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XVII.64‑83

This webpage reproduces a section of
The Library of History

of
Diodorus Siculus

published in Vol. VIII
of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1963

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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XVII.104‑118

(Vol. VIII) Diodorus Siculus
Library of History

(Book XVII, continued)

p361 84 1 A truce was concluded on these terms, and the queen, impressed by Alexander's generosity, sent him valuable gifts and promised to follow his orders in everything.1

p363 The mercenaries straightway under the terms of the truce left the city and encamped without interference at a distance of eighty furlongs, without an inkling of what would happen.2 2 Alexander, nevertheless, nursed an implacable hostility toward them; he held his forces in readiness, followed them, and falling upon them suddenly wrought a great slaughter. At first they kept shouting that this attack was in contravention of the treaty and they called to witness the gods against whom he had transgressed. Alexander shouted back that he had granted them the right to leave the city but not that of being friends of the Macedonians forever.

3 Not daunted at the greatness of their danger, the mercenaries joined ranks and, forming a full circle, placed their children and women in the centre so that they might effectively face those who were attacking from all directions. Filled with desperate courage and fighting stoutly with native toughness and the experience of previous contests, they were opposed by Macedonians anxious not to show themselves inferior to barbarians in fighting ability, so that the battle was a scene of horror. 4 They fought hand to hand, and as the contestants engaged each other every p365form of death and wounds was to be seen. The Macedonians thrust with their long spears through the light shields of the mercenaries and pressed the iron points on into their lungs, while they in turn flung their javelins into the close ranks of their enemies and could not miss the mark, so near was the target.

5 As many were wounded and not a few killed, the women caught up the weapons of the fallen and fought beside their men, since the acuteness of the danger and the fierceness of the action forced them to be brave beyond their nature. Some of them, clad in armour, sheltered behind the same shields as their husbands, while others rushed in without armour, grasped the opposing shields, and hindered their use by the enemy. 6 Finally, fighting women and all, they were overborne by numbers and cut down, winning a glorious death in preference to basely saving their lives at any cost. Alexander removed the feeble and unarmed together with the surviving women to another place, and put the cavalry in charge of them.

85 1 After he had taken a number of other cities3 by storm and had slaughtered their defenders, he came to the "rock" called Aornus.4 Here the surviving natives had taken refuge because of its great strength. 2 It is said that Heracles of old thought to lay siege to this "rock" but refrained because of the occurrence of certain sharp earthquake shocks and p367other divine signs, and this made Alexander even more eager to capture the stronghold when he heard it, and so to rival the god's reputation.5

3 The circumference of the "rock" was one hundred furlongs, and its height sixteen. Its surface was even and circular on all sides. Its southern side was washed by the Indus River, the largest of those in India, and on the other sides it was surrounded by deep gorges and sheer cliffs. 4 Alexander surveyed these difficulties and decided that its forcible capture was impossible, but then there came at once him an old man with two sons.6 5 He lived in extreme poverty and had for a long time supported himself in the region, occupying a cave in which three beds had been cut out of the rock.a Here the old man camped with his sons, and had come to know the country intimately. When he appeared before the king, he told his story and offered to guide the king through the hills and bring him to a point where he would be above the people who occupied the rock.

6 Alexander promised him rich gifts.7 Using the old man as a guide, he first occupied the path which led up to the rock; since there was no other egress, he had thus enclosed the defenders in a hopeless siege. Then he put many hands to work filling up the chasm at the foot of the rock, drew near to it, and mounted a vigorous attack, assaulting continuously for seven p369days and seven nights with relays of troops.8 7 At first the defenders had the advantage because of holding the higher ground, and they killed many of those who attacked rashly. As the embankment was finished, however, and the dart-throwing catapults and other engines were emplaced, and the king also made it evident that he would not break off the siege, the Indians were alarmed, and Alexander, craftily anticipating what would happen, removed the guard which had been left in the path, allowing those who wished to withdraw from the rock. In fear of the Macedonian fighting qualities and the king's determination, the Indians left the rock under cover of darkness.

86 1 So Alexander employed the false alarms of war to outgeneral the Indians and to gain possession of the "rock" without fighting. He gave the promised reward to his guide and marched off with his army.9

2 About this time, a certain Indian named Aphrices with twenty thousand troops and fifteen elephants was encamped in the vicinity.10 Some of his followers killed him and cut off his head and brought it to Alexander, and saved their own lives by this favour. 3 The king took them into his service, and rounded up p371the elephants, which were wandering about the countryside.11

Alexander now advanced to the Indus River and found his thirty-oared boats in readiness and fully equipped, and the stream spanned by a floating bridge.12 He rested his army for thirty days and offered splendid sacrifices to the gods, and then moved his army across and experienced a startling fright and relief. 4 Taxiles, the king, had died, and his son Mophis13 had succeeded to the throne. He had sent word to Alexander earlier when he was in Sogdiana, promising to join him in a campaign against his enemies among the Indians, and now he stated through his messengers that he turned his kingdom over to him. 5 When Alexander was still forty furlongs off, Mophis deployed his force as if for war and marched forward, his elephants gaily caparisoned, surrounded by his Friends. Alexander saw a great army in warlike array approaching and concluded at once that the Indian's promises were made in order to deceive him, so that the Macedonians might be attacked before they had time to prepare themselves. He ordered the trumpeters to sound the call to arms, and when the soldiers had found their battle stations, marched against the Indians. 6 Mophis saw the excited activity of the Macedonians and guessed the reason. He left his army and accompanied only by a few horsemen galloped forward, corrected the misapprehension of the Macedonians, and gave himself and his army over to the king. 7 Alexander, much relieved, p373restored his kingdom to him and thereafter held him as a friend and ally. He also changed name to Taxiles.14

That is what happened in that year.

