Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
ALEXANDER BURNS PERSEPOLIS
 THE battle of Gaugamela in 331 B.C. decided the fate of the
Persian empire. Darius was no longer the great king,
for Alexander took the title as well as the dominions
of his foe.
At Babylon, to which city Alexander now marched, the
gates were thrown open to welcome him, the people
coming out to meet the conqueror, led by their priests.
Alexander received them kindly, and bade the
Babylonians not be afraid still to worship their own
Here, in this great city, the king dreamed that he
would set up his throne. Babylon should be the capital
of his new empire.
Not far from Babylon was the city of Susa, where the
Persian kings usually spent the winter months. Susa
also surrendered to the great king without a blow being
There were many treasures and much gold in both Babylon
and Susa; perhaps the most wonderful treasure was a
piece of purple cloth, which was worth an enormous sum
of money. Although it had been laid aside for one
hundred and ninety years, yet its marvellous colour was
as perfect as it had ever been.
The spoils for which the Greeks cared most were some
that had been carried away by Xerxes. Among those that
they found at Susa were statues of Harmodius and
Aristogeiton. By the order of Alexander, they were now
sent back to Athens.
But even greater treasures than any the king had yet
 found were stored in palaces hidden among the highlands
of Persia. To these palaces Alexander resolved to
march, although the way led through narrow mountain
passes which were guarded by a Persian army.
By attacking the enemy both in the front and in the
rear, Alexander caught the Persians in a trap. They
were speedily cut to pieces or fell down the dangerous
mountain tracks in a vain effort to escape.
Then unhindered by any foe, the king marched on to one
of the great cities of the Persian kings, which the
Greeks called Persepolis, or "the richest of all the
cities under the sun."
So great were the treasures stored in the palace of
Persepolis, that ten thousand pairs of mules and five
thousand camels were needed to carry them away.
For four months Alexander lingered in the city. His
soldiers were proud indeed of their king when for the
first time they saw him sitting under a canopy of gold
on the throne of the Persian monarchs.
A Corinthian, who was a great friend of Alexander's,
exclaimed at the sight, "How unfortunate are those
Greeks who have died without beholding Alexander seated
on the throne of Darius!"
Before he left Persepolis to go in search of Darius,
Alexander gave a great feast.
It was then that the king, urged by the excited
revellers, allowed the palace to be burned.
With a wreath of flowers on his head and a lighted
torch in his hand, the king, followed by his guests,
surrounded the palace, and set light to it. The
soldiers also seized torches and amid shouts and
merriment they, too, helped to destroy the palace of
the Persian kings.
The Macedonians thought that the burning of the palace
was a sign that Alexander did not mean to dwell among
the barbarians, and they rejoiced. For they were
growing weary of marching into unknown countries, and
they were beginning to think wistfully of their
Alexander was soon sorry for the wild impulse which had
seized him, and he gave orders to put out the fire as
speedily as might be.
The officers in Alexander's army had become rich with
the spoils of conquered cities, and the king found that
they were growing as fond of ease and luxury as the
Persians. Their tables were loaded with delicacies,
servants attended to their slightest wish. One officer
even had his shoes made with silver nails.
Such indulgence annoyed the king and he reproved his
officers, telling them that toil was more honourable
"How is it possible," he said, "if you cannot attend to
your own body, that you look well after your horse, or
keep your armour bright and in good order? You should
surely avoid the weaknesses of those you have
To set his army an example, the king now began to hunt
more than was his custom and with less care for his own
safety. When the soldiers were sent against an enemy,
Alexander himself went with them, and endured the same
hardships and dangers as his men.