Task 2: Modern aspect

In Alexander, Directed by Oliver Stone the Battle of Gaugamela was said to be fought in Gaugamela Persia. Fought between Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia and Darius III, Persian conqueror of Asia Minor. In the film, accurate information was shown, but in less detail in Arrian’s interpretation. Several moves were left out, but did show the 3 most significant events in the film. It showed Alexanders Right and Left flank strategic formation and the cause of Darius Retreat. This was important as all three events were put in exact order which depicts the battle.

The Features of the battle seen in the film was the original tactics that Alexander used. Such as Alexanders scan of the ground before he went to battle. In the first task, Arian stated that the ground was also checked so that there were no other hidden dangers such as pits, traps or spikes in which his cavalry could fall in. Although Alexander did not send a reconnaissance party his scan over the battle field, him standing over the battle field glaring out implied he was checking there were no hidden dangers. The two armies moved out to meet each other, the Macedonians moved to their right the Persian’s moved in the same direction in order to out flank the Macedonians as said in the first task by Arrian, this information was accurate as it was shown in the film. The film also showed the Macedonians sending part of their army to overwhelm Darius’s chariots with arrows and showing some violence of pulling them to the ground crushing Darius’s chariots. The mounted troops in advance went to their left to ride round the Macedonian right where Alexander was in control to stop them from extending anymore to the right. Mercenary horses charged at Darius’s army, the Persians then launched their scythed chariots as retaliation. The film showed the Persians  at full flight and the Macedonians in a pursuit , cutting down fugitives by then a messenger sent with a urgent message was sent to inform Alexander that his troops needed help. When he received this information he made another pursuit, came round with a companion cavalry and galloped full speed towards the Persian right by then the scene of the battle was ending and showed Darius’s retreat.

Parts the film did miss out certain animals such as the war elephants, but throughout the Battle of Gaugamela scene as a whole it was very much accurate. The two armies were easily differed as the two armies moved out to meet each other, and their costumes were very different showing the Greeks wearing helmets with read threaded fabric coming out the top, long spears with different coloured tips and shields. Emphasis was given to the middle of the battle when Alexanders army was well under pressure, showing the killing of his men and showing Darius’s army coming around trying to break through Alexanders line, resulting in the death of a few of Alexanders men. This was emphasized as it gave the audience and Idea of the seriousness of the battle and showed Darius’s tactics on trying to out flank Alexanders army. This is a common tactic because Darius saw Alexander’s army at his most vulnerable attacking him from the back and the sides . The film makers try to make the audience more sympathetic to one side over the other this is depicted though certain actions within scenes such as in the actual battle itself.  This is done thought the use of the type of music played. This escalates along with the drama that emotionally draws the audience into feelings of understanding and underlying agreement with how the director wants to be understood by the audience. As the title of the film stipulates it is called “Alexander” so therefore we are expected to be sympathetic with him if it was called “Darius” then we could draw the conclusion that we are supposed to be in agreement with Darius hence why the film is unevenly skewered in favor of Alexander.

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Task One: The Battle of Gaugamela

The Battle of Gaugamela was fought in the year 333 BCE at the Kurdistan region, of northern Iraq. Fought between Alexander the Great, King of Macedonia and Darius III, persian conqueror of Asia Minor and was the dominant power in the known world. Darius’s army had 89,215 men which consisted of :

  • Heavy infantry
  • Royal Guard- (2000 light troops)
  • 2000 Mardi
  • 50000 Persian Levy
  • 35000 Calvary
  • 200 Scythed Chariots
  • 15 War Elephants

Alexander the Great’s army had 39,000 men which consisted of

  • Calvary
  • Heavy Infantry
  • Light troops

Although Alexanders army was heavily  out numbered, Alexander turned the odds in favor by making sure he was well prepared. He sent out a reconnaissance party who discovered that  portions of the ground had been leveled, giving Alexander the advantage of knowing how Darius planned to use his chariots. The ground  was also checked that there was no other hidden dangers such as pits, traps or spikes in which his calvary could fall in. Most importantly he ordered his army to rest, so hey were fresh for battle.

As Arrian tells us the two armies moved out to meet each other, the Macedonians moved to their right the Persian’s moved in the same direction in order to out flank the Macedonians. The Macedonians sent part of their army to overwhelm Darius’s chariots with missiles, arrows etc and thus pulling them to the ground making Darius’s chariots completely useless. The mounted troops in advance went to their left to ride round the Macedonian right where Alexander was in control to stop them from extending anymore to the right.

