National Geographic : 1944 Mar
Alexander Defeats Darius the Persian at Issus,333 B.C. AFTER his accession to power, Alexander wasted no time in restoring his father's kingdom to order and in stamping out rebellion in Greece. Thebes was destroyed, with the exception of the temples and Pindar's house. This terrible example put a speedy end to Greek resistance, but the rest of Greece Alexander treated leniently and con tinued all the rights which had been granted by Philip. The destruction of Persia was now Alexander's chief aim. In spring of 334 B.c. he crossed the Hellespont, or, as it is now called, the Dardanelles, with an army of about 40,000. It was clear that in order to carry out a successful cam paign against the immense Persian Empire, he would have to control the seacoast. Accordingly, he devoted the first part of his campaign to securing the principal Greek cities on the Asia Minor coast and posting Macedonian garrisons in them so as to secure his communications with Macedon and to prevent any assistance from disaffected Greek states from reaching the enemy. He was careful, however, to grant each city a democratic government, although this had certain strings attached to it. Near the entrance to Syria, just a little north of the pres ent Turkish boundary, Darius III attempted to prevent Alexander's further advance to the southward. Although the Macedonians were outnumbered nearly 20 to one, Alexander, by superior tactics which rendered the mass of his opponent's force ineffective, routed the enemy at the Battle of Issus. Darius fled and left behind him an immense quantity of booty, as well as his mother, his wife, and his children. The booty was immensely welcome; and the captives were treated with great consideration. Alexander rushed intothe thick ofthe fight with his cavalry, as was his custom, and was wounded by asword thrust through the thigh.Afamous ancient painting, of which a magnificent version inmosaic was found atPom peii, represented Alexander attempting toreach the person of his fleeing enemy. This scene isthe basis for our picture. After the battle the Syrian cities surrendered peaceably, but Tyre, where there was astrong Phoenician fleet in Darius' pay, held out. Alexander took itafter abitter siege. Tyre was left in ruins, and itsdefenders were massacred or sold into slavery. Next, Alexander wentdown toEgypt, visited the sanc tuary of Zeus Ammon inthe Libian Desert, and received assurance that he was indeed the sonofZeus-hence agod. While in Egypt, he founded the city ofAlexandria near one of the mouths of the Nile, and itbecame oneofthe centers of Hellenistic culture and learning. Alexander then turned north and met Darius inafinal battle atArbela, 250 miles north of Babylon. Darius was murdered not long afterward by one of hissatraps. His last words to Polystratos, who found him dying and gave him a drink of water, were: "This isthe worst ofmy misfortunes, that I am unable torecompense you for your kindness to me. But Alexander will reward you, and the gods will reward Alexander for his courteous treatment of my mother and wife and daughters. Wherefore, Ipray you, embrace him as I embrace you."