By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Alexander the Great - Makers of History
Author: Abbott, Jacob, 1803-1879
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alexander the Great - Makers of History" ***

Makers of History




With Engravings

New York and London
Harper & Brothers Publishers

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and forty-nine, by
Harper & Brothers,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.

Copyright, 1876, by Jacob Abbott.


The history of the life of every individual who has, for any reason,
attracted extensively the attention of mankind, has been written in a
great variety of ways by a multitude of authors, and persons sometimes
wonder why we should have so many different accounts of the same
thing. The reason is, that each one of these accounts is intended for
a different set of readers, who read with ideas and purposes widely
dissimilar from each other. Among the twenty millions of people in the
United States, there are perhaps two millions, between the ages of
fifteen and twenty-five, who wish to become acquainted, in general,
with the leading events in the history of the Old World, and of
ancient times, but who, coming upon the stage in this land and at this
period, have ideas and conceptions so widely different from those of
other nations and of other times, that a mere republication of
existing accounts is not what they require. The story must be told
expressly for them. The things that are to be explained, the points
that are to be brought out, the comparative degree of prominence to be
given to the various particulars, will all be different, on account of
the difference in the situation, the ideas, and the objects of these
new readers, compared with those of the various other classes of
readers which former authors have had in view. It is for this reason,
and with this view, that the present series of historical narratives
is presented to the public. The author, having had some opportunity to
become acquainted with the position, the ideas, and the intellectual
wants of those whom he addresses, presents the result of his labors to
them, with the hope that it may be found successful in accomplishing
its design.


 Chapter                                                    Page

    I. ALEXANDER'S CHILDHOOD AND YOUTH                       13

   II. BEGINNING OF HIS REIGN                                36

  III. THE REACTION                                          57

   IV. CROSSING THE HELLESPONT                               78

    V. CAMPAIGN IN ASIA MINOR                               103

   VI. DEFEAT OF DARIUS                                     128

  VII. THE SIEGE OF TYRE                                    147

 VIII. ALEXANDER IN EGYPT                                   169

   IX. THE GREAT VICTORY                                    189

    X. THE DEATH OF DARIUS                                  213

   XI. DETERIORATION OF CHARACTER                           234

  XII. ALEXANDER'S END                                      251



 MAP. EXPEDITION OF ALEXANDER                    _Frontispiece._

 ALEXANDER AND BUCEPHALUS                                    27

 MAP OF MACEDON AND GREECE                                   48

 MAP OF MACEDON AND GREECE                                   58

 MAP OF THE PLAIN OF TROY                                    88

 PARIS AND HELEN                                             94

 ACHILLES                                                    97

 MAP OF THE GRANICUS                                        104

 THE BATHING IN THE RIVER CYDNUS                            124

 MAP OF THE PLAIN OF ISSUS                                  134

 THE SIEGE OF TYRE                                          157

 THE FOCUS                                                  185

 THE CALTROP                                                197

 ALEXANDER AT THE PASS OF SUSA                              211

 PROPOSED IMPROVEMENT OF MOUNT ATHOS                        261





B.C. 356-336

The briefness of Alexander's career.--His brilliant exploits.--Character
of Alexander.--Mental and physical qualities.--Character of the Asiatic
and European civilization.--Composition of Asiatic and European
armies.--King Philip.--Extent of Macedon.--Olympias.--The young
prince Alexander.--Ancient mode of warfare.--Ancient and
modern military officers.--Alexander's nurse.--Alexander's
education.--Lysimachus.--Homer.--Aristotle.--Alexander's copy
of Homer.--Alexander's energy and ambition.--The Persian
embassadors.--Stories of the embassadors.--Maturity of Alexander's
mind.--Secret of Alexander's success.--The story of Bucephalus.--Philip
condemns the horse.--Alexander desires to mount him.--Bucephalus
calmed.--An exciting ride.--Sagacity of Bucephalus.--Becomes Alexander's
favorite.--Fate of Bucephalus.--Alexander made regent.--Alexander's
first battle.--Chæronea.--Alexander's impetuosity.--Philip repudiates
Olympias.--Alexander's violent temper.--Philip's attempt on his
son.--Philip's power.--His plans of conquest.--Alexander's impatience
to reign.

Alexander the Great died when he was quite young. He was but
thirty-two years of age when he ended his career, and as he was about
twenty when he commenced it, it was only for a period of twelve years
that he was actually engaged in performing the work of his life.
Napoleon was nearly three times as long on the great field of human

Notwithstanding the briefness of Alexander's career, he ran through,
during that short period, a very brilliant series of exploits, which
were so bold, so romantic, and which led him into such adventures in
scenes of the greatest magnificence and splendor, that all the world
looked on with astonishment then, and mankind have continued to read
the story since, from age to age, with the greatest interest and

The secret of Alexander's success was his character. He possessed a
certain combination of mental and personal attractions, which in
every age gives to those who exhibit it a mysterious and almost
unbounded ascendency over all within their influence. Alexander was
characterized by these qualities in a very remarkable degree. He was
finely formed in person, and very prepossessing in his manners. He
was active, athletic, and full of ardor and enthusiasm in all that
he did. At the same time, he was calm, collected, and considerate
in emergencies requiring caution, and thoughtful and far-seeing in
respect to the bearings and consequences of his acts. He formed strong
attachments, was grateful for kindnesses shown to him, considerate in
respect to the feelings of all who were connected with him in any way,
faithful to his friends, and generous toward his foes. In a word, he
had a noble character, though he devoted its energies unfortunately to
conquest and war. He lived, in fact, in an age when great personal and
mental powers had scarcely any other field for their exercise than
this. He entered upon his career with great ardor, and the position in
which he was placed gave him the opportunity to act in it with
prodigious effect.

There were several circumstances combined, in the situation in which
Alexander was placed, to afford him a great opportunity for the
exercise of his vast powers. His native country was on the confines of
Europe and Asia. Now Europe and Asia were, in those days, as now,
marked and distinguished by two vast masses of social and civilized
life, widely dissimilar from each other. The Asiatic side was occupied
by the Persians, the Medes, and the Assyrians. The European side by
the Greeks and Romans. They were separated from each other by the
waters of the Hellespont, the Ægean Sea, and the Mediterranean,
as will be seen by the map. These waters constituted a sort of
natural barrier, which kept the two races apart. The races formed,
accordingly, two vast organizations, distinct and widely different
from each other, and of course rivals and enemies.

It is hard to say whether the Asiatic or European civilization was the
highest. The two were so different that it is difficult to compare
them. On the Asiatic side there was wealth, luxury, and splendor; on
the European, energy, genius, and force. On the one hand were vast
cities, splendid palaces, and gardens which were the wonder of the
world; on the other, strong citadels, military roads and bridges,
and compact and well-defended towns. The Persians had enormous armies,
perfectly provided for, with beautiful tents, horses elegantly
caparisoned, arms and munitions of war of the finest workmanship, and
officers magnificently dressed, and accustomed to a life of luxury and
splendor. The Greeks and Romans, on the other hand, prided themselves
on their compact bodies of troops, inured to hardship and thoroughly
disciplined. Their officers gloried not in luxury and parade, but in
the courage, the steadiness, and implicit obedience of their troops,
and in their own science, skill, and powers of military calculation.
Thus there was a great difference in the whole system of social and
military organization in these two quarters of the globe.

Now Alexander was born the heir to the throne of one of the Grecian
kingdoms. He possessed, in a very remarkable degree, the energy, and
enterprise, and military skill so characteristic of the Greeks and
Romans. He organized armies, crossed the boundary between Europe and
Asia, and spent the twelve years of his career in a most triumphant
military incursion into the very center and seat of Asiatic power,
destroying the Asiatic armies, conquering the most splendid cities,
defeating or taking captive the kings, and princes, and generals that
opposed his progress. The whole world looked on with wonder to see
such a course of conquest, pursued so successfully by so young a man,
and with so small an army, gaining continual victories, as it did,
over such vast numbers of foes, and making conquests of such
accumulated treasures of wealth and splendor.

The name of Alexander's father was Philip. The kingdom over which
he reigned was called Macedon. Macedon was in the northern part
of Greece. It was a kingdom about twice as large as the State of
Massachusetts, and one third as large as the State of New York. The
name of Alexander's mother was Olympias. She was the daughter of the
King of Epirus, which was a kingdom somewhat smaller than Macedon, and
lying westward of it. Both Macedon and Epirus will be found upon the
map at the commencement of this volume. Olympias was a woman of very
strong and determined character. Alexander seemed to inherit her
energy, though in his case it was combined with other qualities of a
more attractive character, which his mother did not possess.

He was, of course, as the young prince, a very important personage in
his father's court. Every one knew that at his father's death he would
become King of Macedon, and he was consequently the object of a great
deal of care and attention. As he gradually advanced in the years of
his boyhood, it was observed by all who knew him that he was endued
with extraordinary qualities of mind and of character, which seemed to
indicate, at a very early age, his future greatness.

Although he was a prince, he was not brought up in habits of luxury
and effeminacy. This would have been contrary to all the ideas which
were entertained by the Greeks in those days. They had then no
fire-arms, so that in battle the combatants could not stand quietly,
as they can now, at a distance from the enemy, coolly discharging
musketry or cannon. In ancient battles the soldiers rushed toward each
other, and fought hand to hand, in close combat, with swords, or
spears, or other weapons requiring great personal strength, so that
headlong bravery and muscular force were the qualities which generally
carried the day.

The duties of officers, too, on the field of battle, were very
different then from what they are now. An officer _now_ must be calm,
collected, and quiet. His business is to plan, to calculate, to
direct, and arrange. He has to do this sometimes, it is true, in
circumstances of the most imminent danger, so that he must be a man
of great self-possession and of undaunted courage. But there is very
little occasion for him to exert any great physical force.

In ancient times, however, the great business of the officers,
certainly in all the subordinate grades, was to lead on the men, and
set them an example by performing themselves deeds in which their own
great personal prowess was displayed. Of course it was considered
extremely important that the child destined to be a general should
become robust and powerful in constitution from his earliest years,
and that he should be inured to hardship and fatigue. In the early
part of Alexander's life this was the main object of attention.

The name of the nurse who had charge of our hero in his infancy was
Lannice. She did all in her power to give strength and hardihood to
his constitution, while, at the same time, she treated him with
kindness and gentleness. Alexander acquired a strong affection for
her, and he treated her with great consideration as long as he lived.
He had a governor, also, in his early years, named Leonnatus, who had
the general charge of his education. As soon as he was old enough to
learn, they appointed him a preceptor also, to teach him such branches
as were generally taught to young princes in those days. The name of
this preceptor was Lysimachus.

They had then no printed books, but there were a few writings on
parchment rolls which young scholars were taught to read. Some of
these writings were treatises on philosophy, others were romantic
histories, narrating the exploits of the heroes of those days--of
course, with much exaggeration and embellishment. There were also some
poems, still more romantic than the histories, though generally on the
same themes. The greatest productions of this kind were the writings
of Homer, an ancient poet who lived and wrote four or five hundred
years before Alexander's day. The young Alexander was greatly
delighted with Homer's tales. These tales are narrations of the
exploits and adventures of certain great warriors at the siege of
Troy--a siege which lasted ten years--and they are written with so
much beauty and force, they contain such admirable delineations of
character, and such graphic and vivid descriptions of romantic
adventures, and picturesque and striking scenes, that they have been
admired in every age by all who have learned to understand the
language in which they are written.

Alexander could understand them very easily, as they were written
in his mother tongue. He was greatly excited by the narrations
themselves, and pleased with the flowing smoothness of the verse
in which the tales were told. In the latter part of his course of
education he was placed under the charge of Aristotle, who was one
of the most eminent philosophers of ancient times. Aristotle had a
beautiful copy of Homer's poems prepared expressly for Alexander,
taking great pains to have it transcribed with perfect correctness,
and in the most elegant manner. Alexander carried this copy with him
in all his campaigns. Some years afterward, when he was obtaining
conquests over the Persians, he took, among the spoils of one of his
victories, a very beautiful and costly casket, which King Darius had
used for his jewelry or for some other rich treasures. Alexander
determined to make use of this box as a depository for his beautiful
copy of Homer, and he always carried it with him, thus protected, in
all his subsequent campaigns.

Alexander was full of energy and spirit, but he was, at the same time,
like all who ever become truly great, of a reflective and considerate
turn of mind. He was very fond of the studies which Aristotle led him
to pursue, although they were of a very abstruse and difficult
character. He made great progress in metaphysical philosophy and
mathematics, by which means his powers of calculation and his judgment
were greatly improved.

He early evinced a great degree of ambition. His father Philip was a
powerful warrior, and made many conquests in various parts of Greece,
though he did not cross into Asia. When news of Philip's victories
came into Macedon, all the rest of the court would be filled with
rejoicing and delight; but Alexander, on such occasions, looked
thoughtful and disappointed, and complained that his father would
conquer every country, and leave him nothing to do.

At one time some embassadors from the Persian court arrived in Macedon
when Philip was away. These embassadors saw Alexander, of course, and
had opportunities to converse with him. They expected that he would be
interested in hearing about the splendors, and pomp, and parade of
the Persian monarchy. They had stories to tell him about the famous
hanging gardens, which were artificially constructed in the most
magnificent manner, on arches raised high in the air; and about a vine
made of gold, with all sorts of precious stones upon it instead of
fruit, which was wrought as an ornament over the throne on which the
King of Persia often gave audience; of the splendid palaces and vast
cities of the Persians; and the banquets, and fêtes, and magnificent
entertainments and celebrations which they used to have there. They
found, however, to their surprise, that Alexander was not interested
in hearing about any of these things. He would always turn the
conversation from them to inquire about the geographical position of
the different Persian countries, the various routes leading into the
interior, the organization of the Asiatic armies, their system of
military tactics, and, especially, the character and habits of
Artaxerxes, the Persian king.

The embassadors were very much surprised at such evidences of maturity
of mind, and of far-seeing and reflective powers on the part of the
young prince. They could not help comparing him with Artaxerxes.
"Alexander," said they, "is _great_, while our king is only _rich_."
The truth of the judgment which these embassadors thus formed in
respect to the qualities of the young Macedonian, compared with those
held in highest estimation on the Asiatic side, was fully confirmed in
the subsequent stages of Alexander's career.

In fact, this combination of a calm and calculating thoughtfulness,
with the ardor and energy which formed the basis of his character, was
one great secret of Alexander's success. The story of Bucephalus, his
famous horse, illustrates this in a very striking manner. This animal
was a war-horse of very spirited character, which had been sent as a
present to Philip while Alexander was young. They took the horse
out into one of the parks connected with the palace, and the king,
together with many of his courtiers, went out to view him. The horse
pranced about in a very furious manner, and seemed entirely
unmanageable. No one dared to mount him. Philip, instead of being
gratified at the present, was rather disposed to be displeased that
they had sent him an animal of so fiery and apparently vicious a
nature that nobody dared to attempt to subdue him.

In the mean time, while all the other by-standers were joining in the
general condemnation of the horse, Alexander stood quietly by,
watching his motions, and attentively studying his character. He
perceived that a part of the difficulty was caused by the agitations
which the horse experienced in so strange and new a scene, and that he
appeared, also, to be somewhat frightened by his own shadow, which
happened at that time to be thrown very strongly and distinctly upon
the ground. He saw other indications, also, that the high excitement
which the horse felt was not viciousness, but the excess of noble and
generous impulses. It was courage, ardor, and the consciousness of
great nervous and muscular power.

Philip had decided that the horse was useless, and had given orders to
have him sent back to Thessaly, whence he came. Alexander was very
much concerned at the prospect of losing so fine an animal. He begged
his father to allow him to make the experiment of mounting him. Philip
at first refused, thinking it very presumptuous for such a youth to
attempt to subdue an animal so vicious that all his experienced
horsemen and grooms condemned him; however, he at length consented.
Alexander went up to the horse and took hold of his bridle. He patted
him upon the neck, and soothed him with his voice, showing, at the
same time, by his easy and unconcerned manner, that he was not in the
least afraid of him. A spirited horse knows immediately when any one
approaches him in a timid or cautious manner. He appears to look with
contempt on such a master, and to determine not to submit to him. On
the contrary, horses seem to love to yield obedience to man, when the
individual who exacts the obedience possesses those qualities of
coolness and courage which their instincts enable them to appreciate.


At any rate, Bucephalus was calmed and subdued by the presence of
Alexander. He allowed himself to be caressed. Alexander turned his
head in such a direction as to prevent his seeing his shadow. He
quietly and gently laid off a sort of cloak which he wore, and sprang
upon the horse's back. Then, instead of attempting to restrain him,
and worrying and checking him by useless efforts to hold him in, he
gave him the rein freely, and animated and encouraged him with his
voice, so that the horse flew across the plains at the top of his
speed, the king and the courtiers looking on, at first with fear and
trembling, but soon afterward with feelings of the greatest admiration
and pleasure. After the horse had satisfied himself with his run it
was easy to rein him in, and Alexander returned with him in safety to
the king. The courtiers overwhelmed him with their praises and
congratulations. Philip commended him very highly: he told him that he
deserved a larger kingdom than Macedon to govern.

Alexander's judgment of the true character of the horse proved to
be correct. He became very tractable and docile, yielding a ready
submission to his master in every thing. He would kneel upon his fore
legs at Alexander's command, in order that he might mount more easily.
Alexander retained him for a long time, and made him his favorite war
horse. A great many stories are related by the historians of those
days of his sagacity and his feats of war. Whenever he was equipped
for the field with his military trappings, he seemed to be highly
elated with pride and pleasure, and at such times he would not allow
any one but Alexander to mount him.

What became of him at last is not certainly known. There are two
accounts of his end. One is, that on a certain occasion Alexander got
carried too far into the midst of his enemies, on a battle field and
that, after fighting desperately for some time, Bucephalus made the
most extreme exertions to carry him away. He was severely wounded
again and again, and though his strength was nearly gone, he would not
stop, but pressed forward till he had carried his master away to a
place of safety, and that then he dropped down exhausted, and died. It
may be, however, that he did not actually die at this time, but slowly
recovered; for some historians relate that he lived to be thirty years
old--which is quite an old age for a horse--and that he then died.
Alexander caused him to be buried with great ceremony, and built a
small city upon the spot in honor of his memory. The name of this city
was Bucephalia.

Alexander's character matured rapidly, and he began very early to act
the part of a man. When he was only sixteen years of age, his father,
Philip, made him regent of Macedon while he was absent on a great
military campaign among the other states of Greece. Without doubt
Alexander had, in this regency, the counsel and aid of high officers
of state of great experience and ability. He acted, however, himself,
in this high position, with great energy and with complete success;
and, at the same time, with all that modesty of deportment, and that
delicate consideration for the officers under him--who, though
inferior in rank, were yet his superiors in age and experience--which
his position rendered proper, but which few persons so young as he
would have manifested in circumstances so well calculated to awaken
the feelings of vanity and elation.

Afterward, when Alexander was about eighteen years old, his father
took him with him on a campaign toward the south, during which Philip
fought one of his great battles at Chæronea, in Boeotia. In the
arrangements for this battle, Philip gave the command of one of the
wings of the army to Alexander, while he reserved the other for
himself. He felt some solicitude in giving his young son so important
a charge, but he endeavored to guard against the danger of an
unfortunate result by putting the ablest generals on Alexander's side,
while he reserved those on whom he could place less reliance for his
own. Thus organized, the army went into battle.

Philip soon ceased to feel any solicitude for Alexander's part of the
duty. Boy as he was, the young prince acted with the utmost bravery,
coolness, and discretion. The wing which he commanded was victorious,
and Philip was obliged to urge himself and the officers with him to
greater exertions, to avoid being outdone by his son. In the end
Philip was completely victorious, and the result of this great battle
was to make his power paramount and supreme over all the states of

Notwithstanding, however, the extraordinary discretion and wisdom
which characterized the mind of Alexander in his early years, he was
often haughty and headstrong, and in cases where his pride or his
resentment were aroused, he was sometimes found very impetuous and
uncontrollable. His mother Olympias was of a haughty and imperious
temper, and she quarreled with her husband, King Philip; or, perhaps,
it ought rather to be said that he quarreled with her. Each is said
to have been unfaithful to the other, and, after a bitter contention,
Philip repudiated his wife and married another lady. Among the
festivities held on the occasion of this marriage, there was a great
banquet, at which Alexander was present, and an incident occurred
which strikingly illustrates the impetuosity of his character.

One of the guests at this banquet, in saying something complimentary
to the new queen, made use of expressions which Alexander considered
as in disparagement of the character of his mother and of his own
birth. His anger was immediately aroused. He threw the cup from which
he had been drinking at the offender's head. Attalus, for this was his
name, threw his cup at Alexander in return; the guests at the table
where they were sitting rose, and a scene of uproar and confusion

Philip, incensed at such an interruption of the order and harmony of
the wedding feast, drew his sword and rushed toward Alexander but by
some accident he stumbled and fell upon the floor. Alexander looked
upon his fallen father with contempt and scorn, and exclaimed, "What a
fine hero the states of Greece have to lead their armies--a man that
can not get across the floor without tumbling down." He then turned
away and left the palace. Immediately afterward he joined his mother
Olympias, and went away with her to her native country, Epirus, where
the mother and son remained for a time in a state of open quarrel with
the husband and father.

In the mean time Philip had been planning a great expedition into
Asia. He had arranged the affairs of his own kingdom, and had formed a
strong combination among the states of Greece, by which powerful
armies had been raised, and he had been designated to command them.
His mind was very intently engaged in this vast enterprise. He was in
the flower of his years, and at the height of his power. His own
kingdom was in a very prosperous and thriving condition, and his
ascendency over the other kingdoms and states on the European side had
been fully established. He was excited with ambition, and full of
hope. He was proud of his son Alexander, and was relying upon his
efficient aid in his schemes of conquest and aggrandizement. He had
married a youthful and beautiful bride, and was surrounded by scenes
of festivity, congratulation, and rejoicing. He was looking forward to
a very brilliant career considering all the deeds that he had done and
all the glory which he had acquired as only the introduction and
prelude to the far more distinguished and conspicuous part which he
was intending to perform.

Alexander, in the mean time, ardent and impetuous, and eager for glory
as he was, looked upon the position and prospects of his father with
some envy and jealousy. He was impatient to be monarch himself. His
taking sides so promptly with his mother in the domestic quarrel was
partly owing to the feeling that his father was a hinderance and an
obstacle in the way of his own greatness and fame. He felt within
himself powers and capacities qualifying him to take his father's
place, and reap for himself the harvest of glory and power which
seemed to await the Grecian armies in the coming campaign. While
his father lived, however, he could be only a prince; influential,
accomplished, and popular, it is true, but still without any
substantial and independent power. He was restless and uneasy at the
thought that, as his father was in the prime and vigor of manhood,
many long years must elapse before he could emerge from this confined
and subordinate condition. His restlessness and uneasiness were,
however, suddenly ended by a very extraordinary occurrence, which
called him, with scarcely an hour's notice, to take his father's place
upon the throne.



B.C. 336

Philip is reconciled to Olympias and Alexander.--Olympias and Alexander
returned.--The great wedding.--Preparations for the wedding.--Costly
presents.--Celebration of the wedding.--Games and spectacles.--Statues
of the gods.--Military procession.--Appearance of Philip.--The
scene changed.--Assassination of Philip.--Alexander proclaimed
king.--Alexander's speech.--Demosthenes' Philippics.--The Greeks
suspected of the murder.--The Persians also.--Alexander's new
position.--His designs.--Murderers of Philip punished.--Alexander's
first acts.--Parmenio.--Cities of Southern Greece.--Map of Macedon and
Greece.--Athens and Corinth.--Thebes.--Sparta.--Conquests of
Philip.--Alexander marches southward.--Pass of Thermopylæ.--The
Amphictyonic Council.--March through Thessaly.--Alexander's traits of
character.--The Thessalians join Alexander.--He sits in the Amphictyonic
Council.--Thermopylæ.--Leonidas and his Spartans.--Death of
Leonidas.--Spartan valor.--Alexander made commander-in-chief.--He
returns to Macedon.

Alexander was suddenly called upon to succeed his father on the
Macedonian throne, in the most unexpected manner, and in the midst of
scenes of the greatest excitement and agitation. The circumstances
were these:

Philip had felt very desirous, before setting out upon his great
expedition into Asia, to become reconciled to Alexander and Olympias.
He wished for Alexander's co-operation in his plans; and then,
besides, it would be dangerous to go away from his own dominions with
such a son left behind, in a state of resentment and hostility.

So Philip sent kind and conciliatory messages to Olympias and
Alexander, who had gone, it will be recollected, to Epirus, where her
friends resided. The brother of Olympias was King of Epirus. He had
been at first incensed at the indignity which had been put upon his
sister by Philip's treatment of her; but Philip now tried to appease
his anger, also, by friendly negotiations and messages. At last he
arranged a marriage between this King of Epirus and one of his own
daughters, and this completed the reconciliation. Olympias and
Alexander returned to Macedon, and great preparations were made for a
very splendid wedding.

Philip wished to make this wedding not merely the means of confirming
his reconciliation with his former wife and son, and establishing
friendly relations with the King of Epirus: he also prized it as an
occasion for paying marked and honorable attention to the princes and
great generals of the other states of Greece. He consequently made his
preparations on a very extended and sumptuous scale, and sent
invitations to the influential and prominent men far and near.

These great men, on the other hand, and all the other public
authorities in the various Grecian states, sent compliments,
congratulations, and presents to Philip, each seeming ambitious to
contribute his share to the splendor of the celebration. They were not
wholly disinterested in this, it is true. As Philip had been made
commander-in-chief of the Grecian armies which were about to undertake
the conquest of Asia, and as, of course, his influence and power in
all that related to that vast enterprise would be paramount and
supreme; and as all were ambitious to have a large share in the glory
of that expedition, and to participate, as much as possible, in the
power and in the renown which seemed to be at Philip's disposal, all
were, of course, very anxious to secure his favor. A short time
before, they were contending against him; but now, since he had
established his ascendency, they all eagerly joined in the work of
magnifying it and making it illustrious.

Nor could Philip justly complain of the hollowness and falseness of
these professions of friendship. The compliments and favors which he
offered to them were equally hollow and heartless. He wished to secure
_their_ favor as a means of aiding him up the steep path to fame and
power which he was attempting to climb. They wished for his, in order
that he might, as he ascended himself, help them up with him. There
was, however, the greatest appearance of cordial and devoted
friendship. Some cities sent him presents of golden crowns,
beautifully wrought, and of high cost. Others dispatched embassies,
expressing their good wishes for him, and their confidence in the
success of his plans. Athens, the city which was the great seat of
literature and science in Greece sent a _poem_, in which the history
of the expedition into Persia was given by anticipation. In this poem
Philip was, of course, triumphantly successful in his enterprise. He
conducted his armies in safety through the most dangerous passes and
defiles; he fought glorious battles, gained magnificent victories, and
possessed himself of all the treasures of Asiatic wealth and power. It
ought to be stated, however, in justice to the poet, that, in
narrating these imaginary exploits, he had sufficient delicacy to
represent Philip and the Persian monarch by fictitious names.

The wedding was at length celebrated, in one of the cities of Macedon,
with great pomp and splendor. There were games, and shows, and
military and civic spectacles of all kinds to amuse the thousands of
spectators that assembled to witness them. In one of these spectacles
they had a procession of statues of the gods. There were twelve of
these statues, sculptured with great art, and they were borne along on
elevated pedestals, with censers, and incense, and various ceremonies
of homage, while vast multitudes of spectators lined the way. There
was a thirteenth statue, more magnificent than the other twelve,
which represented Philip himself in the character of a god.

This was not, however, so impious as it would at first view seem, for
the gods whom the ancients worshiped were, in fact, only deifications
of old heroes and kings who had lived in early times, and had acquired
a reputation for supernatural powers by the fame of their exploits,
exaggerated in descending by tradition in superstitious times. The
ignorant multitude accordingly, in those days, looked up to a living
king with almost the same reverence and homage which they felt for
their deified heroes; and these deified heroes furnished them with all
the ideas they had of God. Making a monarch a god, therefore, was no
very extravagant flattery.

After the procession of the statues passed along, there came bodies of
troops, with trumpets sounding and banners flying. The officers rode
on horses elegantly caparisoned, and prancing proudly. These troops
escorted princes, embassadors, generals, and great officers of state,
all gorgeously decked in their robes, and wearing their badges and

At length King Philip himself appeared in the procession. He had
arranged to have a large space left, in the middle of which he was to
walk. This was done in order to make his position the more
conspicuous, and to mark more strongly his own high distinction above
all the other potentates present on the occasion. Guards preceded and
followed him, though at considerable distance, as has been already
said. He was himself clothed with white robes, and his head was
adorned with a splendid crown.

The procession was moving toward a great theater, where certain games
and spectacles were to be exhibited. The statues of the gods were to
be taken into the theater, and placed in conspicuous positions there,
in the view of the assembly, and then the procession itself was to
follow. All the statues had entered except that of Philip, which was
just at the door, and Philip himself was advancing in the midst of the
space left for him, up the avenue by which the theater was approached,
when an occurrence took place by which the whole character of the
scene, the destiny of Alexander, and the fate of fifty nations, was
suddenly and totally changed. It was this. An officer of the guards,
who had his position in the procession near the king, was seen
advancing impetuously toward him, through the space which separated
him from the rest, and, before the spectators had time even to wonder
what he was going to do, he stabbed him to the heart. Philip fell down
in the street and died.

A scene of indescribable tumult and confusion ensued. The murderer was
immediately cut to pieces by the other guards. They found, however,
before he was dead, that it was Pausanias, a man of high standing and
influence, a general officer of the guards. He had had horses
provided, and other assistance ready, to enable him to make his
escape, but he was cut down by the guards before he could avail
himself of them.

An officer of state immediately hastened to Alexander, and announced
to him his father's death and his own accession to the throne. An
assembly of the leading counselors and statesmen was called, in a
hasty and tumultuous manner, and Alexander was proclaimed king with
prolonged and general acclamations. Alexander made a speech in reply.
The great assembly looked upon his youthful form and face as he arose,
and listened with intense interest to hear what he had to say. He was
between nineteen and twenty years of age; but, though thus really a
boy, he spoke with all the decision and confidence of an energetic
man. He said that he should at once assume his father's position, and
carry forward his plans. He hoped to do this so efficiently that every
thing would go directly onward, just as if his father had continued to
live, and that the nation would find that the only change which had
taken place was in the _name_ of the king.

