The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins. — H. L. Mencken

Story of Greece - Mary Macgregor

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 national god.

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 struck.

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 homeland.

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 than pleasure.

'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 conquered.'

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.


Front Matter

The Great God Pan
The Six Pomegranate Seeds
The Birth of Athene
The Two Weavers
The Purple Flowers
Danae and Her Little Son
The Quest of Perseus
Andromeda and Sea-Monster
Acrisius Killed by Perseus
Achilles and Briseis
Menelaus and Paris Do Battle
Hector and Andromache
The Horses of Achilles
The Death of Hector
Polyphemus the Giant
Odysseus Escapes from Cave
Odysseus Returns to Ithaca
Argus the Hound Dies
The Bow of Odysseus
The Land of Hellas
Lycurgus and His Nephew
Lycurgus Returns to Sparta
Training of the Spartans
The Helots
Aristomenes and the Fox
The Olympian Games
The Last King of Athens
Cylon Fails to be Tyrant
Solon Frees the Slaves
Athenians Take Salamis
Pisistratus Becomes Tyrant
Harmodius and Aristogiton
The Law of Ostracism
The Bridge of Boats
Darius Rewards Histiaeus
Histiaeus Shaves His Slave
Sardis Is Destroyed
Sandal Sewn by Histiaeus
Earth and Water
Battle of Marathon
Miltiades Sails to Paros
Aristides is Ostracised
The Dream of Xerxes
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Bravest Men of All Hellas
Battle of Thermopylae
Battle of Artemisium
Themistocles at Salamis
Themistocles Tricks Admirals
Battle of Salamis
Battle of Plataea
Delian League
Themistocles Deceives Spartans
Themistocles is Ostracised
Eloquence of Pericles
Pericles and Elpinice
The City of Athens
Great Men of Athens
Thebans Attack Plataeans
Attica Invaded by Spartans
Last Words of Pericles
Siege of Plataea
The Sentence of Death
Brasidas Loses His Shield
The Spartans Surrender
Brasidas the Spartan
Amphipolus Surrenders
Alcibiades the Favourite
Socrates the Philosopher
Alcibiades Praises Socrates
Images of Hermes Destroyed
Alcibiades Escapes to Sparta
The Siege of Syracuse
Athenian Army is Destroyed
Alcibiades Returns to Athens
Antiochus Disobeys Alcibiades
Walls of Athens Destroyed
March of the Ten Thousand
Pelopidas and Epaminondas
Seven Conspirators
Battle of Leuctra
Death of Epaminondas
The Two Brothers
Timoleon exiles Dionysius
Icetes Attacks Timoleon
Battle of Crimisus
Demosthenes' Wish
Greatest Orator of Athens
The Sacred War
Alexander and Bucephalus
Alexander and Diogenes
Battle of Granicus
The Gordian Knot
Darius Gallops from Battle
Tyre Stormed by Alexander
Battle of Gaugamela
Alexander Burns Persepolis
Alexander Slays Foster-Brother
Porus and His Elephant
Alexander Is Wounded
The Death of Alexander
Demosthenes in the Temple