Chains

The campaign down the Mediterranean coast takes a toll.


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5/7/2010: Bass & piano up to interlude done.
5/14/2010: Bass, drums, piano done.
5/20/2010: All instruments recorded, needs vox & mixed.
5/21/2010: Punched some guitar intonation issues.
7/16/2010: Final instrumental mix, just needs vox.
9/9/2010: Vox done, principal recording complete!
9/14/2010: Beta mix


Lyrics

choros:
Returning to the Persian camp, Alexander finds
Darius had an entourage, it seems like half his court
His daughters, wife and mother there, among those left behind
Brought along on holiday, as if to watch some sport

His mother kneels and begs Hephaestion, "king, please spare the girls"
Corrected, she is mortified and stunned
The king sees her discomfort, and his lip curls

Alexander:
You made no error, ma'am, for he and I are one

Arise, I ask no tribute from the mother of a king
Your son fought well, and yes, we'll fight again
But you have my word, fear not retribution's sting
The vanquished shall have mercy from my officers and men

Interlude

Coenus:
Moving south, a strange, divided city on the coast
Half on shore, half an island fortress in the sea
A wall that rises from the waves, that even Greeks can't boast
The port for Persia's navy, so our city it must be

We offer them surrender but they mock us from the bay
"You cannot walk on water, so move on down the land"
The city on the shore deserted, leaving us no way
To take the island but the king, as always, has a plan

Alexander:
Our victory need not be fast
Nor need it end in pain
Without supplies they cannot last
Our ships will break the chain

Coenus:
Blockades are always tricky, but this one started well
All captains gave the same report: no runners getting through
A week ago we couldn't see a looming, living hell
It didn't seem to matter if we lost a ship or two

Now we learn the fate of ships we lost in recent days
Captured sailors bound in irons adorn the fortress walls
My king stands like a statue; upon heresy we gaze
Powerless to save the twitching feast for hungry gulls

Alexander:
If they deny our heroes graves
To honor their remains
We'll see if they seem quite so brave
When choking on those chains

Coenus:
Level every building in the city on this shore
Use the stones to build a causeway half a mile or more
For sixty days the catapaults crushed the workers' bones
For sixty more came arrows, then sixty more came stones
The day we reached the walls we found they still had oil to burn
Today we're going over and who knows what's left to learn

Six months ago my king may still have been a been brilliant child
My orders now come from a man who knew each man who bled
Every bit as icy calm as his old man was wild

Alexander:
I want every single man within that fortress dead

Coenus:
I almost dare not ask my king to now decide the fate
Of women and the children who did not evacuate
No mercy in his eyes, nor vain revenge to dig their graves

Alexander:
There must be someone in this land who needs to buy some slaves

My enemies take warning
If your sense of honor wanes
Your widows and orphans will do their mourning
As they spend their lives in chains



A word of explanation:

After darkness forces Alexander to abandon his pursuit of Darius, he
returns to Darius' camp, where he learns just how confident of victory
the Persian king had been. Along with numerous courtiers, Darius'
wife, two daughters and mother are there. Darius' mother Sisygambis
kneels to Hephaestion to plead for their lives. Historians attribute the
mistake to the fact that both men wore nearly identical armor and
Hephaestion was the taller of the two. I personally think part of the
reason may also have been due to their different roles in the battle.
As in most of his battles, Alexander had personally led the cavalry
charge, while Hephaestion was more of a strategist. It seems likely
that by that point in the day Alexander looked like a battle-weary,
bloodied cavalry officer while Hephaestion looked more like a king.

At any rate, when Sisygambis realises her mistake, she is acutely
embarrassed, but Alexander says "You were not mistaken, Mother; this
man too is Alexander". Alexander and Hephaestion have been friends
since childhood and studied together under Aristotle. Hephaestion is by
all accounts a good leader and capable warrior, but most importantly
Alexander has total confidence in his loyalty and intelligence. From the
beginning of the Persian campaign, Alexander trusts him to independently
lead critical diplomatic, espionage and "special ops" missions and this
anecdote is just another example of that very special relationship.

The Siege of Tyre:

Having secured Asia Minor, Alexander turns his army south down the
Mediterranean coast toward Egypt and comes to Tyre, a strategic coastal
base in the southern part of what is now Lebanon, consisting of two distinct
urban centers. One is a heavily fortified island city with defensive walls
150 feet high; the other on the adjacent coast is a source of water and timber
for the main island city. Unable to storm the island, Alexander blockades
it for seven months. During this time, the Tyrians execute captured sailors
and hang the bodies from the walls to demoralize Alexander's troops.

Alexander is outraged at this display, razes the mainland city and uses the
debris to build a kilometer-long causeway to the island. This incurs grievous
casualties since the construction crews are under continuous bombardment
as they approach the island. However, this tactic eventually allows Alexander
to bring his siege engines and infantry to bear, and the island city falls. Citizens
who took shelter in the temple of Heracles, a Greek diety, are pardoned by
Alexander, including the king of Tyre. 30,000 others are sold into slavery
as punishment for resistance Alexander considered foolish and dishonorable.

The Siege of Gaza

After the fall of Tyre, most of the towns on the route to Egypt quickly capitulate.
The exception is Gaza, a heavily fortified city in a highly defensible hilltop location,
led by a eunuch named Batis and defended by Arab mercenaries. Hephasteon brings
the siege machinery from Tyre to Gaza by sea and Alexander lays siege to Gaza for
five months before it falls. Most of the local defenders fight to the death. Alexander,
extremely frustrated by the stubborn futility of the defense, puts all male survivors
(including Batis) to the sword and sells the women and children into slavery. The city
is resettled by neighboring Bedouins, who are sympathetic to Alexander's rule.
Gaza is (understandably) the last city to resist his conquest on the path to Egypt.


Copyright 2010 Jeff Buser.

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