Taxiles

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Taxiles (in Greek Tαξίλης or Ταξίλας; lived 4th century BC) was the Greek chroniclers' name for a prince or king who reigned over the tract between the Indus and the Jhelum (Hydaspes) Rivers in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent at the time of Alexander the Great's expedition. His local name was Ambhiraj[1] (or Ambhi or Ambhika Greek: Omphis), and the Greeks appear to have called him Taxiles or Taxilas, from the name of his capital city of Taxila, near the modern city of Attock, Pakistan.[2][3]

Life

King Ambhiraj (also known as ambhi) ascended to throne of Takshasila after his father King Ambhesh. Queen Alka was wife of ambhraj and King Ambhikumar was son of Ambhiraj. [2] He sent an embassy to Alexander along with presents consisting of 200 Talents of silver, 3,000 fat oxen, 10,000 sheep or more, 30 elephants and a force of 700 horsemen and offered for surrender.[3]

History

He appears to have been on hostile terms with his neighbour, Porus, who held the territories east of the Hydaspes.[4][5] It was probably with a view to strengthening himself against this foe that he sent an embassy to Alexander, while the latter was still in Sogdiana, with offers of assistance and support, perhaps in return for money.[6] Alexander was unnerved by the sight of Ambhi's forces on his first descent into India in 327 BC and ordered his own forces to form up.[7] Ambhi hastened to relieve Alexander of his apprehension and met him with valuable presents, placing himself and all his forces at his disposal.[8] Alexander not only returned Ambhi his title and the gifts but he also presented him with a wardrobe of "Persian robes, gold and silver ornaments, 30 horses and 1000 talents in gold".[9] Alexander was emboldened to divide his forces, and Ambhi assisted Hephaestion and Perdiccas in constructing a bridge over the Indus where it bends at Hund (Fox 1973), supplied their troops with provisions, and received Alexander himself, and his whole army, in his capital city of Taxila, with every demonstration of friendship and the most liberal hospitality.[10][11]

On the subsequent advance of the Macedonian king, Taxiles accompanied him with a force of 5000 men and took part in the Battle of the Hydaspes. After that victory he was sent by Alexander in pursuit of Porus, to whom he was charged to offer favourable terms, but narrowly escaped losing his life at the hands of his old enemy. Subsequently, however, the two rivals were reconciled by the personal mediation of Alexander; and Taxiles, after having contributed zealously to the equipment of the fleet on the Hydaspes, was entrusted by the king with the government of the whole territory between that river and the Indus.[12] A considerable accession of power was granted him after the death of Philip, son of Machatas; and he was allowed to retain his authority at the death of Alexander himself (323 BC), as well as in the subsequent partition of the provinces at Triparadisus, 321 BC.[13][14][15]

Plutarch, giving an exaggerated estimate of the size of the realm of Taxiles, says that it was "as large as Egypt, with good pasturage, too, and in the highest degree productive of beautiful fruits". Strabo refers to its "most excellent laws" and speaks of it as spacious and very fertile, adding that "some say that this is larger than Aegypt."[16]

Later Eudemus took over Taxila briefly, after which Chandragupta Maurya conquered Alexander's satraps in the sub-continent by 317 BC. It is unknown what happened to Taxiles, and whether he was deposed or assassinated.

