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Polyaenus: Stratagems

    - BOOK 4, Chapters 1-3

Adapted from the translation by R.Shepherd (1793). See key to translations for an explanation of the format.


CONTENTS:   1 Argaeus ; 2 Philippus ; 3 Alexander ; → Following Chapters (4-21)


[Preface]   This book of stratagems I also address to your most sacred majesties, Antoninus and Verus; which I have written with more particular pleasure than the rest, because it contains the exploits of our heroic ancestors, who filled the throne of Macedonia.

[1]   Argaeus.

In the reign of Argaeus king of Macedonia, the Taulantii under their king Galaurus made an incursion into Macedonia. Argaeus, whose force was very small, directed the Macedonian young women, as the enemy advanced, to show themselves from mount Ereboea. They accordingly did so; and in a numerous body they poured down from the mountain, their faces covered by wreaths, and brandishing their thyrsi instead of spears. Galaurus, intimidated by the numbers of those, whom instead of women he supposed to be men, sounded a retreat; whereupon the Taulantii, throwing away their weapons, and whatever else might retard their escape, abandoned themselves to a precipitate flight. Argaeus, having thus obtained a victory without the hazard of a battle, erected a temple to Dionysus Pseudanor; and ordered the priestesses of the god, who were before called Kladones by the Macedonians, to ever afterwards be distinguished by the title of Mimallones.

[2]   Philippus.

Philippus once dismissed (?) Docimus of Tarentum, who had a command in his army, because he used warm baths, saying: "You seem a stranger to the Macedonian customs, which do not indulge the use of warm water even to a woman in childbirth.

2   Engaging the Athenians at Chaeroneia, Philippus made a sham retreat: and Stratocles, the Athenian general, ordered his men to push forwards, crying out, "We will pursue them to the heart of Macedonia." Philippus observed, "The Athenians know not how to conquer:" and ordered his phalanx to keep close and firm, and to retreat slowly, covering themselves with their shields from the attacks of the enemy. As soon as he had by the manoeuvre drawn them from their advantageous ground, and gained an eminence, he halted; and encouraging his troops to a vigorous assault, he attacked the Athenians and won a brilliant victory.

3   Philippus, while encamped against the Thebans, was informed that two of his generals, Aeropus and Damasippus had taken a singing girl from an inn, and introduced her into the camp: and the fact being proved, he banished both of them from the kingdom.

4   Having attacked a city of Thrace, Philippus sent envoys to the enemy: who convened an assembly, and introduced the envoys, anxious to know the enemy's proposals. Philippus in the mean time directed a vigorous attack, and carried the city: while the people were more attentive to the supposed conditions of peace, than the real attacks of war.

5   After an engagement with the Illyrians, Philippus proposed a truce with them, for the purpose of burying their dead: which being agreed to, as soon as the last man was buried, his army being drawn up and waiting the signal to engage, he instantly ordered them to charge; and put the enemy, who were unprepared, to a general rout.

6   While Philippus was trying his strength with Menegetes in wrestling: the soldiers around were clamorous for their pay; in which he was much in arrears to them, and had not the means at the present to make it good. Dripping with sweat, and covered as he was with dust, he ran up to them with a laugh; "You are right," said he, "my fellow soldiers; and I have been preparing myself with that barbarian, in order to pay my respects to you, for the credit you have been so obliging as to give me." Having thus said, he ran through the midst of them, and plunged into a pool. The Macedonians laughed at the humour of the prince: who continued amusing himself in the water, till the soldiers were tired out with the neglect he paid to their remonstrances, and went away. In his hours of gaiety Philippus often used to mention this device, by which he had with a stroke of buffoonery got rid of demands, that no arguments could have reasoned away.

