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XVI.66‑95

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. VIII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1963

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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XVII.17‑39

(Vol. VIII) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

p107 Book XVII (beginning)

How Alexander, having succeeded to the throne, disposed the affairs of his kingdom (chaps. 1‑7).

How he recovered the tribes which revolted (chap. 8.1‑2).

How he razed Thebes to the ground and terrified the Greeks and was elected general plenipotentiary of Greece (chaps. 8.3‑16).

How he crossed into Asia and defeated the satraps at the river Granicus in Phrygia (chaps. 17‑21).

How he took by siege Miletus and Halicarnassus (chaps. 22‑27).

The battle of Dareius against Alexander at Issus in Cilicia and the victory of Alexander (chaps. 30‑39).

The siege of Tyre, the occupation of Egypt, and the journey of the king to Ammon (chaps. 40‑52).

The battle of Alexander with Dareius at Arbela and the victory of Alexander (chaps. 53‑61).

The battle of Antipater with the Lacedaemonians and the victory of Antipater (chaps. 62‑63).

Contents of Part Two

The capture of Arbela by Alexander and the seizure of great wealth (chap. 64.1‑3).

p109 The refreshment of the army in Babylon and the rewards given to those who had distinguished themselves in service (chap. 64.3‑6).

The arrival of the mercenaries and allies dispatched to him (chap. 65.1).

The organization and equipment of his army (chap. 65.2‑4).

How Alexander occupied Susa and its treasures (chap. 65.5‑66).

How he mastered the passes and took possession of the so‑called Susian Gates (chaps. 67‑68).

How he showed kindness to the Greeks who had been mutilated, and took and sacked Persepolis (chaps. 69‑71).

How he set fire to the place in a revel (chap. 72).

The murder of Dareius by Bessus (chap. 73.1‑4).

The expedition of Alexander into Hyrcania and an account of its marvellous plants (chap. 75).

How Alexander took the field against the Mardi and defeated them (chap. 76).

How Thalestris queen of the Amazons had relations with Alexander (chap. 77.1‑3).

How the king, thinking himself invincible, imitated the luxury of the Persians (chap. 77.4‑7).

The campaign of Alexander against the Areii who had revolted and the capture of the "Rock" (chap. 78).

The conspiracy against the king and the punishment of the conspirators, the most distinguished among them being Parmenion and Philotas (chaps. 79‑80).

The campaign of Alexander into the territory of the Paropanisadae and his adventures there (chap. 82).

p111 The single combat that took place in the territory of the Areii and their annexation (chap. 83.1‑6).

The death of Bessus, the murderer of Dareius (chap. 83.7‑9).

How Alexander marched through the desert and lost many of his men (this and the subsequent chapters are missing).

How the Branchidae, who of old had been settled by the Persians on the borders of their kingdom, were slain by Alexander as traitors to the Greeks.

How the king led his troops against the Sogdiani and Scythians.

How the chieftains of the Sogdiani, who were being led off to execution, were unexpectedly saved.

How Alexander defeated the Sogdiani who had revolted and slew more than one hundred and twenty thousand of them.

How he punished the Bactriani and subdued the Sogdiani a second time and founded cities in suitable places to restrain any who rebelled.

The third rebellion of the Sogdiani and capture of those who took refuge in the "Rock."

Concerning the hunt in Basista and the abundance of game there.

Concerning the sin against Dionysus and the slaying of Cleitus at the drinking bout.

Concerning the death of Callisthenes.

The campaign of the king against the people called Nautaces and the destruction of the army in heavy snow.

How Alexander, enamoured of Roxanê, daughter of Oxyartes, married her and persuaded numbers of his friends to marry the daughters of the prominent Iranians.

p113 Preparation for the campaign against the Indians.

Invasion of India and complete annihilation of their first nation in order to overawe the rest.

How he benefited the city named Nysia because of his relationship to it through Dionysus.

How, after plundering the stronghold of Massaca, he cut down all the mercenaries although they fought magnificently (chap. 84).

How he took by assault the Rock called Aornus, which had always proved impregnable (chap. 85).

How he won over to his side Taxiles, king of the Indians, and in a great engagement defeated Porus, took him prisoner and gave him back his throne because of his gallant conduct (chaps. 86‑89).

An account of the marvellous serpents in the country and of the fruits which grow there (chap. 90).

How he won over to his side many of the neighbouring tribes and defeated others (chap. 91.1‑4).

How he subdued the country that was subject to Sopeithes (chap. 91.4).

Concerning the good government of the cities in this country (chap. 91.4‑6).

Concerning the excellence of the dogs presented to Alexander (chap. 92).

Concerning the story told by the king of the Indians (chap. 93.1‑3).

How, when Alexander desired to cross the Ganges River and march against the people called Gandaridae, the Macedonians mutinied (chaps. 93.4‑94).

How, after marking the furthest point reached by his army, the king visited the remaining regions of the Indians (chap. 95).

p115 How he sailed down the Indus River to the southern Ocean, and almost died of an arrow wound (chaps. 96‑99).

Concerning the single combat that issued from a challenge (chaps. 100‑101).

Concerning the Indians whom he conquered on both banks of the river as far as the Ocean (chaps. 102‑103).

