The Library of History

Page 62

Page 62 To this End she provided three hundred thousand black Oxen, and distributed the Flesh amongst a Company of ordinary Mechanicks and such Fellows as she had to play the Coblers for her, and ordered them by stitching the Skins together and stuffing them with Straw to imitate the Shape of an Elephant, and in every one of them she put a Man to govern them, and a Camel to carry them, so that at a distance they appear'd to all that saw them as if they were really such Beasts.

They that were imploy'd in this Work wrought at it night and day in a Place which was wall'd round for the Purpose, and Guards set at every Gate, that none might be admitted either to go in or out, to the end that none might see what they were doing, lest it should be nois'd abroad and come to the Ears of the Indians.

Having therefore provided Shipping and Elephants in the space of two years, in the third she randezvouz'd all her Forces in Bactria. Her Army consisted (as Ctesias says) of three Millions of Foot, two hundred Thousand Horse, and a hundred Thousand Chariots, and a hundred Thousand Men mounted upon Camels with Swords four Cubits long. The Boats that might be taken asunder were two Thousand; which the Camels carry'd by Land as they did the Mock-Elephants, as we have before declar'd. The Souldiers made their Horses familiar with these feign'd Beasts by bringing them often to them, lest they should be terrify'd at the Sight of them; which Perseus imitated many Ages after when he was to fight with the Romans, who had Elephants in their Army out of Africa. However this Contrivance prov'd to be of no Advantage either to him or her, as will appear in the Issue herein a little after related.

When Stabrobates the Indian King heard of these great Armies and the mighty Preparations made against him, he did all he could to excel Semiramis in every thing. And first he built of great Canes four Thousand River-boats: For abundance of these Canes grow in India about the Rivers and Fenns, so thick as a Man can scarce fathom: And Vessels made of these Reeds (they say) are exceeding useful, because they'l never rot or be worm-eaten.

He was very diligent likewise in preparing of Arms and going from Place to Place throughout all India, and so rais'd a far greater Army than that of Semiramis. To his former Number of Elephants he added more, which he took by hunting, and furnish'd them all with every thing that might make them look terrible in the Face of their Enemies, so that by their Multitude and the Compleatness of their Armour in all Points it seem'd above the Strength and Power of Man to bear up against the violent Shock of these Creatures.

Having therefore made all these Preparations, he sent Embassadours to Semiramis (as she was on her March towards him) to complain and upbraid her for beginning a War without any Provocation or Injury offer'd her; and by his private Letters taxed her with her whorish Course of Life, and vow'd (calling the Gods to witness) that if he conquer'd her he would nail her to the Cross. When she read the Letters, she smil'd, and said, the Indian should presently have a Trial of her Valour by her Actions. When she came up with her Army to the River Indus she found the Enemies Fleet drawn up in a Line of Battle; whereupon she forthwith drew up her own, and having mann'd it with the stoutest Souldiers, joyn'd Battle, yet so ordering the Matter as to have her Land-forces ready upon the Shoar to be assisting as there should be Occasion. After a long and sharp Fight with Marks of Valour on both sides, Semiramis was at length victorious, and sunk a Thousand of the Enemies Vessels, and took a great number of Prisoners. Puffed up with this Success she took in all the Cities and Islands that lay in the River, and carry'd away a hundred Thousand Captives. After this the Indian King drew off his Army (as if he fled for Fear) but in Truth to decoy his Enemies to pass the River.

Semiramis therefore (seeing things fall out according to her wish) laid a broad Bridge of Boats (at a vast Charge) over the River, and thereby passed over all her Forces, leaving only threescore Thousand to guard the Bridge, and with the rest of her Army pursu'd the Indians. She plac'd the Mock-Elephants in the Front that the Enemies Scouts might presently inform the King what Multitudes of Elephants she had in her Army: And she was not deceiv'd in her hopes; for when the Spies gave an Account to the Indians what a great Multitude of these Creatures were advancing towards them, they were all in amaze, inquiring among themselves, whence the Assyrians should be supply'd with such a vast number of Elephants: But the Cheat could not be long conceal'd, for some of Semiramis's Souldiers being

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books