Metz Epitome part II


by Karl Soundy

[32]. These deeds done Alexander set out onto the Bactrian {beiones} Plain. He reached Bactra {the camp} and crossed the River Oxus. Then he led the army across thirty stadia of desert, in order to proceed against India. He came to Drapsaka {drapis}. The king of this place [Arines], came to him with his children and a great amount of provisions, which he himself distributed to the army, he brought Alexander many barbarian clothes, 3,000 horses and 50,000 talents of silver.

[33]. When Alexander asked him what he wanted, the Indian replied, ‘Your friendship, great King,’ he said. Alexander spoke, ‘Your father,’ he said. ’bequeathed you this money and I now hand it back to you. The horses I shall use in war. We shall reward you; the government here shall be yours.’

[34]. From here he came to the Cophen {per Pluten} which is nine days’ away from the Indus. And then those that dwelt across the river were excited by Alexander’s arrival. The first son of Jupiter they remembered coming was Father Liber, the next was Hercules and the third Alexander. That pleased the king who crossed the river and came with guides to the Indus.

[35]. Here he ordered ships to be built and he transported the army across. He went ahead to a second river with the cavalry and the light armed; he ordered Craterus to follow with the remainder of the troops. Then when he came to the first town in India, Silex, armed men came out from the town. These he drove back through the gate from which they had issued. Following this his army followed them in. The town was captured and he ordered all the young men slain, in order to inspire fear.
Then he proceeded to a nearby town. There he accepted their hostages and imposed a garrison.

[36]. From there he moved onward, 230 stadia across the Nysaean Plain and came to Nysa without alerting the Nysaeans. When the inhabitants became aware of him they sent their highest born men as envoys to sue for peace; it pleased them to show the king, by way of diversion, evidence of Father Liber, as he walked around, he had founded the town of Nysa and the Nysaean state of 50,000 men, and they pointed out a distant mountain which he had called Meron (Thigh) after the manner of his birth and they showed him all kinds of delights.

[37]. Then they began to beg him, all crying as one to uphold the laws and privileges conferred by Father Liber, and Alexander gave this town back its freedom and goods and confirmed Acuphis as its ruler.
And Alexander sent to him that he should dispatch 100 good men to follow him.

[38]. Acuphis replied that no state could survive if 100 of its best men were taken away. ‘If you wish to strengthen us,’ he said, ‘you should rather take 200 of the bad ones.’ Which seemed to Alexander at once a joke and a Truth.- And then he climbed Meron. The whole land had plentiful water and every type of the most fruitful trees, it was bursting with fertility.

[39]. Setting out from there he crossed the Cordiaean mountains. He came to the satrapy of Assacenus; then he came to Mazega where Assacenus had ruled and after whose death his mother Cleophis and his son had succeeded to the father’s power. The brother of this king, Amminais had enrolled 9,000 mercenaries and brought them into the city that they might fight Alexander. [The battle of the Indians and Alexander. Alexander and Aminais [sic] the Indian king.]

[40]. This town was girt with a stone wall and ditch for a circuit of 35,000 stadia, it was a huge fortress. This Alexander intended to attack having surrounded it with soldiers. Then he rode up to the fortifications to encourage those about him and was struck by an arrow shot from the walls in the left shin. After the weapon was drawn out it was followed by a great effusion of blood; nor did the battle cease because of this grave wound; treating his wound with contempt he urged his soldiers on all the more and they called up tortoises and towers to attack the wall.

[41]. Then the Macedonians, inspired by their wounded king, set up ladders so that they might force an entry into the town. Others opened a rapid artillery fire from the towers upon the defenders, others set engines against the walls. When Cleophis thought about this, the throng of towers advancing upon the town and the power of the artillery missiles being launched, she began to fear what she did not understand. She thought the stones the scorpions were hurling with sinews and the catapults were actually flying!

[42]. When she estimated the number of men the enemy possessed, she called together Arimminais {ariplicem} and other friends; she encouraged them to yield the town to Alexander. The mercenaries cried out against this and began to plot to prevent it. The next day Cleophis secretly sent envoys to Alexander to discuss surrender, and beg forgiveness; she said they had been forced to act as they had by the mercenaries.

