Download Year 13 Study Guide and NCEA Essay Questions

Document related concepts
no text concepts found
Year 13 Study Guide and NCEA Essay
Ethnic origins of Macedonian People
Political developments in the Greek world
The Persian Invasion
Macedonian emergence to power 4th century BC
The primary sources – the Lost Works
The secondary sources
Philip’s reign 359-336BC
The Corinthian League
The Murder of Philip
The murder
How/why are Olympias and Alexander implicated in the murder of Philip?
Alexander’s relationship with the Greeks
Alexander and the League of Corinth
The first of the Greek rebellions 335BC
Second rebellion of the Greek states
Theban rebellion Spring 335BC
Alexander and Athens
Greek rebellions 333 – 332 BC
Exiles Decree 324 BC
Summary of Alexander’s relationship with the Greeks
Alexander – a military genius
Preparing for war in the east
Alexander in Asia Minor
Alexander’s army
Persia on the eve of Alexander’s invasion
The Persian army of Asia Minor
Battle of Granicus 334BC
Significance of the Granicus victory
The aftermath of Granicus
Ionian cities of Asia Minor 334 BC
Battle of Issus (November 333 BC)
Significance of the victory for Alexander
Darius asks for the return of the royal and noble ladies
Darius’ first request
Darius’ second request
Phoenician cities 332 BC
Siege of Tyre, January – August 332 BC
Egypt 332 - 331 BC
Alexandria 331 BC
Battle of Gaugamela (end of 331 BC)
Babylon 331 BC
Reorganisation of Army
Battle at the Persian Gates
Persepolis 330 BC
New Appointments
Murder of Darius 330 BC
Pursuing murderers of Darius 330 – 328 BC, dealing with internal conflict
The Kingdom of Porus and the Battle of Jhelum (Spring, 326 BC)
Sailing down the Indus (late 326 BC)
Mallian and Oxydracaean tribes (325 BC)
Summary of Alexander’s military conquests
Alexander’s relationship with the Macedonians
Problems caused by the policy of fusion
Conspiracy of Philotas 330 – 329 BC
Mutiny by the river Hyphasis 326 BC
Journey through Gedrosia 325 BC
Macedonian Generals of Media 324 BC
Persis early 324 BC
Festivities in Susa
Weddings in Susa 324 BC
Mesopotamia, middle of 324 BC
Summary of Alexander’s relationship with the Macedonians and Persians
Alexander’s divinity
Alexander’s religious views (and the use of propaganda)
Troy (Spring 334 BC)
Egypt 332 – 331 BC
Babylon, Spring 323 BC
Other examples of Alexander’s use of propaganda
Summary of Alexander’s religious views and the use of propaganda
Tarsus 33 BC
Hephaestion’s death at Ecbatana 324 BC
Alexander’s death 323 BC
Ethnic origins of Macedonian people
The Macedonian population was a mixture of Greek Macedonian (lowlanders) and barbaric people, i.e. foreigners
such as Illyrian and Peonian people (highlanders).
The capital of Macedonia at first was Aegae, later Pella.
Political developments in the Greek world
Greece as we know it today did not exist in the 4th century BC. It was divided into several city states (poleis), e.g.
Athens, Sparta, Thebes. These states were totally independent and often in conflict with each other. The people of
these states shared a common language, religion, and culture, but they had different political systems.
Fig. 9.2: Macedonia and states ruled by Macedonia
The Persian invasion
Persia invaded the Greek states several times - successfully in 388-387 BC. The Persian king Artaxerxes (the
Great King) forced the Greek states to accept 'the King's peace'. According to this, Persia had supreme control
over all the defeated Greek city states; i.e. they were answerable to Persia and had to contribute money and
armies to Persia on demand.
On the Greek mainland, city states were allowed to be autonomous (make decisions about their internal affairs),
but in Asia Minor city states were ruled by Persian satraps (governors).
Sparta was to be the enforcer of the peace in Greece.
Macedonian emergence to power 4th century BC
The Persian Empire failed to defeat Macedonia, so while the other Greek states were under Persian rule,
Macedonia emerged as a powerful leading state.
The leader of Macedonia at the time (359-336 BC) was Philip II, father of Alexander the Great.
Sources for Alexander the Great - historiography
Many of Alexander's contemporaries wrote about him but their works are lost. Five books based on the 'lost works',
written centuries after Alexander's death, survive today: These books often name their sources and at times quote
them, so the authors of the lost works are known.
The primary sources -the lost Works
· Callisthenes - Alexander's official Greek historian and nephew. Employed by Alexander to record events as
they happened.
· Cleitarchus. Greek contemporary of Alexander. Did not accompany Alexander on his expedition to the east
yet produced the most popular account -sensationalised events.
The literary writers
· Ptolemy - a Macedonian. One of Alexander's close friends and chief generals. Wrote an invaluable account
of military operations. His treatment of leading men in Alexander's army is untrustworthy -glorified his own
achievements and minimised achievements of others.
· Nearchus - a Greek. Close friend of Alexander. Became admiral. Accompanied the expedition and sailed the
coast of Persia. Wrote only about the voyage of the fleet.
· Onesicritus - Greek sailor on the expedition. Wrote an historical romance. Writings are unreliable.
· Aristobulus - Macedonian soldier and engineer who accompanied Alexander on the expedition to the east.
Wrote when an old man. Work invaluable for geographical information and for detailed account of
Alexander's last year.
· Chares - Alexander's Greek chamberlain in charge of his household. Wrote brief account of Alexander's
progress. As an eye witness is important for detailing some incidents, e.g. Alexander's efforts to introduce
The secondary sources
Writers whose works survived are referred to as the 'extant' historians. Did not just reproduce what previous
authors wrote - had their own opinions and prejudices.
Writings based upon:
Curtius Rufus
1st century AD
Cleitarchus, Ptolemy
1st century AD
Cleitarchus, Ptolemy
2nd century AD
Aristobulus, Ptolemy
2nd century AD
Aristobulus, Chares, Callisthenes
2nd century AD
Ptolemy, Cleitarchus
Reign of Philip II and accession of Alexander the Great
Philip's reign 359-336 BC
Philip's aims and policies
Philip's ultimate aim was to increase Macedonia's territory.
Many of the states he wished to take over (e.g. the Greek states to the south of Macedonia) were controlled by
Persia - Philip therefore expected opposition from Persia. His main concern was that he did not match the military
strength of Persia.
He therefore planned to take over the Greek states quickly, unite them under his rule and then convince them to
fight Persia, their common enemy.
How Philip planned to convince the Greeks to fight with him against Persia
Philip used the pretext of a religious war of revenge; the Greeks (including Macedonians) would join forces to fight
the Persians who had overtaken them and destroyed and desecrated their temples.
Steps taken by Philip to ensure his aims were fulfilled
· Fought and conquered his enemies in the north.
· Began Hellenising Macedonia. Brought tutors like Aristotle from the south in an effort to teach young
Macedonian noblemen Greek literature, ideas, customs and beliefs. Greek became official language of the
army and the administration.
· Reorganised the army, ensuring it was highly trained, disciplined and well-equipped.
· Initially avoided war with the Greeks, hoping they would accept Macedonian leadership. In Athens the
demagogue Demosthenes preached against the uncivilised state of Macedonia and the evil nature of Philip,
convincing Athens and other Greek states to raise an allied army against Macedonia; were finally defeated.
Following the defeat of the Greek allies at the battle of Chaeroneia in 338 BC, Philip was able to unite and
befriend the Greeks and form an allied Greek army capable of fighting the Persian empire.
The Corinthian League
Corinth is located in the Peloponnesus.
Following success at the battle of Chaeroneia, Philip signed treaties of alliance with the defeated Greek states.
Sparta refused to submit and as a result it lost much territory.
Late in 338 BC Philip circulated the rumour he wished to lead Greece in a 'PanhelIenic campaign' (all Greeks
fighting together) against Persia. This gained him the support of many people. Then issued an invitation to the
Greek states to attend a conference in Corinth.
Peace conference of Corinth
Representatives from all Greek states except Sparta met in Corinth for purpose of discussing and ratifying Philips
proposals. Meeting began 338 BC, discussions continuing until spring of 337 BC. (Sparta refused to join, claiming
to be a leader, not a follower.)
Philip proposed the states should:
· become members of a federal union, a League of Hellenes (when this was ratified, it became known as the
League of Corinth
· take an oath to observe a common peace among member states
· remain free and autonomous under their existing constitutions
· respect one another's constitutions, including the kingdom of Philip and his descendants
· take common action against any state which broke the peace
· uphold existing laws dealing with executions and sentence of exiles, confiscation and redistribution of
property, etc.
Philip proposed detailed machinery to ensure the League ran efficiently
The Prohedrion Permanent Council
· Made up of five
· Had offices in Corinth,
where conducted dayto-day business of the
The Synhedrion - Council of
Representatives from each state.
· Each state would send Synhedroi
(representatives) in proportion to its
military or naval strength.
· To hold ordinary meetings at the
time and place of the four
Panhellenic festivals.
· Meetings called for a specific
purpose would be held at Corinth.
· Decisions reached by majority vote.
· Had judicial powers to try offenders
and to impose sentences.
The Hegemon / Federal leader
· Position was hereditary and was
held for life. Philip was the first
Hegemon. Alexander inherited
the position.
· Would become Strategos;
autocrator (military commander
of the League's forces) if military
intervention required.
· Gave Philip complete control of
the foreign policy of the Greek
How Philip convinced the Greek states to become members of the League
· Used charm and diplomacy to gain support of the representatives. Treated them as equals.
· Proposals of peace and autonomy without tribute was attractive to member states.
· During the first meeting of the League, he introduced idea of raising an allied army for the purpose of fighting
Persia. Was to be a religious war of revenge against the Persians for the destruction of Greek temples by
Xerxes (Philip died before he could invade Persia.)
Activity 9A: The Corinthian League
1. Why did Philip form this League?
2. After which battle did the Greeks agree to join the Corinthian League?
a. What exactly did Philip offer the Greek states that agreed to join the League?
b. Who signed?
4. Why did Sparta refuse to join the League?
5: Did Macedonia belong to the League of Corinth?
a. Give three mutual benefits enjoyed by the Greek states and Macedonia as members of the
Corinthian League
b. Give other reasons why the League was important to Macedonia.
The murder of Philip
Philip II
ruled 359-336 BC.
Alexander III (The Great)
ruled 336-323 BC.
Princess from Epirus.
Descended from Achilles.
Her uncle, Alexander
king of Epirus, Brother
of Olympias.
Key: m = married
Eldest daughter of
the Persian king
Married 324 BC.
Eldest daughter of
Artaxerxes III, a
Persian king.
Married 324 BC.
Bactrian princess.
Married 327 BC.
Fig. 9.4: The Macedonian royal family
People involved
Philip Arrhidaeus
Son of Philip II, half-brother of Alexander.
Macedonian noblewoman, niece of Attalus, last wife of Philip II.
Macedonian nobleman and military commander, friend of Philip and uncle of Cleopatra.
Pausanias of Orestis
Young Macedonian, bodyguard, lover and murderer of Philip II.
Young Macedonian, Philip II became attracted to him.
Ruler of Caria (a state in Asia Minor controlled by Persia).
Lyncestis brothers
Heromenes, Arrhabeous and Alexander. Implicated in a plot to kill Philip II. All three found
guilty, only first two executed.
Mythical king of Epirus, hero of the Trojan war.
The murder
Philip II was killed in the summer of 336 BC at Aegae (a city in Macedonia) while celebrating the wedding of his
daughter Cleopatra to Alexander King of Epirus. As he entered the theatre attended by Alexander his son and
Alexander of Epirus, Philip was stabbed and mortally wounded in the chest by Pausanias of Orestis.
Pausanias tried to escape but his foot caught in a vine. A group of bodyguards (friends of Alexander) reached
Pausanias, killing him with javelins.
This account is given by the historian Diodorus and supported by Plutarch.
Why Pausanias of Orestis killed the king
Diodorus says 'Pausanias had a personal grudge against Philip'.
Pausanias of Orestis was Philip's lover.
Another young man, also called Pausanias, was attracting Philip's attentions. Pausanias of Orestis became jealous
and began harassing the 'other' Pausanias. The other Pausanias confided in Attalus, but disturbed by the
continuing harassment, committed suicide.
Attalus decided to avenge Pausanias' death. He invited Pausanias of Orestis to dinner, plied him with alcohol then
handed Pausanias to his grooms to be beaten up.
Pausanias of Orestis complained about this incident to Philip II. Philip was angry but reluctant to punish Attalus,
because Attalus was:
· a very influential Macedonian nobleman
· a skilled military commander who had been appointed to lead the forces into Asia
· related to Philip through Philip's new wife Cleopatra.
Philip attempted to appease Pausanias by plying him with generous gifts and by promoting him to a position of
honour among the bodyguards.
Pausanias was not appeased. His resentment was fuelled when, in the course of a discussion
with the philosopher Hermocrates, he asked how a person could become famous, Hermocrates replied, 'by killing
the man who has done the greatest deeds'.
How plausible is this personal motive?
There is some concern over dates. The 'other' Pausanias committed suicide eight years before Philip was
murdered, and presumably Pausanias of Orestis was beaten up soon after the suicide.
Did Pausanias of Orestis hold a grudge for eight years? It is possible that his anger was rekindled when Attalus
was put in charge of the army into Asia and his niece was married to Philip.
Other suspects
It is possible Pausanias murdered the king because he was disgruntled with his political decisions. Perhaps he was
involved in a plot.
Others who wanted the king dead:
The Lyncestian brothers.
Greeks outside Macedonia.
The Persian king.
Some Macedonian nobility
Alexander and Olympias - most important suspects
The murder of Philip happened at a very opportune time for Alexander and Olympias – it is inevitable they would
both be suspects.
Olympias and Alexander were the chief beneficiaries of Philip's death.
It was crucial for Alexander to gain the throne before Cleopatra had a son who was old enough to contest the
Alexander was 20 years old and most impatient and anxious to do things his way and leave his
mark. He was very keen to be king.
Both he and Olympias were on bad terms with Philip.
How/why are Olympias and Alexander implicated in the murder of Philip?
Alienation of Philip and Olympias / Alexander
In the last two years of his life, Philip's relationship with Olympias and Alexander was tense.
Olympias' nationality and personality
Olympias' nationality and personality were disliked by Macedonian noblemen. They encouraged Philip to abandon
Olympias in favour of Cleopatra.
Olympias was not of Macedonian descent -she was (a princess) from Epirus. She has been described as
passionate, arrogant and savagely temperamental. Very strong-minded, she was determined to see her son
Alexander succeed to the Macedonian throne. She raised Alexander to believe he was descended from Achilles
and Zeus, and emphasised his heroic and divine status.
Philip's marriage to Cleopatra and Olympias' and Alexander's position in Macedonia
Olympias was furious when Philip married Cleopatra, Attalus' niece, in 337 BC. Historians suggest Philip was
pressured into marrying Cleopatra by Macedonian noblemen, who hoped Cleopatra would give Philip a son,
providing a full Macedonian heir (unlike Alexander) for the throne. (Philip had several other wives whom he married
for political reasons.)
Incident with Attalus
Attalus was openly hostile to both Olympias and Alexander.
At the wedding celebrations of Philip and Cleopatra, the inebriated Attalus raised his cup and invited guests to pray
for a legitimate heir - a reference to Olympias' foreign blood and a direct insult to both Olympias and Alexander.
Alexander responded by throwing a cup and shouting at Attalus. Philip, who also had had a lot to drink, drew his
sword to attack Alexander but tripped and fell. Alexander shouted 'the man who is preparing to cross from Europe
into Asia cannot cross from couch to couch'.
Alexander then fled with his mother; she stayed in Epirus with her brother, Alexander went to stay with the Illyrians.
Alexander and his father were eventually reconciled, but some suggest distrust continued between them.
Olympias, still in Epirus, attempted to convince her brother to avenge the insult to her honour. But thanks to Philip's
cunning diplomacy, Olympias was convinced by her brother Alexander of Epirus to return to Macedonia. In return,
Alexander was promised the hand of Cleopatra, the daughter of Philip and Olympias. They were married in 336
The Pixodarus affair
In 338 BC the Great King of Persia, Anaxerxes III, died. With the future uncertain for Persian- owned lands,
Pixodarus, the ruler of Caria (a state in Asia Minor controlled by Persia) tried to secure an alliance with Philip. He
offered his daughter in marriage to one of Philips sons, Philip Arrhidaeus.
Alexander saw this as an insult, believing he should be the first to have claim on Asian lands. He approached
Pixodarus secretly, offering to marry the daughter himself.
In the end there was no marriage alliance between the Macedonian and Carian dynasties. Philip II and Alexander
were angry with each other - Philip because his son spoiled his chance to secure an alliance that would help his
projected invasion of Asia, Alexander because he saw this as proof his father intended to 'cut him out'.
