This page is a stub. It will be expanded to a full-fledged article. Arrian Arrian of Nicomedia c. His best-known work is the Anabasis, which deals with Alexander the Great.

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Death of Philip and Accession of Alexander. It is said that Philip died 14 when Pythodemus was archon at Athens, 15 and that his son Alexander, 16 being then 9 about twenty years of age, marched into Peloponnesus 17 as soon as he had secured the regal power. There he assembled all the Greeks who were within the limits of Peloponnesus, 18 and asked from them the supreme command of the expedition against the Persians, an office which they had already conferred upon Philip.

He received the honour which he asked from all except the Lacedaemonians, 19 who replied that it was an hereditary custom of theirs, not to follow others but to lead them. The Athenians also attempted to bring about some political change; but they were so alarmed at the very approach of Alexander, that they conceded to him even more ample public honours than those which had been bestowed upon Philip.

However, at the approach of spring B. Setting out then from Amphipolis, he invaded the land of the people who were called independent Thracians, 22 keeping the city of Philippi and mount Orbelus on the left. Crossing the river Nessus, 23 they say he arrived at mount Haemus 24 on the tenth day. Here, along the defiles up the ascent to the mountain, he was met by many of the traders equipped with arms, as well as by the independent Thracians, who had made preparations to check the further advance of his expedition by seizing the summit of the Haemus, along which was the route for the passage of his army.

They had collected their waggons, and placed them in front of them, not only using them as a rampart from which they might defend themselves, in case they should be forced back, but also intending to let them loose upon the phalanx of the Macedonians, where the mountain was most precipitous, if they tried to ascend. They had come to the conclusion 25 that the denser the phalanx was with which the waggons rushing down came into collision, the more easily would they scatter it by the violence of their fall upon it.

But Alexander formed a plan by which he might cross the mountain with the least danger possible; and since he was resolved to run all risks, knowing that there were no means of passing elsewhere, he ordered the heavy-armed soldiers, as soon as the waggons began to rush down the declivity, to open their ranks, and directed that those whom the road was sufficiently wide to permit 11 to do so should stand apart, so that the waggons might roll through the gap; but that those who were hemmed in on all sides should either stoop down together or even fall flat on the ground, and lock their shields compactly together, so that the waggons rushing down upon them, and in all probability by their very impetus leaping over them, might pass on without injuring them.

And it turned out just as Alexander had conjectured and exhorted. For some of the men made gaps in the phalanx, and others locked their shields together. The waggons rolled over the shields without doing much injury, not a single man being killed under them.

Then the Macedonians regained their courage, inasmuch as the waggons, which they had excessively dreaded, had inflicted no damage upon them. With a loud cry they assaulted the Thracians. Alexander ordered his archers to march from the right wing in front of the rest of the phalanx, because there the passage was easier, and to shoot at the Thracians where they advanced.

He himself took his own guard, the shield-bearing infantry and the Agrianians, 26 and led them to the left. Then the archers shot at the Thracians who sallied forward, and repulsed them; and the phalanx, coming to close fighting, easily drove away from their position men who were light-armed and badly equipped barbarians. The consequence was, they no longer waited to receive Alexander marching against them from the left, but casting away their arms they fled down the mountain as each man best could.

About 1, of them were killed; but only a few were taken prisoners on account of their swiftness of foot and acquaintance with the country. However, all the women who were accompanying them were captured, as were also their children and all their booty. Battle with the Triballians. Alexander sent the booty away southward to the cities on the seashore, 27 entrusting to Lysanias and Philotas 28 the duty of setting it up for sale.

But he himself crossed the summit, and advancing through the Haemus into the land of the Triballians, he arrived at the river Lyginus. Syrmus himself likewise, accompanied by his train, had fled for refuge to the same place. But the main body of the Triballians fled back to the river, from which Alexander had started the day before.

When he heard of their starting, he wheeled round again, and, marching against them, surprised them just 13 as they were encamping. And those who were surprised drew themselves up in battle array in a woody glen along the bank of the river. Alexander drew out his phalanx into a deep column, and led it on in person. He also ordered the archers and slingers to run forward and discharge arrows and stones at the barbarians, hoping to provoke them by this to come out of the woody glen into the ground unencumbered with trees.

When they were within reach of the missiles, and were struck by them, they rushed out against the archers, who were undefended by shields, with the purpose of fighting them hand-to-hand.

But when Alexander had drawn them thus out of the woody glen, he ordered Philotas to take the cavalry which came from upper Macedonia, and to charge their right wing, where they had advanced furthest in their sally.

And indeed as long as there was only skirmishing on both sides, the Triballians did not get the worst of it; but as soon as the phalanx in dense array attacked them with vigour, and the cavalry fell upon them in various quarters, no longer merely striking them with the javelin, but pushing them with their very horses, then at length they turned and fled through the woody glen to the river. Three thousand were slain in the flight; few of them were taken prisoners, both because there was a dense wood in front of the river, and the approach of night deprived the Macedonians of certainty in their pursuit.

