Split thread - Darius: Deserter or Deserted?

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Theseus
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Split thread - Darius: Deserter or Deserted?

Post by Theseus »

Vergina Sun wrote:
Theseus wrote:Thanks, I knew it was made after his death, but couldn't off the top of my head think of the year. :oops: I had to run and look in one of my books and it had some information on it. It says "Roman copy from Pompeii of an original Greek painting by Philoxenus." There is a site that has a picture of the mosaic and description. http://atgspot.com/alex_web/pages/alxphoto.htm I thought you may be interested in seeing it.
It's okay, I'm always forgetting things too. :)
The website was very interesting. I always realized that there were many tesserae, but didn't know there were over one and a half million. I also like how the author states that there were two protagonists in the picture: Alexander and Darius. In the end, we have to agree that Darius was just fighting for his country - making him a protagonist as well, I guess.
I'm glad you went by that site, it's really interesting. I have to say that I really thought Darius was a coward because he never stayed to face Alexander and just ran away. Alexander was braver and had more integrity even at such a young age. That mosaic captured that with Alexander's expression as well as Darius', don't you think?
I long for wealth, but to win it by wrongful means I have no desire. Justice, though slow, is sure.
"Solon Fragment 13" poem
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Vergina Sun
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Post by Vergina Sun »

Theseus wrote:I'm glad you went by that site, it's really interesting. I have to say that I really thought Darius was a coward because he never stayed to face Alexander and just ran away. Alexander was braver and had more integrity even at such a young age. That mosaic captured that with Alexander's expression as well as Darius', don't you think?
Yes, I certainly see their expressions. Darius truly was a coward to run away from Alexander, and I have to admit Alexander was the braver out of the two. Yet I still feel that Darius might have been somewhat of a protagonist. His lifestyle was different from Alexander's and our's too. Perhaps what the Persians saw in a king is not what we see as brave. Sorry, I tend to sympathize too much sometimes. If I were Darius, I would want to die with dignity at the hands of Alexander. In fact, it would be an honor to be killed by someone so spectacular. Then again, that's just me. :)
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Post by Semiramis »

I've read a few opinions that in Gaugamela, it was Darius' troops that deserted him, not the other way around. It's probably too late to unpick the war propaganda that followed 2 millennia after the fact. :)

Before he became Great King, Both Justin and Diodorus claim Darius III distinguished himself in a combat of champions in a war against the Cadusi. The warrior champion of the Cadusi (who had revolted against the Persian empire) challenged any Persian who would meet him in single combat. Darius alone had the courage to face and and beat him. The Cadusi are next mentioned fighting Alexander under Darius' command.

It's said that Darius' appointment as Great King was based on his bravery as a warrior. Darius also brought Egypt under the fold of the Persian empire again after it had revolted, supporting the idea that he was militarily skilled. Also, the time it took him to gather the troops from all ends of the earth to face Alexander seems rather short for back in those days. Again suggesting a degree of administrative skill in army matters. Curtius also specifically mentions his justice and loyalty towards his troops. :) All this praise from the victors! Who knows what the Zoroastrians would've written about him had their books and temples survived Alexander's conquest. ;)
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Post by Vergina Sun »

I know this is about Alexander's appearence, but since we're talking about this,I'll continue. Darius certainly wasn't the worst person in history. In fact, he was quite remarkable, if you see it from a Persian's aspect. As Semiramis said, he did do quite a few remarkable feats during his lifetime. I've never heard of the theory that Darius' troops left him instead of the other way around. I still wonder: What made Darius turn around and flee? Did Alexander scare him? Or was it something else? I suppose we'll never know, but it's interesting to think about.
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Post by Paralus »

Semiramis wrote:It's said that Darius' appointment as Great King was based on his bravery as a warrior. Darius also brought Egypt under the fold of the Persian empire again after it had revolted, supporting the idea that he was militarily skilled. Also, the time it took him to gather the troops from all ends of the earth to face Alexander seems rather short for back in those days. Again suggesting a degree of administrative skill in army matters.
Too little time to do this justice: I've a dozen people comming over for a symposium and a pig.

