Posts Tagged With: Acesines River

Alexander: February / Winter Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

332
The Siege Tyre continues (January – September)(Michael Wood*)

329
Macedonian armies unite in Arachosia (Livius)
NB
The Landmark Arrian** dates the siege of Tyre to winter 333/2 to summer 332
Peter Green*** dates a. the siege of Tyre to January 332 onwards to 29th July that year and b. the march through Arachosia to late August 330 B.C. onwards

326
Hephaestion marches through Gandara to the Indus River (Livius)
Alexander campaigns in the Swat Valley (Livius)
Alexander seizes the Aornus Rock (Livius)
NB
The Landmark Arrian** states that the seizure of the Aornos Rock took place in Spring
Peter Green dates the capture of the Aornos Rock to (winter) 327/6
Michael Wood dates a. Hephaestion’s passage to the Indus River b. Alexander’s Swat campaign to the winter of 327/6 and c. the capture of the Aornos Rock to early spring 326.

325
Journey down the Indus (Michael Wood)
Macedonian fleet damaged at confluence of Acesines and Indus Rivers (Livius)
NB The Landmark Arrian states that the journey down the Indus River took place in Spring

324
Alexander returns to Pasargadae (Livius)
Calanus dies (Livius)
NB
The Landmark Arrian dates Alexander’s arrival in Pasargadae to the winter of 325/4
Michael Wood dates Alexander’s visit to Pasargadae to January
Peter Green dates Alexander’s visit to Pasargadae to January onwards

* Michael Wood In the Footsteps Of Alexander the Great A Journey from Greece to India (BBC Books 2004)
** The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)
*** Peter Green Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)

***

Notes

  • This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know
  • Re: “325 Macedonian fleet damaged at confluence of Acesines and Indus Rivers (Livius)” Unless I have misidentified it, this entry actually refers to the trouble that Alexander experienced at the confluence of the Hydaspes and Acesines rivers according to Arrian (VI.4-6) and Curtius (IX.4.8-14)
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Alexander: November / Autumn Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

336
Nov-Dec Corinth. Alexander wins Greek support for war against Persia (Livius)
Nota Bene
Peter Green* states that this takes place in late summer

335
Nov-Dec Alexander holds festivals in Dion and Aegae (Livius)
Nota Bene
The Landmark Arrian** states that the Aegae festival takes place in Autumn

333
c. 5th November The Battle of Issus (Livius)
Nota Bene
Peter Green suggests that the battle took place in September-October
The Landmark Arrian states that the battle took place in Autumn
Michael Wood*** places the battle in November but doesn’t give a specific date

332
Alexander’s legendary visit to Jerusalem (Livius)
Alexander arrives in Egypt (Livius)
c. 14th November Memphis. Alexander is (possibly) crowned pharaoh (Peter Green)
Nota Bene
Livius states that Alexander visits Memphis in January 331 B.C.
The Landmark Arrian and Michael Wood state that Alexander entered Egypt in winter

330
Alexander in Drangiana (Livius)
The Philotas Affair (Livius)
Alexander in Ariaspa (Livius)
Parmenion is assassinated in Ecbatana (Livius)
Nota Bene
Peter Green has the ‘march to Drangiana’ and Philotas affair take place in or after ‘Late August’
The Landmark Arrian states that the Philotas Affair and Parmenion’s assassination take place in Autumn
Michael Wood states that the Philotas affair and Parmenion’s assassination take place in October

326
Macedonian fleet begins its journey down the Hydaspes River (Livius, Green, Wood)
Birth and death of Alexander’s and Roxane’s first son (Wood)
Nota Bene
Peter Green has the fleet’s journey beginning early in November
The Landmark Arrian states that the fleet sails down the ‘Hydaspes-Akesinos Rivers’ in the Autumn

* Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)
** The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)
*** In the Footsteps Of Alexander the Great A Journey from Greece to India (BBC Books 2004)

This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know.

At the moment, Livius‘ chronology is the one by which I test the others. That may change; I’ll note it if it does.

