The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VI/Chapter II

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CHAPTER II.

Voyage down the Hydaspes.

{{sc|At]} this time Coenus, who was one of Alexander's most faithful Companions, fell ill and. died, and the king buried him with as much magnificence as circumstances allowed. Then collecting the Companions and the Indian envoys who had come to him, he appointed Porus king of the part of India which had already been conquered, seven nations in all, containing more than 2,000 cities. After this he made the following distribution of his army.[1] With himself he placed on board the ships all the shield-bearing guards, the archers, the Agrianians, and the body-guard of cavalry.[2] Craterus led a part of the infantry and cavalry along the right bank of the Hydaspes, while along the other bank Hephaestion advanced at the head of the most numerous and efficient part of the army, including the elephants, which now numbered about 200. These generals were ordered to march as quickly as possible to the place where the palace of Sopeithes was situated,[3] and Philip, the viceroy of the country beyond the Indus[4] extending to Bactria, was ordered to follow them with his forces after an interval of three days. He sent the Nysaean cavalry back to Nysa.[5] The whole of the naval force was under the command of Nearchus; but the pilot of Alexander's ship was Onesicritus, who, in the narrative which he composed of Alexander's campaigns, falsely asserted that he was admiral, while in reality he was only a pilot.[6] According to Ptolemy, son of Lagus, whose statements I chiefly follow, the entire number of the ships was about eighty thirty-oared galleys; but the whole number of vessels, including the horse transports and boats, and all the other river craft, both those previously plying on the rivers and those built at that time, fell not far short of 2,000.[7]
  1. Plutarch (Alex. 66) informs ua that Alexander's army numbered 120,000 infantry and 15,000 cavalry. Cf. Arrian (Indica, 19).
  2. Arrian, in the Indica (chap. 19), says that Alexander embarked with 8,000 men.
  3. Strabo (xv. 1) says that the realm of Sopeithes was called Cathaia.
  4. As Alexander was at this time east of the Indus, the expression, "beyond the Indus," means west of it.
  5. Cf. Arrian, v. 2 supra.
  6. Only fragments of this narrative are preserved. Strabo (xv. 1) says that the statements of Onesicritus are not to be relied upon.
  7. Curtius (ix. 13) and Diodorus (xvii. 95) say that there were 1,000 vessels. Arrian (Indica, 19) says there were 800. Krüger reads χιλίων in this passage instead of the common reading δισχιλίων.