The Anabasis of Alexander/5a

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The Anabasis of Alexander

Or, The History of Wars and Conquests of Alexander the Great

Literally translated, with a commentary, from the Greek of Arrian the Nicomedian,

by E. J. Chinnock, M.A., LL.B., London, Rector of Dumfries Academy. 1883.

Ch.1: Alexander at Nysa

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.


Ch.2: Alexander at Nysa

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.


Ch.3: Incredulity of Eratosthenes.— Passage of the Indus

Any one who receives these stories may believe or disbelieve them as he pleases. But I do not altogether agree with Eratosthenes the Cyrenaean,[1] who says that everything which was attributed to the divine agency by the Macedonians was really said to gratify Alexander by their excessive eulogy. For he says that the Macedonians, seeing a cavern in the land of the Parapamisadians,[2] and hearing a certain legend which was current among the natives, or themselves forming a conjecture, spread the report that this forsooth was the cave where Prometheus had been bound, that an eagle frequented it to feast on his inward parts, that when Heracles arrived there he killed the eagle and set Prometheus free from his bonds. He also says that by their account the Macedonians transferred Mount Caucasus from the Euxine Sea to the eastern parts of the earth, and the land of the Parapamisadians to that of the Indians;[3] calling what was really Mount Parapaniisus by the name of Caucasus, in order to enhance Alexander's glory, seeing that he forsooth had gone over the Caucasus. He adds, that when they saw in India itself some oxen marked with the brand of a club, they concluded from this that Heracles had penetrated into India. Eratosthenes also disbelieves the similar tale of the wandering of Dionysus. Let me leave the stories about these matters undecided as far as I am concerned.

When Alexander arrived at the River Indus, he found a bridge made over it by Hephaestion, and two thirty- oared galleys, besides many smaller craft.[4] He moreover found that 200 talents of silver,[5] 3,000 oxen, above 10,000 sheep for sacrificial victims, and thirty elephants had arrived as gifts from Taxiles the Indian; 700 Indian horsemen also arrived from Taxiles as a reinforcement, and that prince sent word that he would surrender to him the city of Taxila,[6] the largest town between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes.[7] Alexander there offered sacrifice to the gods to whom he was in the habit of sacrificing, and celebrated a gymnastic and horse contest near the river. The sacrifices were favourable to his crossing.

1. The celebrated Geographer and Mathematician, who was born B.C. 276 and died about B.C. 196. His principal work was one on geography, which was of great use to Strabo. None of his works are extant. He was made president of the Alexandrian library, b.c. 236.

