The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

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agesilaos
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The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

We have two extant and variant stories, that of Arrian Book I
20. SIEGE OF HALICARNASSUS.—ABORTIVE ATTACK ON MYNDUS.
ALEXANDER now resolved to disband his fleet, partly from lack of money at the time, and partly because he saw that his own fleet was not a match in battle for that of the Persians. On this account he was unwilling to run the risk of losing even a part of his armament. Besides, he considered, that now he was occupying Asia with his land force, he would no longer be in need of a fleet; and that he would be able to break up that of the Persians, if he captured the maritime cities; since they would neither have any ports from which they could recruit their crews, nor any harbour in Asia to which they could bring their ships. Thus he explained the omen of the eagle to signify that he should get the mastery over the enemy’s ships by his land force. After doing this, he set forth into Caria, because it was reported that a considerable force, both of foreigners and of Grecian auxiliaries, had collected in Halicarnassus. Having taken all the cities between Miletus and Halicarnassus as soon as he approached them, he encamped near the latter city, at a distance from it of about five stades, as if he expected a long siege. For the natural position of the place made it strong; and wherever there seemed to be any deficiency in regard to security, it had been entirely supplied long before by Memnon, who was there in person, having now been proclaimed by Darius governor of lower Asia and commander of the entire fleet. Many Grecian mercenary soldiers had been left in the city, as well as many Persian troops; the triremes also were moored in the harbour, so that the sailors might render him valuable aid in the operations. On the first day of the siege, while Alexander was leading his men up to the wall in the direction of the gate leading towards Mylasa the men in the city made a sortie, and a skirmish took place; but Alexander’s men making a rush upon them repulsed them with ease, and shut them up in the city. A few days after this, the king took the shield-bearing guards, the Cavalry Companions, the infantry regiments of Amyntas, Perdiccas and Meleager, and in addition to these the archers and Agrianians, and went round to the part of the city which is in the direction of Myndus, both for the purpose of inspecting the wall, to see if perchance it could be more easily assaulted there than elsewhere; and at the same time to see if he could get hold of Myndus by a sudden and secret attack. For he thought that if Myndus became his own, it would be no small help in the siege of Halicarnassus; moreover, an offer to surrender had been made by the Myndians if he would approach the town secretly, under the cover of night. About midnight, therefore, he approached the wall, according to the plan agreed on; but as no sign of surrender was made by the men within, and though he had with him no military engines or ladders, inasmuch as he had not set out to besiege the town, but an offer to betray it was made to him, he nevertheless led the Macedonian phalanx near and ordered them to undermine the wall. They threw down one of the towers, which, however, in its fall did not make a breach in the wall. But the men in the city stoutly defending themselves, and at the same time many from Halicarnassus having already come to their aid by sea, made it impossible for Alexander to capture Myndus either by surprise or sudden assault. Wherefore he returned without accomplishing any of the plans for which he had set out, and devoted himself once more to the siege of Halicarnassus.
In the first place he filled up with earth the ditch which the enemy had dug in front of the city, about thirty cubits wide and fifteen deep; so that it might be easy to bring forward the towers, from which he intended to discharge missiles against the defenders of the wall; and that he might bring up the other engines with which he was planning to batter the wall down. He easily filled up the ditch, and the towers were then brought forward. But the men in Halicarnassus made a sally by night with the design of setting fire both to the towers and the other engines which had been brought up to the wall, or were nearly brought up to it. They were, however, easily repelled and shut up again within the walls by the Macedonians who were guarding the engines, and by others who were aroused by the noise of the struggle and who came to their aid. Neoptolemus, the brother of Arrhabaeus, son of Amyntas, one of those who had deserted to Darius, was killed, with about 170 others of the enemy. Of Alexander’s soldiers sixteen were killed and 300 wounded, for the sally being made in the night, they were less able to guard themselves from being wounded
21. SIEGE OF HALICARNASSUS.
A FEW days after this, two Macedonian hoplites of the brigade of Perdiccas, living in the same tent and being messmates, happened in the course of conversation each to be extolling himself and his own exploits. Hence a quarrel arose between them as to which of them was the braver, and, being somewhat inflamed with wine, they agreed to arm themselves, and of their own accord go and assault the wall facing the citadel, which for the most part was turned towards Mylasa. This they did rather to make a display of their own valour than to engage in a dangerous conflict with the enemy. Some of the men in the city, however, perceiving that there were only two of them, and that they were approaching the wall inconsiderately, rushed out upon them; but they slew those who came near, and hurled darts at those who stood at a distance. At last, however, they were overmatched both by the number of their assailants and the disadvantage of their own position; for the enemy made the attack upon them, and threw darts at them from a higher level. Meanwhile some other men from the brigade of Perdiccas, and others from Halicarnassus, rushed out against each other; and a sharp contest ensued near the wall. Those who had made the sally from the city were driven back, and again shut up within the gates by the Macedonians. The city also narrowly escaped capture; for the walls at that time were not under strict guard, and two towers, with the whole intermediate space, having already fallen to the ground, would have offered an easy entrance within the wall to the army, if the whole of it had undertaken the task. The third tower, which had been thoroughly shaken, would likewise have been easily thrown down if it had been undermined; but the enemy easily succeeded in building inside a crescent-shaped brick wall to take the place of the one which had fallen. This they were able to do so quickly because of the multitude of hands at their disposal. On the following day Alexander brought his engines up to this wall also; and the men in the city made another sally to set them on fire. A part of the wicker-work shed near the wall and a piece of one of the wooden towers were burnt, but the rest were protected by Philotas and Hellanicus, to whom the charge of them had been committed. But as soon as those who were making the sally saw Alexander, the men who had come out to render aid by holding torches threw them away, and the majority of them cast away their arms and fled within the walls of the city. And yet at first they had the advantage from the nature of their position, which was commanding on account of its height; for not only did they cast missiles right in front against the men who were fighting in defence of the engines, but also from the towers which alone had been left standing at each end of the battered-down wall they were able to cast them against the sides, and almost against the backs, of those who were assaulting the wall which had just been built in place of the ruined one.

