Alexander Fraser Tytler Woodhouselee.

Universal history from the creation of the world to the beginning of the eighteenth contury (Volume 2) online

. (page 1 of 22)
Online LibraryAlexander Fraser Tytler WoodhouseleeUniversal history from the creation of the world to the beginning of the eighteenth contury (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



q t-v:



ODuatton of tfje 3I3Jorllr













ALEXANDER THE GREAT takes and destroys Thebes Sub-
mission of the Grecian States Alexander declared
General of the Armies of Greece Battle of the Granicus
Issus Siege of Tyre Expedition into Egypt Battle
of Arbela Alexander at Persepolis Expedition to In-
dia Return to Susa Enters Babylon, and dies Divi-
sion of his Empire Kingdom of Egypt of Syria.
Page 1.


Flourishing State of Egypt under the Ptolemies Greece
after the Death of Alexander Achaian League Revo-
lution at Lacedaemon Ambitious Designs of Philip II.
of Macedon draw on him the Vengeance of the Romans
Their Aid solicited by the jEtolians Macedonia con-
quered Greece becomes a Roman Province. Page 40.



Political Reflections arising from the History of Greece
Retrospective View Constitutional Defects in the lead-
ing- Republics A pure Democracy is a Chimera All
Government essentially of the Nature of a Monarchy
Error of Montesquieu's Theory Fergusson's Idea of a
perfect Republic Democracy unfavourable to Patriotism
Danger of generalizing in Politics A rude State of
Society favourable to Patriotism Greece a strong In-
stance of this Character of Greece after the Roman
Conquest. Page 67.


The Greeks not eminent in the Useful Arts Commerce
Superiority in the Fine Arts Greek Architecture
Gothic Architecture Sculpture Inferiority of the
Moderns Greek Religion favourable to Sculpture and
Painting Greek Painters. Page 85.


Public Games of Greece Effects on Character Manners
Poetical Composition anterior to Prose Homer Hesiod
Archilochus Terpander Sappho Pindar Anacre-
on The Greek Epigram The Greek Comedy, distin-
guished into the Old, the Middle, and the New Aristo-
phanes Menander Greek Tragedy jEschylus Eu-
ripides Sophocles Mode of Dramatic Representation
The ancient Drama set to Music The Mimes and
Pantomimes Of the Greek Historians Herodotus
Thucydides Xenophon Polybius Diodorus Siculus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus Arrian Plutarch. Page



GREEK PHILOSOPHY Ionic Sect Thales Anaximander
Anaximenes Anaxagoras Italic Sect Pythagoras
Empedocles, &c. Eleatic Sect Zeno Leucippus
Democritus Heraclitus Socrates Cyrenaic Sect
Aristippus Cynics Diogenes Megaric Sect Plato
Peripatetics Aristotle Sceptics Pyrrho Stoics
Epicureans Reflections. Page 154.



THE ROMAN HISTORY Earliest Periods of the History of
Rome Etruscans Foundation of Rome Disputed
Accounts of Romulus Rape of the Sabines Origin of
the Political Institutions of the Romans Union with
the Sabines Numa His Institutions Tullus Hostilius
Ancus Martius Tarquinius Priscus. Page 195.


Servius Tullius, sixth King of Rome His Political Ta-
lents Artful Division of the People into Classes and
Centuries The Census Lustrum Tarquinius Super-
bus End of the Regal Government Reflections on


this Period Constitution of the Senate Narrow Ter-
ritory of the State Exaggerated Accounts of its Military
Force Uncertainty of its early History. Page 223.


Interregnum Consuls appointed with sovereign Power
Conspiracy against the new Government Patriotism of
Brutus Valerian Law War with Porsena Popular
Disturbances Debts of the Poor A Dictator appointed
Impolitic Conduct of the Patricians Their Conces-
sions Tribunes of the People created Change in the
Constitution Reflections on. Page 244.


Increase of the Power of the Tribunes They convoke an
Assembly of the People Coriolanus Disputes on the
Agrarian Law Law of Volero and Change produced
by it. Page 263.


An Agrarian Law never seriously projected Decemviri
proposed to digest a Code of Laws Cincinnatus Ap-
pointment of Decemvirs Laws of the Twelve Tables
Tyranny of the Decemvirs Infamous Conduct of Appius
Claudius Death of Virginia Abolition of the Decem-
virate. Page 277.


