Friday, March 26, 2010

Alexander in India


In spring 326BC, Alexander the Great marched over the Hindu Kush and arrived in India. He crossed the Indus and arrived in the Kingdom of Taxila where the King, who had heard of Alexander's conquest of the Persian empire, offered Alexander his army if he spared his kingdom.

King Porus of Punjab lived on the other side of the river Hydaspes and hated the King of Taxila. He hated him even more for surrendering to Alexander and determined not to submit to the invaders. When Alexander's envoys summoned him to Taxila, Porus refused to go, replying that he could only meet a king as an equal. Alexander's army marched towards the Hydaspes and saw 100 of Porus's elephants arrayed on the other side of the river. Behind the elephants were 1000 chariots and 40,000 infantry. Alexander realised a direct crossing was impossible and the river was rising with the melting of the snow so he waited a while. Porus's spies reported that the Greeks were gathering a huge store of grain so Porus assumed that the invasion had been delayed.

One morning Porus heard that boats filled with horses were crossing the river 30 miles upstream. Alexander had moved a third of his army up there. Porus did not believe that this was the main invasion and sent his son up there with 120 chariots and 2000 men. They were swiftly defeated by the Greek archers and the nimble Macedonian cavalry. Porus then decided to march his whole army up river. He led the way in spectacular fashion: he was over 6 feet tall and rode astride the largest elephant, carrying the image of the warrior god Indra.

The Greek archers attacked the Indian left flank whilst the cavalry charged the right flank. They then launched a surprise attack from the rear which caused the elephants to panic and stampede, trampling Porus's infantry to death. Porus was wounded and dismounted his elephant to drink some water offered by Alexander's envoys. They led him to their leader. "How would you like to be treated?" asked Alexander. "Treat me, Alexander, like a king," Porus replied. Alexander was so impressed by the man's dignity that he allowed him to keep his kingdom and extended its borders.

6 Comments:

Blogger kinglear said...

I suspect Alexander was a rather better character and person than that portrayed by Colin Farrell - who can't act anyway.

10:52 am  
Blogger Eurodog said...

When I started reading I thought: "This is D-Day revisited" but no this is real warfare. Great stuff.

10:52 am  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

I haven't seen that film, KL

Glad you enjoyed it, ED - it is an amazing story!

4:57 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

That's what I call leadership.

9:24 pm  
Blogger kinglear said...

WW don't bother to see it.
On the other hand do see Mongol (not the John Wayne version, the one in mongol speak with subtitles) Fantastic film.

9:28 am  
Blogger Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Always something to learn here, WW.

10:10 pm  

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