Arrian: Anabasis Alexandri: Book 8a (Indica)

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Arrian: Anabasis Alexandri: Book VIII (Indica),

trans. E. Iliff Robson (1933)


I. ALL the territory that lies west of the river Indus up to the river Cophen is inhabited by Astacenians and Assacenians, Indian tribes. But they are not, like the Indians dwelling within the river Indus, tall of stature, nor similarly brave in spirit, nor as black as the greater part of the Indians. These long ago were subject to the Assyrians; then to the Medes, and so they became subject to the Persians; and they paid tribute to Cyrus son of Cambyses from their territory, as Cyrus commanded. The Nysaeans are not an Indian race; but part of those who came with Dionysus to India; possibly even of those Greeks who became past service in the wars which Dionysus waged with Indians; possibly also volunteers of the neighbouring tribes whom Dionysus settled there together with the Greeks, calling the country Nysaea from the mountain Nysa, and the city itself Nysa. And the mountain near the city, on whose foothills Nysa is built, is called Merus because of the incident at Dionysus' birth. All this the poets sang about Dionysus; and I leave it to the narrators of Greek or Eastern history to recount them. Among the Assacenians is Massaca, a great city, where resides the chief authority of the Assacian land; and another city Peucela, this also a great city, not far from the Indus. These places then are inhabited on this side of the Indus towards the west, as far as the river Cophen.

II. But the parts from the Indus eastward, these I shall call India, and its inhabitants Indians. The boundary of the land of India towards the north is Mount Taurus. It is not still called Taurus in this land; but Taurus begins from the sea over against Pamphylia and Lycia and Cilicia; and reaches as far as the Eastern Ocean, running right across Asia. But the mountain has different names in different places; in one, Parapamisus, in another Hemodus; elsewhere it is called Imaon, and perhaps has all sorts of other names; but the Macedonians who fought with Alexander called it Caucasus; another Caucasus, that is, not the Scythian; so that the story ran that Alexander came even to the far side of the Caucasus. The western part of India is bounded by the river Indus right down to the ocean, where the river runs out by two mouths, not joined together as are the five mouths of the Ister; but like those of the Nile, by which the Egyptian delta is formed; thus also the Indian delta is formed by the river Indus, not less than the Egyptian; and this in the Indian tongue is called Pattala. Towards the south this ocean bounds the land of India, and eastward the sea itself is the boundary. The southern part near Pattala and the mouths of the Indus were surveyed by Alexander and Macedonians, and many Greeks; as for the eastern part, Alexander did not traverse this beyond the river Hyphasis. A few historians have described the parts which are this side of the Ganges and where are the mouths of the Ganges and the city of Palimbothra, the greatest Indian city on the Ganges.

III. I hope I may be allowed to regard Eratosthenes of Cyrene as worthy of special credit, since he was a student of Geography. He states that beginning with Mount Taurus, where are the springs of the river Indus, along the Indus to the Ocean, and to the mouths of the Indus, the side of India is thirteen thousand stades in length. The opposite side to this one, that from the same mountain to the Eastern Ocean, he does not reckon as merely equal to the former side, since it has a promontory running well into the sea; the promontory stretching to about three thousand stades. So then he would make this side of India, to the eastward, a total length of sixteen thousand stades. This he gives, then, as the breadth of India. Its length, however, from west to east, up to the city of Palimbothra, he states that he gives as measured by reed-measurements; for there is a royal road; and this extends to ten thousand stades; beyond that, the information is not so certain. Those, however, who have followed common talk say that including the promontory, which runs into the sea, India extends over about ten thousand stades; but farther north its length is about twenty thousand stades. But Ctesias of Cnidus affirms that the land of India is equal in size to the rest of Asia, which is absurd; and Onesicritus is absurd, who says that India is a third of the entire world; Nearchus, for his part, states that the journey through the actual plain of India is a four months' journey. Megasthenes would have the breadth of India that from east to west which others call its length; and he says that it is of sixteen thousand stades, at its shortest stretch. From north to south, then, becomes for him its length, and it extends twenty-two thousand three hundred stades, to its narrowest point. The Indian rivers are greater than any others in Asia; greatest are the Ganges and the Indus, whence the land gets its name; each of these is greater than the Nile of Egypt and the Scythian Ister, even were these put together; my own idea is that even the Acesines is greater than the Ister and the Nile, where the Acesines having taken in the Hydaspes, Hydraotes, and Hyphasis, runs into the Indus, so that its breadth there becomes thirty stades. Possibly also other greater rivers run through the land of India.