Concerning the marvels and practices found among the inhabitants and about the men who live a brutish existence (chaps. 104‑106.3).

How the naval expedition through the Ocean rejoined Alexander as he was encamped by the sea and gave an account of their voyage (chap. 106.4‑7).

How again setting sail they skirted a long expanse of coastline (chap. 107.1).

How he selected thirty thousand young Persians, trained them in military exercises and formed them into a counterpart of his Macedonian phalanx (chap. 108.1‑3).

How Harpalus, who was accused of luxurious living and excessive expenditures, fled from Babylon and sought the protection of the people of Athens (chap. 108.4‑7).

How he fled from Attica and was killed; he had deposited seven hundred talents of his money with the Athenians and placed four thousand talents and eight thousand mercenaries on Taenarum in Laconia (chap. 108.7‑8).

How Alexander, having paid the debts of his veteran Macedonians, which cost him ten thousand talents, returned them to their homes (chap. 109.1‑2).

How the Macedonians revolted and he punished their ringleaders (chap. 109.2‑3).

p117 How Peucestes brought to Alexander ten thousand bowmen and slingers whom he had recruited from among the Persians (chap. 110.2).

How the king reorganized his army by intermingling Persians with Macedonians (chap. 110.1).

How he paid expenses and educational fees for all the soldiers' children, ten thousand in number (chap. 110.3).

How Leosthenes made preparations for starting a war against the Macedonians (chap. 111.1‑3).

How Alexander campaigned against the Cossaeans (chap. 111.4‑6).

How, as the king was on his way to Babylon, the Chaldaeans prophesied to Alexander that he would die if he entered Babylon (chap. 112.1‑3).

How the king at first was frightened and passed Babylon by, but later, persuaded by the Greek philosophers, entered the city (chap. 112.4‑6).

Concerning the multitude of embassies that arrived there (chap. 113).

Concerning the funeral of Hephaestion and the large sum expended on it (chaps. 114‑115).

Concerning the omens that appeared to Alexander and concerning his death (chaps. 116‑118).

p119 1 1 The preceding book, which was the sixteenth of the Histories, began with the coronation of Philip the son of Amyntas and included his whole career down to his death, together with those events connected with other kings, peoples and cities which occurred in the years of his reign, twenty-four in number. 2 In this book we shall continue the systematic narrative beginning with the accession of Alexander, and include both the history of this king down to his death as well as contemporary events in the known parts of the world. This is the best method, I think, of ensuring that events will be remembered, for thus the material is arranged topically, and each story is told without interruption.

3 Alexander accomplished great things in a short space of time, and by his acumen and courage surpassed in the magnitude of his achievements all kings whose memory is recorded from the beginning of time. 4 In twelve years he conquered no small part of Europe and practically all of Asia, and so acquired a fabulous reputation like that of the heroes and demigods of old. But there is really no need to anticipate p121in the introduction any of the accomplishments of this king; his deeds reported one by one will attest sufficiently the greatness of his glory. 5 On his father's side Alexander was a descendant of Heracles and on his mother's he could claim the blood of the Aeacids, so that from his ancestors on both sides he inherited the physical and moral qualities of greatness.1 Pointing out as we proceed the chronology of events, we shall pass on to the happenings which concern our history.

2 1 When Evaenetus was archon at Athens, the Romans elected as consuls Lucius Furius and Gaius Manius.2 In this year Alexander, succeeding to the throne, first inflicted due punishment on his father's murderers,3 and then devoted himself to the funeral of his father. 2 He established his authority far more firmly than any did in fact suppose possible, for he was quite young and for this reason not uniformly respected, but first he promptly won over the Macedonians to his support by tactful statements.4 He declared that the king was changed only in name and that the state would be run on principles no less effective than those of his father's administration. Then he addressed himself to the embassies which were p123present and in affable fashion bade the Greeks maintain towards him the loyalty which they had shown to his father. 3 He busied his soldiers with constant training in the use of their weapons and with tactical exercises, and established discipline in the army.

A possible rival for the throne remained in Attalus, who was the brother of Cleopatra, the last wife of Philip, and Alexander determined to kill him. As a matter of fact, Cleopatra had borne a child to Philip a few days before his death.5 4 Attalus had been sent on ahead into Asia to share the command of the forces with Parmenion and had acquired great popularity in the army by his readiness to do favours and his easy bearing with the soldiers. Alexander had good reason to fear that he might challenge his rule, making common cause with those of the Greeks who opposed him, 5 and selected from among his friends a certain Hecataeus and sent him off to Asia with a number of soldiers, under orders to bring back Attalus alive if he could, but if not, to assassinate him as quickly as possible. 6 So he crossed over into Asia, joined Parmenion and Attalus and awaited an opportunity to carry out his mission.

3 1 Alexander knew that many of the Greeks were anxious to revolt, and was seriously worried. 2 In Athens, where Demosthenes kept agitating against p125Macedon, the news of Philip's death was received with rejoicing, and the Athenians were not ready to concede the leading position among the Greeks to Macedon. They communicated secretly with Attalus and arranged to co‑operate with him, and they encouraged many of the cities to strike for their freedom.