2. Cf. Arrian (Indica, v. 11).

3. The earliest mention of India which has descended to our times is in Aeschylus (Suplices, 284).

4. Arrian frequently uses the Ionic and old Attic word, σμικρος.

5. About £480,000.

6. Alexander probably crossed the Indus near Attock. The exact site of Taxila cannot be fixed.

7. The Hydaspes is now called Jelum, one of the five great tributaries of the Indus.


Ch.4: Digression about India

The following are statements about the river Indus which are quite unquestionable, and therefore let me record them. The Indus is the largest of all the rivers in Asia and Europe, except the Ganges,[1] which is also an Indian river. It takes its rise on this side mount Parapamisus, or Caucasus, and discharges its water into the Great Sea which lies near India in the direction of the south wind. It has two mouths, both of which outlets are full of shallow pools like the five outlets of the Ister (or Danube).[2] It forms a Delta in the land of the Indians resembling that of Egypt[3]; and this is called Pattala in the Indian language. The Hydaspes, Acesines, Hydraotes, and Hyphasis are also Indian rivers[4] and far exceed the other rivers of Asia in size; but they are not only smaller but much smaller than the Indus, just as that river itself is smaller than the Ganges. Indeed Ctesias[5] says (if any one thinks his evidence to be depended upon), that where the Indus is narrowest, its banks are forty stades apart; where it is broadest, 100 stades; and most of it is the mean between these breadths.[6] This river Indus Alexander crossed at daybreak with his army into the country of the Indians; concerning whom, in this history I have described neither what laws they enjoy, nor what strange animals their land produces, nor how many and what sort of fish and water-monsters are produced by the Indus, Hydaspes. Granges, or the other rivers of India. Nor have I described the ants which dig up the gold for them,[7] nor the guardian griffins, nor any of the other tales that have been composed rather to amuse than to be received as the relation of facts; since the falsity of the strange stories which have been fabricated about India cannot be exposed by any one.[8] However, Alexander and those who served in his army exposed the falsity of most of these tales; but there were even some of these very men who fabricated other stories. They proved that the Indians whom Alexander visited with his army, and he visited many tribes of them, were destitute of gold; and also that they were by no means luxurious in their mode of living. Moreover, they discovered that they were tall in stature, in fact as tall as any men throughout Asia, most of them being five cubits in height, or a little less. They were blacker than the rest of men, except the Ethiopians[9]; and in war they were far the bravest of all the races inhabiting Asia at that time. For I cannot with any justice compare the race of the ancient Persians with those of India, though at the head of the former Cyrus, son of Cambyses, set out and deprived the Medes of the empire of Asia, and subdued many other races partly by force and partly by voluntary surrender on their own part. For at that time the Persians were a poor people and inhabitants of a rugged land, having laws and customs very similar to the Laconian discipline.[10] Nor am I able with certainty to conjecture whether the defeat sustained by the Persians in the Scythian land was due to the difficult nature of the country invaded or to some other error on the part of Cyrus, or whether the Persians were really inferior in warlike matters to the Scythians of that district.

1. Herodotus considered the Danube the largest river in the world as known to him, and the Dnieper the largest of all rivers except the Danube and the Nile. See Herodotus, iv. 48-53.

2. "Amnis Danubius sexaginta navigabiles paene recipiens fluvios, Beptem ostiis erumpit in mare. Quorum primum est Peuce insula supra dicta, ut interpretata sunt vocabula Graeco sermone, secundum Naracustoma, tertium Calonstoma, quartum Pseudostoma: nam Boreonstoma ac deinde Sthenostoma longe minora sunt caeteris: septimun ingens te palustri specie nigrum."—Ammianus (xxii. 8, 44). Pliny (iv. 24) says that the Danube has six mouths, the names of which he gives.

3. The Indus does not rise in the Parapamisus, but in the Himalayas. It has two principal mouths, but there are a number of smaller ones. Ptolemy said there were seven. The Delta is between 70 and 80 miles broad. "Delta, a triquetrae litterae forma hoc vocabulo signatius adpellata."—Ammianus, xxii. 15.

4. The territory included by the Indus and its four affluents is now called Punjab, a Persian word meaning five rivers.

5. Ctesias was the Greek physician of Artaxerxes Mnemon. He wrote a history of Persia and a book on India. His works are only preserved in meagre abridgement by Photius. Aristotle says that he was false and untrustworthy {Hist. of Animals, vii. 27; De Generatione Animalium, ii. 2). Subsequent research has proved Ctesias to be wrong and Herodotus generally right in the many statements in which they are at variance.

6. The fact is, that the Indus is nowhere more than 20 stades, or 212 miles broad.

7. See Strabo, xv. 1; xvi. 4; Herod., iii. 102, with Dean Blakesley's note.

8. ουδαμων is the Ionic form for ουδενων.

9. The Greek name Αιθιοψ means sun-burnt. The Hebrew name for Aethiopia is Gush (black). In ancient Egyptian inscriptions it is called Keesh. It is the country now called Abyssinia. Aethiopas vicini sideris vapore torreri, adustisque similes gigni, barba et capUlo vibrato, non est dubium. (Pliny, ii. 80).