IV. As for the yonder side of the Hyphasis, I cannot speak with confidence, since Alexander did not proceed beyond the Hyphasis. But of these two greatest rivers, the Ganges and the Indus, Megasthenes wrote that the Ganges is much greater than the Indus, and so do all others who mention the Ganges; for (they say) the Ganges is already large as it comes from its springs, and receives as tributaries the river Cainas and the Erannoboas and the Cossoanus, all navigable; also the river Sonus and the Sittocatis and the Solomatis, these likewise navigable. Then besides there are the Condochates and the Sambus and Magon and Agoranis and Omalis; and also there run into it the Commenases, a great river, and the Cacuthis and Andomatis, flowing from the Indian tribe of the Mandiadinae; after them the Amystis by the city Catadupas, and the Oxymagis at the place called Pazalae, and the Errenysis among the Mathae, an Indian tribe, also meet the Ganges. Megasthenes says that of these none is inferior to the Maeander, where the Maeander is navigable. The breath therefore of the Ganges, where it is at its narrowest, runs to a hundred stades; often it spreads into lakes, so that the opposite side cannot be seen, where it is low and has no projections of hills. It is the same with the Indus; the Hydraotes, in the territory of the Cambistholians, receives the Hyphasis in that of the Astrybae, and the Saranges from the Cecians, and the Neydrus from the Attacenians, and flows, with these, into the Acesines. The Hydaspes also among the Oxydracae receives the Sinarus among the Arispae and it too flows out into the Acesines. The Acesines among the Mallians joins the Indus; and the Tutapus, a large river, flows into the Acesines. All these rivers swell the Acesines, and proudly retaining its own name it flows into the Indus. The Cophen, in the Peucelaetis, taking with it the Malantus, the Soastus, and the Garroeas, joins the Indus. Above these the Parenus and Saparnus, not far from one another, flow into the Indus. The Soanus, from the mountains of the Abissareans, without any tributary, flows into it. Most of these Megasthenes reports to be navigable. It should not then be incredible that neither Nile nor Ister can be even compared with Indus or Ganges in volume of water. For we know of no tributary to the Nile; rather from it canals have been cut through the land of Egypt. As for the Ister, it emerges from its springs a meagre stream, but receives many tributaries; yet not equal in number to the Indian tributaries which flow into Indus or Ganges; and very few of these are navigable; I myself have only noticed the Enus and the Saus. The Enus on the line between Norica and Rhaetia joins the Ister, the Saus in Paeonia. The country where the rivers join is called Taurunus. If anybody is aware of other navigable rivers which form tributaries to the Ister, he certainly does not know many.

V. I hope that anyone who desires to explain the cause of the number and size of the Indian rivers will do so; and that my remarks may be regarded as set down on hearsay only. For Megasthenes has recorded names of many other rivers, which beyond the Ganges and the Indus run into the eastern and southern outer ocean; so that he states the number of Indian rivers in all to be fifty-eight, and these all navigable. But not even Megasthenes, so far as I can see, travelled over any large part of India; yet a good deal more than the followers of Alexander son of Philip did. For he states that he met Sandracottus, the greatest of the Indian kings, and Porus, even greater than he was. This Megasthenes says, moreover, that the Indians waged war on no men, nor other men on the Indians, but on the other hand that Sesostris the Egyptian, after subduing the most part of Asia, and after invading Europe with an army, yet returned back; and Indathyrsis the Scythian who started from Scythia subdued many tribes of Asia, and invaded Egypt victoriously; but Semiramis the Assyrian queen tried to invade India, but died before she could carry out her purposes; it was in fact Alexander only who actually invaded India. Before Alexander, too, there is a considerable tradition about Dionysus as having also invaded India, and having subdued the Indians; about Heracles there is not much tradition. As for Dionysus, the city of Nysa is no mean memorial of his expedition, and also Mount Merus, and the growth of ivy on this mountain then the habit of the Indians themselves setting out to battle with the sound of drums and cymbals; and their dappled costume, like that worn by the bacchanals, of Dionysus. But of Heracles the memorials are slight. Yet the story of the rock Aornos, which Alexander forced, namely, that Heracles could not capture it, I am inclined to think a Macedonian boast; just as the Macedonians called Parapamisus by the name of Caucasus, though it has nothing to do with Caucasus. And besides, learning that there was a cave among the Parapamisadae, they said that this was the cave of Prometheus the Titan, in which he was crucified for his theft of the fire. Among the Sibae, too, an Indian tribe, having noticed them clad with skins they used to assert that they were relics of Heracles' expedition. What is more, as the Sibae carried a club, and they brand their cattle with a club, they referred this too to some memory of Heracles' club. If anyone believes this, at least it must be some other Heracles, not he of Thebes, but either of Tyre or of Egypt, or some great king of the higher inhabited country near India.