7   Philippus, at Chaeroneia, knowing the Athenians were impetuous and inexperienced, and the Macedonians inured to fatigues and exercise, contrived to prolong the action: and reserving his principal attack to the latter end of the engagement, the enemy weak and exhausted were unable to sustain the charge. [see also: Frontinus, Str.2.1.9]

8   Having marched against the territory of Amphissa, Philippus found himself obstructed by the Athenians and Thebans; who had made themselves masters of a defile, which he was unable to force; and therefore resorted to a stratagem. He wrote a letter to Antipater in Macedonia, informing him that the Thracians were in rebellion, and that he was obliged for the present to defer his expedition against Amphissa, and to march into Thrace. This letter he dispatched by a way, where he knew it would be intercepted: which accordingly was the case; and Chares and Proxenus the generals, who commanded against him, because they were convinced by the contents of the letter, abandoned the post they possessed. Philippus immediately availed himself of their movements; and passing the defile without opposition, afterwards defeated the allies, and took Amphissa. [see also: Frontinus, Str.1.4.13]

9   Philippus was not more successful in his arms, than he was in treaties and negotiations: and indeed he prided himself more on advantages gained by these, than by dint of arms. For in the latter he observed his soldiers shared in the glory, but in the other it was all his own. [see also: Diodorus, 16.95.3]

10   Philippus accustomed the Macedonians to constant exercise, before they went to war: so that he would frequently make them march three hundred stades, carrying with them their helmets, shields, greaves, and spears; and, besides those arms, their provisions likewise, and utensils for common use.

11   When Philippus advanced to Larissa, he pretended a fit of illness; in order to lure some of the Aleuades to visit him: intending to seize them. But Boiscus apprised the Aleuades of the stratagem: which thereby failed in its intent.

12   Philippus desired permission in a full assembly to address the Sarnusians; which being granted, he directed the soldiers, who attended him, to carry cords under their arms. When reaching out his arm, as if to harangue them, the signal he had fixed on, his men immediately seized on all the Sarnusians present, bound them, and sent more than ten thousand prisoners into Macedonia.

13   When closely pursued by the Thracians, Philippus ordered that as soon as he sounded a retreat, the rear under cover of their shields, should sustain the enemy's attack; and, by acting only on the defensive, retard their pursuit, and thus facilitate the retreat of the army.

14   When advancing into Boetia, Philippus' direct march was through a narrow pass, which the Boeotians had secured, and from which he could not dislodge them; he therefore took another route, and laid waste the whole country before him. The Boeotians, not bearing to see their country thus desolated, abandoned their post; and gave him an opportunity of passing the defile, and continuing the march he first projected.

15   Philippus had raised the scaling-ladders against the walls of Methone; and a strong body of Macedonians advanced to the attack. As soon as they had mounted the walls, he ordered the ladders to be taken away: thereby leaving the assailants no hopes of safety, but in their courage.

16   The country of the Orbelians, which Philippus had invaded, was rough, and craggy, and covered with wood. The barbarians concealed themselves in the thickets: where Philippus, a stranger to the country, knew not how to follow them, but by tracing their steps with blood-hounds.

17   When the Athenians demanded of Philippus the restitution of Amphipolis; because he was at that time engaged in a war with the Illyrians, although unwilling to give it up to the Athenians, he consented to make it free: and Athenians appeared contented with this. Philippus therefore, as soon as he had finished the Illyrian war, returned at the head of a powerful army to Amphipolis; and in defiance of the Athenians made himself master of the place.

18   Philippus having besieged Pharcedon, a city of Thessaly, the Pharcedonians capitulated; and his mercenaries entered the city to take possession. But an ambush was placed on the houses and towers, and the mercenaries fell victims to a shower of javelins and stones. While the attention of the citizens was thus directed to that part of the city, where the mercenaries entered, and the ambush was placed; Philippus raised the scaling ladders against the walls on the opposite part of the town, and by a vigorous assault carried it; before the force, employed in the ambush, had time to return to their posts, and man the walls.

