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The Rise of Macedonia

Philip II

Macedonia in 359 BC when Philip ascended the throne was a monarchy, but was sufficiently different from the rest of Greece in dialect and customs to be viewed by many Greeks as at least semi-barbarian. It extended its lands over time from the northern and north-western coasts of the Thermaic gulf to encompass the hilly territory up to the Illyria on the west and Paeonia in the north. The  people of the conquered territories were Illyrian, and presented a long-term hindrance to stability in Macedonia. Philip II was a hostage o at Thebes, between 368 and 365 BC.  But while in captivity there, he observed the military techniques of then the greatest power in Greece. When he returned to Macedonia he immediately set forth in helping his brother Perdiccas III, who was then king of Macedonia, to strengthen and reorganize the Macedonian army. In 359 BC Perdiccas  had been killed in an Illyrian attack, his son Amyntas was then a minor. Amyntas' uncle, Philip, held the regency but quickly seized the throne for himself. He bought off the Thracian king with gifts and persuaded him to put to death the first Macedonian pretender to the throne who had found a refuge at the Thracian court. Then he defeated in battle the second pretender who was supported by Athens. Careful not to upset the Athenians, he made a treaty with them, ceding the city of Amphipolis on the Macedonian coast to them. Thus in little more then a year he had removed the internal threats and secured the safety of his kingdom by firmly establishing himself on the throne. He spent the winter remodelling and training the army and by spring, had 10,000 infantry and 600 horse well-trained troops. In 358 BC he met the Illyrians in battle with his reorganized Macedonian phalanx, and utterly defeated them. After the defeat of the Illyrians, Macedonia’s policy became increasingly aggressive. Paeonia was already forcefully integrated into Macedonia under Philip's rule. In 357 BC Philip broke the treaty with Athens and attacked Amphipolis . The city fell back into the hands of Macedonia after an intense siege. Then he secured possession over the gold mines of nearby Mount Pangaeus, which would enable him to finance his future wars.

Macedonian military revolution

Philip then completely reformed the Macedonian army:  introducing a combined arms structure of professional (as opposed to citizen militia) infantry, heavy cavalry and light troops.  His foot soldiers were trained to use a phalanx system that was based on the Theban model, but that incorporated the sarissa:   an extra-long spear, or pike, that gave them greater punching power at the moment of impact.  He also set up a corps of hypaspistai, or hypaspists:  elite foot guardsmen able to move more quickly than a normal phalanx.  Finally, he gave his cavalry the xyston:  a lance-like spear longer than those of their contemporaries.


The Third Sacred War 356-346

Sparta had been an active member of the Delphic Amphictyony and had helped finance its rebuilding after the earthquake of 373 BC. Thebes had exploited her dominance after Leuctra to manipulate the Council into fining Sparta 500 talents for the occupation of the Theban acropolis in 382 BC and in 356 BC also at the instigation of Thebes the unpaid fine had been doubled. as well as imposing fine on Phocis for cultivating the Delphic territory of Cirrha. The Phocians refused to pay the fine and raised an army under Philomelos with 15 talents provided by Archidamos, which they used first to capture Delphi and then to defeat a Locrian army near Phaedriadae. Thebes and Boeotia, Thessaly and Locris all made alliance against Phocis, launching the Third Sacred War. The Phocians were heavily defeated by a Boeotian army at Neon. Onomarchos rallied the army and was subsequently elected autocrat of Phocis. During the winter of 355 BC, Onomarchos drew on the Delphic treasury to recruit mercenaries and to bribe the Thessalians into withdrawing. The subsequent year, Onomarchos raided the territory of Locris, Doris and Boeotia, and lent support to the faction of the Tyrant Lycophron in Thessaly against internal foes. A Phocian army of 7000 under Onomarchus' brother Phayllus was sent to Thessaly in 353 BC to support Lycophron, but was defeated by Philip II of Macedon who intervened in support of the opposing faction. Onomarchos led the Phocian army into Thessaly, defeating Philip in two pitched battles in which the Macedonians suffered heavy losses, forcing them to withdraw to Macedon.

