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By the time he heard of his arrival, Dareius had already assembled his forces from all directions and made everything ready for the battle. He had fashioned swords and lances much longer than his earlier types because it was thought that Alexander had had a great advantage in this respect in the battle in Cilicia. He had also constructed two hundred scythe-bearing chariots well designed to astonish and terrify the enemy.1 [2] From each of these there projected out beyond the trace horses scythes three spans long,2 attached to the yoke, and presenting their cutting edges to the front. At the axle housings there were two more scythes pointing straight out with their cutting edges turned to the front like the others, but longer and broader. Curved blades were fitted to the ends of these.3 [3]

All of the force the king adorned with shining armour and with brilliant commanders. As he marched out of Babylon, he had with him eight hundred thousand infantry and no less than two hundred thousand cavalry.4 He kept the Tigris on the right of his route and the Euphrates on the left, and proceeded through a rich country capable of furnishing ample fodder for the animals and food enough for so many soldiers.5 [4] He had in mind to deploy for battle in the vicinity of Nineveh, since the plains there were well suited to his purpose and afforded ample manoeuvre room for the huge forces at his disposal. Pitching camp at a village named Arbela, he drilled his troops daily and made them well disciplined by continued training and practice. He was most concerned lest some confusion should arise in the battle from the numerous peoples assembled who differed in speech.

1 Curtius 4.9.3-5; Arrian. 3.8.6.

2 About twenty-seven inches.

3 Curtius 4.9.5 is a little clearer than Diodorus. He adds that a spear projected forward from the end of the chariot pole and that blades below the chariot reached towards the ground. He also mentions swords projecting from both ends of the yoke, as would be possible in a two-horse chariot. But Diodorus's trace horses would seem to make these impossible.

4 The Persian forces numbered 500,000 according to Justin 11.12.5, 1,000,000 according to Plut. Alexander 31.2, 1,000,000 foot and 40,000 horse according to Arrian. 3.8.6. Curtius gives the totals later (Curtius 4.12.13) and more reasonably: 45,000 horse and 200,000 infantry.

5 In Curtius also (Curtius 4.9.6), Dareius started his march from the left bank of the Euphrates at Babylon and crossed over to the left bank of the Tigris at some unspecified point upstream. Arrian suggests (Arrian. 3.8.3-6) that Dareius's army mustered east of the Tigris, perhaps not far from the actual battlefield.

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