Thereafter Alexander marched on in the direction of Persis and on the fifth day1
came to the
so-called Susian Rocks.2
Here the passage was held by Ariobarzanes with a force of twenty-five thousand
infantry and three hundred cavalry.3
The king first thought to force his way through and advanced
to the pass through narrow defiles in rough country, but without opposition. The Persians
allowed him to proceed along the pass for some distance, but when he was about half-way through
the hard part, they suddenly attacked him and rolled down from above huge boulders, which
falling suddenly upon the massed ranks of the Macedonians killed many of them. Many of the
enemy threw javelins down from the cliffs into the crowd, and did not miss their mark. Still
others coming to close quarters flung stones at the Macedonians who pressed on. The Persians
had a tremendous advantage because of the difficulty of the country, killed many and injured
not a few.
Alexander was quite
helpless to avert the sufferings of his men and seeing that no one of the enemy was killed or
even wounded, while of his own force many were slain and practically all the attacking force
were disabled, he recalled the soldiers from the battle with a trumpet signal.
Withdrawing from the pass for a distance of three hundred furlongs,4
he pitched camp and from the natives sought to learn whether
there was any other route through the hills. All insisted that there was no other way through,
although it was possible to go around them at the cost of several days' travel. It seemed to
Alexander, however, discreditable to abandon his dead and unseemly to ask for them, since this
carried with it the acknowledgement of defeat, so he ordered all his captives to be brought up.
Among these came hopefully a man who was bilingual,5
and knew the Persian language.
He said that he was a Lycian, had been brought there as a captive, and had
pastured goats in these mountains for a number of years. He had come to know the country well
and could lead a force of men over a path concealed by bushes6
and bring them to the rear of
the Persians guarding the pass.
The king promised that he
would load him with gifts,7
and under his
direction Alexander did make his way over the mountain at night struggling through deep
The route crossed a very broken country,
seamed by deep ravines and many gorges.
Coming into sight of
the enemy outposts, he cut down their first line and captured those who were stationed in the
second position, then routed the third line and won the pass, and killed most of the troops of