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discerned that the Great King had abandoned the idea of distracting

Alexander from his purpose, and had resolved to meet him in battle. Than

this nothing could have been more grateful to the feelings of the


So, after a brief stay at Celaenae, the king continued his course to

Gordium. Here occurred that famous incident to omit which were a grave

crime against the cherished traditions of the human race. It is the

story of the undoing of the Gordian Knot. One of the legendary kings of

Phrygia was Gordius, who, when as a peasant plowing in the field, was

favored with the descent of the bird of Jove, alighting on the yoke of

his oxen. There the eagle sat until the eventide. Clearly this presaged

his own and the greatness of his house. The soothsayers of Telmessus

interpreted the omen, and a prophetess became his wife. Of this union

was born the child Midas, who, when grown to manhood and the state was

greatly disturbed with civil commotion, rode with his father and mother

in a car into the city.

Meanwhile an oracle had said that the king whom the people sought should

be brought to them in a car. Accordingly Midas was hailed as king by the

shouting populace. He thereupon took off the yoke of his oxen, and

dedicating it and his chariot to Zeus, fastened them with cords made of

the corneal tree to the shrine in the acropolis of Gordium. The cord was

twisted and fastened in so artful a way that the ends were unseen; and

the oracle declared that the fates had decreed the empire of the world

to him who should untie the knot. Albeit, here was an opportunity which

Alexander must not let pass unimproved. On arriving at the city he was

shown into the temple, and there beheld the fateful relics, secured, as

of old, by their fastenings. As to how he succeeded in loosing the knot,

there are two traditions-the one reciting that he drew out the pin which

fastened the yoke to the beam and thus detached the yoke itself, while

the other says that he severed the knot with his sword.

A matter of much more historical importance was the arrival at Gordium

of an Athenian embassy. The commissioners came to request that Alexander

would liberate those citizens of Athens whom he had taken as prisoners

on the banks of the Granicus, fighting for the Persian king. These, with

two thousand others, were still detained in Macedonia, and their

countrymen had undertaken to procure their release. The king listened

attentively to what the envoys had to say, but declined to grant their

request. He told the embassy, however, to inform their countrymen of his

kindly feelings towards the Athenians, and of his purpose, so soon as

the Persian war could be brought to a successful issue, to set their

fellow-citizens at liberty.

In the mean time, Darius had completed the organization of his army, and

was already on his march to the West. His intention was to cross the

Great Desert and attack Alexander before the latter could pass the

confines of Asia Minor. It was equally important for the Macedonian to

complete the conquest of the lesser Asia, and to secure the mountain

passes on its eastern borders before the coming of the Persian

avalanche. At this time there remained three satrapies unconquered:

Cappadoda, Paphlagonia, and Cilida. It was of the utmost importance to

Alexander to expedite the conquest of these provinces. He accordingly

hurried in the direction of Paphlagonia, but before entering the satrapy

he had the good fortune to receive therefrom a friendly embassy,

proffering the submission of that important country.

Thus relieved from the necessity of a conquest, he hastened into

Cappadocia, and there too was received without resistance. Having

appointed Macedonian governors over these two leading provinces, and

taken their pledge of allegiance to himself as generalissimo of the

Greeks, he turned into Cilida. But in attempting to make his way thither

through a mountain-pass called the Gate of Taurus, he was suddenly

confronted by the Persians, who had preoccupied the defiles to prevent

his passage. Such, however, was the terror of the conqueror's name that

the enemy did not, even in their advantageous position, dare to give him

battle. On the contrary, they abandoned the pass and fled. Alexander

then pressed on to Tarsus, the