Note The First Sacred War (595-586 BC) ended with the creation of the Amphictyonic League which was a federation of 12 city states, including arch rivals Athens and Sparta, which reorganized and presided over the Pythian Games. The second was in 448 BC  the Phocians occupied Delphi, were driven away by the Lacedemonians, who marched against them  and recaptured it with the help of the Athenians. The sanctuary was not to regain its old independence until 421 BC.

In 352 BC, Onomarchos again invaded Boeotia, defeating a Boeotian army and seizing Coronea. Meanwhile, Philip had regrouped and marched on the Thessalian capitol at Pherae to overthrow Lycophron. Onomarchos again marched to aid the Thessalian tyrant, however, Philip with 3000 horse and 20,000 foot had recruited large numbers of Thessalian allies and defeated Onomarchos and his Phocian army of 500 horse and 20,000 foot at the battle of the "Crocus Field"  near the Paghasitikos gulf. Phocis is now in a desperate position, but none of the other central and southern Greek states want to see Philip move farther south. Athens sends large force to help Phocis defend Thermopylae, as does Sparta with 1000 perioeci and also Achaea, Philip decides to bide his time, and doesn't make an attempt at this point to move south. While Philip drew breath Archidamus in 351 attacks Megalopolis with 3000 mercenaries provided by Phocis and campaign against Argos. In 353 Archidamus had proposed a restoration of ancestral territory, he had in mind the restoration of Messenia and the Laconian perioecic lands lost to Megalopolis. But he presented it to win wider support. However it was not received well at all, Athens despite Demosthenes remained neutral. Sparta's limited manpower was in no position to affect the outcome of the war. With the change in Athenian policy by the Peace of Philocrates the Phocians fall back from Thermopylae. In 346 BC with Thebes support Philip is now in a position to dictate to the Phocians. He breaks up all their cities into small villages, to reduce their potential threat Macedonia takes Phocis' seat on the Amphictionic Council of Delphi, imposes a fine of 10,000 talents on Phocis and returned western Boeotian towns that had been taken by the Phocians to Boeotian league.

Philip and Athens

Around 352 BC Macedonia has  begun building a fleet. Macedonian ships are active in north Aegean disrupting the Athenian grain supply and attacking the Athenians possessions of Lemnos, Imbros and Euboea. Athens' main concern is the Hellespont and Propontis, Philip, too, turns his attention eastward. In 352 BC soon after Thessalian campaign, Philip moves into Thrace making rapid advances as far as the Propontis, but an illness forces him to withdraw and the Chersonese is, for the moment, safe. Demosthenes' gives his First Philippic exhortation for the Athenians to vigorously oppose Philip but Athens at this point recognizes that vigorous opposition is impossible, and the prevailing attitude is that Athens should focus on protecting itself and its commercial interests and not involve itself in an hopeless campaign. Olynthus, the head of the Chalcidian league, which had been maintaining friendly relations with Philip, moves to make peace with Athens and recognizes Athenian rights to Amphipolis. In 349 BC Philip moves into the Chalcidice and all the cities were either won over or captured quickly, with the exception of Olynthus itself. Olynthus seeks a defensive alliance with Athens. Athens votes for an alliance and sends citizen soldiers and mercenaries to Chalcidice but Philip divides Athenian attention by stirring up revolt in Euboea. Athenian expedition to Euboea in 348 is unable to retake the island, and Athens, in return for prisoners, acknowledges the independence of the island. Athens sends 2000 troops to Olynthus, but they're too late, and Philip destroys the city and disperses the population.

Athens is now financially exhausted and futilely attempts to arouse resistance to Philip in the Peloponnese. Philip is invited by Thebans and Thessalians to undertake the generalship of the Amphictionic League against the Phocians. Athens sends an embassy to Pella to negotiate a peace with Philip (Peace of Philocrates) in March of 346: Athens and Macedonia would retain their possessions at this time, Amphipolis would go to Macedonia, the Chersonesos would remain Athenian.