3 The Aetolians voted to restore those of the Acarnanians who had experienced exile because of Philip. The Ambraciots were persuaded by one Aristarchus to expel the garrison placed in their city by Philip and to transform their government into a democracy. 4 Similarly, the Thebans voted to drive out the garrison in the Cadmeia and not to concede to Alexander the leadership of the Greeks. The Arcadians alone of the Greeks had never acknowledged Philip's leadership nor did they now recognize that of Alexander. 5 Otherwise in the Peloponnese the Argives and Eleians and Lacedaemonians, with others, moved to recover their independence.6 Beyond the frontiers of Macedonia, many tribes moved toward revolt and a general feeling of unrest swept through the natives in that quarter.7

6 But, for all the problems and fears that beset his kingdom on every side, Alexander, who had only just reached manhood, brought everything into order impressively and swiftly. Some he won by persuasion and diplomacy, others he frightened into keeping the peace,8 but some had to be mastered by force and so reduced to submission.

4 1 First he dealt with the Thessalians, reminding p127them of his ancient relationship to them through Heracles and raising their hopes by kindly words and by rich promises as well, and prevailed upon them by formal vote of the Thessalian League to recognize as his the leadership of Greece which he had inherited from his father.9 2 Next he won over the neighbouring tribes similarly, and so marched down to Pylae, where he convened the assembly of the Amphictyons and had them pass a resolution granting him the leadership of the Greeks. 3 He gave audience to the envoys of the Ambraciots and, addressing them in friendly fashion, convinced them that they had been only a little premature in grasping the independence that he was on the point of giving them voluntarily.

4 In order to overawe those who refused to yield otherwise, he set out at the head of the army of the Macedonians in full battle array. With forced marches he arrived in Boeotia and encamping near the Cadmeia threw the city of the Thebans into a panic. 5 As the Athenians immediately learned that the king had passed into Boeotia, they too abandoned their previous refusal to take him seriously. So much the rapid moves and energetic action of the young man shook the confidence of those who opposed him. 6 The Athenians, accordingly, voted to bring into the city their property scattered throughout Attica and to look to the repair of their walls, but they also sent envoys to Alexander, asking forgiveness for tardy recognition of his leadership.

7 Even Demosthenes was included among the envoys; he did not, however, go with the others to Alexander, but turned back at Cithaeron and returned p129to Athens, whether fearful because of the anti-Macedonian course that he had pursued in politics, or merely wishing to leave no ground of complaint to the king of Persia. 8 He was generally believed to have received large sums of money from that source in payment for his efforts to check the Macedonians, and indeed Aeschines is said to have referred to this in a speech when he taunted Demosthenes with his venality: "At the moment, it is true, his extravagance has been glutted by the king's gold, but even this will not satisfy him; no wealth has ever proved sufficient for a greedy character."10 9 Alexander addressed the Athenian envoys kindly and freed the people from their acute terror.

Then he called a meeting at Corinth of envoys and delegates, and when the usual representatives came, he spoke to them in moderate terms and had them pass a resolution appointing him general plenipotentiary of the Greeks and undertaking themselves to join in an expedition against Persia seeking satisfaction for the offences which the Persians had committed against Greece.11 Successful in this, the king returned to Macedonia with his army.

5 1 Now that we have described what took place in Greece, we shall shift our account to the events in Asia. Here, immediately after the death of Philip, Attalus actually had set his hand to revolt and had agreed with the Athenians to undertake joint action against Alexander, but later he changed his mind. Preserving the letter which had been brought to him from Demosthenes,12 he sent it off to Alexander and tried by expressions of loyalty to remove from himself p131any possible suspicion. 2 Hecataeus, however, following the instructions of the king literally, had him killed by treachery,13 and thereafter the Macedonian forces in Asia were free from any incitement to revolution, Attalus being dead and Parmenion completely devoted to Alexander.

3 As our narrative is now to treat of the kingdom of the Persians, we must go back a little to pick up the thread.14 While Philip was still king, Ochus15 ruled the Persians and oppressed his subjects cruelly and harshly. Since his savage disposition made him hated, the chiliarch Bagoas, a eunuch in physical fact but a militant rogue in disposition, killed him by poison administered by a certain physician and placed upon the throne the youngest of his sons, Arses. 4 He similarly made away with the brothers of the new king, who were barely of age, in order that the young man might be isolated and tractable to his control. But the young king let it be known that he was offended at Bagoas's previous outrageous behaviour and was prepared to punish the author of these crimes, so Bagoas anticipated his intentions and killed Arses and his children also while he was still in the third year of his reign.16 5 The royal house was thus extinguished, and there was no one in the direct line of p133descent to claim the throne. Instead Bagoas selected a certain Dareius, a member of the court circle, and secured the throne for him. He was the son of Arsanes, and grandson of that Ostanes who was a brother of Artaxerxes, who had been king.17 6 As to Bagoas, an odd thing happened to him and one to point a moral. Pursuing his habitual savagery he attempted to remove Dareius by poison. The plan leaked out, however, and the king, calling upon Bagoas, as it were, to drink to him a toast and handing him his own cup compelled him to take his own medicine.

