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Alexander the Great

The Battle of Gaugamela (Arbela)

October 1, 331 BC
Darius III—center
Alexander—right wing
Philotas (Parmenion’s son) co- Mazaeus—right wing
commander of Companion Cavalry
Bessus (Darius’ cousin)—left wing
Parmenion—left wing (Thessalians)

Nicanor (Parmenion’s son)—
Before the Battle
• Alexander crosses the Tigris and Euphrates to meet Darius. Darius
has choosen the wide, flat battlefield of Gaugamela (Camel’s Hump)
—unlike Issus.

• Sept 20th—Lunar eclipse; the Moon turned blood red (disaster for
Persia according to Zoroastrian priests)

• Persian released by Alexander to tell Darius of his wife, Stateria, died

two days before in childbirth.

• September 24th—offer by Darius; all the land west of the Euphrates

and a daughter in marriage. (rejected)
– A bright metor shown across the sky—panic

• Sept 30th—Darius has the men stand at attention all night.

The Persian Army

At the centre, where King Darius was to be found, the

relatives of the king were arranged, along with the
Persian Applebearers, the Indians, the "Carian
deportees" and the Mardian archers; behind them, in
a hollow, were the Babylonians [under the leadership
of Mazaeus], the Red Sea contingents and the
Sittacenians. Out in front on the left wing, opposite
Alexander's right wing, stood the Sacaean horsemen
[commanded by Bessus], around 1,000 Bactrians,
and 100 scythed chariots. The elephants and 50
scythed chariots stood close to Darius' own royal
squadron. At the front of the right wing stood the
Armenian and Cappadocian horsemen, with another
50 scythed chariots. The Greek mercenaries were
placed on either side of Darius and his Persian
followers, directly opposite the Macedonian phalanx,
since only they could possibly be a match for the
[Anabasis 3.11.5ff]
Troop Numbers
The numbers vary, and are all over the place

• Alexander • Darius
– 40,000 foot – Arrian
• 40,000 cavalry
– 7,000 cavalry • 1,000,000 infantry
– Curtius Rufus
• 45,000 cavalry
• 200,000 infantry
– In addition
• 150-200 scythe chariots
• 15 war elephants
• The Great King’s army
stretches over 2 miles wide
Initial Movements
The Macedonian left is in
an echelon formation,
luring the Persian cavalry
to attack.

Alexander moves to
the right, Bessus right and
parallel to him, opening a

Parmenio holds the left.

Rush of the Scythe Chariots
Useless Chariots
• The Macedonians had a special formation to
combat the chariots; the phalanx would make a
pocket for the horses to run into.
– Then, they would be stopped by the rear
phalanx, and the drivers would be picked off
• Completely ineffective
Battle Movements
Parmenio is loosing
the left. Persian units
break through the left
—center and race to
the camp.

Darius’ mother
refuses to leave.

Seeing the gap,

Alexander charges
into it; skirmishers
hidden in the cavalry
hold Bessus, and
Hypaspists plow a
path to the Great
Another Battlefield Map
Darius’ Flees
• Darius abandons his chariot and bow, and
his camp with 4,000 talents and flees north
– He plans on going East to raise another army
• Casualties
– Persian: Arrian, 300,000; Curtius, 40,000
– Greeks: Arrian, 100; Curtius, 300