Despite the peace of Philocrates, there was considerable anti-Macedonian sentiment at Athens, thanks primarily to the influence of Demosthenes who advocated cooperation with Thebes in war against Macedonia. Demosthenes' views seem to more or less prevail, though there is constant struggle between the 'war party' and the 'peace party' Philip's activities after 346 consolidation of power over Macedonia alliances in the Peloponnese with enemies of Sparta, including Messenia, Megalopolis, Elis, and Argos In 344 Philip backed up the financial support to Messenia and Argos in their war with Sparta by providing mercenary troops. In 343 Argos, Messenia and Megalopolis formally joined him and Elis was lost to Messenia and so to Philip. By 343, Demosthenes and his war party are firmly in the ascendancy Alliances are made with Megara and Chalcis in Euboea (though other Euboea cities side with Philip). In 342, Philip installed his brother on the throne of  Epirus., alarmed states such as Ambracia, Acarnania, Achaea, and Corcyra join in alliance with Athens. In 341 Athens breaks the terms of the peace by sending a small force of ships and mercenaries to Cardia and Thrace,   and Byzantium and Perinthos are detached from the Macedonian alliance. Athenian troops invaded Euboea, set up an independent Euboean league led by Chalcis. In 340 Philip besieges Perinthos but is unsuccessful , he breaks off suddenly and descended on Byzantium, hoping to take it unprepared. Athens  sends a fleet under Chares, and a second under Phocion. Rhodes and Chios also send help. Philip withdraws from Byzantium into Thrace to deal with rebellious Scythians.

The Battle of Chaeronea

It had become clear that there would be no enduring peace, much less cooperation, between Athens and Macedonia. Philip had to consider war against Athens. Macedonia's grain supply was vulnerable as long as the Athenian fleet dominated the Aegean.  Demosthenes was anxious to secure the cooperation of Thebes, but Thebes had recently benefited from Philip's settlement of the Sacred War and was an ally of Macedonia. If Thebes remained allied to Macedonia, Philip would have unimpeded access through central Greece into Attica. On the other hand if Thebes switched to ally with Athens, their combined forces might have a chance of opposing a Macedonian invasion. In 338 BC the Amphictionic council at Philips behest declared war (4th Sacred war) on Amphissa for having illegally cultivated land that belonged to the gods. Philip at their invitation moved through the pass at Thermopylae and fortified Elatea to protect his rear against possible hostility from Thebes. He tested the Theban water by sending an embassy proclaiming his intention to march on Attica, asking for their cooperation. The Athenians on hearing about this sent Demosthenes to Thebes. The Thebans who were not particularly friendly toward Athens at the best of times, would have realized that Philip's conquest of Athens would leave Thebes isolated. They thus formed an alliance with Athens who agreed to pay 2/3 of the costs of the war and abandoned their claim to Oropus on the Attic-Boeotian frontier. The Athenians and Thebans occupied the passes from Phocis into Boeotia, and sent a force under Chares to block the route from Amphissa to the gulf of Corinth. Philip moved  quickly through Phocis, captured Amphissa, and defeated Chares, he then moved on to seize Naupactus, giving him full access to the Gulf of Corinth. The Allies were now threatened in the rear, and moved back to the relatively narrow pass at Chaeronea, flanked by the Cephissos river on the north and the high ground and acropolis of the city of Chaeronea on Mt. Petrachos to the south.

On August 2nd both sides confronted each other there. The actual forces involved as usual are a little conjectural. The Greeks had 30,000 hoplites, 5,000 peltasts & 2,000 cavalry. The Macedonians 24,000 heavy infantry including 3000 hypaspists, 6,000 light-armed infantry & 2,000 cavalry. The Greek forces lined up with their left flank based on Chaeronea itself and their right flank covered by marshes lying along the river Cephissus. The Greek forces were aligned with the Athenians on their left flank, other Allied Hoplites in the centre and the Thebans on the right wing. The Theban Sacred Band formed the extreme right of their position. Philip advanced his phalanx obliquely on his right wing and centre. The hypaspists met the Athenians before the rest of his forces. On contact, Philip withdrew his troops drawing the Athenians forward. This opened a gap in the centre of the line which Alexander charged through with his Companion cavalry. The other cavalry now attacked the flank of the Scared Band. At the same time, Philip advanced with his phalanx against the disrupted Athenians and broke them. Only 50 of the 300 members of the Sacred Band survived Greek losses in all were 2,000 killed and 4,000 captured. Macedonian losses were slight.