6 1 Dareius's selection for the throne was based on his known bravery, in which quality he far surpassed the other Persians. Once when King Artaxerxes18 was campaigning against the Cadusians, one of them with a wide reputation for strength and courage challenged a volunteer among the Persians to fight in single combat with him. No other dared accept, but Dareius alone entered the contest and slew the challenger, being honoured in consequence by the king with rich gifts, while among the Persians he was conceded the first place in prowess, 2 It was because of this prowess that he was thought worthy to take over the kingship. This happened about the same time as Philip died and Alexander became king.

3 Such was the man whom fate had selected to be the antagonist of Alexander's genius, and they opposed one another in many and great struggles for the supremacy. These our detailed narrative will describe in each case. And we may now proceed with our story.

p135 7 1 Dareius became king before the death of Philip and thought to turn the coming war back upon Macedonia, but when Philip died, Dareius was relieved of his anxiety and despised the youth of Alexander. 2 Soon, however, when Alexander's vigour and rapidity of action had secured for him the leadership of all Greece and made evident the ability of the young man, then Dareius took warning and began to pay serious attention to his forces. He fitted out a large number of ships of war and assembled numerous strong armies, choosing at the same time his best commanders, among whom was Memnon of Rhodes,19 outstanding in courage and in strategic grasp. 3 The king gave him five thousand20 mercenaries and ordered him to march to Cyzicus and to try to get possession of it. With this force, accordingly, Memnon marched on across the range of Mt. Ida.

4 Some tell the story that this mountain got its name from Ida, the daughter of Melisseus.21 It is the highest mountain in the region of the Hellespont and there is in its midst a remarkable cave in which they say the goddesses were judged by Alexander.22 5 On this mountain are supposed to have lived the Idaean Dactyls who first worked iron, having learned the skill from the Mother of the Gods.23 An odd occurrence has been observed in connection with this mountain which is known nowhere else. 6 About the p137time of the rising of the Dog Star,24 if one stands upon the highest peak, the stillness of the surrounding atmosphere gives the impression that the summit is elevated above the motion of the winds, and the sun can be seen rising when it is still night. Its rays are not circumscribed in a circle orb but its flame is dispersed in many places, so that you would think that there were many patches of fire burning along the horizon. 7 Presently, then, these draw together into one huge flame the width of which reaches three plethra.25 Finally, as the day dawns, the usually observed size of the sun's ball is attained and produces normal daylight.26

8 Memnon traversed this mountain and suddenly falling upon the city of Cyzicus came within an ace of taking it.27 Failing in this, he wasted its territory and collected much booty. 9 While he was thus occupied, Parmenion took by storm the city of Grynium and sold its inhabitants as slaves, but when he besieged Pitanê28 Memnon appeared and frightened the Macedonians into breaking off the siege. 10 Later Callas with a mixed force of Macedonians and mercenaries p139joined battle in the Troad against a much larger force of Persians and, finding himself inferior, fell back on the promontory of Rhoeteium.29

That was the situation in Asia.

8 1 Now that the unrest in Greece had been brought under control, Alexander shifted his field of operations into Thrace.30 Many of the tribes in this region had risen but, terrified by his appearance, felt constrained to make their submission. Then he swung west to Paeonia and Illyria and the territories that bordered on them. Many of the local tribesmen had revolted, but these he overpowered, and established his control over all the natives in the area. 2 This task was not yet finished when messengers reached him reporting that many of the Greeks were in revolt.31 Many cities had actually taken steps to throw off the Macedonian alliance, the most important of these being Thebes. At this intelligence, the king was roused to return in haste to Macedonia in his anxiety to put an end to the unrest in Greece.

3 The Thebans32 sought first of all to expel the Macedonian garrison from the Cadmeia and laid siege to this citadel; this was the situation when the king appeared suddenly before the city and encamped with his whole army near by. 4 Before the king's arrival, the Thebans had had time to surround the Cadmeia with deep trenches and heavy stockades so that neither reinforcements nor supplies could be sent in, 5 and they had sent an appeal to the Arcadians, p141Argives, and Eleians for help. They appealed for support from the Athenians also, and when they received from Demosthenes a free gift of weapons, they equipped all of their citizens who lacked heavy armour. 6 Of those who were asked for reinforcements, however, the Peloponnesians sent soldiers as far as the Isthmus and waited to see what would happen, since the king's arrival was now expected, and the Athenians, under the influence of Demosthenes, voted to support the Thebans, but failed to send out their forces, waiting to see how the war would go.33 7 In the Cadmeia, the garrison commander Philotas observed the Thebans making great preparations for the siege, strengthened his walls as well as he could, and made ready a stock of missiles of all sorts.

9 1 So when the king appeared suddenly out of Thrace with all his army, the alliances of the Thebans had furnished them with only a hesitant support while the power of their opponents possessed an obvious and evident superiority. Nevertheless their leaders assembled in council and prepared a resolution about the war; they were unanimous in deciding to fight it out for their political freedom. The measure was passed by the assembly, and with great enthusiasm all were ready to see the thing through.

2 At first the king made no move, giving the Thebans time to think things over and supposing that a single city would never dare to match forces with such an army. 3 For at that time Alexander had more than thirty thousand infantry and no less than three thousand cavalry, all battle-seasoned veterans p143of Philip's campaigns who had hardly experienced a single reverse. This was the army on the skill and loyalty of which he relied to overthrow the Persian empire. 4 If the Thebans had yielded to the situation and had asked the Macedonians for peace and an alliance, the king would have accepted their proposals with pleasure and would have conceded everything they asked, for he was eager to be rid of these disturbances in Greece so that he might without distraction pursue the war with Persia.

