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Parmenio

PARMENIO (c. 400-330 B.C.), a Macedonian general, who distinguished himself in the service of Philip, falher of Alexander the Great. He gained a decisive victory over the Illyrians, about the time of Alexander's birth, and the news of both events reached Philip, who was then absent from his capital on some expedition, together withtbat of his having won the prize at the Olympic games. Philip, while preparing to invade tho Persian empire, sent aconsiderable force into Asia as an advanced guard, and he chose Parmenio and Altalus as the leaders of the expedition. These commanders began by expelling the Persian garrisons from several Greek towns of Asia Minor. Parmenio took Grynxum in jEolis, the inhabitants of which, having sided with the Persians, and fought against the Macedonians, were sold as slaves. When Alexander set out on his Asiatic expedition, Parmenio had one of the chief commands in the army. At the head of the Thessalian cavalry he contributed materially to the victory of the Granicus; and at Issus he had tho command of the cavalry on the left wing, which was placed near the sea-coast, and had to sustain for a time the principal attack of the Persians. In the field of Gaugaraela, he advised Alexander not to give battle until he had well reconnoitred the ground. Being in command of the left wing, he was attacked in Hank by the Persians, and was for a lime in some danger, until Alexander, who had been successful in another part of the field, came to his assistance. Parmenio afterwards pursued the fugitives, and took possession of the Persian camp, with the elephants, camels, and all the baggage. When Alexander marched beyond the Caspian gates in pursuit of Darius and Bessus, he left Parmenio, who was now advanced in years, in Media, at the head of aconsiderable force. Some time after, whilst Alexander was encamped at Arlacoana, a conspiracy is said to have been discovered against his life. The informer was a hoy of infamous character, and the persons accused were officers, though not of exalted rank The informer said that he had first told his secret to Philotas, the son of Parmenio, who had daily access to Alexander, but who had taken no notice of it for two days, at the end of which tune, through the means of another officer near Alexander's person, the information was conveyed to the king. This threw strong suspicion upon Philotas, who however was not implicated by either the informer or any of the accused in their confessions. But Craterus, who had an old jealousy against Philotas, on account of the favour the latter enjoyed with the king, encouraged the suspicions of Alexander, who recollected what Philotas had said at the time when he claimed Jupiter Amrnon for his falher—he pitied those who were doomed to serve a man who fancied himself a god. Craterus had also for some time previous bribed a courtezan kept by Philotas, who reported to him, and through him to the king, all the boastful vapourings and expressions of discontent uttered by Philotas in his unguarded moments. In short, Alexander, according to Curtius, was induced to order Philotas to he tortured, in consequence of the suggestions of Craterus, Hephiostiou, aud others of the king's companions. Ccenus, who had married the sister of Philotas, was one of the most violent against the accused, for fear, it was supposed, of being thought an abettor of his broiher-in-law. The torture was administered by Craterus himself, and Philotas, after enduring dreadful agonies, confessed, though in vague terms, that he had conspired against the life of Alexander, and that his father Parmcnio was cognizant of it. This being considered sufficient evidence, Philotas was stoned to death, and Alexander despatched a messenger to Media with secret orders to Cleander and other officers who were serving under Parmenio, to put their commander to death. The unsuspecting veteran, while conversing with his officers, was run through the body by Cleander. This is the substance of the account of (Junius (vi. and vii.), a compiler by no moans unfavourably disposed towards Alexander.

Arrian, after stating that he derived his knowledge of these occurrences from the work of Ptolemy, briefly says that Philotas was charged by Alexander, before the assembled Macedonians, with having conspired against him: that Philotas at first succeeded in justifying himself, but that afterwards fresh evidence was produced to criminate him, and among other arguments urged against him on his trial, one of the strongest was, that having received information of a plot against the king's life, he did not reveal it, although he had access to Alexander's person twice a-day. The remit of the trial was that Philotas and his accomplices were run through with spears by the Macedonians. Alexander despatched Polydamanthus to Media with letters fur Cleander, Sitalces, and Menidcs, three oflicers who were serving under Parmenio. Parmenio was put to death, pursuant to the orders of Alexander: 'Whether it was.' Arrian observes, 'that Alexander thought it unlikely that Parmenio should be ignorant of the treachery of his son Philotas, or that, even if he was ignorant of it, it appeared to Alexander a dangerous thing to leave him alive after the execution of his son, especially as Parmenio's authority was so great with the troops, both Macedonian and auxiliary.' (Arrian, b. lii.)

Whatever may he thought of the trial and execution of Philotas, and it appears to have been ut least a summary and unsatisfactory proceeding, the murder of Parmenio and the mannerof it form one of the darkest blots in Alexander's character. Parmenio was evidently sacrificed in cold blood to what have been styled in after-ages'reasons of slate.' He was seventy years of age; he had lost two sons in the campaigns of Alexander, and Philotas was the last remaining to him. Parmenio appears to have been a steady, brave, and prudent commander.

An instance of the careless manner in which history has been ofien commented upon, even by writers of eminence, appears in Montesquieu {Esprit des Lois, x. 14), where he sums up the character of Alexander by saying that 'he committed two bad actions, burning Persepolis and killing Cleitus, but he expiated both by his repentance, so that they came to be looked upon rather as misfortunes than as crimes.' Montesquieu says nothing of the murder of Parmenio, nor of that of Callislhenes.deeds of darker guilt than those which lie mentions, the former of which is doubtful, and the second has at least the excuse of being the result of a drunken brawl.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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