ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Most interesting......I've only just found this, and will take some time to digest it. In the meantime I'll just make two points. Firstly, even if the deserters were at a sufficient elevation to see as far as Eumenes camp, and hence potentially observe the glow of thousands of camp fires, it would still require perfect, and still, atmospheric conditions - no intervening rain clouds or dust for example, and no wind, which blurs the observable distance because of different bands of atmospheric refraction.
And even if Eumenes camp were observable, Phoenix's column would not be so , even if it left in broad daylight. Dust is most unlikely to be visible at such a distance, and if it was, then any dust raised by his small column would be masked by the far larger dust clouds raised by grazing animals and the many thousands of foraging men around the camp....

My second point is that you can't simply average the distance covered in three days, and come up with a figure of 14 mpd.
"three days march" doesn't necessarily mean three days full march. It simply means a distance more than can be covered in two full days (say 30-40 miles) and less than the distance that can be covered in three full days ( say 45-60 miles) -so it can mean two and a half days march, or two and three quarters. At 17 mpd, for example, the march itself would take 2.65 days, which would of course be called "three days march"
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

I think that Eumenes must have been able to see the deserters' camp fires otherwise he was launching a punishing night march against an unlocated enemy; we are talking the Kappadokian winter so I doubt dust would be a problem but one might assume any column would stand out against snow or frost. Also I reckon the three days' march stems from the time the deserters had been away from the camp ie. day/night 1; not back from foraging, day/night 2 camp seen further off; conclusion deserting, day 3 pursuit organised night 3 Phoenix sent toward the visible camp fires. One would think the deserters would make the best speed they could, though the weather may have slowed them down. It would have been possible for them to have made the whole distance in one forced march, as Phoenix did with a larger force, maybe the men were reluctant or at least undecided, after all only the officers were punished. Zeus! Yet more pure speculation :shock: That is part of the joy of 'History'.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

Here are some figures from Lionel Casson's study 'Travel in the Ancient World', bear in mind we are dealing with small groups here.

Shugli king of Ur c2075BC claimed in poem to have covered the distance between Nippur and Ur and back, c200miles in one day despite a hailstorm on the return leg.

Hammurabi c1780BC ordered some personnel to be rushed to him, 'they are to travel day and night and so reach Babylon in two days' (from Larsa c120 miles).

The Persian Royal Road from Sardis to Susa (1600 miles) had inns at 10 -15 miles, thouh an average of 18mpd was achievable, the whole taking about three months with the Royal Mail being five times as fast ie 90 mpd.

Roman couriers averaged 50mpd @ 5mph normally but in emergencies could treble this, news of the revolt of the legions at Mainz reaching Rome in 8-9 days.

A 4th century AD itinerary has inns spaced at these intervals Toulouse-9 (Roman) miles Nonum mutatio or hostel – 11 miles mutatio, Vicesimum – 9miles mansio or inn at Elusione - 9 miles mutatio Sostomagnus – 10 miles to the village of Vicus Hebromagnus – 6 miles to mutatio Cedros – then 8 miles to Carcassonne. These 62 miles represent a two day carriage journey the legs being 29 and then 33 miles. The traveller on foot was catered for every ten or so miles with 15-20 mpd being an average jouney on the flat.

Papyrus evidence gives an itinerary for an actual official journey from Pelusion to Antioch undertaken by one Theophanes and his entourage of possible thirty clerks and servants. They took four days to cross the desert to Palestine with a top speed of 26 mpd and a low of 16. thence they averaged 40 for six days to Tyre, then less than 30 for eight days to Laodicea before dashing 64 off in a day to Antioch. On the return the first day was short, only 14 miles being covered then 50 to Laodicea, the 140 miles to Byblos took three days, 24 to Beirut then 34 to Sidon, 36 to Tyre, 45 to Ptolemais, 44 to Caesarea, 33 to Antipatris, 43 to Askalon, 39 to Raphia, 38 to Rhinokoloura it was then two days to Pelusion.