[43]. Having surrendered these she surrendered herself. The mercenaries, mindful of their numbers sent their own envoys to Alexander requesting that he allow them to quit the town with their property. He agreed to both terms. They came out of the gates with their wives, children and baggage and set off for a town not far away. The following Alexander set off after them with lightly equipped forces and ordered that they all be killed.

[44]. They, when they perceived themselves to be pursued, placed the baggage in the centre and, having armed themselves, stood all round it ready to defy injustice or to meet death bravely for their wives and children. They began to shout together that Alexander had broken faith with them. Alexander said that he had permitted them to quit the town not leave the area.

[45]. And then the many attacked the few who resisted fiercely for a long time but were gradually overcome and all slain. He then returned to the town. Cleophis came to meet him with the leading citizens and her little grandson, carrying before them wands wrapped in wool and fruits as signs of supplication. Alexander saw that the woman had comely looks, and her bearing and dignity betrayed her noble birth, suited to rule. Then Alexander entered the town with a few men and dallied there for several days.

[46]. Setting out from there he came to the town of {bagasdara} which it was said Hercules had been unable to capture. When the barbarians spied his approach they fled to the mountain, Aornus, which is 100 stadia around and 17[000] to the highest peak. Here there were flocks of all sorts of birds that imitate the human voice. [There were many parrots].

[47]. When they perceived Alexander approaching the mountain, the barbarians shouted down from the heights [that he should keep coming] if he reckoned himself stronger than Hercules. And Alexander having encouraged them brought the army up to the mountain. With himself to the fore by dint of great labour and hard work…little by little they ascended. But when many had perished on both sides, he gained the highest plateau and having thus conquered, ordered them all put to death.

[48]. Having performed these deeds he marched 16 days back to the Indus. There he found the ships he had ordered constructed built and a mass of provisions gathered by Hephaistion.

[49]. Across that river was a certain Mophis, the son of Taxiles, who even while his father lived desired Alexander’s friendship due to his achievements, with his father dead he sent ambassadors to Alexander to ask, and report back what his wishes were: did he wish him to keep his father’s kingdom or would he send another instead. When Alexander heard this he was filled with admiration. But Mophis would not change his name nor assume the royal robes; and awaited Alexander’s arrival

[50]. Then Alexander distributed the provisions to the soldiers loaded the army onto the ships and transported them across the river. When Mophis heard this, that Alexander had come, rejoicing he set out with his army and elephants.

[51]. When Alexander saw this dense column coming into his path, he believed that it was the enemy approaching, at once he ordered it to be announced that the soldiers should arm and once armed they should find their place beneath the standards. This confusion instilled fear into the Macedonians who gathered silently in place. When Mophis understood what was happening, he ordered his men to halt and raise their spears; he himself went out, alone, quite a long way ahead.

[52]. Alexander when he saw this, advanced against him alone as well, reckoning himself his equal in single combat. [How Alexander and the Indian king, Mophis, who was later called Taxiles made peace]. Then, approaching each other, they shook right hands and concluded an alliance. Then he handed over to Alexander, the army all the cavalry and 58 elephants and 600 silver talents, bulls adorned for sacrifice […] moreover, many gold and silver vases and every sort of clothing and several rare woodland animals.

[53]. Alexander accepted these then he asked why he had gathered an army, the reply was that he had wanted [to be ready] to do whatever Alexander should wish. Then Alexander asked him if he was being troubled by any of those on his borders. He replied that there were two kings beyond the river; who were preparing to go to war with him; Abisares who lived in the mountains, and Porus who ruled the plain next to the river.

[54]. Alexander professed himself pleased and thanked him, and said that he should succeed to his father’s kingdom and that he should change his name henceforth he should be called Taxiles. Then he proceeded to the riverbank with Taxiles and saw the enemy forces gathered together all along the plain by the river. Then he asked Taxiles, how large the forces were there encamped, he said that Porus had 85 elephants, 300 four-horsed chariots and over 30,000 foot; and that Porus himself was five cubits tall.