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The Power and the Glory

The Nature of Curtius
Book Nine Chapter 1-4
For other posts in the series click here

Chapter One
The Indian Interior
Alexander celebrated victory over Porus with ‘a sacrifice of animals to the Sun’. He had much to thank Helios for as the god had ‘opened up to him the limits of the east’.

Later, Alexander told his men that the Indian strength had been ‘shattered’ and all that was left was ‘rich plunder’. His next decision showed that he now considered the end of the expedition to be nigh – Alexander gave instructions for ‘ships to be constructed so that after completing his expedition across Asia he might visit the sea at the world’s end’.

The ships were built using wood from trees in mountainside forests. As the Macedonians cut the trees down, they disturbed ‘snakes of extraordinary size’. Curtius says they also sighted rhinoceroses on the mountains.

Back at the Hydaspes, Alexander founded two cities on either side the river. They were named Nicaea and Bucephala* (after his horse, Bucephalas).

From the Hydaspes, Alexander now ‘crossed the river** and marched into the interior of India’.

At this point, Curtius pauses for a moment to give us a few more details regarding India’s geography. He tells us that its ‘climate is healthy’, with ‘plentiful supplies of spring-water’ and shade thanks to the ‘almost interminable tracts of countryside [which] were covered with forests’. These woods were comprised of ‘tall trees that reached extraordinary heights’.

Curtius mentions one particular tree that had branches ‘like huge tree-trunks [which] would bend down to the ground where they would turn and rise once more, creating the impression of being not a branch rising up again but a tree generated from an independent root’. This is the Banyan tree, which Diodorus also mentions (see here).

Lest we get too comfortable with the idea of India, however, Curtius has a warning for us – ‘large numbers of snakes’ also lived in the country. They ‘had scales which emitted a golden gleam and a venom of unique virulence’. In fact, it was so potent a bite would lead to instant death. Fortunately, Alexander was able to obtain the antidote from natives.

From all that Curtius has told us about India it doesn’t sound like the kind of place that would have a desert. Nevertheless, he says that it was after Alexander had crossed one that he came to the Hiarotis River***. I suspect Curtius’ definition of ‘desert’ is as flexible as his geography.

The Hiarotis was flanked by trees ‘not found elsewhere’. Wild peacocks also lived there. Leaving the river behind, Alexander attacked various tribes, including one whose city was ‘protected by a marsh’. It did not prevent the Macedonians from storming it.

Presently, Alexander came to Sophites’ kingdom. He submitted to the king and (during a banquet?) told Alexander about how fierce his people’s hunting dogs were. To prove it, he had four attack a captive lion. As they bit it, an attendant tugged at one of the dog’s legs. He didn’t let go. So the attendant ‘proceeded to cut off the leg with a knife’. But still the dog did not let go. The attendant, therefore, cut the dog in another part of its body – to no avail. It held firm. Finally, the attendant slashed at it. The dog died holding onto the lion.

Leaving Sophites, Alexander marched to the Hyphasis River.

* Although, see Chapter Three below where Curtius states that Nicaea and Bucephala were founded after his return to the Hydaspes from the Hyphasis River

** I presume that Curtius means Alexander crossed the Hydaspes once again as he has not given any indication of the Macedonians having left it after the founding of the two cities

*** aka the Hydraotis

Chapter Two
The Hyphasis River
For two days, Alexander wondered if he should cross the Hyphasis at the point he had now reached. On the third day, he decided to do so.

The difficulty he faced was that the Hyphasis was very broad and ‘was obstructed with rocks’. While considering the matter, Alexander also discussed the river and what lay beyond it with a local client king named Phegeus whom he had ordered to join him.

Phegeus told Alexander that if he crossed the Hyphasis, he would have a twelve day journey until he came to the Ganges River. Crossing the Ganges would bring him to the Gangaridae and Prasii people who were ruled by a king named Aggrammes who had a mighty army at his disposal.