Egypt - the province too far - spent much of its time under the Acahemenids in "revolt" and outside of the empire.There was a long revolt in the 460's (not to mention that which occurred around the death of Darius The Great) and a revolt in the closing years of the Peloponnesian war the response to which was seriously curtailed by Cyrus the Younger's uprising. This resulted in Egypt being largely outside the empire for some sixty years until - after several unsuccessful attempts by Atraxerxes II - Artaxerxes III Ochus captured it on his third attempt in 343/2.

For those who view this as proof of some Achaemenid military decline, I would point out the Athenian disaster during the Inaros rebellion of the late 460s; Perdiccas' utter failure in 321 and ditto Antigonus in 306.

Darius III did not recover Egypt, his effective predecessor did. His response to Philip's panhellenic meddling in Asia Minor was much along the lines of his predecessor Artaxerxes II to that panhellenic blowhard Agesilaos. He will have "sent down an army" to deal with the meddlesome Greeks playing at liberation politics in Asia Minor.

Alexander too, when he rose to the throne, was simply a lad - yet to prove himself. As reports of such proving reached the king he began to build triremes and to assemble an army (Diod17.7.2) in anticipation of a coming clash. This all takes time and although his forces had beaten Parmenion and the Macedonians back to their bridgeheads, he was was unable to prevent Alexander's crossing from Europe.

The rest is, as they say, history.
Last edited by Paralus on Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Semiramis »

Paralus wrote: Too little time to do this justice: I've a dozen people comming over for a symposium and a pig.
Thanks for the information Paralus. I like the bird's eye view we get from you on these matters. :) Did the pig enjoy the Symposium? :P
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Post by Paralus »

No Semiramis, I doubt the pig is enjoying this in the slightest. It is about to undergo something akin to Calanus' cremation. It will be inserted into a Webber at full 120 coal bore. It will "crackle" and it will be consumed. Indeed it is about half an hour away from being so inserted.

As for the rest:

For now the floor is clean, and the hands of all

and the cups are clean, and a slave crowns them with intertwined wreaths

and another gives then sweet-smelling myrrh from a bowl.

And the krater has been put in place, full of mirth.

And more wine has been prepared, which promises never to betray,

dark red wine in pitchers, which is fragrant as flowers.

In the middle, incense sends its pure perfume,

and the water is cool, delicious, clean.

And beside are spread fair breads, and a table nobly laid,

heavy with cheeses and thick honey.

It is no hubris to drink as much as you can take

and go home propped up by a slave, unless you are an old man.

Praise the man who, even though he has drunk, speaks well,

as long as his memory helps him, and discusses with passion an
d virtue.

Xenophanes, fragment 1, c 490 BC.

And now to repair to the palace wine racks and select the libations. The fetta and blue cheeses are refrigerated as is the ale.
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Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Alita »

I was discussing this very theme with my father tonight and we were talking about the difference between the way the Greeks and Persians did battle. It would seem that the Persians expressed their kingship by staying well away from the battle because the king was thought to be too important to get involved, in case the people were left without a ruler to give instructions. Whereas the way Alexander did battle, he needed to be in front to inspire and be an example to his troops. It also became clear that I have been misinformed about Darius' actions all this time. :shock: I was under the impression that he wanted to stay and fight Alexander but his men wanted him to run away and so they killed him. However, my father informs me that, according to the history books he's read, Darius was the one who wanted to run away and his men wanted him to stay so they killed him for deserting them. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Has Michael Wood got it wrong?
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Post by Vergina Sun »

