Alexander’s Invasion of Persia Part 2
He tore open the outermost layer of the knot, revealing the ends of the rope hidden below. Then he untied the rope with ease. Now, according to the legend, he could have become the king of Asia. After the Oracle of Delphi, it was the 2nd favorable prediction he had received. Now Alexander was confident of of his victory. Interestingly, it was not just Alexander who had received such predictions. His enemy, Darius was receiving same predictions of victory. How? Emperor Darius had a dream on night.
He saw that the Greek army was standing in front of him. The Greek army was standing in ring of fire. Alexander the Great was also present in a servant’s dress. And then he entered an Iranian temple From there, he never came out. The Iranian emperor woke up in the morning and called for his astrologers. An astrologer made a favorable interpretation by saying that the emperor would defeat Alexander. (He said) Darius would win.
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The Greek army would be destroyed and Alexander would either be killed or flee. Darius III was overjoyed upon hearing that. He decided to lead the Iranian army against Alexander himself. He wanted to get his name in the list of the great generals of that time. He informed his courtiers of his decision. One man strongly opposed his decision. His name was ‘Charidemus’. Charidemus was a Greek military expert.
Thousands of Greeks served in the Iranian army for money. You may call them mercenaries. So this Greek, Charidemus was a very smart and experienced soldier. He requested Darius not to personally lead the army. But appoint him the commander of the army. He warned that if harm came to the emperor, the whole empire would be in jeopardy. Obviously the emperor was the linchpin of the empire.
His death would sound the end of the empire. Charidemus’ suggestion was rational. But other Iranian courtiers did not like it. They could not bear watching their emperor listening to a foreigner’s advice. They rejected Charidemus’ offer to lead the Iranian army. They even accused him of being a traitor who would surrender to Alexander. They claimed that he would betray the emperor. Their comments made Charidemus angry.
He claimed that the Iranians were cowards. Emperor Darius was disgusted by a Greek’s mockery of his own people and had Charidemus killed. As the soldiers were taking Charidamus to execute him… … he cried out that this was gross injustice. This was cruelty. He declared that Darius would pay for this unjust punishment with his throne and the empire. Thus the man, who could give wise counsel to the emperor, died.
Darius III sent letters to his governors to bring their troops to the Iraqi city of Babylon From here they were to march towards Turkey. So these armies assembled in Babylon. Plutarch claims that the Iranian army numbered 600,000. However, modern historians call this an exaggeration. The Iranians probably had more troops than the Greeks but the gap wasn’t so wide. Alexander the Great had 30,000 soldiers.
The rest of his army was deployed in the captured cities or sent to conquer more lands. Now, the Iranian army was coming from Babylon to fight Alexander. Alexander the Great was waiting for this Iranian army at Issus, Turkey. This area was also located near a river. Alexander was forewarned about the incoming force. But he could not determine the route of this force. Based on wrong intelligence, he concluded that the the enemy might come from Syria in the south.
So he moved into Syria with his forces. Ill or weak soldiers were left behind. The wounded were also left at Issus. But when Alexander had left for Syria, the Iranian army reached Issus from a northern route. They captured Issus and arrested the wounded and sick Greek soldiers there. Their hands were cut off before were set free. They were to return to Alexander and scare away him and his army.
These soldiers approached Alexander and told him the whole story. He immediately turned around and started moving towards the north. Soon he also approached near Issus. Once again, a river ran between the two opposing forces. A historic battle, the Battle of Issus, was going to take place. The battle would decide the new ruler of Asia. My Curious Fellows, the geography of the place favored the Greeks. It didn’t favor the Iranians.
The battlefield was located between the hills and the Mediterranean Sea. It was impossible for the Iranian emperor to spread his cavalry and to surround the enemy. However, despite the disadvantage of geography, the Iranians lined up for battle. Emperor Darius’s army was divided into 3 main forces. The infantry was deployed in the center. The cavalry was positioned on the rightwing.
The archers were stationed on the left. Some infantry were also deployed behind the archers. Darius III was himself positioned behind the center in his royal chariot. This chariot was surrounded by 10,000 royal guards These were additional troops. In front of the Iranian army was the river. As the water level was low, some Iranian cavalry crossed it.