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Justin 11

(1) The army of Philip there were various nations, and after his death different feelings prevailed among them. Some, oppressed with an unjust yoke, were excited with hopes of recovering their liberty; others, from dislike of going to war in a distant country, rejoiced that the expedition was broken off; others grieved that the torch, kindled at the daughter’s nuptials, should have been applied to the funeral pile of the father. It was no small, fear, too, that possessed his friends on so sudden a change, contemplating at one time Asia that had been provoked, at another Europe1 that was not yet pacified, at another the Illyrians, Thracians, Dardanians, and other barbarous nations, who were of wavering faith and perfidious dispositions, and whom, if they should all rebel at once, it would be utterly impossible to resist. To all these apprehensions the succession of Alexander was a relief, who, in a public assembly, so effectually soothed and encouraged the people, as to remove all uneasiness from those that were afraid, and to fill every one with favourable expectations. He was now twenty years old; at which age he gave great promise of what he would be, but with such modesty, that it was evident he reserved the further proofs of his ability for the time of action. He granted the Macedonians relief from all burdens, except that of service in war; by which conduct he gained such popularity with his subjects, that they said they had changed only the person, not the virtues, of their king.

(2) His first care was about his father’s funeral, when he caused all who had been privy to his murder to be put to death at his burial-place. The only one that he spared was Alexander Lyncestes2 his brother, preserving in him the man who had first acknowledged his royal authority, for he had been the first to salute him king. His brother Caranus,3 a rival for the throne, as being the son of his step-mother, he ordered to be slain.In the beginning of his reign he put down many tribes that were revolting, and quelled some seditions in their birth. Encouraged by his success, he marched with haste into Greece, where, after his father’s example, having summoned the states to meet at Corinth, he was appointed general in his room. He then turned his attention to the war with Persia, of which a commencement had been made by Philip; but, as he was engaged in preparations for it, he received intelligence that “the Thebans and Athenians had gone over from his side to that of the Persians, and that the author of the defection was the orator Demosthenes, who had been bribed by the Persians with a large sum of money, and who had asserted that the whole army of the Macedonians, with their king, had been cut off by the Triballi, producing the author of the information before an assembly of the people, a man who said that he had been wounded in the battle in which the king had fallen. In consequence of which statement,” it was added, “the feelings of almost all the cities were changed, and the garrisons of the Macedonians besieged.” To repress these commotions, he marched upon Greece with an army in full array, and with such expedition, that they could scarcely believe they saw him of whose approach they were so little aware.

(3) In the course of his march he had exhorted the Thessalians to peace, reminding them of the kindnesses4 if shown them by his father Philip, and of his mother’s connexion with them by the family of the Aeacidae.5 The Thessalians gladly listening to such an address, he was chosen, like his father, captain-general of the whole nation, and they resigned into his hand all their customs and public revenues. The Athenians, as they had been the first to rebel, were also the first to repent of their rebellion, turning their contempt for their enemy into admiration of him, and extolling the youth of Alexander, which they had previously despised, above the merits of old generals. Sending ambassadors, therefore, they deprecated war; and Alexander, listening to their entreaties, and severely reproving them for their conduct, laid aside hostilities against them. He then directed his march towards Thebes, intending to show similar indulgence, if he found similar penitence. But the Thebans had recourse, not to prayers or intreaties, but to arms, and, being conquered, suffered the severest hardships of the most wretched state of subjugation. It being debated in a council of war whether the city should be destroyed, the Phocians, Plataeans, Thespians, and Orchomenians, who were the allies of Alexander and sharers in his victory, dwelt upon the destruction of their own cities and the cruelty of the Thebans, urging against them not only their present, but former, defection to the Persians, to the prejudice of the common liberty of Greece; “on which account,” they said, “they were an object of general hatred, as was manifest from the fact that all the Greeks had bound themselves by an oath to demolish Thebes as soon as they had conquered the Persians,” They brought forward also the fabulous accounts of their old crimes, with which they had filled every theatre, to make them odious not only for their recent perfidy, but for their ancient infamy.

