Alexander's conquest of Persia gets off to an auspicious start.


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2/4/2010: Drums, bass & 1st rhythm guitar done.
Mix needs work. Likely to be 2 or 3 additional guitar layers.
2/7/2010: Guitars done. 4 trax total (8 during intro)
2/11/2010: Tweaked mix, got a real title
2/25/2010: Tweaked mix a little bit more
7/16/2010: Final instrumental mix, just needs vox.
8/12/2010: Vox done, principal recording complete!
8/19/2010: Beta mix.


A thousand years of shadow cast
But you and I will see the last
It takes a flame to banish the dark
And so today we strike a spark

The Persian line deploys
Our generals recommend a pause
Our cavalry outnumbered two to one
And first a river to be crossed

Teach them fear
Beat them down
We cross here
We cross now

Make the foe believe we've thrown our best against their flank
I'll break through their center and engage their highest rank
With no head the body dies

Dozens feel the deadly sweep of Alexander's blade
Until an axe blow out of nowhere nearly knocks him to the sand
The enemy commander, resolute and unafraid
Could stop this Greek invasion if his final strike can land
Cleitus lunges desperately; the young king's life is saved
Axe falls, clutched in severed hand

Thank Cleitus and thank the gods
We beat the Persians and we beat the odds
It takes a flame to banish the dark
This victory was just the spark

A thousand years of shadow cast
As of today became the past
Spread the flame to Phrygia's heart
Gordium awaits the spark

Onward to Gordium, sleeping in Phrygia
Light 'em up, light 'em up, gonna light the dark
Onward to Gordium, sleeping in Phrygia
Light 'em up, light 'em up, gonna strike a spark

A word of explanation:

In 334, Alexander crosses the Hellespont into Asia Minor (Turkey). The Persians
gather their armies at the Granicus river. The coming battle will be the first of
Alexander's major engagements against the Persian army. It also sets the pattern
for things to come. To wit: Alexander uses innovative strategy to defeat a
superior force, and inspires almost fanatical loyalty in his men by leading from
the front, placing himself in harm's way in the center of the fighting. Darius
has not yet realized just how dire a threat Alexander represents, and delegates
command of the engagement to the local satraps (provincial governors) in Asia Minor.

The Persian force assembled at the Granicus is approximately equal to Alexander's
in overall strength (~40,000), but with about double the number of cavalry (10,000
to Alexander's 5000). The Persians deploy around 10,000 infantry, augmented with
20,000 Greek mercenaries led by Memnon of Rhodes. The Persians deploy their
cavalry in front of their infantry, perhaps to nip the Greek menace in the bud by
aggressively seeking and killing Alexander. When Alexander's army reaches the river,
his generals advise him to cross the river upstream and attack at dawn. Although
Alexander was a competent commander under Philip, and effectively handled several
attempted rebellions in the conquered Greek cities after becoming king, he now
faces a superior Persian foe and his generals are worried. Alexander ignores their
advice and attacks immediately, fording the river at the Persian encampment.

Alexander has Parmenion, his second-in-command and commander of the left side of the
Macedonian line, feint with infantry and some cavalry. The Persians reinforce that side
with infantry from their center. The Persian cavalry in their center still far outnumbers
Alexander's, but their plan to break the Macedonian center to seek Alexander
unravels when they see that instead, he is coming for them with the Companions (eight
squadrons of elite cavalry, who have been called "history's first shock troops").

Alexander leads the charge into the center of the Persian line and personally kills many
Persian nobles. He is momentarily stunned by an axe-blow from a Persian nobleman named
Spithridates, the satrap of Ionia and Lydia (most of what is now western Turkey). Before
Spithridates can deal a death-blow, however, he is killed by Cleitus the Black, commander
of the Royal Squadron (the best of the best, Companion squadron in which Alexander rode).

By this time, Parmenion's continued pressure from the Macedonian left has drawn in much
of the Persian cavalry that was not engaged with the Companions. Alexander takes the
opportunity to pivot the Companions and engage the rear of the Persian infantry on that
side. With most of their leaders dead, both flanks of the Persian cavalry retreat. The
Persian infantry, under ruthless assault from front and rear, are utterly routed. Total
Macedonian casualties are less than 400. The Persians lose around 1000 cavalry and
3000 infantry. The Greek mercenaries fighting on the Persian side are abandoned by the
retreating Persian army. After failing to negotiate a peaceful surrender and amid fears of
plague, Alexander's infantry slaughters around 18.000 of the mercenaries and sends the rest
home in chains to serve hard labor in the Macedonian stone quarries. Memnon escapes.


A few months later, Alexander defeats Memnon again at Halicarnassus.
Memnon escapes again and adopts a new tactic. While Alexander pushes
into Phrygia, Memnon commandeers the Persian fleet and sails his army
to the Aegean islands, planning to eventually directly assault Macedon.
Fortunately for Alexander, Memnon falls ill and dies on the island of
Lesbos and possible serious trouble on the home front is averted.

Copyright 2010 Jeff Buser.

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