By Samuel Willard Crompton

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Though he had been defeated in battle, lost his palaces and his treasury, the King of Kings remained an important symbol. Alexander’s victory would not be complete until Darius was his. Alexander left 3,000 Macedonians under Parmenion to guard the palaces at Susa and Persepolis. The tiny size of this force indicates how thorough Alexander’s conquest had been: resistance had evaporated in the face of his victories and his growing legend. The chase led northeast from Persepolis. Alexander moved his men at a furious pace; to the north, Darius did the same with his men.

So confident was Alexander that he slept soundly that night, and it took his courtiers to rouse him the next morning. Stateira, the wife of Darius, died in Alexander’s camp shortly before the battle. Alexander sent his condolences to Darius and then set about his preparations. It is not clear whether Stateira died of natural causes or whether her treatment at the hands of the Macedonians had been unchivalrous. Knowing that he was outnumbered about five-to-one, Alexander refused to fight a conventional battle.

There they found not only gold, silver, a bathtub, and other luxuries, but a small harem of women, including Darius’ wife Stateira, her son, and Darius’ mother Sisygambis. All accounts agree that as Alexander entered the tent of Darius, Sisygambis stood up to greet the Macedonians. Mistaking Hephastion, Alexander’s closest friend, for Alexander himself, the queen mother bowed deeply to Hephastion. Hephastion gestured to Alexander, and the queen mother realized her mistake. Anxiously she bowed again, this time to the true leader.

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