Tuesday, November 11, 2014

94. Megh : Pages from world history- Taxila, Porus and Alexander

"He proceeds to tell us, that they transferred Mount Caucasus, in their speeches, from Pontus, to the most easterly parts of the earth, and the country of Paropamis, us to India; and called Paropamisus, Caucasus,---------- When Alexander arrived at the river Indus, he found the bridge fully perfected by Hephaestion, and two large vessels built with thirty oars, besides many more small ones. He also received the presents of Taxiles the Indian, be ing two hundred talents of silver, three thousand oxen, above ten thousand sheep, and thirty ele phants f seven hundred Indian horse were sent to his assistance by that prince, who also made him a surren der of his capital, the largest and most populous of all the cities between the rivers Indus and Hydaspes. Alexander there sacrificed to the gods, after the cus tom of bis country; and having exhibited gymnic and equestrian sports on the banks of that river, the en trails promised him a safe passage over. The Indus is the largest of all the rivers of Europe or Asia, ex cept the Ganges, which is also in India : it receives its rise from the sjnrts of Mount Parapamisus, or Caucasus, and discharges its waters southwards, into the Indian Ocean. It has two mouths in a low marshy soil, like those five of the Ister ; and it forms the figure of the Greek letter A ( Delta ), by its course through India, as the Nile does in his passage through Egypt; which island is in the Indian language called Pattala. ---"page :6-8.
"---- Alexander having gained the other side, again offered sacrifices to the gods, according to the custom of his country ; and marching forwards, ar rived at Taxila, a large wealthy city, and the most populous between Indus and Hydaspes. Taxiles prince of the place, and the Indian inhabitants there of, received him in a friendly manner ; and he, in return, added as much of the adjacent country f to their territories, as they requested. Thither came ambassadors to him from Ambisarus king of the Indian mountaineers, with his brother, and some of his nobles ; as also others from Doxareus, a prince of that country, with presents. Alexander again sacrificed in Taxila, and exhibited sports according to custom ; and having made Philip, the son of Machetas, governor of the province, and placed a garrison in the city, he left his sick men there for the recovery of their health, and moved on towards the river Hydaspes, because he had received notice*
*( If we durst venture to believe Curtius, all scruples relating to this affair might easily be removed. He tells us, lib. viii. cap. 13, 2, " that Alexander dispatched one Clochares to Porus, who should summon him to pay him tribute, and to meet him on the confines of his kingdom." But Porus returned answer, " That he designed indeed to meet him on his borders, but it should be in arms." — It is great pity that most of,his vouchers are lost : it gives ill-disposed people a vast liberty of judging that he con trived many of them himself. He has taken no notice of the con tents of the remaining part of this chapter.) that Porus with all his army lay encamped on the other side of that river, being fully resolved, either to intercept his passage over, or to attack him upon his landing on that side. Alexander, upon this, dis patched Caenus the son of Polemocrates back to the river Indus, to cause those vessels wherewith they passed that river to be taken in pieces, and conveyed to the Hydaspes. This was accordingly performed, the lesser vessels being divided into two parts, and those of thirty oars into three. The parts were con veyed on carriages to the banks of Hydaspes, and there joined together again, and launched into the river. He in the mean time, with the forces which he had brought from Taxila, and five thousand In dians under the command of Taxiles and the other princes of that country, marched forwards, and en camped upon the banks of that river." Pages 16-17

"Porus lay encamped on the opposite side with his whole army, surrounded by his elephants ; who, whithersoever he perceived Alexander's navy move, immediately prepared to defend the passage ; and de tached parties to all the places where he knew the river was fordable, and appointed captains over each, to obstruct the Macedonians if they should attempt to cross the river. Alexander perceiving this, re solved to divide his army, in the same manner, in to several small parties, to distract Porus in his resolutions, and render his efforts fruitless : which being accordingly performed, and the several parties dispatched several ways, some were ordered to lay the country waste in a hostile manner, others to seek out a place where the river might be easily passed over. He also commanded vast stores of corn to be brought into his camp from all the country on this side Hydaspes, that Porus might imagine he would remain in his present encampment till the waters of the river" fell away in the winter season, for then he might force his way over with his army in spite of all opposition. His ships being therefore drawn this way and that, and the coverings of his tents stuffed with li«ht buoyant matter, as usual, and the whole bank thoroughly lined with horse and foot, he suffered Porus to take no rest, and rendered him thereby wholly incapable of discerning where the storm would fall, or how best to prepare for the safety of himself and his army. About that time of the year (for it was then nigh the summer solstice) all the rivers of India are full of water, and consequently muddy and rapid, for heavy and frequent rains then fall throughout all the country ; and besides, the snow upon Mount Caucasus (from whence most of them have their rise) melting with heat, their streams are thereby exceedingly augmented : but the snow again congealing in winter, and the rains ceasing, the rivers become clearer and shallower, insomuch that all of them are fordable in some place or other, except the Indus and Ganges, and perhaps one more; how ever, the Hydaspes may be certainly passed over by fords." Pages 18 to 20

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