The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4

We continue with the story of Alexander.  The Abbasid caliphs, for whom Eutychius wrote, were basically Persians, and so the destruction of the Achaemenids by Alexander – who is treated as the king of the “Rum”! – was obviously sensitive territory.  Eutychius copes with this inconvenience by denying Alexander his military victory, and instead attributing the defeat of Darius to treachery.  One doubts that anyone was fooled, but the flattery doubtless benefited the author.

I notice that Google Translate continues to mistranslate the numerals.  I must recheck all the numbers of years from A to B.

14 And when he came to the king, the messenger told him what Alexander had done.  Then Alexander gathered together his compatriots and his men, and said to them, “There are three ways to accomplish things:  with great forethought, with the ability to realize them, and with the implementation of both with a firm intention. Whoever of you is of this opinion will get what he wants and, whoever shares this will join with me, but whoever is not of the same opinion should stay away from me.” They replied, “God has united these three things in our king, while we have some who own one and some who own another, but no one is able to effectively implement what he has.”  Alexander was fully satisfied with their words.  Then he made all the arrangements and went out against Dāriyūs.  They met at al-Gazirah[1] and the war was protracted on both sides for forty days.  Dāriyūs had five trenches dug, and he placed in each of them a general (“isbahid”) at the head of twelve thousand men and every man went out to fight every five days.  Dāriyūs then ordered his men to bring him two heads of Rūm every day.  And in fact, two heads of the Rūm or one only were delivered to him daily.  Alexander was saddened at that in his heart and his rage reached its peak. He then sent to Dāriyūs: “We are almost annihilating each other. I therefore propose a way that allows us and you to come out of this; that is, that you deploy your men with a gap, so that I can take the way through your troops on the side where you are, and so can go back to my country.  We, indeed, have no intention of fleeing in the face of deployed troops, because such a thing would be a dishonour that could never be washed away, a spot that could never be purified and an unforgivable ignominy.”  Dāriyūs replied, “We do not think it appropriate to give you what you ask for, or see the reason for it.”  When he saw this, Alexander was thoughtful, with his head in his hands, looking for a way out.  Then he said to his men: “O Rūm, this means we are feeble and with little strength to win.  If there is any one among you, or among the Persians, who can suggest some stratagem in this matter in order to get us out of such anguish, he will have half the realm of the Persians and the Rūm and half of what is at the junction [of the whole territory]”.  The words of Alexander were heard by Khisnisf and Adarshīst[2], the sons of Adarbakht, the captains of the guard of Dāriyūs.  In another text it is said “of the armies”.  When it came to arms, they fell on Dāriyūs with their swords and struck him to the ground. The Persians were put to flight, and many were killed on the field.  It happened then that Alexander came to Dāriyūs, and saw him in that state, and he dismounted from his horse, rested his head on his chest, washed his face, bended his wounds, kissed him and wept, said, “Praise God who has not given it to any of my men to kill you. What we now see was already written in the foreknowledge of God.  Ask whatever you want.  For my part I grant you the right to ask three things, but you will also allow me to ask for one.”  Dāriyūs said to him: “I want you not to overthrow the nobles and dignitaries of Fāris, and to guarantee their safety.  I want you to not destroy the temples of fire, and to care for their security.  I want you to do justice on those who killed me, and return him the same, because he will certainly betray your favour if he is released as he has already betrayed mine.”  Alexander assured him that he would do what he had asked, and said, “What I want from you is that you give me your daughter Rūshtaq, and that this is done through you and with your blessing.” Dāriyūs replied, “I grant her to you in marriage, provided that you entrust the kingdom, after you, to a son that you have from her.”  Alexander consented and Dāriyūs gave his daughter to him in marriage.  Then he died.  Alexander then ordered him to be buried, wrapping him in the most precious linen that the king possessed and commanded the soldiers, Greeks and Persians, to march with the weapons [in salute] before his coffin.  Alexander and his most prominent men followed the parade to the place of the burial.  Then Alexander said, “If it had been my task to reduce Dāriyūs to the state in which you saw him, I would have done it because he was in any case my enemy.  Great is therefore the service of he who has spared me such an action and I feel I must reward him.  Come before me, and I swear solemnly in the name of God, that I will exalt him and raise him up above all my men.”  Then Khisnisf and Adarshīst, sons of Adarbakht, went on to him, and said to him, “We are the leaders of the guard of Dāriyūs, who have spared you such an action.  Therefore, give us what you promised us.”  [Alexander] ordered them to be crucified on two great crosses, saying: “These two men deserved to get what I ordered for them, because of their broken promise and for having betrayed their king. If they have not been loyal to their king, they will not be to anyone else.  I gave them what I had promised them and raised them above all my men.”  He then ordered gifts to be made to the mother, wife and daughter of Dāriyūsh, to give them the appropriate clothes to their rank and surround them with all honour.  He then ordered that gifts and clothing should be given to the Persian generals and notables as appropriate to their rank, benefits and expectations and confirmed them in their offices.  For these things they loved him, and held him dear to them.  Then Alexander invited those who wished to follow him in the invasion of India.  They went with him, glad and ready to fight.

15. Alexander thus reigned over seven provinces. From the captivity of Babil to the reign of Alexander 263 years had passed; from the reign of David to that of Alexander, 740; from the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the reign of Alexander, 1,346; from Abraham to the reign of Alexander, 1,853; from Fāliq to the reign of Alexander, 2,394; from the flood to the reign of Alexander, 2,925; from Adam to the reign of Alexander, 5,181.  The teacher of Alexander was Aristātālis, the philosopher.  Also in the city of Athinah was a wise man named Diyūğānūs [3].

 

 

 

  1. [1]I.e. in Mesopotamia.
  2. [2]Arrian in the Anabasis III, 21, calls them “Satibarzan and Barsaente.”
  3. [3]Aristotle and Diogenes.

2 thoughts on “The Annals of Eutychius of Alexandria (10th c. AD) – chapter 7 – part 4

  1. The ‘Abbasi wali in Egypt during most of Sa’id Eutychius’ life was Takin al-Khazari; in 935, Muhammad b. Tughj al-Ikhshid took over Egypt and ruled more autonomously. Both were Turk(ish); both had to worry about the Fatimids pressing in from the west. So I agree, the Syriac and Arabic sources allowed in early-tenth-century Egypt would have had a pro-Eastern slant.

    Eutychius could have learnt Greek and visited Constantinople’s libraries, but he seems never to have bothered.

    BTW, you are doing us a great service in making these Late Antique lies available to us in English. We are getting a wonderful glimpse at ‘Abbasid-era humbug, and maybe even Sasanian humbug.

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