Results of Chaeronea

Macedonia was now clearly the supreme power in Greece, as Sparta and Thebes had become after Aegospotami and Leuctra. Philip treated Thebes harshly, he had anti-Macedonians in Thebes exiled or killed, garrisoned the Cadmeia and broke up the Boeotian league. Athens could still put up a defence at its walls, Philip was not anxious for a siege. Leniency and the 2,000 captives made Athens anxious for peace, Philip would restore the prisoners and not march on Attica. Athens would dissolve the remains of their naval confederacy and join Philip's new Hellenic League, and surrender Chersonesos to Macedonia. Philip then marched into the  Peloponnese and met no resistance, Sparta stubbornly refused to submit and refused him entry, unlike the Thebans 30 years before Philip did not insist. Unlike 370 there was no uprisings of helots or Perioeci. Philip ravaged Laconia, broke up her frontier territories (Aegytis, Belminatis, Sciritis, Caryatis and Thyreatis) and handed them over to Argos, Tegea and Megalopolis, and Dentheliatis which went to Messenia. In 337 BC he established an annual Federal Congress at Corinth ( only Sparta remained aloof)  announced at its second meeting,  the aim of the conquest of Persia on the same old pretext of 'the liberation of the Greeks'. The Federal Congress voted for war and elected Philip supreme commander  and contributions from the various cities were determined. In 336 the first advance forces crossed the Hellespont, to be followed soon by the main army under Philip but in the summer, Philip was assassinated by one of his bodyguards, Pausanias, reputed to be an ex-lover. Motives are varied, a lover scorned, or his wife Olympias ensuring her son Alexander succeeds or even Alexander, the relationship had been strained over the last two years. Alexander succeeded to the throne though not without some bloodshed. In a series of purges that lasted over a year Alexander literally got rid of the opposition, murdering his nephew Amnytas who should have succeeded before Philip, but was too young, and two sons of Aeropus, the third was killed in 330.

Alexander III

Alexander and Greece

With the news of Philips death, the league of Corinth broke into revolt. The Thessalians seized the Tempe pass, the Ambraciots expelled the Macedonian garrison and Demosthenes rejoiced in the streets of Athens. Alexander turned the Thessalian position and in Larissa and was acknowledged head of the Thessalian league getting the support of the Amphictyonic Council. The Athenians sent an embassy to apologise and at Corinth Alexander resurrected the League of Corinth. Within a month of his accession Greece was once more firmly under Macedonian control apart from Sparta which once again refused to join.

When rumours of the death of Alexander on campaign in Illyria reached Thebes and Athens, the anti-Macedonian factions in those cities urged for an immediate alliance to throw off Macedonian hegemony. Powerful figures like Demosthenes threw their support behind the cause, Demosthenes  donated 300 talents’ worth of arms and armour to the Theban rebels, and promised more from the Persian King, Darius, should the rebellion become general. Support for the uprising was growing in Athens; the Peloponnesian states had already sent a contingent of troops to the vicinity of Thebes, and merely awaited on events before joining the Thebans. The Thebans themselves had the local Macedonian garrison under Philotas besieged in the fortress of the Cadmeia. Given time, all of Greece might have rose against Alexander; but Philip’s logistical reforms ensured that the alliance never got a chance to solidify. Alexander’s reached Thessaly in seven days and Boeotia in six more. Alexander was probably able to deploy 36,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry in the assault on Thebes. The size of the Theban force is hard to ascertain, but given Diodorus’ account of the battle which shows 6,000 Theban casualties after their defeat, we cannot assume a force even half the size of the Macedonian group moved against it, probably 12,000 infantry and some hundreds of cavalry. Diodorus also tells us that, perhaps in an attempt to even up this difference in numbers, the Thebans had armed their enfranchised slaves, resident aliens, and refugees; these units were tasked with holding the walls against the Macedonian attack. After a long assault and a brave defence by the Thebans the Macedonians entered by an unguarded postern. The Theban defence first crumbled and then disintegrated. Attempting to fall back through the city gates, many Thebans were killed in a crush of men and horses; once their forces began to retreat, their formations fell to pieces and the slaughter began..

