Alexander Romance ( "Pseudo-Callisthenes" )

Book 2 , Chapters 11-20

A combination of the Greek version translated by E.H.Haight (1955); the Armenian version translated by A.M.Wolohojian (1969); and the Syriac version translated by E.A.W.Budge (1889).

Most of the Armenian version is a fairly close translation of the Greek version. Where the Syriac version is missing (chapters 6-13) the Armenian version is shown in the right-hand column; elsewhere, sentences that appear in the Armenian version but not in the Greek version are shown in green.

Murder of Darius

  Murder of Darius   -   BL Royal 20.B.XX (15th century)

← Previous chapters (1-10)

{ Greek version }


{ Armenian version }

[10] G   Now when the barbarians were hard-pressed by lack of food, they made a raid into the land of the Bactrians. Alexander, now in control of the region, stayed there. At this time, one of the satraps of Darius, concocted a plot, and having presented himself to Alexander, said: "Lord Alexander, I am a satrap of Darius and hold an important position with him, but I was not honoured by him. So give to me ten thousand soldiers and I will hand over to you our armies and satraps and even Darius himself."

Alexander answered: "Go and help your own kind. For I do not trust you, since you are ready to betray your own people to strangers."

[163] And again another of Darius' satraps risking death came to Alexander and said: "My lord King, I am a satrap of Darius, and I have accomplished great things for him in war, but had no thanks from him; for he did not render me the value of the things I did. Therefore, give me 10,000 soldiers from your armies; with them and my soldiers, I shall attack his armies and hand the king of the Persians over to you." Alexander replied: "I am grateful for that. Go and help your own king; for I would not entrust strangers to you who have betrayed your own people."

Now the satraps from those regions wrote to Darius: "Hydaspes and Spinther salute divine and mighty Darius. We formerly gave you early news of the expedition of Alexander and now we report early that he has arrived in the region and is ravaging the country and has killed many of us. We ourselves are in great danger. Make haste to come in force to anticipate his arrival. For the Macedonian army is clearly powerful. Come."

[164] And they who were the satraps in those regions wrote to Darius in this fashion: "To you, our King Darius, Vštasp and Spandiatar greet their lord. Earlier, too, we disclosed to you Alexander's incursion upon our people; we now again notify you that he has come to this region, has seized our land, and slain very many Persians. And we stand to perish in the peril of death. So rush immediately with many troops to reach us before he does. And do not let him get near you, for the Macedonian army is most powerful and more numerous than ours. Farewell, our lord."

Darius, on receiving the letter and reading it, wrote to Alexander: "Darius speaks to Alexander. You wrote me an arrogant letter in which you demanded that I meet you. Not so will you (?) cast your anchor, that the gods of the east shall go to dwell in the west. I bear witness to how you treated me. For I presume that my mother has departed to the gods and you did not possess my wife. However, I shall not desist from punishing your insolence. Word came to me that you were treating my family with reverence. If verily you act justly, even in regard to my affairs . . . (?) bestowing divine honours on my own, well and good. It is possible that you are sparing the others in my family and are ill-treating and dishonouring them as children of war. If you treat them well, you will not find me a friend nor, if you treat them unjustly, will you find me an enemy. For it is all the same to me. So reveal to me your final answer that I may be informed."

[165] When Darius received this and read it, he sent Alexander a letter of this sort: "King Darius makes this announcement to Alexander. You have written me an arrogant letter whereby you ask us to meet you. Behold, have I not passed Ankoura to bring the gods of the Orient to dwell where the sun sets? And I bear witness before the gods to the things you have brought upon me. For I shall consider my mother gone to the gods, that I do not have a wife, and that the children do not exist at all. Still, I shall not cease petitioning my enemy. For it was written to me that you were kind to my family; and if you would do a further act of righteousness and defend my interests, you would be willing also to come to me, and in that way offer godly honours to my family. You have the jurisdiction hereafter not to protect my family but instead to torture them as children of the enemy. For by doing them kindness you shall not be able to make me a friend, nor by doing evil, an enemy; for I reckon both as one. Now give me your final answer, so that we might know the value of our kindness."

When Alexander read the letter, he smiled and wrote in answer:

"King Alexander sends greetings to King Darius. Your foolish, senseless talk and vain madness the gods have hated to the end. Will you not ever cease raving? For not through fear did I honour your family, and not in the hope that you would come did I flatter you, that arriving you might bless me. Do not come. Was not my crown as worthy as yours? For (?) nowhere is there greater reverence for all than in me and I have pitied your family who have fallen from heaven to earth. This is my last letter to you. It was far easier for me to fight you than to approach you."

[166] And upon reading this, Alexander smiled broadly and wrote this answer in return: "Alexander, the king of kings, greets King Darius. The gods shall censure to the very end your empty pride, your garrulousness, and your inane and futile chatter, for you never cease blaspheming and entertaining vain thoughts. Be aware, now, that I did not honour your family out of fear; and I was not tender to them in the hope of coming to a reconciliation, so that, when I came to you, you would he grateful to us. For my crown is not of less value than yours. Nevertheless, my piety is not for everybody but for your family especially, since I call them those who have fallen from heaven to earth. Now I am writing you a final letter. I have decided to act otherwise toward you than with love and friendship."

