Page 0650

650

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

validity of his own claims to be regarded as the son of Zeus. To his

inquiry on this question, if we may trust the credulous fable-writers of

antiquity, a favorable answer was returned by the auspicious spirit of

the place; and the son of Philip was enabled to return into Egypt

bearing the unequivocal honors of deity.

In arriving at Memphis, Alexander at once proceeded to reorganize the

Egyptian government. He also reviewed and modified, in some particulars,

the governments which he had previously established in the provinces

subdued by his arms. In the early spring of B.C. 331, having completed

the civil arrangements to which he had devoted his time since the

preceding autumn, he set out for Tyre, which place he had appointed as a

rendezvous for both his fleets and armies. Here he met ambassadors from

Athens and other cities of the Greek confederacy, with whom he conferred

respecting the prosecution of his Asiatic campaign. He then began his

movement to the East, and in the first days of summer reached the

Euphrates. At Thapsacus he found the bridge across the river broken

down, and the enemy in considerable force on the opposite bank; but they

quickly decamped, without attempting to hinder his passage.

Alexander effected his crossing without delay, and proceeded eastward

along the northern confines of Mesopotamia. He had not advanced far,

however, in this direction until he was informed by deserters and scouts

that Darius had led his army up the eastern bank of the Tigris, and, as

if to await his antagonist, had selected a strong position on the margin

of that broad and rapid stream. It is probable that this intelligence

occasioned a change in the plans of the conqueror. It had been his

purpose to make his way into Lower Mesopotamia, and, having captured

Babylon, to press forward to Susa. But learning the whereabouts of

Darius, and perceiving the intentions of the Great King to offer battle

in his chosen position, he rapidly advanced in that direction. On the

fourth day of his march he came in sight of the Persian host; but on the

appearance of the Macedonian Darius began to recede towards the south,

with the evident intention of drawing Alexander further and further into

the enemy's country. But the latter pressed upon him with so much

eagerness and audacity that the Persian was compelled to make a stand

for battle. He accordingly selected a suitable field on the banks of the

Bumadus, a small eastern tributary of the Tigris. The king made his

headquarters six miles distant from the plain selected for the fight, at

the town of Arbela, where the Persian baggage and military chests were

deposited.

If we may trust the ancient authors, Darius brought to the battlefield,

on which his own and the destinies of his empire were now Staked, an

army of foot soldiers numbering at least a million, while the cavalry

amounted to forty thousand, the scythe bearing chariots to two hundred,

and the elephants to fifteen. To oppose this limitless host, Alexander

had forty thousand foot and seven thousand horse. It is not improbable,

however, that this incredible disparity in numbers arose not from the

facts in the premises, but from the disposition of the Greek writers to

glorify the achievements of their countrymen.

Alexander at this great crisis behaved with more than his usual caution.

He spent four days in fortifying his camp, and at the second watch of

the fifth night drew out his forces for battle. While advancing upon the

enemy, he perceived on reaching the summit of a hill the evidence of

such unusual preparation on the part of Darius that it was deemed

prudent to hold a council of war. Most of the Macedonian generals gave

their vote for an immediate attack, but the veteran Parmenio advised

that the ground which they were to traverse and the general disposition

of the Persian forces should be carefully scanned before incurring the

hazard of battle. With