 Exploiting inter-Greek rivalries, Alexander passed the final decision on what to do with the captive Thebans and their ruined city to his Boeotian allies (according to Arrian) or possibly representatives from all of Greece (according to Diodorus), eager to placate Alexander, this body recommended that Thebes be razed to the ground, its populace sold into slavery, and the Thebans as a whole exiled from Greece. Alexander also demanded the surrender of Demosthenes, Lycurgus, and several other prominent Athenians who fled to Persia. The lesson was learnt, the Arcadians executed those who had spoken in support of Thebes, the Eleans welcomed back their pro-Macedonian exiles and the Aetolians sent embassies begging forgiveness.

Spartan reaction to the destruction of Thebes would have been mixed, one the one hand satisfaction that the old enemy was destroyed tempered by the fact of Macedonian power and her support and recognition of Messenia. With Athens being financially and militarily strapped Sparta could turn only to Persia who had helped before against another rising power.

Alexander and Persia

Philips and Alexander's Greek wars had put Macedonia on the edge of bankruptcy with only 70 talents in the coffers, their lands were mortgaged and he owed 200 talents, it was not the first time or the last that a regime opted for foreign adventure when income did not meet expenditure. Thus the wealth of Persia may have been seen as a way out for a bankrupt state. Alexander crossed into Asia in 334 BC with only 30 days supplies, he had with him 12,000 Macedonians infantry, including 9,000 pezhetairoi or foot companions organised into 6 brigades and 3,000 hypaspists in 3 units, there were 7,000 allied hoplites from the League of Corinth, and 5,000 mercenaries, a mix of hoplite and peltasts. Parmenion held command over all the infantry. They were accompanied by 7,000 Odrysians, Triballians and Illyrians armed as light infantry, and 1,000 archers and the Agrianian javelinmen.  In all the infantry numbered 32,000.

Of the cavalry there were 1,800 Macedonian (Companions), under the command of Parmenions son Philotas, 1,800 Thessalians, commanded by Callas son of Harpalus, a total of 600 light cavalry of the League, commanded by Erygius, and 300 Thracian scouts and Paeonians, with Cassander as their commander. The total number of cavalry was 4,500.

The fleet consisted of 160 triremes which was probably paid for by the League, he took one month supplies and 70 talents. Antipater was left in Macedonia as regent.

He left behind Antipater with 12,000 infantry and 1,500 cavalry to guard Greece.

Battle of Granicus

Alexander contacted the only Persian army in Asia Minor at Granicus where they were holding a defensive position on the river bank The Granicus was 3 feet deep and 80 feet wide with steep banks 12 feet high. Memnon had argued for a sound policy of scorched earth and naval attacks but the Persians refused to destroy their own land. Diodorus is the only ancient author who provides even a partial Persian order of battle. Memnon of Rhodes, with a cavalry unit of unknown size and nationality, held the extreme left of the Persian forward line. To his right was Arsamenes, also with cavalry of unknown size and nationality; then Arsites, with Paphlagonian cavalry of unknown size; and Spithridates, with Hyrcanian cavalry of unknown size. The extreme right of the Persian forward line was held by 1,000 Median cavalry and 2,000 cavalry of unknown nationality, both under the command of Rheomithres, and by 2,000 Bactrian cavalry. The centre was held by cavalry units of unknown size and nationality, probably under the joint command of Mithridates and Rhoesaces, and no doubt others not mentioned in ancient texts. Greek mercenaries, under Omares, made up the mass of the infantry and were placed at the rear of the cavalry on higher ground. Overall they probably outnumbered Alexander by 2 to 1 in cavalry and were outnumbered 2 to 1 in infantry. The Greek mercenaries were probably 10,000 strong.