[11] G   When he had sent the letter, he was ready for war. He wrote a circular letter to the satraps under him: "I, King Alexander, send greetings to the satraps under me, the satraps of Syria and Cilicia and Cappadocia and Paphlagonia and Arabia, and to the other nations. I wish you to prepare tunics by thousands and send them to Antioch in Syria. And if any four-footed animals die, let their hides be sent on to Antioch that the soldiers may be equipped with leg-armour and shoes. And when the requisitioned armour is ready (?) the number of which was specified, a hundred for each, send (?) them on. For camels have been assigned to go from the Euphrates river to Antioch, to meet every need. Farewell."

[167] And when Alexander had answered him, he prepared for war. And he wrote an edict to the satraps under him, which went thus: "I, King Sk'andar, who am also Alexander, greet the satraps who are subject to me, those of the Phrygians, Gamrians, Cilicians, Arabs, and of the other nations. I want you to prepare tunics for big men and send them to the Assyrian city of Antioch. And send the skins of however many four-legged animals that die also to the Assyrian city of Antioch so that the soldiers may find the wherewithal to produce their needs of leg armour and shoes and weapon cases, of which each of you knows the number. Do this and forward those things to Antioch. For 3,000 camels have been readied for service from the Aracani river to Antioch. And we have also ordered that the 3,000 camels which are in Antioch be assembled, some to transport materials into town and others to take them away and thus give uninterrupted service. And they shall be ready. Farewell."

Now a satrap also wrote to Darius about what was happening:

"(?) Hoimetades sends greetings to divine Darius. I am cautious about writing such things to you, but I am compelled by the facts. For I myself have been wounded and two nobles died. Comarxes on account of his wounds has shut himself up in his own quarters. Nanias and the nobles under him have gone over to Alexander having taken revenue and they have handed over royal domains with the concubines on them and Olympias, the sister of Mithridates . . . and they have scorched the countrryside."

[168] And Darius' satrap wrote him thus about the situation at hand: "To Darius, my lord, greetings from Notareses. I am afraid to write this sort of thing to you, but I am compelled to do so by the present happenings. Be informed, my lord, that Kosares has been wounded and two great nobles have died. After Kosares was wounded, he went to his tent, and the enemy took whatever was useful to them. And Annias and whatever nobles were under his command have gone on over to Alexander. They set fire to the royal domains and took with them those who were concubines there. They slew the sister of Mithridates and have put fire to the land."

When he learned these facts, Darius wrote to the nearest satrap (?) Pengalos to be on the alert and prepare an encampment. He wrote also to the neighbouring kings: "As we are about to face sweat and blood, you too must contend against the Macedonian race, whom I do not intend to favour on account of what they have dared." He commanded also those dwelling near Cobarzes to get on the march and advance.

[169] When Darius heard this, he wrote also to the Pitaki, who were nearby satraps, to get prepared and come forth from there. And he wrote to those who were kings nearby to the effect that "We are prepared to wipe away our sweat and pit ourselves against the Macedonians. I do not intend to greet them graciously for the things they have dared to do. And I have ordered those who are in Kov to move forward." He said, "I do not think that there will be an end to these doings for a long time." And he wrote King Poros a letter begging him to bring up aid and notifying him that he was surrounded and hemmed in by fighting.

[12] G   He wrote too to Porus, begging aid. Porus on receiving his letter replied:

"Porus, king of the Indians, sends greetings to Darius, king of the Persians. I have read your letter and am grieved at your predicament. I am taking thought (?) about your troubles - but the illness I am suffering hinders me. Continue your friendship for me because I find this insolence intolerable. And write me your wishes. For all the forces under me will be at your disposal and the neighbouring tribes will obey you."

[170] Poros received and read his letter and wrote him in return a letter which said: "Poros, king of the Indians, greets you, Darius, king of the Persians. I was deeply saddened by reading your letter. Even if I wanted to come to you and to think about helping you, I am prevented from doing so by a chronic bodily infirmity. But now be of good cheer, for this enemy cannot stay and resist all of us. Write us what you want, for all my forces are at your service and distant nations shall heed and obey you."

On learning the situation, the mother of Darius sent him secretly this letter:

"Rhodogunē his mother greets her son Darius. I have heard that you are assembling an army and are wishing to engage in another battle with Alexander. Do not harass and shatter the inhabited world. For the future is uncertain. Give us hope for a better state of affairs. And do not, using violence, lose your life in a doubtful conflict. We are honoured by Alexander and he has not destroyed us as children of war. So I trust that you will achieve good relations."

[171] When she learned about all this, Darius' mother sent him secretly a letter of which this is a copy. "Greetings from Rodogoune to my son, Darius. I hear that you have called people together and want to meet Alexander in battle again. Son, do not trouble the earth, for the future is not clear. Let us live in hope of better things, lest, in acting rashly, you be killed. For we still have our honour and great advantages and are not, as the mother of the enemy, treated as a slave. So I hope that Alexander will come to an amicable agreement."

Darius, on reading the letter, wept, remembering his family. At the same time he was tormented in spirit. He had the land of the Bactrians as a bulwark.

[172] And when Darius had read the letter, he secretly wept, remembering his family, and was troubled in spirit. But he considered the land of the Bactrians his bulwark in war.

[13] G   Now Alexander was getting near to Persia so that the walls of the city which were very high were visible to the soldiers. So the resourceful Alexander concocted a plan. He took the flocks grazing there out of their pastures and cutting off the branches of trees fastened them on the backs of the beasts and the herds walked behind the soldiers. The trees, dragging on the ground, raised a considerable amount of dust (?) so the cloud of dust even concealed the clouds of heaven and the Persians conjectured that he was leading on an enormous army.

