Strabo 15.1.1-10

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טקסט

Strabo 15.1.1-10, trans. Jones

1

The parts still left of Asia are those outside the Taurus except Cilicia and Pamphylia and Lycia, I mean the parts extending from India as far as the Nile and lying between the Taurus and the outer sea on the south. After Asia one comes to Libya, which I shall describe later, but I must now begin with India, for it is the first and largest country that lies out towards the east.

2

But it is necessary for us to hear accounts of this country with indulgence, for not only is it farthest away from us, but not many of our people have seen it; and even those who have seen it, have seen only parts of it, and the greater part of what they say is from hearsay; and even what they saw they learned on a hasty passage with an army through the country. Wherefore they do not give out the same accounts of the same things, even though they have written these accounts as though their statements had been carefully confirmed. And some of them were both on the same expedition together and made their sojourns together, like those who helped Alexander to subdue Asia; yet they all frequently contradict one another. But if they differ thus about what was seen, what must we think of what they report from hearsay?

3

Moreover, most of those who have written anything about this region in much later times, and those who sail there at the present time, do not present any accurate information either. At any rate, Apollodorus, who wrote The Parthica, when he mentions the Greeks who caused Bactriana to revolt from the Syrian kings who succeeded Seleucus Nicator, says that when those kings had grown in power they also attacked India, but he reveals nothing further than what was already known, and even contradicts what was known, saying that those kings subdued more of India than the Macedonians; that Eucratidas, at any rate, held a thousand cities as his subjects. Those other writers, however, say that merely the tribes between the Hydaspes and the Hypanis were nine in number, and that they had five thousand cities, no one of which was smaller than the Meropian Cos, and that Alexander subdued the whole of this country and gave it over to Porus.

4

As for the merchants who now sail from Aegypt by the Nile and the Arabian Gulf as far as India, only a small number have sailed as far as the Ganges; and even these are merely private citizens and of no use as regards the history of the places they have seen. But from India, from one place and from one king, I mean Pandion, or another Porus, there came to Caesar Augustus presents and gifts of honour and the Indian sophist who burnt himself up at Athens, as Calanus had done, who made a similar spectacular display of himself before Alexander.

5

If, however, one should dismiss these accounts and observe the records of the country prior to the expedition of Alexander, one would find things still more obscure. Now it is reasonable to suppose that Alexander believed such records because he was blinded by his numerous good fortunes; at any rate, Nearchus says that Alexander conceived an ambition to lead his army through Gedrosia when he learned that both Semiramis and Cyrus had made an expedition against the Indians, and that Semiramis had turned back in flight with only twenty people and Cyrus with seven; and that Alexander thought how grand it would be, when those had met with such reverses, if he himself should lead a whole victorious army safely through the same tribes and regions.3 Alexander, therefore, believed these accounts.

6

But as for us, what just credence can we place in the accounts of India derived from such an expedition made by Cyrus, or Semiramis? And Megasthenes virtually agrees with this reasoning when he bids us to have no faith in the ancient stories about the Indians; for, he says, neither was an army ever sent outside the country by the Indians nor did any outside army ever invade their country and master them, except that with Heracles and Dionysus and that in our times with the Macedonians. However, Sesostris, the Aegyptian, he adds, and Tearco the Aethiopian advanced as far as Europe; and Nabocodrosor, who enjoyed greater repute among the Chaldaeans than Heracles, led an army even as far as the Pillars. Thus far, he says, also Tearco went; and Sesostris also led his army from Iberia to Thrace and the Pontus; and Idanthyrsus the Scythian overran Asia as far as Aegypt; but no one of these touched India, and Semiramis too died before the attempt; and, although the Persians summoned the Hydraces as mercenary troops from India, the latter did not make an expedition to Persia, but only came near it when Cyrus was marching against the Massagetae.

7

As for the stories of Hercules and Dionysus, Megasthenes with a few others considers them trustworthy; but most other writers, among whom is Eratosthenes, consider them untrustworthy and mythical, like the stories current among the Greeks. For instance, in the Bacchae of Euripides Dionysus says with youthful bravado as follows: “I have left behind me the gold-bearing glades of Lydia and Phrygia, and I have visited the sun-stricken plains of Persia, the walled towns of Bactria, the wintry land of the Medes, and Arabia the blest, and the whole of Asia.” In Sophocles, also, there is someone who hymns the praises of Nysa as the mountain sacred to Dionysus: "Whence I beheld the famous Nysa, ranged in Bacchic frenzy by mortals, which the horned Iacchus roams as his own sweetest nurse, where — what bird exists that singeth not there?" And so forth. And he is also called “Merotraphes”. And Homer says of Lycurgus the Edonian as follows: “Who once drove the nurses of frenzied Dionysus down over the sacred mount of Nysa”. So much for Dionysus. But, regarding Heracles, some tell the story that he went in the opposite direction only, as far as the extreme limits on the west, whereas others say that he went to both extreme limits.