The motive which induced Pausanias to murder Philip in this manner was
never fully ascertained. There were various opinions about it. One
was, that it was an act of private revenge, occasioned by some neglect
or injury which Pausanias had received from Philip. Others thought
that the murder was instigated by a party in the states of Greece, who
were hostile to Philip, and unwilling that he should command the
allied armies that were about to penetrate into Asia. Demosthenes, the
celebrated orator, was Philip's great enemy among the Greeks. Many of
his most powerful orations were made for the purpose of arousing his
countrymen to resist his ambitious plans and to curtail his power.
These orations were called his Philippics, and from this origin has
arisen the practice, which has prevailed ever since that day, of
applying the term philippics to denote, in general, any strongly
denunciatory harangues.

Now Demosthenes, it is said, who was at this time in Athens, announced
the death of Philip in an Athenian assembly before it was possible
that the news could have been conveyed there. He accounted for his
early possession of the intelligence by saying it was communicated to
him by some of the gods. Many persons have accordingly supposed that
the plan of assassinating Philip was devised in Greece; that
Demosthenes was a party to it; that Pausanias was the agent for
carrying it into execution; and that Demosthenes was so confident of
the success of the plot, and exulted so much in this certainty, that
he could not resist the temptation of thus anticipating its

There were other persons who thought that the _Persians_ had plotted
and accomplished this murder, having induced Pausanias to execute the
deed by the promise of great rewards. As Pausanias himself, however,
had been instantly killed, there was no opportunity of gaining any
information from him on the motives of his conduct, even if he would
have been disposed to impart any.

At all events, Alexander found himself suddenly elevated to one of the
most conspicuous positions in the whole political world. It was not
simply that he succeeded to the throne of Macedon; even this would
have been a lofty position for so young a man; but Macedon was a very
small part of the realm over which Philip had extended his power. The
ascendency which he had acquired over the whole Grecian empire, and
the vast arrangements he had made for an incursion into Asia, made
Alexander the object of universal interest and attention. The question
was, whether Alexander should attempt to take his father's place in
respect to all this general power, and undertake to sustain and carry
on his vast projects, or whether he should content himself with
ruling, in quiet, over his native country of Macedon.

Most prudent persons would have advised a young prince, under such
circumstances, to have decided upon the latter course. But Alexander
had no idea of bounding his ambition by any such limits. He resolved
to spring at once completely into his father's seat, and not only to
possess himself of the whole of the power which his father had
acquired, but to commence, immediately, the most energetic and
vigorous efforts for a great extension of it.

His first plan was to punish his father's murderers. He caused the
circumstances of the case to be investigated, and the persons
suspected of having been connected with Pausanias in the plot to be
tried. Although the designs and motives of the murderers could never
be fully ascertained, still several persons were found guilty of
participating in it, and were condemned to death and publicly

Alexander next decided not to make any change in his father's
appointments to the great offices of state, but to let all the
departments of public affairs go on in the same hands as before. How
sagacious a line of conduct was this! Most ardent and enthusiastic
young men, in the circumstances in which he was placed, would have
been elated and vain at their elevation, and would have replaced the
old and well-tried servants of the father with personal favorites of
their own age, inexperienced and incompetent, and as conceited as
themselves. Alexander, however, made no such changes. He continued the
old officers in command, endeavoring to have every thing go on just as
if his father had not died.

There were two officers in particular who were the ministers on whom
Philip had mainly relied. Their names were Antipater and Parmenio.
Antipater had charge of the civil, and Parmenio of military affairs.
Parmenio was a very distinguished general. He was at this time nearly
sixty years of age. Alexander had great confidence in his military
powers, and felt a strong personal attachment for him. Parmenio
entered into the young king's service with great readiness, and
accompanied him through almost the whole of his career. It seemed
strange to see men of such age, standing, and experience, obeying the
orders of such a boy; but there was something in the genius, the
power, and the enthusiasm of Alexander's character which inspired
ardor in all around him, and made every one eager to join his standard
and to aid in the execution of his plans.

Macedon, as will be seen on the following map, was in the northern
part of the country occupied by the Greeks, and the most powerful
states of the confederacy and all the great and influential cities
were south of it. There was Athens, which was magnificently built, its
splendid citadel crowning a rocky hill in the center of it. It was the
great seat of literature, philosophy, and the arts, and was thus a
center of attraction for all the civilized world. There was Corinth,
which was distinguished for the gayety and pleasure which reigned
there. All possible means of luxury and amusement were concentrated
within its walls. The lovers of knowledge and of art, from all parts
of the earth, flocked to Athens, while those in pursuit of pleasure,
dissipation, and indulgence chose Corinth for their home. Corinth was
beautifully situated on the isthmus, with prospects of the sea on
either hand. It had been a famous city for a thousand years in
Alexander's day.


There was also Thebes. Thebes was farther north than Athens and
Corinth. It was situated on an elevated plain, and had, like other
ancient cities, a strong citadel, where there was at this time a
Macedonian garrison, which Philip had placed there. Thebes was very
wealthy and powerful. It had also been celebrated as the birth-place
of many poets and philosophers, and other eminent men. Among these was
Pindar, a very celebrated poet who had flourished one or two centuries
before the time of Alexander. His descendants still lived in Thebes,
and Alexander, some time after this, had occasion to confer upon them
a very distinguished honor.

There was Sparta also, called sometimes Lacedæmon. The inhabitants of
this city were famed for their courage, hardihood, and physical
strength, and for the energy with which they devoted themselves to the
work of war. They were nearly all soldiers, and all the arrangements
of the state and of society, and all the plans of education, were
designed to promote military ambition and pride among the officers and
fierce and indomitable courage and endurance in the men.

These cities and many others, with the states which were attached to
them, formed a large, and flourishing, and very powerful community,
extending over all that part of Greece which lay south of Macedon.
Philip, as has been already said, had established his own ascendency
over all this region, though it had cost him many perplexing
negotiations and some hard-fought battles to do it. Alexander
considered it somewhat uncertain whether the people of all these
states and cities would be disposed to transfer readily, to so
youthful a prince as he, the high commission which his father, a very
powerful monarch and soldier, had extorted from them with so much
difficulty. What should he do in the case? Should he give up the
expectation of it? Should he send embassadors to them, presenting his
claims to occupy his father's place? Or should he not act at all, but
wait quietly at home in Macedon until they should decide the question?

Instead of doing either of these things, Alexander decided on the very
bold step of setting out himself, at the head of an army, to march
into southern Greece, for the purpose of presenting in person, and, if
necessary, of enforcing his claim to the same post of honor and power
which had been conferred upon his father. Considering all the
circumstances of the case, this was perhaps one of the boldest and
most decided steps of Alexander's whole career. Many of his Macedonian
advisers counseled him not to make such an attempt; but Alexander
would not listen to any such cautions. He collected his forces, and
set forth at the head of them.

Between Macedon and the southern states of Greece was a range of lofty
and almost impassable mountains. These mountains extended through the
whole interior of the country, and the main route leading into
southern Greece passed around to the eastward of them, where they
terminated in cliffs, leaving a narrow passage between the cliffs and
the sea. This pass was called the Pass of Thermopylæ, and it was
considered the key to Greece. There was a town named Anthela near the
pass, on the outward side.

There was in those days a sort of general congress or assembly of the
states of Greece, which was held from time to time, to decide
questions and disputes in which the different states were continually
getting involved with each other. This assembly was called the
Amphictyonic Council, on account, as is said, of its having been
established by a certain king named Amphictyon. A meeting of this
council was appointed to receive Alexander. It was to be held at
Thermopylæ, or, rather, at Anthela, which was just without the pass,
and was the usual place at which the council assembled. This was
because the pass was in an intermediate position between the northern
and southern portions of Greece, and thus equally accessible from

In proceeding to the southward, Alexander had first to pass through
Thessaly, which was a very powerful state immediately south of
Macedon. He met with some show of resistance at first, but not much.
The country was impressed with the boldness and decision of character
manifested in the taking of such a course by so young a man. Then,
too, Alexander, so far as he became personally known, made a very
favorable impression upon every one. His manly and athletic form, his
frank and open manners, his spirit, his generosity, and a certain air
of confidence, independence, and conscious superiority, which were
combined, as they always are in the case of true greatness, with an
unaffected and unassuming modesty--these and other traits, which were
obvious to all who saw him, in the person and character of Alexander,
made every one his friend. Common men take pleasure in yielding to the
influence and ascendency of one whose spirit they see and feel stands
on a higher eminence and wields higher powers than their own. They
like a leader. It is true, they must feel confident of his
superiority; but when this superiority stands out so clearly and
distinctly marked, combined, too, with all the graces and attractions
of youth and manly beauty, as it was in the case of Alexander, the
minds of men are brought very easily and rapidly under its sway.

The Thessalians gave Alexander a very favorable reception. They
expressed a cordial readiness to instate him in the position which his
father had occupied. They joined their forces to his, and proceeded
southward toward the Pass of Thermopylæ.

Here the great council was held. Alexander took his place in it as a
member. Of course, he must have been an object of universal interest
and attention. The impression which he made here seems to have been
very favorable. After this assembly separated, Alexander proceeded
southward, accompanied by his own forces, and tended by the various
princes and potentates of Greece, with their attendants and
followers. The feelings of exultation and pleasure with which the
young king defiled through the Pass of Thermopylæ, thus attended, must
have been exciting in the extreme.

The Pass of Thermopylæ was a scene strongly associated with ideas of
military glory and renown. It was here that, about a hundred and fifty
years before, Leonidas, a Spartan general, with only three hundred
soldiers, had attempted to withstand the pressure of an immense
Persian force which was at that time invading Greece. He was one of
the kings of Sparta, and he had the command, not only of his three
hundred Spartans, but also of all the allied forces of the Greeks that
had been assembled to repel the Persian invasion. With the help of
these allies he withstood the Persian forces for some time, and as the
pass was so narrow between the cliffs and the sea, he was enabled to
resist them successfully. At length, however, a strong detachment from
the immense Persian army contrived to find their way over the
mountains and around the pass, so as to establish themselves in a
position from which they could come down upon the small Greek army in
their rear. Leonidas, perceiving this, ordered all his allies from
the other states of Greece to withdraw, leaving himself and his three
hundred countrymen alone in the defile.

He did not expect to repel his enemies or to defend the pass. He knew
that he must die, and all his brave followers with him, and that the
torrent of invaders would pour down through the pass over their
bodies. But he considered himself stationed there to defend the
passage, and he would not desert his post. When the battle came on he
was the first to fall. The soldiers gathered around him and defended
his dead body as long as they could. At length, overpowered by the
immense numbers of their foes, they were all killed but one man. He
made his escape and returned to Sparta. A monument was erected on the
spot with this inscription: "Go, traveler, to Sparta, and say that we
lie here, on the spot at which we were stationed to defend our

Alexander passed through the defile. He advanced to the great cities
south of it--to Athens, to Thebes, and to Corinth. Another great
assembly of all the monarchs and potentates of Greece was convened in
Corinth; and here Alexander attained the object of his ambition, in
having the command of the great expedition into Asia conferred upon
him. The impression which he made upon those with whom he came into
connection by his personal qualities must have been favorable in the
extreme. That such a youthful prince should be selected by so powerful
a confederation of nations as their leader in such an enterprise as
they were about to engage in, indicates a most extraordinary power on
his part of acquiring an ascendency over the minds of men, and of
impressing all with a sense of his commanding superiority. Alexander
returned to Macedon from his expedition to the southward in triumph,
and began at once to arrange the affairs of his kingdom, so as to be
ready to enter, unembarrassed, upon the great career of conquest which
he imagined was before him.



B.C. 335

Mount Hæmus.--Thrace.--The Hebrus.--Thrace.--Valley of the
Danube.--Revolt among the northern nations.--Alexander marches
north.--Old Boreas.--Contest among the mountains.--The
loaded wagons.--Alexander's victorious march.--Mouths of the
Danube.--Alexander resolves to cross the Danube.--Preparations.--The
river crossed.--The landing.--Northern nations subdued.--Alexander
returns to Macedon.--Rebellion of Thebes.--Siege of the citadel.--Sudden
appearance of Alexander.--He invests Thebes.--The Thebans refuse
to surrender.--Storming a city.--Undermining.--Making a
breach.--Surrender.--Carrying a city by assault.--Scenes of
horror.--Thebes carried by assault.--Great loss of life.--Thebes
destroyed.--The manner of doing it.--Alexander's moderation and
forbearance.--Family of Pindar spared.--The number saved.--Efforts
of Demosthenes.--The boy proves to be a man.--All disaffection
subdued.--Moral effect of the destruction of Thebes.--Alexander
returns to Macedon.--Celebrates his victories.

The country which was formerly occupied by Macedon and the other
states of Greece is now Turkey in Europe. In the northern part of it
is a vast chain of mountains called now the Balkan. In Alexander's day
it was Mount Hæmus. This chain forms a broad belt of lofty and
uninhabitable land, and extends from the Black Sea to the Adriatic.

A branch of this mountain range, called Rhodope, extends southwardly
from about the middle of its length, as may be seen by the map.
Rhodope separated Macedonia from a large and powerful country, which
was occupied by a somewhat rude but warlike race of men. This country
was Thrace. Thrace was one great fertile basin or valley, sloping
toward the center in every direction, so that all the streams from the
mountains, increased by the rains which fell over the whole surface of
the ground, flowed together into one river, which meandered through
the center of the valley, and flowed out at last into the Ægean Sea.
The name of this river was the Hebrus. All this may be seen
distinctly upon the map.


The Balkan, or Mount Hæmus, as it was then called, formed the great
northern frontier of Macedon and Thrace. From the summits of the
range, looking northward, the eye surveyed a vast extent of land,
constituting one of the most extensive and fertile valleys on the
globe. It was the valley of the Danube. It was inhabited, in those
days, by rude tribes whom the Greeks and Romans always designated as
barbarians. They were, at any rate, wild and warlike, and, as they had
not the art of writing, they have left us no records of their
institutions or their history. We know nothing of them, or of the
other half-civilized nations that occupied the central parts of Europe
in those days, except what their inveterate and perpetual enemies have
thought fit to tell us. According to their story, these countries were
filled with nations and tribes of a wild and half-savage character,
who could be kept in check only by the most vigorous exertion of
military power.

Soon after Alexander's return into Macedon, he learned that there were
symptoms of revolt among these nations. Philip had subdued them, and
established the kind of peace which the Greeks and Romans were
accustomed to enforce upon their neighbors. But now, as they had heard
that Philip, who had been so terrible a warrior, was no more, and that
his son, scarcely out of his teens, had succeeded to the throne, they
thought a suitable occasion had arrived to try their strength.
Alexander made immediate arrangements for moving northward with his
army to settle this question.

He conducted his forces through a part of Thrace without meeting with
any serious resistance, and approached the mountains. The soldiers
looked upon the rugged precipices and lofty summits before them with
awe. These northern mountains were the seat and throne, in the
imaginations of the Greeks and Romans, of old Boreas, the hoary god of
the north wind. They conceived of him as dwelling among those cold and
stormy summits, and making excursions in winter, carrying with him his
vast stores of frost and snow, over the southern valleys and plains.
He had wings, a long beard, and white locks, all powdered with flakes
of snow. Instead of feet, his body terminated in tails of serpents,
which, as he flew along, lashed the air, writhing from under his
robes. He was violent and impetuous in temper, rejoicing in the
devastation of winter, and in all the sublime phenomena of tempests,
cold, and snow. The Greek conception of Boreas made an impression upon
the human mind that twenty centuries have not been able to efface. The
north wind of winter is personified as Boreas to the present day in
the literature of every nation of the Western world.

The Thracian forces had assembled in the defiles, with other troops
from the northern countries, to arrest Alexander's march, and he had
some difficulty in repelling them. They had got, it is said, some sort
of loaded wagons upon the summit of an ascent, in the pass of the
mountains, up which Alexander's forces would have to march. These
wagons were to be run down upon them as they ascended. Alexander
ordered his men to advance, notwithstanding this danger. He directed
them, where it was practicable, to open to one side and the other, and
allow the descending wagon to pass through. When this could not be
done, they were to fall down upon the ground when they saw this
strange military engine coming, and locking their shields together
over their heads, allow the wagon to roll on over them, bracing up
energetically against its weight. Notwithstanding these precautions,
and the prodigious muscular power with which they were carried into
effect, some of the men were crushed. The great body of the army was,
however, unharmed; as soon as the force of the wagons was spent, they
rushed up the ascent, and attacked their enemies with their pikes. The
barbarians fled in all directions, terrified at the force and
invulnerability of men whom loaded wagons, rolling over their bodies
down a steep descent, could not kill.

Alexander advanced from one conquest like this to another, moving
toward the northward and eastward after he had crossed the mountains,
until at length he approached the mouths of the Danube. Here one of
the great chieftains of the barbarian tribes had taken up his
position, with his family and court, and a principal part of his army,
upon an island called Peucé, which may be seen upon the map at the
beginning of this chapter. This island divided the current of the
stream, and Alexander, in attempting to attack it, found that it would
be best to endeavor to effect a landing upon the upper point of it.

To make this attempt, he collected all the boats and vessels which he
could obtain, and embarked his troops in them above, directing them to
fall down with the current, and to land upon the island. This plan,
however, did not succeed very well; the current was too rapid for the
proper management of the boats. The shores, too, were lined with the
forces of the enemy, who discharged showers of spears and arrows at
the men, and pushed off the boats when they attempted to land.
Alexander at length gave up the attempt, and concluded to leave the
island, and to cross the river itself further above, and thus carry
the war into the very heart of the country.

It is a serious undertaking to get a great body of men and horses
across a broad and rapid river, when the people of the country have
done all in their power to remove or destroy all possible means of
transit, and when hostile bands are on the opposite bank, to embarrass
and impede the operations by every mode in their power. Alexander,
however, advanced to the undertaking with great resolution. To cross
the Danube especially, with a military force, was, in those days, in
the estimation of the Greeks and Romans, a very great exploit. The
river was so distant, so broad and rapid, and its banks were bordered
and defended by such ferocious foes, that to cross its eddying tide,
and penetrate into the unknown and unexplored regions beyond, leaving
the broad, and deep, and rapid stream to cut off the hopes of retreat,
implied the possession of extreme self-reliance, courage, and

Alexander collected all the canoes and boats which he could obtain up
and down the river. He built large rafts, attaching to them the skins
of beasts sewed together and inflated, to give them buoyancy. When
all was ready, they began the transportation of the army in the night,
in a place where the enemy had not expected that the attempt would
have been made. There were a thousand horses, with their riders, and
four thousand foot soldiers, to be conveyed across. It is customary,
in such cases, to swim the horses over, leading them by lines, the
ends of which are held by men in boats. The men themselves, with all
the arms, ammunition, and baggage, had to be carried over in the boats
or upon the rafts. Before morning the whole was accomplished.

The army landed in a field of grain. This circumstance, which is
casually mentioned by historians, and also the story of the wagons in
the passes of Mount Hæmus, proves that these northern nations were not
absolute barbarians in the sense in which that term is used at the
present day. The arts of cultivation and of construction must have
made some progress among them, at any rate; and they proved, by some
of their conflicts with Alexander, that they were well-trained and
well-disciplined soldiers.

The Macedonians swept down the waving grain with their pikes, to open
a way for the advance of the cavalry, and early in the morning
Alexander found and attacked the army of his enemies, who were
utterly astonished at finding him on their side of the river. As may
be easily anticipated, the barbarian army was beaten in the battle
that ensued. Their city was taken. The booty was taken back across the
Danube to be distributed among the soldiers of the army. The
neighboring nations and tribes were overawed and subdued by this
exhibition of Alexander's courage and energy. He made satisfactory
treaties with them all; took hostages, where necessary, to secure the
observance of the treaties, and then recrossed the Danube and set out
on his return to Macedon.

He found that it was _time_ for him to return. The southern cities and
states of Greece had not been unanimous in raising him to the office
which his father had held. The Spartans and some others were opposed
to him. The party thus opposed were inactive and silent while
Alexander was in their country, on his first visit to southern Greece;
but after his return they began to contemplate more decisive action,
and afterward, when they heard of his having undertaken so desperate
an enterprise as going northward with his forces, and actually
crossing the Danube, they considered him as so completely out of the
way that they grew very courageous, and meditated open rebellion.

The city of Thebes did at length rebel. Philip had conquered this city
in former struggles, and had left a Macedonian garrison there in the
citadel. The name of the citadel was Cadmeia. The officers of the
garrison, supposing that all was secure, left the soldiers in the
citadel, and came, themselves, down to the city to reside. Things were
in this condition when the rebellion against Alexander's authority
broke out. They killed the officers who were in the city, and summoned
the garrison to surrender. The garrison refused, and the Thebans
besieged it.

This outbreak against Alexander's authority was in a great measure the
work of the great orator Demosthenes, who spared no exertions to
arouse the southern states of Greece to resist Alexander's dominion.
He especially exerted all the powers of his eloquence in Athens in the
endeavor to bring over the Athenians to take sides against Alexander.

While things were in this state--the Thebans having understood that
Alexander had been killed at the north, and supposing that, at all
events, if this report should not be true, he was, without doubt,
still far away, involved in contentions with the barbarian nations,
from which it was not to be expected that he could be very speedily
extricated--the whole city was suddenly thrown into consternation by
the report that a large Macedonian army was approaching from the
north, with Alexander at its head, and that it was, in fact, close
upon them.

It was now, however, too late for the Thebans to repent of what they
had done. They were far too deeply impressed with a conviction of the
decision and energy of Alexander's character, as manifested in the
whole course of his proceedings since he began to reign, and
especially by his sudden reappearance among them so soon after this
outbreak against his authority, to imagine that there was now any hope
for them except in determined and successful resistance. They shut
themselves up, therefore, in their city, and prepared to defend
themselves to the last extremity.

Alexander advanced, and, passing round the city toward the southern
side, established his head-quarters there, so as to cut off
effectually all communication with Athens and the southern cities. He
then extended his posts all around the place so as to invest it
entirely. These preparations made, he paused before he commenced the
work of subduing the city, to give the inhabitants an opportunity to
submit, if they would, without compelling him to resort to force. The
conditions, however, which he imposed were such that the Thebans
thought it best to take their chance of resistance. They refused to
surrender, and Alexander began to prepare for the onset.

He was very soon ready, and with his characteristic ardor and energy
he determined on attempting to carry the city at once by assault.
Fortified cities generally require a siege, and sometimes a very long
siege, before they can be subdued. The army within, sheltered behind
the parapets of the walls, and standing there in a position above that
of their assailants, have such great advantages in the contest that a
long time often elapses before they can be compelled to surrender. The
besiegers have to invest the city on all sides to cut off all supplies
of provisions, and then, in those days, they had to construct engines
to make a breach somewhere in the walls, through which an assaulting
party could attempt to force their way in.

The time for making an assault upon a besieged city depends upon the
comparative strength of those within and without, and also, still
more, on the ardor and resolution of the besiegers. In warfare, an
army, in investing a fortified place, spends ordinarily a considerable
time in burrowing their way along in trenches, half under ground,
until they get near enough to plant their cannon where the balls can
take effect upon some part of the wall. Then some time usually elapses
before a breach is made, and the garrison is sufficiently weakened to
render an assault advisable. When, however, the time at length
arrives, the most bold and desperate portion of the army are
designated to lead the attack. Bundles of small branches of trees are
provided to fill up ditches with, and ladders for mounting embankments
and walls. The city, sometimes, seeing these preparations going on,
and convinced that the assault will be successful, surrenders before
it is made. When the besieged do thus surrender, they save themselves
a vast amount of suffering, for the carrying of a city by assault is
perhaps the most horrible scene which the passions and crimes of men
ever offer to the view of heaven.

It is horrible, because the soldiers, exasperated to fury by the
resistance which they meet with, and by the awful malignity of the
passions always excited in the hour of battle, if they succeed, burst
suddenly into the precincts of domestic life, and find sometimes
thousands of families--mothers, and children, and defenseless
maidens--at the mercy of passions excited to phrensy. Soldiers, under
such circumstances, can not be restrained, and no imagination can
conceive the horrors of the sacking of a city, carried by assault,
after a protracted siege. Tigers do not spring upon their prey with
greater ferocity than man springs, under such circumstances, to the
perpetration of every possible cruelty upon his fellow man. After an
ordinary battle upon an open field, the conquerors have only men,
armed like themselves, to wreak their vengeance upon. The scene is
awful enough, however, here. But in carrying a city by storm, which
takes place usually at an unexpected time, and often in the night, the
maddened and victorious assaulter suddenly burst into the sacred
scenes of domestic peace, and seclusion, and love--the very worst of
men, filled with the worst of passions, stimulated by the resistance
they have encountered, and licensed by their victory to give all these
passions the fullest and most unrestricted gratification. To plunder,
burn, destroy, and kill, are the lighter and more harmless of the
crimes they perpetrate.

Thebes was carried by assault. Alexander did not wait for the slow
operations of a siege. He watched a favorable opportunity, and burst
over and through the outer line of fortifications which defended the
city. The attempt to do this was very desperate, and the loss of life
great; but it was triumphantly successful. The Thebans were driven
back toward the inner wall, and began to crowd in, through the gates,
into the city, in terrible confusion. The Macedonians were close upon
them, and pursuers and pursued, struggling together, and trampling
upon and killing each other as they went, flowed in, like a boiling
and raging torrent which nothing could resist, through the open

It was impossible to close the gates. The whole Macedonian force were
soon in full possession of the now defenseless houses, and for many
hours screams, and wailings, and cries of horror and despair testified
to the awful atrocity of the crimes attendant on the sacking of a
city. At length the soldiery were restrained. Order was restored. The
army retired to the posts assigned them, and Alexander began to
deliberate what he should do with the conquered town.

He determined to destroy it--to offer, once for all, a terrible
example of the consequences of rebellion against him. The case was not
one, he considered, of the ordinary conquest of a _foe_. The states of
Greece--Thebes with the rest--had once solemnly conferred upon him the
authority against which the Thebans had now rebelled. They were
_traitors_, therefore, in his judgment, not mere enemies, and he
determined that the penalty should be utter destruction.

But, in carrying this terrible decision into effect, he acted in a
manner so deliberate, discriminating, and cautious, as to diminish
very much the irritation and resentment which it would otherwise have
caused, and to give it its full moral effect as a measure, not of
angry resentment, but of calm and deliberate retribution--just and
proper, according to the ideas of the time. In the first place, he
released all the priests. Then, in respect to the rest of the
population, he discriminated carefully between those who had favored
the rebellion and those who had been true to their allegiance to him.
The latter were allowed to depart in safety. And if, in the case of
any family, it could be shown that one individual had been on the
Macedonian side, the single instance of fidelity outweighed the
treason of the other members, and the whole family was saved.

And the officers appointed to carry out these provisions were liberal
in the interpretation and application of them, so as to save as many
as there could be any possible pretext for saving. The descendants and
family connections of Pindar, the celebrated poet, who has been
already mentioned as having been born in Thebes, were all pardoned
also, whichever side they may have taken in the contest. The truth
was, that Alexander, though he had the sagacity to see that he was
placed in circumstances where prodigious moral effect in strengthening
his position would be produced by an act of great severity, was swayed
by so many generous impulses, which raised him above the ordinary
excitements of irritation and revenge, that he had every desire to
make the suffering as light, and to limit it by as narrow bounds, as
the nature of the case would allow. He doubtless also had an
instinctive feeling that the moral effect itself of so dreadful a
retribution as he was about to inflict upon the devoted city would be
very much increased by forbearance and generosity, and by extreme
regard for the security and protection of those who had shown
themselves his friends.

After all these exceptions had been made, and the persons to whom
they applied had been dismissed, the rest of the population were sold
into slavery, and then the city was utterly and entirely destroyed.
The number thus sold was about thirty thousand, and six thousand had
been killed in the assault and storming of the city. Thus Thebes was
made a ruin and a desolation, and it remained so, a monument of
Alexander's terrible energy and decision, for twenty years.

The effect of the destruction of Thebes upon the other cities and
states of Greece was what might have been expected. It came upon them
like a thunder-bolt. Although Thebes was the only city which had
openly revolted, there had been strong symptoms of disaffection in
many other places. Demosthenes, who had been silent while Alexander
was present in Greece, during his first visit there, had again been
endeavoring to arouse opposition to Macedonian ascendency, and to
concentrate and bring out into action the influences which were
hostile to Alexander. He said in his speeches that Alexander was a
mere boy, and that it was disgraceful for such cities as Athens,
Sparta, and Thebes to submit to his sway. Alexander had heard of these
things, and, as he was coming down into Greece, through the Straits
of Thermopylæ, before the destruction of Thebes, he said, "They say I
am a boy. I am coming to teach them that I am a man."

He did teach them that he was a man. His unexpected appearance, when
they imagined him entangled among the mountains and wilds of unknown
regions in the north; his sudden investiture of Thebes; the assault;
the calm deliberations in respect to the destiny of the city, and the
slow, cautious, discriminating, but inexorable energy with which the
decision was carried into effect, all coming in such rapid succession,
impressed the Grecian commonwealth with the conviction that the
personage they had to deal with was no boy in character, whatever
might be his years. All symptoms of disaffection against the rule of
Alexander instantly disappeared, and did not soon revive again.

Nor was this effect due entirely to the terror inspired by the
retribution which had been visited upon Thebes. All Greece was
impressed with a new admiration for Alexander's character as they
witnessed these events, in which his impetuous energy, his cool and
calm decision, his forbearance, his magnanimity, and his faithfulness
to his friends, were all so conspicuous. His pardoning the priests,
whether they had been for him or against him, made every friend of
religion incline to his favor. The same interposition in behalf of the
poet's family and descendants spoke directly to the heart of every
poet, orator, historian, and philosopher throughout the country, and
tended to make all the lovers of literature his friends. His
magnanimity, also, in deciding that one single friend of his in a
family should save that family, instead of ordaining, as a more
short-sighted conqueror would have done, that a single enemy should
condemn it, must have awakened a strong feeling of gratitude and
regard in the hearts of all who could appreciate fidelity to friends
and generosity of spirit. Thus, as the news of the destruction of
Thebes, and the selling of so large a portion of the inhabitants into
slavery, spread over the land, its effect was to turn over so great a
part of the population to a feeling of admiration of Alexander's
character, and confidence in his extraordinary powers, as to leave
only a small minority disposed to take sides with the punished rebels,
or resent the destruction of the city.

