terça-feira, 4 de março de 2014


VALDEMIR MOTA DE MENEZES Guy MacLean Rogers: While Parmenio was securing the passes between Cilicia and Syria, Alexander visited the city of Anchialus. Anchialus and Tarsus supposedly had been built in one day by the semi-legendary Assyrian king known to the Greeks as Sardanapalus. In the city of Anchialus, Alexander may very well have seen the statue of Sardanapalus, clapping his hands, and the verse inscription in cuneiform beneath the statue. The inscription read as follows, "Sardanapalus, son of Anakyndaraxes, built in one day Anchialus and Tarsus. You, stranger, eat, drink, and be merry, for everything else in the life of man is not worth this." And by this was meant the clap of hands. Arrian helpfully informs his readers that the Assyrian word for be merry was something of a euphemism. It was also probably at this time that a much-debated incident took place. Alexander's boyhood friend and treasurer Harpalus fled. Harpalus, you'll recall, had been one of Alexander's friends who had been exiled by Philip at the time of the Pixodarus affair. Now, the sources tell us, he was somehow tempted into fleeing from Alexander by an adventurer named Tauriscus. Some historians have speculated that Harpalus may have stolen money from Alexander or perhaps betrayed him in some way. Others have hypothesized that Harpalus had been sent on some kind of secret mission by Alexander. And part of the argument for that was that, bizarrely enough, Harpalus returned to Alexander, and nothing happened to him. He wasn't punished. There was no arrest, no imprisonment. So this was a kind of strange episode, but it's something that we have to keep in mind, because this is going to turn out to be the first flight of Harpalus. The second one definitely was a betrayal of Alexander. While the Macedonians presumably were wondering what was up with Harpalus, Darius was gathering together a huge force in Babylon. Arrian reports that King Darius mustered no less than 600,000 fighting men. Plutarch concurs. Diodorus and Justin placed the number at 400,000. We also have later evidence that there were at least 30,000 Greek mercenary infantrymen that formed part of the army. Now, some historians have doubted these numbers, these absolutely enormous numbers. But it seems clear, especially from the secure figure of the 30,000 Greek mercenary infantrymen in Darius' army, that he did assemble a very large land army in Babylon by the summer of 333. Some historians have also called into question Darius' strategic vision, casting doubt on the idea of whether it was a very good idea to confront Alexander. Those doubts come out of the sources themselves. Apparently there was a Macedonian deserter in the Persian camp, a man named Amyntas, who also tried to persuade Darius not to confront Alexander, and certainly not down on the sea coast, where the narrowness of the land would be to Alexander's advantage. On the other hand, from Darius' point of view, it was absolutely inconceivable to let a Macedonian king, or any other king for that matter, wander around some of the most valuable provinces of his empire, without making some kind of military response. Therefore by the summer of 333, Darius and his army left Babylon and started to move up to Syria, specifically to the Amik plain. To make his immense force more mobile, Darius took the decision of sending his baggage train when he got in the vicinity of where he wanted to fight, back to Damascus. That, of course, was a sign then he wanted to fight Alexander as soon as possible. And of course he was expecting to crush him. It was clearly in Alexander's interest to try to bring Darius down from the plain of Syria, across the mountains, and onto the coastal plain. Darius, on the other hand, wanted to meet Alexander up on the plain of Syria, where his superior numbers would be to his advantage. And in particular, he could take advantage of his superior numbers in cavalry and other mounted troops. So Darius and Alexander had different tactical interests. And as a result of that, a delay ensued, maybe for as much as two or three weeks, when the two armies just sat where they were, the Persians up on the plain, the Macedonians down on the coast. Finally it was Darius who moved first, probably because he sent his baggage train to Damascus. He needed to confront Alexander as soon as possible. Instead of coming down through the closer Belen Pass, however, what Darius and his army did was to first march up north and then turn inward and cross the Bahce Pass. And then they made their way down through the Toprakkale narrows, and finally out through the mountains onto the coastal plain just outside of Issus. In Issus, Darius found the wounded or sick Macedonians Alexander had left in the town when he had passed by on his way through the city. Darius took some of these prisoners, had their hands cut off, the stumps cauterized, and then sent them farther along to the Macedonians to inform Alexander that Darius and the Persians were now in this great position along the coastal road at his strategic rear. You can imagine what the reaction of the Macedonians was. First of all, Alexander simply couldn't believe that this massive Persian army had somehow been able to find its way around him and then down back behind him. So Alexander sent a ship, with some companions in it, to go back along the water to confirm whether these men were telling the truth about the presence of the Persian army, which they did. Also, of course within the Macedonian army, the idea that Darius was mutilating prisoners was a cause of great anger on their part. And in a sense, of course, it was a huge tactical mistake by Darius, because it only made the Macedonians want to come to grips with the Persians more quickly. Setting aside the normal human reaction to the news that some of your soldiers had been tortured, the cold reality of the situation was that by appearing at Alexander's rear, Darius had put himself into a position where he had a kind of strategic advantage. Alexander was now cut off from all of those bases that he had conquered along the Cilician coast. So Darius appearing at his back clearly was a sign that there had been some kind of intelligence failure in the Macedonian camp. On the other hand, bringing Darius down from the Syrian plain, through the mountains, and onto the coastal plain worked out to be to Alexander's tactical advantage. The coastal plain was quite narrow. Callisthenes says that it was 2.5 kilometers, or about 1.75 miles, across the plain. That may seem quite wide, but we're talking about a space where there were tens of thousands of soldiers preparing to fight one another. So this was a narrow coastal plain. And it was to Alexander's advantage to fight against the numerically superior Persians in such a space.

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