Phegeus quoted figures of 20,000 cavalry, 200,000 infantry, 2,000 chariots and 3,000 elephants. Incredulous at these figures, Alexander got a second opinion from Porus. He confirmed them but said that Aggrammes was a second rate monarch.

In the end, what concerned Alexander most was neither the size of Aggrammes’ army nor his elephants but ‘the terrain and the violence of the rivers’ – Phegeus must have told him of these during their conversation. He also doubted his soldiers’ commitment. Having grown old as they marched east, would they follow him ‘over rivers that blocked their path, over all the natural obstacles confronting them?’.

To find out, Alexander called his men together for an assembly during which he urged them to follow him east.

Chapter Three
Coenus Speaks for the Men
The assembly at the Hyphasis River continued with Coenus giving Alexander the army’s response. They had had enough. Alexander withdrew angrily to his tent. Three days later he emerged and gave the order for twelve giant altars to be built before they began the journey west.

Leaving the Hyphasis behind, Alexander marched to the Acesines River. There, Coenus died. Of natural causes? Or perhaps the victim of an angry king?

Back at the Hydaspes River, Alexander founded Nicaea and Bucephala for either the first or second time (see chapter one, above) and received reinforcements for the army. The ships that he had ordered to be built (chapter one again) were now ready and so the journey south to the Indian Ocean began.

Chapter Four
Foreboding
The Macedonian fleet sailed as far as the point ‘where the Hydaspes joins the Acesines’. From there, the ships entered the ‘the country of the Sibi’ who claimed descent from Alexander’s ancestor, Herakles.

Alexander marched inland to attack various tribes. One tribe placed 40,000 men on a river bank to stop the Macedonians from crossing it. They failed. After attacking another city, Alexander sailed round its citadel which was ‘protected by three of the largest rivers in India (the Ganges excepted)’ – the Indus to the north and ‘the confluence of the Acesines and the Hydaspes’ to the south.

The fleet sailed through the confluence down a narrow channel created by silt. At the meeting point of the Hydaspes and Acesines, the waters crashed against each other angrily, creating sea-like waves. So violent were these that two of the Macedonian ships were sunk and others beached. Alexander’s ship might also have gone down but for the efforts of his oarsmen. The ship still ran aground, but was at least safe.

The Macedonian army marched on. When it met a large joint Sudracae and Mallian force, the soldiers began to complain. ‘Alexander… had not terminated the war, only changed its location.’ And what if they destroyed the latest army to meet them? ‘Gloomy darkness and a never-ending night brooding over the deep’ awaited them, and ‘… a sea filled with shoals of savage sea-monsters… stagnant waters where dying nature had lost her power.’*

Alexander met his men, pacified them and defeated the joint Sudracae/Mallian army.

* The ellipses in this quotation are in the text

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India

The Nature of Curtius
Book Eight Chapter 6-10
For other posts in the series click here

Chapter Six – Eight
Hermolaus and Co.
The Pages’ Conspiracy occupies the attention of all these chapters. The only thing worth noting in this blog post is that the conspiracy originated in Alexander’s treatment of Hermolaus during a hunt.

As Curtius tells it, Alexander ‘ear-marked’ a boar that he wished to kill, only for Hermolaus to get to it first. In punishment, Alexander had his page flogged. Humiliated, Hermolaus conceived his plan to assassinate the king.

As Alexander says during Hermolaus’ trial in chapter eight, the flogging took place according to ‘traditional custom’. Had it just been a matter of humiliation, therefore, Hermolaus might have swallowed his punishment and got on with his work but he was also disillusioned with Alexander’s medising (see chapter seven). The flogging, therefore, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Chapter Nine
India
When Alexander struck camp and set off for India*, his reason for doing so – according to Curtius – is that he wanted to avoid gossip in the camp through inactivity. Undoubtedly, he most wanted people not to talk about his court historian, Callisthenes who had also been executed with the pages.

Certainly, the less said about Callisthenes the better. Not only had he not been part of the conspiracy, but he had not committed any offence other than being a close friend of the conspirators. Furthermore, like so many Macedonians, he was a known opponent of the king’s adoption of Persian dress and customs.

