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Sect. 1. Hyrcania, Areia, Bactria, Sogdiana. 330 B. C.

The murderers of Darius fled, Bessus to Bactria, Nabarzanes to Hyrcania; and the direction of their flight determined the course of Alexander’s advance. He could not pursue Bessus while there was an enemy behind him m the Caspian region, and therefore his first movement was to cross the Elburz chain of mountains which separate the south Caspian shores from Parthia, and subdue the lands of the Tapuri and Mardi. The Persian officers who had retreated into these regions submitted, and were received with favour; the life of Nabarzanes was spared. The Greek mercenaries who had found refuge in the Tapurian mountains capitulated. All who had entered the Persian service, before the Synedrion of Corinth had pledged Greece to the cause of Macedon, were released; the rest were compelled to serve in the Macedonian army for the same pay which they had received from Darius. The importance of the well-wooded southern coast of the Caspian was understood by Alexander, and he sent orders to Parmenio to go forth from Ecbatana and take possession of the Cadusian territory on the south-western side of the sea. He himself could not tarry. Having rested a fortnight at Zadracarta (Astrabad, near of Meshed) and held athletic games, he marched eastward to Susia, a town in the north of Areia, and was met there by Satibarzanes, governor of Areia, who made his submission and was confirmed in his satrapy. Here the news arrived that Bessus had assumed the style of Great King with the name of Artaxerxes, and was wearing his turban “erect.” Alexander started at once on the road to Bactria. His way would have lain by Merv; in the wilds of Central Asia the beaten ways of traffic remain the same for thousands of years. But he had not gone far when he was overtaken by the news that Satibarzanes had revolted behind him. There was nothing to be done but to return and secure the province of Areia; for this province did not stand alone; it would certainly be upheld in its hostility by the neighbouring countries of Arachosia and Drangiana, which formed the satrapy of Barsaentes, one of the murderers of Darius. Hurrying back in forced marches with a part of his army, Alexander appeared before Artocoana, the capital of Areia, in two days; Satibarzanes galloped away to seek Bessus in Bactria, and his troops who fled to the mountains were pursued and overcome. There was no further resistance, and the conqueror marched southwards to Drangiana. His road can hardly be doubtful—the road which leads by Herat into Seistan. And it is probable that Herat is the site of the city which Alexander founded to be the capital and stronghold of the new province, Alexandria of the Areians. The submission of Drangiana was made without a blow; the satrap, who had fled to the Indians, was given up by them and put to death.

At Prophthasia, the capital of the Drangian land, there befell a tragedy, whereof we know too little to judge the rights and wrongs of the case. It came to Alexander’s ears that Philotas, the son of Parmenio, was conspiring against his life. The king called an assembly of the Macedonians and stated the charges against the general. Philotas admitted that he had known of a plot to murder Alexander and said nothing about it; but this was only one of the charges against him. The Macedonians, although many of them were ill-content with the developments of their king’s policy in the east, found Philotas guilty, and he was pierced by their javelins. The son dead, it seemed dangerous to let the father live, whether he was involved or not in the treasonable designs ot Philotas. A messenger was despatched with all speed to Media, bearing commands to some of the captains of Parmenio’s army to put the old general to death. If the guilt of Philotas was assured—and we have no reason to doubt it—we can hardly, so far as Philotas is concerned, blame Alexander for his rigorous measures, which it must have been painful for him to adopt. A crime which might have been pardoned in Macedonia could not be dealt gently with in a camp in distant lands, where not only success but safety depended on loyalty and discipline. But the death of Parmenio was an arbitrary act of precaution against merely suspected disloyalty there seem to have been no proofs against him, and there was certainly no trial.

In the meantime Alexander had changed his plans. Instead of retracing his steps and following the route to Bactria, which he had originally intended to take, he resolved to fetch a circle, and marching through Afghanistan, subduing it as he went, he would cross the Hindu-Kush mountains and descend on the plain of the Oxus from the east. First he advanced southwards to secure Seistan and the north-western regions of Baluchistan, then known as Gedrosia. The Ariaspae, a peaceful and friendly people whom the Greeks called “Benefactors,” dwelt in the south of Seistan. Alexander passed part of the winter among them, and gratified them by a small increase of territory, and made them free, subject to no satrap. The neighbouring Gedrosians volunteered their submission, and a Gedrosian satrapy was constituted with its capital at Pura. When spring came, Alexander pushed north-eastward up the valley of the Halmand to Candahar. And in pronouncing the name of Candahar, we are perhaps pronouncing the name of the great conqueror; for the chief city which he founded in Arachosia was Alexandria probably on the site of Candahar, which seems to be a corruption of in its name, Alexandria. The way led on over the mountains, past Ghazni, into the valley of the upper waters of the Cabul river, and Alexander came to the foot of the high range of the Hindu-Kush. The whole massive complex of mountains which diverge from the roof of the world, dividing southern from central, eastern from western Asia—the Pamirs, the Hindu-Kush, and the Himalayas—were grouped by the Greeks under the general name of Caucasus. But the Hindu-Kush was distinguished by the special name of Paropanisus, while the Himalayas were called the Imaus. At the foot of the Hindu-Kush he spent the winter, and founded another Alexandria to secure this region, somewhere to the north of Cabul; it was distinguished as Alexandria of the Caucasus. While he was in these parts he learned that Satibarzanes was still abroad in Areia, inflaming a rebellion; some forces were sent to crush him; a battle was fought and Satibarzanes was killed.

The crossing of the Caucasus, undertaken in the early spring, was an achievement which, for the difficulties overcome and the hardships of cold and want endured, seems to have fallen little short of Hannibal’s passage of the Alps. The soldiers had to content themselves with raw meat and the herb of silphion as a substitute for bread. At length they reached Drapsaca, high up on the northern slope—the frontier fortress of Bactria. Having rested his way-worn army, Alexander went down by the stronghold of Aornus into the plain, and marched through a poor country to Bactra, the chief city of the land, which has preserved its old site but has changed its name to Balkh.

The pretender, Bessus Artaxerxes, had stripped and wasted eastern Bactria up to the foot of the mountains, for the purpose of checking the progress of the invading army; but he fled across the Oxus when Alexander drew near, and his native cavalry deserted him. No man withstood the conqueror, and another province was added without a blow to the Macedonian empire. Alexander lost no time in pursuing the fugitive into Sogdiana. This is the country which lies between the streams of the Oxus and the Jaxartes. It was called Sogdiana from the river Sogd, which flows through the land and, passing near the cities of Samarcand and Buchara, loses itself in the sands of the desert before it approaches the waters of the Oxus. Bessus had burned his boats, and when Alexander, after a weary march of two or three days through the hot desert, arrived at the banks of the Oxus, he was forced to transport his army by the primitive vehicle of skins, which the natives of Central Asia then used and still use today. Alexander’s soldiers, however, instead of inflating the sheep-skins with air, stuffed them with rushes. They crossed the river at Kilif, where its banks contract to the width of about two-thirds of a mile, and advanced on the road to Maracanda, the chief city of the country, easily recognised as Samarcand.

Bessus had no support north of the Oxus. He had some Sogdian allies, at the head of whom were Spitamenes and Dataphernes; but these men had no intention of sacrificing their country to the cause of the pretender. Thinking that Alexander’s only object was to capture Bessus, and that he would then withdraw from Sogdiana and fix the Oxus as the northern boundary of his dominion, they sent a message to him offering to surrender the usurper. The king sent Ptolemy, son of Lagus, with 6000 men to secure Bessus, whom they found in a walled village, deserted by his Sogdian friends. By Alexander’s orders he w r as placed, naked and fettered, on the right side of the road by which the army was marching. Alexander halted as he passed the captive, and asked him why he had seized and murdered Darius, his king and benefactor. Bessus replied that he had acted in concert with other Persian nobles, in the hope of winning the conqueror’s favour. He was scourged and sent to Bactra to await his doom.

But Alexander did not arrest his march; he had made up his mind to annex Sogdiana. Not the Oxus but the Jaxartes was to be the northern limit of his empire. The children of the waste called this river the Tanais. It is said that the Greeks were deceived into imagining that it was the same river as the familiar Tanais which discharges its waters into the Maeotic lake, and hence regarded it as the boundary between Asia and Europe, and thought that the herdsmen of the north, who dwelt beyond it, were “the Scythians of Europe.” But they can hardly have fallen into this error, for they imagined that the Caspian Sea was a gulf of the ocean, and the two errors are inconsistent. Having seized and garrisoned Samarcand, the army pushed on north-eastward by the unalterable road which nature has marked out, and occupied seven strongholds which the Sogdians had built as defences against invaders from the north. The road reaches the Jaxartes where that river issues from the chilly vale of Fergana and deflects its course to flow through the steppes. It was a point of the highest importance; for Fergana forms the vestibule of the great gate of communication between south-western Asia and China—the pass over the Tian-shan mountains, which descends on the other side into the land of Kashgar. Here Alexander, with strategic insight, resolved to fix the limit of his empire, and on the banks of he river he founded a new city which was known as Alexandria the Ultimate. There is no doubt about the situation; it is the later Khodjend.

The conqueror, judging from the ease with which he had come and conquered Arachosia and Bactria, seems not to have conceived that it might be otherwise beyond the Oxus. But the chiefs of Sogdiana were not as the Persian grandees; they were ready to dare greatly for their freedom against the European invader. As he was Alexander designing his new city, Alexander received the news that the land was up in arms behind him. Spitamenes was the leader of the movement, and was supported by Oxyartes and other leading Sogdians. The few Macedonian soldiers left in the seven strongholds had been overpowered, and the garrison of Samarcand was besieged in the citadel. A message had gone forth into the western wastes, and the Massagetae and other Scythian tribes were flocking to drive out the intruder. It was a dangerous moment for Alexander (328 B.C.). He first turned to recover the fortresses, and in two days he had taken and burned five of them. Cyrupolis, the largest and strongest, caused more trouble; but Alexander, with a few companions, contrived to creep under the wall by the bed of a dry stream, and threw open a gate to the troops. The resistance of the inhabitants was furious, and the king was wounded in the melée. The fall of Cyrupolis was followed by the capitulation of the seventh town, and the remnant of the indwellers of all these places were led in chains to take part in peopling the new Alexandria.

The next task should have been the relief of Samarcand, but Alexander found himself confronted by a new danger, and could send only a few thousand troops to succour the besieged garrison. The herdsmen of the north were pouring down to the banks of the Jaxartes, ready to cross the stream and harass the Macedonians in the rear. It was impossible to move until they had been repelled and the passage of the river secured. The walls of Alexandria were hastily constructed of unburnt clay and the place made fit for habitation in the short space of twenty days. Meanwhile the northern bank was lined by the noisy and jeering hordes of the barbarians, and Alexander determined to cross the river. The offerings were not favourable; they betokened, said the seer, personal danger to the king; but Alexander would be mocked no longer. Bringing up his missile-engines to the shore, he dismayed the shepherds, who, when stones and darts began to fall among them from such a distance and unhorsed one of their champions, retreated some distance from the bank. The army seized the moment to cross; the Scythians were routed, and Alexander, at the head of his cavalry, pursued them far into the steppes. Parched by the intense summer heat, the king was tempted to drink of the foul water of the desert, and he fell dangerously ill. Thus was the presage of the offerings fulfilled.

Luckily Alexander soon recovered, for ill tidings came from the south. When the relieving force approached Maracanda, Spitamenes had fled westward to the town of Sogdiana, which probably answers to Buchara. The Macedonians marched after him, hoping to drive him utterly out of the land, but they were indiscreet, and the whole detachment was cut off. Learning of this disaster, Alexander hurried to Samarcand with cavalry and light troops, covering the distance, it is said, in three days,—a forced march of between fifty and sixty miles a day, which seems almost impossible for foot soldiers, however lightly equipped, in the heat of a Sogdian summer. At his coming, Spitamenes, who had returned to the siege of Samarcand, again darted westward, and Alexander followed in pursuit. Visiting the spot where the unlucky corps had been cut down on the banks of the Sogd, the king buried the dead; then crossing the river, he pursued the fugitive chieftain and his Scythian allies to the limits of the waste. He swept on to Sogdiana, ravaging the land; then marching south-westward to the Oxus, he crossed into western Bactria and spent the winter at Zariaspa. The Bactrian cities of Zariaspa and Bactra bore somewhat the same relation to one another as the Sogdian cities of Maracanda and Sogdiana.