Ch.22: Alexander reaches the River Cabul, and Receives the Homage of Taxiles

Arrian[17] writes... After performing this exploit, Alexander himself went to Bactra; but sent Craterus with 600 of the cavalry Gompanions and his own brigade of infantry as well those of Polysperchon, Attalus, and Alcetas, against Catanes and Austanes, who were the only rebels still remaining in the land of the Paraetacenians.[1] A sharp battle was fought with them in which Craterus was victorious; Catanes being killed there while fighting, and Austanes being captured and brought to Alexander. Of the barbarians with them 120 horsemen and about 1,500 foot soldiers were killed. When Craterus had done this, he also went to Bactra, where the tragedy in reference to Callisthenes and the pages befell Alexander. As the spring was now over, he took the army and advanced from Bactra towards India,[2] leaving Amyntas in the land of the Bactrians with 3,500 horses and 10,000 foot. He crossed the Caucasus[3] in ten days and arrived at the city of Alexandria, which had been founded in the land of the Parapamisadae when he made his first expedition to Bactra. He dismissed from office the governor whom he had then placed over the city, because he thought he was not ruling well. He also settled in Alexandria others from the neighbouring tribes and the soldiers who were now unfit for service in addition to the first settlers, and commanded Nicanor, one of the Companions, to regulate the affairs of the city itself. Moreover he appointed Tyriaspes viceroy of the land of the Parapamisadae and of the rest of the country as far as the river Cophen.[4] Arriving at the city of Nicaea, he offered sacrifice to Athena and then advanced towards the Cophen, sending a herald forward to Taxiles[5] and the otter chiefs on this side the river Indus, to bid them come and meet him as each might find it convenient. Taxiles and the other chiefs accordingly did come to meet him, bringing the gifts which are reckoned of most value among the Indians. They said that they would also present to him the elephants which they had with them, twenty-five in number. There he divided his army, and sent Hephaestion and Perdiccas away into the land of Peucelaotis,[6] towards the river Indus, with the brigades of Gorgias, Clitus,[7] and Meleager, half of the Companion cavalry, and all the cavalry of the Grecian mercenaries. He gave them instructions either to capture the places on their route by force, or to bring them over on terms of capitulation; and when they reached the river Indus, to make the necessary preparations for the passage of the army. With them Taxiles and the other chiefs also marched. When they reached the river Indus they carried out all Alexander's orders. But Astes, the ruler of the land of Peucelaotis, effected a revolt, which both ruined himself and brought ruin also upon the city into which he had fled for refuge. For Hephaestion captured it after a siege of thirty days, and Astes himself was killed. Sangaeus, who had some time before fled from Astes and deserted to Taxiles, was appointed to take charge of the city. This desertion was a pledge to Alexander of his fidelity.


1. This term is a Persian word meaning mountaineers. The tribe mentioned here lived between the rivers Oxus and Jaxartes, on the borders of Bactria and Sogdiana.

2. Curtius (viii. 17) says Alexander took with him 30,000 select troops from all the conquered provinces, and that the army which he led against the Indians numbered 120,000 men.

3. This is the Indian Caucasus, or mount Parapamisus, now called Hindu-Koosh.

4. The Cophen is now called Cabul. Nicaea was probably on the same site as the city of Cabul. Others say it is Beghram. The Greek word Satrapes denotes a Persian viceroy. It is a corruption of a word meaning court-guardian, in the Behistun Inscriptions written Khshatrapa. See Rawlinson's Herod., i. 192.

5. Curtius (viii. 43) says that Taxiles was the title which the king of this district received. His name was Omphis.

6. A district between the rivers Indus and Attock. Its capital, Peucela, is the modern Pekheli.

7. The brigade of Clitus still bore the name of its commander after his death. Cf. Arrian, vii. 14 infra.

p.246-248

References

  1. Waldemar Heckel (2002). The Wars of Alexander the Great, 336-323 B.C. Taylor & Francis. p. 48. ISBN 978-0-415-96855-3.
  2. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.55
  3. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.55
  4. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.46
  5. Jonathan Mark Kenoyer; Kimberly Burton Heuston (1 October 2005), The Ancient South Asian World, Oxford University Press, p. 110, ISBN 978-0-19-522243-2
  6. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.46
  7. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.56
  8. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.56
  9. Sastri, K. A. Nilakanta, ed. (1988) [1967], Age of the Nandas and Mauryas (Second ed.), Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0465-1, p.56, 36
  10. Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, iv. 12, v. 3, 8
  11. Curtius, viii. 14, ix. 3
  12. Arrian, v. 8, 18, 20
  13. Photius, Bibliotheca, cod. 82, cod. 92
  14. Diodorus, xviii. 3, 39
  15. Justin, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus, xiii. 4
  16. Sastri 1988, p. 36.
  17. Arrian:The Anabasis of Alexander/4b, Ch.22