Philip banished Alexander's closest friends (Ptolemy; Harpalus and Nearchus) for their part in the affair, but not
Philotas, son of Parmenio.
Events that might indicate Alexander's/Olympias' involvement in Philip's murder
· Pausanias was subsequently killed by Alexander's friends. This suggests Alexander and his friends did not
want Pausanias captured alive in case he revealed their involvement. Under normal circumstances
Pausanias should have been captured alive and given a slow and painful death. It is possible, however, that
the men acted quickly and without thinking, shocked by the death of their king.
· An investigation carried out immediately after the death of Philip found the Lyncestis brothers guilty of plotting
to kill Philip. Alexander punished Heromenes and Arrhabaeus. The third brother, Alexander Lyncestis, was
pardoned despite evidence against him - he was the first to salute Alexander as the new king! If Alexander
were truly angered and distressed by the death of his father, he would have wanted to punish all those who
were guilty On the other hand, Alexander was a megalomaniac - Alexander Lyncestis' salute would have
appealed to his ego.
· According to Plutarch, Olympias was responsible as she encouraged Pausanias' resentment of Philip.
· Alexander encouraged Pausanias. Soon after Pausanias had been beaten up by Attalus, Alexander
apparently quoted a verse from Euripides' tragic play Medea to Pausanias, in which Medea threatened to
punish everyone who offended her. By quoting this verse, Alexander was allegedly suggesting Philip
deserved to be punished.
Alexander's and Olympias' innocence?
Evidence pointing to Olympias' and
Alexander's involvement is
circumstantial. No hard evidence
against either of them.
The historian Tarn suggests was Antipater who
presented Alexander as the new king to the people
after Philip's death. If Antipater approved of
Alexander, it is likely Alexander was not involved in
his father's murder. (It is possible that Antipater was
aware of the plot to kill Philip and approved of it.)
Activity 9B: The murder of Philip
a. Who killed Philip?
b. When and where?
c. During which occasion?
2. Give two reasons why Pausanias killed Philip.
3. Give two reasons why Olympias and Alexander may have wanted Philip dead.
4. What events indicate that Alexander may have been involved in the murder of Philip?
Alexander King of Macedon and Hegemon and Strategos of the Corinthian
Following the murder of Philip, Alexander was presented to the assembled army by Antipater, as their next king. He
ascended to the throne in 336 BC at the age of 24 and immediately set out to secure the throne. He did this by:
· Punishing his father's assassins.
The three Lyncestian brothers were found guilty of treason (plotting to kill the king). Two of the brothers were
executed, but the third, Alexander Lyncestis, was pardoned because he was the first man to greet Alexander
with the words, 'Hail King of Macedonia'. This incident highlights Alexander's megalomania.
· Carrying out a state funeral for his father with pomp and ceremony.
· Assassinating those who threatened his right to inherit the throne.
Amyntas was killed - he was Alexander’s first cousin who claimed to be next in line for the throne.
Attalus was killed - he was the Macedonian nobleman who had called Alexander 'an illegitimate heir to the
Macedonian throne'.
Cleopatra and her baby (Philips child) were brutally killed at the request of Olympias. Alexander was not
involved in their murder.
· Claiming loyalty given to his father was his hereditary right. In an effort to be accepted by Macedonian
nobility, he promised to follow the principles of his father’s administration. Also announced that all
Macedonian people exempt from taxation.
· Securing his position as leader of the Northern tribes (he travelled to the north to suppress rebellions and
claim new lands) and leader of The Corinthian League (he visited the Greek states to also suppress
rebellions and claim his hereditary right to lead the Corinthian League).
Alexander's relationship with the Greeks
Alexander was determined to maintain firm control of the Greek states and used every possible means to achieve
this. He asserted his authority over the League of Corinth, punished rebels severely, and rewarded those who were
Alexander and the League of Corinth
Members of the League of Corinth were forced to accept Alexander as their Hegemon and Strategos.
The League was important to Alexander because it gave him control:
· over the Greek states of the mainland and many of the islands
· of the Athenian fleet
· of the Greek armies, including the Thessalian cavalry.
The League also allowed Alexander to:
· maintain peace in Greece, as member states were forbidden to fight each other
· lead the allied troops against Persia under the pretext of a religious war of revenge.
How successful was Alexander in managing member states?
Greek states joined the League reluctantly, so in the early years of Alexander’s rule there were several rebellions
against Macedonian rule. When he left for the east, Alexander, anticipating opposition, appointed Antipater to the
position of Regent of Macedonia and Deputy Hegemon of the League, in charge of 12 000 Macedonian infantry
and 1 500 cavalry. All rebellions were therefore suppressed.
A number of Greeks joined the enemy as mercenaries fighting against Alexander and his allied army Despite
severe punishment of the mercenaries, they continued to fight him.
The first of the Greek rebellions 335 BC
As soon as the Greek states heard of Philips death, they prepared to rebel against Macedonia.
Alexander was in the north when he heard about the rebellions of the Greeks.
Quick action was necessary, but he was determined to avoid fighting if possible -like his father, he wanted to
befriend the Greeks.
To get to the Greek states of the south, Alexander had to go through Thessaly. To avoid confrontation, instead of
taking the usual route through the Vale of Tempe (where the famous Thessalian cavalry were waiting to do battle),
he followed a narrow path up the slopes of Mt Ossa and found his way into the city. The Thessalians had no choice
but to welcome him. They recognised him as their Archon (political leader) and placed their famous cavalry at his
disposal. This incident highlights Alexander’s ingenuity. He was a master strategist who often conquered by,
surprising the enemy.
Neighbouring tribes
As soon as the neighbouring states (e.g. Thebes, Athens) heard about the surrender of Thessaly, they too
submitted. Corinthian League members held a synhedrion and declared him their hegemon / strategos autocrator.
Second rebellion of the Greek states
In 336 BC, new king of Persia, Darius llI, decided to reclaim his authority over the Greek states. He sent agents to
Greece with much gold to encourage Greeks to rebel against Macedonia. A rumour started that Alexander had
been killed in the north
Theban rebellion Spring 335 BC
Thebes decided it was a good time to rise against Macedonia. Athens, under Demosthenes, promised help to the
Thebans and so did an allied Peloponnesian army Demosthenes and Sparta accepted Persian money.
The battle took place in Thebes, in 335 BC:
· Thebes invited political exiles back and the Theban assembly voted to fight Macedonia.
· Thebans thought Alexander was dead - only when he encamped outside their gates did they believe he was
still alive!
· Alexander issued a proclamation offering Thebans an amnesty, demanding only the surrender of the two
rebel leaders.
· Thebans replied by demanding surrender of Philotas and Antipater and invited anyone to join them and the
king of Persia in 'freeing Greece from the tyrants'. Alexander was furious and ordered an attack.
Initially the Thebans held their own in fierce fighting outside the walls. Eventually the Macedonian phalanx pushed
into the city. The fight turned into a massacre - 6000 Thebans were killed.
Alexander quite properly treated the revolt as an infringement of the Common Peace of the Corinthian League. He
handed over the decision about the fate of Thebes to representatives of the allies who were there helping him.
Their decision was that the city of Thebes be razed to the ground, its territory divided up among the allies and
survivors sold as slaves - 30000 Thebans were enslaved.
Why did Alexander punish Thebes so severely?
The destruction of Thebes was a calculated decision. Alexander entrusted fate of Thebes to her bitter enemies,
keen to settle old scores. J. R. Hamilton refers to 'a calculated act of terrorism on the pan of Alexander'.
Alexander used Thebes to teach other Greek states a lesson. This was an important step in the relationship of
Alexander and the Greek states.
· By destroying Thebes, Alexander removed the possibility of reaching understanding with the Greek states.
They had no choice but to accept him as leader.
· One after another the Greek states hastened to apologise to Alexander. The Athenian assembly sent an
embassy to congratulate Alexander on his safe return from the northern campaigns and on defeating the
· Afterwards Alexander returned to Macedonia to begin preparations for conquest of the Persian Empire.
These events highlight Alexander’s relationship with the Greek states, his determination (prepared to do anything
to achieve his ambitions), his military ingenuity and skill and his energy and speed of movement.
Activity 9C: Theban rebellion 335 BC
1, Why did Thebes rebel?
2. Why did Alexander punish Thebes so severely?
3. What effect did the destruction of Thebes have on Greek/Macedonian relations?
Alexander and Athens
Athens received more favourable treatment from Alexander, probably because he was anxious to have a friend
among the Greeks and because, in the early days, he needed the Athenian fleet. Evidence for this includes the
After the Theban revolt, Athens was not punished (only one of the rebel leaders was exiled), even though Athens
promised support for Thebes.
Alexander left Macedonian garrisons in a number of Greek states to protect his interests, but not in Athens.
After the battle of Granicus in 334 BC, Alexander sent 300 suits of captured armour to Athens as an offering to
When Alexander discovered the statue of the Tyrant slayer (taken by the Persian king in an early invasion) in Susa
in 331 BC, he sent it back to Athens as a gift, knowing it had national value.
And yet - Alexander was determined to punish Athens over the mercenaries issue and use this incident as a lesson
for all Greeks.
The issue of the Greek mercenaries 334 BC
In 334 BC Alexander fought the Persian satraps for the first time, at the battle of Granicus. Approximately 6
000 Greek mercenaries under the leadership of Memnon, a Greek commander, joined the Persians against
When Alexander won the battle, the 2 000 surviving mercenaries were sent in chains to hard
labour in Macedonia.
Alexander had the right to punish the mercenaries, as they had contravened the resolutions of the Corinthian
Their punishment, however, was severe, as he intended this 'to be a lesson' for all Greeks to intimidate them
into submission.
In the spring of 333 BC when Alexander was at Gordium, an embassy came to him from Athens requesting
the release of the Granicus mercenaries.
Alexander refused. Why? The presence of the Persians in the Aegean Sea and the eastern Mediterranean
was very strong, and Darius was giving money to finance Greek rebellions. Alexander therefore kept the
prisoners as a reminder to other Greeks of what would happen to them if they betrayed him.
In the spring of 331 BC (when Alexander returned to Tyre after taking over Egypt), Athenian embassies came
to him for a second time requesting the release of the mercenaries. Alexander this time agreed to release
them. Why? He had recently received news of the rebellion of king Agis, so he decided to release the
Granicus mercenaries as a strong 'bribe' for the Athenians to persuade them not to join the rebels.
The mercenaries issue is important because it highlights Alexander's determination to maintain a firm hold over the
Greek states and the fact that he was prepared to go to any lengths to achieve this.
Activity 9D: The Greek mercenaries
1. Who were the mercenaries?
2. How and why did Alexander punish them so severely?
3. a. When did Greek embassies ask for the release of the mercenaries?
b. What was Alexander's response, and why did he respond in this way?
Greek rebellions 333-332 BC
While Alexander was fighting in Asia Minor, he received news of two Greek rebellions against Macedonian rule.
Thrace 333 BC
Information regarding this rebellion is rather confusing.
According to A. B. Bosworth
Memnon, general of Thrace, encouraged people of Thrace to rebel
against Macedonian rule.
When the rebels got out of control, Memnon changed his mind and
asked Antipater to help him suppress the revolution.
According to J. R. Hamilton
Memnon collaborated with the king of Sparta
to rebel against Macedonia on two fronts at
the same time.
Antipater, realising the seriousness of the
situation, negotiated a quick treaty with
Antipater responded to Memnon's call by coming to Thrace.
At the same time, King Agis of Sparta rebelled.
Antipater was forced to conclude a quick treaty with Memnon so
Antipater could move south to deal with the rebels there. Antipater
and Memnon agreed that Memnon would remain general of Thrace
and his territory was actually increased in size.
Memnon which allowed him to remain
general of Thrace. Area Memnon ruled was
This was an attractive offer, so Memnon
decided to remain loyal to Macedonia.
The King Agis rebellion 333-337 BC
King Agis, king of Sparta, saw the Thracian rebellion as an opportunity to overthrow Macedonia. He sent
messengers to other Greek states encouraging them to join him in an allied rebellion.
First rebellion
Athenians voted to stay out of the rebellion, partly because they disliked Sparta.
The rebel allies grouped together. Many of the troops were battle-hardened, experienced mercenaries from Asia.
20 000 infantry and 2000 cavalry joined forces. The first rebellion was fought in Corinth against the Macedonian
general Corrhagus. He was defeated.
Second rebellion - King Agis takes over the Greek islands
Agis hired 8000 mercenaries who had escaped from the battle of lssus. Darius helped by sending money and
ships. Agis took over islands of the Aegean, compelling the people to fight with him against Antipater.
Battle of Megalopolis
Antipater gathered a force of approximately 40 000 Greeks and Macedonians and moved south to fight King Agis'
allies at Megalopolis. He won the fierce battle. Agis was defeated and killed, despite fighting very bravely.
Aftermath of the rebellions
With Agis defeated, rebellion in the Peloponnese collapsed.
· The Spartans and their allies approached Antipater for a truce. Antipater referred the matter to the Corinthian
League. (Correct procedure as Megalopolis was an ally of Macedonia and a member of Corinthian League.)
· Synhedrion of the League decided allied rebels had to pay reparations to Megalopolis.
· Sparta, the prime instigator of the rebellion, was not a member of the League - not knowing how to deal with
Sparta, the League sent an embassy to Alexander for advice. Spartans sent their own embassy to negotiate
with Alexander.
· While the Spartan embassy was in the east, Antipater took 50 Spartan hostages.
· Alexander's decision was to force Sparta into joining the Corinthian League. Spartan hostages were freed.
The Greek rebellions highlight the determination of the Greeks to overthrow Macedonian rule, the superiority of the
Macedonian army and Alexander's keenness to maintain the Corinthian League.
Activity 9E: The King Agis rebellion
1. Why did King Agis rebel against Macedonia?
2. List key events during the King Agis rebellion. Give:
The location of the two battles.
The names of the leaders on either side.
Who was involved in the battle?
The outcome.
Exiles Decree 324 BC
While encamped in Susa, Alexander announced to his assembled troops he intended to order the Greek States to
recall anybody exiled for political reasons. (Those exiled for criminal reasons or for sacrilege were not to be
Alexander’s intentions were well publicised - Nicanor was sent to Greece to announce Alexander's decree at the
Olympic Games in Olympia, 324 BC. The 20 000 people gathered there cheered when they heard the
In his message, Alexander claimed no responsibility for the banishment of the exiles. He promised to help restore
them to their homes. (This suggests Alexander was only restoring people who were exiled before his accession.
Thebans, for example, were not permitted to return home.)
The policy had been planned for a number of months before it was announced. It is unusual in the sense that
Alexander had not concerned himself with the Greek States for some time - after the King Agis rebellion, they
had settled into submission or co-operation.
With this decree, Alexander was clearly adopting a more authoritarian approach. There was no debate in the
Corinthian synhedrion nor any diplomatic consultation. Alexander simply instructed the Greek States; they had
no choice but to obey.
The Decree was an infringement of the Corinthian League that forbade interference in the internal affairs of
member states. Alexander violated autonomy of the Greek States by issuing a command that impinged on
their economic and political stability. The Decree was an indication he intended to be more directly involved in
government of the Greek States.
Reasons Alexander issued the Exiles Decree
· Harpalus was on his way to the Greek states - the Decree reduced the number of mercenaries available to
· Many exiles in Asia had become mercenaries, fighting with the enemy
· Many exiles settled in newly-built cities were not happy - 3000 people left to go back home when the Decree
was issued. Alexander knew these people were a menace to peace.
· There was an influx of delegations from exile communities asking for Alexander's help. Alexander therefore
aware of the misfortunes of the exiles and the glory he would gain by helping them return. 'The passion to
display magnanimity was always a driving force with Alexander' - A. B. Bosworth.
· Exiles close to Alexander would have repaid his generosity by counteracting possible opposition to him.
· Greek governments, preoccupied with returning exiles, would have no time to oppose his policies or rebel.
· Returning exiles would cause internal unrest -this would focus energy of the Greeks on party politics. They
would have little time to rebel against Alexander ('divide and rule').
There were those who objected to the Exiles Decree
Athenians had taken over the island of Samos and forced the entire population into exile. They sent an embassy to
Alexander (arrived in Babylon two months before Alexander's death) asking him to cancel the Decree in the case of
Samos. Alexander apparently recognised their claim but this was not honoured after his death. A year later, Samos
was restored to the Samians.
Aetolians had occupied the Acarnanian city of Oeniadae and expelled its inhabitants, violating the Corinthian
league to which they were signatories. Alexander had promised to deal with the Aetolians upon his return -they had
openly opposed him and were potential rebels.
The Decree created a number of problems
· Alexander did little to repatriate the exiles. Although he wrote to Antipater instructing him to compel the cities
to receive back their exiles, he did nothing else to ensure their safe return home.