Law against Intermarriage of Patricians and Plebeians re-
pealed Military Tribunes created Creation of Censors


their high Powers of Office A regular Pay assigned
to the Army introduces a new Balance into the Consti-
tution ; Consequences of Siege of Veii Romans begin
to extend their Conquests Reflections on the State of
the Republic at this Period War with the Gauls Its
fabulous Aspect New popular Laws Institution of the
Office of Praetor of Quaestor of ^Edile Licinian Law
limiting Property in Land. Page 301.




ALEXANDER THE GREAT takes and destroys Thebes Sub-
mission of the Grecian States Alexander declared
General of the Armies of Greece Battle of the Granicus
Issus Siege of Tyre Expedition into Egypt Battle
of Arbela Alexander at Persepolis Expedition to In-
dia Return to Susa Enters Babylon, and dies Divi-
sion of his Empire Kingdom of Egypt of Syria.

ALEXANDER was in the twentieth year of his age,
when he succeeded, by the death of Philip, to the
throne of Macedonia. This prince, possessed of all
the military abilities of his father, inherited a soul
more truly noble, and an ambition yet more un-
bounded. He had from his infancy given proofs
of that singular heroism of character, which
marked the conqueror of the eastern world. To
extraordinary endowments of nature he had joined
all the advantages of education. Under the tute-
lage of the philosopher Aristotle, he imbibed not
only a taste for learning and the sciences, but
those excellent lessons of politics, in which that
great teacher was qualified, beyond all his cotem-
poraries, to instruct him.

On the first intelligence of the death of Philip,
the Greeks, and particularly the citizens of Athens,



exhibited that pitiful exultation, which only
evinced their own pusillanimity. The Macedonian
heir they regarded as a mere boy, from whom
the liberties of Greece could never be in serious
hazard ; as he would, they conceived, find suffi-
cient employment both for his policy and prowess,
in securing the stability of his hereditary throne
against domestic faction. Lest, however, the ex-
ample of Philip might encourage his son to similar
schemes of ambition, the Athenians thought it a
prudent measure to form an offensive and defen-
sive league with several of the Grecian states,
against the new king of Macedonia, with the view
of maintaining entire the national independence.
Alexander beheld these measures in silence : the
time was not yet come for the full display of that
great plan of empire, which his comprehensive
mind had formed. The Thracians, however, with
the Paeonians and Illyrians, having made the
death of Philip the signal of emancipation from
the newly-imposed yoke of Macedon, Alexander
made the first essay of his arms against these bar-
barous nations, whose revolt he chastised with the
most signal severity.*

The Greeks were speedily roused from their
dream of security: but their surprise was extreme
when they beheld the Macedonian pour down with
his army upon Boeotia, and present himself at the
gates of Thebes. The Thebans, on a false report
of his death in battle against the Illyrians, had
expelled the Macedonian garrison, and put to

* For arnple details of this, and of all the subsequent
campaigns of Alexander, see vol. iii. of the " Family Li-


death its commanders, Amyntas and Timolaus.
Alexander offered pardon to the city on condition
of absolute submission, and the delivering up of
the principal offenders. The Thebans were obsti-
nate, and the consequence was, that Thebes was
taken by storm, and abandoned to the fury of the
Macedonian troops, who plundered and destroyed
it. Six thousand of the inhabitants were put to
the sword, and thirty thousand sold to slavery.
The priests, however, with their families, were
treated with reverence ; and while the streets and
fortifications of the city were reduced to a mass of
ruins, the conqueror showed his respect to the
memory of Pindar, by preserving from destruc-
tion the great poet's house, which was still occu-
pied by his descendants.

