terça-feira, 4 de março de 2014
ALEXANDRER THE GREAT, CONQUERED CITY OF TYRE
VALDEMIR MOTA DE MENEZES GUY MACLEAN ROGERS: Alexander then headed farther south. The coastal cities of Byblos and Sidon surrendered to him without a fight. Delegates from the city of Tyre, including the son of the King Azemilk, or Azemilkus in Greek, then came to Alexander and told him that they had instructions to do whatever he wished them to do. Alexander told the delegates that he wanted to come into their city and make a sacrifice at the sanctuary of his ancestor Heracles. The Tyrians balked at that request. Honoring it would have meant that they would allow Alexander to come and make a sacrifice at the sanctuary of Melqart whom Alexander associated with Heracles. They were willing to allow him to make such a sacrifice in old Tyre, on the mainland, but not on the island sanctuary of Tyre which lay in the harbor of the city. To the island sanctuary, the Tyrians denied access both to Alexander and the Persians. In effect, therefore, it was a declaration of neutrality on the part of the Tyrians. Diodorus says, however, that the reason why the Tyrians denied Alexander access was that they were sympathetic to Darius and the Persians and they wanted to involve Alexander in a protracted siege to give Darius time to gather up his army. They got their wish. Alexander was not about to let a city that he probably knew was sympathetic to the Persians stay in a neutral position at his back as he marched farther down south to Egypt. And so he began to prepare for a siege. The stage was thus set for one of the most famous sieges in the history of the ancient world. The siege would involve chemical and biological warfare and massacres by both sides. It would last for seven months and both sides would pay dearly, but in the end, the Tyrians would pay the higher price. On the night that Alexander persuaded his officers and men that the city must be taken before they made their way to Egypt, he received what was interpreted as a sign from the gods. Alexander dreamed that when he approached the walls of the city, his kinsman, Heracles, came out from the city, greeted him, and had invited him into the city. Alexander's seer, Aristander, interpreted the dream as follows. Tyre would be taken, but not without great labor, as labor characterized all of Heracles' achievements. Aristander's prophecy was grounded in observable facts. Tyre was an island city situated about seven stades, or half a mile, from the mainland. It had strong and lofty walls, probably 150 feet high. Moreover, Tyre's navy was large and capable. Taking Tyre was truly going to be a Herculean task. In fact, just to lay siege to the city, Alexander had to begin to build a mole, or an artificial causeway, from the mainland to the city. The first version of the mole was almost 200 feet wide and was constructed from materials torn from old Tyre on the mainland. As the Macedonians worked on the part of the mole that nearly reached the island city itself, Tyrian naval raiders attacked them. To counter that threat, Alexander had constructed two towers on which he mounted artillery to protect his workers. In response, the Tyrians loaded up some kind of transport ship with pitch, sulfur, and other flammable materials. They then towed their fire ship out near the part of the mole where Alexander's workers were still constructing the last part of the causeway. They set it on fire and dragged it over to the mole itself. Soon the fire spread from the mole to the two towers. As Alexander's men were retreating, the Tyrians streamed out from their city, attacked the towers, and destroyed them completely. Undeterred, Alexander immediately started construction of another, even larger mole with more towers and more siege artillery. While his men were working on the second mole, the navies of Cyprus and some other Phoenician cities decided to throw in their lot with Alexander. This was a crucial turning point in the siege. These were some of the best navies in the eastern Mediterranean, and with them on his side, Alexander was able, effectively, to blockade the city from the sea. At the same time he was joined by a new force of mercenaries led to Tyre by a man named Cleander. With the help of the Cypriot and Phoenician navies and his new mercenaries, Alexander was able to cut Tyre off from all help from the outside world. He was also able to bring up artillery and towers mounted on ships so that he could attack the walls of the city from all sides simultaneously. Meanwhile, battering rams were also brought up to the walls and began pounding away. Although the walls of Tyre were constructed of megalithic rocks, that were somehow cemented together, eventually the rams did their work. And a breach was made through one of the south walls of the city. While warships attacked Tyre's harbor, and other ships circled around the city preventing anyone from escaping, Alexander and an officer of his named Admetus got into some ships along with the Hypaspistai and a battalion of the pezhetairoi and made their way to the point where the ram had made a breach in the southern wall. Alexander and Admetus led the assault against the wall. Admetus was killed almost immediately. After that, Diodorus tells us in Book 17, Chapter 46:2, that Alexander himself took hold of one of the gang planks on top, presumably, of a tower, and threw it down and crossed alone onto the battlement of the city. After him there followed the Hypaspistai and the pezhetairoi. They stripped the walls of defenders and drove the survivors down into the middle of the city itself. Meanwhile, the Phoenician and Cypriot navies captured the city's southern harbor and also blocked off its northern harbor. Realizing that the end was near, the men who had been defending Tyre's walls fled down to the shrine of Agenor, who was honored as the city's founder. The majority of those defenders were then slain at the shrine Agenor, while those who escaped made their way down through the rest of the city. At least 8,000 Tyrians were killed in that massacre. And later Alexander had another 2,000 crucified on the beach, presumably outside of old Tyre. Another 30,000 or so, including the women and children, were later sold into slavery. The king, Azemilk, some dignitaries, and some envoys from Carthage, the daughter city of Tyre, were spared. Later on, Alexander sent the Carthaginians back to their city with a warning and some people think even a declaration of war. After the end of the siege, Alexander finally made his sacrifice to Heracles. He also dedicated the piece of siege equipment which had been used to make the breach in the city wall. The siege of Tyre was a brutal act of war, and its outcome for the Tyrians horrific. But the Tyrians had also conducted their defense in a way that contributed to the outcome. At one point during the siege, the Tyrians had heated sand mixed up with excrement and put it on shields and dumped it on top of Macedonian soldiers that were scaling their walls. The soldiers were scalded and, of course, were suffering from the excrement as well. At another point, the Tyrians intercepted a shipload of Macedonians who were making their way from Sidon, presumably to the Macedonian camp. The Tyrians took the Macedonians up on top of the battlement walls, slit their throats, and threw them down over the battlements in full view of the Macedonian army. Such actions may not have encouraged the Macedonians to find their better angels when they finally broke into the city. To explain, of course, is not to justify. And we can and should feel pity for those Tyrians who lost their lives around the shrine of their city founder, Agenor. Diodorus put it well when he wrote that the Tyrians endured the siege bravely rather than wisely. From Alexander, the Tyrians' bravery had elicited the best example of Alexander's determination to achieve total victory. At Tyre, Alexander showed the world, and anyone else in the future who might contemplate resisting him, that once he committed himself, he just would not be denied. And in warfare having a reputation for settling for nothing short of victory was, and is, absolutely priceless.