The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter XIX

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CHAPTER XIX.

Embassies from Greece.—Fleet Prepared for Invading Arabia.

As he was entering Babylon, he was met -by embassies from the Greeks; but for what purpose each embassy was sent has not been recorded.[1] To me indeed it seems probable that most of them came to crown and eulogize him on account of his victories, especially the Indian ones, as well as to say that the Greeks rejoiced at his safe return from India. It is said that he greeted these men with the right hand, and after paying them suitable honour sent them back. He also gave the ambassadors permission to take with them all the statues of men and images of gods and the other votive offerings which Xerxes had carried off from Greece to Babylon, Pasargadae, Susa, or any other place in Asia. In this way it is said that the brazen statues of Harmodius and Aristogeiton,[2] as well as the monument of the Celcaean Artemis, were carried back to Athens.[3]

Aristobulus says that he found at Babylon the fleet with Nearchus, which had sailed from the Persian Sea up the river Euphrates; and another which had been conveyed from Phoenicia, consisting of two Phoenician quinqueremes, three quadriremes, twelve triremes, and thirty triacontors. These had been taken to pieces and conveyed to the river Euphrates from Phoenicia to the city of Thapsacus. There they were joined together again and sailed down to Babylon. The same writer says that he cut down the cypresses in Babylonia and with them built another fleet; for in the land of the Assyrians these trees alone are abundant, but of the other things necessary for ship-building this country affords no supply. A multitude of purple-fishers and other sea-faring men came to him from Phoenicia and the rest of the sea-board to serve as crews for the ships and perform the other services on board. Near Babylon he made a harbour by excavation large enough,to afford anchorage to 1,000 ships of war; and adjoining the harbour he made dockyards. Miccalus the Clazomenian[4] was despatched to' Phoenicia and Syria with 500 talents[5] to enlist some men and to purchase others who were experienced in nautical affairs. For Alexander designed to colonize the sea-board near the Persian Gulf, as well as the islands in that sea. For he thought that this land would become no less prosperous than Phoenicia. He made these preparations of the fleet to attack the main body of the Arabs,[6] under the pretext that they were the only barbarians of this region who had not sent an embassy to him or done anything else becoming their position and showing respect to him. But the truth was, as it seems to me, that Alexander was insatiably ambitious of acquiring fresh territory.[7]


  1. Diodorus (xvii. 113) says that embassies came from the Carthaginians, Liby-Phoenicians, Greeks, Macedonians, Illyrians, Thracians, and Gauls.
  2. Cf. Arrian, iii. 16 supra.
  3. The name Athens is said to have been derived from the worship of Athena. See Euripides (Ion, 8): Πόλις τῆς χρυσολόγχου Παλλάδος κεκλημένη. Attica is ἀττική or ἀκτικὴ γῆ, the "promontory land."
  4. Clazomenae was an Ionian city on the Gulf of Smyrna, celebrated as the birthplace of Anaxagoras. It is now called Kelisman.
  5. About £1,200,000.
  6. The Hebrew name for Arabia is Arab (wilderness). In Gen. xxv. 6 it is called the "East country," and in Gen. xxix. 1 the "Land of the Sons of the East."
  7. Cf. Arrian, v. 26; vii. 1 and 15 supra.