A recorded carriage journey is that of Aristides c165 AD from Smyrna to Pergamon, setting off at 3:30 ish. By 7 they had covered 14 miles, by 10 they had covered a further ten miles in the next two hours another 11. 4 AM saw the party seven miles further on and dropping. Twelve miles were covered in the following daylight hours with a final leg of 16 the next day. We can get speeds,then, of 4 2/3mph, 3 1/3mph, 5 ½ mph, and then only less than 2 mph! Having been actually travelling for 12 hours the animals were in no fit state and this may explain the much slower progress on the subsequent days.

These Roman examples are on good roads, of course. Within Greece the speeds of the Persian couriers would probably be unattainable due to the lack of roads and the rough terrain, fortunately distances are much shorter.

Concerning what can be seen at distance, it seems at 6 miles massed troops are visible only as a darkening of the terrain, this was how Napoleon saw Blucher bearing down on his right flank at Waterloo. It would seem that there was no real need for a night march for Phoenix and crew, however, if Eumenes could see where the deserters were it would be natural to assume they could observe him, not least as they were at a higher altitude.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

All most interesting, and indicative of much hard research work down among the ants. These figures , although belonging to small parties rather than armies, and often by carriage, do go a long way to confirm the sort of 'ballpark' figures we have already been discussing.

Concerning distances, I had overlooked that example, but be aware that what Napoleon could see was Von Bulow's corps of over 30,000 men in a solid mass !

As I said earlier, Phoenix's little column would be totally invisible at that distance ( 5-6 miles), unless dust gave them away, so as Agesilaos now agrees, he could happily have begun his journey in broad daylight. I am not sure why Agesilaos thinks that the two parties need to be able to see each other at a distance of 45 miles, which is practically an impossibility - Eumenes will have been perfectly aware of the deserters whereabouts from conventional mounted patrols and scouts in any event, and of course they knew perfectly well where his camp was. Doubtless they considered 'two days march' a safe distance from a surprise attack and that they would get warning of any force approaching...
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Moving right along to the oft promised marches of Antigonus, we can begin with one that is fairly specific, and which follows on from the doings of Cassander ( discussed ad nauseum in the 'Philip's remains' thread ), and perhaps sets the bar for a 'normal' march.
DS XIX.55 refers to Antigonus setting off from Susa in the Spring of 315 BC, headed for Babylon, with his army and taking the treasury with him on a convoy of wagons and camels. He doubtless travels the Persian 'Royal road', and covers the distance in 22 days. I learn from a couple of modern sources that this distance along the Royal road is 375 miles, giving an average of 17.04 miles per day.....not a surprising figure to anyone following this thread ! :wink:
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by agesilaos »

If you go to googlemaps you can punch in a route for walking from Shush in Iran, Susa (the Apadana Palace is c1000 feet from the marker) to Babylon, Hillah and the distance is only 293 miles; an average of 13.5 mpd Alexander had travelled the same route in 20 days in 324 which is c 15mpd (although it may be a rounded number, but where would we be if we go down that road!).

There is a good march coming but i need my maps to arrive before continuing, otherwise it kind of negates the purpose.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Hhhhhh..mm.mm, you are right. Wonder where that 375 miles came from ?? Could the writer have simply 'reverse engineered' and multiplied the number of days by the average day's march, I wonder ?

A recap on march distances may be a timely reminder here.There are, broadly speaking, 3 'march rates' for pre-industrial armies:
'Strategic' or 'Campaign' ; this is governed by the Army's supply train, in turn governed by the speed of wagons and their oxen, about 2 mph, giving a typical day's march of 10-15 miles on flat ground. An obvious advantage is to move heavy supplies by sea, making coastal marches popular, or by river barge, since armies march along river valleys both because of water supply, and because they represent the smoothest terrain, so a major river can kill 3 'birds' with one stone for the budding general !

'Normal' or 'Tactical'; this is governed by human walking speeds, about 3.5-4 mph, and the need to set up a (generally) fortified camp and forage. Typically ( is there ever such a thing? ) an army would rise at first light, quickly breakfast, strike the camp and be on the road early, march 15-20 miles in 5 or 6 hours (including rests), and averaging 17-17.5 miles per day. Pack animals are limited to mules and donkeys and their carts which can keep up these speeds.