At Zariaspa, Bessus was formally tried for the murder of Darius, and was condemned to have his nose and ears cut off and be taken to Ecbatana to die on the cross. The Greeks, like ourselves, regarded mutilation as a barbarous punishment, and it is not pleasant to find Alexander violating this sentiment. But the adoption of oriental punishments in dealing with orientals must be judged along with the adoption of other oriental customs. Every conqueror of an alien race finds himself in a grave embarrassment. Is he to offend his ideals and fall away from his convictions by acquiescing in outlandish usages antagonistic to his own? Or is he, stiffnecked and inflexibly true to the principles of his own civilisation, to remain out of touch with his new subjects? Is he to adopt the policy which will be most effective in administering the conquered land, or is he to impose a policy which works and is approved in his home-country, but may be useless or fatal elsewhere? Alexander did not adopt the second method. It was the task of his life to spread Greek civilisation in the East. But he saw that this could not be done by an outsider—; a general of Hellas or basileus of Macedonia,—he must meet the orientals on their own ground ; he must become their king in their own way. The surest means of planting Hellenism in their midst was to begin by taking account sympathetically of their prejudices Alexander therefore assumed the state of Great King, surrounded himself with Eastern forms and pomp, exacted self-abasement in his presence from oriental subjects, and adopted the maxim that the king’s person was divine. He was the successor of Darius, and he regarded the murder of that monarch as a crime touching himself, inasmuch as it was a crime against royalty. It was therefore an act of deliberate policy that he punished the king-slayer in Eastern fashion, as an impressive example to his Eastern subjects.

The misfortune was that Alexander’s assumption of oriental state, and the favour which he showed to the Persians, were highly unpopular with the Macedonians. It was hard always to preserve a double face, one for his Companions, another for his Persian ministers. Nor was it Alexander’s policy to maintain this difference for ever. He hoped ultimately to secure uniformity in the relations of Macedonians and Persians to their common king. Meanwhile, in the intervals of rest between military operations, discontent smouldered among the Macedonians. Though they were attached to their king, and proud of the conquests which they had helped him to achieve, they felt that he was no longer the same to them as when he had led them to victory at the Granicus. His exaltation over obeisant orientals had changed him, and the execution of his trusted general Parmenio was felt to be significant of the change.

These feelings of discontent accidentally found a mouthpiece about this time. Rebellious movements in Sogdiana brought Alexander over the Oxus again before the winter was over, and he spent some time at Samarcand. One of the most unfortunate consequences of the long-protracted sojourn in the regions of the Oxus was the increase of drunkenness in the army. The excessively dry atmosphere in summer produces an intolerable and frequent thirst; and it was inevitable that the Macedonians should slake it by wine—the strong wine of the country—if they would not sicken themselves by the brackish springs of the desert or the noisome water of the towns. Alexander’s potations became deep and habitual from this time forth. One night in the fortress of Samarcand the carouse lasted far into the night. Greek men of letters, who accompanied the army, sang the praises of Alexander, exalting him above the Dioscuri, whose feast he was celebrating on this day. Clitus, his foster-brother, flushed with wine, suddenly sprang up to denounce the blasphemy, and once he had begun, the current of his feelings swept him on into a denunciation and disparagement of Alexander. It was to the Macedonians, he said—to men like Parmenio and Philotas—that Alexander owed his victories; he himself had saved Alexander’s life at the Granicus. These were the two sharpest stings; and they stirred Alexander’s blood to fury. He started to his feet and called in Macedonian for his hypaspists; none obeyed his drunken orders; Ptolemy and other banqueters forced Clitus out of the hall, while others tried to restrain the king. But presently Clitus made his way back and shouted from the doorway some insulting verses of Euripides, signifying that the army does the work and the general reaps the glory. The king leapt up, snatched a spear from the hand of a guardsman, and rushed upon his foster-brother. Drunk though he was, the aim was sure—Clitus sank dead to the ground. An agony of remorse followed. For three days the murderer lay in his tent, without sleep or food, cursing himself as the assassin of his friends. The army sympathised with his grief; they tried the dead nan and resolved that he had been justly slain. The tragedy was attributed to the anger of Dionysus, because the day was his festival and the Dioscuri had been celebrated instead.

The tragic issue of this miserable drunken brawl is a lurid spot in Alexander’s life, but it was a slight matter compared with an act which is said to have marked his invasion of Sogdiana. When we saw him first cross the Oxus in pursuit of Bessus, we did not pause to witness his treatment of a remarkable town which lay on his way. The Branchidae, who had charge of the temple and oracle of Apollo twenty miles from Miletus, are charged with having betrayed the treasures of the sanctuary. Their lives were not safe from the anger of the Milesians, and Xerxes transported them into Central Asia, where no Greek vengeance could pursue them. They were established in Sogdiana, not far from the place where Alexander crossed,—a solitary little settlement, which, though severed so long from Hellas, preserved its Greek religion and Greek customs, and had not forgotten the Greek speech. It is easy to imagine what excitement was stirred there by the coming of a Greek Army. The folk come forth joyously to bid Alexander welcome and offer him their fealty. But Alexander remembered only one thing—the ancestors of this people had committed a heinous crime against Apollo, and had sided with Persia against Greece. That crime had never been forgotten by the men of Miletus, and the king called upon the Milesians in his army to pronounce sentence upon the Branchidae. The Milesians could not agree, and Alexander himself decided the fate of the town. Having surrounded it with a cordon of soldiers, he caused all the inhabitants to be massacred and the place to be utterly demolished. Few of the children of the children’s children of the original transgressors can have been still alive; most of the victims belonged to the fifth degree of descent. We cannot imagine a fouler enforcement of the savage principle that the crimes of the fathers should be visited to distant generations. It is small wonder that Ptolemy and Aristobulus, if the story isl true, omitted it from their records of the campaigns of their king. There are other deeds of Alexander which cannot be excused; but there is none so black, none so cruel, as the murder of the Branchidae, none for which some extenuating circumstance cannot be urged.

There were more hostilities in western Bactria and western Sogdiana, until at last, overawed by Alexander’s success, the Scythians, in order to win his favour, slew Spitamenes. With this chieftain the resistance expired, and it only remained to reduce the rugged south-eastern regions of Sogdiana, which were called Paraetacene. The Sogdian Rock, which commands the pass into these regions, was occupied by Oxyartes, and a band of Macedonian soldiers captured it by an arduous night-climb. Among the captives was Roxane, the daughter of Oxyartes; and the love of Alexander, who had been always indifferent to women, was attracted by the beauty and manners of the Sogdian maiden. It was characteristic of him that, notwithstanding the adverse comment which such a condescension would excite among the proud Macedonians, he resolved to make her his wife, and, on his return to Bactra after subjugating other fortresses in Paraetacene, he divided a loaf of bread with his bride according to the fashion of the country, and celebrated the nuptials. There was policy in this marriage as well as inclination. It was symbolic of the union of Asia and Europe, of the breaking down of the barrier between barbarian and Hellene, and of Alexander’s position as an oriental king.

About this time an attempt seems to have been made to render uniform the court ceremonial. The Persian nobles were not well pleased that, whereas they were compelled to abase themselves to the ground before the divinity of the king, the Macedonians and Cailistkenes Greeks were excused from the obeisance. Most of the Greeks would of Olynthus , h ave been pliant enough, but there was one prominent man of letters who stood out against the usage and drew upon himself displeasure by the utterance of bold truths. This was Callisthenes, a nephew of Aristotle. He was composing a history of the campaigns of Alexander, whose exploits he ungrudgingly lauded; he had joined the army, he used to say, to make him famous, not to win fame himself. It is related that Hephaestion and a number of others arranged a plan for surprising the king’s guests at a banquet into making the obeisance. Alexander, raising his golden cup, drank to each guest in order,—first to some of those who were privy to the plan; each arose and prostrated himself and was then kissed by the king. Callisthenes, when his turn came, drained the cup and went to receive the kiss, without doing obeisance; Alexander would not kiss him; and he turned away, saying, “I go the poorer by a kiss!” Incidents of this kind created a coolness between the king and his historian. One of the duties of Callisthenes and the other philosophers and literary men who accompanied Alexander’s progress was to educate the pages, the noble Macedonian youths who attended on the king’s person; and over some of these Callisthenes had great influence. One day at a boar-hunt a page named Hermolaus committed the indiscretion of forestalling the king in slaying the beast; and for this breach of etiquette he was flogged and deprived of his horse. Smarting under the dishonour, Hermolaus plotted with some of his comrades to slay Alexander in his sleep. But on the appointed night Alexander sat up carousing till dawn, and on the next day the plot was betrayed. The conspirators were arrested, and put to death by the sentence of the whole army. Callisthenes was also handfasted on the charge of being an accomplice, and was afterwards hanged. Hermolaus was indeed one of his warmest admirers, but it is not clear what the evidence against the historian was. On the one hand, Ptolemy and Aristobulus asserted independently that the pages declared under torture that Callisthenes had incited them; on the other hand, Alexander is said to have stated in a letter that the torture had failed to elicit the name of any accomplice. The deeper cause may be that Alexander suspected Callisthenes as an agent of the anti-Macedonian party in Greece.

Before the end of summer, Alexander bade farewell to Bactria and set forth to the conquest of India. Three years had passed since the death of Darius, three unique years in the annals of the world. In that time the western conqueror, disarranging the cycles of Asiatic history, had subdued Afghanistan, and cast his yoke over the herdsmen of the north as far as the river Jaxartes. He was the first and last western conqueror of Afghanistan ; he was the first but not the last invader. He was the first European invader and conqueror of the regions beyond the Oxus, anticipating by more than two thousand years the conquests which have been achieved by an European power within the memory of the present generation. His next enterprise forestalled our own conquest of north-western India. But England made her conquests from the south, Russia hers from the north; Alexander was the only European conqueror who marched straight from the west to the Indus and the Oxus.

The Macedonian monarch’s work in Bactria and Sogdiana was an unavoidable sequel of his succession to the Persian empire. He had to set up a barrier against the unsettled races of the waste, who were a perpetual menace to the civilisations of the south. He founded a number of settlements in these regions, not only for the purpose of military garrisons, but also probably with the hope of gradually training the herdsmen to more settled ways of life. If so, it was a vain hope. History has shown that there is only one means of forcing the shepherd races to become reluctant tillers of the soil. Not until they have been encompassed on all sides by civilisation, and driven within a narrow geographical area, will they adopt, under the stress of necessity, the regular and laborious life of agriculture. The iron pressure of Russia’s embrace is gradually narrowing the grounds of the nomads in Central Asia; in the days of Alexander they had endless space behind them and an indefinite future before them.


Sect. 2. The Conquest of India

In returning to Afghanistan, Alexander seems to have followed the main road from Balkh to Cabul, crossing the Hindu-Kush by a pass more westerly than that by which he had come. Reaching Alexandria in ten days, he went on to another town, which, if he had not refounded, he had at all events renamed, Nicaea, and which is possibly to be sought in Cabul itself. Here he stayed till the middle of November, finding much to do both in organising the province and in preparing for further advance. He had left a large detachment of his army in Bactria, but he had enrolled a still larger force—30,000 —of the Asiatics of those regions,—Bactrians, Sogdians, Dahae, and Sacae. The host with which he was now to descend upon India must have been at least twice as numerous as the army with which he had crossed the Hellespont seven years before. It had increased as it rolled on, and the augmentations far more than counterbalanced the reductions caused by leaving detachments in each new province, and the losses due to warfare or disease.

During these years Alexander’s camp was his court and capital, the political centre of his empire, — a vast city rolling along over mountain and river through Central Asia. Men of all trades and callings were there, some indispensable for the needs of the king and his army, others drawn by the prospect of making profits out of the spoil-laden soldiers : craftsmen of every kind, engineers, physicians, and seers; cheapmen and money-changers; literary men, poets, musicians, athletes, jesters; secretaries, clerks, court attendants; a host of women and slaves. In many of the halting-places athletic and musical contests were held, serving both to cheer the Greeks by reminding them of their home country and to impress the imagination of the barbarians. A Court Diary was regularly kept—in imitation of the court journal of Persia—by Eumenes of Cardia, who conducted all the political correspondence of Alexander.