87 1 In the archonship of Chremes at Athens, the Romans elected as consuls Publius Cornelius and Aulus Postumius.15 In this year Alexander repaired his army in the land of Taxiles and then marched against Porus, the king of the neighbouring Indians.16 2 He had more than fifty thousand infantry, about three thousand cavalry, more than a thousand chariots of war, and one hundred and thirty elephants. He had enlisted the support of a second king of the neighbouring regions, whose name17 was Embisarus;18 he had an army little smaller than that of Porus.

3 When Alexander received word that this king was four hundred furlongs away, he decided to attack Porus before the arrival of his ally. 4 As he approached, Porus learned of his advance and deployed his forces promptly. He stationed his cavalry upon both flanks, and arranged his elephants, arrayed so as to strike terror in an opponent, in a single line p375at equal intervals along his front. Between these beasts he placed the rest of his infantry, with the mission of helping them and preventing their being attacked with javelins from the sides. 5 His whole array looked very much like a city, for the elephant resembled towers, and the soldiers between them curtain walls.19 Alexander viewed the enemy's dispositions and arranged his own troops appropriately.

88 1 The fighting began, and practically all of the Indians' chariots were put out of action by Alexander's cavalry. Then the elephants came into play, trained to make good use of their height and strength. Some of the Macedonians were trodden under foot, armour and all, by the beasts and died, their bones crushed. Others were caught up by the elephants' trunks and, lifted on high, were dashed back down to the ground again, dying a fearful death.20 Many soldiers were pierced through by the tusks and died instantly, run through the whole body. Nevertheless the Macedonians faced the frightening experience manfully. 2 They used their long spears to good effect against the Indians stationed beside the elephants, and kept the battle even.21 3 Then, as javelins began to find their marks in the sides of the great beasts and they felt the pains of the wounds, the Indian riders were no longer able to control their movements. The elephants veered and, no longer manageable, turned upon their own ranks and trampled friendly troops.22

4 As his formations grew more confused, Porus observed what was happening. He was mounted on the p377largest of the elephants and gathered about him forty others which were not yet out of hand, then attacked the enemy with their combined weight and inflicted many losses. He was himself outstanding in bodily strength beyond any of his followers, being five cubits23 in height and with a breadth of chest double that of his mightiest soldiers. 5 His javelins were flung with such force that they were little inferior to the darts of the catapults. The Macedonians who opposed him were amazed at his fighting ability, but Alexander called up the bowmen and other light armed troops and ordered them to concentrate their fire upon Porus. This was done promptly. 6 Many weapons flew toward the Indian at the same time and none missed its mark because of his great size. He continued to fight heroically until, fainting from loss of blood from his many wounds, he collapsed upon his elephant and fell to the ground.24 7 The word went about that the king was killed, and the rest of the Indians fled.

89 1 Many were slain in their flight, but then Alexander, satisfied with his brilliant victory, ordered the trumpets to sound the recall. Of the Indians, there fell in the battle more than twelve thousand, among whom were the two sons of Porus and his best generals p379and officers.25 2 Above nine thousand men were taken alive, together with eighty elephants. Porus himself was still breathing, and was turned over to the Indians for medical attention. 3 On the Macedonian side, the losses were two hundred and eighty cavalry and more than seven hundred infantry.26 The king buried the dead, rewarded those who had distinguished themselves in accordance with their deserts, and sacrificed to Helius who had given him the eastern regions to conquer.

4 There were mountains not far away where grew thriving firs in quantity, together with no little cedar and pine and an ample supply of other woods suitable for shipbuilding, and Alexander constructed a large number of ships. 5 He intended to reach the borders of India and to subdue all of its inhabitants, and then to sail downstream to the Ocean. 6 He founded two cities, one beyond the river where he had crossed and the other on the spot where he had defeated Porus. These were built quickly because there was a plentiful supply of labour.27 When Porus had recovered, Alexander appointed him, in recognition of his valour, king over the country where he formerly ruled. The Macedonian army rested for thirty days in the midst of a vast plenty of provisions.

90 1 Odd phenomena were observed in these mountains. In addition to the wood for shipbuilding, the p381region contained a large number of snakes remarkable for their size; they reached a length of sixteen cubits.28 There were also many varieties of monkey, differing in size, which had themselves taught the Indians the method of their capture. 2 They imitate every action that they see, but cannot well be taken by force because of their strength and cleverness. The hunters, however, in the sight of the beasts, smear their eyes with honey, or fasten sandals about their ankles, or hang mirrors about their necks.29 Then they go away, having attached fastenings to the shoes, having substituted birdlime for honey, and having fastened slip nooses to the mirrors. 3 So when the animals try to imitate what they had seen, they are rendered helpless, their eyes stuck together, their feet bound fast, and their bodies held immovable. That is the way in which they become easy to catch.30

4 Sasibisares,31 the king who had not moved in time to help Porus in the battle, was frightened, and Alexander forced him to accept his orders. Then Alexander resumed his march to the east, crossed the river, and continued on through a region of remarkable fertility. 5 It possessed strange kinds of trees p383which reached a height of seventy cubits, were so thick that they could scarcely be embraced by four men, and cast a shadow of three plethra.32

The country possessed a multitude of snakes, small and variously coloured.33 6 Some of them looked like bronze rods, others had thick, shaggy crests, and their bites brought sudden death. The person bitten suffered fearful pains and was covered with a bloody sweat. 7 The Macedonians, who were much affected by the bites, slung their hammocks from trees34 and remained awake most of the night. Later, however, they learned from the natives the use of a medicinal root and were freed from these fears.35

91 1 As he continued his march, word came to Alexander that King Porus (a cousin of the Porus who had been defeated) had left his kingdom and fled to the people of Gandara. 2 This annoyed Alexander, and he sent Hephaestion with an army into his country and ordered that the kingdom should be transferred to the friendly Porus.36

He campaigned against the people known as the Adrestians, and got possession of their cities, partly by force and partly by agreement.37 Then he came p385into the country of the Cathaeans, 3 among whom it was the custom for wives to be cremated together with their husbands. This law had been put into effect there because of a woman who had killed her husband with poison.38 4b Here he captured their greatest and strongest city after much fighting and burned it. He was in process of besieging another notable city when the Indians came to him with suppliant branches and he spared them further attack.39

