previous next

A truce was concluded on these terms, and the queen, impressed by Alexander's generosity, sent him valuable gifts and promised to follow his orders in everything.2

The mercenaries straightway under the terms of the truce left the city and encamped without interference at a distance of eighty furlongs, without an inkling of what would happen.3 [2] Alexander, nevertheless, nursed an implacable hostility toward them; he held his forces in readiness, followed them, and falling upon them suddenly wrought a great slaughter. At first they kept shouting that this attack was in contravention of the treaty and they called to witness the gods against whom he had transgressed. Alexander shouted back that he had granted them the right to leave the city but not that of being friends of the Macedonians forever. [3]

Not daunted at the greatness of their danger, the mercenaries joined ranks and, forming a full circle, placed their children and women in the centre so that they might effectively face those who were attacking from all directions. Filled with desperate courage and fighting stoutly with native toughness and the experience of previous contests, they were opposed by Macedonians anxious not to show themselves inferior to barbarians in fighting ability, so that the battle was a scene of horror. [4] They fought hand to hand, and as the contestants engaged each other every form of death and wounds was to be seen. The Macedonians thrust with their long spears through the light shields of the mercenaries and pressed the iron points on into their lungs, while they in turn flung their javelins into the close ranks of their enemies and could not miss the mark, so near was the target. [5]

As many were wounded and not a few killed, the women caught up the weapons of the fallen and fought beside their men, since the acuteness of the danger and the fierceness of the action forced them to be brave beyond their nature. Some of them, clad in armour, sheltered behind the same shields as their husbands, while others rushed in without armour, grasped the opposing shields, and hindered their use by the enemy. [6] Finally, fighting women and all, they were overborne by numbers and cut down, winning a glorious death in preference to basely saving their lives at any cost. Alexander removed the feeble and unarmed together with the surviving women to another place, and put the cavalry in charge of them.

1 327/6 B.C.

2 The end of Diodorus's year 328/7 and the beginning of 327/6 B.C. have been lost in a long break in the manuscript from which our text derives; it is now the autumn of 327. The Scythian, Bactrian, and Sogdian campaigns are over, with such familiar incidents as the quarrel with Cleitus, the arrest of Callisthenes in connection with the introduction of proscynesis and the Pages' Conspiracy, and the marriage with Roxane (cp. the subject headings in the Table of Contents). Alexander is on his way down the Cabul valley toward India. In the city of Mazagae (Curtius 8.10.22) or Massaga (Arrian. 4.26.1) in the country of the Assacenians (modern Swat) he captured the beautiful queen Cleophis and reinstated her in her kingdom. The more romantic say that he had a son by her (Curtius 8.10.22-36; Justin 12.7.9-11).

3 These mercenaries had been in the service of the Assacenians. Plut. Alexander 59.3-4) agrees with this rather discreditable account of Alexander's treatment of them. Arrian, on the other hand (Arrian. 4.27.3-4), states that Alexander killed them because they were intending to desert. This presents historians with a nice dilemma: was Diodorus's source blackening Alexander's reputation, or was Arrian's whitening it.

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