PHILIP II OF MACEDON & ALEXANDER THE GREAT
THE RISE OF THE MACEDONIAN EMPIRE
ARTHUR M. CURTEIS
CHAPTER I. GEOGRAPHY AND INHABITANTS OF MACEDON.
CHAPTER II. KINGS OF MACEDON TO THE DEATH OF AMYNTAS II., FATHER OF PHILIP (7OO-369).
CHAPTER III. MACEDON AND HELLAS AT PHILIP’S ACCESSION.
CHAPTER IV. FROM THE ACCESSION OF PHILIP TO HIS INTERVENTION IN THE SACRED WAR.
CHAPTER V. FROM PHILIP'S INTERVENTION IN THESSALY TO THE FALL OF OLYNTHOS.
CHAPTER VI. THE PEACE OF PHILOKRATES. FALSA LEGATIO. THERMOPYLAI IN PHILIP S HANDS.
CHAPTER VII. FROM THE PEACE OF PHILOKRATES TO THE BATTLE OF CHAIRONEIA (346-338).
CHAPTER VIII. FROM THE BATTLE OF CHAERONEEA TO THE BEGINNING OF ALEXANDER'S ASIATIC CAMPAIGNS.
CHAPTER IX. ALEXANDER IN ASIA MINOR.
CHAPTER X. FROM THE SIEGE OF HALIKARNASSOS TO THE BATTLE OF ISSOS.
CHAPTER XL FROM THE BATTLE OF ISSOS TO THE BATTLE OF GAUGAMELA.
CHAPTER XII. FROM THE BATTLE OF GAUGAMELA TO THE SACK OF PERSEPOLIS.
CHAPTER XHI. THE DEATH OF DARIUS. — REDUCTION OF PARTHIA. — EXECUTION OF PHILOTAS AND PARMENION.
CHAPTER XIV. THE CAMPAIGNS IN BAKTRIA AND SOGDIANA.
CHAPTER XV. FROM THE OXUS TO THE HYPHASIS.
CHAPTER XVI. THE RETURN FROM THE HYPHASIS TO SUSA.
CHAPTER XVII. CLOSING SCENES.
GEOGRAPHY AND INHABITANTS OF MACEDONIA.
“The history of a nation is by no means to be regarded solely as a consequence of the natural condition of its local habitations.” So writes one of the latest of Greek historians in the midst of a the physical graphic description of the climate and physical characteristics of the shores of the Aegean. But the stress which he lays on these characteristics, and the inferences which he draws from them, show that he considers them to have been a strongly determining cause of the history peoples who dwelt upon those shores. It is indeed impossible to suppose that, had the Greeks been inhabitants of a level inland country, they would have remained so long disunited, or would have shown (as they did) the restless activity characteristic of the seaman; and we shall have evidence in the following pages of the extraordinary endurance of Greeks amid sudden changes of climate, as well as of their superiority to Asiatics in bodily not less than mental vigour. That some part of this vigour was owing to the country in which they lived will hardly be denied.
In its physical characteristics Greece was a land of singular contrasts. A remarkable similarity of conditions between the eastern and western shores of the Aegean was matched by a remarkable difference of conditions between the eastern and western coasts of Greece itself, and still more between its southern and northern provinces. The Aegean was a highway between two halves of one country—a sea exceptionally suitable for commerce. The air is clear. Islands—that is, landmarks— are frequent. Bays and safe anchorages are innumerable. During a great part of the summer there are regular winds which blow daily from the north, so regularly indeed that Demosthenes counted it among Philip’s advantages that he lived at the back of the north wind. On the other hand, while the eastern side of Greece is rich in fertile lowlands and has a deeply indented though accessible coastline, the western side consists of little but rocky ridges skirting a savage shore with few harbours. But the contrast between south and north is yet more striking than this. There is not on the entire surface of the globe, it has been said, any other region in which the different zones of climate and flora meet one another in so rapid a succession. The semi-tropical products of the Cyclades and the Peloponnesus have vanished in Boeotia. The olives of Attica are not seen in Thessaly. Even the myrtle disappears on the northern shores of the Aegean.
If we go farther north, we only heighten the contrast ; for the climate and products of Macedon resemble those of central Germany. It is a land of broad rivers and great plains, far superior to Illyria across the mountains in fertility, and boasting a seacoast of great extent. Yet seacoast and inland were strangely cut off the one from the other, so that the inhabitants of the interior until Philip’s time were to a great extent a highland population secluded from the world. The reason of this lay in the peculiar conformation of the mountain system of the country. If we were to use the language of a cultivated Athenian, we should say that the range of the Kambounian (Cambunian) mountains, stretching from the lofty mass of Olympus in the east to Lakmon in the west, formed a natural barrier between Hellenes and Barbarians, between pure-breeds and half-breeds. This range was indeed of no great height, yet it formed, roughly speaking, a sort of division between one kind of country and another, one kind of people and another. The Hellenes to the south reached a high degree of civilization, and emigrating from home and mingling with their neighbours in all directions, powerfully affected the history of surrounding nations. The Macedonians remained for a long while a half-barbarous people, because they were shut off not only from the outside world, but from mutual intercourse by lofty and numerous mountain chains. These mountains, in fact, were so lofty and difficult, that at most points they were higher than the Kambounian range at many points even higher than Pindos itself. It was easier on the whole to pass from the adjacent lowlands into Thessaly or the valley of the Istros (Danube) than from one Macedonian valley to another. On the other hand, the rivers that rise in these mountain ranges gradually converge before falling into the sea after long and devious wanderings. The first outward expansion of these highland tribes would needs follow the natural line marked out for them by their rivers flowing seaward, and their first natural meeting-points would be Aigai (Aegae) and Pella in the valley of the Axios, the successive capitals of Macedonian kings.
In the widest extent of the name, Macedon included five tracts or provinces, singularly different from one another. Three of these were basins of large rivers, while a fourth (Emathia) was almost as directly a “gift” of the united rivers as Egypt was of the Nile, being formed, it would seem, out of the alluvial deposit brought down by them in the course of centuries from the lofty mountains of the interior.
The valley watered by the Haliakmon was a narrow district, enclosed between the Kambounian and Skardos ranges on the south and west, and Mounts Barnos and Bermios on the north and east. Although it was not remarkable for fertility, the possession of this valley was yet a matter of importance to the kings of Macedon. At its northern end there was a remarkable gorge, cleaving the mountains from east to west, the only rent in the great mass of Skardos for more than 200 miles, through which a tributary of the Apsos flows from its source in Mount Barnos on its way to the Adriatic. The Roman road of later days (Via Egnatia) was carried over a pass some thirty miles to the north; but before the Roman conquest of Macedon, this gorge of the Eordaikos must have formed the main line of communication between Illyria and Macedon, whether for commerce or invasion, and lent therefore an exceptional importance to the upper valley of the Haliakmon.
To the north of Orestis lay the fertile uplands, watered by the river Erigon, as it pursues a winding course to join the Axios. Though averaging a height of 1,500 feet above the sea, the district boasted “a fat rich soil,” capable of maintaining a large population.
The Axios was the chief river in Macedon, and its eastern boundary prior to the reign of Philip, a river too of a different character to the preceding. In its upper course it flows through a narrow cultivated plain, receiving the waters of the Erigon from Pelagonia abruptly changes its peaceful nature, forming at the so-called Iron Gates rapids for some considerable distance, where its waters begin to slide to the lowlands of Emathia. At the Gates the river cuts through the mountain range which joins Skardos to Orbelos, and having cleft for itself a passage through a precipitous gorge of more than 600 feet in height, gradually descends to the lower level, and so falls at last into the sea, close to the joint mouths of the Haliakmon and Lydias.
In the very centre of the country, and entirely enclosed by mountains, lay the province of Eordaia — an almost circular basin, difficult of access, and with no outlet except a couple of mountain passes. The water from the hills appears to drain entirely into the Lake Begorritis.
Lastly there was the irregular strip of alluvial land, stretching from Mount Olympus to the city of Therme (Thessalonica), at first a narrow plain, enclosed between sea and mountains and called Pieria, but widening out between the Haliakmon and Therme into the fertile province of Emathia, watered by the great river already mentioned, and containing the two capitals of Macedon, Aigai (Aegas) and Pella. The former lay at the head of the valley of the Lydias, on a plateau 200 feet above the plain, and dominated the whole of Emathia as well as the passes from the seacoast to the interior. It was the “portal of the highlands,” the dominant “castle of the plain,” and remained to the last, as became its position and associations, the burial-place of the Macedonian kings, the centre and hearth of the Macedonian tribes. Pella was a city of a different type. Archelaus was the first of the Macedonian kings to understand its value as a capital ; but it remained comparatively insignificant until it became associated with the glories of Philip’s reign. It had two great merits. It was central and it was strong—as strong as Aigai, far stronger than Pydna, and more central than either for a monarch whose long arm reached from Amphipolis to Pagasai. It was also in direct communication with the sea (distant about fifteen miles) by the marshes and the Lydias. In short, with no claims to beauty, or grandeur, or healthiness, Pella formed a strong central useful capital, thoroughly characteristic of a common-sense monarchy, whose right was might.
So far we have been dealing solely with Macedon. But there were large districts and many cities to the east of the Axios, which had been founded or colonized by Hellenes, and in which they were the dominant, if not the more numerous part of the population. These colonies fringed the whole coast of the Euxine Sea, the Chersonese, Thrace, and Chalcidice; and as the extension of Macedonian power by Philip brought him into collision with many of them, it will be well to give a short account of the country lying between the Axios and Amphipolis.
The promontory of Chalcidice, with its three fingers or peninsulas, seemed formed by nature to be the maritime province of the inland country behind Chalcidice. Macedon might seem to have a natural right to it, and we can hardly wonder that Philip was not content until he had won it. As compared with the western shores of the same latitude it had marked advantages. In place of a savage coast and precipitous cliffs, we have a broad mass of land reaching far into the Southern Sea, whose three great spurs abound in harbours, and were studded with flourishing colonies. The easternmost (Akte) runs forty miles into the sea, with an average breadth of four miles, and ends in the grand limestone cone of Athos, towering more than 6,000 feet above the level of the Aegean, and casting its shadow even as far as Lemnos. The central and western peninsulas (Sithonia and Pallene) are not so mountainous as Akte, but were far more densely populated. Each was fringed with a numerous belt of colonies. Each boasted one city of first-rate importance. On the west coast of Sithonia lay Torone, the first home of the emigrants from Euboean Chalcis, who colonized Chalcidice and gave it their own name : while at the neck of land connecting Pallene with the country to the north was Potidaea, a colony from Dorian Corinth; the near neighbour, rival, and sometime subject of the Chalcidian Olynthus. Nor does the list of Hellenic colonies end here. Besides a host of minor towns, there were Methone, Therme, Olynthus, Akanthos, Amphipolis, all colonized by men of Dorian race, and two of them occupying positions of first-rate importance. Amphipolis, strongly situated in an angle of the Strymon, commanded the passage of the river and the road from west to east. To be master of Amphipolis was to be master also of Mount Pangaios and its valuable gold and silver mines. Nor did Therme occupy a less important site. The gulf on which it stands is a splendid sheet of water, running inland loo miles in a general direction from south-east to north-west, and gradually narrowing at its northern end. The town itself was of little consequence till Macedonian times ; but the moment that a great state arose on the northern shore of the Aegean, which swallowed up the pettier city- leagues of Chalcidice, Therme at once assumed its natural importance as a great harbour, commanding and guarding the approaches from the eastward. It lay close at hand to the plains of the Axios, and communicated by a pass with the valley of the Strymon.
The difference in the physical features of the countries lying to the north and south of the Kambounian range was not more remarkable than that between the inhabitants of these countries. Epeirots, Macedonians, Illyrians, and Paionians were genuine Hellenes. Macedonians, indeed, were not the mere barbarians which cultivated Greeks like Demosthenes affected to believe them; yet neither were they Hellenes in the highest sense of the word. Their civilization was less developed, their dress and fashion were different, and their language, though similar, was yet not pure Greek. What we know of their government recalls the heroic times of the Iliad. Their national life was not that of the city, (polis) but of the tribe. In Italy the kingship died out. In Greece it survived at Sparta alone, and even there was reduced by the Ephorate almost to a mere form. But in Macedon it retained its essential character to historic times, though limited, like the power of Agamemnon himself, by occasional assemblies of the people in arms.
Whatever may have been the precise relations of Macedonians and Hellenes, it is certain that the civilization of Macedon was kept Stagnant or even deteriorated by intermixture with Illyrians. Hence Greeks and Macedonians were ever tending to become more and more estranged. The higher the development of Hellenic civilization in the south, the deeper was the contempt felt by the genuine Hellene for the semi-barbarians of the north. “Philip!” cries Demosthenes, scornfully, “Philip! who is not only no Hellene, or in any way connected with Hellenes, but not even a barbarian from a creditable country! He is a worthless fellow from Macedon, whence, in olden time, it was impossible to get even a decent slave!”. This was, of course, the exaggerated language of pride of birth, deepened by political hatred, and it was hardly true in any sense of the Macedonian royal family; yet it expresses a partial truth, and it was only from Hellas itself that the influence came which made a national life on a large scale possible to these rude highlanders.
Hellenic colonies, it must be remembered, were not confined to the shores of the Aegean. There were also important settlements on the Ionian Sea, on Hellenic the coasts of which the Dorian Corinthians had founded several colonies, and through them opened up a mercantile connexion with the interior. Nor were the Corinthians alone in their adventurous pursuit of fortune north-eastwards. Other Dorians also, exiles from Peloponnesian Argos, followed in their track, and by the end of the eighth century had established themselves in the upper valley of the Haliakmon. Among these wanderers, Herodotus tells us, were three brothers, of the royal family of Argos. After many adventures and hair-breadth escapes, they gradually won a leading position among the Macedonians, in the midst of whom they were settled; and from this to kingship and conquest was an easy step. But the youngest brother, Perdikkas, was the most intelligent, or the most favoured by fortune. King in Orestis, with a new Argos for his capital, he pushed his victorious arms almost to the mouth of the Haliakmon, and finally transferred the headquarters of his growing power to a more convenient capital in Aigai. Thus was founded the dynasty of the Argeads; and thus were laid the foundations of that Macedonian empire which conquered Greece and overthrew the might of Persia.
KINGS OF MACEDONIA TO THE DEATH OF AMYNTAS II, FATHER OF PHILIP, (700-369).
The first two centuries of the Macedonian monarchy, covered by the reigns of six kings, were a period shrouded in obscurity, during which the kingdom had enlarged itself at the expense of its neighbours, and crossing the Axios had even reached the Strymon. This of conquest had been scarcely arrested by the Persian invasions of Europe. Indeed, Alexander I, son of Amyntas, was cunning enough to bow to the storm, and while cautiously doing his utmost to befriend the Greeks, affected to fall in with Persian ideas as to Macedon being the centre of a great vassal state, and thankfully accepted any extension of territory which the Great King might be pleased to give him. By these means he gained a footing among the Thracian tribes as far as Mount Haemus, while he attained an object by which he set even greater store as a true-blooded Hellene ; for his claims to that title were publicly acknowledged at Olympia, and his victories in the Stadium celebrated by the Hellenic Pindar. Yet the difficulties of Alexander did not cease, but rather increased when danger no longer threatened Greece from the side of Persia. He had removed his capital from Aigai to Pydna, a step nearer to the Hellenes, whom he admired so much. But close to Pydna lay Methone, an independent Greek city; while to the eastward, in Chalcidice, and as far as the Strymon, were numerous Hellenic colonies whose sympathies drew them naturally to the south rather than the west—to Hellas, not to Macedon—and which, after the Persian wars, recognized in the maritime Athens their natural leader and protectress. It was a difficult position; and for a century it tried to the utmost the skill of the Macedonian kings. On the one hand, the expansion of the kingdom had outrun its internal consolidation, and there were latent elements of discontent which more than once brought it to the verge of ruin. On the other hand, if the Macedonian monarchs were to be anything more than petty lords of half-barbarous tribes, they could hardly put up with the permanent dependence of what was practically their own sea-coast on a far distant and hostile power, any more than with its permanent independence. The kings of Macedon were forced by their position to choose between two alternatives, to make good their claim to Method and Potidaea, Chalcidice and Amphipolis, and to win their way to the coast, or else to submit to a humiliating exclusion from the political affairs of Hellas. In such a case no able man hesitates in the choice of his alternative; and we thus strike the key-note of the discords and jealousies which for so many years troubled Northern Greece. Even before the Peloponnesian war, in the time of Perdiccas II (454-413), Athens and Macedon were face to face, conscious of divergent interests.
The colonization of Amphipolis had been the crowning stroke of the policy by which Pericles sought to keep a firm hold of Chalcidice and the Thracian coast, and so of the Aegean. Perdiccas, on the other hand, threatened at once by discontented neighbours in the west, by the formidable empire of the Thracian Sitalces in the east, and by Athenian jealousy in Chalcidice, was forced to pursue a tortuous policy. Adroitly observant of the current of affairs, and quite devoid of scruples, he made treaties and broke them, he waged war or bowed to the storm, with equal facility. In the field of diplomacy he must have been an exceptionally able man ; for every neighbour in turn was utilized to serve his purpose, and was neglected or attacked when the object of the moment was attained. Brasidas the Spartan he made use of against his private enemies the Illyrians. He skilfully fomented the revolt of the Chalcidic towns against Athens in 432; while in the next year we find him allied with his old enemies the Athenians, and showing his gratitude by attacking his old friends the Chalcidians. Two years later—once more allied with Chalcidians and at war with Athens—he was attacked by Sitalces, and was within a little of being ruined. Yet from these and similar perils he escaped with unimpaired strength, or rather the stronger, in that the brilliant campaigns of Brasidas had undermined the power of Athens in the north. Nor was Athens ever again as formidable to Macedon as she had been ; for the disastrous issue of the Sicilian expedition (413) paralyzed her influence everywhere, and probably Macedon reaped more advantage from the victory of Syracuse than Syracuse did herself.
The policy of Perdiccas was continued with success by his illegitimate son Archelaus. He climbed to power by a series of violent deeds, with which most barbarous societies are only too familiar : for he assassinated his brother, as well as his uncle and his uncle’s son. Such were his crimes. His merits were not less marked as the great civilizer of Macedon. Thucydides goes out of his way to insist that Archelaus benefited his country more than all his eight predecessors put together, not only in his military improvements, but in building roads and founding cities. He transferred tire capital from Pydna to Pella, while he pacified Pieria by the foundation of a new city, Dion, dedicated to Zeus and the Muses, and reserved for festival occasions. He gathered round him some of the most brilliant Greeks of the day—not sorry perhaps to exchange the insecurity of their native cities for the lettered ease and secure patronage of a court. But these efforts, though praiseworthy, were not altogether successful. His clients seem to have been corrupted by the atmosphere around them; and the premature attempt at artistic development was cut short by the forty years of disorder which followed his murder. It is an illustration of the assertion that the history of Macedonia is the history of its kings, that this effort should have been thus fruitless, and that to the last the people should apparently have retained so many characteristics of barbarism. Hard fighters and hard drinkers, they were fine soldiers but indifferent citizens, and seem to have received only faint impressions from the civilization for which they prepared the way in Asia.
The murder of Archelaus was the signal for six years of bloodshed and disorder, until Amyntas, the father of the great Philip, murdered his predecessor and seized the throne. Amyntas was nominal king for twenty-four years, but it was a reign full of romantic reverses of fortune. Ten years of anarchy had given to the native nobility a long-coveted opportunity of revolt, against a culture and ordered peace which in their hearts they disliked, as well as against the tightening reins of despotism. It is a phenomenon often seen in political history, that the substitution of one strong will for a hundred conflicting wills is a slow process, subject to ebb and flow, and often desperately opposed by those who have a personal interest in a time of license. What Normandy suffered in the ninth and tenth centuries A.D., and England in the twelfth, and France in the fifteenth, that Macedonia suffered in the fourth century B.C., until Philip gained the throne. The nobility were insubordinate. Authority was set at nought. Each man fought for his own hand. Murder was rife ; and the anarchy was only temporarily allayed by a politic marriage. The union of Amyntas with Eurydice, a daughter of a leading family among the Lynkestai, was intended, like the marriage of Henry the Fifth of England with Katharine of France, to put an end to a series of exhausting struggles.
But the marriage failed in its object and only secured him a temporary respite from trouble. The Lynkestai were not mollified by the union of a daughter of their house with the royal family ; and the neighbours of Amyntas were eager to benefit by his difficulties. Illyrians, Thracians, Thessalians, in turn or in concert, poured into Macedon. He was even obliged to surrender the coast of the Thermaic gulf to the Chalcidians of Olynthus. We might almost say that he was elbowed out of his own country by encroaching friends and powerful enemies, and for nearly two years was a king without a kingdom.
But he was a dexterous diplomatist, who in the school of adversity seems to have learned the art of playing off one foe against another, and of exciting them to mutual jealousy. If the Olynthians gained from him more than they gave, it would seem that they checked the further advance of the Illyrians. Against Olynthus itself, which was too near and powerful not to be disliked, a happy combination of circumstances gave him an irresistible ally in Sparta. For Olynthus also had enemies, whose enmity had arisen in the following way. Favoured by accident, Olynthus had become head of a considerable league of cities in and near Chalcidice. Indeed, the terms of confederation (as described by Xenophon, an unwilling witness) were so fair and generous, that it is hardly strange that the smaller and more exposed Hellenic cities in those parts gladly exchanged precarious independence for safety even if combined with partial dependence; or that Macedonian cities, although as important as Pella, preferred comparative security within the hardly felt restraints of a fairly constituted confederacy to being subjects of a despot who could not protect them from even the attacks of Illyrians. In the year 383 envoys appeared before the Spartan assembly from King Amyntas and the city of Acanthus— men who recounted to a sympathetic audience the political troubles which vexed themselves and their friends. A careful reading of the speech delivered on the occasion by the Akanthian envoy throws a flood of light on the feelings of the day, and the prejudices (to call them by no worse name) which blinded the eyes and tied the hands of free Greeks. For what was it they feared? Not yet the tyranny of a Macedonian king, not now the inroads of Illyrian savages, but the aggression of a great city, which invited all to combine for self-defence and to agree to adopt such singular nations as common laws and mutual citizenship, and intermarriage, and common rights of property! To Amyntas it was only natural that such far-sighted justice should seem as dangerous as it was strange—a precedent to be if possible never repeated. But Greek cities also of size and importance, and notably Acanthus, sympathized with the king rather than the free city, and passionately tenacious of their narrow town life, actually joined Amyntas in petitioning Sparta to save them from their friends. For Olynthus by the offer of manifest advantages had gathered into its confederation city after city, until but a few in Chalcidice were left independent. Of these the largest were Acanthus and Apollonia. Being invited to join the league, they declined. Being threatened with compulsion if they persisted in refusal, they appealed to Sparta, and their appeal was backed by Amyntas. “You seem not to be aware, O Spartans,” said the envoys, “ of the great power growing up in Greece. City after city, Greek and Macedonian, has been won over or freed ” (the word must have slipped from their lips almost involuntarily), “by Olynthus. We have been invited to join, and unless some help reach us we shall have to do so against our wishes. They are already strong. They are opening negotiations with both Thebes and Athens. If these succeed, think of the strength of such a coalition! Olynthus is strong by sea as well as land, having mines and forests and money. But as yet she is vulnerable, for her allies are not all reconciled to her rule. Therefore strike hard and strike soon.” This appeal was only too successful. The Spartan Eudamidas was despatched at once with 2,000 men to the scene of action, and his mere presence induced Potidaea to revolt from the league, and relieved Acanthus and Apollonia from all danger of absorption. Eudamidas was to be followed by his brother Phoibidas with the residue of 10,000 men.
It would be alien to the subject of this book to narrate the rash seizure of the citadel of Thebes by Phoibidas on his northward march; though it will be necessary to explain its unexpected effect. Suffice it to say, that Phoibidas never reached Macedon. The reinforcements for Eudamidas, who as yet was only strong enough to maintain the status quo, were led by Teleutias, a brother of King Agesilaos, and comprised a considerable force of Thebans. Amyntas was urged to do his utmost in the way of getting mercenaries and money. And thus the storm broke on the devoted city. The defence was little short of heroic. For at this time (B.C 382), Sparta was at the height of her power, and her will was law in almost every part of Greece. The Olynthians at first fully held their own, though with varying fortune. In 381 they even defeated Teleutias in a pitched battle under their own walls, slew him and a large part of his force, and drove the rest to seek safety in Potidaea or whatever nearest city they could reach. For the moment the star of Olynthus was in the ascendant. For the moment Amyntas seemed farther from his throne than ever. But, whatever a city with less prestige might have done, Sparta had far too much at stake to acquiesce quietly in so rude a repulse. A second and more imposing force was despatched at once under King Agesipolis ; and once more the hopes of Amyntas rose when he saw the Olynthian territory ravaged, the city itself besieged, and its ally Torone taken by storm. Agesipolis indeed did not live to see the fruits of his vigorous attack, for he was carried off by fever. But his successor succeeded both to his throne and to his tactics. The siege became a blockade, more and more stringent. Corn was not to be obtained either by land or sea. At last, the sufferings of the people constrained a surrender, and the Olynthian confederacy was at an end, sacrificed to the fears of some and the jealousies of others. Each member of the confederacy, Olynthus included, was enrolled as a member of the Spartan league, and sworn to an offensive and defensive alliance. But Olynthus was no longer formidable. The neighbouring cities were independent and jealously watchful : while her maritime allies in Macedon were restored by Sparta to Amyntas.
Amyntas indeed was the only one of the confederates who benefited in the long run. Sparta gained little but obloquy. The cities of Chalcidice won a short-lived independence at the price of eventual subjection. To Greece in general the result was little short of ruin. Had Olynthus been allowed to consolidate a confederacy in the north Aegean, it would have formed a natural outwork for the d fence of Greece against Macedonian encroachment. There might even have been no Macedon to encroach, confronted, as it would have been, by a compact league of cities, and cut off from all access to the sea. As it was, the same Sparta which had given up the Greeks of Asia to Persia, gave up the Greeks of the Aegean to Macedon — a political blunder repeated afterwards by Athens, when she left Olynthus to the tender mercies of Philip.
Amyntas was once more king in his own country. His difficulties, however, were not removed but only shifted from one quarter to another. If Olynthus was no longer a danger, yet the influence of his good friends the Spartans began to wane, and before long he was so far shut off from communication with them as to be obliged to look for new allies. In Greece the balance of power was perpetually shifting. With the fall of Olynthus Sparta might have seemed supreme ; but in fact it was the beginning of the end of her supremacy. Her haughtiness and high-handedness led to a revulsion of feeling which armed Athens and Thebes and their allies against her (378), and made many a good Greek rejoice in the humiliation of this tyrant city, the friend of the Great King, of the despot of Syracuse, and of the King of Macedon. With the defeat of Leuctra (371), her influence in the north was at an end ; new combinations brought other powers to the front, and to Amyntas fresh troubles.
The contest of seven years (378-371) between Sparta on the one hand and Athens and Thebes on the other, left the field in northern Greece open to adventurers ; and it was from Thessaly that Amyntas was next beset with danger. This vast plain — the largest and most fertile in Greece — was from time immemorial as notorious for its political instability as for the excellence of its horses, the luxury of its rich men, and the badness of its coinage. According to the old proverb, “there was no relying upon anything in Thessaly;” and history confirms the proverb. The country was divided into four districts, sometimes united, more often the reverse ; but when united truly formidable, being able to place in the field 6,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry. But this was a rare event. More often the three or four leading cities—Larissa, Krannon, Pharsalos—held their immediate neighbours in subjection, and were at more or less open war with one another, their government being either a close oligarchy or a despotism in the hands of a single man. Towards the end of the Peloponnesian war (about 407), Pherae was added to the list of leading cities by the energy of a man called Lykophron, who made himself Tyrant and did his best, though without success, to subject all Thessaly to himself.
Jason succeeded where Lykophron failed. He was strong and active, bold and prudent. He knew how to ensure the discipline and to secure the devotion of soldiers. His head was full of magnificent ideas. With all Thessaly at his back, and elected Tagos or generalissimo in 374, his dreams extended to a wide empire, based upon the subjection of Epirus, Boeotia, Attica, and perhaps Lacedaemon, and lastly of Macedon ; and the object of this great power was to be the humiliation of no less a potentate than the Great King himself a far easier task, as he professed to think, than the subjugation of Greece. These ideas of Jason were no secret, and, as might have been expected, his immediate neighbours began to be uneasy. Boeotia, no doubt, had little to fear, while Epaminondas and Pelopidas were at the head of affairs at Thebes : and Athens was too far off to be in immediate danger. But with Amyntas the case was very different. Restored only recently to his throne, and that by foreign help, he was too weak to resist much pressure, although he did his best to balance matters and to strengthen himself by keeping up friendly relations with Athens and individual Athenians. Thus in 378 he adopted as his son Iphicrates, who was one of the ablest soldiers at Athens, and had great influence in the north Aegean. He sent deputies to the regular meetings of the Confederacy at Athens : and in the extraordinary meeting held in that city in the autumn of 371, he even publicly acknowledged the right of Athens to the possession of Amphipolis, her own colony. The city was not, indeed, his to give ; but however little trouble the Athenians may have taken to secure it, they were always eager that no one else should have it. This public recognition, therefore, of their right was highly gratifying, and no doubt was regarded as deserving of reward.
All these schemes were, however, cut short by the unexpected deaths (370) of both Amyntas and Jason. The latter had announced his intention of being present at the Pythian games at Delphoi, and had further issued orders to his troops to hold themselves ready for service. The political world of Greece was thoroughly uneasy, for he had recently seized and dismantled Herakleia, a forfeited town near Thermopylae, fearing, as he alleged, that it might hereafter bar the pass against him at some time when he was wishing to march into Greece ? Was it that he meant to seize the presidency of the games? Could it be that he meditated laying hands on the treasures of Delphoi? And, if so, what next? Immense, therefore, was the relief universally felt, when (as the Delphic oracle had promised) “ the God did take care for himself.” Jason was murdered, while reviewing his troops, by a band of seven youths, two of whom were overtaken and slain ; while the remaining five escaped, and were received everywhere with special honour, as those who had relieved the Greek world from a haunting fear. Thessaly was no more a danger to Greece. Of the two brothers who succeeded Jason as Tagos, one was murdered by the other ; and the latter, in his turn, was slain by a third brother, Alexander, a brutal and unscrupulous tyrant. Once more the old proverb had come true, and in Thessaly all was uncertainty.
MACEDON AND HELLAS AT PHILIP’S ACCESSION.
Amyntas died in the same year as Jason, and at the time of his death Macedon was undoubtedly in a stronger condition than she had ever been. Yet ten troubled years were still to pass, before Philip’s strong arm could beat down opposition at home and make her formidable abroad. Alexander, son of Amyntas, had an uneasy reign of only two years. After the murder of Jason, many nobles of Thessaly, especially from Larissa, crossed the border to escape death or imprisonment, and took refuge in Macedon. Alexander espoused their cause, invaded Thessaly, and seized Larissa and Krannon. But it was a premature step, taken without due consideration of consequences. Macedon was as yet weak ; and Thebes, at this time in the very heyday of prosperity, was too strong and too ambitious to brook interference with her cherished influence in the north. Pelopidas at once marched into Thessaly, and occupied Larissa and other cities in force. A year later (368) he was in Macedon itself, and on a graver errand. Alexander had been assassinated by a certain Ptolemaios, and another competitor for power soon appeared on the scene in the person of Pausanias, who had royal blood in his vein. Then began the scramble for power which was so common in those scenes. Besides the men, there was Eurydice, widow of Amyntas, with her young children, to be reckoned with or to be set aside ; and the latter was no easy task, backed as she was by the support of the Athenian Iphicrates, whom her late husband had adopted. There was yet a further complication in Theban jealousy of Athenian, or, indeed, of any interference, save their own, in northern matters. Of these various competitors, Ptolemaios and Eurydice made common cause ; while Iphicrates, moved by Eurydice’s pressing entreaties, attacked and drove Pausanias out of Macedon. But at this juncture Pelopidas appeared upon the scene, compelled Ptolemaios to bow to Theban dictation, appointed him regent, and guardian of Eurydice and her sons, and carried off thirty hostages for his good behaviour to Thebes, one of whom was Philip, son of Eurydice and Amyntas. It is imperative to remember this three years’ exile of Philip at Thebes, for it was the beginning of a new era in his own life and in that of his country, similar to that which resulted to Russia in the last century from the voluntary exile of the Tsar Peter. It was tire development of the provincial into the man of the world. He enjoyed in Thebes, and learned how to use, all the advantages of a liberal education and of good society. He became familiar with all the intricacies of Greek politics and alive to the strong and weak points of Greek city life. He was intimate with Epaminondas, the ablest organizer and most scientific tactician of his day. Inf short, Philip left Macedon a boy, and he returned a man full of energy and new ideas. Even Russia hardly made greater advances during the twenty-six years of Tsar Peter’s reign than did Macedon under Philip’s vigorous rule of twenty-three years, and his son’s thirteen years of unbroken victory.
Philip returned to Macedon in 365, and found the state of affairs considerably altered. His brother Perdiccas had overthrown Ptolemaios, in spite of the Theban settlement, and in order to maintain himself against actual or possible enemies, had once more made advances to Athens. To play off one enemy against another, until strong enough to cope with all at once, was the traditional policy of his house. Timotheos had superseded Iphicrates in the north Aegean (365-4). He had reconquered Samos, had obtained a footing in the Chersonese, and was in high favour at Athens. To him therefore Perdiccas turned as a useful ally upon the spot; and in concert with him he stripped Olynthus once more of a great part of the dominion which she had recovered since the fatal blow of 383, and finally ruined all hopes that a Chalcidic Confederacy could ever curb successfully the power of Macedon. On the other hand, nothing could have suited Perdiccas better than that Timotheos, while helping him to humble Chalcidice, should fail to master Amphipolis. Amyntas, it is true, had recognized the right of Athens to the city ; but that Athens should waste men and money in vainly trying to conquer an unwilling subject, could not but be a satisfaction to a Perdiccas and a Philip. In this state of affairs, moreover, the young Philip was of great service to his brother. Perdiccas gave him a district to govern ; and there he raised and trained according to the newest tactics a small army, the nucleus and origin of that which for nearly two centuries was the model army and best fighting machine in the world.
In 360 Perdiccas also passed away—whether killed in battle or murdered is uncertain. Once more the unhappy country was plunged into a vortex of confusion and civil war. There were no less than seven candidates for the throne, the last but not the least of whom was Philip —Philip, with all the advantages of a base of operations in his own province, and of an army trained and paid by himself. To Philip the mere number of the pretenders was an advantage, and all the best men, tired of anarchy, rallied round him. He first assumed the guardianship of the young Amyntas, and then quietly set him aside. Of his half-brothers, one was put to death, while the other two succeeded in escaping to Olynthus. Pausanias was rendered harmless by a dexterous bribe to his supporters the Thracians ; while to detach the Athenians from the cause of Argaios Philip not only recognized the justice of their claim to Amphipolis, but withdrew the garrison which Perdiccas had posted there. Then suddenly attacking Argaios near Aigai, he seized and put to death him and his Macedonian followers, but sent all his non-Macedonian allies to their homes with a politic generosity, that gained for him, if not the alliance, at least the non-intervention of the most powerful of his neighbours. There remained only two enemies to reckon with. The Paeonians in the north were easily reduced. But the Illyrians, who had seized a large part of western Macedon, were more obstinate enemies. They even ventured to risk a battle, which they contested obstinately and lost without dishonour. Its result was to fix once more the central chain of Pindos as the boundary between Illyrians and Macedonians.
Thus Philip was king without a rival; but king of a comparatively petty kingdom, almost wholly shut off from the sea. Look forward little more than twenty years, and the King of Macedon’s word was law almost from the Propontis to the Ionian Sea, an extension of power which is itself a test of Philip’s force of character. His good fortune was proverbial, it is true ; but, as Demosthenes reminds us, the proverb which he best exemplified was that which says that the gods help those who help themselves. It was notorious that he freely used bribery and corruption as a means to an end, and was as reckless in swearing as in breaking his oaths. On occasion also, the barbarian in him would break through the crust of Greek civilization and lead him to brutal intemperance and savagery. Yet he was a marvellous man. He had force of brain sufficient to gauge the possibilities of the world in which he was thrown, force of will sufficient to command success. It is not every king who is at once the boldest rider and swimmer, the best educated man of the world, the most versatile diplomatist, the greatest military organizer of his time and country. Philip was all these ; and by this untiring energy on every side of life he overbore opposition and commanded admiration and devotion, if not affection and respect.
