The Anabasis of Alexander/Book I/Chapter VI

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CHAPTER VI.

Defeat of Clitus and Glaucias.

Then Alexander drew up his army in such a way that the depth of the phalanx was 120 men; and stationing 200 cavalry on each wing, he ordered them to preserve silence, in order to receive the word of command quickly. Accordingly he gave the signal to the heavy-armed infantry in the first place to hold their spears erect, and then to couch them at the concerted sign; at one time to incline their spears to the right, closely locked together, and at another time towards the left. He then set the phalanx itself into quick motion forward, and marched it towards the wings, now to the right, and then to the left. After thus arranging and re-arranging his army many times very rapidly, he at last formed his phalanx into a sort of wedge, and led it towards the left against the enemy, who had long been in a state of amazement at seeing both the order and the rapidity of his evolutions. Consequently they did not sustain Alexander's attack, but quitted the first ridges of the mountain. Upon this, Alexander ordered the Macedonians to raise the battle cry and make a clatter with their spears upon their shields; and the Taulantians, being still more alarmed at the noise, led their army back to the city with all speed.

Alexander saw only a few of the enemy still occupying a ridge, along which lay his route, he ordered his body-guards and personal companions to take their shields, mount their horses, and ride to the hill; and whfen they reached it, if those who had occupied the position awaited them, he said that half of them were to leap from their horses, and to fight as foot- soldiers, being mingled with the cavalry. But when the enemy saw Alexander's advance, they quitted the hill and retreated to the mountains in both directions. Then Alexander, with his companions,[1] seized the hill, and sent for the Agrianiaus and archers, who numbered 2,000. He also ordered the shield-bearing guards to cross the river, and after them the regiments of Macedonian infantry, with instructions that, as soon as they had succeeded in crossing, they should draw out in rank towards the left, so that the phalanx of men crossing might appear compact at once. He himself, in the vanguard, was all the time observing from the ridge the enemy's advance. They, seeing the force crossing the river, marched down the mountains to meet them, with the purpose of attacking Alexander's rear in its retreat. But, as they were just drawing near, Alexander rushed forth with his own division, and the phalanx raised the battle-cry, as if about to advance through the river. When the enemy saw all the Macedonians marching against them, they turned and fled. Upon this, Alexander led the Agrianians and archers at full speed towards the river, and succeeded in being himself the first man to cross it. But when he saw the enemy pressing upon the men in the rear, he stationed his engines of war upon the bank, and ordered the engineers to shoot from them as far forward as possilile all sorts of projectiles which are usually shot from military engines.[2] He directed the archers, who had also entered the water, to shoot their arrows from the middle of the river. But Glaucias durst not advance within range of the missiles; so that the Macedonians passed over in such safety, that not one of them lost his life 'in the retreat.

Three days after this, Alexander discovered that Clitus and Glaucias lay carelessly encamped; that neither were ' their sentinels on guard in military order, nor had they protected themselves with a rampart or ditch, as if they imagined he had withdrawn through fear; and that they had extended their line to a disadvantageous length. He therefore crossed the river again secretly, at the approach of night, leading with him the shield-bearing guards, the Agrianians, the archers, and the brigades of Perdiccas[3] and Coenus,[4] after having given orders for the rest of the army to follow. As soon as he saw a favourable opportunity for the attack, without waiting for all to be present, he despatched the archers and Agrianians against the foe. These, being arranged in phalanx, fell unawares with the most furious charge upon their flank, where they were likely to come into conflict with their weakest point, and slew some of them still in their beds, others being easily caught in their flight. Accordingly, many were there captured and killed, as were many also in the disorderly and panic-stricken retreat which ensued. Not a few, moreover, were taken prisoners. Alexander kept up the pursuit as far as the Taulantian mountains; and as many of them as escaped, preserved their lives by throwing away their arms. Clitus first fled for refuge into the city, which, however, he set on fire, and withdrew to Glaucias, in the land of the Taulantians.

  1. The heavy cavalry, wholly or chiefly composed of Macedonians by birth, was known by the honourable name of έταίροι, Companions, or Brothers in Arms. It was divided, as it seems, into 15 Ἱλaι, which were named after the States or districts from which they came. Their strength varied from 150 to 250 men. A separate one, the 16th Ilē, formed the so-called agema, or royal horse-guard, at the head of which Alexander himself generally charged. See Arrian, iii. 11, 13, 18.
  2. In addition to his other military improvements, Philip had organized an effective siege-train with projectile and battering engines superior to anything of the kind existing before. This artillery was at once made use of by Alexander in this campaign against the Illyrians.
  3. Perdiccas, son of Orontes, a Macedonian, was one of Alexander's most distinguished generals. The king is said on his death-bed to have taken the royal signet from his finger and to have given it to Perdiccas. After Alexander's death he was appointed regent; but an alliance was formed against him by Antipater, Craterus, and Ptolemy. He marched into Egypt against Ptolemy. Being defeated in his attempts to force the passage of the Nile, his own troops mutinied against him and slew him (B.C. 321). See Diodorus, xviii. 36. For his personal valour see Aelian (Varia Historia, xii. 39).
  4. Coenus, son of Polemocrates, was a son-in-law of Parmenio, and one of Alexander's best generals. He violently accused his brother-inlaw Philotas of treason, and personally superintended the torturing of that famous officer previous to his execution (Curtius, vi. 36, 42). He was put forward by the army to dissuade Alexander from advancing beyond the Hyphasis (Arrian, v. 27). Soon after this he died and was "buried with all possible magnifioenoe near that river, B.C. 327 (Arrian, Ti. 2)."