The Anabasis of Alexander/Book II/Chapter XXIV

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CHAPTER XXIV.

Capture of Tyre

To return to the fleet, the Phoenicians posted opposite the harbour looking towards Egypt, facing which they happened to be moored, forcing their way and bursting the bars asunder, shattered the ships in the harbour, attacking some of them in deep water and driving others ashore. The Cyprians also sailed into the other harbour looking towards Sidon, which had no bar across it, and made a speedy capture of the city on that side. The main body of the Tyrians deserted the wall when they saw it in the enemy's possession; and rallying opposite what was called the chapel of Agenor,[1] they there turned round to resist the Macedonians. Against these Alexander advanced with his shield-bearing guards, destroyed the men who fought there, and pursued those who fled. Great was the slaughter also made both by those who were now occupying the city from the harbour and by the regiment of Coenus, which had also entered it. For the Macedonians were now for the most part advancing full of rage, being angry both at the length of the siege and also because the Tyrians, having captured some of their men sailing from Sidon, had conveyed them to the top of their wall, so that the deed might be visible from the camp, and after slaughtering them, had cast their bodies into the sea. About 8,000 of the Tyrians were killed; and of the Macedonians, besides Admetus, who had proved himself a valiant man, being the first to scale the wall, twenty of the shield-bearing guards were killed in the assault on that occasion. In the whole siege about 400 Macedonians were slain. Alexander gave an amnesty to all those who fled for refuge into the temple of Heracles; among them being most of the Tyrian magistrates, including the king Azemilcus, as well as certain envoys from the Carthaginians, who had come to their mother-city to attend the sacrifice in honour of Heracles, according to an ancient custom.[2] The rest of the prisoners were reduced to slavery; all the Tyrians and mercenary troops, to the number of about 30,000, who had been captured, being sold.[3] Alexander then offered sacrifice to Heracles, and conducted a procession in honour of that deity with all his soldiers fully armed. The ships also took part in this religious procession in honour of Heracles. He moreover held a gymnastic contest in the temple, and celebrated a torch race. The military engine, also, with which the wall had been battered down, was brought into the temple and dedicated as a thank-offering; and the Tyrian ship sacred to Heracles, which had been captured in the naval attack, was likewise dedicated to the god. An inscription was placed on it, either composed by Alexander himself or by some one else; but as it is not worthy of recollection, I have not deemed it worth while to describe it. Thus then was Tyre captured in the month Hecatombaion, when Anicetus was archon at Athens.[4]


  1. Agenor, the father of Cadmus, was the reputed founder of Tyre and Sidon. See Curtius, iv. 19.
  2. The Tyrians had been encouraged in their resistance by the promise of aid from their colony Carthage. But the Carthaginians excused themselves on the ground of their own difficulties in contending with the Greeks. The Tyrians however despatched their women, children, and old men to Carthage for safety. See Diodorus, xvii. 40, 41; Curtius, iv. 8 and 15. We learn from Diod., xx. 14, that the Carthaginians were in the habit of sending to the Tyrian Hercules the tenth of their revenues.
  3. Diodorus (xvii. 46) and Curtius (iv. 19) state that 2,000 Tyrians who had escaped the massacre were hanged on the sea-shore by Alexander's order.
  4. The end o£ July and beginning of August B.C. 332. Diodorus (xvii. 46) tells us that the siege lasted seven months. See also Curtius (iv. 20) and Plutarch (Life of Alexander, 24). We find from Strabo (xvi. 2) that Tyre again became a flourishing city.