22. SIEGE OF HALICARNASSUS.
A FEW days after this, when Alexander again brought his military engines up to the inner brick wall, and was himself superintending the work, a sortie in mass was made from the city, some advancing by the breach in the wall, where Alexander himself was posted, others by the triple gate, where the Macedonians did not at all expect them. The first party cast torches and other combustibles at the engines, in order to set them on fire and to defy the engineers excessively. But when the men around Alexander attacked them vigorously, hurling great stones with the engines from the towers, and launching darts at them, they were easily put to rout and fled into the city; and as a great number of them had sallied forth and great audacity had been exhibited in the fight, no small slaughter took place. For some of them were slain fighting hand-to-hand with the Macedonians, others were killed near the ruins of the wall, because the breach was too narrow for such a multitude to pass through, and the fallen portions of the wall made their passage difficult.
The second party, which sallied forth by the triple gate, was met by Ptolemy, one of the royal body-guards, who had with him the regiments (taxeis) of Addaeus and Timander and some of the light-armed troops. These soldiers likewise easily put the men of the city to rout; but as the latter in their retreat were fleeing over a narrow bridge which had been made over the ditch, they had the misfortune to break it down by the weight of their multitude. Many of them fell into the ditch, some of whom were trampled to death by their own comrades, and others were struck by the Macedonians from above. A very great slaughter was also made at the very gates, because they were shut before the proper time from a feeling of terror. For the enemy, being afraid that the Macedonians, who were close upon the fugitives, would rush in with them, shut many of their friends out, who were slain by the Macedonians near the very walls. The city narrowly escaped capture; indeed it would have been taken, had not Alexander called back his army, to see if some friendly sign of surrender would be made by the Halicarnassus for he was still desirous of saving their city. Of the men in the city about one thousand were slain; and of Alexander’s men about forty, among whom were Ptolemy, one of the king’s body-guards, Clearchus, a captain of the archers, Addaeus, who had the command of a thousand infantry, and other Macedonians of no mean position.
And that of Diodoros Book XVII