Alexander ordered his Mercenary horse to charge at Darius’s army, in which the calvary, and Bactrians where surrounded, the large bodied army counter attacked. Due to a large numbers advantage, they drove troops back and  made Alexander to send in  Ariston’s Paeonians and mercenaries to force his enemy to give way. The Macedonians did not give way before they attacked , they broke the enemy formation by their constant attacks.

The Persians launched their scythed chariots on Alexander himself, intending to confuse his phalanx but this became a disappointment as chariots came within range the javelin men who stationed themselves in front of calvary launched a ”hail of missiles” while the rest dragged chariot drivers to the ground. By then Darius set his entire line and Alexander ordered to attack the enemy who were riding around his right flank. Alexander continued to advance his column , but when Persian calvary sent for help of their horsemen to outflank the Macedonian right, it caused a gap in the Persian line which caused  a opening and became a ”hand to hand struggle” for a short time. Alexander the Great himself shoved his opponents assaulting them and thrusting spears though their heads. Macedonian  phalanx joined in. Darius now saw terrors and was forced to flee.

At one Point the Persians where at full flight and the Macedonians where in a pursuit , cutting down fugitives. Simmias and his battalion couldn’t join Alexander because they had to continue to fight as news came in that the Macedonian left was having difficulties, at a point the Macedonian line had broke and some Indian and Persian cavalry got through the gap and penetrated. The Persians mainly attacked men who were unarmed and they were not expected to cut through the double phalanx  and make their way up to them. Barbarian and Persians joined in and attacked the Macedonians . Leaders soon heard what was happening and many of them killed off as many as they could they crowded around the baggage animals while others gave way and made off.

On the right wing the Persians that did not know Darius’s flight, surrounded around Alexander’s left, attacking his troops in the flank, making the Macedonians to become caught between to fires, a messenger sent with a urgent messenger to inform Alexander that his troops needed help. When he received this information he made another pursuit, came round with a companion calvary and galloped full speed towards the Persian right. This developed into the hardest fight in the whole battle. The Barbarians and other squadrons  rallied against Alexander’s troops head on, throwing javelins, maneuvering  horses to break through. Each man tried to break through his own, but in consequence Alexander lost 60 Companions but Alexander still sustained victory, Alexander made a break through and all that managed to break through Alexander’s men fled at full flight.

Alexander readied himself to go for the enemy right. The enemy was already in flight when Alexander confronted it, he went round and started of again in pursuit. Troops followed chasing their opponents. On crossing the river Lycus, Alexander stopped there to rest his men and horses for a brief moment. The enemy then took camp Pamenio and his troops followed with baggage, camels and elephants.

Although Alexander had a lower number of troops the use of his tactics and knowledge about battle gained him the victory. He strategized his army accordingly and took the advantage of sending out a reconnaissance party to check out the battle grounds. This gave the army an advantage, Alexander used knowledge and common logic to keep his army safe.

After the battle Parmenion rounded up  he Persians while Alexander pursued Darius. As property was were gained  from the battle as talents and war elephants, it was a disastrous defeat for the Persians and one of Alexander’s most amazing victories.Darius had managed to escape the battle with a small portion of his army remaining. The Bactrian cavalry and Bessus managed to catch up with him as well as some of the survivors of the Royal Guard and 2,000 of his Greek mercenaries. The Persian Empire was then divided into two halves the East and the West. On his escape Darius gave a speech to what remained of his army. Darius had a plan to head further east and get another army to face Alexander, thinking that the Macedonians would head towards Babylon and at the time dispatched letters to his eastern satraps asking them to stay loyal towards him The satraps had other intentions,Bessus murdered Darius before going east.

After Alexander found out that Darius murdered, he was saddened to see an enemy he respected killed, and gave Darius full and proper burial and a ceremony at Persepolis, and eventually capturing and executing him the next year. The majority of the remaining satraps gave their loyalty to Alexander and were allowed to keep their positions. The Persian Empire was thought to have ended with the death of Darius.

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Alexander The Great for people who want more.

My chosen Topic:

Alexander The Great – Battle of Gaugamela

  • Why I chose Alexander The Great.

I chose Alexander The Great because he is my favorite leader and commander of all time. Alexander was one of history’s most successful commanders, he was not only commander of a strong experienced army but he was also King of Macedon;  a state in northern Ancient Greece. Alexander The Great was undefeated in battle and was awarded the generalship of Greece, he used this to his control by launching his fathers military expansion plans. Alexander Broke the power in a series of battles against Persia, which now leads me to my chosen topic of the Battle of Gaugamela.

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