'Forced' marching; For troops 'lightly equipped' i.e. carrying weapons in the hand and a little food and water only, this can be achieved by alternate walking/jogging. For 'encumbered' troops with all their gear, such as tools, full rations, perimeter stakes, tents etc, jogging is too tiring and impracticable, with kit bouncing up and down. 'Forced' distances are achieved by not stopping to forage, and thus doubling, or more, the time on the road. 'Forced' marching can achieve distance of 35 to 50 miles, and very occasionally more.

All the above march speeds, of course, are mere generalisations and will in reality be affected by a myriad of factors such as water supply, terrain such as woods, mountains, hills, swamps etc, and weather such as heat in a desert, snow, rain; bottlenecks such as passes, bridges, and the need to pause while pontoon bridges are built, and so on.....

Because of these factors, the longer the campaign or march, the lower the average speed will be because of these, not to mention rest days, and pauses to fight your way through 'bandit country' or battles....thus the 'average' figure for Alexander's army on its very long campaign is often given as 13 miles per day - a respectable figure for a 'strategic' march over some of the world's more difficult terrain, and in fact such a good figure that some, I believe, theorise that it couldn't have been done if Alexander's army contained ox-transport, and thus it was ALL horse and mule drawn.

Personally I don't believe that, for a number of reasons - his army had to have contained ox-drawn transport.

Agesilaos wrote:
If you go to googlemaps you can punch in a route for walking from Shush in Iran, Susa (the Apadana Palace is c1000 feet from the marker) to Babylon, Hillah and the distance is only 293 miles; an average of 13.5 mpd Alexander had travelled the same route in 20 days in 324 which is c 15mpd (although it may be a rounded number, but where would we be if we go down that road!).
Yes, did that using the Alexander's campaigns overlay, and it comes up with circa 225 miles, and I see 224 miles given in several sites on the net.[ Apparently it is actually 224.5 miles according to satellite :shock: ....] For Antigonus, his 22 day march, accompanied by camels and wagons carrying the treasure, this works out at a little over 10 mpd - which is what we should expect given the camels and wagon train. For Alexander going the other way, his 20 days is only a little faster, at a little over 11 mpd. This implies that Alexander was accompanied by his 'train' at the time....

Guess it is best to leave this for now until those maps arrive... :wink:
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:DS XIX.55 refers to Antigonus setting off from Susa in the Spring of 315 BC, headed for Babylon, with his army and taking the treasury with him on a convoy of wagons and camels. He doubtless travels the Persian 'Royal road', and covers the distance in 22 days.
That would be summer 316.

Diodorus notes several marches, their distances and time taken. It pays to treat each on its merits though for there are a couple of errors (likely of compression when abridging). One such is the march of Antigonus, spring 316, from Ecbatana to Persepolis (19.46.6) where he is said to have completed this journey, of some 550 miles, in "about twenty days". This equates to 27.5mpd. This is with the treasures of Ecbatana and an army swelled by the addition of Eumenes' defeated forces (as well as the supply train and camp followers) - including elephants. There is no need for such haste here as the opposing forces were defeated over winter. One could compare the march of Eumenes from the Pasitigris to Persepolis (19.21.2) after Antigonus had retreated north. This march of about 345 miles was completed in 24 days (a little more than 14mpd).
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

I have followed Tom Boiy here, who places the events we have been following in 316 BC ( Olympias' death, Cassander's campaign, and Antigonus' defeat of Eumenes in the winter ).

Diodorus clearly places the move eastward of Antigonus in the Spring of the following year (XIX.55.1 "When this year had passed, Praxibulus was archon at Athens....". Praxibulus was eponymous archon in 315/314 - Athenian years starting in mid-summer). Confusingly, DS also refers to the Roman consular year of Spurius Nautius Rutilus and Marcus Popilius Laenas, who according to the 'fasti' were consuls for 316 ?
Are you following Beloch and his "Griecische Geschicte" here ? ( no, I don't have this, I am relying on secondary information ) Given the choice between 316 or 315, I'm guessing that since 315 finds Antigonus far to the East in Phoenicia, it makes sense to allocate his general eastward move to the otherwise 'empty' 316 ? I see that this is the view that Boiy adopts.....

