Alexandria's founded by Alexander

Alexandria's founded by Alexander the Great (by year BC): 334 Alexandria in Troia (Turkey) - 333 Alexandria at Issus/Alexandrette (Iskenderun, Turkey) - 332 Alexandria of Caria/by the Latmos (Alinda, Turkey) - 331 Alexandria Mygdoniae - 331 Alexandria (Egypt) - 330 Alexandria Ariana (Herat, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria of the Prophthasia/in Dragiana/Phrada (Farah, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan) - 330 Alexandria in the Caucasus (Begram, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria of the Paropanisades (Ghazni, Afghanistan) - 329 Alexandria Eschate or Ultima (Khodjend, Tajikistan) - 329 Alexandria on the Oxus (Termez, Afghanistan) - 328 Alexandria in Margiana (Merv, Turkmenistan) - 326 Alexandria Nicaea (on the Hydaspes, India) - 326 Alexandria Bucephala (on the Hydaspes, India) - 325 Alexandria Sogdia - 325 Alexandria Oreitide - 325 Alexandria in Opiene / Alexandria on the Indus (confluence of Indus & Acesines, India) - 325 Alexandria Rambacia (Bela, Pakistan) - 325 Alexandria Xylinepolis (Patala, India) - 325 Alexandria in Carminia (Gulashkird, Iran) - 324 Alexandria-on-the-Tigris/Antiochia-in-Susiana/Charax (Spasinou Charax on the Tigris, Iraq) - ?Alexandria of Carmahle? (Kahnu)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Ephemerides of Alexander’s Expedition by C.A. Robinson

The History of Alexander the Great and the Ephemerides of Alexander’s Expedition by C.A. Robinson (ISBN 0-89005-555-6) is a most precious source of information for whoever wants to dig further into the literature related to Alexander that has come to us through authors from antiquity.

This is by no means an easy coherent reading for it has taken me some adjustments to get a hold of the pattern that F. Jacoby established in his Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker edited in 1929 and which Robinson translated into English.

Robinson starts explaining that all we have about Alexander the Great are the stories told by “Extant Historians” like Arrian, Diodorus, Justin, Curtius and Plutarch followed by a great many “Fragments” from the Royal Journal kept by his court historian Callisthenes of Olynthus and later by his secretary Eumenes of Cardia. Also included are surviving parts from the books written by Alexander’s contemporaries like Ptolemy, Nearchus of Crete, Onesicritus of Astypalacea and Archias of Pella as well as from many later Greek and Roman historians.

This book respects Jacoby’s scheme, including the numbering of the authors (which does not really make sense in Robinson’s book but probably does in Jacoby’s), the references to them and the way in which he splits the texts in “Testimonies” and “Fragments”. Once I got used to juggling around in this wealth of information, I found it terribly exciting to discover all those bits and pieces of history that I came across occasionally not knowing if they were based on true existing sources or if they were the simple imagination of some modern writer. Afterwards, it is entirely understandable that these bits and pieces are not mentioned in the average book about Alexander, simply because they don’t add much if anything to the story or would not fit in Alexander’s conquests proper.

Personally, I found Nearchus’ naval expedition along the coast of the Indian Ocean highly interesting and also the wide-ranged reports about Alexander’s death in Babylon, including the last days leading to his untimely death.

A handy Itinerary of Alexander is attached, showing names and places in a comparative table aiming to match many of the events and locations mentioned by Arrian, Diodorus, Justin, Curtius and Plutarch, placing them in the same time frame. The names are not ranged alphabetically as one would expect but chronologically, meaning that you need to know enough about Alexander’s campaign to start your search. 

And finally, there is an Appendix, in which Robinson tries to make sense of the confusion about Alexander’s whereabouts in the winters of 330-329 and 329-328 BC and his crossing of the Hindu-Kush. I remember how difficult it was to match the accounts of Arrian and Plutarch during my trip through Central Asia where in the end I was not able to sort out these dates. It looks like Robinson made an extremely useful analysis that is absolutely worthwhile reading.

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