· Greek cities were forced to accept an influx of potentially hostile citizens.
· Greek governments had to deal with the problem of confiscated properties.
The Exiles Decree highlights Alexander’s relationship with the Greek States (was determined to maintain control of
them) and gives an insight into his political leadership style (authoritarian).
Activity 9F: The Exiles Decree
1 What was the Exiles Decree?
2. When was it introduced;
a. To the army of Alexander
b. To the Greeks in the Greek States?
3. Give three reasons why Alexander introduced this decree
Summary of Alexander's relationship with the Greeks
Alexander was well aware of the continuing Greek hostility towards Macedonian rule -he, therefore did not relax his
firm control.
Alexander was prepared to use every possible method to maintain firm control of the Greek states, e.g. intimidation
and bribery.
Alexander wished to keep control of the Greek states, partly because he needed them for military reasons, and
partly because it strengthened his position politically.
After the King Agis rebellion, Alexander was not as actively involved with the Greek states. His involvement
increased when he had to return home.
Activity 9G: Alexander’s relationship with the Greek states
Discuss Alexander’s relationships with the Greek states and in particular, Thebes, Athens and Sparta.
Some of the topics to consider are:
· The Theban rebellion
· Greek mercenaries of the Battle of Granicus
· King Agis rebellion
Alexander's military conquests and leadership
Alexander - a military genius
Alexander started with the advantage of having Philip's well-trained and well-equipped army, but his military
expertise is apparent in every aspect of warfare -and some would say in every military undertaking.
Alexander was a military genius for two reasons:
· Tactical insight and strategic planning - he was able to adapt his tactics to suit different situations; he used
novel methods to surprise the enemy; he was able to devise ways to overcome obstacles.
· Leadership of his soldiers - Alexander was a charismatic leader but he also knew how to gain and keep his
men's affections; he led from the front and he shared the dangers and hardships with them; he rewarded
them accordingly; he challenged them.
Strategy and innovative skills, ability to handle a range
of military problems.
Moved quickly and took enemy by surprise, forcing them
to change their plans.
Ability to modify and adapt his tactics to different
During battle kept his lines of communication open.
Leadership during battles. Always led from the front,
continually challenging his men to emulate and follow
him without question. Shared all the dangers.
Made good use of the psychology of victory. Knew when
to restrain his men and when to 'let go' and relax
Rewarded the army.
Preparation of the army.
Choice of military commanders.
At Gaugamela placed a second line of Greek infantry to
guard against attack from behind.
Battle with Porus - he travelled upstream and attacked
in a place where the enemy were weak.
Siege operations against Tyre and Aornus completely
In central Asia relied more on smaller units rather than
on the phalanx.
At Gaugamela, Parmenio able to call for help.
Unlike Darius, Alexander never deserted his army.
After battle of Granicus, newly-wed soldiers sent back to
Macedonia for the summer.
After lengthy siege of Tyre he allowed his men to
massacre inhabitants.
Battle of Gaugamela followed by a month's rest in
At Gaugamela, Darius kept his army on stand-by while
Alexander rested his troops.
Parmenio an experienced commander appointed to lead
Thessalian cavalry.
Preparing for war in the east
Soon after the defeat of Thebes, Alexander returned to Macedonia and prepared to fight Persia. (Parmenio was
sent ahead with a small army to prepare the way for the bulk of the army that departed a few months later.)
Alexander's army
Backbone of the infantry. Main
purpose was to frighten the enemy
so the cavalry could deliver the
decisive blow.
Most effective if it stayed together.
Alexander's army was made up of
several phalanxes.
· Each phalanx had its own
· Each soldier of the phalanx
was armed with a sarissa
(long spear probably invented
by Macedonians).
Royal Hypaspists
The guards or supporters of the
Marched on the unshielded side of
the phalanx, in three battalions of
the best-trained infantry.
Foreign troops
As more places were conquered,
more soldiers were added to the
Were lightly armed troops.
Each battalion was made up of
1 000 men.
One of these battalions, the agema,
was the king's Personal Guard.
Kept contact with the cavalry.
Delivered the decisive blow.
Leader was Philotas until his death.
Usually on the right-hand side of the
Thessalian cavalry
Leader was Parmenio until his
Came from the Greek states as well
as Thrace and Paeonia.
Usually on the left-hand side of the
Mercenaries were employed at a
later stage.
Alexander’s personal staff
Alexander’s bodyguards.
Hetairoi (Companions)
Unofficial advisory council made up of Macedonian
nobility; often Alexander’s closest friends.
Usually no more than eight at a time.
Usually no more than one hundred.
Often selected for personal rather than military reasons
Alexander drew his administrators from this group.
Fig. 9.5: The phalanx
Alexander in Asia Minor
Asia Minor was a region belonging to Persia. Many city states on the coast were where Greek immigrants had
settled and created economic and political systems based on their Greek heritage. Persia allowed them to rule their
internal affairs, provided they paid taxes and gave military support to Persia on demand.
In the spring of 334 BC, Alexander crossed into Asia Minor with his allied army. The Persian fleet had bases all
over the Aegean Sea, yet it did not attempt to stop him.
Fig. 9.6: Alexander's route into Asia Minor
Alexander's army
In 334 BC, Alexander left for Asia Minor (a region belonging to Persia). The allied army encamped at Arisbe. It is
estimated that Alexander had a total of 40 000 troops:
· approximately 32 000 infantry
· approximately 5 000 cavalry
In addition, Alexander had:
· technical troops, e.g. engineers
· other support troops, e.g. cooks, doctors.
Persia on the eve of Alexander's invasion
Persia was a very wealthy country, controlled a vast empire, was ruled by Darius III with the help of the satraps
(governors) and was weakened by rebellion in many of the western satrapies (states) - the oppressed people of the
Persian Empire looked to a liberator.
The Persian army of Asia Minor
Arrian, a historian who lived in the second century AD, estimated the size of the Persian army to be 40 000 men;
half of them infantry and the other half cavalry (J. R. Hamilton disagrees with this figure, suggesting it's too high).
The Persian fleet had several bases in the Aegean, e.g. on Cyprus and Tyre.
Battle of Granicus 334 BC
Granicus - a river in the state of Phrygia.
When in Arisbe, Alexander heard that Persian satraps had gathered on the eastern side of the river to fight him.
Included was Memnon, a Greek from the island of Rhodes who commanded an army of Greek mercenaries who
objected to Macedonian rule of the Greek states.
Memnon wisely advised the Persian satraps to:
· avoid fighting Alexander - they did not have a big enough, or sufficiently well-trained army
· retreat from the area
· burn the countryside - so there would be no supplies for Alexander's army
· use their superior fleet stationed in the Aegean sea to attack Macedonia while Alexander was away in Asia.
Memnon's advice was ignored.
State of the two armies
Alexander's army
The Persian armies
· recognised only one leader, Alexander.
lacking unity/leadership
· highly disciplined
inadequately trained
· well trained
strong cavalry
· well equipped
infantry inferior to Alexander's phalanx
· fighting for a common purpose - revenge
fighting because the Greeks invaded their land
Memnon's 6000 Greek mercenaries/rebels were
high-calibre soldiers.
Course of events before the battle
Parmenio advised Alexander to postpone the battle until morning, for the following reasons:
The river banks were steep, muddy and slippery and the river was full, because of the melted spring snow.
Persians held the high ground on the opposite bank.
Parmenio believed if they waited until dawn the Persians would retreat for the night and Alexander's army
could cross the river without opposition.
Alexander, confident he would win, decided to fight. A victory won under difficult circumstances would boost the
morale of his troops and gain him the respect of those Greeks who were there reluctantly.
The course of the battle
The two opposing armies lined up on either side of the river.
Fig. 9.7: Battle of Granicus
First phase of battle (1)
· Alexander believed he would be a target for the Persians so he expected the Persian side facing him to be
· The Persians strengthened their left side opposite Alexander as predicted. This move weakened their centre.
Second phase of battle (2)
· Alexander ordered the cavalry, under leadership of the Companion Amyntas, to attack diagonally the
strengthened left side of the Persians, opposite Alexander.
· Amyntas suffered heavy casualties (but the fighting gave Alexander the chance to cross the steep river
banks). Companions were using the sarissa; Persians with their javelins did not stand a chance.
Third phase of the battle (3)
· With the left and strongest Persian side pinned down by Amyntas, Alexander charged, crossing the river
diagonally to attack the left centre.
· Alexander was surrounded by Persian satraps who aimed to kill him, believing this would end the Greek and
Macedonian invasion. At one stage, one of the Persian nobles came from behind and as he raised his sabre
to kill Alexander, Cleitus the Black (a Companion and close friend of Alexander) struck the nobleman,
severing his arm at the shoulder.
· The battle became a hand-to-hand struggle. The Persian centre collapsed and the wings turned to flight.
· The Greek mercenaries led by Memnon were left to face the Macedonians. Surrounded, they asked to
negotiate with Alexander. He refused and a massacre followed. Only 2 000 were saved.
Alexander had won his first battle against the Persians.
Significance of the Granicus victory
· The first time Alexander fought the Persian army he won. Success boosted morale of Greek and Macedonian
army and demoralised the Persians.
· Majority of city-states of Asia Minor surrendered and welcomed Alexander, e.g. Sardis and Ephesus.
· Highlights Alexander's military expertise and the superiority of his army.
The aftermath of Granicus
Alexander sent spoils of war to the Greek states, and suits of armour sent to Athena's temple in Athens as an
offering (the inscription said 'Alexander, son of Philip, and the Greeks, except the Spartans, dedicate these spoils
taken from the Persians living in Asia'). With this action, Alexander was asserting his authority as Hegemon of the
League and emphasising the absence of the Spartans from this union.
The battle of Granicus highlights Alexander's military skills, his ability to defeat the Persians, and the continuing
Greek resistance against Macedonian rule.
Activity 9H: Battle of Granicus
1. Imagine you are the messenger sent by Alexander to announce to the Athenians your victory at Granicus.
What aspects of the battle would you highlight, and why?
2. What is the significance of the victory at Granicus for Alexander?
Ionian cities of Asia Minor 334 BC
Ephesus, Miletus and Halicarnassus:
· Wealthy, Greek trading cities.
· Trading competitors -if united, they would have given Alexander a difficult time.
· Persia allowed them to rule themselves provided they paid tribute and gave military help (their fleet) on
Miletus 334 BC
Garrison commander had initially written to Alexander to surrender, but when he heard the Persian fleet was
nearby, he decided to fight Alexander. Athenian fleet under leadership of Nicanor reached Miletus and blocked the
entrance to the harbour, preventing the Persian fleet from assisting Miletus. Deprived of outside help, the city soon
A number of defenders (including 300 mercenaries) escaped to a nearby island, prepared to fight to the death but
Alexander pardoned them and negotiated terms. Instead of punishing the mercenaries, this time Alexander offered
to employ them. According to the historian Arrian, the reason for this was that Alexander decided it was better to
keep the Greeks on his side instead of isolating them.
Disbanding the fleet 334 BC
After the battle of Miletus, Alexander ordered the Athenian fleet to disband. Only 20 ships were to remain
operational, plus those used for transporting his equipment. (Twenty war ships were not enough to fight the strong
Persian fleet - it has been suggested that Alexander kept the fleet of 20 ships as hostages.)
The battle of Miletus highlighted Alexander's dependency on the Athenian fleet. Alexander was not trained to fight
sea battles. He therefore decided on a policy that would enable him to remain self-sufficient.
Arrian outlines a number of other reasons for disbanding the fleet, but all are debatable:
· 'Alexander was short of money and could not maintain a fleet.' This is unlikely: After taking control of the
substantial treasuries of Sardes and Ephesus, Alexander was financially secure.
· 'Alexander's fleet was no match for the Persians and Alexander did not want to risk defeat.'
· However, the Athenian fleet was arguably better trained, equipped and disciplined -proved capable of
blocking the Persian fleet during the battle of Miletus.
· 'Alexander no longer needed the fleet as he now controlled Asia Minor with his army:' This is not altogether
correct -he had a long way to go before controlling the whole of Asia Minor and still had the southern coastal
and central areas to capture.
· 'By taking the coastal cities, Alexander destroyed the Persian fleet, for they had nowhere
· to get fresh crews from and no port to go to for supplies.' However, Persia still had strong bases in Cyprus
and Tyre.
The Halicarnassus battle showed that disbanding the fleet was a mistake.
Alexander in Caria: Halicarnassus, Autumn 334 BC
Halicarnassus was the capital of Caria. It was a town with three fortresses and a high brick wall.
Its ruler, Orontopates, with the help of Memnon (and his 2 000 mercenaries) surrounded the town with a moat
fourteen metres wide and seven metres deep. Alexander knew was going to be difficult to capture Halicarnassus,
but he had to in order to deny the Persian fleet a base.
Alexander began filling in the moat. A bitter fight followed for a number of days. Alexander broke through the walls Memnon fled to a nearby island, Orontopates escaped to a stronghold in the harbour. Alexander realised it was
best to retreat. He left behind 3 000 mercenaries and 200 cavalry, who finally defeated Orontopates a year later.
Retreat from Halicarnassus and rebuilding the fleet
Alexander retreated from Halicarnassus -without help from the Athenian fleet, he could not surround Orontopates.
The Persian fleet was nearby, providing supplies, so the city could not be starved into submission. This is sufficient
evidence that disbanding the Athenian fleet was a mistake. The Persians now controlled the entire Aegean. In 333
BC, when Alexander was in Gordium, he ordered and financed the rebuilding of the fleet to protect the eastern
Mediterranean lands.
Events at Miletus and Halicarnassus illustrate Alexander's military skill; the lengths to which he was prepared to go
in order to maintain total control; the fact that he did make mistakes.
Events after the siege of Halicarnassus
Alexander went back up north to Sardes (his second visit).
· Macedonian soldiers were to meet Alexander in Gordium in the spring of 333 BC. Those who had married
just before joining Alexander on his Asian campaigns were sent back to Macedonia for a holiday Arrian writes
'no act of Alexander's ever made him better loved by his Macedonians'.
· Officers accompanying the holidaying troops were ordered to return with reinforcements.
· An officer was sent to the Peloponnese to recruit troops.
· News came to Alexander that Darius had bribed Alexander Lyncestis to kill him. The Council of the
Corinthian League met and advised Alexander to kill Alexander Lyncestis before he started a rebellion.
Alexander chose to arrest and keep him under guard. He was killed three years later, immediately after the
plot of Philotas.
Activity 9I: Disbanding the fleet
1. When and why did Alexander disband the fleet?
2. Why was disbanding the fleet a mistake?
Battle of Issus (November 333 BC)
Alexander was at Mallus when he heard from Parmenio that Darius was encamped east of the Syrian gates.
Alexander travelled non-stop to get there, excited that at last he would meet and fight the Great King. Darius,
however, had actually by-passed Alexander and was encamped at lssus.
At Issus, Darius discovered Alexander's sick and wounded troops and killed them. Then he moved south towards
Alexander, hoping to fight him on the plains as originally planned.
Having realised his grave mistake, Alexander turned back, marching north at great speed to meet Darius on the
narrow coastal plains. He camped and rested his troops at the Pillars of Jonah, a pass 19 km south of the Pinarus
The course of the battle
Darius' army considerably outnumbered Alexander's, probably five to one. Darius travelled with his family, his
harem and the wives of his officers.
Fig. 9.8: The Battle of Issus
The two armies met on the narrow coastal plain near Issus, with the sea on one side, mountains on the other and
the river Pinarus between them. This location suited Alexander's smaller army. Darius' large army had insufficient
room to deploy its huge cavalry effectively. Alexander's blunder had turned to his advantage. It took all morning for
the troops to be positioned,
Fig. 9.9: Alexander's and Darius' armies at Issus
Alexander's army
Alexander intended to go on the offensive. He deployed:
· Allied Greek cavalry on the left (sea) side under Parmenio's command.
· The phalanx in the centre, as the ground permitted.
· The Macedonian cavalry on the right (mountain) side, under his command.
· Archers and light infantry at an oblique angle, to counter the Persians on the mountainside.
At the last minute, in response to Darius, Alexander strengthened the cavalry and extended the line on the right to
counter the Persian infantry.
Darius' army
Darius prepared a solid wall of defenders at the front of the line. He placed his best infantry, approximately 20 000
Greek mercenaries, in the centre.
· On the mountain side were the cardaces (heavy infantry).
· On the sea side were the cavalry under Nabarzanes' command.
· In the centre were the Greek hoplites (mercenaries).
· The rest of the troops, with Darius, were positioned in the centre back -there was no room for them
Phases of the battle
Darius stood firm behind the Pinarus river.
Alexander moved slowly. At missile range he charged, leading his Companions into the river, up the banks and
against the cardaces.
