But to return to Alexander, when he had subdued all the country on this side of the Euphrates, he marched against Dareius,
who was coming down to meet him with a million men. On this march one of his companions told him, as a matter worth laughing at, that the camp-followers, in sport, had divided themselves into two bands, and set a general and commander over each of them, one of whom they called Alexander, and the other Dareius;
and that they had begun by pelting one another with clods of earth, then had fought with their fists, and finally, heated with the desire of battle, had taken to stones and sticks, being now many and hard to quell. When he heard this, Alexander ordered the leaders themselves to fight in single combat; to the one called Alexander he himself gave armour, and to the one called Dareius, Philotas. The army were spectators of the combat, counting the issue as in some measure an omen of the future. After a strenuous battle, the one called Alexander was victorious, and received as a reward twelve villages and the right to wear Persian dress. This, at any rate, is what we are told by Eratosthenes.
Now, the great battle against Dareius was not fought at Arbela, as most writers state, but at Gaugamela.
The word signifies, we are told, ‘camel's house,’ since one of the ancient kings of the country, after escaping from his enemies on a swift camel, gave the animal a home here, assigning certain villages and revenues for its maintenance.
It so happened that in the month Boëdromion the moon suffered an eclipse,
about the beginning of the Mysteries at Athens, and on the eleventh night after the eclipse, the armies being now in sight of one another, Dareius kept his forces under arms, and held a review of them by torch-light; but Alexander, while his Macedonians slept, himself passed the night in front of his tent with his seer Aristander, celebrating certain mysterious sacred rites and sacrificing to the god Fear.
Meanwhile the older of his companions, and particularly Parmenio, when they saw the plain between the Niphates and the Gordyaean mountains all lighted up with the barbarian tires, while an indistinguishably mingled and tumultuous sound of voices arose from their camp as if from a vast ocean,
were astonished at their multitude and argued with one another that it was a great and grievous task to repel such a tide of war by engaging in broad day-light. They therefore waited upon the king when he had finished his sacrifices, and tried to persuade him to attack the enemy by night, and so to cover up with darkness the most fearful aspect of the coming struggle.
But he gave them the celebrated answer, ‘I will not steal my victory’; whereupon some thought that he had made a vainglorious reply, and was jesting in the presence of so great a peril. Others, however, thought that he had confidence in the present situation and estimated the future correctly, not offering Dareius in case of defeat an excuse to pluck up courage again for another attempt, by laying the blame this time upon darkness and night, as he had before upon mountains, defiles, and sea.
For Dareius would not give up the war for lack of arms or men when he could draw from so great a host and so vast a territory, but only when he had lost courage and hope, under the conviction brought by a downright defeat in broad day-light.