The Anabasis of Alexander/Book I/Chapter XIII

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search


CHAPTER XIII.

Battle of the Granicus (B.C. 334).

Meantime Alexander was advancing to the river Granicus,[1] with his army arranged for battle, having drawn up his heavy-armed troops in a double phalanx, leading the cavalry on the wings, and having ordered that the baggage should follow in the rear. And Hegelochus at the head of the cavalry, who were armed with the long pike,[2] and about 500 of the light-armed troops, was sent by him to reconnoitre the proceedings of the enemy. When Alexander was not far from the river Granicus, some of his scouts rode up to him at full speed and announced that the Persians had taken up their position on the other side of the Granicus, drawn up ready for battle. Thereupon Alexander arranged all his army with the intention of fighting. Then Parmenio approached him and spoke as follows: "I think, O king, that it is advisable for the present to pitch our camp on the bank of the river as we are. For I think that the enemy, being, as they are, much inferior to us in infantry, will not dare to pass the night near us, and therefore they will permit the army to cross the ford with ease at daybreak. For we shall then pass over before they can put-themselves in order of battle;[3] whereas, I do not think that we can now attempt the operation without evident risk, because it is not possible to lead the army through the river with its front extended. Besides, it is clear that many parts of the stream are deep, 'and you see that these banks are steep and in some places abrupt. Therefore the enemy's cavalry, being formed into a dense square, will attack us as we emerge from the water in broken ranks and in column, in the place where we are weakest. At the present juncture the first repulse would be difficult to retrieve, as well as perilous for the issue of the whole war."

But to this Alexander replied: "I recognise the force of these arguments, O Parmenio; but I should feel it a disgrace, if, after crossing the Hellespont so easily, this brook (for with such an appellation he made light of the Granicus) should bar our passage for a moment. I consider that this would be in accordance neither with the fame of the Macedonians nor with my own eagerness for encountering danger. Moreover, I think that the Persians will regain courage, as being a match in war for Macedonians, since up to the present time they have suffered no defeat from me to warrant the fear they entertain."

  1. The Granicus rises in Mount Ida, and falls into the Propontis near Cyzicus. Ovid (Metam., xi. 763) calls it Granicus bicornis.
  2. This was a brigade of about 1,000 men. See Livy, xxxvii. 42.
  3. ίποφθἀσομεν. This future is used by the later writers for the Attic ίποφθήσομαι. It is found however in Xenophon.