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Alexander addressed the Macedonians, calling on them to dare no less than he. Fitting out all his ships for fighting, he began a general assault upon the walls by land and sea and this was pressed furiously. He saw that the wall on the side of the naval base was weaker than elsewhere, and brought up to that point his triremes lashed together and supporting his best siege engines. [2] Now he performed a feat of daring which was hardly believable even to those who saw it.1 He flung a bridge across from the wooden tower to the city walls and crossing by it alone gained a footing on the wall, neither concerned for the envy of Fortune nor fearing the menace of the Tyrians. Having as witness of his prowess the great army which had defeated the Persians, he ordered the Macedonians to follow him, and leading the way he slew some of those who came within reach with his spear, and others by a blow of his sabre. He knocked down still others with the rim of his shield, and put an end to the high confidence of the enemy. [3]

Simultaneously in another part of the city the battering ram, put to its work, brought down a considerable stretch of wall; and when the Macedonians entered through this breach and Alexander's party poured over the bridge on to the wall, the city was taken. The Tyrians, however, kept up the resistance with mutual cries of encouragement and blocked the alleys with barricades, so that all except a few were cut down fighting, in number more than seven thousand.2 [4] The king sold the women and children into slavery and crucified all the men of military age.3 These were not less than two thousand. Although most of the non-combatants had been removed to Carthage, those who remained to become captives were found to be more than thirteen thousand.4 [5]

So Tyre had undergone the siege bravely rather than wisely and come into such misfortunes, after a resistance of seven months.5 [6] The king removed the golden chains and fetters from Apollo and gave orders that the god should be called "Apollo Philalexander."6 He carried out magnificent sacrifices to Heracles, rewarded those of his men who had distinguished themselves, and gave a lavish funeral for his own dead. He installed as king of Tyre a man named Ballonymus,7 the story of whose career I cannot omit because it is an example of a quite astonishing reversal of fortune.

1 Curtius 4.4.10-11. Tarn comments (Alexander the Great, 2, p. 120) that this description would fit better the description of a land siege. Arrian's account (Arrian. 2.23.5) is quite different.

2 Curtius 4.4.16 gives the total as 6000, Arrian. 2.24.4 as 8000. Justin 11.10.14 states that Tyre was taken by treachery.

3 Curtius 4.4.17 reports that 2000 men were "crucibus affixi."

4 Arrian. 2.24.5 gives the number of survivors as 30,000, and the Macedonian losses as 400. In chap. 41.2 above, Diodorus stated that only a few of the non-combatants were removed to Carthage.

5 This length of the siege is given by Plutarch also (Plut. Alexander 24.3), and the city was taken in Hecatombacon (July; Arrian. 2.24.6), probably, if the Macedonian months were equated to the Athenian, on the 29th day. Plut. Alexander 25.2 reports that Alexander, to save a prophecy of Aristander, redesignated that day as the 28th and not the 30th. (In other words, it was a "hollow" month and had no 29th day; Alexander intercalated a second 28th and was prepared to continue the process until the city was taken.)

6 Another version of the same story is given by Plut. Alexander 24.4. The Tyrians suspected that Apollo intended to desert them (chap. 41.8), and tied him to his base, calling him an Ἀλεξανδριστής.

7 Presumably the correct form of the name, Abdalonymus, is preserved in Curtius 4.1.15-26 and Justin 11.10.8, and it is a proper Phoenician nomenclature, with the meaning "Servant of the gods." Some have wished to see this king as the owner of the Alexander Sarcophagus from Sidon, now in Istanbul; cp., e.g., I. Kleemann, Der Satrapen-Sarkophag aus Sidon (1958), pp. 28 f. In any case, the mention of King Straton shows that the incident occurred in Sidon, not in Tyre. Plut. De Fortuna aut Virtute Alexandri 2.8.340c-e, locates it in Paphos (rendering the name Aralynomus).

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  • Cross-references to this page (2):
    • A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (1890), CRUX
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CARTHA´GO
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (12):
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 24.3
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 24.4
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 25.2
    • Plutarch, De Alexandri magni fortuna aut virtute, 2
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 2.23.5
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 2.24.4
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 2.24.5
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 2.24.6
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 4.1.15
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 4.4.10
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 4.4.16
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 4.4.17
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