[55]. Having been told this by Taxiles, his ardour was in no way dampened, and he fell to considering where he should cross the river.
Not many days after Abisares sent his brother to Alexander as a peace envoy. Then Alexander sent back Nicocles to Abisares and Cleochares to Porus as envoys to demand tribute and hostages from both of them; at the same time Porus was to be ordered to present himself at the borders of his realm

[56]. Abisares did not want to send the envoy back; whereas Poros when he heard fell into a rage and had Cleochares severely whipped.
At the same time he sent Alexander a letter which ran like this:
Poros king of the Indians says to Alexander; Whoever you are - and I hear you are a Macedonian - I think it would be better for you to go far away and consider your misfortunes rather envy others.

[57]. Porus has so far been called Invincible. Darius never moved against me. Further, idiot, do not give me orders. But set one foot with hostile intent upon my lands and you shall find out that I am an Indian king, I have no Lord but Jupiter, and Porus swears this by the great Fiery ruler of the heavens: should I catch one of your men on my land his gore shall stain my spear, and your goods shall be distributed among my slaves: for I have more than enough wealth. There is one of your commands which I shall perform, I shall meet you at my borders, in arms.’
[58]. Having read this letter Alexander was incensed and urged certain of his cohorts and squadrons to muster and follow him. With the army he left a certain Macedonian called Attalus who was not dissimilar to himself and ordered him to assume his chalmys and the royal regalia and from time to time betake himself and his bodyguard down to the river.

[59]. He ordered Craterus, when he saw him across the river to cross with the army. He himself, with his chosen troops, set out at the first hour of the night and went 150 stadia along the bank to camp in a wooded and deserted place. There he took his troops across the river on inflated skins with all sorts of material thrown thereupon. Then he began to lead the lightly equipped towards the enemy. Then Craterus, who was in charge of the camp, when he saw this also crossed the river with the army on the ships, of which he had a certain number, and rafts.

[60]. Porus, when he saw two armies all of a sudden, he decided to commit himself to battle against Alexander. Meanwhile, Craterus having made his landing attacked him from another direction. Then Porus, his forces being placed in danger from both sides, decided to flee. Alexander ordered those they call the hippotoxatoi [horse archers] to concentrate their arrows on Porus and disregard the others. He, when he saw a horde of them descending upon him, when he, on his elephant […] pressed on, lest he delay his surrender to the enemy he raised both his hands begging for his life.

[61]. That being the end of it he handed over to Alexander his elephants and pack animals and army, for himself he began pleading that he should consider his own royal spirit. Alexander promised to do this, and he did, for he did not just return his kingdom to him but also added [neighbouring] areas to his realm.
In this battle from Porus’ army 12,000 fell, and 80 elephants; of Alexander’s 9000 infantry, 300 cavalry were killed, many were wounded;

[62]. also many horses were killed, amongst whom was Alexander’s own, called Bucephalus, upon which horse he had always been victorious. Therefore he founded, in that place, a town bearing its name, which is now called Bucephala. Afterwards, he ordered the burial of the dead according to custom, both his own and the bravest of the enemy.

[63]. This battle set Alexander thinking about penetrating to the limits of India and the Ocean, so that, when he returned from there, he might sail to the Red Sea and the Atlantic. For this reason he ordered many ships to be built. And in 33 days the first was finished.

[64]. Meanwhile, after Porus had recovered from his wounds. He ordered him to be brought to him. When he arrived he asked him to accompany him to his own land. ‘To see your fatherland,’ he said ‘I would forfeit the moiety of my life, O Great Alexander; [ but you will not be able to convince me] to allow your citizens to see me captive; I seek no immortality; should you wish to carry me off as a spectacle then you have it within your power to take a corpse back with you.’ To this Alexander said that he should do nothing contrary to the other’s wishes.

[65]. Meanwhile envoys came from Abisares, saying that he would do everything he had been ordered to, except coming into his presence. Alexander led the army against him and subjugated him.