Ptolemy says, that of the Macedonians themselves eleven horsemen and about forty foot soldiers were killed. Alexander at the Danube and in the Country of the Getae.

On the third day after the battle, Alexander reached the river Ister, which is the largest of all the rivers in Europe, traverses a very great tract of country, and separates very warlike nations. Most of these belong to the Celtic race, 34 in whose territory the sources of the river take their rise.

Of these nations the remotest are the Quadi 35 and Marcomanni 36 ; then the Iazygianns, 37 a branch of the Sauromatians 38 ; then the Getae, 39 who hold 15 the doctrine of immortality; then the main body of the Sarmatians; and, lastly, the Scythians, 40 whose land stretches as far as the outlets of the river, where through five mouths it discharges its water into the Euxine Sea.

Filling these with archers and heavy-armed troops, he sailed to the island to which the Triballians and Thracians had fled for refuge. He tried to force a landing; but the barbarians came to meet him at the brink of the river, where the ships were making the assault.

But these were only few in number, and the army in them small. The shores of the island, also, were in most places too steep and precipitous for landing, and the current of the river alongside it, being, as it were, shut up into a narrow channel by the nearness of the banks, was rapid and exceedingly difficult to stem. Alexander therefore led back his ships, and determined to cross the Ister and march against the Getae, who dwelt on the other side of that river; for he observed that many of them had collected on the bank of the river for the purpose of barring his way, if he should cross.

There were of them about 4, cavalry and more than 10, 16 infantry. At the same time a strong desire seized him to advance beyond the Ister. He therefore went on board the fleet himself. He also filled with hay the hides which served them as tent-coverings, and collected from the country around all the boats made from single trunks of trees. Of these there was a great abundance, because the people who dwell near the Ister use them for fishing in the river, sometimes also for journeying to each other for traffic up the river; and most of them carry on piracy with them.

Having collected as many of these as he could, upon them he conveyed across as many of his soldiers as was possible in such a fashion. Those who crossed with Alexander amounted in number to 1, cavalry and 4, infantry. Alexander Destroys the City of the Getae. They crossed over by night to a spot where the corn stood high; and in this way they reached the bank more secretly.

At the approach of dawn Alexander led his men through the field of standing corn, ordering the infantry to lean upon the corn with their pikes 42 held transversely, and thus to advance into the untilled ground. As long as the phalanx was advancing through the standing corn, the cavalry followed; but when they marched out of the tilled land, Alexander himself led the horse round to the right wing, and commanded Nicanor 43 to lead the phalanx in a square.

Terrible to them also was the closely-locked order of the phalanx, and violent the charge of the cavalry. At first they fled for refuge into their city, which was distant about a parasang 44 from the Ister; but when they saw that Alexander was leading his phalanx carefully along the river, to prevent his infantry being anywhere surrounded by the Getae lying in ambush; whereas he was leading his cavalry straight on, they again abandoned the city, because it was badly fortified.

They carried off as many of their women and children as their horses could carry, and betook themselves into the steppes, in a direction which led as far as possible from the river. Alexander took the city and all the booty which the Getae left behind.

This he gave to Meleager 45 and Philip 46 to carry off. After razing the city to the ground, he offered sacrifice upon the bank of the river, to Zeus the preserver, to Heracles, 47 and to Ister himself, because he had allowed him to cross; and while it was still day he brought all his men back safe to the camp.

There ambassadors came to him from Syrmus, king of the Triballians, and from the other independent nations dwelling near the Ister. Some even arrived from the 18 Celts who dwelt near the Ionian gulf. To all of them he gave pledges of amity, and received pledges from them in return. He then asked the Celts what thing in the world caused them special alarm, expecting that his own great fame had reached the Celts and had penetrated still further, and that they would say that they feared him most of all things.

But the answer of the Celts turned out quite contrary to his expectation; for, as they dwelt so far away from Alexander, inhabiting districts difficult of access, and as they saw he was about to set out in another direction, they said they were afraid that the sky would some time or other fall down upon them. These men also he sent back, calling them friends, and ranking them as allies, making the remark that the Celts were braggarts.

Revolt of Clitus and Glaucias. He then advanced into the land of the Agrianians and Paeonians, 50 where messengers reached him, who reported that Clitus, son of Bardylis, 51 had revolted, and that 19 Glaucias, 52 king of the Taulantians, 53 had gone over to him. They also reported that the Autariatians 54 intended to attack him on his way.

He accordingly resolved to commence his march without delay. But Langarus, king of the Agrianians, who, in the lifetime of Philip, had been an open and avowed friend of Alexander, and had gone on an embassy to him in his private capacity, at that time also came to him with the finest and best armed of the shield-bearing troops, which he kept as a body-guard.