8

From such stories, accordingly, writers have named a certain tribe of people “Nysaeans”, and a city among them “Nysa”, founded by Dionysus; they have named a mountain above the city “Merus”, alleging as the cause of the name the ivy that grows there, as also the vine, which latter does not reach maturity either; for on account of excessive rains the bunches of grapes fall off before they ripen; and they say that the Sydracae are descendants of Dionysus, judging from the vine in their country and from their costly processions, since the kings not only make their expeditions out of their country in Bacchic fashion, but also accompany all other processions with a beating of drums and with flowered robes, a custom which is also prevalent among the rest of the Indians. When Alexander, at one assault, took Aornus, a rock at the foot of which, near its sources, the Indus River flows, his exalters said that Heracles thrice attacked this rock and thrice was repulsed; and that the Sibae were descendants of those who shared with Heracles in the expedition, and that they retained badges of their descent, in that they wore skins like Heracles, carried clubs, and branded their cattle and mules with the mark of a club. And they further confirm this myth by the stories of the Caucasus and Prometheus, for they have transferred all this thither on a slight pretext, I mean because they saw a sacred cave in the country of the Paropamisadae; for they set forth that this cave was the prison of Prometheus and that this was the place whither Heracles came to release Prometheus, and that this was the Caucasus the Greeks declared to be the prison of Prometheus.

9

But that these stories are fabrications of the flatterers of Alexander is obvious; first, not only from the fact that the historians do not agree with one another, and also because, while some relate them, others make no mention whatever of them; for it is unreasonable to believe that exploits so famous and full of romance were unknown to any historian, or, if known, that they were regarded as unworthy of recording, and that too by the most trustworthy of the historians; and, secondly, from the fact that not even the intervening peoples, through whose countries Dionysus and Heracles and their followers would have had to pass in order to reach India, can show any evidence that these made a journey through their country. Further, such accoutrement of Heracles is much later than the records of the Trojan War, being a fabrication of the authors of the Heracleia, whether the author was Peisander or someone else. The ancient statues of Heracles are not thus accoutred.

10

So, in cases like these, one must accept everything that is nearest to credibility. I have already in my first discussion of the subject of geography made decisions, as far as I could, about these matters.[1] And now I shall unhesitatingly use those decisions as accepted, and shall also add anything else that seems required for the purpose of clearness. It was particularly apparent from my former discussion that the summary account set forth in the third book of his geography by Eratosthenes of what was in his time regarded as India, that is, when Alexander invaded the country, is the most trustworthy; and the Indus River was the boundary between India and Ariana, which latter was situated next to India on the west and was in the possession of the Persians at that time; for later the Indians also held much of Ariana, having received it from the Macedonians. And the account given by Eratosthenes is as follows: {...}


הערות

סעיף 2:

  • אלה שהיו עם אלכסנדר כתבו על הודו דברים שונים וסותרים (לא פלא לאור העובדה שראו מעט, וגם זאת תוך כדי צעדה צבאית, ואת השאר פשוט הביאו משמועה).

סעיף 5:

  • הסיפורים על הודו מלפני אלכסנדר פרועים עוד יותר. עם זאת, סביר שאלכסנדר, מסונוור ממזלו הטוב, האמין בהם. (דוגמאות על סמירמיס וכורש).

סעיף 6:

  • מגסתנס אינו מזכיר את סמירמיס וכורש, אבל כן מדבר על דיוניסוס והרקלס שהיו היחידים שפלשו להודו לפני אלכסנדר.
    • הנה לנו רמז ברור שמגסתנס הביא את סיפור "הבן השלישי של זאוס".

סעיף 7:

  • מגסתנס וסופרים אחרים האמינו לשטויות על דיוניסוס והרקלס. ארטוסתנס ורוב הסופרים רואים בהם מיתוס.
    • להביא מול טענותיהם של בוזוורת' והמונד כאילו רק מגסתנס או רק קלייטרכוס הם המקור כאן.
  • מצטט מהבכּכות של אוריפידס, מסופוקלס ומהומרוס כמשקל נגד למגסתנס ושות'. כנל הכינוי של דיוניסוס - Merotraphes.
    • מטרידה אותו אותה שאלה כמו זו שמטרידה אותי
    • הוא לא מודע לכך שגם בדורו, ומאוחר יותר, ימשיך הבלבול
    • לערוך חיפושׂ יסודי על Merotraphes

סעיף 8:

  • טוען בפירוש שהשמות "מרוס" ו"ניסא" הודבקו באופן מלאכותי ותוך התעלמות מן האמת. כנ"ל הטענות למוצא ה-Sydrakai מדיוניסוס, למוצא ה-Siboi מהרקלס, ולסיפור על מערת פרומתאוס.

סעיף 9:

  • מצביע ישירות על האשמים: החנפנים לאלכסנדר. מדוע?
    • כיון שההיסטוריונים המדווחים אינם מסכימים זה עם זה.
      • כיון שלעומת המזכירים את הארועים יש כאלה המתעלמים מהם, ולא סביר שארועים כה דרמטיים לא נודעו לכותב זה או אחר, או שנראו כלא-ראויים לדיווח.
    • העמים שבין אסיא הקטנה והודו אינם מכירים את הסיפורים על מעבר דיוניסוס והרקלס

מסקנות ביניים:

  • סטראבון מקבל שהסיפורים על ניסא ומרוס בהודו מגיעים מזמנו של אלכסנדר עצמו.
  • הגירסא שלו, כאילו החנפנים המציאו הכל, אינה עולה בקנה אחד עם ההפתעה מעצם הגילוי, המשתקפת אצל ההיסטוריונים.

סעיף 10:

  • סטראבון דבק בארטוסתנס כמקור הטוב ביותר.
    • כלומר, הוא מעדיף מקור משני לסיפורים על אלכסנדר ומבטל את המקורות הראשוניים!

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