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THE ARMY OF THE HUNDRED PROVINCES
 DURING the twenty months which followed the victory of Issus, Alexander continued to make fresh conquests and to
consolidate those already made. He subdued Syria—a name which must be taken to include both Phoenicia
and Palestine. Here the two cities of Tyre and Gaza made an obstinate resistance, the two detaining him for no
less than nine months. Egypt, which hated its intolerant Persian masters, gave itself up without a struggle.
Early in 331 he heard that Darius had collected another huge army, with which to make another effort for his
kingdom. The king had lost the western half of his dominions, but the eastern still remained to him, and from
this he drew forces which exceeded in number even the great host which he had put into the field at Issus. The
 meeting-place was at Arbela, a place still known by the slightly changed name of Erbil, and situated on the
caravan-route between Erzeroum and Baghdad; but the actual battlefield must be looked for some twenty miles
away in a level region known by the name of Gangamela.
On the extreme right were the Medes, once the ruling people of Asia and still mindful of their old renown, the
Parthian cavalry, and the sturdy mountaineers of the Caucasus; on the opposite wing were the
Bactrians—mostly hardy dwellers in the hills, and famous both for activity and for fierceness—and
the native Persians, horse and foot, in alternate formation. But it was in the centre of the line, round the
person of Darius, where he stood conspicuous on his royal chariot, that the choicest troops of the Empire were
congregated. Here were ranged the Persian Horseguards—a force levied from the noblest families of the
race that had ruled Western Asia for more than two centuries. They were known by the proud title of "Kinsmen
of the King," and the Footguards, also a cords defile, who carried gold apples at the butt-end of their pikes.
Next to these stood the Carians, probably a colony from the well-known people of that name in Asia Minor,
possibly transported by some Persian king to
 a settlement in the East. Of all Asiatic races the Carians had shown themselves the most apt to learn the
Greek discipline and to rival Greek valour. Next to the Carians, again, stood the Greek mercenaries.
In front of the line were the scythed chariots, numbering two hundred in all, each with its sharp-pointed
sides projecting far beyond the horses, and its sword-blades and scythes stretching from the yoke and from the
naves of the wheels. (This is the first time that we hear of the scythed chariot. It was a device of a
barbarian kind, and seldom, as far as we know, very effective.) Behind the line, again, was a large mixed
multitude, drawn from every tribe that still owned the Great King's sway.
Alexander saw that this time he had a formidable enemy to deal with. He had an entrenched camp constructed, as
possibly useful in case of a reverse, and he consulted his generals—a course which he seldom followed
—as to how an attack might be most advantageously delivered. But when one of his most experienced
officers suggested an assault by night, he emphatically rejected the idea. It was, he declared, an unworthy
stratagem; victory so won would be worse than defeat. A more powerful reason was probably the danger
 of such an attempt. A night attack is always a desperate device.
The first day after coming in sight of the enemy Alexander spent in preparation and consultation. On the
morrow he drew out his order of battle. As usual he put himself at the head of the right wing. This was made
up of the "Companions," the light infantry, and three out of the six divisions of the phalanx. The left wing,
if it may be so called, for there was no centre, consisted of the rest of the phalanx, with a body of cavalry
from the allied Greek states.
And now, for the first time, Alexander had a second line in reserve. His numbers were considerably increased,
the 35,000 with which he had crossed into Asia having now mounted up to nearly 50,000. And the nature of the
battlefield made such an arrangement necessary. The enemy had an enormously superior force and it was
necessary to guard against attacks on the flank and the rear. The second line consisted of the light cavalry,
the Macedonian archers, contingents from some of the half-barbarous tribes which bordered on Macedonia, some
veteran Greek mercenaries and other miscellaneous troops. Some Thracian infantry were detached to guard the
camp and the baggage.
 The Persians, with their vastly larger numbers, were, of course, extended far beyond the Macedonian line. Left
to make the attack, they might easily have turned the flank, or even assailed the rear of their opponents.
Alexander, seeing this, and following the tactics which had twice proved so successful, took the offensive. He
put himself at the head of the "Companions," who were stationed, as has been said, on the extreme right, and
led them forward in person, still keeping more and more to the right, and thus threatening the enemy with the
very movement which he had himself reason to dread. He thus not only avoided the iron spikes, which, as a
deserter had warned him, had been set to injure the Macedonian cavalry, but almost got beyond the ground which
the Persians had caused to be levelled for the operations of their chariots. Fearful at once of being
outflanked and of having his chariots made useless, Darius launched some Bactrian and Scythian cavalry against
the advancing enemy; Alexander, on the other hand, detached some cavalry of his own to charge the Bactrians,
and the action began.