10. Cf. Xenophon (Cyclopaedia, vii. 5, 67).


Ch.5: Mountains and Rivers of Asia

BUT of the Indians I shall treat in a distinct work1, giving the most credible accounts which were compiled by those who accompanied Alexander in his expedition, as well as by Nearchus2, who sailed right round the Great Sea which is near India. Then I shall add what has been compiled by Megasthenes3 and Eratosthenes, two men of distinguished authority. I shall describe the customs peculiar to the Indians and the strange animals which are produced in the country, as well as the voyage itself in the external sea. But now let me describe so much only as appears to me sufficient to explain Alexander’s achievements. Mount Taurus divides Asia, beginning from Mycale, the mountain which lies opposite the island of Samos; then, cutting through the country of the Pamphylians and Cilicians, it extends into Armenia. From this country it stretches into Media and through the land of the Parthians and Chorasmians. In Bactria it unites with mount Parapamisus, which the Macedonians who served in Alexander’s army called Caucasus, in order, as it is said, to enhance their king’s glory; asserting that he went even beyond the Caucasus with his victorious arms. Perhaps it is a fact that this mountain range is a continuation of the other Caucasus in Scythia, as the Taurus4 is of the same. For this reason I have on a previous occasion called this range Caucasus, and by the same name I shall continue tt call it in the future. This Caucasus extends as far as the Great Sea which lies in the direction of India and the East. Of the rivers in Asia worth consideration which take their rise from the Taurus and Caucasus, some have their course turned towards the north, discharging themselves either into the lake Maeotis5, or into the sea called Hyrcanian, which in reality is a gulf of the Great Sea6. Others flow towards the south, namely, the Euphrates, Tigres, Indus, Hydaspes, Acesines, Hydraotes, Hyphasis, and all those that lie between these and the river Ganges. All these either discharge their water into the sea, or disappear by pouring them selves out into marshes, as the river Euphrates7 does.

1. Called the Indica, a valuable little work in the Ionic dialect, still existing.

2. Nearchus left an account of his voyage, which is not now extant. Arrian made use of it in writing the Indica. See that work, chapters xvii. to lxiii.

3. Megasthenes was sent with the Plataean Deimachus, by Seleuous Nicator, the king of Syria and one of Alexander's generals, as ambassador to Sandracotus, king of the country near the Ganges. He wrote a very valuable account of India in four books.

4. Taurus is from the old root tor meaning high, another form of which is dor. Hence Dorians=highlanders.

5. The ancient geographers thought that the Jaxartes bifurcated, part of it forming the Tanais, or Don, and flowing into the lake Maeotis, or Sea of Azov; and the other part falling into the Hyrcanian, or Caspian Sea. The Jaxartes and Oxus flow into the Sea of Aral, but the ancients thought that they fell into the Caspian, as there is indeed evidence to prove that they once did. Hyrcania is the Greek form of the old Persian Virkâna, that is Wolf's Land. It is now called Gurgân.

6. Herodotus (i. 203) states decidedly that the Caspian is an inland sea. Strabo (xi. 1), following Eratosthenes, says that it is a gulf of the Northern Ocean.

7. The Euphrates, after its junction with the Tigres, flows through the marshes of Lamlum, where its current moves less than a mile an hour.


Ch.6: General description of India.

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.[2] 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.

2. Probably the Chandragupta of the Sanscrit writers. He conquered from the Macedonians the Punjab and the country as far as the Hindu-Koosh. He reigned about 310 B.C.

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.

