The Story of the Greeks
Page: 110After enduring all these hardships, Alexander arrived at last at the oasis, or green island in the sandy desert, where the Temple of Jupiter stood. The priests led him into the holy place, and, hoping to flatter him, called him the son of Jupiter.
After resting for some time in this pleasant spot, Alexander and his men again braved the dangers of the desert, went back to Alexandria and Tyre, and from there began the long-delayed pursuit of Darius.
The Greek soldiers had suffered so many hardships since beginning the war, that they were now ready for anything. They crossed the Eu-phra´tes over a hastily built bridge; then coming to the Tigris, where neither bridge nor boats could be found, they boldly swam across the river, holding their shields over their heads to protect themselves from the arrows of the Persians who stood on the other bank.
Alexander was always the first to rush forward in battle, and he now led the way across the river. He was longing to meet the Persians again, and was very glad to overtake them on the other side of the Tigris.
Here, on the plains of Ar-be´la, the third great battle was fought, and Alexander won the victory. Darius fled once more before the conqueror, while Alexander marched straight on to Bab´y-lon, the most wonderful city in the East.[Pg 247]
Alexander soon won the good will of the Babylonians by allowing them to rebuild the Temple of Bel, which had been destroyed. He also secured the affections of the captive Jews; for he excused them from doing any work on this building as soon as he heard that they considered it the Tower of Babel, and hence objected to aiding in its erection.
The young conqueror spent one month in Babylon, and then went on to Su´sa. There he found the brazen statue of Athene which Xerxes had carried off to Persia; and he sent it back to the Athenians, who received it with much joy.
The Persian queen now became very ill, and, in spite of the utmost care, she soon died. Throughout her illness, Alexander was most thoughtful and attentive; and when she died, he gave orders that she should be buried with all the pomp due to her high rank.
He also comforted the mourning Sisygambis, and sent the news of the queen's death to Darius, who had fled to the northern part of his kingdom, where he was hastily gathering together another army. Touched by Alexander's conduct, Darius now wrote to him, offering peace, and proposing to share the throne of Persia with him.
The young conqueror's head had been turned by his many victories, and he was growing more haughty every day: so he proudly refused this proposal, saying that the world could not have two masters any more than two suns.[Pg 248]
In his pride, Alexander now assumed the dress and state of an Oriental king, surrounded himself with luxury, and spent most of his time in feasting and revelry. His courtiers encouraged him in this folly, and he soon forgot the wise lessons taught by Aristotle.