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Alexander in Carmania


Detail of the Alexander mosaic, found in Pompeii. National Archaeological Museum, Naples (Italy). In the winter of 325/324, Alexander stayed in Carmania, after a long and very difficult march though the Gedrosian desert, which had cost many lives. When the Macedonian army reached Carmania, however, there was an end to their suffering, and the Macedonian soldiers celebrated this. Quintus Curtius Rufus describes what happened.

The translation was made by John Yardley. 

Ancient-Warfare.com, the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine

So it was that Alexander, his pride soaring above the human plane, now proceeded, as mentioned above, to emulate not only the glory won from those peoples by Dionysus [1], but the Bacchic tradition as well: he decided to imitate the god's procession (whether that was, in fact, the original triumphal march that the god instituted or merely sport on the part of his bacchants). 

He gave orders for villages along his route to be strewn with flowers and garlands, and for bowls full of wine and other vessels of extraordinary size to be set out on the thresholds of houses. Then he had wagons covered with planks (so that they would hold a greater number of soldiers) and rigged out like tents, some with white curtains, others with costly material. The friends and the royal company went in front, heads wreathed with various kinds of flowers woven into garlands, with the notes of the flute heard at one point, the tones of the lyre at another. The army joined the revels in wagons decorated as far as individual means allowed, and with their finest arms hung around them. The king and his drinking companions rode in a cart weighed down with golden bowls and huge goblets of the same metal.

In this way, the army spent seven days on a drunken march, an easy prey if the vanquished races had only had the courage to challenge riotous drinkers - why, a mere thousand men, if sober, could have captured this group on its triumphal march, weighed down as it was from seven days of drinking.

Note 1:
Dionysus was the god of ecstasy and drunkenness, and one of Alexander's mythological ancestors. He was also called Bacchus.
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