Next he undertook a campaign against the cities under the rule of Sopeithes. These are exceedingly well-governed. All the functions of this state are directed toward the acquiring of good repute, and beauty is valued there more than anything. 5 From birth, their children are subjected to a process of selection. Those who are well formed and designed by nature to have a fine appearance and bodily strength are reared, while those who are bodily deficient are destroyed as not worth bringing up. 6 So they plan their marriages without regard to dower or any other financial consideration, but consider only beauty and physical excellence. 7 In consequence, most of the inhabitants of these cities enjoy a higher reputation than those elsewhere.40

Their king Sopeithes was strikingly handsome and tall beyond the rest, being over four cubits in height.41 He came out of his capital city and gave over himself and his kingdom to Alexander, but received it back p387through the kindness of the conqueror. 8 Sopeithes with great goodwill feasted the whole army bountifully for several days.

92 1 To Alexander he presented many impressive gifts, among them one hundred and fifty dogs remarkable for their size and courage and other good qualities.42 People said that they had a strain of tiger blood. 2 He wanted Alexander to test their mettle in action, and he brought into a ring a full grown lion and two of the poorest of the dogs. He set these on the lion, and when they were having a hard time of it he released two others to assist them. 3 The four were getting the upper hand over the lion when Sopeithes sent in a man with a scimitar who hacked at the right leg of one of the dogs. At this Alexander shouted out indignantly and the guards rushed up and seized the arm of the Indian, but Sopeithes said that he would give him three other dogs for that one, and the handler, taking a firm grip on the leg, severed it slowly. The dog, in the meanwhile, uttered neither yelp nor whimper, but continued with his teeth clamped shut until, fainting with loss of blood, he died on top of the lion.

93 1 While all this was going on, Hephaestion returned with his army from his mission, having conquered a big piece of India.43 Alexander commended him for his success, then invaded the kingdom of Phegeus where the inhabitants cheerfully accepted the appearance of the Macedonians.44 Phegeus himself met the king with many gifts and Alexander confirmed p389him in his rule. Alexander and the army were feasted bountifully for two days, and then advanced to the Hyphasis River, the width of which was seven furlongs, the depth six fathoms, and the current violent. This was difficult to cross.

2 He questioned Phegeus about the country beyond the Indus River,45 and learned that there was a desert to traverse for twelve days, and then the river called Ganges, which was thirty-two furlongs in width46 and the deepest of all the Indian rivers. Beyond this in turn dwelt the peoples of the Tabraesians and the Gandaridae, whose king was Xandrames. He had twenty thousand cavalry, two hundred thousand infantry, two thousand chariots, and four thousand elephants equipped for war.47 Alexander doubted this information and sent for Porus, and asked him what was the truth of these reports. 3 Porus assured the king that all the rest of the account was quite correct, but that the king of the Gandaridae was an utterly common and undistinguished character, and was supposed to be the son of a barber. His father had been handsome and was greatly loved by the queen; when she had murdered her husband, the kingdom fell to him.48

4 Alexander saw that the campaign against the Gandaridae p391would not be easy, but he was not discouraged. He had confidence in the fighting qualities of his Macedonians, as well as in the oracles which he had received, and expected that he would be victorious. He remembered that the Pythia had called him "unconquerable," and Ammon had given him the rule of the whole world.49

94 1 Alexander observed that his soldiers were exhausted with their constant campaigns.50 They had spent almost eight years among toils and dangers, and it was necessary to raise their spirits by an effective appeal if they were to undertake the expedition against the Gandaridae. 2 There had been many losses among the soldiers, and no relief from fighting was in sight. The hooves of the horses had been worn thin by steady marching. The arms and armour were wearing out, and Greek clothing was quite gone. They had to clothe themselves in foreign materials, recutting the garments of the Indians.51 3 This was the season also, as luck would have it, of the heavy rains. These had been going on for seventy days, to the accompaniment of continuous thunder and lightning.

All this he accounted adverse to his project, and he saw only one hope of gaining his wish, if he might gain the soldiers' great goodwill through gratitude. 4 Accordingly he allowed them to ravage the enemy's p393country, which was full of every good thing.52 During these days when the army was busy foraging, he called together the wives of the soldiers and their children; to the wives he undertook to give a monthly ration, to the children he distributed a service bonus in proportion to the military records of their fathers.53 5 When the soldiers returned laden with wealth from their expedition, he brought them together to a meeting. He delivered a carefully prepared speech about the expedition against the Gandaridae but the Macedonians did not accept it, and he gave up the undertaking.54

95 1 Thinking how best to mark the limits of his campaign at this point, he first erected altars of the twelve gods each fifty cubits high55 and then traced the circuit of a camp thrice the size of the existing one. Here he dug a ditch fifty feet wide and forty feet deep, and throwing up the earth on the inside, constructed out of it a substantial wall. 2 He directed the infantry to construct huts each containing two beds five cubits long, and the cavalry, in addition to this, to build two mangers twice the normal size. In p395the same way, everything else which could be left behind was exaggerated in size.56 His idea in this was to make a camp of heroic proportions and to leave to the natives evidence of men of huge stature, displaying the strength of giants.

3 After all this had been done, Alexander marched back with all his army to the Acesines River by the same route by which he had come.57 There he found the ships built which he had ordered. He fitted these out and built others. 4 At this juncture there arrived from Greece allied and mercenary troops under their own commanders, more than thirty thousand infantry and a little less than six thousand cavalry.58 They brought with them elegant suits of armour for twenty-five thousand foot soldiers, and a hundred talents of medical supplies. These he distributed to the soldiers. 5 Now the naval flotilla was ready; he had prepared two hundred open galleys and eight hundred service ships.59 He gave names to the two cities which had been founded on either side of the river, calling one of them Nicaea in celebration of his victory in war, and the other Bucephala in honour of his horse, who had died in the battle against Porus.60

96 1 He himself embarked with his Friends, and sailed down the river toward the southern Ocean.61 The bulk of his army marched along the bank of the p397river, under the command of Craterus and Hephaestion.62

When they came to the junction of the Acesines and the Hydaspes,63 he disembarked his soldiers and led them against the people called Sibians. 2 They say that these are the descendants of the soldiers who came with Heracles to the rock of Aornus and were unsuccessful in its siege,64 and then were settled in this spot by him. Alexander encamped beside a very fine city, and the leading notables of the citizens came out to see him. They were brought before the king, renewed their ties of kinship, and undertook to help him enthusiastically in every way, as being his relatives. They also brought him magnificent gifts. 3 Alexander accepted their goodwill, declared their cities to be free, and marched on against the next tribes.