Curtius describes India as being eastward facing, and of greater length than width. He tells us that the country is flat, except for where it is exposed to the south wind; there, the land is is ‘of higher elevation’. The even surface of the ground means that the ‘many famous rivers’ that have their source in the Caucasus pass gently across the Indian plains.

The greatest of the Indian rivers is the Ganges, which flows southwards before being ‘diverted eastwards by some rocky moutaints’. Both it, and the Indus (which, Curtius says, is colder than the other rivers) flow out into the Red Sea, that is, the Indian Ocean. Curtius is not thinking of the more famous Red Sea here but the one named after a king Erythrus, whose name means red in Greek.

As well as being cold, the Indus appears to be a fast flowing river as well, for Curtius describes it as tearing ‘away its banks and many trees on them along with large tracts of soil’. There are boulders in the river, too, and the  waters smash against them ‘violently’. However, after a point, the river calms down and runs slowly between islands.

From what Curtius says, the Acesines seems to act as a tributary for both the Indus and Ganges. In regards the latter, ‘the two rivers [collide] with great violence’ due to an unspecified blockage at the Acesines’ river mouth.

There is another river, the Diardines, which ‘is less well known because it runs through the most remote parts of India’ and is home to crocodiles (‘like the Nile’), dolphins and other ‘creatures unknown’.

Then there is the Ethymantus, which meanders along on an undulating course and is used ‘for irrigation by the natives’. By the time it reaches the Indian Ocean, its water level is so low that the river is given no name.

Curtius tells us that India has many other rivers but they are unnamed due to being in ‘unchartered territory’. Finally, in the matter of rivers, he records that they are ‘gold-bearing’ and that the sea ‘throws up precious stones and pearls on the beaches’.

We’ve seen how the south wind affects the areas of India that are above sea level. The coastal regions suffer under the dryness of the North wind. The interior of the country is less affected as it is protected by the Himalaya mountains. This means that the land is fertile – fruit and flax are both grown / produced there. There is even a type of tree that grows in India, the bark of which is soft and can be used for writing.

Among the animal population, there are birds that ‘can be trained to imitate the human voice’, rhinoceroses and elephants which ‘possess greater strength than those trained in Africa’. They are larger than their African cousins, too.

Curtius makes a note of how ‘the environment also shapes the character of the people’. The preponderance of flax makes linen clothing very popular. The rich wear jewellery made of gold and the king is carried in a ‘golden litter fringed with pearls’. Trained birds sing to him to take his mind off ‘serious matters’.

Nature influences Indian architectural style as well – the king’s palace contains ‘gilded pillars with a vine in gold relief… and silver representations of birds’.

There is a downside to all this, though; the wealth that nature has given the king has made him lazy. When he hunts, the animals are kept in a pen, and he uses an oversized weapon. He travels on horse and elephantback with his ‘long retinue of concubines in golden sedan-chairs’ behind him.

Despite this, the Indians have not lost touch with the land which has blessed them with so much of itself. ‘To anything they have started to cultivate’ Curtius says, ‘they give divine status, especially to trees’. Interfering with one is punishable by death.

And in case there is any doubt, yes, astrology is practiced in India, too.

Finally, Curtius notes how ‘the earth inverts its regular seasonal changes’ but doesn’t know why this happens.

* Nota Bene: When Curtius talks about India he includes the area that now forms Pakistan.

Chapter Ten
A Mountain Party
Entering India, Alexander received the submission of a number of ‘petty kings’. He ‘sent Hephaestion and Perdiccas ahead… to crush any opposition to his power’. Their ultimate destination, however, was the Indus River where Alexander instructed them to make boats for – not only its crossing, but the crossing of any other river that they came to. To achieve this, the two generals made boats that could be dismantled and put back together again as needs be.

At the town of Nysa, the Macedonians inadvertently set fire to the local sepulchres, which were made of cedar. The first the Nysans knew of Alexander’s arrival, though, was when their dogs started barking.

