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 From such stories as those related above, they gave the name of Nysæans to some imaginary nation, and called their city Nysa, founded by Bacchus; a mountain above the city they called Meron, alleging as a reason for imposing these names that the ivy and vine grow there, although the latter does not perfect its fruit; for the bunches of grapes, in consequence of excessive rains, drop off before they arrive at maturity. They say, also, that the Sydracæ (Oxydracæ) are descendants of Bacchus, because the vine grows in their country, and because their kings display great pomp in setting out on their warlike expeditions, after the Bacchie manner; whenever they appear in public, it is with beating of drums, and are dressed in flowered robes, which is the common custom among the other Indians. 1 When Alexander took, on the first assault, Aornos,2 a fortress on a rock, the foot of which is washed by the Indus near its source, his flatterers exaggerated this act, and said that Hercules thrice assailed this rock and was thrice repulsed. They pretended that the Sibæ3 were descended from the people who accompanied Hercules in his expedition, and that they retained badges of their descent; that they wore skins like Hercules, and carried clubs, and branded with the mark of a club their oxen and mules. They confirm this fable with stories about Caucasus4 and Prometheus, for they transferred hither from Pontus these tales, on the slight pretence that they had seen a sacred cave among the Paropamisadæ.5 This they alleged was the prison of Prometheus, that Hercules came hither to release Prometheus, and that this mountain was the Caucasus, to which the Greeks represent Prometheus as having been bound.
1 Eurip. Bacchæ, v. 13.—Wodehull.
2 Strabo takes for the source of the Indus the place where it passes through the mountains to enter the Punjab. The site of Aornos seems to correspond with Renas.—Gossellin.
3 The Sibæ, according to Quintus Curtius, who gives them the name of Sobii, occupied the confluent of the Hydaspes and the Acesines. This people appear to have been driven towards the east by one of those revolutions so frequent in all Asia. At least, to the north of Delhi, and in the neighbourhood of Hardouar, a district is found bearing the name of Siba.
4 That is, the Macedonians transferred the name of the Caucasus, situated between the Black Sea and the Caspian, to the mountains of India. The origin of their mistake arose from the Indians giving, as at present, the name of Kho, which signifies ‘white,’ to the great chain of mountains covered with snow, from whence the Indus, and the greater part of the rivers which feed it, descend.
5 This people occupied the Paropamisus, where the mountains now separate Candahar from Gaour.
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