[173] Now Alexander had taken his army and was travelling to the land of the Persians. The walls of the city were visible in all their height to the Macedonians. Sharp-witted Alexander thought of a plan. Since there were flocks feeding there, he set the grazing animals free. Then he cut branches from trees and tied them on the four-legged animals, and the flocks followed behind the soldiers. And as the trees were being dragged upon the ground, they unsettled the whole surface of the earth which poured skyward; and the dust rose as high as Mount Olympus. Thus the Persians thought that the army was of immense size when they observed the vast magnitude of the air-borne, wind-producing tremors of the storm. For when the onlookers saw from afar the stormy darkness, they were left spiritless. And cowardlike they spread fear among themselves and were bereft of power and strength.

Now when he was only five days away from Persia, he was planning to send a messenger to Darius about when they should have a conference. But in his sleep Alexander beheld Ammon in the guise of Hermes with wand and cloak and Macedonian cap, and he spoke to him: "My son Alexander, when you need help, then I come to advise you. If you send a messenger to Darius, he will betray you. Take my counsel and go as your own messenger, assuming my form. For it is dangerous for a king to be his own messenger, but when a god brings aid, no one will menace you." After hearing this pronouncement, Alexander arose, and happily shared it with his friends. They agreed in advising this course.

[174] And when he had approached to about five days distance from Persia, he drew to one side, and looked for trustworthy messengers to send to Darius to let him know when they might join battle with one another. While he was asleep, Alexander saw Ammon standing near him in the guise of Hermes, wearing his cloak and holding in his hand his caduceus and a staff, and he had a Macedonian cap on his head. He said to him in his dream; "My son, Alexander, I have come to advise you in your hour of need. For whomever you send to Darius as a messenger shall betray you and reveal to him all your clever plans. Risk death yourself, then, and, assuming my appearance as you see it, go to him as your own messenger. It is dangerous for a king to be his own messenger, but when a god helps him, no danger shall ensue." When King Alexander had seen this vision and had gotten this oracle from Ammon in his dream, his heart was bolstered with courage; and he rose to his feet smiling and informed the satraps of the substance of the vision. And they advised him to do what he was shown in his dream.

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[14] G   And so, taking along a high-born satrap called Eumelus and three strong horses, he began his journey and came to the river Strangas. This was frozen from the snows so that it was rough and impassable for animals and wagons. Then after a few days the ice suddenly broke up and there was a stream with a strong current. Alexander, on seeing that it was open, assumed the character which he had seen in his dream and mounting a foal crossed the river alone. For when Eumelos wished to cross with him, in case he should need help, he said: "Stay here, for I have as my helper the giver of the oracle." And with those words he crossed the river, which was a stade wide, and coming out continued his journey. He came to the gates of Persia. The guards there, on seeing the stranger, supposed from his appearance that he was a god, but learned that he was the messenger of Alexander.

{ The Syriac version resumes at this point. }

[6] Then Alexander departed from thence and went to Macedonia {Lacedaemon}. And he came to the border of Persia and encamped by the river Tigris. And Alexander went on an embassy to Darius as far as Babylon.

Darius was on a hill drawing up phalanxes and haranguing the men (?) about the cowardice of the Macedonians. And he, on beholding the marvellous appearance of Darius, for a little time reverenced him as the divine Mithras, (?) believing he had come down from heaven, dressed in the barbarian robes. For his appearance was like the statues, and he had passed his youth, and he bore upon his head a crown. He wore a robe such as men had never seen, a Babylonian cloth of gold thread with gold cords, and sandals of red gold. He carried a sceptre. There were greaves on his legs. And tens of thousands of (?) captains, heralds, and companies, myriads on both sides of him in a circle, protected the person of Darius. The guards now brought Alexander to him. And he, observing his dress, which he had never seen before, asked him who he was. He replied: "I am a messenger of Alexander. I announce to you that I am here as his messenger. So Alexander, present, speaks through me these words: 'You ought to know, King Darius, that a king who moves slowly into battle already reveals to his opponent that he has a weak spirit for warfare. So do not delay, but inform me when you wish to join battle.'" Darius said: "Are you not somehow Alexander? For you speak boldly to me, not as a messenger, but as Alexander himself. But do not alarm me. Now since it is our custom to entertain messengers at a banquet - (by heaven! it is Alexander himself !) - . . . for Alexander himself had a dinner for my letter bearers; and you shall take good care of yourself in my company. " He led him by the right hand into the palace. And Alexander had in his heart the proof that soon after conquering the tyrant he would rule. So he entered the palace of Darius and was straightway announced at the banquet. Darius was reclining on the first couch, and second was the brother of Darius, Oxyathres. Third came Ochus, satrap of the Oxydracae, then next Adulites of Susa and Phraortes. After him, on the other side, Mithridates had his place and Tiridates, first of bowmen, and next Candaules, the dark-skinned, then (?) Menopus, and then the king of the Ethiopians, and very near Polyares, great leader (?) Orniphatus, Hodiones, Carterophotus, Sobarites, Dealcides. And opposite to them there reclined on one couch alone the most noble Macedonian.