VI. This then must be regarded as a digression, so that too much credence may not be given to the stories which certain persons have related about the Indians beyond the Hyphasis; for those who served under Alexander are reasonably trustworthy up to the Hyphasis. For Megasthenes tells us this also about an Indian river; its name is Silas, it flows from a spring of the same name as the river through the territory of the Sileans, the people also named both from river and spring; its water has the following peculiarity; nothing is supported by it, nothing can swim in it or float upon it, but everything goes straight to the bottom; so far is this water thinner and more aery than any other. In the summer there is rain through India; especially on the mountains, Parapamisus and Hemodus and the Imaus, and from them the rivers run great and turbulent. The plains of India also receive rain in summer, and much part of them becomes swamp; in fact Alexander's army retired from the river Acesines in midsummer, when the river had overflowed on to the plains; from these, therefore, one can gauge the flooding of the Nile, since probably the mountains of Ethiopia receive rain in summer, and from them the Nile is swollen and overflows its banks on to the land of Egypt the Nile therefore also runs turbid this time of the year, as it probably would not be from melting snow; nor yet if its stream was dammed up by the seasonal winds which blow during the summer; and besides, the mountains of Ethiopia are probably not snowcovered, on account of the heat. But that they receive rain as India does is not outside the bounds of probability; since in other respects India is not unlike Ethiopia, and the Indian rivers have crocodiles like the Ethiopian and Egyptian Nile; and some of the Indian rivers have fish and other large water animals like those of the Nile, save the river-horse: though Onesicritus states that they do have the river-horse also. The appearance of the inhabitants, too, is not so far different in India and Ethiopia; the s outhern Indians resemble the Ethiopians a good deal, and, are black of countenance, and their hair black also, only they are not as snub-nosed or so woolly-haired as the Ethiopians; but the northern Indians are most like the Egyptians in appearance.

VII. Megasthenes states that there are one hundred and eighteen Indian tribes. That there are many, I agree with Megasthenes; but I cannot conjecture how he learnt and recorded the exact number, when he never visited any great part of India, and since these different races have not much intercourse one with another. The Indians, he says, were originally nomads, as are the non-agricultural Scythians, who wandering in their waggons inhabit now one and now another part of Scythia; not dwelling in cities and not reverencing any temples of the gods; just so the Indians also had no cities and built no temples; but were clothed with the skins of animals slain in the chase, and for food ate the bark of trees; these trees were called in the Indian tongue Tala, and there grew upon them, just as on the tops of palm trees, what look like clews of wool. They also used as food what game they had captured, eating it raw, before, at least, Dionysus came into India. But when Dionysus had come, and become master of India, he founded cities, and gave laws for these cities, and became to the Indians the bestower of wine, as to the Greeks, and taught them to sow their land, giving them seed. It may be that Triptolemus, when he was sent out by Demeter to sow the entire earth, did not come this way; or perhaps before Triptolemus this Dionysus whoever he was came to India and gave the Indians seeds of domesticated plants; then Dionysus first yoked oxen to the plough and made most of the Indians agriculturists instead of wanderers, and armed them also with the arms of warfare. Further, Dionysus taught them to reverence other gods, but especially, of course, himself, with clashings of cymbals and beating of drums and dancing in the Satyric fashion, the dance called among Greeks the 'cordax'; and taught them to wear long hair in honour of the god, and instructed them in the wearing of the conical cap and the anointings with perfumes; so that the Indians came out even against Alexander to battle with the sound of cymbals and drums.