24 1 King Alexander had his siege engines and provisions conveyed by sea to Halicarnassus while he himself with all his army marched into Caria, winning over the cities that lay on his route by kind treatment. He was particularly generous to the Greek cities, granting them independence and exemption from taxation, adding the assurance that the freedom of the Greeks was the object for which he had taken upon himself the war against the Persians. 2 On his journey he was met by a woman named Ada, who belonged by blood to the ruling house of Caria. When she presented a petition to recover the position of her ancestors and requested his assistance, he gave orders that she should become the ruler of Caria. Thus he won the loyal support of the Carians by the favour that he bestowed on this woman. 3 For straightway all the cities sent missions and presented the king with golden crowns and promised to co operate with him in everything.
Alexander encamped near the city and set in motion an active and formidable siege. 4 At first he made continued assaults on the walls with relays of attackers and spent whole days in active fighting. Later he brought up all sorts of engines of war, filled in the trenches in front of the city with the aid of sheds to protect the workers, and rocked the towers and the curtains between them with his battering rams. Whenever he overthrew a portion of the wall, he attempted by hand-to hand fighting to force an entry into the city overthrow rubble. 5 But Memnon at first easily beat off the Macedonians assaulting the walls, for he had large numbers of men in the city. Where the siege engines were attacking, he issued from the city at night with numbers of soldiers and applied fire to the machines. 6 Fierce fights occurred in front of the city, in which the Macedonians showed far superior prowess, but the Persians had the advantage of numbers and of fire power. For they had the support of men who fought from the walls using engines to shoot darts, with which they killed some of the enemy and disabled others.
25 1 At the same moment, the trumpets sounded the battle signal on both sides and cheers came from all parts as the soldiers applauded in concert the feats of brave men on one side or the other. 2 Some tried to put out the fires that rose aloft among the siege engines; others joined with the foe in close combat and wrought great slaughter; others erected secondary walls behind those which crumbled, heavier by far in construction than the preceding. 3 The commanders under Memnon took their places in the front line and offered great rewards to those who distinguished themselves, so that the desire for victory rose very high on both sides. 4 There could be seen men encountering frontal wounds or being carried unconscious out of the battle, others standing over the fallen bodies of their companions and struggling mightily to recover them, while others who were on the point of yielding to the storm of terrors were again put in heart by the appeals of their officers and were renewed in spirit. 5 At length, some of the Macedonians were killed at the very gates, among them an officer Neoptolemus, a man of distinguished family.
Presently two towers were levelled with the ground and two curtains overthrown, and some of Perdiccas's soldiers, getting drunk, made a wild night attack on the walls of the citadel. Memnon's men noticed the awkwardness of these attackers and issuing forth themselves in considerably larger numbers routed the Macedonians and killed many of them. 6 As this situation became known, large numbers of Macedonians rushed up to help and a great struggle took place, and when Alexander and his staff came up, the Persians, forced back, were confined within the city, and the king through a herald asked for a truce to recover the Macedonians who had fallen in front of the walls. Now Ephialtes and Thrasybulus. Athenians fighting on the Persian side, advised not to give up the dead bodies for burial, but Memnon granted the request.
26 1 After this at a council of the commanders, Ephialtes advised them not to wait till the city was taken and they found themselves captives; he proposed that the leaders of the mercenaries should go out themselves in the front rank and lead an attack on the enemy. 2 Memnon recognized that Ephialtes was eager to prove himself and, having great hopes of him because of his courage and bodily strength, allowed him to do as he wished. 3 Accordingly he collected two thousand picked men and, giving half of them lighted torches and forming the others so as to meet the enemy, he suddenly threw all the gates wide open. It was daybreak, and sallying forth with his band he employed the one group to set fire to the siege engines, causing a great conflagration to flame up at once, 4 while he personally led the rest deployed in a dense phalanx many ranks deep and charged the Macedonians as they issued forth to help extinguish the fire. When the king saw what was happening, he placed the best fighters of the Macedonians in front and he posted a third group also consisting of others who had a good record for stout fighting. He himself at the head of all took command and made a stand against the enemy, who had supposed that because of their mass they would be invincible. He also sent men out to extinguish the fire and to rescue the siege engines.
5 As violent shouts arose at the same time on both sides and the trumpets sounded the attack, a terrific contest ensued because of the valour of the contestants and their consummate fighting spirit. 6 The Macedonians prevented the fire from spreading, but Ephialtes's men had the advantage in the battle, and he himself, who had far greater bodily strength than the rest, slew with his own hand many who traded blows with him. From the top of the recently erected replacement wall, the defenders slew many of the Macedonians with dense showers of missiles — for there had been erected a wood tower, a hundred cubits high, which was filled with dart-hurling catapults. 7 As many Macedonians fell and the rest recoiled before the thick fire of missiles, Memnon threw himself into the battle with heavy reinforcements and even Alexander found himself quite helpless.
27 1 Just at that moment as the men from the city were prevailing, the tide of battle was surprisingly reversed. For the oldest Macedonians, who were exempt from combat duty by virtue of their age, but who had served with Philip on his campaigns and had been victorious in many battles, 2 were roused by the emergency to show their valour, and, being superior in pride and war experience, sharply rebuked the faintheartedness of the youngsters who wished to avoid the battle. Then they closed ranks with their shields overlapping and confronted the foe, who thought himself already victorious. 3 They succeeded in slaying Ephialtes and many others, and finally forced the rest to take refuge in the city. 4 Night had already fallen as the Macedonians pushed within the walls along with their fleeing enemies, but the king ordered the trumpeter to sound the recall and they withdrew to their camp. 5 Memnon, however, assembled his generals and satraps, held a meeting, and decided to abandon the city. They installed their best men in the acropolis with sufficient provision and conveyed the rest of the army and the stores to Cos. 6 When Alexander at daybreak learned what had taken place he razed the city and surrounded the citadel with a formidable wall and trench
This is what is up for comparison;I will just let people familiarise themselves with the material before making my case for the superiority of Arrian and then allowing Paralus to make the case for Diodoros (hopefully with fewer sidelines than we usually manage :lol: )
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

A couple of maps for orientation
halicarnassus_map.gif
halicarnassus_map.gif (25.1 KiB) Viewed 6634 times
halicarnassus_map 3.jpg
halicarnassus_map 3.jpg (30.83 KiB) Viewed 6635 times
cities in text underlined
cities in text underlined
caria_mapr.jpg (145.99 KiB) Viewed 6635 times
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agesilaos
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

The initial point of departure concerns the fate of Alexander’s fleet; in Arrian the whole is disbanded only to be reconstituted during the siege of Tyre, when the desertion of the Phoenicians and the accretion of the Cypriots swung the balance of power in Alexander’s favour. Diodoros, however has him retain a contingent sufficient to move his siege machinery and supplies. At first sight an interesting detail but a moment’s thought reveals the nonsense of such a move. Alexander knew his fleet could not face the Persians at sea and win, yet in Diodoros’ account he strips the essential motor of his army, for the ships carry his supplies as well as his engines, of all its protection. This version is a military nonsense, and should be rejected. Where were these supplies to be off-loaded? Alexander did not possess a friendly port and the shore is not hospitable enough to permit beaching, The engines went by road, dismantled in carts or on beasts of burden.

A B Bosworth does believe in the marine transport of the engines opining, Comm I p144
…[Diodoros] speaks generally of unsuccessful assaults by the Macedonian forces operating in relays (for other examples see Sinclair, CQ xvi (1966) 249ff). The story rings true. Alexander’s siege train was being transported by sea (Diod. 24. 1) and may have arrived late (Brunt CQ xii (1962) 148 argues unconvincingly that such transport was impossible given the Persian command of the sea. The ships presumably hugged the coast, close to such safe havens as Iasus and Bargylia).


The story rings true if you believe that Alexander and his war councils were arrogant fools burning with blood-lust but, if one prefers to think of them as experienced soldiers this course of action is incredible. Brunt’s point about the Persian command of the sea is crucial, it is Bosworth’s reasoning that is here unconvincing; the fleets of both sides were made up of similar vessels neither enjoyed a significant advantage of draft, indeed, since the Macedonian ships (‘naus’ in Diodoros, so warships) were laden with provisions and engines that could not be jettisoned whereas the Persians would be able to lighten their craft by dispensing with troops or tackle and thus achieve a draft advantage over the Macedonians. As a ploy it simply won’t work. Further, one must suppose that Alexander knew he was about to fight another siege and that he would have need of his engines. There would be no point in sending them ahead of the army, as they could then be defeated in detail, nor should we credit that he would deliberately delay their arrival by sending them on a perilous cruise so that he could throw some lives away in futile assaults. The engines had to arrive with the army in order to be available and protected, nor would they slow the column.

