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MACEDONIA-ALEXANDER THE GREAT.

this view Alexander, whose judgment seems to have been cooled by the

tremendous stake at issue in the conflict, fully coincided, and a whole

day was accordingly spent in reconnoitering the field.

In the early morning of the seventh day, all the preliminaries having

been arranged, the two armies cautiously advanced towards each other,

and then grappled in a struggle which was to decide the fate of Asia.

The battle began with an action of the cavalry and chariots. Soon,

however, the lines of infantry became involved, and the fight raged

along the whole front of the field. Nor were the Greeks at first able to

drive the heavy masses of the enemy before them. On no previous field

had the Persians displayed so much bravery and steady discipline. The

Scythian cavalry had well-nigh proved a match for the famous horsemen of

Thessaly. In some parts of the field, under the tremendous pressure of

numbers, the allied forces actually wavered and lost some ground. But

the Macedonian phalanx, irresistible as hitherto, made its steady way,

like some huge engine of destruction, upon the heavy masses of the

enemy, and before its horrible forest of spears, the barbarians were

forced into flight. Darius himself-whether by his own will or by the

confused tides of the rout which swelled around him is not certainly

known-was borne away with the roaring mass of fugitives.

Discovering the flight of the king, and eager to possess himself of the

royal person, Alexander, with the cavalry, pressed forward with extreme

audacity, and the Macedonian left, under command of Parmenio, who was

charged with the protection of the camp, was almost fatally weakened.

It happened, moreover, that the Persian cavalry on the right, opposite

to Parmenio, was commanded by Mazaeus, one of the ablest of the Great

King's generals. This daring officer succeeded in breaking through the

Macedonian lines, and captured the camp. Messengers were hastily sent to

Alexander, who on the right was far in advance in pursuit of the king.

With the utmost speed the conqueror wheeled and came back to the support

of Parmenio. The battle on the left was renewed with desperate bravery

until the Persian horse was finally put to flight. (1)

The camp was regained, and Alexander again pressed forward in the hope

of capturing the fugitive king. On arriving at the river Lycus, he found

that Darius had already crossed to the other side. The pursuit was

therefore given over, and, after a brief rest, the conqueror turned

aside in the night, and before morning entered the town of Arbela

without opposition. Here he secured the rich treasures which the Persian

king, pending the battle, had there deposited. The chariot, shield, and

bow of Darius were found among the captured spoils.

Of the number slain in the battle of Arbela no authentic account can be

given. The credulous Arrian says that the Persians lost three hundred

thousand in killed and a still greater number in prisoners, while the

whole loss of the Greeks is stated at not more than a hundred. Such a

statement, however, is so glaringly improbable as to be entirely

unworthy of respect. In general it may be said that the old authorities

are of but little value in determining the numbers composing armies or

the losses in battle.

After his overthrow at Arbela, Darius attempted to make a stand in

Media. Around him here were gathered the scattered fragments of his

army. But Alexander, knowing that the king could never again offer him

any effectual resistance, now turned his course in the direction of

Babylon. No serious opposition, however, was to be anticipated from the

great cities of the Chaldaean plain. On arriving in the vicinity of the

great metropolis a vast procession of people with priests and nobles at

the head came out to surrender the city of Nebuchadnezzar to the son of

Philip. The gates were opened and the citadel and treasury given up

without the slightest attempt to save them from the clutch of the

conqueror. Within the Babylonian vaults and treasure houses, so vast a

wealth of stores and money was found as never before had greeted the

eyes of the Macedonian soldiery. Nor did Alexander lose the opportunity

to establish _______________________________ 1 For the true name of this

great battle see Book Sixth, p. 376.