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AORNUS ( Ἄορνος πέτρα, i. e. the Rock inaccessible to birds).


In India intra Gangem, a lofty and precipitous rock, where the Indians of the, country N. of the Indus, between it and the Cophen (Cabul), and particularly the people of Bazira, made a stand against Alexander, B.C. 327. (Arrian. Anab. 4.28, foll., Ind. 5.10; Diod. 17.85; Curt. 8.11; Strab. xv. p.688.) It is de-, scribed as 200 stadia in circuit, and from 11 to 16 in height (nearly 7000--10,000 feet), perpendicular on all sides, and with a level summit, abounding in springs, woods, and cultivated ground. It seems to have been commonly used as a refuge in war, and was regarded as impregnable. The, tradition, that Hercules had thrice failed to take it, inflamed still more Alexander's constant ambition of achieving seeming impossibilities. By a combination of stratagems and bold attacks, which are related at length by the historians, he drove the Indians to desert the post in a sort of panic, and, setting upon them in their retreat, destroyed most of them. Having celebrated his victory with sacrifices, and erected on the mountain altars to Minerva and Victory, he established there a garrison under the command of Sisicottus.

It is impossible to determine, with certainty, the position of Aornos. It was clearly somewhere on the N. side of the Indus, in the angle between it and the Cophen( Cabul). It was very near a city called Embolima, on the Indus, the name of which points to a position at the mouth of some tributary river. This [p. 1.151]seems to be the only ground on which Ritter places Embolima at the confluence of the Cophen and the Indus. But the whole course of the narrative, in the historians, seems clearly to require a position higher up the Indus, at the mouth of the Burrindoo for example. That Aornus itself also was close to the Indus, is stated by Diodorus, Curtius, and Strabo; and though the same would scarcely be inferred from Arrian, he says nothing positively to the contrary. The mistake of Strabo, that the base of the rock is washed by the Indus near its source, is not so very great as might at first sight appear; for, in common with the other ancient geographers, he understands by the source of the Indus, the place where it breaks through the chain of the Himalaya.

The name Aornus is an example of the significant appellations which the Greeks were fond of using, either as corruptions of, or substitutes for, the native names. In like manner, Dionysius Periegetes calls the Himalaya Ἄορνις (1151). [P.S]


A city in Bactriana. Arrian (3.29) speaks of Aornus and Bactra as the largest cities in the country of the Bactrii. Aornus had an acropolis (ἄκρα), in which Alexander left a garrison after taking the place. There is no indication of its site, except that Alexander took it before he reached Oreus. [G.L]

hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 17.85
    • Curtius, Historiarum Alexandri Magni, 8.11
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