Alexander had no idea of the shape or extent of the Indian peninsula, and his notion of the Indian conquest was probably confined to the basins of the Cophen and the Indus. He was not the first invader speaking an Aryan language who went down through the north-western hills into the plains of India. Centuries and centuries before, Aryan herdsmen had flowed down in successive waves and found an abiding home there. From Central Asia, from the regions of the Hindu-Kush, bringing with them their old hymns, some of which we still possess, they came down into the lands of the Indus, “the glorious giver of wealth,” and turned to a settled agricultural life. Strangely different was the civilisation which grew up in northern India among the men who called upon Dyauspitar from that of their speech-brethren who worshipped Zeus pater on the shores of the Aegean. The castes of the Brahmans and the warriors, the inhuman asceticism of the Brahman’s life, the political influence of these religious men, must have seemed repulsive and outlandish to the free and cheerful temper of the Greeks. The great Darius had partially annexed the lands of the Indus, and they constantly supplied troops to his successors. Scylax of Caryanda had sailed down the Indus by his orders and probably published an account of the voyage. The stories that were told about the wonders of India excited the curiosity of the Greek invaders. It was a land of righteous folks, of strange beasts and plants, of surpassing wealth in gold and gems. It was supposed to be the ultimate country on the eastern side of the world, bounded by Ocean’s stream.

At this time north-western India was occupied by a number of small heterogeneous principalities and village communities. The northern districts of the land between the Indus and the Hydaspes—the stream which we now call the Jhelum—were ruled by Omphis, a prince whose capital was at Taxila near the Indus. His brother Abisares was the ruler of Hazara and the adjacent parts of Cashmir. Beyond the Hydaspes was the powerful kingdom of Porus, who held sway as far as the Acesines or “dark-hued,” which we know as the Chenab, the next of the “Five Rivers.” East of the Chenab, in the lands of the Ravee and the Beas, were other small principalities, and also free “kingless” peoples, who owned no master. These principalities and free communities differed much in manners and religion; they had no tendency to unity or combination; the free tribes feared and hated the princes; the princes strove with one another. And these states were not all of the same race. Most perhaps were Aryan; but some, like the Malli, belonged to the old “Dravidian” stock, whom even in the Punjab the Aryans had not entirely dispossessed or subdued. An invader, therefore, had no common resistance to fear; he had to deal with the states one by one; and he could be assured that many would welcome him out of hatred for their neighbours. The prince of Taxila hoped great things from the Macedonian conqueror, especially the downfall of his rival Porus. He visited Alexander at Nicaea, laid himself and his kingdom at the great emperor’s feet, and promised his aid in subduing India. Other chiefs on the other side of the Indus also made submission.

Alexander’s direct road from the high plain of Cabul into the Punjab lay along the right bank of the Cophen or Cabul river, through the great gate of the Khyber Pass. But it was impossible to advance to the Indus without securing his communications, and for this purpose it was needful to subjugate the river-valleys to the left of the Cabul, among the huge western spurs of the Himalaya mountains.

It was perhaps not far from Jelalabad that the army came to a city which was called Nysa. The name immediately awakened in the minds of all the Greeks the memory of their god Dionysus. For Mount Nysa was the mythical place where he had been nursed by nymphs when he was born from the thigh of Zeus. The mountain was commonly supposed to be in Thrace; but an old hymn placed it “near the streams of Nile”; it had no place on the traveller’s chart, but here was an actual Nysa; and close to the town was a hill whose slopes were covered with the god’s own ivy. Therefore Nysa, they said, was founded by Dionysus; the god had fared eastward to subdue India; and now Alexander was marching on his tracks. Everywhere on their further march the Greeks and Macedonians were alert to discover traces of the progress of the bacchic god.

For the purposes of this campaign Alexander divided his army. Hephaestion, taking three regiments of the phalanx, half the Macedonian cavalry, all the mercenary cavalry, advanced by the Khyber Pass, with orders to construct a bridge across the Indus. The king, with the rest of the army, including the light troops, plunged into the difficult country north of the river; and the winter was spent in warfare with the hardy hill-folks, especially the Aspasians and Assacenes, and in capturing their impregnable fortresses, in the district of the Kunar, in remote Chitral, and in the Panjkar and Swat valleys. It would be interesting to follow the exploits of the Macedonian army in these wilds, but we cannot identify the places with certainty. Massaga, of the Assacenian people, in the Swat valley, was one of the most important strongholds that Alexander, captured; we cannot point it out on the map, but Dyrta, another fortress of the same people, may be fairly sought in Dir. The most wonderful exploit of all was the scaling and taking of the rock of Aornus, which has been recognised in the hill of Mahaban, on the right bank of the Indus, about sixty miles above the confluence of that river with the Cabul. When by a miracle of boldness and patience he captured this fortress, Alexander had to return on his steps as far as Dir to suppress a revolt of the Assacenes.

After this severe winter campaign the army rested on the hither bank of the Indus until spring had begun, and then, with the solemnity of games and sacrifices, crossed the river and marched a three days’ journey eastward to Taxila. The rich country of these Aryan husbandmen was a striking and pleasant contrast to the barren abodes of the shepherds of Bactria and Sogdiana. The prince of Taxila met Alexander with obsequious pomp, and other lesser princes assembled at the city to do him homage. The administration of the recent conquests was now arranged. A new satrapy, embracing the lands west of the Indus, was established and entrusted to Philip, son of Machatas; Macedonian garrisons were placed in Taxila and some other places east of the Indus, and Philip was charged with the general command of these troops. This shows the drift of Alexander’s policy. The Indus was to be the eastern boundary of his direct sway; beyond the Indus, he purposed to create no new provinces, but only to form a system of protected states, over which the governor of the frontier province would have a general supervision.

Alexander then marched by a southward road to the Hydaspes, where he was to meet the only power in the land which could hope to resist his progress. Prince Porus had sent a defiance, and having gathered an army from thirty to forty thousand strong, was encamped on the left bank of the river, to contest the crossing. Moreover, Abisares of Cashmir promised him aid, although he had sent marks of homage to Alexander. The boats which had been constructed on the Indus for transporting the troops were, by Alexander’s orders, sawn in two or three pieces according to their size and conveyed on carts to the Hydaspes. After a march, which was made slow and toilsome by the heavy tropical rain, the invaders encamped on the right bank of the river, near Jalalpur, and saw the lines of Porus on the opposite shore, protected by a multitude of elephants, his most formidable weapon of war. It was useless to think of crossing in the face of this host; for the horses, who could not endure the smell and noise of the elephants, would certainly have been drowned; and the men would have found it almost impossible to land, amid showers of darts, on the slimy, treacherous edge of the stream. All the fords in the neighbourhood were watched. Alexander adopted various measures to deceive and puzzle the enemy. He collected large stores of corn, as if he had made up his mind to remain for many days where he was; he spread the rumour that he intended to wait till the season of rains was over; and he kept his troops in constant motion, sending detachments hither and thither. Then one night his trumpets blew, his cavalry rode down to the edge of the water, and to the eyes of the enemy it seemed that the whole army was about to cross. Porus moved his elephants up to the bank and set his host in array. But it proved to be a false alarm. The same feint was repeated again and again. Each night the Macedonian camp was in motion as if for crossing; each night the Indians stood long hours in the wind and rain. But when he saw that the noise was never followed by action, Porus became weary of these useless nightly watches and disregarded the alarms of a faint-hearted foe. Alexander meanwhile was maturing a plan which he was able to carry out when he had put Porus off his guard.

About sixteen miles upwards from the camp, the Hydaspes makes a bend, changing its course from south to westward, and opposite the jutting angle a thickly wooded island rose amid the stream, while a dense wood covered the right shore. Here Alexander determined to cross. He caused the boats to be conveyed thither and remade in the shelter of the wood close to a deep ravine; he had prepared skins stuffed with straw, such as he had used in passing the Oxus. When the time came, he led a portion of his troops to the wooded promontory, marching at a considerable distance from the river in order to avoid the observation of the enemy. A sufficient force was left in the camp under the command of Craterus, with orders not to cross, unless Porus either moved his entire army from its present position or was defeated and routed. Other forces were posted at points between the camp and the island, to cross and help at the right moment. The king arrived at the appointed spot later in the evening, and throughout the wet stormy night he directed the preparations for passing the swollen stream. Here, on the right bank, he posted the regiments of heavy infantry which he had brought with him,—a precaution, probably, against the possible arrival of Abisares.

The wind and rain, which had effectually concealed all the noise from the ears of hostile outposts on the bank, abated before dawn, and the passage began. Alexander led the way in a barque of thirty oars; and the island was safely passed; but land was hardly reached before they were descried by Indian scouts, who galloped off at full speed to warn their chieftain. The king, who was the first to leap ashore, waited till the cavalry had been disembarked and marshalled, but on advancing he discovered that he had landed not on the bank but on an island which was parted from the bank by a small channel now swollen with rain. It was some time before a passage for wading could be found, and the water was breast-high. At last the whole force was safely landed on the bank, and Alexander ordered his men for the coming battle — the third of the three great battles of his life. It was to be won without any heavy infantry; he had with him only 6000 hypaspists, about 4000 light foot, 5000 cavalry, including 1000 Scythian archers. Taking all the cavalry with him, he rode rapidly forward towards the camp of Porus, leaving the infantry to follow. If the whole host of Porus should come out to meet him, he would wait for the infantry, but if the enemy showed symptoms of retreating, he would dash in among them with his superior cavalry. Presently he saw a troop coming; it was the son of Porus at the head of 1000 horsemen and sixty war-chariots, too late to impede the landing of the Macedonians. As soon as he perceived the small number of the foe, Alexander charged and easily drove them back, slaying the prince and four hundred of his men.

But Porus himself was advancing with his main army, having left a small force to guard the river- bank against Craterus. When he reached sandy ground, suitable for the movements of his cavalry and war-chariots, he drew up his line of battle. In front of all he arranged two hundred elephants at intervals of 100 feet, and at some distance behind them his infantry, who numbered 20,000 if not more. On the wings he placed his cavalry—perhaps 4000. Alexander waited for the hypaspists, and drew them up opposite to the elephants. It was impossible to attack in front, for neither horse nor foot could venture in between these beasts which stood like towers of defence, the true strength of the Indian army. The only method was to begin by a cavalry attack on the flank; and Seleucus and the other captains of the infantry were bidden not to advance until they saw that both the horse and the foot of the foe were tumbled into confusion by the flank assault. Alexander determined to concentrate his attack on the left wing; perhaps because it was on the river-side and he would be within easier reach of his troops on the other bank. Accordingly he kept all his cavalry on his right wing. One body was entrusted to Coenus, who bore well to the right, and was ready to strike in the rear, and to deal with the body of horse stationed upon the enemy’s right wing, in case they should come round to assist their comrades on the left. The mounted Scythian archers rode straight against the front of the enemy’s cavalry—which was still in column formation, not having had time to open out—and harassed it with showers of arrows; while Alexander himself, with the rest of the heavy cavalry, led the charge upon the flank. Porus—who had committed the fatal mistake of allowing the enemy to take the offensive—brought up his remaining squadrons from the right wing as fast as he could. Then Coenus, who had ridden round close to the river-bank, fell upon them in the rear. The Indians had now to form a double front against the double foe. Alexander seized the moment to press hard upon the adverse squadrons; they swayed backwards and sought shelter behind the elephants. Then those elephant riders who were on this side of the army drove the beasts against the Macedonian horses; and at the same time the Macedonian footmen rushed forward and attacked the animals which were now turned sidewards towards them. But the other elephants of the line were driven into the ranks of the hypaspists, and dealt destruction, trampling down and striking furiously. Heartened by the success of the elephants, the Indian cavalry rallied and charged, but beaten back by the Macedonian horse, who were now formed in a serried mass, they again sought shelter behind the elephantine wall. But many of the beasts were now furious with wounds and beyond control; some had lost their riders and in the mellay they trampled on friends and foes alike. The Indians suffered most, for they were surrounded and confined to the space in which the animals raged; while the Macedonians could attack the animals on side or rear, and then retreat into the open when they turned to charge. At length, when the elephants grew weary and their charges were feebler, Alexander closed in. He gave the order for the hypaspists to advance in close array shield to shield, while he, reforming his squadrons, dashed in from the side. The enemy’s cavalry, already weakened and dislocated, could not withstand the double shock and was cut to pieces. The hypaspists rolled on upon the enemy’s infantry, who, though they had hitherto taken no serious part in the fight, soon broke and fled. Meanwhile the generals on the other side of the river, Craterus and the rest, discovering that fortune was declaring for Alexander, crossed the river without resistance and arrived in time to consummate the victory by pursuing the fugitives. Porus, who had shown himself a mediocre general but a most valiant soldier, when he saw most of his forces scattered, his elephants lying dead or straying riderless, did not flee—as Darius had twice fled—but remained fighting, seated on an elephant of commanding height, until he was wounded in the right shoulder, the only part of his body unprotected by mail. Then he turned round and rode away. Alexander, struck with admiration at his prowess, sent messengers who overtook him and induced him to return. The victor, riding out to meet the old prince, was impressed by his stature and beauty, and asked him how he would fain be treated. “Treat me like a king,” said Porus. “For my own sake,” said Alexander, “I will do that; ask a boon for thy sake.” “That,” replied Porus, “containeth all.”