And the Persians came and informed king Darius; and when they had spoken, and Darius had seen Alexander, he bowed himself down and did reverence to Alexander, for he imagined him to be the god Mithras, who had descended from heaven and had come to assist the Persians, for his aspect resembled that of the gods ; for the crown of gold that was fastened on his head resembled the rays of the sun, and the robe which he had on was woven with fine gold, and the pieces of armour which were upon his arms were wrought with fair silver, and his sandals were of gold, and his belt was made of pearls and emeralds. And Darius was standing and examining his apparel, and ten thousand horsemen, who formed his body guard, were standing near him. Then Darius asked Alexander, "Who art thou?" Alexander said, "I am the ambassador of Alexander and I have brought a message from him to thee. Thus he says : 'Thou hast delayed to make war on me, and the Macedonians say that because the heart of Darius is timid in battle, therefore he is reluctant (?) to fight.' Now therefore, do not delay but send word to me when thou desirest to come to battle." Then Darius said to him, "Peradventure thou thyself art Alexander, and not an ambassador", for Alexander spoke very boldly, and not gently like an ambassador. Darius said to him, "I am not frightened at thy words. Do thou now, according to the custom of ambassadors, partake of a meal with me, for so did Alexander treat my ambassador." Then Darius reclined upon his couch, and his nobles and princes sat at meat before him. The first was Darius, the second Bar-nôrag his brother, the third Vashingî, the fourth Dôzyâg, the fifth Bâmar, the sixth Zâdmihr, the seventh Vârdâr, the eighth Knî'ar, the ninth . . . the king of the barbarians, the tenth Prôdîs the chief of the host, the eleventh Prîyôz the general, the twelfth Rĕbîthmâs ; and opposite Darius, in the middle, sat Alexander who was the ambassador.

[15] G   The Persians were amazed at the small size of his body, but they did not know that the elixir of divine fortune is contained in a small vial. Now the page-boys were serving more and more liquor in the cups, and when the drink (?) was half through, Alexander thought of something. He hid the cups which he took inside his robe. The pages, noticing it, informed Darius. Then Darius, getting up from his couch, said: "Good sir, why do you conceal these in your robe?" And Alexander said: "Because our Alexander, if he gives a banquet to his officers and body-guard, gives the cups to them and I thought that you too had this custom and I put them in my robe as from my king. And if this is not your custom, take them back." At this, the Persians eyed Alexander with suspicion and amazement. Always an ambiguous story, if it carries conviction, makes the hearers prick up their ears. A long silence followed and a man named Parasanges, who had been a general of Persis, looked searchingly at him. For he knew him by sight when he first went to Pella in Macedonia, sent by Darius to demand tribute money. And he said to himself: "Is not this the one whom they call Alexander? It certainly is. For his voice and his very aspect prove it." So this Parasanges, making sure it was he, leaning over Darius said: "Darius, most great king, this ambassador is Alexander, son of Philip, himself."

[7] And all the people were wondering at him because he was small in stature, but his words were very keen. And when they had eaten, they called for wine in a jar. Every golden cup which they passed to Alexander, he poured the wine upon the ground and placed the vessel in his bosom ; when they saw what he was doing, they told Darius; and Darius, when he heard it, rose from his couch, and came to Alexander and said to him, "O doer of valiant deeds, why dost thou act in this manner, putting all the drinking cups in thy bosom ?" Alexander said, "When my master Alexander makes a feast for his nobles, he gives all the golden drinking cups to them, and I thought that thou wouldst act in the same way; but now, since thou hast not a similar custom, behold the drinking-cups are before thee, command and I will restore thy gold to thee." Then Darius said, "I too command that they leave thy gold to thee." Meanwhile all the Persians were looking at Alexander and marvelling, because his words were mighty and full of knowledge. When then a certain lord, whose name was Pûsâk {Pasarges}, who had once been sent by Darius to Macedonia, on an embassy to Philip, Alexander's father, had carefully scrutinised Alexander, he recognised him, and said to Darius in the Persian language, "O doer of good things, king Darius, give orders that they guard this ambassador most carefully, for he himself is Alexander, and I recognise him by his appearance and know that it is he."

When Alexander perceived that he was recognized and a great uproar arose at the royal banquet, he leaped up with the gold in his robe and dashed out. Outside the palace he saw a fellow on guard with torches in his hands. Seizing these, he brained the man, then leaping upon the horse he rode off. The Persians, wishing to seize the fugitive, were hard in pursuit. But Alexander aided by the god, spurred on the horse as if giving him wings, and he cast the light of the torch ahead and guided the beast. For the night was dark and the pursuers followed in every direction. But Alexander, holding the torch, shone like a star upon his way, and they were thrown down into the ravines.

When Darius and his nobles and princes heard this, they began to speak with one another, and to watch Alexander closely. Then Alexander perceived this, and rose up from the banqueting hall, and sprang towards the king's gate, with all the vessels of gold, which he had in his bosom; and at the king's gate he found a sentinel, holding in his hand a flaming torch of cedar-wood, and he slew him and took it from him. And he mounted a horse and dug his heels into its flanks, at the same time holding the blazing torch of cedar-wood before its eyes; and the horse by the light of the fire galloped furiously down the road and came to the bank of a river. Then messengers went out after him in haste, but the greater part of them fell into pits and holes because of the darkness of the night. Now Alexander by the might of the gods crossed the river, but when he had reached the other side and the fore feet of the horse rested on dry land, the water which had been frozen over suddenly melted, and the hind legs of the horse went down into the river. Alexander however leaped from the horse to land, and the horse was drowned in the river. When the messengers came to the bank of the river and saw that Alexander had crossed over, while they were unable to pass over after him, they marvelled and said one to another, "Great is Alexander's luck, which has given him a passage over so great a river and he has been able to cross it."

Darius remained sitting on his couch. And suddenly he saw a significant omen. For an image of Xerxes, which Darius cherished, fell down, and the roof cracked. The Macedonian went on, and weary came to the river Strangas. Then in fording it, while the horse was stretching his forefeet towards land, the river receded and the horse was borne off by the current, but he threw Alexander on the shore and he got out on dry land. The Persians, coming to the river Strangas, realized that he had crossed, and not being able to do so, they went back from the region. For the river is not navigable. They reported to Darius Alexander's good fortune. Alexander, after escaping from the water and the pursuit, walked a short distance and found Eumelus, his comrade in arms, sick with anxiety, and told him what had happened.

