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Next Alexander undertook a campaign against the Sydracae1 and the people known as Mallians, populous and warlike tribes. He found them mobilized in force, eighty thousand infantry, ten thousand cavalry, and seven hundred chariots. Before the arrival of Alexander they had been at war with each other; but as he approached, they patched up their quarrel and made peace, giving and receiving ten thousand young women to establish a friendly relationship through marriage.2 [2] Even so they did not come out to fight together but fell into a dispute over the command and retired into the neighbouring cities.

Alexander neared the first city and thought to take it by storm, but one of the seers, named [3] Demophon3 came to him and reported that there had been revealed to him by numerous portents a great danger which would come to the king from a wound in the course of the operation. He begged Alexander to leave that city alone for the present and to turn his mind to other activities. [4] The king scolded him for dampening the enthusiasm of the soldiers, and then, disposing his army for the attack, led the way in person to the city, eager to reduce it by force. The engines of war were slow to come up, but he broke open a postern gate and was the first to burst into the city.4 He struck down many defenders and, driving the others before him, pursued them to the citadel. [5]

The Macedonians were still busy fighting along the wall. Alexander seized a ladder, leaned it against the walls of the citadel, and clambered up holding a light shield above his head. So quick was he to act that he reached the top of the wall before the defenders could forestall him. [6] The Indians did not dare to come within his reach, but flung javelins and shot arrows at him from a distance. He was staggering under the weight of their blows when the Macedonians raised two ladders and swarmed up in a mass, but both broke and the soldiers tumbled back upon the ground.

1 This name appears variously as "Sydracae" (Strabo 15.1.8), "Sudracae" (Curtius 9.4.15), "Sugambri" (Justin 12.9.3), and "Oxydracae" (Arrian. 6.4.3). Their strength is given by Curtius as 90,000 infantry, 10,000 cavalry, and 900 chariots; by Justin as 80,000 infantry and 60,000 cavalry. The ethnic Sydracae recalls the name of the Hindu warrior caste, the Kshatriyas (so L. A. Post).

2 Curtius 9.4.15.

3 Curtius 9.4.27-29.

4 Curtius 9.4.30-5.20; Justin 12.9.5-13; Plut. Alexander 63; Arrian. 6.9.1-11.8.

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  • Cross-references in notes from this page (7):
    • Strabo, Geography, 15.1.8
    • Plutarch, Alexander, 63
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.4.3
    • Arrian, Anabasis, 6.9.1
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.4.15
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.4.27
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 9.4.30
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