VIII. When departing from India, after making all these arrangements, he made Spatembas king of the land, one of his Companions, being most expert in Bacchic rites; when Spatembas died, Budyas his son reigned in his stead; the father was King of India fifty-two years, and the son twenty years; and his son, again, came to the throne, one Cradeuas; and his descendants for the most part received the kingdom in succession, son succeeding father; if the succession failed, then the kings were appointed for some pre-eminence. But Heracles, whom tradition states to have arrived as far as India, was called by the Indians themselves 'Indigenous.' This Heracles was chiefly honoured by the Surasenians, an Indian tribe, among whom are two great cities, Methora and Cleisobora, and the navigable river Iobares flows through their territory. Megasthenes also says that the garb which this Heracles wore was like that of the Theban Heracles, as also the Indians themselves record; he also had many sons in his country, for this Heracles too wedded many wives; he had only one daughter, called Pandaea; as also the country in which she was born, and to rule which Heracles educated her, was called Pandaea after the girl; here she possessed five hundred elephants given by her father, four thousand horsemen, and as many as a hundred and thirty thousand foot-soldiers. This also some writers relate about Heracles; he traversed all the earth and sea, and when he had rid the earth of evil monsters he found in the sea a jewel much affected by women. And thus, even to our day, those who bring exports from India to our country purchase these jewels at great price and export them, and all Greeks in old time, and Romans now who are rich and prosperous, are more eager to buy the sea pearl, as it is called in the Indian tongue for that Heracles, the jewel appearing to him charming, collected from all the sea to India this kind of pearl, to adorn his daughter. And Megasthenes says that this oyster is taken with nets; that it is a native of the sea, many oysters being together, like bees; and that the pearl oysters have a king or queen, as bees do. Should anyone by chance capture the king, he can easily surround the rest of the oysters; but should the king slip through, then the others cannot be taken; and of those that are taken, the Indians let their flesh rot, but use the skeleton as an ornament. For among the Indians this pearl sometimes is worth three times its weight in solid gold, which is itself dug up in India.

IX. In this country where Heracles' daughter was queen, the girls are marriageable at seven years, and the men do not live longer than forty years. About this there is a story among the Indians, that Heracles, to whom when in mature years this daughter was born, realizing that his own end was near, and knowing of no worthy husband to whom he might bestow his daughter, himself became her husband when she was seven, so that Indian kings, their children, were left behind. Heracles made her then marriageable, and hence all the royal race of Pandaea arose, with the same privilege from Heracles. But I think, even if Heracles was able to accomplish anything so absurd, he could have lengthened his own life, so as to mate with the girl when of maturer years. But really if this about the age of the girls in this district is true, it seems to me to tend the same way as the men's age, since the oldest of them die at forty years. For when old age comes on so much sooner and death with age, maturity will reasonably be earlier, in proportion to the end; so that at thirty the men might be on the threshold of old age, and at twenty, men in their prime, and manhood at about fifteen, so that the women might reasonably be marriageable at seven. For that the fruits ripen earlier in this country than elsewhere, and perish earlier, this Megasthenes himself tells us. From Dionysus to Sandracottus the Indians counted a hundred and fifty-three kings, over six thousand and forty-two years, and during this time thrice [Movements were made] for liberty . . . this for three hundred years; the other for a hundred and twenty years; the Indians say that Dionysus was fifteen generations earlier than Heracles; but no one else ever invaded India, not even Cyrus son of Cambyses, though he made an expedition against the Scythians, and in all other ways was the most energetic of the kings in Asia; but Alexander came and conquered by force of arms all the countries he entered; and would have conquered the whole world had his army been willing. But no Indian ever went outside his own country on a warlike expedition, so righteous were they.

X. This also is related; that Indians do not put up memorials to the dead; but they regard their virtues as sufficient memorials for the departed, and the songs which they sing at their funerals. As for the cities of India, one could not record their number accurately by reason of their multitude; but those of them which are near rivers or near the sea, they build of wood; for if they were built of brick, they could not last long because of the rain, and also because their rivers overflow their banks and fill the plains with water. But such cities as are built on high and lofty places, they make of brick and clay. The greatest of the Indian cities is called Palimbothra, in the district of the Prasians, at the confluence of the Erannoboas and the Ganges; the Ganges, greatest of all rivers; the Erannoboas may be the third of the Indian rivers, itself greater than the rivers of other countries; but it yields precedence to the Ganges, when it pours into it its tributary stream. And Megasthenes says that the length of the city along either side, where it is longest, reaches to eighty stades its breadth to fifteen; and a ditch has been dug round the city, six plethra in breadth, thirty cubits high; and on the wall are five hundred and seventy towers, and sixty-four gates. This also is remarkable in India, that all Indians are free, and no Indian at all is a slave. In this the Indians agree with the Lacedaemonians. Yet the Lacedaemonians have Helots for slaves, who perform the duties of slaves; but the Indians have no slaves at all, much less is any Indian a slave.


