Meanwhile the generals of Dareius had assembled a large force and set it in array at the crossing of the river Granicus, so that it was practically necessary to fight, as it were at the gates of Asia, for entrance and dominion there. But most of the Macedonian officers were afraid of the depth of the river, and of the roughness and unevenness of the farther banks, up which they would have to climb while fighting. Some, too, thought they ought to observe carefully the customary practice in regard to the month
(for in the month of Daesius the kings of Macedonia were not wont to take the field with an army). This objection Alexander removed by bidding them call the month a second Artemisius; and when Parmenio, on the ground that it was too late in the day, objected to their risking the passage, he declared that the Hellespont would blush for shame, if, after having crossed that strait, he should be afraid of the Granicus, and plunged into the stream with thirteen troops of horsemen.
And since he was charging against hostile missiles and precipitous positions covered with infantry and cavalry, and through a stream that swept men off their feet and surged about them, he seemed to be acting like a frenzied and foolish commander rather than a wise one. However, he persisted in his attempt to cross, gained the opposite banks with difficulty and much ado, though they were moist and slippery with mud, and was at once compelled to fight pell-mell and engage his assailants man by man, before his troops who were crossing could form into any order.
For the enemy pressed upon them with loud shouts, and matching horse with horse, plied their lances, and their swords when their lances were shattered. Many rushed upon Alexander, for he was conspicuous by his buckler and by his helmet's crest, on either side of which was fixed a plume of wonderful size and whiteness. But although a javelin pierced the joint of his breastplate, he was not wounded; and when Rhoesaces and Spithridates, two Persian commanders, made at him together, he avoided the one, and smote Rhoesaces, who wore a breastplate, with his spear; and when this weapon snapped in two with the blow, he took to his sword.
Then, while he was thus engaged with Rhoesaces, Spithridates rode up from one side, raised himself up on his horse, and with all his might came down with a barbarian battle-axe upon Alexander's head. Alexander's crest was broken off together with one of its plumes, and his helmet could barely and with difficulty resist the blow, so that the edge of the battle-axe touched the topmost hair of his head. But while Spithridates was raising his arm again for another stroke, Cleitus, ‘Black Cleitus,’ got the start of him and ran him through the body with his spear. At the same time Rhoesaces also fell, smitten by Alexander's sword.
While Alexander's cavalry were making such a dangerous and furious fight, the Macedonian phalanx crossed the river and the infantry forces on both sides engaged. The enemy, however, did not resist vigorously, nor for a long time, but fled in a rout, all except the Greek mercenaries. These made a stand at a certain eminence, and asked that Alexander should promise them quarter.
But he, influenced by anger more than by reason, charged foremost upon them and lost his horse, which was smitten through the ribs with a sword (it was not Bucephalas, but another); and most of the Macedonians who were slain or wounded fought or fell there, since they came to close quarters with men who knew how to fight and were desperate.
Of the Barbarians, we are told, twenty thousand footmen fell, and twenty-five hundred horsemen.
But on Alexander's side, Aristobulus says there were thirty-four dead in all, of whom nine were footmen.
Of these, then, Alexander ordered statues to be set up in bronze, and Lysippus wrought them.
Moreover, desiring to make the Greeks partners in his victory, he sent to the Athenians in particular three hundred of the captured shields, and upon the rest of the spoils in general he ordered a most ambitious inscription to be wrought: ‘Alexander the son of Philip and all the Greeks except the Lacedaemonians from the Barbarians who dwell in Asia.’ But the drinking vessels and the purple robes and whatever things of this nature he took from the Persians, all these, except a few, he sent to his mother.