And Alexander treated his captive royally. He not only gave him back his kingdom, henceforward to be a protected state under Macedonian suzerainty, but largely increased its borders. This royal treatment, however, though it pleased the generous impulses of Alexander, was inspired by deep policy. He could rest the security of his rule beyond the Indus on no better base than the mutual jealousy of two moderately powerful princes. He had made the lord of Taxila as powerful as was safe; the reinstatement of his rival Porus would be the best guarantee for his loyalty. But on either side of  the Hydaspes, close to the scene of the battle, two cities were founded, which would serve as garrisons in the subject land. On the right hand, the city of Bucephala, named after Alexander’s steed, which died here—probably shortly before the battle—of old age and weariness; on the left, Nicaea, the city of victory.

Leaving Craterus to build the cities, Alexander marched northwards to subdue the Glausae, a hill-folk on the border of Cashmir, and at the same time to intimidate Abisares. Then keeping near through the the skirts of the hills, he crossed the Acesines, more than a mile and a half broad, with great peril and some loss, into the territory of a namesake and nephew of Porus. This Porus was at enmity with his uncle, who probably claimed overlordship over him; he had sent messages of submission to Alexander before the battle; but, disappointed and frightened at the favour which the conqueror had shown his uncle, he fled eastward. Alexander himself hastened in pursuit, crossing the Hydraotis, which, unlike the Acesines, was easily passed, but he left Hephaestion to march southward and subdue the land of the younger Porus, as well as the free communities between the two rivers,—all this northern portion of the “doab” or interfluvial tract to be added to the realm of the elder Porus. The news that the Cathaeans, a free and warlike people, whom Porus and Abisares had, some time before, failed to conquer, were determined to give him battle, diverted Alexander from the pursuit. He advanced against their chief town Sangala, strongly walled and protected on one side by a hill and on the other by a lake. It was probably near Amritsar, to the north-west of Lahore. The Cathaeans, supported by some neighbouring tribes, had made a stockade with a triple line of waggons round the hill. After a severe struggle the entrenchment was carried and the defenders retreated into the city. They tried to escape through the lake under the cover of night, but Alexander discovered the plan and lined the shores with soldiers. Then the place was stormed, and slighted; the neighbouring peoples submitted; and all this land was likewise placed under the lordship of Porus. Thus of the four river-bounded tracts which compose the Punjab, the largest, between Indus and Jehlum, belonged to Omphis of Taxila, while the three others, between Jehlum and Beas, were assigned to Porus.

Alexander now advanced to the Hyphasis, or Beas, and reached it higher up than the point where it joins the Sutlej to form the Catadru or “Hundred Streams.” It was destined to be the landmark of his utmost march. He wished to go farther and explore the lands of the Ganges, but an unlooked-for obstacle occurred. The Macedonians were worn out with years of hard campaigning, and weary of this endless rolling on into the unknown. Their numbers had dwindled; the remnant of them were battered and grown old before their time. The terrible rains which had beaten incessantly upon them since the crossing of the Indus and had made their labours doubly laborious were the last weight in the scale. Their gear was worn out; the hoofs of their horses, as one of the campaigners described, were rubbed away by the long rough journeys; their arms were blunted and broken in hard combats; the bodies of the veterans were enveloped in Indian rags, for their Greek clothes were worn out. All yearned back to their homeland in the west. They had won glory enough; why heap up toil on toil and peril upon peril? On the banks of the Hyphasis the crisis came; the men resolved to go no farther, and their resolution was strengthened by the information that they would have to cross the Indian desert, a journey of eleven days, before they reached the fertile regions of the Ganges. At a meeting of the officers which Alexander summoned, Coenus was the spokesman of the general feeling. The king, not a little vexed, dismissed them, and summoning them on the morrow, declared that he purposed to advance himself, but would constrain no man to follow him; let the Macedonians go back to Macedonia and tell how they abandoned their king in a hostile land. He retired to his tent, and for two days refused to see any of his Companions, hoping that their hearts would be softened. But though his resentment made them unhappy, the Macedonians did not relent or go back from their purpose. On the third day, Alexander offered sacrifices preliminary to crossing the river. But the victims—and this was assuredly no freak of chance—gave unfavourable signs. Then the king yielded, and signified to the obdurate army that he had decided to return. When his will was made known, the way-worn veterans burst into wild joy; the more part of them shed tears. They crowded round the royal tent, blessing the unconquered king, that he had permitted himself to be conquered for once, by his Macedonians. On the banks of the Hyphasis Alexander erected twelve towering altars to the twelve great gods of Olympus, as a thank-offering for having strewn his wonderful path with victories and led him safely within reach of the world’s end.

Within reach of the world’s end, and not to reach it—this was the disappointment which befell Alexander at the Hyphasis. To understand fully the measure of this disappointment we must realise his geographical conceptions. Of the southern extension of Asia in the great Indian promontory, and Further India with its huge islands, he knew nothing; of the vastness of China, of the existence of Siberia he had not the least suspicion. He supposed that the Ganges discharged its waters into the ocean which bounded the earth on the east, as the Atlantic bounded it on the west; and he imagined that this eastern sea, washing the base of the further slopes of the Hindu-Kush and Pamir mountains, and rounding the northern shores of Scythia, was continuous with the Caspian. And just as he planned to navigate the southern ocean, from the mouth of the Indus to the Arabian Gulf, or perhaps even round Libya to the Pillars of Heracles,—plans of which we shall presently speak,—so he probably dreamed of navigating the eastern ocean from the mouth of the Ganges and winning round to the shores of Scythia and Hyrcania. On annexation or effective conquest beyond the Hyphasis the mind of Alexander does not seem to have been bent. He had only a small army with him, for he had dropped large detachments on his way from the Jehlum to the Beas; and he expected no hostilities from the tranquil dwellers of the Ganges. His expedition would have been in the first instance a journey of exploration; circumstances might have made it a march of conquest.

Alexander is often represented as a madman, dazzled by wild and whirling visions of dominion and glory, impelled by an insatiable lust of conquest for conquest’s sake. But in judging his schemes, which in themselves seem wild to us who know the configuration of the earth, we must contract our imagination to the compass of his false notions and imperfect knowledge. If the form and feature of the earth were what he pictured it to be, twenty years would have sufficed to make his empire conterminous with its limits. He might have ruled from the eastern to the western ocean, from the ultimate bounds of Scythia to the shores of Libya; he might have brought to pass in the three continents an universal peace, and dotted the habitable globe with his Greek cities. Alexander was ambitious, but ambition did not blind him; he was perfectly capable of discerning shine from substance. The advance to the Indus was no mere wanton aggression, but was necessary to establish secure routes for Indian trade, which was at the mercy of the wild hill-tribes; and the subjugation of the Punjab was a necessity for securing the Indus frontier. The solid interests of commerce underlay the ambitions of the Macedonian conqueror. It is not without significance that Phoenician merchants if accompanied his army.

Alexander retraced his steps to the Hydaspes, on his way picking up Hephaestion, who had founded a new city on the banks of the Acesines. On the Hydaspes, Craterus had not only built the two cities at the scene of the great battle, but had also prepared a large fleet of transports, which was to carry part of the army down the river to reach the Indus and the ocean. The fleet was placed under the command of Nearchus, and the king’s own ship was piloted by Onesicritus, who afterwards wrote a book on Alexander’s expedition. The rest of the army, divided into two parts, marched along either bank, under Hephaestion and Craterus.

As they advanced they swept the southern portions of the doabs, reducing the tribes which did not submit. The only formidable resistance that they encountered was from the free and warlike tribe of the Malli, whose territory stretched on both sides of the Ravee. Having routed a large host of these Indians on the southern bank of the river, Alexander pursued them to their chief city, which is probably to be sought at the site of the modern Multan. Since then the Ravee has changed its bed; in the days of Alexander it used to flow into the Chenab below Multan. Here he met with a grave adventure. The city had been easily taken, and the Indians had retreated into the citadel. Two ladders were brought to scale the earthen wall, but it was found hard to place them beneath the shower of missiles from above. Impatient at the delay, Alexander seized a ladder and climbed up under the cover of his shield. Peucestas, who bore the sacred buckler from the temple of Ilion and Leonnatus followed, and Abreas ascended the other ladder. When the king reached the battlement, he hurled down or slew the Indians who were posted at that spot. The hypaspists, when they saw their king standing upon the wall, a mark for the whole garrison of the fortress, made a rush for the ladders, and both ladders broke under the weight of the crowd. Only those three—Peucestas, Leonnatus, and Abreas—reached the wall before the ladders broke. His friends implored Alexander to leap down; he answered their cries by leaping down among the enemy. He alighted on his feet. With his back to the wall he stood alone against the throng of foes, who recognised the Great King. With his sword he cut down their leader and some others who ventured to rush at him; he felled two more with stones; and the rest, not daring to approach, pelted him with missiles. Meanwhile his three companions had cleared the wall of its defenders and leapt down to help their king. Abreas fell slain by a dart. Then Alexander himself received a wound in the breast. For a space he stood and fought, but at last sank on his shield fainting through loss of blood. Peucestas stood over him with the holy shield of Troy, Leonnatus guarded him on the other side, until rescue came. Having no ladders, the Macedonians had driven pegs into the wall, and a few had clambered up as best they could and flung themselves down into the fray. Some of these succeeded in opening one of the gates, and then the fort was taken. No man, woman, or child in the place was spared by the infuriated soldiers, who thought that their king was dead. But though the wound was grave, Alexander recovered. The rumour of his death reached the camp where the main army was waiting at the junction of the Ravee with the Chenab, and it produced deep consternation and despair. Reassuring letters were not believed; so Alexander caused himself to be carried to the banks of the Ravee and conveyed by water down to the camp. When he drew near, the canopy which sheltered his bed in the stern of the vessel was removed. The soldiers, still doubting, thought it was his corpse they saw, until the barque drew close to the bank and he waved his hand. Then the host shouted for joy. When he was carried ashore, he was lifted for a moment on horseback, that he might be the better seen of all; and then he walked a few steps for their greater reassurance.

This adventure is an extreme case of Alexander’s besetting weakness, which has been illustrated in many other of his actions. In the excitement of battle, amid the ring of arms, he was apt to forget his duties as a leader. Though one of the most consummate generals that the world has seen, he took a far keener delight in fighting in the thickest of the fray, or heading a charge of cavalry, than in manoeuvring an army or contriving strategical operations.

His eyes and ears were ever filled

With the brilliance of battle,

the bloom and the beauty,

the splendour of spears.

He could not resist the temptations of danger, and he had hardly conducted a single campaign in which he had not been wounded. On the last and most flagrant occasion, when some of his intimate friends upbraided him for acting as a soldier instead of acting as a general, he was deeply hurt; for his conscience pricked him. To have endangered his own safety was a crime against the whole army.

The Malli made a complete submission, and their example was followed by the Oxydraces, their southern neighbours, who were also renowned for their warlike character. These lower parts of the Punjab were not added to the dominion of Porus, but were placed in direct dependence on the satrapy which had been committed to Philip. When Alexander had recovered from his wound, the fleet sailed downward past the junction of the Hyphasis, and the Indian tribes submitted, presenting to the conqueror the characteristic products of India, gems, fine draperies, tame lions and tigers. At the place where the united stream of the four lesser rivers joins the mighty flow of the Indus, the foundations were laid of a new Alexandria, to be the great trade centre between the Punjab and the territory of the lower Indus, and to be the bulwark of the southern frontier of the province of Philip. The next stage of the southward advance was the capital town of the Sogdi, which lay upon the river. Alexander refounded it as a Greek colony, and built wharfs; it was known as the Sogdian Alexandria and was destined to be the residence of a southern satrapy which was to extend to the sea-coast. This province was committed to Peithon, the son of Agenor.