XI. The Indians generally are divided into seven castes. Those called the wise men are less in number than the rest, but chiefest in honour and regard. For they are under no necessity to do any bodily labour; nor to contribute from the results of their work to the common store; in fact, no sort of constraint whatever rests upon these wise men, save to offer the sacrifices to the gods on behalf of the people of India. Then whenever anyone sacrifices privately, one of these wise men acts as instructor of the sacrifice, since otherwise the sacrifice would not have proved acceptable to the gods. These Indians also are alone expert in prophecy, and none, save one of the wise men, is allowed to prophesy. And they prophesy about the seasons of the year, or of any impending public calamity: but they do not trouble to prophesy on private matters to individuals, either because their prophecy does not condescend to smaller things, or because it is undignified for them to trouble about such things. And when one has thrice made an error in his prophecy, he does not suffer any harm, except that he must for ever hold his peace; and no one will ever persuade such a one to prophesy on whom this silence has been enjoined. These wise men spend their time naked, during the winter in the open air and sunshine, but in summer, when the sun is strong, in the meadows and the marsh lands under great trees; their shade Nearchus computes to reach five plethra all round, and ten thousand men could take shade under one tree; so great are these trees. They eat fruits in their season, and the bark of the trees; this is sweet and nutritious as much as are the dates of the palm. Then next to these come the farmers, these being the most numerous class of Indians; they have no use for warlike arms or warlike deeds, but they till the land; and they pay the taxes to the kings and to the cities, such as are self-governing; and if there is internal war among the Indians, they may not touch these workers, and not even devastate the land itself; but some are making war and slaying all comers, and others close by are peacefully ploughing or gathering the fruits or shaking down apples or harvesting. The third class of Indians are the herdsmen, pasturers of sheep and cattle, and these dwell neither by cities nor in the villages. They are nomads and get their living on the hillsides, and they pay taxes from their animals; they hunt also birds and wild game in the country.

XII. The fourth class is of artisans and shopkeepers; these are workers, and pay tribute from their works, save such as make weapons of war; these are paid by the community. In this class are the shipwrights and sailors, who navigate the rivers. The fifth class of Indians is the soldiers' class, next after the farmers in number; these have the greatest freedom and the most spirit. They practise military pursuits only. Their weapons others forge for them, and again others provide horses; others too serve in the camps, those who groom their horses and polish their weapons, guide the elephants, and keep in order and drive the chariots. They themselves, when there is need of war, go to war, but in time of peace they make merry; and they receive so much pay from the community that they can easily from their pay support others. The sixth class of Indians are those called overlookers. They oversee everything that goes on in the country or in the cities; and this they report to the King, where the Indians are governed by kings, or to the authorities, where they are independent. To these it is illegal to make any false report; nor was any Indian ever accused of such falsification. The seventh class is those who deliberate abbut the community together with the King, or, in such cities as are self-governing, with the authorities. In number this class is small, but in wisdom and uprightness it bears the palm from all others; from this class are selected their governors, district governors, and deputies, custodians of the treasures, officers of army and navy, financial officers, and overseers of agricultural works. To marry out of any class is unlawful -- as, for instance, into the farmer class from the artisans, or the other way; nor must the same man practise two pursuits; nor change from one class into another, as to turn farmer from shepherd, or shepherd from artisan. It is only permitted to join the wise men out of any class; for their business is not an easy one, but of all most laborious.

XIII. Most wild animals which the Greeks hunt the Indians hunt also, but these have a way of hunting elephants unlike all other kinds of hunting, just as these animals are unlike other animals. It is this they choose a place that is level and open to the sun's heat, and dig a ditch in a circle, wide enough for a great army to camp within it. They dig the ditch five fathoms broad, and four deep. The earth which they throw out of the ditch they heap on either side of the ditch, and so use it as a wall; then they make shelters for themselves, dug out of the wall on the outside of the ditch, and leave small windows in them; through these the light comes in, and also they watch the animals coming in and charging into the enclosure. Then within the enclosure they leave some three or four of the females, those that are tamest, and leave only one entrance by the ditch, making a bridge over it; and here they heap much earth and grass so that the animals cannot distinguish the bridge, and so suspect any guile. The hunters then keep themselves out of the way, hiding under the shelters dug in the ditch. Now the wild elephants do not approach inhabited places by daylight, but at night they wander all about and feed in herds, following the largest and finest of their number, as cows do the bulls. And when they approach the ditch and hear the trumpeting of the females and perceive them by their scent, they rush to the walled enclosure; and when, working round the outside edge of the ditch, they find the bridge, they push across it into the enclosure. Then the hunters, perceiving the entry of the wild elephants, some smartly remove the bridge, others hurrying to the neighbouring villages report that the elephants are caught in the enclosure; and the inhabitants on hearing the news mount the most spirited, and at the same time most disciplined elephants, and then drive them towards the enclosure, and when they have driven them thither they do not at once join battle, but allow the wild elephants to grow distressed by hunger an d to be tamed by thirst. But when they think they are sufficiently distressed, then they erect the bridge again, and enter the enclosure; and at first there is a fierce battle between the tamed elephants and the captives, and then, as one would expect, the wild elephants are tamed, distressed as they are by a sinking of their spirits and by hunger. Then the riders dismounting from the tamed elephants tie together the feet of the now languid wild ones; then they order the tamed elephants to punish the rest by repeated blows, till in their distress they fall to earth; then they come near them and throw nooses round their necks; and climb on them as they lie there. And that they may not toss their drivers nor do them any injury, they make an incision in their necks with a sharp knife, all round, and bind their noose round the wound, so that by reason of the sore they keep their heads and necks still. For were they to turn round to do mischief, the wound beneath the rope chafes them. And so they keep quiet, and perceiving that they are conquered, they are led of by the tamed elephants by the rope.

