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By Samuel Willard Crompton

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C. Known today as either the Hellespont or the Dardanelles, this narrow body of water separates Europe from Asia. The Hellespont leaves the Mediterranean Sea and flows into the Sea of Marmara, which then flows into the Bosporus. These three bodies of water—Hellespont, Bosporus, and Sea of Marmara—have been and remain the crossing points between Asia and Europe. Alexander had with him about 35,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry. It was a small force with which to invade the Persian Empire, but King Philip had trained these men well.

C. Alexander had no such intention. His army was smaller and more mobile than the Persians had been. He wanted speed. The Macedonians crossed in a fleet of merchant ships hired for the occasion. Stories are told that Alexander sacrificed to the Greek god of the sea Poseidon as he crossed, and that as his ship neared the Asian shore he hurled a spear that stuck in the eastern bank — which seemed to declare that Asia would be his. As soon as he had crossed the Hellespont, Alexander visited the ancient city of Troy, which had been the scene of a legendary ten-year siege, commemorated by the poet Homer in his epic song, the Iliad.

Known for his beauty, charm, and wealth, Darius was not a warrior king. Yet Darius had no choice but to respond to this invasion. The Persian Empire was full of subject peoples, many of whom would revolt if they witnessed a successful invasion by an outside foe. Therefore Darius summoned a great army; FROM THE HELLESPONT TO ISSUS In the town of Gordium, Alexander came across an ox-cart tied with a rope whose knot had a legend ascribed to it—that anyone who could unravel it would become the master of all of Asia.

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