Alexander: The Making of a God (2024) s01e03 Episode Script

Face to Face

[dramatic music playing]
[woman] What is it, exactly, to lead?
It is one thing to make bold plans
and speak of victory to your men,
but to fill their hearts with a fire
so they willingly die for you?
As a wise man once said,
"I do not fear
an army of lions led by a sheep."
"I fear an army of sheep
led by a lion."
[dramatic music intensifies, fades]
[Bessus] Help me understand it, my king.
Our numbers are unbeatable.
- If we were to attack
- [Darius] Stop, Bessus.
Just look.
Breathe it in.
[birds chirping]
That reckless boy king would have
to take pause at such a glorious sight.
But "unbeatable," Bessus?
A man of your experience using that word.
I think we have the numerical advantage.
We had that at Granicus too.
And you, Mazaeus.
You think our hammer can crack this nut?
I think under these circumstances
You can drop the diplomacy, Mazaeus.
Our enemy has shown
we cannot rely on brute force.
Our enemy is riding his luck.
Which is why we need
to take the fight to him on our terms.
We will isolate this bastard
and get rid of him.
Once and for all.
[woman] But the wise man also knows
that if you seek victory above all else
you need an army of lions
led by the biggest lion of all.
[dramatic music intensifies]
[music fades, echoes]
[man panting]
[panting continues]
Bad news?
We're facing the largest army on Earth
led by Darius.
For Darius, the defeat at Granicus makes
it clear that this is a serious problem.
Even more so as he sees
Alexander going down,
sort of, the Levant towards Egypt,
that he's coming to do
some serious damage to the empire.
So he then gathers an imperial army
to confront Alexander
on that Levantine coast at Issus.
Darius is determined
to stop him in his tracks right there.
The Persians are retaking Issus.
Of course they are.
That will sever our supply lines,
reinforcements, communications.
Not to mention
where our wounded are being treated.
We'll be completely cut off.
[Parmenion] You asked for
a stand-up fight.
Well, it'll happen there.
But I'm not sure you'll want it.
Alexander, you need
to hear this for yourself.
[Carolyn] You have to imagine Alexander
and Darius are moving through mountains.
They don't have a drone they can send
to try and see where their opponents are,
so they're relying on reports and strategy
and anticipating
what their opponents might do.
- [man strains, punches]
- [man 2 grunts]
- [punching continues]
- Ptol, that's enough.
[Parmenion] A patrol caught him
in the Beilan Pass, spying on our lines.
Turns out he knows a lot
about the Persian troop numbers too
with the right prompting.
Don't you? Huh?
Darius has called in reinforcements,
the city garrison of Babylon,
along with
several thousand local conscripts.
It gives them
a standing army of 100,000 men.
Versus our 40,000.
Look, Alex.
We need to at least consider a retreat.
Or it'll be the kind of massacre
only the Androctasiae can dream of.
Do you not know any mythology?
He means the spirits of slaughter, Ptol.
But I disagree.
Darius is running this by the book.
I've read it.
It's a well-worn Persian tactic.
He'll trap us here
between the Amanus Mountains and the sea,
then use their superior numbers
to crush us.
Those same mountains and sea
prevent him from outflanking us.
Meaning he can't bring his entire force
to bear on us all at once.
Parmenion, can you hold their horses?
For how long?
Get me enough time to drive at them
and they'll fold. I know it.
There's no small risk to this strategy.
But also no small merit.
I'll do my duty on the field.
Then let's take the battle to them.
It's clear from the outset
that Darius doesn't expect this
to be a minor confrontation
or a stepping stone to a larger battle.
He wants this to be decisive.
He wants to deal with the issue
and get Alexander out of the way,
so he's kind of throwing
everything he has at this battle.
[dramatic music playing]
- [metal rattles]
- [men speak in the distance]
[Alexander] Macedonians.
Already, danger has threatened you.
And you
You have looked it triumphantly
in the face.
[crowd] Yeah!
But this time, the struggle
will be between a victorious army
and an enemy already once vanquished.
[soldiers laugh]
And don't forget.
They are Persians.
