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Memnon of Rhodes

Memnon of Rhodes

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Memnon of Rhodes was the commander of the Greek
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

 mercenaries working for the Persian
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 king Darius III when Alexander the Great of Macedonia
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

 invaded Persia in 334 BC. He commanded the mercenaries at the Battle of the Granicus River, where his troops were massacred by the victorious Macedonians. He then began a campaign to capture the Aegean islands
Aegean Islands
The Aegean Islands are the group of islands in the Aegean Sea, with mainland Greece to the west and north and Turkey to the east; the island of Crete delimits the sea to the south, those of Rhodes, Karpathos and Kasos to the southeast...

 with the Persian fleet and led a direct assault on Macedonia
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

, while Alexander was resting at Phaselis
Phaselis
Phaselis is an ancient Lycian city in the province of Antalya in Turkey. It is located between the Bey Mountains and the forests of Olympos National Park, 16 km west of the touristic town of Kemer and on the 57th kilometre of the Antalya–Kumluca highway...

. Memnon managed to capture the island of Chios
Chios
Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, seven kilometres off the Asia Minor coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. The island is noted for its strong merchant shipping community, its unique mastic gum and its medieval villages...

 and most of Lesbos. Demosthenes
Demosthenes
Demosthenes was a prominent Greek statesman and orator of ancient Athens. His orations constitute a significant expression of contemporary Athenian intellectual prowess and provide an insight into the politics and culture of ancient Greece during the 4th century BC. Demosthenes learned rhetoric by...

, after hearing of Memnon's successes, began to prepare Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 for a revolt along with other Greek cities, while Sparta
Sparta
Sparta or Lacedaemon, was a prominent city-state in ancient Greece, situated on the banks of the River Eurotas in Laconia, in south-eastern Peloponnese. It emerged as a political entity around the 10th century BC, when the invading Dorians subjugated the local, non-Dorian population. From c...

 began to prepare for war. By a stroke of fortune for Alexander, Memnon died of illness at Mytilene
Mytilene
Mytilene is a town and a former municipality on the island of Lesbos, North Aegean, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Lesbos, of which it is a municipal unit. It is the capital of the island of Lesbos. Mytilene, whose name is pre-Greek, is built on the...

 and transferred command to his nephew, Pharnabazus
Pharnabazus, son of Artabazus
Pharnabazus was a Persian satrap who fought against Alexander the Great.-Youth:Pharnabazus was the son of Artabazus, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia. However, Artabazus was exiled after a failed rebellion against Artaxerxes III in 358 BC. The family went into exile to Macedonia, where they met the...

.

Many scholars maintain that had Memnon's campaign been successful, Alexander would have had an immensely difficult time continuing his campaign in Asia, and might have soon been defeated. It was not until after the major Persian defeat at the Battle of Issus
Battle of Issus
The Battle of Issus occurred in southern Anatolia, in November 333 BC. The invading troops, led by the young Alexander of Macedonia, defeated the army personally led by Darius III of Achaemenid Persia in the second great battle for primacy in Asia...

 that Memnon's strategy was revitalised and finally put into action, but by then the advantage had been lost, and Alexander showed himself willing to sacrifice Greece if necessary by then if he still felt he could accomplish his greater goals.

Memnon was the brother of Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes
Mentor of Rhodes was a Greek mercenary who fought both for and against Artaxerxes III of Persia. He is also known as the first husband of Barsine, who later became mistress to Alexander the Great....

, brother-in-law of Artabazus of Phrygia
Artabazus of Phrygia
Artabazus was a Persian general and satrap. He was the son of the Persian satrap of Phrygia, Pharnabazus, and younger kinsman of Ariobarzanes of Phrygia who revolted against Artaxerxes II around 366 BC.-Revolt by Ariobarzan:In 362 BC, Artabazus was sent by Artaxerxes II to capture Datames, the...

, and husband and uncle of Barsine
Barsine
Barsine was daughter of Artabazus, satrap of Hellespontine Phrygia, and wife of Mentor of Rhodes and after his death, Mentor's brother, Memnon...

, Artabazus' daughter and Alexander the Great's mistress.

Memnon of Rhodes is the subject of a work of historical fiction, Memnon by Scott Oden
Scott Oden
Scott Oden is an American historical novelist. His settings run the gamut, from Late Period Egypt to the era of Alexander the Great to Medieval Cairo. His first book was the critically acclaimed Men of Bronze...

 (ISBN 1-932815-39-2 US hc; ISBN 0553818953 UK pb), in which the character of Memnon is also the son of Timocrates of Rhodes
Timocrates of Rhodes
Timocrates of Rhodes was a Rhodian Greek sent by the Persian satrap Pharnabazus in 396 or 395 BC to distribute money to Greek city states and foment opposition to Sparta. He visited Athens, Thebes, Corinth, and Argos...

.

Battle of the Granicus River


When Alexander the Great crossed into Asia Minor
Asia Minor
Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

 with a force of approximately 40,000 men, he was told of a Persian force of equal size to his own to the east near Zeleia
Zeleia
Zeleia is the name of an ancient town or city, according to the Iliad, which was allied to Troy. It appears to have been located in the Troad and to have been inhabited by Trojans. Says Homer: "They who lived in Zeleia below the foot of Mount Ida, who drank the dark water of Aesepus, Trojans."...

.
This force was led by several Persian satraps and the Greek mercenary "Memnon of Rhodes". Memnon famously advocated a scorched earth
Scorched earth
A scorched earth policy is a military strategy or operational method which involves destroying anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area...

 policy against Alexander, aware of the Macedonian's lack of supplies and funds. It was here that Alexander's army suffered its greatest casualties in the battle. "Memnon of Rhodes'" forces were massacred and 2,000 of his men captured and sent to work in the stone-quarries of Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

. Memnon himself escaped the massacre.

In Fiction


Memnon, (2006), a historical novel based on the life of Memnon of Rhodes by Scott Oden.

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