The Gordian Knot and the battle at Issos

At Gordian, the ancient capital of Frugias and particularly at the Acropolis of the town, was a cart devoted from the king of Mida to Zeus. The legend of the area says that who ever untied the knot, that tied the scales with the axle of the cart, would be the ruler of Asia. The scenarios for unting the knot were many. Alexander released the powel of the scales freeing it from the axle. This was one version. The other version refers to Alexander cutting the knot with his sword. Whatever the truth ” Zeus accepted the way it was solved rewarding the Macedonian king with lighting and thunder “.

The continuation of the campaign concerned Kappadokia. There Alexander sent the new recruit, even though he himself set towards to the gates of Kilikias. At the same time he gave ordres to the navy to control Ellispontou. Arriving at Tarsos, Kilikias, in June 333, he became very ill. An illness that would make him suffer for four months, where the Persians regrouped to confront him.

The Persians were waiting for Alexander in Syria and camped in Miriandro near the Pinaro river. On the coast of Issos an important battle would take place, where Alexander boldness, bravery and intelligence will succeed to win the superior Persian strength, even though he was injured. The loss of the Greeks were few, due to the superior armour and they did not ease during battle. On the other hand, even though the enemy was greater, the defeat of the Persians was complete.

The victory at Issos had symbolic establishment. Darius left his mother, his wife and children that were waiting at the army-camp mourning, knowing that he had been killed. Alexander sent Leonnatos to inform that they will live with all the royal honours. As Ptolemaios and Aristovoulos noted and Arrianos agreed ” war is not created because of the hate toward Darius, but to seize Asia “.

Then a situation was noted, one which revealed for one more time the value of the Macedonian king, which he himself gave great gravity to human friendship. When Alexander visited the Persian royal family, Darius’ mother instead of honouring Alexander, she honoured his trustworthy friend of the Macedonian king, Iphestionas. When she realised the significant mistake she made Alexander calmed her saying that ” Iphestionas is Alexander “.

Alexander the Great defeats Dareio at the battle of Issos

Darius was put in a difficult situation with a letter asking Alexander for his friendship and alliance and the return of his royal family. Alexander also answers with a letter that Arrianos preserved in his work ” Alexander’s Rising ” accepting that he was now the leader of Asia. ” Your ancestors, as they started a war against Macedonia and the rest of Greece they harmed us whilst they weren’t treated unfairly before, I was appointed the leading role of the Greeks and because I want the Persians to be punished, went through Asia, since you started it. As you helped the Perinthous, that treated my father unfairly and at Thrace, which was in our command, Oxos sent strength, and when my father was murdered from the conspirators that you sent us, as you, yourselves were boasting about it, and when you killed Arsi with the help of Vagou and conquered power illegally, breaking the law of the Persians, being unjust to the Persians, and when you sent hostiles letters about me to the Greeks to fight with me and money to the Lakedamonious and to other Greeks, that no other city accepted, only the Lakedamonious and when your correspondents corrupted my friends and peace, which stabled the Greeks, and tried to ruin it and campaigned against you, because you started the hatred. Even though I beat your generals and your tyrants and now you and your strength and I have conquered your country, which was given to me by the gods, and those that were prolonged with you weren’t killed in battle, but came to me, I looked after them and they are by my side, not without their will, but voluntarily marched by my side. Due to the fact that I am ruler of Asia, come on my side. If you are scared, after you have come, if something bad happened by me, send some of your friends to get a sworn guarantee. And if you come with me ask and you will receive your mother, wife and children and whatever else you want. You will have what you want if you convince me. And from now on, when you sent your messagers to me, sent them to the king of Asia and do not sent me letters as equal to you, but address me as master of all your possessions. In a different situation I would think that you were injust. But if you have a different opinion about my kingdom, stay and fight for her and do not leave, because I will chase you wherever you go “. Darius knowing his difficult position did not reply to Alexander’s letter.

Darius’ escape (detailed sculpture of the 18th century)

The leadership was a favour from Alexander’s excellent features that he did not negotiate, like Darius, which was weighed with serious murders against the Greeks and abandoned battles, while Alexander preferred in every battle to be with his soldiers and never abandon the field of battle.