And when they returned, they came to Darius and informed him of Alexander's escape and of his crossing the river. Darius was in great trouble, and a sign suddenly appeared to him; for the picture of king Xerxes, whom Darius loved, was painted on the wall of the banqueting room, and suddenly it peeled off from the wall and fell to the ground under the very eyes of Darius. After Alexander had crossed the river, he rested from his running and from his toil, and getting on his feet, he walked on; and in the darkness of the night he saw Âmôrôs {Eumelus} the general standing by himself, in great trouble because of Alexander and weeping. Then Alexander told Âmôrôs all the things which had befallen him.

[16] G   So, taking command again, at dawn he assembled the army and took his place in the centre like Zeus, dividing the gods of heaven. And he counted them because of the Persian force which he had seen, and on counting all his men he found they numbered 120,000. Now the number was much too small, but, as he was stout-hearted, he took courage. And, going up on a certain hill, he encouraged the army with this speech:

"Comrades and friends, I know that our force is small, but let us not despair over this. For one of you by his bravery will master more than a hundred since the enemy are somehow dullards. For, just so, many thousands of flies darken the air. But when the wasps attack them, they drive them fluttering away. Great numbers are nothing but numbers. For, when wasps arrive they are nought."

[8] And then he took him and went to the army, and commanded the whole army to be gathered to one place, and he himself stood in the midst of them. And when he saw that his army was despised in the sight of Darius, he said to himself, "O heavenly Zeus, give victory to this small band of Macedonians;" and when he had counted them, the army of Macedonians consisted of a hundred and thirty thousand, besides the rest of the peoples that were with him ; and they were all skilful and brave. Then Alexander went up to a high place and said to his troops: "My fellow-soldiers and friends, I know that our army is small, but it is not right for us to be afraid on this account, for one man of us through his bravery is better than a hundred of them. The bees that make honey are very numerous, and whithersoever they fly they darken the air by their flight, but when a little smoke comes near them, they all flee away and are dispersed. Now the army of Darius is like nothing but a swarm of bees; therefore fear them not." And when Alexander had spoken thus to his troops, he inspired them with courage and stirred them up and incited them to fight.

When the king made this speech, all cheered. Then, after traversing many plains and paths, he assembled his force on the banks of the Strangas. Darius, when he perceived that the army of Alexander was very small, jeered at it as if it were nothing. And, finding the river frozen over, he crossed wishing to engage the soldiers of Alexander, and he sent heralds to challenge him to battle. Now the army of Darius was enormous and it was equipped with scythe-bearing chariots,   for many satraps had mounted chariots; and others were bringing up quantities of weapons which were ingenious and served all purposes.   And Alexander, mounted on his horse Bucephalus, led his troops. No one could compare with him on account of his divine aspect. Now when the war trumpet sounded on each side, a great crowd surged together amid the shouts of the soldiers. With ardour they rushed to the conflict. Some hurled rocks. Others filled the air with weapons. Still others were wounded by swords. Many died. A great groaning arose. Some were slaughtered, others lay half dead. And when many Persians were fatally wounded, Darius turned the horses of his chariot and the whole army of the Persians turned their chariots to flight. And when many scythe-bearing chariots were reversed, the foot-soldiers were mowed down like grain by a plough. Then Darius coming to the river Strangas got over himself, for he found it still frozen. But, when the rest of his army came to cross it, the current sucked them under and destroyed all. And those who were not among the vanguard crossing the river were killed by the Macedonians.

[9] And he departed from thence and came to the river Estrakînôs {Strangas}. Then Darius encouraged his troops, saying, "Fear not, though ye be very few in number;" and Darius was troubled on account of the smallness of his army. And when he found that the river was frozen, he crossed the river and commanded the heralds to cry with a loud voice and to invite the Macedonians to battle. Now the troops of the Persian phalanx were without number and were prepared for war with weapons of all sorts and with chariots and with long scythes. Then Alexander clad in armour came at the head of the Macedonians, and he was riding upon the horse called Bucephalus, which no man dared to approach, for the power of the gods was upon him. Then from the camps of both sides the horns and trumpets sounded the fearful blasts of war, and the two armies closed with one another. And from the second to the fifth hour the fight was so fierce that the whole river side and the valley and the ravines were filled with the corpses and blood of the slain. Now although such was the case, the troops of the Greeks did not turn their faces from the fight And when Darius saw that a great number of the mighty men of his army were dead, and that the Macedonians did not turn their faces from the battle, fear fell upon his heart, and he turned the reins of the horses of his chariot, and the whole host of warriors turned back after him. Then Alexander's foot soldiers armed with long scythes pursued them and mowed them down like corn in the field. And Darius being languished came to a certain river, and finding it frozen, he himself crossed over it in his chariot ; but when the army of Darius came to the bank of the river, the troops began to cross over it, and suddenly the ice of the river melted under them, and the army was drowned in the river, and those that remained upon the other side of the river were slaughtered by the Macedonians.

And Darius entered his palace as a fugitive and threw himself on the floor, groaning and weeping because he had destroyed a great army of men and had depopulated all Persia. And he said:

"What star in heaven cast a baleful light on the Persian palace that Darius, who had conquered so many cities and nations and enslaved islands, Darius whose power rose with the sun, is now in truth a fugitive?
  No man foresees the future certainly,
  For Fortune, if she takes a sudden turn,
  Exalts the lowly far above the clouds,
  Or casts the mighty down into the dark."

