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The kings, however, were still occupied. When he knew that he was decisively defeated, Dareius gave himself up to flight and mounting in turn one after another of his best horses galloped on at top speed, desperately seeking to escape from Alexander's grasp and anxious to reach the safety of the upper satrapies. [2] Alexander followed him with the companion cavalry1 and the best of the other horsemen, eager to get possession of Dareius's person. He continued on for two hundred furlongs and then turned back, returning to his camp about midnight. Having dispelled his weariness in the bath, he turned to relaxation and to dinner. [3]

Someone came to the wife and the mother of Dareius2 and told them that Alexander had come back from the pursuit after stripping Dareius of his arms. At this, a great outcry and lamentation arose among the women; and the rest of the captives, joining in their sorrow at the news, sent up a loud wail, so that the king heard it and sent Leonnatus, one of his Friends, to quiet the uproar and to reassure Sisyngambris3 by explaining that Dareius was still alive and that Alexander would show them the proper consideration. In the morning he would come to address them and to demonstrate his kindness by deeds. [4] As they heard this welcome and altogether unexpected good news, the captive women hailed Alexander as a god and ceased from their wailing. [5]

So at daybreak, the king took with him the most valued of his Friends, Hephaestion, and came to the women. They both were dressed alike, but Hephaestion was taller and more handsome. Sisyngambris took him for the king and did him obeisance. As the others present made signs to her and pointed to Alexander with their hands she was embarrassed by her mistake, but made a new start and did obeisance to Alexander. [6] He, however, cut in and said, "Never mind, Mother. For actually he too is Alexander."4 By thus addressing the aged woman as "Mother," with this kindliest of terms he gave the promise of coming benefactions to those who had been wretched a moment before. Assuring Sisyngambris that she would be his second mother he immediately ratified in action what he had just promised orally.

1 This is the usual term for the Macedonian royal horse guards.

2 Curtius 3.11.24-12.18; Justin 11.9.12-16; Plut. Alexander 21; Arrian. 2.12.3-8. According to the last, Ptolemy and Aristobulus wrote that Alexander sent Leonnatus to the queens, but did not visit them himself; this is the version followed by Plutarch. The personal visit of Alexander and Hephaestion is attributed to another source, not identified.

3 The usual spelling is Sisigambis, as in Curtius 3.3.22.

4 This recalls the proverbial Greek definition of a friend as a "Second Self," ascribed to Zenon in Diogenes Laertius, 7.23. Cp. also Plut. De amicorum multitudine 2.93e.

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