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So when the king appeared suddenly out of Thrace with all his army, the alliances of the Thebans had furnished them with only a hesitant support while the power of their opponents possessed an obvious and evident superiority. Nevertheless their leaders assembled in council and prepared a resolution about the war; they were unanimous in deciding to fight it out for their political freedom. The measure was passed by the assembly, and with great enthusiasm all were ready to see the thing through. [2]

At first the king made no move, giving the Thebans time to think things over and supposing that a single city would never dare to match forces with such an army. [3] For at that time Alexander had more than thirty thousand infantry and no less than three thousand cavalry, all battle-seasoned veterans of Philip's campaigns who had hardly experienced a single reverse. This was the army on the skill and loyalty of which he relied to overthrow the Persian empire. [4] If the Thebans had yielded to the situation and had asked the Macedonians for peace and an alliance, the king would have accepted their proposals with pleasure and would have conceded everything they asked, for he was eager to be rid of these disturbances in Greece so that he might without distraction pursue the war with Persia.

Finally, however, he realized that he was despised by the Thebans, and so decided to destroy the city utterly and by this act of terror take the heart out of anyone else who might venture to rise against him. [5] He made his forces ready for battle, then announced through a herald that any of the Thebans who wished might come to him and enjoy the peace which was common to all the Greeks. In response, the Thebans with equal spirit proclaimed from a high tower that anyone who wished to join the Great King and Thebes in freeing the Greeks1 and destroying the tyrant of Greece should come over to them. [6] This epithet stung Alexander. He flew into a towering rage and declared that he would pursue the Thebans with the extremity of punishment. Raging in his heart, he set to constructing siege engines and to preparing whatever else was necessary for the attack.

1 Plut. Alexander 11.4. That is, according to the terms of the Peace of Antalcidas (Xen. Hell. 5.1.31). In a similar manner, the Athenians had appealed to the Greeks against Sparta in the decree of Aristoteles setting up the so-called Second Athenian League (377 B.C.; SIG 147).

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