Alexander the Great - The first Greek emperor The star of Argead dynasty

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Issus (November 333)

Alexander was in love with a very beautiful lady, named Pancaspe, that he gave orders that she should be painted in the nude by Apelles. Discovering that the artist had fallen in love with her, he offered Pancaspe to him as gift. He wanted to show that he was self controlled and his only care was his kingdom. A thousand years later, Mehmet the conqueror, who was as young as Alexander, had fallen in love with a beautiful Greek slave, and he stayed in his tent with her for days. When his janissaries, complained that he didn't care for his state, he dragged her by her hair and in front of his men, had her throat cut, to prove that his only care was his empire.

Darius in command of his huge army, eager to fight and nervous of the inaction of Alexander who was recovering from his illness, moved south. He had captured Issus and had slaughtered all the injured Greeks he had found. The Persian army was in the rear of the Greek army which could not move south to unknown territories and its lines of supply were cut off. Darius had trapped the young Macedonian. The Greeks numbered 60000 men and were outnumbered 10 to 1, when they descended to Pinarus River. Darius in his hastiness had abandoned the plains of Issus and had moved through the narrow passage, north of mount Amanos. He camped to the other side of Pinarus but his cavalry and his polemic chariots were useless. His best forces were the Athanatoi, his personal guards, and the Greek mercenaries but now Alexander had the advantage. The Greeks (Ellines) of Darius fight for money, while you fight for Greece (uper tis Ellados) The Hellene Autocrator spoke to his men to raise their morale. Arrian of Nicomedia writes: "The Greeks (Ellines) of Darius fight for money, while you fight for Greece (uper tis Ellados)". Alexander riding Voucephalas, personally commanded the Companion (Eteroi) to the right, while Parmenion and Crateros commanded the Thessalian cavalry to the left. Tha Macedonian phalanx was in the center. Alexander charged, the left wing of the Persians dispersed and he attacked the Persian center. At the same time, the phalanx crossed the river and made a frontal attack on the Persian right wing and the Greek mercenaries. The personal guards of Darius fought courageously but couldn't stop the brave Macedonian who spread the death with his sword. Alexandros came face to face with Darius who was watching the battle on his chariot. Battle of Issus Suddenly Darius was not there. He was riding away, leaving the battlefield, his men, his bow, his shield and his mantle. Alexandros was wounded by an arrow which had pierced his right thigh. Perdicas, Ptolemeos and Leonnatos made a circle to protect their king while Darius had abandoned his chariot and was galloping on his horse to escape as far as he could.

The losses of the Greek infantry were 300 dead and of the cavalry 150 dead. The Persian casualties were dozens of thousands. After the battle Alexander, who used to live in spartan conditions, entered in the Darius's tent in all its luxury, golden bath, silk carpets and he said: "So this is what it means to be a King." Parmenion received orders to go to Damascus to take possession of Darius' treasure. The old general rushed to Damascus surprised the Persian garrison and took with him tons of gold and silver, 365 mistresses, 329 female flute-players, 300 cooks, 13 pastry chefs, 70 wine waiters, 40 scent makers, and 13 confectioners.

The young Macedonian was in Darius' tent when he heard whines of women. They were Darius' mother Sisygambis, his wife Statira, the beauty Varsine (Memnon's wife) and other princesses. He sent Leonnatos to bring them in front of him. Sisygambis kneeled at the feet of Hephaestion who was very tall man. When she realized her fault she paniced but Alexandros told her: "Don't worry mother, he is Alexander too." Meaning the etymology of the greek word Alex-andros, which means, he who protects from men. The Greek hegemon assured these women that they had nothing to fear from him or his men. Don't worry mother, he is Alexander too Plutarch writes: "Alexandros guaranteed that they would continue to be treated according to their rank and would have everything they used to have from Darius. He was always very chaste and courteous in his relations with the opposite sex, and he had a great respect for the institution of marriage. He used to say that two things reminded him that he was human, and not a god: sleeping and the act of generation, as if to say that both weariness and lust are produced by the same weakness and imbecility of human nature. He believed that a king should first govern himself and then conquer his enemies." Among the Persian women was Varsine, the widow of Memnon of Rhodes. Alexander was attracted by this exceptional beautiful lady and soon they became lovers. In the aftermath of the battle, Alexander buried the deads, honored those who had excelled in the battle and founded a new city by the sea, where the wounded men were settled. He called it Alexandretta (Iskenderum) and it lies in northern Syria.

Message to Darius

The victory at Issus opened the road for Syria and Phoenicia. In January 332, Alexander marched down the Phoenician coast where he received the surrender of Aradus, Sidon and other major cities. It was a necessity to take the Phoenician towns, because the Persian fleet, commanded by Pharnabazus, was still in control of the Aegean sea and the Hellespont and Alexander's lines of supplies were cut off. When a messenger arrived, delivering a rude letter from king Darius, who asked for his family to be returned and simultaneously Your ancestors had invaded Macedonia and the rest Greece (Ellada) and had done great damage accused Alexander and his father for having attacked to him and that he, who was the great king of all the world, just defended his state. Alexander became upset. He told to Eumenes, his personal writer, to write the following message: "Your ancestors had invaded Macedonia and the rest Greece (Ellada) and had done great damage. Myself as leader of all Greeks came in Asia to punish you. You helped the enemies of my father, Perynthos and Thrace, and you kept sending money ot Spartans and other Greeks to provoke insurrections....." Darius sent another message, this time polite, giving his daughter, Stateira to the Macedonian king, and all the lands between the cities Miletos and Ephessos, cities of Greeks (Yiaouna), and the river Aly. The proposals were very good and most of the soldiers of Alexander, exhausted from the battles would accept them. "I would accept it, if I were Alexander," said Parmenion, the old general. "So would I, if I were Parmenion." replied Alexander.