The principalities of the rich and populous land of Sind were distinguished from the states of the north by the great political power enjoyed by the Brahmans. Under the influence of this caste, which was vehemently opposed to the intrusion of the outlanders, the princes either defied Alexander or, if they submitted at first, speedily rebelled. The spring was spent in reducing these regions, and it was nearly midsummer when the king reached Patala at the vertex of the Indus delta. On the tidings of an insurrection in Arachosia, he had dispatched Craterus with a considerable portion of the army to march through the Bolan Pass into southern Afghanistan and put down the revolt. Alexander himself designed to march through Baluchistan, and Craterus was ordered to meet him in Kirman, near the entrance of the Persian Gulf. Another division of the host was to go by sea to the mouth of the Tigris. The king fixed upon Patala to be for the Indian empire what the most famous of his Alexandrias was for Egypt. He charged Hephaestion with the task of fortifying the citadel and building an ample harbour. Then he sailed southward himself to visit the southern ocean. It was the season at which the monsoons blow from the south-west, and the Macedonians, accustomed to the tideless midland sea, were at first sorely perplexed by the ebb and flow of the oceanic tide, at this time especially high and violent in the main arm of the river. Several ships were lost, but the sailors soon mastered the secret of the times and tides, and Alexander fared out into the open sea. He sacrificed to Poseidon; he poured drink-offerings from a golden cup to the Nereids and Dioscuri, and to Thetis the mother of his ancestor Achilles, and then hurled the cup into the waves. This ceremony inaugurated his plan of opening a sea-way for commerce between the West and the Far East. The enterprise of discovering this seaway was entrusted to Nearchus, an officer who was an intimate companion of his own and possessed the confidence of the troops. Alexander started on his land-march in the early autumn, but Nearchus and the fleet were to wait till October, in order to be helped forward by the eastern monsoons.


Sect. 3. Alexander’s Return to Babylon

No enterprise of Alexander was so useless, and none so fatal, as the journey through the desert of Gedrosia, the land which is now known as the Mekran. Of the inhospitable character of the country he must have had general information, but he had no idea of the hardships and terrors of the march which awaited him. His guiding motive in choosing this route was to make provisions for the safety of the fleet, to dig wells and store food at certain places along the coast. He also had in view the subjugation of the Oritae, a hardy warlike people who dwelled in the mountains on the eastern limit of the wilderness. But if it had been only a matter of subduing the Orites, this could easily have been accomplished by an expedition from Patala. The march through the Mekran and the voyage of Nearchus were interdependent parts of the same adventure; and so timid were the mariners of those days that the voyage into unknown waters seemed far more formidable than the journey through the waste.

With perhaps thirty thousand men, Alexander passed the mountain wall which protects the Indus delta, and crossing the river Arbis, he reduced the Oritae to subjection. He chose their chief village Rambacia for the foundation of a colony, the Orite Alexandria; it was important to have stations on his projected ocean-route. Then (Sept., Oct. 325 B.C.), he descended into the waste of Gedrosia. No resistance met him here, for there was no folk to resent his intrusion; only a few miserable villages in the hills, or more miserable fishing hamlets on the coast. The army moved painfully through the desert of rocks and sand, waterless and barren; and part of the scanty provisions that the foragers obtained had to be stored on the shore for the coming of the fleet. It was often almost impossible to step through the deep sinking sand; the pitiless heat rendered night marches necessary; and those marches were frequently of undue length, owing to the need of reaching a spring of water. Alexander himself is said to have trudged on foot and shared all the hardships of the way. It was doubtless the non-combatants and camp-followers who suffered most. At length the waste was crossed; and, leaving the coast regions, the remnant of the army marched north to Pura, the residence of the satrapy of Gedrosia. It is said that the survivors, exhausted and dishevelled, were the smaller part of the army which had set forth from India two months before; and the losses of that terrible Gedrosian journey exceeded the losses of all Alexander’s campaigns. But this is probably a heightened statement of the calamities of the march.

Having rested at Pura, the king proceeded to Kirman, where he was joined by Craterus, who had suppressed the revolt in Arachosia. Presently news arrived that the fleet had reached the Kirman coast, and soon Nearchus arrived at the camp and relieved Alexander’s! anxiety. He too had a tale to tell of hardships and perils. The hostile attitude of the Indians, when Alexander’s back was turned, had forced him to start a month before the season of the east winds and contrary south winds kept him for twenty-four days in a haven at some distance to the west of the delta. Then a storm wrecked three of his ships near Cocala. During the rest of their voyage the seafarers were sore bestead by want of sweet water and provisions. But the king was overjoyed that they had arrived at all. Nearchus was dismissed to complete the voyage by sailing up the Persian Gulf and the Pasitigris river to Susa; Hephaestion was sent to make his way thither along the coast; while Alexander himself marched through the hills by Persepolis and Pasargadae.

It was high time for Alexander to return. There was hardly a satrap, Persian or Macedonian, in any land, who had not oppressed his province by violence and rapacity; and some, in the expectation that the king would never come back from the Far East, had formed plots for establishing independent principalities. In Kirman, in Persis, and at Susa, the most pressing business of the king was to re-establish his authority by punishing without favour or mercy the governors and officers who were found guilty of treason and oppression. Many satraps were deposed or put to death; Atropates of Media was one of the few who had been faithful to his charge. But the military garrison of Media had not behaved so well; and none of Alexander’s dooms at this juncture was more effective than the execution of two officers and six hundred soldiers for having plundered the temples and sepulchres of that province. Of all evil deeds, that perhaps which most vexed the king was the opening and plundering of the sepulchre of Cyrus at Pasargadae; it was more than a common sacrilege, it was an outrage against the majesty of kings. He tortured the Magians who were the guardians of the tomb, but did not discover the author of the outrage.

One guilty minister fled at Alexander’s approach. This was the treasurer Harpalus, who had once before been untrue to his charge, but had been forgiven and entrusted with the royal treasures of Persia. He squandered his master’s money in riotous living at Babylon, and as the news of these scandals reached Alexander in India, he deemed it prudent to move westward. Taking a large sum of money, he went to Cilicia, and hiring a bodyguard of 6000 mercenaries, he lived in royal state at Tarsus with Glycera, an Athenian courtesan. On Alexander’s return, Tarsus was not safe, and he fled to Greece, where we shall meet him presently.

Having punished with a stern hand the misrule of his satraps, Macedonian and Persian alike, Alexander began to carry out schemes which he had formed for breaking down the barrier which divides the East from the West. He had unbarred and unveiled the Orient to the knowledge and commerce of the Mediterranean peoples, but his aim was to do much more than this ; it was no less than to fuse Asia and Europe into a homogeneous unity. He devised various means for compassing this object. He proposed to transplant Greeks and Macedonians into Asia, and Asiatics into Europe, as permanent settlers. This plan had indeed been partly realised by foundation of his numerous mixed cities in the Far East. The second means was the promotion of intermarriages between Persians and Macedonians, and this policy was inaugurated in magnificent fashion at Susa. The king himself espoused Statira, the daughter of Darius; his friend Hephaestion took her sister; and a large number of Macedonian officers wedded the daughters of Persian grandees. The nuptials were celebrated on the same day and according to the Persian fashion; Alexander is said to have feasted 9000 guests. Of the general mass of the Macedonians 10,000 are said to have followed the example of their officers and taken Asiatic wives; all those were liberally rewarded by Alexander. He looked forward to the offspring of these unions as a potent instrument for the further fusing of the races. It is to be noticed that Alexander, already wedded to the princess of Sogdiana, adopted the polygamous custom of Persia; and he even married another royal lady, Parysatis, daughter of Ochus. These marriages were purely dictated by policy; they were meant as an example; for Alexander never came under the influence of women. The bridals of Susa were a lesson in political marriages on a vast scale.

But the most effective means for bringing the two races together was the institution of military service on a perfect equality. With this purpose in view, Alexander, not long after the death of Darius, had arranged that in all the eastern provinces the native youth should be drilled and disciplined in Macedonian fashion and taught to use the Macedonian weapons. In fact, Hellenic military schools were established in every province, and at the end of five years an army of 30,000 Hellenized barbarians was at the Great King’s disposition. At his summons this army gathered at Susa, and its arrival created a natural, though unreasonable, feeling of discontent among the Macedonians, who divined that Alexander aimed at making himself independent of their services. His schemes of transforming the character of his army were also indicated by the enlistment of Persians, Bactrians, Areians, and other orientals in the Macedonian cavalry regiments, and the enrolling of nine distinguished Persians in the royal Agema itself. The general dissatisfaction was not allayed by the king’s liberality in defraying all the debts of the soldiers—amounting perhaps to two millions.

Alexander left Susa for Ecbatana in spring. He sailed down the river Pasitigris to the Persian Gulf, surveyed part of the coast, and sailed up the Tigris, removing the weirs which the Persians had constructed to hinder navigation. The army joined him on the way, and he halted at Opis. Here he held an assembly of the Macedonians, and formally discharged all those—about 10,000 in number—whom old age or wounds had rendered unfit for warfare, promising to make them comfortable for life. He fondly thought that his words would be welcomed with delight, but he was disappointed. The smouldering discontent found a voice now. The cry was raised, “Discharge us all”; and some tauntingly added, “Go and conquer with your father Ammon.” The king may well have been taken aback. The men who on the banks of the Hyphasis had declared themselves worn out with war and toil and sick with yearning for their homes, were now indignant when he honourably discharged their veterans. Alexander leapt down from the platform into the shouting throng; he pointed out thirteen of the most forward rioters, and bade his hypaspists seize them and put them to death. The rest were cowed. Amid a deep silence the king remounted the platform, and in a bitter speech he discharged the whole army. Then he retired into his palace, and on the third day summoned the Persian and Median nobles and appointed them to posts of honour and trust which had hitherto been filled by Macedonians. The names of the Macedonian regiments were transferred to the new barbarian army. When they heard this, the Macedonians, who still lingered in their quarters, miserable and uncertain whether to go or stay, appeared before the gates of the palace. They laid down their arms submissively and implored admission to the king’s presence. Alexander came out, and there was a tearful reconciliation, which was sealed by sacrifices and feasts. This dramatic incident possesses no historical importance like the action of the troops on the Hyphasis, and it is only significant in so far as it marks the last futile explosion of Macedonian sentiment against the liberal policy of the king, the final protest of men who knew that they would have to acquiesce in a new order of things.

The veterans started for home under the leadership of Craterus and Polyperchon; they left behind the children whom Asiatic women had borne to them, the king promising to bring them up in Macedonian fashion. Craterus was to supersede Antipater as regent of Macedonia, and Antipater was to come out to Asia with a fresh supply of troops. This arrangement was desirable, on account of the estranged relations which existed between Antipater and the queen-mother, whose letters to Alexander were always teeming with mutual accusations.

The summer and early winter were spent at the Median capital. Here a sorrow, the greatest that could befall him, befell Alexander. Three thousand professional players or “Dionysiac artists,” as they were called, had arrived from Greece; and Ecbatana was festive with revels and dramatic exhibitions. In the midst of the gaiety, Hephaestion fell ill, languished for seven days, and died. Alexander was plunged into despair at losing the friend of his bosom; he fasted three days, and the whole empire went into mourning; it is said that he crucified the miserable physician whose skill had been found wanting. Inconsolable the lonely monarch might well be. He could have other boon companions, other faithful counsellors and devoted servants; but he knew that he would never find another to whom he would be simply “my friend Alexander” and not “my lord the king.” The body was sent to Babylon to be burned; 10,000 talents were set apart for a funeral of unsurpassed magnificence.

Alexander set out for Babylon towards the end of the year, and on his way he enjoyed the excitement of hunting down the Cossaeans, a hill-folk of Luristan, who made brigandage their trade. The slaughter of these robbers, who were chased to their mountain nests, was described as an offering to the spirit of Hephaestion. As Alexander advanced to Babylon, ambassadors from far lands came to his camp. The Bruttians, Lucanians, and Etruscans, the Carthaginians and the Phoenician colonies of Spain, Celts, Scythians of the Black Sea, Libyans, and Ethiopians had all sent envoys to court the friendship of the monarch who seemed already to be lord of half the earth. A feeling of dread was beginning to quiver faintly through the western world that the conqueror of the East would presently turn the path of his progress to the West. Carthage might feel a tremor lest he should come against her as the champion of Hellenic Sicily and do unto her what he had done to elder Tyre. But from the city of Italy, which was destined to destroy the power of Carthage and become the partial inheritor of Alexander’s empire, no ambassador came.