From Thebes Alexander proceeded to the southward. Deputations from the
cities were sent to him, congratulating him on his victories, and
offering their adhesion to his cause. His influence and ascendency
seemed firmly established now in the country of the Greeks, and in due
time he returned to Macedon, and celebrated at Ægæ, which was at this
time his capital, the establishment and confirmation of his power, by
games, shows, spectacles, illuminations, and sacrifices to the gods,
offered on a scale of the greatest pomp and magnificence. He was now
ready to turn his thoughts toward the long-projected plan of the
expedition into Asia.



B.C. 334

The expedition into Asia.--Debates upon it.--Objections of
Antipater and Parmenio.--Their foresight.--Alexander decides
to go.--Preparations.--Description of Thessaly.--Vale of
Tempe.--Olympus.--Pelion and Ossa.--Alexander's generosity.--Love
of money.--Religious sacrifices and spectacles.--Ancient forms
of worship.--Religious instincts.--The nine Muses.--Festivities
in honor of Jupiter.--Spectacles and shows.--Alexander's
route.--Alexander begins his march.--Romantic adventure.--The plain
of Troy.--Tenedos.--Mount Ida.--The Scamander.--The Trojan war.--Dream
of Priam's wife.--Exposure of Paris.--The apple of discord.--The
dispute about the apple.--Decided in favor of Venus.--The story
of the bull.--Paris restored to his parents.--Abduction of
Helen.--Destruction of Troy.--Homer's writings.--Achilles.--The
Styx.--Character of Achilles.--Agamemnon.--Death of Patroclus.--Hector
slain by Achilles.--Alexander proceeds to Troy.--Neptune.--Landing of
Alexander.--Sacrifices to the gods.--Alexander proceeds on his
march.--Alexander spares Lampsacus.--Arrival at the Granicus.

On Alexander's arrival in Macedon, he immediately began to turn his
attention to the subject of the invasion of Asia. He was full of ardor
and enthusiasm to carry this project into effect. Considering his
extreme youth, and the captivating character of the enterprise, it is
strange that he should have exercised so much deliberation and caution
as his conduct did really evince. He had now settled every thing in
the most thorough manner, both within his dominions and among the
nations on his borders, and, as it seemed to him, the time had come
when he was to commence active preparations for the great Asiatic

He brought the subject before his ministers and counselors. They, in
general, concurred with him in opinion. There were, however, two who
were in doubt, or rather who were, in fact, opposed to the plan,
though they expressed their non-concurrence in the form of doubts.
These two persons were Antipater and Parmenio, the venerable officers
who have been already mentioned as having served Philip so faithfully,
and as transferring, on the death of the father, their attachment and
allegiance at once to the son.

Antipater and Parmenio represented to Alexander that if he were to go
to Asia at that time, he would put to extreme hazard all the interests
of Macedon. As he had no family, there was, of course, no direct heir
to the crown, and, in case of any misfortune happening by which his
life should be lost, Macedon would become at once the prey of
contending factions, which would immediately arise, each presenting
its own candidate for the vacant throne. The sagacity and foresight
which these statesmen evinced in these suggestions were abundantly
confirmed in the end. Alexander did die in Asia, his vast kingdom at
once fell into pieces, and it was desolated with internal commotions
and civil wars for a long period after his death.

Parmenio and Antipater accordingly advised the king to postpone his
expedition. They advised him to seek a wife among the princesses of
Greece, and then to settle down quietly to the duties of domestic
life, and to the government of his kingdom for a few years; then,
when every thing should have become settled and consolidated in
Greece, and his family was established in the hearts of his
countrymen, he could leave Macedon more safely. Public affairs would
go on more steadily while he lived, and, in case of his death, the
crown would descend, with comparatively little danger of civil
commotion, to his heir.

But Alexander was fully decided against any such policy as this. He
resolved to embark in the great expedition at once. He concluded to
make Antipater his vicegerent in Macedon during his absence, and to
take Parmenio with him into Asia. It will be remembered that Antipater
was the statesman and Parmenio the general; that is, Antipater had
been employed more by Philip in civil, and Parmenio in military
affairs, though in those days every body who was in public life was
more or less a soldier.

Alexander left an army of ten or twelve thousand men with Antipater
for the protection of Macedon. He organized another army of about
thirty-five thousand to go with him. This was considered a very small
army for such a vast undertaking. One or two hundred years before this
time, Darius, a king of Persia, had invaded Greece with an army of
five hundred thousand men, and yet he had been defeated and driven
back, and now Alexander was undertaking to retaliate with a great deal
less than one tenth part of the force.

Of Alexander's army of thirty-five thousand, thirty thousand were foot
soldiers, and about five thousand were horse. More than half the whole
army was from Macedon. The remainder was from the southern states of
Greece. A large body of the horse was from Thessaly, which, as will be
seen on the map,[A] was a country south of Macedon. It was, in fact,
one broad expanded valley, with mountains all around. Torrents
descended from these mountains, forming streams which flowed in
currents more and more deep and slow as they descended into the
plains, and combining at last into one central river, which flowed to
the eastward, and escaped from the environage of mountains through a
most celebrated dell called the Vale of Tempe. On the north of this
valley is Olympus, and on the south the two twin mountains Pelion and
Ossa. There was an ancient story of a war in Thessaly between the
giants who were imagined to have lived there in very early days, and
the gods. The giants piled Pelion upon Ossa to enable them to get up
to heaven in their assault upon their celestial enemies. The fable has
led to a proverb which prevails in every language in Europe, by which
all extravagant and unheard-of exertions to accomplish an end is said
to be a piling of Pelion upon Ossa.

[Footnote A: At the commencement of Chapter iii.]

Thessaly was famous for its horses and its horsemen. The slopes of the
mountains furnished the best of pasturage for the rearing of the
animals, and the plains below afforded broad and open fields for
training and exercising the bodies of cavalry formed by means of them.
The Thessalian horses were famous throughout all Greece. Bucephalus
was reared in Thessaly.

Alexander, as king of Macedon, possessed extensive estates and
revenues, which were his own personal property, and were independent
of the revenues of the state. Before setting out on his expedition, he
apportioned these among his great officers and generals, both those
who were to go and those who were to remain. He evinced great
generosity in this, but it was, after all, the spirit of ambition,
more than that of generosity, which led him to do it. The two great
impulses which animated him were the pleasure of doing great deeds,
and the fame and glory of having done them. These two principles are
very distinct in their nature, though often conjoined. They were
paramount and supreme in Alexander's character, and every other human
principle was subordinate to them. Money was to him, accordingly, only
a means to enable him to accomplish these ends. His distributing his
estates and revenues in the manner above described was only a
judicious appropriation of the money to the promotion of the great
ends he wished to attain; it was expenditure, not gift. It answered
admirably the end he had in view. His friends all looked upon him as
extremely generous and self-sacrificing. They asked him what he had
reserved for himself. "Hope," said Alexander.

At length all things were ready, and Alexander began to celebrate the
religious sacrifices, spectacles, and shows which, in those days,
always preceded great undertakings of this kind. There was a great
ceremony in honor of Jupiter and the nine Muses, which had long been
celebrated in Macedon as a sort of annual national festival. Alexander
now caused great preparations for this festival.

In the days of the Greeks, public worship and public amusement were
combined in one and the same series of spectacles and ceremonies. All
worship was a theatrical show, and almost all shows were forms of
worship. The religious instincts of the human heart demand some sort
of sympathy and aid, real or imaginary, from the invisible world, in
great and solemn undertakings, and in every momentous crisis in its
history. It is true that Alexander's soldiers, about to leave their
homes to go to another quarter of the globe, and into scenes of danger
and death from which it was very improbable that many of them would
ever return, had no other celestial protection to look up to than the
spirits of ancient heroes, who, they imagined, had, somehow or other,
found their final home in a sort of heaven among the summits of the
mountains, where they reigned, in some sense, over human affairs; but
this, small as it seems to us, was a great deal to them. They felt,
when sacrificing to these gods, that they were invoking their presence
and sympathy. These deities having been engaged in the same
enterprises themselves, and animated with the same hopes and fears,
the soldiers imagined that the semi-human divinities invoked by them
would take an interest in their dangers, and rejoice is their success.

The Muses, in honor of whom, as well as Jupiter, this great
Macedonian festival was held, were nine singing and dancing maidens,
beautiful in countenance and form, and enchantingly graceful in all
their movements. They came, the ancients imagined, from Thrace, in the
north, and went first to Jupiter upon Mount Olympus, who made them
goddesses. Afterward they went southward, and spread over Greece,
making their residence, at last, in a palace upon Mount Parnassus,
which will be found upon the map just north of the Gulf of Corinth and
west of Boeotia. They were worshiped all over Greece and Italy as
the goddesses of music and dancing. In later times particular sciences
and arts were assigned to them respectively, as history, astronomy,
tragedy, &c., though there was no distinction of this kind in early

The festivities in honor of Jupiter and the Muses were continued in
Macedon nine days, a number corresponding with that of the dancing
goddesses. Alexander made very magnificent preparations for the
celebration on this occasion. He had a tent made, under which, it is
said, a hundred tables could be spread; and here he entertained, day
after day, an enormous company of princes, potentates, and generals.
He offered sacrifices to such of the gods as he supposed it would
please the soldiers to imagine that they had propitiated. Connected
with these sacrifices and feastings, there were athletic and military
spectacles and shows--races and wrestlings--and mock contests, with
blunted spears. All these things encouraged and quickened the ardor
and animation of the soldiers. It aroused their ambition to
distinguish themselves by their exploits, and gave them an increased
and stimulated desire for honor and fame. Thus inspirited by new
desires for human praise, and trusting in the sympathy and protection
of powers which were all that they conceived of as divine, the army
prepared to set forth from their native land, bidding it a long, and,
as it proved to most of them, a final farewell.

By following the course of Alexander's expedition upon the map at the
commencement of chapter iii., it will be seen that his route lay first
along the northern coasts of the Ægean Sea. He was to pass from Europe
into Asia by crossing the Hellespont between Sestos and Abydos. He
sent a fleet of a hundred and fifty galleys, of three banks of oars
each, over the Ægean Sea, to land at Sestos, and be ready to transport
his army across the straits. The army, in the mean time, marched by
land. They had to cross the rivers which flow into the Ægean Sea on
the northern side; but as these rivers were in Macedon, and no
opposition was encountered upon the banks of them, there was no
serious difficulty in effecting the passage. When they reached Sestos,
they found the fleet ready there, awaiting their arrival.

It is very strikingly characteristic of the mingling of poetic
sentiment and enthusiasm with calm and calculating business
efficiency, which shone conspicuously so often in Alexander's career,
that when he arrived at Sestos, and found that the ships were there,
and the army safe, and that there was no enemy to oppose his landing
on the Asiatic shore, he left Parmenio to conduct the transportation
of the troops across the water, while he himself went away in a single
galley on an excursion of sentiment and romantic adventure. A little
south of the place where his army was to cross, there lay, on the
Asiatic shore, an extended plain, on which were the ruins of Troy. Now
Troy was the city which was the scene of Homer's poems--those poems
which had excited so much interest in the mind of Alexander in his
early years; and he determined, instead of crossing the Hellespont
with the main body of his army, to proceed southward in a single
galley, and land, himself, on the Asiatic shore, on the very spot
which the romantic imagination of his youth had dwelt upon so often
and so long.

[Illustration: THE PLAIN OF TROY.]

Troy was situated upon a plain. Homer describes an island off the
coast, named Tenedos, and a mountain near called Mount Ida. There was
also a river called the Scamander. The island, the mountain, and the
river remain, preserving their original names to the present day,
except that the river is now called the Mender, but, although various
vestiges of ancient ruins are found scattered about the plain, no spot
can be identified as the site of the city. Some scholars have
maintained that there probably never was such a city; that Homer
invented the whole, there being nothing real in all that he describes
except the river, the mountain, and the island. His story is, however,
that there was a great and powerful city there, with a kingdom
attached to it, and that this city was besieged by the Greeks for ten
years, at the end of which time it was taken and destroyed.

The story of the origin of this war is substantially this. Priam was
king of Troy. His wife, a short time before her son was born, dreamed
that at his birth the child turned into a torch and set the palace on
fire. She told this dream to the soothsayers, and asked them what it
meant. They said it must mean that her son would be the means of
bringing some terrible calamities and disasters upon the family. The
mother was terrified, and, to avert these calamities, gave the child
to a slave as soon as it was born, and ordered him to destroy it. The
slave pitied the helpless babe, and, not liking to destroy it with his
own hand, carried it to Mount Ida, and left it there in the forests to

A she bear, roaming through the woods, found the child, and,
experiencing a feeling of maternal tenderness for it, she took care of
it, and reared it as if it had been her own offspring. The child was
found, at last, by some shepherds who lived upon the mountain, and
they adopted it as their own, robbing the brute mother of her charge.
They named the boy Paris. He grew in strength and beauty, and gave
early and extraordinary proofs of courage and energy, as if he had
imbibed some of the qualities of his fierce foster mother with the
milk she gave him. He was so remarkable for athletic beauty and manly
courage, that he not only easily won the heart of a nymph of Mount
Ida, named Oenone, whom he married, but he also attracted the
attention of the goddesses in the heavens.

At length these goddesses had a dispute which they agreed to refer to
him. The origin of the dispute was this. There was a wedding among
them, and one of them, irritated at not having been invited, had a
golden apple made, on which were engraved the words, "TO BE GIVEN TO
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL." She threw this apple into the assembly: her
object was to make them quarrel for it. In fact, she was herself the
goddess of discord, and, independently of her cause of pique in this
case, she loved to promote disputes. It is in allusion to this ancient
tale that any subject of dispute, brought up unnecessarily among
friends, is called to this day an _apple_ of discord.

Three of the goddesses claimed the apple, each insisting that she was
more beautiful than the others, and this was the dispute which they
agreed to refer to Paris. They accordingly exhibited themselves before
him in the mountains, that he might look at them and decide. They did
not, however, seem willing, either of them, to trust to an impartial
decision of the question, but each offered the judge a bribe to induce
him to decide in her favor. One promised him a kingdom, another great
fame, and the third, Venus, promised him the most beautiful woman in
the world for his wife. He decided in favor of Venus; whether because
she was justly entitled to the decision, or through the influence of
the bribe, the story does not say.

All this time Paris remained on the mountain, a simple shepherd and
herdsman, not knowing his relationship to the monarch who reigned over
the city and kingdom on the plain below. King Priam, however, about
this time, in some games which he was celebrating, offered, as a
prize to the victor, the finest bull which could be obtained on Mount
Ida. On making examination, Paris was found to have the finest bull
and the king, exercising the despotic power which kings in those days
made no scruple of assuming in respect to helpless peasants, took it
away. Paris was very indignant. It happened, however, that a short
time afterward there was another opportunity to contend for the same
bull, and Paris, disguising himself as a prince, appeared in the
lists, conquered every competitor, and bore away the bull again to his
home in the fastnesses of the mountain.

In consequence of this his appearance at court, the daughter of Priam,
whose name was Cassandra, became acquainted with him, and, inquiring
into his story, succeeded in ascertaining that he was her brother, the
long-lost child, that had been supposed to be put to death. King Priam
was convinced by the evidence which she brought forward, and Paris was
brought home to his father's house. After becoming established in his
new position, he remembered the promise of Venus that he should have
the most beautiful woman in the world for his wife, and he began,
accordingly, to inquire where he could find her.

[Illustration: PARIS AND HELEN.]

There was in Sparta, one of the cities of Southern Greece, a certain
king Menelaus, who had a youthful bride named Helen, who was famed far
and near for her beauty. Paris came to the conclusion that she was the
most lovely woman in the world, and that he was entitled, in virtue of
Venus's promise, to obtain possession of her, if he could do so by any
means whatever. He accordingly made a journey into Greece, visited
Sparta, formed an acquaintance with Helen, persuaded her to abandon
her husband and her duty, and elope with him to Troy.

Menelaus was indignant at this outrage. He called on all Greece to
take up arms and join him in the attempt to recover his bride. They
responded to this demand. They first sent to Priam, demanding that he
should restore Helen to her husband. Priam refused to do so, taking
part with his son. The Greeks then raised a fleet and an army, and
came to the plains of Troy, encamped before the city, and persevered
for ten long years in besieging it, when at length it was taken and

These stories relating to the origin of the war, however, marvelous
and entertaining as they are, were not the points which chiefly
interested the mind of Alexander. The portions of Homer's narratives
which most excited his enthusiasm were those relating to the
characters of the heroes who fought, on one side and on the other, at
the siege, their various adventures, and the delineations of their
motives and principles of conduct, and the emotions and excitements
they experienced in the various circumstances in which they were
placed. Homer described with great beauty and force the workings of
ambition, of resentment, of pride, of rivalry, and all those other
impulses of the human heart which would excite and control the action
of impetuous men in the circumstances in which his heroes were placed.

Each one of the heroes whose history and adventures he gives,
possessed a well-marked and striking character, and differed in
temperament and action from the rest. Achilles was one. He was fiery,
impetuous, and implacable in character, fierce and merciless; and,
though perfectly undaunted and fearless, entirely destitute of
magnanimity. There was a river called the Styx, the waters of which
were said to have the property of making any one invulnerable. The
mother of Achilles dipped him into it in his infancy, holding him by
the heel. The heel, not having been immersed, was the only part which
could be wounded. Thus he was safe in battle, and was a terrible
warrior. He, however, quarreled with his comrades and withdrew from
their cause on slight pretexts, and then became reconciled again,
influenced by equally frivolous reasons.

[Illustration: ACHILLES.]

Agamemnon was the commander-in-chief of the Greek army. After a
certain victory, by which some captives were taken, and were to be
divided among the victors, Agamemnon was obliged to restore one, a
noble lady, who had fallen to his share, and he took away the one that
had been assigned to Achilles to replace her. This incensed Achilles,
and he withdrew for a long time from the contest; and, in consequence
of his absence, the Trojans gained great and continued victories
against the Greeks. For a long time nothing could induce Achilles to

At length, however, though he would not go himself, he allowed his
intimate friend, whose name was Patroclus, to take his armor and go
into battle. Patroclus was at first successful, but was soon killed by
Hector, the brother of Paris. This aroused anger and a spirit of
revenge in the mind of Achilles. He gave up his quarrel with Agamemnon
and returned to the combat. He did not remit his exertions till he had
slain Hector, and then he expressed his brutal exultation, and
satisfied his revenge, by dragging the dead body at the wheels of his
chariot around the walls of the city. He then sold the body to the
distracted father for a ransom.

It was such stories as these, which are related in the poems of Homer
with great beauty and power, that had chiefly interested the mind of
Alexander. The subjects interested him; the accounts of the
contentions, the rivalries, the exploits of these warriors, the
delineations of their character and springs of action, and the
narrations of the various incidents and events to which such a war
gave rise, were all calculated to captivate the imagination of a young
martial hero.

Alexander accordingly resolved that his first landing in Asia should
be at Troy. He left his army under the charge of Parmenio, to cross
from Sestos to Abydos, while he himself set forth in a single galley
to proceed to the southward. There was a port on the Trojan shore
where the Greeks had been accustomed to disembark, and he steered his
course for it. He had a bull on board his galley which he was going to
offer as a sacrifice to Neptune when half way from shore to shore.

Neptune was the god of the sea. It is true that the Hellespont is not
the open ocean, but it is an arm of the sea, and thus belonged
properly to the dominions which the ancients assigned to the divinity
of the waters. Neptune was conceived of by the ancients as a monarch
dwelling on the seas or upon the coasts, and riding over the waves
seated in a great shell, or sometimes in a chariot, drawn by dolphins
or sea-horses. In these excursions he was attended by a train of
sea-gods and nymphs, who, half floating, half swimming, followed him
over the billows. Instead of a scepter Neptune carried a trident. A
trident was a sort of three-pronged harpoon, such as was used in those
days by the fishermen of the Mediterranean. It was from this
circumstance, probably, that it was chosen as the badge of authority
for the god of the sea.

Alexander took the helm, and steered the galley with his own hands
toward the Asiatic shore. Just before he reached the land, he took his
place upon the prow, and threw a javelin at the shore as he approached
it, a symbol of the spirit of defiance and hostility with which he
advanced to the frontiers of the eastern world. He was also the first
to land. After disembarking his company, he offered sacrifices to the
gods, and then proceeded to visit the places which had been the scenes
of the events which Homer had described.

Homer had written five hundred years before the time of Alexander, and
there is some doubt whether the ruins and the remains of cities which
our hero found there were really the scenes of the narratives which
had interested him so deeply. He, however, at any rate, believed them
to be so, and he was filled with enthusiasm and pride as he wandered
among them. He seems to have been most interested in the character of
Achilles, and he said that he envied him his happy lot in having such
a friend as Patroclus to help him perform his exploits, and such a
poet as Homer to celebrate them.

After completing his visit upon the plain of Troy, Alexander moved
toward the northeast with the few men who had accompanied him in his
single galley. In the mean time Parmenio had crossed safely, with the
main body of the army, from Sestos to Abydos. Alexander overtook them
on their march, not far from the place of their landing. To the
northward of this place, on the left of the line of march which
Alexander was taking, was the city of Lampsacus.

Now a large portion of Asia Minor, although for the most part under
the dominion of Persia, had been in a great measure settled by Greeks,
and, in previous wars between the two nations, the various cities had
been in possession, sometimes of one power and sometimes of the other.
In these contests the city of Lampsacus had incurred the high
displeasure of the Greeks by rebelling, as they said, on one occasion,
against them. Alexander determined to destroy it as he passed. The
inhabitants were aware of this intention, and sent an embassador to
Alexander to implore his mercy. When the embassador approached,
Alexander, knowing his errand, uttered a declaration in which he bound
himself by a solemn oath not to grant the request he was about to
make. "I have come," said the embassador, "to implore you to _destroy_
Lampsacus." Alexander, pleased with the readiness of the embassador in
giving his language such a sudden turn, and perhaps influenced by his
oath, spared the city.

He was now fairly in Asia. The Persian forces were gathering to attack
him, but so unexpected and sudden had been his invasion that they were
not prepared to meet him at his arrival, and he advanced without
opposition till he reached the banks of the little river Granicus.



B.C. 334-333

Alexander hemmed in by Mount Ida and the Granicus.--The
Granicus.--Prodromi.--Alexander stopped at the Granicus.--Council
called.--Alexander resolves to advance.--His motives.--The Macedonian
phalanx.--Its organization.--Formidable character of the phalanx.--Is
irresistible.--Divisions of the phalanx.--Its position in
battle.--Battle of the Granicus.--Defeat of the Persians.--Alexander's
prowess.--His imminent danger.--Results of the battle.--Spoils sent to
Greece.--Memnon overruled.--Alexander visits the wounded.--Alexander
resumes his march.--The country surrenders.--Incidents.--Alexander's
generosity.--Omens.--The eagle on the mast.--Interpretations.--Approach
of winter.--The newly married permitted to go home.--A detachment of
bridegrooms.--Taurus.--Passage through the sea.--Hardships.--The
Meander.--Gordium.--Story of the Gordian knot.--Midas.--Gordius made
king.--Alexander cuts the knot.--He resumes his march.--Alexander's bath
in the Cydnus.--His sickness.--Alexander's physician Philip.--Suspicions
of poison.--Asia subdued.--The plain of Issus.

Although Alexander had landed safely on the Asiatic shore, the way was
not yet fairly open for him to advance into the interior of the
country. He was upon a sort of plain, which was separated from the
territory beyond by natural barriers. On the south was the range of
lofty land called Mount Ida. From the northeastern slopes of this
mountain there descended a stream which flowed north into the sea,
thus hemming Alexander's army in. He must either scale the mountain or
cross the river before he could penetrate into the interior.

He thought it would be easiest to cross the river. It is very
difficult to get a large body of horsemen and of heavy-armed soldiers,
with all their attendants and baggage, over high elevations of land.
This was the reason why the army turned to the northward after landing
upon the Asiatic shore. Alexander thought the Granicus less of an
obstacle than Mount Ida. It was not a large stream, and was easily

[Illustration: THE GRANICUS.]

It was the custom in those days, as it is now when armies are
marching, to send forward small bodies of men in every direction to
explore the roads, remove obstacles, and discover sources of danger.
These men are called, in modern times, _scouts_; in Alexander's day,
and in the Greek language, they were called _prodromi_, which means
forerunners. It is the duty of these pioneers to send messengers back
continually to the main body of the army, informing the officers of
every thing important which comes under their observation.

In this case, when the army was gradually drawing near to the river,
the _prodromi_ came in with the news that they had been to the river,
and found the whole opposite shore, at the place of crossing, lined
with Persian troops, collected there to dispute the passage. The army
continued their advance, while Alexander called the leading generals
around him, to consider what was to be done.

Parmenio recommended that they should not attempt to pass the river
immediately. The Persian army consisted chiefly of cavalry. Now
cavalry, though very terrible as an enemy on the field of battle by
day, are peculiarly exposed and defenseless in an encampment by night.
The horses are scattered, feeding or at rest. The arms of the men are
light, and they are not accustomed to fighting on foot; and on a
sudden incursion of an enemy at midnight into their camp, their horses
and their horsemanship are alike useless, and they fall an easy prey
to resolute invaders. Parmenio thought, therefore, that the Persians
would not dare to remain and encamp many days in the vicinity of
Alexander's army, and that, accordingly, if they waited a little, the
enemy would retreat, and Alexander could then cross the river without
incurring the danger of a battle.

But Alexander was unwilling to adopt any such policy. He felt
confident that his army was courageous and strong enough to march on,
directly through the river, ascend the bank upon the other side, and
force their way through all the opposition which the Persians could
make. He knew, too, that if this were done it would create a strong
sensation throughout the whole country, impressing every one with a
sense of the energy and power of the army which he was conducting, and
would thus tend to intimidate the enemy, and facilitate all future
operations. But this was not all; he had a more powerful motive still
for wishing to march right on, across the river, and force his way
through the vast bodies of cavalry on the opposite shore, and this was
the pleasure of performing the exploit.

Accordingly, as the army advanced to the banks, they maneuvered to
form in order of battle, and prepared to continue their march as if
there were no obstacle to oppose them. The general order of battle of
the Macedonian army was this. There was a certain body of troops,
armed and organized in a peculiar manner, called the Phalanx. This
body was placed in the center. The men composing it were very heavily
armed. They had shields upon the left arm, and they carried spears
sixteen feet long, and pointed with iron, which they held firmly in
their two hands, with the points projecting far before them. The men
were arranged in lines, one behind the other, and all facing the
enemy--sixteen lines, and a thousand in each line, or, as it is
expressed in military phrase, a thousand in rank and sixteen in file,
so that the phalanx contained sixteen thousand men.

The spears were so long that when the men stood in close order, the
rear ranks being brought up near to those before them, the points of
the spears of eight or ten of the ranks projected in front, forming a
bristling wall of points of steel, each one of which was held in its
place by the strong arms of an athletic and well-trained soldier. This
wall no force which could in those days be brought against it could
penetrate. Men, horses, elephants, every thing that attempted to rush
upon it, rushed only to their own destruction. Every spear, feeling
the impulse of the vigorous arms which held it, seemed to be alive,
and darted into its enemy, when an enemy was at hand, as if it felt
itself the fierce hostility which directed it. If the enemy remained
at a distance, and threw javelins or darts at the phalanx, they fell
harmless, stopped by the shields which the soldiers wore upon the left
arm, and which were held in such a manner as to form a system of
scales, which covered and protected the whole mass, and made the men
almost invulnerable. The phalanx was thus, when only defending itself
and in a state of rest, an army and a fortification all in one, and it
was almost impregnable. But when it took an aggressive form, put
itself in motion, and advanced to an attack, it was infinitely more
formidable. It became then a terrible monster, covered with scales of
brass, from beneath which there projected forward ten thousand living,
darting points of iron. It advanced deliberately and calmly, but with
a prodigious momentum and force. There was nothing human in its
appearance at all. It was a huge animal, ferocious, dogged, stubborn,
insensible to pain, knowing no fear, and bearing down with resistless
and merciless destruction upon every thing that came in its way. The
phalanx was the center and soul of Alexander's army. Powerful and
impregnable as it was, however, in ancient days, it would be helpless
and defenseless on a modern battle-field. Solid balls of iron, flying
through the air with a velocity which makes them invisible, would tear
their way through the pikes and the shields, and the bodies of the men
who bore them, without even feeling the obstruction.

The phalanx was subdivided into brigades, regiments, and battalions,
and regularly officered. In marching, it was separated into these its
constituent parts, and sometimes in battle it acted in divisions. It
was stationed in the center of the army on the field, and on the two
sides of it were bodies of cavalry and foot soldiers, more lightly
armed than the soldiers of the phalanx, who could accordingly move
with more alertness and speed, and carry their action readily wherever
it might be called for. Those troops on the sides were called the
wings. Alexander himself was accustomed to command one wing and
Parmenio the other, while the phalanx crept along slowly but terribly

The army, thus arranged and organized, advanced to the river. It was a
broad and shallow stream. The Persians had assembled in vast numbers
on the opposite shore. Some historians say there were one hundred
thousand men, others say two hundred thousand, and others six hundred
thousand. However this may be, there is no doubt their numbers were
vastly superior to those of Alexander's army, which it will be
recollected was less than forty thousand. There was a narrow plain on
the opposite side of the river, next to the shore, and a range of
hills beyond. The Persian cavalry covered the plain, and were ready to
dash upon the Macedonian troops the moment they should emerge from the
water and attempt to ascend the bank.

The army, led by Alexander, descended into the stream, and moved on
through the water. They encountered the onset of their enemies on the
opposite shore. A terrible and a protracted struggle ensued, but the
coolness, courage, and strength of Alexander's army carried the day.
The Persians were driven back, the Greeks effected their landing,
reorganized and formed on the shore, and the Persians, finding that
all was lost, fled in all directions.

