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The fighting began, and practically all of the Indians' chariots were put out of action by Alexander's cavalry. Then the elephants came into play, trained to make good use of their height and strength. Some of the Macedonians were trodden under foot, armour and all, by the beasts and died, their bones crushed. Others were caught up by the elephants' trunks and, lifted on high, were dashed back down to the ground again, dying a fearful death.1 Many soldiers were pierced through by the tusks and died instantly, run through the whole body. [2] Nevertheless the Macedonians faced the frightening experience manfully. They used their long spears to good effect against the Indians stationed beside the elephants, and kept the battle even.2 [3] Then, as javelins began to find their marks in the sides of the great beasts and they felt the pain of the wounds, the Indian riders were no longer able to control their movements. The elephants veered and, no longer manageable, turned upon their own ranks and trampled friendly troops.3 [4]

As his formations grew more confused, Porus observed what was happening. He was mounted on the largest of the elephants and gathered about him forty others which were not yet out of hand, then attacked the enemy with their combined weight and inflicted many losses. He was himself outstanding in bodily strength beyond any of his followers, being five cubits4 in height and with a breadth of chest double that of his mightiest soldiers. [5] His javelins were flung with such force that they were little inferior to the darts of the catapults. The Macedonians who opposed him were amazed at his fighting ability, but Alexander called up the bowmen and other light armed troops and ordered them to concentrate their fire upon Porus. [6] This was done promptly. Many weapons flew toward the Indian at the same time and none missed its mark because of his great size. He continued to fight heroically until, fainting from loss of blood from his many wounds, he collapsed upon his elephant and fell to the ground.5 [7] The word went about that the king was killed, and the rest of the Indians fled.

1 Curtius 8.14.27.

2 Curtius 8.14.16.

3 Arrian. 5.17.6.

4 Seven and one-half feet. The same figure is given by Arrian. 5.19.1. Plut. Alexander 60.6, says four cubits and a span; Curtius 8.14.13: "humanae magnitudinis prope modum excesserat." Tarn, however (Alexander the Great, 2, p. 170), thinks that the source was using a short cubit. We may prefer to find here a perhaps only slight exaggeration of Porus's evidently phenomenal height. Arrian. 5.4.4 says that most Indians are of this height, and Curtius 7.4.6 reports that the Dahae were a head taller than the Macedonians. Alexander built beds five cubits long in the camp on the Hyphasis (chap. 95.2).

5 Curtius 8.14.32-38; Justin 12.8.5; Plut. Alexander 60.7.

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