The Anabasis of Alexander/Book I/Chapter XX

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CHAPTER XX.

Siege of Halicarnassus.—Abortive Attack on Myndus.

Alexander now resolved to disband his fleet, partly from lack of money at the time, and partly because he saw that his own fleet was not a match in battle for that of the Persians. On this account he was unwilling to run the risk of losing even a part of his armament. Besides, he considered, that now he was occupying Asia with his land force, he would no longer be in need of a fleet; and that he would be able to break up that of the Persians, if he captured the maritime cities; since they would neither have any ports from which they could recruit their crews, nor any harbour in Asia to which they could bring their ships. Thus he explained the omen of the eagle to signify that he should get the mastery over the enemy's ships by his land force. After doing this, he set forth into Caria,[1] because it was reported that a considerable force, both of foreigners and of Grecian auxiliaries, had collected in Halicarnassus.[2] Having taken all the cities between Miletus and Halicarnassus as soon as he approached them, he encamped near the latter city, at a distance from it of about five stades,[3] as if he expected a long siege. For the natural position of the place made it strong; and wherever there seemed to be any deficiency in security, it had been entirely supplied long before by Memnon, who was there in person, having now been proclaimed by Darius governor of lower Asia and commander of the entire fleet. Many Grecian mercenary soldiers had been left in the city, as well as many Persian troops; the triremes also were moored in the harbour, so that the sailors might reader him valuable aid in the operations. On the first day of the siege, while Alexander was leading his men up to the wall in the direction of the gate leading towards Mylasa,[4] the men in the city made a sortie, and a skirmish took place; but Alexander's men making a rush upon them repulsed them with ease, and shut them up in the city. A few days after this, the king took the shield-bearing guards, the Cavalry Companions, the infantry regiments of Amyntas, Perdiccas and Meleager, and in addition to these the archers and Agrianians, and went round to the part of the city which is in the direction of Myndus, both for the purpose of inspecting the wall, to see if it happened to be more easy to be assaulted there than elsewhere; and at the same time to see if he could get hold of Myndus[5] by

a sudden and secret attack. For he thought that if Myndus were his own, it would be no small help in the siege of Halicarnassus; moreover an offer to surrender had been made by the Myndians if he would approach the town secretly, under the cover of night. About midnight, therefore, he approached the wall, according to the plan agreed on; but as no sign of surrender was made by the men within, and though he had with him no military engines or ladders, inasmuch as he had not set out to besiege the town, but to receive it on surrender, he nevertheless led the Macedonian phalanx near and ordered them to undermine the wall. They threw down one of the towers, which, however, in its fall did not make a breach in the wall. But the men in the city stoutly defending themselves, and at the same time many from Halicarnassus having already come to their aid by sea, made it impossible for Alexander to capture Myndus by surprise or sudden assault. Wherefore he returned without accomplishing any of the plans for which he had set out, and devoted himself once more to the siege of Halicarnassus.

In the first place he filled up with earth the ditch which the enemy had dug in front of the city, about thirty cubits wide and fifteen deep; so that it might be easy to bring forward the towers, from which he intended to discharge missiles against the defenders of the wall; and that he might bring up the other engines with which he was planning to batter the wall down. He easily filled up the ditch, and the towers were then brought forward. But the men in Halicarnassus made a sally by night with the design of setting fire both to the towers and the other engines which had been brought up to the wall, or were nearly brought up to it. They were, however, easily repelled and shut up again within the walls by the Macedonians who were guarding the engines, and by others who were aroused by the noise of the struggle and who came to their aid. Neoptolemus, the brother of Arrhabaeus, son of Amyntas, one of those who had deserted to Darius, was killed, with about 170 others of the enemy. Of Alexander's soldiers sixteen were killed and 300 wounded; for the sally being made in the night, they were less able to guard themselves from being wounded.

  1. Caria formed the south-west angle of Asia Minor. The Greeks asserted that the Carians were emigrants from Crete. We learn from Thucydides and Herodotus that they entered the service of foreign rulers. They formed the body-guard of queen Athaliah, who had usurped the throne and stood in need of foreign mercenaries. The word translated in our Bible in 2 Kings xi. 4, 19 as captains, ought to be rendered Carians. See Fuerst's Hebrew Lexicon, sub voce בׇּרֳי.
  2. Now called Budrum. It was the birthplace of the historians Herodotus and Dionysius.
  3. Little more than half a mile.
  4. Now called Melasso, a city of Caria, about ten miles from the Gulf of Iassus.
  5. A colony of Troezen, on the western extremity of the same peninsula on which stood Halicarnassus.