Then Darius went into his palace, and threw himself upon his face on the ground, and began to weep for the army of the country, for all the warriors of the country were dead and had perished, and for the land which had been emptied of its mighty men ; and he began to say:

"Woe is me, which of the stars is it that has destroyed the kingdom of the Persians? I, Darius, who subdued many lands and cities and nations, and reduced a multitude of islands and towns to slavery, have now entered my palace in flight and discomfiture. I who with the sun traversed the world - but in brief; it is not right for a man to rely upon his destiny, for if his luck turn and there be an opportunity, it lifts up and exalts the most despised of men and seats him above the clouds, while it brings down the lofty from his height and casts him into the depths."

{ Greek & Armenian versions }


{ Syriac version }

[17] G   So Darius lay alone. Then, rising up and being himself again, he composed a letter and sent it to Alexander: "I, King Darius, send greetings to Alexander, my master. First, remember that you were born a mortal. This is a sufficient warning against pride. For Xerxes, who showed the light to me, became arrogant and ambitious beyond all men, and though he had a great love for Hellas, he was insatiable for gold and other possessions. Now what is left? Gold, or jewels, or statues, which you yourself saw in our palace? But think on Fortune and pity us, suppliants at your feet. In the name of Zeus, god of suppliants, and the other great deity, the Maid from Persia who rules us, give back my mother and wife and children. And, in return for them, I promise to show you the treasures in the Minyada land and Susa and Bactra, which our fathers accumulated in the land. And I promise to you the lordship of the country of the Persians and the Medes and the other peoples for all time. May Zeus make you great! Farewell."

And when he had said this, he rose up from his palace and collected his thoughts, and composed a letter to Alexander and wrote to him thus: "From Darius the king to my lord Alexander. Know first of all that thou art born a man; and I will give thee this token that even thou mayest not meditate anything too great for thee. Because even the mighty Xerxes, who showed me the light,- he whom the Greeks so loved, as thou must have heard,- meditated something too high for him, and afterwards, having given his mind to greediness, he who lacked nothing, neither gold nor pearls, nor precious stones nor statues of brass, when his good luck left him, returned from Hellas defeated. And now, call thou these things to mind, and be gracious to us and have mercy upon us, for we have now fled to thee for refuge. Behold now my mother and my wife and my daughter, those who have been given to me by the gods as a joy from the god of gods ; they were famed and honoured throughout the whole world ; do thou take them as thy slaves. And I will show thee the treasures which my ancestors laid up from the beginning upon the earth. And I will entreat the gods that henceforth thou mayest be master over the Palhâyê {Parthians}, and the Persians, and the rest of the nations of the world, all the days of thy life; because Zeus hath exalted thee. Farewell."

When Alexander read this letter, he decided to muster his forces and hold an assembly. And he deliberated with them. Then Parmenion, the general, said: "Alexander, I would have taken the gold and the land surrendered and given back to him his mother and the children." Alexander replied:

"And I, if I were Parmenion, would have taken the loot. But I am amazed that Darius will ransom his mother, wife, and children with my possessions; nay, more, that he promises to give me my land! He clearly does not know that unless he conquers in battle, these are my property. If then, defeated, he surrenders to me, let him not offer me my own possessions. If he conquers in battle, he has no argument with us about his wife, or mother, or children, but we have with him about ours. I would not have marched through all Asia, if I had not understood that the country belonged to us. For I would have sinned in seizing the property of others. And if he ruled here before, let him count it gain because, holding the land of others, he suffered no requital for so long." He ordered the Persians to announce these decisions to Darius. He himself gave orders that the wounded should be cared for and the dead be buried there. Then he tarried through the severe winter, made sacrifices to the gods of the country, and ordered that the palace of Xerxes, the most beautiful in the land, should be burned. But after a little, on second thought, he ordered that the fire be put out.

And when Alexander had read this letter, he gave orders to assemble the troops that they might consider the matter together. And when they were gathered together, Plîmthiôn {Parmenion} the general said: "O king, if we receive the treasures and possessions and land which have been wrested from us, we must deliver up to him his mother and wife and daughter. But Darius ought to have sent this message before the battle. I know this, if he had been victor in this struggle, he would not only have asked for his mother and wife and daughter, but would have taken away our land from us. And know, O king, that Darius offended us first and took our land from us ; and now it is right and just and lawful if we avenge ourselves on Darius, who seized a land which did not belong to him, and has held it until now. We know also, O king, that thou earnest forth from thy country to seek thine own dominions. Had he restored to us our land, thou, O king, would never have come hither." Then Alexander said, "The matter is exactly as thou hast said," and he straightway gave orders to attend to those who had been smitten and wounded in the battle, and to bury the dead He bade them also to offer sacrifices to the gods of the land, and to burn the palace of Xerxes, the like of which for beauty and magnificence existed not in the whole country; but after a short time Alexander repented and gave orders to extinguish the fire in the palace of Xerxes.

[18] G   He marvelled also at the tombs of the Persians in which there were many golden objects and silver mixing-bowls. The tomb of Cyrus must be described. It was a tower of stone ten stories high, and on the upper story he lay on a golden bier, and it had a glass case so that his hair was visible, indeed his whole person. There he saw Greek artisans who were mutilated, some with feet cut off, some with noses, some with ears, and they were chained with fetters. They came to Alexander in a group and petitioned him to save them. It was a terrible sight, - mutilated Greek men. On seeing them, Alexander wept and was overcome with emotion. He ordered that each be given one thousand drachmas and be sent back to his native land. They accepted the silver, but they deliberated about remaining there. And, going to Alexander, they begged him not to send them away, but to give them land. "For" (they said) "we are a shame to the people at home." So Alexander ordered that land should be allotted to them and grain for planting and six cattle to each, and the rest of the necessities for farming, and other possessions.

