Alexander the Great in Afghanistan

In 330 BC, Alexander of Macedonia reached the Persian city of Zadracarta, a city near the current Iranian city of Bender Chah. Wars between Persians and Greeks had been a constant for several centuries, but never a Western or European had gone so far. The two faces of the same human civilization, East and West, were going to collide and mix definitively and precisely in a scenario of absolute relevance in our days, Afghanistan, a territory that keeps like no other, the footprint of Alexander. Things would never be the same after the passage of the Greco-Macedonians through those lands, which would become, from that moment, the obligatory point of destination between East and West, so that whoever dominated Afghanistan dominated the world. If both sides of civilization were at peace, those lands became a crucible in which both cultures produced a new one, the result of mixing. However, in the periods of conflict and war, Afghanistan became a real hell for those who tried to dominate it.
In a certain sense, there is no Westerner who is not Afghan, nor Oriental who is not Greek, because there was a time when monotheistic religions did not exist and therefore not their exclusive visions. That is, there was a time when humans existed before God and that was the time of Alexander and his journey. A trip that transformed all those who did it, that produced the Greco-Buddhist culture (whose maximum examples were the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan) and that transformed the world.

330 b.C., in Afghanistan.

Aria, Bactriana and Arachiasia and the desert region of Gedrosia, shared with Pakistan under the current name of Baluchistan, were the regions of that part of the world where Alexander and the several thousand Greeks who were with him, treading for the first time. It was a true journey of transformation because (far from the theological cosmogonies that would be imposed centuries later, with their dogmatic views of the world and in which there is no room for individual interpretation), two sides of the same world were coming into contact. As the journey progressed, Alexander and many of his men quickly adopted oriental habits, at the same time, as always happens, that another group also numerous, was reaffirming their preexisting ideas to travel.
The traditions, the traditional and established mentality that does not accept to get in touch with other ways of life, with other ways of seeing things, ends up being a binding and a generating cause of conflicts; and Alexander in his trip had many, because some of his companions like General Filotas, ended up conspiring against him, under the accusation of corrupting the traditional Macedonian customs to adopt «the one of the barbarians», the oriental ones. That same conflict will always arise, between dogma and tradition, with the emergence of mixing and contact.

In October of 330 b. C., entered in Afghanistan through the region of Aria the present province of Herat coming from the neighboring Iran, of the city of Zadracarta (Bender Chah), it is more, it would found his first Afghan Alexandria, the one of Aria (Herat). From there they went to Frada (Farah) in the Zarandj region and where the «conspiracy of General Philotas» took place. They spent the winter there, because these regions are of premature, cold and intense winters and where tribes live very jealous of their independence and refractory to any hegemonic power. They left Frada in December of 330 b. C., with the Macedonian troops dressed in the Afghan turban, mandatory to protect the head of the sun and having replaced the Greek sandals by a certain type of boots.
In the region of Arachnosia he founded the Alexandria of Aracosia, today Kandahar, the city of a thousand fountains and today emblem of the Taliban and Mullah Omar movement and from there they continued northwards, until the foothills of the Caucasus (Hindu-Kush) about 68 kms from the present site of Kabul and in the vicinity of the current Baghlan, he founded the Alexandria of the Caucasus or Mount Paropámiso, just below the rock in which Zeus chained to Prometheus, perfectly described in its dimensions by Quintus Curcio, in its «History of Alexander the Great».

Prometheus was once chained in Afghanistan for having stolen fire from the gods to give it to humans, made by which he is known as his protector, of the human race, and there he remained chained until he was liberated by Heracles himself. Much of the European population and its culture come from the so-called Indo-Iranian peoples.
Alexander of Macedonia, the great one, went after the myth of Heracles and for that reason he wanted to found his Caucasian Alexandria at the foot of the rock of Prometheus. As Carlos García Gual says in «Myths, journeys and heroes»: «Myths do not have a dogmatic fixity, in contrast to the faith required by the texts of certain religions, against which dissent is not admitted. In this sense the ancient religion was much more liberal than the Christian, Muslim or Hebrew tradition. »

Old walls of Farah, built by Alexander. Here took place
the death of Philotas. The city was named Alexandria Proftasia.

The end of the trip

In the last months of the year 329 BC, they left Afghanistan to enter the territory of present-day Uzbekszistan, Tazdhikistan and Kyrgyzstan, where a city near the current Tashkent, still bears the name of Iskender (Alexander in Persian), apart from the Egyptian Alexandria and the Turkish Iskenderum. In Uzbiekistan he founded the Alexandria Tarmita (Termez), he married the princess Uzbeka Roxana and in the most emblematic city of the area in Maracanda or Samarkand (The glory of Tamerlane, the pearl of the Silk Road), one of the most tragic events of his life, when he gave death to his childhood friend Clito the Negro, in a discussion provoked by an oriental rite, proskinessis or prostration. This rite, which consists in greeting the oriental monarchs with a total inclination of the body and subsequent kiss of the hand, continues to provoke misgivings in the West and is confused with a sign of humiliation, when it is just another form of greeting. For example, it suffices to say how misunderstood that kind of gesture is, homage, when it is done before the Moroccan monarch.
Two millennia later that kind of greeting continues to provoke conflict and misinterpretations, the same one that cost Clito the life and Alexander one of his biggest depressions, because he wanted to kill himself with the same sarisa (launches Macedonian) with which he had killed Clito. After that he never again demanded that kind of greeting from the Greeks.
Alexander returned to Afghan territory two years later, to his Alexandria of the Caucasus, in 327 b. C., after returning to cross the Hindu Kush, probably by the passage of Salang, which the Soviets used in the invasion of Afghanistan.

After reorganizing there his army, already of Persian majority, left Afghanistan definitively in autumn of that same year and from there it went to which then it was known like India and today we call Pakistan, following the route that today uses the railroad Kabul-Rawalpindi -Lahore.
On that route he conquered the famous Rock of Aornos, which Heracles had to abandon without dominating.
After dominating Pakistan, he descended from Peshawar to Karachi through the ancient course of the Indus.
According to one of the great scholars of Alexander, quoted by Antonio Bravo García in his introduction to the Anabasis of Arrian: «Alexander was a dreamer who pursued the union of peoples, in his belief in the unity of Humanity», but as he said Flaubert: «that was at the time when the old gods no longer served and the new ones had not appeared, it was at the time when the man was alone», in front of himself.

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