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When his scouts reported that Dareius was only thirty stades away1 and advancing in alarming fashion with his forces drawn up for battle, a frightening spectacle, Alexander grasped that this was a god-given opportunity to destroy the Persian power in a single victory. He roused his soldiers with appropriate words for a decisive effort and marshalled the battalions of foot and the squadrons of horse appropriately to the location. He set the cavalry along the front of the whole army, and ordered the infantry phalanx to remain in reserve behind it. [2] He himself advanced at the head of the right wing to the encounter, having with him the best of the mounted troops. The Thessalian horse was on the left, and this was outstanding in bravery and skill. [3] When the armies were within missile range, the Persians launched at Alexander such a shower of missiles that they collided with one another in the air, so thickly did they fly, and weakened the force of their impact. [4] On both sides the trumpeters blew the signal of attack and then the Macedonians first raised an unearthly shout followed by the Persians answering, so that the whole hillside bordering the battlefield echoed back the sound, and this second roar in volume surpassed the Macedonian warcry as five hundred thousand men shouted with one voice.2 [5]

Alexander cast his glance in all directions in his anxiety to see Dareius, and as soon as he had identified him, he drove hard with his cavalry at the king himself, wanting not so much to defeat the Persians as to win the victory with his own hands. [6] By now the rest of the cavalry on both sides was engaged and many were killed as the battle raged indecisively because of the evenly matched fighting qualities of the two sides. The scales inclined now one way, now another, as the lines swayed alternately forward and backward. [7] No javelin cast or sword thrust lacked its effect as the crowded ranks offered a ready target. Many fell with wounds received as they faced the enemy and their fury held to the last breath, so that life failed them sooner than courage.

1 A little less than four miles (Curtius 3.8.23). Of all the historians, Diodorus alone fails to state that Dareius occupied Issus in Alexander's rear, and his narrative is very conventional. Actually, Dareius established a fortified line along the north bank of the river Pinarus, and Alexander was compelled to turn the position by a movement through the hills to the east. Cp. Polybius 12.17-23; Curtius 3.8-11.15; Justin 11.9.1-9; Plut. Alexander 20.1-5; Arrian 2.8-11. The battle was fought in the Attic month Maimacterion, perhaps in November, 333 B.C. (Arrian. 2.11.10), or somewhat earlier (M. J. Fontana, Kokalos, 2 (1956), 47).

2 This is the total Persian strength as given above, chap. 31.2.

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