At the same time cavalry on the mountain side attacked the Persian light armed infantry. The Persian infantry
did not cope with the shock. Alexander pushed towards Darius.
Also at the same time, Persian cardaces on the sea side attacked the cavalry under Parmenio. Despite being
outnumbered, Parmenio managed to follow Alexander's strict instructions that there be no gap between the
Greeks and the sea.
Darius' Greek mercenaries fought so well they staggered the advance of the phalanx - the left side was unable
to climb up the river banks and was held back. The right side advanced further, so the cohesion of the phalanx 24
broke down. (The phalanx was most effective if kept together.) The Greek mercenaries fighting for Darius
poured into the gap, attacking the Greeks where they were most vulnerable.
Alexander in the centre was able to push closer to Darius. The two kings fought hard. The Persians, with their
missile javelins, could not cope with the Macedonian sarissa.
Darius fled when his guard was annihilated and he himself was on the verge of capture, first in his chariot, later
on horseback. His troops in the centre and close to the hills were totally demoralised when they realised Darius
had fled. They, too, started to withdraw.
Alexander initially did not follow Darius -he was needed on the battlefield. Coming up behind the Greek
mercenaries, he surrounded them, giving his phalanx a chance to recover its alignment. The mercenaries were
driven back from the stream. Realising the Persian troops near the mountain were deserting, they began to
At the sea side, the Thessalian cavalry under Parmenio observed what had happened in the centre and counterattacked. The Persian cavalry, demoralised by events, began to flee. Caught in the middle of the phalanx, they
were cut down.
Alexander set off after Darius but failed to capture him. Darius, joined by 4 000 survivors, escaped to Babylon.
Alexander returned to Issus.
Why did Darius lose and Alexander win the battle?
· Darius' large army was a hindrance rather than a help.
· Alexander was fighting with superior weapons - sarissa.
· Darius fled - even though his troops on the left, right and centre-front appeared to be succeeding against the
The retreat, far more than the battle, destroyed the Persian army.
Significance of the victory for Alexander
· The first time Alexander faced the Great King on the battlefield, he defeated him, even though Darius' army
was much larger. Darius' defeat demoralised the Persians and gained Alexander glory and further support
from his men. Greek rebels were demoralised.
· Persian admirals in charge of the fleet stationed in the eastern Mediterranean fled when they heard about the
battle of Issus. By 332 BC the fleet had disintegrated. The Persian naval offensive ended and the entire
Aegean coast was liberated from Persian occupation.
· Alexander annexed Darius' baggage train - captured a considerable treasure.
· Darius' Persian family had been captured in the Persian camp. Darius left behind his daughters, wife, mother
and a group of distinguished noblewomen. Although Alexander refused to return them to Darius, he treated
them as if they were his own family, assuming the role of the Great King of Persia. He did this for
propaganda purposes.
· The battle of Issus completed the takeover of Asia Minor. Alexander now able to move south into Syria,
Phoenicia and Egypt.
Alexander's victory at the battle of Issus illustrates his military genius.
Activity 9J: The battle of Issus
1. Draw a diagram to show the difficult position Alexander found himself in immediately before the Battle of
2. Draw a flow chart to outline the course of the battle?
Darius asks for the return of the royal and noble ladies
While in Phoenicia, Alexander received two requests from Darius asking for the return of his family.
Darius' first request
Arrian's version
Diodorus' version
Darius' messenger brought a letter to Alexander asking
for the return of the royal and noble Persian ladies.
Darius did not offer ransom or make any territorial
concessions at this stage. Offered to treat Alexander as
a friend and ally.
A significant offer for Darius, since the Great King was,
in theory, superior to all. Darius also blamed Philip for
starting the war.
Darius did offer ransom and the lands already captured
by Alexander. The arrogant tone of the letter suggests it
was forged by Alexander, who had decided not to return
the Persian ladies. Alexander rewrote the letter to make
Darius appear even worse, gaining support for his
decision to keep the ladies.
Whatever the case, Alexander's response was totally uncompromising:
· Rejected Darius' offer of friendship and alliance. Demanded to be addressed as 'king of Asia'. Said he would
only talk to Darius if he came to him as a subject to a king, not as an equal.
· Blamed the Persians for all hostilities. Claimed he was not the aggressor but the avenger of all Persian
· Accused Darius of procuring the murder of Philip and stirring up trouble in Greece.
This response had propaganda value for Alexander - it justified his continuing invasion of Persian lands and
provoked Darius into another confrontation on the battlefield.
Darius' second request
While Alexander was fighting against the Tyrians, a second request came from Darius.
He offered Alexander a ransom of 10 000 talents for his family and all territory to the west of the Euphrates
He proposed the two kings become allies with the alliance strengthened by the marriage of Alexander and
Barsine, his daughter.
Alexander completely rejected Darius' offer, replying:
· The country and its treasures were already his.
· If he wanted to marry Barsine, he did not need Darius' permission.
The Persian ladies were never reunited with Darius. When Darius' wife died, she was given a royal burial by
Alexander. Alexander referred to Darius' mother as his own. He arranged marriages for all the daughters, who were
given a handsome dowry and educated in the Greek language and customs.
‘The conquest of Syria and Egypt was the strategic condition of conquering Mesopotamia and Iran’ - J. R.
Fig. 9.10: Phoenicia and Egypt
After capturing Asia Minor, it would have been unwise for Alexander to cut across into Mesopotamia and Iran
(Persia) without capturing Phoenicia and Egypt, because:
· the Phoenician cities and Egypt belonged to the Persian Empire
· the Phoenician cities provided Persia with a strong fleet in the Mediterranean
· Egypt provided Persia with bases and supplies for the fleet.
Phoenician cities 332 BC
The Phoenician cities were Sidon, Aradus, Byblos and Tyre. Prosperous city-states, their economy was based on
As soon as they heard of Alexander's approach, they sent embassies to welcome him. Apart from Tyre, the states
were very pleased to be rid of Persia, extending a warm welcome to Alexander.
Siege of Tyre, January - August 332 BC
Fig. 9.11: Tyre
Tyre was made up of two parts:
· the old city - on the coast of the mainland
· an island off the coast (the new city).
Initially the Tyrians sent envoys welcoming Alexander.
Wishing to test their loyalty, Alexander asked to sacrifice to Herakles (Melcarth) on the island.
The Tyrians responded that only the Tyrian king could sacrifice on the island, and suggested
Alexander could make his sacrifice at the temple of Melcarth in the old city of Tyre. Alexander angrily dismissed the
envoys and prepared for a siege. Possible the Tyrians felt confident that they could withstand Alexander because
the new city had thick, high walls (in key places 45 m high) and stood on an island, 800 m offshore.
The seven-month siege
To reach the island city, Alexander constructed a mole from the mainland. Workers, stone and timber were
obtained from nearby areas.
As the mole approached the island, Tyrians began harassing the workers from the walls and from galleys. To
protect workers and command the walls Alexander built two 45-m towers. The Tyrians set fire to them. Alexander
responded by ordering construction of a wider mole (to accommodate more towers) and building more war
engines. When Alexander approached the island, he discovered that Tyrians had dropped stones into the water to
stop him from approaching the island. Had to clear these. Tyrians sent divers to cut the cables of the moored boats
that were there to clear the stones away.
Final stages of the battle
The Phoenician fleets of Sidon, Aradus and Byblos sent help to Alexander. Impressed with his victories, Lycia,
Rhodes and Cyprus joined Alexander.
Having an overwhelming superiority at sea, Alexander was able to surround the island. He attacked several key
points simultaneously from the mole and from war boats.
The Tyrians withdrew into the harbours, blocked the entrances and fought with great courage and ingenuity Initially
the Tyrians caused serious damage to Alexander’s war boats but in the end Alexander managed to get close
enough to use rams to break a weak part of the Tyrian walls. For three days he tried to enter the city while the
Phoenician fleets were attempting to enter the harbours.
Alexander and his battalion finally entered the city closely followed by another battalion. Tyrians, forced to fight in
different points, were defeated and many massacred - 30 000 inhabitants were sold into slavery. Only a small
number were pardoned.
Alexander's treatment of Tyre has been criticised by modern historians. However, his was an accepted practice of
ancient warfare. The siege of Tyre had been very long and tiring and during the siege Tyrians had viciously killed
captured Macedonians and Greeks in front of their friends.
Alexander's final act was to sacrifice to Melcarth and dedicate a war-engine to him and the sacred ship of Tyre.
The events in Tyre highlight Alexander’s military strength and determination and his ruthless and savage nature.
Activity 9K: The siege of Tyre
1. In what year did Alexander invade Tyre?
2. Why did Alexander attack Tyre?
3. What difficulties did Alexander face during the seven-month siege? How did he overcome these?
4. a. Who helped Alexander towards the end of the siege? b. How was their assistance significant?
From Tyre Alexander headed south for Egypt. The coastal cities submitted except for Gaza, a strongly walled town.
Bitter fighting, followed; the entire male population was killed and women and children sold into slavery:
Egypt 332-331 BC
Egyptians disliked the Persians, who had desecrated their temples and did not respect their religion. They
welcomed any challenge to Persian rule. Alexander marched to the main city of Memphis as his fleet sailed up the
Nile. At Memphis, he was welcomed and crowned as Pharaoh. There was no fighting. Instead, Alexander invited
Greek athletes and musicians and stage contests and festivals. He did this to reward his troops after the relentless
fighting in Asia Minor and Phoenicia.
Alexandria 331 BC
While in Egypt, Alexander built the most famous of his cities and named it after himself - 'glorifying for eternity' its
The main reason for building Alexandria was economic. This city was intended to replace Tyre as the trading
centre of the eastern Mediterranean.
Alexander sailed westwards up the river Nile until he came to a little village. There, between Lake Mareotis and the
island of Pharos, he built his new city.
Alexander, with the help of advisers, chose the location carefully - the harbour was sheltered by the island of
Pharos, while in summer the westerly breeze kept the city cool. Being situated west of the Nile delta, it was also
free of the silt brought down by the river.
The Greek architect, together with Alexander, designed a city with wide, straight streets and rectangular blocks of
houses to service the trading population.
It was a Greek city with an agora (marketplace) and temples to the Greek gods. Greek settlers came to live there,
together with other Hellenes from Egypt.
Alexander founded many cities during his campaigns. Some were flourishing, trading cities, others
were built for military reasons.
These cities enabled Alexander to unite the diverse cultures within his empire and prevent it from
falling apart.
Conquest of Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia was a fertile region between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, conquered by Persia over a century
earlier. Main city was Babylon.
Alexander heard Darius was encamped in Babylon, so he marched east. Crossed the Euphrates from the north
and proceeded to cross the Tigris at the same latitude. He didn't march straight to Babylon because:
· there was more food for his horses in the north and the heat there was less intense
· he planned to draw Darius northwards to fight on ground less favourable to Darius' cavalry than the extensive
plains of Babylon.
Fig. 9.12: Map of Mesopotamia
Battle of Gaugamela (end of 331 BC)
Darius moved north and encamped near the village of Gaugamela. Alexander camped some dozen kilometres
away. With a small group he advanced to a ridge to observe the enemy.
Alexander saw he was outnumbered; for every one of Alexander's men, there were five Persians.
He discovered Darius had prepared the battleground -stones and shrubs had been removed and potholes filled in
so the field was suitable for chariots.
Parmenio advised against immediate attack. Alexander agreed - he was concerned about the fine Persian cavalry
and needed time to plan the battle.
Alexander ordered his men to have a meal and to rest. Darius kept his men on standby all night - Arrian considers
this to be a major error of judgement, causing Darius' ultimate defeat.
Deployment of troops
Darius’ army
On the Persian left: A mixture of cavalry and infantry.
Cavalry under the command of Bessus, satrap of
In the centre: Darius himself, flanked by the Greek
mercenaries, his bodyguard of spearmen, the royal
horseguard and the Indian cavalry.
In front of them were scythe-chariots (chariots fitted with
knives on the wheels) and elephants.
Alexander’s army
(built up in numbers using mercenaries)
On the right: Opposite Bessus, the Companions led by
Philotas, with Cleitus in command of the Royal
Squadron. Alexander led the hypaspists.
In the centre: The phalanx and the Greek cavalry. A
second line of infantry behind was ordered to turn
around and trace the enemy if encircled by them.
On the left: Opposite Mazaeus, Parmenio and the
Thessalian cavalry.
On the right: Cavalry in two groups under the
command of Mazaeus, satrap of Bactria.
Fig. 9.13: Darius' and Alexander's armies at the battle of Gaugamela
Arrangements were similar to those for the battle of Issus. But realising the Persian cavalry was particularly strong,
Alexander placed strong flank guards on either side.
Neither Persians nor Greeks had a synoptic view of the battle. As the battle took place at the end of summer, there
would have been a lot of dust created by the cavalry encounter. Alexander strengthened his army on the right, to
avoid the cleared ground. Persians forced to follow.
Course of the battle
1. Darius launched a cavalry attack on Alexander's right flank, attempting to break through and get behind.
2. Darius launched the elephants and scythe-chariots against the phalanx. The attack largely failed. Many
chariots and elephants were stopped before they got to the phalanx by a group of lancers placed there for this
very purpose. Rest of the elephants and scythe-chariots struck terror into the phalanx but such was their
training and discipline they were able to open their ranks at the exact moment to create 'corridors' for the
charging elephants and chariots to go through.
3. Following failure of the chariots Darius ordered a general offensive. Mazaeus launched against Parmenio's
4. Rest of the cavalry were sent to help Bessus on Alexander's right. This caused a gap to f open in the
Persian line, to the left of the centre.
5. Alexander, waiting for the opportunity for a gap to appear, advanced towards Darius but was held up by the
Persian horseguard and the Greek mercenaries.
Darius, standing in his chariot, decided the battle was lost, and fled. On his left Bessus and the Bactrian
cavalry followed Darius.
On the opposite side, Parmenio, hard pressed by Mazaeus, called for help. Alexander did not chase Darius
but went to assist Parmenio. In doing so he came across the Persian Royal Guard and other troops trying to
escape. A fierce fight followed. Many Companions were killed.
By the time Alexander was able to help Parmenio he was no longer needed. Mazaeus, hearing of Darius'
flight, fled, pursued by Thessalians.
Considering the victory at Gaugamela to be decisive, Alexander proclaimed himself 'king of Asia'. This
proclamation, before the whole Macedonian army, would have had immense propaganda value to Alexander
Activity 9L: The Battle of Gaugamela
a. How did the two armies (Alexander's and Darius') spend the night before the battle?
b. How significant was this to the outcome of the battle?
a. How and why did Alexander reinforce the feat of his army?
b. What were his orders to his soldiers?
3. Describe the Persian attack on the phalanx at the beginning of the battle and explain how Alexander's
army responded.
4. What was the significance of the victory for Alexander?
Military conquests after the Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander was fast approaching Persepolis (capital of the Persian Empire) and, having defeated Darius twice, he
now believed himself invincible - so did many of his men.
After the battle
Alexander chased after Darius all through the night but failed to kill or capture him. Darius headed for Media in the
north. Alexander decided to head for Babylon instead, to capture the main cities (nerve centres) of the Persian
Empire -Babylon, Susa and Persepolis. These were extremely wealthy cities -when Alexander captured them he
enjoyed financial security evermore.
Babylon 331 BC
The city was governed by Mazaeus the cavalry commander of the battle of Gaugamela. Alexander, expecting
trouble, approached in battle order. Mazaeus surrendered the city.
Babylonians hated Persians for desecrating their temples. Alexander exploited this, gaining respect of priests and
people by ordering the rebuilding of the great temple of the Babylonian god Marduk, desecrated by Persians.
Mazaeus was reinstated as satrap.
Alexander spent one month there. Troops were rewarded generously - soldiers were paid for six months and
mercenaries for two months. Discipline was relaxed. Curtius describes 'lurid scenes of debauchery'.
While in Babylon, Alexander received news about the King Agis rebellion. He sent money to strengthen the army in
Army reinforcements arrived from the Greek states.
Reorganisation of army
Alexander reorganised the army to cope with the new kind of warfare expected in the future.
The squadrons of the companions were divided into two companies to provide for greater mobility.
A 7th battalion of the phalanx was formed.
Events in Mesopotamia highlight Alexander's military expertise, his generosity to his soldiers and his tolerance of
other cultures and religions.
Battle at the Persian Gates
The satrap of Persis, Ariobarzanes, was at the Persian Gates with 25 000 troops.
Alexander made a frontal attack but was forced to retreat, leaving his dead men behind (recovered later).
Having failed the first time, Alexander left Craterus with some troops to keep Ariobarzanes occupied.
Alexander marched with the bulk of the army up the mountains, over a pass. On the second day, he came up
behind Ariobarzanes - with Craterus on the other side, they surrounded him. The majority of the Persians were
cut down or perished in flight. Only a handful of horsemen escaped with Ariobarzanes.
