When his scouts reported that Dareius was only thirty stades
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.