Great Captains of Antiquity

By Richard A. Gabriel | Go to book overview

4

Philip II of Macedon

(382–336 B.C.E.)

A full moon hung silently in the night sky casting long shadows across the motionless shapes strewn about the grassy meadow scattered everywhere as if dropped from some great height. Bright stars, their brilliance dimmed by the moonlight, offered what light they could. The air was thick with the sweet smell of late summer, that mixture of lingering heat and gathering coolness typical of summer evenings in Greece. Moisture from the cooling night collected on the grass. Wisps of vapor rose silently from the nearby stream drifting quietly over the meadow. Here and there transparent patches of fog floated above the black shapes, lingering for a moment before covering them like a blanket, the way a mother covers a sleeping child to ensure its peaceful slumber.

Those who lay in that meadow on that summer night would never awaken. They were the dead, sprawled everywhere, arrayed in grotesque shapes, twisted where they fell. Now and then the stillness of the night was broken by the sound of moaning as one of the dying fought his way to consciousness where, for a few moments, he lingered before falling back into the painless darkness that would, in time, enshroud his life forever. Three thousand men lay in the meadow that August night, most of them dead, others taking far too long to die.

Against the moonlight came a solitary figure, wobbling, struggling to keep his balance, weaving back and forth on his lame leg like a drunken old soldier come to inspect his work. Wine splashed from the earthen jug he carried whenever he raised it to his mouth to drink. Lurching, swaying side to side, the old soldier stumbled over the piles of corpses, trying to make his way across the meadow. Somewhere near where the center of the line had been, he stopped and drank deeply from the jug. Wiping the wine from his lips with the back of his hand, he looked around, his face twisting into a harsh smirk of satisfaction that gave birth to a throaty laughter that shattered the silence in the meadow’s

-83-

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Great Captains of Antiquity
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Foreword xv
  • 1 - In the Beginning 1
  • 2 - Thutmose III of Egypt 19
  • 3 - Sargon II of Assyria 51
  • 4 - Philip II of Macedon 83
  • 5 - Hannibal 111
  • 6 - Scipio Africanus 147
  • 7 - Caesar Augustus 181
  • 8 - On the Origins of Great Captains 213
  • Notes 223
  • Selected Bibliography 227
  • Index 233
  • About the Author 243
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