But before describing the political struggles of Philip’s reign, it is necessary to dwell briefly on the condition of Greece at the time when Macedon began to be a real danger to her freedom. For the success of Philip was due hardly less to the apathy and mutual jealousies of the Hellenic cities than to his own genius. The last half of the fourth century b. c. was indeed as critical a period in the history of Greece as the last half of the third century in that of Rome. It was marked by two struggles which scarcely admit of comparison in any single point except in the greatness of their results and in the fact that the one was made possible by the successful result of the other. No one would compare in importance the conquest of Greece by Macedon with her conquest of Asia ; and yet to conquer Asia it was necessary first to conquer Greece. The latter was, if not conquered in the usual sense of the word, at least reduced to such a state of dependence and weakness, that Alexander could safely vanish from view in the far depths of Asia for eleven years, and a military force of 12,000 men was found enough to maintain obedience in his absence. During these eleven years (it has been said) the history of Greece is almost a blank—a remark sufficiently true, if we remember at the same time that Greeks, in Alexander’s train, were during those years laying the foundations of the history of ages to come.
In the last half of the fourth century Greece was called upon, for the first time since the invasion of Xerxes, to face an enemy from without : while her power of resistance was far less than it had been 130 years before. Macedon was more formidable than Persia had been, and Macedonian tactics and diplomacy achieved a success unknown to the multitudinous forces of a Xerxes. On the other hand, no single city in Greece was in a position to take the lead as Athens had taken it then. Peloponnesus was utterly disorganized by the victories and anti-Spartan policy of Epaminondas. Elis and Sparta on the one hand, Messenia and Arcadia on the other, were jealously on the watch— the former to regain lost power, the latter to keep hardly won liberties. Argos, at this epoch a satellite of Thebes, was herself too weak to interfere. Corinth was but just rid of a tyrant. Even north of the Isthmus, there was scarcely more of organization or unity. Thebes, it is true, was mistress of Boeotia, and had a considerable empire over Phocians and Locrians and Thessalians. But she had a jealous neighbour in Athens. The Phocians were such unwilling subjects that they seized the first opportunity of revolt. And her treatment of the once free cities of Boeotia had deeply offended the public opinion of Hellas. Even Athens herself, with a large revenue and numerous allies, had the semblance of power rather than the reality, and had lost the secret of imperial energy which had held together the Confederacy of Delos. Thus disorganized, Hellas fell an easy prey to the diplomacy and arms of Macedon.
An overwhelming calamity was brought upon Greece by the result of the battle of Chaeronea. Republics once great and free became subject to the will of a king, or the caprices of a king’s deputy. Yet although it was a calamity for Greece, it was a gain to the world at large. For if the Macedonian conquest did in a sense extinguish the liberties of Hellas, it opened afterwards a wider field for Hellenic empire and influence by the conquest of Asia which followed it. The victories of Alexander did far more than satisfy a sentimental desire of vengeance upon Persia. They put an end to whatever fear may have been felt of Persian interference in Hellenic politics. They spread broadcast over half Asia the Greek language, Greek ideas, even Greek civilization in a more or less perfect form. They deeply affected the history of Western Asia, and therefore of Asiatic Christianity. Viewed as an episode in the history of Greece, few things seem more lamentable than the rise of the Macedonian monarchy, because it rose upon the ruins of free Greek republics. Viewed as an episode in the history of the world, it assumes its due relation in the sequence of events, and is seen to have been in reality a transference of power fraught with advantage to multitudes of mankind.
The Hellas of 350 B. C. was singularly different from the Hellas of a century before : and this difference is traceable in great measure to the untimely-failure of a grand political development; which indeed was within a little of being realized and the success of which, while rendering a Macedonian kingdom impossible, might have rendered unnecessary the struggles of many generations. It was a fatal defect in Greek political ideas, that barely one or two men in all Greek history rose superior to the petty notion that life within the compass of city walls was theoretically the perfection of political existence. Man (says Aristotle) is a political animal, or a being with political instincts, and a city is the highest and most perfect organization which satisfies those instincts. Nothing less than a city (such as village communities), and nothing more than a city (such as a nation), seemed to satisfy the average Greek mind. This was indeed an advance upon the primitive Aryan custom of the isolation of the family—it was an advance upon the half-civilized village life of Arcadia or Aetolia : but it fell lamentably short of the grand possibilities of national unity, wherein many cities combine together for common political ends. Now, in the middle of the fifth century, circumstances threw such power and influence into the hands of Athens, that she became the president of a great confederacy of Greeks, and drove the Persian fleet out of Aegean waters, and Persian satraps out of the Hellenized lowlands of Asia Minor. For nine years (456-447), she was even a continental power, and mistress of a territory reaching from Megara to Thermopylae, from Sunium to Phocis. It might have seemed not impossible that round this nucleus other Greeks would gather (as the even less homogeneous inhabitants of medieval Gaul gathered round the royal city of Paris) and that by slow degrees a Greek nation would arise, of which Athens would be the political and intellectual capital. This might have been. In reality, the facts of the case are better illustrated by the analogy of mediaeval Italy. The mutual jealousies of Florence and Milan, of Genoa and Pisa, were only a repetition of the jealousies of Thebes and Athens and Sparta. But the Peloponnesian war scattered to the winds the fair but delusive dream of Hellenic unity. The comparatively tolerant hegemony of Athens was exchanged for the wanton and intolerant oppression of Sparta. Happily for Greece, it lasted only thirty years : but they were thirty years fraught with evil, when the seeds were sown of a selfishness and corruption that bore fruit only too soon in humiliation and foreign conquest. It was not merely the policy of Sparta in Asia, and at Olynthus, that was demoralizing ; but the acts of individual Spartans, like Phoibidas at Thebes, or Sphodrias at Athens, spread a general spirit of suspicion which made national union impossible and the triumph of Macedon comparatively easy. In the middle of the fourth century Greece had fallen back into its normal state of petty jealous cities, whose strongest feeling was suspicion of the nearest neighbour city, and their one object to keep that neighbour weak.
The evils of separatism are bad enough. They were worse when aggravated by that personal corruption and decay of public spirit which often follow upon political despair. The speeches of Demosthenes are so precise and severe in the charges which he brings against his countrymen, that we cannot help believing that a great deal of what he says, is true, more particularly we observe that the actual course of events corresponded exactly to the character assigned to the actors who took part in them. “Athenians (says the orator) are indolent, selfish, suspicious, corrupt. The festivals they celebrate with great regularity, and there is money in plenty for them; but their wars they starve. So enamoured are they of the comfortable refinements of home, that they hate to lift a finger, even in self-defence, and are like raw boxers, who parry but never return a blow.” The cause of it all lies in the word, so often on Demosthenes’ lips, or the art of taking things easily. This it was, he adds, which led them to adopt the new-fangled system of mercenaries, which made the city ridiculous and the city’s allies quake with fear. No force was less to be trusted, for they regarded only their own interest, not that of their employers. Nor could anything exceed the short-sightedness of Thessalians and Thebans and Peloponnesians (unless it were that of the Athenians themselves) whom he compares to men in a hail-storm, praying earnestly that it may do them no injury, but taking no steps to prevent it ! Nor was this all. That Greeks should be selfishly supine and short-sighted in the face of a great danger was bad ; but it was far worse that they should have publicly sold off and disposed of a principle once valued—that it was shameful to take a bribe for the ruin of one’s country, and to sympathize with her enemies. Such men he compares to sprains and fractures in the body, which make their presence felt as soon as anything goes wrong. Pure and old-fashioned patriotism was at a discount, and in its place had come in a vulgar importation, “jealousy, if a man gained any advantage; ridicule, if he confessed it , hatred of any man who blamed such doings ’—feelings quite incompatible with a lofty tone and with spirited action. In short, public opinion and public spirit in Greece and Athens were very different from what they had been a hundred years before. There was money and material strength in abundance ; but it was rendered useless by corruption. What they needed was less talking and more acting. Again and again he appeals to the Athenians in the Olynthiacs and Philippics to awake to the realities of the case, no longer to fold their hands and sit still, above all to cease their perpetual jealousies and recriminations. As for decrees and votes, “ decrees ” he cries “ are worth nothing without action.” Again, he appeals to their legitimate pride in the grand deeds of their ancestors, who were right to run the risks they did in defence of Greece against Persia. They died indeed, but what of that? “Death comes to every man, even though he shut himself in a dove-cote; ” and it is for brave men to do and dare ! He contrasts the forbearance and devotion of the Athenians of old with the blind selfishness of his own contemporaries, who allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by fawning demagogues, who grew rich on the state’s misfortunes, while they cried peace when there was no peace. Their ancestors did not seek for a general or an orator who would manage that they should live in comfortable servitude. In short, Athens had no policy save that of leaving things alone; and this fatal want of policy was no new thing. Nothing could have looked more hopeful than the new Naval Confederation which arose in 378 under the primacy of Athens. Its material power was very considerable. Its object was simply to curb the power of Sparta; its rules were framed to guard the interests of each and all against oppression from within and aggression from without. Yet not only did Athens before long begin to trim between Thebes and Sparta, acting the great power, and professing to hold the balance, but individual Athenians were allowed abroad on a sort of roving commission, and by high-handed exploits won popularity at home, and perhaps extended the Athenian empire, but none the less laid the foundations of subsequent revolt against such stupid ambition. Tactics like these only too surely quenched all enthusiasm for Athens in the minds of the confederates, and occasioned a revolt which left her to cope almost single-handed with the able and unscrupulous Philip. The conditions of the struggle meanwhile were anything but equal. “We on our side ” (says Demosthenes, reviewing their relative resources) “ had only the weakest of the islands ; but neither Chios nor Rhodes nor Corcyra. Our revenue amounted to forty-five talents, but even that was raised before it was due. We had not a single cavalry or infantry soldier beyond our own force. Worst of all, our own policy had made our neighbours more hostile than friendly. Philip, on the other hand, was not hampered by colleagues, or decrees, or want of money, or fear of indictment in case of failure. He could do what he thought best, without publicly advertising his intentions, being in brief, in his own person, Despot, Lord, and Master of all”.
That under such circumstances, and notwithstanding innumerable follies and blunders, Athens maintained a twenty years’ struggle against the ever-growing empire of Philip is a proof of the real greatness of Athenian power (which nevertheless Athenians frittered away), as well as of the courage and resources of the one man who seems never to have despaired of his country, Demosthenes.
FROM THE ACCESSION OF PHILIP TO HIS INTERVENTION IN THE SACRED WAR.
Once more Macedon was united under a single hand, and able to present a solid front to enemies without. But it was strong now with a strength unknown before. Of the means, indeed, whereby a loose group of mountain cantons was converted into a powerful empire we know but little. One thing only is clear. Philip himself was Macedon, and Philip’s character the clamp that bound all Macedonians, willingly or unwillingly, into one compact whole. Philip, moreover, was aware of a fact, which in his day seemed new, but has often since then been proved to be true—that there is hardly any tie so strong as military service, which fosters identity of development and feeling, and accustoms men to live and act together. Hence he threw himself heart and soul into the re-organization of the army, utilizing the experience he had gained at Thebes. In the half-barbarous days before Philip’s time the cavalry of Macedon had been almost as good as that of Thessaly, the infantry worth little—the former, as in feudal times, being the landed proprietors, the latter the rural population of shepherds or ploughmen. Even in Greece (speaking broadly) a battle had meant a struggle of hoplites against hoplites, all armed alike, in which light armed troops and cavalry were quite subsidiary to the main issue. But when Epaminondas won battles by manoeuvring with infantry and light-armed troops and cavalry at once, and by massing unexpectedly a superior force on a single point of the enemy’s line, the old style of fighting was doomed. Victory was secured beforehand for the man who knew how to use the new tactics. And that mas was Philips. Demosthenes, amongst others, notes that of all the various sides of public life, none within his knowledge had shown such progress and development as the art of war. He is almost pathetic over the way in which Philip actually disregarded the old-fashioned seasons, and made no difference in campaigning between summer and winter! But this was comparatively a small matter. The fighting instrument itself, the actual army, was what he and his son brought to perfection. The principle of Epaminondas, to strike the enemy always in superior force, he so far improved upon that his main line of battle, was always and everywhere superior in weight to that of the enemy : and the success of his application of it is seen in the fact that the Macedonian formation remained in vogue as the fighting system of the world until superseded by the Roman legion.
The object proposed was so to strengthen the main line of infantry as to enable them to withstand and break any attacking force which they were likely to meet in the field. The ordinary depth of Greek battle array seems to have been from eight to twelve files ; while the battle of Leuctra was won by the Theban left wing of fifty files crashing through the Spartans, only twelve files deep, and sweeping all before it. Now Thebans were of all others most likely to meet Philip in the field, and the problem was how to resist such a charge, how to meet the weight of a mass of men fifty deep. It was solved by the introduction of a new weapon, and by a change of tactics adapted to its use. The weapon was the sarissa; and the new formation was the phalanx.
The sarissa was a huge lance, held in both hands (unlike the Greek pike) and twenty-one feet in length; the infantry soldier wearing besides a short sword, a round shield, a breastplate, and a sort of broad-brimmed helmet. But such a weapon as this lance was clearly fitted not for independent fighting or single action, but for close array. Hence arose the peculiar formation of the phalanx with its 4,096 men. Its smallest unit was the lochos, made up of sixteen men standing one behind the other at intervals of 3 feet, the front rank man, or lochagos, being the most distinguished for experience and strength. Now the sarissa was held 6 feet from the butt, and projected therefore 15 feet before the body of its holder. It follows that the front man of each lochos was protected by a bristling mass of five pikes—his own projecting 15 feet before him, and the next 12, and the next 9, and the fourth and fifth respectively 6 and 3 feet. The remaining files added weight to the mass, but carried their lances sloping over their comrades’ shoulders. Now let us take the more complete unit of the phalanx, the syntagma, numbering sixteen lochi— i.e., numbering sixteen men each way, or 256 in all. Two things are clear at once. Such a unit was capable of indefinite multiplication; and, indeed, a quadruple phalanx of 64 syntagmata, or 16,384 men, was no uncommon thing. On the other hand, while a direct attack in front on such a dense mass of pikemen might well seem hopeless, a charge on their flank or rear, left exposed by the accident of battle, was fatal. It was even possible, if the phalanx became unsteady, whether from inequalities of the ground or from the necessity of changing front, to get inside the rows of projecting lances, as the Romans found out at Pydna (B.C. 168), when the phalanx became at once a huddling mass of helpless wretches doomed to slaughter. Such cases, however, were quite exceptional. As against Greek hoplites and ordinary modes of fighting the phalanx was irresistible, the moral effect of awe and intimidation which it produced in an enemy predisposing men to recoil before its impact. We know that at the battle of Chaeronea the front ranks of Theban soldiers fell transfixed before they could touch their enemies, in spite of desperate courage. We know that before the battle of Pydna even a Roman consul was struck with mingled admiration and alarm at the sight of the dense array and the “rampart of bristling spears,” and that he never forgot the impression. We know further that at Pydna the Roman legion succeeded in destroying the Macedonian phalanx, but not before the wavering of the long line of pikes permitted the legionary to use his sword—not before, as Livy says, the impregnable mass was broken up into an infinite series of minute struggles.
This, then, was the wonderful machine which Philip organized, and which was gradually perfected by him and his son. In combination with and supported by light infantry (hypaspistai), armed like Greek hoplites, by irregular troops and cavalry both heavy and light, as well as by a large and effective siege train, they speedily became irresistible. Nor was this all. For the right of bearing arms, which is common in all free half-barbarous tribes, was now substituted the obligation of military service. Townsmen and countrymen, noble and peasant, all passed through a great machine, so to speak, of assimilation, where all learned to feel as members of one body and to obey a single will. Macedon in fact became nothing but a well-drilled military machine ; and half-civilized Macedonians, led by the ablest of living generals, were superior not only to Asiatic hordes but even to free Athenians or Thebans.
But in this we are somewhat anticipating. In 359 Philip had but just driven Paeonians and Illyrians beyond his borders, and the Greek world knew little beyond the fact that a young man of more than common energy and ability had seated himself on the throne of Macedon. Amphipolis, though claimed by Athens and occupied at intervals by Macedonian garrisons, was still virtually independent. Olynthus was still the first city in Chalcidice. Potidaea, Pydna, Method, and the shores of the Thermaic Gulf were subject to Athenian influence. Philip was strong in Macedon and undisputed king ; but he had no access to the sea, and did not seem likely to have. We may even say more than this. Had Amphipolis and Olynthus and Athens been able to sink their common jealousies and to unite loyally against their common foe, Philip would never have had scope for his great abilities, or emerged from the comparative obscurity of his predecessors.
Nothing could exceed the diplomatic skill with which Philip managed his adversaries, whether individuals or cities. His earliest efforts, while securing Macedon, were directed towards anticipating any movement for co-operation between the three cities just named. For the moment this was no very difficult matter, the Athenians being greatly vexed at their repulse before Amphipolis in 364, and ready to pay almost any price for revenge. Since that time the city had admitted Macedonian troops as a protection against Athens (362), and indeed was being held at this very time by a Macedonian garrison. Philip saw his opportunity of soothing Athens and gratifying Amphipolis at the same time. Like his father Amyntas before him, he voluntarily recognised the right of Athens to Amphipolis, and as an earnest of good-will withdrew his troops, leaving the city for a while to itself (359). Amphipolis and Athens were equally flattered by so gracious an act. The former was relieved of a foreign garrison, the latter was freed from a nervous fear that Philip meant to keep the city himself. But even now the Athenians could not rouse themselves to the necessary sacrifices for securing what was all but in their grasp; and actually hoping to play with Philip, began to cherish ideas of exchanging Pydna for Amphipolis, and so of gaining the coveted town by Macedonian help. Philip, however, was alive to Athenian failings, and saw through the motive which prompted their wish for negotiations. He had no mind to be a cat’s-paw. If they were loth to act, he was not. Having settled matters with the Paeonians and Illyrians (358), he resolved to take the first step towards expansion by seizing Amphipolis, which commanded the communications between Thrace and Macedon, and dominated the gold mines of Pangaios. To the dismay of the deluded inhabitants, it became suddenly clear that they had been beguiling themselves with fond hopes, and that Philip was rapidly advancing to attack them. Then at last, but all too late, a hurried embassy was despatched to Athens, imploring forgiveness for the past and immediate help, Athens at the moment was at the height of her power. Apart from the ordinary members of the Naval Confederation of 378 she had in this year succeeded in wresting Euboea from Theban influence and in adding the Chersonese to her empire (358). But she was also on the verge of the serious struggle of the Social War. To Athens, therefore, in spite of pride and power, it was of prime importance to maintain for the present peace and alliance with Philip.
Simultaneously with the ambassadors from Amphipolis an embassy arrived from Macedon, to assure the Athenians once more of Philip’s regard for them, and to state that, although he was besieging Amphipolis, it was really in their interest, for that when he had taken it he should hand it over to them. Blinded by dislike of the obstinate city, which had so long held them at arm’s length, and predisposed in Philip’s favour by his politic withdrawal of troops from the place in the previous year, the Athenians were unwilling to offend a valuable ally merely to save an ungrateful colony from merited humiliation, especially as it was to be theirs in any case. The ambassadors from Amphipolis were dismissed with a refusal, and the city was left to its fate. Thus the Athenians imagined they had tided over a difficulty and gratified a legitimate feeling ; whereas they had really struck a blow at their own prosperity and sown the seed pf future ruin. Philip laid siege to Amphipolis, which fell before the energy of his attack combined with the treachery of his partisans within; and once master of the place, he was too well aware of its value to dream of giving it up even to Athens. Nevertheless he continued to hold out delusive hopes, with which the Athenians were fain to content themselves under the circumstances, though uneasily conscious that they had been tricked.
For, indeed, circumstances were very much against them. By their own act they had just thrown Amphipolis; and now, in consequence of their own acts, four of their most important subject allies—Rhodes, Kos, Chios, and Byzantion—renounced their allegiance and revolted. They accused Athens of having broken the treaty of 378 by appropriating her later acquisitions—Samos, the Thermaic Gulf, and the Chersonese— to the exclusive benefit of her own citizens. They complained loudly of the exactions and want of discipline of the mercenaries, whom Athenian indolence was content to use but Athenian parsimony forgot to pay. The burden was all theirs, while Athens reaped all the advantage. They therefore formally seceded from the league (358).
As if this were not enough to inspire uneasiness, an embassy arrived shortly afterwards from Olynthus. That city was thoroughly alarmed by the Macedonian conquest of Amphipolis ; for with a Macedonian garrison in that city she was between two fires, and Philip’s ambition was seen to be growing. In the crisis Olynthus turned naturally to Athens, Ionian like herself, and, as mistress of the Aegean, able to help if she would. But now, as before, Philip was alive to every move in the game, and the Olynthian deputies were met at Athens by an embassy from Macedon—were met and checkmated. As before, so now, the Athenians were assured of Philip’s unchanging good-will, and of his intention to cede Amphipolis even yet. He had indeed, it was hinted, ground of complaint, in that they still held Pydna, which was more certainly Macedonian than Amphipolis was Athenian. He did not wish, however, to be hard on them, and was ready to negotiate for the exchange of one against the other. But the negotiations were too deli¬ cate for the rough treatment of a public assembly, especially as the people of Pydna would probably object to the transfer. The ambassadors therefore insisted upon secrecy. It was a trying dilemma for the unfortunate Athenians. They could not help distrusting Philip. They could not avoid fearing for and with Olynthus. Yet open distrust or precipitate action might now disappoint them of Amphipolis ; and to offend Philip, when they were at war with their allies, would be nothing short of madness. The ambassadors of Olynthus, therefore, like those of Amphipolis, could obtain neither promise nor prospect of support. Athens had saddled herself with another enemy, and Philip had gained another advantage. For the present, at any rate, Olynthus and Athens were at daggers drawn.
Meanwhile, the mistress of the Aegean was in great straits. The revolt of Byzantion threatened to stop not only the corn-tax levied on ships passing westwards from the Euxine but even the corn-ships themselves. Chios was the headquarters of this inconvenient secession, and an Athenian attack on the island was repulsed with loss and the admiral, Chabrias, slain. For some months Chios was supreme in the Aegean. Even when the Athenian commanders had raised a considerable fleet, and, in order to divert an attack of the confederates from Samos, affected to threaten Byzantion, their disagreement was fatal to success : and failure in battle was followed by indictment at home. Iphicrates was virtually cashiered, Timotheos was fined, and withdrew from Athens. Chares alone was left; a thorough soldier but no general. It was in the midst of this trying series of failures and losses that the last ray of hope in the northern Aegean was rudely and finally extinguished. The difficulties of Athens were Philip’s opportunities. While the former was struggling to avert defeat, the latter was making overtures of alliance to Olynthus, seeking to widen the breach between her and Athens. Feeling sure that the Athenians had their hands quite full and would endure anything rather than a rupture of the peace, he advanced without compunction and seized Pydna (357) which he kept for himself. Thence he proceeded to attack Potidaea, which, together with Anthemous was handed over to Olynthus as an earnest of Philip’s good-will. But if the Olynthians were not blinded by resentment against Athens, they must have trembled at such a gift, even while they accepted it. How long would it be before their turn came! Meanwhile they were hopelessly estranged from their real ally, Athens, as receivers of stolen goods in accepting Potidaea!
Thus Philip stood out before the eyes of Greeks as a disturbing element in their political relations—a man of energy, who wielded great resources and showed but few scruples in using them. His position has been compared to that of the Lydian Croesus towards the Ionians of Asia Minor, or of Jason of Pherae towards the surrounding tribes. In fact his position was a far stronger one. He was a genuine Hellene ; and Croesus was not. He was a legitimate king; and Jason was not. He had at command greater resources than either. All that he needed in order to attain the goal of a not ignoble ambition, the leadership of Hellas, was a fair opening for interference in the affairs of Hellas. And this his proverbial good-fortune soon threw in his way.
In 357 a war broke out in central Greece which is known in history as the Second Sacred War. On the surface it looked like a struggle between the Phocians and their neighbours for the possession of the town and oracle of Delphoi; in reality, its cause lay far deeper in national antipathy. The Delphians were Dorians, the Phocians were not. The Delphians moreover were an intruding, if not a conquering, race, in occupation of what Phocians would regard as their own territory. More than once in Greek history this precious strip of land had been transferred to its rightful owners ; more than once it had been retransferred to the Delphians by some hateful Dorian intervention. The Phocians therefore nourished a traditional hatred against Delphians in particular, and Dorians in general. The privileges and wealth attaching to the most famous oracle in the world, situated on Phocian soil, were in the hands of aliens, and the political sympathies of its priesthood were notoriously Dorian. But perhaps the strongest antipathy of the Phocians was reserved for Thebes, whose subjects they had been during the Theban hegemony (371-362), just as they maintained a warm regard for Athens, who had often stood their friend. These feelings of dislike were brought to a head, when the Thebans endeavoured to compel the Phocians to submit once more to their rule. They tried, however, to attain their object indirectly by bringing to bear the antiquated machinery of the Amphictyonic Council, in which at this time they were virtually supreme. On their motion the Phocians were condemned to pay a heavy fine on the pretext that they had cultivated some of the consecrated ground at Kirrha. This fine they refused to pay, and the council passed a resolution to oust them from their land and to consecrate it to the Dorian Apollo.
But this was not so easily done as voted. The Phocians had friends as well as enemies. Their enemies were slow to move, and they themselves found an able leader in Philomelos. Delphoi was seized and held ; and under the pressure of circumstances a finger was laid for the first time on the vast accumulated treasure which had been silently growing for generations in the secret chambers of the temple. This money purchased mercenaries ; but its seizure forfeited what was much more valuable, the good-will of Greeks, and compelled the Phocians as they became more and more isolated to lean more and more upon mercenaries. Hence it was necessary to make further requisitions on the treasury of the god, and what was at first decently styled a loan soon ended in naked spoliation. At first the Phocians more than held their own. In spite of the remissness of Sparta and Athens in sending the aid they had promised—the former as embittered enemies of Thebes, the latter as anti-Dorian sympathizers—Philomilos and his mercenaries defeated the Locrians, and gained some advantages over the Thebans and Thessalians. Even when Philomelos was defeated and slain (354), Onomarchos his colleague was equal to the occasion. It was too late for any hesitation as to the right or wrong of appropriating the Delphic treasure. He increased his military force. He bribed far and near, enemies no less than friends. He overran Doris, invaded Boeotia, and actually made himself master of Thermopylae, opening negotiations with the Thessalian despots of Pherae.
It was this last step which brought Philip on the scene and led to his taking part in the Sacred War. He had successively reduced Amphipolis, Pydna, and Potidaea. In 354 he attacked Methone, which, unaided by Athens till it was too late, struggled vainly against its fate, but was taken. Thus, master of Macedon and secure of the neutrality of Olynthus in his rear, he advanced in force into Thessaly (353) to help the ruling family of Larissa against the encroachments of the tyrant of Pherae, who in his turn appealed to Onomarchos. It was a fatal day for the liberties of Hellas !
FROM PHILIP’S INTERVENTION IN TESSALY TO THE FALL OF OLYNTHUS.
The Phocian intervention in the affairs of Thessaly brought Philip upon the scene of Grecian politics. Even genuine Hellenes would in a sense condone Philip Macedonian intervention in such a cause, when its object was to repress the tyrant of e and to resist the sacrilegious mercenaries of upstart Phocians ! Religious scruples and political jealousies were alike enlisted in his favour.
At first, however, Lykophron and Onomarchos got the better of Philip (353). Whether it was that he was careless and underrated his opponents, or that his great military machine had not acquired the precision which it attained under Alexander, or that, as Diodorus says, he was outnumbered, he was certainly worsted in two battles, and was obliged to evacuate Thessaly for a time. But for a man like Philip to acquiesce in defeat was impossible. He returned to Thessaly in force (352), induced the Thessalians to make common cause with him against the tyrant Lykophron, took the field with 23,000 troops, and inflicted a crushing defeat upon the allies. Indeed, had it not been for an accident, many more than the 6,000 slain and 3,000 prisoners would have been lost to the Phocian cause. Chares, the Athenian, was cruising off the coast at the time, and many of the fugitives swam off to his ships. Onomarchos himself was slain or drowned.
With the downfall of Lykophron Thessaly became practically Macedonian, especially when Philip proceeded to subdue its great seaport Pagasai. It was a base of operations for Philip hardly less important than Amphipolis. Lying at the head of a land-locked gulf, and the only harbour on the Thessalian coast, it boasted a considerable fleet of its own, and the export and import duties were valuable. Nor was this all. It was a standing menace to Euboea, and through Euboea to Athens, as was seen before three years were over. From the Gulf of Pagasai issued flying squadrons which were for ever harassing Athenian commerce, and on one occasion even ventured to show themselves at Marathon and carry off the sacred trireme. The fall of Pagasai, too, could not fail to remind the Athenians how Philip had successively deprived them of Amphipolis and Pydna and Potidaea and Methone, and it was the more alarming because it was so much nearer.
But the alarm passed into downright panic at Athens, when news suddenly reached the city that Philip was actually marching to attack the Phocians at Thermopylae, of which they were then in by the possession. Thermopylae was the gate from northern to southern Greece, and it was felt at Athens that Philip, south of Thermopylae, meant the ruin of their Phocian allies, a great accession of strength to their Theban enemies, and imminent danger to themselves. For once the Athenians roused themselves. A considerable force was despatched without delay and, reaching the place before Philip, fortified the pass with Phocian aid so strongly that the king declined to attack it, and returned to the north. The state of feeling in Greece, however, as to the case of the Phocians, is clearly marked by the fact that the Macedonian Philip rose in public esteem by taking the right side, while Athens lost caste by espousing the Phocian cause; although each acted palpably from purely selfish motives. For the moment the danger to Greece was postponed ; but it was only postponed. During the next five years (352-347) Phocian affairs went from bad to worse. Each Phocian leader became less and less scrupulous. Fresh requisitions were made on the holy treasures, on the plea of political necessity, but in reality for personal purposes, until it was found (348) that more than 2,000,000 sterling had been squandered, and that the spring was running low. Then followed discontent among the mercenaries, dissensions among the Phocians themselves until the Thebans, half ruined by nine years of desultory warfare, took a step of which they little foresaw the results. In the name of the Amphictyonic Council they appealed to Philip to come and help the god of Delphoi and themselves against their sacrilegious enemies, the Phocians (347).
When Philip was thus invited by the Thebans to interfere directly in Greek affairs, he was in a far stronger position than he had been five years before. One more rival had been swept away from before him. In 352 the Confederation of Olynthus was Philip’s friend and ally, prosperous and strong. In 347 the Confederation was a thing of the past. Olynthus had been sacked and the site thereof knew it no more. Philip breathed more easily ; for nevermore could Athens and Olynthus be leagued together against him.
The delivery of this startling lesson to upstart cities was in Philip’s most characteristic manner. He had succeeded in estranging Olynthus from Athens. He had lulled Olynthian suspicions by an ostentation of friendship. He had robbed Athens to pay Olynthus, and had added to the Confederation Potidaea and Anthemous. He had won over individual Olynthians by gifts and concessions, and had allowed their capitalists to grow rich by shares in his mines. There was apparently everything to gain by working harmoniously with Philip, everything to lose by making oneself disagreeable. For a while the pleasant delusion lasted. But when in 352 Philip was master of Thessaly, and when, returning thence, he was next heard of as pushing his conquests in Thrace to the very verge of Athenian possessions in the Chersonese, then indeed the Olynthians must have felt that Philip was gradually encircling them, as the hunter draws his nets closer and closer round his prey. Before this, however, a feeling of sympathy seems to have arisen between Olynthus and Athens, which led to a formal peace between them, and to very strained relations between Olynthus and Philip. The latter indeed affected to think that it was impossible any longer for him and the Olynthians to live quietly side by side. Either he or they must go ; and he resolved that it should be they. His tactics were of the familiar kind. Even so early as the First Philippic (351) we find Demosthenes referring to sudden raids made upon the Chalcidic Confederation; while, if accused of hostility, Philip was ready with specious apologies. It was neither peace nor war, but it combined the disadvantages of both. Olynthus now, like Athens seven years before, saw herself stripped of dependent allies, one by one, yet unable to prevent it except at the price of instant attack; while Macedonian gold and Macedonian compliments had won even in Olynthus partisans whose interest it was to defer a rupture.
At this juncture it happened that two of Philip’s half- brothers who had incurred his wrath took refuge in the city. Glad of the pretext, he demanded their surrender. The answer to that demand was an embassy from Olynthus to Athens, proposing an alliance offensive and defensive against Macedonian aggression—an appeal strongly seconded by Demosthenes.
The place occupied by this orator at Athens was so strange, and his influence in after days so remarkable, that it will be well to explain, before going further, some of the causes of his singular character and exceptional position. For in talking of the struggle between Macedon and Athens, we involuntarily think of Philip and Demosthenes, and of no others. Of what Philip was, we have already some notion: let us try and imagine his great antagonist, and that, not as he was in the prime of his powers, when Athens recognized at last her greatest citizen, but rather as when he rose for the first time to address the Athenian Ekklesia. We read his speeches, and perhaps wonder how such an audience could fail to be convinced by them — simple, terse, polished, and instinct with suppressed passion. Yet he often failed to convince. The truth is, we forget the state of parties at Athens: still more do we forget the difficulties to be overcome by the orator himself. In a city where Philip had some sympathizers and many partisans—where there was much vapouring about the glory of Athens, but little zeal to maintain that glory— where there was a government of peace at any price, headed by men as narrow as they were honest—where there were politicians in abundance, but few statesmen—in such a city it was no easy matter, but the task of years, for a man like Demosthenes to gain the ear of the Assembly. He was only half an Athenian, as his enemies seldom forgot to remind him. His grand-mother (if we may believe Aeschines) had been a barbarian of the Tauric Chersonese (Crimea); but the advantages of a strain of new blood are too well known to allow us to think worse of Demosthenes for that. We may even infer that more intermarriages of a similar kind might have served to invigorate the exhausted Athenian stock, as in after days Gothic and Vandal blood invigorated the comparatively effete Romans. Be that as it may, to the foreign blood in his veins we may reasonably ascribe much of the vigour and broad sympathies of the Athenian orator. Moreover, partly from nature, partly from circumstances, he was singularly un-Athenian. He was a pale, shy, awkward young man, with a thin voice, and faulty intonation very poor company for gay Athenian gentlemen. Hence, he was in youth a solitary—and a solitary soured by ill-treatment: for his father died when he was only seven years old, and his guardians squandered his property. But misfortune proved a good school-mistress.
From an early age he set himself to correct the faults of nature, that he might be able, when the time came, to bring the law to bear upon the guardians who had ruined him. He mastered the ideas of Solon and Plato. He knew Thucydides almost by heart, and is said to have written out his history eight times. He studied under Isaios, and watched and imitated Isocrates. He condescended to learn dignity, action, and even play of features from actors on the stage. He declaimed aloud, it is said, with pebbles in his mouth, or amid the roar of waves upon the shore, to improve and strengthen his voice. He would march uphill while repeating some speech, to open and fortify his lungs. In short, no trouble was too great if he might attain the great object of his ambition, the power of persuasive speaking. And by dint of perseverance he did, slowly but surely, attain it: first speaking against the whole current of Athenian feeling, and to almost unsympathetic ears, but little by little commanding attention, respect, admiration, and finally enthusiastic assent. At last, though unhappily too late, the policy of Demosthenes became the policy of Athens.
Of the details of the war of Philip against Olynthus we know next to nothing : but the speeches of Demosthenes enable us to infer the progress of events almost certainly. The proffer of alliance was welcomed at Athens, until the question arose as to what was to be done ; and then the traditional caution of Athenian politicians led (as usual) to words and nothing else. “Olynthus, it was argued, was still a formidable power: and Philip’s strength (as Demosthenes himself had pointed out) was more apparent than real. No state could rest permanently on a basis of force, injustice, and perjury. No king could find permanent support in corrupt partisans, forced allies, and dissolute officers, or could safely ostracise all that was noble and of good report. Philip was not strong, and therefore to the Athenians he ought not to be a source of fear.” Unfortunately, from the same premises the orator and his audience drew different conclusions. To the former it seemed almost providential that Athens should have the opportunity of co-operating with Olynthus against an enemy thus intrinsically weak. The latter were only too happy to perceive that immediate action was not a necessity. Accordingly the affiance was contracted, but nothing further was done.