[10] And he saw there many graves of the Persians with vessels of gold and cups of silver in which wine was mingled. He saw also the grave of king Pâkôr, which was built with stones and lime in the form of a tower and had no roof and there was a large chamber made in it, and over the chamber was an upper room ; and in that upper room was a golden coffin, in which was laid the body of king Cyrus {Kôresh}, and a slab of crystal was cast so as to fit it exactly, and the hair and the body of Cyrus were seen through the crystal. Now in this tower certain Greek artisans were imprisoned, some with their hands or ears cut off and some with their noses slit, and their feet were bound with fetters. When the Macedonians had gone to that building, those who were imprisoned therein cried out in the Greek tongue to Alexander, "Have mercy upon us, and take pity on thy servants and thy countrymen." And when Alexander saw that their limbs were mutilated and their appearance was horrible, he let the tears fall from his eyes and was very grieved for them, and bade them to be loosed from their fetters. He gave orders too that a thousand zûzê should be given to each one of them with meat and food, and that they should return to their own country. But after they had received the zûzê from the king, they begged as a favour that land and water might be given them, and that they might not return to their own country, lest, by reason of the defects of their bodies, they should become a reproach and a disgrace to their brethren. Then Alexander ordered that the best and most excellent of land and water should be given to them, and that to each man should be given six working oxen together with other property.

[19] G   Now again Darius was preparing for another encounter. And he wrote the following letter to Porus: "Darius, King of kings, sends greetings to King Porus. I write to grieve with you over the catastrophe that has fallen on my house. Because the invading enemy has the heart of a wild beast and the spirit of the sea, he is unwilling to send back my mother, my wife, and my children. In negotiations, he was not persuaded by the offer of my possessions. So I am forced to enter into another conflict and fight until I punish his people, or I myself am no longer in the world. Therefore pity my plight, become wroth and avenge the insult to me, remembering our righteous forefathers. Assemble many peoples and arrive at the Caspian Gates. To those who come I will give monthly pay: to each able man three pieces of gold, and to each horseman five pieces of gold and food and fodder and all the necessities. And of the spoils taken I will send half to you. I will honour you also with the horse Bucephalus and the royal estates and the hundred and eight concubines with their own wealth. Pray, on receiving this letter, make haste   to advise the nations around you to go assemble at the place and time we appointed."

[11] After these things Darius made ready for war, and he wrote a letter to Porus, the king of the Indians. " From Darius the king of kings to Porus the king of the Indians, greeting. I have written letters to thee before, asking for assistance in the ruin of my house, because the savageness and fury of this evil beast, which is come against me, do not, as it seems to me, resemble man's ; it casts itself into the sea, and loves battle by water, and does not wish to give back to me my mother and my wife and my daughter, neither does he desire to make peace with me in any way whatsoever. Therefore I have no resource but of necessity am bound to fight with him. Now thus will I do ; either I will take his country from him, or I myself will no longer go about among the living in this world. Have pity then upon me at this time, and avenge me that am despised. Remember too the mutual love and friendship, and confidence which existed between our fathers, and give orders to gather together troops from every place and bring them with thee to the Caspian gates, which are called Vîrôphhâgâr ; and I will give to every single man of those who come to my assistance every month three horses and six darics and corn and straw and hay and whatever food he requires ; and to thee will I give the half of whatever spoil and booty they make. I will give to thee too the horse called Bucephalus upon which Alexander rides; and I will give thee the royal lands together with his royal palace and one hundred and seventy concubines with their ornaments and trinkets and clothing."

Alexander, on being informed of this by one of the fugitives from Darius, took his army and marched into Media. For he heard that Darius was in Ecbatana. Alexander did not expect to be king of Asia unless he overthrew the fame of Darius. Then came the news that Darius had fled to the Caspian Gates. He made a forced march because he was informed that Darius was near. Since Bagistanes, the eunuch, who had fled to him, gave him always true information, he made the march with good courage.

Then the report of this reached Alexander, and he straightway armed his troops and set out from thence, and went forth to the country of the Parthians. And when Darius heard that Alexander was come from the place which was called Betmĕthâ, he arose and wished to flee before Alexander; and when Alexander heard this, he pursued after him quickly.

[20] G   Now when the satraps of Darius, Bessus and Ariobarzanes, knew Alexander was near, they turned traitors and plotted to kill Darius, expecting to receive a reward from Alexander for killing his enemy. So they approached Darius, swords in hands. Darius, seeing his foes, said:

"My masters, formerly my slaves, what great wrong have I done you that you should kill me? Do not think me worse than Alexander. Let me be carried to the palace, now that I am overthrown.
  For I would fain lament my cruel fate.
  King Alexander, when he enters there,
  And finds a king slain by a dastard plot,
  Will vengeance take. For only just it is
  That king should pity king, so foully slain."