(4) Cleadas, one of those who had been taken prisoners, being permitted to speak in their behalf, said, that “they had not revolted from the king, whom they understood to be killed, but from the king’s heirs; that what had been done in the matter was the fault, not of treachery, but of credulity;6 for which, however, they had already suffered severely by the loss of the flower of their soldiery; that there was left them only a multitude of old men and women, equally weak and harmless, but who had been so harassed by contumelies and insults, that they had never endured anything more grievous; and that he did not now intercede for his countrymen, of whom so few survived, but for their unoffending natal soil, and for a city which had given birth, not only to men, but to gods.”7 He endeavoured to work upon the king, too, from his superstitious regard for Hercules, who had been born at Thebes, and from whom the family of the Aeacidae was descended, and from the reflection that the youth of his father Philip had been spent at Thebes; and he conjured him “to spare a city which adored some of his ancestors, who had been born in it, as gods, and saw others who had been brought up in it, princes of the highest dignity.” But resentment was more powerful than entreaty, The city was in consequence demolished, the lands divided among the conquerors, and the prisoners publicly sold, their price being settled not for the profit of those who bought them, but according to the hatred of their enemies.8 Their fate seemed to the Athenians deserving of pity; and they therefore, though contrary to the king’s prohibition, opened their gates for the reception of the exiles. At this proceeding Alexander was so displeased, that when they deprecated war by a second embassy, he forbore from hostilities only on condition that their orators and leaders, through confidence in whom they had so often rebelled, should be delivered up to him. The Athenians preparing to comply, lest they should be compelled to abide a war, the matter ended in this arrangement, that the orators should be retained and the generals banished; when the latter immediately went over to Darius, and formed no inconsiderable addition to the strength of the Persians.

(5) When he set out to the Persian war, he put to death all his step-mother’s relations whom Philip had advanced to any high dignity, or appointed to any command. Nor did he spare such of his own kinsmen as seemed qualified to fill the throne, lest any occasion for rebellion should be left in Macedonia during his absence; and of the tributary princes he took such as were distinguished for ability to the war with him, leaving the less able at home for the defence of his dominions. Having then assembled his troops, he put them on shipboard, where, excited with incredible animation at the sight of Asia, he erected altars to the twelve gods to offer prayers for success in the war. He divided all his private property, which he had in Macedonia and the rest of Europe, among his friends, saying, “that for himself Asia was sufficient.” Before any ship left the shore, he offered sacrifices, praying for “victory in that war, in which he had been chosen the avenger of Greece so often assailed by the Persians, to whom,” he said, “a reign sufficiently long had been granted, a reign that had now reached maturity, and it was time that others, who would conduct themselves better, should take their place.” Nor were the anticipations of the army different from those of the prince; for all the soldiers, unmindful of their wives and children, and of the length of the expedition from home, contemplated the Persian gold, and the wealth of the whole east, as already their own prey, thinking neither of the war nor its perils, but of riches only. When they arrived at the continent of Asia, Alexander first of all threw a dart into the enemy’s country, and leaped on the shore in full armour, like one dancing the tripudium.10 He then proceeded to offer sacrifices, praying that “those countries might not unwillingly receive him as their king.” He also sacrificed at Troy, at the tombs of the heroes who had fallen in the Trojan war.

(6) Marching forward in quest of the enemy, he kept the soldiers from ravaging Asia, telling them that “they ought to spare their own property, and not destroy what they came to possess.” His army consisted of thirty-two thousand infantry, and four thousand five hundred cavalry, with a hundred and eighty-two ships. Whether, with this small force, it is more wonderful that he conquered the world, or that he dared to attempt its conquest, is difficult to determine. When he selected his troops for so hazardous a warfare, he did not choose robust young men, or men in the flower of their age, but veterans, most of whom had even passed their term of service, and who had fought under his father and his uncles;11 so that he might be thought to have chosen, not soldiers, but masters in war. No one was made an officer12 who was not sixty years of age; so that he who saw the captains assembled at head-quarters,13 would have declared that he saw the senate of some ancient republic. None, on the field of battle, thought of flight, but every one of victory; none trusted in his feet, but every one in his arms. King Darius, on the other hand, from confidence in his strength, abstained from all artifice in his operations; observing that “clandestine measures were fit only for a stolen victory;” he did not attempt to repel the enemy from his frontiers, but admitted them into the heart of his kingdom, thinking it more honourable to drive war out of his kingdom than not to give it entrance. The first engagement, in consequence, was fought on the plains of Adrastia.14 The Persian army consisted of six hundred thousand men, who were conquered not less by the valour of the Macedonians than by the conduct of Alexander, and took to flight. The slaughter among the Persians was great. Of the army of Alexander there fell only nine foot-soldiers, and a hundred and twenty horse, whom the king buried sumptuously as an encouragement to the rest, honouring them also with equestrian statues, and granting privileges to their relatives. After this victory the greater part of Asia came over to his side. He had also several encounters with Darius’s lieutenants, whom he conquered, not so much by his arms, as by the terror of his name.