In the centre of his line, Alexander placed his six Foot Companion battalions of heavy infantry (historically referred to as phalanxes), arranged in the following order from left to right: Meleager's phalanx with 1,500 infantrymen; the phalanx of Philip, son of Amyntas, with 1,500 infantrymen; the phalanx of Amyntas, son of Andromenes, with 1,500 infantrymen; Craterus' phalanx, with 1,500 infantrymen; the phalanx of Coenus, son of Polemocrates, with 1,500 infantrymen and the phalanx of Perdiccas, son of Orontes, with 1,500 infantrymen. On the left of the phalanxes stood 150 Thracian Odrysian light cavalry under Agathon and 600 Greek allied heavy cavalry under Philip, son of Menelaus. On the extreme left of Alexander's line were 1,800 Thessalian heavy cavalry under Calas, joined by Parmenion, who probably stationed himself at the head of the Pharsalian squadron. On the right of the phalanxes stood, in succession: 3,000 shield bearers divided into three phalanxes of 1,000 heavy infantrymen each, all under Nicanor, son of Parmenion; a combined light mounted force of 600 Prodromoi cavalry and 150 Paeonian cavalry, commanded by Amyntas, son of Arrhabaeus; one squadron of 200 Companion heavy cavalry under Socrates, whose turn it was to take the lead that day; 1,600 Companion heavy cavalry (with Alexander stationed at the head of the royal squadron), under Philotas, son of Parmenion; 500 Agrianian light-javelin men, under Attalus; and, finally, 500 Cretan light archers, under Clearchus.

After some disagreement with Parmenion over whether to attack across the river at all or wait for the Persians to melt away during the night, Alexander rejects his plan and is determined to attack. Alexander's battle plan was to send some auxiliary cavalry against the enemy flanks, giving the Persians the impression that the main assault would take place there. The Persians reacted in the way Alexander desired and they withdrew cavalry from the centre (which was guarding the river) to strengthen the flanks. At that moment Alexander and his Companion cavalry rushed into the Persian centre and made the decisive attack there. The Persians counter-attacked but lost heavily including many of their leaders.

 The ancient historians' accounts vary widely as to the losses on both sides. Arrian probably provided the most credible statistics, although the Macedonian figures are suspiciously low and the Persian numbers perhaps increased. According to him, Macedonian losses totalled 115 killed, 85 cavalry and 30 infantry. No doubt the number of wounded was considerably higher. Persian losses amounted to 4,000 killed, about 1,000 cavalry and perhaps 3,000 Greek mercenaries along with 2,000 taken prisoner.

All of the cities on the coast surrendered to Alexander, except for Halicarnassus and Miletus, which he had to take by force. This put the Persian fleet in a difficult position since it had no forward bases and therefore its supply lines would be stretched. It would also alleviate some of Alexander's supply problems.

In the summer of 333, the Persian navy, commanded by Memnon and Pharnabazus, invaded the Aegean Sea and threatened to bring the war to Thrace and Macedonia. With a combination of force and good luck, Antipater kept the situation under control.

Battle of Issus

In 333 BC Alexander had moved his army into Syria where Darius III positioned himself in the rear of Alexander blocking his line of retreat and communications at Issus. The Persian army formed up on the bank of the River Pinarus with its right flank on the sea, it was a narrow area not suited to cavalry. Alexander had with him about 5,000 cavalry and 26,000 infantry. The Persians numbers are again speculative ranging from 25,000 to 600,000  but a reasonable number is 108,000 including 30,000 Greek mercenaries, 60,000 Persian infantry and 18,000 Persian cavalry. Alexander launched his cavalry against the Persian cavalry and routed them. The Macedonian foot soldiers then crossed the river and assaulted the Persian centre, while Alexander personally led his own cavalry against Darius' bodyguard, who fled from the field. The Persian troops followed and the Greek mercenaries were left to fight what remained of the battle. The Macedonian losses were heavy. Our sources mention 450 dead and 4,000 wounded, 15% of the soldiers. There are no reliable statistics of the Persian casualties, but they may have been between 5,000 and 10,000 killed.

During the two years after the Battle of Issus Alexander proceeded to occupy the Mediterranean coast and Egypt. He then advanced from Syria against the heart of the Persian empire. Alexander crossed both the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers without any opposition. Following his campaigns securing Egypt and the Levantine coast, Alexander the Great turned inland and followed the ancient caravan routes through Syria into upper Mesopotamia. The Persian king, Darius III, whose forces had already been defeated twice by Alexander, assembled a huge multinational army in the area north of Babylon. Alexander chose his ground carefully and forced Darius to move north to meet him they met in the plains of Gaugamela near the city Arbela.

