« السابقةمتابعة »
No satisfactory explanation exists of the operations of Alexander immediately preceding his passage of the Indus. Rennell, De-la-Rochette, and others, carry him far to the north of the Cabul river. Mitford does not attempt to trace his march systematically; and such an effort would have been a hopeless task, until recent military events in Affghanistan had rendered the geography of that country somewhat familiar to us, and marked out the two grand military approaches to India, the Khyber and Bolan passes, in indelible characters. If we dismiss the confused account of Quintus Curtius, and apply the plain narrative of Arrian alone to our recently acquired knowledge of that country, the thread may perhaps be unravelled. Arrian's history bears internal evidence of its being written in a business-like, unexaggerated style; and he composed it from the best materials, the faithful accounts left by Ptolemy and Aristobulus, the companions in the counsels and arms of the great captain, and eye-witnesses of his exploits.
Alexander, intent upon the invasion of India, quitted Bactra (Balk,) early in the spring of the year B.C. 327, and effecting the passage of the Parapamisan Chain in ten days, arrived at Alexandria, the town and colony he had previously founded. Alexandria is commonly considered, and perhaps with justice, as identical with the modern Candahar;-but Arrian mentions two towns successively in the march of Alexander, after his arrival from Bactria; first Alexandria, the seat of his government, and, secondly, Nicaea, where he sacrificed to Minerva. After
this he advances in the direction of the Cophenes river, opioX60s. 6; it toy Kopjya. I suspect Alexandria ought to be placed at Ghuznee, the true ancient capital, and Nicaea at Candahar. The Cophenes river is generally supposed to be the Helmund, if so, it must be the eastern branch of that river, now called the Tarnuck; because the government, of which Alexandria was the chief seat, extended eastward to the Cophenes; and in marching towards India from Candahar, the Helmund proper would not have lain in the way of the Macedonians. Here Alexander formed his army into two divisions; one, under the command of Hephæstion, and accompanied by a disaffected Indian prince, Taxiles, he sent forward with orders to force their way to the country of Peucelaotis on the Indus, and there to construct a bridge. This place is universally recognised as the modern Attok; and there seems little doubt that the road taken by Hephæstion to reach it must have been the direct route from Candahar, by way of the Gomul River, to Dera-IsmaelKhan, a comparatively obscure line of country, but not wholly impracticable, for in the official papers relating to the Afghan war, we read one of General Pollock’s letters, from Peshawar, 11th March 1841, in which he calls the attention of Colonel Palmer, then at Ghuznee, to the Guhree Pass, leading to DeraIsmael-Khan. Hephæstion appears to have executed the march without difficulty. In the meantime Alexander, with the remainder of his forces, proceeded to subjugate the country, which it would have been imprudent to have left unsubdued in his rear, and through which he was probably then meditating his return from India. And here all authorities seem to concur in describing him to have marched to the northward, into Cohistan, and even to Cashmere. In defiance of such authorities, I am disposed to think such a march would have been impossible; for, in the first place, the early season of the year would have rendered all proceeding towards Cabul, and to the north of that country, utterly impracticable ; and, secondly, he would have had to cross the Cabul river, which is unquestionably the Indus of Arrian and the ancients, for Arrian and Strabo both describe the Indus as rising in the Parapamisan mountains, whereas no mention is made of such a passage prior to his crossing it at Attok; lastly, Aornos would have to be placed in that northern district, whereas Aornos is expressly described as a mountain pass on the main road from Persia towards India,
a position wholly irreconcilable with anything in Cohistan or Cashmere. I hold it certain that Alexander marched to the south and south-east from Candahar, and that all the fighting with the mountaineers, all the marching over the rough and difficult passes, were nothing more or less than the various events which occurred in forcing his way through the celebrated Kojuck and Bolan Passes. The incidents of this march, which conducted him through the successive territories of the Aspasii, Guraei, and Assacani, are given by Arrian with an exactness sufficient to enable us to perceive at once their correspondence with the geographical features of Lower Afghanistan. In the outset, after passing along the river Choes, by a hilly road, and after various skirmishes with the natives, and the capture of some towns, of which one is particularized by the name of Andax, Alexander came upon the river Euasples, (Lorah 2) whence, on the second day, he reached a town which had been burnt by the natives, who were retired to the mountains. He then effected a passage of these mountains, which we may reasonably affirm to have been the Kojuck range, and immediately descended upon the city of Arigaeum, (Quettah 2) Quettah, situated in the great valley of Shawl, offers in the month of April the most delightful climate in the world, Alexander was so pleased with the opportune situation of this town, that Craterus was ordered to restore it. He then crossed another mountainous ridge, the Bolan Pass, which the natives had abandoned, having retired on his approach into the plain country below, where they were easily defeated in a great battle, although they are reported to have been more warlike than any of the other tribes. Here Alexander, after emerging from the mountainous country, appears to have reached a plain of great fertility, where he was so much struck with the beauty of the cattle, that he ordered some to be sent to Macedonia. I think we may here safely recognize a descent from the Bolan Pass into the plains of Cutch Gundava, still “famous for its abundance of cattle and sheep, large herds and flocks of which are fed by the Méris and Bugtis.”—(Captain Postan's Paper in the Journal of the Geographical Society, vol. XIV. p. 2.) In these plains Alexander was rejoined by Craterus, and hence, through the country of the Guraei, whose name perhaps still exists in Gooroo, close to Dadur, he advanced towards the Assacani, crossing the remarkable river Guraeus (Naree?) described by Arrian as presenting some difficulties, on account of its depth and velocity, and of the round stones which formed its bed. The Naree is said by Captain Postan to be now so completely drained by the Khajjak tribes for the purposes of irrigation, “that its waters do not descend further than Bagh, except in heavy rains;” “the waters come down violently in May and June.” Alexander, who reached the Hydaspes about midsummer, must have been in the Cutch country in April or early in May, and it would be worth while to compare the state of the Naree river at that period of the year with Arrian's description of the Guracus. He then reached the Assacani, in which appellation we may, perhaps, discern the rudiments of the modern name of Afghans. This people brought into the field 20,000 cavalry, 30,000 foot, and 30 elephants, animals which Alexander would not have found in the Kohistan country, and which he was particularly anxious to possess, and to obtain them was, perhaps, one of the reasons which afterwards induced him to attack Aornos. Here Alexander's first exploit was the capture of the largest town in the country, Massaga, (Shikapoor ?) Bazira and Ora followed; and the natives flying before him, took refuge in the renowned Aornos, in which I recognize the Khyber Hills. In all these proceedings I think we may clearly perceive Alexander advancing up the right bank of the Indus. He now reached Peucaleotis, to which place Hephæstion had been dispatched, and where he had performed all the duties entrusted to him. But before Alexander crossed the Indus, he was determined, unnecessarily, (but out of rivalry with Hercules, as was said,) to attack. Aornos. He accordingly marched to a town situated in front of that mountain called Embolima, which Greek name would imply the point of egress from a defile, and which I believe to have been the modern Peshawar. I have seen it stated by a competent authority on Indian names, in Vol. IX. p. 515, of the Geographical Society, that the Greek word Aornos (of which there are more instances than that of the celebrated one in question,) is derived from the Indian term “Awar,” signifying a fortress or stockade, and if so, Peshawar in front of the Khyber, is well connected with the Embolima of Arrian. Arrian gives rather a detailed account of the manner of forcing this pass.-Ptolemy crowned the heights, and eventually