On reflection, I would agree......
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:I have followed Tom Boiy here, who places the events we have been following in 316 BC ( Olympias' death, Cassander's campaign, and Antigonus' defeat of Eumenes in the winter ).
Which is correct. Both the battle of Gabiene and the siege are the same winter: that of 317/16.
Xenophon wrote:Diodorus clearly places the move eastward of Antigonus in the Spring of the following year (XIX.55.1 "When this year had passed, Praxibulus was archon at Athens....". Praxibulus was eponymous archon in 315/314 - Athenian years starting in mid-summer). Confusingly, DS also refers to the Roman consular year of Spurius Nautius Rutilus and Marcus Popilius Laenas, who according to the 'fasti' were consuls for 316 ?
Are you following Beloch and his "Griecische Geschicte" here ? ( no, I don't have this, I am relying on secondary information )
No, I am not following Beloch. I'm following Stylianou / Boiy / Meeus.

The first thing to note is that Diodorus' archon here is a year out of phase. The Sicilian picks up Antigonus exactly where he left him: in the summer of 317 (19.48.8). There Antigonus, the treasures of Ecbatana loaded up in his train, descends upon Susa where collected together for him was some 25,000 talents. At 55.1 Diodorus says that Antigonus "having decided to convey all the money to the sea, prepared wagons and camels" for the purpose, loaded them and set off for Babylon. This is all the same story and it all follows (if the intervening events for Europe and the archon notice are removed). Antigonus was clearly of a mind to return west with alacrity once he'd settled matters in the "upper satrapies" for he'd been gone since 318.

Secondly, if Seleucus is forced to flee under this archon year (late summer 315), then Antigonus does not go into winter quarters in Cilicia until 315/14. This has several ramifications (aside from there being no winter, then, for 316/15). The first is that the siege of Tyre cannot begin until summer/autumn 314. This also means that Antigonus, in response to the ultimatum of the coalition (19.57.1-2), sent Aristodemus to the Peloponnese in 314 to raise an army and enlist Polyperchon and his son against Cassander (ibid 57.5). Cassander responded by invading the Peloponnese (63.3 ff). Having done as much as possible, Cassander then presided over the Nemean games before returning to Macedon. These games are biennial in odd years. Thus Aristodemus and Cassander are in the Peloponnese not in 314 but either 315 or 313. It is not possible for it to be the latter for that then means that the beginning of the siege of Tyre must be dated to late summer 313. This posits a year of nothing (314) and contradicts the evidence that places the encampment before Tyre and the later beginning of the siege to the summer following Seleucus' flight (which, on this "low" reckoning, must be 314). It also contradicts the clear statement that when Seleucus returned to Babylon, his previous tenure had been four years (91.2) - Autumn 320- late summer 316.

Xenophon wrote: Given the choice between 316 or 315, I'm guessing that since 315 finds Antigonus far to the East in Phoenicia, it makes sense to allocate his general eastward move to the otherwise 'empty' 316 ? I see that this is the view that Boiy adopts.....

On reflection, I would agree......
And you would be right.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Paralus wrote:
One such is the march of Antigonus, spring 316, from Ecbatana to Persepolis (19.46.6) where he is said to have completed this journey, of some 550 miles, in "about twenty days". This equates to 27.5mpd. This is with the treasures of Ecbatana and an army swelled by the addition of Eumenes' defeated forces (as well as the supply train and camp followers) - including elephants. There is no need for such haste here as the opposing forces were defeated over winter. One could compare the march of Eumenes from the Pasitigris to Persepolis (19.21.2) after Antigonus had retreated north. This march of about 345 miles was completed in 24 days (a little more than 14mpd).
I'm not sure from whence came 550 miles....measuring on the Google Earth program, and following Jona's(?) Alexander march route overlay, the distance is slightly under 500 miles roughly.( and one should bear in mind the difference between 'map miles' and 'ground miles') This is still around 25 miles per day, depending on the ‘about twenty days’ – a very rapid pace, not far short of ‘forced march’ pace, probably along the ‘Royal road’. Perhaps the pace was through fear of bandits pouncing and snatching part of the treasure( despite the presence of a large army, it is inevitably strung out, and there are always parts vulnerable to a daring swoop.)? Or some political crisis? We cannot tell, or know.