Tyre - Gaza (332)

All cities of Phoenicia surrendered, except Tyre. Tyre was an island-city very well fortified and the famous phoenician fleet, protected her from the sea. The defenders mocked and provoked the Greeks. The envoys, sent by Alexander, were throwed down from the walls. In January 332, the siege began. Diades of Larisa, the chief engineer, received orders to build very tall siege-towers, with battering rams, which would reach the city through a pier that was already under construction. The pier would connect the coast and the island. Seven months lasted the siege. Phoenicians fought bravely, but they were also very brutal. They hanged the prisoners from the walls and their companions heard their cries during all night. One night they managed to burn the towers of Diades. When Alexandros came and saw the disaster, he immediately told him. "Start building new towers."

One day, his old teacher, Lysimachus came all the way from Macedonia to see his student. All the classmates of Alexander: Selefcos, Leonnatos, Crateros, Philotas, Ptolemeos, Hephaestion gathered to meet their teacher. Plutarch tells us this story: "One day, he fell behind the rest of his army because his old teacher, Lysimachus (whom he used to compare to Phoenix, the guardian of Achilles) could not keep up. Night found Alexander in a very dangerous position: far behind his army and without any fire to combat the cold. He noticed some enemy campfires, so he ran over to one, killed two Arabs with his knife, then carried back a burning torch to his men. This story was recited by Hares".

When another envoy, with Lysimachus as the leader was sent to Tyre, to ask for surrender, the phoenicians crucified them all, including the old man. Alexander became mad from his anger and ordered immediate attack. The town was attacked from all sides: the Greek ships attacked the walls with siege machines, marines from Cyprus landed in the Sidonian port. Admetos was the first to climb the walls but was cut in peaces. The brave Macedonian king took his place and the Greeks stormed into the city. Thousands were massacred, 30000 Tyrians were sold as slaves and 2000 were crucified.

Gaza of Palestine was the next city which resisted. The Persian commander was named Vates. He was a brave man and had organized very well the defense. During the siege, Alexander, who as always was charging in front of his army, was injured on his shoulder by an arrow. Gaza fell, the population was massacred without mercy, and Alexander dragged Vates around the city, behind his chariot, as the Homeric hero Achilleas had done to Hector. After a few days Alexander's son was born by Varsine. He gave him the name Heracles.

Egypt - Alexandria

Alexander wanted to go to Egypt because, according to Arrianus from Nicomedia, the Greek heroes, Perseus and Heracles (ancestors of Alexander) had visited the famous temple oracle of Dias (Zeus) Ammon. Alexander and all Hellenes admired Egypt for its mystery and its exotic landscapes. In January 331, the Greek army and navy reached Pelusion (Port Said). The Persian satrap Mazaces surrendered. After the conquest of Phoenicia, the Persian fleet was diminished and the Greek fleet dominated the sea. Alex-andros with his army moved west, passed the old Greek ports Naucratis and Mareotis, and reached the Mediterranean sea. The fleet under Nearhos moved south to the city of Memphis and an expeditionary mission was sent to discover the sources of the Nile. At the island Pharos the Macedonian king decided to found a new city, on the western mouth of the Nile, which was to be called Alexandria. He ordered the famous Rhodian architect Deinocrates to make the plans for his city. Alexandria, during Ptolemaic dynasty, would be the pharos of science, commerce, learning and Hellenism for centuries. It would be the center of the Hellenistic age, the center of all human knowledge (the famous library of Alexandria was founded by Ptolemeos and included hundreds of thousands books, the Museum (Mouseion), a common workplace for scholars and artists, and also one of the seven world wonders, the Pharus of Alexandria). The greatest Greek mathematicians, engineers, physicists, architects, geographers like Euclides the geometrician, Archimedes, Plotinus the philosopher, Ptolemy and Eratosthenes would study in Alexandria. It was at Alexandria, that the Greek lady Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies, would fall in love with Mark Antony, attempting the same time, without success, to restore the Ptolemaic dynasty. Alexandria would also house the Patriarchate during Byzantine Era, a period during which Alexandria would have great economical development. The Greeks continued to live and prosper in this city until 1950's when the Egyptian government of Naser, in a brutal and barbaric way confiscated their property and deported them all. However the Orthdox Patriarchate of Alexandria still survives.

From Alexandria, the Greek emperoror marched inland to visit the celebrated oracle of the god Ammon in the middle of a vast desert Alexandros (at oasis Siwa); the journey was extremely difficult and many travelers before had been perished either from water shortage or from violent sandstorms. All of these dangers and difficulties did not matter to Alexander, who could not be diverted from his plan once he had taken his desicion. According to Plutarch of Chaeronia, the rain solved the water problem, and also prevented sand from blowing and when he lost his way, two ravens came to guide him to the right direction. The Macedonian asked the oracle if his father's murderers had all been punished. The oracle answered that nobody could harm his father who was Ammon Zeus. Alexander returned to Memphis. There happened a terrible accident when his friend, the son of Parmenio, Hector was drowned in the Nile. Parmenion lamented and when Alexandros visited him to show his sympathy, the old general told him: "In peace times, the sons bury their fathers, in war times the fathers bury their sons." In spring 331 he returned to Tyre. Already he controlled the whole eastern Mediterranean sea. In Tyre, as a genuine Hellene organized athletic games (agonas) and theatricals. Athenodoros and Thessalos were honored for their stagecraft.

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