When Alexander approached within sight of Babylon, he was met by a deputation of priestly star-gazers who counselled him not to enter the city, for their  god Bel had revealed to them that it would not be for his profit. He replied to the Chaldaeans with a verse of Euripides — “The best seer he who guesseth well,” and entered at the head of his army. One of his first cares was to take measures for the rebuilding of the temple of Bel, unduly retarded by the wilful  neglect of the Chaldaean priests, who were unwilling to appropriate their revenues to the purpose. It has been thought that their attempt to divert the king from entering Babylon may have had a motive connected with their negligence.


Sect. 4. Preparations for an Arabian Expedition.  Alexander’s Death

Ever since the successful voyage of Nearchus, the brain of Alexander was filled with maritime enterprises. He was bent on Arabia; the exploration of the northern and the southern oceans. He had already sent Heraclides and a company of shipwrights to the Hyrcanian mountains, to cut wood in the forests and build a fleet to navigate the Caspian Sea and discover its supposed communication with the eastern ocean. But his more immediate and serious enterprise was the circumnavigation and conquest of Arabia. His eastern empire was not complete so long as this peninsula lay outside it. He knew of the rich spice-lands of Arabia Felix, but he had no conception of the vast extent of the desert which renders a land invasion so difficult and so unremunerative. The possession of this country of sand, however, was not his main object; it was only an incident in the grand range of his plans. His visit to India and the voyage of Nearchus had given him new ideas, he had risen to the conception of making the southern ocean another great commercial sea like the Mediterranean. He proposed to make the seaboard of the Persian Gulf a second Phoenicia, and he sent to the Syrian coast for seamen to colonise the shores of the mainland and the islands. He hoped to establish a regular trade route from the Indus to the Tigris and Euphrates, and thence to the canals which connected the Nile with the Red Sea. If he had lived to accomplish this he might have renewed the project of king Necho and hewn a water-way through the neck of Suez. Mighty Babylon would then be in close connexion with the new oceanic trade; argosies from Alexandria or Patala could sail into her wharves. Alexander destined Babylon to be the capital of his empire, and doubtless it was a wise choice. But its character was now to be transformed. It was to become a naval station and a centre of maritime commerce. Alexander set about the digging of a great harbour, with room for a thousand keels, and designed the building of shipsteads.

The fleet of Nearchus sailed up the Euphrates and met the king at Babylon. But this fleet was not sufficient for the approaching enterprise. Orders had been sent to Phoenicia for the building of new warships: twelve triremes, three quadriremes, four quinqueremes, and thirty of the smaller thirty-oared barques. These were constructed in pieces, conveyed overland to Thapsacus on Euphrates, and there put together. Other ships, of cypress wood, were also built in Babylonia. The expedition was to set forth in the summer, and the king occupied part of the intervening time in a voyage down the Euphrates to visit the Pallacopas canal. The snows of winter melting in the late spring-tide on the north slopes of the Armenian mountains used to swell the waters of the Euphrates and force it to overflow its banks in the Babylonian plain. About ninety miles below Babylon a canal had been dug to drain the superfluous waters into the marshes which stretched for leagues and leagues south-westward. In the autumn the canal was closed by a sluice to prevent the water leaving its bed. But the sluice was out of working order, and Alexander devised a better place, connecting the canal with the river at a different point. He sailed up the canal, lost his way for a while among the swamps, and selected a site for a new city, whose building was immediately begun. We may guess that the city was meant to be the first of a string of fortresses stretching across the desert from Babylonia to the Red Sea.

On his return to Babylon, he found some new western troops which had arrived from Caria and Lydia, and also a body of 20,000 Persians who had been recruited by Peucestas. He proceeded to carry out a sweeping military reform, at which his mind must have been working for some time past. It was nothing less than a complete transformation of his father’s phalanx,—in fact, of the hoplite system. Alexander had done much with the well-drilled phalanx; but his experience had taught him that it was far from being the ideal infantry. The advantages of its sheer weight and solid strength were more than counterbalanced by its want of mobility. Alexander invented a means of increasing the mobility with as little as possible diminution of the weight. He inserted the fresh body of 20,000 Persians into the Macedonian phalanx in the following way. The old depth of the file, namely sixteen men, was retained, but of these only four were Macedonian pikemen—the men of the first three ranks and the hindmost man of all. The twelve intervening places—the fourth to the fifteenth ranks — were filled by Persians lightly armed with their native bows and javelins. This new phalanx required a new kind of tactics, which must have consisted in opening out the ranks, so as to allow the archers and javelin-men to deploy into the intervals and discharge their missiles, and then closing up again, in order to advance in a serried mass, each file bristling with three, no longer with five, spear-points. It was a thoroughly original idea, this combination of heavy and light troops into a tactical unity; but it would need all the skill of the great master to bring it to perfection. The strange thing is to find Alexander introducing this new system, which implied a complete change in the drill, on the very eve of his setting forth on the Arabian expedition. We are tempted to think that he had already made experiments—perhaps with that army of 30,000 orientals, drilled in Macedonian fashion, who had come to him at Susa. The tactical reform had also its political bearings. It was another step in the direction of fusing the Macedonian and Persian together, and marrying Europe with Asia.

There was one thing, very near to the king’s heart, still to be accomplished before he set out—the funeral of Hephaestion. The oracle of Ammon had been consulted touching the honours which should be paid to the dead man, and had ordained that he might be honoured as a hero. In accordance therewith, Alexander ordered that chapels should be erected to Hephaestion in Egyptian Alexandria and other cities. Never were obsequies so magnificent as those which were held at Babylon; the funeral pyre, splendidly decked with offerings, towered to the height of 200 feet.

All was in readiness at length for the expedition to the south. On a day in early June a royal banquet was given in honour of Nearchus and his seamen, shortly about to start on their oceanic voyage. As Alexander was retiring to his chamber at a late hour, a friend named Medius carried him off to spend the rest of the night in a bout of hard drinking. On the morrow he slept long; in the evening he dined with Medius, and another carousal followed. After a bath and a meal in the early hours of the morning, he fell into a feverish sleep. On awaking, he insisted upon preparing the daily sacrifices according to his wont; but the fever was still on him, he could not walk, and was carried to the altar on a couch. He spent the day in bed, actively engaged with Nearchus in discussing the expedition, which he fixed for four days hence. In the cool of the evening he was conveyed to the river and rowed across to a garden villa at the other side. For six days he lay here in high fever, but regularly performing the sacrifices, and daily perforce deferring the departure of the expedition for another and yet another day. Then his condition grew worse, and he was carried back to the palace, where he won a little sleep, but the fever did not abate. When his officers came to him they found him speechless; the disease became more violent, and a rumour spread among the Macedonian soldiers that Alexander was dead. They rushed clamouring to the door of the palace, and the bodyguards were forced to admit them. One by one they filed past the bed of their young king, but he could not speak to them; he could only greet each by slightly raising his head and signing with his eyes. Peucestas and some others of the Companions passed the night in the temple of Serapis and asked the god whether they should convey the sick man into the temple, if haply he might be cured there by divine help. A voice warned them not to bring him, but to let him remain where he lay. He died on a June evening, before the thirty-third year of his age was fully told. Such is the punctilious and authentic account of the last illness of Alexander, as it was recorded in the Court Diary; but it is not sufficient to enable us to discover the precise nature of the fatal disease.

The untimely deaths of sovereigns at particular junctures have often exercised an appreciable influence on the course of events; but no such accident has diverted the paths of history so manifestly and utterly as the death of Alexander. Twelve years had sufficed him to conquer western Asia, and to leave an impress upon it which centuries would not obliterate. And yet his work had only been begun. Many plans for the political transformation of his Asiatic empire had been initiated,—plans which reveal his originality of conception, his breadth of grasp, his firm hold of facts, his faculty for organisation, his wonderful brain-power,—but all these schemes and lines of policy needed still many years of development under the master’s shaping and guiding hand. The unity of the realm, which was an essential part of Alexander’s conception, disappeared upon his death. The empire was broken up among a number of hard-headed Macedonians, capable and practical rulers, but without the higher qualities of the founder’s genius. They maintained the tolerant Hellenism which he had initiated,—his lessons had not been lost upon them; and thus his work was not futile; the toils of even those twelve marvellous years smoothed the path for Roman sway in the East, and prepared the ground for the spread of an universal religion.

It is impossible to write the history of Alexander so as to produce a true impression of his work, because, in the records which we have, the general and soldier fills the whole stage and the statesman is, as it were, hustled out. The details of administrative organisation are lost amidst the sounding of trumpets and the clashing of spears. But it is the details of administration and political organisation which the historical inquirer craves to know, and especially the constitution of the various new-founded cities in the Far East, those novel experiments which set Macedonian, Greek, and oriental inhabitants side by side. By their silence on these matters the Companions of Alexander, who wrote memoirs about him, unwittingly did him a wrong, and hence there has largely prevailed an unjust notion that he only knew and only cared how to conquer.

It is hardly open to question that this brilliant lord of well-trained myriads would have advanced to the conquest of the West; nor can we affect to doubt that, succeeding where one of his successors failed, he would have annexed Sicily and Great Hellas, conquered Carthage, and overrun the Italian peninsula. To apprehend what his death meant for Europe we need not travel farther in our speculations. To the Indies he would certainly have returned and carried out with fresh troops that project of visiting the valley of the Ganges which had been frustrated by his weary army. As it was, he had left no lasting impression upon Indian civilisation; and his successors soon abandoned their hold upon the Punjab. It is needless to add that if Alexander had lived another quarter of a century, he would have widened the limits of geographical knowledge. The true nature of the Caspian Sea would have been determined; the southern extension of the Indian peninsula would have been discovered; and an attempt would have been made to repeat the Phoenician circumnavigation of Africa. Nor could Alexander have failed, in his advanced position on the Jaxartes, to have learned some facts about the vast extension of the Asiatic continent to the east and north, and the curiosities of Chinese civilisation.

His sudden death was no freak of fate or fortune; it was a natural consequence of his character and his deeds. Into thirteen years he had compressed the energies of many lifetimes. If he had been content with the duties of a general and a statesman, laborious and wearing though those duties would have been both to body and to brain, his singularly strong constitution would probably have lasted him for many a long year. But the very qualities of his brilliant temper which most endeared him to his fellows, a warrior’s valour and a love of good fellowship, were ruinous to his health. He was covered with scars; and he had probably never recovered from that terrible wound which had been the price of his escapade at Multan. Sparing of himself neither in battle nor at the symposium, he was doomed to die young.


Sect. 5. Greece under Macedonia

The tide of the world’s history swept us away from the shores of Greece; and, borne breathlessly along from conquest to conquest in the triumphant train of the Macedonian, we could not pause to see what was happening in the little states which were looking with mixed emotions at the spectacle of their own civilisation making its way over the earth. Alexander’s victory at the gates of Issus and his ensuing supremacy by sea had taught many of the Greeks the lesson of caution; the Confederacy of the Isthmus had sent congratulations and a golden crown to the conqueror; and when, a twelvemonth later, the Spartan king Agis, a resolute man without any military ability, renewed the war against Macedonia, he got no help or countenance outside the Peloponnesus. Some hot spirits at Athens proposed to support the movement, but the people were discreetly restrained not only by Phocion and Demades but by Demosthenes himself. Agis induced the Arcadians, except Megalopolis, the Achaeans, except Pellene, and the Eleians, to join him; and having mercenary troops besides, he got together a considerable army. It was easy to gain a few successes, before the regent of Macedonia, then occupied with a rising in Thrace, had time to descend on the Peloponnesus. The chief object of the allies was to capture Megalopolis, and the federal capital of Arcadia was in the strange position of being besieged by the Arcadian federates. Antipater, as soon as the situation in Thrace set him free, marched southward to the relief of Megalopolis, and easily crushed the allies in a battle fought hard by. Agis fell fighting, and there was no further resistance; Sparta sent up hostages to Alexander, who accorded the conquered Greeks easy terms.

So long as Darius lived, many of the Greeks cherished secret hopes that fortune might yet turn against Alexander, and maintained clandestine intrigues with Persia. But on the news of his death such hopes expired, and tranquillity prevailed in Hellas. It was not till Alexander’s return from India that anything happened to trouble the peace. And in the meantime Greece was experiencing a relief which she had needed for two generations. A field had been opened to her superfluous children, who were pouring by thousands, or rather tens of thousands, into Asia, to find careers, if not permanent homes.