He found that the Agalasseis, as they were called, were drawn up in battle formation.65 Their strength was forty thousand infantry and three thousand cavalry. He engaged them and, conquering, cut down most of them. Those who escaped into the neighbouring cities he besieged, captured, and sold as slaves. 4 Other groups of natives had collected also. He took by storm a large city in which twenty thousand persons had taken refuge. The Indians barricaded the streets and fought stoutly from the houses, and he lost not a few Macedonians in pressing his victory home. 5 This made him angry. He set fire to the city p399and burned up most of the inhabitants with it.66 The remaining natives to the number of three thousand had fled to the citadel, whence they appealed for mercy with suppliant branches. Alexander pardoned them.

97 1 Again he embarked with his Friends upon the ships and continued his voyage down the river until he came to the confluence of the rivers named above with the Indus.67 As these mighty streams flowed together, many dangerous eddies were created and these, making the ships collide with each other, caused much damage. The current was swift and violent and overcame the skill of the helmsmen. Two of the galleys were sunk and not a few of the other vessels ran aground. 2 The flagship was swept into a great cataract and the king was brought into extreme danger. With death staring him in the face, Alexander flung off his clothing and leaping into the water naked saved himself as best he could.68 His Friends swam with him, concerned to help the king to safety now that his ship was foundering. 3 Aboard the ship itself there was wild confusion. The crew struggled against the might of the water but the river was superior to all human skill and power. Nevertheless, Alexander and the ships69 with him got safely ashore with difficulty. Thus narrowly escaping, he sacrificed to the gods as having come through mortal p401danger, reflecting that he, like Achilles, had done battle with a river.70

98 1 Next Alexander undertook a campaign against the Sydracae71 and the people known as Mallians, populous and warlike tribes. He found them mobilized in force, eighty thousand infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and seven hundred chariots. Before the arrival of Alexander they had been at war with each other; but as he approached, they patched up their quarrel and made peace, giving and receiving ten thousand young women to establish a friendly relationship through marriage.72 2 Even so they did not come out to fight together but fell into a dispute over the command and retired into the neighbouring cities.

Alexander neared the first city and thought to take it by storm, 3 but one of the seers, named Demophon,73 came to him and reported that there had been revealed to him by numerous portents a great danger which would come to the king from a wound in the course of the operation. He begged Alexander to leave that city alone for the present and to turn his mind to other activities. 4 The king scolded him for dampening the enthusiasm of the soldiers, and then, disposing his army for the attack, led the way in person to the city, eager to reduce it by force. The engines of war were slow to come up, but he broke open p403a postern gate and was the first to burst into the city.74 He struck down many defenders and, driving the others before him, pursued them to the citadel.

5 The Macedonians were still busy fighting along the wall. Alexander seized a ladder, leaned it against the walls of the citadel, and clambered up holding a light shield above his head. So quick was he to act that he reached the top of the wall before the defenders could forestall him. 6 The Indians did not dare to come within his reach, but flung javelins and shot arrows at him from a distance. He was staggering under the weight of their blows when the Macedonians raised two ladders and swarmed up in a mass, but both broke and the soldiers tumbled back upon the ground.

99 1 Thus the king was left alone, and boldly took a step which was as little expected as it is worthy of mention. It seemed to him out of keeping with his tradition of success to descend from the wall to his troops without accomplishing anything. Instead, he leapt down with his armour alone inside the city. 2 As the Indians thronged about him, he withstood their attack undismayed. He protected himself on the right by a tree75 which grew close by the wall and on the left by the wall itself and kept the Indians off, displaying such courage as you would expect from a king who had his record of achievement. He was eager to make this, if it were the last feat of his life, a supremely glorious one. 3 He took many blows upon the helmet, not a few upon the shield. At length he p405was struck by an arrow76 below the breast and fell upon one knee, overborne by the blow. Straightway the Indian who had shot him, thinking that he was helpless, ran up and struck at him; Alexander thrust his sword up into the man's side, inflicting a mortal wound. The Indian fell, and the king caught hold of a branch close by and getting on his feet, defied the Indians to come forward and fight with him.77

4 At this point Peucestes, one of the guards, who had mounted another ladder, was the first to cover the king with his shield. After him a good many appeared together, which frightened the natives and saved Alexander.78 The city was taken by storm. In a fury at the injury to their king, the Macedonians killed all whom they met and filled the city with corpses.

5 For many days the king lay helpless under his treatment,79 and the Greeks who had been settled in Bactria and Sogdiana, who had long borne unhappily their sojourn among peoples of another race and now received word that the king had died of his wounds, revolted against the Macedonians. 6 They formed a band of three thousand men and underwent great hardship on their homeward route. Later they were massacred by the Macedonians after Alexander's death.80

p407 100 1 Alexander recovered from his wound, sacrificed to the gods, and held a great banquet for his Friends. 2 In the course of the drinking a curious event occurred which is worth mention.81 Among the king's companions there was a Macedonian named Coragus, strong in body, who had distinguished himself many times in battle. His temper was sharpened by the drink, and he challenged to single combat Dioxippus the Athenian, an athlete who had won a crown in the foremost games. 3 As you would expect, the guests at the banquet egged them on and Dioxippus accepted. The king set a day for the contest, and when the time came, many myriads of men gathered to see the spectacle. 4 The Macedonians and Alexander backed Coragus because he was one of them, while the Greeks favoured Dioxippus. The two advanced to the field of honour, the Macedonian clad in his expensive armour 5 but the Athenian naked, his body oiled, carrying a well-balanced club.

