Nisatta

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Nysa on Map showing the route of Alexander the Great

Nisatta (Pushto: نسته) is a town of Charsadda District in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Variants of name

Location

It is located at 34°6'8N 71°47'47E and has an altitude of 277 metres (912 feet).

Four rivers, Sardaryab River, Khialey River, Jindey River and Shalam River meet in Nisatta becoming a big river which the local Paskhtoon call Landey River (Kabul River) which flows along Nowshehra and at Kund (Attock) joins Abaseen (Indus River). Population of Nisatta is around 70,000.

Greek History

Arrian[1] writes that .... IN this country, lying between the rivers Cophen (Kabul) and Indus, which was traversed by Alexander, the city of Nysa 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.....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.”


Arrian[2] writes that ....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.

Jat History

H. W. Bellew[3] writes that ...Alexander then entered that part of the country which lies between the two rivers Kophenes and Indus (Kabul and Indus rivers), where Nysa is said to be situate, and on arrival at Nysa (modern Nisatta, on the left bank of the Landi Swat river, near its junction with the Kabul stream) with his army, the citizens sent a deputation headed by Akalphis (perhaps a chief of the Aka tribe of the Naga), beseeching Alexander to leave the liberties of the city entire for the sake of their god Dionysus, and assuring him that Bacchus, having subdued the Indians and determined to return to Greece, built this city as a monument of his victories, and the mountain also which is so near it (Kohi Mor or Kiamur) he would have denominated Merus. ....

It is to be noted that Akalphis, or Acuphis as mentioned by Arrian[4], at the time of Alexander's invasion in 327 BC, was a chief of the Aka Nagavanshi Jats at Nysa.


Ram Sarup Joon[5] writes that .... Alexander invaded India in 326 BC and came upto the River Beas. After crossing the River Indus at Attock, he had to fight with a series of Jat Kingdoms. Alexander's historian Arrian writes that Jats were the bravest people he had to contest with in India.

Alexander's first encounter was with Porus who was defeated. Alexander was impressed with his dignified behavior even after defeat and reinstated him on the throne.

According to Arrian, Alexander had to fight with two Porus-es, the other one on his return journey. This is because Porus was not a name but a title as both belonged to Puru dynasty.

Next, Alexander had to fight the Kath (Gathwal) kingdom on the Eastern, banks of River Ravi. Their capital was Sangla. The Kaths had the pride of having defeated Porus a number of times.

Alexander's next encounter was with Sobti republic whose territory extended up to, the Salt Ranges. Arrian has a lot of praise for the administration of the Kingdom. Swyamvara (self-selection of the marriage partner) was


History of the Jats, End of Page-49


prevalent, and thus a woman had a right to choose her husband. Every child was examined two months after birth. If the child was found deformed or suffering from any disability he was put down.

After Sobti, Alexander had to face the Youdheya Jat republic, when Alexander heard of their valour he was very disheartened. They were supposed to know the 'Avijay' mantra and were thus never defeated. They had a large army. They had an assembly of 6000 members, each of whom presented an elephant to the head of the State. This republic was situated on the banks of River Satluj. Alexander did not venture to fight them.

The next Jat tribe to face Alexander was the Kushanas who were 40,000 strong. Alexander had a severe clash with the Jat republics of Jeest and Jatroti. Alexander overwhelmed them. When they lost hope of victory they killed their women and children and fought to the last man.

Alexander's next battle was with the Patam and Nyasa Jat republics.

In Jhelum and Indus rivers, Alexander came across ships of Goth Jats. They however surrendered.

Alexander's Historian Arrian has recorded his observations on the Jats. The system of Sati was prevalent. They respected beauty and believed in Polygamy. Most of them were followers of Buddhism. They also worshipped the pipal tree some of them still lived in the jungles and covered themselves with barks of trees.

Names of tribes described above by Arrian as having fought Alexander viz., Maliha, Madrak, Malak, Kath, Yodha and Jatrak exist today as Jat gotras.


History of the Jats, End of Page-50


History

H. W. Bellew [6] writes that ....Next day Alexander sent a force to scour the country round, whilst he himself proceeded on his march towards the river Indus, sending the army before to level the road, which would otherwise have been impassable. From some Barbarians captured, Alexander understood that the inhabitants of that country were fled to Barisades for safety, but that they had left their elephants in the pastures near the river Indus. Alexander took them to be his guides to the place where the elephants were, and some of them being caught and conveyed to the army, Alexander ordered a full-grown wood which he found near the river to be cut down by his soldiers, and vessels to be built therewith, which being launched into the river, he and his force were thereby conveyed to the bridge which Hephaistion and Perdikkas had already built.

Alexander then entered that part of the country which lies between the two rivers Kophenes and Indus (Kabul and Indus rivers), where Nysa is said to be situate, and on arrival at Nysa (modern Nisatta, on the left bank of the Landi Swat river, near its junction with the Kabul stream) with his army, the citizens sent a deputation headed by Akalphis (perhaps a chief of the Aka tribe of the Naga), beseeching Alexander to leave the liberties of the city entire for the sake of their god Dionysus, and assuring him that Bacchus, having subdued the Indians and determined to return to Greece, built this city as a monument of his victories, and the mountain also which is so near it (Kohi Mor or Kiamur) he would have denominated Merus. From Nysa Alexander moved to the bridge over the Indus, and there passed his army across the river.