9. Arrian, in his Indica, chap. 4, gives the names of these rivers.


Ch.7: Method of Bridging Rivers

How Alexander constructed his bridge over the river Indus, is explained neither by Aristobulus nor Ptolemy, authors whom I usually follow; nor am I able to form a decided opinion whether the passage was bridged with boats, as the Hellespont was by Xerxes and the Bosporus and the Ister were by Darius,[1] or whether he made a continuous bridge over the river. To me it seems probable that the bridge was made of boats; for the depth of the water would not have admitted of the construction of a regular bridge, nor could so enormous a work have been completed in so short a time.[2] If the passage was bridged with boats, I cannot decide whether the vessels being fastened together with ropes and moored in a row were sufficient to form the bridge, as Herodotus the Halicarnassian says the Hellespont was bridged, or whether the work was effected in the way in which the bridge upon the Ister and that upon the Celtic Rhine[3] are made by the Romans, and in the way in which they bridged the Euphrates and Tigres, as often as necessity compelled them. However, as I know myself, the Romans find the quickest way of making a bridge to be with vessels; and this method I shall on the present occasion explain, because it is worth describing. At a preconcerted signal they let the vessels loose down the stream, not with their prows forward, but as if backing water.[4] As might naturally be expected, the stream carries them down, but a skiff furnished with oars holds them back, until it settles them in the place assigned to them. Then pyramidal wicker-baskets made of willow, full of unhewn stones, are let down into the water from the prow of each vessel, in order to hold it up against the force of the stream. As soon as any one of these vessels has been held fast, another is in the same way moored with its prow against the stream, distant from the first as far as is consistent with their supporting what is put upon them. On both of them are placed pieces of timber with sharp ends projecting out, on which cross-planks are placed to bind them together; and so proceeds the work through all the vessels which are required to bridge the river. At each end of this bridge firmly fixed gangways are thrown forward,[5] so that the approach may be safer for the horses and beasts of burden, and at the same time to serve as a bond to the bridge. In a short time the whole is finished with a great noise and bustle; but yet discipline is not relaxed while the work is going on. In each vessel the exhortations of the overseers to the men, or their censures of sluggishness, neither prevent the orders being heard nor impede the rapidity of the work.[6]

1. See Herodotus, vii. 33-36; iv. 83, 97, 138-141. Bosporus = Oxford. The name was applied to the Straits of Constantinople, and also to those of Yenikale, the former being called the Thracian and the latter the Cimmerian Bosporus. Cf. Aeschylus {Prom., 734). Ad Bosporos duos, vel bubuB meabili transitu; unde nomen ambobus (Pliny, vi. 1).

2. Diodorus (xvii. 86) says that Alexander crossed on a bridge of boats. Cf. Strabo, p. 698; Curtius, viii. 34.

3. There was another river called Rhenus, a tributary of the Po, now called the Reno. It was called Rhenus Bononiensis, being near Bononia or Bologna.

4. αι πρύμναν κρουόμεναι. For this nautical term compare Thucydides, i. 51; Herodotus, viii. 84; Diodorus, xi. 18; Aristophanes, Wasps, 399. κατα ρουν is Krüger's reading for the usual κατα πόρον.

5. The explanation of this passage given in Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, sub voce κλιμαξ is evidently incorrect, as there is nothing about a chariot in the original.

6. Compare the description of Caesar's bridge over the Rhine (Gallic War, iv. 17).


Ch.8: March from the Indus to the Hydaspes (Jhelum)

THIS has been the method of constructing bridges, practised by the Romans from olden times; but how Alexander laid a bridge over the river Indus I cannot say, because those who served in his army have said nothing about it. But I should think that the bridge was made as near as possible as I have described, or if it were effected by some other contrivance so let it be. When Alexander had crossed to the other side of the river Indus, he again offered sacrifice there, according to his custom1. Then starting from the Indus, he arrived at Taxila, a large and prosperous city, in fact the largest of those situated between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. He was received in a friendly manner by Taxiles, the governor of the city, and by the Indians of that place; and he added to their territory as much of the adjacent Country as they asked for. Thither also came to him envoys from Abisares, king of the mountaineer Indians, the embassy including the brother of Abisares as well as the other most notable men. Other envoys also came from Doxareus, the chief of the province, bringing gifts with them. Here again at Taxila Alexander offered the sacrifices which were customary for him to offer, and celebrated a gymnastic and equestrian contest. Having appointed Philip, son of Machatas, viceroy of the Indians of that district, he left a garrison in Taxila, as well as the soldiers who were invalided by sickness, and then marched towards the river Hydaspes.