As for Eumenes march, I also make this slightly shorter, at around 300 miles, so even slower at 12.5 miles per day. 12.5 – 14 mpd is certainly slow, but DS emphasises the delights of the country “so that travellers lingered with delight in places pleasantly inviting repose...”
The problem with averages is just that - they are averages. In all likelihood the march was at 'normal' pace 15-20 miles per day, with more 'rest days' when the army "lingered with delight".....

I note that Peucestes gathered in ALL the cattle that were in abundance, and “distributed them without stint to the soldiers, seeking their goodwill.” One wonders at the locals feelings toward this army that descended like a plague of locusts on them.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Yet another post into the ether. Let's try again..
Xenophon wrote:I'm not sure from whence came 550 miles....measuring on the Google Earth program, and following Jona's(?) Alexander march route overlay, the distance is slightly under 500 miles roughly.( and one should bear in mind the difference between 'map miles' and 'ground miles').
The distance comes from Bosworth ("Legacy of Alexander", p. 125, notes 104,106) where he estimates from the Geographical Handbook Series (Persia). I say "estimates" because none of us can know the actual complete route of what was called the "royal road" - if that is what he took (though it seems a given). Google earth gives a modern road distance of 962 km (601 km) but Google Maps produces a "walking distance" (modern, of course) of 921 km (575 miles). Funnily enough, this divided by 27 or 28 mpd equates to "about twenty days". Personally, I think Bosworth's estimate conservative - especially bearing in mind the difference between 'map miles' and 'ground miles' and taking into account our "rules of thumb". Although Antigonus needs to return west, there is no reason for this haste (a "forced march" by your definition) unless he needs to confront something or escape something. The only attested trouble is in Media which Antigonus settles before he leaves (19.46.5); there is no great confrontation awaiting him in Persis. Here I think Bosworth is correct: Diodorus has summarised his source's description of events from Media to Persepolis wherein"twenty days" refers to a stage of this journey not the whole; the figure being preserved by Diodorus as applying to the whole.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

Bosworth's "guess" for the 'march speed anomaly' is no better than any other plausible guess - I've even suggested a couple of possibilities myself in the previous post. And here's some other possibilities for haste; perhaps he was short on supplies, or water was short or....or....? Suggesting a source is "wrong" should, in my view, be a last resort explanation when it isn't an obvious error.

I've got 'down among the ants' and remeasured the distance more accurately along the overlay on Google Earth - it comes out at 571 miles aprox, at an average of 28.5 mpd. D's "about twenty days" implies more to me, but we should perhaps reckon on 2-3 rest days, so 20 marching days is plausible.

There is no mention of a 'supply train' or camp followers, which in any event could be left to follow on behind if there was some reason for Antigonus to be in Persepolis in a hurry...as you point out, there was no great danger.

If D's march speed was wildly implausible..e.g. if he stated that ox-wagons were used to transport the treasure for example, we'd know that speed to be impossible. Lightly loaded ox-wagons, or fresh oxen can proceed at 3 mph, but generally average 2mph per day laden. Thus in a normal march day oxen will cover 10-15 miles, and anything up around 20 mpd tires them quickly over several days. Alas, it is plausible for an army with just pack animals and lighter mule carts to move at D's stated speed, albeit a 'forced march' pace, especially along good roads such as the "Royal road".....so the reason for the haste or 'error' must remain a mystery....
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Paralus »

