Alexander The Great In A Wider World




       Written history is at times an imperfect mirror of truth. Orontobates is usually relegated to footnotes in Alexander's history, yet a closer study reveals that it was together with him that Alexander changed the history of the world. He fought against Alexander at Gaugamela but there is much more to his history than can be gleaned from a literal interpretation of Arrian, Plutarch or Diodorus. The crucial fact that he was a close confidant has escaped the notice of all. He was a multi-faceted genius who masqueraded under many aliases. Diodotus of Erythrae, Mithridates-II and Andragoras were also names of Moeris. Arrian wrote that Orontobates who was present in Darius' army at Gaugamela hailed from the Persian Gulf area. From Diodorus' report it turns out that Tiridates who handed over the Persian treasury at Persepolis was also from the gulf area. From a careful study of Mauryan history it can be seen that Tiridates was also the same as Orontobates/ Sashigupta. There can be no doubt that Alexander considered chicanery to be a valid instrument of war and diplomacy. The great Hellenic scholar Sir William Tarn noted that Alexander had no control over Armenia ruled by Orontes. This was Chandragupta who had retreated from Prasii.

      The Alexander-Orontobates saga has, in fact, a cinematic touch. It is stunning to realize there is a Princess between Alexander and Orontobates. It is very likely that Ada II, daughter of Pixodarus, whom Alexander once wanted to marry, became the wife of Orontobates. Thus Alexander must have known him long before the expedition. It is very likely that Sashigupta joined hands with the generals to poison the king.

        Regrettably, the Harvard professor also missed the very significant fact that the Opis Banquet was was held in the month of Mithra and probably on the day of Mithra when the traditional feast of Mithra is held. It is common knowledge that an important motto of the Mithraists was Brotherhood. Alexander's call for Homonoia was later followed up by Asoka who was the same as Diodotus-I.

      The paucity of archaeological proof of Alexander's expedition has disturbed many scholars. Great archae-ologists like Sir Mortimer Wheeler were baffled by the absence of any trace of the 12 grand altars which he erected to commemorate his arrival in India. However, a careful study shows that at least some of these pillars were re-inscribed by Asoka. A contemporary scholar writes,


It is nonsense to report on the politicians without informing the reader on the philosophers with whom they studied and consorted, or to discuss Jesus without reference to the politics of Roman Judaea.


       Alexander studied under Aristotle, the greatest philosopher of the day, and the stamp of Aristotle can be clearly seen in many of his actions but as Mary Renault wrote, in his later years he also came under the influence of the Indian sage Calanus. But who really was this sage? It can seen that Calanus was Asvaghosha (Sphines of Plutarch or Aspines). Alexa-nder's relationship with this great philosopher and playwright invalidates the imputations of E. Badian and P. Green that he was some kind of a conquistador.

        Groomed by such great thinkers as Aristotle and Asvaghosha, Alexander embodied not only Western science but also Eastern religiosity - he had become an Anagarika (world-citizen) in the true sense of the term. His call for Homonoia (Samanvaya in Sanskrit) was echoed by Moeris' grandson Diodotus-I, and had a momentous impact on history. R. Stoneman writes, (Alexander The Great, p. 23),


With Greek resistance annihilated, Alexander was ready to turn his attention to the crusade against Persia which had been his father's ambition and was to become the dominant motif of his own career. Why did he undertake this?


He was short of money and the lure of Persian gold was surely a motivating factor, but he could have consolidated the gains after Persepolis and ruled as many of his predecessors had done. When Permenio, his able lieutenant, asked him to accept Darius-III's offer for peace he declined. Badian ascribed this to his thirst for absolute power but this is short-sighted. He had no craving for money and except for occasional bouts of drinking, had temperate habits. Arrian wrote about his yearning for the unknown (Gk. pothos) which provides a valuable insight into his psyche.

       Droysen wrote with great wisdom that during the Hellenistic era Greek and Eastern cultures mingled in the lands conquered by Alexander to form the cultural milieu which became the crucible of Christianity. If almost no words are commensurate for the description Diodotus-I/Asoka, the same is true of Alexander who swept away all, as it were. His impact on the civilizations of both the East and the West is immense.

     Ignoring the vast Indian literature and adopting an overly Europeanist view, writers like E. Badian and A. B. Bosworth have failed to grasp why he was called 'Great' even by the Romans, centuries later. The fact that he was so dearly loved by his army men also clashes with Badian's characterization of Alexander as a brutal and bloodthirsty maniac whose personal ambition was unlimited. Despite some lapses, Tarn, who had a clearer view of the East, appears to have been far closer to the truth.