The Anabasis of Alexander/Book V/Chapter XXV

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The Anabasis of Alexander by Arrian, translated by E. J. Chinnock
Book V, Chapter XXV.
The Army Refuses to Advance.—Alexander's Speech to the Officers.


The Army Refuses to Advance. — Alexander's Speech to the Officers.

It was reported that the country beyond the river Hyphasis was fertile, and that the men were good agri- culturists, and gallant in war; and that they conducted their own political affairs in a regular and constitutional manner. For the multitude was ruled by the aristocracy, who governed in no respect contrary to the rules of moderation. It was also stated that the men of that district possessed a much greater number of elephants than the other Indians, and that those men were of very great stature, and excelled in valour. These reports excited in Alexander an ardent desire to advance farther; but the spirit of the Macedonians now began to flag, when they saw the king raising one labour after another, and incurring one danger after another. Conferences were held throughout the camp, in which those who were the most moderate bewailed their lot, while others resolutely declared that they would not follow Alexander any farther, even if he should lead the way. When he heard of this, before the disorder and pusillanimity of the soldiers should advance to a great degree, he called a council of the officers of the brigades and addressed them as follows:— "Macedonians and Grecian allies, seeing that you no longer follow me into dangerous enterprises with a resolution equal to that which formerly animated you, I have collected you together into the same spot, so that I may either persuade you to march forward with me, or may be persuaded by you to return. If indeed the labours which you have already undergone up to our present position seem to you worthy of disapprobation, and if you do not approve of my leading you into them, there can be no advantage in my speaking any further. But, if as the result of these labours, you hold possession of Ionia,[1] the Hellespont, both the Phrygias, Cappadocia, Paphlagonia, Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, Phoenicia, Egypt together with Grecian Libya, as well as part of Arabia, Hollow Syria, Syria between the rivers,[2] Babylon, the nation of the Susians, Persia, Media, besides all the nations which the Persians and the Modes ruled, and many of those which they did not rule, the land beyond the Caspian Gates, the country beyond the Caucasus, the Tanais, as well as the land beyond that river, Bactria, Hyrcania, and the Hyrcanian Sea; if we have also subdued the Scythians as far as the desert; if, in addition to these, the river Indus flows through our territory, as do also the Hydaspes, the Acesines, and the Hydraotes, why do ye shrink from adding the Hyphasis also, and the nations beyond this river, to your empire of Macedonia? Do ye fear that your advance will be stopped in the future by any other barbarians? Of whom some submit to us of their own accord, and others are captured in the act of fleeing, while others, succeeding in their efforts to escape, hand over to us their deserted land, which we add to that of our allies, or to that of those who have voluntarily submitted to us.

  1. In the Hebrew Bible Javan denotes the Ionian race of Greeks, and then the Greeks in general (Gen. x. 2, 4; Isa. lxvi. 19; Ezek. xxvii. 13; Joel iii. 6; Zech. ix. 13). In Dan. viii. 21, x. 20, xi. 2, Javan stands for the kingdom of Alexander the Great, comprising Macedonia as well as Greece. The form of the name Javan is closely connected with the
  2. Coele-Syria, or the Hollow Syria, was the country between the ranges of Libanus and Antilibanus. Syria between the rivers is usually called by its Greek name of Mesopotamia. It is the Padan Aram of the Bible. Cappadocia embraced the whole northeastern part of the peninsula of Asia Minor. Slaves were procured from this region. See Horace (Epistles, i. 6, 39); Persius, vi. 77. The name Pamphylia is from παν and φυλἠ, because of the mixed origin of the inhabitants.