It is Arrian that ‘rings true’ here.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Nicator »

Hello Agesilaos,

In regards to the theory that ATG's ships, if indeed kept, would have hugged the coast for protection...Taking it for the 'sake of argument only' that Diodorus was accurate, it seems plausible, and in some cases probable, that the more likely scenario (for the bulk of the retained fleet), would be that the Persians dominant numbers would by default occupy the coastlines and force the Macedonians into the less advantageous, secure, and more treacherous waters far offshore for safety. Transports for large wooden supports for battering rams and siege engines were not necessary but would go much easier over ship than land. This could have been performed at night when the cover of darkness would ensure a successful mission. I like Diodorus' version in this regard and in some other portions of the set piece because he offers greater detail. Though this does not 'ensure' accuracy, (and I realize that I have not provided an exegetic response to your entire post) it weighs more heavily in forming my opinion to the overall accuracy of the story.
Later Nicator

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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Since you are going to argue the case for Arrian’s version being the more accurate, and Paralus for the vulgate tradition as exemplified by Diodorus, I shall adopt the ‘middle way’ and argue the case that the two accounts are entirely reconcilable, with different ‘spin’ put on them by the ultimate sources.
Agesilaos wrote:
The initial point of departure concerns the fate of Alexander’s fleet; in Arrian the whole is disbanded only to be reconstituted during the siege of Tyre, when the desertion of the Phoenicians and the accretion of the Cypriots swung the balance of power in Alexander’s favour. Diodoros, however has him retain a contingent sufficient to move his siege machinery and supplies. At first sight an interesting detail but a moment’s thought reveals the nonsense of such a move. Alexander knew his fleet could not face the Persians at sea and win, yet in Diodoros’ account he strips the essential motor of his army, for the ships carry his supplies as well as his engines, of all its protection. This version is a military nonsense, and should be rejected. Where were these supplies to be off-loaded? Alexander did not possess a friendly port and the shore is not hospitable enough to permit beaching, The engines went by road, dismantled in carts or on beasts of burden.
That is rather a swingeing supposition, and not ‘evidence based’. The ‘Persian’ fleet, as in previous times was actually Phoenician and Cypriot, and consisted of roughly 300 warships. Alexander had only 160 Greek supplied warships, including 20 from Athens, and the last major feat they achieve is to reach Miletus before the Persian fleet, and blockade the harbour mouth from the inside, thus preventing anyone leaving, and the Persian fleet from relieving the siege.
A brief digression on the capabilities of ancient trireme warships and naval capabilities is desirable. Triremes were flimsy super-large ‘rowing eights’. They could only sail in good weather, with waves less than a metre high. They were necessarily light for speed, and carried no large supplies of food or water. This meant they had to land every day, to collect water and purchase food and supplies and cook them. This in turn severely limited what they could do – they could not put up a ‘blockade’ for example, for they could not stay at sea watching over a harbour ( Most ancient attempts at blockades were failures for this reason. In Nelson’s time the Royal Navy could not blockade the French fleet, who could leave more or less when they chose. Even today, with satellite and aerial surveillance, the Australian Navy cannot stop a steady trickle of illegal boat immigrants). Note also that both fleets had to stick together, the Persians to maintain their superiority and the Macedonians so as to avoid piecemeal destruction. This meant that each fleet could only be in one place at any given time.
After Miletus falls, the Persian fleet first tries to harass the Greek fleet from Mycale, but their first problem was water supply, which came from the river Maeander 10 miles from Miletus [ Arrian I.19]
Alexander thwarts this by dispatching Philotas with three taxeis of infantry ( some 6,000) and cavalry to the Mycale area. Unable to get water and supplies, the Persian fleet is forced to withdraw to the island of Samos. It is at this point, having driven off the Persian fleet by control of the shore, and unwilling to submit his fortunes to the fickle sea, not to mention the huge drain on finances ( despite the treasure he had captured at Sardis ) that Alexander decided to disband his fleet for the time being– except for enough warships to escort his supply ships and siege engine transports, including the 20 Athenian triremes ( retained as hostages for Athens good behaviour ) Diod.[XVII.22]; Arrian [I.20] ( It would be reformed some seven months later, to counter the Persian fleet rampaging unchecked through the Aegean. The Greek fleet employed something like 32,000 men at a huge cost of 160 Talents or so – per month ! )

As explained above, and said by Nicator here, there was little chance the Persian fleet could intercept Alexander’s transports carrying the siege train and supplies. Besides, the Persian fleet was at Halicarnassus, where resistance was concentrated under Memnon, and where it was doubtless under surveillance. Alexander’s siege train could therefore proceed in perfect safety, the escort of more than 20 triremes sufficient to deal with anything short of a large squadron, certainly any pirates or stray Persian warships. Nor is it true that Alexander had no landing places – any open beach near the coastal road would do, and Alexander held all the coastal cities anyway, as Bosworth refers to.[Arrian I.20]

Diodorus' statement [XVII.24.1] that the siege machinery was brought by sea is not only plausible, but the logical way to transport heavy machinery, albeit dis-assembled, along a mountainous coastline, especially as it was relatively risk-free, and relatively fast compared to transport by land. No possibility of mountainous tribesmen making a swift raid on a slow-moving road convoy either.....

