Alexander's conquest of Persia reaches fruition.


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6/11/2010: Piano recorded, needs drums, bass, guitars, vox.
6/17/2010: Drums & bass recorded, still needs guitars & vox.
7/9/2010: Drums, bass & guitars recorded, still needs vox.
7/16/2010: Slight changes to guitar arrangement, still needs vox.
9/30/2010: Alexander vox done. Darius vox "plan B" done.
Still working on Darius "Plan A" (surprise guest singer).
10/4/2010: Beta mix.


As we leave friendly territory, the scale tips
As always, we'll face long odds
The astronomers speak of a coming eclipse
An expedient sign from the gods

Hephaestion, my spymaster, go spread the word
The shadow of Persia may eat the sun
But the bright star of Macedon soon shall emerge
To restore Father's light to the world before two weeks are done

While they fished for omens in Egypt a year
We've amassed a magnificent force
And now they're outmatched even worse than their fears
Two to one in infantry, five to one in horse

We've totally cleared a flat field of great size
For chariots leading the fight
Their only hope now is attack by surprise
So prepare for a charge in the night

Parmenion, take no offense, my good man
Time is short, so I must be direct
If a cunning veteran comes up with a plan
Then that's what Darius expects

Send skirmishers out to strike and move on
All night long to distract and divert
We'll hit the exhausted defenders at dawn
With an army that's fresh and alert

Hephaestion remains when the others have gone
He tells of a Persian commander's dream
Who longs to be governor of Babylon
If assured that position he'd favor a change of regime

Hephaestion you've outdone yourself once again
Go give him my word he shall have his post
But swear, no heroics in the beast's own den
For in all of the world it's your friendship that I cherish most

So they waited for light, that's better yet
They'll see us engulf them like the seven brine
But no matter what happens, never let
That king and his horses around the line

Parmenion, I guarantee your flank will hold
No matter how you're pinned
And as they maneuver to enfold
Their lines grow long and thin

Mazaeus has their left by the throat
Why doesn't he finish the job?
Surely he has enough forces to cope
With a small Macedonian mob

When the chariots come, just part the line
They'll think our courage failed
Too late they'll see the spears behind
When their horses are impaled

The chariots failed to break through
And Mazaeus is still looking lame
At least I see Bessus still knows what to do
Their cavalry's contained

Cleitus, with me; Companions, ride!
This time there's no going 'round
See how far we can stretch that side
Then hit the weakest spot we found

Bessus, you're too far away
The gap needs quickly filled
An opening could lose the day
Might even get us killed!

Up the middle! There's our spot!

Make haste! I need more men!

Kill the generals! Kill the guards!

NO! No, not again!


A thousand years come down to this
Two destinies collide
Two men, two nations, one abyss
Which now is yawning wide

I must escape, for while I live the empire still survives

Our battered flank, about to give, could cost ten thousand lives

Keep the pressure on to draw their king back to the fray

Companions, we're the final straw to break their back today

Bessus, you're with me; let's ride! We'll regroup soon; you'll see

We must go back to turn the tide. So be it; let them flee

Victory surreal as dreams
After all the years we fought
Taking the Persian capital seems
Almost an afterthought

And lying broken in the dirt
Of the public square
A statue of great Xerxes
The king sighs, "leave it there"

Father, have I made you proud?
Persia fell, as you once vowed
Will this define the essence of our lives?

A word of explanation:

Alexander's army leaves Egypt, and marches through Syria into Mesopotamia
(Iraq) to continue prosecuting the war on the Persians. The top-bill grudge match:
Alexander vs. Darius at Gaugamela. Alexander's army is outnumbered 2-1 overall
(or worse, according to some historical sources) and 5-1 in cavalry. Darius has
spent the year Alexander was in Egypt getting ready. He has massed a large
force of scythed chariots to penetrate Alexander's phalanxes, and he has a
vast, well-cleared battlefield to let him take advantage of his numeric superiority.