For he was informed that Porus2, with the whole of his army, was on the other side of that river, having determined either to prevent him from making the passage, or to attack him while crossing. When Alexander ascertained this, he sent Coenus, son of Polemocrates, back to the river Indus, with instructions to cut in pieces all the vessels which he had repared for the passage of that river, and to bring them to the river Hydaspes. Coenus cut the vessels in pieces and conveyed them thither, the smaller ones being cut into two parts, and the thirty-oared galleys into three. The sections were conveyed upon waggons, as far as the bank of the Hydaspes; and there the vessels were fixed together again, and seen as a fleet upon that river. Alexander took the forces which he had when lie arrived at Taxila, and the 5,000 Indians under the command of Taxiles and the chiefs of that district, and marched towards the same river.

1. The place where Alexander crossed the Indus was probably at its junction with the Cophen or Cabul river, near Attock. Before he crossed he gave his army a rest of thirty days, as we learn from Diodorus, xvii. 86. From the same passage we learn that a certain king named Aphrices with an army of 20,000 men and 15 elephants, was killed by his own men and his army joined Alexander.

2. The kingdom of Porus lay between the Hydaspes and Acesines, the district now called Bari-doab with Lahore as capital. It was conquered by Lords Hardinge and Gongh in 1849.


Ch.9: Porus obstructs Alexander’s passage.

ALEXANDER encamped on the bank of the Hydaspes, and Porus was seen with all his army and his large troop of elephants lining the opposite bank1. He remained to guard the passage at the place where he saw Alexander had encamped and sent guards to all the other parts of the river which were more easily fordable, placing officers over each detachment, being resolved to obstruct the passage of the Macedonians. When Alexander saw this, he thought it advisable to move his army in various directions, to distract the attention of Porus, and render him uncertain what to do. Dividing his army into many parts, he himself led some of his troops now into one part of the land and now into another, at one time ravaging the enemy’s property, at another looking out for a place where the river might appear easier for him to ford it. The rest of his troops he entrusted2 to his different generals, and sent them about in many directions. He also conveyed corn from all quarters into his camp from the land on this side the Hydaspes, so that it might be evident to Porus that he had resolved to remain quiet near the bank until the water of the river subsided in the winter, and afforded him a passage in many places. As his vessels were sailing up and down the river, and skins were being filled with hay, and the whole bank appeared to be covered in one place with cavalry and in another with infantry, Porus was not allowed to keep at rest or to bring his preparations together from all sides to any one point if he selected this as suitable for the defence of the passage. Besides at this season all the Indian rivers were flowing with swollen and turbid waters and with rapid currents; for it was the time of year when the sun is wont to turn towards the summer solstice3. At this season incessant and heavy rain falls in India; and the snows on the Caucasus, whence most of the rivers have their sources, melt and swell their streams to a great degree. But in the winter they again subside, become small and clear, and are fordable in certain places, with the exception of the Indus, Ganges, and perhaps one or two others. At any rate the Hydaspes becomes fordable.

1. Diodorus (xvii. 87) says that Porus had more than 50,000 infantry, about 3,000 cavalry, more than 1,000 chariots, and 130 elephants. Curtius (viii. 44) says he had about 30,000 infantry, BOO chariots, and 85 elephants.

2. επιστεψας is Krüger's reading instead of επιτάξας

3. About the month of May. See chap. 12 infra; also Curtius, viii. 45, 46. Strabo (xv. 1) quotes from Aristobulus describing the rainy season at the time of Alexander's battle with Porus at the Hydaspes.


Ch.10: Alexander and Porus at the Hydaspes.

