The spectre of Alexander: Cassius dio and the alexander-motif

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In the opinion of Cassius Dio, Septimius Severus' capture of Nisibis and annexation of the province of Mesopotamia were not among the emperor's more worthwhile ventures. The costs were great and the yields slight. Our knowledge of the campaign is sketchy, although we do have a narrative outline supplied by Dio's eleventh-century epitomator, John Xiphilinus. Xiphilinus preserves the following anecdote, which takes place after Severus and his army had crossed the Euphrates and were starting to feel the effects of thirst and heat. The epitomator says: (Dio Cass. 75[75].2.2 [Xiph.]) For when they were already wearied by their March and the hot sun, they encountered a dust-storm that caused them great distress, so that they could no longer March or even talk, but only cry, 'Water, Water'. And when some little vapour did appear, on account of its strangeness it meant no more to them than if it had not been found at all, until Severus called for a cup, and filling it with the water, drank it in full view of all.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)132-144
Number of pages13
JournalGreece and Rome
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


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