This exemplary severity struck terror through-
out all Greece. The Athenians, elevated with the
smallest glimpse of good fortune, were the first to
show an abasement of spirit. They had received,
after the fall of Thebes, a part of the fugitive citi-
zens. For this act of humanity they now thought
it necessary to apologize, by sending an embassy
to Alexander, to deprecate his wrath, and to assure
him of their sincere desire to maintain a friendly
alliance. The Macedonian, contemning them the
more for the meanness of this behaviour, made a
peremptory demand that they should deliver up
to him the persons of Demosthenes, Lycurgus,
and six others of the principal demagogues, to
whose seditious harangues he attributed the hos-
tile spirit they had shown to all his measures. He
did not, however, wish to push matters to ex-
tremity. The business was finally compromised
B 2


by a public decree, by which the Athenians
pledged themselves to institute a strict inquiry
into the alleged ground of offence, and to inflict
such punishment as the crimes, if proved, should

The submission of Athens was followed by
friendly embassies, and offers of peace and alliance
from all the states of Greece. Alexander now
summoned a general council of deputies, from all
the several republics, to assemble at Corinth, with
the purpose of deliberating on a measure which
regarded their common interests and honour.
Here he formally intimated to them his design of
following out the great project of his father, the
conquest of Persia. The design was flattering to
the Greeks, who had ever regarded the Persians as
an irreconcilable enemy, the object of hereditary
hatred and jealousy ; and in whose destruction
they pleased themselves with the prospect of re-
gaining the honourable ascendency they had once
enjoyed above all the cotemporary nations. Ani-
mated with this feeling, they received the pro-
posal of Alexander with exultation : and already
anticipating the triumphs to be gained under his
banners, they hailed him commander-in-chief of
the united armies of Greece.

The preparations commenced by Philip were
continued by Alexander during the few months of
winter that preceded the opening of this important
campaign ; but active as we may believe those
preparations were, they bore no proportion to the
magnitude of the enterprise. In fact, the chief
prospect of its success arose, not from the strength
of the invader, but from the weakness of the


invaded empire. We have already remarked * the
very defective system of government in this exten-
sive monarchy, and the total want of all principle
of union between the members of so vast a body.
The people, over whom their governors or satraps
tyrannised with the most absolute authority, were
quite indifferent to any changes that might take
place in the seat of empire. Thus we have seen
an eujiuch depose and put to death one monarch
with all his descendants, and place another on the
throne, without producing any other effects than
might have followed in other kingdoms, upon a so-
vereign changing his first minister. The truth is,
that the general peace of the empire had ever arisen
out of its general weakness. The provinces had as
little communication with each other as they had
with the capital; and these separate and indepen-
dent bodies had not even the slight bond of union
which arises from a common religion. A despot
of high spirit and a vigorous- mind might have
kept in order this discordant mass ; but such was
not the character of the present monarch. Darius
Codomannus, who owed his elevation to the
eunuch Bagoas, was a prince possessed of many
amiable qualities of a gentle and humane dispo-
sition ; who might have swayed with honour a
pacific sceptre, in a nation enjoying a good poli-
tical constitution, and governed by wholesome
laws ; but he was neither qualified to fill the
throne of Persia, nor to be the antagonist of

This prince, who in all his enterprises never

* See Chapter II. of this book, toward the conclusion.


indulged a doubt of his success, set out for Persia
in the beginning of spring, at the head of an army
of thirty-five thousand men, and furnished with
provisions only for a single month. He had com-
mitted to Antipater the government of Macedonia,
in his absence. With this inconsiderable army,
but excellently disciplined, and commanded by
many brave and able officers, who had gained
experience under the banner of his father Philip,
he arrived in six days' march at the passage of the
Hellespont, and crossed the narrow sea without
opposition. While traversing Phrygia, he is re-
ported to have visited the tomb of Achilles ; and
in an apostrophe to the shade of that great
warrior is said to have expressed his envy of his
happiness, who in life enjoyed the comfort of a
faithful friend, and after his death had his name
immortalized by the greatest of poets.

Darius, on the first intelligence of the advance
of Alexander with this trifling force, resolved to
crush at once this inconsiderate young man, and
despatched immediately an army of a hundred thou-
sand foot, and ten thousand horse, to the banks of
the Granicus, a small river of Mysia, which dis-
charges itself into the Propontis. This measure of
the Persian monarch w;>s contrary to the opinion
of his ablest generals, who counselled him to follow
a more protracted plan of warfare. They advised
him to lay waste the provinces through which lay
the course of the Macedonian army, and to limit
all his attacks to a skirmishing warfare, merely
with the view of harassing and wearing out the
enemy by fatigue and want of provisions. This
is said to have been the counsel of Memnon,


Darius's ablest general ; who proposed at the same
time to conduct an army to Greece and Macedonia,
to retaliate upon the invaders in their own territory.
But when Darius compared his own force and
resources with those of his antagonist, it wore
with him the aspect of a mean and dastardly
policy, to ruin some of the finest provinces of his
empire, in the hope of starving the army of his
antagonist, instead of manfully encountering him
in the field. The latter advice, of making a
diversion in Macedonia, was more suitable to a
manly spirit, and it was accordingly adopted.