Battle of Gaugamela

The forces involved were according to Arrian : Macedonians under Alexander, 7,000 cavalry and 40,000 infantry. Broken down into for the cavalry 2300 Companions, 1800 Thessalians and some 1000 Macedonian prodromoi ,1400 Thracians and Paionians and 500 allies and mercenaries. The infantry consisted of 12,000 foot guards, 3,000 hypaspists, 9,600 Greek League hoplites, 5000 of the veteran mercenaries, probably 7000 Thracians and Illyrians and 1,200 Agrianian javelinmen, 1000 Macedonian and 1,200 mercenary archers.
The Persians under Darius, with maybe 40,000 cavalry, 200,000 infantry (Arrian gives an exaggerated number of 1,000,000 infantry) and 6,000 Greek mercenaries plus 15 elephants and 100 chariots. Darius'  best troops, the Greek Mercenaries, had been almost destroyed at Issus and he was now relying mainly on his cavalry, chariots and elephants.

He drew his forces up in two long deep lines with cavalry on each flank Numerous scythe chariots lined the front of the entire army, with 15 elephants in front of the centre. Darius had the plain to his front levelled, in order that his chariots could manoeuvre. Due to reconnaissance, Darius’ groundwork had been noted and Alexander deduced the reason for it and planned to reduce the Persian advantage. The battle opened with Darius attempting to shift his forces to the left, at the same time launching some of his cavalry. This created gaps in the Persian line. The Persian wings swept in to envelop the Macedonian flanks but were met and repulsed by Alexander’s flank reserves. Alexander noticed a gap near the left centre of the Persian line and led his companions in a charge, followed by his Hypaspists. He smashed through the Persian line. Darius, in the path of Alexander’s charge, fled. Panic spread from the Persian centre, all along the left, and these forces crumbled however Alexander’s left flank was hard pressed, so he immediately reformed and routed the Persian forces. Alexander’s losses were 500 killed and about 5,000 wounded
while the Persians lost around 40000 men. Darius fled with his guard and some Bactrian cavalry. Alexander pursued him all the way to Arbela about 75 miles from the battlefield. Darius managed to escape to Media, but was later killed by Bessus the satrap of Bactria. Bessus claimed the kingship himself and fled to the mountains but in 329, Bessus himself is surrendered to Alexander by his own staff and tried by a Persian court, condemned and executed.

When Alexander was in Phoenicia in summer 331 BC, preparing for his march towards Mesopotamia and the battle of Gaugamela, news arrived that King Agis III of Sparta had started a war in the Peloponnese (see below). When Alexander arrived in Susa, in December of that year, the outcome of this obscure war was still unknown: from Susa he sent Antipater 3000 talents to continue the war effort. The final news of Antipater's victory must have reached Alexander in the summer of 330 BC when he dismissed his allied troops, or even much later in spring 329 BC when he crossed the Indian Caucasus into Bactria. In 330 BC Bactria and Sogdiana rebel over local difficulties and Alexander takes three years to bloodily suppress them.

The three victories have effectively given the Persian Empire over to Alexander, yet all was not well within the Macedonian camp.

  1. Macedonian soldiers increasingly reluctant to continue because they have been so long away and so far away [coining of word ‘nostalgia’]
  2. Alexander’s officers snubbed by Alexander’s increasing attempts to adopt Persian royal practices, including proskynesis (the act of the subject prostrating themselves before their ruler, not a Greek custom)
  3. Alexander marries Roxana (327), Macedonians worried that Alexander’s successor would be half Persian
  4. Alexander promotes intermarriage among troops
  5. Alexander insists on public recognition of his divine birth
  6. Army had always assumed that, in addition to booty and rapine, point of Persian War was to fulfil vow after the Persian Wars to have revenge on Persia.

All of the above lead to a number of attempts on Alexander’s life. By 327 Alexander has cashiered last of the Greek troops, allowing them to settle in conquered land or return to Greece and army is significantly made up of Persian units.

In 327 at the invitation of Taxiles to attack his rivals Porus and Abisares, Alexander crosses the Hindu Kush. Abisares in 326 submits without a fight.

Battle of Hydaspes

Based on Arrian the numbers involved on the Macedonian side are 3,500 Companions cavalry,  2,000 Bactrian light cavalry, 2,000, 2,000 Agranian javelinmen, 3,000 hypaspists, 5000 foot guards and 1,000 Scythian light infantry
1,000 Scythians (18) 2,000 Bactrian's. The Indians under Porus had 300 Chariots, 30,000 Infantry, 200 Elephants and 4,000 light cavalry.