For Athens the twelve years between the fall of Thebes and the death of Alexander were an interval of singular well-being. The conduct of public affairs was in the hands of the two most honourable statesmen of the day, Phocion and Lycurgus. Supported by the orator Demades, Phocion was able to dissuade the people from embarking in any foolhardy enterprises; and Demosthenes was sufficiently clear-sighted not to embarrass, but, when needful, to support, the policy of peace. Phocion probably did not grudge him the signal triumph which he won over his old rival, Aeschines; for this triumph had only a personal, and not a political, significance. Shortly before Philip’s death, Ctesiphon had proposed to honour Demosthenes, both for his general services to the state and especially for his liberality in contributing from his private purse towards the repair of the city-walls, by crowning him publicly in the theatre with a crown of gold. The Council had passed a resolution to this effect; but Aeschines lodged an accusation against the proposer, on the ground that the motion violated the Graphe Paranomon, and consequently the Council’s resolution was not brought before the people. The matter remained in abeyance for about six years, neither party venturing to bring it to an issue, Aeschines by following up his indictment or Ctesiphon by forcing him to bring it into court. The collapse of the attempt of Agis to defy Macedonia probably encouraged Aeschines to face his rival at last. In a speech of the highest ability Aeschines reviewed the public career of Demosthenes, to prove that he was a traitor and responsible for all the disasters of Athens. The reply of Demosthenes, a masterpiece of splendid oratory, captivated the judges; and Aeschines, not winning one-fifth part of their votes, left Athens and disappeared from politics. It is not unfair to say that it was Demosthenes the orator, not Demosthenes the statesman, who convinced the Athenian judges. Apart from his Speech on the Crown, which has been described as the funeral oration on Greek freedom, Demosthenes fell almost silent during these years; he saw that public action on his part would be useless ; but perhaps he worked underground.

In these two speeches in the matter of the crown, the most interesting passage is where Aeschines reflects on the changes which had recently come to pass over the face of the earth. We want to know what the Greeks thought of those startling changes, what they felt as they saw the fashion of the world passing and the things which had seemed of great weight and worth in Hellas becoming of small account. Aeschines thus utters their surprise :

“All manner of strange events, utterly unforeseen, have befallen in our lifetime. Our extraordinary experiences will seem to those who come after us like a curious tale of marvels. The king of the Persians, who dug the canal through Athos, who bridged the Hellespont, who demanded earth and water from the Greeks, who dared in his letters to declare, ‘ I am the lord of all the world from the rising to the setting of the sun,’ is at this moment struggling not for domination over other men, but to save his own life and limb. Thebes, even Thebes our neighbour, has been snatched, in the space of a single day, out of the midst of Hellas—justly, for her policy was false; but assuredly she was rather blinded by a heaven-sent infatuation than misled by human perversity. And the poor Lacedaemonians, who once lifted themselves up to be leaders of the Greeks, must now go up to Alexander as hostages and throw themselves upon the mercy of the potentate whom they wronged. Our own city, once the asylum of the Greek world, whither all men looked for help, has now ceased to strive for the leadership of the Greeks, for the very ground of her home is in danger.”

The Macedonian empire had not yet lasted long enough to turn the traffic of the Mediterranean into new channels, and Athens still activity in enjoyed great commercial prosperity. She sent a colony to some the unknown place on the Hadriatic seaboard, to be a base of protection against the Etruscan rovers, the big menacing eyes of whose pirate crafts were a constant terror to traders in those seas. And although peace was her professed policy, she did not neglect to make provision for war, in case a favourable opportunity should come round, in the revolution of circumstance, for regaining her sovereignty on sea. Money was spent on the navy, which is said to have been increased to well-nigh 400 galleys, and on new ship-sheds. The handsome “marble storehouse for the hanging shipgear,” designed by the architect Philo, was completed at the harbour of Zea. It was expressly provided that the cases which lined the walls and pillars of this cool triple-aisled arcade should be open, “in order that those who pass through may be able to see all the gear that is in the gear-store.”

The man who was mainly responsible for this naval expenditure was Lycurgus. It is significant of the spirit of Athens at this time that while Phocion and Demades were the most influential men in the Assembly, the finances were in the charge of a statesman who had been so signally hostile to Macedonia that Alexander had demanded his surrender. In recent years considerable changes had been made in the constitution of the financial offices. Eubulus had administered as the president of the Theoric Fund. But now we find the control of the expenditure in the hands of a Minister of the Public Revenue, who was elected by the people and held office for four years, from one Panathenaic festival to another. Lycurgus was entrusted with this post for twelve years; for the first period in his own name; for the two succeeding periods his activity was cloaked under the names of his son and another nominal minister. He acted, of course, in conjunction with the Council, but the influence of the more permanent and experienced minister upon that annual body was inevitably very great. The new system, it is evident, was a distinct improvement on the old. It was much better that the administration of the revenue should be managed by one competent statesman, unhampered by colleagues, and that his tenure of office should not be limited to a year. The post practically included the functions of a minister of public works, and the ministry of Lycurgus was distinguished by building enterprises. He constructed the Panathenaic stadion on the southern bank of the Ilisus. He rebuilt the Lycean gymnasium, where in these years the philosopher Aristotle used to take his morning and evening “walks,” teaching his “peripatetic” disciples. It lay somewhere to the east of the city, under Mount Lycabettus. But the most memorable work of Lycurgus was the reconstruction of the theatre of Dionysus. It was he who built the rows of marble benches, climbing up the steep side of the Acropolis, as we see them today; and his original stage-buildings can be distinguished, amidst the ruins, from the mass of later additions and improvements. He canonised, as it were, the three great tragic poets, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, by setting up their statues in the theatre, and by carrying a measure that copies of their works should be officially prepared and preserved by the state.

In connexion with the prosperity of Athens and her large public outlay, it is important to observe that the silver mines of Laurion, which had been closed when the Spartans occupied Decelea and had been neglected—for want of capital and enterprise—throughout the whole first half of the fourth century, had been reopened and were working vigorously. They seem to have been managed largely on a new principle, namely by private companies. The historian Xenophon had written a pamphlet on the subject of the mines as a neglected source of revenue, and it would be interesting to know whether the revival of the industry is to be ascribed directly or indirectly to the influence of his exhortations.

No sign of the times, which followed the defeat of Chaeronea, is more striking than the framing of a new system for drilling the young burghers of Athens in the duties of military life. The training began when the youth, having completed his eighteenth year, came of age and was enrolled in the register of his deme; and it lasted for two years. During these two years the young citizen was known as an ephebos, and might not appear either as prosecutor or defendant in the law-courts except in a few cases expressly specified. The general supervision over all the Attic ephebi was committed to a marshal (kosmetes), who was elected by the Athenian Assembly; and under him were ten masters of discipline (sophronistai), one for each tribe. The institution had a religious consecration. The first act in the service of the ephebi was solemnly to “go round the temples” under the conduct of the masters. Then they served for a year on duty in the guard-houses at Munychia and along the coast, receiving regular military instruction from special drill-masters, who trained them in the exercises of the hoplites, and taught them how to shoot with bow and javelin and to handle artillery. The ephebi of each tribe ate together at barrack messes which were managed by the masters of discipline. At the end of the first year they appeared before an Assembly in the theatre, and when they had made a public display of their proficiency in the art of warfare, each received from the city a shield and a spear. The second year was spent in patrolling the frontiers of the land and guarding the prisons. The garrison and patrol duties had always devolved upon the young men of Attica, but they were now organised into a new and thorough scheme of discipline,—a mild Attic approach to the stern system of Sparta. It almost strikes one as a conscious effort to arrest the decline of the citizen army in the face of the encroachments of the mercenary system. The ephebi in their characteristic dress, the dark mantle and the broad-brimmed hat, are Athenian life and art from this time forward.

It is significant that the whole revival, stimulated by the disaster of Chaeronea, was marked by a religious character. Lycurgus, who belonged to the priestly family of the Eteobutads, was a sincerely pious man, and impressed upon his administration the stamp of his own devotion. Never for a hundred years had there been seen at Athens such a manifestation of zealous public concern for the worship of the gods. The two chief monuments of the Lycurgean epoch—the Panathenaic stadion and the theatre of Dionysus—were, it must always be remembered, religious, not secular, buildings.

Thus Athens discreetly attended to her material well-being, and courted the favour of the gods, and the only distress which befell her was a dearth of corn. But on the return of Alexander to Susa, two things happened which imperilled the tranquillity of Greece.

Alexander promised the Greek exiles—there were more than 20,000 of them—to procure their return to their native cities. He sent Nicanor to the great congregation of Hellas at the Olympian festival, to order the states to receive back their banished citizens. A general reconciliation of parties was a just and politic measure; but it could be objected that, by the terms of the Confederation of Corinth, the Macedonian king had no power to dictate orders to the confederates in the management of their domestic affairs. Only two states objected, Athens and Aetolia; and they objected because, if the edict were enforced, they would be robbed of ill-gotten gains. The Aetolians had possessed themselves of Oeniadae and driven out its Acarnanian owners; by Alexander’s edict the rightful inhabitants would now return to their own city and the intruders be dislodged. The position of Athens in Samos was similar; the Samians would now be restored to their own lands, and the Athenian settlers would have to go. Both Athens and Aetolia were prepared to resist.

Another desire was expressed by Alexander at the same time, which was readily acquiesced in. He demanded that the Greeks should recognise his divinity. Sparta is reported to have replied indifferently, “We allow Alexander to call himself a god, if he likes.” There was not a sensible man at Athens who would have thought of objecting; even the bitterest patriots would have allowed him to be “the son of Zeus or Poseidon, or whomever he chose.” If the Greeks of Corinth looked up to Alexander as their chieftain and protector— and this was actually their position in regard to him—there was no incongruity in the idea of officially acknowledging his divinity. Ever since the days in which an Homeric king “was honoured as a god by the people,” there was nothing offensive or outlandish to a Greek ear in predicating godhood of a revered sovereign or master. Divine honours had been paid to Lysander; and the Greeks, in complying with Alexander’s desire, did not commit themselves more than the pupil of the Academy who erected an altar to his master Plato.


Sect. 6. The Episode of Harpalus and the Greek Revolt

Meanwhile an incident had happened which might induce some of the patriots to hope that Alexander’s empire rested on slippery foundations. Pharpalus had arrived off the coast of Attica with 5000 talents, a body of mercenaries, and thirty ships. He had come to excite a revolt against his master. A gift of corn had formerly secured him the citizenship of Athens, but the Athenians prudently refused to harbour him, coming in this guise. He sailed away to Cape Taenaron, always a refuge of adventurers, and leaving his men and ships there, returned to Athens with a sum of about 700 talents. He was now received, since he did not come with an armed array, but after a while messages arrived both from Macedonia and from Philoxenus, Alexander’s financial minister in western Asia, demanding his surrender. It would have been an act of war to protect the runaway treasurer and his stolen moneys; but the Athenians, on the proposal of Demosthenes, adopted a clever device. They arrested Harpalus, seizing his treasure, and said that they would surrender him to officers expressly sent by Alexander; but declined to give him up to Philoxenus or Antipater. It was not long before Harpalus escaped; he returned to Taenaron, and was shortly afterwards murdered by one of his fellow-adventurers.

The stolen money was deposited in the Acropolis, under the charge of specially-appointed commissioners, of whom Demosthenes was one. It was known by report that the sum was about 700 talents, but Demosthenes and his fellows had strangely omitted to make any official entry or report of the amount. Suddenly it was discovered that only 350 talents were actually in the Acropolis. Charges immediately circulated against the influential politicians, that the other 350 talents had been received in bribes by them before the money was deposited in the citadel. Men of opposite sides were suspected; Demades, for example, as well as Demosthenes. But, apart from the suspicion of bribery, manifest blame rested upon Demosthenes for having grossly neglected his duty. He was responsible for the custody of the treasure, for which Athens was responsible to Alexander. He was bound to demand an investigation, and on his motion the people directed the Council of Areopagus to hold an inquiry. Philoxenus furnished the account-book of Harpalus, which had come into his hands. By this evidence it was proved that 700 talents had been delivered for safe-keeping in the Acropolis; the entries ceased at this point. It was also shown that certain Athenians had previously been bribed; but Demosthenes was not among them. Other evidence was necessary to show how the missing half of the 700 talents had disappeared. We know not what this evidence was, but the court of Areopagus satisfied themselves that a number of leading statesmen had received considerable sums. Demosthenes appeared in their report as the recipient of twenty talents. The proofs against him were irrefutable, for he confessed the misdemeanour himself, and sought to excuse it by the paltry and transparent subterfuge that he had taken it to repay himself for twenty talents which he had advanced to the Theoric Fund. But why should he repay himself, without any authorisation, out of Alexander’s money, for a debt owed him by the Athenian state? There can be little doubt that Demosthenes took the money not for personal gratifications, but for the good of his party. It was all the more necessary for his party to clear themselves from implication in such corrupt transactions. We therefore find Hypereides coming forward as a public prosecutor of Demosthenes. We possess considerable portions of his speech; and we have in its complete form another speech, written for one of the other prosecutors by a miserable hack named Dinarchus. The charges against Demosthenes were twofold: he had taken money, and he had culpably omitted to report the amount of the deposit and the neglect of those who were set to guard it. For the second offence alone he deserved a severe sentence. The judges were not excessively severe, if we consider that his behaviour had placed the city in a most embarrassing position towards Alexander. He was condemned to pay a fine of fifty talents. Unable to pay it, he was imprisoned, but presently effected his escape. It was a venial offence in the eyes of Greece for a statesman to take a bribe, provided he did not take it to injure his country; and in the view of public opinion the moral character of Demosthenes was little damaged by this tortuous transaction. He was not on a level with men like Nicias and Phocion, whom millions would not have tempted; but then nobody ever supposed that he was incorruptible. Yet there were two circumstances which aggravated the case. The money of which Demosthenes partook was stolen money, which Athens was about to sequester for Alexander; and he was himself a commissioner responsible for its safety. It was far from being an ordinary case of corruption.