Curtius describes Nysa as being ‘at the foot’ of Mount Meron. The Notes record that in Greek, méros means thigh. As a result of the similarity between the two names, he says, the Greeks invented ‘their story of Father Liber [Dionysus] being concealed in the thigh of Jupiter’.

Alexander led his men to the top of the mountain. Along the way, they found streams that flow all year round rushing past them. Unsurprisingly, ivy and vines were also present up and down the mountain. But that was not all; ‘fruits whose juices have health-giving properties’, soil so fertile it could produce spontaneous harvests, ‘laurels and berry-bushes’ – were all present.

As you might expect, though, the Macedonians made straight for the ivy and vines, making garlands out of them. They noisily worshipped the god of the mountains, and lazed, drinking all the while. Alexander did not oppose the revelry. Quite the reverse – he put on a feast and joined in the fun and feasting. All-in-all, the Macedonian army spent ‘ten days in the worship of Father Liber’.

Once the partying was over, Alexander campaigned against the Daedala people, who tried to hide ‘in some remote, tree-clad mountains’. He crossed the Choaspes River and put the city of Mazagae under siege.

Mazagae was protected on its east side by a ‘swift river’ with sheer banks on the far side. To the west and south of the city were ‘beetling crags’. To the north of the city was ‘a ditch of massive proportions’. The city itself was, of course, fortified.

Alexander dealt with the underground crags by simply rolling boulders and trees into them. This took nine days. Once they were filled up, he rolled his siege towers towards the city. The Mazagaetans were terrified of the towers and Macedonians’ pikes (sarissas?) and retreated to their citadel for long enough to surrender. In due course, Alexander met their queen and, allegedly, proved that both he and her were as fertile as the Indian soil. The queen gave birth to a son whom she named Alexander.

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Alexander: September / Autumn Chronology

Alexander’s Chronology

335
Livius c.12th September Thebes is razed to the ground after rebelling against Alexander’s rule
Peter Green* places the fall of Thebes in ‘early Spring’
The Landmark Arrian** says simply that it took place in Spring

333
Livius and Peter Green (September) Alexander falls ill after going to bathe in the Cydnus River in Cilicia. Parmenion sends word to him warning that Philip of Arcanania, the only royal doctor prepared to treat the king, has been bribed by Darius III to kill him. Alexander takes Philip’s medicine anyway and went on to make a full recovery
The Landmark Arrian places Alexander’s illness in the Summer of 333

332
Livius (September – November) The Siege of Gaza
The Landmark Arrian and Michael Wood*** both state that the Siege of Gaza took place in Autumn

326
Michael Wood (early September) Mutiny at the Hyphasis River
Livius (September) Macedonian army starts construction of fleet of ships
Michael Wood (Autumn) Macedonian Army returns to the Hydaspes River
The Landmark Arrian (Autumn) Alexander begins journey down the Hydaspes and Acesines Rivers.

325
Livius (15th September) Nearchus ‘starts on his voyage’ [i.e. from Pattala, down the Indus River and into the Indian Ocean en route to the Euphrates River]
Livius (September) Alexander crosses Gedrosia
Peter Green (‘? September’) Macedonians cross the Gedrosian desert
The Landmark Arrian (Autumn) Nearchus ‘prepares his fleet’. Subjection of the Oreitae. Many Macedonians die during crossing of Gedrosian desert

* Alexander of Macedon 356 – 323 B.C. A Historical Biography (University of California Press 1991)
** The Landmark Arrian Ed. James Romm (Pantheon Books 2010)
*** In the Footsteps Of Alexander the Great A Journey from Greece to India (BBC Books 2004)

This chronology is part of an on-going work. If you see any mistakes or omissions please feel free to let me know.
At the moment, Livius‘ chronology is the one by which I test the others. That may change; I’ll note it if it does.