Alita wrote:I was discussing this very theme with my father tonight and we were talking about the difference between the way the Greeks and Persians did battle. It would seem that the Persians expressed their kingship by staying well away from the battle because the king was thought to be too important to get involved, in case the people were left without a ruler to give instructions. Whereas the way Alexander did battle, he needed to be in front to inspire and be an example to his troops. It also became clear that I have been misinformed about Darius' actions all this time. :shock: I was under the impression that he wanted to stay and fight Alexander but his men wanted him to run away and so they killed him. However, my father informs me that, according to the history books he's read, Darius was the one who wanted to run away and his men wanted him to stay so they killed him for deserting them. Anyone have any thoughts on this? Has Michael Wood got it wrong?
Before I say anything else, I must admit that I was laughing at myself while I read this. Your questions were brilliant, but it was the fact that you were discussing Alexander with your father. I, personally, would never dream of that, as I always get the feeling that my father wishes I take an interest in bridges or something, instead of Alexander the Great. He insists that I should "act like other children my age." Unfortunately, I doubt he'll get his wish. That's enough about poor me, now, so let's move on to the questions! :D

I always took for granted the fact that Darius ran away. I can certainly see your point. For example, in the United States, very few people would ask the president to go out into the middle of a war. I believe that the Persians would have wanted their king to be part of the glory and fame of victory, so he was usually present in the large wars, though not playing an active fighting role. Perhaps it was because he was too important to be killed by a common soldier. Perhaps the Persian soldiers did want him to run away in order to save his life. Then again, we could take the perspective of him being a coward. He might have wanted to run away simply because he was fearful for his life. It does appear to be reasonable to me. Honestly, I am unable to give you a direct answer, but you asked for thoughts, and so those were mine. I'd like to see what others have to say on this topic too.
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Post by Theseus »

I know we've been talking about how maybe it's because of the different cultures that Darius "ran away" from Alexander, but I really appreciate how Alexander was always "in" the battle and not watching it from afar or when things got bad, that he didn't run off. I just can't shake the thought of it being cowardice of Darius' actions. I know it was important for a King to be safe and be able to continue on after a battle, but I prefer Alexander's style and bravery. :D

Also I have to say that I think it's great some of you can discuss these things with your parents or friends. My parents have absolutely no interest in this type of thing or any of my family/friends. At least here you can see other people's opinions and have really interesting discussions.

Just a quick note about the Alexander mosaic we were discussing, I found someone that makes "frescos" and I had bought one of Alexander and Barsine's wedding and I asked if they could make one special for me of the mosaic and they did and I just got it in the mail and it's gorgeous. I know that prints are available and have found some online. I really love that mosaic and am glad it was one of the items left in Pompeii after that horrible tragedy happened to their society.
I long for wealth, but to win it by wrongful means I have no desire. Justice, though slow, is sure.
"Solon Fragment 13" poem
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Post by Paralus »

The evidence of the Babylonian Astronomical Diaries would strongly suggest that Darius was deserted by his troops, not the other way around. This on the basis of the "reading" of a lunar eclipse prior to the battle.

The reconstructions of this battle are - at best - unclear. What survives is most likely the original plan of attack. The dusty plains near Arbela will have thrown up huge obscuring clouds during the action itself and it is unlikely any of the participants had any real view of the general engagement. Much like the decisive battle of the second Diadoch war, Gabiene (316), where the decisive action - a cavalry charge around the left flank of Eumenes' army netting the baggage train and the Argyraspids' families and possessions - was carried out, totally unobserved, behind a choking pall of salt dust.

The fact of Alexander always being in the action and leading is in no way peculiar to him. This was common practice at the time. His father did so, Epaminondas died doing so as did Pelopidas; Kleombrotus famously died leading the homoioi at Leuktra; Kleon fell at Amphipolis as did Brasidas; Kimon led his armies into action as did Perikles.
Last edited by Paralus on Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

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Post by Theseus »

Paralus, you have listed some very brave men indeed!
Believe me, I know that other generals/Kings did the same as Alexander and faced their enemies head on. I have read of Pelopidas and he is one of my favorites. :D
Let's not forget King Leonidas as well. Whether you like Spartans or not what he and his men did was very heroic. So many leaders showed bravery even when faced with odds that were truly not in their favor.
I long for wealth, but to win it by wrongful means I have no desire. Justice, though slow, is sure.
"Solon Fragment 13" poem
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