Alexander himself took a conspicuous and a very active part in the
contest. He was easily recognized on the field of battle by his dress,
and by a white plume which he wore in his helmet. He exposed himself
to the most imminent danger. At one time, when desperately engaged
with a troop of horse, which had galloped down upon him, a Persian
horseman aimed a blow at his head with a sword. Alexander saved his
head from the blow, but it took off his plume and a part of his
helmet. Alexander immediately thrust his antagonist through the body.
At the same moment, another horseman, on another side, had his sword
raised, and would have killed Alexander before he could have turned to
defend himself, had no help intervened; but just at this instant a
third combatant, one of Alexander's friends, seeing the danger,
brought down so terrible a blow upon the shoulder of this second
assailant as to separate his arm from his body.

Such are the stories that are told. They may have been literally and
fully true, or they may have been exaggerations of circumstances
somewhat resembling them which really occurred, or they may have been
fictitious altogether. Great generals, like other great men, have
often the credit of many exploits which they never perform. It is the
special business of poets and historians to magnify and embellish the
actions of the great, and this art was understood as well in ancient
days as it is now.

We must remember, too, in reading the accounts of these transactions,
that it is only the Greek side of the story that we hear. The Persian
narratives have not come down to us. At any rate, the Persian army was
defeated, and that, too, without the assistance of the phalanx. The
horsemen and the light troops were alone engaged. The phalanx could
not be formed, nor could it act in such a position. The men, on
emerging from the water, had to climb up the banks, and rush on to the
attack of an enemy consisting of squadrons of horse ready to dash at
once upon them.

The Persian army was defeated and driven away. Alexander did not
pursue them. He felt that he had struck a very heavy blow. The news of
this defeat of the Persians would go with the speed of the wind all
over Asia Minor, and operate most powerfully in his favor. He sent
home to Greece an account of the victory, and with the account he
forwarded three hundred suits of armor, taken from the Persian
horsemen killed on the field. These suits of armor were to be hung up
in the Parthenon, a great temple at Athens; the most conspicuous
position for them, perhaps, which all Europe could afford.

The name of the Persian general who commanded at the battle of the
Granicus was Memnon. He had been opposed to the plan of hazarding a
battle. Alexander had come to Asia with no provisions and no money. He
had relied on being able to sustain his army by his victories. Memnon,
therefore, strongly urged that the Persians should retreat slowly,
carrying off all the valuable property, and destroying all that could
not be removed, taking especial care to leave no provisions behind
them. In this way he thought that the army of Alexander would be
reduced by privation and want, and would, in the end, fall an easy
prey. His opinion was, however, overruled by the views of the other
commanders, and the battle of the Granicus was the consequence.

Alexander encamped to refresh his army and to take care of the
wounded. He went to see the wounded men one by one, inquired into the
circumstances of each case, and listened to each one who was able to
talk, while he gave an account of his adventures in the battle, and
the manner in which he received his wound. To be able thus to tell
their story to their general, and to see him listening to it with
interest and pleasure, filled their hearts with pride and joy; and
the whole army was inspired with the highest spirit of enthusiasm, and
with eager desires to have another opportunity occur in which they
could encounter danger and death in the service of such a leader. It
is in such traits as these that the true greatness of the soul of
Alexander shines. It must be remembered that all this time he was but
little more than twenty-one. He was but just of age.

From his encampment on the Granicus Alexander turned to the southward,
and moved along on the eastern shores of the Ægean Sea. The country
generally surrendered to him without opposition. In fact, it was
hardly Persian territory at all. The inhabitants were mainly of Greek
extraction, and had been sometimes under Greek and sometimes under
Persian rule. The conquest of the country resulted simply in a change
of the executive officer of each province. Alexander took special
pains to lead the people to feel that they had nothing to fear from
him. He would not allow the soldiers to do any injury. He protected
all private property. He took possession only of the citadels, and of
such governmental property as he found there, and he continued the
same taxes, the same laws, and the same tribunals as had existed
before his invasion. The cities and the provinces accordingly
surrendered to him as he passed along, and in a very short time all
the western part of Asia Minor submitted peacefully to his sway.

The narrative of this progress, as given by the ancient historians, is
diversified by a great variety of adventures and incidents, which give
great interest to the story, and strikingly illustrate the character
of Alexander and the spirit of the times. In some places there would
be a contest between the Greek and the Persian parties before
Alexander's arrival. At Ephesus the animosity had been so great that a
sort of civil war had broken out. The Greek party had gained the
ascendency, and were threatening a general massacre of the Persian
inhabitants. Alexander promptly interposed to protect them, though
they were his enemies. The intelligence of this act of forbearance and
generosity spread all over the land, and added greatly to the
influence of Alexander's name, and to the estimation in which he was

It was the custom in those days for the mass of the common soldiers to
be greatly influenced by what they called _omens_, that is, signs and
tokens which they observed in the flight or the actions of birds, and
other similar appearances. In one case, the fleet, which had come
along the sea, accompanying the march of the army on land, was pent up
in a harbor by a stronger Persian fleet outside. One of the vessels of
the Macedonian fleet was aground. An eagle lighted upon the mast, and
stood perched there for a long time, looking toward the sea. Parmenio
said that, as the eagle looked toward the sea, it indicated that
victory lay in that quarter, and he recommended that they should arm
their ships and push boldly out to attack the Persians. But Alexander
maintained that, as the eagle alighted on a ship which was aground, it
indicated that they were to look for their success on the shore. The
omens could thus almost always be interpreted any way, and sagacious
generals only sought in them the means of confirming the courage and
confidence of their soldiers, in respect to the plans which they
adopted under the influence of other considerations altogether.
Alexander knew very well that he was not a sailor, and had no desire
to embark in contests from which, however they might end, he would
himself personally obtain no glory.

When the winter came on, Alexander and his army were about three or
four hundred miles from home; and, as he did not intend to advance
much farther until the spring should open, he announced to the army
that all those persons, both officers and soldiers who had been
married within the year, might go home if they chose, and spend the
winter with their brides, and return to the army in the spring. No
doubt this was an admirable stroke of policy; for, as the number could
not be large, their absence could not materially weaken his force, and
they would, of course, fill all Greece with tales of Alexander's
energy and courage, and of the nobleness and generosity of his
character. It was the most effectual way possible of disseminating
through Europe the most brilliant accounts of what he had already

Besides, it must have awakened a new bond of sympathy and
fellow-feeling between himself and his soldiers, and greatly increased
the attachment to him felt both by those who went and those who
remained. And though Alexander must have been aware of all these
advantages of the act, still no one could have thought of or adopted
such a plan unless he was accustomed to consider and regard, in his
dealings with others, the feelings and affections of the heart, and
to cherish a warm sympathy for them. The bridegroom soldiers, full of
exultation and pleasure, set forth on their return to Greece, in a
detachment under the charge of three generals, themselves bridegrooms

Alexander, however, had no idea of remaining idle during the winter.
He marched on from province to province, and from city to city,
meeting with every variety of adventures. He went first along the
southern coast, until at length he came to a place where a mountain
chain, called Taurus, comes down to the sea-coast, where it terminates
abruptly in cliffs and precipices, leaving only a narrow beach between
them and the water below. This beach was sometimes covered and
sometimes bare. It is true, there is very little tide in the
Mediterranean, but the level of the water along the shores is altered
considerably by the long-continued pressure exerted in one direction
or another by winds and storms. The water was _up_ when Alexander
reached this pass; still he determined to march his army through it.
There was another way, back among the mountains, but Alexander seemed
disposed to gratify the love of adventure which his army felt, by
introducing them to a novel scene of danger. They accordingly defiled
along under these cliffs, marching, as they say, sometimes up to the
waist in water, the swell rolling in upon them all the time from the

Having at length succeeded in passing safely round this frowning
buttress of the mountains, Alexander turned northward, and advanced
into the very heart of Asia Minor. In doing this he had to pass _over_
the range which he had come _round_ before; and, as it was winter, his
army were, for a time, enveloped in snows and storms among the wild
and frightful defiles. They had here, in addition to the dangers and
hardships of the way and of the season, to encounter the hostility of
their foes, as the tribes who inhabited these mountains assembled to
dispute the passage. Alexander was victorious, and reached a valley
through which there flows a river which has handed down its name to
the English language and literature. This river was the Meander. Its
beautiful windings through verdant and fertile valleys were so
renowned, that every stream which imitates its example is said to
_meander_ to the present day.

During all this time Parmenio had remained in the western part of Asia
Minor with a considerable body of the army. As the spring approached,
Alexander sent him orders to go to Gordium, whither he was himself
proceeding, and meet him there. He also directed that the detachment
which had gone home should, on recrossing the Hellespont, on their
return, proceed eastward to Gordium, thus making that city the general
rendezvous for the commencement of his next campaign.

One reason why Alexander desired to go to Gordium was that he wished
to untie the famous Gordian knot. The story of the Gordian knot was
this. Gordius was a sort of mountain farmer. One day he was plowing,
and an eagle came down and alighted upon his yoke, and remained there
until he had finished his plowing. This was an omen, but what was the
signification of it? Gordius did not know, and he accordingly went to
a neighboring town in order to consult the prophets and soothsayers.
On his way he met a damsel, who, like Rebecca in the days of Abraham,
was going forth to draw water. Gordius fell into conversation with
her, and related to her the occurrence which had interested him so
strongly. The maiden advised him to go back and offer a sacrifice to
Jupiter. Finally, she consented to go back with him and aid him. The
affair ended in her becoming his wife, and they lived together in
peace for many years upon their farm.

They had a son named Midas. The father and mother were accustomed to
go out sometimes in their cart or wagon, drawn by the oxen, Midas
driving. One day they were going into the town in this way, at a time
when it happened that there was an assembly convened, which was in a
state of great perplexity on account of the civil dissensions and
contests which prevailed in the country. They had just inquired of an
oracle what they should do. The oracle said that "a cart would bring
them a king, who would terminate their eternal broils." Just then
Midas came up, driving the cart in which his father and mother were
seated. The assembly thought at once that this must be the cart meant
by the oracle, and they made Gordius king by acclamation. They took
the cart and the yoke to preserve as sacred relics, consecrating them
to Jupiter; and Gordius tied the yoke to the pole of the cart by a
thong of leather, making a knot so close and complicated that nobody
could untie it again. It was called the Gordian knot. The oracle
afterward said that whoever should untie this knot should become
monarch of all Asia. Thus far, nobody had succeeded.

Alexander felt a great desire to see this knot and try what he could
do. He went, accordingly, into the temple where the sacred cart had
been deposited, and, after looking at the knot, and satisfying himself
that the task of untying it was hopeless, he cut it to pieces with his
sword. How far the circumstances of this whole story are true, and how
far fictitious, no one can tell; the story itself, however, as thus
related, has come down from generation to generation, in every country
of Europe, for two thousand years, and any extrication of one's self
from a difficulty by violent means has been called cutting the Gordian
knot to the present day.


At length the whole army was assembled, and the king recommenced
his progress. He went on successfully for some weeks, moving in a
southeasterly direction, and bringing the whole country under his
dominion, until, at length, when he reached Tarsus, an event occurred
which nearly terminated his career. There were some circumstances
which caused him to press forward with the utmost effort in
approaching Tarsus, and, as the day was warm, he got very much
overcome with heat and fatigue. In this state, he went and plunged
suddenly into the River Cydnus to bathe.

Now the Cydnus is a small stream, flowing by Tarsus, and it comes down
from Mount Taurus at a short distance back from the city. Such streams
are always very cold. Alexander was immediately seized with a very
violent chill, and was taken out of the water shivering excessively,
and, at length, fainted away. They thought he was dying. They bore him
to his tent, and, as tidings of their leader's danger spread through
the camp, the whole army, officers and soldiers, were thrown into the
greatest consternation and grief.

A violent and protracted fever came on. In the course of it, an
incident occurred which strikingly illustrates the boldness and
originality of Alexander's character. The name of his physician was
Philip. Philip had been preparing a particular medicine for him,
which, it seems, required some days to make ready. Just before it was
presented, Alexander received a letter from Parmenio, informing him
that he had good reason to believe that Philip had been bribed by the
Persians to murder him, during his sickness, by administering poison
in the name of medicine. He wrote, he said, to put him on his guard
against any medicine which Philip might offer him.

Alexander put the letter under his pillow, and communicated its
contents to no one. At length, when the medicine was ready, Philip
brought it in. Alexander took the cup containing it with one hand, and
with the other he handed Philip the communication which he had
received from Parmenio, saying, "Read that letter." As soon as Philip
had finished reading it, and was ready to look up, Alexander drank off
the draught in full, and laid down the cup with an air of perfect
confidence that he had nothing to fear.

Some persons think that Alexander watched the countenance of his
physician while he was reading the letter, and that he was led to take
the medicine by his confidence in his power to determine the guilt or
the innocence of a person thus accused by his looks. Others suppose
that the act was an expression of his implicit faith in the integrity
and fidelity of his servant, and that he intended it as testimony,
given in a very pointed and decisive, and, at the same time, delicate
manner, that he was not suspicious of his friends, or easily led to
distrust their faithfulness. Philip was, at any rate, extremely
gratified at the procedure, and Alexander recovered.

Alexander had now traversed the whole extent of Asia Minor, and had
subdued the entire country to his sway. He was now advancing to
another district, that of Syria and Palestine, which lies on the
eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. To enter this new territory,
he had to pass over a narrow plain which lay between the mountains and
the sea, at a place called Issus. Here he was met by the main body of
the Persian army, and the great battle of Issus was fought. This
battle will be the subject of the next chapter.



B.C. 333

Darius's opinion of Alexander.--He prepares to meet him.--Greek
mercenaries.--Counsel of Charidemus.--Darius's displeasure at
Charidemus.--He condemns him to death.--Magnificence of Darius's
army.--Worship of the sun.--The Kinsmen.--The Immortals.--Appearance
of Darius.--Costly apparel of Darius.--His family.--Darius advances
to meet Alexander.--Map of the plain of Issus.--Mount Taurus.--Route
of Darius.--Situation of Issus.--The armies pass each
other.--Reconnoitering parties.--A camp at night.--The night
before the battle.--Sublime and solemn scenes.--Defeat of the
Persians.--Flight of Darius.--The mother and wife of Darius
taken captive.--Their grief.--Alexander's kindness to the
captives.--Hephæstion.--Alexander's interview with the queens.--A
mistake.--Boldness of Alexander's policy.--Number of Persians
slain.--Capture of immense treasure.--Negotiations.--Alexander's
message to Darius.--Grecian captives.--The Theban envoys.--Alexander's
victorious progress.

Thus far Alexander had had only the lieutenants and generals of the
Persian monarch to contend with. Darius had at first looked upon the
invasion of his vast dominions by such a mere boy, as he called him,
and by so small an army, with contempt. He sent word to his generals
in Asia Minor to seize the young fool, and send him to Persia bound
hand and foot. By the time, however, that Alexander had possessed
himself of all Asia Minor, Darius began to find that, though young, he
was no fool, and that it was not likely to be very easy to seize him.

Accordingly, Darius collected an immense army himself, and advanced to
meet the Macedonians in person. Nothing could exceed the pomp and
magnificence of his preparations. There were immense numbers of
troops, and they were of all nations. There were even a great many
Greeks among his forces, many of them enlisted from the Greeks of Asia
Minor. There were some from Greece itself--mercenaries, as they were
called; that is, soldiers who fought for pay, and who were willing to
enter into any service which would pay them best.

There were even some Greek officers and counselors in the family and
court of Darius. One of them, named Charidemus, offended the king very
much by the free opinion which he expressed of the uselessness of all
his pomp and parade in preparing for an encounter with such an enemy
as Alexander. "Perhaps," said Charidemus, "you may not be pleased with
my speaking to you plainly, but if I do not do it now, it will be too
late hereafter. This great parade and pomp, and this enormous
multitude of men, might be formidable to your Asiatic neighbors; but
such sort of preparation will be of little avail against Alexander and
his Greeks. Your army is resplendent with purple and gold. No one who
had not seen it could conceive of its magnificence; but it will not be
of any avail against the terrible energy of the Greeks. Their minds
are bent on something very different from idle show. They are intent
on securing the substantial excellence of their weapons, and on
acquiring the discipline and the hardihood essential for the most
efficient use of them. They will despise all your parade of purple and
gold. They will not even value it as plunder. They glory in their
ability to dispense with all the luxuries and conveniences of life.
They live upon the coarsest food. At night they sleep upon the bare
ground. By day they are always on the march. They brave hunger, cold,
and every species of exposure with pride and pleasure, having the
greatest contempt for any thing like softness and effeminacy of
character. All this pomp and pageantry, with inefficient weapons, and
inefficient men to wield them, will be of no avail against their
invincible courage and energy; and the best disposition that you can
make of all your gold, and silver, and other treasures, is to send it
away and procure good soldiers with it, if indeed gold and silver will
procure them."

The Greeks were habituated to energetic speaking as well as acting,
but Charidemus did not sufficiently consider that the Persians were
not accustomed to hear such plain language as this. Darius was very
much displeased. In his anger he condemned him to death. "Very well,"
said Charidemus, "I can die. But my avenger is at hand. My advice is
good, and Alexander will soon punish you for not regarding it."

Very gorgeous descriptions are given of the pomp and magnificence of
the army of Darius, as he commenced his march from the Euphrates to
the Mediterranean. The Persians worship the sun and fire. Over the
king's tent there was an image of the sun in crystal, and supported in
such a manner as to be in the view of the whole army. They had also
silver altars, on which they kept constantly burning what they called
the sacred fire. These altars were borne by persons appointed for the
purpose, who were clothed in magnificent costumes. Then came a long
procession of priests and magi, who were dressed also in very splendid
robes. They performed the services of public worship. Following them
came a chariot consecrated to the sun. It was drawn by white horses,
and was followed by a single white horse of large size and noble form,
which was a sacred animal, being called the horse of the sun. The
equerries, that is, the attendants who had charge of this horse, were
also all dressed in white, and each carried a golden rod in his hand.

There were bodies of troops distinguished from the rest, and occupying
positions of high honor, but these were selected and advanced above
the others, not on account of their courage, or strength, or superior
martial efficiency, but from considerations connected with their
birth, and rank, and other aristocratic qualities. There was one body
called the Kinsmen, who were the relatives of the king, or, at least,
so considered, though, as there were fifteen thousand of them, it
would seem that the relationship could not have been, in all cases,
very near. They were dressed with great magnificence, and prided
themselves on their rank, their wealth, and the splendor of their
armor. There was also a corps called the Immortals. They were ten
thousand in number. They wore a dress of gold tissue, which glittered
with spangles and precious stones.

These bodies of men, thus dressed, made an appearance more like that
of a civic procession, on an occasion of ceremony and rejoicing, than
like the march of an army. The appearance of the king in his chariot
was still more like an exhibition of pomp and parade. The carriage was
very large, elaborately carved and gilded, and ornamented with statues
and sculptures. Here the king sat on a very elevated seat, in sight of
all. He was clothed in a vest of purple, striped with silver, and over
his vest he wore a robe glittering with gold and precious stones.
Around his waist was a golden girdle, from which was suspended his
cimeter--a species of sword--the scabbard of which was resplendent
with gems. He wore a tiara upon his head of very costly and elegant
workmanship, and enriched, like the rest of his dress, with brilliant
ornaments. The guards who preceded and followed him had pikes of
silver, mounted and tipped with gold.

It is very extraordinary that King Darius took his wife and all his
family with him, and a large portion of his treasures, on this
expedition against Alexander. His mother, whose name was Sysigambis,
was in his family, and she and his wife came, each in her own chariot,
immediately after the king. Then there were fifteen carriages filled
with the children and their attendants, and three or four hundred
ladies of the court, all dressed like queens. After the family there
came a train of many hundreds of camels and mules, carrying the royal

It was in this style that Darius set out upon his expedition, and he
advanced by a slow progress toward the westward, until at length he
approached the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. He left his treasures
in the city of Damascus, where they were deposited under the charge
of a sufficient force to protect them, as he supposed. He then
advanced to meet Alexander, going himself from Syria toward Asia Minor
just at the time that Alexander was coming from Asia Minor into Syria.

[Illustration: PLAIN OF ISSUS.]

It will be observed by looking upon the map, that the chain of
mountains called Mount Taurus extends down near to the coast, at the
northeastern corner of the Mediterranean. Among these mountains there
are various tracts of open country, through which an army may march to
and fro, between Syria and Asia Minor. Now it happened that Darius, in
going toward the west, took a more inland route than Alexander, who,
on coming eastward, kept nearer to the sea. Alexander did not know
that Darius was so near; and as for Darius, he was confident that
Alexander was retreating before him; for, as the Macedonian army was
so small, and his own forces constituted such an innumerable host, the
idea that Alexander would remain to brave a battle was, in his
opinion, entirely out of the question. He had, therefore, no doubt
that Alexander was retreating. It is, of course, always difficult for
two armies, fifty miles apart, to obtain correct ideas of each other's
movements. All the ordinary intercommunications of the country are of
course stopped, and each general has his scouts out, with orders to
intercept all travelers, and to interrupt the communication of
intelligence by every means in their power.

In consequence of these and other circumstances of a similar nature,
it happened that Alexander and Darius actually passed each other,
without either of them being aware of it. Alexander advanced into
Syria by the plains of Issus, marked _a_ upon the map, and a narrow
pass beyond, called the Gates of Syria, while Darius went farther to
the north, and arrived at Issus after Alexander had left it. Here each
army learned to their astonishment that their enemy was in their rear.
Alexander could not credit this report when he first heard it. He
dispatched a galley with thirty oars along the shore, up the Gulf of
Issus, to ascertain the truth. The galley soon came back and reported
that, beyond the Gates of Syria, they saw the whole country, which was
nearly level land, though gently rising from the sea, covered with the
vast encampments of the Persian army.

The king then called his generals and counselors together, informed
them of the facts, and made known to them his determination to return
immediately through the Gates of Syria and attack the Persian army.
The officers received the intelligence with enthusiastic expressions
of joy.

It was now near the evening. Alexander sent forward a strong
reconnoitering party, ordering them to proceed cautiously, to ascend
eminences and look far before them, to guard carefully against
surprise, and to send back word immediately if they came upon any
traces of the enemy. At the present day the operations of such a
reconnoitering party are very much aided by the use of spy-glasses,
which are made now with great care expressly for military purposes.
The instrument, however, was not known in Alexander's day.

When the evening came on, Alexander followed the reconnoitering party
with the main body of the army. At midnight they reached the defile.
When they were secure in the possession of it, they halted. Strong
watches were stationed on all the surrounding heights to guard against
any possible surprise. Alexander himself ascended one of the
eminences, from whence he could look down upon the great plain beyond,
which was dimly illuminated in every part by the smouldering fires of
the Persian encampment. An encampment at night is a spectacle which is
always grand, and often sublime. It must have appeared sublime to
Alexander in the highest degree, on this occasion. To stand stealthily
among these dark and somber mountains, with the defiles and passes
below filled with the columns of his small but undaunted army, and to
look onward, a few miles beyond, and see the countless fires of the
vast hosts which had got between him and all hope of retreat to his
native land; to feel, as he must have done, that his fate, and that of
all who were with him, depended upon the events of the day that was
soon to dawn--to see and feel these things must have made this night
one of the most exciting and solemn scenes in the conqueror's life. He
had a soul to enjoy its excitement and sublimity. He gloried in it;
and, as if he wished to add to the solemnity of the scene, he caused
an altar to be erected, and offered a sacrifice, by torch-light, to
the deities on whose aid his soldiers imagined themselves most
dependent for success on the morrow. Of course a place was selected
where the lights of the torches would not attract the attention of the
enemy, and sentinels were stationed at every advantageous point to
watch the Persian camp for the slightest indications of movement or

In the morning, at break of day, Alexander commenced his march down to
the plain. In the evening, at sunset, all the valleys and defiles
among the mountains around the plain of Issus were thronged with vast
masses of the Persian army, broken, disordered, and in confusion, all
pressing forward to escape from the victorious Macedonians. They
crowded all the roads, they choked up the mountain passes, they
trampled upon one another, they fell, exhausted with fatigue and
mental agitation. Darius was among them, though his flight had been so
sudden that he had left his mother, and his wife, and all his family
behind. He pressed on in his chariot as far as the road allowed his
chariot to go, and then, leaving every thing behind, he mounted a
horse and rode on for his life.

Alexander and his army soon abandoned the pursuit, and returned to
take possession of the Persian camp. The tents of King Darius and his
household were inconceivably splendid, and were filled with gold and
silver vessels, caskets, vases, boxes of perfumes, and every
imaginable article of luxury and show. The mother and wife of Darius
bewailed their hard fate with cries and tears, and continued all the
evening in an agony of consternation and despair.

Alexander, hearing of this, sent Leonnatus, his former teacher, a man
of years and gravity, to quiet their fears and comfort them, so far as
it was possible to comfort them. In addition to their own captivity,
they supposed that Darius was killed, and the mother was mourning
bitterly for her son, and the wife for her husband. Leonnatus,
attended by some soldiers, advanced toward the tent where these
mourners were dwelling. The attendants at the door ran in and informed
them that a body of Greeks were coming. This threw them into the
greatest consternation. They anticipated violence and death, and threw
themselves upon the ground in agony. Leonnatus waited some time at the
door for the attendants to return. At length he entered the tent. This
renewed the terrors of the women. They began to entreat him to spare
their lives, at least until there should be time for them to see the
remains of the son and husband whom they mourned, and to pay the last
sad tribute to his memory.

Leonnatus soon relieved their fears. He told them that he was charged
by Alexander to say to them that Darius was alive, having made his
escape in safety. As to themselves, Alexander assured them, he said,
that they should not be injured; that not only were their persons and
lives to be protected, but no change was to be made in their condition
or mode of life; they should continue to be treated like queens. He
added, moreover, that Alexander wished him to say that he felt no
animosity or ill will whatever against Darius. He was but technically
his enemy, being only engaged in a generous and honorable contest with
him for the empire of Asia. Saying these things, Leonnatus raised the
disconsolate ladies from the ground, and they gradually regained some
degree of composure.

Alexander himself went to pay a visit to the captive princesses the
next day. He took with him Hephæstion. Hephæstion was Alexander's
personal friend. The two young men were of the same age, and, though
Alexander had the good sense to retain in power all the old and
experienced officers which his father had employed, both in the court
and army, he showed that, after all, ambition had not overwhelmed and
stifled all the kindlier feelings of the heart, by his strong
attachment to this young companion. Hephæstion was his confidant, his
associate, his personal friend. He did what very few monarchs have
done, either before or since; in securing for himself the pleasures of
friendship, and of intimate social communion with a heart kindred to
his own, without ruining himself by committing to a favorite powers
which he was not qualified to wield. Alexander left the wise and
experienced Parmenio to manage the camp, while he took the young and
handsome Hephæstion to accompany him on his visit to the captive

When the two friends entered the tent, the ladies were, from some
cause, deceived, and mistook Hephæstion for Alexander, and addressed
him, accordingly, with tokens of high respect and homage. One of their
attendants immediately rectified the mistake, telling them that the
other was Alexander. The ladies were at first overwhelmed with
confusion, and attempted to apologize; but the king reassured them at
once by the easy and good-natured manner with which he passed over the
mistake, saying it was no mistake at all. "It is true," said he, "that
I am Alexander, but then he is Alexander too."

The wife of Darius was young and very beautiful, and they had a little
son who was with them in the camp. It seems almost unaccountable that
Darius should have brought such a helpless and defenseless charge with
him into camps and fields of battle. But the truth was that he had no
idea of even a battle with Alexander, and as to defeat, he did not
contemplate the remotest possibility of it. He regarded Alexander as a
mere boy--energetic and daring it is true, and at the head of a
desperate band of adventurers; but he considered his whole force as
altogether too insignificant to make any stand against such a vast
military power as he was bringing against him. He presumed that he
would retreat as fast as possible before the Persian army came near
him. The idea of such a boy coming down at break of day, from narrow
defiles of the mountains, upon his vast encampment covering all the
plains, and in twelve hours putting the whole mighty mass to flight,
was what never entered his imagination at all. The exploit was,
indeed, a very extraordinary one. Alexander's forces may have
consisted of forty or fifty thousand men, and, if we may believe their
story, there were over a hundred thousand Persians left dead upon the
field. Many of these were, however, killed by the dreadful confusion
and violence of the retreat as vast bodies of horsemen, pressing
through the defiles, rode over and trampled down the foot soldiers who
were toiling in awful confusion along the way, having fled before the
horsemen left the field.

Alexander had heard that Darius had left the greater part of his royal
treasures in Damascus, and he sent Parmenio there to seize them. This
expedition was successful. An enormous amount of gold and silver fell
into Alexander's hands. The plate was coined into money, and many of
the treasures were sent to Greece.

Darius got together a small remnant of his army and continued his
flight. He did not stop until he had crossed the Euphrates. He then
sent an embassador to Alexander to make propositions for peace. He
remonstrated with him, in the communication which he made, for coming
thus to invade his dominions, and urged him to withdraw and be
satisfied with his own kingdom. He offered him any sum he might name
as a ransom for his mother, wife, and child, and agreed that if he
would deliver them up to him on the payment of the ransom, and depart
from his dominions, he would thenceforth regard him as an ally and a

Alexander replied by a letter, expressed in brief but very decided
language. He said that the Persians had, under the ancestors of
Darius, crossed the Hellespont, invaded Greece, laid waste the
country, and destroyed cities and towns, and had thus done them
incalculable injury; and that Darius himself had been plotting against
his (Alexander's) life, and offering rewards to any one who would kill
him. "I am acting, then," continued Alexander, "only on the
defensive. The gods, who always favor the right, have given me the
victory. I am now monarch of a large part of Asia, and your sovereign
king. If you will admit this, and come to me as my subject, I will
restore to you your mother, your wife, and your child, without any
ransom. And, at any rate, whatever you decide in respect to these
proposals, if you wish to communicate with me on any subject
hereafter, I shall pay no attention to what you send unless you
address it to me as your king."

