Nearchus, guides, and place names on Alexander's expedition: Arrian's Indica 27.1 (FGRH 133 F 1 III)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of at Arr. Ind. 27.1 continues to puzzle scholars. This article uses the textual debate as a jumping-off point to explore Nearchus' presentation of naval guides and their role on Alexander's expedition, something which previous interpretations of the passage have not adequately considered. Through examination of all Nearchan fragments, I argue that providing local place names was a key aspect of a guide's role and significant for navigation. It is also suggested that the use of this verb may additionally refer to the Macedonians' practice of giving places new names or altering indigenous names; in this section, comparative material from New World conquest is brought to bear on the ancient evidence. In light of this analysis, I conclude that the manuscript reading of should be retained.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)553-576
Number of pages24
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
For helpful comments on earlier drafts, I would like to thank Liz Baynham, Tim Howe, Paul Jarvis, Luke Pitcher, Evan Pitt, Guy Westwood, and Andrew Wong, along with the anonymous reviewers and eagle-eyed editors of Mnemosyne. I myself own any remaining errors. This article would not exist without the financial support provided by the University of Oxford’s Clarendon Fund; Brasenose College, Oxford; Scatcherd European Scholarship; Jenkins Memorial Scholarship; and the Santander Scholarship and Mobility Support Fund. Finally, I dedicate this piece to my late grandfather, Colin Caldwell, who possessed a lifelong love of learning and a profoundly kind soul.

Publisher Copyright:
© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2020


  • Alexander
  • Arrian
  • Guides
  • Hydraces
  • Indica
  • Naming
  • Nearchus
  • Toponyms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Classics
  • Archaeology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • History
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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