XIV. Such elephants as are not yet full grown or from some defect are not worth the acquiring, they allow to depart to their own laim, Then they lead of their captives to the villages and first of all give them green shoots and grass to eat; but they, from want of heart, are not willing to eat anything; so the Indians range themselves about them and with songs and drums and cymbals, beating and singing, lull them to sleep. For if there is an intelligent animal, it is the elephant. Some of them have been known, when their drivers have perished in battle, to have caught them up and carried them to burial; others have stood over them and protected them. Others, when they have fallen, have actively fought for them; one, indeed, who in a passion slew his driver, died from remorse and grief. I myself have seen an elephant clanging the cymbals, and others dancing; two cymbals were fastened to the player's forelegs, and one on his trunk, and he rhythmically beat with his trunk the cymbal on either leg in turn; the dancers danced in circle, and raising and bending their forelegs in turn moved also rhythmically, as the player with the cymbals marked the time for them. The elephants mate in spring, as do oxen and horses, when certain pores about the temples of the females open and exhale; the female bears its offispring sixteen months at the least, eighteen at most; it has one foal, as does a mare; and this it suckles till its eighth year. The longest-lived elephants survive to two hundred years; but many die before that by disease; but as far as mere age goes, they reach this age. If their eyes are affected, cow's milk injected cures them; for their other sicknesses a draught of dark wine, and for their wounds swine's flesh roast, and laid on the spot, are good. These are the Indian remedies for them.

XV. The Indians regard the tiger as much stronger than the elephant. Nearchus writes that he had seen a tiger's skin, but no tiger; the Indians record that the tiger is in size as great as the largest horse, and its swiftness and strength without parallel, for a tiger, when it meets an elephant, leaps on to the head and easily throttles it. Those, however, which we see and call tigers are dappled jackals, but larger than ordinary jackals. Nay, about ants also Nearchus says that he himself saw no ant, of the sort which some writers have described as native of India; he saw, however, several of their skins brought into the Macedonian camp.Megasthenes, however confirms the accounts given about these ants; that ants do dig up gold, not indeed for the gold, but as they naturally burrow, that they may make holes, just as our small ants excavate a small amount of earth; but these, which are bigger than foxes, dig up earth also proportionate to their size; the earth is auriferous, and thus the Indians get their gold. Megasthenes, however, merely quotes hearsay, and as I have no certainty to write on the subject, I readily dismiss this subject of ants. But Nearchus describes, as something miraculous, parrots, as being found in India, and describes the parrot, and how it utters a human voice. But I having seen several, and knowing others acquainted with this bird, shall not dilate on them as anything remarkable; nor yet upon the size of the apes, nor the beauty of some Indian apes, and the method of capture. For I should only say what everyone knows, except perhaps that apes are anywhere beautiful. And further Nearchus says that snakes are hunted there, dappled and swift; and that which he states Peithon son of Antigenes to have caught, was upwards of sixteen cubits; but the Indians (he proceeds) state that the largest snakes are much larger than this. No Greek physicians have discovered a remedy against Indian snake-bite; but the Indians themselves used to cure those who were struck. And Nearchus adds that Alexander ha d gathered about him Indians very skilled in physic, and orders were sent round the camp that anyone bitten by a snake was to report at the royal pavilion. But there are not many illnesses in India, since the seasons are more temperate than with us. If anyone is seriously ill, they would inform their wise men, and they were thought to use the divine help to cure what could be cured.