Meantime, the Persians under the command
of the satrap of Phrygia, were drawn up in for-
midable array upon the eastern bank of the
Granicus, to oppose the passage of the Greeks.
The river is of inconsiderable breadth and depth,
but of great rapidity. The Macedonians, there-
fore, with judicious precaution, entered the ford a
great way higher than the place of the opposite
shore on which they meant to land ; and, crossing
in an oblique direction, had the aid of the stream
impelling forward their ranks, while its current
gave a powerful obstruction to the enemy's enter-
ing the river and disputing with them the passage
of the ford. Thus a large body of the Grecian
army crossed the stream, with no other annoyance
than what arose from the missile weapons of the
Persians, and the spears that met the first ranks
on gaining the opposite shore. No sooner, how-
ever, had these made good their ground, and
by the spirit of their attack given full occupation
to the opposing Persians, than the main body of
the Grecian army passed without resistance. The


contest was not long doubtful. The Persians are
allowed to have fought with great courage ; but
such was the impression made by the determined
resolution and intrepidity of the Greeks, while
Alexander himself led them on against the thick-
est ranks of the enemy, that the Persian army was
broken and put to flight before the rear of the
Grecian forces had passed the river. According
to the account of Arrian, ten thousand of the
Persian infantry and two thousand five hundred
horse were slain in the battle of the Granicus.
Among these were many officers of distinguished
valour and ability. The loss of the Greeks
amounted to the trifling number of eighty-five
horsemen, and thirty infantry. These were next
day buried with their arms, all in the same grave.
The rich spoils of the Persian army Alexander sent
home to Macedonia, to be presented to his mother,
as the first fruits of his success ; and to Athens he
sent three hundred Persian shields, with this
message, that these were the trophies of a victory
gained by the Greeks under his command, over
their ancient enemies.

This first and important victory facilitated to
Alexander the conquest of all the Lesser Asia.
Sardis, the capital of the ancient Lydian kingdom,
submitted without opposition, and Miletus and
Halicarnassus, after a short but vigorous defence,
opened their gates to -the conqueror. Deriving a
presage of continued victory from his first suc-
cesses, Alexander now sent orders to his fleet to
return to Macedonia, thus leaving to his little
army one only alternative, that they must conquer
or perish. Memnon, in the mean time, had sailed


with a body of Persian troops to the coast of
Greece. He began by an assault upon some of
the islands. He made himself master of Chios,
and of the greater part of Lesbos ; and had laid
siege to Mitylene, its chief city, whence he pro-
posed to pass into Eubcea, and thence into Attica.
This well-concerted diversion might, in all proba-
bility, have checked the progress of Alexander in
Asia. But the death of Memnon destroyed this
promising scheme : and the armament returned
without effect to the coast of Phoenicia.

Alexander pursuing his course through the
Lesser Asia, it was the counsel of Darius's best
officers, that he should await his approach in the
plains of Assyria, where there might be ample
space for bringing into action the whole of his
immense force ; but this advice was too mortify-
ing to the pride of the monarch of Persia, who,
though of mild and gentle manners, was a man of
high spirit, and of great personal courage. He
was impatient to check the presumption of Alex-
ander, and, advancing to meet him, rashly entered
the passes between the mountains of Cilicia, near
the town of Issus ; a situation- where, from the
nature of the ground, the greatest part of his army,
if then attacked, could not possibly be brought to
act with effect against the enemy. Alexander,
though then weakened by disease (the conse-
quence of a fever caught by imprudently bathing,
when overheated, in the river Cydnus) no sooner
received intelligence of the critical situation of the
Persians in the denies of a mountainous country,
than he hastened with the utmost ardour to attack


