King Porus of Paurava

Alexander the Great met the Indian king Porus, with his war elephants.
Alexander the Great met the Indian king Porus, with his war elephants, at the Battle at the Hydaspes River.

Porus, king of the area between the Hydaspes (Jhelum) and the Acesines rivers, in the Punjab, in the Indian subcontinent, met Alexander the Great at the Battle of the Hydaspes River, in June 326 B.C. Porus brought war elephants with him that terrified the Greeks and their horses. Monsoons proved more of an obstacle to the Indian bowmen (who could not use the ground to gain purchase for their long bows) than to the Macedonians who crossed the swollen Hydaspes on pontoons. Alexander's troops gained the upper hand; even the Indian elephants stampeded their own troops. King Porus surrendered to Alexander, but appears to have continued on as a satrap or viceroy, granted the land to the east of his own kingdom, until he was killed between 321 and 315 B.C. Alexander's victory brought him to the eastern border of the Punjab, but he was prevented by his own troops from going into the kingdom of Magadha.

Ancient writers about Porus and Alexander the Great at the Hydaspes, who were, unfortunately, not contemporaries of Alexander, are: Arrian (probably best, based on the eyewitness account of Ptolemy), Plutarch, Q. Curtius Rufus, Diodorus, and Marcus Junianus Justinus (Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus).

During the battle against Porus, Alexander's men encountered poison on the tusks of the elephants. Military History of Ancient India says the tusks were tipped with poison-coated swords, and Adrienne Mayor identifies the poison as Russell's viper venom, as she writes in The Uses of Snake Venom in Antiquity.

Go to Other Ancient / Classical History Glossary pages beginning with the letter

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | ​wxyz