The Anabasis of Alexander/Book I/Chapter XVI

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CHAPTER XVI.

Defeat of the Persians.—Loss on Both Sides.

The Persians themselves, as well as their horses, were now being struck on their faces with the lances from all sides, and were being repulsed by the cavalry. They also received much damage from the light-armed troops who were mingled with the cavalry. They first began to give way where Alexander himself was braving danger in the front. When their centre had given way, the horse on both wings were also naturally broken through, and took to speedy flight. Of the Persian cavalry only about 1,000 were killed; for Alexander did not pursue them far, but turned aside to attack the Greek mercenaries, the main body of whom was still remaining where it was posted at first. This they did rather from amazement at the unexpected result of the struggle than from any steady resolution. Leading the phalanx against these, and ordering the cavalry to fall upon them from all sides in the midst, he soon cut them up, so that none of them escaped except such as might have concealed themselves among the dead bodies. About 2,000 were taken prisoners.[1] The following leaders of the Persians also fell, in the battle: Niphates, Petines, Spithridates, viceroy of Lydia, Mithrobuzanes, governor of Cappadocia, Mithridates, the son-in-law of Darius, Arbupales, son of Darius the son of Artaxerxes, Pharnaces, brother of the wife of Darius,[2] and Onares, commander of the auxiliaries. Arsites fled from the battle into Phrygia, where he is reported to have committed suicide, because he was deemed by the Persians the cause of their defeat on that occasion.

Of the Macedonians, about twenty-five of the Companions were killed at the first onset; brazen statues of whom were erected at Dium,[3] executed by Lysippus,[4] at Alexander's order. The same statuary also executed a statue of Alexander himself, being chosen by him for the work in preference to all other artists. Of the other cavalry over sixty were slain, and of the infantry, about thirty.[5] These were buried by Alexander the next day, together with their arms and other decorations. To their parents and children he granted exemption from imposts on agricultural produce, and he relieved them from all personal services and taxes upon property. He also exhibited great solicitude in regard to the wounded, for he himself visited each man, looked at their wounds, and inquired how and in the performance of what duty they had received them, allowing them both to speak and brag of their own deeds. He also buried the Persian commanders and the Greek mercenaries who were killed fighting on the side of the enemy. But as many of them as he took prisoners he bound in fetters and sent them away to Macedonia to till the soil, because, though they were Greeks, they were fighting against Greece on behalf of the foreigners in opposition to the decrees which the Greeks had made in their federal council.[6] To Athens also he sent 300 suits of Persian armour to be hung up in the Acropolis[7] as a votive offering to Athena, and ordered this inscription to be fixed over them: "Alexander, son of Philip, and all the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians, present this offering from the spoils taken from the foreigners, inhabiting Asia."

  1. Diodorus (xvii. 21) says that more than 10,000 of the Persian infantry were killed, and 2,000 cavalry; and that more than 20,000 were made prisoners.
  2. Her name was Statira.
  3. An important city in Macedonia on the Thermaic gulf, named after a temple of Zeus.
  4. Lysippus of Sicyon was one of the most famous of Greek statuaries. None of his works remain, inasmuch as they were all executed in bronze. Alexander published an edict that no one should paint his portrait but Apelles, and that no one should make a statue of him but Lysippus. When Metellus conquered Macedonia, he removed this group of bronze statues to Rome, to decorate his own portico. See Pliny (Nat. Hist., xxxiv. 19); Velleius Patereulus (i. 11).
  5. As most of the infantry on the Persian side were Grecian mercenaries, who, according to Plutarch, fought with desperate valour, and, according to Arrian himself, all the infantry were killed except 2,000, the number of Alexander's slain must have been larger than Arrian here states.
  6. At Corinth, B.C. 336.
  7. For the fact that the Acropolis of Athens was often called simply polis, see Thucydides, ii. 15; Xenophon (Anab. vii. 1, 27); Antiphon (146, 2); Aristophanes (Equites, 1093; Lysistrata, 758).