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At length Alexander saw that the Thebans were still fighting unflinchingly for their freedom, but that his Macedonians were wearying in the battle, and ordered his reserve division to enter the struggle. As this suddenly struck the tired Thebans, it bore heavily against them and killed many. [2] Still the Thebans did not concede the victory, but on the contrary, inspired by the will to win, despised all dangers. They had the courage to shout that the Macedonians now openly confessed to being their inferiors. Under normal circumstances, when an enemy attacks in relays, it is usual for soldiers to fear the fresh strength of the reinforcements, but the Thebans alone then faced their dangers ever more boldly, as the enemy sent against them new troops for those whose strength flagged with weariness. [3]

So the Theban spirit proved unshakable here, but the king took note of a postern gate that had been deserted by its guards and hurried Perdiccas with a large detachment of troops to seize it and penetrate into the city.1 [4] He quickly carried out the order and the Macedonians slipped through the gate into the city, while the Thebans, having worn down the first assault wave of the Macedonians, stoutly faced the second and still had high hopes of victory. When they knew that a section of the city had been taken, however, they began immediately to withdraw within the walls, [5] but in this operation their cavalry galloped along with the infantry into the city and trampled upon and killed many of their own men; they themselves rode into the city in disorder and, encountering a maze of narrow alleys and trenches, lost their footing and fell and were killed by their own weapons. At the same time the Macedonian garrison in the Cadmeia burst out of the citadel, engaged the Thebans, and attacking them in their confusion made a great slaughter among them.2

1 Arrian. 1.8.1, quoting Ptolemy, places this incident at the beginning of the siege, before any other fighting, and says that Perdiccas acted on his own initiative. He may have tried to repeat the manoeuvre at Halicarnassus (chap. 25.5). As later, he was presumably in command of one of the six battalions of the phalanx.

2 Plut. Alexander 11.5.

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), THEBAE
    • Smith's Bio, Perdiccas
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (2):
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 11.5
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 1.8.1
  • Cross-references in general dictionaries to this page (2):
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