XVI. The Indians wear linen garments, as Nearchus says, the linen coming from the trees of which I have already made mention. This linen is either brighter than the whiteness of other linen, or the people's own blackness makes it appear unusually bright. They have a linen tunic to the middle of the calf, and for outer garments, one thrown round about their shoulders, and one wound round their heads. They wear ivory ear-rings, that is, the rich Indians; the common people do not use them. Nearchus writes that they dye their beards various colours; some therefore have these as white-looking as possible, others dark, others crimson, others purple, others grass-green. The more dignified Indians use sunshades against the summer heat. They have slippers of white skin, and these too made neatly; and the soles of their sandals are of different colours, and also high, so that the wearers seem taller. Indian war equipment differs; the infantry have a bow, of the height of the owner; this they poise on the ground, and set their left foot against it, and shoot thus; drawing the bowstring a very long way back; for their arrows are little short of three cubits, and nothing can stand against an arrow shot by an Indian archer, neither shield nor breastplate nor any strong armour. In their left hands they carry small shields of untanned hide, narrower than their bearers, but not much shorter. Some have javelins in place of bows. All carry a broad scimitar, its length not under three cubits; and this, when they have a hand-to-hand fight -- and Indians do not readily fight so among themselves -- they bring down with both hands in smiting, so that the stroke may be an effective one. Their horsemen have two javelins, like lances, and a small shield smaller than the infantry's. The horses have no saddles, nor do they use Greek bits nor any like the Celtic bits, but round the end of the horses' mouths they have an untanned stitched rein fitted; in this they have fitted, on the inner side, bronze or iron spikes, but rather blunted; th e rich people have ivory spikes; within the mouth of the horses is a bit, like a spit, to either end of which the reins are attached. Then when they tighten the reins this bit masters the horse, and the spikes, being attached thereto, prick the horse and compel it to obey the rein.

XVII. The Indians in shape are thin and tall and much lighter in movement than the rest of mankind. They usually ride on camels, horses, and asses; the richer men on elephants. For the elephant in India is a royal mount; then next in dignity is a four-horse chariot, and camels come third; to ride on a single horse is low. Their women, such as are of great modesty, can be seduced by no other gift, but yield themselves to anyone who gives an elephant; and the Indians think it no disgrace to yield thus on the gift of an elephant, but rather it seems honourable for a woman that her beauty should be valued at an elephant. They marry neither giving anything nor receiving anything; such girls as are marriageable their fathers bring out and allow anyone who proves victorious in wrestling or boxing or running or shows pre-eminence in any other manly pursuit to choose among them. The Indians eat meal and till the ground, except the mountaineers; but these eat the flesh of game. This must be enough for a description of the Indians, being the most notable things which Nearchus and Megasthenes, men of credit, have recorded about them. But as the main subject of this my history was not to write an account of the Indian customs but the way in which Alexander's navy reached Persia from India, this must all be accounted a digression.

XVIII. For Alexander, when his fleet was made ready on the banks of the Hydaspes, collected together all the Phoenicians and all the Cyprians and Egyptians who had followed the northern expedition. From these he manned his ships, picking out as crews and rowers for them any who were skilled in seafaring. There were also a good many islanders in the army, who understood these things, and Ionians and Hellespontines. As commanders of triremes were appointed, from the Macedonians, Hephaestion son of Amyntor, and Leonnatus son of Eunous, Lysimachus son of Agathocles, and Asclepiodorus son of Timander, and Archon son of Cleinias, and Demonicus son of Athenaeus, Archias son of Anaxidotus, Ophellas son of Seilenus, Timanthes son of Pantiades; all these were of Pella. From Amphipolis these were appointed officers: Nearchus son of Androtimus, who wrote the account of the voyage; and Laomedon son of Larichus, and Androsthenes son of Callistratus; and from Orestis. Craterus son of Alexander, and Perdiccas son of Orontes. Of Eordaea, Ptolemaeus son of Lagos and Aristonous son of Peisaeus; from Pydna, Metron son of Epicharmus and Nicarchides son of Simus. Then besides, Attalus son of Andromenes, of Stympha Peucestas son of Alexander, from Mieza; Peithon son of Crateuas, of Alcomenae; Leonnatus son of Antipater, of Aegae; Pantauchus son of Nicolaus, of Aloris; Mylleas son of Zoilus, of Beroea; all these being Macedonians. Of Greeks, Medius son of Oxynthemis, of Larisa; Eumenes son of Hieronymus, from Cardia; Critobulus, son of Plato, of Cos; Thoas son of Menodorus, and Maeander, son of Mandrogenes, of Magnesia; Andron son of Cabeleus, of Teos; of Cyprians, Nicocles son of Pasicrates, of Soh; and Nithaphon son of Pnytagoras, of Salamis. Alexander appointed also a Persian trierarch, Bagoas son of Pharnuces; but of Alexander's own ship the helmsman was Onesicritus of Astypalaea; and the accountant of the whole fleet was Euagoras son of Eucleon, of Corinth. As admiral was appointed Nearchus, son of Androtimus, Cretan by race, an d he lived. in Amphipolis on the Strymon. And when Alexander had made all these dispositions, he sacrificed to the gods, both the gods of his race and all of whom the prophets had warned him, and to Poseidon and Amphitrite and the Nereids and to Ocean himself and to the river Hydaspes, whence he started, and to the Acesines, into which the Hydaspes runs, and to the Indus, into which both run; and he instituted contests of art and of athletics, and victims for sacrifice were given to all the army, according to their detachments.