Persepolis 330 BC
Persepolis was the capital of the Persian Empire. Alexander entered the city triumphant and remained in
Persepolis for four months.
Initially he allowed his men to loot, and many natives were killed.
When everything settled, Alexander made it clear he intended to rule with the help of the Persian nobility. This
marked the beginning of his policy of fusion.
New appointments
Parmenio was instructed to take new-found treasures (from Babylon, Susa and Persepolis) to Ecbatana. Here it
would be handed over to Alexander’s childhood friend Harpalus, who was appointed to position of Imperial
Parmenio remained at Ecbatana, appointed to a new, important position - maintaining communication with the
west. This was not necessarily a demotion - Parmenio was 70 years old and the new type of warfare suited a
vigorous and adaptable person. Some historians point out that Parmenio disapproved of Alexander's policy of
fusion and perhaps this was the reason for sending him away.
Position of second-in-command went to Craterus.
Murder of Darius 330 BC
Alexander heard Bessus had placed Darius under arrest. This sent him on a mad gallop across the desert - only 60
Macedonians managed to keep up with Alexander. This emphasises Alexander’s energy and physical strength.
Near Shahrud (in Parthia), Alexander reached Darius' wagon, only to find Darius had been killed by Nabarzanes
and Barsaentes. Darius' murder was opportune for Alexander -if Darius had been captured alive it would have been
difficult to know what to do with him.
Alexander proceeded to act as Darius' legitimate successor. He sent the body to Persepolis to be buried in the
tomb of the Achaemenid kings.
The war of revenge ends -change of policy
The Persian Empire was captured and Great King was dead - therefore the war of revenge was over.
Alexander's position as strategos of the allied army ended.
Alexander invited the Greeks to remain in his army as paid soldiers if they wished to do so; many did. The
League of Corinth and Alexander's position as Hegemon continued.
Change of military tactics
Several rebellions broke out in eastern parts of the Empire. Alexander changed his military strategy to deal
with this new kind of warfare.
He no longer expected to fight pitched battles. People were highly mobile, knew the countryside well and
took refuge in natural fortresses high on rocks or in steppes.
Phalanx no longer as important. Five small detachments of infantry and cavalry were created, working under
different commanders. These swept through the countryside, storming and securing fortified places.
Pursuing murderers of Darius 330-328 BC, dealing with internal conflict
With Darius dead, Alexander's course was predetermined by Darius' murderers (Nabarzanes, Barsaentes and
Bessus) who had fled to the East.
Two other satraps, Satibarzanes and Spitamenes, refused to co-operate with Alexander, so he pursued them.
Alexander misjudged how severe the winter was. While crossing the mountains from Arachosia into
Paropamisos, his troops suffered greatly from frostbite, snow blindness and hunger. They fed on fish, raw
meat and even their horses. Losses would have been worse if local tribes had not helped them. This is
one of Alexander's mistakes.
The countryside had been destroyed by Bessus, so Alexander found no supplies. Alexander, determined,
kept going through deep snow with no provisions.
Sogdiana - death of Bessus
Alexander crossed the river Oxus by filling hides with hay. This illustrates Alexander's ingenuity. The
speed of Alexander disconcerted his opponents. From Spitamenes came a message that he had arrested
Bessus and was ready to hand him over to Alexander.
Ptolemy was dispatched to bring Bessus in. Spitamenes panicked and fled, leaving Bessus behind.
Ptolemy brought Bessus to Alexander naked and wearing a wooden collar. Bessus was flogged and sent
to another place, to face trial in the Persian court. Persian methods of punishment were applied - many
see this as another of Alexander's efforts to please the Persians, i.e. policy of fusion.
Maracanda - attempts to negotiate with Spitamenes fail
Alexander heard Spitamenes wished to negotiate with him. He sent along a small army under the
leadership of an interpreter rather than an army officer. When they arrived, Spitamenes enticed them to
the edge of the desert where he was joined by more troops who proceeded to surround and kill all
Alexander's men. Highlights the fact that Alexander's troops easier to deceive without their leader. When
Alexander found out what had happened, he felt great anger and decided to seek Spitamenes out himself.
He reached Maracanda with amazing speed, but Spitamenes had fled again. Alexander buried his dead
and systematically destroyed the area in case Spitamenes returned.
Death of Spitamenes
Spitamenes was preparing to fight Alexander, but was defeated in a battle by Coenus' army and was
forced to retreat to the steppes with local soldiers, the Massagetae. When the Massagetae heard
Alexander was approaching, they decapitated Spitamenis and sent his head to Alexander as a peace
Rocky fortress of Oxyartes
Sogdiana had not surrendered. Many inhabitants took refuge in rocky fortresses.
The baron Oxyartes, feeling safe, said 'Alexander needs winged soldiers to climb his rocky fortress'.
Alexander, unperturbed, called for volunteers, who climbed the difficult rock at night. Then Alexander
called out to Oxyartes to 'look down and see winged soldiers'. The baron was astounded and surrendered.
When Alexander went into the fortress he met Roxane, the baron's daughter. Alexander fell in love
instantly and married her in a Persian ceremony (327 BC). It is likely this was also a political marriage.
Barsaentes and Nabarzanes
Barsaentes fled to India but was handed back to Alexander 326 BC and executed.
Nabarzanes was pursued by Alexander for some time. When Alexander caught up with Nabarzanes, the
latter begged for forgiveness and was granted it. (Satibarzanes was killed in single combat.)
The Indian expedition 327 BC
India was divided into a number of small states, each with its own ruler. A powerful king, Porus, ruled the lands to
the northeast of the river Indus.
Possible reasons for Alexander invading India
· Continuing success encouraged him to keep going. He enjoyed the thrill of conquest.
· Under Darius, the Persian Empire extended to the Indus River. Alexander, being competitive, had to get to
that point too.
· Perhaps he never intended to return to Macedonia.
The Rock of Aornus
A flat-topped ridge over 2 100 metres high with precipitous cliffs, the Rock of Aornus overlooked the Indus River.
Capturing it was difficult, but Alexander was compelled to take it as the place had strategic significance, dominating
the Indus river and threatening Alexander's communications.
Ptolemy was sent to attack first, Alexander followed the next day. They had to fight hard to withstand local
resistance. Halfway up the mountain their way was blocked by a ravine.
This did not deter Alexander - he proceeded to build a causeway across the ravine while the Indians were
When the causeway was complete, the Indians were so astounded they asked for a truce. In the middle of the night
they attempted to escape, but Alexander discovered this and stopped them.
The Kingdom of Porus and the Battle of Jhelum (Spring, 326 BC)
Porus was encamped on the eastern side of the Jhelum River (also known as the Hydaspes). Porus' position
caused problems for Alexander.
· The river, swollen by the summer rains and melting snow, was too deep for horses to cross.
· Porus was waiting with 200 elephants - Alexander knew their smell would upset the horses, making it difficult
to get them to cross on rafts.
Alexander had to trick Porus so he could cross the river.
· Alexander pretended to cross at various points to confuse Porus. Porus initially sent forces to counter
Alexander's movements but finally gave up, relying on messengers to give him warning of Alexander's actual
· Craterus and a large force were left in the main camp, pretending to prepare to cross the river at this point.
Porus believed Alexander was here with the whole army Craterus' orders were not to cross until Porus
withdrew all the elephants.
Alexander found a place to cross, 27 km north of his camp. The location was ideal as it was opposite an island
covered by trees - the island screened Alexander's preparations and the initial stages of the crossing.
Fig. 9.14: The Indian campaigns
Crossing the river
· The night before the crossing there was heavy rain and thunder, which concealed Alexander's advance to
the north, where he planned to cross.
· In the morning the rain and wind eased so boats and rafts began to cross. The contingent was spotted by
Porus' men soon after it passed the island.
· Alexander disembarked first but was shocked to discover they had landed on another island and were still
separated from the eastern bank by a deep channel. Quick action was necessary. They searched for a ford
and quickly crossed, even though water was up to their chins.
· Once on the eastern side, Alexander had time to organise his forces into battle order.
When Porus received news that Alexander was crossing, he did not believe this was the main attack. He sent his
son with a relatively small cavalry and chariot force. A battle followed, Porus' son was killed. Soon after, Porus
arrived with the whole army. The two sides prepared for a pitched battle.
Porus' troops were deployed in a place favourable to cavalry manoeuvres. The infantry was placed in the centre,
mostly behind the elephants, with the cavalry on either side, shielded by the chariots.
Alexander planned to eliminate the Indian cavalry first and then engage the infantry. He sent all his cavalry except
for those led by Coenus to one side, hoping Porus would do the same.
Coenus was ordered to remain out of sight until the Indian cavalry on the right rode around to support the cavalry
on the left. He was told to then attack from the rear.
Course of the battle
Alexander attacked first, sending all his cavalry against Porus' cavalry, on the enemy's left.
Porus responded as Alexander had anticipated, sending all his cavalry to deal with Alexander's cavalry.
With the whole Indian cavalry on Porus' left, Coenus attacked from the rear, causing them to face both ways.
Surrounded, the Indians retreated behind the elephants. Alexander ordered the infantry to advance. As they
did so, the elephants tore great gaps in their ranks.
The Indian cavalry was encouraged, charged again, but was forced to retreat a second time.
Alexander's forces encircled the Indian cavalry. In the confusion, the elephants began to inflict heavy
casualties on their own side. The Indian cavalry was almost wiped out.
A gap opened in the circle of the attackers and the surviving Indians attempted to escape. Craterus and his
men crossed the river, chased after and eliminated the deserting Indians.
Porus remained with his army until he was wounded. He then retired slowly on his elephant and reluctantly
When they finally met, Alexander asked Porus how he wished to be treated. He replied 'like a king'. Respecting
Porus' bravery during the battle, Alexander treated him like a king -Alexander allowed Porus to continue ruling his
kingdom and added to his lands.
On the site of the battle, Alexander built two cities:
· Nicaea - means 'victory'
· Bucephala - named after Alexander's 30-year-old horse Bucephalus, who died soon after the battle.
At this time Alexander gave orders for the building of a fleet. He intended to sail down the
Jhelum river to the Indus river then to the ocean.
Sailing down the Indus (late 326 BC)
After the battle with Porus, Alexander was forced to return back to the west by his mutinous troops.
Alexander chose to sail down the river instead of travelling on land as he wanted to investigate landing places
along the river banks for building trading centres.
Travel arrangements
Alexander had a fleet of 800 ships plus many smaller craft.
Nearchus, Alexander's boyhood friend, was appointed admiral of the fleet.
Onesicritus was appointed second-in-command.
The Companions, guards, archers and Agrianians, because they had fought the hardest, travelled on the
· Craterus marched on the west bank of the Indus, commanding both cavalry and infantry
· Hephaistion marched on the east bank, with the bulk of the troops plus elephants.
· Philip, satrap of the territory to the west of the Jhelum, followed three days later to 'mop up' deserters.
On the day of departure, Alexander offered sacrifice to a number of gods and poured libations to:
a. the river gods
b. Poseidon, Amphitrite and the Nereids
c. his ancestor Herakles and his father Ammon-Ra.
The first stages of the voyage were peaceful, but then problems arose with the Mallian and Oxydracaean Indian
Mallian and Oxydracaean tribes (325 BC)
The Malli lived between the Chenab and Ravi rivers, the Oxydraceans to the south.
To the west, Malli were protected by desert. Alexander intended to cross the desert to attack them from the west.
Hephaistion was to move to the south of the Oxydracaeans to block their escape.
· Alexander's first attack from the west surprised the Mallians - many were killed outside the village walls. The
rest of the village was captured in two days and the people butchered.
· The massacre was repeated from village to village. In one village the Mallians were surrounded and burned
to death by fires they had lit in order to bum supplies.
The battles against the Mallians highlight Alexander’s ruthlessness and brutality.
Alexander gets wounded
In one Malli village, Alexander was caught at the top of a defence wall and shot through the lungs with an
arrow. He had to be carried away on his shield. Perdiccas saved his life by cutting the arrow, stopping a
Rumour spread that Alexander was dead. When news arrived the king was alive nobody
believed it. Alexander sent a letter to his troops announcing he would soon be with them but again there was
As soon as he was well enough to be moved, Alexander sailed downstream to the camp. As he approached
he ordered the awning under which he lay to be removed so the troops could see him. Even then they thought
it was his corpse.
When he waved, everyone cheered. Carried ashore on a litter, he then mounted his horse and rode to his tent.
He dismounted and walked a few steps among the cheering troops.
Mutiny was forgotten by Alexander and the troops. This event highlights the power of Alexander's personality and
· The Mallians and Oxydracaeans surrendered. Alexander ordered the building of a new city called Alexandria
at the junction of two rivers. Because it was intended as a trading centre, dockyards were built. This action
was repeated further down the Indus.
Rest of the voyage continued in the same manner - fighting, victory for Alexander, building of more cities for trade.
In the middle of 325 BC Alexander reached Pattala. He sailed down the western arm of the delta, where ships were
damaged in a violent storm.
It was also here that they experienced the effect of tidal movement for the first time. Taking refuge from a storm in a
side channel one evening, they woke the next day to find themselves on 'dry land' - the tide was out. This was a
new experience for the Greeks - the Mediterranean Sea is not tidal. When the tide changed, many ships were lost
as they were thrown against one another.
Summary of Alexander's military conquests
Alexander was a military genius and this is reflected in his success. He conquered all the lands from Asia Minor to
the Indus River. During this time he fought and defeated some of the world's most powerful armies.
His military success was due to his:
· leadership skills.
· military expertise.
Activity 9M: Alexander’s ruthlessness
'It was because he saw his security was threatened that he acted ruthlessly.' (Hamilton.)
To what extent is this statement correct? Answer this by discussing the events surrounding the following:
The removal of rivals from the Macedonian throne
The murder of Parmenio
The execution of the Generals of Medea
The execution of the ringleaders of the mutiny at Opis.
Alexander's relationship with the Macedonians and Persians
As Alexander advanced through Asia, his view of the empire and his position with regard to the conquered people
changed. In order to achieve security and permanence of his new empire, he adopted a policy of fusion. According
to this policy:
Persians and Macedonians were to live in harmony
Persian soldiers would fight for Alexander.
Persian religious practices were tolerated.
Some Persian customs were adopted.
The policy of fusion created serious problems between Alexander and some Macedonians, who resented
Alexander’s new approach.
Alexander's relationship with the Macedonians
Alexander’s relationship with the Macedonian nobles and soldiers varied. At the beginning of his reign, Alexander
enjoyed total loyalty and devotion but by the end there was resentment and open opposition. There are a number
of reasons Alexander's relationship with the Macedonians deteriorated.
The nature of the Macedonian monarchy differed from that of the Persian monarchy:
· In Macedonia, king and nobles were very close. The king in Macedonia was 'first among equals' - nobles
gave their support and loyalty, in return he sought their advice.
· In Persia the 'Great King' had an exalted status - he was above all others and even though not considered to
be a god, there was a certain 'aura' surrounding him.
Alexander began as 'first among equals' but after Darius' death assumed position of the 'Great King'. Most
Macedonian nobles were willing to accept this and gladly adopted the luxury associated with a Persian king. They
did, however, feel Alexander was elevating himself to too high a status. Also, many did not share Alexander's vision
of an empire where Macedonians and Persians lived in harmony Macedonians saw themselves as victors and
looked with contempt on defeated Persians.
It became difficult for Alexander to combine the roles of king of Macedonia and Great King of Persia. He was not,
however, insensitive to the feelings of the Macedonians, even if he was determined to have his own way.
Policy of fusion
Extent of policy
Alexander used Persian noblemen
to help him rule the empire.
Alexander appointed Persian
soldiers in his army.
Alexander adopted Persian luxury
and the extravagance of the kings of
Asia; e.g., he arranged for the most
notable individuals to act as his
guards, among them Darius' brother
Alexander adopted the Persian
diadem and dressed himself in the
pure white robe and the Persian
Reasons for adopting policy
Local satraps could rule their people
better as they understood their way
of thinking; the empire would be best
governed with the co-operation of
'the ruled'.
To achieve a close working
relationship with the Persians - he
needed them.
In order to appease the Persians.
Limits to policy
Satraps did not have financial or
military control.
Macedonians continued to fill the top
positions in the army.
Maintained separate courts for
Macedonians and Persians.
Appealed to his megalomania; he
enjoyed the aura that surrounded
the Persian kings.
To appease the Persians.
Appealed to his megalomania.
To lessen the resentment of some of
the Companions, Alexander avoided
the more controversial baggy
trousers and long-sleeved woollen
candys (jacket).
All children conceived as a result of
the marriages to be educated
according to Greek custom and
raised as Macedonians.
He married Persian princesses and
arranged for the weddings of
Persian women and Macedonian
officers and soldiers. Wedding
ceremonies performed according to
Persian custom.