Xenophon wrote:I've got 'down among the ants' and remeasured the distance more accurately along the overlay on Google Earth - it comes out at 571 miles aprox, at an average of 28.5 mpd. D's "about twenty days" implies more to me, but we should perhaps reckon on 2-3 rest days, so 20 marching days is plausible.
I agree with the distance of near to 570 miles as opposed to 500. There is no need to emend Diodorus' note of the amount of days however. He states "about twenty days" and nothing indicates more or less. This might mean nineteen or twenty one - I doubt he means twenty three or so.
Xenophon wrote:There is no mention of a 'supply train' or camp followers, which in any event could be left to follow on behind if there was some reason for Antigonus to be in Persepolis in a hurry...as you point out, there was no great danger.
Details of supply trains and camp followers are not high on ancient authors' "to describe list". Thucydides, in his description of the Sicilian expedition, is an exception (as he is in many things). Absence of supply trains and camp followers in Diodorus' description is not evidence of such absence from Antigonus' army. Indeed the Sicilian's description of the wash up of Gabiene shows us that Antigonus took over Eumenes' entire army (19.44.1). The size of this force, after Antigonus had gathered it together, necessitated it wintering "throughout the entire satrapy" (44.4). At the very minimum, this contained the wives and families of the Argyraspids and likely of many others (the suttee involving the Indian commander's wives after Paraetecene indicates others were there as well). In the spring Antigonus gathers this huge force "into one place", he appoints a satrap and military commander for Media and sets out for Persia. Nothing indicates any haste and nothing indicates that he left any slow moving portions of his army (supply train, camp followers or elephants) behind. The satraps (any who'd not taken off) were clearly with Antigonus and remained so until the new distribution made in Persepolis. It follows so were their forces. This was a large army - a combination of the two formerly opposed forces. For such to cover the journey in the forced march manner supposed by Diodorus there had to be a compelling reason in Persis for they are hardly being chased. There is no such compelling reason in the surviving source material. More importantly, Antigonus is carrying 5,000 talents of uncoined silver or between 138 and 150 metric tons of silver bullion (depending upon whether this was a Greek or Mesopotamian talent). I find Diodorus' march rate rather implausible.
Xenophon wrote:Suggesting a source is "wrong" should, in my view, be a last resort explanation when it isn't an obvious error.
To me the error is obvious. As well, his errors in chronology aren't always "obvious" - especially if one takes his archon markers literally as inserted. Further, Diodorus stuffs up another march in this same campaign - and likely for the same reason (misreading / summarising his source). At 19.17.3 he claims that the Pasitigris was only a day's march from Susa. Even given the differences in ancient watercourses to modern this is plainly wrong (at 17.67.1 Alexander takes four days for the same distance).

The text of the offending line gives the hint:
Antigonus himself moved to Ecbatana with his army. There he took possession of five thousand talents of uncoined silver and then led the army into Persia, the march to the capital, which is called Persepolis, lasting about twenty days.
Antigonus left Ecbatana and led the army into Persia. The march to the capital taking about twenty days. Diodorus may well have compressed two separate notices here. His final march on the capital may well have taken about twenty days; his march from Ecbatana to Persepolis almost certainly took longer.
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Re: ATG Geography: WHERE IS NORA? + FORCED MARCHES

Post by Xenophon »

A persuasive case, well put !

Certainly, if Antigonus did not push on ahead to Persepolis at a very smart speed with just the army and treasure ( for some unknown reason), leaving the 'caravanserai' to follow, then I would say that probability favours your interpretation - especially upon reflection on the wording of Diodorus, which does have a certain ambiguity in English, such that it could well be read as
Antigonus left Ecbatana and led the army into Persia.[subsequently] The march to the capital taking about twenty days. Diodorus may well have compressed two separate notices here. His final march on the capital may well have taken about twenty days; his march from Ecbatana to Persepolis almost certainly took longer.
as you say.

Whilst probability may favour this, the alternative is still a possibility i.e. that there was some unknown ( to us) reason to hurry to Persepolis - e.g. to secure more treasure before it could be removed?

As I said;
so the reason for the haste or 'error' must remain a mystery....
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