Finally, however, he realized that he was despised by the Thebans, and so decided to destroy the city utterly and by this act of terror take the heart out of anyone else who might venture to rise against him. 5 He made his forces ready for battle, then announced through a herald that any of the Thebans who wished might come to him and enjoy the peace which was common to all the Greeks. In response, the Thebans with equal spirit proclaimed from a high tower that anyone who wished to join the Great King and Thebes in freeing the Greeks34 and destroying the tyrant of Greece should come over to them. 6 This epithet stung Alexander. He flew into a towering rage and declared that he would pursue the Thebans with the extremity of punishment. Raging in his heart, he set to constructing siege engines and to preparing whatever else was necessary for the attack.

p145 10 1 Elsewhere in Greece, as people learned the seriousness of the danger hanging over the Thebans, they were distressed at their expected disaster but had no heart to help them, feeling that the city by precipitate and ill-considered action had consigned itself to evident annihilation. 2 In Thebes itself, however, men accepted their risk willingly and with good courage, but they were puzzled by certain sayings of prophets and portents of the gods.

First there was the light spider's web in the temple of Demeter which was observed to have spread itself out to the size of an himation, and which all about shone iridescent like a rainbow in the sky. 3 About this, the oracle at Delphi gave them the response:

"The gods to mortals all have sent this sign;

To the Boeotians first, and to their neighbours."

The ancestral oracle of Thebes itself had given this response:

"The woven web is bane to one, to one a boon."

4 This sign had occurred three months before Alexander's descent on the city, but at the very moment of the king's arrival the statues in the market place were seen to burst into perspiration and be covered with great drops of moisture. More than this, people reported to the city officials that the marsh at Onchestus was emitting a sound very like a bellow, while at Dircê a bloody ripple ran along the surface of the water. 5 Finally, travellers coming from Delphi told how the temple which the Thebans had dedicated p147from the Phocian spoils was observed to have blood-stains on its roof.35

Those who made a business of interpreting such portents stated that the spider web signified the departure of the gods from the city, its iridescence meant a storm of mixed troubles, the sweating of the statues was the sign of an overwhelming catastrophe, and the appearance of blood in many places foretold a vast slaughter throughout the city. 6 They pointed out that the gods were clearly predicting disaster for the city and recommended that the outcome of the war should not be risked upon the battlefield, but that a safer solution be sought for in conversations.

Still the Thebans' spirits were not daunted. On the contrary they were so carried away with enthusiasm that they reminded one another of the victory at Leuctra and of the other battles where their own fighting qualities had won unhoped for victories to the astonishment of the Greek world. They indulged their nobility of spirit bravely rather than wisely, and plunged headlong into the total destruction of their country.

11 1 Now the king in the course of only three days made everything ready for the assault. He divided p149his forces into three parts and ordered one to take the palisades which had been erected before the city, the second to face the Theban battle line, and the third as a reserve to support any hard pressed unit of his forces and to enter the battle in its turn. 2 For their part, the Thebans stationed the cavalry within the palisades, assigned their enfranchised slaves, along with refugees and resident aliens, to face those who drove at the walls, and themselves made ready to fight before the city with the Macedonian force about the king which was many times their number. 3 Their children and wives flocked to the temples and implored the gods to rescue city from its dangers.

When the Macedonians approached and each division encountered the opposing force of Thebans, the trumpets blew the call to arms and the troops on both sides raised the battle cry in unison and hurled their missiles at the enemy. 4 These were soon expended and all turned to the use of the sword at close quarters, and a mighty struggle ensued. The Macedonians exerted a force that could hardly be withstood because of the numbers of their men and the weight of the phalanx, but the Thebans were superior in bodily strength and in their constant training in the gymnasium. Still more, in exaltation of spirit they were lifted out of themselves and became indifferent to personal danger. 5 Many were wounded in both armies and not a few fell facing the blows of the enemy. The air was filled with the roar of fighters locked in the struggle, moans and shouts and exhortations: on the Macedonian side, not to be unworthy of their previous exploits, p151and on the Theban, not to forget children and wives and parents threatened with slavery and their every household lying exposed to the fury of the Macedonians, and to remember the battles of Leuctra and of Mantineia and the glorious deeds which were household words throughout Greece. So for a long time the battle remained evenly poised because of the surpassing valour of the contestants.

12 1 At length Alexander saw that the Thebans were still fighting unflinchingly for their freedom, but that his Macedonians were wearying in the battle, and ordered his reserve division to enter the struggle. As this suddenly struck the tired Thebans, it bore heavily against them and killed many. 2 Still the Thebans did not concede the victory, but on the contrary, inspired by the will to win, despised all dangers. They had the courage to shout that the Macedonians now openly confessed to being their inferiors. Under normal circumstances, when an enemy attacks in relays, it is usual for soldiers to fear the fresh strength of the reinforcements, but the Thebans alone then faced their dangers ever more boldly, as the enemy sent against them new troops for those whose strength flagged with weariness.