19   Philippus, when he formed the design of conquering Thessaly, did not directly make war on the Thessalians. But when Pallene was engaged in war with Pharsalus, and Pherae with Larissa; and the other states in Thessaly with each other: his practice was in those struggles to give assistance to which ever power applied to him for it. And his victories on those occasions were never marked with cruelty or devastations. He neither disarmed the conquered, nor destroyed their fortifications: but his great object was to create factions, rather than heal them; to protect the weak, and crush the powerful. He endeavoured always to ingratiate himself with the bulk of the people, and cultivated the favour of demagogues. By these stratagems Philippus made himself master of Thessaly, and not by arms.

20   After a long siege of Carae, a well-fortified town, which he was unable to capture, Philippus found his best exertions necessary to effect a safe retreat, and carry off with him his machines. For this purpose he availed himself of a very dark night; and ordered the smiths to take his machines in pieces, imitating in the noise, as much as they could, the fabrication of new ones. The inhabitants of Carae, hearing the sound of hammers, applied themselves to strengthen their gates, and to counter-work the effect of the enemy's supposed operations by new erections. And while they were thus employed, Philippus in the night struck his tents, and carried off his machines.

21   When Philippus advanced against the Byzantines, he found them strongly supported by various allies. To break the confederacy, he dispatched deserters to propagate a report, that he had detached forces into the different countries of the allies; and that some of their cities were at that instant in danger of being taken. And to give colour to this intelligence, he made detachments from his army, which he ordered out on short marches different ways, without any intention to act offensively. These movements agreeing with the report of the deserters, the allies left the Byzantines, to repair to the assistance of their respective countries. [see also: Frontinus, Str.1.4.13]

22   As Philippus, after having ravaged the territory of Abdera and Maroneia, was returning from his expedition with a great fleet, and powerful army; Chares placed an ambuscade of twenty ships near Neapolis to attack him. Philippus, suspecting such an attempt, manned four of his best-sailing vessels with the stoutest and most experienced oarsmen he could pick out: and ordered them to make what sail they could before the fleet, and to pass Neapolis, holding not far from the shore. In pursuit of those four ships, Chares pushed out with his twenty ships: with which however, being light, and well-manned, he was unable to catch up. And while he was chasing them without effect, Philippus sailed safely by Neapolis with the rest of the fleet.

[3]   Alexander.

Alexander whose ambition was, to unite all mankind to him, as their common head, declared that they should no longer be called mortals, human beings, or men, but Alexanders.

2   Alexander, in his wars, directed his generals to order the Macedonians to shave their faces, that their enemies in engaging might never lay hold on their beards. [see also: Plutarch, Thes.5.4]

3   At the siege of Tyre, Alexander having resolved to join the city, which was then an island, to the mainland, by raising a mound in the surrounding waters, himself first carried a basket of sand, which he threw into it. As soon as the Macedonians saw their king at work with his own hands, they all instantly threw aside their robes, and soon raised the ground.

4   Having left a part of his army before Tyre, Alexander himself marched into Arabia. His absence gave the Tyrians new spirits: they advanced beyond their walls, engaged the Macedonians in battle, and frequently defeated them. Parmenion, Alexander's general, gave him notice of what had happened. He suddenly returned, and seeing the Macedonians retreating before the enemy, instead of flying to their assistance, marched directly to the town; which he surprised, evacuated by the Tyrian forces, and took it by storm. The Tyrians, finding their city taken, surrendered themselves and their arms to the discretion of the Macedonian conqueror. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.24-25]

5   When Alexander advanced against Darius, he ordered the Macedonians, as soon as they drew near the Persians, to fall down on their hands and knees: and, as soon as ever the trumpet sounded the charge, to rise up and vigorously attack the enemy. They did so: and the Persians, considering it as an act of reverence, abated of their impetuosity, and their minds became softened towards the prostrate foe. Darius too was led to think, he had gained a victory without the hazard of a battle. When on sound of the trumpet, the Macedonians sprung up, and made such an impression on the enemy, that their centre was broken, and the Persians entirely defeated.