[12] And when he was come nigh, the nobles of Darius acted treacherously, and Bâgîz and Ânâbdêh, Darius's generals wished to slay him that they might receive gifts from Alexander, as from a man whose enemy they had slain. Then with drawn swords they rushed upon Darius, and Darius knew their treachery and answered and said to them: "My lords, who previously were my servants, in what have I offended you that ye wish to slay me ? Do not do to me anything worse than what the Macedonians have done to me, and let not your hands be against me like those of Alexander. See too that I am perpetually in tears and in great trouble ; my fortune is evil and treacherous. Peradventure, if ye slay me, and Alexander comes and finds a king shun by the treachery of his troops, he will take fierce vengeance upon you ; for it is not right that a king should see a fellow king treacherously slain by his troops and should overlook it and not avenge his cause."

So Darius met his foes. And, since he fought them off with his hands, the blows of the sword were not fatal, but badly aimed.   He held Besos on the ground with his left hand, and struck his left knee into his backbone and crushed it backwards. And he warded off Arivartan with his right hand so that he could not slash him with his sword.   The Macedonians, finding the river Strangas frozen, crossed it. And Alexander arrived at the palace of Darius. The conspirators, on learning of his approach, left Darius half dead and disappeared until they should learn what attitude Alexander took towards them. So Alexander found Darius dying, and, standing over him, he wept and he threw his own robe over his body.
  Then placing his hands upon his breast,
  In sympathy he raised for him a dirge:
  "Arise, arise, Darius, from your fate
  And now again be master of yourself.
  Put on the crown of all the Persian world.
  Maintain the greatness of your sovereign fame.
  I swear, Darius, by the great gods all,
  That I speak truthfully and without guile.
  To you alone I proffer the crown of power,
  For with you once I shared a common meal.
  A guest was I at both your hearth and board.
  As Alexander's messenger I came.
  Arise, I pray: resume the rule of the land.
  A king must not to fortune ill succumb.
  Alike on all men falls the blow of fate.
  But speak, Darius: who thus wounded you?
  Name them that I may be avenger just."

When Darius had spoken these words, Bâgîz and Ânâbdêh stabbed him with their swords, driving them right through his back, and Darius fell to the ground. When the army of the Macedonians came up, Alexander commanded them to halt, and he went up to Darius alone. And when Bâgîz and Ânâbdêh saw Alexander at a distance, they left Darius their lord half dead, and fled, that they might see how pleased Alexander would be by reason of the death of Darius. But when Alexander came up to Darius, and saw that he had been mercilessly stabbed and was lying on the ground, he let fall tears from his eyes upon Darius, and spread over Darius the purple garment with which he was clothed, and sat down by him, and laid his hand upon the breast of Darius, and said to Darius sorrowfully : "Rise up, Darius : be lord again over thy land, and take the royal crown of the Persians, and be again renowned for greatness. I swear an oath by all the gods that I say this in sincerity and do not speak falsely; I will restore and give to thee alone the crown and kingship, because I ate salt at thy table when I came to thee as a spy. And now stand up and play the man ; for it does not become a king to be in trouble because his luck turns away from him for a little while. We are all men, and are yoked to fate, and as fate wills so it exalts us. Arise now, and play the man, and take thy country, and henceforth thou shalt have no trouble or sorrow through me. Say then now, who these are that stabbed thee, and I will take vengeance for thee upon them."

When Alexander said this, Darius groaned and drawing Alexander to him and, kissing his hands and chest, he chanted:
  "Young Alexander, never yield to pride.
  For when you have achieved a godlike deed,
  And with your hands you seem to clutch high heaven,
  Then think on the future. Fortune does not know
  Either king, or bandit, or the populace,
  But all she overthrows impartially.
  See what I was and what I have become.
  I who but lately ruled a mighty land
  Now die, no longer master of myself.
  With reverent hands, I pray, now bury me.
  Let Macedonians and Persians serve,
  Darius have one family at his end.
See now and be prepared to protect yourself from your own people, lest you suffer harm from the Macedonians as I do now from the Persians.
  Bravely I give my mother to your care.
  Pity my wife as though she were your kin.
  Roxane, my daughter, I bestow on you,
  That, if the dead have knowledge of this earth,
  Two parents for their children may rejoice,
  Philip for you, Darius for Roxane.
Honour my sister, Gagipharta, and consider her your own sister and respect my brother, Oxydarkes, as a true king, so that the Macedonians do not trample on him. And take care of the other children as befits your sagacity and genius."

When he had uttered these words, Darius breathed his last in Alexander's arms.

When Alexander had spoken all these words, Darius heaved sighs and let fall tears from his eyes, and took Alexanders hand from his breast and brought it to his mouth and kissed it, and said to him : "My son Alexander, never let thy mind be lifted up by vainglorious arrogance ; for thou doest and performest and orderest all deeds and works and orderings like the gods, and thou mayest imagine in thy mind that thy hands have reached heaven. Then it will be necessary for thee to fear what may happen in the hereafter. Because of this it is certain to me that fate is known neither to the king nor to the meanest among men, and that the final destiny of men is hidden and concealed from all. Look now what I was, and what I am : I who proudly subdued and captured countries and lords and many kings of the earth trembled at me ; and now I am cast away like the lowest of all men. And of all the host of my generals and officers and ambassadors, not one is near me now to close my eyes, except these hands of thine, O king, doer of good things. Let the Macedonians and Persians sit in mourning for me, and let the two armies become one, and let the seed of Philip and Darius be one. And as for Ariôdocht {Îrândokht} my mother, regard her now as if thou thyself wert born of her, and consider my wife as thy sister, and take my daughter Rôshnâk {Roxane} for thy wife, that the seed of Darius and of Philip may be mingled in her." Then Alexander brought his hand to the face of Darius, who said, "Into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and straightway his soul departed.

Following chapters (21-40) →

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