One circumstance occurred at the close of this great victory which
illustrates the magnanimity of Alexander's character, and helps to
explain the very strong personal attachment which every body within
the circle of his influence so obviously felt for him. He found a
great number of envoys and embassadors from the various states of
Greece at the Persian court, and these persons fell into his hands
among the other captives. Now the states and cities of Greece, all
except Sparta and Thebes, which last city he had destroyed, were
combined ostensibly in the confederation by which Alexander was
sustained. It seems, however, that there was a secret enmity against
him in Greece, and various parties had sent messengers and agents to
the Persian court to aid in plots and schemes to interfere with and
defeat Alexander's plans. The Thebans, scattered and disorganized as
they were, had sent envoys in this way. Now Alexander, in considering
what disposition he should make of these emissaries from his own land,
decided to regard them all as traitors except the Thebans. All except
the Thebans were _traitors_, he maintained, for acting secretly
against him, while ostensibly, and by solemn covenants, they were his
friends. "The case of the Thebans is very different," said he. "I have
destroyed their city, and they have a right to consider me their
enemy, and to do all they can to oppose my progress, and to regain
their own lost existence and their former power." So he gave them
their liberty and sent them away with marks of consideration and

As the vast army of the Persian monarch had now been defeated, of
course none of the smaller kingdoms or provinces thought of resisting.
They yielded one after another, and Alexander appointed governors of
his own to rule over them. He advanced in this manner along the
eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea, meeting with no obstruction
until he reached the great and powerful city of Tyre.



B.C. 333

The city of Tyre.--Its situation and extent.--Pursuits of the
Tyrians.--Their great wealth and resources.--The walls of
Tyre.--Influence and power of Tyre.--Alexander hesitates in regard
to Tyre.--Presents from the Tyrians.--Alexander refused admittance
into Tyre.--He resolves to attack it.--Alexander's plan.--Its
difficulties and dangers.--Enthusiasm of the army.--Construction
of the pier.--Progress of the work.--Counter operations of the
Tyrians.--Structures erected on the pier.--The Tyrians fit up a fire
ship.--The ship fired and set adrift.--The conflagration.--Effects
of the storm.--The work began anew.--Alexander collects a
fleet.--Warlike engines.--Double galleys.--The women removed from
Tyre.--The siege advances.--Undaunted courage of the Tyrians.--A
breach made.--The assault.--Storming the city.--Barbarous cruelties
of Alexander.--Changes in Alexander's character.--His harsh message
to Darius.--Alexander's reply to Parmenio.--The hero rises, but the
man sinks.--Lysimachus.--Alexander's adventure in the mountains.--What
credits to be given to the adventure.

The city of Tyre stood on a small island, three or four miles in
diameter,[B] on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It was,
in those days, the greatest commercial city in the world, and it
exercised a great maritime power by means of its fleets and ships,
which traversed every part of the Mediterranean.

[Footnote B: There are different statements in respect to the size of
this island, varying from three to nine miles in circumference.]

Tyre had been built originally on the main-land; but in some of the
wars which it had to encounter with the kings of Babylon in the East,
this old city had been abandoned by the inhabitants, and a new one
built upon an island not far from the shore, which could be more
easily defended from an enemy. The old city had gone to ruin, and its
place was occupied by old walls, fallen towers, stones, columns,
arches, and other remains of the ancient magnificence of the place.

The island on which the Tyre of Alexander's day had been built was
about half a mile from the shore. The water between was about eighteen
feet deep, and formed a harbor for the vessels. The great business of
the Tyrians was commerce. They bought and sold merchandise in all the
ports of the Mediterranean Sea, and transported it by their merchant
vessels to and fro. They had also fleets of war galleys, which they
used to protect their interests on the high seas, and in the various
ports which their merchant vessels visited. They were thus wealthy and
powerful, and yet they lived shut up upon their little island, and
were almost entirely independent of the main-land.

The city itself, however, though contracted in extent on account of
the small dimensions of the island, was very compactly built and
strongly fortified, and it contained a vast number of stately and
magnificent edifices, which were filled with stores of wealth that had
been accumulated by the mercantile enterprise and thrift of many
generations. Extravagant stories are told by the historians and
geographers of those days, in respect to the scale on which the
structures of Tyre were built. It was said, for instance, that the
walls were one hundred and fifty feet high. It is true that the walls
rose directly from the surface of the water, and of course a
considerable part of their elevation was required to bring them up to
the level of the surface of the land; and then, in addition to this,
they had to be carried up the whole ordinary height of a city wall to
afford the usual protection to the edifices and dwellings within.
There might have been some places where the walls themselves, or
structures connected with them, were carried up to the elevation above
named, though it is scarcely to be supposed that such could have been
their ordinary dimensions.

At any rate, Tyre was a very wealthy, magnificent, and powerful city,
intent on its commercial operations, and well furnished with means of
protecting them at sea, but feeling little interest, and taking little
part, in the contentions continually arising among the rival powers
which had possession of the land. Their policy was to retain their
independence, and yet to keep on good terms with all other powers, so
that their commercial intercourse with the ports of all nations might
go on undisturbed.

It was, of course, a very serious question with Alexander, as his
route lay now through Phoenicia and in the neighborhood of Tyre,
what he should do in respect to such a port. He did not like to leave
it behind him and proceed to the eastward; for, in case of any
reverses happening to him, the Tyrians would be very likely to act
decidedly against him, and their power on the Mediterranean would
enable them to act very efficiently against him on all the coasts of
Greece and Asia Minor. On the other hand, it seemed a desperate
undertaking to attack the city. He had none but land forces, and the
island was half a mile from the shore. Besides its enormous walls,
rising perpendicularly out of the water, it was defended by ships well
armed and manned. It was not possible to surround the city and starve
it into submission, as the inhabitants had wealth to buy, and ships to
bring in, any quantity of provisions and stores by sea. Alexander,
however, determined not to follow Darius toward the east, and leave
such a stronghold as this behind him.

The Tyrians wished to avoid a quarrel if it were possible. They sent
complimentary messages to Alexander, congratulating him on his
conquests, and disavowing all feelings of hostility to him. They also
sent him a golden crown, as many of the other states of Asia had done,
in token of their yielding a general submission to his authority.
Alexander returned very gracious replies, and expressed to them his
intention of coming to Tyre for the purpose of offering sacrifices, as
he said, to Hercules, a god whom the Tyrians worshiped.

The Tyrians knew that wherever Alexander went he went at the head of
his army, and his coming into Tyre at all implied necessarily his
taking military possession of it. They thought it might, perhaps, be
somewhat difficult to dispossess such a visitor after he should once
get installed in their castles and palaces. So they sent him word that
it would not be in their power to receive him in the city itself, but
that he could offer the sacrifice which he intended on the main-land,
as there was a temple sacred to Hercules among the ruins there.

Alexander then called a council of his officers, and stated to them
his views. He said that, on reflecting fully upon the subject, he had
come to the conclusion that it was best to postpone pushing his
expedition forward into the heart of Persia until he should have
subdued Tyre completely, and made himself master of the Mediterranean
Sea. He said, also, that he should take possession of Egypt before
turning his arms toward the forces that Darius was gathering against
him in the East. The generals of the army concurred in this opinion,
and Alexander advanced toward Tyre. The Tyrians prepared for their

After examining carefully all the circumstances of the case, Alexander
conceived the very bold plan of building a broad causeway from the
main-land to the island on which the city was founded, out of the
ruins of old Tyre, and then marching his army over upon it to the
walls of the city, where he could then plant his engines and make a
breach. This would seem to be a very desperate undertaking. It is true
the stones remaining on the site of the old city afforded sufficient
materials for the construction of the pier, but then the work must go
on against a tremendous opposition, both from the walls of the city
itself and from the Tyrian ships in the harbor. It would seem to be
almost impossible to protect the men from these attacks so as to allow
the operations to proceed at all, and the difficulty and danger must
increase very rapidly as the work should approach the walls of the
city. But, notwithstanding these objections, Alexander determined to
proceed. Tyre must be taken, and this was obviously the only possible
mode of taking it.

The soldiers advanced to undertake the work with great readiness.
Their strong personal attachment to Alexander; their confidence that
whatever he should plan and attempt would succeed; the novelty and
boldness of this design of reaching an island by building an isthmus
to it from the main-land--these and other similar considerations
excited the ardor and enthusiasm of the troops to the highest degree.

In constructing works of this kind in the water, the material used is
sometimes stone and sometimes earth. So far as earth is employed, it
is necessary to resort to some means to prevent its spreading under
the water, or being washed away by the dash of the waves at its sides.
This is usually effected by driving what are called _piles_, which are
long beams of wood, pointed at the end, and driven into the earth by
means of powerful engines. Alexander sent parties of men into the
mountains of Lebanon, where were vast forests of cedars, which were
very celebrated in ancient times, and which are often alluded to in
the sacred scriptures. They cut down these trees, and brought the
stems of them to the shore, where they sharpened them at one end and
drove them into the sand, in order to protect the sides of their
embankment. Others brought stones from the ruins and tumbled them
into the sea in the direction where the pier was to be built. It was
some time before the work made such progress as to attract much
attention from Tyre. At length, however, when the people of the city
saw it gradually increasing in size and advancing toward them, they
concluded that they must engage in earnest in the work of arresting
its progress.

They accordingly constructed engines on the walls to throw heavy darts
and stones over the water to the men upon the pier. They sent secretly
to the tribes that inhabited the valleys and ravines among the
mountains, to attack the parties at work there, and they landed forces
from the city at some distance from the pier, and then marched along
the shore, and attempted to drive away the men that were engaged in
carrying stones from the ruins. They also fitted up and manned some
galleys of large size, and brought them up near to the pier itself,
and attacked the men who were at work upon it with stones, darts,
arrows, and missiles of every description.

But all was of no avail. The work, though impeded, still went on.
Alexander built large screens of wood upon the pier, covering them
with hides, which protected his soldiers from the weapons of the
enemy, so that they could carry on their operations safely behind
them. By these means the work advanced for some distance further. As
it advanced, various structures were erected upon it, especially along
the sides and at the end toward the city. These structures consisted
of great engines for driving piles, and machines for throwing stones
and darts, and towers carried up to a great height, to enable the men
to throw stones and heavy weapons down upon the galleys which might
attempt to approach them.

At length the Tyrians determined on attempting to destroy all these
wooden works by means of what is called in modern times a _fire ship_.
They took a large galley, and filled it with combustibles of every
kind. They loaded it first with light dry wood, and they poured pitch,
and tar, and oil over all this wood to make it burn with fiercer
flames. They saturated the sails and the cordage in the same manner,
and laid trains of combustible materials through all parts of the
vessel, so that when fire should be set in one part it would
immediately spread every where, and set the whole mass in flames at
once. They towed this ship, on a windy day, near to the enemy's works,
and on the side from which the wind was blowing. They then put it in
motion toward the pier at a point where there was the greatest
collection of engines and machines, and when they had got as near as
they dared to go themselves, the men who were on board set the trains
on fire, and made their escape in boats. The flames ran all over the
vessel with inconceivable rapidity. The vessel itself drifted down
upon Alexander's works, notwithstanding the most strenuous exertions
of his soldiers to keep it away. The frames and engines, and the
enormous and complicated machines which had been erected, took fire,
and the whole mass was soon enveloped in a general conflagration.

The men made desperate attempts to defend their works, but all in
vain. Some were killed by arrows and darts, some were burned to death,
and others, in the confusion, fell into the sea. Finally, the army was
obliged to draw back, and to abandon all that was combustible in the
vast construction they had reared, to the devouring flames.

[Illustration: THE SIEGE OF TYRE.]

Not long after this the sea itself came to the aid of the Tyrians.
There was a storm; and, as a consequence of it, a heavy swell rolled
in from the offing, which soon undermined and washed away a large
part of the pier. The effects of a heavy sea on the most massive and
substantial structures, when they are fairly exposed to its impulse,
are far greater than would be conceived possible by those who had not
witnessed them. The most ponderous stones are removed, the strongest
fastenings are torn asunder, and embankments the most compact and
solid are undermined and washed away. The storm, in this case,
destroyed in a few hours the work of many months, while the army of
Alexander looked on from the shore witnessing its ravages in dismay.

When the storm was over, and the first shock of chagrin and
disappointment had passed from the minds of the men, Alexander
prepared to resume the work with fresh vigor and energy. The men
commenced repairing the pier and widening it, so as to increase its
strength and capacity. They dragged whole trees to the edges of it,
and sunk them, branches and all, to the bottom, to form a sort of
platform there, to prevent the stones from sinking into the slime.
They built new towers and engines, covering them with green hides to
make them fire-proof; and thus they were soon advancing again, and
gradually drawing nearer to the city, and in a more threatening and
formidable manner than ever.

Alexander, finding that his efforts were impeded very much by the
ships of the Tyrians, determined on collecting and equipping a fleet
of his own. This he did at Sidon, which was a town a short distance
north of Tyre. He embarked on board this fleet himself, and came down
with it into the Tyrian seas. With this fleet he had various success.
He chained many of the ships together, two and two, at a little
distance apart, covering the inclosed space with a platform, on which
the soldiers could stand to fight. The men also erected engines on
these platforms to attack the city. These engines were of various
kinds. There was what they called the battering ram, which was a long
and very heavy beam of wood, headed with iron or brass. This beam was
suspended by a chain in the middle, so that it could be swung back and
forth by the soldiers, its head striking against the wall each time,
by which means the wall would sometimes be soon battered down. They
had also machines for throwing great stones, or beams of wood, by
means of the elastic force of strong bars of wood, or of steel, or
that of twisted ropes. The part of the machine upon which the stone
was placed would be drawn back by the united strength of many of the
soldiers, and then, as it recovered itself when released, the stone
would be thrown off into the air with prodigious velocity and force.

Alexander's double galleys answered very well as long as the water was
smooth; but sometimes, when they were caught out in a swell, the
rolling of the waves would rack and twist them so as to tear the
platforms asunder, and sink the men in the sea. Thus difficulties
unexpected and formidable were continually arising. Alexander,
however, persevered through them all. The Tyrians, finding themselves
pressed more and more, and seeing that the dangers impending became
more and more formidable every day, at length concluded to send a
great number of the women and children away to Carthage, which was a
great commercial city in Africa. They were determined not to submit to
Alexander, but to carry their resistance to the very last extremity.
And as the closing scenes of a siege, especially if the place is at
last taken by storm, are awful beyond description, they wished to save
their wives, and daughters, and helpless babes from having to witness

In the mean time, as the siege advanced, the parties became more and
more incensed against each other. They treated the captives which they
took on either side with greater and greater cruelty, each thinking
that they were only retaliating worse injuries from the other. The
Macedonians approached nearer and nearer. The resources of the unhappy
city were gradually cut off and its strength worn away. The engines
approached nearer and nearer to the walls, until the battering rams
bore directly upon them, and breaches began to be made. At length one
great breach on the southern side was found to be "practicable," as
they call it. Alexander began to prepare for the final assault, and
the Tyrians saw before them the horrible prospect of being taken by

Still they would not submit. Submission would now have done but little
good, though it might have saved some of the final horrors of the
scene. Alexander had become greatly exasperated by the long resistance
which the Tyrians had made. They probably could not now have averted
destruction, but they might, perhaps, have prevented its coming upon
them in so terrible a shape as the irruption of thirty thousand
frantic and infuriated soldiers through the breaches in their walls
to take their city by storm.

The breach by which Alexander proposed to force his entrance was on
the southern side. He prepared a number of ships, with platforms
raised upon them in such a manner that, on getting near the walls,
they could be let down, and form a sort of bridge, over which the men
could pass to the broken fragments of the wall, and thence ascend
through the breach above.

The plan succeeded. The ships advanced to the proposed place of
landing. The bridges were let down. The men crowded over them to the
foot of the wall. They clambered up through the breach to the
battlements above, although the Tyrians thronged the passage and made
the most desperate resistance. Hundreds were killed by darts, and
arrows, and falling stones, and their bodies tumbled into the sea. The
others, paying no attention to their falling comrades, and drowning
the horrid screams of the crushed and the dying with their own frantic
shouts of rage and fury, pressed on up the broken wall till they
reached the battlements above. The vast throng then rolled along upon
the top of the wall till they came to stairways and slopes by which
they could descend into the city, and, pouring down through all these
avenues, they spread over the streets, and satiated the hatred and
rage, which had been gathering strength for seven long months, in
bursting into houses, and killing and destroying all that came in
their way. Thus the city was stormed.

After the soldiers were weary with the work of slaughtering the
wretched inhabitants of the city, they found that many still remained
alive, and Alexander tarnished the character for generosity and
forbearance for which he had thus far been distinguished by the
cruelty with which he treated them. Some were executed, some thrown
into the sea; and it is even said that two thousand were _crucified_
along the sea-shore. This may mean that their bodies were placed upon
crosses after life had been destroyed by some more humane method than
crucifixion. At any rate, we find frequent indications from this time
that prosperity and power were beginning to exert their usual
unfavorable influence upon Alexander's character. He became haughty,
imperious, and cruel. He lost the modesty and gentleness which seemed
to characterize him in the earlier part of his life, and began to
assume the moral character, as well as perform the exploits, of a
military hero.

A good illustration of this is afforded by the answer that he sent to
Darius, about the time of the storming of Tyre, in reply to a second
communication which he had received from him proposing terms of peace.
Darius offered him a very large sum of money for the ransom of his
mother, wife, and child, and agreed to give up to him all the country
he had conquered, including the whole territory west of the Euphrates.
He also offered him his daughter Statira in marriage. He recommended
to him to accept these terms, and be content with the possessions he
had already acquired; that he could not expect to succeed, if he
should try, in crossing the mighty rivers of the East, which were in
the way of his march toward the Persian dominions.

Alexander replied, that if he wished to marry his daughter he could do
it without his consent; as to the ransom, he was not in want of money;
in respect to Darius's offering to give him up all west of the
Euphrates, it was absurd for a man to speak of giving what was no
longer his own; that he had crossed too many seas in his military
expeditions, since he left Macedon, to feel any concern about the
_rivers_ that he might find in his way; and that he should continue
to pursue Darius wherever he might retreat in search of safety and
protection, and he had no fear but that he should find and conquer him
at last.

It was a harsh and cruel message to send to the unhappy monarch whom
he had already so greatly injured. Parmenio advised him to accept
Darius's offers. "I would," said he, "if I were Alexander." "Yes,"
said Alexander, "and so would I if I were Parmenio." What a reply from
a youth of twenty-two to a venerable general of sixty, who had been so
tried and faithful a friend, and so efficient a coadjutor both to his
father and to himself, for so many years.

The siege and storming of Tyre has always been considered one of the
greatest of Alexander's exploits. The boldness, the perseverance, the
indomitable energy which he himself and all his army manifested,
during the seven months of their Herculean toil, attracted the
admiration of the world. And yet we find our feelings of sympathy for
his character, and interest in his fate, somewhat alienated by the
indications of pride, imperiousness, and cruelty which begin to
appear. While he rises in our estimation as a military hero, he begins
to sink somewhat as a man.

And yet the change was not sudden. He bore during the siege his part
in the privations and difficulties which the soldiers had to endure;
and the dangers to which they had to be exposed, he was always willing
to share. One night he was out with a party upon the mountains. Among
his few immediate attendants was Lysimachus, one of his former
teachers, who always loved to accompany him at such times. Lysimachus
was advanced in life, and somewhat infirm, and consequently could not
keep up with the rest in the march. Alexander remained with
Lysimachus, and ordered the rest to go on. The road at length became
so rugged that they had to dismount from their horses and walk.
Finally they lost their way, and found themselves obliged to stop for
the night. They had no fire. They saw, however, at a distance, some
camp fires blazing which belonged to the barbarian tribes against whom
the expedition was directed. Alexander went to the nearest one. There
were two men lying by it, who had been stationed to take care of it.
He advanced stealthily to them and killed them both, probably while
they were asleep. He then took a brand from their fire, carried it
back to his own encampment, where he made a blazing fire for himself
and Lysimachus, and they passed the night in comfort and safety. This
is the story. How far we are to give credit to it, each reader must
judge for himself. One thing is certain, however, that there are many
military heroes of whom such stories would not be even fabricated.



B.C. 332

Alexander in Judea.--Josephus, and the character of his
writings.--Alexander's visit to Jerusalem.--Josephus's account of
it.--The high priest Jaddus.--His dreams.--The procession of
priests.--Alexander's account of his dream.--Alexander joins in the
Jewish ceremonies.--Prophecies of Daniel.--Doubts about Alexander's
visit.--Siege.--Alexander receives a wound.--Gaza taken by
storm.--Alexander's brutality to the brave Betis.--Rich
treasures.--Story of Alexander's youth.--Pelusium.--Memphis.--Fertility
of Egypt.--Deserts of Egypt.--Cause of their sterility.--The Great
Oasis.--Oasis of Siwah.--Temple of Jupiter Ammon.--Alexander aspires
to divine honors.--Alexander crosses the desert.--Its sublimity.--The
camel.--Scarcity of water.--Sand storms in the desert.--Arrival at the
Oasis.--Magnificent ceremonies.--Return to Memphis.--Alexander jokes
about his divinity.--Founding of Alexandria.--Island of Pharos.--The
light-house.--Alexandria the only remaining monument of Alexander's

After completing the subjugation of Tyre, Alexander commenced his
march for Egypt. His route led him through Judea. The time was about
three hundred years before the birth of Christ, and, of course, this
passage of the great conqueror through the land of Israel took place
between the historical periods of the Old Testament and of the New, so
that no account of it is given in the sacred volume.

There was a Jewish writer named Josephus, who lived and wrote a few
years after Christ, and, of course, more than three hundred years
after Alexander. He wrote a history of the Jews, which is a very
entertaining book to read; but he liked so much to magnify the
importance of the events in the history of his country, and to
embellish them with marvelous and supernatural incidents, that his
narratives have not always been received with implicit faith. Josephus
says that, as Alexander passed through Palestine, he went to pay a
visit to Jerusalem. The circumstances of this visit, according to his
account, were these.

The city of Tyre, before Alexander besieged it, as it lived entirely
by commerce, and was surrounded by the sea, had to depend on the
neighboring countries for a supply of food. The people were
accordingly accustomed to purchase grain in Phoenicia, in Judea, and
in Egypt, and transport it by their ships to the island. Alexander, in
the same manner, when besieging the city, found that he must depend
upon the neighboring countries for supplies of food; and he
accordingly sent requisitions for such supplies to several places,
and, among others, to Judea. The Jews, as Josephus says, refused to
send any such supplies, saying that it would be inconsistent with
fidelity to Darius, under whose government they were.

Alexander took no notice of this reply at the time, being occupied
with the siege of Tyre; but, as soon as that city was taken, and he
was ready to pass through Judea, he directed his march toward
Jerusalem with the intention of destroying the city.

Now the chief magistrate at Jerusalem at this time, the one who had
the command of the city, ruling it, of course, under a general
responsibility to the Persian government, was the high priest. His
name was Jaddus. In the time of Christ, about three hundred years
after this, the name of the high-priest, as the reader will recollect,
was Caiaphas. Jaddus and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem were very
much alarmed. They knew not what to do. The siege and capture of Tyre
had impressed them all with a strong sense of Alexander's terrible
energy and martial power, and they began to anticipate certain

Jaddus caused great sacrifices to be offered to Almighty God, and
public and solemn prayers were made, to implore his guidance and
protection. The next day after these services, he told the people that
they had nothing to fear. God had appeared to him in a dream, and
directed him what to do. "We are not to resist the conqueror," said
he, "but to go forth to meet him and welcome him. We are to strew the
city with flowers, and adorn it as for a festive celebration. The
priests are to be dressed in their pontifical robes and go forth, and
the inhabitants are to follow them in a civic procession. In this way
we are to go out to meet Alexander as he advances--and all will be

These directions were followed. Alexander was coming on with a full
determination to destroy the city. When, however, he saw the
procession, and came near enough to distinguish the appearance and
dress of the high priest, he stopped, seemed surprised and pleased,
and advanced toward him with an air of the profoundest deference and
respect. He seemed to pay him almost religious homage and adoration.
Every one was astonished. Parmenio asked him for an explanation.
Alexander made the following extraordinary statement:

"When I was in Macedon, before setting out on this expedition, while I
was revolving the subject in my mind, musing day after day on the
means of conquering Asia, one night I had a remarkable dream. In my
dream this very priest appeared before me, dressed just as he is now.
He exhorted me to banish every fear, to cross the Hellespont boldly,
and to push forward into the heart of Asia. He said that God would
march at the head of my army, and give me the victory over all the
Persians. I recognize this priest as the same person that appeared to
me then. He has the same countenance, the same dress, the same
stature, the same air. It is through his encouragement and aid that I
am here, and I am ready to worship and adore the God whose service he

Alexander joined the high priest in the procession, and they returned
to Jerusalem together. There Alexander united with them and with the
Jews of the city in the celebration of religious rites, by offering
sacrifices and oblations in the Jewish manner. The writings which are
now printed together in our Bibles, as the Old Testament, were, in
those days, written separately on parchment rolls, and kept in the
temple. The priests produced from the rolls the one containing the
prophecies of Daniel, and they read and interpreted some of these
prophecies to Alexander, which they considered to have reference to
him, though written many hundred years before. Alexander was, as
Josephus relates, very much pleased at the sight of these ancient
predictions, and the interpretation put upon them by the priests. He
assured the Jews that they should be protected in the exercise of all
their rights, and especially in their religious worship, and he also
promised them that he would take their brethren who resided in Media
and Babylon under his special charge when he should come into
possession of those places. These Jews of Media and Babylon were the
descendants of captives which had been carried away from their native
land in former wars.

Such is the story which Josephus relates. The Greek historians, on the
other hand, make no mention of this visit to Jerusalem; and some
persons think that it was never made, but that the story arose and was
propagated from generation to generation among the Jews, through the
influence of their desire to magnify the importance and influence of
their worship, and that Josephus incorporated the account into his
history without sufficiently verifying the facts.

However it may be in regard to Jerusalem, Alexander was delayed at
Gaza, which, as may be seen upon the map, is on the shore of the
Mediterranean Sea. It was a place of considerable commerce and wealth,
and was, at this time, under the command of a governor whom Darius had
stationed there. His name was Betis. Betis refused to surrender the
place. Alexander stopped to besiege it, and the siege delayed him two
months. He was very much exasperated at this, both against Betis and
against the city.

His unreasonable anger was very much increased by a wound which he
received. He was near a mound which his soldiers had been constructing
near the city, to place engines upon for an attack upon the walls,
when an arrow shot from one of the engines upon the walls struck him
in the breast. It penetrated his armor, and wounded him deeply in the
shoulder. The wound was very painful for some time, and the suffering
which he endured from it only added fuel to the flame of his anger
against the city.

At last breaches were made in the walls, and the place was taken by
storm. Alexander treated the wretched captives with extreme cruelty.
He cut the garrison to pieces, and sold the inhabitants to slavery. As
for Betis, he dealt with him in a manner almost too horrible to be
described. The reader will recollect that Achilles, at the siege of
Troy, after killing Hector, dragged his dead body around the walls of
the city. Alexander, growing more cruel as he became more accustomed
to war and bloodshed, had been intending to imitate this example so
soon as he could find an enemy worthy of such a fate. He now
determined to carry his plan into execution with Betis. He ordered him
into his presence. A few years before, he would have rewarded him for
his fidelity in his master's service; but now, grown selfish, hard
hearted, and revengeful, he looked upon him with a countenance full of
vindictive exultation, and said,

"You are not going to die the simple death that you desire. You have
got the worst torments that revenge can invent to suffer."

Betis did not reply, but looked upon Alexander with a calm, and
composed, and unsubdued air, which incensed the conqueror more and

"Observe his dumb arrogance," said Alexander; "but I will conquer him.
I will show him that I can draw groans from him, if nothing else."

He then ordered holes to be made through the heels of his unhappy
captive, and, passing a rope through them, had the body fastened to a
chariot, and dragged about the city till no life remained.

Alexander found many rich treasures in Gaza. He sent a large part of
them to his mother Olympias, whom he had left in Macedon. Alexander's
affection for his mother seems to have been more permanent than almost
any other good trait in his character. He found, in addition to other
stores of valuable merchandise, a large quantity of frankincense and
myrrh. These are gums which were brought from Arabia, and were very
costly. They were used chiefly in making offerings and in burning
incense to the gods.

When Alexander was a young man in Macedon, before his father's death,
he was one day present at the offering of sacrifices, and one of his
teachers and guardians, named Leonnatus, who was standing by, thought
he was rather profuse in his consumption of frankincense and myrrh. He
was taking it up by handfuls and throwing it upon the fire. Leonnatus
reproved him for this extravagance, and told him that when he became
master of the countries where these costly gums were procured, he
might be as prodigal of them as he pleased, but that in the mean time
it would be proper for him to be more prudent and economical.
Alexander remembered this reproof, and, finding vast stores of these
expensive gums in Gaza, he sent the whole quantity to Leonnatus,
telling him that he sent him this abundant supply that he might not
have occasion to be so reserved and sparing for the future in his
sacrifices to the gods.

After this conquest and destruction of Gaza, Alexander continued his
march southward to the frontiers of Egypt. He reached these frontiers
at the city of Pelusium. The Egyptians had been under the Persian
dominion, but they abhorred it, and were very ready to submit to
Alexander's sway. They sent embassadors to meet him upon the
frontiers. The governors of the cities, as he advanced into the
country, finding that it would be useless to resist, and warned by the
terrible example of Thebes, Tyre, and Gaza, surrendered to him as fast
as he summoned them.

He went to Memphis. Memphis was a great and powerful city, situated in
what was called Lower Egypt, on the Nile, just above where the
branches which form the mouths of the Nile separate from the main
stream. All that part of Egypt is flat country, having been formed by
the deposits brought down by the Nile. Such land is called _alluvial_;
it is always level, and, as it consists of successive deposits from
the turbid waters of the river, made in the successive inundations, it
forms always a very rich soil, deep and inexhaustible, and is, of
course, extremely fertile. Egypt has been celebrated for its
unexampled fertility from the earliest times. It waves with fields of
corn and grain, and is adorned with groves of the most luxuriant
growth and richest verdure.

It is only, however, so far as the land is formed by the deposits of
the Nile, that this scene of verdure and beauty extends. On the east
it is bounded by ranges of barren and rocky hills, and on the west by
vast deserts, consisting of moving sands, from which no animal or
vegetable life can derive the means of existence. The reason of this
sterility seems to be the absence of water. The geological formation
of the land is such that it furnishes few springs of water, and no
streams, and in that climate it seldom or never rains. If there is
water, the most barren sands will clothe themselves with some species
of vegetation, which, in its decay, will form a soil that will nourish
more and more fully each succeeding generation of plants. But in the
absence of water, any surface of earth will soon become a barren sand.
The wind will drive away every thing imponderable, leaving only the
heavy sands, to drift in storms, like fields of snow.

