Alexander’s Invasion

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The primary motive of Alexander’s invasion of Asia is contained in his letter to Darius (Persian emperor), which reads: “your ancestors invaded Macedonia and the rest of Greece and without provocation inflicted wrongs upon us. I was appointed leader of the Greeks and crossed over into Asia for the purpose of avenging those wrongs for ye were the aggressors”. Later Darius proposed terms, which Alexander declined. Darius was ultimately defeated in the battle of Gaugamela in 331 BC. Darius fled with his men to the north. His big supporters were Bessus, the leader of the Bactrian and tribal forces (from the present Pakistan). When Darius was killed, Bessus took the leadership in his hands. Alexander now chased Bessus in his own home province in Bactria successfully and became master of the Oxus valley and the upper Kabul valley. But he had still to chastise the tribal forces, which had sided with Darius. For this reason, probably it was the assistance of Porus to Darius that brought Alexander to India.

Around 327 BC King Ambhi, ruler of Taxila met Alexander in the city of Nicaes (the victorious city), and surrendered the city to him. Many people had fled to a high fortress called Aornos. Alexander took Aornos by storm. Then Alexander fought the famous battle of Hydaspes in 326 BC against Porus, a ruler of a region in the Punjab. After attaining victory, Alexander dealt with Porus kindly and appointed him as satrap of his own kingdom. Alexander continued to conquer all the headwaters of the Indus River.

Near the Ganges River, in the East of Porus’ kingdom, was the powerful empire of Magadha, which was ruled by the Nanda dynasty. Alexander’s army mutinied at the Hyphasis (modern Beas River) and refused to march further east as it was exhausted by years of campaigning. After seeking advice of his officer, Coenus, Alexander was convinced that it was better to return. Alexander was, however, forced to turn south, conquering his way down the Indus to the Indian Ocean. He sent much of his army to Carmania (modern southern Iran) with his general Craterus and commissioned a fleet to explore the Persian Gulf shore under his admiral Nearchus, while he led the rest of his forces back to Persia by the southern route through the Gedrosia (present day Makran in southern Pakistan). He faced resistance by the tribes and later while crossing through Balochistan, he faced natural calamities, which ailed him and caused his death at Babylon in 323 BC.

This article was last updated on Monday, Jan 03, 2005