|The Story of Greece|
|by Mary Macgregor|
| Stories from the history of ancient Greece beginning with mythical and legendary stories of gods and heroes and ending with the conquests of Alexander the Great. Gives short accounts of battles and sieges, and of the men who made Greece a great nation. Ages 10-14 |
PORUS AND HIS ELEPHANT
 THE Macedonians had now for some time been longing to march
homeward rather than into new and unknown lands. But
Alexander's ambition was not yet satisfied, and in 327
B.C. he determined to march into India, to add that
land also to his conquests.
The army was laden with booty, and the king saw that
unless it were left behind the men would not be able to
march. It would be no easy matter to make the soldiers
give up their plunder, but Alexander knew well how to
He ordered all his own share of plunder, all his
unnecessary clothing, almost all his ornaments, to be
burned. His courtiers did as they saw their king do,
and when the soldiers were ordered to follow
Alexander's example, they did so without a murmur,
while some even cheered.
Without the plunder the soldiers marched easily, and
soon reached the Punjab, where the king of the district
brought to Alexander's aid five thousand men.
The army marched on unopposed, until it came to the
river Hydaspes, or as we call it now the Jhelum. Here
it was forced to halt, for on the opposite bank was a
powerful Indian king, named Porus, and a large army.
Porus had with him a number of elephants, and when they
trumpeted, the horses of the Macedonians took flight.
The banks of the river were slippery, and the enemy was
ready with arrows, should the king order his army to
cross the river.
 Alexander had made up his mind to cross the Hydaspes,
but first he wished to put Porus off his guard.
So night after night, by the king's orders, a trumpet
called the cavalry to march. It advanced always to the
edge of the river, while Porus, thinking the whole army
was going to cross, commanded his elephants to be moved
to the bank, and his great hosts to be drawn up ready
Hour after hour the Indians waited, but the Macedonians
never attempted to cross, and so they grew listless and
each night less vigilant. Even Porus began to think
the Macedonians must be cowards, and he paid less and
less attention to their movements. This was what
Alexander had expected would happen.
But one stormy night, when the Indians were off their
guard, the king with part of his army crossed to a
wooded island that lay in the middle of the river. It
was a terrible night. Lightning flashed, thunder
crashed, and several of Alexander's men were killed as
they struggled breast high in the water. With great
difficulty the others reached the farther side, to find
that Porus had realised his danger. A thousand
horsemen and sixty armed chariots awaited the daring
king. But Alexander captured the chariots and slew
four hundred of the cavalry.
The whole Macedonian army had now joined the king and a
desperate battle was fought. Hour after hour the
conflict raged, neither side gaining the victory.
At length, when the elephants were dead or their riders
slain, when the Indians were flying in every direction,
Porus knew that the day was lost.
Yet he disdained to flee and fought on, seated upon an
elephant of enormous size, for he himself was more than
six feet in height. Only when he was wounded in his
shoulder, did he turn to ride away from the field.
It is told that while the battle was raging the
elephant took the greatest care of his master. And
when the animal saw that the king was faint from his
wounds, he knelt down
 carefully that Porus might not fall. Then with his
trunk he drew out the darts that were left in the body
of the king.
Alexander had seen how bravely his enemy had fought.
As he watched him riding from the field, he thought he
would like to speak with so great a warrior, and he
sent to ask him to return. He himself went out to meet
the king, and was amazed at his great height and at his
When Alexander asked Porus how he wished to be treated,
he answered, "As a king."
"For my own sake I will do that," replied the great
king; "ask a boon for thy sake."
"That," said Porus, "containeth all."
As was his way, Alexander treated the fallen king right
royally, giving back to him his kingdom and adding to
it new territories.
Two cities were built close to the battlefield. One
was named Bucephala, after Alexander's famous horse
which, some say, was wounded and died after the battle.
But others tell that Bucephalus had died shortly before
the battle of old age, for he had lived for thirty
years. The king grieved for the loss of his noble
steed as for the loss of a friend.
This terrible battle made the Macedonians still more
unwilling to advance farther into India.
Before them lay a desert which would take eleven days
to cross. The soldiers could not face a long march in
a strange land, without water and without guides.
When Alexander ordered the army to advance, the
Macedonians who had followed him loyally through every
difficulty, refused to obey.
Nothing he could say would make them advance a step
"There they stood, looking hard at the ground with
tears trickling down their cheeks, yet resolute still
not to go forward."
Then Alexander dismissed them in anger. But the next
 day he sent for them again and told them that he was
going to advance. They, if they chose to forsake him
in a hostile land, could go back to Macedon.
Still in anger the king left them and went to his tent,
and shut himself up for two days, refusing to see any
of his companions.
Perhaps he thought his obstinate Macedonians would
yield. But although it grieved them to thwart their
king, the soldiers remained firm.
On the third day Alexander left his tent and offered
sacrifices to the gods, as he always did before
beginning a new adventure. But the signs were
unfavourable, and against this the king was not proof.
So he sent to tell the army that he had determined to
lead them in the direction of home.
In a transport of joy the faithful Macedonians hastened
to the king's tent. Some of them wept as they thanked
"the unconquered king that he had permitted himself to
be conquered for once by his Macedonians."
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