Spitamenes Persepolis Alexander




Spitamenes Persepolis Alexander


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Spitamenes Persepolis Alexander




After Bessus’ death, several northern tribes in Sogdiana still needed to be subdued. Alexander crushed these tribes taking several fortresses too.

After the death of Bessus, Alexander heard that Spitamenes was now at Marcanda.  Alexander didn’t want to fight him and instead sent a small army (60 Companions, 1,500 infantry, 800 cavalry)  under the control of an interpreter to negotiate. Spitamenes enticed this group to the edge of a desert, surrounded them, and killed them all.

This was the first defeat for Alexander’s army.

When Alexander found out, he felt great guilt and anger and tried to seek out Spitamenes himself but when he reached Marcanda he had fled again.

Spitamenes became the main focus for opposition to Alexander and his style of warfare required Alexander to change his.

The Sogdians used Scythians (people living to the north of the Persian empire)tactics:  encircling the enemy on horseback, firing arrows and then retreating before they could be attacked.

Against such tactics Alexander’s phalanx was useless. He used Persian mounted troops who were familiar with the country and relied more on his cavalry operating in small independent groups.
He also used his infantry to garrison captured towns.

Alexander now divides his army (cavalry and infantry) into five units that worked together to storm fortified places and subdue small villages.
This policy removed much of the opposition but Spitamenes was still at large and causing trouble.

After being defeated by Coenus’ army, Spitamenes was betrayed by the Massagetae who, upon hearing Alexander himself was coming, killed Spitamenes and gave Alexander his head as a peace offering.





Whilst marching on to Persepolis, Alexander was met at the Persian Gates by Ariobarzanes (satrap of Persis) with 25,000.


Alexander’s frontal attack failed and he was forced to retreat leaving his dead behind.


Alexander then marched the bulk of his army up the mountains and over a pass to come up behind Ariobarzanes.


Ariobarzanes now surrounded and the majority of the Persians were cut down or died while retreating.



Alexander stayed in Persepolis for about 4 months.


His men were allowed to loot and pillage.


Persepolis full of palaces, treasuries, temples and therefore money.



Arrian says     : official version.

: burning was an act of revenge for the invasions of Greece and the damage done then.  But it was now Alexander’s palace and he was only destroying his own property.

: it is unlikely he would have done something like this to alienate the Persians.


Plutarch says  : razing was the result of a speech by the mistress of Ptolemy called Thais.

: she said that burning the palace would “pay him back for burning Athens”. Also the fire would show that ‘women inflicted a terrible revenge on the Persians’.

: the men encouraged by her speech set about burning the palace. It was quickly destroyed.


Some accounts point out that Alexander very quickly regretted his actions and ordered the fire to be put out, but it was too late.


Whatever the story the palace was destroyed by fire.



Source :



Web site link: http://www.rosehill-college.co.nz/

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