[66]. Immediately after he moved against other towns. Many he took by force; [from those which] he took, from some he took hostages and exacted tribute, with others he made peace.
From there he set out and came to the town where Sopithes reigned. He came to meet Alexander with many gifts. Among these he gave him the largest and bravest dogs. He wished to show the king their spirit, he let a lion into an enclosure; then introduced two of the dogs. When they had brought it to the ground and were worrying it he ordered the lower leg of one of them cut off with a blade, that having been done it neither cried out nor let go of the lion. It held on with its teeth until its life had flowed out with the blood from the severed leg.

[67]. The king inquired as to the reason for their valour, Sopithes told him about the tiger a certain animal of these parts the most dreadfully ferocious and marvellously swift and strong. It was from this speed that the animal was named. For the same reason the Persians call arrows, tigers and the river Tigris is so named because it is the most rapid of all the rivers. It was the custom to tie up the bitches of these dogs in the forest at night and leave them there, some would be killed by these animals and some impregnated [and what was born of this] he had shown to be the most aggressive of dogs.

[68]. From here he set out and came to the kingdom of Phegeus. Who also came to meet him with many gifts. Then he set out with him to the River Hyphasis, which flows [by] the town of [altusacra] and is six [thousand] stadia wide. Then the king began to inquire of Phegeus, what was across the river. If one went 12 days through the desert one would come to the river Ganges which was 30 stadia wide; on the other side of which dwelt the Prasii and the Gangaridae, whose king Xandrames had mustered 200 [thousand] infantry, 20 [thousand] cavalry and 2 [thousand] four horse chariots; furthermore he had 180 […] elephants.

[69]. The king did not believe this until he asked Porus and received the exactly same answer. Understanding the matter he erected several altars along the river and ordered towers to be built, that might serve as signs of his campaign. Then having sacrificed, he had an oversized ditch dug round the camp and frames for sedan chairs larger than human stature demanded, and oversize shields of all types and horses’ bits larger than useful and these were to be left all over the camp. He marched back to the river Acesines.

[70]. There he found the ships that Porus and Taxiles had built, 800 biremes and 300 store ships, and he loaded troops and provisions upon them. Meanwhile the son of Alexander and Rhoxane had died. He entombed him and offered sacrifices, before setting out for the Ocean, he reconciled Porus and Taxiles, uniting them with a marriage alliance. Then the fleet unfurled their multi-coloured sails and began to sail down the river. When the fleet came to [eleumezen] he disembarked the army on the other bank.

[71]. Meanwhile the Indian philosophers, who dwelt in these parts, who eschew all clothing save a thick cloak, sent a letter to Alexander which ran thus;

[72]. The philosophers of India to Alexander of Macedon. We have heard that you have been persuaded by your friends, to carry your campaign into our territory and do violence to us; men who cannot even dream of our way of life. If you comply with them you may remove us bodily from this place, our spirits you will never lead astray nor seduce no matter how much violence you contemplate […] we triumph over fore with the human [body].

[73]. We walk upon it and with part of our bodies if it [is everywhere] we move [...] of whatever there is power on land. […] That which is a divine gift is very much in the Gods’ hands to give. That which we think we care about in life and reckon useful, we strive to understand, and due to that we have free use of other’s possessions. Others have paid their way and still not discovered these things, so we are freely praised.

[74]. Nor are we like Greek philosophers putting great weight on mere words, we are more rounded. Our actions are in line with the dignity of our words, and our words match our deeds. And thus we gain the greatest prize, that we have our Truth and Liberty from the dim distant past. Do not therefore consider using force against men whom you can force to do nothing unwillingly. Should you purpose otherwise, you will seem unjust and a foreigner to virtue, which good men assiduously promote.’

[75]. This letter agitated Alexander and he decided to lead the army against their territory, where the Oxydracae and Malli had gatered 100,000 foot, 20,000 horse. Once these were arrayed in battle-line, a certain Macedonian shot a three-foot missile from a catapult. This found its mark and pierced their general, Sambus through both thighs, making it impossible for him to advance.

[76]. When the barbarians saw this they were terrified and scattered in flight […] they fled to the town. The Macedonians pursued them and, having surrounded the place proceeded to attack. Then Alexander placed ladders against the wall and with three others quickly mounted the wall and secured it then he leapt down into the town. The main body did not follow.

