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Diodorus Siculus: Alexander’s first encounter with military glory

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Diodorus Siculus: History is more than the recording of wars

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Diodorus Siculus
From The Library of History
Translated by C. Bradford Welles

diodorus-siculus

So while the city was being taken, many and varied were the scenes of destruction within the walls. Enraged by the arrogance of the Theban proclamation, the Macedonians pressed upon them more furiously than is usual in war, and shrieking curses flung themselves on the wretched people, slaying all whom they met without sparing any…In the capture of the city, no Theban was seen begging the Macedonians to spare his life, nor did they in ignoble fashion fall and cling to the knees of their conquerors. But neither did the agony of courage elicit pity from the foe nor did the day’s length suffice for the cruelty of their vengeance. All the city was pillaged. Everywhere boys and girls were dragged into captivity as they wailed piteously the names of their mothers.

In sum, households were seized with all their members, and the city’s enslavement was complete. Of the men who remained, some, wounded and dying, grappled with the foe and were slain themselves as they destroyed their enemy; others, supported only by a shattered spear, went to meet their assailants and, in their supreme struggle, held freedom dearer than life. As the slaughter mounted and every corner of the city was piled high with corpses, no one could have failed to pity the plight of the unfortunates. For even Greeks – Thespians, Plataeans and Orchomenians and some others hostile to the Thebans who had joined the king in the campaign – invaded the city along with him and now demonstrated their own hatred amid the calamities of the unfortunate victims.

So it was that many terrible things befell the city. Greeks were mercilessly slain by Greeks, relatives were butchered by their own relatives, and even a common dialect induced no pity. In the end, when night finally intervened, the houses had been plundered and children and women and aged persons who had fled into the temples were torn from sanctuary and subjected to outrage without limit.

Over six thousand Thebans perished, more than thirty thousand were captured, and the amount of property plundered was unbelievable.

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