XIX. Then when he had made all ready for starting the voyage, Alexander ordered Craterus to march by the one side of the Hydaspes with his army, cavalry and infantry alike; Hephaestion had already started along the other, with another army even bigger than that under Craterus. Hephaestion took with him the elephants, up to the number of two hundred. Alexander himself took with him all the peltasts, as they are called, and all the archers, and of the cavalry, those called 'Companions'; in all, eight thousand. But Craterus and Hephaestion, with their forces, were ordered to march ahead and await the fleet. But he sent Philip, whom he had made satrap of this country, to the banks of the river Acesines, Philip also with a considerable force; for by this time a hundred and twenty thousand men of fighting age were following him, together with those whom he himself had brought from the sea-coast; and with those also whom his officers, sent to recruit forces, had brought back; so that he now led all sorts of Oriental tribes, and armed in every sort of fashion. Then he himself loosing his ships sailed down the Hydaspes to the meeting-place of Acesines and Hydaspes. His whole fleet of ships was eighteen hundred, both ships of war and merchantmen, and horse transports besides and others bringing provisions together with the troops. And how his fleet descended the rivers, and the tribes he conquered on the descent, and how he endangered himself among the Mallians, and the wound he there received, then the way in which Peucestas and Leonnatus defended him as he lay there -- all this I have related already in my other history, written in the Attic dialect. This my present work, however, is a story of the voyage, which Nearchus successfully undertook with his fleet starting from the mouths of the Indus by the Ocean to the Persian Gulf, which some call the Red Sea.

XX. On this Nearchus writes thus: Alexander had a vehement desire to sail the sea which stretches from India to Persia; but he disliked the length of the voyage and feared lest, meeting with some country desert or without roadsteads, or not properly provided with the fruits of the earth, his whole fleet might be destroyed; and this, being no small blot on his great achievements, might wreck all his happiness; but yet his desire to do something unusual and strange won the day; still, he was in doubt whom he should choose, as equal to his designs; and also as the right man to encourage the personnel of the fleet, -- sent as they were on an expedition of this kind, so that they should not feel that they were being sent blindly to manifest dangers. And Nearchus says that Alexander discussed with him whom he should select to be admiral of this fleet; but as mention was made of one and another, and as Alexander rejected some, as not willing to risk themselves for his sake, others as chicken-hearted, others as consumed by desire for home, and finding some objection to each; then Nearchus himself spoke and pledged himself thus : '0 King, I undertake to lead your fleet! And may God help the emprise! I will bring your ships and men safe to Persia, if this sea is so much as navigable and the undertaking not above human powers.' Alexander, however, replied that he would not allow one of his friends to run such risks and endure such distress; yet Nearchus, did not slacken in his request, but besought Alexander earnestly; till at length Alexander accepted Nearchus' willing spirit, and appointed him admiral of the entire fieet, on which the part of the army which was detailed to sail on this voyage and the crews felt easier in mind, being sure that Alexander would never have exposed Nearchus to obvious danger unless they also were to come through safe. Then the splendour of the whole preparations and the smart equipment of the ships, and the outstanding enthusiasm of the commanders of the triremes ab out the different servic es and the crews had uplifted even those who a short while ago were hesitating, both to bravery and to higher hopes about the whole affair; and besides it contributed not a little to the general good spirits of the force that Alexander himself had started down the Indus and had explored both outlets, even into the Ocean, and had offered victims to Poseidon, and all the other sea gods, and gave splendid gifts to the sea. Then trusting as they did in Alexander's generally remarkable good fortune, they felt that there was nothing that he might not dare, and nothing that he could not carry through.

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