Memnon of Rhodes (380 – 333 BC) was the commander of the Greek mercenaries working for the Persian king Darius III when Alexander the Great of Macedonia invaded Persia in 334 BC. He commanded the mercenaries at the Battle of the Granicus River, where his troops were massacred by the victorious Macedonians. He then began a campaign to capture the Aegean islands with the Persian fleet and led a direct assault on Macedonia, while Alexander was resting at Phaselis. Memnon managed to capture the island of Chios and most of Lesbos. Demosthenes, after hearing of Memnon's successes, began to prepare Athens for a revolt along with other Greek cities, while Sparta began to prepare for war. By a stroke of fortune for Alexander, Memnon died of illness at Mytilene and transferred command to his nephew, Pharnabazus.
Many scholars maintain that had Memnon's campaign been successful, Alexander would have had an immensely difficult time continuing his campaign in Asia, and might have soon been defeated. It was not until after the major Persian defeat at the Battle of Issus that Memnon's strategy was revitalised and finally put into action, but by then the advantage had been lost, and Alexander showed himself willing to sacrifice Greece if necessary by then if he still felt he could accomplish his greater goals.
Memnon was the brother of Mentor of Rhodes, brother-in-law of Artabazus of Phrygia, and husband and uncle of Barsine, Artabazus' daughter and Alexander the Great's mistress.
Memnon of Rhodes is the subject of a work of historical fiction, Memnon by Scott Oden (ISBN 1-932815-39-2 US hc; ISBN 0553818953 UK pb), in which the character of Memnon is also the son of Timocrates of Rhodes.
Battle of the Granicus River
When Alexander the Great crossed into Asia Minor with a force of approximately 40,000 men, he was told of a Persian force of equal size to his own to the east near Zeleia. This force was led by several Persian satraps and the Greek mercenary "Memnon of Rhodes". Memnon famously advocated a scorched earth policy against Alexander, aware of the Macedonian's lack of supplies and funds. However, being a non-Persian, the satraps decide to ignore his advice and meet Alexander at the River Granicus. The backwards and disorganised Persian force was defeated, Alexander turned on Memnon's Greek mercenary force. It was here that Alexander's army suffered its greatest casualties in the battle. "Memnon of Rhodes'" forces were massacred and 2,000 of his men captured and sent to work in the stone-quarries of Macedonia. Memnon himself escaped the massacre.