3 So the Theban spirit proved unshakable here, but the king took note of a postern gate that had been deserted by its guards and hurried Perdiccas with a large detachment of troops to seize it and penetrate p153into the city.36 4 He quickly carried out the order and the Macedonians slipped through the gate into the city, while the Thebans, having worn down the first assault wave of the Macedonians, stoutly faced the second and still had high hopes of victory. When they knew that a section of the city had been taken, however, they began immediately to withdraw within the walls, 5 but in this operation their cavalry galloped along with the infantry into the city and trampled upon and killed many of their own men; they themselves rode into the city in disorder and, encountering a maze of narrow alleys and trenches, lost their footing and fell and were killed by their own weapons. At the same time the Macedonian garrison in the Cadmeia burst out of the citadel, engaged the Thebans, and attacking them in their confusion made a great slaughter among them.37

13 1 So while the city was being taken, many and varied were the scenes of destruction within the walls. Enraged by the arrogance of the Theban proclamation, the Macedonians pressed upon them more furiously than is usual in war, and shrieking curses flung themselves on the wretched people, slaying all whom they met without sparing any. 2 The Thebans, for their part, clinging desperately to their forlorn hope of victory, counted their lives as nothing and when they met a foeman, grappled with him and drew his blows upon themselves. In the capture of the city, no Theban was seen begging the Macedonians to spare his life, nor did they in ignoble fashion fall and cling p155to the knees of their conquerors. 3 But neither did the agony of courage elicit pity from the foe nor did the day's length suffice for the cruelty of their vengeance. All the city was pillaged. Everywhere boys and girls were dragged into captivity as they wailed piteously the names of their mothers.

In sum, households were seized with all their members, and the city's enslavement was complete. 4 Of the men who remained, some, wounded and dying, grappled with the foe and were slain themselves as they destroyed their enemy; others, supported only by a shattered spear, went to meet their assailants and, in their supreme struggle, held freedom dearer than life. 5 As the slaughter mounted and every corner of the city was piled high with corpses, no one could have failed to pity the plight of the unfortunates. For even Greeks — Thespians, Plataeans and Orchomenians and some others hostile to the Thebans who had joined the king in the campaign38 — invaded the city along with him and now demonstrated their own hatred amid the calamities of the unfortunate victims.

6 So it was that many terrible things befell the city. Greeks were mercilessly slain by Greeks, relatives were butchered by their own relatives, and even a common dialect induced no pity. In the end, when night finally intervened, the houses had been plundered and children and women and aged persons who had fled into the temples were torn from sanctuary and subjected to outrage without limit.

p157 14 1 Over six thousand Thebans perished, more than thirty thousand were captured, and the amount of property plundered was unbelievable.39

The king gave burial to the Macedonian dead, more than five hundred in number, and then calling a meeting of the representatives of the Greeks put before the common council the question what should be done with the city of the Thebans. 2 When the discussion was opened, certain men who were hostile to the Thebans began to recommend that they should be visited with the direst penalties, and they pointed out that they had taken the side of the barbarians against the Greeks. For in the time of Xerxes they had actually joined forces with the Persians and campaigned against Greece, and alone of the Greeks were honoured as benefactors by the Persian kings, so that the ambassadors of the Thebans were seated on thrones set in front of the kings. 3 They related many other details of similar tenor and so aroused the feelings of the council against the Thebans that it was finally voted to raze the city, to sell the captives, to outlaw the Theban exiles from all Greece, and to allow no Greek to offer shelter to a Theban. 4 The king, in accordance with the decree of the council, destroyed the city, and so presented possible rebels among the Greeks with a terrible warning. By selling off the prisoners he realized a sum of four hundred and forty talents of silver.40

p159 15 1 After this he sent men to Athens to demand the surrender of ten41 political leaders who had opposed his interest, the most prominent of whom were Demosthenes and Lycurgus. So an assembly was convened and the ambassadors were introduced, and after they had spoken, the people were plunged into deep distress and perplexity. They were anxious to uphold the honour of their city but at the same time they were stunned with horror at the destruction of Thebes and, warned by the calamities of their neighbours, were alarmed in face of their own danger.

2 After many had spoken in the assembly, Phocion, the "Good," who was opposed to the party of Demosthenes, said that the men demanded should remember the daughters of Leôs and Hyacinthus42 and gladly endure death so that their country would suffer no irremediable disaster, and he inveighed against the faint-heartedness and cowardice of those who would not lay down their lives for their city. The people nevertheless rejected his advice and riotously drove him from the stand, 3 and when Demosthenes delivered a carefully prepared discourse, they were carried away with sympathy for their leaders clearly wished to save them.