Both men were fine to look upon with their magnificent physiques and their ardour for combat. Everyone looked forward, as it were, to a battle of gods. By his carriage and the brilliance of his arms, the Macedonian inspired terror as if he were Ares, while Dioxippus excelled in sheer strength and condition; still more because of his club he bore a certain resemblance to Heracles.

p409 6 As they approached each other, the Macedonian flung his javelin from a proper distance, but the other inclined his body slightly and avoided its impact. Then the Macedonian poised his long lance and charged, but the Greek, when he came within reach, struck the spear with his club and shattered it. 7 After these two defeats, Coragus was reduced to continuing the battle with his sword, but as he reached for it, the other leaped upon him and seized his swordhand with his left, while with his right the Greek upset the Macedonian's balance and made his lose his footing. 8 As he fell to the earth, Dioxippus placed his foot upon his neck and, holding his club aloft, looked to the spectators.

101 1 The crowd was in an uproar because of the stunning quickness and superiority of the man's skill, and the king signed to let Coragus go, then broke up the gathering and left. He was plainly annoyed at the defeat of the Macedonian. 2 Dioxippus released his fallen opponent, and left the field winner of a resounding victory and bedecked with ribands by his compatriots, as having brought a common glory to all Greeks. Fortune, however, did not allow him to boast of his victory for long.

3 The king continued more and more hostile to him, and Alexander's friends and all the other Macedonians about the court, jealous of the accomplishment, persuaded one of the butlers to secrete a golden cup under his pillow;82 then in the course of the next symposium they accused him of theft, and pretending to find the cup, placed Dioxippus in a shameful and p411embarrassing position. 4 He saw that the Macedonians were in league against him and left the banquet. After a little he came to his own quarters, wrote Alexander a letter about the trick that had been played on him, gave this to his servants to take to the king, and then took his own life. He had been ill-advised to undertake the single combat, but he was much more foolish to make an end of himself in this way. 5 Hence many of those who reviled him, mocking his folly, said that it was a hard fate to have great strength of body but little sense.

6 The king read the letter and was very angry at the man's death. He often mourned his good qualities, and the man whom he had neglected when he was alive, he regretted when he was dead. After it was no longer of use, he discovered the excellence of Dioxippus by contrast with the vileness of his accusers.

102 1 Alexander gave orders to the army to march beside the river and escort the ships, while he resumed his river voyage in the direction of the ocean and sailed down to the country of the people called Sambastae.83 2 These, in numbers of men and in good qualities, were inferior to none of the Indian peoples. They lived in cities governed in a democratic manner, and learning of the coming of the Macedonians assembled sixty thousand infantry, six thousand cavalry, and five hundred armoured chariots.

3 When the fleet put in to them, they were amazed p413at the strange and unanticipated manner of its arrival and trembled at the great reputation of the Macedonians. Besides, their own men advised them not to risk a fight, so they sent out fifty of their leading citizens as envoys, begging Alexander to treat them kindly. 4 The king praised them and agreed to a peace, and was showered with large gifts and heroic honours by them.

Next Alexander received the submission of those who dwelt on either side of the river; they were called Sodrae and Massani.84 Here he built a city Alexandria by the river, and selected for it ten thousand inhabitants.85 5 Next he came to the country of King Musicanus; getting him into his hands he killed him and made the country subject.86 Then he invaded the kingdom of Porticanus,87 took two cities by storm, allowed the soldiers to plunder the houses, and then set them on fire. Porticanus himself escaped to a stronghold, but Alexander captured it and slew him, still fighting. Then he proceeded to take all of the other cities of his kingdom and destroyed them, and spread the terror of his name throughout the whole region.

6 Next he ravaged the kingdom of Sambus.88 He enslaved the population of most of the cities and, p415after destroying the cities, killed more than eighty thousand of the natives.89 7 He inflicted a similar disaster upon the tribe of the Brahmins, as they are called; the survivors came supplicating him with branches in their hands, and punishing the most guilty he forgave the rest. King Sambus fled with thirty elephants into the country beyond the Indus and escaped.

103 1 The last city of the Brahmins, called Harmatelia,90 was proud of the valour of its inhabitants and of the strength of its location. Thither he sent a small force of mobile troops with orders to engage the enemy and retire if they came out against them. 2 These were five hundred in number, and were despised when they attacked the walls.91 Some three thousand soldiers issued out of the city, whereupon Alexander's task force pretended to be frightened and fled. 3 Presently the king launched an unexpected attack against the pursuing natives and charging them furiously killed some of the natives, and captured others.

A number of the king's forces were wounded, and these met a new and serious danger.92 4 The Brahmins had smeared their weapons with a drug of mortal effect; that was their source of confidence when they joined the issue of battle. The power of the drug p417was derived from certain snakes which were caught and killed and left in the sun. 5 The heat melted the substance of the flesh and drops of moisture formed; in this moisture the poison of the animals was secreted. When a man was wounded, the body became numb immediately and then sharp pains followed, and convulsions and shivering shook the whole frame. The skin became cold and livid and bile appeared in the vomit, while a black froth was exuded from the wound and gangrene set in. As this spread quickly and overran to the vital parts of the body, it brought a horrible death to the victim. 6 The same result occurred to those who had received large wounds and to those whose wounds were small, or even a mere scratch.

