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But the Persians resisted bravely and opposed their spirit to the Macedonian valour, as Fortune brought together in one and the same place the finest fighters to dispute the victory. [2] The satrap of Ionia Spithrobates, a Persian by birth and son-in-law of King Dareius, a man of superior courage, hurled himself at the Macedonian lines with a large body of cavalry, and with an array of forty companions, all Royal Relatives1 of outstanding valour, pressed hard on the opposite line and in a fierce attack slew some of his opponents and wounded others. [3] As the force of this attack seemed dangerous, Alexander turned his horse toward the satrap and rode at him.2

To the Persian, it seemed as if this opportunity for a single combat was god-given. He hoped that by his individual gallantry Asia might be relieved of its terrible menace, the renowned daring of Alexander arrested by his own hands, and the glory of the Persians saved from disgrace. He hurled his javelin first at Alexander with so mighty an impulse and so powerful a cast that he pierced Alexander's shield and right epomis and drove through the breastplate.3 [4] The king shook off the weapon as it dangled by his arm, then applying spurs to his horse and employing the favouring momentum of his charge drove his lance squarely into the satrap's chest. [5] At this, adjacent ranks in both armies cried out at the superlative display of prowess. The point, however, snapped off against the breastplate and the broken shaft recoiled, and the Persian drew his sword and drove at Alexander; but the king recovered his grip upon his lance in time to thrust at the man's face and drive the blow home. [6] The Persian fell, but just at this moment, Rhosaces, his brother, galloping up brought his sword down on Alexander's head with such a fearsome blow that it split his helmet and inflicted a slight scalp wound. [7] As Rhosaces aimed another blow at the same break, Cleitus, surnamed the Black, dashed up on his horse and cut off the Persian's arm.

1 This was an honorary title of high nobility in the Persian Empire, as later in the Hellenistic kingdoms.

2 According to Arrian. 1.14.6-7, Alexander opened the battle with a mixed force under Ptolemy the son of Philip, probably the one of the bodyguards who was killed at Halicarnassus. He had light troops including the Scouts under Amyntas the son of Arrhabaeus, a battalion of the phalanx, and a squadron of the Companions. His mission was to open a gap in the Persian line. Then Alexander, as usual, charged with the Companions obliquely towards the Persian centre.

3 If Alexander may be assumed to have carried a shield on his left arm, it would have been possible for the javelin to pass through this and his breastplate and catch in his epomis on the right shoulder (not the shoulder itself, since Alexander was not wounded; Plut. Alexander 16.5), although this would have required a remarkably violent cast, especially since the weapon, dangling from the right arm, must have passed its entire length completely through the shield. This all suggests some exaggeration if not confusion, and it is doubtful if the Macedonian cavalry carried shields; Alexander is shown without one in the mosaic from the House of the Faun in Pompeii, which, of course, pictures the Battle of Issus, and not that at the Granicus (cp. Berve, Alexanderreich, 1.104, n. 4; such pictures as that in Doro Levy, Antioch Mosaic Pavements, 2 (1947), LXIX, c, however, show that cavalry could carry shields; so also Polybius 6.25; but in Arrian. 1.6.5 and 4.23.2, mounted troops carried shields only when they expected to fight on foot). If this shield is the same as the hoplon taken from Ilium and mentioned below, chap. 21.2, it may be that, as Arrian reports (Arrian. 1.11.7-8), it was actually carried before him by an attendant (this does not, of course, make the course of the javelin any more easily explicable). In the mosaic, Alexander wears the chlamys over his breastplate, and fastened with a fibula on his right shoulder.

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