(7) During the course of these proceedings, he was acquainted, on the information of a certain prisoner, that a conspiracy was forming against him by Alexander Lyncestes, the son-in-law of Antipater, who had been made governor of Macedonia. Fearing, therefore, that, if he were put to death, some disturbance might arise in Macedonia, he only kept him in prison.15 He soon after marched to a city called Gordium, which is situated between the Greater and Lesser Phrygia, and which he earnestly desired to take, not so much for the sake of plunder, as because he had heard that in that city, in the temple of Jupiter, was deposited the yoke of Gordius’s car; the knot of which, if anyone should loose, the oracles of old had predicted that he should rule all Asia. The cause and origin of the matter was as follows. When Gordius was ploughing in these parts, with oxen that he had hired,16 birds of every kind began to fly about him. Going to consult the augurs of the next town on the occurrence, he met at the gate a virgin of remarkable beauty, and asked her “which of the augurs he had best consult.” When she, having heard his reason for consulting them, and knowing something of the art from the instruction of her parents, replied, that “a kingdom was portended to him,” and offered to become his wife and the sharer of his expectations. So fair a match seemed the chief felicity of a throne. After his marriage a civil war arose among the Phrygians; and when they consulted the oracles how their discord might be terminated, the oracles replied that “a king was required to settle their disputes.” Inquiring a second time as to the person of the king, they were directed to regard him as their king whom they should first observe, on their return, going to the temple of Jupiter on a car. The person who presented himself to them was Gordius, and they at once saluted him king. He dedicated the car, in which he was riding when the throne was offered him, “to kingly majesty,” and it was placed in the temple of Jupiter. After him reigned his son Midas, who, having been instructed by Orpheus in sacred rites, filled all Phrygia with ceremonies of religion, by which he was better protected, during his whole life, than by arms. Alexander, having taken the city, and gone to the temple of Jupiter, requested to see the yoke of Gordius’s car, and, when it was shown him, not being able to find the ends of the cords, which were hidden within the knots, he put a forced interpretation on the oracle, and cut the cords with his sword; and thus, when the involutions were opened out, discovered the ends concealed in them.
(8) While he was thus engaged, intelligence was brought him that Darius was approaching with a vast army. Fearing the defiles, he crossed Mount Taurus with the utmost expedition, advancing, in one of his forced marches, five hundred stadia.17 Arriving at Tarsus, and being charmed with the pleasantness of the river Cydnus, which flows through the midst of the city, he threw off his armour, and, covered as he was with dust and sweat, plunged himself into the water, which was then excessively cold; when, on a sudden, such a numbness seized his nerves, that his voice was lost, and not only was there no hope of saving his life, but not even a means of delaying death could be found. One of his physicians, named Philippus, was the only person that promised a cure; but a letter from Parmenio, which arrived the day before from Cappadocia, rendered him an object of suspicion; for Parmenio, knowing nothing of Alexander’s illness, had written to caution him against trusting Philippus, as he had been bribed by Darius with a large sum of money. Alexander, however, thought it better to trust the doubtful faith of the physician, than to perish of certain disease. Taking the cup from Philippus, therefore, he gave him Parmenio’s letter to read, and, as he drank, fixed his eyes upon the physician’s countenance while he was reading. Seeing him unmoved, he became more cheerful, and recovered his health on the fourth day after.