Ch.1: Alexander at Nysa

Arrian[7] 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.

p.265-266

Ch.2: Alexander at Nysa

Arrian[8] 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 ioo 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 ioo 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.

p.267-268

Ch 5.26: Alexander's Speech (continued)

Arrian[9] writes..."I, for my part, think, that to a brave man there is no end to labours except the labours themselves, provided they lead to glorious achievements. But if any one desires to hear what will be the end to the warfare itself, let him learn that the distance still remaining before we reach the river Ganges and the Eastern Sea is not great; and I inform you that the Hyrcanian Sea will be seen to be united with this, because the Great Sea encircles the whole earth. I will also demonstrate both to the Macedonians and to the Grecian allies, that the Indian Gulf is confluent with the Persian, and the Hyrcanian Sea with the Indian Gulf. From the Persian Gulf our expedition will sail round into Libya as far as the Pillars of Heracles.[1] From the pillars all the interior of Libya[2] becomes ours, and so the whole of Asia[3] will belong to us, and the limits of our empire, in that direction, will be those which God has made also the limits of the earth. But, if we now return, many warlike nations are left unconquered beyond the Hyphasis as far as the Eastern Sea, and many besides between these and Hyrcania in the direction of the north wind, and not far from these the Scythian races. Wherefore, if we go back, there is reason to fear that the races which are now held in subjection, not being firm in their allegiance, may be excited to revolt by those who are not yet subdued. Then our many labours will prove to have been in vain; or it will be necessary for us to incur over again fresh labours and dangers, as at the beginning. But, O Macedonians and Grecian allies, stand firm! Glorious are the deeds of those who undergo labour and run the risk of danger; and it is delightful to live a life of valour and to die leaving behind immortal glory. Do ye not know that our ancestor[4] reached so great a height of glory as from being a man to become a god, or to seem to become one, not by remaining in Tiryns[5] or Argos, or even in the Pelopounese or at Thebes? The labours of Dionysus were not few, and he was too exalted a deity to be compared with Heracles. But we, indeed, have penetrated into regions beyond Nysa[6]; and the rock of Aornus, which Heracles was unable to capture, is in our possession. Do ye also add the parts of Asia still left unsubdued to those already acquired, the few to the many. But what great or glorious deed could we have performed, if, sitting at ease in Macedonia, we had thought it sufficient to preserve our own country without any labour, simply repelling the attacks of the nations on our frontiers, the Thracians, Illyrians, and Triballians, or even those Greeks who were unfriendly to our interests? If, indeed, without undergoing labour and being free from danger I were acting as your commander, while you were undergoing labour and incurring danger, not without reason would you be growing faint in spirit and resolution, because you alone would be sharing the labours, while procuring the rewards of them for others. But now the labours are common to you and me, we have an equal share of the dangers, and the rewards are open to the free competition of all. For the land is yours, and you act as its viceroys. The greater part also of the money now comes to you; and when we have traversed the whole of Asia, then, by Zeus, not merely having satisfied your expectations, but having even exceeded the advantages which each man hopes to receive, those of you who wish to return home I will send back to their own land, or I will myself lead them back; while those who remain here, I will make objects of envy to those who go back."[7]


Greek Ion, which originally had a digamma, Ivon. Pott says that it means the young, in opposition to the Graikci, the old. According to Aristotle (Meteorologica, i. 14) the Hellenes were originally called Graikoi. Cf. Sanscrit, jewan; Zend, jawan; Latin, juvenis; English, young.

1. Cf. Arrian (Anabasis, vii. 1; Indica, 43). Herodotus (iv. 42) says that Pharaoh Neco sent a Phoenician expedition from the Bed Sea, which circumnavigated Africa and returned by the Straits of Gibraltar, or the Pillars of Hercules. The Carthaginian Hanno is said to have sailed from Cadiz to the extremity of Arabia. See Pliny (Historia Naturalis, ii. 67; v. 1). Herodotus (iv. 43) says that the Carthaginians asserted they had sailed round Africa. There is a Greek translation of Hanno's Periplus still extant. As to the Pillars of Hercules, see Aelian (Varia Historia, v. 3). They are first mentioned by Pindar (Olym. iii. 79; Nem. iii. 36).

2. Arrian, like many other ancient writers, includes Africa, or Libya, as a part of Asia. The boundaries were the Eastern Sea and the Atlas Mountains. Cf. Arrian, iii. 30; vii. 1 and 30. The name Asia first occurs in Homer (Iliad, ii. 461), in reference to the marsh about the Cayster, and was thence gradually extended over the whole continent.

3. The interior of Africa, from the Straits of Gibraltar to Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the then unexplored South.

4. Heracles, from whom the Macedonian kings claimed to be descended.

5. Hence Hercules is called Tirynthius. (Virgil, ,Aeneid. 662; viii. 228).

6. See chap. 1 of this book.

7. Cf. Xenophon (Anab., i. 7, 4).

p.308-311

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