6   At Arbela, where the last battle between Alexander and Darius was fought, a considerable body of Persians had made a circuit, and seized the Macedonian carriage-horses and baggage. Parmenion, observing their movement, desired Alexander to order a detachment to protect them. By no means, replied Alexander; my business is with the enemy here; and I must not weaken my phalanx. If we be conquered, we shall not want our baggage: and if we conquer, both ours and the enemy's will become our own. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.32]

7   After the conquest of Asia, the Macedonians being insistent with Alexander, and extravagant in their demands, he ordered them to take their posts by themselves in arms: and opposite to them he ordered his Persian troops to do the same. The forces being thus separated, "Now," said he, "Macedonians, choose our general: and I will take the Persians. If you beat me, I will comply with all your demands: and you, if I beat you, will learn to be quiet." Struck with the greatness of soul, which the stratagem revealed, the Macedonians ever after conducted themselves with more moderation. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.71]

8   In his first action with the Persians, Alexander seeing the Macedonians give way, rode through the ranks, calling out to his men, "One effort more, my Macedonians, one glorious effort." Animated by their prince, they made a vigorous attack: and the enemy abandoned themselves to flight. Thus did that critical moment determine the victory.

9   Alexander in his Indian expedition advanced to the Hydaspes with intention to cross it: when Porus appeared with his army on the other side, determined to dispute his passage. Alexander then marched towards the head of the river, and attempted to cross it there. Thither also Porus marched, and drew up his army on the opposite side. He then made the same effort lower down; there too Porus opposed him. Those frequent appearances of intention to cross it, without ever making one real attempt to effect it, the Indians ridiculed: and concluding that he had no real design to pass the river, they became more negligent in attending his movements. Then Alexander by a rapid march reached the banks, and effected his purpose on barges, boats, and hides stuffed with straw, before the enemy had time to come up with him, because they had been deceived by so many false attempts. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.60]

10   Alexander found that his men, glutted with the immense wealth of which they had possessed themselves in Persia, and which they carried about with them in carriages, did not at all relish a new expedition into India. He ordered first the royal carriages to be destroyed; and afterwards all the rest. The Macedonians, thus deprived of their treasures, immediately became anxious for more; and, in order to obtain it, of course ready for new enterprises. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.57]

11   When the Thracians endeavoured to make an impression on the Macedonian phalanx by a great number of chariots, which were directed against them, Alexander ordered his men to avoid them, if they could; and if not, to throw themselves on the ground, holding over them their shields; by which means the carriages quickly passed over, without hurting them. And by this manoeuvre the numerous carriages of the enemy were rendered useless. [see also: Arrian, Anab.1.17]

12   When Alexander advanced against Thebes, he planted in ambush a concealed body of troops under the command of Antipater; while he himself marched openly against the enemy's strongest works: which the Thebans with great obstinacy defended. In the midst of the engagement Antipater secretly quitted his ambush, and wheeling round attacked the walls in an opposite quarter, where they were weakest, and ill-manned; and made himself master of the city. He immediately raised a signal, which Alexander saw and called out, "The town was his own." The Thebans, who had till then made a gallant resistance, as soon as they saw their city in the possession of the enemy, abandoned themselves to flight. [see also: Diodorus, 17.12]

13   The Macedonians having fled from battle, Alexander changed their body armour into a breast-plate: which was a protection to them, as long as they boldly faced the enemy: but if they fled, they exposed to the foe their naked backs. This had the effect: that they never afterwards fled; but, if they were overpowered, always retreated in good order.

14   After Alexander had learned from the soothsayers, that the sacrifices were propitious, he ordered the victims to be carried round the army; that the soldiers, not depending on what was told them, might be convinced with their own eyes of the ground of their hopes in the ensuing action.

15   When Alexander entered Asia, to make Memnon the general of the enemy's forces suspected by the Persians, he ordered the party, he had detached to ravage the country, not to touch his property, nor commit any depredations on his estates.

