“The glorious battle between Alexander the Great and King Porus” – 18th century tinted woodcut
When Alexander arrived with all his forces at the border of India, letter bear-
ers sent by Poros, king of India, met him and gave him the letter of Poros.
Alexander took it and read it out before his army. Its contents were these.
King Poros of India, to Alexander, who plunders cities:I instruct you to withdraw. What can you, a mere man, achieve against a god? Is it because you have destroyed the good fortune of others by meeting weaker men in battle that you think yourself more mighty than me? But I am invincible: not only am I the king of men, but even of gods—when Dionysus (who they say is a god) came here, the Indians used their own power to drive him away. So not only do I advise you. but also I instruct you, to set off for Greece with all speed. I am not going to be frightened by your battle with Darius or by all the good fortune you had in the face of the weakness uf the other nations. But vou think von are more mighty. So set off for Greece. Because if we had needed Greece, we Indians would have subjected it long before Xerxes; but as it is, we have paid no attention to it- because it is a useless nation, and there is nothing among them worth the regard of a king—everyone desires what is better.
So Alexander, having read out Poros’s letter in public before his soldiers, said to them:
“Comrades-in-arms, do not be upset again at the letter of Poros’s that 1 have read out. Remember what Darius wrote too- It is a fact that the only state of mind barbarians have is obtuseness. Like the animals under them—tigers, lions, elephants, which exult in their courage but are easily hunted thanks to man’s nature—the kings of the barbarians too exult in the numbers ol their armies but are easily defeated by the intelligence of the Greeks.”
Having given this declaration to encourage his armv, Alexander wrote King
Alexander, to King Poros, greetings: You have made us even more eager to be spurred on to battle against you by saying that Greece has nothing worth the regard of a king but that you Indians have everything—lands and cities. And i know that every man desires to seize what is better rather than to keep what is worse. Since, then, WE Greeks do not have thesethings and you barbarians possess them, we desire what is better and wish to have them from you. You write to me that you are king of gods and of all men even to the extent of having more power than the god. But i am engaging in war with a loudmouthed man and an absolute barbarian, not with a god. The whole world could not stand up to a god in full armor—the rumble of thunder, the flash of lightning, or the anger of the bolt. So the nations I have defeated in war cause you no astonishment and neither do boastful words on your part make me a coward.
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