In the end, Demades, influenced, it is reported, by a bribe of five silver talents from Demosthenes's supporters, p161counselled them to save those whose lives were threatened, and read a decree that had been subtly worded. It contained a plea for the men and a promise to impose the penalty prescribed by the law, if they deserved punishment. 4 The people approved the suggestion of Demades, passed the decree and dispatched a delegation including Demades as envoys to the king, instructing them to make a plea to Alexander in favour of the Theban fugitives as well, that he would allow the Athenians to provide a refuge for them. 5 On this mission, Demades achieved all his objectives by the eloquence of his words and prevailed upon Alexander to absolve the men from the charges against them and to grant all the other requests of the Athenians.43

16 1 Thereupon the king returned with his army to Macedonia, assembled his military commanders and his noblest Friends and posed for discussion the plan for crossing over to Asia. When should the campaign be started and how should he conduct the war? 2 Antipater and Parmenion advised him to produce an heir first and then to turn his hand to so ambitious an enterprise, but Alexander was eager for action and opposed to any postponement, and spoke against them. It would be a disgrace, he pointed out, for one who had been appointed by Greece to command the war, and who had inherited his father's invincible forces, to sit at home celebrating a marriage and awaiting the birth of children.44 3 He then proceeded p163to show them where their advantage lay and by appeals aroused their enthusiasm for the contests which lay ahead. He made lavish sacrifices to the gods at Dium in Macedonia and held the dramatic contests in honour of Zeus and the Muses which Archelaüs, one of his predecessors, had instituted.45 4 He celebrated the festival for nine days, naming each day after one of the Muses. He erected a tent to hold a hundred couches46 and invited his Friends and officers, as well as the ambassadors from the cities, to the banquet. Employing great magnificence, he entertained great numbers in person besides distributing to his entire force sacrificial animals and all else suitable for the festive occasion, and put his army in a fine humour.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 Plutarch, Alexander, 2.1. Alexander's most prominent ancestor on his mother's side was Achilles. Both the Aeacids and the Argeads traced their ancestry back to Zeus.

2 Evaenetus was archon from July 335 to June 334 B.C. Broughton (1.138) gives the consuls of 338 B.C. as L. Furius Camillus and C. Maenius.

3 Diodorus has not previously suggested that any others knew of the plans of Pausanias, who was killed immediately and so could not reveal any accomplices (Book 16.94.4). Alexander himself was the principal beneficiary of the murder, and he has been suspected of complicity, especially because, as only half of Macedonian blood, he was not universally popular. At all events, the known victims of this purge were Alexander's own rivals: his older cousin Amyntas, son of King Perdiccas III; the family of Alexander of Lyncestis, although he himself was spared; and Philip's wife Cleopatra and her infant daughter, killed by Olympias. These murders were not forgotten (Plutarch, Alexander, 10.4; On the Fortune of Alexander, 1.3 (37C); Curtius, 6.91.17 and 10.24; Justin, 11.2.1‑3 and 12.6.14). These events are ignored by Arrian, and Curtius's preserved narrative begins only when Alexander was in Phrygia.

4 Justin, 11.1.8.

5 In Book 16.93.9, Attalus was called Cleopatra's nephew, but he was apparently her uncle and guardian (Berve, Alexanderreich, 2.24). He may well have been disaffected because of the murder of Cleopatra and her daughter, but he had no known claim upon the throne of Macedonia. He was, at all events, loyal to Philip and hostile to Philip's assassin (Book 16.93.5‑9).

6 Justin, 11.2.4‑5. Aristarchus, presumably an Ambraciot, is otherwise unknown. Diodorus has inverted the rôle of the Arcadians and the Lacedaemonians; it was the latter who had never been subject to Philip. Cp. further below, chap. 4.

7 Cp. below, chap. 8.1.

8 Arrian, 1.1.3 (with reference to Athens).

9 Justin, 11.3.1‑2. Alexander had in Achilles a common ancestor with the Aleuadae of Larissa.

10 Aeschines, 3.173, with a slightly different word order.

11 Justin, 11.2.5.

12 Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23.2.

13 Continued from chap. 2, above. It is incredible that the assassination of Attalus could have occurred without the connivance of Parmenion, who may have been pleased to be rid of the head of a rival faction at court (but Curtius, 6.9.18, reports that Attalus was Parmenion's son-in‑law). And Attalus could not be left alive after the execution of his niece.

14 Continued from Book 16.52. Cp. Justin, 10.3.

15 Ochus has been mentioned previously by his throne name Artaxerxes.

16 The king lists give Arses two years, 338‑336 B.C., but he was in his third regnal year at the time of his death. His second year, 337/6 B.C., was the only full one which he enjoyed.

17 Artaxerxes II, 405‑359 B.C.

18 Artaxerxes III (Ochus), 359‑338 B.C.

19 See Book 16.52.4.

20 This number seems small for the task assigned Memnon, but it is hardly likely that it should be emended to 50,000, the total number of the King's Greek mercenaries (Curtius, 5.11.5). Polyaenus refers to Memnon's 4000 troops (5.44.4).

21 Melisseus, king of Crete, is reported to have been the father of Adrasteia and Ida, to whom the infant Zeus was given to nurse (Book 5.70.2). See Apollodorus, 1.1.6.

22 The Judgement of Paris.

23 See Book 5.64.3‑5.

24 According to the calculations of Mr. Alan E. Samuel, this would be the heliacal rising of Sirius, which occurred about 20th July (P. V. Neugebauer, Astronomische Chronologie, Berlin & Leipzig, 1929, Vol. 2, Tables E 58‑62). Professor Otto Neugebauer writes that the rising would occur between 18th and 20th July, but that these references in the Greek authors are not to be pressed too closely.