[77]. When the barbarians saw this they surrounded him, he set his back to the wall and fighting back slew many of them and wounded more; many missiles were thrown and Leonnatus was wounded in the right thigh. Alexander, himself, was wounded in the chest [near] to his stomach and through his breastplate, and took a fierce blow to the head. He was in grave danger, when the Macedonians broke down the gates and came running to the aid of the king, they slaughtered the townsfolk and took their own wounded to the camp.

[78]. But when Alexander had got better, he arranged things as he wished and ordered the Mallians and Oxydracae who had survived the battle remain subject to their own king.
Then he addressed the ten philosophers who had been captured in the town thus; ‘Since, philosophers of India, you have declared yourselves our enemies […] for it would be better to pay attention to what I say. Each one of you must answer the question I set him […] the others will be killed.’

[79]. Then their leader requested that each of them be allowed to [explain] his reply as well. Alexander granted this request. Then their leader to him […] he asked.
(I) Alexander asked who are more numerous the living or the dead. The Indian replied, ‘The living for the others are nothing and nothing cannot be counted.’
(II) Alexander asked, whether there were more creatures on land or in the sea. The Indian replied, ‘On the land for the land contains the very sea itself.’
(III)Alexander asked, which was the wisest of the animals. The Indian replied, ‘That which no man has ever discovered.’

[80]. (IV) Alexander asked, ‘For what reason did you advise king Sambus to wage war against me?’ The Indian replied, ‘That he might live honourably or die honourably.’
(V) Alexander asked, ‘Which came first the night or the day?’ The Indian replied that night was born first by one day.’
Then when Alexander hesitated over what to ask, the Indian noticed and said, ‘Hesitant questions lead to hesitant answers.’

[81]. (VI) Alexander asked, ‘What should a man do to seem pleasing to everyone?’ The Indian replied, ‘If he should be powerful to apply himself to not seeming vicious.’
(VII) Alexander asked, how a man might be thought a God. The Indian replied, ‘By doing something no mortal can.’
(VIII) Alexander asked which was stronger, life or death. The Indian replied, ‘Life for life makes something out of nothing whereas death makes what is into nothing.’

[82]. (IX) Alexander asked, ‘How long may a man usefully live?’ The Indian replied, ‘Until such time as he reckons himself more useful dead than alive.’
(X) Then Alexander [who did not wished to sentence anyone to death himself] asked the remaining one, from those whom he had questioned which had given the worst answer in his judgement. At the same time, forbidding him to curry favour with his decision.

[83]. And he, not wishing anyone to be killed by his judgement, said that each had answered worse than his predecessor. Alexander said, ‘Clearly all of you should die and you most of all for your bad verdict. The leader of the Indians said, ‘But, Alexander, it is not kingly to lie. You said : whichever of you that I choose to make the decision, if he decides justly, I shall free […] Therefore I have judged not falsely but correctly. […] you can condemn none of us to death according to your terms. For […] it is your responsibility to see that we are not maliciously done to death, not ours.’

[84]. Upon hearing this Alexander reckoned it was wise and ordered them to be given clothing and set free.
Then he ordered the army to embark and to set sail when the signal was given [down the river Indus to the Red Sea and the Atlantic]. When he had sailed for a few days, he came to the island of Patala which is called in [ophiorum] on the right bank of that region lies [bigander]; the left is inhabited by the [mamalces].From these he took stores and guides due to the width of the river.

[85]. Then, a few days later he came to a desert island. He ordered this searched for anyone who knew the area. When he found no one, having prayed to the Gods he left. Now he ran 400 stadia downstream and suddenly they felt a sea breeze which was no cause for alarm. Hopeful of salvation they mobbed the king […] and urged each other on to row because the sea was not far distant.

[86]. Then he ordered the ships to head for the bank and search the place for someone familiar with the area. They searched for a long time before finding some peasants and bringing them to the king. He asked them how long a journey it was [to the sea] they denied any knowledge of the sea but said it was three days journey to find brackish water. Then they understood that they meant sea water. Then they rushed to board the ships a weight of their minds, in order to be the first to reach the sea. And on the third day they saw waves and [returning] the fields flooding with salt water and they felt the force of the current slacken….