Arrianus, Book 5. Alexander
CHAP. I.—.Alexander then, entered that part of the country
which lies between the two rivers Cophas and Indus, where Nysa is
said to be situated. This city was built by Dionysius or Bacchus, when
he conquered the Indians3 but who this Bacchus was, ami at what
time, or from whence he sent forth those Indians, is hard to determine. Whether he was that Theban from Thebes, or be from Tmolus, a mountain of Lydia, who undertook that famous expedition into In· dia, and, when be had passed through so many warlike nations, then unknown to the Greeks, reduced none of them by force but India, is very uncertain; only this I may venture to say, that those things which the ancients have published in their fables concerning the gods, ought not to be too narrowly searched into; for, whenever the truth of any J story seemed liable to be called iu question, some god was immedi-ateiy summoned to their aid, and then all was plain and easily swallowed. As soon as Alexander arrived at Nysa with his army, the citizens sent Acuphis with thirty of their chief men to him, to beseech him to leave the liberties of their city entire for the sake of their god. The ambassadors being introduced into the royal pavilion, saw the kingallbesmeared with dust and sweat sitting in complete armour, for he had not yet put them off, his helmet was yet on his head, and bis lance in his hand; at which sight they were dreadfully terrified, and, falling prostrate, observed a long silence; but when Alexander condescended to hid them rise up and be of good cheer, Acuphis thus accosted him:—” The Nysaeans entreat thee, Ο king, for the reverence thou bearest to Dionysius their god, to leave their city untouched, and not to infringe their customs and liberties: for Bacchus, hav- * ingsubdued the Indians, and determining to return to Greece, as aa eternal monument of the toils he underwent and tbe victories he acquired, built this city for a habilation for such of his soldiers as age or accidents had rendered unfit for military service, in the same manner as thou hast raised Alexandria near Mount Caucasus, and another city of the same name in Egypt, besides others which thou hast, and wilt hereafter build in different parts of the earth to the glory of thy name, for thou hast already achieved higher and greater things than Bacchus. He called this city Nysa, after the name of his nurse, and the province depending thereon the Nyssean territories. The mountain also which is so near us, he would have de-nomitated Meros, or the Thigh, alluding to (the fable of) his birth from that of Jupiter. From that time, we, the inhabitants of Nysa, have been a free people, and lived peaceably under the protection of our own laws; and as an undoubted token that this place was founded by Bacchus, the ivy, which is to be found no where else throughout all India, flourishes in our territories.”
CHAP. II—This oration was very grateful to Alexander, who had a mighty mind that the story of Bacchus and his travels should pass for truth, and that he might be deemed the founder of Nysa, that himself might be believed already to, have reached the utmost limit» of Bacchus’* journey, an.d yet still to be advancing forwards.
A ad he imagined that the Macedonians would be easily persuaded to join with bim herein, and boldly undertake fresh adventures, after the laudable example of Bacchus and his followers; for which reason he framed the citizens of Nysa the privilege of being governed by their ancient laws, aud a full confirmation of their liberties. And when be came afterwards to know the tenor of their laws, and that their repnblic was governed by the chief citizens, he commended the insti-& tution, and ordered that three hnndred choice horses should be sent to» him, besides one hundred of those principal citizens who bad the administration of affairs in their hands, (their whole number being three hundred). Acuphis himself was one of those who were chosen out of the magistracy, and him he appointed a president of the province. At these demands of Alexander, Acuphis is said to have smiled; and
being asked the reason, made this answer:__” After what manner,
Ο king, should a city be afterwards well governed, when she is deprived of a hundred of her chief counsellors ? If thou hast the welfare of the Nysseans at heart, take three hundred horses, or more, if it be thy pleasure; but if for one hundred of the best citizens thou wilt condescend to accept of two hundred of the worst, thou mayest at thy return hither expect to find the city in a flourishing condition.’* This speech beingexcellently adapted for the purpose, satisfied Alexander, insomuch that he ordered the three hundred horses to be sent to him, but freely gave up his former demand of the hundred magistrates, without requiring any equivalent. However, Acuphis sent his son and his nephew with him to learn the art of war. Alexander had then an ambition of visiting the place where the Nysseans boast ef some monuments of Bacchus, and of ascending Mount Meros with his auxiliary horse and a squadron of foot, that he might see a hill overspread with laurel and ivy, and thick groves of all sorts of trees, well stocked with all kinds of wild beasts. The sight of ivy was pleasingto the Macedonians, they not having seen any a long time, (foi no parts of Indiaproduce it, not even those where vines are common), wherefore they immediately applied themselves to makinggarlands, wherewith they crowned their heads, singing, and calling loud upon the god, not only by the name of Dionysius, but by all his other names. Alexander there offered sacrifices to Bacchus, and feasted with his friends; and some authors relate, (if their relations deserve credit), that many Macedonians of the first rank, duringthe banquet, having their brows encircled with ivy, and seized with a sort of enthusiastic raptures, ran about with loud and long-continued acclamations of Eva: and Bacche; but these, and such like stories, I leave for every one to receive or reject as lie thinks convenient.
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