Alexander's two year or so naval war, and Persia's, or more particularly Memnon's naval strategy, looking as it did to a similar successful naval strategy earlier, is yet another subject worthy of a thread....... :D
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

Nikator, Xenophon is right that an ancient fleet was incapable of holding the coast unless it was friendly; this was how Alexander planned to defeat the naval threat , after all, no friendly coast no fleet. what they could do is move from their bases to counter any enemy move; as they did from Halikarnassos to thwart Alexander's move against Myndos.

'Not evidence based' seems to have become shorthand for 'not based upon evidence Xenophon chooses to accept' :lol: Or is Arrian no longer evidence' what follows is amusing; the Persian fleet could only be in one place at a time, maybe you should have let Memnon know for it is in at least four places just before Issos! Once Alexander's fleet had disbanded the Persians could almost guarantee superiority just by being there and they do separate on various missions. Triereis were indeed unsuited for transport duties yet this is precisely what Diodoros has them do - naus is a warship, ploion a merchanman, Diodoros has Alexander keep the former - hugging the Turkish coast by night? Say goodnight to the folks Gracy, no radar no charts any lights making you a sitting target - I've been on suicide missions with a better chance of survival :lol: Diodoros story is both nonsense and irreconcilable with arrian's more sensible narrative, Alexande dioes not plan to defeat the Persian fleet on land by retaining a small portion of his own fleet, he sends it all home, and the Athenians turn up at the Hellespont fighting off a Persian squadron but I have to find the reference, it is an inscription.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaus wrote:
'Not evidence based' seems to have become shorthand for 'not based upon evidence Xenophon chooses to accept' :lol: Or is Arrian no longer evidence'
The evidence we have is the two sources; Arrian does not give any detail of how the siege machinery was transported, merely that the fleet was disbanded. Diodorus agrees, but gives us more details; a 'few' ships were retained, including the Athenian contingent of 20 ships. The siege machinery and supplies were sent by sea/thalassa. Nobody mentions road transport. (Evidently this transport detail was not important enough for Arrian to include).
Yet you say:
"This version is a military nonsense, and should be rejected. Where were these supplies to be off-loaded? Alexander did not possess a friendly port and the shore is not hospitable enough to permit beaching, The engines went by road, dismantled in carts or on beasts of burden."
..which is simply an opinion which not only has no supporting evidence, but is actually contra the above evidence, hence 'not evidence based'. It also breaks Paralus' rule that the text should be accepted unless one can "conclusively prove" an error.
Furthermore, Alexander possessed all the ports and there are beaches.
...... what follows is amusing; the Persian fleet could only be in one place at a time, maybe you should have let Memnon know for it is in at least four places just before Issos! Once Alexander's fleet had disbanded the Persians could almost guarantee superiority just by being there and they do separate on various missions....
The Persian fleet could not disperse at this time, because to do so would mean losing its numerical superiority, and risk defeat in detail of it's squadrons. Memnon wisely concentrated it in Halicarnassus. Similarly, Alexander's fleet could not disperse for similar reasons...only more so!
As you say, once Alexander's fleet was disbanded, the Persian fleet had free rein, and could cause damage in multiple places - so much so that Alexander was forced to put together another fleet ( Naval operations were resumed six or seven months later under the command of Hegelochus and Amphoterus [Curtius 3.1.19]).
Triereis were indeed unsuited for transport duties yet this is precisely what Diodoros has them do - naus is a warship, ploion a merchanman, Diodoros has Alexander keep the former - hugging the Turkish coast by night? Say goodnight to the folks Gracy, no radar no charts any lights making you a sitting target - I've been on suicide missions with a better chance of survival :lol:
It is not true that triremes were unsuited to transport duties. Whilst not carrying as large a load as a merchantman, they were frequently used as military transports - of armies, and as horse transports; in fact on any occasion where speed was desirable, as here.

There is no reason to think Alexander's convoy necessarily sailed by night; it could easily have sailed by day, safe in the knowledge that the whole Persian fleet was in Halicarnassus harbour. Even if they did sail by night, or both day and night, with regard to the risks of sailing along the coast at night, I mentioned earlier that when I lived in the U.K. I sailed on chartered yachts from Bodrum/Halicarnassus ( not radar equipped, although we had charts) and we had no difficulties whatsoever; visibility is good at night, and no lights are needed to navigate. Moreover we did not have the benefit, as Alexander would have, of local fishermen and pilots as guides.....

No "suicide mission" at all.....thousands of holiday-making tourist amateur sailors go up and down that beautiful coast by day and night every year. :D
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Nicator »

In regards to the physical capabilities and coastal requirements, I'm well aware of the limitations of ancient vessels. That's why I said the dominant fleet would hug the coastlines and force the disbanded fleet into treacherous waters. This was a postulation in contrast to the accepted theory that ATG would be forced into the coastal regions. And that supposition is based on the necessity of the Persian fleet's need to acquire large amounts of water and supplies. And since the Persian fleet was clearly the larger fleet, they would have dibs on the coast wherever they went. And ATG would be forced to take any coastal openings offered.

Perhaps then, a clarification is in order...ATGs remaining vessels would be forced to go wherever the Persians were NOT. This was likely into deep water, away from the coast because the Persians at that time, would have those regions blanketed. Though, as Xenophon correctly noted, a blockade would be difficult, if not impossible to enforce. This doesn't mean that ATG would attempt it though, for as stated in Arrian, 'he didn't want to lose any of his armaments'...so why risk an interception on the coastline where the Persians were likely teeming? It would be simple logistics for ATG to have the vessels packed during the day, shove off at dusk, venture a bit further offshore into the deeper water beyond any likely Persian contingent, and conclude before dawn back at a beach or friendly port. And a night time transport should not have been a problem with the ancients already advanced knowledge of shipping via the waterways using starmaps and knowledgeable guides.

