The Story of the Greeks
Page: 108The young conqueror treated the Persian ladies with the utmost kindness, and often visited them in their own tent, to talk for a while with them. As he always found them idle, he fancied that time must hang very heavily upon their hands, and once offered to have them taught to spin and weave, as the Greek ladies were wont to do.
At this proposal, Sisygambis burst into tears, and asked if he wished to make slaves of them, for Persian ladies considered any labor a disgrace. Alexander, seeing her grief, hastened to comfort her, and tried to explain how happy the Greek ladies always seemed over their dainty work.
But when he understood that the royal family would rather remain idle, he never again proposed to furnish them with occupation of any kind. On the contrary, he was so gentle and respectful, that Sisygambis soon learned to love him, and used to treat him like her own son.
Darius, as we have seen, had fled after the disastrous battle of Issus. His terror was so great that he never stopped in his flight until he had reached the other side of the river Ti´gris, where he still believed himself safe.[Pg 243]
Instead of going after Darius at once, Alexander first went southward along the coast; for he thought it would be wiser to take all the cities near the sea before he went farther inland, so as to make sure that he had no enemies behind his back.
Marching down through Syr´i-a and Phœ-nic´ia, Alexander took the cities of Da-mas´cus and Si´don, and came at last to Tyre, a prosperous commercial city built on an island at a short distance from the shore.
The Tyr´i-ans would not open their gates and surrender, so Alexander prepared to besiege the city. As he had no fleet, he began to build a great causeway out to the island.
This was a very difficult piece of work, because the water was deep; and while his men were building it, they were greatly annoyed by showers of arrows, stones, and spears from the walls of the city and from the decks of the Tyrian vessels.
A storm, also, broke the causeway to pieces once, when it was nearly finished, and the army had to begin the work anew. The obstinate resistance of Tyre made Alexander so angry, that he celebrated his final victory by crucifying a large number of the richest citizens.
After offering up a sacrifice to Hercules on the flaming ruins of Tyre, Alexander went on toward Je-ru´sa-lem. His plan was to punish the Jews, because they had helped his enemies, and had supplied the Tyrians with food.
The news of his coming filled the hearts of the Jews with terror, for they expected to be treated with the same frightful cruelty as the Tyrians. In their fear they knew not whether to surrender or fight.[Pg 244]