To fuse the races and achieve
harmony among the different
Alexander showed respect for the
local religions and customs; indeed,
wished to learn from local priests,
e.g. adopted proskynesis.
Alexander understood resentment of
local people whose temples had
been destroyed by conquerors;
aimed to appease them by
accepting their religious customs
and beliefs.
Alexander also genuinely interested
in learning about others' customs.
When his efforts to introduce the
custom of proskynesis to the
Macedonians failed (see notes
later), he backed down and did not
impose the custom upon them.
Alexander showed respect to the
famous Persian kings of the past he visited Cyrus' tomb at
Pasargadae; when he discovered it
had been plundered, ordered it be
repaired and restored to its original
glory. Similarly showed respect to
Darius - buried his body in the
traditional tomb of the kings.
He believed that royalty should be
respected irrespective of race. (His
actions also gained him favour
amongst the Persians.)
The palace of Xerxes at Persepolis
was razed to the ground.
There is no evidence the policy of fusion was enforced in the new cities he built all over Asia. These were mainly
Greek cities settled by Greek mercenaries. The official language was Greek and education was based on the
Greek system. However, the new cities were not designed like Greek cities, with a theatre, agora, gymnasium, etc.
Burning of the palace of Persepolis 330 BC
Despite being determined to adopt a policy of fusion, when Alexander was in Persepolis, he and his soldiers set the
palace of Xerxes on fire and destroyed it completely (Xerxes, an old Persian king, had invaded and plundered the
Greek states in 480 BC.)
A number of reasons have been put forward for the razing of the palace at Persepolis.
According to Arrian, the official version, issued by Alexander after the event, was that the razing was an act of
revenge - Alexander aimed to pay the Persians back for their crimes in Greece in 480 BC. However, the razing
occurred at the end of Alexander's stay in Persepolis - by this time Alexander had adopted the policy of fusion, so
he would have been unlikely to have done anything to alienate the Persians.
Plutarch maintained the razing had its origins in a speech by the mistress of Ptolemy, an Athenian called Thais.
Thais' speech was made during a party where a lot of alcohol had been consumed, and expressed the views that:
· Revelling in the luxury of a Persian palace she was repaid for all the hardships she had experienced during
the travels through Asia - wouldn't it be even better to end the party by setting fire to the palace of Xerxes to
'pay him back for burning the city of Athens'.
· She would like to start the fire so that history recorded that 'women inflicted a more terrible revenge on the
Persians than all the Greek generals and admirals of the past'.
The men, excited by her speech, urged the drunk Alexander to let her do as she suggested. Alexander led the way
Macedonian soldiers joined in; saw this as a sign it was Alexander's final act of revenge and he would lead them
back to Macedonia. The palace was set on fire and destroyed, together with the vast complex of buildings that
were a pan of the palace, such as the treasury.
According to some accounts Alexander very quickly regretted his actions and ordered the fire be put out, but it was
too late.
The burning of Persepolis highlights Alexander’s difficulty in sometimes handling alcohol (and the serious mistakes
made because of this) and the fact that his officers and soldiers, not prepared to accept the Persians as equals,
were set on taking revenge.
Activity 9N: The burning of Persepolis
1. Who/what was responsible for the burning of the palace of king Xerxes in Persepolis? Justify your
2. What do we learn about Alexander from this incident?
Problems caused by the policy of fusion
Macedonians and Greeks believed they were a superior race. They did not understand Alexander's
tolerance of Persians. Many were offended by Alexander's actions. As a result, the relationship between
Alexander and some Macedonian officers and soldiers was damaged.
A number of significant events relate to the conflict between Alexander and some of his men:
· death of Philotas and Parmenio
· death of Cleitus
· Callisthenes and proskynesis
· royal Pages' Conspiracy
· mutiny at Opis.
Conspiracy of Philotas 330-329 BC
Son of Parmenio
Boyhood friend of Alexander
Commander of the cavalry
While encamped in Phrada, there was an incident that led to the deaths of Philotas and Parmenio.
The Macedonian Dimnus wanted to kill Alexander.
Dimnus invited his lover Nicomachus to help him.
Nicomachus rejected Dimnus' invitation and told his brother Cebalinus.
Cebalinus and Nicomachus approached Philotas, told Philotas about the plot and requested an audience with
Philotas claimed Alexander was busy and did not take the brothers to him.
The brothers made a second approach - Philotas refused yet again.
The brothers approached someone else who took them to Alexander. Alexander was told about the plot and
what had happened when they had approached Philotas.
An officer was sent to arrest Dimnus, but Dimnus was killed resisting arrest.
Philotas was arrested and put on trial before the Macedonian assembly, made up of a number of assembled
troops. Philotas' own cavalry troops were in the minority.
Philotas was charged with treason. He claimed that although he knew about the plot he didn't take it seriously he thought the plot was fictitious, the product of Cebalinus' overactive imagination. That was why he failed to
inform the king.
The assembly adjourned. Torture extracted an admission of disloyalty from Philotas.
PhiIotas was stoned to death according to Macedonian custom, together with the conspirators named by
The only evidence to suggest that Philotas was guilty was his failure to arrange for the two brothers to speak to
Alexander or to inform Alexander of the plot.
There are reasons Alexander wanted Philotas dead:
· Philotas was disloyal towards Alexander. Alexander lost trust in him. Philotas' mistress Antigone told friends
that a drunk Philotas boasted of his own and his father's achievements, belittling Alexander. Craterus
reported this to Alexander.
· Philotas was arrogant and boastful, notorious for tasteless displays of his new-found wealth. He made many
enemies among the Macedonian leaders, e.g. Hephaestion, Coenus and Craterus. The plot provided an
opportunity to blacken Philotas' character and convince Alexander that since Dimnus was a nobody, he was
not a key figure in the plot but merely someone else's tool.
· Philotas objected to Alexander's policy of fusion. It has been suggested Alexander fabricated the plot in order
to incriminate Philotas. This is possible, but unlikely. It is probable there was a plot and Alexander truly
believed that Philotas was involved.
Parmenio's murder 329 BC
Immediately after the death of Philotas, Alexander sent messengers to the mercenary commander at Ecbatana
asking him to execute Parmenio.
Parmenio was not involved in the plot to kill Alexander - his execution was murder. Alexander's order has been
described as 'an act of cruelty'.
There are a number of reasons Alexander wanted Parmenio dead:
· Was too dangerous to allow Parmenio to remain in his position as chief communicator with the west. He was
very popular with the troops - had he decided to avenge the death of his son, he could have caused
Alexander a lot of harm.
· Parmenio objected to the policy of fusion.
The executions of Philotas and Parmenio highlight opposition to the policy of fusion and Alexander’s brutality and
determination to proceed with his policy.
Activity 9O: Conspiracy of Philotas
1. How were Dimnus, Cebalinus and Nicomachus involved in the conspiracy of Philotas?
2. What was the charge against Philotas?
3. What was Philotas' defence?
4. Give the reasons that have been suggested to explain why Alexander may have wanted Philotas and
Parmenio dead.
After the murders of Philotas and Parmenio
A city was founded called Alexandria Prophthasia to commemorate the detection of the conspiracy. Prophthasia
means 'anticipation'.
Philotas' position as cavalry commander was shared between Cleitus 'the Black' and Hephaistion. Two possible
reasons have been suggested why Alexander did this:
· he no longer trusted anyone
· he wanted to promote Hephaistion but, aware of Hephaistion's military limitations, shared the position
between him and Cleitus.
The murder of Cleitus, Autumn of 328 BC
Cleitus 'the Black' was a friend of Alexander's father Philip and commander of the Royal Squadron of the
Companions. Cleitus, a naturally surly person with a savage temper, was killed by Alexander during a drunken
brawl. The incident occurred in Macaranda.
Cleitus' death
Some men arrived bringing Greek fruit for Alexander.
Alexander sent a messenger to fetch Cleitus, wishing to share the fruit with him.
Cleitus left a sacrifice unfinished to go to Alexander. Three sheep prepared for the sacrifice followed Cleitus.
When Alexander heard about this he ordered an expiatory sacrifice be made on behalf of Cleitus. (Two days
earlier, Alexander had a dream that Cleitus was sitting with the dead sons of Parmenio, all dressed in black,
all dead.)
The expiatory sacrifice was not performed that day. That evening, Cleitus went to dine with Alexander.
A lot of wine was drunk. Someone began chanting verses written to insult and mock the Macedonian
commanders recently defeated by the natives.
Older members of the gathering were offended by the song. Alexander and his group, enjoying it, asked the
singer to continue.
Cleitus became extremely angry and a screaming match followed between him and Alexander. The words
exchanged indicate Cleitus' disapproval of the policy of fusion and Alexander's elevation of himself to the
status of son of Ammon-Ra.
Angry, Alexander threw an apple at Cleitus and reached for his dagger. However, a bodyguard had removed
it. People tried to calm Alexander but he jumped to his feet and shouted in the Macedonian dialect 'to sound
the emergency alarm'. (The trumpeter did not obey. He was later commended for preventing complete
Cleitus was forced out of the banqueting tent but came back, reciting a verse from one of Euripides' plays in
which the speaker laments 'the power of the kings'.
Alexander snatched a spear from one of the bodyguards and killed Cleitus. Aware of what he had done,
Alexander tried to kill himself but was stopped by bodyguards.
Alexander lay on his bed for three days refusing to eat or drink until persuaded by seers that the tragedy had
been inevitable.
Cleitus' murder highlights:
· resentment of some Macedonians to the policy of fusion. Cleitus' anger was felt by many leading
· resentment leading Macedonians felt about Alexander’s pretension to be son of Zeus Ammon - objected to it
because it elevated Alexander to a position where he was no longer ‘first among equals' (Macedonians
believed that king and noblemen were 'equal'). Many would also have seen this as rejection and disrespect of
There was no lasting resentment against Alexander for the death of Cleitus. The army actually condemned Cleitus
and wanted to deny him burial - either Cleitus was unpopular with the troops or ordinary soldiers did not object to
Alexander’s new policies or new-found divinity.
Alexander was truly grief-stricken at the death of his friend; nevertheless remained determined to pursue his policy
of fusion.
Activity 9P: Cleitus’ murder
1. Who was Cleitus?
2. What did Cleitus object to?
3. Why did Alexander kill Cleitus?
Proskynesis and Callisthenes, early Spring 327 BC
To the Persians, proskynesis was a custom that emphasised rank and position.
It was practised in the Persian court. Those who entered the Great King's presence prostrated themselves before
him as a sign of respect and acknowledgement that he was superior. Persians did not consider their kings to be
gods - proskynesis was not a sign of worship.
To the Greeks and Macedonians, proskynesis was a custom associated with some religious cults. Humans only
prostrated themselves before the gods. To them, proskynesis implied worship. To perform proskynesis before
humans was degrading and barbaric and therefore abhorrent.
Proskynesis furthered Alexander's policy of fusion. He wanted a uniform court procedure when
Macedonians/Greeks and Persians met together on formal occasions. He could not forbid the Persians performing
proskynesis - they might think he was not a real king. He tried to convince the Macedonians and Greeks the
ceremony did not involve worship and expected Macedonians/Greeks to practise proskynesis only when Persians
were present.
The custom nevertheless would have appealed to Alexander's megalomania.
Alexander attempted to introduce the Persian custom of proskynesis to the Macedonians. Callisthenes objected to
this and sabotaged Alexander's efforts.
Callisthenes was an Athenian and nephew of the philosopher Aristotle. He had an established reputation as a
writer and powerful orator. As Alexander's official historian or 'press agent', his task was to follow Alexander in Asia
and write events as they happened.
The Callisthenes incident
Alexander first tried experimenting with proskynesis at a small mixed gathering. It is likely Hephaistion
explained Alexander's plans to the Macedonians/Greeks beforehand. Appears nobody objected.
After dinner the custom of proskynesis was performed; the Macedonians prostrated themselves before
Alexander and in return, he kissed them.
For Callisthenes, acceptance of proskynesis would reduce him to the status of one who should be treated like
an animal. When Callisthenes approached Alexander he did not prostrate
himself. One of the Companions noticed this and told Alexander, who then refused to kiss Callisthenes.
Callisthenes moved on, saying in a loud and sarcastic manner 'I shall go the
poorer by a kiss'. Callisthenes may have regarded the incident as trivial but Alexander took offence and
resented Callisthenes for spoiling his plans.
One evening, when Callisthenes won applause for an impromptu speech in praise of Macedonians, Alexander
remarked that 'it was easy to speak positively about Macedonians but was he talented enough to speak
against them?' Callisthenes, who fancied himself as an excellent orator, fell into the trap, speaking with vigour
against the Macedonians and attributing Philip's success to divisions among the Greek states. The
Macedonians were outraged -Alexander had his revenge.
Relations between Alexander and Callisthenes were strained from now on.
After the Callisthenes incident Alexander did not attempt to introduce proskynesis to the Macedonians He was
forced to practise the custom in the Persian court only.
Activity 9Q: Proskynesis, the Greeks and Persians
1. What did proskynesis mean for:
a. Persians?
b. Greeks?
2. Why did Alexander wish to introduce this?
3. When did Alexander intend to practise proskynesis?
4. Who objected to it and why?
The Royal Pages' Conspiracy, Spring 327 BC
The Royal Pages were young Macedonian nobles, the closest young attendants of Alexander.
Hermolaus was one such Page. Attending a hunting trip with Alexander, he forestalled the king by killing a wild
boar. Alexander implemented the traditional punishment for this offence, public flogging.
Hermolaus resented his punishment and plotted together with a number of other Pages to kill Alexander.
Hermolaus readily found support among other Pages for his plot to kill Alexander - they saw themselves only as
tyrannicides (killers of a tyrant); they too disapproved of the policy of fusion and Alexander's implied divinity
Callisthenes' involvement
Callisthenes was accused of encouraging the Pages' dislike of Alexander and he was placed under arrest.
· Callisthenes was the tutor of the Pages. They looked up to him and were inspired by the fact he stood up to
· It has been said Callisthenes directly encouraged Hermolaus to kill Alexander by reminding him he was only
made of flesh and blood. When Hermolaus asked Callisthenes: 'How would one become the most famous
man?', Callisthenes replied: 'By killing the most famous man'.
Most writers believe Callisthenes was not involved. The conspirators did not implicate Callisthenes even when they
were tortured.
What is known is that Callisthenes died soon after.
· Ptolemy states Callisthenes was tortured and hanged. Ptolemy had no reason for making this up, so it is
possibly the truth.
· Chares says Callisthenes was carried around with the army in captivity but died seven months later. Chares
also says Alexander intended to have Callisthenes tried by the Synhedrion.
· The Greek world reacted with anger to the news of Callisthenes' death but the army was not particularly
concerned - many disliked Callisthenes for his notorious arrogance.
Events surrounding the plots against Alexander and the deaths of leading Macedonians and Greeks highlight the
extent of the opposition to the policy of fusion, the determination of Alexander to proceed with his policies and to
suppress opposition, and his ruthlessness and megalomania.
Activity 9R: The Royal Pages’ conspiracy
1. What aspects of Alexander’s character does this event highlight?
Mutiny by the river Hyphasis 326 BC
After his success in India, Alexander camped near the river Hyphasis. Alexander had planned to continue
campaigning but his troops mutinied, forcing him to return home.
When the troops expressed the opinion they wanted to return to Macedonia, Alexander called a meeting of the
officers. He spoke to them about plans to cross the river and conquer lands beyond. Coenus speaking on behalf of
his men pleaded with Alexander to return home. The other officers agreed with him.
Alexander called for another meeting the next day. Again the men remained staunch in their decision to return
home. Alexander was furious. Imitating his ancestor Achilles, he shut himself in his tent for three days. When he
emerged, to save face he offered a sacrifice to the gods asking for their blessing to cross the river Hyphasis. The
sacrifice 'was not accepted'. As the gods 'did not wish Alexander to advance further east', he would return to the
west. Alexander's announcement was greeted with rejoicing.
Before departing, Alexander ordered the building of twelve massive towers for the Olympian gods to commemorate
his victories.
There were several reasons why the men refused to continue their conquest of Asia:
The men had marched a long way since they left Greece in 334 BC - they were exhausted.
They had endured excessive heat, cold and continuous monsoon rains.
They were homesick - they wanted to wear Macedonian clothes again and see their families.
They were afraid - there were rumours of great armies with hordes of the dreaded elephants ahead.
They mistook the river Hyphasis for the river Ganges, rumoured to be six kilometres wide and 200 metres
· Their horses were tired, their hooves worn away by constant travelling.
· The war of revenge was over -they did not share Alexander's thirst for adventure and conquest.
This event highlights the power of the army. There is no evidence to suggest the mutiny resulted from the policy of
Journey through Gedrosia 325 BC
Forced to return west, Alexander rode along the coast with the army (the fleet sailed the Indian Ocean).