I'd also add that due to the immense cost of maintaining a fleet, and the impossibility of engaging the enemies superior force with the limited fleet of ships he was able to put in the water, downsizing 'a little' was pointless. But 'a major' downsizing to a few transports was a 'good idea'. ATG could get critical supplies, unmolested and quickly, to the front by utilizing 'small force' tactics.

Agesilaos' original post requested a careful comparison/contrast between the two accounts and I've sort of strayed off on a tangent.
Later Nicator

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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

The evidence we have is the two sources; Arrian does not give any detail of how the siege machinery was transported, merely that the fleet was disbanded. Diodorus agrees, but gives us more details; a 'few' ships were retained, including the Athenian contingent of 20 ships. The siege machinery and supplies were sent by sea/thalassa. Nobody mentions road transport. (Evidently this transport detail was not important enough for Arrian to include)
Diodoros does not agree, he contradicts Arrian's version which is that the whole fleet was disbanded. The fleet disbanded Alexander has little option but road transport, unless you wish to take the statement that his soldiers had wings at face value :shock: Nor did Alexander possess all the ports, we are told that
ὅσαι δὲ ἐν μέσῳ πόλεις Μιλήτου τε καὶ Ἁλικαρνασσοῦ, ταύτας ἐξ ἐφόδου λαβὼν
He took the cities between Miletos and Halikarnassos on the march..
That march is probably inland; it is the flatter route

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit? ... c9GBT84Y1A
should link to map

We can be sure Alexander went by Mylasa as he attacks Hialikarnassos from that very road when he arrives (iv).

Also we have the statement, as Nikator points out that '[Alexander] was unwilling to risk disaster with even part of his forces.' 20 i
οὔκουν ἐθέλων οὐδὲ μέρει τινὶ τῆς στρατιᾶς κινδυνεύειν
Surely sufficient to rule out a supposed reduction of the fleet, rather than the land based strategy Arrian explicitly attributes to him. Even if you do not agree that the case is as hopeless as I see it one cannot deny an element of risk, surely?

Glad you enjoyed yourself sailing the waters :mrgreen: (that' s envy) but it was not in triereis and I doubt there was a Persian fleet trying to sink you! :shock:
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Nicator, whilst your tactical exposition might represent a sound strategy, it is not in fact what happened. Let us begin with the daily need for water. A 300 ship fleet of warships required 60,000 men if fully manned, each of whom had a daily requirement of around 2 gallons of water to stay hydrated while working - a daily total of 120,000 gallons of fresh water ! Additionally it took hours for the fleet to load such a quantity. It was not a case of simply pulling into the nearest creek, and that is why the Persian fleet needed major rivers such as the Maeander already referred to.
As narrated in my posts above (27 Nov), it was the Persians who found themselves driven off-shore, to the island of Samos, because ATG had sent an army under Philotas to secure the coast, or at least those parts of it where the Persian fleet might water. Baffled, and unable to do much from Samos, the fleet withdrew to Halicarnassus, the strongest fortified city in that part of the world where Memnon hoped to thwart Alexander's advance. Consequently, he was able to transport both siege equipment and supplies by sea, with the coast in friendly hands......
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

agesilaos wrote:
The evidence we have is the two sources; Arrian does not give any detail of how the siege machinery was transported, merely that the fleet was disbanded. Diodorus agrees, but gives us more details; a 'few' ships were retained, including the Athenian contingent of 20 ships. The siege machinery and supplies were sent by sea/thalassa. Nobody mentions road transport. (Evidently this transport detail was not important enough for Arrian to include)
Diodoros does not agree, he contradicts Arrian's version which is that the whole fleet was disbanded.


Firstly, Arrian does NOT say the "whole" fleet was disbanded, and even if Alexander decided he no longer needed a fleet, that did not obviate the need for some, at least, ships. Diodorus and Arrian agree the fleet as such was "dismissed" (Diod) or "disbanded" ( Arr). We would expect him to retain "a few" ships as Diodorus says, if only for communication ( the fastest and securest communication route to Macedon was straight across the Aegean ) and to protect supply convoys from pirates etc.
Incidently, the summary that survives of Curtius' lost Book II agrees that Alexander retained a few ships to transport the siege train.
Nor did Alexander possess all the ports, we are told that
ὅσαι δὲ ἐν μέσῳ πόλεις Μιλήτου τε καὶ Ἁλικαρνασσοῦ, ταύτας ἐξ ἐφόδου λαβὼν
He took the cities between Miletos and Halikarnassos on the march..
That march is probably inland; it is the flatter route

https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit? ... c9GBT84Y1A
should link to map

We can be sure Alexander went by Mylasa as he attacks Halikarnassos from that very road when he arrives (iv).
Don't forget that Alexander had sent Philotas with a sizeable army - half the Macedonian phalanx plus cavalry - to secure the coastal cities which they evidently did to such effect that the Persian fleet had no bases, nor could they water.