When this man heard that Alexander was inquiring who the Autariatians were, and what was the number of their men, he said that he need take no account of them, since they were the least warlike of the tribes of that district; and that he would himself make an inroad into their land, so that they might have too much occupation about their own affairs to attack others. Thus the Autariatians were indeed occupied with their own affairs.

Langarus was rewarded by Alexander with the greatest honours, and received from him the gifts which were considered most valuable in the eyes of the king of the Macedonians. Alexander also promised to give him his sister Cyna 55 in 20 marriage when he arrived at Pella. After this, Alexander marched along the river Erigon, 57 and proceeded to the city of Pelium; 58 for Clitus had seized this city, as it was the strongest in the country.

When Alexander arrived at this place, and had encamped near the river Eordaicus, 59 he resolved to make an assault upon the wall the next day. But Clitus held the mountains which encircled the city, and commanded it from their height; moreover, they were covered with dense thickets.

His intention was to fall upon the Macedonians from all sides, if they assaulted the city. But Glaucias, king of the Taulantians, had not yet joined him. Alexander, however, led his forces towards the city; and the enemy, after sacrificing three boys, an equal number of girls, and three black rams, sallied forth for the purpose of receiving the Macedonians in a hand-to-hand conflict. But as soon as they came to close quarters, they left the positions which they had occupied, strong as they were, 60 in such haste that even their sacrificial victims were captured still lying on the ground.

On this day he shut them up in the city, and encamping near the wall, he resolved to intercept them by a circumvallation; but on the next day Glaucias, king of 21 the Taulantians, arrived with a great force. Then, indeed, Alexander gave up the hope of capturing the city with his present force, since many warlike troops had fled for refuge into it, and Glaucias with his large army would be likely to follow him up closely if he assailed the wall.

But he sent Philotas on a foraging expedition, with the beasts of burden from the camp and a sufficient body of cavalry to serve as a guard. When Glaucias heard of the expedition of Philotas he marched out to meet him, and seized the mountains which surrounded the plain, from which Philotas intended to procure forage.

As soon as Alexander was informed that his cavalry and beasts of burden would be in danger if night overtook them, taking the shield-bearing troops, 61 the archers, the Agrianians, and about four hundred cavalry, he went with all speed to their aid. The rest of the army he left behind near the city, to prevent the citizens from hastening forth to form a junction with Glaucias as they would have done , if all the Macedonian army had withdrawn.

Directly Glaucias perceived that Alexander was advancing, he evacuated the mountains, and Philotas and his forces returned to the camp in safety. But Clitus and Glaucias still imagined that they had caught Alexander in a disadvantageous position; for they were occupying the mountains, which commanded the plain by their height, with a large body of cavalry, javelin-throwers, and slingers, besides a considerable number of heavy-armed infantry.

Moreover, the men who had been 22 beleaguered in the city were expected to pursue the Macedonians closely if they made a retreat. The ground also through which Alexander had to march was evidently narrow and covered with wood; on one side it was hemmed in by a river, and on the other there was a very lofty and craggy mountain, so that there would not be room for the army to pass, even if only four shield-bearers marched abreast.

Defeat of Clitus and Glaucias. Then Alexander drew up his army in such a way that the depth of the phalanx was men; and stationing cavalry on each wing, he ordered them to preserve silence, in order to receive the word of command quickly. Accordingly he gave the signal to the heavy-armed infantry in the first place to hold their spears erect, and then to couch them at the concerted sign; at one time to incline their spears to the right, closely locked together, and at another time towards the left.

He then set the phalanx itself into quick motion forward, and marched it towards the wings, now to the right, and then to the left.


Links to translation of Arrianus, Anabasis

Links to translation of Arrianus, Anabasis L. Flavius Arrianus wrote an "Anabasis of Alexander", which is generally considered to be the most reliable ancient account of the conquests of Alexander the Great. It has been translated by E. Iliff Robson in his Loeb edition, with the Greek text on facing pages.


The Anabasis of Alexander

When I began this Translation, more than two years ago, I had no intention of publishing it; but as the work progressed, it occurred to me that Arrian is an Author deserving of more attention from the English speaking races than he has yet received. No edition of his works has, so far as I am aware, ever appeared in England, though on the Continent many have been published. In the following Translation I have tried to give as literal a rendering of the Greek text as I could without transgressing the idioms of our own language. My theory of the duty of a Translator is, to give the ipsissima verba of his Author as nearly as possible, and not put into his mouth words which he never used, under the mistaken notion of improving his diction or his way of stating his case.


Dio called him Flavius Arrianus Nicomediansis. In respect of his birth date, sources provide similar dates for his birth; within a few years prior to 90, 89, and 85—90 AD. The line of reasoning for dates belonging to AD is from the fact of Arrian being made a consul around AD, and the usual age for this, during this period, being forty-two years of age. His family was from the Greek provincial aristocracy, and his full name, L. Flavius Arrianus, indicates that he was a Roman citizen, suggesting that the citizenship went back several generations, probably to the time of the Roman conquest some years before.

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