ALEXANDER therefore spread a report that he would wait for that season of the year, if his passage was obstructed at the present time ; but yet all the tune he was waiting in ambush to see whether by rapidity of movement he could steal a passage anywhere without being observed. But he perceived that it was impossible for him to cross at the place where Porus himself had encamped near the bank of the Hydaspes, not only on account of the multitude of his elephants, but also because a large army, and that, too, arranged in order of battle and splendidly accoutred, was ready to attack his men as they emerged from the water. Moreover he thought that his horses would refuse even to mount the opposite bank, because the elephants would at once fall upon them and frighten them both by their aspect and trumpeting; nor even before that would they remain upon the inflated hides during the passage of the river; but when they looked across and saw the elephants on the other side they would become frantic and leap into the water. He therefore resolved to steal a crossing by the following manoeuvre —In the night he led most of his cavalry along the bank in various directions, making a clamour and raising the battle-cry in honour of Enyalius.1 Every kind of noise was raised, as if they were making all the preparations necessary for crossing the river. Porus also marched along the river at the head of his elephants opposite the places where the clamour was heard, and Alexander thus gradually got him into the habit of leading his men along opposite the noise. But when this occurred frequently, and there was merely a clamour and a raising of the battle cry, Porus no longer continued to move about to meet the expected advance of the cavalry; but perceiving that his fear had been groundless2, he kept his position in the camp. However he posted his scouts at many places along the bank. When Alexander had brought it about that the mind of Porus no longer entertained any fear of his nocturnal attempts, he devised the following stratagem.

1. Cf. Arrian, i. 14 supra.

2. αλλα κενόν is Krüger's reading, instead of αλλ' εκεινον.


Ch.11: XI. Alexander's Stratagem to get across

THERE was in the bank of the Hydaspes, a projecting point, where the river makes a remarkable bend. It was densely covered by a grove1 of all sorts of trees; and over against it in the river was a woody island without a foot-track, on account of its being uninhabited. Perceiving that this island was right in front of the projecting point, and that both the spots were woody and adapted to conceal his attempt to cross the river, he resolved to convey his army over at this place. The projecting point and island were 150 stades distant from his great camp2. Along the whole of the bank, he posted sentries, separated as far as was consistent with keeping each other in sight, and easily hearing when any order should be sent along from any quarter. From all sides also during many nights clamours were raised and fires were burnt. But when he had made up his mind to undertake the passage of the river, he openly prepared his measures for crossing opposite the camp. Cratetus had been left behind at the camp with his own division of cavalry, and the horsemen from the Arachotians and Parapamisadians, as well as the brigades of Alcetas and Polysperchon from the phalanx of the Macedonian infantry, together with the chiefs of the Indians dwelling this side of the Hyphasis, who had with them 5,000 men. He gave Craterus orders not to cross the river before Porus moved off with his forces against them, or before he ascertained that Porus was in flight and that they were victorious.3 “If however,” said he, “Porus should take only a part of his army and march against me, and leave the other part with the elephants in his camp, in that case do thou also remain in thy present position. But if he leads all his elephants with him against me, and a part of the rest of his army is left behind in the camp, then do thou cross the river with all speed. For it is the elephants alone,” said he, “which render it impossible for the horses to land on the other bank. The rest of the army can easily cross.”

1. αλσει is Abicht's reading for ειδει.