The Bactrians commenced with a success, driving back the Greek horsemen. These fell back on their supports,
and advancing again in
 increased force, threw the Bactrians into confusion. Squadron after squadron joined the fray, till a
considerable part of the Macedonian right and of the Persian left wing was engaged. The Persians were
beginning to give way, when Darius saw, as he thought, the time for bringing the scythed chariots into action,
and gave the word for them to charge, and for his main line to advance behind them. The charge was made, but
failed, almost entirely, of its effect. The Macedonian archers and javelin—throwers wounded many of the
horses; some agile skirmishers even seized the reins and dragged down the drivers from their places. Other
chariots got as far as the Macedonian line, but recoiled from the bristling line of outstretched pikes; and
the few whose drivers were lucky enough or bold enough to break their way through all hindrances were allowed
to pass between the Macedonian lines, without being able to inflict any serious damage. Then Alexander
delivered his counter attack. He ceased his movement to the right. Wheeling half round, the "Companions
"dashed into the open space which the advance of the Bactrian squadrons had left in the Persian line. At the
same time his own main line raised the
battle-  cry, and moved forward. Once within the enemy's ranks he pushed straight for the place where, as he knew, the
battle would be decided, the chariot of the king. The first defence of that all-important position was the
Persian cavalry. Better at skirmishing than at hand-to-hand fighting, it broke before his onslaught. Still
there remained troops to be reckoned with who might have made the fortune of the day doubtful, the flower of
the Persian foot and the veteran Greeks. For a time these men held their ground; they might have held it
longer, perhaps with success, but for the same cause which had brought about the disastrous result of Issus,
the cowardice of Darius. He had been dismayed to see his chariots fail and his cavalry broken by the charge of
the "Companions," and he lost heart altogether when the dreaded phalanx itself, with its bristling array of
pikes, seemed to be forcing a way through the line of his infantry and coming nearer to himself. He turned his
chariot and fled, the first, when he should have been the last, to leave his post.
The flight of the king was the signal for a general rout, so far at least as the centre and left wing of the
Persian army was concerned. It was no longer a battle; it was a massacre.
 Alexander pressed furiously on, eager to capture the fugitive Darius. But the very completeness of his
victory, it may be said, hindered him. So headlong was the flight that the dust, which, after the months of
burning summer heat, lay thick upon the plain, rose like the smoke of a vast conflagration. The darkness was
as the darkness of night. Nothing could be seen, but all around were heard the cries of fury and despair, the
jingling of the chariot wheels, and the sound of the whips which the terrified charioteers were plying with
all their might.
Nor was Alexander permitted to continue the pursuit. Though the Persian left, demoralised by the cowardice of
the king, had fled, the right wing had fought with better fortune. It was under the command of MazŠus, who was
probably the ablest of the Persian generals, and knew how to use his superiority of numbers. Whilst the sturdy
Median infantry engaged the Macedonian front line, MazŠus put himself at the head of the Parthian horse and
charged the flank. Parmenio, Alexander's ablest lieutenant—his one general, as he was reported to have
said—who was in command, sent an urgent request for help, so hard pressed did he find himself to be.
Alexander was greatly
 vexed, for he saw that all chance of capturing Darius was lost, but he knew his business too well to neglect
the demand. He at once called back his troops from the pursuit, and led them to the help of the left wing.
Parmenio had sent the same message to that division of the phalanx which had taken part in the advance of the
As things turned out, however, the help was hardly needed. On the one hand, the Thessalian cavalry had proved
themselves worthy of their old reputation as the best horsemen in Greece. Held during the earlier part of the
engagement in reserve, they had made a brilliant charge on the Parthians, and had restored the fortune of the
day. And then, on the other hand, MazŠus and his men had felt the same infection of fear which the flight of
Darius had communicated to the rest of the army. Parmenio felt the vigour of the enemy's attack languish,
though he did not know the cause, and had the satisfaction of regaining, and more than regaining, the ground
which he had lost, before the reinforcements arrived.
The day was virtually over, yet the hardest fighting of the battle was yet to take place. The Parthian
cavalry, with some squadrons of Persian and Indian horse among them,
encoun-  tered, as they retreated across the field of battle, Alexander himself and the "Companions." Their only hope
of escape was to cut through the advancing force. It was no time for tactics, only for a desperate charge for
life. Each man was fighting for himself, and he fought with a fury that made him a match even for Macedonian
discipline and valour. And the enemy had among them some of the most expert swordsmen in the world. Anyhow,
the "Companions" suffered more severely than they did in any other engagement in the war. Sixty were slain in
the course of a few minutes, three of the principal officers were wounded, and even Alexander himself was in
serious danger. But the Parthians thought only of saving their lives, and when they once saw the way clear
before them they were only too glad to follow it.
The Persians achieved one more success. A brigade of Indian and Persian horse had plunged through a gap which
the movement of the phalanx had left in the line, and attacked the camp. The Thracians who guarded it were
hampered by the number of the prisoners whom they had to watch. Many of these escaped. The mother of
Darius—the effort had been made for her—might have been one
 of them, but she refused to go. By this time some troops had come to the rescue of the camp, and the Persian
cavalry had to fly.
The great battle of Arbela was over. It was the most hardly won as it was the most conclusive of all
Alexander's victories. The Persians made no further stand. The great enemy of Greece had disappeared from the
stage of history. But we shall find the powerful forces which Persia represented appear again in another