Alexander took the army along the coastline to:
· open the way for the fleet by preparing harbours and supplies.
· outdo Cyrus and Semiramis, both of whom suffered great defeats by the natives.
The view that Alexander took his troops through Gedrosia in order to punish them for the mutiny is not supported
by historians.
Encamped near a stream, there was a
storm in the middle of the night and the
camp flooded; many drowned.
At times the guides lost
their way. Many became
lost in the desert.
Lack of water.
Many men and animals died
in the scorching heat.
The journey through
Gedrosia was marked by
great suffering.
Wagons could not be dragged through
the sand and had to be left behind.
Shortage of food.
Horses could not walk in the sand so
were killed and eaten.
On a number of occasions during this torrid time, Alexander displayed brilliant leadership skills.
· Following a shortage of food and water, guards broke the royal seal and distributed food among the soldiers.
Alexander did not punish the offenders; rather, he sympathised with their suffering.
· A small hole of water was discovered in the desert. A helmet was filled with water and offered to Alexander.
He asked if there was enough for the whole army. When told there wasn't, he tipped the water out, saying if
his soldiers could go without, he would too.
· Alexander walked beside exhausted soldiers offering encouragement and help.
Events in Gedrosia highlight Alexander’s brilliant leadership skills.
Since he had captured Persepolis, Alexander had been away for more than five years. People were starting to
think he was not coming back.
At Carrnania, Alexander received news of:
· rebellion in various Persian states
· satraps acting more independently
· mistreatment of local people and funds.
In response, a number of executions followed - the leader of Carrnania was executed for plotting revolution
against Alexander's rule.
Macedonian generals of Media 324 BC
Charges were brought against Cleander, Agathon, Sitacles and Heracon (the Macedonian generals left in charge
of the army at Media) and 600 officers and soldiers. The charges, made by both native people and their own
soldiers were:
· gross misconduct, abuse of power including sacrilege (they were accused of plundering temples and robbing
ancient tombs)
· mistreatment of natives, rape of native women.
Cleander and Sitacles were found guilty and put to death. Heracon, initially cleared, was later found guilty of
sacrilege and executed. It is likely Agathon, too, was executed.
Alexander punished them so severely to teach others. He expected all members of his empire to be treated fairly
by his officials.
Some historians, however, believe Alexander was anxious to be rid of these generals as they had murdered
Parmenio. Alexander was concerned they could turn against him.
Fear spread throughout the empire. Even Harpalus (see notes later) fled in fear.
Activity 9S: Macedonian generals of Media
1. Why did Alexander punish the generals of Media so severely? 1. What was the result of their punishment?
Persis early 324 BC
On Alexander's second visit to Persis, he first stopped over at Pasargatae, the ancient capital of Persia. Discovered
the tomb of Cyrus had been robbed and damaged. Alexander ordered it repaired and restored to its original state.
(Emphasises his determination to continue with the policy of fusion.)
While at Persepolis, Alexander received news Harpalus had fled from Babylon: 325-4 BC.
Harpalus, Alexander's boyhood friend, was made Imperial Treasurer 330 BC.
While Alexander fought in India, Harpalus lived in absolute luxury in Babylon with his mistress Glycera. When
he received news the generals of Media had been executed, Harpalus panicked, knowing he had also abused
his position:
· when his Athenian mistress Python ice died, he had built an expensive memorial in her honour using
Alexander's money without Alexander's permission
· he had established his mistress Glycera as a queen at Tarsus -only Alexander had the right to appoint
people to such a position.
So he fled together with his mistress, 6 000 mercenaries and 5 000 talents (a large amount of money).
Harpalus, granted citizenship by the Athenians for helping the city during the famine, arrived at Piraeus, the
port of Athens, looking for asylum. Athenians, afraid of Alexander and suspicious of Harpalus, refused him
Harpalus moved his forces to Taenarum (north of Athens) but returned to Athens with three ships only and a
considerable amount of money for bribes. This time he was allowed to enter Athens. Despite initial opposition
from Athenian citizens, he was permitted to remain until they heard from Alexander.
Antipater and Olympias demanded Harpalus' extradition but Demosthenes convinced the Athenians that it was
unwise to surrender him to anyone not sent directly by Alexander. They kept him in custody and placed his
money (only declared 700 talents) in the treasury of the Acropolis. Athenians were very clever in their handling
of Harpalus, ensuring they did nothing to alienate either Alexander or Harpalus
Eventually Harpalus escaped. He collected his forces from Taenarum and went to the island of Crete. There
he was killed by his lieutenant.
This incident highlights Alexander's relationship with the Greeks and his problems with the Macedonian officers.
Festivities in Susa
Many important events occurred during Alexander's second visit to Susa.
Just before reaching Susa, the capital of Susiana, Alexander was reunited with the leaders of the fleet. They had
explored the Persian Gulf and had sailed up the Pasitigris river to meet the King.
Games, sacrifices and an impressive drunken ceremony were held:
· this marked the safe and successful trip of the fleet
· men who had excelled in some way were decorated.
Weddings in Susa 324 BC
An elaborate and expensive marriage ceremony was held, during which the Persian princesses and other noble
women were married to Macedonians.
The wedding ceremonies lasted five days, taking place in a luxurious tent erected for the occasion. Entertainers
were recruited from all over the Greek world.
Alexander married two princesses: the eldest daughter of Darius, Barsine, and the youngest daughter of
Artaxerxes III. Hephaistion married another daughter of Darius, so Alexander was uncle to his children. Other
Companions married Persian noblewomen. More than 90 noble marriages were celebrated. Each pair were given a
handsome dowry by Alexander. Many marriages did not last after Alexander's death but were important
nevertheless as they symbolised the transfer of power to the Macedonians.
The weddings were another example of Alexander’s policy of fusion. The marriages also show Alexander was now
the Great King, ruling in an oriental style as the absolute monarch.
Alexander ordered all Macedonians who had married Asiatic women to register their marriages. Ten thousand
obeyed this order. Alexander rewarded them with wedding gifts. This act was designed to improve relations with his
troops. It had nothing to do with the policy of fusion.
In 327 BC, Alexander had married Roxane, the daughter of a Sogdian baron - it has been suggested Alexander fell
instantly in love with her.
Activity 9T: Weddings in Susa
1. Why did Alexander arrange the Susa weddings?
Persian 'Successors' arrive in Susa 324 BC
The 'Successors' were 30 000 young Persians recruited and trained as soldiers in the Macedonian fashion.
They arrived at Susa wearing Macedonian clothing, carrying Macedonian equipment and speaking Greek. They
performed in front of the Greek soldiers, giving dazzling displays of skill and discipline.
There are a number of reasons these men were trained by Alexander:
· Well-trained men were wanted in his army no matter what their race.
· Showed Greeks and Persians were treated as equals (policy of fusion).
Historians do not believe the 'Successors' were meant to replace Macedonian soldiers.
The arrival of the 'Successors' led to the mutiny at Opis.
Veteran Macedonian soldiers were greatly offended by the 'Successors':
· they thought they were to be replaced by these young men
· the 'Successors' were equipped and trained in the Macedonian fashion.
Anger was also fuelled amongst Alexander's army by:
· Alexander including foreign cavalry in the ranks of the Companions
· Alexander wearing Persian clothing.
The arrival of the 'Successors' highlights how far Alexander wanted to go with the policy of fusion, and the
resentment of the Macedonian troops.
Mesopotamia, middle of 324 BC
Mutiny at Opis 324 BC
At Opis, Alexander, with the best of intentions, announced to his troops he intended to repatriate veteran
Macedonian soldiers unfit for fighting through old age or wounds. He promised them a handsome retirement
The men responded angrily, shouting at Alexander to 'replace them with his "Successors" and carry on with
the help of his "father'" (referring to Ammon).
Alexander took offence to the reference to his 'father' and ordered the arrest and execution of the ringleaders.
He then spoke to the assembled army, reminding them of the glory and wealth they had gained because of
him. Also said he had only intended to repatriate those unfit for fighting, but now 'they should all return home'.
When he finished he withdrew to his palace for two days, refusing to eat, or to see anyone. On the third day,
when it became obvious the men were not going to relent, Alexander announced the Macedonian military titles
were to be transferred to Persian units (Persians to become Companions, hypaspists, etc.) and only his
Persian 'kinsmen' were to be allowed to kiss him.
His orders produced the desired effect -the Macedonians rushed to the palace, weeping and refusing to leave
until forgiven by Alexander.
Eventually Alexander received them and accepted their apologies. He called them all his 'kinsmen' and
exchanged a kiss with their spokesman Callines.
Reconciliation was celebrated with a feast attended by 9000 people. Positions of nationalities
at the banquet are significant - Macedonian leaders sat next to Alexander, followed by leading Persians and lastly
the leaders of 'other peoples'. Alexander poured libations and prayed for 'harmony and partnership in rule between
Macedonians and Persians' (not for the 'brotherhood. of man' as one historian has written).
Alexander proceeded with his original plan to repatriate veterans unfit for service. He paid them
handsomely and gave each the very generous gift of one talent. To avoid trouble in Macedonia he told the men to
leave behind children they had had with native women, promising to bring them to Macedonia when they grew up.
Craterus, very popular with the troops, was appointed to escort the veterans home. The men were very pleased
with Alexander's choice of escort, thinking it proved he had their welfare at heart. In reality, Alexander sent
Craterus because Craterus did not support the policy of fusion and because he and Hephaistion were bitter
enemies. Hephaistion was Alexander's dearest friend - with Craterus out of the way he could be promoted.
Hephaistion was appointed to position of Chiliarch or Grand Vizier - the second most important position in the
The mutiny at Opis highlights the extent and causes of conflict between Alexander and his troops and his
determination to practise the policy of fusion.
Activity 9U: The two mutinies
Divide your page in two and answer the questions that follow:
1. Name the two mutinies – use this as the title for each column heading.
2. When did they take place?
3. What caused the mutinies?
4. How did Alexander respond?
5. What was the outcome?
Summary of Alexander's relationship with the Macedonians and Persians
When Alexander conquered the Persians, he showed respect for their customs and religion and expected the
Macedonians to live with them in harmony. He did not, however, see the Persians as equals - he treated them well
so that he could rule them.
Alexander's relationship with the Macedonians, in particular some of his commanders, deteriorated over the years.
This was due to difference of opinion over Alexander's policy of fusion and misunderstanding over his new-found
Incidents like the murder of Cleitus, the Royal Pages' conspiracy and the two mutinies provide evidence for the
deterioration of relationships.
Most of troops, however, remained loyal to Alexander. Evidence - they were devastated when he was badly
wounded by the Malli and later when he died in Babylon.
Alexander's religious views and the use of propaganda
Alexander's divinity
From a very young age, Alexander was encouraged to believe in himself, but there is no evidence he saw himself
as divine in his early years, while Philip was still alive.
In the early stages of the campaign in Asia, emphasis was on his heroic lineage - his descent from Achilles on his
mother's side and Heracles on his father's side. Alexander believed deeply in his heroic ancestors and tried to
emulate and even compete with them.
After events in Asia Minor, Alexander started to promote and perhaps believe the idea that he was the son of Zeus
(Ammon). Many stories circulated at the time of his accession to the throne of Macedonia, that his mother Olympias
had been impregnated by Zeus in the form of a thunderbolt or a serpent. It was common at that time to hold such
beliefs and to have dual paternity (two fathers - one immortal and one human).
Alexander's visit to Siwah made a lasting and profound impression on him and, some would say, confirmed his
personal beliefs about his relationship to Zeus.
Firstly, he was greeted by the priest as 'the son of Zeus'.
Secondly, he was 'given the message he wanted to hear', so Alexander came to believe in Zeus as his actual
father and expected the relationship to be publicly recognised.
Alexander did not reject his mortal father Philip. Like Herakles, he claimed both a divine and a human father.
People such as Cleitus objected to this and saw it as an insult to Philip, but others were prepared to accept it either out of flattery or conviction.
Being the son of a god did not necessarily imply divinity (e.g. the Macedonians' rejection of proskynesis). Many
would have accepted and indeed believed the idea that Alexander was superhuman and therefore the son of god,
but recognising divinity in a mortal man and actually worshipping this man was hubris (disrespectful to the gods).
Both his contemporaries and people after his death happily portrayed Alexander with the attributes of gods (e.g.
holding a thunderbolt or dressed like Ammon with purple robes and rams horns - but this is no evidence that they
thought of him as divine).
In the last year of his life, Alexander seems to have promoted his divinity more explicitly He was treated with all the
reverence due to a god, especially by the Greek embassies (theoroi) that came to visit - this appealed to his
megalomania. They did not offer actual worship, but their demeanour was deeply reverential.
A number off cults offering Alexander divine honours were established during his lifetime -some of which were still
celebrated three hundred years after Alexander's death.
Alexander's religious views (and the use of propaganda)
The use of propaganda
Alexander was a complex man. He was well aware of the importance of impressing his troops, and used every
opportunity to do so. He was competitive by nature. Many would even say he became absorbed in gaining glory for
himself by performing noble deeds and surpassing the achievements of mythical heroes and other leaders:
· Trip to Troy - association with his ancestor Achilles fostered.
· Gordian knot - could not walk away without fulfilling the prophecy, knowing that the psychology of victory
would serve him well.
· Visit to Siwah - promoted his 'relationship' to Ammon Ra and the heroes Herakles and Perseus.
Alexander also used propaganda to keep control of the Greek states:
· He sent suits of armour to Athens after the battle of Granicus to reward Athens for its help (minimal though it
was), and in his message he referred to the exclusion of Sparta.
· He sent Athens the statue of the tyrannicides as a reward for Athens' continued loyalty.
Troy (Spring 334 BC)
Troy was destroyed in the 12th century BC by the allied Greek forces.
Stories surrounding the Trojan War were recited by the Greek poet Homer and later compiled in a book called The
Iliad. They were considered historical fact. It is now believed Homer's stories are myths based on some historical
Alexander was well-versed in Homers stories and proud of the achievements of those first Greeks, his ancestors.
He was anxious to visit and honour the place where his ancestor Achilles had died.
Re-enactment of the Trojan war
· As Alexander approached Troy by boat, dressed in full armour, he advanced to the exact place where Greek
forces had come to when they first set foot on Asian soil during the Trojan War.
· When Alexander jumped on land he threw first his spear and called out' Asia; spear-won land'. The ancient
historian Diodorus maintained this was Alexander's way of claiming ownership of the land. Alexander then
offered sacrifice at the tomb of Protesilaus, the first Greek soldier to land on Asia during the Trojan War.
Offerings and sacrifice
· Sacrificed to the goddess Athena Troad (of Ilium). In exchange, given a shield said to be preserved from the
Trojan War. Carried this to battle.
· Sacrificed to Priam, king of Troy during the Trojan War, to avenge his anger from himself as a descendant of
· Set up altars to Zeus, Athena and Herakles.
· In the middle of the stream sacrificed a bull to Poseidon (god of the sea) and poured libations to the Nereids
(sea nymphs).
· Placed a wreath on the grave of Achilles while his closest friend Hephaistion placed a wreath on the grave of
Achilles' dearest friend, Patroclus.
He wanted to visit the place he had read so
much customary ritual; was also religious and
superstitious so would have wanted to
appease his ancestors and the gods.
He realised propaganda value of such a visit.
Alexander wanted to remind his soldiers of the
success of their ancestors and inspire them to
do as well.
Why did Alexander visit Troy?
He was a traditionalist who enjoyed about in
Homer's Iliad and Odyssey. To Alexander and
his contemporaries, adventures of the Greek
warriors were a favourite part of their history.
He wanted to visit the place where his great
ancestor Achilles had fought so bravely. Very
competitive, Alexander often imitated and tried
to better great heroes of the past.
The visit to Troy highlights
Alexander's preoccupation with the
Heroic Age (in particular his
ancestor Achilles - he imitated and
competed with him).
Alexander's astute leadership (he
understood the power of
Alexander's religious and
superstitious nature (he was keen to
appease the gods).
Activity 9V: Visit to Troy
1. What do we learn about Alexander’s attitude to religion from his visit to Troy?
2. Why did Alexander take the time to visit Troy when his primary purpose was to fight Persia?
Gordian Knot 333 BC
While Alexander was in Gordium, he visited the ancient palace to inspect the legendary wagon dedicated to
Gordius (founder of the dynasty) by king Midas. The yoke of the wagon was fastened to the pole by an elaborate
knot. Legend said the man who untied this knot would rule Asia. Alexander, determined to fulfil the prophesy, set
out to untie the knot in front of his soldiers.
Two different versions of how Alexander achieved this:
· Callisthenes - Alexander, failing to find the ends of the knot, cut it with his sword.
· Aristobulus - Alexander removed the pin that passed through the pole that held the knot together.