Interesting tidbit: there is an eclipse twelve days before the battle. Alexander’s
personal seer Aristander (or maybe Egyptian soothsayers, depending on the
source) predicts victory. The ancient Babylonians had considered eclipses to
be evil omens directed at their kings, so hundreds of years before Alexander's
time they developed the astronomical technique to predict these solar events.

The Persian dynasty to which Darius belonged inherited this knowledge from the
Babylonians, but they were a far less superstitious bunch. So while this is pure
fiction on my part, I think it would be ironic if Alexander tried to use the "omen"
to inspire his troops and demoralize the Persians, but the Persians bascially said
"dude, it's just an eclipse". No matter how they view the omen, both sides know
the Persians will strike as soon as Alexander's army is out of conquered territory.

Hephaestion leads the advance army out of Egypt to bridge the Euphrates. Darius
sends Mazaeus to hold the opposite bank. It has been speculated that Hephaestion
and Mazaeus may have met secretly during these preparations for battle and reached
some kind of deal, because Mazaeus was in command of the Persian right wing that
was disastrously and unexpectedly routed once the battle commenced, and he was
later appointed by Alexander as governor of Babylon, a prestigious position.

Once again, Alexander ignores the advice of his generals, uses innovative strategy
and personally leads the cavalry charge. The night before the battle, Parmenion
advises Alexander to strike immediately, using surprise to counter the Persians' vast
numeric advantage. Alexander realizes that Darius will anticipate this strategy,
and instead sends out small groups to harrass the Persians and keep them in a state
of high alert throughout the night, while the bulk of his own army rests. Alexander
also has a plan to negate the critical threat Darius' chariots pose to his infantry.

The disciplined Macedonian phalanxes are accustomed to precision maneuvers.
Alexander instructs them to part the front ranks just before the chariots reach
striking distance, allowing them to pass through and into a wall of long spears
that have been set as a trap. With Darius unable break Alexander's infantry
lines, Mazeus moves to encircle Alexander's positions. Although his troops
greatly outnumber Alexander's, Mazeus is slow to tighten the noose, and this
stretches his own lines over a great distance. Darius remembers the end run
around his lines executed by Alexander's cavalry at Issus. He instructs Bessus,
his second in command, to prevent a recurrence of this at all costs, so the left
wing of the Persian army is stretched as dangerously thin as Mazeus' right wing.

Alexander leads the Companions to probe along the Persian line. The weakest spot
they find is near the center. They break through and speed to the Persian command
post. Darius' commanders and royal guard are decimated. In danger of being cut off
from his army, Darius flees the field of battle. However, while Alexander is crushing
the Persian center, the Persian cavalry finally breaks through the Macedonian left
flank and Alexander receives a desperate message from Parmenion. Faced with the
dilema of pursining Darius with the Companions and possibly losing much of his
infantry, or swinging back to assist Parmenion, Alexander chooses to preserve
his forces. The danger is quickly averted, but Darius and Bessus escape.

Fortunately, instead of taking Parmenion from the rear, the Persian cavalry speeds
to Alexander's camp to loot. They also attempt to rescue Darius' mother, Sisygambis,
but interestingly, she refuses to go with them. It's unclear whether she simply sees
the writing on the wall as to the eventual outcome of the war, or if she and the rest
of the royal family actually prefer Alexander's hospitality to home life with Darius.
At any rate, with Darius gone and the Companions back in the thick of the battle,
it quickly turns into another disastrous rout for the Persians. This time, however,
the wound is fatal for the empire. The western satrapies declare alleigance with
Alexander, and Darius is unable to mount any significant resistance in the east.

After Gaugamela, Alexander's army sacks major Persian cities including Susa,
the site of a major Perisan treasury, and eventually the captital Persepolis, where
Alexander sees a crumbled statue of Xerxes and decides to leave it on the ground
in a symbolic gesture of vengeance for Xerxes' centuries-old invasion of Greece.

Copyright © 2010 Jeff Buser.

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