If Alexander had lived, the Athenians might have persuaded him to let them remain in occupation of Samos; for he was always disposed to be lenient to Athens. When the tidings of his death came, men almost refused to credit it; the orator Demades forcibly said, “If he were indeed dead, the whole world would have smelt of his corpse.” The patriots had been building on the slender hopes of some disaster; and the greatest disaster of all had befallen. It had been recognised as madness to defy the power of Alexander; but it did not seem rash to strike for freedom in the unsettled condition of things after his death. Athens revolted from Macedonia; she was joined by Aetolia and many states in northern Greece, and she secured the services of a band of 8000 discharged mercenaries who had just returned from Alexander’s army. One of their captains, the Athenian, Leosthenes, occupied Thermopylae, and near that pass the united Greeks gained a slight advantage over Antipater, who had marched southward as soon as he could gather his troops together. The Thessalian cavalry had deserted him, and no state in north Greece except Boeotia remained true to Macedonia. The regent shut himself in the strong hill-city of Lamia, which stands Antipater over against the pass of Thermopylae under a spur of Othrys; and here he was besieged during the winter by Leosthenes. These successes had gained some adherents to the cause in the Peloponnesus; and, if the Greeks had been stronger at sea, that cause might have triumphed, at least for a while. But the strange thing was that, notwithstanding the improvements of recent years in her naval establishment, Athens seems to have been able to set afloat no more than 170 warships against 240 of Macedon. The brave general Leosthenes was hampered by a Council of War, in which the various allies were represented—reminding us of the days of the Persian invasion; yet, if a fatal stone had not put an end to his life during the beleaguerment, more would probably have been effected for the cause of the allies. In spring the arrival of Leonnatus, governor of Hellespontine Phrygia, at the head of an army, raised the siege of Lamia. The Greeks marched into Thessaly to meet the new army before it united with Antipater; a battle was fought, in which the Greeks had the upper hand, and Leonnatus was wounded to death. Antipater arrived the next day, and, joining forces with the defeated army, withdrew into Macedonia, to await Craterus, who was approaching from the east. When Craterus arrived, they entered Thessaly together, and in an engagement at Crannon, in which the losses on both sides were light, the Macedonians had a slight advantage. This battle apparently decided the war, but the true cause which hindered the Greeks from continuing the struggle was not the insignificant defeat at Crannon, but the want of unity among themselves, the want of a leader whom they entirely trusted. They were forced to make terms singly, each state on its own behoof.

Hypereides pronounced a funeral oration, distinguished by that lucidity of which he was a perfect master, over those who had fallen in this hopeless war; and gave his due—it is not for us to say that he gave more than his due—to Leosthenes, who “ succeeded in what he undertook, but not in escaping fate.” There is a fine passage which distorts indeed the historical perspective, but well displays the spirit of the patriots. “In the dark underworld—suffer us to ask—who are they that will stretch forth a right hand to the captain of our dead? May we not deem that Leosthenes will be greeted with welcome and with wonder by those half-gods who bore arms against Troy? Ay, and there, I deem, will be Miltiades and Themistocles, and those others who made Hellas free to the glory of their names.”

Athens submitted when Antipater advanced into Boeotia and prepared to invade Attica. She paid dearly for her attempt to win back her power. Antipater was not like Alexander. He was an able man, warmly devoted to the royal house of Macedon; but he did not share in Alexander’s sympathies with Greek culture, he had no soft place in his heart for the memories and traditions of Athens. He saw only that, unless strong and stern measures were taken, Macedonia would not be safe against a repetition of the rising which he had suppressed. He therefore imposed three conditions, which Phocion and Demades were obliged to accept: that the democratic constitution should be modified by a property qualification; that a Macedonian garrison should be lodged in Munychia; and that the agitators, Demosthenes, Hypereides, and their friends, should be surrendered.

Demosthenes had exerted eloquence in gaining support for the cause of the allies in the Peloponnesus, and his efforts had been rewarded by his recall to Athens. As soon as the city had submitted, he and the other orators fled. Hypereides with two companions sought refuge in the temple of Aeacus at Aegina, whence they were I taken to Antipater and put to death. Demosthenes fled to the temple of Poseidon in the island of Calauria. When the messengers of Antipater appeared and summoned him forth, he swallowed poison, which he had concealed, according to one story, in a pen, and was thus delivered from falling into the hands of the executioner.

The constitutional change which was carried out at the dictation of the Macedonian general would have been judged by Aristotle an improvement. The institutions were not changed, but the democracy was converted into a “polity” or limited democracy such as Theramenes had striven for—by a restriction of the franchise. All citizens whose property amounted to less than 2000 drachmae were deprived of their civic rights. It is said that this measure erased 12,000 names from the burgher lists, and that 9000 citizens remained. A large number of the poorer people thus disfranchised left Attica and settled in Thrace, where Antipater gave them land; perhaps these settlers included some of the outdwellers of Samos, who were now turned adrift, being obliged to quit the island and make way for the rightful possessors.


Sect. 7. Aristotle and Alexander

It was through an accident that Alexander was brought into contact with the one other man of his time whose genius was destined to move the world. Aristotle’s father had been court physician of Amyntas II, and Aristotle was meant to follow his father’s profession. At the age of seventeen he went to Athens, where he was under the guardianship of a certain Proxenus, to whose son Nicanor—the same Nicanor who made public Alexander’s edict at Olympia—he afterwards betrothed his only daughter. At first Aristotle studied in the school of Isocrates, but when Plato returned from Sicily he came under the influence of that philosopher’s idealism, and this decided him for the “life of speculation,” which he regards—and it is the deliberate judgment of his mature years—as the only life that is perfectly happy. After Plato’s death he spent some years on the north-eastern coasts of the Aegean, at Assos and Mytilene, and then received the call from Philip to undertake the education of the crown prince. As yet he had won no eminent reputation for wisdom or learning, and Philip probably chose him because his father had been connected with the Macedonian court. The instruction which Aristotle imparted to Alexander was perhaps chiefly literary and philological; he came as a tutor, not as a philosopher. We know nothing of the mutual relations between the brilliant master and his brilliant pupil; they were men of different and hardly sympathetic tempers; we may suspect that Aristotle was fainer to curb than spur the ardent straining spirit of Alexander. Certainly the episode led to no such maintenance of intimacy afterwards as it might have led to if Plato had been the teacher. On his return to Athens, c. 335 B.C., Aristotle founded his school of philosophy, and the Lyceum soon took the place formerly occupied by the Academy, which ever since the discomfiting adventures in Sicily had withdrawn itself more and more from the public attention. He taught for twelve or thirteen years—and these years were doubtless the time of his most effective philosophical activity—and died not long after the Death, death of Alexander.

Never were there more wonderful years than these in which the brains of Alexander and Aristotle were ceaselessly working. It is not an overstatement to say that there is no one to whom Europe owes a greater debt for the higher education of her peoples than to Aristotle. The science of the laws of thought is still taught mainly as he first worked it out. There are no better introductions to ethical and political speculation than his fundamental treatises on ethical and political science. Nor was it a small thing that his system controlled the acutest minds of the Middle Ages, whose reasoning faculties, though cabined by the imminence of a narrowly interpreted theology, were amazingly powerful and subtle.

But Aristotle, supreme as he was in abstract reasoning, zealous as he was in collecting and appreciating concrete facts, was not without prejudices. As a boy, in the narrow self-satisfied community of little remote Stagira, he had imbibed the dislike which was openly or secretly felt towards Athens in all the Chalcidian regions. And, though he established his abode at Athens, he never overcame this distrust; he always remained a citizen of Stagira and lived in Athens as a stranger. This initial prejudice prevented him from ever judging with perfect impartiality the Athenian institutions, which he took as the type of democracy. He was also prejudiced against Macedonia. The Chalcidians looked upon their Macedonian neighbours as far below themselves in civilisation; and Aristotle’s experience of the court of Pella, where he must have been a spectator of the scandalous quarrels between Philip and Olympias, did not create a favourable impression. He was thus disposed to hold his sympathies entirely aloof from the enterprises of Alexander. But not only did he not sympathise, he disapproved. For he was wedded to the idea of the small Greek republic; he condemned the large state. Moreover, he held firmly to the Hellenic conviction that Hellenes were superior by nature to peoples of other race, and he was thus opposed to the most original and enlightened feature of Alexander’s policy—the ruling of Greeks and barbarians on an equality. Owing to this attitude of coldness and distrust towards the Macedonians, he missed a great opportunity. Alexander’s expedition threw open to science a new field of discovery in natural history ; and we can imagine what endless pains the king would have given himself, if Aristotle had urged him to collect extensive observations on the animal and vegetable kingdoms in the various countries and climates through which he passed.

It is a strange sensation to pass from the view of the state which Alexander was fashioning to the sketch of an ideal state which was drawn by the most thoughtful of men at the same time. Aristotle desires a little north-country city, situated in a compact, defensible territory; close to the sea and yet not on the coast, having a harbour within easy reach, but quite disconnected, so that the precincts of the city may not be contaminated and its indwellers troubled by the presence of a motley crowd of outlanders, cheapmen, and mariners, such as throng a seaport’s quays. He will not have his city a centre of trade; it is to import and export only for the purposes of its own strict needs. It is to be a tiny city, the number of the burghers so limited that each one may be able to know all about each of the others. The burghers are to have equal rights; their early manhood is to be spent on military duties; when they come to middle life they are to be eligible for political offices; in their old age they are to act as priests. Subject to this citizen aristocracy, but entirely excluded from the franchise, are to be the artisans and merchants. Part of the land is to be public—the yield to be devoted to maintaining the worship of the gods and providing the public meals of the city; part is to be the private property of the citizens; and the fields are to be tilled by slaves or labourers of non-Hellenic race. Such was the little exclusive community which Aristotle designed, while his former pupil was setting in motion schemes for world-wide commerce, shattering the barriers which sundered nation from nation, building an empire which should include millions, founding cities composed of men of divers races, hewing his way through a maze of new political problems which were beyond Aristotle’s horizon. The republic of Aristotle’s wish is not quickened like Plato’s by striking original ideas; it is a commonplace Greek aristocracy with its claws cut, carefully trimmed and pruned, refined by a punctilious education, without any expansive vitality, and like Sparta leaving no room for the free development of the individual citizens. If the cities of Hellas had been moulded and fashioned on the model of the city of the philosopher’s wish, they would hardly have done what they did for European civilisation.

We may wonder whether Aristotle divined before his death that the Hellenic cities were not to have the last word in the history of men. More probably the untimely end of Alexander reassured him that the old fashion of things would soon go on again as before. The brilliant day of the Greek city states had indeed drawn to a close so suddenly that they could not be expected to grasp the fact; and no people that has ever borne the torch of civilisation has been willing, or even able, to recognise that the hour of relinquishing sovereignty has come. The Greeks may well be excused if they were reluctant to acquiesce in the vicissitude which forced them to sink into a subordinate place. But it is thus that the austere laws of history reward the meritorious. The republics of Greece had performed an imperishable work; they had shown mankind many things, and, above all, the most precious thing in the world, fearless freedom of thought.