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A Narrow Escape on the Indus River

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 97 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Macedonian Fleet Wrecked at Confluence of Hydaspes, Acesines and Indus Rivers
Alexander Narrowly Escapes Being Drowned
Two Ships Destroyed, Others Damaged

The Story
At the start of Chapter 97, Diodorus says that (after pardoning the Agalesseians), Alexander continued his journey down river until he reached ‘the confluence of the rivers named above with the Indus’.

The rivers to which Diodorus is referring are the Hydaspes and Acesines. If you have read yesterday’s post you will know about the confusing way in which he writes about the waterways of this region.

Based upon what Diodorus and the Footnotes say, my current picture of the rivers is that the Sandabal becomes the Acesines where it meets the Hyarotis and Hydaspes. The Hyarotis ends here but the Hydaspes splits away from the Acesines and runs alongside it until (?) they meet the Indus River further on. This picture may or may not be accurate.

Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter. What does is that – according to Diodorus – the three rivers ran so quickly, they created fiercely eddying waters at the confluence. These drew Alexander’s fleet into them, causing the ships to ‘collide with each other, [causing] great damage’. Two ships sank. Some of the others did manage to escape the eddying water only to run aground.

Meanwhile, Alexander’s ship was drawn into ‘a great cataract’ (i.e. a rapid). ‘With death staring him in the face’ the king tore off his clothing and jumped into the river. The Footnotes refer to Plutarch’s assertion that Alexander could not swim. If that was so, he was fortunate indeed to be able to make it to the shore. Did he hold on to a piece of debris? Perhaps someone rescued him – Diodorus does say that his ‘Friends swam with him, concerned to help the king to safety’.

Back on Alexander’s ship, the crew tried desperately to save the vessel ‘but the water was superior to all human skill and power’. The translation suggests that despite this, the ‘ships with [Alexander]’ reached safety. The Footnotes say, however, that the manuscript may have mistaken the word ‘ships’ for ‘young men’ or, simply, ‘swimmers’.

On the banks of the confluence, Alexander sacrificed to the gods for delivering him from danger. As he did so, he reflected that ‘like Achilles, [he] had done battle with a river’.

Comments
For the record, Diodorus doesn’t say whether Alexander reached the confluence with the Indus River by sailing down the Acesines or Hydaspes. I would assume it was the former as that is the way he had come up until now.

I don’t know what it is like in the rest of the world, but here in the UK football managers will always try to find a positive from a game even when their side loses 4-0. I think it is safe to say that by comparing his escape from the cataract to Achilles’ fight against the river god Alexander committed a fine example of a football manager positive.

Shall I go sailing or shall I stay alive? Hmmm

sappho

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Of Giant Altars and Heraclean Men

Daily Diodorus
Vol. VIII. Book XVII Ch. 95, 96 (Loeb Classical Library)
Read the other posts in this series here

The Headlines
Great Camp Assembled: A Different Kind of Shock and Awe
Congratulations to Bucephala and Nicaea on their Name Day
* Inside: Remembering the horse behind the name
Sibians: A Present People, A Past Legend

The Story
Once the decision to return west had been taken, Alexander didn’t simply up sticks and depart. On the banks of the Hyphasis River he had his men construct altars to the dodekathaeon, fifty cubits (75 feet) high.

A camp perimeter was ‘traced’ at three times its normal size and a ditch ‘fifty feet wide and forty deep’ created. The displaced earth was used to make a great wall.

Inside the ‘camp’, men were ordered to build outsized beds and stables that were ‘twice the normal size’. Alexander wanted any natives passing this way to believe that ‘men of huge stature, displaying the strength of giants’ had once been here.

Only when the entire camp had been built in similarly exaggerated proportions did Alexander finally take his leave of the easternmost border of his empire.

From the Hyphasis, the Macedonian king returned to the Acesines River. There, he found the ships he had ordered to be built (see Chapter 89) ready and waiting for him.

But rather than board them and set sail straightaway, Alexander again paused. The ships needed to be fitted out and he wanted more built.

