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The glitter of his magnificent armor, the white plumes on helmet and his entourage made him a conspicuous target. When the Persians observed Alexander at the head of the Companion cavalry on the right flank, they concluded that his intention was to attack their left. As a result, the Persians transferred some of their cavalry regiments from their center and left center and massed them on and above the riverbank opposite Alexander to meet what they expected would be his main assault.

Once the final Persian and Macedonian battle arrays were complete, the two armies paused a moment and faced each other in silence. Then Alexander opened the battle by sending forward an advance force under the command of Amyntas.

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There was a great shoving by the cavalry, as some were trying to get out of the river, others to stop them, great showers of Persian javelins, much thrusting of Macedonian spears. The first Macedonians who came to grips with the Persians were cut down, despite their valor. Although the relatively weak Macedonian advance force met with predictably intense resistance and suffered heavy losses, it succeeded in drawing the Persian left-flank cavalry out of their formations.

Once that was achieved, Alexander, with trumpets blaring his commands, launched his main assault, leading his famous Companion cavalry, the elite of the army, forward toward the now-disorganized Persian cavalry.


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With Alexander at the head of the royal squadron, the six other Companion cavalry squadrons crossed the river and fought their way up its eastern bank, as the Persians hurled their javelins down upon them. When the Persian leaders recognized Alexander, they rode to engage him in a fierce hand-to-hand struggle. The battle became a series of heroic duels between individuals rather than a fight between cavalry units.

The Army of Alexander the Great - Ancient History Encyclopedia

He had no sooner received another sarissa from the Companion Demaratus than the Persian cavalry commander Mithridates appeared at the head of a squadron. Alexander rode forward and struck the Persian leader in the face with his sarissa , killing him instantly. Although the Persians maintained a vigorous resistance throughout the bitter struggle, they failed to withstand the charge of the Companion cavalry and were continually pushed back.

They slowly but steadily drove the Persians farther back, gaining the level ground above the steep riverbank. At the later great battles of Issus and Gaugamela, the Macedonians used a strong defensive left wing at the onset of the battle to balance and safeguard their bold offensive operations on the right. As a result of the loss of so many of its leaders, the opposition offered by the Persian cavalry deteriorated rapidly.

The Persian line first began to give way at the point where Alexander was engaged; then the whole center collapsed. Once the center had caved in, both wings of the Persian cavalry—Memnon among them—panicked and fled.

Wars of Alexander the Great

The Macedonians could not pursue the fleeing cavalry very far, however. The mercenary contingent perhaps 3, troops presented Alexander with terms under which it would surrender, but he rejected them and ordered his phalanxes to attack the mercenaries in the front, while his cavalry assaulted them on their unprotected flanks and rear. With the exception of 2, prisoners—and possibly a few others who threw themselves on the ground and concealed themselves among the dead—the mercenaries were cut down.

In view of the swiftness of the battle, Arrian probably provided the most credible statistics, although the Macedonian figures are suspiciously low and the Persian numbers perhaps slightly elevated. No doubt the number of wounded was considerably higher. Persian losses amounted to 4, killed—about 1, cavalry and perhaps 3, Greek mercenaries—along with 2, taken prisoner.

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To the surviving relatives of his fallen soldiers, Alexander granted immunity from taxation and public service. He ordered Lysippus, considered perhaps the greatest sculptor of the day, to make bronze statues of the 25 Companion cavalrymen who fell in the initial feint attack.

Alexander the Great Vs Persia - Ancient War - Full Documentary

The statues were eventually set up in Dium, a city in Macedon at the foot of Mount Olympus. Alexander visited his wounded, examined their injuries and, according to Arrian, gave every soldier an opportunity to recount—and perhaps exaggerate—his deeds. Believing themselves to be a match for Alexander in the field, the Persians, who failed to use their professional infantry, simply counted on their numerically superior cavalry and their personal bravery to secure a victory.

The resulting lack of coordination between horse and foot violated a principle of integrated armies that even the Persians had long understood. According to historian E.

go to site Alexander calculated that, although his cavalry was outnumbered 2-to-1, it was superior in skill and discipline. His cavalrymen were shock troops, armed with long sarissas , and were more accustomed to strong hand-to-hand fighting than were the Persian cavalrymen. The latter were armed with short javelins designed more for throwing than for thrusting and scimitars, both of which were ineffective against the Macedonian sarissas. Alexander also realized that his attacking cavalry had a great advantage over its Persian counterpart, whose defensive role forfeited its mobility and whose faulty deployment negated its advantage in numbers.

From the spoils of that success, Alexander sent suits of Persian armor to the Parthenon in Athens, to remind the Greeks that this victory was part of the war of revenge against the Persians and to stir Greek enthusiasm. With the triumph at the Granicus, the Greek cities of Asia Minor were liberated from Persian rule—and the beachhead was established for later campaigns deeper in Persian territory.

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  • About this Product. Alexander the Great never ceases to fascinate. He was aged only 20 when he became king of Macedon, but had already begun to show the military genius that would win him victories against the mighty Persian Empire. In a campaign lasting 11 years he travelled thousands of miles through deserts, plains and forests, fought huge battles, and besieged many cities to become the master of a massive empire.

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    He died prematurely at the age of just 33, and no man could hold together the empire he had created. A god in his lifetime, his name is still world-famous millennia after his death. This book examines Alexander's campaigns in detail and his victories with the help of maps, illustrations and reconstructions to bring the epic career of one of the world's greatest generals to life.