Issus

Alexander and Darius finally face off.


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4/9/2010: Remixed guitars in the big battle scene toward the end.
5/20/2010: Remixed lute in intro.
7/16/2010: Final instrumental mix, just needs vox.
9/9/2010: Alexander vox done, still needs Darius vox.
9/15/2010: Darius vox "plan B" done (Jeff sings both
parts) still working on "Plan A" (surprise guest singer).
9/23/2010: Beta mix.


Lyrics

Darius:

You've had a year to teach this Greek boy Persian rules
Instead, his band of savages has made you look like fools
I'll summon overwhelming force, against which none could stand
But you'd still find a way to lose, and so I take command

Alexander:

Darius is marching out of the south with his
"Babylon's Finest" into the port of Issus
March on the double, get there before him and
Force him to haul provisions and men over land

Darius:

The Greeks deny us resupply
By sea as Issus falls
But their game is hit and run so they won't
Hide within the walls

Alexander:

Parmenion, guard the beach and if they feel like
Running the gauntlet let them advance and then strike
But if they're wise they'll cut through the mountains and
Into my ambush, either way, we'll make our stand

Darius:

Between the cliffs and sea the boy king
Hopes that I'll be caught
He thinks he's Leonidas
But Xerxes I am not

Around the mountains
We'll take them by surprise
Beach or gorge, both negate our numbers
We'll take back Issus first and cut off his supplies

Alexander:

He didn't fall for it; he went around
This clever Persian king must surely think the day is won
We'll have to face him now on open ground
And so he'll come surround us; it's two or three to one

But there's one thing Darius couldn't understand
My father taught this army how to long live off the land
He will think...

He'll think we're desperate, with nothing left to lose!
Parmenion, convince him with a frenzied march uphill
Make it good, make him think it's up to him to choose:
Come out and try to flank us, or let us walk up to the kill

Mount up, Companions! While they're distracted, ride
While they repel Parmenion's fake suicide
Come down behind them, kill their commanders; they
Crumble like bread with no one to make them obey

Darius:

What the hell just happened?
Two thousand riders can't beat eighty thousand men!
You've won today so I'll take my leave
But make no mistake; we'll meet again

Alexander:

Follow Darius, riding the way he fled
Charge right across a riverbed bridged by the dead
We're going to lose him, tracking into twilight
Turning around to let him escape into the night



A word of explanation:

The Battle of Issus:

His position on the throne now secure, Darius notices that in the 18 months since
the Battle of the Granicus his satraps still haven't managed to stop Alexander, who
is now moving south out of Phrygia. Darius is understandably annoyed, and takes
command of the army himself, planning to use overwhelming force to wipe out the
Macedonians. Conservative historians say the Persian army outnumbered Alexander's
army 2-to-1; other sources say the imbalance was even greater in the Persians' favor.

Alexander hears Darius is marching a huge army north from Babylon. He takes the port city
of Issus because the Persian army continuously requires enormous amounts of logistical
support to stay in the field, and Darius can resupply by sea indefinitely if he gets there first.
Alexander masses his army in the Pillar of Jonah, a narrow strip between the mountains
and the sea, south of Issus. At the south end is the Belen Pass, a narrow but direct route
through the mountains from Babylon to Issus, which he tells Parmenion to defend. Darius
sees that Parmenion holds the pass and refuses to play Xerxes to Alexander's Leonidas.

Darius ignores the Belen Pass and moves to attack from Alexander's rear. Although Darius
expects to take Alexander by surprise, he is too smart to underestimate his foe. He knows
if Alexander does anticipate his strategy, the obvious route of attack through the mountains
behind Alexander (which comes out at the north end of the Pillar of Jonah), would be a
deathtrap. Instead, he marches all the way around the mountains and re-takes Issus.

Alexander has indeed anticipated that Darius would come from behind him, and has
indeed set an ambush in the mountains. When Darius doesn't appear, Alexander is
forced to march out of the Pillar of Jonah to engage Darius before he can become
entrenched at Issus and gain access to infinute resupply. Now on open ground,
Alexander's army is vulnerable to attack from the overwhelming Persian numbers,
and he can tell from the Persian formation that this is exactly what Darius intends.
Darius has massed his cavalry on Alexander's left, apparently intending to replicate
Alexander's quick, decisive victory at the Granicus: charge across the river, break
through the infantry lines and pivot to take the Macedonian center from the rear.

Although the terrain is extremely unfavorable, Alexander has Parmenion lead the
infantry in an uphill attack against the Persian right wing, which he knows will seem
like an act of desperation. Alexander knows the Persians require constant resupply,
and everyone knows that if Darius holds the port at Issus indefinitely, game over.
However, Darius doesn't know that cutting Alexander's supply lines hasn't really
hurt him that much because Alexander's army has long trained to live off the land,
(a doctrine originally established by Philip). Darius thinks Alexander is much more
desperate than he really is, and Alexander hopes this will make him take the bait.

Then Darius makes his first mistake, deciding to let the apparently desperate
Macedonian infantry come to the slaughter, rather than advancing to envelop
them. By the time he realizes it was just a feint and sends his own cavalry out
against the Macedonian infantry on the coast, Alexander has led the Companions
through the hills in an end run around the Persian left, pivoted back into the Persian
center and slaughtered Darius' generals and personal bodyguard. Darius is forced
to flee. With Darius out of the picture, the Persians fall apart and are utterly routed.

Darius is stunned. In it's entire thousand-year history, the Persian army has never, ever
lost a battle when their king was in personal command. What the hell just happened?
Alexander pursues the fleeing Darius. At one point his force comes to a dangerous
ravine, but is able to quickly cross because it is now completely filled with bodies.
However, Alexander is forced to abandon the pursuit of Darius after darkness falls.


Copyright 2010 Jeff Buser.

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