[crowd laughs, boos]
Men who, for centuries,
have lived soft and luxurious lives.
[crowd whoops, boos]
While, for generations past,
we of Macedon
have been trained in warfare.
[crowd cheers]
There is a stain
upon your houses.
An infestation led by
a degenerate king with one aim.
- [man 1] Yeah.
- [man 2] Yeah.
[Darius] To sully all that is good
and pure about Persia.
[man] Yeah.
[Darius] My question to you.
Will you let him?
[crowd] No!
Will you stand by and watch him
take your homes, your livelihoods?
[all] No!
Let their filthy Greek hands
molest your wives?
[crowd] No!
[Darius shouts] Then I say fight!
Not for me, not for Persia,
but for yourselves!
[crowd] Yeah!
[Lloyd] When Darius travels,
he takes the whole of the court with him.
[crowd chants] Persia!
[Lloyd] Queen Stateira,
Barsine, his daughter,
were all present themselves.
It was an absolute standard
royal Persian practice
to bring the women
close to the battlefield.
That suggests to me
that Darius thinks the outcome of this
is already secured,
that his wife and his family
are going to see the spectacle
of the king slaughtering his enemies.
[crowd] Yeah!
[Lloyd] Hopefully,
as far as Darius is concerned,
he'll put an end to this mess
once and for all.
But, above all, remember this.
We are free men,
and they are mercenaries
fighting for Darius,
fighting for pay.
But we
we will be fighting for Macedon,
- and our hearts will be in it.
- [crowd roars]
[soldiers cheer, roar]
Yes! Come on!
[heroic music playing over cheers]
[Ali] The interesting thing here
for Alexander is that
he only has to lose one battle
and that's it. If he loses that battle,
you can be pretty sure that Darius
isn't going to be magnanimous,
because he sees him as a rebel.
Of course, the stakes
are pretty high for Darius too.
I mean, let's not underestimate those.
If Darius loses, basically, he loses
the western part of the Persian empire.
[dramatic music playing]
[music wanes]
The terrain of the battlefield
really did work against the Persians,
particularly because
of the size of their army
and their dependence on cavalry.
I mean, basically you're almost
in a little bowl, right?
You know, sort of squashed
between the foothills
of a not insignificant mountain range
and the Mediterranean coast.
And so, although Darius had
a greater number of troops,
they're squashed together,
and they don't have the space to maneuver
as effectively as they could
on a flatter, more open battlefield.
[Lloyd] Persians are using
a force of 100,000 men
as opposed to something like
40,000 troops that Alexander has.
So the odds are
certainly stacked against him.
[Ali] The Persians become
a little bit overconfident
because they seem
to have superiority in numbers,
but what really matters is
command and control, not the numbers.
If Alexander is going to win this battle,
then he has to win it on his terms
and employ the usual off-center tactics
that he's always employed
and have always been successful for him.
[weapons rattle]
[weapons rattle]
[soldier] Yeah!
[horse neighs]
[men shouting]
- [swords clinking]
- [shouting continues]
[man cries in pain]
[man screams]
[man screams in pain]
[man screams]
[man shouts]
- [Alexander] Shields up!
- [arrows whistle]
[man screams in pain]
[man screams]
[Lloyd] The Persians swarm
around Alexander's troops,
especially those led by Parmenion.
It's looking pretty desperate for them.
Several major players
on the Macedonian side
are killed at that point.
[groans in pain]
Where the hell is he?
Mazaeus. Quickly!
Target their left flank.
Their cavalry is starting to fall.
I will hit them hard.
Troops! Charge!
[Lloyd] The Persian way of fighting
in battle,
it tends to be that the commander,
in this case, Darius himself,
they tend to stay at the center
of the army so they're surrounded.
Okay? So it's about keeping them safe,
but also, of course,
issuing orders from the center itself.
And that's in complete contrast
to Alexander's way of doing it,
who likes to cut through the center
all the time and actually get to the head,
to the charge.
So it's a very different
fighting technique to Alexander's.
- [men shouting]
- [swords clinking]
[men screaming]
- [grunts]
- [man screams]
- [strains]
- [man groans]
We need to buy him more time.
