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THE BATTLE OF GRANICUS
 BEFORE Alexander crossed the Hellespont he had seen that the
opposite shore was held by his Macedonians. While the
army landed he himself sailed to the "Harbour of the
Achæans." Midway in the strait he took a golden dish
in his hand, and flung from it an offering to Poseidon
and to his hand, and flung from it an offering to
Poseidon and to the Nereids. It is said that the king
himself steered the ship in which he sailed to the
Crossing the plain of Troy, the king climbed the hill
of Ilion, and here in a forsaken little town he found a
temple to Athene, to whom he offered sacrifice. He
left his own armour in the temple, taking in its place
an ancient suit that had once been hung upon the walls,
a trophy of war.
On the tomb of his ancestor, Achilles, he laid a
garland, while Hephæstion, his beloved friend, placed
one on the grave of Patroclus. The old Greek stories
had entered into the very fibre of the young king, and
in this way he did honour, as he deemed, to his
glorious ancestor. He felt ready now to do deeds as
great as his hero had done.
When Alexander rejoined his army, it had advanced to
the river Granicus, and there, on the opposite bank,
was a great force under Darius, king of Persia.
Alexander would have to conquer this great host before
he could advance into Asia.
One of his officers, named Parmenio, begged the king to
wait to cross the river until early the next morning,
when the enemy would not be drawn up in battle array.
"I should be ashamed," answered the king, "having
 crossed the Hellespont to be detained by a miserable
stream like the Granicus." He then ordered the army to
advance, and himself dashed into the river, followed by
The Granicus was not a river to be despised, for the
current was strong, and the horses kept their feet with
A storm of arrows was poured upon the struggling horses
and their riders, and it seemed as though the attempt
to cross in the face of the foe would be useless. But
the king refused to be daunted, and the soldiers
followed their intrepid leader, until at length they
reached the opposite bank.
But to clamber up the bank was no easy matter. The
sides of the river were slippery, and the horses having
no firm foothold, stumbled and fell. Only after great
and repeated efforts did Alexander and those who
followed him reach the top of the bank. Wet and
exhausted, they had no time to form their ranks before
the Persians dashed upon them. A desperate
hand-to-hand fight was at once begun.
The enemy was quick to notice Alexander, for he wore a
large plume of white feathers in his helmet, while his
buckler was more splendid than that of any of his
Two Persian officers, wishing to win the glory of
having killed the king, attacked him together. One of
them, riding close to Alexander, rose in his stirrups,
and brought his battle-axe down with all his strength
upon the helmet of the king. So fierce was the blow
that the crest was torn away along with one of the
plumes, while the axe cut its way through the helmet,
until the edge touched Alexander's hair.
Again the officer raised his axe, but ere he could
strike, Clitus, the foster-brother of Alexander, slew
the officer with his sword and the king was saved.
The famous phalanx of the Macedonians now threw itself
upon the enemy, and the Persians tried in vain to repel
the fierceness of the attack. Soon the whole army was
 flight, all save a band of Greek soldiers who were
fighting for Darius.
These withdrew to a height above the battlefield, and
sent to Alexander to ask for quarter. But the king
refused their request, and ordered his men to attack
the little company.
The Greeks fought desperately, and Alexander lost more
men in this struggle than he had lost in all the rest
of the battle. His horse, which was not the famous
Bucephalus, was killed on the field.
While in this great battle, fought in 334 B.C. on the
banks of the Granicus, the Persians lost a great number
of men, only thirty-four Macedonians, it is said, were
The spoil was enormous, and Alexander determined that
the Greeks should have a generous share. To Athens he
sent three hundred Persian bucklers to be offered to
Athene, with these words inscribed, "Alexander, son of
Philip, and the Grecians, except the Lacedæmonians,
won these from the barbarians who inhabit Asia."
Athens accepted the king's offering to their goddess,
but they churlishly refused to send ships to help him
to conquer the coast towns which he must now attack.
While dividing the spoil of the Granicus, Alexander did
not forget his mother. To her he sent all the plate he
had taken, as well as beautiful cloth of wonderful
purple dye. For himself he kept but little.