So the wounded were dying in this fashion, and for the rest Alexander was not so much concerned, but he was deeply distressed for Ptolemy, the future king, who was much beloved by him. 7 An interesting and quite extraordinary event occurred in the case of Ptolemy, which some attributed to divine Providence. He was loved by all because of his character and his kindnesses to all, and he obtained a succour appropriate to his good deeds. The king saw a vision in his sleep. It seemed to him that a snake appeared carrying a plant in its mouth, and showed him its nature and efficacy and the place where it grew. 8 When Alexander awoke, he sought out the plant, and grinding it up plastered it on Ptolemy's body. He p419also prepared an infusion of the plant and gave Ptolemy a drink of it. This restored him to health.93

Now that the value of the remedy had been demonstrated, all the other wounded received the same therapy and became well. Then Alexander prepared to attack and capture the city of Harmatelia, which was large and strongly fortified, but the inhabitants came to him with suppliant branches and handed themselves over. He spared them any punishment.


The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 The end of Diodorus's year 328/7 and the beginning of 327/6 B.C. have been lost in a long break in the manuscript from which our text derives; it is now the autumn of 327. The Scythian, Bactrian, and Sogdian campaigns are over, with such familiar incidents as the quarrel with Cleitus, the arrest of Callisthenes in connection with the introduction of proscynesis and the Pages' Conspiracy, and the marriage with Roxanê (cp. the subject headings in the Table of Contents, pp111‑113). Alexander is on his way down the Cabul valley toward India. In the city of Mazagae (Curtius, 8.10.22) or Massaga (Arrian, 4.26.1) in the country of the Assacenians (modern Swat) he captured the beautiful queen Cleophis and reinstated her in her kingdom. The more romantic say that he had a son by her (Curtius, 8.10.22‑36; Justin, 12.7.9‑11).

2 These mercenaries had been in the service of the Assacenians. Plutarch (Alexander, 59.3‑4) agrees with this rather discreditable account of Alexander's treatment of them. Arrian, on the other hand (4.27.3‑4), states that Alexander killed them because they were intending to desert. This presents historians with a nice dilemma: was Diodorus's source blackening Alexander's reputation, or was Arrian's whitening it?

3 Curtius, 8.11.2.

4 For the term "rock" see above on chap. 28, p195, note 5. For the whole story cp. Curtius, 8.11; Justin, 12.7.12‑13; Plutarch, Alexander, 58.3; Arrian, 4.28.7‑30.4. The location has been identified by Sir. A. Stein, On Alexander's Track to the Indus (1929), chaps. XVI‑XXI.

Thayer's Note: For a map and good photos, see the page at Livius.

5 Curtius, 8.11.2; Justin, 12.7.12. The tradition is rationalized by Arrian, 4.28.1‑2.

6 Curtius, 8.11.3. Arrian (4.29.1) says "some of the neighbouring tribesmen."

7 Curtius (8.11.4) says "eighty talents."

8 Arrian, 4.29.7‑30.1.

9 According to Sir Aurel Stein's discoveries (p365, note 4), the ravine which Alexander filled up lay at the top of the ridge, so that both features of Diodorus's account, the secret path and the regular siege operations, were actually present. The third feature of the story, the deception to induce the Indians to withdraw, is less easy to explain.

10 In Curtius (8.12.1) he is said to have blocked Alexander's advance.

11 Arrian (4.30.7‑9) tells of rounding up elephants left at pasture, perhaps the same story.

12 The work was done by Hephaestion (Curtius, 8.12.4) or by Hephaestion and Perdiccas (Arrian, 4.30.9).

13 Called Omphis in Curtius, 8.12.4.

14 The same story is told by Curtius, 8.12.4‑18. The adhesion of Taxiles is briefly noted in Arrian, 5.3.5‑6, and told in a different manner by Plutarch, Alexander, 59.1‑3.

15 Chremes was archon at Athens from July 326 to June 325 B.C. The consuls of 328 B.C. are not entirely certain (Broughton 1.145). One was C. Plautius Decianus or P. Plautius Proculus, the other P. Cornelius Scapula or P. Cornelius Scipio barbatus. No Postumius is otherwise attested at this time. According to the calculations of M. J. Fontana, Kokalos, 2 (1956), 42 f., the battle with Porus took place about July 326 B.C., as Diodorus dates it, while Arrian (5.19.3) places the battle a little earlier, in the Attic month Munychionº of the year of Hegemon (April/May of 326 B.C.). He states, however, that the time was after the summer solstice (Arrian, 5.9.4).

16 For the whole story cp. Curtius, 8.13‑14; Justin, 12.8.1‑7; Plutarch, Alexander, 60; Arrian, 5.3.5‑19.3. Diodorus (like Justin) omits the exciting story of Alexander's crossing the Hydaspes River.

17 Curtius (8.13.6) gives Porus's strength as 30,000 foot, 300 chariots, and 85 elephants; Plutarch (Alexander, 62.1) as 20,000 foot and 2000 horse. Arrian (5.15.4) gives 4000 horse, 300 chariots, 200 elephants, and 30,000 foot.

18 He is otherwise known as Abisares (Arrian, 5.22.2; Curtius, 8.13.1; 14.1). Diodorus calls him by another name in chap. 90.4 (Berve, Alexanderreich, 2, no. 2).

19 The same comparison in Curtius, 8.14.13. The other writers do not place infantry between the elephants.

20 Curtius, 8.14.27.

21 Curtius, 8.14.16.

22 Arrian, 5.17.6.

23 Seven and one-half feet. The same figure is given by Arrian, 5.19.1. Plutarch,º Alexander, 60.6, says four cubits and a span; Curtius, 8.14.13: "humanae magnitudinis prope modum excesserat." Tarn, however (Alexander the Great, 2, p170), thinks that the source was using a short cubit. We may prefer to find here only slight exaggeration of Porus's evidently phenomenal height. Arrian (5.4.4) says that most Indians are of this height, and Curtius (7.4.6) reports that the Dahae were a head taller than the Macedonians. Alexander built beds five cubits long in the camp on the Hyphasis (chap. 95.2).

