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The Story of Greece by  Mary Macgregor


 

 

TYRE IS STORMED BY ALEXANDER

[325] ALEXANDER did not cross the Euphrates in search of Darius. He knew that the great king could do him no harm, even should he again assemble a large army. So for a time he left Darius to do as he pleased, while he himself went on with his own plan.

Nearly all the towns in Syracuse were ready to open their gates to Alexander. Some that had found Darius a hard master, hailed him as a deliverer.

Tyre alone, while saying that she was ready to do as the king willed, refused to receive either a Persian or a Macedonian into the city.

Alexander wished to offer sacrifice to the deity of Tyre, whose temple was within the city, and when the people refused to open their gates, he was so angry that he at once laid siege to the town.

Tyre stood on an island, about half a mile from the mainland. Near the coast the water was shallow, while close to the walls of the city it was deep.

The Tyrians believed that they could hold their city against Alexander, for the walls were built high, on the top of a steep and dangerous cliff.

As the king had no fleet, he could not attack the city until he had built a causeway from the mainland to the island, so he ordered his men to begin the work without delay.

But when the causeway stretched almost to the island, the Tyrians did all that they could to hinder the workmen. [326] They sent among them showers of arrows, and hurled down upon them great pieces of rock, so that they found it impossible to complete the causeway.

But the king was not easily beaten. He ordered the men to build towers along the causeway, and to tie leather screens from one tower to another, so that they might be protected from the arrows and missiles of the enemy.

Then the Tyrians dragged a ship, loaded with dry wood, as near to the causeway as they dared to venture, and set it on fire. The towers were soon in flames, and while the Macedonians tried in vain to extinguish them, the enemy never ceased to send showers of arrows among the unfortunate men, so that many of them lost their lives.

Although the Tyrians had destroyed the work of months, Alexander still refused to give in. He now sent to the cities round about, and bade them send ships to guard his soldiers until the causeway was finished. In seven months from the time it was begun, the causeway reached to the foot of the rock on which the city stood.

In July 332 B.C. a breach was made in the wall, and, led by Alexander himself, the Macedonians rushed in triumph into the city that had so long defied them.

The Tyrians fought fiercely, for they knew they need not look for mercy if the city was taken. But they were soon overpowered, and the town was given up to plunder. The soldiers were eager for spoil, but spoil alone could not satisfy them. As they thought of the weary months which they had spent in trying to reach the island, they wreaked their rage on the miserable citizens, massacring all on whom they could lay their hands.

After Tyre had fallen, Alexander was master of Syria, and could control the eastern Mediterranean.

From Tyre, the king marched southward until he reached Egypt. Here, after making himself lord of the country, he founded the city, which is still called after him, Alexandria.

During the siege of Tyre, Darius had again sent to Alexander, offering to him a large ransom for his family, as well as the hand of the daughter and all the provinces west of Euphrates.

While Alexander and his generals were talking over the offer of Darius, Parmenio exclaimed, "If I were you I should accept these terms."

"And I," answered the king, "would accept them if I were Parmenio."

To Darius, Alexander's reply was haughtier than ever. "If thou comest," so ran his words, "and yield thyself up into my power, I will treat thee with all possible kindness; if not, I will come myself to seek thee."

Soon after this the wife of Darius died. Alexander had always treated her well, and now he buried her with great honour.

One of her servants fled to Darius to tell him the sad tidings. He told him, too, of the kindness Alexander had ever shown to his royal captive.

"O king," said the servant, "neither your queen when alive, nor your mother, nor children wanted anything of their former happy condition, unless it were the light of your countenance. And after her decease, Statira, the queen, had not only all due funeral ornaments, but was honoured also with the tears of your very enemies; for Alexander is as gentle after victory as he is terrible in the field."


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