From the conquered Phenicia Alexander rushed to Egypt, where he founded the city of Alexandria. Another special event of his Egyptian “tour” was a risky journey through the sands of the Libyan desert to the oasis of Siva to the priests of the Egyptian god Amon-Ra, whom the Greeks likened to Zeus.
Arriane presents the case as follows: Alexander was seized with the desire to go to Amon in Libya, because they said that Amon’s predictions come true exactly and that it was he who gave predictions to Perseus and Hercules. Since Alexander sought to imitate these heroes, and in addition came from the family of both, he derived his origins from Amon, as the myths of the origin of Hercules and Perseus build up to Zeus.
So, the king “went to Amon, expecting that he would know exactly what was touching him, or at least he could say what he had learned.” What exactly the deity told him through the mouth of his priests is not exactly known. It allegedly confirmed the divine origin of the Macedonian king.
Plutarch in his life of Alexander gives a funny interpretation of this episode. According to Plutarch, an Egyptian priest who greeted Alexander of Macedon wished to tell him in Greek “paidion” (“child”), but because of the bad pronunciation came “pay Dios” (“son of Zeus”). Completely satisfied with this, the Macedonian king allegedly withdrew immediately.
It is not necessary to take this story at face value. In it, the skepticism with which Alexander’s desire to catch up with the gods was seen by the Greeks is more likely to be seen. In Egypt such doubts could not arise. As the new Egyptian pharaoh, Alexander was considered the brother and the son of the gods on the most legitimate basis.
Not accepting peaceful proposals, from Egypt the conqueror finally moved for the Euphrates, wanting to meet with his enemy in a decisive battle. To prepare for her in the best possible way, the Persian king Darius, or, as his title, “king of kings” more accurately, had both time and opportunity.
The troops, drawn from all the ends of his vast empire, may have differed in their combat capability. But among them there were really excellent military units, including heavy Bactrian cavalry, Indian elephants and … Greek mercenaries.
A few centuries later, the Roman historian, author of the “History of Alexander the Great” Curtius Rufus describes two hundred Persian chariots with undisguised horror:
“Spears with iron tips protruded in front of the drawbar. On both sides of the yoke there were three swords and many more copies. In addition, braids were attached to the wheel hub, which were to cut everything that meets on the way. ”
Near the village of Gaugamela, near the city of Arbela in Mesopotamia, the Persian commanders found a field for the future battle, not resembling the gorge of Issa, where the Persians so absurdly passed themselves. To better maneuver their cavalry, which the Persians particularly relied on, they even dug the hills.
In October of 331 BC. e. the army of Alexander, certainly smaller in number, settled on the position prepared for her by the Persians. All this was too much like a terrible trap, which promised to exterminate the Macedonians.
Parmenion, the commander of the Macedonian king, desperately advised him to attack the Persians at night. Alexander of Macedon, according to legend, he replied that he “does not steal victories.” On the eve of the battle he slept so calmly that he had to awaken when the army was already beginning to be built.
Waiting for the night attack of the Macedonians, the Persians stood in battle formation all night. Then the Persians went wrong, the prepared attacks did not work out, the battle broke up into several fights, with varying success. Darius again thought ahead of time that everything had perished, and fled, so that the Macedonians had to finish off the scattered Persian detachments.
Darius slipped away again. But the defeated Persian Empire lay at the feet of the Macedonian. He freely entered five of its capitals in Mesopotamia, Persia and Media – Babylon, Susa, Pasargada, Persepolis and Ecbatans, and fabulous treasures fell into his hands. Much of this triumphal procession was now new.
In a sense, it seemed to be the logical end of the Greco-Persian wars. Plutarch retells the story of an old man crying with happiness at the sight of Alexander, seated on the throne of the once so formidable Persian kings. “What great joy – according to legend, he said, bursting into blissful tears, – those of the Greeks who died did not see it.”
