Alexander and the Return from Siwah Scribd file [1


Alexander and the Return from SiwahAuthor(s): Eugene N. BorzaReviewed work(s):Source: Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte, Bd. 16, H. 3 (Jul., 1967), p. 369Published by: Franz Steiner VerlagStable MISZELLE ALEXANDER AND THE RETURN FROM SIWAH The voluminous discussion surrounding Alexander's visit to the oracle of Ammon at Siwah has produced no universally accepted reconstruction of those events. Perhaps the most satisfactory answer to the question of Alexander's motive for undertaking this arduous desert journey is that of C. Bradford Welles ("The Discovery of Sarapis and the Foundation of Alexandria," Historia, XI, I962, pp. 271-298). Welles showed that the majority of ancient opinion (Diodorus, Curtius, Justin, and ArrianAristobulus) either state explicitly or do not preclude the possibility that Alexandria was founded on Alexander's return from Siwah. Moreover, the Romance of PseudoCallisthenes even gives the reason for Alexander's visit to the Ammonium: to consult the oracle about the foundation of the city which would bear the king's name. Modern scholars, however, have chosen to reject these versions in favor of that of Ptolemy (Arrian III. 4. 5). In this account, Arrian tells us that Alexander, satisfied with the oracular response to his question, returned to Egypt going back the same way (r'v a.oL'v 67rEao 686v) as Aristobulus says, oS 8i H'lohXe?toq 6 AMyou, &XXnvee lXv w. F17 M4LLtv. According to the normal standards of Alexander source-criticism Ptolemy is a reliable authority. Yet Welles has rejected Ptolemy's version and has argued convin-cingly that Alexander returned to Egypt by way of Paraetonium to found his city. Welles argued (pp. 278-79) that a journey from Siwah straight back across 400 miles

of "practically unrelieved and in places rather savage desert" was unlikely. La'rtseu7acvrnax 64 OeEcor our &i fyaaac*o 'vv 686v T1V' Tc 14 '6 [LzMv'e0ovx alo6 &iaCoM 6&Lq. although when dealing with matters concerning Alexander one hesitates to suggest that anything was impossible. 281). I can offer no reason for this discrepancy. 3. Indeed it seems unlikely that Alexander would choose such a route when the easier and already known coastal track was open. Note too that Arrian uses 67Edac later (III. xKot To&rotq' AXi. The foregoing is not to deny Welles his thesis that Ptolemy must be rejected on this point. and in fact was not in a posi-tion to know how Alexander returned to Egypt since he had remained in Memphis (p. Welles portrays with skill the difficulties associated with a trek across part of the Qattara Depression from Siwah to the Nile. 5) writes: flroXeaLtor Av 81 6 AMyou Xkye 8p&xov1cur8 o tFvxt 7rp? ra5 aTtpwaT? aros ypcoAvt lrcx. What now exists is not only a direct conflict between Ptolemy and the other sources but also an inconsistency within Ptolemy's own account. While it is reasonable to suggest that Ptolemy remained in Memphis are we to accept that since he did not accompany the expedition he had no knowledge of the return route? Certainly the foundation of Alexandria was an important event and it seems likely that even if Ptolemy had no access to an official log of the events.av. that Ptolemy himself probably did not accompany this expedition (p. he would have heard about it at least through the normal channels of court gossip. Whether it was Arrian's error in citing Ptolemy or an overlooked conflict in Ptolemy . 5) in quoting Aristobulus on the return route. rather the main purpose of this brief note is to reinforce Welles' argument by adding one piece of evidence hitherto overlooked. Arrian (III. 4. 280).8pov x6kz5aact grnscaa 'roi6 fy??6voc. The key words are 67rEao4 tL4 which almost certainly must make the passage mean that the serpents led Alexander to the oracle and back again the same way.

BoRZA 24 Historia XVII3 .himself cannot be ascertained. the importance of the inconsistency is that it serves to to cast further doubt on the reliability of Ptolemy as a source for this incident. The Pennsylvania State University EUGENE N. Professor Welles' theory that Ptolemy must be rejected stands firmer and sheds much light on this vexed question. Whatever the cause.