Discuss Alexander's generals, wives, lovers, family and enemies
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alejandro wrote: marcus wrote:
But before you attempt to carry out your insurgency, just remember what happened to those satraps who thought they could get away with anything when Alexander's back appeared to be turned!
Ouch! I should have realised that you don’t become a somatophilax without being as ruthless as the king!
. I guess I will follow Semiramis’ advice and continue the fight in secret. Just hope no Keballinos tells about it to anyone, or if he does, that the listener is a Philotas!
Nyah-ha-ha-ha-ha ... (diabolical laughter)
- Hetairos (companion)
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All good points, indeed, and they forced me to think about them for a long time, after which I’ve managed to come with some ideas to salvage my theory (hey! You wouldn’t expect me to retreat so easily, would you?
Ahh.. the downfall of all great revolutions... infighting.
alejandro wrote:Here I guess we have to resort to Athenas Owl’s argument of numbers, and notice that since India was so densely populated, killing more people in absolute terms doesn’t necessarily translate into “more brutality”. If I remember well, there was a period in the campaign when they found several cities quite close to one another, and every time Alexander took one of them their people were killed, the main reason being to avoid their escaping to the other ones carrying the news and –more importantly- joining their troops.
Very interesting point. I've been thinking about the density of Indian populations and the prior existence of cities there ever since Amyntoros' observation that Alexander didn't found cities in India. Could it be that there were too many cities, too close together in the suitable lands already?
Perhaps a parallel can be found in ancient and densely populated Egypt. A recent discovery in Alexandria (Egypt) suggests that there was already a significant settlement there well before Alexander. And it was certainly more than a fishing village.
http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/ ... xander.php
Something similar has also been suggested for Samarkand.
These large numbers may also help solving the resources conundrum: I may re-phrase my theory in terms of per-capita resources ("backward+poor-per-capita"), and then the value of India as producer of elephants and the like would be greatly diminished. Why per-capita? Well, it can be a good measure of how many resources a conqueror will have to “invest” in conquering the area, so that even if India’s value was enormous in absolute terms, the cost of conquering it could outweigh the benefits (the rate of return may be too low or even negative). This, by the way, fits Karen’s view (that we both agree with) that Alex started the campaign with the goal of conquest, but then found out that it was not worth the effort and left (and, if you push a bit, you can even fit Kenny’s idea that the Beas mutiny was a god-sent –staged?
- event that allowed A to “write-off his losses” and leave India without losing face).
Did I convince you?
Hm... You've certainly made me consider the idea. Maybe for Alexander, India looked good when he was in Persia. But once he got there, he was forced to put it in the "too hard" basket. Perhaps his actions resulting from a "sod it, it's not gonna be mine anyway" mentality. It's always stimulating reading your posts on these matters.
- Pezhetairos (foot soldier)
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Efstathios wrote:I dont think that Alexander conquered every area that they passed through because it had something special. It was just in the way. And there were other areas too, that had far more less than India. Yet, he conquered them.
Hi Efstathios. I agree that some areas were less rich than others, but they were important for other reasons: strategic, political, etc. Even “being in the way” makes them important as a means for an end. Areas that were not-that-important were ignored and only dealt with later (eg, the satrapy that Eumenes got in the Babylon agreement –Kappadocia?).
Semiramis wrote:I've been thinking about the density of Indian populations and the prior existence of cities there ever since Amyntoros' observation that Alexander didn't found cities in India. Could it be that there were too many cities, too close together in the suitable lands already?
An interesting perspective, indeed. It may well be the case that enough cities were already there, and so Alex didn’t need to found new ones. The (cool!) article on Alexandria reminded me that Alex’s foundations were usually just reallocations of people that were already living in the area. The “foundation” usually meant that some soldiers will be left there as land-owners and as garrison, together with some merchants and craftsmen. This also meant that the defeated population of the area would be forced to (re)build the city and would be given as slaves to the soldiers left there (as an incentive for the latter ones to stay in the city). Now, this would happen in normal circumstances, but if (as in India) there was no need for new cities and no market for slaves, the need for the latter is lower as well, while the cost of feeding/keeping them as prisoners will remain. So a policy of “hold no prisoners” may have been “cost-effective”. Basically another version of the Crusades story mentioned by Marcus.
All the best,
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Well, I have a new computer finally, but still have some hiccups to iron out, files to transfer, and much to catch up with online, so please forgive me for not answering the many posts directly at this time. For the time being I thought I'd throw in the following passages from Curtius who gives another perspective on the Indian campaign.
Curtius 9.4.16-23 The Macedonians, who had believed themselves quit of any danger, were suddenly terror-stricken when they realized that a fresh war with India’s most belligerent tribes still lay before them, and once more they began to criticize their king with seditious talk. (17) Alexander had been made to forgo the Ganges and what lay beyond it, they said, but he still had not terminated the war, only changed its location. They themselves were thrown before savage tribes so that they could by their blood open up a path to the ocean for him; (18 ) they were dragged beyond the stars and the sun and made to visit places that nature had removed from the sight of men. Each successive re-arming met with fresh enemies. And suppose they scattered and routed those enemies – what reward lay in store for them? Gloomy darkness and a never-ending night brooding over the deep … a sea filled with shoals of savage sea monsters … stagnant waters where dying nature had lost her power.
Unperturbed himself, but worried by his men's anxiety, Alexander called a meeting. The enemy which they feared, he said, were no soldiers, and apart from those tribes nothing stood in the way of their covering the intervening stretches of land and coming simultaneously to the end of the earth and of their hardships. (20) He had given in to their fear of the Ganges and the multitude of tribes beyond it; he had changed direction to a place where equal glory was to be found but less danger. (2) Now they had the Ocean in view; now the sea-breezes were blowing on them. They should not, he added, begrudge him the renown he sought – they would pass beyond the boundaries of Hercules and Father Liber to give their king undying fame at little cost to themselves, and they should let him return from India, not flee from it.
(22) Every crowd, and especially a crowd of soldiers, is impulsive and easily swayed, so what quells a mutiny may be as trivial as what starts it. (23) Never did such an enthusiastic cheer come from the army as on this occasion: they bade him lead them on with heaven's favour and go on to match the glory of those whom he tried to emulate. Cheered by their expressions of support, Alexander immediately moved against the enemy.
Although many don't like Curtius (perhaps for the same reasons they don't like Green or Bosworth?), I’m inclined to favor the above.
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That captures things rather nicely I'd think: the Macedonians literally loved their Indian campaign. They'd have signed up for another one just like it if they had the choice in Babylon.
They knew their king. They knew what tasked him as he awoke of a morning in Babylon in those last months - when it wasn't a hangover. They knew only too well what he knew: "a fresh war"; a war without end....amen.
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.
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The key, I think is "And suppose they scattered and routed those enemies – what reward lay in store for them?" In India, nothing much it seems, but once back in the west (with their debts paid) the lure of further conquests and rewards might have proved irresistable. I think it is interesting that when back in the heart of the Persian empire the same soldiers who demanded to return home from the Beas no longer wished to do so. And that Alexander was determined to send them away - these same "old and sick" troops who figured prominently and fought so successfully in the wars of Succession. Why did Alexander want to be rid of them so badly? Perhaps because a shift in the relationship between Alexander and his men came to a head in India - more than just the so-called mutiny, but afterwards as well, as Curtius describes? Alexander knew well enough that his men expected rewards for their efforts, but I think he desired them to put his glory above their own materialism at all times. If he had needed to encourage them to go onwards in India not once, but twice ... well, he would not have soon forgotten.
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