I'd agree with you that Alexander and the balance of the army likely took the inland route ( there would be no point in detaching Philotas and his army if Alexander himself was going to advance along the coast ). The intervening towns and villages, defenceless, wisely surrendered. I'd also agree he likely came via Mylasa. On arrival he set up camp about half a mile from the city. "in expectation of a long siege." (Arrian I.20;Diodorus XVII.24 )

I can't link to the map - I get "access denied" from Google maps, and one has to apply for access by email. No response from Google maps !!! I can get there via Google Earth, complete with an overlay of ancient Halicarnassus .... :)
Surely sufficient to rule out a supposed reduction of the fleet, rather than the land based strategy Arrian explicitly attributes to him. Even if you do not agree that the case is as hopeless as I see it one cannot deny an element of risk, surely?

Glad you enjoyed yourself sailing the waters :mrgreen: (that' s envy) but it was not in triereis and I doubt there was a Persian fleet trying to sink you! :shock:
Not a 'reduction'. Both sources agree the fleet as a whole were dismissed/disbanded, with Diodorus adding the detail that "a few" including the 20 Athenian triremes, were retained. ( and the summary of Curtius referred to above concurs).

Probably the biggest element of risk was weather, and staying relatively close to the coast would minimise that. The risks and difficulties of moving bulky and heavy equipment by land would be infinitely greater. For an appreciation of this in the pre-industrial age, I recommend reading "The Gun" by C.S. Forester to readers here, if they have not read it already.

There was no Persian fleet trying to sink Alexander's convoy either ! It was in Halicarnassus. Even if it had got news of the convoy in time, and sailed to intercept, just look at the geography, with it's large headland. If this difficulty were overcome and the fleet managed to appear on the horizon, the convoy need only head for the nearest friendly held place - such as Bargylis or Iassis, as Bosworth says.

But even that was impossible, for the distance along the coast from Miletus to, say Bargylis to offload the siege equipment was a little over 35 miles, or less than half a day's voyage for triremes. If Memnon got the news instantaneously and was ready to put to sea, the distance around the headland to Bargylis is over 45 miles!!

The risk of interception was nil.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by agesilaos »

The maplink should work now for everyone, technology :roll:
Incidently, the summary that survives of Curtius' lost Book II agrees that Alexander retained a few ships to transport the siege train.
Incidently, that summary was concocted by Heideke, a modern editor, to fill the gap and yes, he drew everything from Diodoros because it is axiomatic that they shared a source; it is therefore an irrelevance.

Since the sea was in Persian hands the most secure route was by land through the lands Alexander had just conquered, there was a good road and relay riders would not just be quicker they would be much more cost efficient as each ship would be the equivalent of 200 men. Nor are triereis suitable for transport duties, when the Athenians used them as such, the lower two tiers of rowers were replaced by non-rowing hoplites, and to transport horses the ships were drastically modified with most of the rowing benches being removed. Both sacrificing speed.

I suppose that the major naval power in the Meditterraenean for the past two centuries did not have a clue about conducting naval operations, I tend to give them a bit of credit.

Philotas' mission was not to secure the Carian coast, (19 viii) but to deny the Persian fleet its watering ground North of Miletos. He will have marched with the whole army when it moved, 'Alexander did not wish to put any part of his army at risk' dividing his forces in the face of the enemy, a classic error.

160 to 20+ sounds like a reduction to me. Fleets are most vulnerable around the coast in bad weather, they end up driven ashore and wrecked. A scenario that has Alexander trusting a siege train he might need on his approach march to a tiny fleet while the Persians had a ten to one advantage in ships, had he thought them as incompetant in naval warfare as you I doubt he would have thought they would defeat his fleet with only a two to one advantage.

There is no 'evidence' that Bargylis or Iassis was friendly in fact the Iassians had ships in the Persian fleet that contested Miletos I 19 x.

Let me know if the map is still snafued,please
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Agesilaos wrote:
The maplink should work now for everyone, technology


Yes, works OK for me now.....incidently, being a modern map it shows Miletus as some 3.5 miles inland, when in Alexander’s day it was a harbour town with the island of Lade offshore. Centuries of sedimentary deposits from the river Maeander have obliterated Lade and moved the shoreline.

Incidently, the summary that survives of Curtius' lost Book II agrees that Alexander retained a few ships to transport the siege train
.


Incidently, that summary was concocted by Heideke, a modern editor, to fill the gap and yes, he drew everything from Diodoros because it is axiomatic that they shared a source; it is therefore an irrelevance.
I was aware that the summaries in the Loeb edition were drawn up by Freinsheim ( 1648) and later partly by Hedicke, but they don’t seem to be purely drawn from Diodorus, for Justin and Arrian and Plutarch and Pliny and others are also referenced. However it does seem likely that this particular statement may have come from Diodorus, though he is not cross referenced for it....
Since the sea was in Persian hands the most secure route was by land through the lands Alexander had just conquered, there was a good road and relay riders would not just be quicker they would be much more cost efficient as each ship would be the equivalent of 200 men. Nor are triereis suitable for transport duties, when the Athenians used them as such, the lower two tiers of rowers were replaced by non-rowing hoplites, and to transport horses the ships were drastically modified with most of the rowing benches being removed. Both sacrificing speed.