Alexander launched a strong attack on the Indian left wing. The movement of the Indian right wing and of Coenus (with about 1000 Companion cavalry) is uncertain; there is agreement that the Indian right wing attempted to aid the left wing but Coenus intervened. The Indians may have moved behind or in front of their main line. Coenus may have flank marched on the Macedonian right or left, or he may have moved from the right wing to the left wing behind the Macedonian main line. The Indian chariots seem to have been fairly easily destroyed but the destruction of the Indian centre was difficult due to the elephants. As soon as Alexander saw the Indian confusion, the Macedonian phalanx was ordered to advance. Friend and foe alike were trampled under rampaging elephants. Plutarch suggests the fighting lasted for eight hours. That Alexander was victorious in the end, was the result of his initial clever river crossing which had enabled him to take Poros by surprise after what was claimed by Arrian to be his hardest battle.

Alexander returned to Persia in 325 but Alexander’s officers left in Persia never expected his return and so had been arranging the affairs of Persia to their liking. Eight Macedonian satraps were executed and their mercenary troops disbanded. Alexander forces a decree on the Greek cities to accept the return of the exiles (20,000) complicating Greek affairs for years, in fact only Tegea received back its exiles. In 324 30,000 Persian troops are to be trained in Macedonian tactics and weapons and it is clear that Alexander intended to release Macedonian troops and continue campaigns at the head of a Persian army for his next campaign against Arabia. Alexander moves to discharge the veterans and send them home but mutiny ensues. On May 29th 324 BC Alexander falls ill after much heavy drinking and on the 10th of June he succumbs to a fever and dies. With Alexander died also the invasion of Arabia and any notion of his divinity.

Alexander in effect turned out to be little more than a military adventurer although an excellent one, there was no long lasting dynasty, he provided no heir and his self appointed successors spent the remains of the century warring among themselves and exhausting Greek resources which made the Greeks in the east or west easier prey to the new rising power of the Mediterranean, Rome.

Revolt of Agis III

Sparta's reputation as a land power however reduced since Leuctra and her desire still for hegemony of the Peloponnese recommended Sparta to Darius as a second front as leader of the anti-Macedonian resistance in Greece to distract Alexander. Darius had already lost the first of his three major encounters to Alexander. The second was a more close run thing, at least a lot of Greeks thought  from the number that fought at Issus. In 334/5 Agis had been in contact with Memnon, Darius' fleet commander and in 333 an envoy had been sent to Susa. After Issus Agis met the successors of Memnon to co-ordinate the Sparta-Persian strategy to cut off Alexander's supply line and draw him west. Thirty talents and 10 ships were given to Agis who sent them to Crete for the 332 campaign with his brother Agesilaus. With this money Agis managed to recruit the Greek mercenary survivors of Issus - who had served in the Persian army - a tough force of 8,000 (according to Diodorus) seasoned men and with these he had much success in Crete in bringing that island over to the Persians. But with the Persian fleet defecting to Alexander, Agis returned to Laconia to try and stir up revolt in Greece. In the summer of 331 BC Agis attacked and massacred a Macedonian force under Corrhagus, the Macedonian general in the Peloponnese and garrison commander of Corinth and this may have persuaded some members of the Corinthian League to join him. Athens was constrained because Alexander held 4,000 Athenian hostages and Agis' allies turned out to be exclusively Peloponnese and not all the Peloponnese at that as a majority fought with Antipater. They met near Megalopolis in 331 BC.

After his victory Antipater did not set the peace terms himself but delegated that job to the league of Greek states. Plutarch records Alexander's reaction when he finally heard about the outcome of the war with Agis III: 'Alexander, when he heard of Antipater's battle with Agis, merely joked about it and remarked, "It seems, my friends, that while we have been conquering Darius here, there has been a battle of mice in Arcadia"' (Plutarch, Life of Agesilaus, 15).

The results of the defeat were

  1. it deprived Sparta of her only active and effective king
  2. fifty hostages drawn from the highest rank were taken
  3. although the citizen population had reached pre Leuctra levels, the losses incurred with the lack of permanent allies condemned Sparta to the status of a small state and any prospect of recovering 'great power' status disappeared.