The results of this fatal policy were soon apparent. Philip, interpreting aright this masterly inactivity, concluded that for the present he need fear nothing from Athens. His agents within and without Olynthus became doubly active, even turning Athenian abstention to their master’s advantage. At last the pressure became so stringent that further and more urgent appeals for aid were made to Athens; and again Demosthenes stood forward to second the call. But this time his speech was at once more pointed and more earnest. It was a crisis, as he puts it, almost calling on them with articulate voice to act at once. The road to Athens lay through Olynthus. “If we leave these men to their fate, who is so simple (he asks) as not to know that the war will be transferred from thence to us? Fight Philip we must, either there or here: and Philip’s difficulty is our opportunity.” His inference was practical. They must prepare at once and without delay a double expedition—the one to preserve the confederation, the other to attack Macedon. But, to be of use, these expeditions must be simultaneous; and, above all, it must be a genuine Athenian army and fleet, not a mere mercenary force without interest in the result.
Shortly after the delivery of this speech some foreign mercenaries were sent by Athens to Chalcidice, but no Athenian soldiers, and no money. However, they were so far successful that there was quite an excitement at Athens, and a good deal of talk of taking vengeance on Philip. Then Demosthenes for the third time came forward with the warning that as yet nothing was done, and that it was too soon, or rather, much too late, to talk of vengeance. What was still at stake was the safety first of Olynthus, then of Athens. Their only hope of securing that safety lay in readiness to fight, and to provide adequate ways and means. They must act—and act at once. But Demosthenes was still a young man (only thirty-one), and Athenian fears were too easily set at rest by the influence of older, and as yet more trusted, politicians. It was some months before any real aid was sent to Olynthus.
In the meanwhile Philip became alive to the troubles brewing at Athens, and tried to anticipate their intervention by providing them with pressing business nearer home (349). We have already seen him in possession of Pagasai; and from Pagasai was but a few hours’ sail to Euboea. Trouble in Euboea might banish Olynthus from Athenian thoughts. For many years this unhappy island had been the centre of intrigues and conflicts. Stretching along the coast for 100 miles from Attica to Thessaly, never able from first to last to form a united state, it was, by whomsoever held, a standing menace to someone else. Philip’s intrigues in the island had begun even before the delivery of the First Philippic (351): and now he stirred up a war between Chalcis and Eretria, in which Athens became involved. This struggle led to a large expenditure, a considerable expedition, a barren victory, and, as its only result, political exasperation; the very things which best served Philip’s purpose, as causing embarrassment at Athens.
But at last even Athens seemed aware of her danger. In 349 she not only intervened in Euboea, but actually sent a citizen force to Olynthus, which had some success, and averted the ruin of the city for another year. But it was only for a time. In spite of the efforts which, all too late, the Athenians were now ready to make (and we know from Demosthenes that Athens helped Olynthus, first and last, with as many as 4,000 citizens, 10,000 mercenaries, and 50 triremes)—in spite of all, Philip, by force of arms or corruption, gained step by step first one city, then another, until Olynthus, the last hope of Hellenic freedom in the north, stood quite alone, and prepared to fight her last battle for independence with fruitless despair. Even Athens could now do little to help. The north wind, as usual, befriended Philip; and when the reinforcements from the south arrived it was too late. Olynthus herself had fallen. The gold of Macedon completed what Athenian remissness had begun. Two cavalry officers betrayed a large part of their force to the enemy. All heart was taken out of the besieged by the treason of the Philippizers within. Further resistance was impossible. And then there fell upon Hellas a blow perhaps more awful than anything: in her previous history. A free city of 10,000 inhabitants and thirty-two of her free allies were so ruthlessly destroyed, that a chance traveller would not even have been aware of the ruins beneath his feet. They vanished from the Hellenic world as though they had never been. Still worse was the fate which befell the inhabitants. They were exiled, or sold into slavery. It is pathetic even now to read of the scene which moved Aeschines himself to tears, when “he met a certain Atrestidas coming from Macedon, and in his train were marching some thirty women and children ; and when he asked in astonishment who the man was, and the people with him, one of the passers-by answered that they were slaves from Olynthus, whom Philip had given as a present to his friend Atrestidas.” If we think of the change for these poor creatures, from the life of free and happy liberty to slavery and all that slavery involves, we shall realize better the awful shock which the sack of Olynthus gave to the Hellenic world. It was not so much that Philip became at once lord of an empire reaching from the Chersonese to Thermopylae, dominating men’s imaginations as Russia dominates them now; but that it suddenly changed, as it were, the balance of men’s minds (as Russia’s conquest of Constantinople might change it now), blinded their eyes, disturbed their judgment, and turned even honourable politicians into timid, if not corrupt, worshippers of the rising sun. Subsequent events can only be read aright in the light of the fall of Olynthus.
THE PEACE OF PHILOKRATES. FALSA LEGATIO. THERMOPYLAI IN PHILIP'S HANDS.
In the same year in which Olynthus fell (347) the Thebans called in Philip to help them against the Phocians, and to save the Delphian land from further sacrilege. It is probably true that they did not realize the result of such an invitation ; but it is also true that they thus took the first step towards the ruin of their own city and the enslavement of Hellas. Nothing could better have seconded Philip’s fast-growing ambition; and ambition in Philip was ably served by diplomatic tact. To divide and so to engage his enemies singly was the key to all his policy. His present object was Thermopylae. But in order to gain Thermopylae it was essential to throw dust in Athenian eyes, and so to prevent their helping the Phocians to hold the pass against him. Accordingly all his efforts were bent towards raising possible hopes at Athens, soothing offended susceptibilities, hinting at possible dangers, gaining possible friends—in short, towards paralyzing Athenian resistance, until resistance would be useless. What the terror of his name and of the dreadful fate of Olynthus failed to effect, courteous receptions, winning manners, a magnificent court, splendid promises, and even more vulgar bribes succeeded in accomplishing. Secret agents and open friends worked for his cause in every city in Greece—and not least in Athens. If we turn to Athens, feeling at on the other hand, we observe a marvellous blindness to facts. Of the Athenians it might be said with singular truth, “Populus vult decipi; decipiatur;” deceived they were by Philip, deceived yet more by their own leaders, and in each case willingly deceived. They declined to spend money. They declined to serve in person. They eagerly caught at every pretext for postponing the evil day, when Philip must be faced and fought.
Troubles seldom come singly. In 347 the disquieting news of the Theban appeal to Philip reached Athens, and almost simultaneously envoys appeared from Phocis requesting instant aid at Thermopylae against an expected Macedonian attack. Now Thermopylae was in Athenian eyes what Strasburg is in German or Antwerp in English eyes — the door of the house, the gate of the castle, the first outpost of defence. To look on at its seizure would be little short of madness. As five years before, so now all Athens was alarmed, and the Athenian commander at Oreos in Euboea was ordered to join Phalaikos at the pass without delay, and to hold it at all risks. The alarm became a panic, when it was found that Phalaikos, apparently from jealousy, refused to admit their troops, and had even thrown into prison the Phocian envoys who had solicited aid. What could it mean ? Was Phalaikos intending to give up the pass, and make terms with Philip ? And if so, how could they prevent it Here was another reason, if reasons were needed, for peaceful negotiation to avert so great a calamity from Hellas.
As the idea of peace was uppermost in Athenian minds, so the word "peace” had already been heard in the Athenian Assembly, and the same Philocrates, who had first dared to utter the word, now carried a decree that ten envoys should ascertain from Philip’s own lips the terms on which he would agree to peace. Aeschines and Demosthenes were of the number; and they were accompanied by Aglaokreon, of Tenedos, representing their allies. Their business was to sound Philip: and justice requires us to remember, that up to the date of this embassy, so far as we can judge, each and all of the ambassadors were equally sincere and equally patriotic. But the success of Philip was already casting a spell over Hellenic minds : and of those who went to Pella more than one returned to Athens not only deeply impressed with Philip’s geniality and ready wit, with his wide knowledge and powerful memory, but overawed by his self-possession and display of strength, or corrupted by his attentions, his promises, and even by his gold. Timidity and avarice in the “Philippizers” at Athens were, henceforth the main difficulty of Athenian patriots.
The envoys returned about the 1st of March, 346; and at once laid the results of their mission before the Assembly, together with a letter from Philip himself; while the synod of allies, having heard the report of Aglaokreon, agreed to abide by whatever decision the Athenians should adopt, recommending however that any Greek city, not there represented, should have the option of declaring its adhesion within three months. Philip’s letter was couched in the true Philippic vein. He had favours, he wrote, in store for Athens ; indeed he would have mentioned them categorically, had he felt sure of the Athenian alliance. Meanwhile, he proposed as a basis of negotiation that each side should retain all that it then possessed—which was, in fact, a proposal that Athens should confess herself defeated. Nevertheless, the highly-coloured reports of the Athenian envoys disposed the Assembly in Philip’s favour; and when the Macedonian ambassadors arrived, they were received with more than ordinary cordiality, and found the general current of public opinion running strongly in the direction which their master wished. Two special meetings of the Assembly were held without delay to discuss the whole question. At the first of these Philocrates again took the lead, and proposed a decree only too characteristic of the Athens of the day. It is no wonder that the charges of treason and corruption have clung to the names of Philokrates and Aeschines, when the former proposed and the latter supported the proposition, that there should be peace and alliance between Philip and his allies and Athens and her allies, but excluding the Phocians and the town of Halos in Thessaly, Athenian allies ! For what other reason could this exclusion of long-standing allies have been suggested, save that Philip wished to have it so ? And for what other reason could statesmen of Athens have stooped to so base, a desertion, save that Philip’s wishes, for some strong motive, outweighed in their minds the dictates of honour? Demosthenes supported the motion, but he protested against the exception ; and it appears that his protest was effectual. The exception had not originated with the Macedonians. It was not therefore essential to the peace. On the other hand there was no alternative proposal before the Assembly ; and if they were not prepared to march down straightway to Piraeus and go on board ship, and pay war taxes, and devote the Festival fund to war purposes, they must vote for the peace as proposed. The Assembly therefore voted for peace and alliance between Athens and Philip, but silently struck out the rider about Phocis and Halos, thus implicitly including them in the list of allies. Nothing was said concerning the confederate allies and the three months of grace, mentioned above. Six days afterwards another assembly was convened, that the Athenians might swear to the treaty in the presence of Philip’s ambassadors ; while it was arranged that the same ambassadors who had before represented Athens at Pella, should return to Macedon and take the oaths of Philip and his allies.
But at this assembly a critical question at once arose : who were the allies of Athens ? Was Halos, which Parmenion, the Macedonian, was besieging when the Athenian ambassadors had passed it on their way to Pella? Was Kersobleptes of the Thracian Chersonese, against whom King Philip was about to march in person when the ambassadors were leaving Pella ? Above all were the Phocians? And to Athens, we must remember the two last positions of primary importance— the Hellespont and safety of commerce: Thermopylae, and safety from attack. Little objection was made to Kersobleptes. About Halos nothing was said. But the Macedonian ambassadors, in accordance with their instructions, positively refused to admit the Phocians as parties to the treaty. And this in the face of the late vote of the Assembly, ruling them to be allies ! Was this then to be the rock, on which the coveted peace was to be wrecked? And what had Philocrates and his friends to urge in defence of such a proposal? It was an embarrassing position, but they were equal to the occasion. It is not easy to conceive of any motive save self-interest which could have prompted men in their position, and on such an occasion, to deceive their fellow-countrymen with assurances which they must have known to be false. Yet they did so, trading on a presumed acquaintance with the king’s real intentions, as men who had been at Pella and seen him face to face. They declared that his present relations with Thebes and Thessaly would make it ungraceful for him to accept the Phocians at once as allies. At heart he was the friend of Phocis as of Athens, and the enemy of Thebes ; and when once he obtained peace and was free to act as he chose, he meant to welcome the Phocians as his allies, and to humble Thebes, and was even disposed to restore Euboea and, better still, the lost Oropos (in Boeotia) to Athens. Here was good news indeed, if true; and Athenians in their present mood were so eager to think it true that they did not stop to think whether it was probable. In reality they were false, and known to be false. The Assembly shut its eyes to probabilities, and, devoutly hoping that all would yet be well in the matter of Phocis, agreed to the Macedonian terms. The oaths were administered to the Athenians and their allies; and it only remained now for the Athenian ambassadors on their side to obtain Philip’s oath as soon as might be. It was indeed high time, for alarming reports were even now reaching Athens of Macedonian victories in Thrace, and that Kersobleptes, her ally, was being rapidly stripped of his dominions. For this again was a further complication. The peace was to date from the day of its acceptance at Athens. Were these victories of Philip anterior to that date ? If not, was it at all probable that he would restore what he had won ? or that, if he refused, the Athenians would at the eleventh hour repudiate the peace ? It was of urgent importance, therefore, that Philip’s adhesion should be obtained with the least possible delay.
It is never an easy matter to decide disputes as to questions of fact, especially after an interval of three years. But when a man like Demosthenes is precise in details and dates, and an Aeschines in his reply unmistakably slurs these precise details, it is hardly wrong to infer that the former is in the main a credible witness. “These venal envoys’’ (Demosthenes says) “were so dilatory, that seven days after the vote of the Assembly they were still in Athens, and I had to obtain a decree of the Senate, bidding us depart at once, and enjoining Proxenos, the general in Euboea, to convey us wherever Philip might be. But when—full sorely against their will—we reached Oreos, and had joined Proxenos, they gave up all idea of a voyage, and made a circuitous journey by land, taking three and twenty days to reach Macedon. And the whole of the rest of the time, until Philip arrived (i.e. twenty-seven days) “we remained quietly at Pella.” During these fifty precious days what was the king doing ? Again Demosthenes shall speak for himself. “In this interval” (he says) “Philip made himself master of Doriskos, Thrace, and me castles on the Thracian coast,” in other words, gained command of the sea-line from the Hebros to the Propontis, and, in complete disregard of Athens, reduced Kersobleptes. At last he returned to Pella, master of the situation. Envoys were awaiting him from Athens, Sparta, Thebes, Euboea, and Phocis—awaiting, it might seem, his fiat as to their destiny. Whatever were his will it could be done, for a large army was massed, ready to march at a moment’s notice. His intervention was requested as arbiter in Greek affairs. Thebans and their friends on one side, Phocians and their allies on the other, clamoured in turn for his help. Even an Athenian ambassador, in the person of Aeschines, was not ashamed to refer to Macedonian interference in central Greece as a foregone conclusion, and to try to enlist his sympathies against Thebes. Philip meanwhile was bribing and cajoling, playing off one against another, exciting hopes, refusing none-until all his preparations were completed. He then set out on his southward march with a formidable army, and carried in his train this jealous bickering mob of Grecian envoys. At last he reached Pherae and there the Athenian ambassadors succeeded m administering the oath to Philip and his allies, not mentioning Kersobleptes, and formally excluding the Phocians. They then returned to Athens, after an absence of seventy days, bearing also an affectionate letter from Philip, in which he took on himself all blame for the delay of the ambassadors.
Philip was within three days’ march of Thermopylae, and Athens was still dreaming! Demosthenes was able indeed to alarm the Senate ; but would not listen to him, for they were beguiled by the siren promises of Aeschines. “Don’t be alarmed (he said) “about Thermopylae. Thebans, not Phocians, will shortly feel Philip’s heavy hand. And it is you whom Philip has promised to befriend. Euboea shall be yours, and—if I could speak freely—more besides.” But Philip was playing a dangerous game, and was well aware on what delicate ground he stood. Force was out of the question at Thermopylae, for the mere suspicion of violent seizure would probably be the one thing capable of uniting all Hellas against him. The pass must be won, if at all, by diplomacy ; and at this juncture once more Philocrates played into his hands. He proposed a decree (and Phocians were present, listening doubtless with despairing anxiety to a debate involving their own fate) that if the Phocians still refused to give up Delphoi to its rightful possessors, the Amphictyonic Council, the Athenians should interfere to compel them to do so. Now, up to this time, the Phocians might well have hoped even against hope. They had heard repeated assurances, both at Pella and at Athens, that the Macedonian arms were to be really turned not against them but against Thebes their enemy. They might well believe that, if the worst came to the worst, Athens would assuredly not throw them over. But now they could hardly cherish any further illusion on either point. King Philip was at their doors, and had already summoned Phalaikos to surrender Thermopylae ; and at such a crisis it was that their old ally Athens published what was equivalent to a declaration of war, just when their own resources of men and money were exhausted. The Phocian envoys left Athens in despair; and three days afterwards (June 23, 346), Phalaikos with 10,000 men had come to terms with Philip. Phalaikos and his troops, and any Phocians who chose to accompany them, were at liberty to go where they pleased: Phocis and Thermopylae were placed in Philip’s hands. Thus, with no other weapons than a courteous bearing, empty promises, abundant gold, and a show of force, the king of Macedon was master of the key of Greece, henceforward a fortress of the first order, and permanently occupied by. a Macedonian garrison.
The immediate results of Philip’s bloodless victory were as stern a warning to Greece as the fate of Olynthus had been. He at once identified himself with Theban policy. All Boeotia became once more dependent on Thebes, and even a part of Phocis was added to her dominion. Phocis herself was irretrievably ruined. Not only was she excluded from the Amphictyonic Council and her place taken by King Philip, but two-and-twenty Phocian towns were entirely dismantled, and their inhabitants dispersed into petty villages—a disintegration of political unity similar to that which Rome inflicted on Macedon herself after the fatal battle of Pydna (B.C. 168.) These Phocian villages were in no case to number more than fifty houses, nor to be nearer to each other than a furlong. An annual tribute of fifty talents was to be paid to the temple at Delphoi until the squandered treasure was fully replaced. All horses were to be sold, all arms destroyed. Phocians who had taken any part in the sacrilege became ipso facto accursed, and were liable to arrest wherever found. Such was the sentence passed on the impious Phocians by the Amphictyonic Council, yet far less rigorous than some of its members had wished to inflict. And of this rigorous sentence the execution was still more rigorous. Thebans and Thessalians were not likely to be tender in their mercies to Phocians, and their cruelty was not the less cruel because veiled under the odious mask of indignation at sacrilege. The wealthier and upper classes fled the country. Those who could not flee had Theban and Macedonian soldiers quartered upon them. Children were torn from their parents, wives from their husbands. Three years afterwards Demosthenes passed through the country, and declares that the sight of its utter desolation was heart-rending —houses in ruins, walls dismantled, the fields lying waste, and the only inhabitants a few old men, women, and children. ‘‘Our ancestors,” he cries, in a burst of indignation, ‘‘could they know what we have done in abandoning faithful allies to so dreadful a fate, would, with their own hands, take up stones to cast at us!”
The revulsion of feeling at Athens was proportioned to the greatness of the disappointment. On the very day on which the motion of Philocrates had been carried, ten envoys had been nominated to communicate its contents to Philip. But they got no farther than Chaklis in Euboea. The news from Phocis was too grave to admit of any further doubt as to his real policy. So one of their number returned with all haste and laid before the people assembled in Piraeus his unwelcome and startling report. It was like the awaking from a pleasant dream to the stern realities of life. They had been deceived, outwitted, checkmated ; and now they had to act in the very face of a pressing danger. It was improbable that Philip himself would wish to attack Athens; and if he did, it was easy to guard against a sudden blow (as was indeed done) by bringing in the women and children from the country and by fortifying the city and Peiraeus; but there was a serious risk that the various enemies of Athens in the Amphictyonic body might force Philip’s hand, and compel him to break the newly-ratified peace. And Athens was in no condition to resist such a combined attack. Great diplomatic skill, therefore, was needed at such a juncture to avoid the extremes of humiliating acquiescence on the one hand, or of imprudent brusqueness on the other; and it was well for the Athenians that at such a juncture they could fall back upon the practical wisdom of Demosthenes.
King Philip, meanwhile, was the central figure in a scene of festivity and triumph. He had put an end to the weary struggle of the Sacred War. He was a leading member of the Amphictyonic Council. He was a king, in an age when kings were becoming fashionable—a man who could will and act while others were hesitating or quarrelling. He conducted the Pythian festival. He celebrated his triumph with hecatombs, gorgeous processions, costly offerings. Like Napoleon after Austerlitz or Jena, he was the observed of all observers, whether friend or foe—the man who held in the palm of his hand the future and the fortunes of Greece.
And if there was one city in Greece more than another whose selfishness and cowardice had made Philip’s course an easy one, that city was Athens. Over the errors of her who was once “eye” and "mistress” of Greece we may well draw the veil of pity and sorrow.
FROM THE PEACE OF PHILOKRATES TO THE BATTLE OP CHAIRONEIA (346-338).
From the capture of Amphipolis to the peace of Philocrates Athens had been half at peace and half at war with King Philip. And now a sham war of ten years was followed by seven years of a sham peace, the latter equally with the former being a time of loss and humiliation to Athens. Philip was already firmly planted in central Greece, president of the Amphictyonic league, and protector of Delphoi; and as his power increased so did his ambition expand. But as yet the most important part of Greece was independent of him —afraid of his power or only anxious for his aid ; and if he was to be, as he hoped to be, leader and protector of an Hellenic confederation, it must be by skilful diplomacy rather than brute force. Open attack upon Hellenes—and specially upon Athens, the centre of Hellenic life—must be delayed as long as possible.
Demosthenes describes the peace of Philocrates as a period during which Philip was at war with Athens, but Athens was not at war with Philip—when he reaped at once the fruits of peace and war. His object being to isolate Athens, wherever there was uneasiness in Greece, there were his agents and his gold secretly or openly at work. By slow degrees, indeed, this never-ending aggressiveness was arousing Athens to a keen sense of danger. Boeotia was now Theban; and Thebes was as yet in alliance with Macedon, and not unwilling to see Athens in difficulties. It became necessary, therefore, however unpleasant, to maintain permanent garrisons in the frontier forts of Drymos and Panakton, to command the passes of Cithaeron. And not only was the sense of insidious danger on every frontier thus present to the Athenian mind, but petty differences were perpetually arising on points where Athenian and Macedonian interests diverged. A dispute, for instance, arose with regard to the island of Halonnesos, to the N. E. of Euboea, an irritating dispute about words. Philip had chastised a certain pirate, whose headquarters were in the island, and with some show of justice had then placed a garrison there, for Athens had clearly failed in her recognized duty of maintaining the police of the sea. Athens called upon Philip to give back to her her possession. Philip replied that he would give it gladly, as a free gift, but could not properly give back what was his own. Aeschines professes to laugh at this quarrel about a word; but none the less there was a real question at issue. Again, in 342, Philip was unmasking dangerous designs on a vital point of the Athenian empire, the Chersonese and Bosphorus, as vital to Athens as Sicily or Africa was in after days to Rome; for Athens was fed to a great degree by the corn-growing countries of the Euxine. Demosthenes roundly asserts that no people in the world consumed so much imported corn as the Athenians; and it has been estimated that one-third of the annual consumption of Attica, or 1,000,000 medimni (nearly a million and a half bushels) must have come from outside, and a large proportion of it from the Euxine. It was as essential, therefore, to Athens to hold, as it would be desirable in Philip’s eyes to win, the key of this trade—in other words, to command the Hellespont and Propontis. He had an excellent base of operations in the town of Kardia, which lay within the Chersonese and was ill-affected to Athens; and from thence he proceeded to encroach upon and appropriate lands belonging to Athenian settlers. A force of mercenaries was at once sent out by Athens, who executed reprisals in Thrace, while Philip’s troops were engaged in the interior. Angry remonstrances followed on each side; and matters began to look so serious, that in 340 Demosthenes was sent as ambassador to Byzantion to counteract Philip’s intrigues, and bring about an alliance equally necessary to each city. A sense of common danger obliterated the memory of the grievances of the Social War (358); and Byzantion and Perinthos concluded an alliance with Athens. This step was a grievous disappointment to Philip, which he tried to counterbalance by a sudden seizure of the two cities ; but in each case he was foiled, and his failure brought into relief the danger which they had barely escaped.
The bitter feelings aroused on both sides by this state of things found expression in contemporary documents. An extant letter of Philip’s “to the Athenian Senate and people ’’ sets forth nine indictments against them, partly frivolous and partly embarrassing, whose collective weight however might seem to justify action on his part, if Athens still persisted in refusing reparation, or (as he suggested) arbitration. On the other hand a reference to the third Philippic of Demosthenes, delivered in 342, or to his so-called answer to Philip’s letter in 340, will show that Philip’s policy was diplomatic in a sense of the word which has often been illustrated in history, since the fable of the Wolf and Lamb was written. Demosthenes protested against further delay in preparing for the inevitable struggle for liberty. But it was useless to hope for energy in others — useless to expect Chalcidians or Megarians to move in defence of Greece, unless Athenians set the example of self-sacrifice.
Shortly after midsummer, 340, Athens at last declared war against King Philip. A short respite was allowed her for preparation by a raid of the king into the country between Mount Haimos and the and the Danube in the spring of 339, whence he was returning with many slaves and cattle when suddenly attacked by a tribe of Thracians, by whom he was defeated, stripped of his plunder, and himself wounded. The respite was wisely used—thanks to Demosthenes—in reforming the navy; a reform, the details of which belong to Athenian rather than to Macedonian history, but the success of which was so marked, that, speaking nine years later, when Athens was humbled to the dust by Philip’s greater son, Demosthenes could boast that “under his law no trierarch had ever been obliged to appeal to the State for relief, or been thrown into prison by the Naval Board—no trireme had been lost to the city at sea, or left behind in harbour unable to put out.” Such a boast, made in public and therefore open to contradiction, speaks well for the efficiency both of ships and captains ; while it implies that such events were common enough under the older and less equitable system. About the same time Demosthenes, in concert with friends like-minded to himself, at last persuaded the Athenians to set aside the noxious law which had decreed that all the surplus of the State income should go to the Theorikon (Festival fund,) and that anyone who moved a different application of it should be put to death. The new law provided that any surplus should accumulate as a war fund. In this way, and not a moment too soon, the sinews of war were provided for the fast-approaching struggle. Yet the difficulties of the position were not so easily removed. There was still a Macedonian Athens and party in Athens, as in most other Greek cities—silenced for the moment, but watchful, bitter, audacious. There were no experienced generals to pit against Philip, and it was difficult to find a weak point for attack in Philip’s empire. For a blockade goes but a little way towards ending a war ; and landings on the coast, without some base of operations, would be mere temporary inconveniences. Philip, on the other hand, had also difficulties of his own, in that he could not afford to stir up an Hellenic war; while his allies, especially the Thebans, were not altogether trustworthy, and a direct attack upon Athens would probably at once bring about that very league which he feared. One coign of vantage, however, he had. If direct attack was to be avoided, intrigue was always possible. He was president of the Amphiktyons, and thereby guardian of the national sanctuary. His agents were everywhere. It was to be their business to find an opportunity for him to appear in central Greece at the head of an army, so that he might seem to come as a defender of the god Apollo rather than for aggressive purposes. Then whoever opposed him would have to bear the odious part of seeming to oppose the god. This was the occasion of the Third Sacred War.
At the head of a deeply-sunk bay in the Corinthian Gulf lay a small fortified town, Kirrha, the port of Krissa and of Delphoi, distant about seven miles. A large number of Delphian pilgrims came by water, and of course landed at Kirrha, which was therefore prosperous and wealthy, and an object of envy to its neighbours. So early as the sixth century B. C. this jealousy had shown itself on the occasion of the First Sacred War, when Kirrha had been destroyed, and the whole plain as far as Delphoi had been consecrated to the god—in other words, pronounced “incapable for ever of being tilled, planted, or occupied by man.” But natural laws presently vindicated themselves. Men must eat and have the necessaries of life, even though land has been consecrated ; and as pilgrims did not cease to resort to Delphoi, and to come as heretofore by sea, it was found as impossible to maintain the desolation of Kirrha as it would be to leave in ruins Djidda, the port of Mecca. Kirrha was rebuilt and reoccupied by Locrians of Amphissa—a usurpation which from its convenience was tolerated, if not condoned. During the Second Sacred War (356-347) these Locrians had been staunch allies of the Delphians and Thebans against the Phocians, and had suffered many things at the hands of Philomelos ; it follows that they were no friends to Athens, the friend of Phocis and enemy of Thebes. It was on these long-standing feuds and secret jealousies that Philip worked by means of his agents.
The Philippizers in Athens, for the moment defeated, were still dangerous. The war party were busy with preparations, and, while keeping watch on Philip’s movements, forgot or despised possible intriguers at Delphoi or in the Amphktyonic Council. Hence their opponents stole an easy march upon them, when they succeeded in carrying at Athens the election of Philippizing representatives to the annual meeting of the council at Delphoi in 339, Aeschines being one of the four. The Amphictyony met in February; and immediately, instigated by the Thebans, the Amphissians made a violent attack upon the Athenians for impiety in having dedicated afresh at Delphoi, before the temple was purified, a memorial of the battle of Plataea, in the shape of shields bearing the names of Persians and Thebans conjointly as defeated there. Nothing could have suited Philip’s purpose better, for it seemed to make alliance between Athens and Thebes less possible than ever. It happened that the chairman of the Athenian envoys at Delphoi was taken suddenly ill, and his duties devolved upon Aeschines, who has left us his account of what happened. The Amphissian speaker (he tells us) was a violent and uneducated fellow, who not only made this sudden onslaught upon Athens, but vehemently declared that had the Greeks been wise they would have shut out the Athenians from the temple itself, as accursed for their alliance with the Phocians. “I was more angry” (says Aeschines) “than ever before in my life ... and standing up where I was (for the whole plain of Kirrha lay stretched at our feet) I pointed out to the Amphiktyons the cultivated plains, the buildings, the sacred harbour fortified, and asked them how they could hope to pray and sacrifice acceptably to the gods, when they were forgetting their oaths and conniving at sacrilege.” The indignation of the council was at once diverted from the offending Athenians against the yet more guilty Amphissians ; and next day the whole population of Delphoi, with the sanction of the council, trooped down to the sea to burn the accursed buildings and fill up the harbour. The deed was done, and the god perhaps appeased. But as they returned the Amphissians fell upon them and drove them homewards in undisguised rout. Here was a further complication, calling for prompt and signal punishment. A second and extraordinary meeting of the council was summoned at Thermopylae to discuss this new phase of affairs, and to arrange for the punishment of the now doubly guilty Amphissians. Meanwhile the deputies were to return to their several cities, to recount what had happened, and to receive instructions for the future.
The first feeling at Athens was one of satisfaction at the vindication of the city by Aeschines, and a resolve to send envoys to the extraordinary meeting. But before long, at Athens no less than at Thebes, there followed a sense of lurking danger, and at each city resolutions were passed to take no part in the coming meeting. Nevertheless the Amphiktyons met in the summer of 339 under the presidency of a Thessalian; but it was practically a packed meeting of Macedonian partisans only. The president was charged with the duty of punishing the Amphissians. But the half-heartedness of some and the corrupt abstention of others appear to have so effectually prevented success, that by the time of the usual autumnal meeting nothing had been done, and the council was obliged to discuss this burning question under a new phase. It was just for this crisis that Philip’s agents had been working and were now prepared. When the alternative was boldly stated, that the league must either itself take up the matter more earnestly, or must appoint Philip their general, and let him do it for them, little hesitation was shown ; and the King of Macedon was formally invited into the heart of Greece to settle Greek affairs by those who were in reality most interested in keeping him out. Philip, on his part, gladly accepted an invitation which gave him a legitimate footing south of Thermopylae, and brought him nearer to his newly-declared enemies the Athenians (autumn, 339).
He at once collected his forces and marched upon Thermopylae, as though to punish the wicked Amphissians. All Greece was expectant, and was not long kept in suspense. From the corner of the Maliac Gulf three main roads led to the interior of Greece; one running due south from Herakleia to Amphissa through the defiles between Mounts Parnassus and Korax—the direct route therefore for Philip, if he desired to carry out honestly the duty imposed on him. The other two ran at first together through the pass as far as Skarpheia, and then diverged southeastward along the coast and southward over Mount Kallidromos to Elateia. Philip passed Thermopylae, seized and garrisoned Nikaia close to Skarpheia, having previously detached a small part of his army by the first-mentioned road; and then advancing rapidly through the mountains halted and formed an intrenched camp at Elateia. It was a strong position on the southern slope of the mountain side, commanding the plain of the Kephissos, and favourable, therefore, for cavalry—commanding also the road to Boeotia, Thebes, and Athens. At the same time he could communicate by his right flank with the division operating against Amphissa, while his retreat in case of need was completely secured.
This sudden blow fell like a thunderbolt both at Athens and at Thebes. The long-dissembled war was at their doors, and Philip’s intentions stood confessed. “It was evening” (says Demosthenes) “when the news arrived of the occupation of Elateia. Hereupon some of the prytaneis arose at once from supper and began turning out the occupants of the booths in the market-place, and setting fire to the barriers ; others sent for the generals, and the whole city was full of confusion.” Next morning at break of day there was a special session of both Senate and Assembly ; yet such was the general panic that no one had a word of advice to offer. Demosthenes at this moment was the sheet-anchor of Athenian hopes, and all eyes were turned on him. The most urgent question was as to the loyalty of Thebes. Was she in league with Philip ? Demosthenes strenuously denied it. Had she been so, Philip would have been not in Elateia but already on the frontiers of Attica. He was, where he was, because he wished to embolden his friends and overawe his enemies in Thebes. The Athenians, therefore, must follow Philip’s example, and encourage their friends in Thebes by a show of force upon the frontiers. They must further send ten envoys to Thebes, not to haggle about conditions, but to promise help whenever and wherever it might be required.
This advice was followed, but it was a delicate negotiation for the envoys to conduct. Thebes was nearer to the danger than was Athens; and Macedonian envoys were already on the spot, reminding the Thebans of favours in the past, and hinting at favours to come. Thebes, too, had no special love for Athens. Thanks, however, to the eloquence of Demosthenes, the offered alliance was accepted. The major part of Alliance of the Athenian army joined the Thebans on Athens and the Boeotia frontier; the rest remained in against garrison at Thebes, which was to be the base Philip, of operations. The command was shared equally by the two allies. Of the expenses Athens undertook two-thirds. To Philip, on the other hand, the alliance was seriously embarrassing. He had two foes before him instead of one—an enemy in Thebes where he had expected an ally.
During the winter the allies held their own with considerable success. They were victorious in two minor engagements, and they achieved a masterly stroke of policy in restoring the Phocian emigrants to their homes, and in fortifying some of their towns. Nor was the alliance against Philip confined to the two cities. The activity of Demosthenes secured further aid from various allies, amounting (including Thebans) to an auxiliary force of 15,000 infantry and 2,000 horsemen. But soldiers without generals are little worth, and, as Phocion was in the Hellespont, neither Athens nor Thebes had a general worth the name to oppose to Philip. The decisive struggle took place in August, 338. Philip was in position at Elateia with 30,000 infantry, and not less than 2,000 cavalry. He had already fixed upon his field of battle, and his immediate tactics were directed to securing it. The allies lay before him with about equal numbers, occupying the pass through the hills between the towns of Parapotamii and Chaeronea, which led into Boeotia. His first object was to gain this pass. Passing along their front, his vanguard crossed the border, more to the east, plundered some villages, and threatened the whole country south and east of the Lake Kopais. In short their flank was turned, and Thebes in danger. The allies were obliged, therefore, against their wish, to leave a small garrison in the pass, and to fall back toward Thebes. This was exactly what the king desired. His chosen battle-field was the plain of Chaeronea ; and to gain it he must gain the pass. Returning by forced marches, he overpowered the garrison, passed the defile, and stood master of the situation on his chosen ground, the grave, as Marathon was the cradle, of Hellenic liberty. The allies returned also, and faced him in front of Chaeronea.
The right wing was held by the Thebans; in the centre were the allied contingents and mercenaries; on the left and nearest to Chaeronea were the Athenians. Opposite to them Philip commanded in person; Philip’s son, Alexander, was to attack the Theban right. The battle began hopefully for the allied forces. While the Thebans sturdily held their ground against Alexander’s vehement charges, Philip, whether from weakness or design, fell back before the vigour of the Athenians. “Let us pursue them’’ (shouted one of the generals) “even to Macedon!” But this boasting was premature. After fighting all the morning, the brave Thebans were at last overpowered by the superior training and endurance of their enemies, and died where they fought. Charging over their bodies Alexander fiercely fell upon the flank of the centre, which gave way at once ; and having disposed of these he turned yet once more upon the flanks and rear of the Athenians, who after a too hasty advance were now slowly retreating before Philip’s renewed attack. All indeed was lost save honour. For a short while making head against overpowering odds, the brave left wing at last broke and fled, leaving 1,000 dead upon the field, and 2,000 prisoners in the enemy’s hands. The Theban loss must have been even greater. Nor was the moral effect of the victory less imposing. It was a conquest rather than a victory. The army of the allies ceased to exist. There was no thought of any further resistance ; and Athens and Thebes must prepare for the worst — for attack and siege — possibly for ruin.