(9) Meantime Darius advanced to battle with four hundred thousand foot and a hundred thousand horse. So vast a multitude of enemies caused some distrust in Alexander, when he contemplated the smallness of his own army; but he called to mind, at the same time, how much he had already done, and how powerful people he had overthrown, with that very moderate force. His hopes, therefore, prevailing over his apprehensions, and thinking it more hazardous to defer the contest, lest dismay should fall upon his men, he rode round among his troops, and addressed those of each nation in an appropriate speech. He excited the Illyrians and Thracians by describing the enemy’s wealth and treasures, and the Greeks by putting them in mind of their wars of old, and their deadly hatred towards the Persians. He reminded the Macedonians at one time of their conquests in Europe, and at another of their desire to subdue Asia, boasting that no troops in the world had been found a match for them, and assuring them that this battle would put an end to their labours and crown their glory. In the course of these proceedings he caused the army occasionally to halt, that they might, by such stoppages, accustom themselves to endure the sight of so great a multitude. Nor was Darius less active in drawing up his forces. Rejecting the services of his officers, he rode himself through the whole army, encouraged the several divisions, and put them in mind of the ancient glory of the Persians, and the perpetual possession of empire vouchsafed them by the immortal gods. Soon after a battle was fought with great spirit. Both kings were wounded in it. The result remained doubtful until Darius fled, when there ensued a great slaughter of the Persians, of whom there fell sixty-one thousand infantry and ten thousand horse, and forty thousand were taken prisoners. On the side of the Macedonians were killed a hundred and thirty foot and a hundred and fifty horse. In the camp of the Persians was found abundance of gold and other treasures; and among the captives taken in it were the mother and wife, who was also the sister, of Darius, and two of his daughters. When Alexander came to see and console them, they threw themselves, at the sight of his armed attendants, into one another’s arms, and uttered mournful cries, as if expecting to die immediately. Afterwards, falling at the feet of Alexander, they begged, not that they might live, but that their death might be delayed till they should bury the body of Darius. Alexander, touched with the respectful concern of the princesses for Darius, assured them that the king was still alive, and removed their apprehensions of death; directing, at the same time, that they should be treated as royal personages, and giving the daughters hopes of husbands suitable to the dignity of their father.

(10) As he afterwards contemplated the wealth and display of Darius, he was seized with admiration of such magnificence. Hence it was that he first began to indulge in luxurious and splendid banquets, and fell in love with his captive Barsine for her beauty, by whom he had afterwards a son that he called Hercules. Not forgetting, however, that Darius was still alive, he despatched Parmenio to seize the Persian fleet, and commissioned some others of his friends to secure the cities of Asia, which, on hearing the report of the victory, had immediately submitted to the conqueror, the satraps of Darius surrendering themselves with a vast quantity of treasure. He next marched into Syria, where he was met by several princes of the east with fillets on their heads.18 Of these, according to their respective deserts, he received some into alliance; others he deprived of their thrones, and put new kings in their places. Above the rest Abdolonymus, appointed by Alexander king of Sidon, stood pre-eminent; a man whom, when he was living a life of poverty, being accustomed to draw water, and water gardens for hire, Alexander made a king, setting aside the nobles, lest they should regard his favour as shown to their birth, and not as proceeding from the kindness of the giver. The city of Tyre sending Alexander, by the hands of a deputation, a golden crown of great value, as a token of congratulation, he received their present kindly, and told them that “he intended to visit Tyre to pay his vows to Hercules.” The deputies replying that “he would do that better at Old Tyre,19 and in the more ancient temple;” he was so provoked with them, because they evidently deprecated his visit, that he threatened their city with destruction. Bringing up his army, soon after, to the island, he was met with a hostile resistance, the Tyrians, from reliance on Carthage, being not less determined than himself. The example of Dido had stimulated the Tyrians; for that queen, after founding Carthage, had secured the empire over the third part of the world;20 and they thought it would be dishonourable if their women should show more courage in acquiring dominion than they in defending their liberty. They removed to Carthage, therefore, such as were unfit for war, and sent at once for assistance, but were, not long afterwards, reduced by treachery.21
(11) Alexander next got possession of Rhodes and Cilicia22 without an effort. He then went to the temple of Jupiter Ammon, to consult the oracle about the event of his future proceedings, and his own parentage. For his mother Olympias had confessed to her husband Philip, that “she had conceived Alexander, not by him, but by a serpent of extraordinary size.” Philip, too, towards the end of his life, had publicly declared that “Alexander was not his son;” and he accordingly divorced Olympias, as having been guilty of adultery. Alexander, therefore, anxious to obtain the honour of divine paternity, and to clear his mother from infamy, instructed the priests, by messengers whom he sent before him, what answers he wished to receive. The priests, as soon as he entered the temple, saluted him as the son of Ammon. Alexander, pleased with the god’s adoption of him, directed that he should be regarded as his son. He then inquired “whether he had taken vengeance on all that had been concerned in the assassination of his father.” He was answered that “his father could neither be assassinated, nor could die; but that vengeance for Philip’s death had been fully exacted.” On putting a third question, he was told that “success in all his wars, and dominion over the world, was granted him.” A response was also given by the oracle to his attendants, that “they should reverence Alexander as a god, and not as a king.” Hence it was that his haughtiness was so much increased, and a strange arrogance arose in his mind, the agreeableness of demeanour, which he had contracted from the philosophy of the Greeks and the habits of the Macedonians, being entirely laid aside. On his return from the temple of Ammon he founded Alexandria, and desired that that colony of the Macedonians might be considered the metropolis of Egypt.

