En 14d Alexander

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    Ott 2023

    14d. Alexander the King

    [120/10] Liudgeart, Wichhirte’s watch-by-night, became my ally and later my friend. From his diary, I have the history that follows:

    After we had lived at the Five Waters (Panj-ab) for twelve hundred and twice twelve years, in which our sea campaigners explored all seas in the region, came Alexander the king with a mighty army, moving downstream along the river towards our villages. None could resist him. But we steersmen, living near the coast, embarked with all our portable goods and departed.

    When Alexander learned that such a great fleet had escaped him, he became furious, swearing he would sacrifice all villages to the flames if we did not come back. Wichhirte lay ill in bed. When Alexander heard this, he waited until he got better. Then he came to him, speaking most kindly, [121] though he still made threats as he had done before. Wichhirte answered: “O greatest of all kings, we steersmen go everywhere. We have heard of your great deeds, so we are full of respect for your weapons, and yet more for your prowess. But we differ from one another. We are free-born children of Frya. We are forbidden to become slaves. Even were I to submit, the others would rather die, for so is it commanded by our eternal law.”

    Alexander replied: “I desire neither to make your land my own nor to enslave your folk. I merely wish to engage your services for pay. This I will swear by both our gods, so that none shall bear resentment against me.” When Alexander then shared bread and salt with him, Wichhirte chose the wisest option. He had his son retrieve the ships.

    When they were back, Alexander hired them all. With them, he intended to transport his folk to the Holy Ganges, which he had not been able to reach by land. Now he chose those of his folk and his mercenaries who were accustomed to seafaring. Wichhirte had fallen ill again, so I went off alone with them and Nearchus, who represented the king.[1] The expedition failed as a result of the [122] constant quarreling between the Ionians and the Phoenicians, which had undermined Nearchus’ authority.

    Meanwhile, the king had not been idle. He had ordered his mercenaries to cut down trees and make planks, of which, with the help of our carpenters, he constructed ships. Now he wanted to become sea king himself and sail up the Ganges with his whole army. But the mercenaries from the highlands feared the sea. When they heard that they had to join the fleet, they set the timberyards ablaze, reducing our whole village to ash. At first, we thought Alexander had ordered it and were all prepared to take to the sea. But Alexander was furious and wanted his own folk to kill the mercenaries. Then Nearchus, who was not only Alexander’s top general, but also his friend, dissuaded him. He now feigned to believe it had just been an accident — but he dared not resume his expedition.

    Instead, he decided to turn back homeward. But before leaving, he first ordered an investigation into who was responsible. Once he identified the perpetrators, he disarmed all of them and made them build a new village. Of his own folk, he left weaponed men to oversee the others [123] and build a burg. We were obliged to take the women and children with us and it was agreed that, when we arrived at the mouth of the Euphrates, we would be permitted to choose a place to settle, or return home. Our wage would be paid either way. On the new ships that had escaped the blaze, he embarked Ionians and Greeks. He himself went along the coast with his other folk through the barren desert — that is the land that Earth had raised from the sea when she closed the strait after our ancestors entered the Red Sea.

    When we arrived to take on water at New Geartmania, a harbor we ourselves had made, we met Alexander with his army. Nearchus went ashore and abode three days. Then the journey proceeded.

    Arriving at the Euphrates, Nearchus went ashore with the mercenaries and much of his folk. But he soon returned, saying: “The king bids you to undertake another minor voyage for him, to the end of the Red Sea. After that, each of you shall take as much gold as he can carry.” When we arrived there, he showed us where the strait had once been. He lingered for thirty-one days, steadily looking out over the desert. At last, a host of people came, bringing [124] with them two hundred elephants and a thousand camels, loaded with timber, along with ropes and all manner of equipment to tow our fleet to the Middle Sea. That astonished us and seemed to us a bad idea. But Nearchus told us that his king wanted to show the other kings that he was more powerful than any of the Tyrian kings had ever been. We should but help, he said. It would surely do us no harm. We were obliged to yield to his wishes, and Nearchus was so efficient that the fleet lay in the Middle Sea before three months had passed.

    When Alexander learned how his scheme had worked out, he was so overcome with rashness that he wanted to dig out the dry strait, to the mockery of Earth. But Wralda deserted his soul, and, in his arrogance, he drowned himself in wine before he could even start.[2]

    After his death, the empire was divided by his princes. They were all pledged to guard a part of it for his sons, but they broke their oaths, and each of them desired to keep and even increase his part. War broke out and we could not return.

    Nearchus now wanted us to settle on the Phoenician coast, but none of us wanted that. We said we would rather attempt to [125] go to Fryasland. Then he brought us to the new port of Athenia, whither all true Frya’s children were drawn in former times. From there, we shipped mercenaries, food supplies, and weapons.