FROM THE BATTLE OF CHAIRONEIA TO THE BEGINNING OF ALEXANDER’S ASIATIC CAMPAIGNS
In spite of the collapse of all their hopes, energetic preparations for defence were made both at Thebes and at Athens. But there was no more possibility of common action. The latter, indeed, was better off than the former, for she was not a faithless ally but an open enemy ; while her prestige was too great to admit of harsh treatment, and her power (at any rate at sea) still too formidable to make it safe to drive her to extremities, It was not strange, therefore, that Philip should have treated Athens with marked leniency, and Thebes with great harshness—selling his Theban prisoners as slaves, indulging freely in banishment and confiscations, filling the Cadmea with Macedonian troops, establishing a packed oligarchy of 300 of his own partisans, and restoring nominal autonomy to the smaller Boeotian towns. In his relations to Athens Polybius insists that Philip’s conduct was marked by extraordinary moderation, humanity, and gentlemanly courtesy. Diodorus tells us, in a very different strain, that Philip’s head was turned by his success, and that he grossly insulted his Athenian prisoners, until rebuked by one of them, named Demades, for playing the part of Thersites, when fortune had allotted him that of Agamemnon. Whichever account be true, his final treatment of Athens was unquestionably lenient.
Demades had been released by Philip—perhaps in compliment to his plain-speaking—and shortly after his return home an embassy (including himself and Aeschines, and probably Phocion) was sent to the king, to sound his intentions. They found him, now at any rate, full of courtesy, and ready to make peace on terms, with one exception, both easy and welcome. He agreed to restore his prisoners, and to transfer the border town of Oropos from Thebes to Athens. But one condition was humiliating. Athens must acknowledge the Hegemony of the King of Macedon in Hellas. In other words, henceforth not Thebes, nor Sparta, nor Athens was to be recognized chief of Greece, but a barbarous, half-Hellenic King at Pella! It has been said—and rightly—that the peace of Demades was a renunciation of a proud historical past, and that with it the connected history of Greece is at an end. Nevertheless, Athens had but little choice in the matter. The terms were accepted, and the peace concluded. And here we may observe once more the astuteness of Philip. Not only had he bought his own recognition as the leader of Greece from the necessities of Athens, but by the price paid—the cession of Oropos—he had also secured perpetual jealousy between Thebes and Athens.
The progress of the king’s arms was now rapid and easy. He reduced Akarnania, and placed a garrison in Ambracia. In the Peloponnesus he had so many friends, who counted on his aid against Sparta, that he met with little or no resistance. It does not appear that he actually attacked Sparta itself; but he gratified Messene, Megalopolis, Arcadia, and Argos, by restoring to them severally the lands which had been torn from them by Spartan aggression; while he served his own purposes by thus constituting a number of small communities, all jealous of each other and all equally feeble. This commanding position was further assured at a general congress of Greek cities, held at Corinth (337). The king there publicly announced his intention of invading Persia, with the double purpose of freeing the Asiatic Greeks, and of avenging the invasion of Xerxes, and was formally accepted by a general vote as Commander-in-Chief: but to some, and most of all to Athens, it must have been gall and wormwood to find themselves, not only stripped of subject allies, but enrolled along with them in the common herd of contributory appendages to King Philip. Sparta alone held aloof, and was spared this humiliation. Preparations were at once begun, and carried on throughout the year, for the projected invasion of Asia; and in the spring of 336 the first division crossed the Hellespont, under the command of Parmenion and Attalus, father of Philip’s last wife, Cleopatra. Philip himself was to follow with the main body.
But the king was destined never to set foot in Asia. In the apparently unchecked career of this man of strong passions, who had led a joyous, active, masterful existence, there was an element of discord and unhappiness only too common in courts of despots. Philip had married several wives in succession: and the same jealousies and intrigues which distract the harem of an eastern sultan, or haunted the court of a Louis XIV, disturbed also the palace of King Philip. The last favourite was Cleopatra, and at her solicitation it was that Philip was said to have repudiated Olympias, the mother of Alexander, who withdrew to her brother’s court in Epirus. Furious quarrels ensued between father and son, even at the marriage feast of Cleopatra. Cabals arose within the palace. So uneasy, indeed, did Philip feel at the prospect of leaving this hotbed of intrigue behind him, when he went to Asia, that he gave his own daughter in marriage to the brother of Olympias, to disarm, if possible, his hostility. This marriage, as well as the birth of a son to Cleopatra, were celebrated at Aigai, in August, 336, with the utmost magnificence. It was hoped that banquets and games, and scenic representations, might not only dazzle the minds of Greek deputies, but reconcile the jarring feuds of court cliques. But it was a vain hope. There was present at the feast a young man, Pausanias by name, who had a deadly insult to avenge upon Attalus, Cleopatra’s father, or (in the absence of Attalus) on any connected with him ; for Pausanias had complained to Philip, with no result but ridicule. He had already resolved, therefore, to divert his vengeance from Attalus, who was in Asia, to Philip, who had refused redress, when he fell into the hands of Olympias and her partisans, who artfully whetted his thirst for revenge, and instigated the deed of blood. On the festal day, by Philip’s express invitation, hundreds were present from all parts of Greece, and so great was the crush that many flocked to the theatre before daylight to secure places. There were dubious rumours and curious oracles afloat, as on the fatal Ides of March, when Caesar fell before the daggers of the Liberators; but Philip, absorbed in his own greatness, or perhaps careless of danger, proceeded to the theatre on foot, and even bade his guards fall back, that all might see how safely he was defended by Hellenic good-will and affection. At this moment Pausanias rushed forward, and drawing out a hidden Celtic sword, plunged it into the king’s side, who fell dead upon the spot. His guards and friends were so paralyzed with horror, that the assassin almost escaped their vengeance; but was presently overtaken and slain. It was a moment of tumult and confusion, when, but for one man’s presence of mind, Macedon might have been plunged into the horrors of civil war. Philip was no sooner seen to be dead than one of those who had been privy to the plot hastened to salute the young Alexander as king, helped him to arm, and accompanied him to the palace—a promptness which anticipated any action on the part of Cleopatra and her friends. From that moment Alexander was king of Macedon, and the successor to all his father’s power and ambitious plans.
So perished one of the world’s great conquerors, in the 47th year of his age, and the 24th of his reign—great beyond question, if greatness consists in having grand and definite aims, and in successfully adapting means to ends. To Macedon, the reign of Philip was the passage from obscurity to empire, from barbarism to at least semi-civilization. Arrian puts into the lips of Alexander a glowing eulogy on his father’s benefits to his country. From mountain-shepherds clad in skins, hard pressed by warlike neighbours, he turned them, he said, into dwellers in cities, with laws and civilized habits. Illyrians, Thracians, Thessalians, he reduced to subjection. He added to the kingdom seaports and mines. Phocians, Thebans, Athenians he humbled, and set in order the affairs of the Peloponnese. Lastly, “he was appointed Supreme Commander of United Greece for the invasion of Persia, and thus attached glory not so much to himself as to the whole of the Macedonian people.” Philip was great, but by no means of a fine or heroic nature. Judged by the moral standard of Greece, he was not so much immoral as devoid of moral sense altogether. To gain his ends all means were alike—bribery, flattery, cruelty, reckless promises, audacious perjury. He had wives and mistresses on an almost Eastern scale. His court was the resort of good-for-nothing adventurers; his body-guard was a corps in which no decent man could live. And yet it was something that a character so ungoverned should have been willing to endure so much for glory and power, and have been capable of even winning sympathy and admiration—that a man so violent should have preferred mild measures to strong, and have been sometimes (as in the case of Athens) generous and forbearing. He was pre-eminently fortunate both in his life and in his death. He fell upon times of confusion in Greece, when there was no able general, no leading city, no patriot army to oppose him. He died at a moment apparently premature, but in reality peculiarly happy, when the difficulties had been overcome with which his genius was most fitted to cope. To gain diplomatic triumphs, by fair means or by foul, was as congenial to Philips’s character as the forced march or the din of battle was to Alexander.
A great man was succeeded by a yet greater son, one who ascended the throne before he was twenty, and died at the age of thirty-two. The history of heroes is the history of youth, it has been said, and Alexander displayed not a few of the qualities which the world agrees to call heroic. It would be premature to dwell at length upon the character and exploits which are to develop themselves in the following pages; yet as Alexander resembled Napoleon and many another great man in the fact, that extraordinary success spoiled a really great character, it will be well to touch briefly on some of the stories which have come down to us of his early years, his habits, and his education. He was the son of the impetuous, fanatical Olympias a fact which itself explains half the eccentricities and violent deeds of which he was guilty when his head was turned by adulation. Three successive messengers on one day (it was said) brought his father Philip the good news, that Parmenion had defeated the Illyrians, that his horse, had been victorious at Olympia, and that his wife had given birth to a son. From early years the boy showed signs of a marked individuality, which was trained and cultivated by the best teachers of the day—notably, from the age of thirteen to sixteen, by the famous Aristotle, from whom he gained a special taste for medical science and natural history, and a general liking for knowledge of all sorts. He was an adept in music, and when only eleven years old played the lyre in public before the Athenian ambassadors, who were at Pella in 346. Of books he loved the Iliad best, even keeping a copy by his side at night with his sword, and of all the characters he admired most that of Achilles. If he surpassed his compeers in general intelligence, he was not less manly than they, but loved hunting and fencing, and was so bold a rider as to manage even the spirited Bucephalus whom no man, before had dared to ride. Indeed he had the tenderness for animals characteristic of all fine natures, loving dog and horse as faithful friends. Plutarch even asserts that when Bucephalus once fell into the hands of a tribe on the shores of the Caspian, Alexander was inconsolable, threatening fire and sword and utter extermination unless his favourite were restored; and that he called a city by his name, when he died of fatigue after the battle with Poros. In person Alexander was of a fair and ruddy complexion, and of middle height; he had bright, expressive eyes, and a strange trick of holding his head on one side, which his generals and courtiers imitated. His temper, if hot, was generous, and found expression in remarks and repartees—often wise, sometimes witty, always frank. It is perhaps more remarkable that, considering who he was and the atmosphere in which he lived, his life was singularly pure and simple, and that in circumstances of more than ordinary temptation his treatment of women was considerate and even chivalrous. To those around him he was, with rare exceptions, a constant and liberal friend ; and many a story is told of his magnanimous self-control both towards his enemies and his soldiers, graphic enough to account for the admiring affection which they often showed. On the whole we gather the idea of a young man, superior to his father both in character and abilities, frank, passionate, ambitious, yet singularly self-restrained; and all the more shall we lament, therefore, the downward progress of such a youth into a manhood disfigured by acts of cruelty and by excessive vanity.
On his proclamation, as king Alexander’s first act was to issue an address to his Macedonian subjects, promising to maintain the dignity of the kingdom and to follow out the Asiatic plans of his father Philip. This was necessary, to satisfy the statesmen and soldiers who might be contrasting the youth and inexperience of the son with the experience and long success of the father. His next step may have appeared not less necessary, from the point of view of a successor to a disputed inheritance, whose mother had been repudiated, and whose half-brother and male relations either had better claims than himself to the throne, or thought to make them appear better. Not only were all the associates of Pausanias in his father’s murder but two put to death, but Amyntas, his first cousin, and Cleopatra, his stepmother, with her infant son and Attains her father, were by Alexander’s orders or with his connivance put out of the way.
His position as king being thus assured, Alexander set out three months after his father’s murder with an army of 30,000 men to make a progress through Greece, and to assert his supremacy there. Indeed the loyalty of Hellas was more than doubtful. Thanksgiving had been openly offered at Athens for the death of Philip. Anti-Macedonian sentiments were everywhere heard in Peloponnesus. All such expressions, however, were discreetly hushed as soon as the king appeared. The Amphictyonic League named him, as they had named his father before him, leader of Greece; and a conciliatory embassy from Athens endeavoured by apologies to dispel the memory of recent indiscretions. After this a second congress was held at Corinth, at which all Greek states again were represented, excepting Sparta. A second time a king of Macedon was recognized as head of Greece, whom each city was bound to obey, while the cities were severally to be independent each of the other, and each was to retain its existing constitution. On paper it was a fair enough arrangement; but beneath the smooth exterior a deep irritation was smouldering, which it needed but a spark to set in a blaze.
At this juncture it was (March, 335) that Alexander was lost to the sight of the Greek world for five months. He was anxious to secure the submission of his restless neighbours on the north and west—Thracians, Triballians, Illyrians—before setting out on his distant march to the East ; and to secure it he must show himself in force among them. It was an expedition which fully served its purpose, and at the same time brought into relief the military genius of the great conqueror — specially his dashing audacity, his fertility of resource, his rapidity of movement. Starting from Amphipolis, he forced a difficult pass of Mount Haimos, and attacked and defeated the Triballians. He crossed the Istros (Danube) almost out of bravado; and, recrossing it, executed a rapid march to the westward through Paionia and by the rivers Axios and Erigon into the country of the Illyrians, whom in the face of superior numbers he outmanoeuvred, surprised, and defeated. If originality may be defined as the power of striking out new thoughts at the right moment, nothing could have been more original than his device for baffling the Thracians of Mount Haimos. They had collected a number of chariots, or wagons, intending to launch them into the dense mass of the Macedonian phalanx as it approached, and so to make their own attack easier. Alexander ordered his men to open out their ranks wherever it was possible and let the wagons through, but if not, to lie flat upon the ground with their shields interlaced and slanted over their bodies, so that the chariots should run over and bound off them. Thus not a single Macedonian was killed. It was a piece of audacity to cross the greatest of rivers without a bridge and in the face of an enemy, the Getai, 4,000 strong : yet he accomplished it under cover of night by aid of canoes and rafts, and without the loss of a man. It showed not a little fertility of resource to extricate an army from a narrow gorge, where in some places only four men could march abreast, in the teeth of superior numbers, and then to turn upon them in the dead of night and inflict a crushing defeat. And the general who displayed this audacity, resource, and originality was only twenty years old.
Meanwhile no news of Alexander reached Greece. No one knew where he was or what he was doing. Presently rumours were rife of disasters and reverses; improved before long into authoritative statements that he was dead. In truth, the wish was father to the thought. Nevertheless such rumours were highly dangerous to Macedonian interests amid the general discontent of Greece. Of all Greeks, perhaps, the Thebans were the most ill-disposed to Macedon, suffering, as they did, from the constant surveillance of a foreign garrison in the Cadmea. As, forty-four years before, when a Spartan force had seized the citadel, so now there were exiles from Thebes in Athens, where they were encouraged by Athenian orators and subsidized by Athenian money. When reports of Alexander’s death were bruited about and generally believed, these exiles conceived the design, which Pelopidas had devised and carried out, of recovering Thebes and of ejecting the Macedonian garrison—a design warmly seconded by Demosthenes and his friends. Accordingly they marched unexpectedly, and being welcomed by their partisans, seized the town, and summoned the garrison in the Cadmea to surrender—a demand scornfully refused. Simultaneously they sent deputies to Peloponnesus, imploring immediate help both in men and money for what was essentially the cause of Hellas. But Greeks had almost forgotten how to act in concert. Sympathy was to be had in abundance. Promises might be bought not to help the Macedonians. The Arcadians actually sent troops as far as the Isthmus. Even the Athenians were over-persuaded by Demades and Phocion to wait until rumour was confirmed before they committed themselves. Thus the favourable moment was again let slip, when the passes into Greece might have been barred against the invader; and the Thebans were left to shift for themselves. Nothing daunted, they proclaimed themselves independent of Macedon, and drew lines of circumvallation round the garrison in the citadel, hoping to starve them out. Suddenly, like a thunderbolt, while they were yet dreaming of fair weather and recovered freedom, Alexander was upon them. Hurried news had reached him of the Theban rising, while he was still west of Mount Skardos, and, aware of the gravity of return of the crisis, without a thought of rest for himself Alexander, or his troops, or of returning first to Pella he started at once on a forced march of thirteen days for Boeotia. Following the valley of the river Haliakmon, he crossed the Kambounian ridge on the seventh day and reached the town of Pelinna; thence in six days he traversed Thessaly, passed Thermopylae, hurried by Elateia, and was first heard of by the astounded Greeks as present in force at Onchestos, a few miles from Thebes. He moved up at once to the city and established his camp to the southward, in order to cut off all access to or from Athens, and to open communications with the Cadmean garrison. After waiting a day or two, in hopes of their submission, he issued a proclamation demanding the surrender of the anti-Macedonian leaders, and inviting any Thebans who pleased to join him. The Thebans rejoined with a counter-proclamation, demanding the surrender of two of his generals, and inviting all who would assist the Great King and the Thebans in freeing the Greeks, and overthrowing the Tyrant of Greece, to join then at once. This was in fact to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard. Nothing remained but to fight it out to the bitter end. The city was assaulted and at last taken, after a desperate resistance which contested every inch of ground. Five hundred Macedonians were said to have fallen and 6000 Thebans, while no less than 30,000 men, women, and children were taken prisoners. The question at once arose as to what was to be done with the city and the captives. Nominally the decision was left by Alexander to the Phocians, Plataeans, and other Greek auxiliaries, the bitterest foes of the Theban name. But it is obvious that in reality it must have been known to coincide with Alexander’s wishes, and that his wish was to bring home to the mind of every Greek citizen a terrible example of the consequences of disloyalty. That decision was a tearful one. Thebes was to be razed to the ground; her territory was to be distributed among the Boeotian towns ; the prisoners were to be sold as slaves, excepting only priests and priestesses and personal friends of Macedonians; and all Theban fugitives were to be outlawed. It was an unimportant addition that Orchomenos and Plataea were to be rebuilt; that a Macedonian garrison was to be permanently quartered in the Cadmea; and that the house of Pindar was to be spared. Arrian’s account, the tone of which is certainly truthful, represents the whole transaction from first to last as unexpected, the result of accident rather than calculation, and makes the revengeful fury of Phocians and Boeotians more responsible for the tragedy than the policy of Alexander. Taken at the worst, and viewed merely as an act of policy, we may set it side by side with the massacres of Drogheda and Wexford (1649), or the devastation of the Palatinate (1688), and say that Alexander’s was a venial deed compared with the deliberate cruelties of a Cromwell and a Louis XIV.
All further opposition at once collapsed. Arcadians, Eleians, Aetolians, vied in their protestations of loyalty ; while Athens which three short years before had fought for freedom at Chaeronea, now of sank so low as to congratulate a king of Macedon on his safe return from the north and on his destruction of Thebes; and she owed it to the intervention of a Demades that she was excused from the necessity of giving up ten of her most prominent citizens to the vengeance of Alexander.
From Thebes the victorious king repaired to Corinth to preside over another synod, and to fix the contingents of the various cities for his Asiatic campaign; and thence returned by way of Delphoi to Pella, never to set foot again in Hellas. The winter (335-4) was spent in preparations, the army for Asia being massed in early spring, in the district between Pella and Amphipolis. Antipater was left as governor of Macedon during the king’s absence, with a force of 12,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry, to maintain order there, and to keep down, if necessary, the cities of Greece.
ALEXANDER IN ASIA MINOR.
The empire, which Alexander was about to attack, was the greatest in the world— the greatest which the world had ever seen. Hellas itself to the south of the Kambounian range was but little larger than Portugal ; while the empire of Darius Codomannus did not fall far short of the extent of modern Europe. From the Sahara to the Indus, from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf, all nations were subject to the Great King, who could place a million of men in the field, and had often overrun provinces larger than Greece in a single campaign. To resist his will, and much more to invade his kingdom, might seem like madness. But the appearance of strength belied the reality. From the days of the first Darius to those of the third luxury and corruption, bloodshed and revolt, had been sapping the strength of the empire. The sinews of war were still abundant; and, among the multitude of subject races, individual nations were brave, and even formidable. But the organization was defective, and the tactics and arms were antiquated; while the natural leader of the army was too often a spoiled child, with a spirit softened in the harem and a judgment blinded by adulation. Of course no one could have foreseen the issue of the campaign; yet it is certain that some Greeks had already formed a shrewd estimate of the real strength of the empire ; and even seventy years before, Xenophon had observed that the vast distances, and the consequent isolation, of the imperial forces were a source of weakness.
There was hardly a corner of this vast dominion to which Alexander did not penetrate : its capitals, with their rock-tombs and marvellous palaces ; its wide plateaus, its fertilizing rivers, its loftiest mountain passes. It will be well, therefore, at the outset to gain a general idea of the countries whose inhabitants he visited or reduced, and so to apprehend more clearly the objects at which he aimed, and the difficulties in the way of his attaining them.
The first thing to observe in the physical configuration of the empire is the relatively great extent of desert and plateau, and the way in which they split it up into thin strips and isolated patches of population. The teeming thousands of the Nile valley, and the Euphrates, and the Indus, were sundered from each other by vast tracts of uninhabitable rock and sand, and by a journey of several months’ duration. The most remarkable of these plateaus was the table-land of Aria (Iran), rising more than 3,000 feet above the sea, and forming one link in the great chain of desert which runs from the west of Africa to the frontiers of China. It is itself only the southern portion of a yet vaster desert, arid and barren, which stretches in unbroken monotony from the Indian Ocean far to the north of the Sea of Aral—unbroken save by the narrow strip of valley and mountain which cuts it at right angles in the middle. For at this point Mount Tauros (Elburz), after skirting the Caspian, runs eastward to meet the Paropanisan mountains (Hindu Kush) in three or four parallel ranges, which average 200 miles in breadth, while the fertile plains which lie between them form the natural route of traveller or army from west to east. To the north-east of this plateau, as well as between it and the Indus, lay a considerable population (in modern Afghanistan and Turkestan), who were Persian subjects, but whose connexion with the empire must have always been precarious.
Again, we may change our point of view, and regard this plateau in a way altogether different. Its general direction is from south-east to north-west, where the greatest length is 1,100 miles; plateau from but at both the north-eastern and north-western corners it communicates immediately, in the former case with the higher table-land of Central Asia, in the latter with the lower plateau of Asia Minor through the mountains and uplands of Armenia. From the western borders of Phrygia, where the uplands sink into the fertile valleys of Ionia, to the tangled mountain systems of Arachosia (Afghanistan), there is continuous highland, whose fertility varies inversely with its elevation above the sea, from the abundant corn and flocks of Cappadocia to the utter absence of all life, whether animal or vegetable, in the loose red sands of Aria, or Khorasmia, “a country the image of death.” From end to end, moreover, this plateau, whether elevated or low, has one pervading characteristic. It is bordered on every side by mountain ranges, in Pontus as in Karmania, in Cilicia as in Hyrkania, which slope more or less abruptly on the outer side, and have a comparatively narrow fringe of habitable country at their base.
Once more we may change our point of view, and remark that, rich as was the empire in every sort of produce, this richness was confined within narrow and well-defined limits, especially to valleys of the four great rivers. Take out of the empire the upper waters of the Oxus and the Indus, and the basins of the Euphrates and the Nile, and a glance at the map will show that we have taken away its fairest and most prolific regions. In the higher courses of both the Indus and the Oxus irrigation still produces great fertility ; but in the case of the latter there is satisfactory evidence to show, not only that the valley was fertile enough to support a large population, as it does now, but also that a valuable trade was carried on by that route between India and the Euxine, the goods passing down the river, and by its western mouth, now dry, into the Caspian, and thence by way of the river Cyrus (Kur) to Phasis. The valley of the Indus resembles that of the Oxus, not only in the fact of the two rivers being almost exactly of the same length, i,86o miles, but because the upper course of each is made up of numerous tributaries that help to fertilize a wide district. On the other hand, there is no comparison between the tributaries of the Oxus and the five rivers which make the beauty and the fertility of the Punjab. The desert, it is true, is near at hand; but the bounteous rivers and laborious irrigation make the plain rich, wherever the rivers flow, with corn, and rice, and fruits ; and the people are among the noblest of India.
But, though the valleys of the Indus and Oxus were sufficiently rich, they were as nothing compared to Babylonia or Egypt, the “gifts” of the Euphrates and the Nile. Herodotus tells of the rare barley crops of Babylonia, never returning less than two hundredfold. The date palms were unparalleled elsewhere. And this fertility was due to the abounding streams of Euphrates and Tigris, converging slowly through more than 1000 miles of level country, and diffusing their superabundant waters by innumerable canals. Nor is this less true of the Nile valley. Hardly more than 600 miles of the river’s course was within the limits of the Persian empire, but that was the richest part. The annual inundations and subsequent irrigation secured a marvellous return, so that three crops in a year were not uncommon ; and the river itself was in those days, as it still is, the high road of a great commerce with central Africa.
These four great river basins were sources of vast wealth and power to the ruler who controlled them, whoever he might be ; and we have probably here a satisfactory clue to Alexander’s seemingly erratic course. He would make himself master of the great centres of life in the empire, one by one—first the Nile, then the Euphrates, then the Oxus, and last the Indus—reducing all alike to subjection first, that he might afterwards concentrate, regulate, and combine. The route which he followed from one river basin to another will find its explanation in the description given above of the deserts and plateaus in his way.
Lastly, the resources of the empire were as various as its peoples and climate, and so boundless in both men and money, that had there been empire. organizing brain, or a strong will at the head of affairs, its powers of offence and defence would have been equally irresistible. As it was, the vigour was gone; and the vast fabric, externally so formidable, was ready to fall to pieces at a touch. The Great King was for the most part a tyrant or a cipher. The satraps were either too strong or not strong enough — too strong to be loyal to the central government; too weak to offer successful resistance to an invader. In the field the Persian tactics were altogether out of date, for by these numbers were always presumed to be more than a match for discipline. Strategy there was none, the game of war consisting merely in finding the enemy and trampling him under foot. Moreover, a Persian army was ill-assorted: some nations were warlike, others were cowards ; some were well-armed, others the reverse. Even the best were armed less well than the enemy whom they were about to meet. The rifled gun is not more superior to the unrifled than was the Greek spear to the Persian, the latter having only seven feet of length against the ten, or in the sarissa, the twenty, feet of the former. In short, the component parts of the Persian host were armed according to local habits or ancient tradition, not with a view to efficiency; and a Persian army was little better than a fortuitous concourse of atoms. A Macedonian army, on the other hand, was a finished machine, each part devised to supplement another, each arm equipped with a view to its special purpose. Hence disparity of numbers ceased to be of any importance; and we are the less surprised to read of the calmness with which a Macedonian army would march to attack a Persian host ten times its own size, and of the terrible carnage among the latter which always followed defeat.
With this immense empire Greeks had been repeatedly in contact since the days of Xerxes, especially in Asia Minor and Egypt. Greeks had helped Cyrus the Younger to fight the battle of Cunaxa (B. C. 401), and had been strong enough to make a treaty with the Great King (B. C. 387). Greeks had been mixed up with the revolt of Egypt from Persia, and had fought on both sides when it was reduced to subjection (B. C. 346). A Greek of Rhodes, Memnon by name, for his services on that occasion, had been rewarded with a Greeks with satrapy in Asia Minor. In short, Greeks Persians, were admitted behind the scenes, and were awaking to a sense of their own strength and of the weakness of Persia. At this crisis it was that a man of genius and energy arose on the horizon of Greek politics, who had the means at his disposal for attacking Persia, as well as the will to use them. That Alexander’s career changed the whole current of subsequent history is certain : but it is impossible not to regret, in his case as in Hannibal’s, the silence and stupidity of some who accompanied him all the way from the Hellespont to Babylon, and who might have told us how far that career was shaped or foreseen by Alexander himself, what opinions he expressed beforehand on the chances of the conflict, and what end precisely he had in view, as opposition ceased and half Asia was at his feet. Gossip has handed down to us isolated expressions, and a few chance conversations; but our judgment of the man rests only on his deeds, uninterrupted by any thought or word of his own.
Alexander crossed the Hellespont in the spring of 334, just eleven years before his death, with a force of 30,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry; leaving Antipater, to maintain the peace of Hellas and Macedonia in his absence. The actual crossing was superintended by Parmenion ; while the king with a few companions crossed lower down the strait for the purpose of visiting Ilion. To his susceptible mind, familiar with Homer from his earliest days, such a visit would be a pilgrimage at once of duty and of pleasure ; and when he took down the arms hanging in the temple of Athene, or visited the barrow of the Hellenic Achilles, it was probably with feelings of exaltation, which may have been confused, but were certainly genuine. This pious duty fulfilled, he joined the army once more at Arisbe, and directed its march towards Priapos, along the lowlands lying between the mountains and the sea, throwing out light cavalry as he advanced to feel for the enemy.
Meanwhile the Persian leaders were divided as to what was best to be done. They were three in council: Spithridates, satrap of Lydia, Arsites, satrap of Phrygia, and Memnon the Rhodian, high in favour at court for his services in the Egyptian war twelve years before. The counsel of the latter was bold and original. He proposed to avoid giving battle as long as possible, retreating and ravaging the country ; while the fleet in superior force should make a diversion in the rear, land troops in Macedon, and open communications with disaffected Greek cities. The plan might have saved the Person Empire, and was easy of execution; but it was overruled. The two satraps were jealous of Memnon; and, having the command of some 20,000 Greek mercenaries and 20,000 Asiatic cavalry, they believed themselves a match for Alexander, and desired to end the struggle at once. They resolved, therefore, to occupy the right bank of the Granicus and to dispute the passage of the river, being aware of its extreme difficulty from the depth of the water here and there, from the numerous holes, and from the height and steepness of the banks. The crossing in itself was clearly no easy task, or Alexander’s best general Parmenion would not have advised that it should be deferred for a day. But the king’s judgment was against him. Delay before such a tiny brook would only discourage his own troops and encourage the Persians. Immediate action was the right thing ; and the event proved that it was so.
Alexander, as usual, commanded the right wing, and Parmenion the left—an arrangement which was speedily observed by the enemy across the river, from the splendour of the king’s armour and the respectful courtesy of his suite. Accordingly they at once increased the depth of the squadrons on their left flank. For a while there was silence as the two armies on either bank stood confronting one another, dimly conscious perhaps of the great issues staked upon that day’s battle. Then Alexander leaped upon his horse, and calling on those around him to show, their courage, bade Ptolemy lead the advance with a squadron of cavalry and a division of the phalanx, while he himself, at the head of the extreme right, plunged into the river, the men shouting, and the trumpets sounding the charge. Both the left and right wings appear to have crossed the river obliquely to the course of the main body, partly to avoid the holes in the river bed, partly to reach the opposite bank as much as possible in line, and so exposing the flanks of columns to the charge of the enemy’s swarms of cavalry. As they neared the opposite bank the Macedonians met with a warm reception. Where the ground was higher than the river, the Persian cavalry kept up a constant shower of javelins from above ; where it was on the river level, there they advanced even into the river itself and barred the way in superior numbers, so that many of the Macedonians were cut down at once on coming within sword’s reach, and all were for the moment confused, being annoyed by the enemy’s missiles and finding great difficulty in keeping their own footing. But when they came to close quarters the action became a trial of strength, each side pushing desperately against the other ; and ere long weight and physical strength, discipline and tenacity, won the victory, even on these unequal terms, over men of light frame and inferior resolution, less stoutly armed. Hence it was not long before the whole Macedonian line had emerged from the river, and was establishing itself in the teeth of obstinate resistance on the banks above. But the fiercest fighting was round the king himself, on the wing where the best of the Persian troops were posted, and where most of the leaders had gathered, as if to the turning point of the battle. The reckless courage of Alexander often led him into peril and hair-breadth escapes ; but never perhaps but once was he in such instant peril of death as in this cavalry skirmish, which opened his campaigns in Asia. Hiss spear broke in his hand at the first onset. Turning to a groom he asked for another; but this man was in the same plight as the king, and was reduced to fighting as best he could with the butt. At last a Corinthian supplied him with another. At this moment Mithridates, a son-in-law of Darius, was advancing to the charge at the head of a wedge-shaped squadron of cavalry. Alexander dashed out from his own line to meet him, smote him in the face, and brought him to the ground. At the same instant he was assailed by another general, who aimed a sweeping blow with his scimitar at the king’s head, and broke off a piece of his helmet. Alexander retaliated with a javelin thrust, which pierced corslet and breastbone, and laid his assailant low ; but, while thus engaged in front, he was himself in imminent danger from behind; for Spithridates, at the instant of his friend’s fall, had raised his sword to aim a blow at the king’s now only half-defended head. But there were quick eyes and strong arms around. A timely and dexterous sabre-cut from Kleitos, Alexander’s foster-brother, averted the danger, severing the Persian’s sword-arm at the shoulder. Every moment brought to the king’s side a fresh accession of strength from those who had succeeded in forcing the passage, so that the enemy were more and more hardly pressed on their left flank and centre, until they broke before the pressure, and gave way at all points, in a headlong rout, leaving 1,000 dead upon the field. Their loss was comparatively trifling ; for there was but little pursuit of the broken cavalry, Alexander recalling his troops to join in the attack upon the mercenaries. The battle so far had apparently been as short as it was brilliant : for these mercenaries were still in the position which they had occupied at first, and were now paralyzed with astonishment at the unexpected turn of events, and rapidly becoming demoralized by the sight of their comrades’ defeat. Thus, troubled and irresolute, they found themselves suddenly surrounded, and that by foes whose prowess was known to them not only from the witness of their own eyes, but from their memory of what Macedonians had done in recent times. They were defeated even before they were attacked. Assailed in front and flank and rear, they speedily became a mere huddling mass of men with arms in their hands, and were butchered where they stood, only 2,000 being made prisoners, and of the rest not a man escaping, save a few lucky ones who were overlooked among the dead bodies. It was a brilliant victory and won at slight cost. The Persians had lost not only half their force of 40,000 men, and an extraordinary proportion of superior officers, but prestige as well. There were no more troops in Asia Minor to bring into the field— indeed no force existed except some isolated garrisons, and after the fall of Halicarnassus resistance in that quarter ceased. On the other hand the Macedonian losses are said to have been so slight as to amount to no more than twenty-five of the Companion cavalry, who fell at the first onset, about sixty of the other cavalry and thirty infantry soldiers, or less than 120 in all: a small price to pay for such immense results. They were buried with all military honours, the twenty-five Companions even receiving the extraordinary compliment of brazen statues, carved by Lysippus, and set up in their honour at Dion.
The wives and children of those who had fallen received the substantial boon of a remission of all taxation and of personal service. The wounded were treated with signal marks of favour, the king visiting them in person, and in kindly conversation giving each man the flattering opportunity of telling his own story and recounting his own deeds. All his Greek prisoners Alexander sent in chains to Macedon, to be kept to hard labour. In his eyes they were guilty of treason for taking up arms against their rightful leader. On the other hand, he strove to gain increased interest and sympathy for his cause in Greece by sending to Athens 300 suits of armour as an offering to Athens, with an inscription stating that they were taken by Alexander, son of Philip, and by the Greeks (excepting the Lacedemonians) from the barbarians who dwell in Asia.
The effects of the victory of the Granicus were seen at once in the surrender of Sardis and Ephesus, as soon as the king appeared before them — a submission of great value while the Persians were masters of the Aegean ; for at present his main danger arose from the possible acceptance of Memnon’s plan, and from insurrection and invasion across the sea. It was, therefore, of primary importance to secure the adhesion of the Asiatic Greeks, and by so doing to shut out the Persians from the harbours of Asia Minor. Miletus, indeed, attempted a brief resistance, being encouraged by the presence of a Pesian fleet of 400 sail at Mycale. Alexander, however, had seized the island of Lade; moored his fleet of 160 ships so as to bar ingress and egress; and, having made a practicable breach in the wall, stormed the town in the face of a languid resistance. There remained one strong fortress in those parts, Halicarnassus, where the Persians had collected all their forces for a serious defence, and where Memnon was in chief command. Alexander, therefore, resolved to send away his fleet, which was at once expensive and numerically weak, and to direct all his efforts to the capture of that city, as a step to driving the Persians from Asia Minor.
FROM THE SIEGE OF HALIKARNASSOS TO THE BATTLE OF ISSOS.
Halicarnassus was the strongest city of Karia. Built on the side of a precipitous rock, sloping steeply to the southward and to the sea, it was doubly defensible from the possession of two citadels, the chief one lying at the northern and highest point of the city. On the eastern face of the hill can still be traced remains of the famous tomb built by Queen Artemisia in memory of her husband, Mausolos. There were two good harbours, the larger and safer lying to the north, its entrance being at once sheltered and protected by a fortified island. The whole city was surrounded with walls, and strengthened further by a ditch, 45 feet broad and more than 20 feet deep. Moreover, the preparations for defence were on a scale adequate to the strength and importance of the place. The Persian fleet had been brought up from Mycale. Besides native troops, there was a considerable garrison of Greek mercenaries under an Athenian, Ephialtes ; and the guiding spirit of the defence was Memnon, a man as versatile as he was brave. The siege of Halicarnassus was the most arduous task which Alexander bad as yet to face.
