Alexander the Great & The Persian Thermopylae (Part One)


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In January 330 BC, Alexander the Great faced one of his most difficult challenges to date. A small Persian force, entrenched in a formidable defensive position that blockaded Alexander’s route to the Persian heartlands. A narrow pass through the Zagros Mountains that has gone down in history as the Persian, or Susian, Gates. Although nowhere near the size or scale of Alexander’s previous pitched battles against the Persians at the Granicus, Issus and Gaugamela, this clash in the mountains deserves its moment in the spotlight. A clash where the tables were turned and the Persians were outnumbered by their Macedonian counterparts. A battle that has been dubbed the Persian Thermopylae. From the immediate aftermath of Alexander’s victory at Gaugamela to his army’s antics at Babylon. From a merciless, punitive campaign in the foothills of the Zagros Mountains to a detailed run down of the Persian stand the Gates, enjoy as Tristan talks you through the events of late 331 / early 330 BC.

In this first part, Tristan covers the events that followed Alexander the Great’s victory at Gaugamela and how these culminated with Alexander’s army approaching the Persian heartlands deep in the winter of 331/0 BC.

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Quick notes:

We do hear a small detail about what happened to Bagophanes. Alexander assigned him to become one of Mazaeus' adjutants in the new Babylonian administration.

Medates is pardoned by Alexander. Whether he retains his position as governor of the lowland Uxians however, is not stated.

Further Reading

Hammond, M. (2013), tr., Arrian: Alexander the Great, the Anabasis and the Indica, Oxford.

Shepherd, R. (1793), tr., Polyaenus: Stratagems of War, Chicago.

Waterfield, R. (2019), tr., Diodorus of Sicily: The Library, Books 16-20, Oxford.

Yardley, J. (2001), tr., The History of Alexander: Quintus Curtius Rufus, Chatham.

Bosworth, A. B. (1988), Conquest and Empire: The Reign of Alexander the Great, Cambridge.

Engels, D. W. (1978), Alexander the Great and the Logistics of the Macedonian Army, London.

Heckel, W. (2006), Who's Who in the Age of Alexander the Great, Oxford.

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