Hoplites! Hold the line! Hold the line!
[Persian groans]
[man screams]
[Lloyd] Alexander clearly sees
that this is not going well.
One of his major players, Parmenion,
his friend, is in desperate danger.
[man groans in pain]
[dramatic music plays over battle noises]
[Lloyd] Alexander suddenly sees
that there's an opening,
and, as ever the opportunist,
Alexander seizes the moment
and takes decisive action.
Cavalry, on me!
- Charge!
- [soldier] Go!
The war-winning aspect
with Alexander's army is his cavalry.
And why is that?
Because he's able to move.
And he's able to move with alarming speed.
[Carolyn] He kicks things off.
He starts it with his charge
from the right companion cavalry
heading towards the Persian lines.
But this isn't a haphazard,
flat-out gallop towards the Persians.
Alexander has deliberately
picked a spot in the Persian lines
that he thinks is going to be the weakest,
where he sees the potential
for an opening, and it works.
[Darius] Hold the line!
Hold the line!
[dramatic music playing]
[soldiers shouting]
[swords clinking]
[man screams]
[music wanes]
[Lloyd] All the classical sources agree,
and it's even in the iconography as well,
that, for the first time, Alexander
and Darius lock eyes on one another.
It must have been quite remarkable.
You know, these two great kings,
these two warriors are there,
and the history of the world
is going to be formed
by what happens in the next few seconds.
[dramatic music playing]
- [Alexander strains]
- [man grunts]
[man shouts]
I think if he could've,
he would've killed Darius there and then.
- [men shout]
- [swords clink]
[Bessus] Clear a path! Clear a path!
[sword swishes]
We can't leave the men!
Sir, my duty is to the king, to Persia.
- [horse neighs]
- [man] Move it! Ha-ya!
- No!
- [horse neighs]
Darius's bodyguards are quick
to maneuver Darius out of the way.
They immediately turn the chariot
off the field.
[Carolyn] Darius has to
leave the battlefield.
Darius cannot die on that battlefield.
It's not because he's a coward.
It's not because he's running away
for any personal reason.
It's because of what he represents.
If Darius dies on the battlefield,
that is the end of the Persian house.
- [horse neighs]
- [soldiers shout]
[swords clinking]
Alex, the battle has turned.
We can win this.
No. We can win the war. Come!
So, basically, Alexander is able
to make a tactical assessment
of the battlefield really quickly
and to respond to it.
And he sees the weakness
in the opposing ranks,
and that's what Alexander
takes advantage of.
It is a very, very bold maneuver.
And it works.
[men shouting]
[Lloyd] With Darius gone from the scene,
the instinct that
all the Persian soldiers have
is to follow their king, of course.
And this is essentially what happens.
First of all, the middle lines,
those that were around Darius, go with him
until only the front line is left,
and they too then begin to peel away.
And this is when
the Macedonians simply hack them down.
They are slaughtered to a man
as they are leaving the battlefield.
The loss of the Battle of Issus
meant for Darius
that his Western satrapies are gone
and now are going to be
in the hands of Alexander.
They are facing a new military force,
and the traditional Persian army
is not capable of withstanding Alexander.
[dramatic music playing]
- [music ends]
- [horse neighs]
[Mazaeus] My king.
Mazaeus, send word
to your garrison to regroup
Sir, please.
- With the remaining Kardakes
- Darius!
Where are the women?
Barsine and Stateira.
[horse neighs softly]
[dramatic music playing]
Quickly, give me your horse.
- [Bessus] Sir Sir.
- [Darius] We're going back.
It's too dangerous. For Persia,
your safety must be the priority.
[yells] But they are Persia!
After the battle, Alexander is able to,
basically, take the spoils of victory,
which is Darius's camp.
That camp included Darius's family.
So, he advances to the royal tent
where we have a rather fateful meeting.
- [man strains]
- [Persians groan]
King Alexander.
My husband will not tolerate
any bad treatment.
You're not Alexander.
[Alexander] No, he is.
As much as I am.
[sword sheathes]
I read that Persian rulers
bring their families to battle.
So this is how Darius wages war.
