previous next

At first, the Tyrians sailed up to the mole and mocked the king, asking if he thought that he would get the better of Poseidon.1 Then, as the work proceeded with unexpected rapidity, they voted to transport their children and women and old men to Carthage, assigned the young and able-bodied to the defence of the walls, and made ready for a naval engagement with their eighty triremes. [2] They did succeed in getting a part of their children and women to safety with the Carthaginians,2 but they were outstripped by the abundance of Alexander's labour force, and, not being able to stop his advance with their ships, were compelled to stand the siege with almost their whole population still in the city. [3] They had a wealth of catapults and other engines employed for sieges and they had no difficulty in constructing more because of the engineers and artisans of all sorts who were in the city. [4] All kinds of novel devices were fashioned by them, so that the entire circuit of the walls was covered with machines, especially on that side where the mole was approaching the city.3 [5]

As the Macedonian construction came within range of their missiles, portents were sent by the gods to them in their danger. Out of the sea a tidal wave tossed a sea-monster of incredible size into the midst of the Macedonian operations. It crashed into the mole but did it no harm, remained resting a portion of its body against it for a long time [6] and then swam off into the sea again.4 This strange event threw both sides into superstition, each imagining that the portent signified that Poseidon would come to their aid, for they were swayed by their own interest in the matter. [7]

There were other strange happenings too, calculated to spread confusion and terror among people. At the distribution of rations on the Macedonian side, the broken pieces of bread had a bloody look.5 Someone reported, on the Tyrian side, that he had seen a vision in which Apollo told him that he would leave the city. [8] Everyone suspected that the man had made up the story in order to curry favour with Alexander, and some of the younger citizens set out to stone him; he was, however, spirited away by the magistrates and took refuge in the temple of Heracles, where as a suppliant he escaped the people's wrath, but the Tyrians were so credulous that they tied the image of Apollo to its base with golden cords, preventing, as they thought, the god from leaving the city.6

1 Curtius 4.2.20.

2 Curtius 4.3.20; Justin 11.10.14. Below, in chap. 46.4, Diodorus states that most of these persons were actually removed to safety.

3 Curtius 4.2.12.

4 Curtius 4.4.3-4 places this event a little later in the siege.

5 Curtius 4.2.14. Diodorus omits Alexander's favouring dream of Heracles (Curtius 4.2.17; Arrian. 2.18.1).

6 Curtius 4.3.22; Plut. Alexander 24.3-4.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1989)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (16 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: