The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VI/Chapter XXIV

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March through Gadrosia.

He then advanced towards the capital of the Gadrosians, which was named Pura[1]; and he arrived there in sixty days after starting from Ora. Most of the historians of Alexander's reign assert that all the hardships which his army suffered in Asia were not worthy of comparison with the labours undergone here. Nearchus alone asserts that Alexander pursued this route, not from ignorance of the difficulty of the journey, but because he heard that no one had ever hitherto passed that way with an army and emerged in safety from the desert, except Semiramis, when she fled from India. The natives said that even she emerged with only twenty men of her army; and that Gyrus, son of Cambyses, escaped with only seven of his men.[2] For they say that Cyrus also marched into this region for the purpose of invading India; but that he did not effect his retreat before losing the greater part of his army, from the desert and the other difficulties of this route. When Alexander received this information he was seized with a desire of excelling Cyrus and Semiramis. Nearchus says that he turned his march this way, both for this reason and at the same time for the purpose of conveying provisions near the fleet. The scorching heat and lack of water destroyed a great part of the army, and especially the beasts of burden; most of which perished from thirst and some of them even from the depth and heat of the sand, because it had been thoroughly scorched by the sun. For they met with lofty ridges of deep sand, not closely pressed and hardened, but such as received those who stepped upon it just as if they were stepping into mud, or rather into untrodden snow. At the same time too the horses and mules suffered still more, both in going up and coming down the hills, from the unevenness of the road as well as from its instability. The length of the marches between the stages also exceedingly distressed the army; for the lack of water often compelled them to make the marches of unusual length.[3] When they travelled by night on a journey which it was necessary to complete, and at daybreak came to water, they suffered no hardship at all; but if, while still on the march, on accouiit of the length of the way, they were caught by the heat, then they did indeed suffer hardships from the blazing sun, being at the same time oppressed by unassuageable thirst.[4]

  1. Pura was near the borders of Carmania, probably at Bampur. The name means town.
  2. Cf. Strabo, xv. 2; Diodorus, ii. 19, 20. According to Megasthenes, Semiramis died before she could carry out her intended invasion of India. See Arrian (Indica, 5). Neither Herodotus nor Ctesias mentions an invasion of India by Cyrus; and according to Arrian (Indica, 9), the Indians expressly denied that Cyrus attacked them.
  3. Strabo says that some of these marolies extended 200, 400, and even 600 stades; most of the marching being done in the night. Kruger substitutes ξυμμέτρους for ξύμμερτος ουσα.
  4. Cf. Thucydides, ii. 49, 3.