Before he actually began the operations of the siege, he took care to render the attack as easy as possible, and to secure his communications by conciliating the nearer Greek towns with freedom and special immunities ; while he won the good-will of the Karians by restoring the kingdom to Ada, the popular representative of their ancient line of kings. He then sat down before the city, about half a mile from the walls. At first the proceedings on both sides were desultory. One or two sallies of the besieged were repulsed with ease ; and a night attack of Alexander’s on the neighbouring town of Myndos was foiled. But thenceforward both the attack and defence became serious. To get at the walls with battering engines, it was first necessary to fill up the ditch ; and this was done by the soldiers, under cover of three movable penthouses. The rams were then brought up, and ere long two towers, with the intermediate extent of wall, had yielded to the incessant shocks, and were in ruins. Meanwhile the besieged made repeated sallies, and busied themselves in raising a thick wall of brick in the shape of a crescent behind the city wall, and abutting on it at each end, in case, as actually happened, a breach were made. Before the wall was finished, however, the breach was practicable; and an attack was inadvertently brought on by the drunken frolic of two Macedonian soldiers, who, to settle a disputed question as to their comparative valour, donned their armour, and boldly set out to storm the town alone. A few who saw them coming ran out to attack them ; but these they slew, and proceeded to throw their javelins at others more distant. Presently the first amazement of either side gave place to excitement; and hurried reinforcements, two or three at a time, joined the two reckless Macedonians, as well as their opponents. The fight became general. The besiegers, after a struggle, drove back the besieged behind their walls, and (so great was the confusion) might probably have captured the city, then and there, had the assault been intentional and well-supported. As it was, the half-moon was finished before Alexander was ready to deliver the attack. Moreover, when the engines were moved up, the troops, being thus as it were within the circle of the city walls, were exposed to a harassing cross fire in front and on both flanks, while the sallies of the enemy became more desperate and impetuous. Gradually, however, the attack, directed by Alexander in person, began to overpower the defence, and the Persian commanders held a council of war. The end was clearly approaching. What was to be done? Ephialtes was urgent that they should not tamely surrender, but at least make one more effort for victory, and by persistence obtained the consent of Memnon to his heading one more desperate sally. Two thousand men were chosen. Half he armed with torches to set fire to the engines; half he drew up in a deep column to charge the enemy. At daybreak all the gates were thrown open, and the sallying parties dashed out. Some of the engines were soon in flames, while Ephialtes and his column steadily pressed onwards, overpowering all resistance, and even putting some of the younger soldiers to flight. But the efforts of Alexander presently rallied them ; and yet more the disciplined courage of the veteran reserves, who, taunting them with cowardice, fell into the ranks of their own accord with a coolness learnt on many a battlefield, and soon checked and eventually swept back again their already triumphant assailants, Ephialtes being one of the first to fall. The loss of the besieged in this sally was heavy; and Memnon and his colleagues, aware that they could not hold out much longer, resolved to evacuate the city. Under cover of night they set fire to the engines and magazines, and carried off the stores and troops and some of the inhabitants, partly to the upper citadel, partly to adjacent islands. Alexander razed the city to the ground ; and left 3,000 infantry and 200 cavalry with Queen Ada to blockade and reduce the citadel, while he himself pursued his march eastward.
Having detached Parmenion with the cavalry and baggage to meet him in the spring in Phrygia, he himself led the rest of his army through Lycia and Pamphylia, Pisidia and Phrygia, to Gordion in Bithynia. At first sight this seems a strangely circuitous route Alexander’s for a man whose next object was to reach circuitous Syria ; nor is it likely that a man like Alexander would go so far out of his way merely to reach better winter-quarters, or to escape the difficulties of western Cilicia. Two things were of primary importance at this time. To protect the Greeks of the coast from annoyance in his absence at the hands of the satraps of the interior, and to secure his own communications with Macedon. It was a wise step, therefore, to make a display of his power, and to exact if it were only a passing submission in the highlands of Phrygia and Cappadocia; while the position of Gordion would facilitate rapid overland communication with the west, as well as a ready control of the satraps to the north and east. Here he was joined once more by Parmenion and by reinforcements from Greece, to the number of 3000 infantry and 650 cavalry. Here, too, before he turned his face southward, he cut the famous Gordian knot. In the citadel of the town (so runs the tale) was a wagon, in which, once upon a time, when the people were at strife, a certain Midas with his father and mother had entered the place. Now it had been revealed to the Gordians that a wagon would bring them a king, who should allay their strife. So they laid hands on Midas and made him king; the wagon was dedicated in the Acropolis, and a further oracle declared that whoever should loose the pole from the yoke was destined to be lord of Asia. Now the knot that tied it was of cornel bark, and had seemingly neither end nor beginning. But for the omen’s sake, and for the comfort of his friends, it was needful that Alexander should do the deed ; so he went to the citadel and loosed the pole, either cutting the knot with his sword, or pulling out the peg. At any rate the conditions of the oracle were satisfied, and a thunder-storm the following night rendered assurance doubly sure.
From Gordion he marched to Ancyra, and then straight for Mount Tauros and the Cilician Cates, The folly of the Persians in disregarding Memnon’s advice, and in neglecting to occupy in force so defensible a pass, is incredible, especially when we remember that, not seventy years before, Cyrus the Younger had traversed it on an errand similar to Alexander's, and that Xenophon, who was in his train, calls it a carriage-road, impassable in the face of an opposing force. In one place there was no more room than for four armed men abreast. A resistance, possibly successful, might there have been made to invasion, which was attempted to no purpose at Issus, especially as Alexander had not, like Cyrus, a fleet with which to make a diversion in the rear. As it was, the Persians in their supineness seem hardly to have been aware of the king’s approach. The scanty garrison of the pass fled at once without a blow. Scarcely able to credit his good fortune, Alexander marched without a day’s delay into Cilicia, only to find that the satrap Arsames also had fled, and that Tarsus was his—a place then important as a great commercial centre, and since famous as the home of the Apostle Paul, and the burial-place of the Emperor Julian. It was near being famous also as the burial-place of Alexander himself. Having bathed incautiously in the cold waters of the Kydnos when his blood was heated by his recent exertions and forced marches, he was seized with fever, and presently was dangerously ill. The physicians were quite baffled. One alone, an Acarnanian named Philippus, undertook to give the king a medicine which would certainly cure him. Meanwhile a letter reached Alexander from Parmenion, warning him to beware of Philippus; as a rumour was abroad that he had been bribed by Darius to poison him. As yet the hero was untainted by success, and was as generously above suspicion as he was chivalrously above fear. Having read the letter, he held it in his hand; and when Philippus appeared, gave it to him as he handed him the cup. Then, as Philippus read, he drank the cup to the dregs.
It is difficult to conceive of a more apt illustration of the virtue of high-mindedness, as conceived by the Greeks and described by Aristotle, which indeed (he says) is impossible without goodness and beauty of character.
After celebrating his recovery by solemn sacrifices and games to Asclepios (Aesculapius), the king set out on his eastward march to find Darius, of whose approach with a vast host he had already heard. The Macedonian army converged by different routes upon Issus, where the sick and wounded were left behind; and then marched southward through the Cilician Gates, reaching Myriandros on the third day after leaving Issus. The bay and plain, called after the last-named place, are formed by the two diverging arms of Mount Amanos, a southern off-shoot of Mount Tauros; the bay running some fifty miles inland and having an average breadth of twenty-five miles. Its importance has been recognized from very early times, for the best and most natural route from Asia Minor to Syria and Mesopotamia runs round the head of the bay, and then passes along the narrow defile between the mountains and the sea, turning near Myriandros to the south-east, and passing over Mount Amanos by the Syrian Gates (or Beilan pass) to Antioch on the south, and to Thapsakos, the ford of the Euphrates, on the east. In parts the mountains approach very closely to the sea ; hence the pass is very easily defensible, and is the exact spot which a general would choose who had to contend with an enemy superior in numbers, but inferior in discipline and courage. On the other hand the folly of Darius in not defending so strong a position, which, like the Cilician Gates of Mount Tauros, might have been made practically impregnable, was as fatal as the pride which led him and others to slight the advice of Memnon while he was alive, and to exchange his policy of defence for offence as soon as he was dead. The Great King had collected a vast host of 400,000 infantry, and 100,000 cavalry ; but the Athenian Charidemos (like Demaratos the Spartan, in the days of Xerxes), warned him that these numbers were delusive, and worthless against the enemy whom he was marching to attack. The warning cost Charidemos his life, and the neglect of it cost Darius his throne.
While Alexander was in the defile of Issus, Darius was encamped in the Syrian plain, about two days’ march from Mount Amanos. He had brought his vast army, his courtiers, his harem, as for a triumphal progress : and now that his rash enemy, as he vainly imagined, was skulking behind the mountains, or lying sick at Tarsos, he would go and find him out. So the huge array, which had taken five days to cross the Euphrates, slowly made its way by the Amanian Gates over the mountain ridge (the heavy baggage and treasure being sent to Damascus), and came down upon Issus only two days after Alexander had left it on his southward march. It was a singular chance which thus led two enemies, each in search of the other, to march on nearly parallel lines but in opposite directions, and to be so near without knowing it. At Issus were found the sick and the wounded of the Macedonian army, whom Darius was persuaded by his courtiers to torture and put to death; after which he turned southward in pursuit of his foe, and encamped on the right bank of the river Pinaros, where the plain is only from two to three miles in breadth. Darius therefore could bring no more than 90,000 troops into line of battle. The king would scarcely believe the good news, when told that the Persians were actually within reach ; and sent off some of the Companions in a fifty-oared galley to reconnoitre and bring him back word. They soon returned with the tidings that Darius was close at hand. Alexander at once assembled his officers, and addressed them in words which were clearly intended to serve as the text for each officer’s address to his own division. They had every reason (he urged) for good hope. They and he had fought together before, and always with success. They were about to fight now with men whom they had conquered, and to whom they were as superior as warrior freemen always must be to unwarlike slaves. Moreover, it was Alexander pitted against Darius ; and the prize was the empire of Asia. He reminded each man by name of his former brilliant deeds— of the rewards now within his grasp—of the great things which Xenophon had done on a similar scene, but with vastly inferior means—and at last roused them to such enthusiasm that they begged him to advance at once. Sending forward a few cavalry and bowmen to feel for the enemy, and having offered sacrifice, he set out after the evening meal, and by midnight reached the narrowest part of the pass—the Cilician Gates— where he halted for the night. At dawn he advanced once more, in column, until the pass widened as the mountains receded from the sea ; here he deployed his troops into line of battle, and again moved forward in the usual order into the plain of the river Pinaros. Darius, meanwhile, had made his preparations, and they were such as by no means to encourage his men; being rather those of one who expects not to attack but to be attacked, and who has a lurking distrust of himself. He posted 20,000 men in the mountains in the rear of Alexander’s right flank. These, had they been worth anything, might have paralyzed the Macedonian advance, or charged at a decisive moment on his rear. As it was, their real merit was soon discovered ; for at the first charge of some troops whom Alexander detached for the service, they retired to higher ground and were actually held in check during the rest of the battle by a mere handful of 300 horsemen. The interval of about two miles between the mountains and the sea Darius occupied with a continuous mass of heavy-armed infantry—30,000 Greek mercenaries in the centre, and on their flanks troops called Kardakes (or Asiatics armed as hoplites) to the number of 60,000. The line of troops followed the line of the river bank, which in parts was precipitous and, where it was not so steep, was defended by intrenchments. The mass of the Persian cavalry was on the right wing in advance of the Kardakes. Of the actual 500,000 men present, there was thus room for no more than 120,000 to fight, the residue being massed on the plain in the rear, by tribes and nations. Well might Alexander exclaim that heaven itself was fighting on his side, when Darius had been prompted to entangle his overwhelming numbers in so narrow a space! Well might he believe the Persians to be cowed in spirit, and already as good as defeated, when he saw their preparations, not so much for delivering a blow, or trampling the audacious invader under foot, as for resisting his attack as best they might.
He advanced with the phalanx in six divisions, with the Hypaspists and Macedonian cavalry on the right wing under his own command, and the Peloponnesian and Thessalian cavalry on the left under Parmenion. His idea of the battle was, as actually happened, that the right wing under his command should charge the Persian left, and drive it off the field, and then fall upon the flank of the centre, which would be occupied in front with resisting the impact of the phalanx. The approach to the river was conducted slowly, so as to maintain the order of the ranks, the king all the while riding up and down along the lines and encouraging both officers and men, who answered him with cheers. Presently they came within bowshot of the enemy, and the Persian arrows began to fall among them thickly. Like Miltiades at Marathon, Alexander gave immediate orders for the charge at the double, that his men might be exposed to the galling fire for as short a time as possible; and setting spurs to his horse dashed into the river at the head of the Hypaspists, charging furiously into the Asiatic troops opposite to him. Ill prepared and little accustomed to such stress of war as this, they began to falter and give ground almost from the moment of attack ; and presently, overborne by the tremendous energy of their assailants, they yielded to the pressure, broke, and fled. Alexander pursued them far enough to ensure their utter rout, and then returned to the relief of his centre, against which the Greek mercenaries of the Persian host were maintaining a fierce and not wholly unsuccessful struggle. Alexander’s own rapid advance had made a gap in his array, and left his phalanx a little behind him; and as they pressed hurriedly into the water and surged up against the opposite bank, it was with ill-dressed ranks and a wavering line, while their right flank was open to attack. Such disorderly advance was fatal to the full efficiency of the phalanx; and the Greeks opposed to them were quite aware of it, and were eager to win the honour of defeating them in fair fight for the first time. A desperate struggle ensued for the possession of the bank; while on the flank between them and the sea an encounter no less desperate was going on between the Thessalian cavalry and the main body of the Persian horse, who had crossed the river to attack them. At this juncture Alexander, having driven the Persian left wing off the field, fell suddenly and furiously on the left flank of the Greeks, who were already engaged with the phalanx in front, and threw them into utter confusion. Even then the resistance might have been stouter than it was, had not Darius himself despaired of success, and with craven timidity set the example of flight. As soon as his left wing was broken and scattered, fearing that his own sacred person in the centre was no longer safe, he leaped on his chariot, just as he was, and fled away along the plain with a few of his suite. To an army like the Persian such an example was disastrous, and the flight of the Great King became the signal that all was lost. And all was lost, indeed, beyond recall. The Greeks, attacked on two sides at once, wavered and then gave ground, and at last broke up into a seething mass of struggling men; while the cavalry beyond the river, seeing what was going on behind them, hastily recrossed it, hotly pursued by the Thessalians, and strove to make good their own retreat, jostling and trampling on one another in their panic, and even riding down their own infantry. The whole length of the narrow plain from the Pinaros to Issus was now one scene of indescribable horror and confusion, the great multitude that had never struck a blow helping to swell the vast tide of terror- stricken fugitives. The slaughter was prodigious, and not only by the sword. The plain was in some places narrower than others, and here and there were water-courses, where the crush and pressure were so terrific that hundreds appear to have been suffocated, and Ptolemy, who himself took part in the pursuit, avers that he crossed a ravine by aid of the dead bodies with which it was choked. Of the cavalry 10,000 are said to have perished, and 100,000 of the infantry; 4,000 fugitives succeeded in reaching Thapsakos and crossing the Euphrates; 8,000 of the Greeks actually fought their way through the Macedonian army, and marching down to Tripolis seized some Phoenician transports, and crossed the sea first to Cyprus and eventually to Egypt. But with these trifling exceptions the rest of the vast host disappears from sight. Only after the lapse of two years could Darius gather another army wherewith to meet his enemy, and that was raised almost wholly from countries east of the Euphrates. The Macedonian loss was returned at 300 foot and 150 horse soldiers slain, and about 500 wounded. Alexander himself was slightly injured in the thigh by a sword thrust.
The pursuit was continued as long as the brief light of a November day allowed. Darius himself escaped; but his wife and sister and mother, his young son and two daughters, his tent and chariot, his shield and bow, together with 3,000 talents of money, fell into the conqueror’s hands. If we remember what the ideas of those days were with regard to prisoners of war, it will seem to be no small part of Alexander’s glory that he treated these ladies from first to last with unvarying courtesy and respect.
When he returned from the pursuit, the king found that the Persian camp had already been plundered by his soldiers ; but the royal tent, and perfumed bath, and the royal banquet had been carefully reserved for his use—luxuries to which hitherto he had been a stranger, and which possibly occasioned the sarcastic remark, quoted by Plutarch, that this apparently was what was meant by being a king. The next day he celebrated his victory on the spot, erecting altars on the Pinaros to Zeus, Herakles, and Athene ; and sent Parmenion forward, with some Thessalian cavalry, to seize whatever treasure was to be found in Damascus. Its amount and varied character must have been almost embarrassing. for we are told that he became master not only of the military chest, but of a great number of Persian nobles and ladies of the highest rank, and of camp followers of every sort and description to the amazing number of 30,000. Such it was, it seems, to be a conqueror.
FROM THE BATTLE OF ISSOS TO THE BATTLE OF GAUGAMELA.
The victory of Issus not only gave Alexander practically the command of Asia west of the Euphrates, but relieved him of much anxiety as to any alliance between Greeks and Persians in his rear. That alliance had been a possible and even threatening danger, and it was with a view to guard against its recurrence in the future that Alexander directed his next attack against Phoenicia and Egypt, the homes and recruiting ground of the Persian fleet, rather than against Babylon or Persepolis.
From the Pinaros, Alexander retraced his steps as far as Myriandros, and then, crossing the Syrian Gates, followed the valley of the Orontes to Arados and Marathos, which, like Byblos and Sidon immediately afterwards, welcomed with acclamation the conqueror of Persia.
At Marathos the king gave audience to two envoys from Darius himself. They were bearers of a letter of remonstrance at Alexander’s unprovoked attack, and of a request that he would send back his wife, mother, and children. The king’s answer was characteristic, and revealed the larger views that were now occupying his mind. After adducing a number of grievances, of which Greeks in general and he himself in particular had to complain, he repeated in other words what he had already said to the mother of Darius, that the contest between them was for the empire of Asia. He bade the Great King come to his presence, as to one who was master of all Asia. “And in future” (he adds), “when thou sendest to me, send as to the King of Asia, and write not as an equal, and speak, if thou requirest aught, as to one who is lord of all thy possessions. If not, I will take counsel against thee as a wrong-doer. And if thou hast ought to object in the matter of the royal power, await my coming and do not flee, but try the issue of battle. I will come to thee wherever thou art.” These lofty words have to our ears an arrogant ring, but they defined exactly the relative position of the two men.
From Sidon Alexander proceeded towards Tyre, hoping to find as cordial a welcome as he had just experienced in the northern cities. He was met by an embassy with valuable presents, and with promises on the part of their city to do all that the king desired. The king’s answer was that he desired to enter Tyre, and to sacrifice to the Tyrian Herakles. The ambassadors replied, in the name of the city, that they would gladly accede to whatever else the king might wish, but that they could not admit any man, whether Persian or Macedonian, within their walls. But the king (they added) could sacrifice equally well at Palai Tyros, the old town, on the mainland, where was a temple of Herakles, more ancient and more venerable than their own. Alexander was deeply offended by their refusal, and at once called a council of war, at which it was resolved that, however difficult the siege might be, it was a task which could not safely be declined. It has been said that impatient pride on the king’s part prompted this resolution; but his own speech to his officers in council suggests three or four weighty reasons for the step, which amply justify it. The wording of the Tyrian refusal gave the impression of “trimming,” and of their wishing to remain neutral in a contest which seemed as yet undecided. Could Alexander safely leave behind him, unreduced, those who were either secret enemies, or at best lukewarm friends ? The Phoenician fleet in Aegean waters was his greatest source of danger; but if Phoenicia were reduced, that fleet would be his. In that case the submission of Cyprus would be certain; and with Cyprus and Phoenicia as the base of operations, the conquest of Egypt would be no less certain. Then, and not till then, would it be possible to feel secure of Greece, and to turn his face resolutely towards Babylon. But everything depended on that first link in the chain—the complete reduction of Phoenicia. So great a military genius as Alexander, living amid his own ideas and not ours, could hardly be expected to admit such considerations as that Tyrians wished to remain neutral, or were “an ancient and intelligent community,” or fancied their position impregnable. It was an essential part of his policy that Phoenicia and Egypt should be wrested from Persia, and completely subdued.
The city of Tyre (Tsur, Sur, the Rock) was built partly on the mainland, partly on a rocky island, twenty-four miles south of Sidon. This island was nearly three miles in circumference, and separated from the continent by an arm of the sea seven-tenths of a mile in breadth, which was comparatively shallow near the mainland, but three fathoms deep off the island. The line of coast seems to have altered considerably from time to time, owing to the silting of sand and to volcanic agencies ; so that part of the island on the western side is now submerged, ruins of columns being still visible below the water, while the channel between it and the mainland, which is now one-third of a mile across, was in Strabo’s time (about the Christian era) entirely blocked by an isthmus of sand, resting on the ruins of Alexander’s mole. The city had two harbours, to the north and south of the island respectively, protected by sea-walls; and the southern, which was the more exposed, was defended further by an immense breakwater, thirty-five feet thick, and now covered with six or eight feet of water. These harbours were connected by a canal running across the island, the outline of which is still traceable. All round the city ran a wall, which opposite the mainland rose to the stupendous height of 150 feet. Within this comparatively limited area, it has been supposed that the population must in Alexander's day have amounted to nearly 50,000; but the narrowness of the area was compensated by the immense number of stories in which the houses were built, reminding us of the “insulae” at Rome or of the vast piles crowded within the fortifications of some foreign town.
The Tyrians were masters of the sea, and Alexander had no fleet. It was necessary, therefore, in order to reach the city at all, to run a mole across the channel, by which the engines might be brought to bear upon the wall. At first the work was easy enough. There were stones in plenty at Old Tyre, abundance of timber was to be had on Lebanon, and the piles were without difficulty in the soft sand and mud. But the further the work was carried the more difficult it became : for the water grew deeper, and the Tyrian men-of-war could sail up from either harbour and molest the men at work, who ere long came also within range from the walls. When the Macedonian engineers erected mantlets and two wooden towers on the mole to protect their workers, the Tyrians were equal to this emergency also. They prepared a fireship, and having waited for a wind steered her skilfully, so as to set alight the towers and everything inflammable within reach ; the men on board the ships meanwhile kept up an incessant shower of darts and arrows, while volunteers from the city, pushing off in any boat that came to hand, eagerly joined in the work of destruction, pulling up palisades and helping to spread the fire. Most of the engines and a large part of the mole were thus destroyed, and the destruction was completed by a storm. Alexander, however, nothing daunted, at once set to work to construct more engines and to build another mole, broader than the first, and carried obliquely across the channel in a south-west direction to escape the force of the waves. At the same time it was clear that his task was doubly difficult while the Tyrians were masters -of the sea. Accordingly, leaving his engineers to carry on the mole, he took some picked troops and marched to Sidon, to collect as large a fleet as possible. Here the wisdom of his policy in first reducing Phoenicia became evident at once, for he found there the fleets of Sidon and Byblos and Arados, which had left the Persian side as soon as they heard of the adhesion of their native towns to Alexander, as well as ships from Rhodes, and Lycia, and Cyprus, and 4,000 mercenaries from Peloponnesus. He thus returned to Tyre with a fleet of more than 200 sail, and so formidable from its equipment and the skill of the sailors, that Tyrians gave up all idea of fighting them, and merely blocked the entrances of the ports with a tightly-packed row of triremes. The fleet, however, was useful to Alexander, not more from giving him the command of the sea, than because the larger ships could carry engines and so multiply his means of offence. But even this was at first useless, for the Tyrians had thrown great stones into the sea to bar the approach, and their divers cut the cables of any ships that were moored there to pick them up. Next they organized and cleverly carried out a surprise, which was near proving fatal to the Cyprian ships on the north side of the mole. Getting ready a squadron of thirteen vessels behind a screen of sails set up for the purpose, at midday, when the Cyprian crews were ashore reposing in the shade, they sent them out silently and suddenly m single file to charge and destroy whatever they could reach. The surprise was complete. Alexander hastily manned a few ships, which he sent off at once to stop more from sailing out of the north harbour, and pushed off himself, with some half-dozen others, to round the island and help the Cyprians. The scene soon became exciting. Alexander’s little squadron was straining every nerve to reach the scene of action, while the inhabitants, who were lining the walls of their city, suddenly became aware of the danger of their own vessels, now busily engaged in the work of destruction. At first they shouted to attract their attention, but the din on shore drowned the shouts. Then they signalled them to come back, but it was too late, for, as they strove to regain the harbour, Alexander was upon them; a few ships escaped, but the majority were damaged and waterlogged, while two were captured at the very mouth of the harbour.
The failure of this gallant effort was the beginning of the end. The strength of the wall, indeed, resisted the engines for a while, and the struggle became daily more bitter, the inhabitants even going so far as to kill some prisoners on the walls in the sight of the besiegers, and toss their bodies into the sea. But at last a breach was battered in the wall on the south side of the city, and three days afterwards Alexander took advantage of a calm to deliver the assault, which he led in person, while a simultaneous attack was made on both harbours. The resistance was desperate, but vain. The assaulting party made good their footing at the breach, and gradually fought their way to the king’s palace, while the harbours were forced and the ships sunk or driven ashore. The slaughter was merciless, for the Macedonians were exasperated by the length of the siege, and the slaughter of their comrades on the wall ; so that 8,000 perished in the struggle at the breach and in the streets, while 30,000 are said to have been captured and sold as slaves. One author asserts that several thousand were carried off into safety by Sidonian triremes, of course with Alexander’s connivance. The Macedonian losses during the siege are stated at the quite impossible total of 400, considering that it lasted nine months, and that there was very severe fighting from first to last. Be that as it may, there can be no doubt that the fall of the first city of Phoenicia was worth to Alexander whatever time, or money, or lives it may have cost.
Before the siege was concluded the king had already received a second embassy from Darius, offering such splendid terms of alliance that, at the council where they were discussed, Parmenion declared that if he were Alexander he should accept them. “So should I,” rejoined Alexander, “if I were Parmenion.” These terms were, the payment of 10,000 talents as the ransom for his family, the cession of all provinces west of the Euphrates, and the hand of his daughter in marriage. But, however tempting these offers might be to the older man, who would not, perhaps, be sorry to return home, they had no attraction for the younger, who had schemes of an ever-widening ambition in his head, and was brimful of restless energy. Alexander replied almost exactly as before. These things which Darius offered were his already. Let Darius come and see him if he had anything to ask. Then the Great King (we are told) abandoned embassies as useless, and set about preparing for war. It was, indeed, time ; for during the summer of 332, and while Alexander was besieging Tyre, his admirals in the Aegean, relieved by the sudden withdrawal of the Phoenician contingents, had driven the Persian fleet from those waters, had recovered Chios and the other islands, and had taken prisoner Pharnabazos, the Persian, with all his forces. Thus Persian influence in the Aegean was destroyed; and when Alexander had reduced Egypt (as he would clearly do with ease) he would at once be free to attack the heart of the empire.
From Tyre the king marched southward towards Egypt ; but he did not actually reach that country until quite the end of the year, being detained more than three months before the fortress of Gaza. It is needless to dwell on the details of a siege where operations were carried out similar to those at Tyre and Halicarnassus. The place was exceptionally strong, from the height of the artificial mound on which it stood, and of the walls which surrounded it, and it was under the command of a man of exceptional resolution. But Alexander was resolute also. In spite of a desperate resistance, the place was taken, every man falling where he stood, and the women and children were sold as slaves. At this point it was, if we may believe Josephus, that the king retraced his steps, and visited Jerusalem, intending to punish the Jews for refusing him aid in the siege of Tyre ; but was moved from his purpose by the high-priest, Jaddua, who, being warned of God in a dream, went boldly with the priests to meet the king outside the city. Like Attila before Leo the Roman pontiff, Alexander was awe-struck before Jaddua, and bowed down before him ; and when Parmenion asked him why he did so, he declared that he had seen in a dream in Macedon, before he started, a figure like Jaddua’s, which had promised to go before his army, and to give him dominion over the Persians. Then he entered the city and the temple, and offered sacrifice under Jaddua’s direction, bestowing both on priests and people whatever favours they chose to ask.
At last the king was able to pursue his way to Egypt, and seven days after passing Gaza reached Pelusium. A willing submission awaited him on the part of the Egyptians, who had suffered many things from their Persian masters. From Pelusium he marched to Memphis, and was there joined by the fleet ; and thence, after sacrificing to the god Apis and celebrating gymnastic games, he dropped down the river to the mouth of the western arm of the Delta, and, after sailing round the Mareotic lake, landed on the narrow neck of land separating it from the Mediterranean, where stood a little village called Rhakotis. The place had long been a haunt of Greek and Phoenician pirates, particularly because the roadstead was sheltered from the Etesian winds by the island of Pharos, and was the only refuge along the coast for man miles. Alexander’s eye seems to have been caught at once by the possibilities of the place, and he began surveying and drawing plans without delay. The first and most important thing was to take advantage of the shelter of the island for constructing a harbour at once safe and large; and this was done by means of a mole or causeway seven stades (Heptastadion) or three-quarters of a mile in length, which ran from mainland to island, and formed on either side a spacious harbour, along whose sides were presently built numerous quays and docks. The city of Alexandria itself—the first and greatest of that name—was laid out between the ports and the Mareotic lake in the shape of an irregular parallelogram, with broad streets crossing at right angles ; but although, no doubt, it rose at once, even in Alexander’s day, to the rank of a fine and important city, its beauty and grandeur date from later days, when a succession of Ptolemies vied with each other in adorning it. Water in abundance was supplied by an artificial canal from the Nile; the soil was dry, and the air healthy ; and the annual inundation of the river, which was connected with the Mareotic lake at the back, prevented it from degenerating into a lagoon. Indeed, much of the commerce of Alexandria reached the city by the Canopic branch of the Nile, and by the various canals which led into the lake. The population of the place, thus favoured by position, climate, and royal patronage, like that of Constantinople six centuries later, increased rapidly ; and we know that 250 years afterwards it was estimated at 600,000 Souls. It was certainly not the least of the glories of Alexander to have founded Alexandria, the granary first of imperial Rome, and then of imperial Constantinople, the rival of Athens in intellectual life, the focus and highway of the commerce of the Middle Ages.
It is hard to determine the motives which led Alexander’s steps westward from Alexandria. His mind was at once practical and romantic, and he may possibly have wished to emulate the deeds of a Herakles or a Perseus, while satisfying at the same time his thirst for knowledge and adventure. He set out on the march along the coast, intending to follow the southward caravan route, which led to the oasis of Ammon from Paraitonion, where he was met by a deputation from Kyrene, bringing presents, and wisely inviting a visit which they had certainly no power to prevent. But his mind was bent on other objects. A march of six days across the desert from Paraitonion brought him to the oasis—a march whose dangers only divine interposition (it was believed) enabled the army to surmount. At last they reached their goal, the most northerly of those wonderful “resting-places” in the barren, sandy desert, whose green fertility is the more striking from contrast with the endless stretch of red sand around, and which alone make travelling possible. Being dips or depressions in the limestone bed of the desert, they catch and retain in their spongy clay the moisture which runs from the limestone rim around or percolates through the sand, and which is the cause of their beautiful vegetation. The oasis of Zeus-Ammon is six miles in length and three in breadth, abounding in springs, and producing in profusion wheat, millet, and dates; while the only animal which cannot flourish, probably because of the moisture of the soil, is the camel. The present population is 8,000; but in Alexander’s day it must have been larger, when the oasis was not only a focus of commerce, but the seat of a famous oracle as well, and therefore visited by numerous pilgrims. But never before had the shrine of Zeus been visited by so famous a pilgrim, or one to whom the god and his priests were more zealous to do honour. A grand procession of priests and virgins met the king and his army on the confines of the oasis, and the answers returned by the god to the inquiring hero were (it is said) all that he wished. The purport of these answers he does not seem to have made public till a later period; but we can, perhaps, imagine how, even after Issus, and before Gaugamela, Alexander must have seemed both to himself and to others one of the greatest of earth’s conquerors, almost more than human, and how the cunning suggestion of a priest or an oracle might give rise to the astonishing belief in his divine birth, or might at least inflame the vanity which gradually clouded the great qualities of a great genius.
From the oasis the return was made to Memphis by the direct route ; and a short time was spent there in settling the future government of the province of Egypt, its loyalty being secured by letting well alone, and by leaving the reins as far as possible in the hands of native rulers, while garrisons were placed in Memphis and Pelusium, with a small naval and military force to support them. Then at last the course was clear for that march to the east, which was to end in such unparalleled results. It is, per. haps, as useless as it is fascinating to speculate on the feelings with which men have entered on any course of action which has definitely shaped and changed the thoughts, or habits, or political history of other men ; and, perhaps, Alexander’s vision of the future, when he set his face towards the Euphrates, was not more defined than Caesar’s when he crossed the Rubicon, or than Luther’s when he stood before the Diet of the Empire at Worms. Yet the exaltation of feeling, which at the entrance of a great task fires the imagination and kindles enthusiasm, amounts in some men to prescience of success; and what was true of Columbus may well have been true also of Alexander. In action, the genius is the man who gauges difficulties most correctly.
Leaving Memphis in the spring of 331, and passing a short time at Tyre, the king there left the sea-coast, and, marching to the eastward of Anti-Libanus, reached the river Euphrates about the mid- die of August at Thapsakos, the same ford which Darius had crossed in pursuit of Alexander himself two years before, and by which Cyrus and his army had passed to the eastward in 401. Two bridges of boats were already being built, and only not finished because a body of 3,000 cavalry was posted on the further bank; but when the Macedonians appeared in force from the westward these retired precipitately, and the crossing was effected without opposition. From Thapsakos the army marched to the north-eastward, and crossed the Tigris likewise without difficulty, some distance above Nineveh, and then halted for a few days’ rest prior to the impending struggle. Impending it clearly was, for some Persian scouts had been taken prisoners, who announced that Darius was close at hand with an army far larger than that which had fought and been routed at face to face Issus, and more formidable because levied from the more warlike tribes of Parthia and Bactria. Alexander rode forward in person with a few squadrons of cavalry to reconnoitre, and, having had a smart skirmish with some outposts of the enemy, ascertained that Darius was immediately before him, encamped in the broad plain between the Tigris and the mountains of Kurdistan, at a place called Gaugamela (or the Camel’s House), with a force estimated at the lowest at 20o,ocx3 infantry and cavalry, with 200 scythe chariots and 15 elephants. Every endeavour, moreover, had been made that the fight should be fought under circumstances favourable to the Persian arms. There was ample room in the vast plain to deploy all the host. There was neither sea nor mountain, as at Issus, to protect the enemy’s flank and to prevent his being overlapped; and a part of the field had been carefully levelled and cleared to facilitate the charge of cavalry and chariots. It was indeed a critical moment for the invading army. In point of numbers they were at most as one to six, and defeat would probably mean utter destruction. Yet defeat was not dreamed of. The king himself slept soundly the night before the battle, and remarked to Parmenion, who woke him in the morning, that it was as good as a victory to have overtaken the enemy ! To a man of such a spirit, at the head of veteran and disciplined troops, victory was assured before a blow was struck.
FROM THE BATTLE OF GAUGAMELA TO THE SACK OF PERSEPOLIS
Once more Darius and Alexander were face to face, and this time the conditions were all in favour of the former. He had overwhelming numbers of the bravest troops which the empire could furnish. They had been newly armed and equipped. The field of battle had been chosen by themselves. If they could not conquer now they would never conquer. Alexander, on the other hand, had no more than 40,000 infantry and 7,000 cavalry ; and were it not that fighting men must be weighed as well as counted, they might have seemed doomed to certain destruction from combined attacks in front and flank and rear.
After four days’ rest, and having fortified a camp to contain his invalids, prisoners, and baggage, Alexander advanced boldly to find his enemy. Starting shortly before midnight, he timed his march over the seven or eight miles that intervened between himself and the Persians so as to reach them at the early dawn of a September day. Immediately in his front were a few low hills, entirely concealing each army from the other ; but, as he breasted the slight ascent and halted on the top, there in the broad plain below were marshalled, already in order of battle, the tens of thousands whom Darius had levied during the previous two years from every corner of his vast empire. At a distance of little more than three miles from the enemy Alexander halted, and called a council bf war. It was a critical moment, and opinions were divided ; the majority of generals voting for instant attack with tacit reference probably to the king’s supposed wishes. Not so Parmenion, who was cautious as well as able, and who urged that on such ground and against such odds, it was necessary to reconnoitre the field before engaging the enemy. His advice was adopted, and the rest of that day was spent by the king in riding about and carefully examining the ground. In the evening he summoned his generals to receive their last orders, which were brief but imperative. Then he dismissed them to their quarters to get supper and rest.
