Sibyrtius (Greek:Σιβύρτιος; lived 4th century BC) was a Greek officer from Crete in the service of Alexander the Great, who was the satrap of Arachosia and Gedrosia shortly after the death of Alexander until about 303 BC.
After serving the Alexander's army for a number of years, Sibyrtius was appointed by Alexander, on his return from India (326 BCE), governor of the province of Carmania. Shortly after, Sibyrtius exchanged this post for the more important satrapy of Arachosia and Gedrosia, to which he succeeded on the death of Thoas.
Following the death of Alexander in 323, Sibyrtius, in common with most of the other governors of the remote eastern provinces, retained possession of his satrapy, which was again confirmed to him in the second partition at Triparadisus in 321.
In the subsequent divisions involving the eastern satraps, Sibyrtius was one of those who supported Peucestas against Peithon and Seleucus, and afterwards accompanied Peucestas when he joined Eumenes in Susiana in 317. His attachment was to Peucestas and not to Eumenes, and in Peucestas' subsequent intrigues against his commander-in-chief, Sibyrtius supported him so strongly that he incurred Eumenes' strong resentment, who threatened to bring him to trial; a fate from which he only escaped by a hasty flight.
Sibyrtius' open rupture with Eumenes had the advantage of securing him the favour of Antigonus, who, after the defeat of his rival, confirmed Sibyrtius in his satrapy, and placed under his command a large part of the select body of troops termed Argyraspids. Antigonus adopted this measure with the ostensible object of guarding the Eastern provinces against the neighbouring Indians, but in reality Antigonus has in mind the gradual destruction of the troops in question, whose turbulent and disaffected spirit was well known.
Arrian mentions that Megasthenes, the historian and ambassador of Seleucus to India after his 303 BCE treaty with Chandragupta, lived with Sibyrtius, suggesting the latter may have remained at his post as satrap for quite a long time:
- "Megasthenes lived with Sibyrtius, satrap of Arachosia, and often speaks of his visiting Sandracottus, the king of the Indians."
Ch.6: General description of India.
Arrian writes ... WHOEVER arranges the position of Asia in such a way that it is divided by the Taurus and the Caucasus from the west wind to the east wind, will find that these two very large divisions are made by the Taurus itself, one of which is inclined towards the south and the south wind, and the other towards the north and the north wind. Southern Asia again may be divided into four parts, of which Eratosthenes and Megasthenes make India the largest. The latter author lived with Sibyrtius,1 the viceroy of Arachosia, and says that he frequently visited Sandracotus, king of the Indians. These authors say that the smallest of the four parts is that which is bounded by the river Euphrates and extends to our inland sea. The other two lying between the rivers Euphrates and Indus are scarcely worthy to be compared with India, if they were joined together. They say that India is bounded towards the east and the east wind as far as the south by the Great Sea, towards the north by mount Caucasus, as far as its junction with the Taurus; and that the river Indus cuts it off towards the west and the north-west wind, as far as the Great Sea. The greater part of it is a plain, which, as they conjecture, has been formed by the alluvial deposits of the rivers; just as the plains in the rest of the earth lying near the sea are for the most part due to the alluvial action of the rivers by themselves. Consequently, the names by which the countries are called were attached in ancient times to the rivers. For instance, a certain plain was called after the Hermus, which rises in the country of Asia from the mountain of Mother Dindymene3, and after flowing past the Aeolian city of Smyrna discharges its water into the sea. Another Lydian plain is named after the Cayster, a Lydian river; another in Mysia from the Caicus; and the Carian plain, extending as far as the Ionian city of Miletus, is named from the Maeander. Both Herodotus and Hecataeus4 the historians (unless the work about the Egyptian country is by another person, and not by Hecataeus) in like manner call Egypt a gift of the river5 and Herodotus has shown by no uncertain proofs that such is the case6; so that even the country itself perhaps received its name from the river. For that the river which both the Egyptians and men outside Egypt now name the Nile, was in ancient times called Aegyptus, Homer is sufficient to prove; since he says that Menelaus stationed his ships at the outlet of the river Aegyptus7. If therefore single rivers by themselves, and those not large ones, are sufficient to form an extensive tract of country, while flowing forward into the sea, since they carry down shine and mud from the higher districts whence they derive their sources, surely it is unbecoming to exhibit incredulity about India, how it has come to pass that most of it is a plain, which has been formed by the alluvial deposits of its rivers. For if the Hermus, the Cayster, the Caicus, the Maeander, and all the other8 rivers of Asia which discharge their waters into this inland sea were all put together, they would not be worthy of comparison for volume of water with one of the Indian rivers. Not only do I mean the Ganges, which is the largest, and with which neither the water of the Egyptian Nile nor the Ister flowing through Europe is worthy to compare; but if all those rivers were mingled together they would not even then become equal to the river Indus, which is a large river as soon as it issues from its springs, and after receiving fifteen rivers9, all larger than those in the province of Asia, discharges its water into the sea, retaining its own name and absorbing those of its tributaries. Let these remarks which I have made about India suffice for the present, and let the rest be reserved for my “Description of India.”