24 Curtius, 8.14.32‑38; Justin, 12.8.5; Plutarch, Alexander, 60.7.

25 Arrian also gives casualty figures (5.18.2): nearly 20,000 foot and 3000 horse. He mentions also Porus's two sons.

26 Two hundred and thirty cavalry and eighty infantry (Arrian, 5.18.3).

27 These were Nicaea and Bucephala, the latter named in honour of Alexander's noble horse, the death of which occurred at this time (chap. 95.5). Curtius also splits his account of the founding (9.1.6; 3.23), but the others deal with it only in this connection (Justin, 12.8.8; Plutarch, Alexander, 61; Arrian, 5.19.4‑6).

28 Twenty-four feet, apparently no impossible length for a python. Their mention is credited to Nearchus (Jacoby, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, no. 133, F 10a) and to Cleitarchus (op. cit. no. 137, F 18). The former reference comes from Arrian (Indica, 15.10), the latter from Aelian (De Natura Animalium, 17.2). Many of these and later anecdotes about India appear in Strabo, 15.1.20‑45 (694‑706), from the same sources.

29 The handles of ancient mirrors are often pierced for cords to carry them by. Such loops could be slipped over one's head.

Thayer's Note: For a good engraving of one such mirror, see Chapter XII of Ward's Roman Era in Britain.

30 This story is from Cleitarchus (Jacoby, op. cit. 137, F 19) and is repeated at greater length in Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 17.25.

31 He has previously been called Embisarus (chap. 87.2). For his surrender cp. Curtius, 9.1.7‑8 (his submission is only implied): Arrian, 5.20.5.

32 Perhaps three-quarters of an acre. The tree is presumably the banyan. Cp. Strabo, 15.1.21, who quotes Onesicritus (Jacoby, op. cit. no. 134, F 22) to the effect that they could scarcely be embraced by five men, and could give shade to four hundred horsemen, but adds that Aristobulus (Jacoby, op. cit. no. 139, F 18) says that they could shade fifty horsemen.

33 Mentioned also by Nearchus (Jacoby, op. cit. no. 133, F 10; Arrian, Indica, 15.10) and Cleitarchus (Jacoby, op. cit. no. 137, F 18; Aelian, De Natura Animalium, 18.2).

34 According to Nearchus (loc. cit.), this is what the natives did.

35 Curtius, 9.1.12.

36 Arrian, 5.20.6; 21.2‑6.

37 Arrian, 5.22.3.

38 Strabo (15.1.30) credits this story to Onesicritus (Jacoby, op. cit. no. 134, F 21).

39 Curtius (9.1.23) is as vague as Diodorus. The city was Sangala (Arrian, 5.22‑24.5).

40 Curtius, 9.1.24‑26; Strabo, 15.1.30 (where the story is credited to Onesicritus: Jacoby, op. cit. no. 134, F 21).

41 Curtius, 9.1.28‑30. Tarn supposes that he and Porus would have been about the same height, but that the cubit used in measuring them was different (p376, note 1).

42 Curtius, 9.1.31‑33; Strabo, 15.1.31 (700). These Indian dogs were famous (Herodotus, 1.192; 7.187; cp. Real-Encyclopädie, 8 (1913), 2545).

43 Continued from chap. 91.2; Curtius, 9.1.35.

44 Curtius, 9.1.36.

45 The river (the Beas) has just been called the Hyphasis, and editors have tended to remove the term "Indus" here.

46 The same figure is given by Plutarch, Alexander, 62.1. In Book 2.37.2, in a description based probably on Megasthenes, Diodorus gives the width of the river as thirty furlongs.

47 Plutarch, Alexander, 62.2, gives the reported figures as follows: 80,000 horse, 200,000 foot, 8000 chariots, and 6000 elephants. In Book 2.37.3 also Diodorus gives the number of elephants as 4000.

48 Curtius, 9.2.2‑7. The narrative of these events in Arrian is entirely different.

49 For the consultation of Ammon cp. chap. 51 above. The Pythian story is mentioned otherwise only by Plutarch, Alexander, 14.4.

50 Curtius, 9.2.8‑11. This reflection on the sad state of his soldiers is lacking in Arrian.

51 Curtius, 9.3.10; Arrian, Indica, 6.5.

52 It is not clear what this country can have been. The kingdom of Phegeus was friendly. The reading of one manuscript (see note 1 above) would avoid this logical difficulty, but it is hard to think that Alexander allowed his soldiers to plunder Phegeus's cities. Similar instances of plunder for the sake of loot occur below, chaps. 102.6 and 104.5‑7. It was certainly only too often what generals did to please their soldiers.

The "Note 1" mentioned is a critical note to the Greek text, at πολεμίαν (διόπερ λεηλατεῖν μὲν αὐτοῖς συνεχώρεσε τὴν πολεμίαν χωραν), which reads:

παραποταμίαν F; this is corrected by a later hand.

53 This is only one possible translation. The meaning of έπιφορὰς ταγματικάς and συλλογισμούς in this connection is quite unknown. Justin (12.4.2‑11) alone, of the other Alexander historians, mentions this proposal to provide for the dependants of soldiers. Plutarch, Alexander, 71.5, tells the same story in a later connection, after the mutiny at Opis. Cp. also Arrian, 7.12.1‑2.

54 This is all that Diodorus has to say about the famous mutiny (except for the mention in chap. 108.3). Cp. Curtius, 9.2.12‑3.19; Justin, 12.8.10‑17; Plutarch, Alexander, 62; Arrian, 5.25‑28.

55 Curtius, 9.3.19; Plutarch, Alexander, 62.4; Arrian, 5.29.1. Fifty cubits would be seventy-five feet.

56 Curtius, 9.3.19; Plutarch, Alexander, 62.4.

57 Nicaea and Bucephala lay on what should be called the Hydaspes, but this river (the Jhelum) became the Acesines after its confluence with the Sandabal and the Hyarotis. Below, however (chap. 96.1) Diodorus mentions the confluence of the Acesines and Hydaspes, as if they were different. Or perhaps the Acesines is the Sandabal (Chenab) after all (as Arrian, 6.14.5).

