UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
their own reputation to sustain as well as wrongs to be avenged in the
ranks of their unnatural countrymen. Here, then, the battle was furious
and bloody. Hardly could the staggering phalanx make its way against the
stubborn resistance of the Greek soldiers; nor is it certain which way
victory in this part of the field would have inclined but for the
overthrow of the Persian wings.
The success of Alexander and Parmenio enabled them, especially the
former, to fall upon the flanks of the Persian center, and the valiant
soldiers who confronted the phalanx found themselves assailed from three
directions. Under such assaults they began to lose ground, but such was
their valor that they nearly all perished sooner than relinquish the
field. It was in this part of the battle that Darius displayed
conspicuous bravery. He urged forward his chariot into the thickest of
the fight and encouraged his soldiers both by voice and example until
his horses were cut down and himself almost taken by the Macedonians.
Nothing but the courage of his brother Oxathres saved the king from
capture or destruction. In the critical moment the monarch was thrust
into a fresh chariot and borne from the field. As usual in the great
battles of the East, the flight of the king was the signal for a
universal rout. The ranks everywhere broke and fled precipitately from
the scene. Only the Persian cavalry on the right wing made a stand and
fought as if to sustain their old-time fame for valor. Nor did they
desist from their onsets until some time after the rout had become
general in all other parts of the field.
As soon as the flight began the Macedonians pressed hard upon the
fugitives. Thousands were cut down in the panic and confusion. Alexander
himself at the head of the cavalry bore down upon the flying foe and cut
his broken ranks to pieces. His hope was to overtake and capture the
king and thus end the business of the Empire. But Darius, after fleeing
as far as he could in his chariot, mounted a horse and succeeded in
escaping through the Amanic Gate. But so hot was the pursuit that the
shield, bow, and cloak of the king were secured by Alexander.
The losses of the Persians are differently stated by different authors.
The lowest estimate, which is perhaps nearest the truth, places the
number slain at about seventy thousand, and of the captives at forty
thousand. Nor is there any trustworthy account of the loss sustained by
the Macedonians. There appears to have been an intent on the part of the
Greek writers to gloss over the matter or to represent the list as
insignificant. It is impossible, however, but that a severe loss must
have been inflicted on Alexander's army; for the battle was long and
obstinate, and the Ionian Greeks gave the phalanx blow for blow. It is
known that Ptolemy and several other distinguished officers were slain.
The battle of Issus furnished several incidents which posterity has been
pleased to preserve. When Alexander returned from his pursuit of Darius
he learned that the family of that monarch, including his wife, his
daughters, and his mother, were prisoners in the Macedonian camp. They
were in the greatest agitation, believing that the king had been slain,
and that they themselves would be dishonored and sold as slaves. Hearing
of their distress, the conqueror at once sent his friend Leonatus to
quiet their alarm, and to assure them that the king had made good his
escape. They were informed that they should be treated not only with
humanity, but with that courtesy which befitted their rank. The language
attributed to Alexander sounds like a phrase of chivalry; for he is
reported to have said to the distracted princesses that towards the
Great King he had no personal enmity at all-that he warred with him only
because they could not both be ruler of Asia.
On the following day the Macedonian, accompanied by his intimate friend
Hephaestion, called in person at the tent which had been assigned to the
captive women. When they were ushered into the presence of the royal
household the princesses, mistaking the stately Hephaestion for
Alexander, prostrated themselves before him and began to plead for
commiseration. Hephaestion at once drew back and pointed to the king as
the one to whom they should address themselves. Alexander at once
relieved the embarrassment in