Among these African deserts, however, there are some fertile spots.
They are occasioned by springs which arise in little dells, and which
saturate the ground with moisture for some distance around them. The
water from these springs flows for some distance, in many cases, in a
little stream, before it is finally lost and absorbed in the sands.
The whole tract under the influence of this irrigation clothes itself
with verdure. Trees grow up to shade it. It forms a spot whose
beauty, absolutely great, is heightened by the contrast which it
presents to the gloomy and desolate desert by which it is surrounded.
Such a green spot in the desert is called an Oasis. They are the
resort and the refuge of the traveler and the pilgrim, who seek
shelter and repose upon them in their weary journeys over the
trackless wilds.

Nor must it be supposed that these islands of fertility and verdure
are always _small_. Some of them are very extensive, and contain a
considerable population. There is one called the Great Oasis, which
consists of a chain of fertile tracts of about a hundred miles in
length. Another, called the Oasis of Siwah, has, in modern times, a
population of eight thousand souls. This last is situated not far from
the shores of the Mediterranean Sea--at least not very far: perhaps
two or three hundred miles--and it was a very celebrated spot in
Alexander's day.

The cause of its celebrity was that it was the seat and center of the
worship of a famous deity called Jupiter Ammon. This god was said to
be the son of Jupiter, though there were all sorts of stories about
his origin and early history. He had the form of a ram, and was
worshiped by the people of Egypt, and also by the Carthaginians, and
by the people of Northern Africa generally. His temple was in this
Oasis, and it was surrounded by a considerable population, which was
supported, in a great degree, by the expenditures of the worshipers
who came as pilgrims, or otherwise, to sacrifice at his shrine.

It is said that Alexander, finding that the various objects of human
ambition which he had been so rapidly attaining by his victories and
conquests for the past few years were insufficient to satisfy him,
began now to aspire for some supernatural honors, and he accordingly
conceived the design of having himself declared to be the son of a
god. The heroes of Homer were sons of the gods. Alexander envied them
the fame and honor which this distinction gave them in the opinion of
mankind. He determined to visit the temple of Jupiter Ammon in the
Oasis of Siwah, and to have the declaration of his divine origin made
by the priests there.

He proceeded, accordingly, to the mouth of the Nile, where he found a
very eligible place, as he believed, for the foundation of a
commercial city, and he determined to build it on his return. Thence
he marched along the shores of the Mediterranean, toward the west,
until he reached a place called Parætonium, which will be found upon
the map. He then left the sea-shore and marched south, striking at
once into the desert when he left the sea. He was accompanied by a
small detachment of his army as an escort, and they journeyed eleven
days before they reached the Oasis.

They had a variety of perilous adventures in crossing the desert. For
the first two days the soldiers were excited and pleased with the
novelty and romantic grandeur of the scene. The desert has, in some
degree, the sublimity of the ocean. There is the same boundless
expanse, the same vast, unbroken curve of the horizon, the same
tracklessness, the same solitude. There is, in addition, a certain
profound and awful stillness and repose, which imparts to it a new
element of impressiveness and grandeur. Its dread and solemn silence
is far more imposing and sublime than the loudest thunders of the

The third day the soldiers began to be weary of such a march. They
seemed afraid to penetrate any further into such boundless and
terrible solitudes. They had been obliged to bring water with them in
goat-skins, which were carried by camels. The camel is the only beast
of burden which can be employed upon the deserts. There is a
peculiarity in the anatomical structure of this animal by which he can
take in, at one time, a supply of water for many days. He is formed,
in fact, for the desert. In his native state he lives in the oases and
in the valleys. He eats the herbage which grows among the rocks and
hills that alternate with the great sandy plains in all these
countries. In passing from one of his scanty pasturages to another, he
has long journeys to make across the sands, where, though he can find
food here and there, there is no water. Providence has formed him with
a structure adapted to this exigency, and by means of it he becomes
extremely useful to man.

The soldiers of Alexander did not take a sufficient supply of water,
and were reduced, at one time, to great distress. They were relieved,
the story says, by a rain, though rain is extremely unusual in the
deserts. Alexander attributed this supply to the miraculous
interposition of Heaven. They catch the rain, in such cases, with
cloths, and afterward wring out the water; though in this instance, as
the historians of that day say, the soldiers did not wait for this
tardy method of supply, but the whole detachment held back their heads
and opened their mouths, to catch the drops of rain as they fell.

There was another danger to which they were exposed in their march,
more terrible even than the scarcity of water. It was that of being
overwhelmed in the clouds of sand and dust which sometimes swept over
the desert in gales of wind. These were called sand-storms. The fine
sand flew, in such cases, in driving clouds, which filled the eyes and
stopped the breath of the traveler, and finally buried his body under
its drifts when he laid down to die. A large army of fifty thousand
men, under a former Persian king, had been overwhelmed and destroyed
in this way, some years before, in some of the Egyptian deserts.
Alexander's soldiers had heard of this calamity, and they were
threatened sometimes with the same fate. They, however, at length
escaped all the dangers of the desert, and began to approach the green
and fertile land of the Oasis.

The change from the barren and dismal loneliness of the sandy plains
to the groves and the villages, the beauty and the verdure of the
Oasis, was delightful both to Alexander himself and to all his men.
The priests at the great temple of Jupiter Ammon received them all
with marks of great distinction and honor. The most solemn and
magnificent ceremonies were performed, with offerings, oblations, and
sacrifices. The priests, after conferring in secret with the god in
the temple, came out with the annunciation that Alexander was indeed
his son, and they paid him, accordingly, almost divine honors. He is
supposed to have bribed them to do this by presents and pay. Alexander
returned at length to Memphis, and in all his subsequent orders and
decrees he styled himself Alexander king, son of Jupiter Ammon.

[Illustration: A FOCUS.]

But, though Alexander was thus willing to impress his ignorant
soldiers with a mysterious veneration for his fictitious divinity, he
was not deceived himself on the subject; he sometimes even made his
pretensions to the divine character a subject of joke. For instance,
they one day brought him in too little fire in the _focus_. The focus,
or fire-place used in Alexander's day was a small metallic stand, on
which the fire was built. It was placed wherever convenient in the
tent, and the smoke escaped above. They had put upon the focus too
little fuel one day when they brought it in. Alexander asked the
officer to let him have either some wood or some frankincense; they
might consider him, he said, as a god or as a man, whichever they
pleased, but he wished to be treated either like one or the other.

On his return from the Oasis Alexander carried forward his plan of
building a city at the mouth of the Nile. He drew the plan, it is
said, with his own hands. He superintended the constructions, and
invited artisans and mechanics from all nations to come and reside in
it. They accepted the invitation in great numbers, and the city soon
became large, and wealthy, and powerful. It was intended as a
commercial post, and the wisdom and sagacity which Alexander
manifested in the selection of the site, is shown by the fact that the
city rose immediately to the rank of the great seat of trade and
commerce for all those shores, and has continued to hold that rank now
for twenty centuries.

There was an island near the coast, opposite the city, called the
island of Pharos. They built a most magnificent light-house upon one
extremity of this island, which was considered, in those days, one of
the wonders of the world. It was said to be five hundred feet high.
This may have been an exaggeration. At any rate, it was celebrated
throughout the world in its day, and its existence and its greatness
made an impression on the human mind which has not yet been effaced.
Pharos is the name for light-house, in many languages, to the present

In building the city of Alexandria, Alexander laid aside, for a time,
his natural and proper character, and assumed a mode of action in
strong contrast with the ordinary course of his life. He was,
throughout most of his career, a destroyer. He roamed over the world
to interrupt commerce, to break in upon and disturb the peaceful
pursuits of industry, to batter down city walls, and burn dwellings,
and kill men. This is the true vocation of a hero and a conqueror; but
at the mouth of the Nile Alexander laid aside this character. He
turned his energies to the work of planning means to do good. He
constructed a port; he built warehouses; he provided accommodations
and protection for merchants and artisans. The nations exchanged their
commodities far more easily and extensively in consequence of these
facilities, and the means of comfort and enjoyment were multiplied and
increased in thousands and thousands of huts in the great cities of
Egypt, and in the rural districts along the banks of the Nile. The
good, too, which he thus commenced, has perpetuated itself. Alexandria
has continued to fulfill its beneficent function for two thousand
years. It is the only monument of his greatness which remains. Every
thing else which he accomplished perished when he died. How much
better would it have been for the happiness of mankind, as well as for
his own true fame and glory, if doing good had been the rule of his
life instead of the exception.



B.C. 331

Alexander makes Tyre his rendezvous.--Festivities.--Alexander prepares
to march east.--The captive queens.--Alexander's treatment of the
queens.--Death of Statira.--Agony of Sysigambis.--Grief of
Darius.--Alexander crosses the Euphrates.--Darius crosses the
Tigris.--Alexander reaches the Tigris.--He crosses the river.--Fording
the river.--The passage effected.--Plan of Darius.--The plain of
Arbela.--The caltrop.--Its use in war.--Eclipse of the
moon.--Consternation of Alexander's army.--Emotions produced by an
eclipse.--Its sublimity.--Measures taken by Alexander to allay the
fears of the soldiers.--Alexander approaches the Persian
army.--Preparations for the battle.--Alexander surveys the Persian
army.--Council of officers.--Number of the armies.--Alexander's
address.--Parmenio and Alexander.--Alexander's dress.--War
elephants.--The phalanx.--Defeat of the Persians.--Flight of
Darius.--Alexander driven from the field.--March to Babylon.--Surrender
of Susa.--Plunder of the palace.--Wholesale robbery and murder.--Immense
treasures.--Pass of Susa.--The mountaineers.

All the western part of Asia was now in Alexander's power. He was
undisputed master of Asia Minor, Phoenicia, Judea, and Egypt. He
returned from Egypt to Tyre, leaving governors to rule in his name in
all the conquered provinces. The injuries which had been done to Tyre,
during the siege and at the assault, were repaired, and it was again a
wealthy, powerful, and prosperous city. Alexander rested and refreshed
his army there, and spent some weeks in most splendid festivities and
rejoicings. The princes and potentates of all the neighboring
countries assembled to partake of his hospitality, to be entertained
by the games, the plays, the spectacles, and the feastings, and to
unite in swelling his court and doing him honor. In a word, he was the
general center of attraction for all eyes, and the object of universal

All this time, however, he was very far from being satisfied, or
feeling that his work was done. Darius, whom he considered his great
enemy, was still in the field unsubdued. He had retreated across the
Euphrates, and was employed in assembling a vast collection of forces
from all the Eastern nations which were under his sway, to meet
Alexander in the final contest. Alexander therefore made arrangements
at Tyre for the proper government of the various kingdoms and
provinces which he had already conquered, and then began to prepare
for marching eastward with the main body of his army.

During all this time the ladies of Darius's family, who had been taken
captive at Issus, had been retained in captivity, and made to
accompany Alexander's army in its marches. Alexander refused to accede
to any of the plans and propositions which Darius made and offered for
the redemption of his wife and mother, but insisted on retaining them
as his prisoners. He, however, treated them with respect and high
consideration. He provided them with royal tents of great
magnificence, and had them conveyed from place to place, when his army
moved, with all the royal state to which they had been accustomed when
in the court of Darius.

It has been generally thought a proof of nobleness of spirit and
generosity in Alexander that he treated his captives in this manner.
It would seem, however, that true generosity would have prompted the
restoration of these unhappy and harmless prisoners to the husband and
father who mourned their separation from him, and their cruel
sufferings, with bitter grief. It is more probable, therefore, that
policy, and a regard for his own aggrandizement, rather than
compassion for the suffering, led him to honor his captive queens. It
was a great glory to him, in a martial point of view, to have such
trophies of his victory in his train; and, of course, the more highly
he honored the personages, the more glorious the trophy appeared.
Accordingly, Alexander did every thing in his power to magnify the
importance of his royal captives, by the splendor of their retinue,
and the pomp and pageantry with which he invested their movements.

A short time after leaving Tyre, on the march eastward, Statira, the
wife of Darius, was taken suddenly ill and died.[C] The tidings were
immediately brought to Alexander, and he repaired without delay to
Sysigambis's tent. Sysigambis was the mother of Darius. She was in
the greatest agony of grief. She was lying upon the floor of her tent,
surrounded by the ladies of her court, and entirely overwhelmed with
sorrow. Alexander did all in his power to calm and comfort her.

[Footnote C: It was the birth of an infant that caused her death,
exhausted and worn down as she doubtless was, by her captivity and her

One of the officers of Queen Statira's household[D] made his escape
from the camp immediately after his mistress's death, and fled across
the country to Darius, to carry him the heavy tidings. Darius was
overwhelmed with affliction. The officer, however, in farther
interviews, gave him such an account of the kind and respectful
treatment which the ladies had received from Alexander, during all the
time of their captivity, as greatly to relieve his mind, and to afford
him a high degree of comfort and consolation. He expressed a very
strong sense of gratitude to Alexander for his generosity and
kindness, and said that if his kingdom of Persia _must_ be conquered,
he sincerely wished that it might fall into the hands of such a
conqueror as Alexander.

[Footnote D: A eunuch, a sort of officer employed in Eastern nations
in attendance upon ladies of high rank.]

By looking at the map at the commencement of the volume, it will be
seen that the Tigris and the Euphrates are parallel streams, flowing
through the heart of the western part of Asia toward the southeast,
and emptying into the Persian Gulf. The country between these two
rivers, which was extremely populous and fertile, was called
Mesopotamia. Darius had collected an immense army here. The various
detachments filled all the plains of Mesopotamia. Alexander turned his
course a little northward, intending to pass the River Euphrates at a
famous ancient crossing at Thapsacus, which may be seen upon the map.
When he arrived at this place he found a small Persian army there.
They, however, retired as he approached. Alexander built two bridges
across the river, and passed his army safely over.

In the mean time, Darius, with his enormous host, passed across the
Tigris, and moved toward the northward, along the eastern side of the
river. He had to cross the various branches of the Tigris as he
advanced. At one of them, called the Lycus, which may also be seen
upon the map, there was a bridge. It took the vast host which Darius
had collected _five days_ to pass this bridge.

While Darius had been thus advancing to the northward into the
latitude where he knew that Alexander must cross the rivers,
Alexander himself, and his small but compact and fearless body of
Grecian troops, were moving eastward, toward the same region to which
Darius's line of march was tending. Alexander at length reached the
Tigris. He was obliged to ford this stream. The banks were steep and
the current was rapid, and the men were in great danger of being swept
away. To prevent this danger, the ranks, as they advanced, linked
their arms together, so that each man might be sustained by his
comrades. They held their shields above their heads to keep them from
the water. Alexander waded like the rest, though he kept in front, and
reached the bank before the others. Standing there, he indicated to
the advancing column, by gesticulation, where to land, the noise of
the water being too great to allow his voice to be heard. To see him
standing there, safely landed, and with an expression of confidence
and triumph in his attitude and air, awakened fresh energy in the
heart of every soldier in the columns which were crossing the stream.

Notwithstanding this encouragement, however, the passage of the troops
and the landing on the bank produced a scene of great confusion. Many
of the soldiers had tied up a portion of their clothes in bundles,
which they held above their heads, together with their arms, as they
waded along through the swift current of the stream. They, however,
found it impossible to carry these bundles, but had to abandon them at
last in order to save themselves, as they staggered along through deep
and rapid water, and over a concealed bottom of slippery stones.
Thousands of these bundles, mingled with spears, darts, and every
other sort of weapon that would float, were swept down by the current,
to impede and embarrass the men who were passing below.

At length, however, the men themselves succeeded in getting over in
safety, though a large quantity of arms and of clothing was lost.
There was no enemy upon the bank to oppose them. Darius could not, in
fact, well meet and oppose Alexander in his attempt to cross the
river, because he could not determine at what point he would probably
make the attempt, in season to concentrate so large an army to oppose
him. Alexander's troops, being a comparatively small and compact body,
and being accustomed to move with great promptness and celerity, could
easily evade any attempt of such an unwieldy mass of forces to oppose
his crossing at any particular point upon the stream. At any rate,
Darius did not make any such attempt, and Alexander had no
difficulties to encounter in crossing the Tigris other than the
physical obstacles presented by the current of the stream.

Darius's plan was, therefore, not to intercept Alexander on his march,
but to choose some great and convenient battle-field, where he could
collect his forces, and marshal them advantageously, and so await an
attack there. He knew very well that his enemy would seek him out,
wherever he was, and, consequently, that he might choose his position.
He found such a field in an extensive plain at Guagamela, not far from
the city of Arbela. The spot has received historical immortality under
the name of the plain of Arbela.

Darius was several days in concentrating his vast armies upon this
plain. He constructed encampments; he leveled the inequalities which
would interfere with the movements of his great bodies of cavalry; he
guarded the approaches, too, as much as possible. There is a little
instrument used in war called a _caltrop_.[E] It consists of a small
ball of iron, with several sharp points projecting from it one or two
inches each way. If these instruments are thrown upon the ground at
random, one of the points must necessarily be upward, and the horses
that tread upon them are lamed and disabled at once. Darius caused
caltrops to be scattered in the grass and along the roads, wherever
the army of Alexander would be likely to approach his troops on the
field of battle.

[Footnote E: It receives its name from a kind of thistle called the

[Illustration: THE CALTROP.]

Alexander, having crossed the river, encamped for a day or two on the
banks, to rest and refresh, and to rearrange his army. While here, the
soldiers were one night thrown into consternation by an eclipse of the
moon. Whenever an eclipse of the moon takes place, it is, of course,
when the moon is full, so that the eclipse is always a sudden, and,
among an ignorant people, an unexpected waning of the orb in the
height of its splendor; and as such people know not the cause of the
phenomenon, they are often extremely terrified. Alexander's soldiers
were thrown into consternation by the eclipse. They considered it the
manifestation of the displeasure of Heaven at their presumptuous
daring in crossing such rivers, and penetrating to such a distance to
invade the territories of another king.

In fact, the men were predisposed to fear. Having wandered to a vast
distance from home, having passed over such mountains and deserts, and
now, at last, having crossed a deep and dangerous river, and thrown
themselves into the immediate vicinity of a foe ten times as numerous
as themselves, it was natural that they should feel some misgivings.
And when, at night, impressed with the sense of solemnity which night
always imparts to strange and novel scenes, they looked up to the
bright round moon, pleased with the expression of cheerfulness and
companionship which beams always in her light, to find her suddenly
waning, changing her form, withdrawing her bright beams, and looking
down upon them with a lurid and murky light, it was not surprising
that they felt an emotion of terror. In fact, there is always an
element of terror in the emotion excited by looking upon an eclipse,
which an instinctive feeling of the heart inspires. It invests the
spectacle with a solemn grandeur. It holds the spectator, however
cultivated and refined, in silence while he gazes at it. It mingles
with a scientific appreciation of the vastness of the movements and
magnitudes by which the effect is produced, and while the one occupies
the intellect, the other impresses the soul. The mind that has lost,
through its philosophy, the power of feeling this emotion of awe in
such scenes, has sunk, not risen. Its possessor has made himself
inferior, not superior, to the rest of his species, by having
paralyzed one of his susceptibilities of pleasure. To him an eclipse
is only curious and wonderful; to others it is sublime.

The soldiers of Alexander were extremely terrified. A great panic
spread throughout the encampment. Alexander himself, instead of
attempting to allay their fears by reasoning, or treating them as of
no importance, immediately gave the subject his most serious
attention. He called together the soothsayers, and directed them to
consult together, and let him know what this great phenomenon
portended. This mere committing of the subject to the attention of the
soothsayers had a great effect among all the soldiers of the army. It
calmed them. It changed their agitation and terror into a feeling of
suspense, in awaiting the answer of the soothsayers, which was far
less painful and dangerous; and at length, when the answer came, it
allayed their anxiety and fear altogether. The soothsayers said that
the sun was on Alexander's side, and the moon on that of the Persians,
and that this sudden waning of her light foreshadowed the defeat and
destruction which the Persians were about to undergo. The army were
satisfied with this decision, and were inspired with new confidence
and ardor. It is often idle to attempt to oppose ignorance and
absurdity by such feeble instruments as truth and reason, and the
wisest managers of mankind have generally been most successful when
their plan has been to counteract one folly by means of the influence
of another.

Alexander's army consisted of about fifty thousand men, with the
phalanx in the center. This army moved along down the eastern bank of
the Tigris, the scouts pressing forward as far as possible in every
direction in front of the main army, in order to get intelligence of
the foe. It is in this way that two great armies _feel_ after each
other, as it were, like insects creeping over the ground, exploring
the way before them with their _antennæ_. At length, after three days'
advance, the scouts came in with intelligence of the enemy. Alexander
pressed forward with a detachment of his army to meet them. They
proved to be, however, not the main body of Darius's army, but only a
single corps of a thousand men, in advance of the rest. They retreated
as Alexander approached. He, however, succeeded in capturing some
horsemen, who gave the information that Darius had assembled his vast
forces on the plain of Arbela, and was waiting there in readiness to
give his advancing enemy battle.

Alexander halted his troops. He formed an encampment, and made
arrangements for depositing his baggage there. He refreshed the men,
examined and repaired their arms, and made the arrangements for
battle. These operations consumed several days. At the end of that
time, early one morning, long before day, the camp was in motion, and
the columns, armed and equipped for immediate contest, moved forward.

They expected to have reached the camp of Darius at daybreak, but the
distance was greater than they had supposed. At length, however, the
Macedonians, in their march, came upon the brow of a range of hills,
from which they looked down upon numberless and endless lines of
infantry and cavalry, and ranges after ranges of tents, which filled
the plain. Here the army paused while Alexander examined the field,
studying for a long time, and with great attention, the numbers and
disposition of the enemy. They were four miles distant still, but the
murmuring sounds of their voices and movements came to the ears of the
Macedonians through the calm autumnal air.

Alexander called the leading officers together, and held a
consultation on the question whether to march down and attack the
Persians on the plain that night, or to wait till the next day.
Parmenio was in favor of a night attack, in order to surprise the
enemy by coming upon them at an unexpected time. But Alexander said
no. He was sure of victory. He had got his enemies all before him;
they were fully in his power. He would, therefore, take no advantage,
but would attack them fairly and in open day. Alexander had fifty
thousand men; the Persians were variously estimated between five
hundred thousand and a million. There is something sublime in the idea
of such a pause, made by the Macedonian phalanx and its wings, on the
slopes of the hills, suspending its attack upon ten times its number,
to give the mighty mass of their enemies the chances of a fair and
equal contest.

Alexander made congratulatory addresses to his soldiers on the
occasion of their having now at last before them, what they had so
long toiled and labored to attain, the whole concentrated force of the
Persian empire. They were now going to contend, not for single
provinces and kingdoms, as heretofore, but for general empire; and the
victory which they were about to achieve would place them on the
summit of human glory. In all that he said on the subject, the
unquestionable certainty of victory was assumed.

Alexander completed his arrangements, and then retired to rest. He
went to sleep--at least he appeared to do so. Early in the morning
Parmenio arose, summoned the men to their posts, and arranged every
thing for the march. He then went to Alexander's tent. Alexander was
still asleep. He awoke him, and told him that all was ready. Parmenio
expressed surprise at his sleeping so quietly at a time when such vast
issues were at stake. "You seem as calm," said he, "as if you had had
the battle and gained the victory." "I have done so," said Alexander.
"I consider the whole work done when we have gained access to Darius
and his forces, and find him ready to give us battle."

Alexander soon appeared at the head of his troops. Of course this day
was one of the most important ones of his life, and one of the
historians of the time has preserved an account of his dress as he
went into battle. He wore a short tunic, girt close around him, and
over it a linen breast-plate, strongly quilted. The belt by which the
tunic was held was embossed with figures of beautiful workmanship.
This belt was a present to him from some of the people of the
conquered countries through which he had passed, and it was very much
admired. He had a helmet upon his head, of polished steel, with a neck
piece, also of steel, ornamented with precious stones. His helmet was
surmounted with a white plume. His sword, which was a present to him
from the King of Cyprus, was very light and slender, and of the most
perfect temper. He carried, also, a shield and a lance, made in the
best possible manner for use, not for display. Thus his dress
corresponded with the character of his action. It was simple, compact,
and whatever of value it possessed consisted in those substantial
excellencies which would give the bearer the greatest efficiency on
the field of battle.

The Persians were accustomed to make use of elephants in their wars.
They also had chariots, with scythes placed at the axles, which they
were accustomed to drive among their enemies and mow them down.
Alexander resorted to none of these contrivances. There was the
phalanx--the terrible phalanx--advancing irresistibly either in one
body or in detachments, with columns of infantry and flying troops of
horsemen on the wings. Alexander relied simply on the strength, the
courage, the energy, and the calm and steady, but resistless ardor of
his men, arranging them in simple combinations, and leading them
forward directly to their work.

The Macedonians cut their way through the mighty mass of their enemies
with irresistible force. The elephants turned and fled. The foot
soldiers seized the horses of some of the scythe-armed chariots and
cut the traces. In respect to others, they opened to the right and
left and let them pass through, when they were easily captured by the
men in the rear. In the mean time the phalanx pressed on, enjoying a
great advantage in the level nature of the ground. The Persian troops
were broken in upon and driven away wherever they were attacked. In a
word, before night the whole mighty mass was scattering every where in
confusion, except some hundreds of thousands left trampled upon and
dead, or else writhing upon the ground, and groaning in their dying
agonies. Darius himself fled. Alexander pursued him with a troop of
horse as far as Arbela, which had been Darius's head-quarters, and
where he had deposited immense treasures. Darius had gone through and
escaped when Alexander arrived at Arbela, but the city and the
treasures fell into Alexander's hands.

Although Alexander had been so completely victorious over his enemies
on the day of battle, and had maintained his ground against them with
such invincible power, he was, nevertheless, a few days afterward,
driven entirely off the field, and completely away from the region
where the battle had been fought. What the living men, standing erect
in arms, and full of martial vigor, could not do, was easily and
effectually accomplished by their dead bodies corrupting on the plain.
The corpses of three hundred thousand men, and an equal bulk of the
bodies of elephants and horses, was too enormous a mass to be buried.
It had to be abandoned; and the horrible effluvia and pestilence which
it emitted drove all the inhabitants of the country away. Alexander
marched his troops rapidly off the ground, leaving, as the direct
result of the battle, a wide extent of country depopulated and
desolate, with this vast mass of putrefaction and pestilence reigning
in awful silence and solitude in the midst of it.

Alexander went to Babylon. The governor of the city prepared to
receive him as a conqueror. The people came out in throngs to meet
him, and all the avenues of approach were crowded with spectators. All
the city walls, too, were covered with men and women, assembled to
witness the scene. As for Alexander himself, he was filled with pride
and pleasure at thus arriving at the full accomplishment of his
earliest and long-cherished dreams of glory.

The great store-house of the royal treasures of Persia was at Susa, a
strong city east of Babylon. Susa was the winter residence of the
Persian kings, as Ecbatana, further north, among the mountains, was
their summer residence. There was a magnificent palace and a very
strong citadel at Susa, and the treasures were kept in the citadel. It
is said that in times of peace the Persian monarchs had been
accustomed to collect coin, melt it down, and cast the gold in earthen
jars. The jars were afterward broken off from the gold, leaving the
bullion in the form of the interior of the jars. An enormous amount of
gold and silver, and of other treasures, had been thus collected.
Alexander was aware of this depository before he advanced to meet
Darius, and, on the day of the battle of Arbela, as soon as the
victory was decided, he sent an officer from the very field to summon
Susa to surrender. They obeyed the summons, and Alexander, soon after
his great public entrance into Babylon, marched to Susa, and took
possession of the vast stores of wealth accumulated there. The amount
was enormous, both in quantity and value, and the seizing of it was a
very magnificent act of plunder. In fact, it is probable that
Alexander's slaughter of the Persian army at Arbela, and subsequent
spoliation of Susa, constitute, taken together, the most gigantic
case of murder and robbery which was ever committed by man; so that,
in performing these deeds, the great hero attained at last to the
glory of having perpetrated the grandest and most imposing of all
human crimes. That these deeds were really crimes there can be no
doubt, when we consider that Alexander did not pretend to have any
other motive in this invasion than love of conquest, which is, in
other words, love of violence and plunder. They are only technically
shielded from being called crimes by the fact that the earth has no
laws and no tribunals high enough to condemn such enormous burglaries
as that of one quarter of the globe breaking violently and murderously
in upon and robbing the other.

Besides the treasures, Alexander found also at Susa a number of
trophies which had been brought by Xerxes from Greece; for Xerxes had
invaded Greece some hundred years before Alexander's day, and had
brought to Susa the spoils and the trophies of his victories.
Alexander sent them all back to Greece again.

From Susa the conqueror moved on to Persepolis, the great Persian
capital. On his march he had to pass through a defile of the
mountains. The mountaineers had been accustomed to exact tribute here
of all who passed, having a sort of right, derived from ancient usage,
to the payment of a toll. They sent to Alexander when they heard that
he was approaching, and informed him that he could not pass with his
army without paying the customary toll. Alexander sent back word that
he would meet them at the pass, and give them _their due_.

They understood this, and prepared to defend the pass. Some Persian
troops joined them. They built walls and barricades across the narrow
passages. They collected great stones on the brinks of precipices, and
on the declivities of the mountains, to roll down upon the heads of
their enemies. By these and every other means they attempted to stop
Alexander's passage. But he had contrived to send detachments around
by circuitous and precipitous paths, which even the mountaineers had
deemed impracticable, and thus attack his enemies suddenly and
unexpectedly from above their own positions. As usual, his plan
succeeded. The mountaineers were driven away, and the conqueror
advanced toward the great Persian capital.




B.C. 330

March to Persepolis.--Reckless cruelty.--The banquet.--Thais
proposes to burn the Persian palace.--Conflagration of the
palace.--Sublimity of the scene.--Olympias.--Her letters to
Alexander.--Sysigambis.--Alexander's kindness to her.--Darius at
Ecbatana.--His speech to his army.--Conspiracy against Darius.--Bessus
and his confederates.--Advance of Alexander.--Retreat of Darius.--The
Caspian Gates.--Pursuit of Darius.--Foraging parties.--The pursuit
continued.--Alexander stops to rest his army.--Want of
water.--Disregarded by Alexander.--The pursuit grows more
exciting.--Guides employed.--The Persians overtaken.--Murder of
Darius.--Sufferings of Darius.--Treachery of friends.--Darius
found.--Sufferings from thirst.--Darius calls for water.--The
interpreter.--Darius's message to Alexander.--Affecting
scene.--Alexander's grief at Darius's death.--He sends the body
to Sysigambis.--Crossing the Oxus.--Capture of the traitor
Bessus.--Mutilation of Bessus.--He is sent to Sysigambis.--Terrible
punishment of Bessus.