The triumphant Alexander put the unyoked wagon on display and offered sacrifice to Zeus. During the sacrifice
there was thunder and lightning, interpreted as evidence that Zeus endorsed Alexander's achievement.
How Alexander untied the knot is not important. What is important is why he did it.
· Alexander recognised propaganda value of fulfilling the prophecy - he displayed the wagon for all to see after
cutting the knot. His soldiers were generally superstitious. Alexander would have wanted them to believe the
prophecy he would be ruler of the Persian Empire - this would have boosted the morale of his soldiers and
encouraged them to fight better.
· It is possible Alexander believed the prophecy - he had to untie/cut the knot to rule the Persian Empire. Zeus'
endorsement would have pleased Alexander immensely.
The events at Gordium illustrate Alexander did not leave anything to chance. He believed in the value of
propaganda and used it to his advantage.
Egypt 332-331 BC
Memphis 332 BC
Alexander was officially welcomed and enthroned as Pharaoh at Memphis - in Egypt he was now recognised as a
god and son of the sun-god, Ammon-Ra. (Ammon was identified with Zeus.) He treated the native religion with
tolerance and understanding, sacrificing to the Egyptian god Apis and other Egyptian gods.
Some of the Macedonian Companions were angered by his religious tolerance. Raised to believe foreigners and
their religion were inferior, they could not understand Alexander's tolerance.
They also objected to Alexander's new position as 'son of Ammon' - in Macedonia the king was first among equals.
Alexander invited famous Greek athletes and artists and held contests in order to reward his troops at Memphis.
His excellent leadership appeased many.
Siwah 331 BC
While in Egypt, Alexander travelled southwest to the oasis of Siwah, site of the ancient oracle of Ammon.
Alexander visited the oracle of Siwah because he:
· had a pothos (longing) to consult the oracle, which was reputed to be infallible
· wanted to emulate his ancestors Perseus and Herakles, sons of Zeus who had made the journey to Siwah
· was keen to learn about his relationship to Zeus. Raised to believe he was the son of god, the Egyptians
'confirmed' the belief by crowning him Pharaoh
· realised propaganda value of spreading idea he was the son of god to the ordinary soldiers
· wanted divine approval for the building of Alexandria.
The trip to Siwah was long and difficult. Alexander and his men ran out of water and the guides lost their way
Callisthenes wrote 'the gods sent rain to avert their thirst and birds to guide them to the oasis', while Ptolemy wrote
'a pair of snakes (rather than birds) guided them',
At Siwah Alexander was welcomed by the chief priest as the 'son of Ammon'.
As a Pharaoh, Alexander was admitted into the inner shrine. The rest of the party waited outside. When he
returned outside the shrine Alexander reported he had received the answers he wanted. Nobody knows exactly
what was said.
Plutarch, Diodorus and Curtius claim Alexander asked the following of the god:
· Would Alexander rule the world? - answer from the god was 'yes'.
· Had all his father's murderers been punished? - answer from the god was that all Philip's murderers had
been punished and the divine origin of Alexander would be shown by his invincibility.
These gave rise to confirmation of Alexander's divinity and fuelled the conflict between Alexander and some of the
Macedonian Companions who objected to his new position of Pharaoh.
Activity 9W: Alexander in Egypt
1. What title was Alexander granted by the Egyptians at Memphis, and what was the religious significance of
2. Name the Greek god identified with Ammon Ra.
3. Describe two experiences that Alexander and his men had on the way to Siwah, and explain how these
were interpreted
4. Discuss four reasons why Alexander went to Siwah
Babylon, Spring 323 BC
The second time Alexander visited Babylon, he was met by envoys from many places, both foreign and his own.
Arrival of the theoroi from the Greek States
Envoys from the Greek states arrived at Babylon, wearing crowns -this suggests they came as sacred envoys
(theoroi), to honour a god. Crowned Alexander with gold.
Is not certain whether the theoroi arrived on the request of Alexander.. but is likely he asked them to Babylon to
grant him divine honours.
It's possible the visit of the theoroi was arranged by Greeks to appease Alexander now that he was returning.
Possible reasons Alexander may have invited the theoroi
· Considered his achievements surpassed those of any other mortal and wanted recognition for these
achievements. He was a megalomaniac,
· For propaganda - strengthened his position in Greek states.
· Alexander believed he was the son of a god. Was not unusual for the Greeks to elevate humans to the status
of a god or think of themselves as a god. Many instances of this in Greek history - Herakles was such a
human elevated to the status of a god, so was the Spartan oligarch Lysander. Alexander's father Philip had
his image carried like that of a god during his wedding festivities.
Suggestion that Alexander sought divine honours from the Greeks to obtain the right to interfere in their internal
affairs is incorrect. He would not have looked for an excuse to interfere in internal affairs - he would have thought it
was his right to do so.
It is wrong to believe Alexander sought to become the god of the whole empire (despite the fact he is depicted on
Babylonian coins holding the thunderbolt, the symbol of Zeus). Also:
· Persians did not see their king as divine.
· The theoroi only came from the Greek states. Granting of divine honours to Alexander was confined to the
cities of the Greek mainland and did not apply to Macedonia or Asia.
· Is likely Alexander was already worshipped as a god in Macedonia and Egypt.
Arrival of the theoroi highlights Alexander’s personal views about his divinity and the political motives of the Greek
Other examples of Alexander's use of propaganda
Coast of Lycia 333 BC
Alexander, with a small army, travelled along the coast of Lycia to get to Gordium. A strong southerly made the
narrow passage treacherous. As Alexander approached the coast, the wind changed to the north and he was able
to complete the journey The Greek historian Callisthenes reported that this was a sign that the gods favoured
Alexander. Comparisons were also drawn with a similar incident in the Iliad. (Callisthenes did not suggest the
winds retreated because Alexander was a god.)
Swat/Nysa (a place in India) 327 BC
The people of Swat worshipped the god Shiva, who was identified with the Greek god Dionysus. When ivy and bay
trees (symbolic of Dionysus) were seen growing in abundance, the place was named Nysa after the nurse of the
god Dionysus. A Bacchic revel (celebration to honour the god Bacchus/Dionysus) was held before Alexander
departed. These events highlight Alexander’s competitive nature and his use of propaganda. It suited him to
believe that he got further than the god Dionysus, who was considered to be the best-travelled god.
The Rock of Aornus 327 BC
Capturing this place was extremely difficult, but Alexander was compelled to take it partly because the rock was
associated in local legend with the Indian deity Krishna, identified as the Greek god Herakles. Alexander's
propaganda machine used this opportunity to spread the story that the great hero Herakles had once attempted to
capture this place but failed. Alexander, on the other hand, succeeded and therefore surpassed Herakles.
Summary of Alexander's religious views and the use of propaganda
Did Alexander promote his divinity because he truly believed he was divine or because it suited him? It would be
correct to say that he enjoyed the honours bestowed upon him, but it is impossible to know for sure if he truly
believed he was divine. More importantly, he understood the political (propaganda) value of promoting this belief.
The historian Tam suggests Alexander promoted his divinity 'for a purely political purpose and nothing else'.
Alexander was an astute politician, who recognised the value of propaganda and self-promotion.
Alexander was preoccupied with the heroic age. Competitive by nature, he set out time and time again to out-do
famous people - both Greeks and barbarians, mortal and divine.
Activity 9X: Alexander’s religious views and the use of propaganda
Discuss Alexander's attitude to religion and his own divinity Alexander’s:
· attitude to traditional religious customs and practices
· visit to the Oracle of Siwah and his relationship to Zeus/Ammon
· 'request for deification’
· divinity and association with Greek heroes
Alexander's death 323 BC
Alexander suffered many injuries and illnesses and nearly died twice -first at Tarsus, and later during the battles
with the Malli.
Tarsus 333 BC
While Alexander was at Tarsus (a rich city on the Cilician coast), he developed a raging fever (possibly caused by
plunging into the icy waters of the river Cydnus while hot and exhausted from his travels).
Doctors despaired of saving Alexander's life. His good friend, Philip the Acarnanian, prepared a strong medicine.
As Alexander was about to drink this, a message arrived from Parmenio warning Alexander that Philip had been
bribed by Darius to kill him. Philip reassured Alexander that the medicine would save his life and Alexander, who at
this stage trusted his friends, proceeded to drink it. He was soon cured.
Hephaistion's death at Ecbatana 324 BC
At Ecbatana, Alexander's best friend, Hephaistion, died from excessive drinking. Like Achilles and Patroclus,
Alexander and Hephaistion had been totally devoted to each other. Hephaistion had always supported Alexander
and his policies. Alexander was heartbroken.
His violent grief was revealed in a number of actions
Hephaistion's doctor was hanged.
The temple of Asclepius (god of health and medicine) was destroyed.
The sacred fires were extinguished throughout the empire (a Persian action relating to a kings death).
Decreed general mourning throughout the east.
Shut himself in his tent for three days with no food, imitating Achilles after Patroclus' death.
Hephaistion's cavalry regiment to be known always as Hephaistion's regiment (Perdiccas now in command).
Commissioned the Greek who designed Alexandria of Egypt to erect a memorial for Hephaistion at Babylon.
Sent an embassy to Siwah to consult his father Ammon as to how Hephaistion should be honoured. Envoys
brought back the message that he should be honoured as a hero. Alexander requested the Athenians to
establish a hero cult to honour Hephaistion.
· Ordered large and costly heroa (shrines) to be erected in Hephaistion's memory in Alexandria (Egypt) and
the island of Pharos.
Hephaistion's funeral at Babylon was most lavish and was followed by contests.
Alexander’s death 323 BC
Alexander died in Babylon at the age of 32. After a night of heavy drinking he became very ill, catching a malarial
fever that lasted two weeks. Initially he was able to converse with his men and plan the next campaign. On 7 June
his condition deteriorated. Suspecting the worse, troops forced their way into the palace and paid their last
respects. Alexander died in the evening of 10 June in the palace of Nebuchadnezzar, an old Babylonian king.
Warnings and superstitions preceding his death
When Alexander approached the city of Babylon he was met by the priests of Marduk, who begged him not to enter
the city - they had received an oracle from the gods that if he did, he would suffer misfortune. Alexander
disregarded their advice, suspecting they did not want him to enter Babylon because they had neglected to carry
out his orders to rebuild the temple of Marduk and had wasted his money on personal pleasures.
He did obey a second suggestion and tried to enter the city from the east. Marshes made this impossible,
confirming his suspicions of the priests. Therefore proceeded to enter Babylon from the western gate. When he
died soon after, the priests' warning was interpreted as accurate.
Two other incidents were seen after his death to have been bad omens:
· When Alexander was sailing in the marshes his hat and diadem were blown off. The diadem came to rest
near the tombs of the dead Assyrian kings. A sailor swam out to recover Alexander's diadem and to keep it
dry put it on his head. The sailor was initially rewarded with one talent but later was executed on the advice
of the seers for wearing the diadem on his head.
· One day when Alexander had left the royal throne vacant a man sat on it. According to some accounts he
wore Alexander’s robe and diadem. The seers again demanded he be put to death.
Was Alexander murdered?
It is possible that Alexander was murdered but there is no evidence to prove this. Rumour was he was poisoned by
Cassander, Antipater's son, on advice of his father. Antipater may have had a motive to want Alexander dead - he
did not get on with Olympias and when asked to come east, may have feared for his life.
Answer ONE of the following questions in essay format.
You should:
demonstrate knowledge of important historical figures, ideas, and events
provide evidence from primary source material* in support of your argument.
*Primary source material includes literary, and / or art historical, and / or archaeological evidence.
In 336 BC, Philip II of Macedonia was assassinated, and his son, Alexander, assumed the throne.
• Philip’s assassination, including where it took place, who was present, and the possible motivation of his
• the reasons for debate over the involvement of Olympias and / or Alexander.
As the new king, what leadership qualities did Alexander show as he secured his hold on Macedonia and Greece
during the first two years of his reign?
At the end of 333 BC, Alexander defeated the Persian king, Darius III, on the field of battle at Issus, in the
south of modern Turkey.
• the events leading up to the battle of Issus
• the tactics used by each of the commanders in this battle
• the reasons for Alexander’s victory.
How costly was defeat in this battle for Darius?
The nature of Alexander’s relationship with the Persians is debated by historians. He was their enemy, but
he also became their king.
• the revenge that Alexander inflicted for Persian ‘crimes’ of the past
• the adoption of Persian customs
• the administrative and military arrangements made by Alexander after the battle of Gaugamela.
Who did not support the way Alexander treated the Persians? How was this opposition shown and what impact did
it have on Alexander?
Answer ONE of the following questions in essay format.
You should:
demonstrate knowledge of important historical figures, ideas, and events
provide evidence from primary source material* in support of your argument.
*Primary source material includes literary, and / or art historical, and / or archaeological evidence.
In India, Alexander won a great military victory at the river Hydaspes, and then, soon after, suffered a great
personal defeat with the mutiny at the river Hyphasis.
• the battle against King Porus at the river Hydaspes, explaining why it is often considered to be one of
Alexander’s greatest achievements as a general
• the mutiny of Alexander’s own men at the river Hyphasis, explaining why it occurred and how Alexander
resolved it.
Was the invasion of India ultimately a failure for Alexander?
During the campaign in the north-east of the Persian Empire, two plots against Alexander’s life
were exposed: the ‘conspiracy’ of Philotas in 330 BC and the conspiracy of the royal pages in
327 BC.
• the background of each of these conspiracies, including the possible motives of the conspirators
• the actions taken by Alexander upon the discovery of these two plots.
What were the short-term and long-term effects of each of these conspiracies?
Alexander’s relationship with the Greeks was never an easy one, and it evolved during his reign.
• the League of Corinth and the importance of the league in determining the nature of the relationship
between Macedonia and the Greek world
• other important factors and / or events that had an impact on Alexander’s relationship with the Greeks, both
before and during the invasion of the Persian Empire.
To what extent did the Greeks contribute to Alexander’s achievements?
Answer ONE of the following questions in essay format.
You should:
demonstrate knowledge of important historical figures, ideas, and events
provide evidence from primary source material* in support of your argument.
*Primary source material includes literary, and / or art historical, and / or archaeological evidence.
The second, and decisive, battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III took place in 331 BC, at
Gaugamela, on an extensive plain in what is now modern Iraq.
• the challenges faced by Alexander at this battle
• the tactics that he used to achieve victory
• the reasons for his failure to kill or capture Darius.
What were the consequences of defeat at Gaugamela for Darius?
“The Spartan Damis said, ‘As Alexander wants to be a god, let him be one.’ ” (Plutarch)
Discuss the religious beliefs that Alexander may have held about his own superhuman nature, with particular
reference to:
• his legendary ancestors
• his consultation of the oracle at the oasis of Siwah
• the visit of the sacred envoys to Babylon in 323 BC.
What was the political and / or military significance of Alexander’s attitude towards his own superhuman, or divine,
Despite Aristotle’s teaching that the Greeks were vastly superior to barbarians, Alexander chose to take up
a number of Persian customs and ceremonies.
• the Persian practices adopted by Alexander, with particular reference to court ritual and the act of
• the reasons for Alexander’s use of Persian customs and ceremonies
• the impact that the adoption of these practices had on Alexander’s relationship with the historian
To what extent was Alexander’s ‘orientalism’ limited to ceremonial court practices?
Answer ONE of the following questions in essay format.
You should:
demonstrate knowledge of important historical figures, ideas, and events
provide evidence from primary source material* in support of your argument.
*Primary source material includes literary, and / or art historical, and / or archaeological evidence.
Alexander was one of the most successful military commanders in history, with a reputation for brilliance
both on the field of battle and in siege warfare.
With reference to Alexander’s military achievements, discuss in detail:
· movements on the field of battle at the river Granicus in 334 BC
· events at the siege of Tyre in 332 BC.
To what extent was Alexander’s military success due to his expertise in strategy and tactics? What other factors
might have contributed to his victories at the Granicus and at Tyre?
“Cleitus had been alienated by the increasing trend to oriental despotism at court”. (A. B. Bosworth)
Discuss in detail:
· Alexander’s alienation of Cleitus the Black, and the circumstances of Cleitus’ death during the conquest of
the north-east frontier.
· ONE other episode that illustrates Macedonian resentment towards ‘orientalism’.
What political motives might Alexander have had for adopting the policies and practices that alienated some of his
own men?
“Achilles had Homer to immortalise him, and Achilles’ descendant [Alexander] was determined that his
own achievements should not go unsung”. (Peter Green)
Discuss in detail Alexander’s thirst for fame, with particular reference to:
· his visit to Troy in 334 BC
· the untying of the Gordian knot
· TWO other episodes that highlight his desire for self-glorification before or during the invasion of the
Persian Empire.
What propaganda opportunities did the episodes that you have discussed offer to Alexander?