I guess you haven’t thought this through. ‘Relay riders’ are an impossibility for a number of reasons. Firstly, the distance across the Aegean is about 300 miles. The distance over the circuitous route back to Macedon, much of it mountainous, on the “good roads” you mention is of the order of 700 miles. Something like a ‘pony express’ would need a relay with fresh horses every 10 miles or so. Even then each rider would cover about 75 miles. To achieve this would also require at least 150-200 first class horses, based on ‘pony express’ ratios. ( and they rode across the Great Plains, not mountainous routes, averaging 190 miles per 24 hours. Compare Herodotus, describing the Great King’s messengers, averaging similar distances per 24 hours). The cost of setting such a system up, let alone maintaining it, would be prohibitive – it was all very well for the Great King to have such a relay courier system along his Grand Trunk Road, but an impecunious Alexander, dismissing his fleet to save money, certainly didn’t have the means to do so. Even if he had, such an expensive courier system would take at least 4 days to deliver a message. A single messenger, averaging, say, 50 miles per day, and changing horses as and when able, would take at least 2 weeks !
Far cheaper to employ ships whose crews were paid anyway, whether in harbour or carrying messages. As to speeds, a trireme ‘in a hurry’ could cover 185 nautical miles/213 statute miles in 24 hours (Thuc III.40 ). Another voyage recorded by Thucydides was of 124 nautical miles/142 statute miles between morning and evening with a stop for watering and lunch. Xenophon records the voyage from Byzantium to Heraclea, about 130 miles as being ‘a long day’s voyage’ under oar.
These voyages ( except the first one) are performed by each bank of oars in relays.
In short, a ‘naus’/long-ship could deliver a message in under 48 hours if need be, and easily in less than 3 days, compared to impossible ‘relay riders’ in 4 days or so, or a fast messenger in 2 weeks or so..... nor was the road secure. Alexander didn’t ‘conquer’ the area, he passed through, leaving small garrisons in the major population centres, and the countryside as before. Security, especially in mountainous ‘bandit country’ would be a severe problem for a courier, and if he needed a cavalry escort, that would slow him down even further, assuming there would be enough cavalry to cover the whole route or at least a major part of it – another impossibility, whilst a fast ship had no such problems...

At the time when Alexander disbanded his fleet, the sea was not “in Persian hands” – the fleet had retreated to Halicarnassus for want of watering places, and to assist in the Persian ‘stand’ there.
(See below for actual likely voyage details.)

I suppose that the major naval power in the Meditterraenean for the past two centuries did not have a clue about conducting naval operations, I tend to give them a bit of credit.
So do I, and they wouldn’t return to the Aegean until after the fall of Halicarnassus. They couldn’t interfere with Alexander transporting his siege train by sea, even if they knew Alexander intended to move by sea and when it was leaving (unlikely for the reasons I’ve expounded). They would have realised the task was impossible.
Philotas' mission was not to secure the Carian coast, (19 viii) but to deny the Persian fleet its watering ground North of Miletos. He will have marched with the whole army when it moved, 'Alexander did not wish to put any part of his army at risk' dividing his forces in the face of the enemy, a classic error.
My original reason for thinking that Philotas was covering more than one place along the coast was the large size of his army, and the fact that his task was to stop the Persians watering. Alas, none of our sources tell us when and where Philotas rejoined the army.
However, two factors have emerged here which lead me to think your hypothesis is the more likely, namely the realisation from my calculations that the Maeander was the only place between there and Halicarnassus that could water the fleet, and that the reason for the large size of Philotas’ army might well be because the fleet had several thousand marine hoplites and archers – a sizable force to prevent from landing.Therefore Philotas only needed to guard one place with a force large enough to stop the many thousands of hoplite marines and archers. Once the fleet left for Halicarnassus, Philotas was free to rejoin Alexander.....
160 to 20+ sounds like a reduction to me. Fleets are most vulnerable around the coast in bad weather, they end up driven ashore and wrecked. A scenario that has Alexander trusting a siege train he might need on his approach march to a tiny fleet while the Persians had a ten to one advantage in ships, had he thought them as incompetant in naval warfare as you I doubt he would have thought they would defeat his fleet with only a two to one advantage. There is no 'evidence' that Bargylis or Iassis was friendly in fact the Iassians had ships in the Persian fleet that contested Miletos I 19 x.
I won’t split hairs – dismissing all bar 20 or so of your fleet is dismissing ‘all’ in practical terms – you no longer have a fleet. You are evidently unaware of the weather around Bodrum/Halicarnassus !! The prevailing winds are from the North-West, being light in the mornings and filling in around lunchtime, day after day for months in the sailing season. There is little or no rain, and storms are rare until winter/outside the sailing season. The Macedonians siege train apparently arrives a day or two after Alexander. This suggests that he sent for it on arrival, with Bargylis and Iassis duly surrendered and secured – no resistance was met, despite the Iassians having fought in the Persian fleet.[Arrian I.20]
On receiving orders, the ships at Miletus would have spent the morning loading ( if they hadn’t in preparation done this already) while waiting for the breeze to arrive at lunchtime. They would then have set off, and with the wind at their backs reached Bargylis some 3-5 hours later, no rowing involved! ( ‘Olympias’ could reach 11 knots under sail downwind faster than the maximum under oars), with ample time to unload the same day.
Crunch the numbers, even if the Persians knew Alexander was coming by sea, and the exact time the Athenian triremes left, they couldn’t possibly intercept, for they would have had to row into the wind, at around half the speed of the sailing triremes, a distance of over 10 miles further than the Macedonians had to travel. Interception was just impossible, and Memnon must have known it.
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by delos13 »

I yet have to read all the discussions above that sound quite interesting. What brought me today to Pothos is that I wanted to share a link regarding the lecture on Halicarnassos in Athens. I think the timing is uncanny. http://www.diathens.gr/files/3/c/237/In ... nassos.pdf
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Re: The rival accounts of the siege of Halikarnassos

Post by Xenophon »

Thank you for that, Delos13. Do you actually have the paper from this lecture ? It would doubtless be most interesting, for the degree of 'razing' after the fall of Halicarnassus is one of the controversies we shall no doubt eventually discuss......
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