From Sus, Alexander sent back to Athens the symbolic trophy of the Persian king Xerxes – the sculptural group of “tyrannophobic” Harmodius and Aristogiton, fighters for Athenian democracy, one of the most glorified works of early classical art. The feast in Persepolus ended with the burning of the royal palace, which, in the eyes of the intoxicating company, symbolized the revenge of the offended Greece.
The ancient authors report this drunken arson in different ways. However, the story of Plutarch is again more detailed and interesting than others. Allegedly the initiative belonged to a person quite frivolous behavior, in Greek – hetter.
“In general fun,” he says, “women took part with their beloved. Among them, the most notable was Taida, a native of Attica, a friend of the future king Ptolemy. Then, cleverly glorifying Alexander, then making fun of him, she, in the power of hop, decided to pronounce words that fully corresponded to the customs and customs of her homeland, but too exalted for herself.
Taida said that on that day, mocking the arrogant palaces of the Persian kings, she feels rewarded for all the hardships she experienced in wandering around Asia. But it would be even more pleasant for her now, with a cheerful crowd of feastingers, to go and burn her own hand in front of the Tsar to set fire to the palace of Xerxes, who betrayed Athena to fatal fire.
Let people say that the women who accompanied Alexander managed to take revenge on the Persians for Greece better than the famous leaders of the army and navy. These words were met with a roar of approval and loud applause.
Inspired by the persistent insistence of friends, Alexander jumped from his seat and with a wreath on his head and with a torch in his hand went ahead of everyone. Followed him noisy crowd surrounded the royal palace, here with great joy ran, carrying torches in hand, and other Macedonians, who learned about what happened. ”
Subsequently, Alexander expressed regret about what happened. In fact, after Gaugamel, he showed an increasing tendency to spare the conquered lands, allowed the satraps of the Persian king to remain in their places, showed respect for local gods and even the history of the Persian kingdom.
In Ecbatana, the last of the conquered Persian capitals, Alexander let home the Greek allies and the Thessalian cavalry. This was to mean that the general Greek campaign against the Persian kingdom, proclaimed in Corinth, was successfully completed and all the further remains the work of one Macedonia and its king.
Those who wanted to be with him were now his mercenaries. Considering himself a legitimate successor to the Persian kings, Alexander pursued the unfortunate Darius. But when the satraps who remained with Darius had dealt with him, the Macedonian king took the trouble to avenge his death.
The new and incomprehensible role played by the conqueror required him to find a common language with the Persian nobility, to preserve in some transformed form the administrative skeleton of his new and unknown power, a certain assimilation of the political ideology of the Persian kingdom, which in particular found expression in palace etiquette.
To the undisguised horror and mounting outrage of the Greeks and Macedonians, the conqueror attempted to extend to them the Persian order of appealing to the king, which implied literally worshiping him, incompatible with the Greek concepts of freedom and dignity.
More than anything, this painful topic led Alexander to clash with the zealots of the traditions of royal power in the midst of his immediate surroundings, composed of the Macedonian aristocracy.
The scene of the murder of Clit was the emotional culmination of the conflict between the king and his closest associates. Clitus is a friend of Alexander’s childhood, the brother of his wet nurse, the commander of the king’s ilah – the elite detachment of the Macedonian cavalry, bringing the king his victory.
If you follow Arrian, Clit finds a noteworthy form of counteraction to the advancing “tyranny” of Alexander the Great. At one of the feasts, Clit confronts the ancient heroes, challenging the sole character of Alexander’s exploits.
Unable to listen more to how court flatterers belittle Hercules and the Dioscuri, extolling the Macedonian king as the first among the demigods, Clit boldly and passionately declares that Alexander’s exploits are committed by all the Macedonians.
He tried to calm down, but he did not stop and demanded that Alexander say what he thinks to everyone. Finally, he was pushed out of the banquet hall. Clit returned through the other doors. Stretching his hand, Clit shouted to Alexander: “This very hand saved your life” (this really was in the battle of Granik). Snatching a spear from the guard, Alexander of Macedon killed him.