Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria in Areia (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Drangiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Ai-Khanoum OR Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria on the Indus - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Breathtaking, Alexander the Great at Gaugamela

I’m simply out of breath! I just watched for the hundredth time or so the Alexander Revisited DVD, which is much and much better than the movie that has been shown in theaters around the world. This DVD version is arranged by Oliver Stone the way he wanted it and starts off straight away with the Battle of Gaugamela. What a performance and what an achievement! I admire Oliver Stone’s eye for detail and how he uses all the information available from antiquity – a shame that most viewers don’t see this or don’t realize it.

As always, I sit here with my eyes wide open, afraid to miss the slightest movement or action in this battle of all battles! I witness how Alexander sets off to the far right with the cavalry in his wake, making sure that Bessus takes on the pursuit, luring him away from Darius. Shrouded in a cloud of dust, Alexander’s infantry moves along, hidden from the Persian eye, a magnificent maneuver. And then, when Alexander swings around to the left, heading straight for the center where Darius is standing, Bessus finds himself unexpectedly confronted with Alexander’s infantry! I believe that only few people notice this – a pity because this is a decisive moment of the battle. I always feel out of breath when all the fighting is finally over. It is a rather sudden and unexpected closure when Darius turns around and leaves the battlefield in panic. Alexander, much to his frustration, has to let him go because Parmenion’s left wing is crumbing down and needs his support. The climax is complete, even on the screen!

After this passage, I stop my DVD. I have to recover from my overwhelming emotions!

In the same context, I watched a program last week about Darius where the question was being raised why he fled from the Battlefield at Gaugamela (as he did at Issus, by the way). Historians generally agree that Darius was not a coward. He is being described as a competent leader who has been victorious in many previous fights, so why did he flee when facing Alexander? Well, watching my DVD tonight, I suddenly realized I found an answer to that question. The fact is that Alexander headed straight for Darius – he was attacking him personally! This was no longer an organized battle of one army against the other, neither was it a fight of Persians against Greeks/Macedonians, it was Alexander himself who attacked the Great King Darius, the King of Kings!

Just imagine how in the middle of all that commotion and dust with so much tension in the air, you are suddenly facing a wild screaming “Barbarian”, ready to cut you into pieces! The adrenaline in Alexander’s blood must have risen to peak level by now. How many men has he slain? How much blood has been shed? The frenzy of battle must have been complete and suddenly out that deafening roar of war appears a most striking figure with waving plumes on his helmet, looking at you with piercing eyes that you can feel before seeing them. There comes Alexander in person, charging at you, the King! That should be enough for any man to flee head over heals, wouldn’t it?

I am so excited by what is happening there and by my own unexpected conclusions that I have to take a break in watching the movie. I’ll have another look tomorrow or so. What a grand pitched battle! Isn’t this a splendid reenactment? And then there is the music that supports this battle and carries it to a climax, it keeps on resonating in my head! I have to catch my breath and come back to my senses before returning to Alexander!

[photographs from the movie Alexander]

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