Of his campaign against Porus
he himself has given an account in his letters. He says, namely, that the river Hydaspes flowed between the two camps, and that Porus stationed his elephants on the opposite bank and kept continual watch of the crossing. He himself accordingly, day by day caused a great din and tumult to be made in his camp, and thereby accustomed the Barbarians not to be alarmed.
Then, on a dark and stormy night, he took a part of his infantry and the best of his horsemen, and after proceeding along the river to a distance from where the enemy lay, crossed over to a small island. Here rain fell in torrents, and many tornadoes and thunder-bolts dashed down upon his men; but nevertheless, although he saw that many of them were being burned to death by the thunderbolts, he set out from the islet and made for the opposite banks.
But the Hydaspes, made violent by the storm and dashing high against its bank, made a great breach in it, and a large part of the stream was setting in that direction; and the shore between the two currents gave his men no sure footing, since it was broken and slippery. And here it was that he is said to have cried: ‘O Athenians, can ye possibly believe what perils I am undergoing to win glory in your eyes?’
This, however, is the story of Onesicritus; Alexander himself says that they left their rafts and crossed the breach with their armour on, wading breast-high in water, and that after he had crossed he led his horsemen twenty furlongs in advance of his infantry, calculating that, in case the enemy attacked with their cavalry, he would be far superior to them, and in case they moved up their men-at-arms, his infantry would join him in good season. And one of these suppositions came to pass.
For after routing a thousand of the enemy's horsemen and sixty of their chariots which engaged him, he captured all the chariots, and slew four hundred of the horsemen. And now Porus, thus led to believe that Alexander himself had crossed the river, advanced upon him with all his forces, except the part he left behind to impede the crossing of the remaining Macedonians. But Alexander, fearing the elephants and the great numbers of the enemy, himself assaulted their left wing, and ordered Coenus to attack their right.
Both wings having been routed, the vanquished troops retired in every case upon the elephants in the centre, and were there crowded together with them, and from this point on the battle was waged at close quarters, and it was not until the eighth hour that the enemy gave up. Such then, is the account of the battle which the victor himself has given in his letters.
Most historians agree that Porus was four cubits and a span
high, and that the size and majesty of his body made his elephant seem as fitting a mount for him as a horse for a horseman.
And yet his elephant was of the largest size; and it showed remarkable intelligence and solicitude for the king, bravely defending him and beating back his assailants while he was still in full vigour, and when it perceived that its master was worn out with a multitude of missiles and wounds, fearing lest he should fall off it knelt softly on the ground, and with its proboscis gently took each spear and drew it out of his body.
Porus was taken prisoner, and when Alexander asked him how he would be treated, said: ‘Like a king’; and to another question from Alexander whether he had anything else to say, replied:
‘All things are included in my ‘like a king.’’ Accordingly, Alexander not only permitted him to govern his former kingdom, giving him the title of satrap, but also added to it the territory of the independent peoples whom he subdued, in which there are said to have been fifteen nations, five thousand cities of considerable size, and a great multitude of villages. He subdued other territory also thrice as large as this and appointed Philip, one of his companions, satrap over it.