The Anabasis of Alexander/Book II/Chapter XV

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CHAPTER XV.

Alexander's Treatment of the Captured Greek Ambassadors.—Submission of Byblus and Sidon.

When Alexander ascertained that all the money which Darius had sent off to Damascus with Cophen, son of Artabazus, was captured, and also that the Persians who had been left in charge of it, as well as the rest of the royal property, were taken prisoners, he ordered Parmenio to take the treasure back to Damascus, and there guard it.[1] When he also ascertained that the Grecian ambassadors who had reached Darius before the battle had likewise been captured, he ordered them to be sent to him.[2] They were Euthycles, a Spartan; Thessaliscus, son of Ismenias, and Dionysodorus, a victor in the Olympic games, Thebans; and Iphicrates, son of Iphicrates the general, an Athenian.[3] When these men came to Alexander, he immediately released Thessaliscus and Dionysodorus, though they were Thebans, partly out of compassion for Thebes, and partly because they seemed to have acted in a pardonable manner. For their native city had been reduced to slavery by the Macedonians, and they were trying to find whatever succour they could for themselves and perhaps also for their native city from Darius and the Persians. Thinking thus compassionately about both of them, he released them, saying that he dismissed Thessaliscus individually out of respect for his pedigree, for he belonged to the ranks of the distinguished men of Thebes. Dionysodorus also he released because he had been conqueror at the Olympic games; and he kept Iphricrates in attendance on himself as long as he lived, treating him with special honour both from friendship to the city of Athens and from recollection of his father's glory. When he died soon after from sickness, he sent his bones back to his relations at Athens. But Euthycles at first he kept in custody, though without fetters, both because he was a Lacedaemonian of a city at that time openly and eminently hostile to him, and because in the man as an individual he could find nothing to warrant his pardon. Afterwards, when he met with great success, he released even this man also.

He set out from Marathus and took possession of Byblus[4] on terms of capitulation, as he did also of Sidon,[5] the inhabitants of which spontaneously invited him from hatred of the Persians and Darius.[6] Thence he advanced towards Tyre;[7] ambassadors from which city, despatched by the commonwealth, met him on the march, announcing that the Tyrians had decided to do whatever he might command.[8] He commended both the city and its ambassadors, and ordered them to return and tell the Tyrians that he wished to enter their city and offer sacrifice to Heracles. The son of the king of the Tyrians was one of the ambassadors, and the others were conspicuous men in Tyre; but the king Azemilcus[9] himself was sailing with Autophradates.

  1. This statement of Arrian is confirmed by Curtius (iii. 34), who says that Parmenio captured the treasure, not in the city, but from fugitives who were conveying it away.
  2. In giving the names of the captured Grecian envoys, Curtius (iii. 35) seems to have confounded this with a future occasion, mentioned in Arrian (iii. 24).
  3. The great Iphicrates had been adopted by Alexander's grandfather, as is stated in a note on Book I. chap. 23.
  4. Byblus is said by Strabo (xvi. 2) to have been situated on a height not far from the sea. It was reported to be the oldest city in the world. It possessed a considerable extent of territory, including Berytus, and was an independent State for a long period, the last king being deposed by Pompey. On a Byblus coin of Alexander's time appears the name Einel, which is the king Enylus mentioned by Arrian (ii. 20). Byblus was the chief seat of the worship of Adonis, or Thammuz, who was supposed to have been born there. In the Bible it appears under its Hebrew name Gebal (mountain-district). The inhabitants of Gebal are said in Ezek. xxvii. 9 to have been skilled in building ships. In Josh, xiii. 5 the northern boundary of the Holy Land is said to reach as far as the land of the Giblite, or inhabitant of Gebal. In 1 Kings v. 18 the word translated in our Bible stone-squarers ought to be rendered Giblites. The Arabs still call the place Jebail. Cf. Milton (Paradise Lost, viii. 18).
  5. Sidon, or in Hebrew Tsidon (fortress), is called in Gen. x. 15, 19 the firstborn son of Canaan, i.e. it was the first city founded by the Canaanites or Phoenicians. It lay about twenty miles south of Tyre, on a small promontory two miles south of the river Bostremus. We read in Homer that it was famous for its embroidered robes and metal utensils, and from other ancient writers we find that it manufactured glass and linen and also prepared dye's. Before the time of David it fell under the rule of Tyre; but when Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, invaded Phoenicia, it revolted from Tyre and submitted to the invader. It was governed by its own kings under the Babylonian and Persian empires; and under the latter power it reached its highest prosperity, surpassing Tyre in wealth and importance. In the expedition of Xerxes against Greece, the Sidonians furnished the best ships in the whole fleet, and their king obtained the highest place under Xerxes in the council. But they revolted against Ochus, king of Persia, and being betrayed to him by their own king Tennes, they burnt their city and ships. It is said that 40,000 persons perished in the fire and by the sword, B.C. 351. (Diodorus, xvi. 43-45). No doubt this barbarous treatment of Ochus induced the Sidonians to take the side of Alexander. The city was already built and again flourishing when that king appeared on the scene. Near the site of the ancient city is the present town of Saida, with a population of about 5,000. Cf. Homer (Iliad, vi. 289; xxiii. 741); Lucan, iii. 217.
  6. At Sidon, Alexander deposed the reigning king Strato, a friend of the Persians; and a poor man, named Abdalonymus, distantly related to the regal family, was put into his place (Curtius, iv. 3, 4). Diodorus (xvii. 47) tells the same story, but applies it to Tyre, probably by mistake.
  7. The Hebrew name for Tyre is Tsor (rock). In Isa. xxiii. 4 it is called the fortress of the sea; and in ver. 8, "Tsor, the crowning one," because Tyre gave rulers to the Phoenician cities and colonies. Valuable information about the power, trade, and customs of Tyre is derived from Ezek. xxvi-xxviii.; and we learn the fact that she employed mercenaries like her colony Carthage (Ezek. zxvii. 10, 11). In the classical writers the name is corrupted into Tyrus, and sometimes into Sarra. Tyre was unsuccessfully besieged for five years by Shalmaneser. It was also besieged for thirteen years by Nebuchadnezzar, and in the end an alliance was formed, by which the Tyrians retained their own king as a vassal of the king of Babylon. This arrangement was continued under the kings of Persia.
  8. Curtius (iv. 7) tells us that the envoys also brought to Alexander a golden wreath, together with abundant supplies for his army.
  9. This king must have brought home his ships for the defence of Tyre, for he was in the city when it was captured. See chap. 24.