1. Cf. Arrian, vi. 27 infra.
3. Mount Dindymus, now called Murad Dagh, was sacred to Cybele, the mother of the gods, who was hence called Dindymene.
4. Hecataeus of Miletus died about B.C. 476. He wrote a work upon Geography, and another on History. His works were well known to Herodotus but only fragments survive.
5. See Herodotus, ii. 5.
6. See Herodotus, ii. 10-34.
7. See Homer's Odyssey, iv. 477, 581. In Hebrew the name for Egypt is Mitsraim (dark-red). In form the word is dual, evidently in reference to the division of the country by the Nile. The native name was Chem, meaning black, probably on account of the blackness of the alluvial soil
8. αλλοι is Abicht's reading instead of πολλοί.
Arrian writes ... WHEN he arrived at the capital of Gadrosia (Pura), he there gave his army a rest. He deposed Apollophanes from the viceroyalty,1 because he discovered that he had paid no heed to his instructions. Thoas was appointed viceroy over the people of this district; but as he fell ill and died, Sibyrtius succeeded to the office. The same man had also lately been appointed by Alexander viceroy of Carmania;’ but now the rule over the Arachotians and Gadrosians was given to him, and Tlepolemus, son of Pythophanes, received Carmania. The king was already advancing into Carmania, when news was brought to him that Philip, the viceroy of the country of the Indians, had been plotted against by the mercenaries and treacherously killed; but that Philip’s Macedonian bodyguards had caught some of the murderers in the very act and others afterwards, and had put them to death. When he had ascertained this, he sent a letter into India to Eudemus and Taxiles, ordering them to administer the affairs of the land which had previously been subordinated to Philip until he could send a viceroy for it. When he arrived in Carmania, Craterus effected a junction with him, bringing with him the rest of the army and the elephants. He also brought Ordanes, whom he had arrested for revolting and trying to effect a revolution.2 Thither also came Stasanor, the viceroy of the Areians3 and Zarangians, accompanied by Pharismanes, son of Phrataphernes, the viceroy of the Parthians and Hyrcanians. There came also the generals who had been left with Parmenio over the army in Media, Cleander, Sitalces, and Heracon, bringing with them the greater part of their army. Both the natives and the soldiers themselves brought many accusations against Cleander and Sitalces, as for example, that the temples had been pillaged by them, old tombs rifled, and other acts of injustice, recklessness, and tyranny perpetrated against their subjects. As these charges were proved,4 he put them to death, in order to inspire others who might be left as viceroys, governors, or prefects of provinces with the fear of suffering equal penalties with them if they swerved from the path of duty5. This was one of the chief means by which Alexander kept in subordination the nations which he had conquered in war or which had voluntarily submitted to him, though they were so many in number and so far distant from each other; because under his regal sway it was not allowed that those who were ruled should be unjustly treated by those who ruled. At that time Heracon was acquitted of the charge, but soon after, being convicted by the men of Susa of having pillaged the temple in that city, he also suffered punishment. Stasanor and (the son of) Phrataphernes came to Alexander bringing a multitude of beasts of burden and many camels, when they learnt that he was marching by the route to Gadrosia, conjecturing that his army would suffer the very hardships which it did suffer. Therefore these men arrived just at the very time they were required, as also did their camels and beasts of burden. For Alexander distributed all these animals to the officers man by man, to all the various squadrons and centuries2 of the cavalry, and to the various companies of the infantry, as far as their number allowed him.
1. This man had been placed over the Oritians. See page 351 supra.
3. The Areians were famed for their skill as professional mourners. See Aeschylus (Choëphorae, 423). For the origin of the name see Donaldson (New Cratylus, sect. 81.)
4. εξηλέχθη is substituted by Sintenis for the common reading εξηγγέλθη.
5. According to Curtius (x. 1), Cleander and his colleagues were not slain, but put into prison; whereas 600 of the soldiers who had been the agents of their cruelty were put to death. Curtius says Oleander was spared for having killed Parmenio with his own hand. Cf. iii. 26 supra.
- Helmut Berve (Das Alexanderreich auf prosopographischer Grundlage #703)
- Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, vi. 27; Curtius Rufus, Historiae Alexandri Magni, ix. 10
- Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca, xviii. 3; Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xiii. 4; Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 82, cod. 92
- Diodorus, xix. 14, 23, 48; Polyaenus, Stratagemata, iv. 6
- Arrian, v. 6
- The Anabasis of Alexander/5a, Ch.6
- The Anabasis of Alexander/6b, Ch.27