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Koh-e-Mor (कोह-ए-मोर, मोरा पहाड़) is 250 km. north of Peshawar, Pakistan. It was called Meros[1] or Mount Merus[2] by Arrian, the historian of Alexander the Great.


Variants of name


Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria) states:[3] Recently, new light has been thrown on the origin of Chandragupta Maurya. Dr. H.R. Gupta informs that Chandragupta Maurya originally belonged to Koh-e-Mor, 250 km. north of Peshawar commanding the Swat valley beyond the Malkand pass, wherefrom after freeing Panjab from the Greeks, he shifted his parents to Panjab hills, designated his father Sarmor i.e. head of the More tribe and the hill state was later on known as Sarmour after this designation140.

Bajaur Pakistan

Bajaur Pakistan borders with Afghanistan's Kunar province makes it of strategic importance to Pakistan and the region. An interesting feature in the topography is a mountain spur from the Kunar range, which, curving eastwards, culminates in the well-known peak of Koh-i-Mor, which is visible from the Peshawar valley. It was here, at the foot of the mountain, that Alexander the Great founded the ancient city of Nysa and the Nysaean colony, traditionally said to have been founded by Dionysus. The Koh-i-Mor has been identified as the Meros of Arrian's history — the three-peaked mountain from which the god issued.[4]

Ch.5.1: Alexander at Nysa.

Arrian[5] writes.... IN this country, lying between the rivers Cophen and Indus, which was traversed by Alexander, the city of Nysa1 is said to be situated. The report is, that its foundation was the work of Dionysus, who built it after he had subjugated the Indians.2 But it is impossible to determine who this Dionysus3 was, and at what time, or from what quarter he led an army against the Indians. For I am unable to decide whether the Theban Dionysus, starting from Thebes or from the Lydian Tmolus4 came into India at the head of an army, and after traversing the territories of so many warlike nations, unknown to the Greeks of that time, forcibly subjugated none of them except that of the Indians. But I do not think we ought to make a minute examination of the legends which were promulgated in ancient times about the deity; for things which are not credible to the man who examines them according to the rule of probability, do not appear to be wholly incredible, if one adds the divine agency to the story.

When Alexander came to Nysa the citizens sent out to him their president, whose name was Acuphis, accompanied by thirty of their most distinguished men as envoys, to entreat Alexander to leave their city free for the sake of the god. The envoys entered Alexander’s tent and found him seated in his armour still covered with dust from the journey, with his helmet on his head, and holding his spear in his hand. When they beheld the sight they were struck with astonishment, and falling to the earth remained silent a long time. But when Alexander caused them to rise, and bade them be of good courage, then at length Acuphis began thus to speak: “The Nysaeans beseech thee, 0 king, out of respect for Dionysus, to allow them to remain free and independent; for when Dionysus had subjugated the nation of the Indians, and was returning to the Grecian sea, he founded this city from the soldiers who had become unfit for military service, and were under his inspiration as Bacchanals, so that it might be a monument both of his wandering and of his victory to men of after times; just as thou also hast founded Alexandria near mount Caucasus, and another Alexandria in the country of the Egyptians. Many other cities thou hast already founded, and others thou wilt found hereafter, in the course of time, inasmuch as thou hast achieved more exploits than Dionysus. The god indeed called the city Nysa, and the land Nysaea after his nurse Nysa. The mountain also which is near the city he named Meros (i.e. thigh), because, according to the legend, he grew in the thigh of Zeus.’ From that time we inhabit Nysa, a free city, and we ourselves are independent, conducting our government with constitutional order. And let this be to thee a proof that our city owes its foundation to Dionysus; for ivy, which does not grow in the rest of the country of India, grows among us.”

1. This city was probably on the site of Jelalabad.

2. ὲπει τε. This is the only place where Arrian uses this Ionic form for the simple ὲπει.

3. The Indians worship a god Homa, the personification of the intoxicating soma juice. This deity corresponds to the Greek Dionysus or Bacchus.

4. The slopes of this mountain were covered with vines. See Ovid (Fasti, ii. 313; Metamorphoses, xi. 86); Vergil (Georgics, ii. 98); Pliny, xiv. 9.


5.2: Alexander at Nysa

Arrian[6] writes.... ALL this was very pleasant to Alexander to hear; for he wished that the legend about the wandering of Dionysus should be believed, as well as that Nysa owed its foundation to that deity, since he had himself reached the place where Dionysus came, and had even advanced beyond the limits of the latter’s march. He also thought that the Macedonians would not decline still to share his labours if he advanced further, from a desire to surpass the achievements of Dionysus. He therefore granted the inhabitants of Nysa the privilege of remaining free and independent; and when he heard about their laws, and that the government was in the hands of the aristocracy he commended these things. He required them to send 300 of their horsemen to accompany him, and to select and send 100 of the aristocrats who presided over the government of the State, who also were 300 in number. He ordered Acuphis to make the selection, and appointed him governor of the land of Nysaea. When Acuphis heard this, he is said to have smiled at the speech; whereupon Alexander asked him why he laughed. Acuphis replied —“How, O king, could a single city deprived of 100 of its good men be still well governed? But if thou carest for the welfare of the Nysaeans, lead with thee the 300 horsemen, and still more than that number if thou wishest: but instead of the hundred of the best men whom thou orderest me to select lead with thee double the number of the others who are bad, so that when thou comest here again the city may appear1 in the same good order in which it now is.” By these remarks he persuaded Alexander; for he thought he was speaking with prudence. So he ordered them to send the horsemen to accompany him, but no longer demanded the hundred select men, nor indeed others in their stead. But he commanded Acuphis to send his own son and his daughter’s son to accompany him. He was now seized with a strong desire of seeing the place where the Nysaeans boasted to have certain memorials of Dionysus. So he went to Mount Merus with the Companion cavalry and the foot guard, and saw the mountain, which was quite covered with ivy and laurel and groves thickly shaded with all sorts of timber, and on it were chases of all kinds of wild animals.2 The Macedonians were delighted at seeing the ivy, as they had not seen any for a long time; for in the land of the Indians there was no ivy, even where they had vines. They eagerly made garlands of it, and crowned themselves with them, as they were, singing hymns in honour of Dionysus, and invoking the deity by his various names3. Alexander there offered sacrifice to Dionysus, and feasted in company with his companions. Some authors have also stated, but I do not know if any one will believe it, that many of the distinguished Macedonians in attendance upon him, having crowned themselves with ivy, while they were engaged in the invocation of the deity, were seized with the inspiration of Dionysus, uttered cries of Evoi in honour of the god, and acted as Bacchanals.5

1. φανείη. Arrian does not comply with the Attic rule, that the subjunctive should follow the principal tenses in the leading sentence. Cf. V. 6, 6; 7, 5; vii. 7, 5; 15, 2.

2. Cf. Pliny (Nat. Hist., vi. 23; viii. 60; xvi. 62). The ordinary reading is αλση παντοια και ιδειν συσκιον. For this Krüger has proposed αλση παντοια υλη συσκια.

3. The other names of Dionysus were: Bacchus, Bromius, Evius, Iacchus, Lenaeus, Lyaeus]. The Romans called him Liber.

4. Curtius (viii. 36) says that the Macedonians celebrated Bacchanalia for the space of ten days on this mountain.

5.The 1st aor. pass. εσχεθην is found only in Arrian and Plutarch. Cf. vii. 22, 2 infra.


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