But Parmenion was not yet satisfied that the right course had been adopted. It was well not to risk all in impetuously giving battle at once; was it equally well to risk all in fighting when and where the enemy pleased? So he returned to the king’s tent and proposed to him a night-attack, when the foe would be off their guard, and easily panic-stricken. There were others present, and perhaps for their sakes the king’s refusal was emphatic. “It would be disgraceful” (he cried) “to steal a victory; and the success of an Alexander must be manifest and beyond cavil.” These were brave words, but there was also doubtless present to his mind the reflection which Arrian makes, that night attacks are hazardous things, in which science is often checkmated by accident ; while, if Darius were to be defeated, it were well that he should recognize that his victor was really abler and stronger, not merely more lucky than himself. Accordingly, Alexander adhered to his original purpose.
Strangely enough, Darius had expected the very thing which Parmenion proposed, and had kept his troops under arms all night in consequence. When morning dawned, they were in battle array order of and ready ; but it was the readiness of men who have waited till they are weary, and in whom the excitement of expectation is apt to pass into despondency. They were massed by nations all across the plain: the Bactrians on the extreme left under their satrap, Bessos ; the Syrians on the extreme right; while Darius himself was as usual in the centre, with the Persian horse and foot guards and the Greek mercenaries. Behind, and supporting the main line, were dense columns of Babylonians, and other central nations of the empire. Resting on the left wing were the Scythian and 1,000 Bactrian cavalry, with loo scythe chariots, designed, it would seem, to overlap and turn Alexander’s right flank. Immediately opposite the place where Alexander himself usually took up his position were stationed fifty chariots, and the fifteen elephants, to serve doubtless as ramparts and bastions in the fierce stress of battle to be there expected. On the right wing were posted the remaining cavalry and chariots.
In the face of such a multitude of men, Alexander’s tactics were of necessity slightly modified. As usual, indeed, the flower of the cavalry was on his right flank, commanded by Parmenion’s order of son Philotas, while the six divisions of the phalanx were in the centre, and the allied cavalry on the left under Parmenion ; but in order to guard against the special risk of being outflanked and surrounded, he held a second line in reserve, ready either to support the phalanx, or to wheel round and resist an attack in flank or rear. A few squadrons of light cavalry and bowmen were thrown forward in advance, to deal by anticipation with the scythe chariots, and under special orders to watch the enemy’s cavalry on their right, and if they attempted to ride round and overlap the Macedonian right, to charge them in flank at once. So great, however, was the disparity of numbers on the two sides, that at the outset Alexander, in command of his own right wing, found himself exactly opposite the Persian centre and Darius in person, while the Persian left stretched far beyond him, and was ready at once to swing round and envelop his flank and rear. To obviate this pressing danger, which was even greater than he had anticipated, he appears to have opened out the ranks of his right wing, deploying columns into line, and throwing his right back, so that the Companion cavalry might advance obliquely, and somewhat repair the inequality. But it was clear to Darius that, if this movement were not stopped, it would soon be impossible for the Persians either to outflank the Macedonian right, or even to use against them the chariots, for which the ground had been artificially levelled. He therefore ordered the Scythian and Bactrian cavalry to stop the advancing Macedonians by riding round and charging them in flank, while at the same time the chariots were to dash in upon the front. It was a well-conceived, even possibly a decisive movement, had scythe chariots been really the terrible weapon which our imagination conceives them ; but in reality they had no terrors for disciplined troops. As at Kunaxa, so now the Charge of Persian cavalry on the Macedonian skirmishers wounded the drivers and killed the horses, or seized the reins and turned the chariots round ; while if any succeeded in getting through, it was but a few here and there, and their attack was rendered harmless by the coolness of the veterans of the phalanx, who opened their ranks and let them pass, or, striking spear upon shield, scared the horses into charging back upon their own line. In the meantime a far more desperate struggle had been raging on the extreme right, where the Bactrian cavalry had been met by some Greek squadrons, whom they drove in, and by reinforcements of both horse and foot which Alexander sent up in haste. It was of the first importance to check this flank movement ; and presently, by reason of the superior training and precision of the Greeks, the Bactrians and Scythians were stopped, pushed back, and at last swept off the field. Still the Persian left overlapped the Macedonian right ; and, as the main bodies of the two armies were on the point of coming into action, first one division of Persian cavalry and presently another, nearer to the centre, moved by their left with the apparent intention of repeating the manoeuvre attempted by the Bactrians at the beginning of the battle, and of charging the Macedonian right flank and rear. But the movement left a gap in the line, of which Alexander was not slow to make use. Ordering up the light horse in reserve to engage and occupy these cavalry, he formed his own squadrons of Companions into a pointed column or wedge,, and charged boldly into the opening, the men shouting as they charged. Almost at the same moment the phalanx crossed spears with the enemy in the centre, and at the first contact bore back with irresistible weight even the Greek mercenaries opposed to them.
Meanwhile, the Macedonian left had been outflanked, and was being hard pressed by the cavalry on the Persian right. But a temporary repulse on either flank was of little moment now, when Alexander and his cavalry, and four divisions of the terrible phalanx with its bristling hedge of spears, were battling vehemently on the front and flank of the Greeks and Persians in the centre, step by step and by dint of sheer determination forcing a way into their very midst. The Persian left and centre, in spite of their vast numbers, reeled before the shock, and the disorder had begun which presages a panic; when the timid Darius, seeing the press of battle drawing nearer to himself, and remembering only too well all the horrors of Issus, set a shameful example of cowardice, and hastily exchanging his chariot for horseback rode off the field to Arbela. Darius himself, says Arrian, was the very first to turn and flee. Immediately, all in that part of the field was panic and confusion. Many of the officers followed the king. The troops rapidly lost cohesion, having no centre or commander to rally round, and presently became a mere mob, whose first object was personal safety. Thus the left wing and main body were soon in hopeless rout, nothing saving Darius himself from the relentless pursuit of Alexander’s light horse, but the dense clouds of dust which went up from beneath the feet 'of the flying host. The destruction of life was immense ; it would have been yet greater, had not Alexander been obliged to return in haste to the battlefield.
It appears that the attempt to overlap the Macedonian flank with superior numbers, which had been foiled on the Persian left wing, had been made on their right with success. The Greek cavalry of the allies had been outflanked, and nearly surrounded by the Armenian and Cappadocian horse. Two of the six divisions of the phalanx were brought up to their support; yet even so Parmenion had much ado to hold his ground, while a gap was thus left in the phalanx itself. Into this gap the generals of the Persian and Indian cavalry on the Persian right centre led a furious charge, passing right through the Macedonian double line, and emerging in the rear of the whole army; but, instead of wheeling round and falling upon Parmenion’s rear, they galloped on to assault the camp, where the Thracian troops were wholly off their guard. Then it was that Parmenion sent a hasty message to recall Alexander from the pursuit; and the king was obliged to return with some of the cavalry to the aid of his own hard-pressed left. As he was riding hastily thither, he suddenly met the flying squadrons of Persians and Indians, who had been driven out of the camp by the reserves, and were now in full retreat. A furious combat ensued ; and only a handful succeeded in cutting their way out, while sixty of the Macedonians were slain, and Hephaistion and two other generals fell wounded. When the king at last reached the scene of fighting on the left the battle was practically over, the gallant efforts of the Thessalian horse having extricated Parmenion from his danger. The Persian right, now broken and routed, and aware of the issue of the day in other parts of the field, were following their companions in headlong flight. Then Alexander at once turned upon his steps, and started again in pursuit of his unhappy rival. He halted on the banks of the Lykos till midnight, arid then rode on once more, hoping to overtake Darius at Arbela. How hot was the pursuit, and how exhausting the strain, we may judge from the fact that during the day, partly from wounds, partly from fatigue, 1,ooo horses were lost, 500 of which belonged to Alexander’s own division. But at Arbela the bird had flown; and the spoils were but a shield, a bow, and a chariot, money and baggage. The royal fugitive was far on his way, with a small escort, over the mountains to Ecbatana.
The battle of Gaugamela was decisive of the struggle between Greece and Persia — between Alexander and Darius. It was a battle as conclusive as that at Issus in its immediate, and far more so in wider and final results. It gave to Alexander not merely the command of western Asia, but the dominion of all Asia. It seated him on the throne of the Great King, and gave him that dubious, undefined position, half king of a free and warlike people, half despot of a subject world, in which he lost the regard of the best of the Macedonians, without welding the diverse nations of his empire into one homogeneous people. Henceforward no such levy was any more possible as that of whose fighting powers Darius had made so poor a use. Contingents and detachments only were met with afterwards, who waged purely local and useless struggles. The oracle of Gordion was proved to have spoken truly, an Alexander was the Lord of Asia.
Nor were the immediate results less striking in their way. Other battles have been fought between Europeans and Asiatics, in which the disparity of numbers was greater, or the disproportion of losses was more startling. Clive won the battle of Plassy (A.D. 1757), and laid the foundation of our Indian empire, with a force of 3.000, of whom only 900 were Europeans, against 55,000; but his enemy, whom he routed, lost no more than 500 men. The Romans at Magnesia (B. C. 190), where Antiochus, king of Syria, was irreparably defeated, were as one to two, but they destroyed 50,000 out of 92,000 men, with a loss to themselves of only 324. At Gaugamela the numbers were not so disproportioned as at Plassy, nor the disparity of losses so overwhelming as at Magnesia. The forces of Alexander were as one to six instead of one to two: and at the lowest estimate 40,000 Persians were left hors de combat, while the Macedonian loss was 500. Nor were the fruits of victory confined to the destruction of an army. Babylon and Susa opened their gates to the king without resistance, who thus became master of almost fabulous treasures. Babylon, indeed, like Sidon and Egypt, had suffered under Persian rule. It was the less surprising, therefore, that Alexander was welcomed in the capital, and that his entry was in the manner of a triumph, amid songs and flowers and smoking altars. In this most splendid of Eastern cities the army was permitted to reward itself for past toils and dangers for nearly a month; while the king was regulating the government of his new provinces, utilizing his vast treasures, or devising schemes for tire improvement of Babylon as the destined capital of his new empire. At Susa, which was reached in. twenty days, and which had already surrendered, were found treasures yet vaster—50,000 talents of silver; the rest of the royal baggage ; and various spoils which Xerxes had brought away with him from Greece, especially certain bronze statues of Harmodios and Aristogeiton, the Athenian “liberators,” which Alexander sent back to Athens, and which were seen by Arrian in the Kerameikos. At Susa he received reinforcements from Greece,13.500 infantry, and 1,500 cavalry, as well as fifty young Macedonian nobles who had come out to serve in his personal suite. Then, after celebrating games and distributing promotions and donatives, he set out on the difficult march from Susa to the more ancient and hereditary , capital of the Persian monarchs, Persepolis. It was a district of rugged mountains and narrow passes, occupied by a fierce tribe called Uxians—so fierce that the Great King on his passage through the country had been always wont to pay them black-mail, which he disguised under the name of largess. At one point of the district, moreover, the Susian Gates, all roads converged, and in this almost impregnable pass the satrap of the province intrenched himself with 40,000 troops to bar the way. But the Uxians were soon taught the rough lesson that times were changed ; while the satrap’s position was turned, as that of Leonidas is said to have been at Thermopylae. For Alexander, with some picked troops, was guided by a shepherd over a precipitous path, which brought him into the Persian rear and flank. Resistance was hopeless, and the Persians, abandoning their intrenchments, fled or were cut to pieces. Persepolis, like Susa and Babylon, fell into the conqueror’s hands, with treasure amounting, (it was said) to 120,000 talents—a sum not wholly incredible if we remember the Eastern passion for hoarding coin, and the love of Eastern potentates for amassing precious stones, and for displaying gold and silver ornaments on their persons.
The glories of Persepolis dated from the days of Darius I. The capital of Cyrus had been Pasagardae (Pasargadai), where the tomb of the great conqueror is still to be seen. But Persepolis was the centre and the pride of the Persians, grander than Pasagardae, more national than Susa or Babylon—a Moscow rather than a Petersburg. At this favoured capital were built temples and palaces, whose ruins still suggest both beauty and grandeur—vistas of columns, bright hangings, gorgeous colours; while the city lay at the base of the rock on which the ruins stand. This rock was enclosed by a triple wall, the innermost and highest rising to 90 feet, and each of its four sides having a gate of brass. On the eastern side of the hill were the royal tombs and treasuries.
The city and all its wealth were delivered up without a blow. A sad sight, however, awaited the army, as it drew near to the capital. A miserable body of 800 Greeks came out to meet them, in suppliant guise, and with shame and confusion of face, every one mutilated in hand, or foot, or ear, or nose, and most of them stricken in years—men who for various offences had been brought up long years before to the capital and consigned to this wretched existence, in accordance with that Eastern custom which, in our own days as in Xenophon’s, looks on mutilation as the natural punishment of crime. The whole army was deeply moved at the hideous spectacle, and Alexander himself could not refrain from tears. He offered to restore them to their homes and provide for them in the future ; but to this they could not bring themselves for very shame, choosing rather to stay on the spot and to receive their satisfaction in Persian land and Persian money. This dreadful episode, however, helps to throw some light on an event, the motives for which are singularly obscure, and which is generally regarded as one of the greatest blots on Alexander’s fair fame. That event was the sack of Persepolis, and the burning of the royal palace. If we may believe Arrian and Diodorus, it was an act of deliberate state policy. The former asserts that Alexander had resolved to exact a vengeance similar in kind to the sack and burning of Athens by Xerxes, and that he carried it out in spite of the remonstrances of Parmenion. When we remember that Alexander’s imagination was singularly open to such half-poetical, half-superstitious ideas (leading him, for instance, to visit Ilion and Ammon and Gordion) it seems probable that their account is correct, and that the sack of Persepolis was a deliberate act of political vengeance, embittered and aggravated by the dreadful sight of the mutilated captives, and occasioned by the drunken revel which Plutarch and Diodorus describe. At a great banquet (they say), given by the king before leaving the city, when the revel was at its height, one of the women present, an Athenian, remarked that it would be one of Alexander’s most notable deeds if he should burn the palace, and if women’s hands should destroy as in a moment the boasted glories of the Persians. The idle words were caught up by young blood heated with wine. Torches were lit. Shouts were heard for “revenge for the Greek temples!” and cries that Alexander alone ought to do the deed; until, carried away by the mad excitement, and led on by a crowd of reckless women, he cast the first torch among the cedar columns, others following his example, until the venerable building, witness of so many glories, was in a blaze, and the ruin of Athens was avenged by the counsel and the deed of an Athenian woman. The city .itself also was sacked. The men were slain and the women sold as slaves; and, amid the wild and unrestrained pillage, an amount past reckoning of robes and plate was wasted or destroyed. We are told that the king repented before the work of destruction was half accomplished, and sought to arrest it; but from any point of view it was a deplorable mistake, and politically a blunder. It was an act at once cruel, wanton, and useless—a sad episode, whose incidents develop themselves naturally from the first romantic conception of revenge down to its brutal realization in drunken revels and burning temples, in wasted property and ruined lives.
THE DEATH OF DARIUS. — REDUCTION OF PARTHIA — EXECUTION OF PHILOTAS AND PARMENION.
Darius, meanwhile, who had fled through the mountains to the eastward, was resting at Ecbatana. There were still 30,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry with him; he had still the support of satraps, undaunted as Bessos and loyal as Artabazos; but all heart was gone from his resistance, and his one thought was to flee from Alexander’s face to the farthest corner of his empire. With this view the heavy baggage and the harem had been sent forward some days’ journey in advance ; and when he learnt that his restless enemy, not content with being master of his finest capitals and of the fairest parts of his empire, was bent on having possession of his person also, he delayed no more but set 43ut eastwards at once, intending to pass through Hyrkania and Parthia, and to hinder his pursuers’ march by ravaging as he went (July, 330).
Eight days afterwards Alexander was in Ecbatana. At three days’ march from the capital he was met by the news that Darius had set out five days before, and taken with him all his treasures. When the Macedonians, therefore, entered the city, it was only to make hurried preparations for a forced march in pursuit. At the same time a short delay was inevitable, for some of his Greek troops were anxious to return home after their four years’ service, and it was necessary to remodel the military organization, which had so far served its purpose perfectly. Henceforth he was to deal not with regular armies, but with provincial levies ; and still more with vast distances, with mountains and deserts, where rapidity of movement might mean not victory only but life. Hence he needed archers, light troops, and flying columns, more than the massive weight of the phalanx. Lastly, he had to provide for the safe custody of the extraordinary amount of treasure which had fallen into his hands during the previous nine months. This was lodged in the citadel of Ecbatana, and entrusted to the care of Harpalos.
Then once more he started in pursuit of the Great King. In eleven days he traversed 300 miles of the broken, difficult ground lying between the desert and Mount Tauros to the north, passing near the site of the modern Teheran and almost at the foot of the splendid peak of Demavend, rising 20,000 feet into the air. On the eleventh day he reached Rhagai, but only to learn that Darius had already passed the Caspian Gates, fifty miles to the eastward, and to find that a short rest was indispensable for his jaded men and horses. In five days he was again in the saddle. Before him were the Caspian Gates, a long and difficult series of defiles, where he had vainly hoped to intercept the fugitive, A day’s march beyond the pass he heard the alarming tidings that Bessos and his friends had laid hands on Darius, and that his life was in danger. Headlong as had been the speed of the pursuit so far, there was clearly need of yet greater efforts. The eastern satraps, it appears, had resolved to seize Darius and surrender him to Alexander if it were necessary, but if possible to push on across Parthia, outstripping pursuit, and to organize a resistance on their own behalf in Bactria and Sogdiana. But Alexander was determined to cut them off. Taking with him only the Companion cavalry, the light horse, and some picked infantry, and leaving Koinos to bring on the rest by slower marches, he rode on all that night and the next day till midday. After a short rest they started again, and again rode all the night through, in the morning coming on traces of a camp recently occupied. Here further tidings reached them, to the effect that Bessos had actually superseded Darius, and that Artabazos and the Greek mercenaries, unable to prevent what they disapproved, had parted company with the others and turned off into the mountains. Darius, in short, was utterly in his enemy’s hands. So fagged were both horses and men, that another forced march of a night and half a day only brought Alexander to a village where Bessos and his party had encamped the day before; and, just when all reserve of energy in his own men seemed gone, he learned that the fugitives also were resolved to make a forced march all the next night. To overtake them was out of the question ; was it possible to intercept them ? At this juncture, when his prey seemed about to slip from his grasp, of some of the natives informed him of a route, shorter, indeed, but waste and waterless. Difficulties, however, were no bar to the impetuous Alexander. Picking out the strongest and freshest both of horses and men, again he set out in the afternoon, and actually accomplished nearly fifty miles in the course of the night, coming suddenly, about dawn, upon the weary and bewildered fugitives, the majority of whom fled at once on sight of Alexander. Bessos and his friends tried vainly for a while to induce Darius to mount a horse and flee with them ; and as he again and again refused, they cast their javelins at their unhappy victim and rode off, leaving him in his chariot mortally wounded, where, though presently found and recognized by a Macedonian soldier, he breathed his last before his indefatigable enemy could come up.
So died Darius, the last of the Achaemenids, at the age of fifty, after a troubled reign of barely six years—hurled in that short time from the height of human grandeur to the depths of misfortune—a man who might have adorned more peaceful times with the gentler graces of a benevolent despot, but too feeble and apathetic to cope with so tremendous a crisis—a king who would have been happier had he never reigned. More fortunate in death than in life, he was honoured with the burial of a king in the sepulchre of his ancestors; while his conqueror married his daughter, and provided for the education of his other children. But that Alexander was mortified at the result of his march cannot be doubted; for the death of Darius left the hands of the Eastern satraps free, and forced him to pursue them if he meant to complete the subjection of the empire. It further changed Alexander’s position entirely. The king of Macedon became transformed into the Great King. Pella ceased to be the first city of a petty kingdom, and became a second-rate town in a vast empire, whose capital was the splendid Babylon. But it was a special difficulty of this new position that, though perfect success was scarcely possible, an effort, at least, had to be made to unite two incompatible things— Alexander was forced to endeavour to be king of Asia and king of Macedon; to rule Macedonian freemen and Persian slaves at the same time and in the same way. It is to be regretted, indeed, that his of that premature death cut short the plans which he initiated for the amalgamation of his diverse subjects; but an Alexander usually forms juster conceptions, and has loftier aims than the courtiers and generals around him. We can perceive that he started from the sound basis of universal equality, which was so great a source of strength in after days to Rome; and it seems probable that his adoption of Persian habits, and his plans for associating Persians and Macedonians, in the army and elsewhere, were due to a desire to harmonize discordant elements, rather than to vanity. Without such harmony the government of so vast an empire was impossible. On the other hand, it is certain that Macedonians had begun to be jealous of Asiatics even before Alexander’s death, and were seriously annoyed by his assumption of Eastern customs and a state ceremonial, which he himself deemed to be only advisable concessions to prevalent ideas.
And now Alexander was in Parthia—the Atak or “Skirt” of the desert—the beautiful tract of 300 miles of mountain, stream, and valley, which parts the desert uplands of Iran from the still more awful desert of Chorasmia (Kharesm or Khiva), where the traveller may wander for weeks without finding a drop of sweet water, the home of a Tatar population encamped amidst alien Aryans, as Basques amid Teutotis, or Magyars amid Slaves, who, less than a century later, issued forth to subvert the conquests of Alexander’s successors, and founded an empire which lasted for 500 years. From Hekatompylos, the capital, he crossed Mount Tauros in three columns into Hyrkania. There were barbarous tribes in that happy district (as Strabo calls it) too fierce and independent to be safely left unvisited; the Greek mercenaries were there who had abandoned Darius, and who must be dealt with; lastly, it was important to secure the connexion between the provinces of the south and the Caspian. Hyrkania itself was speedily reduced, and the Mardians were taught a bitter lesson. The Greek mercenaries also, 1,500 in number, came in and made their submission. As after the battles of Granicus and Issus, so now Alexander appealed to the resolutions of the Synod of Corinth as a test of their loyalty or treason. All who had taken arms in the service of Darius, prior to the Synod, he set free at once; they had been within their rights in so doing. To the rest he used the language which he always held. They were traitors to the common cause of Greece against the barbarians, and might therefore think themselves happy to have no worse fate than to enter his service on their former pay.
Alexander now set his face steadily eastwards for Baktra (Balkh), and it seemed as if it would be none too soon. For news met him on the way to the effect that Bessos had assumed the tiara of satrap of royalty, together with the name of Artaxerxes, that he had a large Persian and Bactrian force under arms, and that he was expecting Scythian auxiliaries from Central Asia. In fact his position on the upper waters of the Oxus and Jaxartes gave him the simultaneous advantages of inexhaustible reinforcements from the tribes of the steppes and of inaccessible retreat in case of need. A rapid attack, therefore, seemed beyond all things necessary. And yet Bessos was fated to enjoy his ill-gotten power for another year. Alexander had passed the modern Meshed, the frontier town of Persia, and had crossed the Margus, the river of clear green waters, which further to the north creates the oasis of Merv (Margin) and then is lost in the sands, when he heard that the satrap of Aria, Satibarzanes, to whom he had committed the government of that province, had murdered the forty lancers whom he had attached to his suite, was gathering troops and money in his capital of Artakoana, eighty miles to the southward, and intended to join Bessos in attacking the Macedonians wherever they might be found. Alexander did not hesitate. A variety of motives would lead Bessos to await an attack; but the treachery of a pardoned satrap could not be overlooked. Turning sharply to the south, and leaving the main body under Krateros to a more leisurely advance, he reached Artakoana with some picked troops by a forced march in two days. But Satibarzanes had heard and fled. With a small body of horsemen he rode for his life, leaving the hapless villagers of his satrapy, whom he had beguiled, to the vengeance of the king and his flying column. Still Alexander was not satisfied, and he resolved, before turning northwards, to face a circuitous march of 800 miles and to teach the wild tribes of Drangiana and Arachosia—true forefathers of the restless Afghans—that they had better acquiesce in the will of the stronger.
Speaking generally, these provinces are the southern slopes of a huge mountain bastion, thrown out from the towering Paropanisos towards the lower level of the Arian plateau. From time immemorial, and in spite of the perpetual barbarism of the population, country has been of first-rate importance as the easiest approach to India from the west. The climate is fine, though severe. Snow falls heavily throughout the mountain district in winter, and is even seen in the plains; and in summer the heat in the lower lands though oppressive in parts, is less intense than in India. The irrigation, which alone turns the parched country into a garden, diminishes the volume of the rivers, which are rarely full except after the melting of the winter snows.
In Afghanistan there are four cities which boast of Alexander, if not as their founder, at least as the originator of their greatness. Kandahar (Alexandria) even tries to trace its name to the great Iskandar (Alexander). That Alexander passed through both Kabul (Ortospana) and Kandahar is certain, as also that he spent some time at Furrah (Prophthasia). It is far from improbable that he actually founded the now important city of Herat (Alexandria in Ariis), which for ages has been the centre of commercial intercourse between India, Persia, and Tartary. The mere site of this Gate of Central Asia marks it out as an object of contention to its neighbours, a prize for which Persians and Afghans fight, and which Russia desires to have. It lies in an immense plain on the north-eastern edge of the desert, destitute indeed of trees, but fertile and beautiful. There are numerous canals and scattered villages, watered and fertilized by the Herirood (Arius) and on all sides are ruins attesting former greatness. To the traveller fresh from the steppes of the north and the desert of the west, the plain of Herat is, as the Eastern proverb says, like Paradise. Its climate is one of the most delightful in Asia, and its products as plentiful as they are various. It would not be strange, therefore, that a man of keen and rapid judgment like Alexander should have fixed upon Herat as a link in his long chain of fortress- colonies, to reach from Babylon to the Indus ; or that he who stands there as a victorious invader from the north or west should be said to. hold the key of India in his hand.
From Herat Alexander marched southward to Prophthasia (Furrah) a place of sinister influence on his good name and character. For it was there that the terrible tragedy was enacted which ended in the deaths of Philotas and his father Parmenion,— “the first cloud that casts a shadow over Alexander’s heroic character—the first calamity that embittered his hitherto uninterrupted prosperity.”
It is difficult to ascertain exactly the precise share of guilt attaching to each actor in this tragedy, when the most trustworthy of our authorities, Arrian, gives only a brief and guarded account, and the fuller details are added by men like the Roman Curtius or the gossip Plutarch; yet, granting this, it is certain that of all who were concerned in it, not one save, perhaps, the aged Parmenion himself, was wholly guiltless, while the conduct of some of the Macedonian generals was atrocious. The inherent difficulties of the king’s position have already been briefly noticed. His great officers were strongly averse to his adoption of Persian customs, and Philotas, no less than others, was apt to ridicule in private his growing vanity ; they were also more spoiled than he by their marvellous successes, and were furiously jealous of each other. And if Krateros or Perdikkas were envious of the influence and wealth of Parmenion and his family, Philotas himself was unguarded in his language and insatiable in his claims. If we would understand by what kind of men Alexander was surrounded, and how baleful an influence they might possibly exert on his susceptible mind, we have only to look forward a few short years, and to observe how, when his strong hand was removed, his generals fought for the power which they were neither worthy to gain nor able to retain.
Philotas was the commander of the Companion cavalry, and therefore in daily, almost hourly, communication with Alexander himself. He was the sole survivor of three brothers, sons of that and Parmenion of whom Philip once said, that the Athenians were lucky indeed to find ten generals every year, for he in the course of many years had never found but one. Next to the king himself, the father and son were perhaps the most important men in the empire. But they were not popular, nor even wholly trusted. Parmenion, it is true, was left in chief command at Ecbatana; but he was getting old, and was thought to have shown a want of energy and resource at the battle of Gaugamela. Philotas also was in bad odour with both officers and men—with the former for his arrogance and bluntness, and his very success; with the latter for a supercilious selfishness, which showed itself in disregard for their comfort as compared with his own, and a studied contempt of their wishes and prejudices. Even with the king himself for the past eighteen months his relations had been less cordial than before, owing to some disparagement of Alexander, which he had let fall in conversation with his mistress, and which had been betrayed by her to Krateros, and by Krateros—only too willingly—to the king. In so perilous a position caution was needed; and caution was a virtue of which Philotas was incapable.
Now it happened at this time that a certain officer named Dimnos was accused by one of his bosom friends of a design against Alexander’s life. This friend had imparted the secret to his own brother; and the brother in turn disclosed the plot to Philotas, as to one who would certainly provide against the danger. The attempt was to be made on the next day but one. On that day and on the next Philotas had long interviews with the king; and on each occasion omitted to mention what he had heard. On the third day his informant, finding that nothing had been done, resolved to take the matter boldly into his own hands. He demanded admission to the king’s presence at once—even though he was in the bath—and told him all he knew. Orders were immediately issued for the arrest of Dimnos, who, however, either slew himself or was slain in resisting, and thus the most important witness in the matter was removed by an act that appeared to prove his guilt. It presently came out that Philotas also had been aware of the plot two days before, and had said nothing. In so grave a matter silence would in any man seem strange. In Philotas, not unnaturally, it was taken to prove complicity; while his defence, that the story seemed to rest on insufficient authority, was looked upon as an afterthought.
The suspicions aroused in Alexander’s mind were artfully inflamed by Krateros and other enemies of Philotas. A council of officers was held, and they insisted that the only means of arriving at the truth was to arrest and question Philotas. It needs but little imagination to see how it all happened; Alexander hurt, angry, suspicious; the generals, one here and another there, hinting, arguing, or openly accusing; the very absence of Philotas, who was not present at the council, perhaps being turned against him. That night the accused man was arrested; and on the next day, according to the national custom, he was brought before an assembly of the Macedonian troops, where the king himself stated the charge against him, though he retired before the trial began. But there was little hope of an impartial hearing where the accuser was the idol of the generals who envied the accused, and of the soldiers who hated him. He was .found guilty of the charge of being privy to the act.
But this was not enough. If the son were condemned on evidence so slight, what view would the father take of the whole affair ? And if he chose to resent it, or took up arms in self-defence, the revolt of so famous a man, master of all the vast treasure stored at Ecbatana, would be formidable even to Alexander. Parmenion, therefore, must be involved in the fate of Philotas. Evidence must be gained against the father as well; and that evidence must come from the lips of the son. To us both the end and the means taken to achieve the end are equally odious. Philotas was tortured. But we must not forget, if we wish to be just, that the false notion of torture being the surest means of eliciting truth has been common in nearly every age and nation, and was neither more nor less disgraceful in Macedonian officers than in Roman slave-masters or Christian inquisitors. However wicked the object may have been, we may be sure that the means used for its attainment seemed natural and suitable. Philotas was tortured, and confessed what was desired, that both his father and himself were guilty of a design against the king’s life, and that he himself had purposely precipitated measures, lest death should remove his father, who was now seventy, from the command of the treasures which were necessary to success—a confession, the truth of which was said to be confirmed by the contents of a letter from Parmenion, seized among the papers of Philotas. On the next day this confession was read before the troops, and Philotas and others, his accomplices, were executed; while a hurried messenger was sent off to Ecbatana, eleven days’ march across the desert, with orders to Kleander, the second in command, to put Parmenion instantly to death. The command was obeyed ; and the old man was killed while reading a forged letter purporting to come from his son.
An impartial consideration of the story just narrated leads us to the conclusion, that of all the persons concerned Krateros and his friends were the most guilty. Whether we assume that Philotas was really privy to the plot, or without being privy to it would not have been ill-pleased to see it succeed, or was simply imprudent and forgot to speak —and either of these assumptions is possible—it is clear that there was prima facie ground for suspicion, and that the generals used it to ruin Philotas. They might have used their influence to pacify Alexander; they did in fact exasperate him against their enemy. It is hardly strange that the king himself should have suspected Philotas, when he knew that for two days he had been aware of a plot against his life and said nothing about it, while the very first man implicated had preferred death to facing investigation. Appearances were against Philotas. It is equally clear that the charge was not proven, and that, if the accused had had friends at court, there was much to be said in his defence; while the actual way in which he was treated showed a passion, a suspiciousness, and a want of generous forbearance, not unnatural perhaps in a son of Olympias, but hitherto unexampled in Alexander. If we conclude, however, that it remains an open question whether Philotas was innocent or guilty, the same cannot be said of the fate of Parmenion. That the death of the son should have made the father’s death an apparent necessity both for Alexander and his generals may be granted, but that is only saying that one false step necessitates another. No man who admires the genius or respects the noble qualities of Alexander the Great can fail to deplore the odious crime which he allowed himself to commit in assenting to the assassination of his oldest and ablest general, or to condemn the wickedness of those who urged such a barbarous judicial murder. Philotas may have been guilty. Parmenion was almost certainly innocent.
THE CAMPAIGNS IN BAKTRIA AND SOGDIANA.
In the autumn of 330 Alexander set out from Prophthasia on his long march of more than 600 miles to Ortospana (Kabul), which he did not reach until early in 329. The weather was severe, for snow had fallen and was lying on all the highlands; the country was difficult, especially the latter part of it, where the route was intersected by lofty ridges, deep gorges, and narrow passes. He met with no combined resistance from the tribes through which he marched; although he was obliged to detach a division to return to Aria, which the indefatigable Satibarzanes had entered once more with 2,000 horse and was rousing to rebellion. This was soon crushed; and two more military colonies were planted at Alexandria (Kandahar) and Ortospana to secure the peace of the province. But though his march was checked by no serious resistance, the soldiers suffered terribly from the intense cold and want of food, the snow (it would seem) being exceptionally deep. Yet, in spite of hardships, Alexander pressed on, being anxious to cross the central range before the melting of the snow. There are four passes over the Paropanisos from the country of the Gandarians to Bactria; and it is probable that the army took the so-called Kushan Pass, 8.500 feet above the sea—a march of extreme difficulty, which consumed sixteen days and cost the lives of many both of the soldiers and the camp-followers. At the southern end of the pass, and twenty-five miles north-east of Ortospana, a new city (Alexandria ad Caucasus) was founded in a commanding position at or near the site of the modern Beghram, where vast numbers of Greek coins are still to be found. Thence the army struggled on its weary march, half blinded by the dazzling brightness of the snow, half-buried in the drifts; and all the more bitter was their disappointment when, on emerging from the mountains at Adrapsa (Anderab), they found the whole country lying between them and the Oxus laid waste by order of Bessos ; and men who had been battling with cold and fatigue had now to battle with hunger also. It was not indeed a difficult country to ravage, for much of it is barren and hilly where the spurs of Paropanisos run northwards to the desert, and it is only the valleys of the tributaries of the Oxus that are fertile. In spite of difficulties, however, Alexander pressed onwards, taking at the first onset the two most important towns of Bactria ; but Bessos himself he did not find, for, shrinking at the last moment from the collision he had provoked, he had fled with 7,000 of his native troops and a few of his fellow-conspirators, and had placed the Oxus between himself and his pitiless pursuer, burning the boats in which he had crossed. Disunion, however, was already at work in the ranks of his adherents ; for the Bactrian cavalry rather than accompany him broke up, and dispersed in all directions.
Alexander left garrisons in Aornos—a great hill-fort whose name, like that of another Aornos in the Indus valley, imports inaccessibility even to the birds of the air, and in Baktra or Zariaspa (the modern Balkh), where ruins that cover five leagues of country remain to prove the former greatness of what Orientals call the Mother of Cities, in the Middle Ages the rival of Bokhara and Samarkand and the capital of Mohammedan civilization. Then he set out across the desert in pursuit of Bessos. The foresight of Alexander in timing his march now received another confirmation. The Oxus was before him, and he had no boats. Even then it was a deep and rapid river, not far short of a mile in breadth. There was no wood near enough to use, and the bottom was formed of shifting, loose sand. So great, indeed, is the quantity of sand which its yellow waves hold in solution, that, although the water is proverbially sweet and delicious to drink, it grits under the teeth if taken straight from the river, and requires time for the sand to settle. Had Alexander reached it in flood time, when the snows are melted in the mountains, and when its breadth is so great that both banks cannot be seen at the same time, the passage would have been hardly practicable. Nor would he have had an easy task, had Bessos chosen to dispute the passage. As it was, Bessos was far away in Nautaka of the Sogdians ; and the army got across the river safely in five days, on tent skins stuffed with straw. Had he been able to seek safety in the boundless steppes of Scythia, Bessos, even if bereft of his shadow of a crown, would have kept life and liberty. But it was not so to be. Very soon after the king had crossed the great river, he received a message from Spitamenes and another of the companions of Bessos, offering to seize and give him up if a small force were sent to support them. He was already their prisoner, they said, though not in chains. Alexander’s resolution was at once taken. Slackening his own pace, he ordered Ptolemy, son of Lagos, to take a division consisting chiefly of cavalry and light-armed troops, and to come up with Spitamenes by forced marches, and with as little delay as possible. In four days Ptolemy was so close upon the fugitives that he reached the camp where they had bivouacked the night before. There he heard that the conspirators were hesitating. He instantly started with the cavalry, leaving the infantry to follow, and shortly reached a village where Bessos was resting, with a few soldiers— Spitamenes and his friends being ashamed (it would seem) at the eleventh hour to play the traitor, and having retired to a distance. Ptolemy posted his troops all-round the village, which had walls and gates, and then summoned the inhabitants to give up the stranger under a promise of immunity from attack if they did so. They opened their gates to him, and Ptolemy with his own hand arrested Bessos, and set out again to rejoin the king. He sent, however, an officer before him to ask in what guise Alexander would have Bessos brought into his presence. For a man who had murdered his sovereign and usurped his place there was no room for mercy. The answer was that Bessos was to be bound naked in chains, with a collar round his neck, and placed at the side of the road by which the army would march. Then, as Alexander drew near to the place, stopping his chariot, he sternly asked how it was that he had dared to seize and bind and slay his master and benefactor, Darius. Bessos answered that he had not acted alone, and that the deed was done to propitiate Alexander. The king’s only reply was to order the traitor to be scourged, and sent back a close prisoner to Bactra—shortly to die.