Alexander's march from Susa to Persepolis was less a march than a
triumphal progress. He felt the pride and elation so naturally
resulting from success very strongly. The moderation and forbearance
which had characterized him in his earlier years, gradually
disappeared as he became great and powerful. He was intoxicated with
his success. He became haughty, vain, capricious, and cruel. As he
approached Persepolis, he conceived the idea that, as this city was
the capital and center of the Persian monarchy, and, as such, the
point from which had emanated all the Persian hostility to Greece, he
owed it some signal retribution. Accordingly, although the inhabitants
made no opposition to his entrance, he marched in with the phalanx
formed, and gave the soldiers liberty to kill and plunder as they

There was another very striking instance of the capricious
recklessness now beginning to appear in Alexander's character, which
occurred soon after he had taken possession of Persepolis. He was
giving a great banquet to his friends, the officers of the army, and
to Persians of distinction among those who had submitted to him. There
was, among other women at this banquet, a very beautiful and
accomplished female named Thais. Alexander made her his favorite and
companion, though she was not his wife. Thais did all in her power to
captivate and please Alexander during the feast by her vivacity, her
wit, her adroit attentions to him, and the display of her charms, and
at length, when he himself, as well as the other guests, were excited
with wine, she asked him to allow her to have the pleasure of going
herself and setting fire, with her own hands, to the great palace of
the Persian kings in the city. Thais was a native of Attica in Greece,
a kingdom of which Athens was the capital. Xerxes, who had built the
great palace of Persepolis, had formerly invaded Greece and had burned
Athens, and now Thais desired to burn his palace in Persepolis, to
gratify her revenge, by making of its conflagration an evening
spectacle to entertain the Macedonian party after their supper.
Alexander agreed to the proposal, and the whole company moved forward.
Taking the torches from the banqueting halls, they sallied forth,
alarming the city with their shouts, and with the flashing of the
lights they bore. The plan of Thais was carried fully into effect,
every half-intoxicated guest assisting, by putting fire to the immense
pile wherever they could get access to it. They performed the
barbarous deed with shouts of vengeance and exultation.

There is, however, something very solemn and awful in a great
conflagration at night, and very few incendiaries can gaze upon the
fury of the lurid and frightful flames which they have caused to
ascend without some misgivings and some remorse. Alexander was sobered
by the grand and sublime, but terrible spectacle. He was awed by it.
He repented. He ordered the fire to be extinguished; but it was too
late. The palace was destroyed, and one new blot, which has never
since been effaced, was cast upon Alexander's character and fame.

And yet, notwithstanding these increasing proofs of pride and cruelty,
which were beginning to be developed, Alexander still preserved some
of the early traits of character which had made him so great a
favorite in the commencement of his career. He loved his mother, and
sent her presents continually from the treasures which were falling
all the time into his possession. She was a woman of a proud,
imperious, and ungovernable character, and she made Antipater, whom
Alexander had left in command in Macedon, infinite trouble. She wanted
to exercise the powers of government herself, and was continually
urging this. Alexander would not comply with these wishes, but he paid
her personally every attention in his power, and bore all her
invectives and reproaches with great patience and good humor. At one
time he received a long letter from Antipater, full of complaints
against her; but Alexander, after reading it, said that they were
heavy charges it was true, but that a single one of his mother's tears
would outweigh ten thousand such accusations.

Olympias used to write very frequently to Alexander, and in these
letters she would criticise and discuss his proceedings, and make
comments upon the characters and actions of his generals. Alexander
kept these letters very secret, never showing them to any one. One
day, however, when he was reading one of these letters, Hephæstion,
the personal friend and companion who has been already several times
mentioned, came up, half playfully, and began to look over his
shoulder. Alexander went on, allowing him to read, and then, when the
letter was finished he took the signet ring from his finger and
pressed it upon Hephæstion's lips, a signal for silence and secrecy.

Alexander was very kind to Sysigambis, the mother of Darius, and also
to Darius's children. He would not give these unhappy captives their
liberty, but in every other respect he treated them with the greatest
possible kindness and consideration. He called Sysigambis mother,
loaded her with presents--presents, it is true, which he had plundered
from her son, but to which it was considered, in those days, that he
had acquired a just and perfect title. When he reached Susa, he
established Sysigambis and the children there in great state. This had
been their usual residence in most seasons of the year, when not at
Persepolis, so that here they were, as it were, at home. Ecbatana[F]
was, as has been already mentioned, further north, among the
mountains. After the battle of Arbela, while Alexander marched to
Babylon and to Susa, Darius had fled to Ecbatana, and was now there,
his family being thus at one of the royal palaces under the command of
the conqueror, and he himself independent, but insecure, in the
other. He had with him about forty thousand men, who still remained
faithful to his fallen fortunes. Among these were several thousand
Greeks, whom he had collected in Asia Minor and other Grecian
countries, and whom he had attached to his service by means of pay.

[Footnote F: The modern Ispahan.]

He called the officers of his army together, and explained to them the
determination that he had come to in respect to his future movements.
"A large part of those," said he, "who formerly served as officers of
my government have abandoned me in my adversity, and gone over to
Alexander's side. They have surrendered to him the towns, and
citadels, and provinces which I intrusted to their fidelity. You alone
remain faithful and true. As for myself, I might yield to the
conqueror, and have him assign to me some province or kingdom to
govern as his subordinate; but I will never submit to such a
degradation. I can die in the struggle, but never will yield. I will
wear no crown which another puts upon my brow, nor give up my right to
reign over the empire of my ancestors till I give up my life. If you
agree with me in this determination, let us act energetically upon it.
We have it in our power to terminate the injuries we are suffering, or
else to avenge them."

The army responded most cordially to this appeal. They were ready,
they said, to follow him wherever he should lead. All this apparent
enthusiasm, however, was very delusive and unsubstantial. A general
named Bessus, combining with some other officers in the army,
conceived the plan of seizing Darius and making him a prisoner, and
then taking command of the army himself. If Alexander should pursue
him, and be likely to overtake and conquer him, he then thought that,
by giving up Darius as a prisoner, he could stipulate for liberty and
safety, and perhaps great rewards, both for himself and for those who
acted with him. If, on the other hand, they should succeed in
increasing their own forces so as to make head against Alexander, and
finally to drive him away, then Bessus was to usurp the throne, and
dispose of Darius by assassinating him, or imprisoning him for life in
some remote and solitary castle.

Bessus communicated his plans, very cautiously at first, to the
leading officers of the army. The Greek soldiers were not included in
the plot. They, however, heard and saw enough to lead them to suspect
what was in preparation. They warned Darius, and urged him to rely
upon them more than he had done; to make them his body-guard; and to
pitch his tent in their part of the encampment. But Darius declined
these proposals. He would not, he said, distrust and abandon his
countrymen, who were his natural protectors, and put himself in the
hands of strangers. He would not betray and desert his friends in
anticipation of their deserting and betraying him.

In the mean time, as Alexander advanced toward Ecbatana, Darius and
his forces retreated from it toward the eastward, through the great
tract of country lying south of the Caspian Sea. There is a
mountainous region here, with a defile traversing it, through which it
would be necessary for Darius to pass. This defile was called the
Caspian Gates,[G] the name referring to rocks on each side. The
marching of an army through a narrow and dangerous defile like this
always causes detention and delay, and Alexander hastened forward in
hopes to overtake Darius before he should reach it. He advanced with
such speed that only the strongest and most robust of his army could
keep up. Thousands, worn out with exertion and toil, were left behind,
and many of the horses sank down by the road side, exhausted with heat
and fatigue, to die. Alexander pressed desperately on with all who
were able to follow.

[Footnote G: _Pylæ Caspiæ_ on the map, which means the Caspian Gates.]

It was all in vain, however; it was too late when he arrived at the
pass. Darius had gone through with all his army. Alexander stopped to
rest his men, and to allow time for those behind to come up. He then
went on for a couple of days, when he encamped, in order to send out
foraging parties--that is to say, small detachments, dispatched to
explore the surrounding country in search of grain and other food for
the horses. Food for the horses of an army being too bulky to be
transported far, has to be collected day by day from the neighborhood
of the line of march.

While halting for these foraging parties to return, a Persian nobleman
came into the camp, and informed Alexander that Darius and the forces
accompanying him were encamped about two days' march in advance, but
that Bessus was in command--the conspiracy having been successful, and
Darius having been deposed and made a prisoner. The Greeks, who had
adhered to their fidelity, finding that all the army were combined
against them, and that they were not strong enough to resist, had
abandoned the Persian camp, and had retired to the mountains, where
they were awaiting the result.

Alexander determined to set forward immediately in pursuit of Bessus
and his prisoner. He did not wait for the return of the foraging
parties. He selected the ablest and most active, both of foot soldiers
and horsemen, ordered them to take two days' provisions, and then set
forth with them that very evening. The party pressed on all that
night, and the next day till noon. They halted till evening, and then
set forth again. Very early the next morning they arrived at the
encampment which the Persian nobleman had described. They found the
remains of the camp-fires, and all the marks usually left upon a spot
which has been used as the bivouac of an army. The army itself,
however, was gone.

The pursuers were now too much fatigued to go any further without
rest. Alexander remained here, accordingly, through the day, to give
his men and his horses refreshment and repose. That night they set
forward again, and the next day at noon they arrived at another
encampment of the Persians, which they had left scarcely twenty-four
hours before. The officers of Alexander's army were excited and
animated in the highest degree, as they found themselves thus drawing
so near to the great object of their pursuit. They were ready for any
exertions, any privation and fatigue, any measures, however
extraordinary, to accomplish their end.

Alexander inquired of the inhabitants of the place whether there were
not some shorter road than the one along which the enemy were moving.
There was one cross-road, but it led through a desolate and desert
tract of land, destitute of water. In the march of an army, as the men
are always heavily loaded with arms and provisions, and water can not
be carried, it is always considered essential to choose routes which
will furnish supplies of water by the way. Alexander, however,
disregarded this consideration here, and prepared at once to push into
the cross-road with a small detachment. He had been now two years
advancing from Macedon into the heart of Asia, always in quest of
Darius as his great opponent and enemy. He had conquered his armies,
taken his cities, plundered his palaces, and made himself master of
his whole realm. Still, so long as Darius himself remained at liberty
and in the field, no victories could be considered as complete. To
capture Darius himself would be the last and crowning act of his
conquest. He had now been pursuing him for eighteen hundred miles,
advancing slowly from province to province, and from kingdom to
kingdom. During all this time the strength of his flying foe had been
wasting away. His armies had been broken up, his courage and hope had
gradually failed, while the animation and hope of the pursuer had been
gathering fresh and increasing strength from his successes, and were
excited to wild enthusiasm now, as the hour for the final consummation
of all his desires seemed to be drawing nigh.

Guides were ordered to be furnished by the inhabitants, to show the
detachment the way across the solitary and desert country. The
detachment was to consist of horsemen entirely, that they might
advance with the utmost celerity. To get as efficient a corps as
possible, Alexander dismounted five hundred of the cavalry, and gave
their horses to five hundred men--officers and others--selected for
their strength and courage from among the foot soldiers. All were
ambitious of being designated for this service. Besides the honor of
being so selected, there was an intense excitement, as usual toward
the close of a chase, to arrive at the end.

This body of horsemen were ready to set out in the evening. Alexander
took the command, and, following the guides, they trotted off in the
direction which the guides indicated. They traveled all night. When
the day dawned, they saw, from an elevation to which they had
attained, the body of the Persian troops moving at a short distance
before them, foot soldiers, chariots, and horsemen pressing on
together in great confusion and disorder.

As soon as Bessus and his company found that their pursuers were close
upon them, they attempted at first to hurry forward, in the vain hope
of still effecting their escape. Darius was in a chariot. They urged
this chariot on, but it moved heavily. Then they concluded to abandon
it, and they called upon Darius to mount a horse and ride off with
them, leaving the rest of the army and the baggage to its fate. But
Darius refused. He said he would rather trust himself in the hands of
Alexander than in those of such traitors as they. Rendered desperate
by their situation, and exasperated by this reply, Bessus and his
confederates thrust their spears into Darius's body, as he sat in his
chariot, and then galloped away. They divided into different parties,
each taking a different road. Their object in doing this was to
increase their chances of escape by confusing Alexander in his plans
for pursuing them. Alexander pressed on toward the ground which the
enemy were abandoning, and sent off separate detachments after the
various divisions of the flying army.

In the mean time Darius remained in his chariot wounded and bleeding.
He was worn out and exhausted, both in body and mind, by his
complicated sufferings and sorrows. His kingdom lost; his family in
captivity; his beloved wife in the grave, where the sorrows and
sufferings of separation from her husband had borne her; his cities
sacked; his palaces and treasures plundered; and now he himself, in
the last hour of his extremity, abandoned and betrayed by all in whom
he had placed his confidence and trust, his heart sunk within him in
despair. At such a time the soul turns from traitorous friends to an
open foe with something like a feeling of confidence and attachment.
Darius's exasperation against Bessus was so intense, that his
hostility to Alexander became a species of friendship in comparison.
He felt that Alexander was a sovereign like himself, and would have
some sympathy and fellow-feeling for a sovereign's misfortunes. He
thought, too, of his mother, his wife, and his children, and the
kindness with which Alexander had treated them went to his heart. He
lay there, accordingly, faint and bleeding in his chariot, and looking
for the coming of Alexander as for that of a protector and friend, the
only one to whom he could now look for any relief in the extremity of
his distress.

The Macedonians searched about in various places, thinking it possible
that in the sudden dispersion of the enemy Darius might have been left
behind. At last the chariot in which he was lying was found. Darius
was in it, pierced with spears. The floor of the chariot was covered
with blood. They raised him a little, and he spoke. He called for

Men wounded and dying on the field of battle are tormented always with
an insatiable and intolerable thirst, the manifestations of which
constitute one of the greatest horrors of the scene. They cry
piteously to all who pass to bring them water, or else to kill them.
They crawl along the ground to get at the canteens of their dead
companions, in hopes to find, remaining in them, some drops to drink;
and if there is a little brook meandering through the battle-field,
its bed gets filled and choked up with the bodies of those who crawled
there, in their agony, to quench their horrible thirst, and die.
Darius was suffering this thirst. It bore down and silenced, for the
time, every other suffering, so that his first cry, when his enemies
came around him with shouts of exultation, was not for his life, not
for mercy, not for relief from the pain and anguish of his wounds--he
begged them to give him some water.

He spoke through an interpreter. The interpreter was a Persian
prisoner whom the Macedonian army had taken some time before, and who
had learned the Greek language in the Macedonian camp. Anticipating
some occasion for his services, they had brought him with them now,
and it was through him that Darius called for water. A Macedonian
soldier went immediately to get some. Others hurried away in search of
Alexander, to bring him to the spot where the great object of his
hostility, and of his long and protracted pursuit, was dying.

Darius received the drink. He then said that he was extremely glad
that they had an interpreter with them, who could understand him, and
bear his message to Alexander. He had been afraid that he should have
had to die without being able to communicate what he had to say. "Tell
Alexander," said he, then, "that I feel under the strongest
obligations to him which I can now never repay, for his kindness to my
wife, my mother, and my children. He not only spared their lives, but
treated them with the greatest consideration and care, and did all in
his power to make them happy. The last feeling in my heart is
gratitude to him for these favors. I hope now that he will go on
prosperously, and finish his conquests as triumphantly as he has begun
them." He would have made one last request, he added, if he had
thought it necessary, and that was, that Alexander would pursue the
traitor Bessus, and avenge the murder he had committed; but he was
sure that Alexander would do this of his own accord, as the punishment
of such treachery was an object of common interest for every king.

Darius then took Polystratus, the Macedonian who had brought him the
water, by the hand, saying, "Give Alexander thy hand as I now give
thee mine; it is the pledge of my gratitude and affection."

Darius was too weak to say much more. They gathered around him,
endeavoring to sustain his strength until Alexander should arrive; but
it was all in vain. He sank gradually, and soon ceased to breathe.
Alexander came up a few minutes after all was over. He was at first
shocked at the spectacle before him, and then overwhelmed with grief.
He wept bitterly. Some compunctions of conscience may have visited his
heart at seeing thus before him the ruin he had made. Darius had never
injured him or done him any wrong, and yet here he lay, hunted to
death by a persevering and relentless hostility, for which his
conqueror had no excuse but his innate love of dominion over his
fellow-men. Alexander spread his own military cloak over the dead
body. He immediately made arrangements for having the body embalmed,
and then sent it to Susa, for Sysigambis, in a very costly coffin, and
with a procession of royal magnificence. He sent it to her that she
might have the satisfaction of seeing it deposited in the tombs of the
Persian kings. What a present! The killer of a son sending the dead
body, in a splendid coffin, to the mother, as a token of respectful

Alexander pressed on to the northward and eastward in pursuit of
Bessus, who had soon collected the scattered remains of his army, and
was doing his utmost to get into a posture of defense. He did not,
however, overtake him till he had crossed the Oxus, a large river
which will be found upon the map, flowing to the northward and
westward into the Caspian Sea. He had great difficulty in crossing
this river, as it was too deep to be forded, and the banks and bottom
were so sandy and yielding that he could not make the foundations of
bridges stand. He accordingly made floats and rafts, which were
supported by skins made buoyant by inflation, or by being stuffed with
straw and hay. After getting his army, which had been in the mean time
greatly re-enforced and strengthened, across this river, he moved on.
The generals under Bessus, finding all hope of escape failing them,
resolved on betraying him as he had betrayed his commander. They sent
word to Alexander that if he would send forward a small force where
they should indicate, they would give up Bessus to his hands.
Alexander did so, intrusting the command to an officer named Ptolemy.
Ptolemy found Bessus in a small walled town whither he had fled for
refuge, and easily took him prisoner. He sent back word to Alexander
that Bessus was at his disposal, and asked for orders. The answer was,
"Put a rope around his neck and send him to me."

When the wretched prisoner was brought into Alexander's presence,
Alexander demanded of him how he could have been so base as to have
seized, bound, and at last murdered his kinsman and benefactor. It is
a curious instance in proof of the permanence and stability of the
great characteristics of human nature, through all the changes of
civilization and lapses of time, that Bessus gave the same answer that
wrong-doers almost always give when brought to account for their
wrongs. He laid the fault upon his accomplices and friends. It was not
his act, it was theirs.

Alexander ordered him to be publicly scourged; then he caused his face
to be mutilated in a manner customary in those days, when a tyrant
wished to stamp upon his victim a perpetual mark of infamy. In this
condition, and with a mind in an agony of suspense and fear at the
thought of worse tortures which he knew were to come, Alexander sent
him as a second present to Sysigambis, to be dealt with, at Susa, as
her revenge might direct. She inflicted upon him the most extreme
tortures, and finally, when satiated with the pleasure of seeing him
suffer, the story is that they chose four very elastic trees, growing
at a little distance from each other, and bent down the tops of them
toward the central point between them. They fastened the exhausted
and dying Bessus to these trees, one limb of his body to each, and
then releasing the stems from their confinement, they flew upward,
tearing the body asunder, each holding its own dissevered portion, as
if in triumph, far over the heads of the multitude assembled to
witness the spectacle.



B.C. 329

Alexander at the summit of his ambition.--Sad changes.--Alexander
becomes dissipated.--His officers became estranged.--Character of
Parmenio.--His services to Alexander.--Parmenio's son, Philotas.--His
dissolute character.--Conspiracies.--Plot of Dymnus.--Dymnus destroys
himself.--Philotas suspected.--The council of officers.--Philotas
accused.--Arrest of Philotas.--The body of Dymnus.--Alexander's
address to the army.--Philotas brought to trial.--Defense of
Philotas.--He is put to the torture.--Confession of Philotas.--He
is stoned to death.--Parmenio condemned to death.--Mission of
Polydamas.--Precautions.--Brutal murder of Parmenio.--Story of
Clitus.--He saves Alexander's life.--Services of Clitus.--Occurrences
at the banquet.--Clitus reproaches Alexander.--Alexander's
rage.--Alexander assassinates Clitus.--His remorse.

Alexander was now twenty-six years of age. He had accomplished fully
the great objects which had been the aim of his ambition. Darius was
dead, and he was himself the undisputed master of all western Asia.
His wealth was almost boundless. His power was supreme over what was,
in his view, the whole known world. But, during the process of rising
to this ascendency, his character was sadly changed. He lost the
simplicity, the temperance, the moderation, and the sense of justice
which characterized his early years. He adopted the dress and the
luxurious manners of the Persians. He lived in the palaces of the
Persian kings, imitating all their state and splendor. He became very
fond of convivial entertainments and of wine, and often drank to
excess. He provided himself a seraglio of three hundred and sixty
young females, in whose company he spent his time, giving himself up
to every form of effeminacy and dissipation. In a word, he was no
longer the same man. The decision, the energy of character, the steady
pursuit of great ends by prudence, forethought, patient effort, and
self-denial, all disappeared; nothing now seemed to interest him but
banquets, carousals, parties of pleasure, and whole days and nights
spent in dissipation and vice.

This state of things was a great cause of mortification and chagrin to
the officers of his army. Many of them were older than himself, and
better able to resist these temptations to luxury, effeminacy, and
vice. They therefore remained firm in their original simplicity and
integrity, and after some respectful but ineffectual remonstrances,
they stood aloof, alienated from their commander in heart, and
condemning very strongly, among themselves, his wickedness and folly.

On the other hand, many of the _younger_ officers followed Alexander's
example, and became as vain, as irregular, and as fond of vicious
indulgence as he. But then, though they joined him in his pleasures,
there was no strong bond of union between him and them. The tie which
binds mere companions in pleasure together is always very slight and
frail. Thus Alexander gradually lost the confidence and affection of
his old friends, and gained no new ones. His officers either
disapproved his conduct, and were distant and cold, or else joined him
in his dissipation and vice, without feeling any real respect for his
character, or being bound to him by any principle of fidelity.

Parmenio and his son Philotas were, respectively, striking examples of
these two kinds of character. Parmenio was an old general, now
considerably advanced in life. He had served, as has already been
stated, under Philip, Alexander's father, and had acquired great
experience and great fame before Alexander succeeded to the throne.
During the whole of Alexander's career Parmenio had been his principal
lieutenant general, and he had always placed his greatest reliance
upon him in all trying emergencies. He was cool, calm, intrepid,
sagacious. He held Alexander back from many rash enterprises, and was
the efficient means of his accomplishing most of his plans. It is the
custom among all nations to give kings the glory of all that is
effected by their generals and officers; and the writers of those days
would, of course, in narrating the exploits of the Macedonian army,
exaggerate the share which Alexander had in their performances, and
underrate those of Parmenio. But in modern times, many impartial
readers, in reviewing calmly these events, think that there is reason
to doubt whether Alexander, if he had set out on his great expedition
without Parmenio, would have succeeded at all.

Philotas was the son of Parmenio, but he was of a very different
character. The difference was one which is very often, in all ages of
the world, to be observed between those who _inherit_ greatness and
those who acquire it for themselves. We see the same analogy reigning
at the present day, when the sons of the wealthy, who are _born_ to
fortune, substitute pride, and arrogance, and vicious self-indulgence
and waste for the modesty, and prudence, and virtue of their sires, by
means of which the fortune was acquired. Philotas was proud, boastful,
extravagant, and addicted, like Alexander his master, to every species
of indulgence and dissipation. He was universally hated. His father,
out of patience with his haughty airs, his boastings, and his pomp and
parade, advised him, one day, to "make himself less." But Parmenio's
prudent advice to his son was thrown away. Philotas spoke of himself
as Alexander's great reliance. "What would Philip have been or have
done," said he, "without my father Parmenio? and what would Alexander
have been or have done, without me?" These things were reported to
Alexander, and thus the mind of each was filled with suspicion, fear,
and hatred toward the other.

Courts and camps are always the scenes of conspiracy and treason, and
Alexander was continually hearing of conspiracies and plots formed
against him. The strong sentiment of love and devotion with which he
inspired all around him at the commencement of his career, was now
gone, and his generals and officers were continually planning schemes
to depose him from the power which he seemed no longer to have the
energy to wield; or, at least, Alexander was continually suspecting
that such plans were formed, and he was kept in a continual state of
uneasiness and anxiety in discovering and punishing them.

At last a conspiracy occurred in which Philotas was implicated.
Alexander was informed one day that a plot had been formed to depose
and destroy him; that Philotas had been made acquainted with it by a
friend of Alexander's, in order that he might make it known to the
king; that he had neglected to do so, thus making it probable that he
was himself in league with the conspirators. Alexander was informed
that the leader and originator of this conspiracy was one of his
generals named Dymnus.

He immediately sent an officer to Dymnus to summon him into his
presence. Dymnus appeared to be struck with consternation at this
summons. Instead of obeying it, he drew his sword, thrust it into his
own heart, and fell dead upon the ground.

Alexander then sent for Philotas, and asked him if it was indeed true
that he had been informed of this conspiracy, and had neglected to
make it known.

Philotas replied that he had been told that such a plot was formed,
but that he did not believe it; that such stories were continually
invented by the malice of evil-disposed men, and that he had not
considered the report which came to his ears as worthy of any
attention. He was, however, now convinced, by the terror which Dymnus
had manifested, and by his suicide, that all was true, and he asked
Alexander's pardon for not having taken immediate measures for
communicating promptly the information he had received.

Alexander gave him his hand, said that he was convinced that he was
innocent, and had acted as he did from disbelief in the existence of
the conspiracy, and not from any guilty participation in it. So
Philotas went away to his tent.

Alexander, however, did not drop the subject here. He called a council
of his ablest and best friends and advisers, consisting of the
principal officers of his army, and laid the facts before them. They
came to a different conclusion from his in respect to the guilt of
Philotas. They believed him implicated in the crime, and demanded his
trial. Trial in such a case, in those days, meant putting the accused
to the torture, with a view of forcing him to confess his guilt.

Alexander yielded to this proposal. Perhaps he had secretly instigated
it. The advisers of kings and conquerors, in such circumstances as
this, generally have the sagacity to discover what advice will be
agreeable. At all events, Alexander followed the advice of his
counselors, and made arrangements for arresting Philotas on that very

These circumstances occurred at a time when the army was preparing for
a march, the various generals lodging in tents pitched for the
purpose. Alexander placed extra guards in various parts of the
encampment, as if to impress the whole army with a sense of the
importance and solemnity of the occasion. He then sent officers to the
tent of Philotas, late at night, to arrest him. The officers found
their unhappy victim asleep. They awoke him, and made known their
errand. Philotas arose, and obeyed the summons, dejected and
distressed, aware, apparently, that his destruction was impending.

The next morning Alexander called together a large assembly,
consisting of the principal and most important portions of the army,
to the number of several thousands. They came together with an air of
impressive solemnity, expecting, from the preliminary preparations,
that business of very solemn moment was to come before them, though
they knew not what it was.

These impressions of awe and solemnity were very much increased by the
spectacle which first met the eyes of the assembly after they were
convened. This spectacle was that of the dead body of Dymnus, bloody
and ghastly, which Alexander ordered to be brought in and exposed to
view. The death of Dymnus had been kept a secret, so that the
appearance of his body was an unexpected as well as a shocking sight.
When the first feeling of surprise and wonder had a little subsided,
Alexander explained to the assembly the nature of the conspiracy, and
the circumstances connected with the self-execution of one of the
guilty participators in it. The spectacle of the body, and the
statement of the king, produced a scene of great and universal
excitement in the assembly, and this excitement was raised to the
highest pitch by the announcement which Alexander now made, that he
had reason to believe that Philotas and his father Parmenio, officers
who had enjoyed his highest favor, and in whom he had placed the most
unbounded confidence, were the authors and originators of the whole

He then ordered Philotas to be brought in. He came guarded as a
criminal, with his hands tied behind him, and his head covered with a
coarse cloth. He was in a state of great dejection and despondency. It
is true that he was brought forward for trial, but he knew very well
that trial meant torture, and that there was no hope for him as to the
result. Alexander said that he would leave the accused to be dealt
with by the assembly, and withdrew.

The authorities of the army, who now had the proud and domineering
spirit which had so long excited their hatred and envy completely in
their power, listened for a time to what Philotas had to say in his
own justification. He showed that there was no evidence whatever
against him, and appealed to their sense of justice not to condemn him
on mere vague surmises. In reply, they decided to put him to the
torture. There was no evidence, it was true, and they wished,
accordingly, to supply its place by his own confession, extorted by
pain. Of course, his most inveterate and implacable enemies were
appointed to conduct the operation. They put Philotas upon the rack.
The rack is an instrument of wheels and pulleys, into which the victim
is placed, and his limbs and tendons are stretched by it in a manner
which produces most excruciating pain.

Philotas bore the beginning of his torture with great resolution and
fortitude. He made no complaint, he uttered no cry: this was the
signal to his executioners to increase the tension and the agony. Of
course, in such a trial as this, there was no question of guilt or
innocence at issue. The only question was, which could stand out the
longest, his enemies in witnessing horrible sufferings, or he himself
in enduring them. In this contest the unhappy Philotas was vanquished
at last. He begged them to release him from the rack, saying he would
confess whatever they required, on condition of being allowed to die
in peace.

They accordingly released him, and, in answer to their questions, he
confessed that he himself and his father were involved in the plot. He
said yes to various other inquiries relating to the circumstances of
the conspiracy, and to the guilt of various individuals whom those
that managed the torture had suspected, or who, at any rate, they
wished to have condemned. The answers of Philotas to all these
questions were written down, and he was himself sentenced to be
stoned. The sentence was put in execution without any delay.

During all this time Parmenio was in Media, in command of a very
important part of Alexander's army. It was decreed that he must die;
but some careful management was necessary to secure his execution
while he was at so great a distance, and at the head of so great a
force. The affair had to be conducted with great secrecy as well as
dispatch. The plan adopted was as follows:

There was a certain man, named Polydamas, who was regarded as
Parmenio's particular friend. Polydamas was commissioned to go to
Media and see the execution performed. He was selected, because it
was supposed that if any enemy, or a stranger, had been sent, Parmenio
would have received him with suspicion or at least with caution, and
kept himself on his guard. They gave Polydamas several letters to
Parmenio, as if from his friends, and to one of them they attached the
seal of his son Philotas, the more completely to deceive the unhappy
father. Polydamas was eleven days on his journey into Media. He had
letters to Cleander, the governor of the province of Media, which
contained the king's warrant for Parmenio's execution. He arrived at
the house of Cleander in the night. He delivered his letters, and they
together concerted the plans for carrying the execution into effect.

