THE MAN WHO CONQUERED THE WORLD

Canto the Tenth

Darius
Now seeing all was lost
That those who were placed in front to defend him were
Broken and beat back upon him
That he could not turn or disengage
His chariot
Without great difficulty
The wheels being clogged and entangled among the dead bodies
Which lay in such heaps
As not only stopped
But almost covered the horses
And made them rear and grow so unruly
That the frightened charioteer
Could govern them no longer
In this extremity was glad to quit his chariot
And his arms
Mounting, it is said
Upon a mare
That had been taken from her foal
Betook himself to flight.

But he had not escaped so either
If Parmenio had not sent fresh messengers
To Alexander
To desire him to return
And assist him against
A considerable body of the enemy which
Yet stood together
And would not give ground.*

Alexander
Though he was not a little vexed
To be so recalled and hindered
From pursuing his victory
Yet concealed the true reason from his men
And causing a retreat to be sounded
As if it were too late to continue the execution
Any longer
Marched back towards the place of danger
And by the way met
The news of the enemy's total overthrow
And flight.

This battle being thus over
Seemed to put a period to the Persian empire And Alexander
Who was now proclaimed King of Asia
Returned thanks to the gods in magnificent sacrifices
And rewarded his friends and followers
With great sums of money
And places
And governments
Of provinces.

Eager to gain honor
With the Grecians
He wrote to them that
He would have all tyrannies abolished
That they might live free
According to their own laws
And specially to the Plataeans
That their city should be rebuilt
Because their ancestors had permitted
Their countrymen of old
To make their territory the seat
Of the war
When they fought with the barbarians
For their common liberty.

He sent also part
Of the spoils into Italy
To the Crotoniats
To honor the zeal and courage of their
Citizen Phayllus
The wrestler
Who, in the Median war
When the other Grecian colonies in Italy
Disowned Greece
That he might have a share in the danger
Joined the fleet at Salamis
With a vessel set forth
At his own charge
So affectionate was Alexander
To all kind of virtue
And so desirous to preserve the memory
Of laudable actions.

© 2004 by Michael J. Farrand

*For indeed
Parmenio is on all hands accused
Of having been sluggish and unserviceable in this battle
Whether age had impaired his courage
Or that
As Callisthenes says
He secretly disliked and envied
Alexander's growing greatness.

Story taken from the life of Alexander found in Plutarch's Lives, written originally as Parallel Lives by the Greek historian Plutarch, who lived roughly 50-125 A.D.

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