[Lloyd] For the Persians,
Persianness and the centrality of Persia
was everything.
Civilization was the hub of Persia.
The further away you went from that,
the more barbaric you became.
So this outcrop of land
which is called Macedonia,
for the Persians,
was the ultimate site of barbarity.
[Stateira] Just get behind me.
Stateira would have thought of Alexander
as the ultimate barbarian.
If you even breathe on her
- I will make it my mission
- No.
What kind of barbarian do you think I am?
- I've not harmed you.
- No.
And you won't either.
Because we have no value to you dead.
Then, if only in this regard,
we have an understanding.
They can gather their belongings
and bring them.
The women must have been terrified.
Or if not terrified,
resigned to an unenviable fate.
Let's be honest. The fate of most women
on the losing side of a battle
in antiquity was rape and death
or enslavement,
regardless of their status.
And so, when Alexander entered the tent,
they knew they were at his mercy.
Uh, their fate was entirely in his hands.
[hawk squawks]
[Touraj] I think taking
Darius's wife and daughter
sent a huge signal,
uh, to many of the mercenaries
and Darius's immediate followers
that the king, who cannot even
take care of their own children and wife,
how could they defend the empire?
- [Darius] Any word?
- I have no words.
- Mazaeus
- We let them be taken.
[breathes shakily]
underestimated Alexander.
You're right.
And for that, I'm sorry.
But we are Persians.
We do not cower.
We do not panic.
Certainly not with 60,000 men
still on the field.
What good are they when that thug
is holding my fiancée,
your daughter, captive.
I know.
I know you're right.
They are the world to me.
[wind blowing]
- [dramatic music playing]
- [horse neighs]
So that is what I will offer them.
A bribe?
Will that work?
Trust me.
He's Macedonian.
Find me a messenger.
[Jennifer] Darius realizes that
he needs to get his family back
because Stateira,
given her high royal status,
had provided a legitimacy to him
in his early days of kingship.
So he sends Alexander a letter.
- We have the momentum.
- [man] My king.
No, Ptolemy, now is not the right time.
The right time?
Parmenion, his army is scattered.
They're licking their wounds.
Now is the time. Let's finish this.
The Persians may be scattered,
but they still substantially outnumber us.
Without reinforcements,
we could suffer the fate of Antaeus.
- He was crushed to death by Herakles.
- Yeah, I got that one.
Then perhaps we should
just stay here and give up.
It's an offer from Darius.
We keep all the territories and cities
we've taken so far,
plus a ransom.
Ten thousand gold talents.
- What does he ask in return?
- [Alexander] His family, mainly.
But also an end to our war.
It's a bribe for my obedience.
[Parmenion] It's a good offer, sir.
Think of all the cities
you conquered for Macedon.
If I were Alexander, I would take it.
And if I were Parmenion, I would too.
it pains me, but
[scoffs] He's right.
You've proved yourself,
more than anyone could've envisioned.
If I consider this,
I am no better than Attalus.
Taking the Persian coin
with my head bowed?
[Parmenion] And what is the alternative?
Stretch our dwindling resources
to breaking point?
And thereby, truly test our mettle?
Well, I hope, for your sake,
Parmenion, it doesn't come to that.
Look at you all.
Am I the only one
who still has fire in his heart?
[Lloyd] The classical sources suggest that
rather than go headlong into battle again,
Darius was prepared
to offer Alexander, uh, various gifts,
everything from gold and silver coinage,
or even, one classical source says,
half of his empire.
That is to say, if Alexander now takes
everything that he conquered so far,
Darius would be satisfied,
and let's just call it quits.
[Alexander] Good morning.
I trust the new accommodation
is to your liking?
The beds comfortable?
Is there something you need?
Please, sit.
It would be very unusual for Alexander
not to seek to gain information
out of his captives.
It would be almost negligent
of him not to.
We don't know, for instance,
if Stateira had a rapport with Alexander.
You know, could he have gone to her
for advice about her husband,
the running of the empire?
We simply don't know.