(12) Darius, having fled to Babylon, entreated Alexander, in a letter, “to give him permission to redeem his prisoners,” offering a large sum for their ransom. But Alexander demanded his whole kingdom, and not a sum of money, as the price of their release. Some time after, another letter from Darius was brought to Alexander, in which one of his daughters was offered him in marriage, and a portion of his kingdom. Alexander replied that “what was offered was his own,” and desired him “to come to him as a suppliant, and to leave the disposal of his kingdom to his conqueror.” All hopes of peace being thus lost, Darius resumed hostilities, and proceeded to meet Alexander with four hundred thousand infantry and a hundred thousand cavalry. On his march he was informed that “his wife had died of a miscarriage, and that Alexander had mourned for her death, and attended her funeral; acting, in that respect, not from love, but merely from kindness of feeling; as Darius’s wife had been visited by him but once, though he had often gone to console his mother and her little daughters.” Darius now considered himself indeed overcome, since, after losing so many battles, he was surpassed by his enemy even in kindnesses, and declared that it was a consolation to him, since he could not conquer, to be conquered by such an enemy. He therefore wrote a third letter to Alexander, thanking him for not having acted as an enemy towards his family, and offering him a larger portion of his kingdom, even as far as the river Euphrates, another of his daughters in marriage, and thirty thousand talents for the other prisoners. To this Alexander replied, that “thanks were needless from an enemy; that nothing had been done by him to flatter Darius, or to gain the means of mollifying him, with a view either to the doubtful results of war, or to conditions of peace; but that he had acted from a certain greatness of mind, by which he had learned to fight against the forces of his enemies, not to take advantage of their misfortunes;” and he promised at the same time, that “he would comply with the wishes of Darius, if he would be content to be second to him, and not his equal; but that the universe could not be governed by two suns, nor could the earth with safety have two sovereigns; and that he must consequently either prepare to surrender on that day, or to fight on the next, and must promise himself no better success than he had already experienced.”

(13) On the next day they drew up their armies; when, on a sudden, before they came to battle, a deep sleep fell on Alexander, who was wearied with making arrangements. Nothing but the presence of the king being wanting, in order to commence the engagement, he was awakened, though with difficulty, by Parmenio, and as those about him asked the reason of his sleeping in the midst of danger, when he was sparing of sleep even in time of security, he answered that “he had been relieved from great concern, and that his repose was occasioned by sudden freedom from apprehension, since he should now engage with the forces of Darius in a body; whereas he had dreaded, if the Persians should divide their army, that the war would be greatly protracted.” Before the battle commenced, each army was an object of admiration to its antagonists. The Macedonians admired the host of men opposed to them, their stature, and the beauty of their armour. The Persians were amazed that so many thousands of their countrymen had been defeated by so small a force. Nor did the kings forbear to ride round among their troops. Darius told his men, that “if a division of the enemy were made, scarcely one man would fall to ten23 of his own armed followers.” Alexander exhorted the Macedonians “not to be alarmed at the numbers of the enemy, their stature, or the strangeness of their complexion." He bade them remember only that “they were now fighting for the third time with the same adversaries; and not to imagine that they had been rendered braver by defeat, as they would bring into the field with them the sad recollection of former disasters, and of the blood shed in the two previous engagements;” adding, that “Darius had the greater number of human beings, but he himself the greater number of men.” He admonished them “to despise an army glittering with gold and silver, in which they would find more spoil than danger, since victory was to be gained, not by splendour of arms, but by the power of the sword.”