    Notes

    1. ‘Nearchus’ (NÉARCHUS, Greek Νέαρχος, c. 360 - 300 BCE) — Alexander's 'navarch' or admiral, known from other sources for his celebrated voyage from the Indus river to the Persian Gulf in 326–324 BCE.
    2. ‘and, in his...’ — lit.: ‘therefore, he drowned in wine and in his overconfidence’.

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.165 cont.] Liudgert, the admiral of Wichhirt, was my comrade, and afterwards my friend. Out of his diary I have taken the following history.

    After we had been settled 12 times 100 and twice 12 years[1] in the Five Waters (Punjab), whilst our naval warriors were navigating all the seas they could find, came Alexander the King,[2] with a powerful army descending the river towards our villages. No one could withstand him; but we sea-people, who lived by the sea, put all our possessions on board ships and took our departure. When Alexander heard that such a large fleet had escaped him, he became furious, and swore that he would burn all the villages if we did not come back. Wichhirte was ill in bed. When Alexander heard that, he waited till he was better. After that he came to him, speaking very kindly—but he deceived, [p.167] as he had done before. Wichhirte answered: Oh greatest of kings, we sailors go everywhere; we have heard of your great deeds, therefore we are full of respect for your arms, and still more for your wisdom; but we who are free-born Fryas children, we may mot become your slaves; and even if I would, the others would sooner die, for so it is commanded in our laws. Alexander said: I do not desire to take your land or make slaves of your people, I only wish to hire your services. That I will swear by both our Gods, so that no one may be dissatisfied. When Alexander shared bread and salt with him, Wichhirte had chosen the wisest part. He let his son fetch the ships. When they were all come back Alexander hired them all. By means of them he wished to transport his people to the holy Ganges, which he had not been able to reach. Then he chose among all his people and soldiers those who were accustomed to the sea. Wichhirte had fallen sick again, therefore I went alone with Nearchus, sent by the king. The voyage came to an end without any advantage, because the Joniers and the Phœnicians were always quarrelling, so that Nearchus himself could not keep them in order. In the meantime, the king had not sat still. He had let his soldiers cut down trees and make planks, with which, with the help of our carpenters, he had built ships. Now he would himself become a sea-king, and sail with his whole army up the Ganges; but the soldiers who came from the mountainous countries were afraid of the sea. When they heard that they must sail, they set fire to the timber yards, and so our whole village was laid in ashes. At first we thought that this had been done by Alexander's orders, and we were all ready to cast ourselves into the sea: but Alexander was furious, and wished his own people to kill the soldiers. However, Nearchus, [p.169] who was not only his chief officer, but also his friend, advised him not to do so. So he pretended to believe that it had happened by accident, and said no more about it. He wished now to return, but before going he made an inquiry who really were the guilty ones. As soon as he ascertained it, he had them all disarmed, and made them build a new village. His own people he kept under arms to overawe the others, and to build a citadel. We were to take the women and children with us. When we arrived at the mouth of the Euphrates, we might either choose a place to settle there or come back. Our pay would be guaranteed to us the same in either case. Upon the new ships which had been saved from the fire he embarked the Joniers and the Greeks. He himself went with the rest of his people along the coast, through the barren wilderness; that is, through the land that she had heaved up out of the sea when she had raised up the strait as soon as our forefathers had passed into the Red Sea.

    When we arrived at New Gertmania (New Gertmania is the port that we had made in order to take in water), we met Alexander with his army. Nearchus went ashore, and stayed three days. Then we proceeded further on. When we came to the Euphrates, Nearchus went ashore with the soldiers and a large body of people; but he soon returned, and said, The Bing requests you, for his sake, to go a voyage up the Red Sea; after that each shall receive as much gold as he can carry. When we arrived there, he showed us where the strait had formerly been. There he spent thirty-one days, always looking steadily towards the desert.

    At last there arrived a great troop of people, bringing with them 200 elephants, 1000 camels, a quantity of timber, ropes, and all kinds of implements necessary to drag our fleet to the Mediterranean Sea. This astounded us, and seemed [p.171] most extraordinary; but Nearchus told us that his king wished to show to the other kings that he was more powerful than any kings of Tyre had ever been. We were only to assist, and that surely could do us no harm. We were obliged to yield, and Nearchus knew so well how to regulate everything, that before three months had elapsed our ships lay in the Mediterranean Sea. When Alexander ascertained how his project had succeeded, he became so audacious that he wished to dig out the dried-up strait in defiance of Irtha; but Wr-alda deserted his soul, so that he destroyed himself by wine and rashness before he could begin it. After his death his kingdom was divided among his princes. They were each to have preserved a share for his sons, but that was not their intention. Each wished to keep his own share, and to get more. Then war arose, and we could not return. Nearchus wished us to settle on the coast of Phœnicia, but that no one would do. We said we would rather risk the attempt to return to Fryasland. Then he brought us to the new port of Athens, where all the true children of Frya had formerly gone. We went, soldiers with our goods and weapons.

    Notes Sandbach

    1. 327+1224 is 1551 before Christ.
    2. Alexander at the Indus, 327 before Christ.


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