58 Curtius (9.3.21) mentions 7000 foot and 5000 horse, with 25,000 sets of armour inlaid with gold and silver.

59 Arrian, 6.2.4: eighty triaconters and 2080 ships in all (from Ptolemy).

60 Above, chap. 89.6, and note. Arrian (5.29.5) states that the cities had been partly destroyed by floods.

61 It was now the autumn of 326 B.C. (Strabo 15.1.17 (691): "a few days before the setting of the Pleiades").

62 Craterus was on the right bank, Hephaestion on the left (Arrian, 6.2.2).

63 Cp. p394, note 2, for the river names.

64 Cp. chap. 85 above. For the story, which is lacking in Arrian, cp. Curtius, 9.4.1‑3; Justin, 12.9.2.

65 Curtius, 9.4.5 (who calls them simply "another nation" but mentions their 40,000 troops); Justin, 12.9.2 ("Agensones').

66 Curtius, 9.4.6‑7, stating that the Indians burned themselves up to avoid subjection.

67 Both Curtius (9.4.8‑14) and Arrian (6.4.4‑5.4) speak of the confluence of the Hydaspes and the Acesines, rightly. The Indus joins the system much further to the south.

68 Plutarch, Alexander, 58.4, reported that Alexander could not swim.

69 This is the manuscript reading, possibly a mistake for νέων, "young men," or νεόντων, "swimmers." This last is the suggestion of Professor Post.

70 Iliad, 21.228‑382. Cp. Curtius, 9.4.14: "cum amne bellum fuisse crederes"; Plutarch, De Fortuna aut Virtute Alexandri, 2.9 (340E): θαλάτταν μαχομένην ἔπλευσε. Curtius, like Arrian (6.5.1‑4), says that Alexander was not wrecked.

71 This name appears variously as "Sydracae" (Strabo, 15.1.8 [687]), "Sudracae" (Curtius, 9.4.15), "Sugambri" (Justin, 12.9.3), and "Oxydracae" (Arrian, 6.4.3). Their strength is given by Curtius as 90,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 900 chariots; by Justin as 80,000 infantry and 60,000 cavalry. The ethnic Sydracae recalls the name of the Hindu warrior caste, the Kshatriyas (so L. A. Post).

72 Curtius, 9.4.15.

73 Curtius, 9.4.27‑29.

74 Curtius, 9.4.30‑5.20; Justin, 12.9.5‑13; Plutarch, Alexander, 63; Arrian, 6.9.1‑11.8.

75 Curtius, 9.5.4; Justin, 12.9.9.

76 An arrow three feet long (Plutarch, De Fortuna aut Virtute Alexandri, 2.9 [341C]).

77 Curtius, 9.5.11‑13.

78 There is general agreement that Peucestasº deserves the credit for saving Alexander's life at this time. Curtius (9.5.14‑18) reports that Timaeus, Leonnatus, and Aristonus were present also. Plutarch (Alexander, 63) names Limnaeus: Arrian (6.10‑11), Leonnatus and Abreas. According to Cleitarchus, Ptolemy was present also, but Ptolemy denied this (Curtius, 9.5.21; Arrian, 6.11.8). He is named only by Plutarch, De Fortuna aut Virtute Alexandri, 1.2 (327B) and 2.13 (343D‑345) (naming also Limnaeus and Leonnatus, but omitting Peucestas).

79 Curtius, 9.5.22‑30.

80 Curtius, 9.7.1‑11, who reports that they all eventually made good their escape. Diodorus is thinking of the 20,000 foot and 3000 horse killed by the soldiers of Pithon (Book 18.4.8; 7.1‑9).

81 The story of Coragus and Dioxippus is otherwise told only by Curtius, 9.7.16‑26 (calling the Macedonian "Corratas"). Dioxippus had won the victory in boxing at Olympia, probably in 336 B.C. (Berve, Alexanderreich, 2, no. 284). See Addenda.

82 That is to say, the pillow upon his banqueting couch.

83 They are called Sabarcae in the manuscripts of Curtius. For the story cp. Curtius, 9.8.4‑7. Arrian (6.15.1‑4) gives completely different names and events, and it is impossible to reconcile the two accounts.

84 Curtius, 9.8.8, merely says "another nation." The ethnic Sodrae recalls the name of the lowest Hindu caste, the Sudras.

85 Curtius, 9.8.8; Arrian, 6.15.2 (at the junction of the Acesines and the Indus).

86 Arrian, 6.15.5‑7. He revolted later, Arrian, 6.17.1‑2. Curtius speaks of a people called Musicani (9.8.8‑10) and mentions this revolt (9.8.16). Onesicritus is the source of anecdotes about this kingdom (Strabo, 15.1.34; Jacoby, Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, no. 134, F 24).

87 Curtius, 9.8.11‑12; Arrian, 6.16.1‑2 (calling him "Oxycanus").

88 Curtius, 9.8.13‑16; Plutarch, Alexander, 64.1 (Sabbas; Strabo, 15.1.33, has Sabus); Arrian, 6.16.3‑4.

89 According to Curtius (9.8.15), this was the figure given by Cleitarchus.

90 The name appears also as Harmata (Stephen of Byzantium). Cp. note 2 on the opposite page.

That "note 2" is a critical note to the Greek text, at Ἁρματήλια, which reads:

Ἅρματα RX. Cp., however, chap. 103.8.

91 Curtius, 9.8.17‑19 ("at the extremity of the realm of Sambus"); Arrian, 6.16.5. The same figures are given by Curtius, who identifies the "five hundred" as Agriani.

92 Curtius, 9.8.20‑28; Justin, 12.10.1‑3 (in the realms of King Ambus).

93 Arrian's failure to mention this incident, favourable as it is to Ptolemy, raises some question as to whether Ptolemy included it in his history. It is mentioned also by Strabo, 15.2.7 (723).


Thayer's Notes:

a Such beds are common in Old World caves; see for example (photo) the bed of St. Marinus, the 4c founder of the Republic of San Marino: since at the time he was a poor wanderer, the odds are that the traditional name reflects the historical reality.

b Diodorus expands considerably on suttee, and recounts a specific and dramatic instance, in Book 19.33‑34.6.


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