(14) Soon after, the battle was begun. The Macedonians rushed upon the swords presented to them, with contempt for an enemy whom they had so often defeated. The Persians, on the other hand, were desirous to die rather than be conquered. Seldom has there been so much blood shed in a battle. Darius, when he saw his army repulsed, wished himself to die, but was compelled by his officers to flee. Some advising that the bridge over the Cydnus should he broken down, in order to stop the advance of the enemy, he said that “he would not provide for his safety in such a way as to expose so many thousands of his followers to the foe; and that the road which was open to himself, ought also to he open to others.” Alexander, meanwhile, made the most hazardous efforts; where he saw the enemy thickest, and fighting most desperately, there he always threw himself, desiring that the peril should be his, and not his soldiers’. By this battle he gained the dominion over Asia, in the fifth year after his accession to the throne. His victory was so decisive, that after it none ventured to rebel against him; and the Persians, after a supremacy of so many years, patiently submitted to the yoke of servitude. After rewarding his soldiers, and allowing them to recruit their strength for thirty-four days, he took account of the spoil. He afterwards found forty thousand talents in the city of Susa. Next he took Persepolis, the metropolis of the kingdom of Persia, a city which had been eminent for many years, and which was filled with the spoils of the world, as was now first seen at its destruction. In the course of these proceedings, about eight hundred Greeks met Alexander, men who had been punished in captivity by mutilation of their bodies, and who entreated that, “as he had delivered Greece, he would also release them from the cruelty of their enemies.” Permission was given to them to go home, but they preferred receiving portions of land in Persia, lest, instead of causing joy to their parents by their return, they should merely shock them by the horrid spectacle which they presented.
(15) Meanwhile, to gain the favour of the conqueror, Darius was confined in golden fetters24 and chains in a village of the Parthians named Thara; the immortal gods, I suppose, ordaining that the empire of the Persians should have its termination in the country of those who were to succeed them in dominion. Alexander, hastening his march, arrived there on the following day, when he found that Darius had been conveyed from the place in the night, in a covered vehicle. Directing his army to follow him, he pursued the flying prince with six thousand cavalry. On his march he had several severe encounters, and advanced many miles without finding any traces of Darius. But while he was allowing the horses time to rest, one of the soldiers, going to a neighbouring spring, found Darius in the vehicle, wounded in several places, but still alive. One of the Persian captives being brought forward, the dying prince, knowing from his voice that he was his countryman, said that “he had at least this comfort in his present sufferings, that he should speak to one who could understand him, and that he should not utter his last words in vain.” He then desired that the following message should be given to Alexander: that “he died with out having done him any acts of kindness, but a debtor to him for the greatest, since he had found his feelings towards his mother and children to be those of a prince, not of a foe; that he had been more happy in his enemy than in his relations, for by his enemy life had been granted to his mother and children, but taken from himself by his relatives, to whom he had given both life and kingdoms; and that such a requital must therefore be made them as his conqueror should please. For himself, that he made the only return to Alexander which he could at the point of death, by praying to the gods above and below, and the powers that protected kings, that the empire of the world might fall to his lot. That he desired the favour of a decent rather than a magnificent funeral; and, as to avenging his death, it was not his cause alone that was concerned, but precedent, and the common cause of all kings, which it would be both dishonourable and dangerous for him to neglect; since, in regard to vengeance, the interests of justice were affected, and, in regard to precedent, those of the general safety. To this effect he gave him his right hand, as the only pledge of a king’s faith to be conveyed to Alexander.” Then, stretching out his hand, he expired. When this intelligence was communicated to Alexander, he went to see the body of the dead monarch, and contemplated with tears a death so unsuitable to his dignity. He also directed his corpse to be buried as that of a king, and his relics to be conveyed to the sepulchres of his ancestors.