2. About 17 miles.

3. This use of πρίν with infinitive after negative clauses, is contrary to Attic usage


Ch.12: Passage of the Hydaspes

Such were the injunctions laid upon Craterus. Between the island and the great camp where Alexander had left this general, he posted Meleager, Attalus, and Gorgias, with the Grecian mercenaries, cavalry and infantry, giving them instructions to cross in detachments, breaking up the army as soon as they saw the Indians already involved in battle. He then picked the select body-guard called the Companions, as well as the cavalry regiments of Hephaestion, Perdiccas, and Demetrius, the cavalry from Bactria, Sogdiana, and Scythia, and the Daan horse-archers; and from the phalanx of infantry the shield-bearing guards, the brigades of Clitus and Coenus, with the archers and Agrianians, and made a secret march, keeping far away from the bank of the river, in order not to be seen marching towards the island and headland, from which he had determined to cross. There the skins were filled in the night with the hay which had been procured long before, and they were tightly stitched up. In the night a furious storm of rain occurred, on account of which his preparations and attempt to cross were still less observed, since the claps of thunder and the storm drowned with their din the clatter of the weapons and the noise which arose from the orders given by the officers. Most of the vessels, the thirty-oared galleys included with the rest, had been cut in pieces by his order and conveyed to this place, where they had been secretly fixed together again1 and hidden in the wood. At the approach of daylight, both the wind and the rain calmed down; and the rest of the army went over opposite the island, the cavalry mounting upon the skins, and as many of the foot soldiers as the boats would receive getting into them. They went so secretly that they were not observed by the sentinels posted by Porus, before they had already got beyond the island and were only a little way from the other bank.

1. The perf. pass. πέπηγμαι is used by Arrian and Dionysius, but by Homer and the Attic writers the form used is πέπηγα. Doric, πέπαγα.


Ch.13: Passage of the Hydaspes

ALEXANDER himself embarked in a thirty-oared galley and went over, accompanied by Ptolemy, Perdiccas, and Lysimacbus, the confidential body-guards, Seleucus, one of the Companions, who was afterwards king1, and half of the shield-bearing guards; the rest of these troops being conveyed in other galleys of the same size. When the soldiers got beyond the island, they openly directed their course to the bank; and when the sentinels perceived that they had started, they at once rode off to Porus as fast as each man’s horse could gallop. Alexander himself was the first to land, and he at once took the cavalry as they kept on landing from his own and the other thirty-oared galleys, and drew them up in proper order. For the cavalry had been arranged to land first; and at the head of these in regular array he advanced. But through ignorance of the locality he had effected a landing on ground which was not a part of the mainland, but an island, a large one indeed and where from the fact that it was an island, he more easily escaped notice. It was cut off from the rest of the land by a part of the river where the water was shallow. However, the furious storm of rain, which lasted the greater part of the night, had swelled the water so much that his cavalry could not find out the ford; and he was afraid that he would have to undergo another labour in crossing as great as the first. But when at last the ford was found, he led his men through it with much difficulty; for where the water was deepest, it reached higher than the breasts of the infantry; and of the horses only the heads rose above the river2. When he had also crossed this piece of water, he selected the choice guard of cavalry, and the best men from the other cavalry regiments, and brought them up from column into line on the right wing3. In front of all the cavalry he posted the horse-archers, and placed next to the cavalry in front of the other infantry the royal shield-bearing guards under the command of Seleucus. Near these he placed the royal foot-guard, an d next to these the other shield-bearing guards, as each happened at the time to have the right of precedence. On each side, at the extremities of the phalanx, his archers, Agrianians and javelin-throwers were posted.

1. Seleucus Nicator, the most powerful of Alexander's successors, became king of Syria and founder of the dynasty of the Σeleucidae, which came to an end in B.C. 79.