16   When Alexander saw the advantageous position of the Persians on the opposite side of the Granicus, ready to dispute his passage over the river; he led the Macedonians to the right, and outflanked the enemy. Then his phalanx attacked the enemy and routed them.

17   At the battle of Arbela, Darius planted the ground between the two camps with caltrops. When Alexander discovered this, he led out his right wing and ordered his army to follow him at a slant to the right, skirting the ground that held the caltrops. To oppose that manoeuvre, and throw him upon the ground he seemed to avoid, the Persian weakened his lines and detached his cavalry to his left. Observing this, Alexander, with the support of Parmenion, and flanked by the caltrops, fell upon the weakened lines of the enemy, threw them into disorder, and began the rout.

18   Alexander, after he had passed the Tigris, while the Persians were laying the whole country waste with fire, sent a detachment to pursue them closely, so that they would have regard for their own preservation, and spare the country.

19   Alexander, when in Hyrcania, having been informed that his character and conduct were disparaged both by the Macedonians and Greeks, assembled his friends, and told them; the situation of his affairs at home required him to send letters to Macedonia, and inform his subjects, that he should certainly return within three years: and he desired his officers at the same time to write letters to their respective friends, to the same purport; which to a man they all did. As soon as the letter-carriers had got about three stathmoi from the camp, he ordered them to be brought back, and opened all the letters. From them he learned the opinion, that every one entertained of him. [see also: Diodorus, 17.80]

20   Alexander having closely besieged a fortified place in India, the besieged agreed to evacuate the fort on condition that they might be permitted to march out with their arms. Then the garrison marched out, and encamped on a hill; where they entrenched themselves, and posted a guard. When Alexander advanced against them, the Indians appealed to the terms of the treaty. To which the Macedonian replied, "I gave you leave to quit the fort; but not a word was mentioned in the treaty of any further movement." [see also: Diodorus, 17.84]

21   Pittacus, the grandson of Porus, advantageously posted himself in a narrow valley to intercept Alexander in his march. The valley was long, but not more than four stades wide: and terminated in a very straight defile. Adapting his march to the nature of the ground, Alexander formed his cavalry into a double phalanx; and ordered them, bearing upon their reins, to ride in a close compact body: and, as soon as the enemy attacked their right wing, to receive them upon their spears, and give their horses the rein; and, when they saw the rear of the formation on the right, to attack the enemy. Having thus given his orders, he began his march nearly in the shape of a gnomon. As soon as those, who were posted in the left wing, saw the rear of the detachment on the right, they set up a shout, and in the same manner giving reins to their horses, they attacked the enemy. The Indians, afraid of being blocked up in the valley, precipitately fled to the narrow exit, in order to make their escape. Then many were cut to pieces by the Macedonians, and many more trampled to death by their own horse.

22   In the battle against Porus Alexander posted part of his cavalry in the right wing, and part he left as a body of reserve at a small distance on the plain. His left wing consisted of the phalanx and his elephants. Porus ordered his elephants to be formed against him, himself taking station on an elephant at the head of his left wing. The elephants were drawn up within fifty yards of each other; and in between them was posted his infantry; so that his front exhibited the appearance of a great wall, the elephants looked like so many towers, and the infantry like the parapet between them. Alexander directed his infantry to attack the enemy in front; while himself at the head of his horse advanced against the cavalry. Against those movements Porus ably guarded. But the beasts could not be kept in their ranks; and, wherever they deserted them, the Macedonians in a compact body pouring in closed the with the enemy, and attacked them both in front and flank. The body of reserve in the mean time wheeling round, and attacking their rear, completed the defeat. [see also: Diodorus, 17.87]

23   When the Thessalians were guarding Tempe, and Alexander saw it impracticable to force, he cut holes in the rugged rock of Ossa, which served as steps. Across these he marched his army: and thus opened himself a passage over the top of Ossa into Thessaly; while the Thessalians were employed in defending the pass at Tempe. Anyone travelling through Tempe can still see the rock of Ossa cut in the manner of a ladder, which now bears the name of Alexander's ladder.