The onward march to Marakanda (Samarkand) and the Jaxartes—undertaken, perhaps, in emulation of the first Cyrus—was broken by a curious episode. At a certain village the army came unexpectedly upon an isolated Greek population, said to be descendants of that priestly family of the Branchidai of Miletus, who being guardians and treasurers of the great temple of Apollo near that city, had surrendered its treasures to King Xerxes 150 years before. Covered with odium for this treachery, and obliged to abandon their old home, they had been settled by Xerxes in Sogdiana, and their descendants had continued to occupy the same place. Now they came out to meet their victorious brethren from Greece, doubtless with mingled feelings of pride and apprehension. They were not long left in doubt as to their treatment. Alexander had a special tenderness for the oracle, which had broken silence for the first time since the days of Xerxes to pronounce that he was the son of Zeus; and the sacrilege of the Branchidai against the god had involved treason against the fatherland, far baser than that of any Greek mercenaries who had fought for Persia since the Synod of Corinth. That the sins of the fathers were to be visited on their posterity was a common Greek belief; and it is hard to assign any probable motive for the infliction of so awful a retribution as the destruction of the village and of all its inhabitants, men, women, and children, unless it were this belief, coupled with the desire to avenge the treason and sacrilege of which the Branchidai had been guilty against Hellas and the Hellenic god. If Alexander was not a conscious agent in what he conceived to be a work of righteous retribution, he was a merciless savage.
Alexander was now in the fertile district, midway between the Oxus and Jaxartes, watered by the river Polytimetos, or Zarafshan, ‘the scatterer of March to the gold, which pours its waters into the Oxia Palus, or during the dry months is lost in the sands. Having repaired the loss in horses which the army had sustained in the march across the mountains and the desert, he advanced to Marakanda (Samarkand). In Alexander’s day it seems to have had little of the importance which it gained in the fifteenth century as the capital and burial-place of Timour, and which is recalled by the Persian proverb, that styles it the focus of the whole globe. It is more truly said that it resembles Paradise, for no lapse of time or change of circumstance can efface the contrast between the terrible desert and its beautiful site, fine air and water, and luxuriant vegetation, which even in those days marked it out as the capital of Sogdiana. Here Alexander left a garrison, and it would appear from subsequent events that Spitamenes also retained at least a part of the power which he had held under Bessos. But the king himself still set his face steadily northwards, until he reached the left bank of the Jaxartes. Here, too, he founded another city or military colony, Alexandria (Khojend), the position being suitable for making it at once a frontier fortress and a base of operations against the Scythians of the right bank. It was not long, indeed, before the place became of vital importance in each character. For in this remote corner of the empire Alexander was unexpectedly assailed by enemies in front and flank and rear, not acting in combination though actuated by a common hostility. On the march from Marakanda he had reduced without difficulty a chain of seven forts, standing near to one another on the skirt of the hills and the desert, and intended probably as outposts against Scythian inroads. The largest and most important bore the ambitious name of Cyropolis. He now received tidings that the mountain tribes in his rear had taken all these forts, and put their Macedonian garrisons to the sword. And not only so; they had been reinforced and assisted by Sogdian and Baktrian allies, only too certainly excited by the intrigues of Spitamenes, who, as he learned later, was even threatening Marakanda, while presently the right bank of the river became lined with a host of Scythian horsemen, either roused to action by the same intriguer, or fearing for an independence that might seem threatened by the erection of the new fortress. It was a serious crisis, exactly suited to try the king’s judgment, and to call out his determined energy. The first and most important thing was to recover the seven forts. Accordingly he despatched Krateros to blockade the strongest, Cyropolis, which lay furthest but one to the east, and was held by 15,000 men, while he himself hastened to attack the westernmost, Gaza. It was carried by storm and burnt, and the garrison was put to the sword. On the same day he stormed a second. On the next day three more were carried ; and the garrisons in their attempt to flee to the mountains fell into the hands of the Macedonian cavalry. The resistance at Cyropolis was more desperate; but the dry bed of a torrent gave admittance to a forlorn hope headed by the king in person, while the attention of the besieged was engrossed by a fierce attack on the other side. Even so, however, with the gates open, and the enemy actually within the walls, the garrison fought bravely; Alexander himself was wounded by a blow in the neck from a stone , and it was not till 8,000 had fallen, and the residue, shut up in the citadel, were fainting for want of water, that they thought of submission. The seventh and last fort surrendered at discretion.
By this time the new colony of Alexandria was sufficiently advanced in building to sustain an attack; and after leaving a garrison there of combined Greeks and natives, and sending a force of 1,500 foot and 800 horse to the relief of Marakanda, he crossed the river under cover of showers of arrows from the engines on the bank, and at once attacked the Scythian horsemen, who had defied him to come over, and boasted of the different sort of enemy he would find in them. It was a new style of fighting, in which the enemy, so to say, eluded the grasp, but hovered on the flanks of the army, and trusted to their missiles. Alexander’s genius, however, was shown not least in coping with strange emergencies, and few generals, if any, have rivalled his rapidity of movement. The Scythians were compelled to fight in his way, and not their own, and were finally driven off the field with a loss of 1,000 killed and 150 prisoners. A reverse so unexpected speedily led to apologies, submission, and peace. Alexander at once recrossed the river; and, spurred by the intelligence of disasters in his rear, actually made the whole distance from the Jaxartes to Marakanda by a forced march in less than four days. His presence was indeed needed. It appears that on the approach of the relieving force already mentioned, Spitamenes, who was pressing the garrison of Marakanda hard, at once retired westward down the valley of the Polytimetos in the direction of the modern Bokhara, and passed it to the very edge of the desert lying between Bokhara and Khiva. Here he was joined by 600 Scythian cavalry; then, turning fiercely on the Macedonians, who had been pursuing him, and using cunningly those very tactics which had almost baffled Alexander himself, he harassed their advance with perpetual feints and unceasing showers of missiles, until they were driven to a retreat. At the river the retreat became a rout and simple massacre, so that less than 400 escaped to tell the tale. Then Spitamenes marched a second time to Marakanda to renew the siege. It was the first reverse of the Macedonian arms, the possible signal for a general rising against the intruders in accordance with the usual habits of barbarous tribes. Indeed, it is in this light, and this light only, that a word of extenuation can be said for the pitiless vengeance which fell upon the inhabitants of this fertile valley; for if it was not an act of military self-defence, it was an act of atrocious cruelty. Spitamenes, on hearing of Alexander’s approach, a second time bowed before the storm and retreated hastily in the same direction as before, this time into the very desert itself. Alexander followed as far as he dared; but to enter the desert would have been sheer madness. Baulked of his prey, he turned back up the valley, ravaging far and near as he went, reducing every fort, and putting all alike to death. After this, he returned victorious into winter-quarters at Bactra (329-8), where he received reinforcements from Greece and Syria. During the winter, moreover, the unfortunate Bessos was brought before the assembled Macedonians to receive his final sentence. If Arrian is correct in saying that Alexander ordered him to be mutilated in nose and ears, and then sent him to Ecbatana for execution, the strictures are just which he passes on the king for this conformity to a hideous Eastern custom. On the other hand, Diodorus avers that Bessos was given over to the tender mercies of the brother and other kinsmen of Darius, as a politic concession, and that they insulted, and tortured, and finally put him to death, with ingenious refinements of cruelty only possible to Orientals.
The events of the campaigns of 328 and 327 are so obscurely narrated that, while the results are intelligible, it is almost impossible to understand the details. It will be sufficient, therefore, to recount briefly the steps which were taken to insure the subjection of Bactria and Sogdiana and the defeat of Spitamenes. It became clear to Alexander during the winter of 329-8 that his work in these provinces was as yet only half done. There were many hill tribes still restless under the interference with their liberty. There were many independent chiefs whose submission was secure only so long as Macedonian troops were in the neighbourhood. There were several important leaders at large, who might possibly become centres of formidable insurrection. And there was more than one almost impregnable hill-fortress still unreduced, where an insurgent force might find shelter. He therefore organized a series of flying columns, to act in several directions at once under himself and his lieutenants in Sogdiana, with orders to rendezvous at Marakanda. Krateros was left with a sufficient force to answer for order in Bactria. From the mountains of Nura in the far west, lying to the north of Bagae (Bokhara), to Marginia in the north-east (Marginan in Ferghan), and Paroetakene in the south-east, the whole country seems to have been swept by these flying columns during the year 328, and the early part of 327. Meanwhile Spitamenes in their rear, ever on the watch, fell upon isolated detachments, and on one occasion boldly ravaged up to the very walls of Bactra. But it was an unequal struggle ; and at last, after a defeat at Bagae more crushing than usual, the Scythian allies, weary of the struggle and thinking the cause desperate, first plundered the baggage and then cut off the head of Spitamenes, and sent it to Alexander. Thus fell the most obstinate, active, and courageous enemy that the Macedonian troops had met in Asia, and his death unquestionably relieved Alexander of a permanent source of anxiety.
Of all the military operations the king, as usual, reserved the most difficult for himself. This was an attack Capture on two hill-forts of a similar character, standing on high, insulated rocks, precipitous on all sides, and surrounded by deep ravines—so lofty and apparently inaccessible that the taunting question of one of the chiefs seemed not amiss, whether the Macedonians had wings to fly with! The difficulty, moreover, of attacking the first of these forts—the famous Sogdian Rock—was increased to all appearances by the deep snow that lay on the ground at the time; though in the event it was the means whereby the place was taken. A reward of twelve talents was offered to the first man who mounted the rock, and less in proportion to those who followed. Three hundred volunteers were soon forthcoming. Armed with ropes and iron tent-pegs, they made for the steepest and least protected side of the rock in the dead of night; and, fixing the pegs in the crevices of the rock where possible, but chiefly in the snow, which was frozen so hard as to bear the weight, slowly and with difficulty they made the dangerous ascent. Thirty of the number slipped and perished in the attempt, and their bodies were buried so deeply in the snowdrifts at the bottom that they were never recovered even for burial. Nevertheless the deed was done ; for the chieftain Oxyartes, being summoned to surrender, “as the Macedonians (he might see) had found their wings,” was so confounded by the sight of the adventurous soldiers in actual occupation of the highest point of the rock, that he at once gave up the fortress and all the souls within it. Among the prisoners was his own daughter, Roxana, declared by Alexander’s officers to have been the most beautiful woman they had seen in Asia next to the wife of Darius. Amid the violent acts which at this time sullied the conqueror’s fair fame it is just to remember that, as in the case of Sisygambis, so now he treated his prisoner with honour and generosity; and we can hardly share in Arrian’s hesitation whether to praise or blame his hero for making Roxana his wife. After this exploit, the capture of the second fort in the following year was comparatively easy; and indeed, when the ravine at the foot of the rock had been partly filled, and the arrows of the besiegers could reach the battlements, the terror of Alexander’s name and energy seems to have done the rest, and the fort was surrendered with vast stores of provisions.
Open resistance was now at an end; Spitamenes was dead, and the Macedonian fortress-colonies were numerous and strong enough to hold the two provinces in subjection. Alexander was, therefore, in a position to turn his face towards the one province of the Persian empire which he had not yet entirely reduced, though he was master of all the western part of what the Persians called India. His ambition and curiosity were both aroused. Stories of the wonders and riches of India had been rife in Greece for generations. It was known that in the days of the first Darius its tribute, even if not’ levied beyond the Indus, had amounted to a third of the whole sum received. Among the adherents of Bessos, moreover, had been an Indian chief, who had fallen into Alexander’s hands, and, while the king’s ardent imagination was all on fire with this man’s stories, making clear and precise what before was vague, a timely embassy arrived from another chieftain, who ruled between the Indus and Hydaspes, and whose capital was Taxila, asking Alexander’s help against a powerful and troublesome neighbour, named Poros. Thus the die was cast, and Alexander resolved to march at once into India.
Before, however, we follow his fortunes on the Indus it is necessary to recount briefly two miserable events, which a historian would gladly omit, but cannot, because they are clearly true, and- because they illustrate the change for the worse in the character and position of the king.
It was in the summer of 328, when the flying columns already mentioned had reunited at Marakanda, that a great banquet was held on a day sacred to Dionysus. Deep drinking (says Arrian) was becoming the fashion in camp; and with the deep drinking began loud talking about the heroes of the day, and their relationship to Zeus, and some of Alexander’s more open flatterers began disparaging the deeds even of Herakles, in comparison with those of the king. There was one man present to whom these eulogies were specially distasteful. This man was Kleitos, commander of one division of the Companion cavalry, who had saved the king’s life at the Granicus, and whose sister had been the king’s nurse. But, however intimate his relations were with Alexander, he had long been secretly offended, like some others of the officers, by the adoption of Persian habits, and by the adulation which was expected and given. Heated now by wine, he protested aloud against this disparagement of old-world heroes. The acts of Alexander, he cried, were not comparable to those of Herakles, nay, not even to those of Philip. Philip’s greatness was due to himself alone; Alexander’s in part to others, to Philip’s officers, to Parmenion. Then raising his right hand on high, “This hand,” he exclaimed, “Alexander, at the Granicus saved thy life.” The king started from his couch, maddened by a conflict of feelings. In vain did his generals crowd around and try to restrain him. He called aloud for the guard. He protested that he was a second Darius in the hands of a second Bessos, and king only in name. At last, exerting his vast personal strength, he broke from the group of officers, who were doubtless afraid to use much physical force, and snatching a pike from one of the soldiers slew Kleitos, who, after being once dragged from the room, had been rash enough to return. It was a terrible deed, followed by a terrible remorse. Alexander hurried from the hall to his chamber, and for three days neither ate nor drank, calling aloud with deep groans for Kleitos and for Kleitos’ sister, and reproaching himself as the murderer of his friends. It was indeed too true. Parmenion was dead, and now Kleitos was dead, and each man might wonder whose turn would be next. But the past could not be recalled ; and soldiers and officers, seers and philosophers, one and all, feeling how intimately their own safety at the ends of the world was bound up in the safety of the king, rebuked, implored, and argued, until he was induced once more to eat, and return to that life of energy which would be the best solace for his grief.
The second episode yet to be related was even more significant of the unsound state of things in the royal camp. In the spring of 327 Alexander celebrated his marriage with Roxana at Bactra. There was as usual a banquet, and as usual the conversation turned for the most part on the greatness of Alexander. The king’s love of adulation had not waned any more than the servility of his flatterers; and the tragic scene at Marakanda of the previous summer would be in every man’s memory. When, therefore, some of those present not only maintained the right of Alexander to divine honours during his lifetime for his superhuman deeds, but proceeded to set the example of prostration before the demigod, the veteran officers sat still, moody and dissentient; but no one spoke. To speak might be to provoke the fate of Kleitos. To Callisthenes, of Olynthus, the nephew of Aristotle, belongs the honour of possessing moral courage enough to protest against the unworthy act. The gods would be as little pleased, he said, to see their proper honours assigned to a mortal, as would Alexander himself be to see a private man claiming the honours peculiar to a king. Let the king bethink him whether, on his return to Greece, he could enforce prostration from all Greeks, and, if not, what distinctions he would draw. Rather let him be content with whatever utmost honours mortal man might rightly have. These words were so clearly in harmony with the feelings of the majority, that, like Caesar when offered the crown by Antony, Alexander abstained from pressing the point, but was, nevertheless, deeply offended with Callisthenes—a feeling which was not lessened when the philosopher pledged the king in a goblet of wine like the rest, and offered him the usual kiss, but without prostration. Alexander declined the kiss, and Callisthenes turned on his heel, with the remark that he was going away the poorer by a kiss! But the matter did not end here. Callisthenes was intimate with Hermolaos, one of the royal pages ; and Hermolaos was smarting under a recent injury. He had been hunting with the king, who was suddenly charged by a wild boar ; and the page, fearing for the king’s safety, launched his javelin and killed it. For this offence the page was whipped, and deprived of his horse. But the injustice rankled in his mind; and, with a boy’s impetuosity, he arranged a plot with some of his fellow-pages to murder the king in his chamber, when they were on guard. The plot was frustrated by accident, and presently divulged ; and the conspirators were arrested and tortured, but no confession was elicited implicating others. They were therefore arraigned as conspirators before the assembled army, and stoned to death by the soldiers. If this were all, it would perhaps prove no more than that Alexander’s arrogance was undermining his popularity ; but it is only too clear that the friendship existing between Callisthenes and Hermolaos was made an excuse for the gratification of the king’s jealous dislike of the philosopher, who was arrested, put to the torture, and hanged.
FROM THE OXUS TO THE HYPHASIS.
It was the summer of 327 when Alexander set out for India. He left Amyntas in chief command in Bactria, , with a force of 10,000 infantry, and 3.500 cavalry. His own army numbered 120,000 foot, and 15,000 cavalry, of whom probably at least half were Asiatics, and mainly recruited from Bactria and Sogdiana, serving the double purpose of reinforcements and hostages. The range of Paropanisos was crossed by another and a shorter pass than the Kushan in ten days. At Alexandria he appointed a new governor, and added some fresh colonists from the less robust of his soldiers; and then marched onwards to Nikaia, either a town lying between Alexandria and Ortospana (Kabul) or a new name given on this occasion to Ortospana itself. Then he turned his face eastwards, to pass the grim defiles where a British army was destroyed in 1842. But he met with no opposition which the historians think worthy of notice; and presently, dividing his forces, he sent Hephaiston and Perdiccas with a strong division down the valley of the Kophen, to its junction with the Indus at Attok (the forbidden, to the west of which no Hindoo may pass without losing caste), with orders to prepare materials for a bridge; while he himself struck north-east into the mountains, partly to reduce the mountain tribes, and partly because supplies were reported as more abundant in that district. It was several months before the king rejoined Hephaistion’s corps, and a detailed record of those months would be but a record of marches, sieges, and skirmishes without a single reverse, and of endless booty and prisoners. But of all his successes in the campaign, probably none was more gratifying to the king himself than the reduction of the hill-fort of Aornos, so far stronger than the fort of the same name in Bactria that a legend told how it had baffled even the mighty Herakles himself. As described by Arrian (whose authority is irreproachable since it rests on the witness of Ptolemy, a prominent actor in the storming of the place), it was a huge rock or mountain plateau, rising eleven stades above the plain, and about 200 stades in circumference, with plenty of good spring water, abundance of wood, and good soil enough to employ 1,000 men. Within a short distance lay a town called Embolima. Now the identification of spots mentioned in Alexander’s campaigns in India is not easy ; but the identity of Aornos with a table mountain, called Mahabunn, on the right bank of the Indus, about sixty miles above its confluence with the river Kophen, is almost certain. The description of Aornos answers almost exactly to that of Mahabunn, allowing for the exaggeration of height and size natural in a man who could not speak from actual measurement. Mahabunn is 4,125 feet above the plain, and is fourteen miles in circumference. It is spoken of as a mountain plateau, scarped on the east by tremendous precipices, from which one long spur descends upon the Indus, and as the natural refuge of the neighbouring tribes from the arms of a conqueror. Nor can it be mere chance that the name Embolima seems to survive in the names of two villages, Um and Balimah, lying respectively in the river valley, and in the mountain immediately above it.
Leaving Krateros at Embolima, to collect corn and other necessaries for a long blockade in case the first assault were to fail, Alexander himself advanced towards the mountain to reconnoitre. At first sight, even he might well despair of success. There was only one road leading to the top of the plateau, made for Capture of purpose, and difficult of access; and the steepness of the cliff walls may be inferred from the fact, that in the night attack, in which the defenders were chased from their stronghold, great numbers perished by falling from the rocks. But the manoeuvre which succeeded against the Bactrian Aornos was successful here also. Some natives of the district came into camp, and offered to act as guides to a commanding spot on the weakest side of the plateau, from whence it might be possible to take it. It is difficult to gather an exact idea from Arrian’s somewhat confused account; but it would seem that there was a hill separated from the rock itself by a long, though shallow, depression, not occupied by the natives, and only to be reached by a rough and difficult track. Its occupation would at once give the assailants the advantage of attacking from above, and not from below. The operation was accomplished with success. Ptolemy, led by the native guides, and taking a considerable body of light troops, occupied the hill unperceived under cover of darkness, and having hastily intrenched himself, set light to a bonfire as a signal of success to his friends below. It was well that he had succeeded; for Alexander, endeavoring the next day to fight his way to join him, found the difficulties of the ground too much for him, and was rudely repulsed. Then the natives, elated by success, made a dashing attempt to carry Ptolemy’s intrenchments; but the conditions of success were here reversed, and after a fierce struggle, they were driven back at nightfall, and obliged to retire. In the night Alexander sent off an Indian with a dispatch to Ptolemy, ordering him to watch for his own advance, and when he himself attached, to do the same, that they might place the garrison between two fires. There was seldom much delay in the Macedonian camp when there was work to be done, and by break of day the army was in motion. Presently Ptolemy’s troops also issued from their intrenchments. A desperate battle followed, lasting from dawn to midday, in which at last Alexander was victorious, and, having effected a junction with Ptolemy, thus became master of a base of operations from which to attack the plateau with some hope of success. As many times before, so now he began carrying a mound across the depression already mentioned. Every man was set to work; and the king himself stood watching, ready to praise or blame as need might be. The mound advanced a furlong a day; and by the fourth day had so nearly reached the plateau, that a handful of Macedonian soldiers were able to rush across the intervening space and to seize a small peak, which abutted on the plateau, and where they were partially protected by the arrows and missiles of their comrades on the mound. Every nerve was now strained to complete the communication between the peak and the mound, and it became a question of hours how soon the attack might be delivered. But by this time the garrison was thoroughly cowed, having never before seen such resolute energy in an assailant; and they sent an embassy to Alexander, offering to surrender on terms. It seems that their real object was to gain time, and thus to steal away on the following night, and to separate to their several homes. But Alexander was as far-seeing as they. Aware of their design, he pretended to amuse them with overtures for their surrender, but made ready meanwhile for attack, and when it was dark, after allowing time for them to withdraw their sentinels and to begin the stealthy evacuation, he put himself at the head of 700 heavy-armed troops and rushed up into the plateau, being the first to set foot in it himself. The rest of the army soon followed, and overtaking the panic-stricken fugitives began cutting them down in all directions. Many were slain on the spot, or pursued into the plain and slain there. Many were killed by falling from the cliffs. When day broke Alexander was master of this important fortress, and of the adjacent country which it commanded, and in a position to rejoin Hephaistion and Perdikkas when he pleased, at the bridge over the Indus which they had built near Attok.
In the course of the campaign to the north of the Kophen the Macedonians are said, by Arrian, to have passed a city called Nysa, which claimed Dionysus as its founder. It is added by Curtius, that in this country of the Cyraeans they were struck by various sights and names among the natives and in the products of the district, which reminded them of their own legends of the same god ; and that near to Nysa was Mount Meros, where grape vines were to be seen as well as the ivy and laurel which he had planted. It is easy to believe both that Alexander himself was nothing loth to be treading, as it might seem, in the very steps of Dionysus, and that the natives were acute enough, then as often since, to humour the whims of an invincible conqueror. On the other hand, we are in a position to go further than this, and even to infer how the confusion arose. The most correct form of the ancient name of the Hindukush appears to be Paropanisus (or nisas), so that the name Nysa or something similar may have been heard and misunderstood by Macedonian ears. Moreover, if, as is probable, the country of the Cyraeans answered to the modern, Kafiristan, whose inhabitants, like those of Badakshan, have still floating traditions about Alexander, it is worthy of note that grapes, both wild and cultivated, grow in profusion in the valleys, and that the Kafirs (unbelievers), as the Mohammedans of India call the people, are great wine-drinkers, both men and women, and are given to dancing with much gesticulation, and to the accompaniment of wild and rapid music. Certainly to any Greek such customs would have seemed to be of a thoroughly Dionysiac character.
Alexander crossed the Indus a little above Attok about March, 326. At this point, 950 miles from the mouth and 1,000 feet above the sea, the river is at all times broad, deep, and rapid, averaging a speed of six miles an hour, a depth of 60 feet, and a breadth of 800 feet ; in the floods of August it is sometimes 15 miles broad, when a large part of the ‘doab’ (land of two rivers), or country between the Indus and Hydaspes, (Jhelum), is under water. But the Indus like the Oxus and Jaxartes, owing partly to evaporation and partly to irrigation, diminishes rather than increases as it approaches the sea; while the Punjab resembles Bactria in so far as the desert is never far off, and fertility depends on neighbourhood to a river.
On the eastern bank Alexander offered solemn sacrifice, and then advanced to Taxila (Takshachila “the hewn rock”), the capital of the chief who had appealed for his aid against Poros (Purusha, “hero”). If it be true that the rainy season set in before he left the city, he must have stayed there some two or three months, improbable as it may seem; for the south-west monsoon seldom begins in the Punjab before the end of June.
From Taxila two roads diverge, one running nearly past Jelalpoor and crossing the Sutlej just below its junction with the Beas ; the other running more to the eastward, and passing through a more fertile and populous district. Alexander, however, had no choice as to which of the two he should follow, as Poros had taken up his position just opposite Jelalpoor, on the eastern side of the Hydaspes, and posted scouts up and down the river to watch for his enemy’s coming. Having sent Koinos back to the Indus with orders to have the vessels which had formed the bridge sawn in pieces, and to bring them on wagons to the Hydaspes ready for use, the king himself marched onwards to that river, then fully a mile broad, where he came in sight of his enemy, who had 30,000 infantry and 200 elephants, with numerous chariots and cavalry ready to dispute the passage. To force it in the face of such an army was clearly impossible. It was necessary to wait, to distract attention, to throw the enemy off his guard, to spread false intelligence ; and then it might be possible to deliver a sudden and rapid blow. Accordingly he gave out that he was aware of the extraordinary difficulty of crossing so broad and rapid a river in the teeth of such an army, and had made up his mind to defer the attempt until the monsoon was over and the water lower. At the same time he kept Poros always on the alert, by constantly moving his boats and showing deceptive intentions of crossing. At other times he would send off large divisions of troops up or down the river, as though searching for a ford, all of which movements were plainly visible from the other side. Then for many nights in succession he posted on the banks squadrons of cavalry at intervals who shouted to one another, and ever and anon raised the war-cry, as though preparing to try the passage; and at every such alarm of course Poros made instant preparations for battle. At last, after many false alarms, and since they always ended in noise and shouting, Poros was thrown completely off his guard, and even ceased to take notice of such purposeless agitation. Then, and not till then, Alexander resolved that the time was come for action. About eighteen miles up the stream on the right bank there was a remarkable cliff, where the river takes a wide bend, turning from a south-easterly to a south-westerly course. Opposite the cliff in mid river was an island, which, as well as the bank, was densely covered with tamarisks. This was the point decided upon for the passage. To keep up the illusion in the mind of his enemy, the king posted sentinels along the whole distance from the camp to the cliff, each man within sight and earshot of his neighbour, who during several nights kept up the shouting and noise already described, and lighted fires at intervals. Poros was again completely deceived and took no notice, merely lining his side of the river with scouts to give notice of any unusual movement. At last a night was fixed upon for the attempt ; and Alexander set out in the afternoon with two divisions of the phalanx and the flower of the cavalry and light troops, striking somewhat inland (perhaps by the Kandar “nullah,” or rivulet), so as to be out of sight. Krateros was left in camp with the rest of the phalanx and some cavalry ; and his orders were to remain quiet in case Poros detached only a part of his force against the king, but if he saw that the whole of the elephants were withdrawn, which were the only real difficulty where horses were concerned, he was to cross without loss of time. Midway between the island and the camp were posted the mercenary foot and horse, with orders to make the passage whenever they saw that fighting had begun. Pontoons of skins had already been prepared, and the boats brought from the Indus had been put together. It was a night made for the occasion, dark and windy, with thunder and heavy rain ; so that the words of command and the noise inseparable from the movement of large bodies of armed men were inaudible at a distance. Just before dawn the wind and rain ceased, and the passage began. The whole force was thrown across to the island, as silently and rapidly as possible, in the boats and pontoons. It would seem, however, from Arrian, that they had all mistaken the island for a projection of the bank, and were taken aback at finding that a rapid though narrow channel of the river still separated them from the mainland. But there was no time to be lost in embarking the troops a second time. The scouts had already sighted them, and galloped off to raise the alarm. At last they found a ford : but so heavy had been the rainfall that it could hardly be called practicable, for the water was above the men’s breasts as they waded and up to the horses’ necks. Nevertheless all got safely across ; and Alexander at once made his arrangements for the battle, which he intended to bring on with¬ out delay. Pushing on himself at the head of the cavalry, 5,000 in number, in case the enemy should be panic-stricken and attempt to flee without fighting, he ordered the archers and the 6,000 heavy infantry to follow him as fast as they could.
But Poros was a different man from Darius. As soon as he learnt that he had been outwitted, and that the Macedonians were actually across the river, he sent forward one of his sons with 2,000 cavalry and 120 chariots, while he himself prepared to follow with the main body. These cavalry were presently met by Alexander; but recognizing him, and seeing his superior numbers, they faltered, broke, and fled, hardly waiting for his charge. All the chariots which had stuck fast in the mud remained in his hands, and 400 of the horsemen, including their leader, lay dead upon the field. Meanwhile Poros had stationed a small force, with a few elephants, on the river-bank to hold Krateros in check; and having chosen his ground on sandy soil, where there was firmer footing and ample room, was engaged in drawing up his troops in order of battle. The 200 elephants were the mainstay of his line, standing forward, says Diodorus, “ ike the bastions of a wall,” at intervals of 100 feet from one another; and the heavy-armed infantry were “ like the curtain,” ranged in line immediately behind the elephants. No horses, he thought, could be brought to face such a line ; no troops could be so rash as to venture within the spaces between the elephants. On either flank were massed the cavalry; but his main reliance was clearly placed in the centre of the line, “that seemed like a city to look at.” As usual Alexander’s tactics were suited to his enemy. As at Issus and Gaugamela, so here, he resolved that the cavalry of the right wing should bear the brunt of the attack, and that he himself would lead it while the phalanx in the centre was to hold back for awhile, in readiness to deliver the decisive blow. Koinos was on the left wing with about 1,500 cavalry, and was ordered to watch the cavalry of the enemy’s wing opposite, and if they should offer to ride across to help their comrades on the left, to follow and charge them in the rear.
The Indian cavalry on their left wing were still deploying from column into line when the Macedonian mounted archers rode forward to the attack, supported by the king himself with the Companion cavalry. The Indians moved forward to meet the attack ; but so much superior were Alexander’s numbers seen to be, that the horsemen from every part of the field, including the were at once ordered up to reinforce the threatened left. It was the very movement which Alexander had foreseen and provided for. Scarcely had the cavalry on the Indian right galloped off along the front to join their overmatched comrades on the left than Koinos wheeled round and followed them, and one wing of each army was thus suddenly withdrawn to the other end of the line. The Indian cavalry, however, now massed upon the left had a difficult manoeuvre to perform, and that in the very face of the enemy; for, being well in advance of their own centre, they were threatened on two points at once — by Alexander in front, and Koinos in the rear, and had, therefore, to face both rear and front. They were in the act of attempting this manoeuvre when Alexander gave the word to charge. Unsteady and hesitating, they wavered for a moment, then broke and rode for their lives towards the elephants as to the shelter of a friendly rampart, passing between them and through the intervals between the divisions of the infantry. The mahouts, it would appear, had already begun to urge their animals on to the charge and were supported by the infantry—a movement which might have been dangerous had it not been checked by a rapid advance of the phalanx. It was a fearful struggle such as even these veterans had never before experienced. The huge animals trampled down their ranks by sheer weight, or seized the men singly with their trunks and, raising them aloft, dashed them to the ground; while the soldiers in the howdahs plied them with arrows and javelins. The cavalry, moreover, had rallied, and presently advanced once more to the charge. But they were no match for Alexander's troopers either in steadiness or bodily strength, and were speedily repulsed and driven in again upon the centre. By this time, too, the elephants, a force scarcely more dangerous to foes than friends, were becoming unmanageable. Some of them had been wounded, and many of the mahouts slain; and being hemmed in by the close press of horsemen and infantry, distracted by the confusion, and maddened by pain, they kept up an incessant trumpeting, and began to turn round, treading down the men of their own side, or to try and back out of the turmoil like boats backing water. Then the infantry also were thrown into confusion, foot, and horse, and elephants being hopelessly intermingled; whereupon the king ordering the phalanx to push steadily onwards in front, drew a cordon of cavalry, as it were, round the flank and rear of the struggling, helpless mass, and completed the demoralization and ruin by repeated charges. The loss was prodigious, including all the chariots. Two of the sons of Poros were slain, and a great number of the superior officers. If a portion of the infantry and cavalry broke through and escaped, it was but to find themselves hotly pursued by a fresh and unspent enemy in the person of Krateros, who had forced the passage of the river during the battle ; so that 3,000 of the horse are said to have been slain, and 12,000 of the infantry; while 9,000 prisoners were taken, and 80 elephants. The Macedonian loss was, as usual, trifling ; amounting to no more than 280 cavalry and 700 infantry—taking the highest estimate of the Macedonian, and the lowest of the Indian losses (July, 326).
Poros himself fought like a brave man, not, as Darius being the first to flee, but stoutly resisting to the last. But when he saw the day was lost, being himself also wounded in the shoulder, he turned his elephant and began to retire. Alexander was most anxious that he should be taken alive ; but Poros sullenly resisted all overtures for surrender, even attacking the officers whom the king sent after him. At last, weary and faint with thirst, he yielded to the appeals of a personal friend, halted, and dismounted from his elephant. The king, it is said, when Poros was brought into his presence, was struck with admiration of his manly presence and undaunted bearing, and, because he approached him as one brave man should approach another, Alexander asked him how he wished to be treated. “Like a king,” was the answer. ‘‘That boon, O Poros,” replied the conqueror, “thou shall have for my sake. For thy own sake ask what thou wilt.’’ But Poros answered that everything was contained in his request to be treated like a king. Alexander was so charmed with his reply that he restored to him his kingdom, and added to it largely, and thus secured a faithful friend.
The army was now allowed to rest a month in the capital of Poros until the rains had somewhat abated. In the interval Alexander founded two cities—Nikaia near the field of battle, and Boukephalia, which he named after the favourite horse which had carried him so gallantly through a thousand dangers, and was now dead. He further ordered timber to be felled in the forests of the Upper Hydaspes, and a fleet to be built for the navigation of the Indus. Then he crossed successively the Akesines and the Hydraotes, into the country of the warlike Kathasans whom he soon reduced, and added to the subjects of Poros.
The Hyphasis (Sutlej), to which he next advanced, was the eastward limit of his conquering march. Beyond it, he was told, lay a desert of eleven days’ march as far as the mighty Ganges, whose valley was the empire of a king greater than Poros. To Alexander’s enterprising spirit such a vista of adventures was no doubt delightful. Indeed, if we can credit the speech to the army put into his mouth by Arrian, he had some strange notion that “the great sea which encircles the earth,” was just beyond the Ganges, and that thence they might circumnavigate Libya to the pillars of Herakles, and so march through Libya homewards. But soldiers and officers alike were downcast and homesick, and at first only answered his appeals with an eloquent silence ; until, being urged by him to speak, they expressed their feelings in the curious speech assigned by Arrian to Koinos. “ Our numbers are thinned,” he said ; “we are longing to see our wives and children; let us return, and afterwards, if thou wilt, lead other troops, fresher and younger than we are, to the Euxine, or to Carthage, or wherever thou wilt.” But Alexander was wroth, and dismissed the troops to their quarters. Next day he tried a further appeal to their loyalty and devotion. Anyone who pleased, he said, should return ; he would take with him only volunteers ; the rest might go home and report that they had abandoned their king in the midst of his enemies. And then he retired to his tent, deeply mortified. For three days no one was admitted to his presence. But gloom and silence still pervaded the camp, and the revulsion of feeling which he hoped for never came. On the fourth day he offered sacrifice preparatory to crossing the river ; but the victims were unpropitious.