After having taken all the precautions necessary, Polydamas went, with
many attendants accompanying him, to the quarters of Parmenio. The old
general, for he was at this time eighty years of age, was walking in
his grounds. Polydamas being admitted, ran up to accost him, with
great appearance of cordiality and friendship. He delivered to him his
letters, and Parmenio read them. He seemed much pleased with their
contents, especially with the one which had been written in the name
of his son. He had no means of detecting the imposture, for it was
very customary in those days for letters to be written by secretaries,
and to be authenticated solely by the seal.

Parmenio was much pleased to get good tidings from Alexander, and from
his son, and began conversing upon the contents of the letters, when
Polydamas, watching his opportunity, drew forth a dagger which he had
concealed upon his person, and plunged it into Parmenio's side. He
drew it forth immediately and struck it at his throat. The attendants
rushed on at this signal, and thrust their swords again and again into
the fallen body until it ceased to breathe.

The death of Parmenio and of his son in this violent manner, when,
too, there was so little evidence of their guilt, made a very general
and a very unfavorable impression in respect to Alexander; and not
long afterward another case occurred, in some respects still more
painful, as it evinced still more strikingly that the mind of
Alexander, which had been in his earlier days filled with such noble
and lofty sentiments of justice and generosity, was gradually getting
to be under the supreme dominion of selfish and ungovernable passions:
it was the case of Clitus.

Clitus was a very celebrated general of Alexander's army, and a great
favorite with the king. He had, in fact, on one occasion saved
Alexander's life. It was at the battle of the Granicus. Alexander had
exposed himself in the thickest of the combat, and was surrounded by
enemies. The sword of one of them was actually raised over his head,
and would have fallen and killed him on the spot, if Clitus had not
rushed forward and cut the man down just at the instant when he was
about striking the blow. Such acts of fidelity and courage as this had
given Alexander great confidence in Clitus. It happened, shortly after
the death of Parmenio, that the governor of one of the most important
provinces of the empire resigned his post. Alexander appointed Clitus
to fill the vacancy.

The evening before his departure to take charge of his government,
Alexander invited him to a banquet, made, partly at least, in honor of
his elevation. Clitus and the other guests assembled. They drank wine,
as usual, with great freedom. Alexander became excited, and began to
speak, as he was now often accustomed to do, boastingly of his own
exploits, and to disparage those of his father Philip in comparison.

Men half intoxicated are very prone to quarrel, and not the less so
for being excellent friends when sober. Clitus had served under
Philip. He was now an old man, and, like other old men, was very
tenacious of the glory that belonged to the exploits of his youth. He
was very restless and uneasy at hearing Alexander claim for himself
the merit of his father Philip's victory at Chæronea, and began to
murmur something to those who sat next to him about kings claiming and
getting a great deal of glory which did not belong to them.

Alexander asked what it was that Clitus said. No one replied. Clitus,
however, went on talking, speaking more and more audibly as he became
gradually more and more excited. He praised the character of Philip,
and applauded his military exploits, saying that they were far
superior to any of the enterprises of _their_ day. The different
parties at the table took up the subject, and began to dispute, the
old men taking the part of Philip and former days, and the younger
defending Alexander. Clitus became more and more excited. He praised
Parmenio, who had been Philip's greatest general, and began to impugn
the justice of his late condemnation and death.

Alexander retorted and Clitus, rising from his seat, and losing now
all self-command, reproached him with severe and bitter words. "Here
is the hand," said he, extending his arm, "that saved your life at the
battle of the Granicus, and the fate of Parmenio shows what sort of
gratitude and what rewards faithful servants are to expect at your
hands." Alexander, burning with rage, commanded Clitus to leave the
table. Clitus obeyed, saying, as he moved away, "He is right not to
bear freeborn men at his table who can only tell him the truth. He is
right. It is fitting for him to pass his life among barbarians and
slaves, who will be proud to pay their adoration to his Persian girdle
and his splendid robe."

Alexander seized a javelin to hurl at Clitus's head. The guests rose
in confusion, and with many outcries pressed around him. Some seized
Alexander's arm, some began to hurry Clitus out of the room, and some
were engaged in loudly criminating and threatening each other. They
got Clitus out of the apartment, but as soon as he was in the hall he
broke away from them, returned by another door, and began to renew his
insults to Alexander. The king hurled his javelin and struck Clitus
down, saying, at the same time, "Go, then, and join Philip and
Parmenio." The company rushed to the rescue of the unhappy man, but
it was too late. He died almost immediately.

Alexander, as soon as he came to himself was overwhelmed with remorse
and despair. He mourned bitterly, for many days, the death of his
long-tried and faithful friend, and execrated the intoxication and
passion, on his part, which had caused it. He could not, however,
restore Clitus to life, nor remove from his own character the
indelible stains which such deeds necessarily fixed upon it.



B.C. 326-319

Alexander's invasion of India.--Insubordination of the
army.--Alexander's address to the army.--Address made to him.--The
army refuses to go further.--Alexander's disappointment.--Alexander
resolves to return.--He is wounded in an assault.--Alexander's
excesses.--He abandons his old friends.--Entrance into
Babylon.--Magnificent spectacle.--The astrologers.--Study of the
stars.--Warning of the astrologers.--Alexander's perplexity.--Death
of Hephæstion.--Alexander's melancholy.--Funeral honors to
Hephæstion.--A stupendous project.--Alexander's depression.--Magnificent
plans.--A prolonged carousal.--Alexander's excesses.--Alexander's last
sickness.--His dying words.--Alexander's death.--Alexander and
Washington.--Calamitous results which followed Alexander's
death.--Stormy debates.--Aridæus appointed king.--Effects of the
news of Alexander's death.--Death of Sysigambis.--Rejoicings at
Athens.--Demosthenes.--Joy of the Athenians.--Phocion.--Measures of
the Athenians.--Triumphant return of Demosthenes.--Grand reception of
Demosthenes.--Preparations for the funeral.--Destination of Alexander's
body.--A funeral on a grand scale.--The funeral car.--Its construction
and magnitude.--Ornaments and basso relievos.--Column of mules.--Crowds
of spectators.--The body deposited at Alexandria.--Alexander's true

After the events narrated in the last chapter, Alexander continued,
for two or three years, his expeditions and conquests in Asia, and in
the course of them he met with a great variety of adventures which can
not be here particularly described. He penetrated into India as far as
the banks of the Indus, and, not content with this, was preparing
to cross the Indus and go on to the Ganges. His soldiers, however,
resisted this design. They were alarmed at the stories which they
heard of the Indian armies, with elephants bearing castles upon their
backs, and soldiers armed with strange and unheard-of weapons. These
rumors, and the natural desire of the soldiers not to go away any
further from their native land, produced almost a mutiny in the army.
At length, Alexander, learning how strong and how extensive the spirit
of insubordination was becoming, summoned his officers to his own
tent, and then ordering the whole army to gather around, he went out
to meet them.

He made an address to them, in which he recounted all their past
exploits, praised the courage and perseverance which they had shown
thus far, and endeavored to animate them with a desire to proceed.
They listened in silence, and no one attempted to reply. This solemn
pause was followed by marks of great agitation throughout the
assembly. The army loved their commander, notwithstanding his faults
and failings. They were extremely unwilling to make any resistance to
his authority; but they had lost that extreme and unbounded confidence
in his energy and virtue which made them ready, in the former part of
his career, to press forward into any difficulties and dangers
whatever, where he led the way.

At last one of the army approached the king and addressed him somewhat
as follows:

"We are not changed, sir, in our affection for you. We still have, and
shall always retain, the same zeal and the same fidelity. We are ready
to follow you at the hazard of our lives, and to march wherever you
may lead us. Still we must ask you, most respectfully, to consider the
circumstances in which we are placed. We have done all for you that it
was possible for man to do. We have crossed seas and land. We have
marched to the end of the world, and you are now meditating the
conquest of another, by going in search of new Indias, unknown to the
Indians themselves. Such a thought may be worthy of your courage and
resolution, but it surpasses ours, and our strength still more. Look
at these ghastly faces, and these bodies covered with wounds and
scars. Remember how numerous we were when first we set out with you,
and see how few of us remain. The few who have escaped so many toils
and dangers have neither courage nor strength to follow you any
further. They all long to revisit their country and their homes, and
to enjoy, for the remainder of their lives, the fruits of all their
toils. Forgive them these desires, so natural to man."

The expression of these sentiments confirmed and strengthened them in
the minds of all the soldiers. Alexander was greatly troubled and
distressed. A disaffection in a small part of an army may be put down
by decisive measures; but when the determination to resist is
universal, it is useless for any commander, however imperious and
absolute in temper, to attempt to withstand it. Alexander, however,
was extremely unwilling to yield. He remained two days shut up in his
tent, the prey to disappointment and chagrin.

The result, however, was, that he abandoned plans of further conquest,
and turned his steps again toward the west. He met with various
adventures as he went on, and incurred many dangers, often in a rash
and foolish manner, and for no good end. At one time, while attacking
a small town, he seized a scaling ladder and mounted with the troops.
In doing this, however, he put himself forward so rashly and
inconsiderately that his ladder was broken, and while the rest
retreated he was left alone upon the wall, whence he descended into
the town, and was immediately surrounded by enemies. His friends
raised their ladders again, and pressed on desperately to find and
rescue him. Some gathered around him and defended him, while others
contrived to open a small gate, by which the rest of the army gained
admission. By this means Alexander was saved; though, when they
brought him out of the city, there was an arrow three feet long, which
could not be extracted, sticking into his side through his coat of

The surgeons first very carefully cut off the wooden shaft of the
arrow, and then, enlarging the wound by incisions, they drew out the
barbed point. The soldiers were indignant that Alexander should
expose his person in such a fool-hardy way, only to endanger himself,
and to compel them to rush into danger to rescue him. The wound very
nearly proved fatal. The loss of blood was attended with extreme
exhaustion; still, in the course of a few weeks he recovered.

Alexander's habits of intoxication and vicious excess of all kinds
were, in the mean time, continually increasing. He not only indulged
in such excesses himself, but he encouraged them in others. He would
offer prizes at his banquets to those who would drink the most. On one
of these occasions, the man who conquered drank, it is said, eighteen
or twenty pints of wine, after which he lingered in misery for three
days, and then died; and more than forty others, present at the same
entertainment, died in consequence of their excesses.

Alexander returned toward Babylon. His friend Hephæstion was with him,
sharing with him every where in all the vicious indulgences to which
he had become so prone. Alexander gradually separated himself more and
more from his old Macedonian friends, and linked himself more and more
closely with Persian associates. He married Statira, the oldest
daughter of Darius, and gave the youngest daughter to Hephæstion. He
encouraged similar marriages between Macedonian officers and Persian
maidens, as far as he could. In a word, he seemed intent in merging,
in every way, his original character and habits of action in the
effeminacy, luxury, and vice of the Eastern world, which he had at
first so looked down upon and despised.

Alexander's entrance into Babylon, on his return from his Indian
campaigns, was a scene of great magnificence and splendor. Embassadors
and princes had assembled there from almost all the nations of the
earth to receive and welcome him, and the most ample preparations were
made for processions, shows, parades, and spectacles to do him honor.
The whole country was in a state of extreme excitement, and the most
expensive preparations were made to give him a reception worthy of one
who was the conqueror and monarch of the world, and the son of a god.

When Alexander approached the city, however, he was met by a
deputation of Chaldean astrologers. The astrologers were a class of
philosophers who pretended, in those days, to foretell human events by
means of the motions of the stars. The motions of the stars were
studied very closely in early times, and in those Eastern countries,
by the shepherds, who had often to remain in the open air, through the
summer nights, to watch their flocks. These shepherds observed that
nearly all the stars were _fixed_ in relation to each other, that is,
although they rose successively in the east, and, passing over, set in
the west, they did not change in relation to each other. There were,
however, a few that wandered about among the rest in an irregular and
unaccountable manner. They called these stars the wanderers--that is,
in their language, _the planets_--and they watched their mysterious
movements with great interest and awe. They naturally imagined that
these changes had some connection with human affairs, and they
endeavored to prognosticate from them the events, whether prosperous
or adverse, which were to befall mankind. Whenever a comet or an
eclipse appeared, they thought it portended some terrible calamity.
The study of the motions and appearances of the stars, with a view to
foretell the course of human affairs, was the science of astrology.

The astrologers came, in a very solemn and imposing procession, to
meet Alexander on his march. They informed him that they had found
indubitable evidence in the stars that, if he came into Babylon, he
would hazard his life. They accordingly begged him not to approach any
nearer, but to choose some other city for his capital. Alexander was
very much perplexed by this announcement. His mind, weakened by
effeminacy and dissipation, was very susceptible to superstitious
fears. It was not merely by the debilitating influence of vicious
indulgence on the nervous constitution that this effect was produced.
It was, in part, the moral influence of conscious guilt. Guilt makes
men afraid. It not only increases the power of real dangers, but
predisposes the mind to all sorts of imaginary fears.

Alexander was very much troubled at this announcement of the
astrologers. He suspended his march, and began anxiously to consider
what to do. At length the Greek philosophers came to him and reasoned
with him on the subject, persuading him that the science of astrology
was not worthy of any belief. The Greeks had no faith in astrology.
They foretold future events by the flight of birds, or by the
appearances presented in the dissection of beasts offered in

At length, however, Alexander's fears were so far allayed that he
concluded to enter the city. He advanced, accordingly, with his whole
army, and made his entry under circumstances of the greatest possible
parade and splendor. As soon, however, as the excitement of the first
few days had passed away, his mind relapsed again, and he became
anxious, troubled, and unhappy.

Hephæstion, his great personal friend and companion, had died while
he was on the march toward Babylon. He was brought to the grave by
diseases produced by dissipation and vice. Alexander was very much
moved by his death. It threw him at once into a fit of despondency and
gloom. It was some time before he could at all overcome the melancholy
reflections and forebodings which this event produced. He determined
that, as soon as he arrived in Babylon, he would do all possible honor
to Hephæstion's memory by a magnificent funeral.

He accordingly now sent orders to all the cities and kingdoms around,
and collected a vast sum for this purpose. He had a part of the city
wall pulled down to furnish a site for a monumental edifice. This
edifice was constructed of an enormous size and most elaborate
architecture. It was ornamented with long rows of prows of ships,
taken by Alexander in his victories, and by statues, and columns, and
sculptures, and gilded ornaments of every kind. There were images of
sirens on the entablatures near the roof, which, by means of a
mechanism concealed within, were made to sing dirges and mournful
songs. The expense of this edifice, and of the games, shows, and
spectacles connected with its consecration, is said by the historians
of the day to have been a sum which, on calculation, is found equal to
about ten millions of dollars.

There were, however, some limits still to Alexander's extravagance and
folly. There was a mountain in Greece, Mount Athos, which a certain
projector said could be carved and fashioned into the form of a
man--probably in a recumbent posture. There was a city on one of the
declivities of the mountain, and a small river, issuing from springs
in the ground, came down on the other side. The artist who conceived
of this prodigious piece of sculpture said that he would so shape the
figure that the city should be in one of its hands, and the river
should flow out from the other.


Alexander listened to this proposal. The name Mount Athos recalled
to his mind the attempt of Xerxes, a former Persian king, who had
attempted to cut a road through the rocks upon a part of Mount Athos,
in the invasion of Greece. He did not succeed, but left the unfinished
work a lasting memorial both of the attempt and the failure. Alexander
concluded at length that he would not attempt such a sculpture. "Mount
Athos," said he, "is already the monument of one king's folly; I will
not make it that of another."

As soon as the excitement connected with the funeral obsequies of
Hephæstion were over, Alexander's mind relapsed again into a state of
gloomy melancholy. This depression, caused, as it was, by previous
dissipation and vice, seemed to admit of no remedy or relief but in
new excesses. The traces, however, of his former energy so far
remained that he began to form magnificent plans for the improvement
of Babylon. He commenced the execution of some of these plans. His
time was spent, in short, in strange alternations: resolution and
energy in forming vast plans one day, and utter abandonment to all the
excesses of dissipation and vice the next. It was a mournful spectacle
to see his former greatness of soul still struggling on, though more
and more faintly, as it became gradually overborne by the resistless
inroads of intemperance and sin. The scene was at length suddenly
terminated in the following manner:

On one occasion, after he had spent a whole night in drinking and
carousing, the guests, when the usual time arrived for separating,
proposed that, instead of this, they should begin anew, and commence
a second banquet at the end of the first. Alexander, half intoxicated
already, entered warmly into this proposal. They assembled,
accordingly, in a very short time. There were twenty present at this
new feast. Alexander, to show how far he was from having exhausted
his powers of drinking, began to pledge each one of the company
individually. Then he drank to them all together. There was a very
large cup, called the bowl of Hercules, which he now called for, and,
after having filled it to the brim, he drank it off to the health of
one of the company present, a Macedonian named Proteas. This feat
being received by the company with great applause, he ordered the
great bowl to be filled again, and drank it off as before.

The work was now done. His faculties and his strength soon failed him,
and he sank down to the floor. They bore him away to his palace. A
violent fever intervened, which the physicians did all in their power
to allay. As soon as his reason returned a little, Alexander aroused
himself from his lethargy, and tried to persuade himself that he
should recover. He began to issue orders in regard to the army, and to
his ships, as if such a turning of his mind to the thoughts of power
and empire would help bring him back from the brink of the grave
toward which he had been so obviously tending. He was determined, in
fact, that he would not die.

He soon found, however, notwithstanding his efforts to be vigorous and
resolute, that his strength was fast ebbing away. The vital powers had
received a fatal wound, and he soon felt that they could sustain
themselves but little longer. He came to the conclusion that he must
die. He drew his signet ring off from his finger; it was a token that
he felt that all was over. He handed the ring to one of his friends
who stood by his bed-side. "When I am gone," said he, "take my body to
the Temple of Jupiter Ammon, and inter it there."

The generals who were around him advanced to his bed-side, and one
after another kissed his hand. Their old affection for him revived as
they saw him about to take leave of them forever. They asked him to
whom he wished to leave his empire. "To the most worthy," said he. He
meant, doubtless, by this evasion, that he was too weak and exhausted
to think of such affairs. He knew, probably, that it was useless for
him to attempt to control the government of his empire after his
death. He said, in fact, that he foresaw that the decision of such
questions would give rise to some strange funeral games after his
decease. Soon after this he died.

The palaces of Babylon were immediately filled with cries of mourning
at the death of the prince, followed by bitter and interminable
disputes about the succession. It had not been the aim of Alexander's
life to establish firm and well-settled governments in the countries
that he conquered, to encourage order, and peace, and industry among
men, and to introduce system and regularity in human affairs, so as to
leave the world in a better condition than he found it. In this
respect his course of conduct presents a strong contrast with that
of Washington. It was Washington's aim to mature and perfect
organizations which would move on prosperously of themselves, without
him; and he was continually withdrawing his hand from action and
control in public affairs, taking a higher pleasure in the independent
working of the institutions which he had formed and protected, than in
exercising, himself, a high personal power. Alexander, on the other
hand, was all his life intent solely on enlarging and strengthening
his own personal power. _He_ was all in all. He wished to make himself
so. He never thought of the welfare of the countries which he had
subjected to his sway, or did any thing to guard against the anarchy
and civil wars which he knew full well would break out at once over
all his vast dominions, as soon as his power came to an end.

The result was as might have been foreseen. The whole vast field of
his conquests became, for many long and weary years after Alexander's
death, the prey to the most ferocious and protracted civil wars. Each
general and governor seized the power which Alexander's death left in
his hands, and endeavored to defend himself in the possession of it
against the others. Thus the devastation and misery which the making
of these conquests brought upon Europe and Asia were continued for
many years, during the slow and terrible process of their return to
their original condition.

In the exigency of the moment, however, at Alexander's death, the
generals who were in his court at the time assembled forthwith, and
made an attempt to appoint some one to take the immediate command.
They spent a week in stormy debates on this subject. Alexander had
left no legitimate heir, and he had declined when on his death-bed, as
we have already seen, to appoint a successor. Among his wives--if,
indeed, they may be called wives--there was one named Roxana, who had
a son not long after his death. This son was ultimately named his
successor; but, in the mean time, a certain relative named Aridæus was
chosen by the generals to assume the command. The selection of Aridæus
was a sort of compromise. He had no talents or capacity whatever, and
was chosen by the rest on that very account, each one thinking that if
such an imbecile as Aridæus was nominally the king, he could himself
manage to get possession of the real power. Aridæus accepted the
appointment, but he was never able to make himself king in any thing
but the name.

In the mean time, as the tidings of Alexander's death spread over the
empire, it produced very various effects, according to the personal
feelings in respect to Alexander entertained by the various
personages and powers to which the intelligence came. Some, who had
admired his greatness, and the splendor of his exploits, without
having themselves experienced the bitter fruits of them, mourned and
lamented his death. Others, whose fortunes had been ruined, and whose
friends and relatives had been destroyed, in the course, or in the
sequel of his victories, rejoiced that he who had been such a scourge
and curse to others, had himself sunk, at last under the just judgment
of Heaven.

We should have expected that Sysigambis, the bereaved and widowed
mother of Darius, would have been among those who would have exulted
most highly at the conqueror's death; but history tells us that,
instead of this, she mourned over it with a protracted and
inconsolable grief. Alexander had been, in fact, though the implacable
enemy of her son, a faithful and generous friend to her. He had
treated her, at all times, with the utmost respect and consideration,
had supplied all her wants, and ministered, in every way, to her
comfort and happiness. She had gradually learned to think of him and
to love him as a son; he, in fact, always called her mother; and
when she learned that he was gone, she felt as if her last earthly
protector was gone. Her life had been one continued scene of
affliction and sorrow, and this last blow brought her to her end. She
pined away, perpetually restless and distressed. She lost all desire
for food, and refused, like others who are suffering great mental
anguish, to take the sustenance which her friends and attendants
offered and urged upon her. At length she died. They said she starved
herself to death; but it was, probably, grief and despair at being
thus left, in her declining years, so hopelessly friendless and alone,
and not hunger, that destroyed her.

In striking contrast to this mournful scene of sorrow in the palace of
Sysigambis, there was an exhibition of the most wild and tumultuous
joy in the streets, and in all the public places of resort in the city
of Athens, when the tidings of the death of the great Macedonian king
arrived there. The Athenian commonwealth, as well as all the other
states of Southern Greece, had submitted very reluctantly to the
Macedonian supremacy. They had resisted Philip, and they had resisted
Alexander. Their opposition had been at last suppressed and silenced
by Alexander's terrible vengeance upon Thebes, but it never was
really subdued. Demosthenes, the orator, who had exerted so powerful
an influence against the Macedonian kings, had been sent into
banishment, and all outward expressions of discontent were restrained.
The discontent and hostility existed still, however, as inveterate as
ever, and was ready to break out anew, with redoubled violence, the
moment that the terrible energy of Alexander himself was no longer to
be feared.

When, therefore, the rumor arrived at Athens--for at first it was a
mere rumor--that Alexander was dead in Babylon, the whole city was
thrown into a state of the most tumultuous joy. The citizens assembled
in the public places, and congratulated and harangued each other with
expressions of the greatest exultation. They were for proclaiming
their independence and declaring war against Macedon on the spot. Some
of the older and more sagacious of their counselors were, however,
more composed and calm. They recommended a little delay, in order to
see whether the news was really true. Phocion, in particular, who was
one of the prominent statesmen of the city, endeavored to quiet the
excitement of the people. "Do not let us be so precipitate," said he.
"There is time enough. If Alexander is really dead to-day, he will be
dead to-morrow, and the next day, so that there will be time enough
for us to act with deliberation and discretion."

Just and true as this view of the subject was, there was too much of
rebuke and satire in it to have much influence with those to whom
it was addressed. The people were resolved on war. They sent
commissioners into all the states of the Peloponnesus to organize a
league, offensive and defensive, against Macedon. They recalled
Demosthenes from his banishment, and adopted all the necessary
military measures for establishing and maintaining their freedom. The
consequences of all this would doubtless have been very serious, if
the rumor of Alexander's death had proved false; but, fortunately for
Demosthenes and the Athenians, it was soon abundantly confirmed.

The return of Demosthenes to the city was like the triumphal entry of
a conqueror. At the time of his recall he was at the island of Ægina,
which is about forty miles southwest of Athens, in one of the gulfs of
the Ægean Sea. They sent a public galley to receive him, and to bring
him to the land. It was a galley of three banks of oars, and was
fitted up in a style to do honor to a public guest. Athens is
situated some distance back from the sea, and has a small port, called
the Piræus, at the shore--a long, straight avenue leading from the
port to the city. The galley by which Demosthenes was conveyed landed
at the Piræus. All the civil and religious authorities of the city
went down to the port, in a grand procession, to receive and welcome
the exile on his arrival, and a large portion of the population
followed in the train, to witness the spectacle, and to swell by their
acclamations the general expression of joy.

In the mean time, the preparations for Alexander's funeral had been
going on, upon a great scale of magnificence and splendor. It was two
years before they were complete. The body had been given, first, to be
embalmed, according to the Egyptian and Chaldean art, and then had
been placed in a sort of sarcophagus, in which it was to be conveyed
to its long home. Alexander, it will be remembered, had given
directions that it should be taken to the temple of Jupiter Ammon, in
the Egyptian oasis, where he had been pronounced the son of a god. It
would seem incredible that such a mind as his could really admit such
an absurd superstition as the story of his divine origin, and we must
therefore suppose that he gave this direction in order that the place
of his interment might confirm the idea of his superhuman nature in
the general opinion of mankind. At all events, such were his orders,
and the authorities who were left in power at Babylon after his death,
prepared to execute them.

It was a long journey. To convey a body by a regular funeral
procession, formed as soon after the death as the arrangements could
be made, from Babylon to the eastern frontiers of Egypt, a distance of
a thousand miles, was perhaps as grand a plan of interment as was ever
formed. It has something like a parallel in the removal of Napoleon's
body from St. Helena to Paris, though this was not really an
interment, but a transfer. Alexander's was a simple burial procession,
going from the palace where he died to the proper cemetery--a march
of a thousand miles, it is true, but all within his own dominions The
greatness of it resulted simply from the magnitude of the scale on
which every thing pertaining to the mighty here was performed, for
it was nothing but a simple passage from the dwelling to the
burial-ground on his own estates, after all.

A very large and elaborately constructed carriage was built to convey
the body. The accounts of the richness and splendor of this vehicle
are almost incredible. The spokes and staves of the wheels were
overlaid with gold, and the extremities of the axles, where they
appeared outside at the centers of the wheels, were adorned with
massive golden ornaments. The wheels and axle-trees were so large, and
so far apart, that there was supported upon them a platform or floor
for the carriage twelve feet wide and eighteen feet long. Upon this
platform there was erected a magnificent pavilion, supported by Ionic
columns, and profusely ornamented, both within and without, with
purple and gold. The interior constituted an apartment, more or less
open at the sides, and resplendent within with gems and precious
stones. The space of twelve feet by eighteen forms a chamber of no
inconsiderable size, and there was thus ample room for what was
required within. There was a throne, raised some steps, and placed
back upon the platform, profusely carved and gilded. It was empty; but
crowns, representing the various nations over whom Alexander had
reigned, were hung upon it. At the foot of the throne was the coffin,
made, it is said, of solid gold, and containing, besides the body, a
large quantity of the most costly spices and aromatic perfumes, which
filled the air with their odor. The arms which Alexander wore were
laid out in view, also, between the coffin and the throne.

On the four sides of the carriage were _basso relievos_, that is,
sculptured figures raised from a surface, representing Alexander
himself, with various military concomitants. There were Macedonian
columns, and Persian squadrons, and elephants of India, and troops of
horse, and various other emblems of the departed hero's greatness and
power. Around the pavilion, too, there was a fringe or net-work of
golden lace, to the pendents of which were attached bells, which
tolled continually, with a mournful sound, as the carriage moved
along. A long column of mules, sixty-four in number, arranged in sets
of four, drew this ponderous car. These mules were all selected for
their great size and strength, and were splendidly caparisoned. They
had collars and harnesses mounted with gold, and enriched with
precious stones.

Before the procession set out from Babylon an army of pioneers and
workmen went forward to repair the roads, strengthen the bridges, and
remove the obstacles along the whole line of route over which the
train was to pass. At length, when all was ready, the solemn procession
began to move, and passed out through the gates of Babylon. No pen can
describe the enormous throngs of spectators that assembled to witness
its departure, and that gathered along the route, as it passed slowly
on from city to city, in its long and weary way.

Notwithstanding all this pomp and parade, however, the body never
reached its intended destination. Ptolemy, the officer to whom Egypt
fell in the division of Alexander's empire, came forth with a grand
escort of troops to meet the funeral procession as it came into Egypt.
He preferred, for some reason or other, that the body should be
interred in the city of Alexandria. It was accordingly deposited
there, and a great monument was erected over the spot. This monument
is said to have remained standing for fifteen hundred years, but all
vestiges of it have now disappeared. The city of Alexandria itself,
however, is the conqueror's real monument; the greatest and best,
perhaps, that any conqueror ever left behind him. It is a monument,
too, that time will not destroy; its position and character, as
Alexander foresaw, by bringing it a continued renovation, secure
its perpetuity.

Alexander earned well the name and reputation of THE GREAT. He was
truly great in all those powers and capacities which can elevate one
man above his fellows. We can not help applauding the extraordinary
energy of his genius, though we condemn the selfish and cruel ends to
which his life was devoted. He was simply a robber, but yet a robber
on so vast a scale, that mankind, in contemplating his career, have
generally lost sight of the wickedness of his crimes in their
admiration of the enormous magnitude of the scale on which they were

      *      *      *      *      *

Transcriber's note:

1. Minor changes have been made to correct typesetters' errors, and to
ensure consistent spelling and punctuation in this etext; otherwise,
every effort has been made to remain true to the original book.

2. The chapter summaries in this text were originally published as
banners in the page headers, and have been moved to beginning of the
chapter for the reader's convenience.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Alexander the Great - Makers of History" ***

Copyright 2023 LibraryBlog. All rights reserved.