Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Quintus Curtius Rufus and Macedonia

Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian. It is generally thought that he has written his works during the reign of the Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD) or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are incomplete. His work is fluidly written, but reveals ignorance of geography, chronology and technical military knowledge, focusing instead on character.

“They recalled that at the start of his reign Darius had issued orders for the shape of the scabbard of the Persian scimitar to be altered to the shape used by the Greeks, and that the Chaldeans had immediately interpreted this as meaning that rule over the Persians would pass to those people whose arms Darius had copied.“
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 3.3.6)

“and he [alexander] demonstrated the strength of his contempt for the barbarians by celebrating games in honour of Aesclepius and Athena.”
(Curtius Rufus 3, 7, 3)

“About this time there took place the traditional Isthmian games, which the whole of Greece gathers to celebrate. At this assembly the Greeks - political trimmers by temperament - determined that fifteen ambassadors be sent to the king to offer him a victory-gift of a golden crown in honour of his achievements on behalf of the security and freedom of Greece.”
(Curtius Rufus 4, 5, 11)

“they also occupied Tenedos and had decided to seize Chios at the invitation of its inhabitants.”
(Curtius Rufus 4, 5, 14)

“Then Alexander’s horses dragged him around the city while the king gloated at having followed the example of his ancestor Achilles in punishing his enemy.”
(Curtius Rufus 4,6.29)

” Moreover, as a reward for their exceptional loyalty to him, Alexander reimbursed the people of Mitylene for their war expenses and also added a large area to their territories.”
(Curtius Rufus 4.8.13)

” Furthemore, appropriate honours were accorded the kings of Cyprus who had defected to him from Darius and sent him a fleet during his assault on Tyre.”
(Curtius Rufus 4.8.14)

“Amphoterus, the admiral of the fleet, was then sent to liberate Crete, most of which was occupied by both Persian and Spartan armies”
(Curtius Rufus 4.8. 15)

“For his part Alexander responded much like this:‘His majesty Alexander to Darius: Greetings. The Darius whose name you have assumed wrought much destruction upon the Greek inhabitants of the Hellespontine coast and upon the Greek colonies of Ionia, and the crossed the sea with a mighty army, bringing the war to Macedonia and Greece. On another occasion Xerxes, a member of the same family, came with his savage barbarian troops, and even when beaten in a naval engagement he still left Mardonius in Greece so that he could destroy our cities and burn our fields though absent himself.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 4.1.10)

“Mutiny was but a step away when, unperturbed by all this, Alexander summoned a full meeting of his generals and officers in his tent and ordered the Egyptian seers to give their opinion. They were well aware that the annual cycle follows a pattern of changes, that the moon is eclipsed when it passes behind the earth or is blocked by the sun, but they did not give this explanation, which they themselves knew, to the common soldiers. Instead, they declared that the sun represented the Greeks and the moon the Persians, and that an eclipse of the moon predicted disaster and slaughter for those nations.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 4.10.1)

“Alexander called a meeting of his generals the next day. He told them that no city was more hateful to the Greeks than Persepolis, the capital of the old kings of Persia, the city from which troops without number had poured forth, from which first Darius and then Xerxes had waged an unholy war on Europe. To appease the spirits of their forefathers they should wipe it out, he said.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 5.6.1)

“One of the latter was Thais. She too had had too much to drink, when she claimed that, if Alexander gave the order to burn the Persian palace, he would earn the deepest gratitude among all the Greeks. This was what the people whose cities the Persians had destroyed were expecting she said. As the drunken whore gave her opinion on a matter of extreme importance, one or two who were themselves the worse for drink agreed with her. the king, too, was enthusiastic rather than acquiescent.“Why do we not avenge Greece, then and put the city to the torch?” he asked.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 5. 7. 3)

“From here he now moved into Media, where he was met by fresh reinforcement from Cilicia: 5,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, both under the command of the Athenian Plato. His forces thus augmented. Alexander determined to pursue Darius”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 5. 7. )

As for Alexander, it is generally agreed that, when sleep had brought him back to his senses after his drunken bout, he regretted his actions and said that the Persians would have suffered a more grievous punishment at the hands of the Greeks had they been forced to see him on Xerxes’ throne and in his palace.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 5.7.11)

“He did not want her tainting the character and civilized temperament of the Greeks with this example of barbarian lawlessness“ “Alexander advanced from there to the river Tanais, where Bessus was brought to him, not only in irons but entirely stripped of his clothes. Spitamenes held him with a chain around his neck, a sight that afforded as much pleasure to the barbarians as to the Macedonians.”
(Curtius Rufus 7.5.36)

” Meanwhile a group of Macedonians had gone off to forage out of formation and were suprised by some Barbarians who came rushing down on them from the neighbouring mountains.”
(Curtius Rufus 7.6.1)

“Menedemus himself, riding an extremely powerful horse, had repeatedly charged at full gallop into the barbarians’ wedge-shaped contingents, scattering them with great carnage.”
(Curtius Rufus 7.6.35)

“In pursuit of Bessus the Macedonians had arrived at a small town inhabited by the Branchidae who, on the orders of Xerxes, when he was returning from Greece, had emigrated from Miletus and settled in this spot. This was necessary because, to please Xerxes, they had violated the temple called the Didymeon. The culture of their forebears had not yet disappeared thought they were now bilingual and the foreign tongue was gradually eroding their own. So it was with great joy that they welcomed Alexander, to whom they surrendered themselves and their city. Alexander called a meeting of the Milesians in his force, for the Milesians bore a long-standing grudge against the Branchidae as a clan. Since they were the people betrayed by the Branchidae, Alexander let them decide freely on their case, asking if they preferred to remember their injury or their common origins. But when there was a difference of opinion over this, he declared that he would himself consider the best course of action. When the Branchidae met him the next day, he told them to accompany him. On reaching the city, he himself entered through the gate with a unit of light-armed troops.
The phalanx had been ordered to surround the city walls and, when the signal was given, to sack this city which provided refuge for traitors, killing the inhabitants to a man. The Branchidae, who were unarmed, were butchered throughout the city, and neither community of language nor the olive-branches and entreaties of the suppliants could curb the savagery. Finally the Macedonians dug down to the foundations of the city walls in order to demolish them and leave not a single trace of the city.”
“The gist of the passage was that the Greeks had established a bad practice in inscribing their trophies with only their kings’ names, for the kings’ were thus appropriating to themselves glory that was won by the blood of others.”
(Quintus Curtius Rufus 8.1.29)

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