In the spring of 334 bc, Alexander of Macedon paused with his army on the western side of the Granicus River. Only 22 years old, he had become king of Macedon 18 months earlier after the assassination of his father. Since then he and his army had spent their time shoring up the allegiance of other Greek states, securing their northern borders against the barbarian tribes, and only recently had crossed the Hellespont into Anatolia out of Europe and into Asia. But it was no mere tribe that faced them across the Granicus. Only a shallow riverbed and a calm stream separated his army from that of the Persians, both lines of battle extending nearly three miles downriver. Already midafternoon, and with not only his men watching him but also the Persians, Alexander had to decide what to do. The young Macedonian king was quite ostentatious with his shining weapons and double-plumed helmet and the orchestrated flurry of his men clustering around him, but such gestures belied a moment of true indecision. The river had probably never received so much attention as in these moments, on this spring day in an open, largely featureless landscape. Every Macedonian eye took in the river: each bend, the placement of each stone, the height of the bank as it rolled higher or lower, the breaks along it that would allow egress from the river, and the softness of the gravel. The restlessness of Alexander’s men, tens of thousands of them, from the rattling together of their sarissas (waves of 13-


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