Then at last, overborne by all these adverse signs, he summoned his friends and some of the Companions, and bade them make known to the army his resolution to return. The universal joy was attested by shouts and tears and blessings on their king, who had never known defeat but from them. Twelve huge altars were raised on the bank as a thank-offering for the protection of the gods, and as a memorial of his victories ; and sacrifices were offered and games were celebrated before he set his face finally westward. Then at last the army set out on its long march for home. The Hydraotes was passed, and the Akesines; and at length they reached the new cities, Nikaia and Boukephalia, where the fleet was being built, and the preparations made for the voyage down the Indus. But one man at least was destined never to go further. Koinos died, and was honoured with a magnificent funeral; although Alexander, having not forgotten nor, perhaps, forgiven his expostulations at the Hyphasis, could not forbear the cynical remark, that Koinos had made his long speech to very little purpose.
THE RETURN FROM THE HYPHASIS TO SUSA.
However disappointed Alexander may have been to give up his schemes of adventure beyond the Hyphasis, there was quite enough of the marvellous and the unknown in the future to make him soon forget the disappointment. He had seen alligators in the Indus, and a lotus similar to that of Egypt ; and a letter of his, written about this time to his mother Olympias, shows that he thought he had discovered the source of the Nile in the Indus, which he believed must flow by a circuitous course through the desert, and there, losing its name, pass through Ethiopia and Egypt under the new title of Nile. His after discoveries, of course, and more particularly the adventurous voyage of his admiral Nearchos, who explored the whole coast from the Indus to the Euphrates, dispelled the illusion.
The fleet built or collected for the downward passage amounted to 2,000 vessels, including eighty men-of-war. The ships were chiefly manned by Phoenicians and Egyptians, and Nearchos was in command. Of the troops, 8,000 were to be on board under the king’s own command ; the main body, with the elephants, under Hephaistion was to accompany the fleet along the eastern bank; Krateros was to lead a smaller division along the opposite side ; while a fourth corps was to follow after three days’ interval.
On the appointed day at dawn the army began its embarkation; and Alexander himself, after sacrificing to the gods, took his stand on the bows of his ship and poured a solemn libation, with prayers, to the river deities whose waters he was about to explore, and especially to his great forefathers Herakles and Ammon. Then, at a given signal, the oars were dashed into the water, and the fleet was under weigh, each division of horse transports, baggage ships, and men-of war being ordered to keep at a safe and invariable distance from the others. Never before—and probably never since—was such a sight seen on the Hydaspes. The banks rising high above the level of the water were crowded with natives, whom the splash of the oars and the shouts of the boatswains, re-echoing from the cliffs and surrounding woods, had drawn from every side to gaze on the unwonted sight. With childish delight they ran along the shore by the side of the fleet, and sang barbaric songs, keeping time with the measured sweep of the oars. Thus hour by hour the fleet dropped quickly down the stream, till on the fifth day they reached the confluence of the Akesines and Hydaspes, a point of no little danger. For here the banks converged, and the greater mass of water, pent within a narrower space, formed an eddying, chafing rapid, the roar of which was heard from afar. Amazed at the sound, the sailors almost involuntarily rested on their oars, and the boatswains ceased their chant. They had barely time, indeed, to recover presence of mind before they drifted into danger. The broader vessels suffered no damage ; but the long war-ships got athwart the current, which broke some of the oars and made them almost helpless. Two of the number fouled one another and foundered, losing most of the crews. At last, partly drifting, partly rowing, they reached the broader water below, and put in to the right bank to refit.
As they were now approaching the country of a people from whom a fierce resistance was expected, Alexander at this point made a new disposition of his forces. The people were the Mallians, whose name, perhaps, remains in that of the city of Multan. It is true that their territory lay to the north of the Hydraotes, and that Multan now lies considerably to the south of it ; but it is well known that the Punjab rivers often change their courses in the present day, and geographers have supposed that the Hydraotes (Ravi) and Hydaspes in Alexander’s time met far more to the south. In conjunction with the Mallians occur two other names, at once curious and interesting— Barchmans and Oxydrakans (Sudrakae). If we may suppose that these names represent what we know as Brahmins (high caste) and Sudras (low caste), it is not only of interest as confirming the high antiquity of Indian castes, but will serve to explain why, powerful as they were, they failed to act in concert. The mutual jealousy of high and low caste was only suspended for a while by common hostility to the invader. Their forces, if united, are said to have numbered 80,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 700 chariots, but they do not appear to have dreamt of resistance in the field, but to have trusted rather to their walled towns and to the belt of desert which sheltered their northern frontier. Fearing lest they might seek to escape him by flight, Alexander organized four flying columns, as he had before done in Sogdiana, to sweep through the country. He himself intended to strike boldly across the desert, the side whence they would least anticipate attack, and thus to be upon them before they expected him. Nearchos was sent on with the fleet to the confluence of the Akesines and Hydraotes.
This campaign against the Mallians reminds us in many points of the campaign of 329 in Sogdiana. Rapidity of action characterized both alike. The preparations of the natives were forestalled by the king’s dash across the desert. Town after town was taken with ease. Scattered bodies of their troops were intercepted and cut to pieces. Fugitives were pursued and destroyed. Little by little the miserable remnant of the population was driven in upon their chief town, where it was hoped that all further resistance might be crushed at one blow. If we can overlook the inhumanity of an attack on unoffending natives—and it can hardly be too often repeated that to a Greek the use of the term in such a connexion would seem quite out of place—we cannot but admire the king’s skilful tactics, and the energy with which they were carried out.
In attacking this town Alexander was within a little of losing what might have seemed a charmed life. At the first onset the defenders abandoned the walls and fled to the citadel. The Macedonians burst in through a postern gate, Alexander leading the way. The rest followed, but in the hurry of the moment, or in the belief that the place was as good as taken, most of the ladders were left behind. It soon became clear that the walls must be scaled if the citadel was to fall; and the king, seizing the first ladder that came to hand, planted it against the wall himself, and crouching behind his shield mounted and leaped to the top. Close behind him followed Peukestas, bearing the sacred shield from the temple of the Ilian Athens: behind Peukestas was Leonnatos. The veteran Abreas mounted by another ladder. At the foot were swarming the foremost troops, eager to be at their king’s side, when suddenly both ladders broke beneath the weight of the climbing crowd, and Alexander was left with his three companions on the wall, a mark for every weapon. To clear a free space around him was the work of a moment; some of the enemy were slain, others pushed headlong from the wall. Then after a moment’s hesitation, and with what even in Alexander was insane rashness, he leaped down among the enemy on the inside and, setting his back against the wall, prepared to defend himself. At first they ventured to attack him at close quarters, thinking to kill him off-hand; but when they saw their leader slain, and three others fall beneath his sword or by the stones which, like some Homeric hero, he picked up and dashed among them, they drew off and plied him from a distance with darts and arrows. By this time his three companions were at his side, but the position was becoming critical. Abreas was struck in the face and slain. The king himself was wounded in the chest, and after fighting for a while began to faint from loss of blood, and sank upon his shield; while Peukestas and Leonnatos, who sheltered him as best they could, were also wounded. Meantime the soldiers outside were in a state of fury at their king’s danger. In the absence of ladders they improvised means of mounting by driving pegs into the earthen rampart, or climbing on each other’s backs. Others burst a hole through one of the gates, and so struggled in, a few at a time. A short, sharp conflict followed, and then a terrible massacre, the enraged soldiers sparing neither man, woman, nor child to tell the tale. Alexander was carried out on his shield in a dead faint, and, when he came to himself, the barbed arrow was cut out of the wound ; but when from loss of blood he fainted again and lay as one dead, the rumour that he was dead spread even to the camp on the river, and was followed by an universal outburst of genuine sorrow and panic. Their heroic leader had fallen, it seemed; and now who was to lead them back to Macedon through the thousand dangers which were before them ? It is easy to imagine the general shout of joy, therefore, which welcomed Alexander, when he was sufficiently recovered to drop down the river to the camp, and was seen not only to wave his hand to the anxious crowds upon the bank, but to be able even to mount his horse. They pressed around him to touch his hands, his knees, his clothes, or crowned him with garlands and fillets.
Before the camp on the Akesinde was abandoned the Mallians made their submission. The king then sailed to the junction of the five rivers and founded, as usual another colony, with docks and forts to command the navigation ; and thence proceeded southwards towards the mouth, meeting with but little opposition except from the Brahmins, who seem to have been able in those days, as in these, to rouse a tempest of religious and political fanaticism against the “ infidel,” and induced a certain king Mousikanos to revolt when Alexander had passed to the south. But such partial resistance was useless, and its punishment fearful. Mousikanos and his advisers were attacked, seized, and crucified. Many of his towns were razed to the ground, and the inhabitants reduced to slavery. Others were occupied by garrisons. There was still a voyage of some 200 miles before the open sea could be reached; but when the Rajah of the Delta of the Indus had surrendered his dominions, there was little more hostility to be feared, and Krateros was detached with three divisions of the phalanx, the elephants, and some light troops, together with the invalids, to take the easier but longer road to Persia, by way of the Bolan Pass and the valley of the Etymander into Karmania. The king himself continued the descent of the river towards its mouth, accompanied by Hephaistion on the left bank. At the apex of the Delta, 130 miles above the sea, Hephaiston was left to turn the native town of Pattala into a strong fortress ; and Alexander took only the swiftest ships of the fleet to face the unknown dangers before him. The shifting sand banks were presumably as great a source of peril then as now, and for the greater part of the distance he could obtain no pilots. Near the mouth, moreover, his vessels were caught in the ebb and flow of a rushing tide (an experience quite unfamiliar to Greeks) and somewhat roughly handled. All dangers, however, were happily surmounted; Alexander sailed some miles out into the Indian Ocean and satisfied himself of its true nature; he explored the Delta and the Runn of Cutch; and then returned to Pattala, to finish the preparations for his own march to the West, and for the voyage of exploration along the shores of the ocean the direction of which was given to Nearchos.
Although Alexander was in part aware of the difficulties of his intended march, he clearly did not know them all, nor the time which the march would require. Yet his object m making it was precise and intelligible. If we suppose, with Arrian, that he was eager to do what Cyrus and Semiramis had failed to do, we may be sure also that he wished to reduce provinces of the empire as yet unvisited, and to be near at hand in case the fleet were in need of help. He had set out from Pattala, with perhaps 50,000 men, towards the end of August, 323. The great heat, therefore, which lasts from March to November, though beginning to subside, was still so terrific as to render night marches for the most part necessary. The nature of the country, too, is harassing and forbidding. There are ranges of mountains which form the southern fringe of the terrible central plateau before described, and which run parallel to the sea, but seldom nearer than ten miles. The ridges are bare, and even the valleys poor and barren. At intervals the desert seems, as it were, to intrude upon the mountains, and though here and there aromatic plants were found to relieve the bareness, the horrors of heat and thirst were aggravated by the numbers of poisonous herbs and venomous snakes; while they were not a little annoyed by thorns, says Arrian, of such uncommon size and strength as to tear the horseman from his horse if they caught his clothes, and to hold an entangled hare as firmly as the hook does a fish. Sometimes they would come to stretches of fine soft sand, like untrodden snow, dazzling to the eye and hot to the feet, and swept by the wind into vast rolling billows. Men and beasts alike sank under the toil of ascending and descending these yielding sand waves, so that the sick and weakly fell out of the ranks, while the chariots for their transport had been broken up to avoid the labour of dragging them through the sea of sand. To fall out, therefore, was certain death. But of all their hardships thirst was the most terrible, as it is of all human sufferings the most intolerable, the one torture which robs ordinary men of the spirit of self-sacrifice. Yet a fine and touching story is told of Alexander, which borders on the sublime. They were on the march, Alexander at the head; all alike oppressed with heat and thirst. Some light troops had come upon some water in a shallow torrent bed, a priceless prize, which they gathered in a helmet and bore loyally to their king. Greedy, if loving, eyes were turned upon him; yet it was too little to share with others. Who but a man of self-restraint, almost heroic, would have endured, as Alexander endured, to take the helmet and calmly pour the water on the ground! And so refreshed was the whole army by this example (such is Arrian’s comment) that one might have thought that every man had drunk of the water poured out by Alexander.
From the horrors of Gedrosia the army passed with joy into the fertile country of Karmania. and the king celebrated games, and offered solemn thanksgivings for his victories over the Indians and for his safe return. Here also he was joined by abundant convoys, by troops from Media, and by Krateros with his division. Some satraps and officers, who had presumed upon his long absence to misconduct themselves in office, were arrested and put to death. Here, too, he met with Nearchos, who, as we shall see presently, had passed through dangers and privations nearly as great as the king himself, and more trying because strange and novel. Then, dividing his forces, he bade Hephaistion lead the main body to Susa, by the shore of the Persian Gulf, where the climate was mild and provisions plentiful ; while he himself made for Pasagardae and Persepolis. At the former place his special anger was aroused by the discovery that the famous tomb of Cyrus had been violated in his absence, the golden coffin chipped and opened, and the body of the great king gone. Having done justice on the offender, and having stopped for awhile to lament over the memorial of his own folly, the blackened palace of Persepolis, he went on his way to rejoin Hephaistion at Susa. A strange spectacle was there witnessed by the whole army. At Taxila, Alexander had met certain Indian anchorites, whom the Greeks called Gymnosophists ; and one of them, by name Kalanos, had been persuaded to follow the king. This man, being advanced in years and threatened with disease, resolved to die while he was still in possession of his faculties, and so, mounting an immense funeral pyre, he was burnt to death in the sight of all, amid the screech of elephants and the blare of trumpets.
Nearchos, meanwhile, had led the fleet in safety along the coast of Gedrosia and the shores of the Persian Gulf, and proved (if nothing else) that the Indus was not the Nile. Arrian’s account of this memorable nautical enterprise in Grecian antiquity is a compilation from other and later authors, as well as from Nearchos himself; yet the general accuracy of the details, and the frequent reference to the admiral’s own words as the basis of them, prove that it must have been an epoch in the annals of Greek geography. If not the first, it was one of the first steps towards correcting the crude notions of earlier geographers. The coast line was followed from the Indus to the Euphrates, and landings were made at various points; while curious observations were recorded both in physical phenomena and in natural history. Quantities of crabs, oysters, and indeed fish of all kinds were met with throughout the voyage. Whales and porpoises were seen many times. One monster of the deep is described, which had been cast up by the sea, whose length was 50 cubits and its skin a cubit in thickness, and covered with limpets and oysters. In fact, the southern shore of Gedrosia was occupied by people who lived upon fish, partly eating it raw, partly drying it in the sun and then pounding it into a sort of pemmican or fish-bread, and who made their huts with fish-bones and their clothes with fish-skins—uncivilized barbarians, who had the claws of wild beasts rather than nails, wherewith they tore their fish asunder, and who supplied their ignorance of iron by the use of flints. But inside the Persian Gulf they reached less wild districts, where provisions were comparatively abundant, and every island was fertile with vines and palms. The approaches to the mouth of the Euphrates, Nearchos described in terms which might be used now—shallows, not of sand but of deep, treacherous mud, in which a man would sink up to the shoulders, and where the channel, marked out by stakes, was only navigable for a single ship. Another observation he made, which in the hands of a geographer eighty years later was the basis of the first measurement of the circumference of the earth. He observed, when they were in the open sea about latitude 25 north, as Eratosthenes observed at Syene in nearly the same latitude, that the sun at midday cast no shadow. Facts like these, apparently unimportant, were in reality of the greatest value as items in the slowly growing mass of physical knowledge, which the philosophers of Hellas were accumulating and learning how to use. Nor were the observations of Nearchos the only scientific results of Alexander’s reign. At the request of Aristotle, the king had been for some time employing agents, in many parts of Asia as well as Europe, to collect specimens of animals and send them to Athens; and after examining and comparing these, Aristotle wrote down the results in the fifty volumes of his Natural History. Alexander also despatched three exploring squadrons along the southern coast of the Persian Gulf, having clearly in his mind the reduction of Arabia, and the establishment of a sea route between Egypt, Babylon, and India.
But the leading idea, as well as the hardest task, which Alexander had set before him was the amalgamation of his diverse subjects into one people. It was equally difficult to conciliate the European and to protect the Asiatic. The latter had been drilled by centuries of oppression into abject submission to extortion and tyranny. The former had learned from years of freedom and a long muster-roll of victories to despise the effeminate Oriental. How was it possible to combine elements so antagonistic ? Nevertheless Alexander set himself the task. It was before all things necessary to convince Asiatics that tyranny and extortion were not the principles of the king’s government; and with this view, as has been already mentioned, many satraps and officers, who had presumed on his long absence, were banished or executed. The worst offender had been Harpalos, the Macedonian. Already convicted of peculation as treasurer before the battle of Issus, and a fugitive, he had been pardoned by Alexander, restored to his post, and afterwards appointed satrap of Babylonia. There, as lavish as he was grasping, his shameless luxuries in the king’s absence had rivalled even those of a Sardanapalus. The fish for his table were brought specially from the sea. His gardens were filled with choice exotics. On Alexander's return he fled a second time to Athens with a vast sum of money, and so escaped justice. But it was men like these, if any, who would endanger the empire, and whose excesses, therefore, it was essential to punish. On the other hand, it was not less essential and much more difficult to induce the conquerors of these Asiatics to acknowledge the conquered as their equals under a common sovereign. Englishmen are only now beginning to find it possible, after loo years of empire, to recognize Hindoos as fellow-subjects and equals. It is true that the gulf between the latter is greater than was that between Greeks and Persians ; but such a fusion is impossible in the course of a few months or even years, and when forced on people against their will is often opposed with singular obstinacy. And so it was with Alexander’s attempted fusion of Macedonians and Persians. He did his best, indeed, to bribe and flatter the former into acquiescence. He offered to pay the debts of every Macedonian in the army; and when the soldiers hesitated to register their names lest it should be remembered against them, heaps of gold were placed on tables, from which every man was allowed to help himself. Several of the generals were presented with crowns of gold. He himself married Statira, daughter of Darius, and nearly 100 of the officers to please him followed his example in marrying Persian women; and when as many as 10,000 of the soldiers were found to have already formed such connexions, or to be ready to do so, he presented each with a marriage portion, and the weddings were celebrated publicly, with the accompaniment of a grand banquet in a pavilion built for the occasion. But the jealousy of the Macedonians was not one whit lessened; and when on one occasion he had assembled the troops at Opis, and told them that he meant to disband any of them who were unfit to serve from age or wounds, they, remembering that he had drafted thousands of Asiatics into the ranks, and choosing to suspect that he only wanted to get rid of them, broke out into open mutiny, and, no longer awed into silence by his presence, bade him dismiss them all and go campaigning alone with his father—meaning, of course, Zeus Ammon. The outbreak was sudden, but told of a deep current of feeling below. Another man might have hesitated what to do ; but Alexander leaped down at once among them with three or four of his generals, and, pointing out the ringleaders to the guards, ordered them off to instant execution. They were at once seized and put to death, to the number of thirteen. A deep silence immediately followed among the vast crowd, broken after a pause by the king's voice, who had remounted the platform. He was bitter and angry, and his words were sarcastic. “ They to mutiny! Men who owed all to his father and himself ! Men who once were rude clowns dressed in skins, and now were satraps and generals loaded with the wealth of Lydia and the treasures of Persia and the good things of India. They thought, perhaps, he had spared himself, or kept too much for himself? Could any man show more wounds than he could? or accuse him of niggardliness in his rewards?” “You are all wishing to go,” he cried, ‘‘and go you shall; and tell those at home how you left your king, who had led you victorious from the Granicus to the Hyphasis—ay, and would have crossed the Hyphasis had you not been laggards to the care of barbarian guards? It may be that such things are glorious in the eyes of men, and right in the sight of the gods! Away!” With these words he hurriedly left the platform and shut himself up in the palace. For two days he saw no one. On the third he sent for the chief Persian officers, and gave them his orders. In future (he said) he would have Persian troops only, named and organized after the Macedonian model, but officered by Persians. This was the last drop in the cup. Repentant before, the soldiers were now in despair; and, rushing to the palace, they threw their arms at the gates, and, with cries and prayers for admittance, declared that they would not depart by night or day till Alexander showed them some pity. Then the king relented, and came out to them in haste ; and the reconciliation, soon effected, was sealed by a banquet at which 9,000 of the troops were entertained by Alexander.
Soon afterwards 10,000 veterans were led home by Krateros—“the trusty friend, dear to the king as his own life’’—each man receiving a talent above his pay. At the same time he sent despatches to Greece, bidding the cities receive back all exiles who had not been guilty of sacrilege or murder, and requiring them to give himself divine honours. Of the two demands the latter seemed to Hellenes ridiculous, and the former intolerable, Alexander’s speedy death, indeed, relieved the Greek cities from this direful prospect of having in fact to receive so many Macedonian garrisons in the persons of their exiled citizens; while the general view, held on the question of divine honours, may be adequately summed up in the advice of Demades to the Athenians, not to lose earth while contesting about heaven, and in the reply of the Spartans that if Alexander would be a god, he might.
In the winter of 324-3 Alexander set out from Susa to Ecbatana, passing on his way the famous rock monuments of Behistun. His object, no doubt, was to gratify the Medes by a short stay in their capital, as he had already stayed in Babylon and Persepolis, and to retain what had been a yearly custom of the former kings of Persia. They were further gratified by a magnificent celebration of the annual festival of Dionysus. But the general joy was suddenly overcast by a great sorrow. Hephaistion, the “lover of Alexander,” fell ill of a fever, which a foolish confidence in his own strength induced him to neglect. During the feast he became rapidly worse, and at last sank before the king could reach his bedside from the amphitheatre, whence he was hastily summoned. It was only natural that a man of strong, manly affection like Alexander should for three days shut himself up in sorrowful isolation, and neither eat nor drink. It was only natural that he should bury a comrade, so dear and faithful, with extraordinary honours at Babylon, his capital, and that he should order a general mourning throughout Asia. But we may surely dismiss, as the mere gossip which gathers round every great name, such tales as that he cut off the hair of his horses and mules, or dismantled the town walls of their battlements, or killed the foolish physician who could not save his friend’s life, or razed to the ground the temple of Asclepius in Ecbatana by way of revenge; and may echo Arrian’s verdict, that such barbarous “ ollies were not consistent with Alexander’s character, though they might be natural enough in a Xerxes, who chastised the Hellespont with fetters for wrecking his bridge.”
The king was roused from his deep dejection by that best of remedies, the necessity for action. The Kossseans, a mountain tribe on the borders of Susiana of and Media, were up in arms. Taking with him the dead body for burial, he set out on his march to Babylon, about mid-winter 324-3, dividing his army into two corps under himself and Ptolemy respectively, and crushing the armed resistance of the mountaineers as he went. He then came down from the mountains into the Tigris valley, and so passed on to the capital.
It was his last march. Already omens and presages, we are told, of impending calamity were of frequent occurrence, and it would seem that even Alexander’s strong mind was not a little impressed. As he drew near to Babylon he was met by a body of Chaldean priests, who in private audience besought him to defer his entry into the city; for their god Belus had revealed to them that an entrance into Babylon at that time would not be for his good. Then a strange story got wind about the Indian philosopher Kalanos. Before his death, it was said, he declined to take leave of the king, because he should soon meet him at Babylon. On another occasion Alexander was cruising on the canal of Pallakopas, which had been dug to carry off the superfluous waters of the Euphrates at flood time. As the boat in which he was sailing passed by some tombs of ancient Assyrian kings, it chanced that a sudden gust lifted from his head the kausia, or broad-brimmed cap, which fell into the water, while the diadem which encircled it lodged in the reeds that grew out of one of the tombs. A sailor at once plunged in and swam to recover it, but in returning placed it on his own head, lest it should be wetted. For this exploit he was rewarded with a talent, but afterwards flogged for being so thoughtless as to put on the king’s headdress. Some of the soothsayers were even so alarmed at the evil omen as to urge the king to put the sailor to death. By-and-by another event happened still more disquieting. It was at Babylon, and the king was holding a council about his intended campaigns. Feeling thirsty, he rose from his throne and left the council-room, followed by his officers, only a few attendants remaining behind. It was a moment of unguarded relaxation. On a sudden a man, a stranger to all, entered the chamber, and passing through the midst of the astonished slaves, before they had presence of mind to stop him, seated himself in the empty throne. The etiquette of the Persian court, as stringent as that of the French or Spani.sh courts in their palmy days, forbade the laying of a finger on one who was sitting in the royal seat. So the slaves fell to rending their clothes and beating their breasts, but had nothing else that they could do. The news was presently carried to Alexander, who ordered the man to be seized ; and an attempt was made by torture to elicit his purpose or the names of his confederates. But the only thing that he could say was that it came into his mind to do and he did it—a statement from which the seers inferred that it was an inspiration from heaven, and must be regarded as a warning. Our inference should be, perhaps, that he was mad.
However little any of these omens singly might have affected so powerful a mind as Alexander’s, it was inevitable that their concurrence at a time when he was depressed, and when perhaps the seeds of fever were already in his system, should impress him not a little. The first warning of the Chaldean priests he set aside with a jesting quotation from Euripides, and indeed shrewdly suspected that they had a personal interest in keeping him out of Babylon, fearing to be brought to book for peculation during his absence. But the recurrence of the omens and the increasing alarm of the seers seem at last to have made Alexander himself anxious, and to have inspired him with fears of a plot.
Nevertheless, it became necessary to enter Babylon, and (owing to the morasses on the south and west) with his face turned towards the gloomy west, and by the very eastern gate against which the priests had warned him. But it was a splendid spectacle, such as the city had seldom, if ever, seen. There were the veteran troops that had conquered Asia the fleet of Nearchos, which had sailed in waters never but once navigated before. There were new ships from Phoenicia, and others building on the stocks of the new harbour. There was an army of workmen busy upon the splendid funeral pile of Hephaistion. Last, but not least, there were crowds of ambassadors, not only from Greek cities, but from Libya, from the Lucanians, the Tyrrhenians, and even, according to one author, from the Romans, from Scythia, Ethiopia, and Carthage—an imposing array, testifying to the wide-spread influence of Alexander’s name. For the moment Babylon was the centre and capital of the world.
But, as Arrian repeats many times over, with an almost dramatic iteration, the end was drawing near. All things indeed went on as usual. Reinforcements were coming and going. The Euphrates fleet was finished and its sailors were under constant drill. The details of the Arabian voyage and campaign appear to have been settled, and a scheme for the exploration of the Caspian was so far arranged that a party of shipwrights was sent to the sea to build a fleet. Finally, a further step towards the fusion of the peoples of the empire was made by the incorporation of a certain number of Persians with the Macedonian infantry of the phalanx, each file of sixteen containing twelve Persians, while the places of honour and importance, the first three and the last in the file, were reserved for Macedonians.
But the end was drawing near. A solemn sacrifice was celebrated for the success of the projected expedition, at which wine and meat were distributed to the troops ; and the king himself gave a banquet to his friends, which was carried on far into the night. As he was leaving the feast, Medios, an officer of the Companion cavalry, pressed him to continue the revel at his quarters, and Alexander complied. The next evening Medios renewed his invitation, and again a great deal of wine appears to have been drunk. On the following day the king felt the first symptoms of fever, and accordingly slept at the house of Medios, though still well enough to transact business. He was afterwards carried on a couch to the river side, and rowed over to a park on the other bank, passing the next day in retirement, and in conversation with Medios. But he now grew rapidly worse, and day by day became weaker, hardly mustering strength to perform the usual sacrifice; until on the seventh day of the attack, feeling apparently that he was dying, he had himself carried back to the palace, and summoned the generals to his presence. He recognized them, but had no strength to speak. Four of them in despair passed the next night in the temple of Serapis, hoping for a sign. Three others even consulted the oracle as to whether it would be better to bring the king to the temple of the god. The answer was that he was better where he was. Some of the soldiers meanwhile, from anxiety and affection, demanded to be admitted to see Alexander, and, being allowed to pass through his chamber, soon saw that all hope was gone. He lay speechless but sensible, recognizing them severally as they passed by his bedside with eloquent eyes, but hardly able to raise his head. Had he been able to frame articulate words, it is possible that he might have returned the answer ascribed to him in the story, and said that he left his kingdom “to the worthiest.’’ As it was, all he 'had strength for was to take the ring from his finger and give it to Perdikkas. Shortly afterwards he died in the 33rd year of his life, and the 13th of his reign (June, 323).
It has been said that none of mortal birth ever went through such an ordeal as Alexander the Great ; and Arrian insists on certain points which ought not to be forgotten in forming an estimate of his hero. He was the son of the able and unscrupulous Philip and of the violent Olympias. He was brought up in a court notoriously licentious. He was a king at twenty—the greatest monarch of the world before thirty. A general who never knew defeat, he was surrounded by men vastly inferior to himself, who intrigued for his favour and flattered his weakness. Thus inheriting a fierce and ambitious temper, and placed in circumstances calculated to foster it, it would have been little short of a miracle had Alexander shown a character without alloy. To stand on a pinnacle of greatness higher than man had ever reached before, and to be free at the same time from vanity, would have required a combination of virtues impossible before Christ, perhaps never possible. Alexander was beyond question vain, impulsive, passionate, at times furious ; but he had strong affections, and called out strong affections in others. A man of energy and ambition, he was the hardest worker of his day both in body and mind. Incapable of fear, he foresaw difficulties or combinations which others never dreamed of, and provided against them with success. Amid endless temptations this son of Philip remained comparatively pure. Unlike his fellow-countrymen, he was (says Arrian) no great drinker, though he loved a banquet and its genial flow of conversation. On one point in his character Arrian dwells with an admiration in which we may heartily join. Alexander, he says, stood almost alone in his readiness to acknowledge and express regret for having done wrong. That in his later days, and when he had succeeded to the position of the Great King, he adopted the Persian dress and customs may be ascribed to the same motive which induced him himself to marry, and to press his officers and soldiers to marry, Asiatic women, a politic desire not indeed to ape the ways of foreigners, but to amalgamate his diverse subjects into one body. And if, over and above this, he went so far as to claim divine honours as the son of a god, we may remember that of all men Greeks were most easily thrown off their balance by extraordinary prosperity, as were Miltiades and Alcibiades, Pausanias and Lysandros, and that few men of his day or country were more susceptible to the charm of heroic and legendary associations than was Alexander. Elated, therefore, by success, and genuinely wrought upon by the legends which were as the air he breathed, he set an extravagant value on obtaining a public recognition of the super-human nature of his powers, in which, perhaps, he had even come to believe himself.
It has been said in depreciation of Alexander that his conquests were needless and the bloodshed wanton, that he gave the final stroke to the ruin of free Hellas, and that whatever benefits Asia derived from its conquests by Greeks were due rather to Alexander’s successors than to himself. These objections are as false in the spirit as they are true in the letter. For on the first of these points we shall go altogether astray unless we place ourselves at the point of view of a Greek of the fourth century. His view of the relations between himself and a barbarian (and all who were not Greeks were barbarians) was something similar to that of a mediaeval Christian towards a Mohammedan, or of a Mohammedan towards an infidel. The natural state of things between them was war; and for the vanquished there remained death to the men, slavery or worse for women and children. Any milder treatment was magnanimous clemency. For years before Alexander, the idea of a war of revenge against Persia had been rife. That he should invade Asia, therefore, and put down the Great King, and harry and slay his subjects, would seem to almost every Greek right and proper.
A few here and there indeed were clear-headed enough to see that the elevation of Macedon meant the downfall of free Greece. It clearly was so. And yet, if we look the facts in the face, we observe the free life of Greece in the fourth century assuming a phase incompatible in the long run with freedom. It was the day of orators, not of statesmen or warriors—of timid action and peace at any price. It was a time of isolation, when (thanks to Sparta) the glorious opportunity of a free Hellenic nation had been forever lost, and when the narrow Greek notion of political life within the compass of city walls and no further had reasserted itself. It was the day of mercenary forces when free men talked of freedom but did not fight for it. It was a time of corruption, when politicians could be bought, and would sell their country’s honour. Indeed considering that the hegemony of Macedon was distinctly less oppressive than that of Sparta, we may well believe that while cities, like Athens or Sparta, which had once been leaders themselves felt a real humiliation in subjection to Macedon, many less prominent states felt it to be a change for the better, in proportion as such government was less oppressive than rulers of the type of the Spartan harmosts or the Thirty Tyrants at Athens. Technically the Macedonian conquest did put an end to Hellenic freedom. On the other hand, that freedom was fast tending towards, if in some cases it had not already passed into, the anarchy which belies freedom, or the pettiness which cramps it.
Lastly we may allow that in all probability Alexander neither intended nor foresaw half the benefits which resulted from his career to Asia and the world, without saying more than has to be said of every man of commanding and progressive ideas. It is not, as a rule, given to men to see the fruit of their labours. Nevertheless the world combines to honour those who initiate its varied steps of progress. The change for the better which Alexander’s conquests made in Asia can hardly be exaggerated. Order took the place of disorder. The vast accumulations of the Persian kings, lying idle in their coffers, were once more brought into circulation, and at least tended to stimulate energy and commercial activity. Cities were founded in great numbers. New channels of communication were opened between the ends of the empire. Confidence was restored ; and it may fairly be added that only the king’s own premature death cut short the far-sighted plans which he had devised for the gradual elevation of his Asiatic subjects to the level of his European, and which, indeed, had already begun to work the results which he intended. It is true we can trace no signs of political reform in Alexander’s projects; but Asiatics had never known any but despotic government, and beyond question were unfit for any othe ; while a king of Macedon would probably look on government by free assemblies with as much contempt and suspicion as a Tsar of Russia in our own day. Even Greece, which gained no direct benefit from the Macedonian empire, was yet indirectly a gainer, in the fact that it was her language which was the medium of communication, her literature which modified the religion that came back to her and to Europe from Asia. It was Alexander who planted that literature and language in Asia ; and it was.^ to Alexander that the great Christian cities of Jerusalem, Antioch, and Alexandria always looked back with reverence as in some sort their founder and benefactor.
It would be difficult to conclude this short sketch of a heroic life more aptly than in the words of Bishop Thirlwall. “ Alexander was one of the greatest of earth’s sons — great above most for what, he was in himself, and, not as many who have borne Conclusion, the title, for what was given to him to effect ; great in the course which his ambition took, and the collateral aims which ennobled and purified it, so that it almost grew into one with the highest of which man is capable, the desire of knowledge and the love of good — in a word great as one of the benefactors of his kind.”
700.-Perdikkas I, first of the so-called Dorian Kings of Macedon.
498.-Alexander I, takes part in the invasion of Greece by Xerxes.
413.-Archelaos, the ‘civiliser’ of Macedon.
385-Amyntas II, the friend of Sparta and enemy of Olynthos.
368.-Philip, son of Amyntas, a hostage at Thebes.
359.-Philip, King of Macedon, remodels the army.
358.-Question about Amphipolis between Philip and Athens.
The Social War. Philip seizes Amphipolis.
357.-Second Sacred War.
352.-Philip, master of Thessaly, takes Pagasai.
347.-Capture and destruction of Olynthos by Philip.
Thermopylai surrendered by Phokians to Philip.
340.-Athens declares war against Philip.
339.-Third Sacred War.
338.-Battle of Chaeronea. Ruin of Thebes.
336.-Assassination of Philip. Alexander king.
Congress of Corinth.
335.-Revolt and destruction of Thebes
Timoclea before Alexander the Great
334.-Alexander crosses the Hellespont to invade Persia.
Siege and fall of Halikarnassos.
Alexander at Gordion.
333-2.-Siege and fall of Tyre, and of Gaza.
332.-Alexander the Great in the Temple of Jerusalem.
331.-Battle of Gaugamela.
Alexander at Babylon, Susa, Persepolis.
330.-Murder of Darius by Bessos. The Family of Darius Before Alexander
Alexander in Afghanistan. Execution of Philotas. Judicial murder of Parmenion.
329.-Capture of Bessos in Sogdiana.
Alexander at the Jaxartes—the furthest point of his march north-eastwards.
328.-He marries Roxana, daughter of Oxyartes.
Murder of Kleitos at Samarkand.
327.-Execution of Kallisthenes and Hermolaos.
Capture of Aornos, a hill-fort in the Punjab.
Passage of the Hydaspes.
Battle of the Hydaspes, and defeat of Poros.
Alexander at the Hyphasis (Sutlej)—the furthest point of his march eastwards
325.-Descent of the Indus, and return march through Gedrosia and Karmania.
Famous voyage of Nearchos.
3234.-Mutiny of soldiers at Opis.
323.-Death of Hephaistion at Ecbatana.
Death of Alexander at Babylon.