24   Among the Macedonians and among the Greeks, Alexander's court of justice was plain and simple; but among the barbarians, in order to strike them with the greater awe, it was most splendid and imperial. In Bactria, Hyrcania, and India when he heard causes, the apparatus and formality of his court were as follows. The pavilion was large enough to contain a hundred tables; and was supported by fifty pillars of gold: and the canopy was adorned with various gold ornaments. Stationed round the pavilion within were, first, five hundred Persian bodyguards [melophoroi], dressed in purple and white uniforms: and next to those an equal number of archers in different uniforms, yellow, blue, and scarlet. Before those stood five hundred Macedonians, with silver shields, the tallest men that could be picked out. In the middle of the pavilion was a golden throne, on which the monarch sat to hear causes: attended on either side by his guards. Round the pavilion on the outside were ranged a number of elephants, and a thousand Macedonians in Macedonian costumes. Behind those were five hundred Susians in purple uniforms: and the whole was surrounded with ten thousand Persians, distinguished for their appearance, and size, and dressed in the Persian manner, with scimitars at their sides. Such was the court of Alexander among the barbarians.

25   Alexander and his army, marching through a sandy desert, were in great distress for water; when one of the scouts, having in the hollow of a rock discovered a little, brought it to him in his helmet. After he had showed it to his army, in order to revive their spirits with the hope of water being near at hand; without moving it to his lips, before them all he poured it out upon the ground. The Macedonians immediately set up a shout, and bade him lead on; for their king's example had taught them to conquer thirst. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.42]

26   Alexander by a forced march was endeavouring to gain the river Tigris, before Darius: when a panic seized his rear, and ran through the army. The king ordered trumpets to sound the signal of safety, the first rank immediately to throw down their arms at their feet, and the next to do the same. This order being observed through the whole army, they were convinced the cause of their confusion was panic: from whence as soon as they recovered themselves, they took up their arms, and pursued their march.

27   After Alexander had defeated Darius at the battle of Arbela, Phrasaortes a relation of that monarch in great force posted himself at the gates of Susa; which is a narrow pass between high and steep mountains. This the Macedonians in vain endeavoured to force: the barbarians easily defended it, pelting the enemy with arrows, slings, and stones. Alexander ordered a retreat, and encamped about thirty stades distant. The oracle at Delphi had formerly declared, that a lycus ["wolf"] should be his guide against the Persians. A herdsman came up to Alexander, in his rustic dress, saying that he was a Lycian; and informed him, there was a secret road, which wound round the mountains, covered with trees, and known to no one but himself; and well known to him, as affording excellent pasturage. Alexander remembered the oracle, and listened to the herdsman's information. He then ordered the whole army to remain in camp, and light a number of fires in such conspicuous places, as might be best seen by the Persians: and gave private orders to Philotas and Hephaestion, as soon as they saw the Macedonians show themselves on the mountains, to attack the enemy below. Himself with his guards, one phalanx of hoplites, and all the Scythian archers, marched eighty stades along the secret road; and halted in the middle of a thick wood. About midnight by a circuitous march he gained a position a little above the enemy; who were then buried in sleep: and in the morning sounded the charge from the top of the mountains. Hephaestion and Philotas immediately marched out of the camp, and advanced against them on the plain. The Persians, thus attacked both above and below, were part of them cut to pieces, some thrown from the precipices, and others taken prisoner. [see also: Plutarch, Alex.37]

28   Alexander having been obliged in the heat of summer to make a speedy retreat, the enemy hanging upon his rear, directed his march near a river. Observing that his men, who were very thirsty, looked anxiously at the water; lest by stopping to drink they should lose their ranks, and also retard his march, he ordered proclamation to be made, "That no man should touch the river, for its waters were foul." Fearing the consequences they refrained from drinking it, and without intermission continued their march. As soon as they had halted, and the army was encamped; both Alexander and his officers drank openly of the stream; and the soldiers, laughing at the trick their general had played them, drank freely of it too; liberated from every fear either of the enemy, or the water.