It was while the ships were being attended to and built that reinforcements arrived all the way from Greece. They comprised of Greek allied soldiers and mercenaries. In total they were 30,000 infantry and just under 6,000 cavalry. The soldiers came with ‘elegant suits of armour for 25,000 foot soldiers and a hundred talents of medical supplies’.

The armour and supplies were distributed to the men. By the time this was done, the fleet was again ready. It now comprised of ‘two hundred open galleys and eight hundred service ships’.

Alexander’s last act before finally setting sail was to name the two cities he had built on either side of the river. These became Nicaea on the western side and Bucephala on the eastern bank, where the battle against Porus had been fought.

Before I continue, I must pause to address two slightly confusing matters that you may have noticed.

i. I don’t know if it comes out as such, but when I wrote about the building of Nicaea and Bucephala in this post I did so under the impression that both cities were built on the eastern side of the river – Bucephala on the eastern bank and Nicaea further on. That this was the case was the impression I got from Diodorus’ text where he writes, ‘[Alexander] founded two cities, one beyond the river where he had crossed and the other on the spot where he had defeated Porus’. He now states that the cities were built ‘on either side of the river’.

ii. When Diodorus has Alexander name Nicaea and Bucephala he is still on the Acesines River. However, in Chapter 89 they are being built on (either side of) the Hydaspes. The Footnotes state that the Hydaspes is renamed the Acesines ‘after its confluence with the Sandabal and the Hyarotis’. If this is the case, Diodorus has been a bit lazy in saying the battle happened on the Hydaspes but at least it clears up the confusion… except that in Chapter 96, he ‘mentions the confluence of the Acesines and Hydaspes as if they were different’. The Footnotes suggest that the Acesines is the Sandabal river.

Chapter 96
Alexander now set sail. The fleet was not large enough to carry the entire army, or even most of it; led by Craterus and Hephaestion, they marched down river. The Footnotes cite Arrian as saying Craterus marched on the right bank and Hephaestion on the left. Given their prickly relationship that was probably just as well.

At ‘the junction of the Acesines and the Hydaspes’ (see point ii above), Alexander disembarked and led his army ‘against the people called the Sibians’. Diodorus refers to the belief that they ‘are the descendants of the soldiers who came with Heracles to the rock of Aornus’ and ‘were settled in this spot by him’. It isn’t made clear whether Alexander knew this or not before he stepped off his ship.

Either way, no fighting happened. The ‘leading notables’ of the Sibians met him and handed over ‘magnificent gifts’. They ‘renewed their ties of kinship, and undertook to help him enthusiastically in every way, as being his relatives’. Alexander gave the Sibians their freedom and moved on.

The Agalesseis came next. Their army – 40,000 infantry and 3,000 cavalry – formed up against the Macedonians. In the ensuing battle, Alexander killed most of the enemy. Some Agalesseians escaped from the carnage into ‘neighbouring cities’. These were put under siege and captured. Prisoners were sold as slaves.

Alexander also stormed ‘a large city in which twenty thousand persons had taken refuge’. There, his army appears to have sustained high losses in the street-by-street fighting. Angered by this, Alexander torched the city, burning most of the city’s inhabitants to death in the process. This sounds a very ugly moment. The Footnote, however, record Curtius as saying that the Indians themselves set fire to the city ‘to avoid subjection’.

The surviving Agalesseians withdrew to the city’s citadel. There, they ‘appealed for mercy with suppliant branches’. Despite his anger, or perhaps now becalmed, Alexander accepted their appeal.

Comments
Alexander’s building of a super-sized camp reminds me of the Anglo-Saxons’ reaction to the ruined Roman villas. They too thought they had been built by giants.

I wonder what the new arrivals from Greece felt like when they finally reached Alexander only to discover that they were going back the way they came again! Annoyed or quite happy?

When Arrian says that Craterus marched on the right bank and Hephaestion on the left I assume this is as you look down the river towards the Ocean; if so, Craterus would have been on the western bank and Hephaestion on the eastern.

Giants, Mind Your Heads

Tindary_greek_ruins

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