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Pourquoi Alexandre le Grand a-t-il choisi de licencier sa flotte à Milet?

from HISTORICAL CASE STUDIES: The Mediterranean world

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2017

Olivier Battistini
Affiliation:
University of Corsica–UMR–CNRS 6240 LISA, France
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Summary

RÉSUMÉ.Cette contribution s'interroge sur les raisons qui, en 334 av. J.-C., ont poussé Alexandre le Grand à rappeler en Europe sa petite flotte de navires de guerre, assez tôt dans sa campagne perse, après s'en être brièvement servie lors de la capture de la ville de Milet, sur la côte est d'Asie mineure. En conclusion, il est estimé qu'il ne s'agissait pas là simplement d'une négation symbolique de la possibilité d'une retraite par voie de mer ou d'un engagement à avancer, mais également d'une stratégie pratique, fondée sur une compréhension manifeste des conditions d'organisation de la marine antique. Utiliser son armée pour s'emparer d'éventuelles bases navales lui permit en effet de neutraliser les forces maritimes de son adversaire.

ABSTRACT.This contribution discusses why, in 334 BC, Alexander the Great, early on in his campaign against the Persian Empire, sent his small fleet of warships back to Europe, after briefly using it to assist in capturing the city of Miletos on the east coast of Asia Minor. The conclusion is that it was not just a symbolic negation of the possibility of a retreat by sea nor a commitment to advance, but also a practical strategy, informed by a clear understanding of ancient naval operating conditions. By employing his army to capture potential naval bases he effectively neutralised his opponent's naval forces.

« […] car c'est une grande chose que la maîtrise de la mer. »

Thucydide, I, 143, 4

Pour surveiller l'Hellespont, surprendre Darius où qu'il fût, Alexandre avait exigé des Alliés une flotte. Il l'a licenciée à Milet, en 334.

Pour comprendre, il faut suivre, sur une carte, la progression d'Alexandre sur le littoral de l'Asie mineure et de la Méditerranée orientale.

Voici les faits.

Au moment du passage (diabasis) des Macédoniens, la flotte perse est absente dans l'Hellespont. Elle est sans doute en Égypte où des troubles politiques, c'est une hypothèse, ont paru aux Perses plus dangereux que le débarquement d'Alexandre.

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Publisher: Boydell & Brewer
Print publication year: 2017

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