2. For this use of όσον, cf. Homer (Iliad, ix. 354); Herodotus, iv. 45; Plato (Gorgias, 485A; Euthydemus, 273A).

3. Compare the passage of the Rhone by Hannibal., (See Livy, xxi. 26-28; Polybius, iii. 45, 46.)


Ch.14: The battle at the Hydaspes

HAVING thus arranged his army, he ordered the infantry to follow at a slow pace and in regular order, numbering as it did not much under 6,000 men ; and because he thought he was superior in cavalry, he took only his horse-soldiers, who were 5,000 in number, and led them forward with speed. He also instructed Tauron, the commander of the archers, to lead them on also with speed to back up the cavalry. He had come to the conclusion that if Porus should engage him with all his forces, he would easily be able to overcome him by attacking with his cavalry, or to stand on the defensive until his infantry arrived in the course of the action; but if the Indians should be alarmed at his extraordinary audacity in making the passage of the river and take to flight, he would be able to keep close to them in their flight, so that the slaughter of them in the retreat being greater, there would be only a slight work left for him. Aristobulus says that the son of Porus arrived with about sixty chariots before Alexander made his later passage from the large island, and that he could have hindered Alexander’s crossing (for he made the passage with difficulty even when no one opposed him), if the Indians had leaped clown from their chariots and assaulted those who first emerged from the water. But he passed by with the chariots and thus made the passage quite safe for Alexander; who on reaching the bank discharged his horse-archers against the Indians in the chariots, and these were easily put to rout, many of them being wounded. Other writers say that a battle took place between the Indians, who came with the son of Porus, and Alexander at the head of his cavalry when the passage had been effected, that the son of Porus came with a greater force, that Alexander himself was wounded by him, and that his horse Bucephalas, of which he was exceedingly fond, was killed, being wounded like his master by the son of Porus. But Ptolemy, son of Lagos, with whom I agree, gives a different account. This author also says that Porus dispatched his son, but not at the head of merely sixty chariots; nor is it indeed likely that Porus hearing from his scouts that either Alexander himself or at any rate a part of his army had effected the passage of the Hydaspes, would dispatch his son against him with only sixty chariots.’ These indeed were too many to be sent out as a reconnoitring party, and not adapted for speedy retreat; but they were by no means a sufficient force to keep back those of the enemy who had not yet got across, as well as to attack those who had already landed. Ptolemy says that the son of Porus arrived at the head of 2,000 cavalry and 120 chariots; but that Alexander had already made even the last passage from the island before he appeared.


Ch.15: Arrangements of Porus

Ptolemy also says that Alexander in the first place sent the horse-archers against these, and led the cavalry himself, thinking that Porus was approaching with all his forces, and that this body of cavalry was marching in front of the rest of his army, being drawn up by him as the vanguard. But as soon as he had ascertained with accuracy the number of the Indians, he immediately made a rapid charge upon them with the cavalry around him. When they perceived that Alexander himself and the body of cavalry around him had made the assault, not in line of battle regularly formed, but by squadrons, they gave way; and 400 of their cavalry, including the son of Porus, fell in the contest. The chariots also were captured, horses and all, being heavy and slow in the retreat, and useless in the action itself on account of the clayey ground. When the horsemen who had escaped from this rout brought news to Porus that Alexander himself had crossed the river with the strongest part of his army, and that his son had been slain in the battle, he nevertheless could not make up his mind what course to take, because the men who had been left behind under Craterus were seen to be attempting to cross the river from the great camp which was directly opposite his position. However, at last he preferred to march against Alexander himself with all his army, and to come into a decisive conflict with the strongest division of the Macedonians, commanded by the king in person. But nevertheless he left a few of the elephants together with a small army there at the camp to frighten the cavalry under Craterus from the bank of the river. He then took all his cavalry to the number of 4,000 men, all his chariots to the number of 300, with 200 of his elephants and all the infantry available to the number of 30,000,’ and marched against Alexander. When he found a place where he saw there was no clay, but that on account of the sand the ground was all level and hard, and thus fit for the advance and retreat of horses, he there drew up his army.2 First he placed the elephants in the front, each animal being not less than a plethrum1 apart, so that they might be extended in the front before the whole of the phalanx of infantry, and produce terror everywhere among Alexander’s cavalry. Besides he thought that none of the enemy would have the audacity to push themselves into the spaces between the elephants, the cavalry being deterred by the fright of their horses; and still less would the infantry do so, it being likely they would be kept off in front by the heavy-armed soldiers falling upon them, and trampled down by the elephants wheeling round against them. Near these he had posted the infantry, not occupying a line on a level with the beasts, but in a second line behind them, only so far behind that the companies of foot might be thrown forward a short distance into the spaces between them. He had also bodies of infantry standing beyond the elephants on the wings; and on both sides of the infantry he had posted the cavalry, in front of which were placed the chariots on both wings of his army.

1. 100 Greek and 101 English feet.


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