to the amusement of the assembled Achaeans.

Obviously, Demades is telling Philip not to be ridiculous like Thersites, but the image I take away from the allusion is of Philip as Agamemnon. I don’t mean the Agamemnon who was king of all the Greeks; rather, the Agamemnon who, when he returned home, was slain in his bath by Clytemnestra and Aegisthus. I know that we have no proof that Olympias played the role of Clytemnestra but she had a certainly had a strong enough motive to kill him.

One more point about Demades – I don’t think I will ever get used to the way in which enemies could become trusted friends – so quickly – in those days. It seems incredible that Philip could even think about placing Demades in a position of responsibility; and yet, he did so, giving the Athenian ‘every mark of honour’ as well. And all because Demades had a good way with words. Mind you, we elect our leaders today when they have not much more so perhaps I should not be surprised.

The Athenians’ treatment of Lysicles puts me in mind of Stalin’s purges in the thirties. Then, men were executed not because they were criminals who deserved the death sentence (assuming anyone ever does, which I do not believe) but because they had fallen out of favour with the Man of Steel. This is what happened to Lysicles. Yes, he had lost the battle but as I mentioned above not for reasons of negligence. This is proven by the nature of Lycurgus’ accusation. The Athenians may have been the world’s first democrats, but truly, only to a point; sadly, it appears that Lysicles soon felt it.

Noted

  • Diodorus does not mention the Sacred Band, wiped out by the Macedonians
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Alexander’s Visit to Troy

Following in Alexander’s footsteps thanks to Google Maps!

  • For other posts in this series, click here

Troy is located just 'under' the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) on this map

Troy is located just ‘under’ the Propontis (Sea of Marmara) on this map

Alexander advanced with his army to the Hellespont and transported it from Europe to Asia. He personally sailed with sixty fighting ships to the Troad, where he flung his spear from the ship and fixed it in the ground, and then leapt ashore himself the first of the Macedonians, signifying that he received Asia from the gods as a spear-won prize.
(Diodorus XVII. 17)

Troy on the east coast of Asia Minor (Turkey)

Troy on the east coast of Asia Minor (Turkey)

[Alexander] travelled inland to Troy and offered sacrifice to Athena, patron goddess of the city; here he made a gift of his armour to the temple, and took in exchange, from where they hung on the temple walls, some weapons which were still preserved from the Trojan war. These are supposed to have been carried before him by his bodyguard when he went into battle.
(Arrian I. 11)

Troy is a ruin today but, as you can see, is still popular with photographers

Troy is a ruin today but, as you can see, it is still popular with photographers

He is also said to have offered sacrifice to Priam on the altar of Zeus Herceius, to avert his anger against the family of Neoptolemus, whose blood still ran in his own veins.

At Troy his sailing master, Menoetius, crowned him with gold, as did Chares the Athenian, who came from Sigeium with a number of others, either Greeks or natives.

One account says that Hephaestion laid a wreath on  the tomb of Patroclus; another that Alexander laid one on the tomb of Achilles, calling him a lucky man, in that he had Homer to proclaim his deeds and preserve his memory.
(Arrian I. 11 – 12)

Troy, the city that fell for a woman's beauty

Troy, the city that fell for a woman’s beauty

Once arrived in Asia, [Alexander] went up to Troy, sacrificed to Athena and poured libations to the heroes of the Greek army. He smeared himself with oil and ran a race naked with his companions, as the custom is, and then crowned with a wreath the column which marks the grave of Achilles; he also remarked 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.

While he was walking about the city and looking at its ancient remains, somebody asked him whether he wished to see the lyre which had once belonged to Alexander [Paris] of Troy. He answered that he cared nothing for that lyre but asked for the lyre which Achilles played when he sang of the glorious deeds of brave men.
(Plutarch, Life of Alexander, 15)

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