Geographical sites:

  • Phrygia (click here to focus in map) (see also Pleiades #609502)
    Pleiades_icon Phrygia region Geocontext: mythological name for Phrygia
    Description: Phrygia was an ancient kingdom of west-central Anatolia.


Text #4048

Arrian. Alexander the Great: The Anabasis and the Indica
[Bk. 2 Ch. 3 Verse 7 pp. 41--42]

There was a further legend about the wagon, that whoever could undo the knot on its yoke was destined to rule Asia. This knot was tied with cornel bark, and no end or beginning could be seen. Alexander could find no means of untying the knot, but did not want to leave it intact, in case this failure provoked popular unrest. What he did next is variously reported. According to some he cut through the knot with a blow of his sword and observed that it was now undone: but Aristobolus1 says that he took out the pole-pin – a knobbed bolt running through the pole which anchors the whole fastening – and so was able to pull the yoke over the end of the pole.

I cannot say for certain what actually happened with the knot, but there is no doubt that Alexander and his entourage left the scene thinking that the oracle about the wagon and the undoing of the knot had now been fulfilled, and in fact that night there was thunder and lightning from heaven in confirmation. Alexander responded by making sacrifice on the following day to the gods who had revealed these signs and shown him the way to undo the knot2.

  1. Aristobulus of Cassandreia a Greek historian, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns. [nE]

  2. This is the famous story of the Gordian Knot cut by Alexander. [nE]

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