25 The plethron was 100 Greek feet or some less and 100 English feet, and varied somewhat. It is impossible to know its precise value in Diodorus or his source.

26 A somewhat different account of the same phenomenon is given by Pomponius Mela, 1.18. Day began with the first appearance of the sun's rim above the horizon, and the previous streaks of light occurred while it was still, strictly speaking, night. Cp. C. Bailey on Lucretius, 3 (1947), 1426 f. (pointed out by Prof. Robert J. Getty).

27 Reported with some details by Polyaenus, 5.44.5.

28 Grynium and Pitanê were old Aeolian cities on the Bay of Elaea. Parmenion was pursuing Philip's mission of "liberation" (Book 16.91.2).

29 Rhoeteium is a promontory at the mouth of the Hellespont north of Ilium. Calas (as the name is properly spelled) was the son of a Harpalus, of a family prominent in the Elimiotis. Later he commanded the Thessalian cavalry in Alexander's army (chap. 17.4), and then remained in Asia Minor as satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia; cp. Berve, Alexanderreich, 2, no. 397.

30 This campaign is described in detail by Arrian, 1.1‑6.

31 Justin, 11.2.7‑10.

32 The siege of Thebes is described more briefly in Justin, 11.3.6‑7; Plutarch, Alexander, 11‑12; Arrian, 1.7‑8.

33 Justin, 11.3.3‑5; Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23.2.

34 Plutarch, Alexander, 11.4. That is, according to the terms of the Peace of Antalcidas (Xenophon, Hellenica, 5.1.31). In a similar manner, the Athenians had appealed to the Greeks against Sparta in the decree of Aristoteles setting up the so‑called Second Athenian League (377 B.C.; SIG 147).

35 The naos at Delphi was the great temple of Apollo which was under construct in the period 360‑330 B.C. The epigraphical record is assembled by E. Bourguet in the Fouilles de Delphes, 3.5 (1932). Much was done in 346 in the archonship of Damoxenus, "when peace was established," and there were Theban naopoioi in that year, along with many others. The Thebans had taken a hand in plundering the Phocians after Philip's victory, and the Phocians were obligated to make annual payments to restore what they had borrowed from the sanctuary (Book 16.60.2). But there is otherwise no suggestion that Phocian funds were applied to the temple construction, and it is quite certain that the Thebans themselves did not build or rebuild or dedicate the temple of Apollo.

36 Arrian (1.8.1), quoting Ptolemy, places this incident at the beginning of the siege, before any other fighting, and says that Perdiccas acted on his own initiative. He may have tried to repeat the manoeuvre at Halicarnassus (chap. 25.5). As later, he was presumably in command of one of the six battalions of the phalanx.

37 Plutarch, Alexander, 11.5.

38 Justin (11.3.8) names Phocians, Plataeans, Thespians, and Orchomenians; Plutarch (Alexander, 11.5) and Arrian (1.8.8), Phocians and Plataeans only.

39 The figures of the Theban losses are not elsewhere reported, and W. W. Tarn (Cambridge Ancient History, 6.356) regarded the second as conventional, referring to the figure given by Arrian (2.24.5) after the capture of Tyre; but in that case Diodorus (chap. 46.4) gives 13,000. Diodorus (with Justin) omits the picturesque story of Timocleia, which would not have interested Arrian. It is given by Plutarch (Alexander, 12).

40 The same figure appears in a fragment of Cleitarchus (Athenaeus, 4.148D‑F; Jacoby, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, no. 137, F 1), but applying to the total wealth found in the city. This would be a rate of 88 drachmae a head for 30,000 slaves. Tarn suggests 8000, which would make the average price 330 drachmae, but there is no real evidence for the price of slaves at this time (W. L. Westermann, The Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity (1959), 28). Plutarch (Alexander, 11.6) and Arrian (1.9.10) report that Alexander spared the house of Pindar.

41 This number is given by Plutarch (Demosthenes, 23.3) as from Idomeneus and Duris, but he thinks eight rather, whom he names.

42 The attic hero Leôs sacrificed his daughters to avert danger to the city; so also Erechtheus, whose name may lie behind the unknown Hyacinthus. Cp. Lycurgus, C. Leocr. 98‑99; Demades, Duod. Ann. 37; Aeschines, C. Ctes. 161; Plutarch, Phocion, 17. See Addenda.

43 Justin (11.4.9‑12) adds that the exiled Athenian leaders went off to Persia, and Arrian (1.10.6) speaks particularly of Charidemus, while failing to mention the part played in this embassy by Demades. Plutarch (Alexander, 13) states that Alexander was moved by his own clemency. The mission of Demades is described by Plutarch, Demosthenes, 23.5.

44 This incident is not mentioned by Justin or Arrian, or by Plutarch in the Alexander, but is given in the Demosthenes, 23.5.

45 Arrian (1.11.1), after mentioning the sacrifice to Olympian Zeus, adds: "others say that he held games in honour of the Muses." That is to say, this was not mentioned by Ptolemy or (probably) Aristobulus, Arrian's primary sources.

46 The size of this structure may be judged from the fact that Agathocles's Hall of the Sixty Couches was one of the wonders of Sicily (Book 16.83.2). The tent accompanied Alexander on his expedition (Athenaeus, 12.538C, 539D).


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