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So with great difficulty Alexander passed through the desert and came into a well-populated country provided with everything needful.1 Here he rested his army, and for seven days proceeded with his troops in festive dress. He himself led a Dionysiac comus, feasting and drinking as he travelled.2 [2]

After this celebration was over, Alexander learned that many of his officials who had used their powers arbitrarily and selfishly had committed serious offences, and he punished a number of his satraps and generals.3 As the word spread of his righteous indignation against his offending subordinates, many of the generals recalled acts of insolence or illegality which they had performed and became alarmed. Some who had mercenary troops revolted against the king's authority, and others got together sums of money and fled. [3] As news of this was brought to the king, he wrote to all his generals and satraps in Asia, ordering them, as soon as they had read his letter, to disband all their mercenaries instantly. [4]

At this juncture the king was resting in a seaside city called Salmus and was holding a dramatic contest in the theatre, when into the harbour there sailed the fleet which had been ordered to return by way of the Ocean and to explore the coastal waters.4 The officers came immediately into the theatre, greeted Alexander, and reported what they had done. [5] The Macedonians were delighted at their arrival and welcomed their safe return with loud applause, so that the whole theatre was filled with the wildest rejoicing. [6]

The mariners told how they had encountered astonishing ebbings and flowings in the Ocean.5 In the former case, many large and unsuspected islands appeared along the coast, but in the latter all such places were flooded over as a copious and strong current bore in towards the land, while the surface of the water was white with much foam. But their most remarkable experience was an encounter with a large school of incredibly big whales.6 [7] The sailors had been terrified and despaired of their lives, thinking that they would be dashed to pieces immediately ships and all. But when they all shouted in unison, beating upon their shields to make a great din, and the trumpets were blown loudly in addition, the beasts were alarmed by the strange noise and plunged into the depths of the sea.

1 This was Gedrosia; Curtius 9.10.18; Plut. Alexander 66.3; 67.4; Arrian. 6.27.1.

2 This was in Carmania. Curtius 9.10.22-28 gives a lurid account of this celebration; so also Plut. Alexander 67.1-3. Arrian. 6.28.1-2 states that this story was not told by Ptolemy or Aristobulus, and that he himself did not believe it. It may be connected, however, with the tradition of dramatic and athletic games held at this time in celebration of the safe return of both army and fleet (E. Badian, Classical Quarterly, 52 (1958), 152). But both Philip (Book 16.87.1) and Alexander (chap. 72.5) were fond of the comus in general.

3 For Alexander's disciplinary measures at this time cp. Curtius 9.10.20-21; 10.1.1-9, 30-42; Justin 12.10.8; Plut. Alexander 68.2-3; Arrian 27.1-5; 29-30 (Badian, op. cit. 147-150).

4 Nearchus gave an account of his joining Alexander on two occasions, once, very dramatically, in Carmania (Arrian. 6.28.5-6; Arrian Indica 33-36), and again after sailing up the Pasitigris to Susa (Arrian Indica 42). Curtius 10.1.10 and Plut. Alexander 68.2 seem to refer only to the former meeting. Neither meeting was on the coast. Salmus is not identified. Reference to the dramatic festival makes it likely that Diodorus is here referring to the reunion at Susa (Pliny Naturalis Historia 6.100, with reference to Nearchus and Onesicritus), but inserting it in the wrong place in his narrative. Pliny states that the voyage of Nearchus took six months, so the time would now be the spring of 324 B.C. B. Niese, Geschichte der griechischen und makedonischen Staaten, 1 (1893), 153, note 5, calculated the length of the voyage as about seventy-five days, which would bring the reunion rather to December of 325.

5 Others described the ocean tides at the mouth of the Indus (Curtius 9.9.9-25; Arrian. 6.19.1).

6 Curtius 10.1.11-12. The description is from Nearchus (Arrian Indica 30.4-5).

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.26
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 66.3
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 67.1
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 68.2
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.19.1
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.27.1
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.28.1
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.28.5
    • Arrian, Indica, 30.4
    • Arrian, Indica, 33.1
    • Arrian, Indica, 42.1
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 10.1.10
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 10.1.11
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.10.1
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.10.2
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