Ancient history

Battle of Issus

Last updated:2022-07-25

Battle of Issus
General information
Date 333 BC. J.-C. br class='autobr' />Macedonians and their Persian Greek allies

Alexander the Great Darius III
Opposing forces
26,000 infantry
5,000 cavalry 90,000 infantry
30,000 cavalry

During the Battle of Issus in 333 BC. AD the men of Alexander the Great of Macedon obtained a decisive victory over the army commanded by Darius III of Persia. Issos is near present-day İskenderun


Alexander entered Asia in -334 and defeated the local Persian satrap at the Battle of Granicus. He then continued his advance and occupied all of Asia Minor.

While Alexander was in Tarsus (episode of the Gordian knot) he heard that Darius was gathering a large army in Babylon.

If Darius could reach the Gulf of Issos he could use the support of the Persian fleet of Pharnabazus which was still operating in the Mediterranean Sea, thus facilitating his supply and being able to land troops behind the enemy.

Alexander kept his main army in Tarsus but sent Parmenion ahead to occupy the coast around Issus. In November Alexander received reports that the large Persian army was in Syria. Alexander decided to gather his army and advanced south through Jonah Pass.

Darius knew that Parmenion was holding Jonah's pass and so chose to advance on a more northerly route. He captured Issus unopposed and killed all the sick and wounded Alexander had left behind. Now he realized that he had placed his army behind the Macedonians and cut them off from their supply line. He then advanced to a good defensive position along the Pinarus River and waited for Alexander to come to him.

The battle

The Macedonians advanced through Jonah Pass. Alexander led the Macedonian cavalry on the right flank and he placed the Greek cavalry on the left of the phalanxes with Parmenides at his head.

Darius had placed some 20,000 of his soldiers on the sides of the mountain, and he positioned himself in the center with his best infantry, the Greek mercenaries, and his royal cavalry. He put most of his cavalry near the coast.

The Hypaspists led by Alexander, on foot, assaulted the Persian infantry and attempted to break through the Persian line. At the same time the Persian cavalry clashed with the forces of Parmenion on the left.

Alexander and his accompanying cavalry launched a direct assault on Darius, who left the battlefield, causing the Persians to rout. The Macedonian cavalry pursued the fleeing Persians until sunset.


Darius flees to the Euphrates leaving his mother, wife and children in captivity. His power was declining and he suffered another defeat by Alexander at the battle of Arbèles.