It's pretty clear
if they're there in the baggage train,
they would've been a valuable source
of information for Alexander
about what's going on at the inner sanctum
of the Persian Empire, and also,
all sorts of things about the psychology
of Darius would've been revealed.
If you're the wife and daughter
of the Persian king
who's just abandoned you to your enemy,
you're probably not going
to be entirely complimentary about
what your husband or father has done.
Egypt What do you know of it?
You want me to draw you a pyramid?
No, I mean, what are his defenses?
- Troop numbers, cavalry?
- [Stateira scoffs]
And you think
I would be party to that kind of detail?
Yes, I do.
It is the only jewel in the Persian crown
more prized than you.
Its riches fill the Persian treasury.
The crops of the Nile delta
fill the bellies of your subjects.
It's why Artaxerxes built an army
of 350,000 just to conquer it
and gentrify all those barbarians.
[smacks lips]
Seems you already know a great deal.
[Alexander] Only what
anyone can learn from a book.
I want to know
what Egypt can teach me itself.
What a place like that can show me.
all that's stopping you
are 50,000 elite troops
who've sworn allegiance to my husband.
Then again
he did once share a hated enemy.
So maybe all you barbarians
have more in common than you think.
[Barsine] Mother.
What do you think you're doing?
Right now?
[Lloyd] Persian royal women
were not silent partners.
They had a long, long history
of being determined go-getters.
And if Stateira was representative
of any of the line of Persian women
that had gone before her,
then I think
she would have played on this situation
and maximized on it as best as she could.
Have you decided
how to respond to the Persian offer?
I have.
[Parmenion] Good.
To the esteemed Darius Codomannus,
son of Arsames and current king of Persia
[dramatic music intensifies]
[music fades]
As I, Alexander of Macedon,
am now the de facto king of all Asia,
it is up to me, and me alone,
to decide upon territorial divisions.
My decision is this.
I'm coming for you and your throne.
Ptol, send that immediately.
The rest of you,
prepare the troops and take on water.
Tomorrow, we march south to Egypt.
Egypt, where an entire garrison
of Persian infantry awaits us?
Well, it's bold.
I'll give him that.
It's a death wish is what it is.
You need to make your friend
see his mistake. Now.
Or we will all die
and it would be for nothing.
So you might think that immediately
following his success at Issus
that Alexander would continue
his pursuit of Darius, get it done.
But, in a very Alexander way, he doesn't.
Instead, he goes to Egypt.
[Salima] Alexander was probably interested
and somewhat obsessed by Egypt
when he was quite young.
He had read about it,
Aristotle had taught him about it,
and Egypt featured
in sort of the mythos of the world.
Egypt is wealthy
in terms of financial resources,
but when you have an army,
you have to feed that army,
and Egypt was one of the breadbaskets
of the ancient world.
It produced a huge volume of grain.
So for Alexander to control Egypt
would make it easier to have access
to the supplies he needed for his army.
Poor Heph. They sent the friend
to talk down the madman.
No, not talk down.
What is there to understand?
Why you would march us
through a burning desert for weeks
just to see us climb into a lion's mouth.
What if I've been told the lion
might be friendlier than we think?
And who told you that?
Alex, who told you that? Stateira?
[horse neighs, snorts]
I need to listen to all voices, Heph.
Well, then listen to mine.
I know this goes against
all military sense.
But what if it's not a military decision?
What if it's something
I have to do before I face Darius?
You remember Homer's writings.
"The journey is the thing."
Well, I finally found my destination.
The question is, will you follow?
[horse snorts]
[woman] What is faith but a journey?
A pilgrimage that may lead you
through fire or hell itself
[dramatic music playing]
[woman] that may be beset by doubt
or a dread of what is to come.
That may even be misunderstood.
[Bessus] Alexander has arrived
at the gates of Pelusium.
Pelusium? Are you sure?
Straight towards
several thousand loyal troops
ready to liberate the royal women
on your behalf, sir.
Looks like the boy king may have
just made his first tactical error.
And maybe his last.
[woman] But one that if you can hold fast
and keep your nerve
[Ptolemy] So, what now?
[woman] a most glorious destination
[dramatic music intensifies]
[music wanes]
[dramatic music playing]
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