29   When Alexander penetrated into Sogdiana, a rough and rugged country, his march was attended with great difficulties. In the middle of it extended a high and craggy rock; its tops accessible only to the birds. Around it was a thick and continuous wood: which rendered access to the place still more difficult. There Ariomazes posted himself, with a numerous and determined band of Sogdians. On the part of the rock, where he had fortified himself, were fine springs, and plenty of provision. Alexander riding round, and reconnoitring the place, observed behind the rock a slope particularly well-covered with wood. There he ordered three hundred young men, expert in climbing precipices, without their arms to endeavour to make their way through the trees, assisting each other by fastening as they went up small cords to the boughs. And as soon as they had reached the top, loosing the white belts they had on, they were directed to fix them upon poles, and extend them above the trees; that the gleaming girdles brandished about might be seen as well by the Macedonians below, as thebarbarians above them. The active and intrepid band, as soon as they had with difficulty reached the top, at sun-rise according to orders brandished their belts: when the Macedonians set up a general shout. Ariomazes, supposing in his astonishment that the whole army were in possession of the top of the mountain, and above their heads, surrendered himself and his rock to Alexander, considering his power and abilities divine.

30   After the Cathaeans, a people of India, had desperately resisted him, Alexander utterly exterminated them, slaying all that were able to bear arms, and levelling their city Sangala with the ground. This act prejudiced him much in the opinion of the Indians; who considered him as a bloodthirsty savage. In order to remove these prejudices, from the next city he reduced in India, he took hostages; and advancing against a third city, which was large and populous, he placed before his army the hostages, old men, and boys, and women. As soon as the enemy saw their own countrymen, and from the condition in which they appeared concluded the humanity with which their conqueror had treated them, they opened their gates, and with his hostages readily received him: and this account of his clemency being studiously propagated induced other Indian nations voluntarily to submit to him. [see also: Diodorus, 17.91]

31   The country of the Cossaeans Alexander found rough and uncultivated, the mountains high and almost inaccessible; and on the mountains was a numerous and resolute body of men. He had therefore little hopes of making himself master of it. At that time he received information of the death of Hephaestion, who died at Babylon: in consequence of which he ordered a general mourning; and put the army in motion, in order to celebrate his funeral. The Cossaean scouts seeing that, and supposing them going to evacuate the country, reported the motions of the Macedonian army; and the Cossaeans began to disband. Alexander, having received intelligence of the error, into which his movement had betrayed the enemy, detached a body of horse to secure the posts on the mountains: then wheeling round he joined the detachment of cavalry, and completed the conquest of the country. This circumstance, it was said, arising from Hephaestion's death, consoled Alexander for the loss of his friend.

32   In the palace of the Persian monarch Alexander read a bill of fare for the king's lunch and dinner, that was engraved on a column of brass: on which were also other regulations, which Cyrus had directed. It ran thus.

When he was in Media, there were added:- Those were the quantities consumed in food and drink. He also expended in largesses:- All, that is here enumerated, was distributed among the forces, that attended him. In lunch, and dinner, and in largesses, the above was the king's daily expenditure.

While the Macedonians read these details of the Persian monarch's dinners, with admiration of the happiness of a prince, who displayed such affluence; Alexander ridiculed him, as an unfortunate man, who could wantonly involve himself in so many trivial cares; and ordered the pillar, on which these articles were engraved, to be demolished: observing to his friends, that it was no advantage to a king to live in so luxurious a manner; for cowardice was the certain consequence of luxury and dissipation. Accordingly, added he, you have experienced that those, who have been used to such revels, never knew how to face danger in the field. [see also: Athenaeus, 4.145]


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