them. Arrian, Quintus Curtius, and Plutarch,
have all given different statements of the number
of the Persian army at the battle of Issus ; but the
lowest of these accounts makes the number amount
to 400,000. The same historians have lavished
all the powers of description in painting the splen-
dour, riches, and magnificence of the military
equipage of this immense host. That body of the
Persians named the Immortals consisted of 10,000
chosen troops, who were clothed in robes of gold
embroidery, adorned with precious stones, and
wore about their necks massy collars of pure gold.
The chariot of Darius was supported by statues
of gold; and the beams, axle, and wheels, were
studded with precious stones. Ten thousand
horsemen followed the chariot with lances plated
with silver. The mother and the wife of Darius
had their separate chariots, attended by a nume-
rous train of females on horseback ; and the pa-
geant was closed by a vast retinue of the wives of
the Persian nobles and their children, guarded by
some companies of foot lightly armed.

Darius, caught thus at unawares, in the moun-
tains of Cilicia, with this immense but most ineffi-
cient force, was taught, in the battle of Issus, how
little confidence is to be placed in numbers, when
matched against a few experienced and well-
disciplined troops. The Persians were defeated
with immense slaughter, their loss amounting, as
is said, to 110,000 men, while that of the Mace-
donians, according to Diodorus and Quintus Cur-
tius, was no more than 450. Darius himself dis-
played great personal courage. He fought from



his chariot till his horses were wounded, and its
course obstructed by the heaps ' of dead which
covered the ground.

I cannot omit observing here, with regard to the
history of Alexander, written by Quintus Curtius,
that, although it is one of the most elegant works
that remain to us of the compositions of antiquity,
its authority is not to be put on a par with that of
Arrian or Diodorus. All accounts, indeed, of the
exploits of Alexander must wear an air of the
marvellous ; for many even of those facts which
we know to be strictly true are in themselves
prodigious. This consideration, which has ren-
dered Diodorus and Arrian the more cautious in
admitting nothing into their narratives but what
rested on the strictest historical evidence, has
served with Curtius only as a temptation and
licence for amplification and embellishment. Yet
it must be owned that some of those embellish-
ments are in themselves so pleasing, that we can
scarcely wish them to have been spared. Such,
among others, is that admirable and strongly
characteristic oration which Curtius puts into the
mouth of the Scythian chief, addressing himself to
Alexander : such is that beautiful scene which
Curtius describes to have passed in the tent of
Darius, after the battle of Issus ; the error of Si-
sygambis, the queen-mother, who addressed her-
self to Hephaestion, mistaking him for Alexander ;
the fine saying on that occasion of Alexander,
Non errdsti, mater, nam et hie Alexander est ;
circumstances, indeed, which Arrian likewise re-
lates, though not with the assurance of their per-
fect authenticity. "There is," says he, "such a


dignity in the expression, that if we cannot rest on
the story as a certainty, we ought at least to wish it
to be true." To the honour of Alexander it must
be owned, that generosity was a strong ingredient
in his nature ; and that the humane affections,
though at times overpowered, and apparently ex-
tinguished in the heat of passion, certainly formed
a part of his genuine character. To the mother,
and to the kindred of Darius, he behaved with
the respect and kindness of a son and of a brother
a conduct which made a deep impression on the
mind of that generous and ill-fated prince.

Darius, with a few scattered remains of his
army, had made a precipitate retreat during the
night, and, taking his course eastward, crossed the
Euphrates at Thapsacus. His empty war-chariot
and cloak falling into the hands of the Macedo-
nians, gave rise to the report of his death, which
threw his queen and the captive princesses into
agonies of despair. But Alexander hastened
to undeceive them, and calmed their agitated
minds by repeated assurances of his clemency and
protection. He received, a few days after the
battle, a deputation from Darius, conceived, as he
thought, in a strain of pride unsuitable to the pre-
sent circumstances of that prince. The Persian
demanded that his wife and the captive princesses
should be immediately restored on payment of a
ransom ; and declared his resolution to bring into
the field an army that should fully repair his late
disasters. Alexander replied, that when his anta-
gonist should think proper to throw himself on the
mercy of his conqueror, he would then convince
him that he needed no bribe to incite him to an
act of humanity.


The consequence of the battle of Issus was the
submission of all Syria. The city of Damascus,
where Darius had deposited a large part of the
royal treasures, was betrayed by its governor and

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryAlexander Fraser Tytler WoodhouseleeUniversal history from the creation of the world to the beginning of the eighteenth contury (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 22)