Nearchus

His Beginning

Painting depicting Nearchus as an officer in Alexander's army.

Painting depicting Nearchus as an officer in Alexander’s army. (Vago Damitio.“Vagobond.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.vagobond.com/extraordinary-vagabonds-nearchus-the-voyager/.)

 Nearchus was the son of Androtimus and was born in Lato, Crete sometime around 350 B.C.E. Shortly after his birth his family moved to Amphipolis, Macedonia where he spent the remainder of his childhood.2. Although his father’s position is unknown, he was clearly someone special to the King of Macedonia, Philip. Thanks to his father’s status, Nearchus was able to be educated along with Philip’s son, Alexander the Great.4. This means Nearchus was educated by the great philosopher, Aristotle. As a result of being educated alongside Alexander, Nearchus became one of Alexander’s distinguished boyhood friends, along with Ptolemy, Erigyius, Laomedon, and Harpalus.2. Around 337 B.C.E, the Pixodarus affair took place. This was a marriage negotiation between Pixodarus Hecatomnid satrap of Caria and Philip, where Pixodarus’ daughter, Ada was going to marry Philip’s son, Arrhidaeus. Alexander’s boyhood friends told Alexander this was going to be arranged to make Arrhidaeus king after Philip died, so Alexander told his father he would take his brothers place. Once Philip found out about this he had Alexander’s friends exiled and the negotiation was called off. Where they were exiled to is unknown.1. After Philip’s death in 336 B.C.E and Alexander became King, he recalled all his boyhood friends back to Macedonia. To show his friends how much they meant to him, Alexander held all of these men to the highest honors by appointing each of them as satraps. These were among the first of Alexander’s satrapal appointments.  Nearchus became satrap of Lycia and Pamphyliain in 334 B.C.E which meant he was responsible for all the ports in Southern Turkey.3. Nearchus excelled in his position, and ultimately forced the Persian navy to sail through the open Aegean Sea instead of the Mediterranean Sea. For the next 5 years there would be no mention of him again.

1. Carney, Elizabeth, and Daniel Ogden. “Philip II and Alexander the Great : Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives.” Google Books. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

2. Jona Lendering. “Nearchus.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nearchus/nearchus.html.

3. “Pothos.org.” – Nearchus, Son of Androtimus. CMS Made Simple. Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.pothos.org/content/index.php?page=nearchus.

4. Vago Damitio.“Vagobond.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.vagobond.com/extraordinary-vagabonds-nearchus-the-voyager/.

He’s Back

The solid black line is Alexander's travels and the dotted black line is Nearchus' travels.

The solid black line is Alexander’s travels and the dotted black line is Nearchus’ travels. (“Nearchus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 09 Nov 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nearchus.)

In 328 B.C.E Nearchus was relieved of his satrapal duties and joined Alexander in Bactria as an officer with reinforcements of Greek mercenaries. After the siege of Aornus, he was sent to the head of the reconnaissance mission, mostly because Alexander was curious about the elephants he was about to receive.1. He then disappears from record again for the following two years. In 326 B.C.E he served as one of the commanders of the Shield Bearers, a heavy infantry unit, before he was replaced by Seleucus.3. After the battle of Hydaspes Alexander’s army refused to move any further so Alexander decided to begin the journey back home to Babylonia. After being replaced he was appointed admiral of the fleet and became responsible for the voyage. During the voyage down the Indus River some of the ships were damaged and Nearchus was directed to stay and man the repairs and then lead the fleet back to Alexander’s location.2. Up until then, there was no mention of Nearchus having knowledge of ships, so it can be concluded that he was appointed this because he was originally from Crete.2. Once the ships were repaired and the winds were right, Nearchus set sail to catch up to Alexander. Along the way he explored different parts of the Arabian Coast, the Persian Gulf, and became the first Greek to visit Bahrain (known as Tylos by the Greeks) and introduced to them the God Zeus and the spoken language of Greece, and he also began planning a trip to the Red Sea.5. Throughout all these explorations he recorded his journey in great detail and he made it his mission to explore uncharted seas.5. These writings were made into a book called the Indikê, which is now lost, but parts still remain from several other sources.4. Historians believe this book consisted of two sections: The first half contained a description of India’s borders, size, rivers, population, animals (including elephants), armies and customs while the second half described Nearchus’ sea travels home.4. He finally caught up to Alexander in Carmania in 324 B.C.E. Since the army was too large to ship back on Nearchus’ vessels Alexander was forced to divide it into groups. A third of the army stayed in Carmania to await more ships, another third was ordered to travel with Nearchus to Babylonia, while the other third had to travel with Alexander through the dangerous Gedrosian desert.4. Along the way back to Babylonia, Nearchus and Alexander’s communication was ceased and the two groups were convinced the other group was lost.3. Nearchus finally caught word that Alexander and his army made it through the Gedrosian desert and were approaching from the east, so he decided to wait for them at Susa. Once Alexander reached Susa he decided to hold a celebration to welcome the two groups being reunited. At this celebration Alexander gave Nearchus a gold diadem as a reward for his brave journey and he also was allowed to marry the daughter of Alexander and his Persian wife, Barsine.1. After the celebration they all returned home to Babylonia with no known issues.

1. “Nearchus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 09 Nov 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nearchus.

2. “Pothos.org.” – Nearchus, Son of Androtimus. CMS Made Simple. Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.pothos.org/content/index.php?page=nearchus.

3. “A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.” Smith Ed.Web. 11 Nov 2013. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0104:entry=nearchus-bio-4.

4. Jona Lendering. “Nearchus.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nearchus/nearchus.html.

5. Vago Damitio.“Vagobond.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.vagobond.com/extraordinary-vagabonds-nearchus-the-voyager/.

This coin has the Goddess Victory (Nike) holding a ship in honor of Nearchus' explorations.

This coin has the Goddess Victory (Nike) holding a ship in honor of Nearchus’ explorations. (Jona Lendering. “Nearchus.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nearchus/nearchus.html.)

His Final Years

Alexander and Nearchus were planning an Arabian invasion fleet, where Nearchus would be the admiral and lead the invasion alongside Alexander.1. Unfortunately, in 323 B.C.E Alexander died before those plans could be completed. After his death when everyone was fighting over who should be king, Nearchus supported Alexander and his Persian wife, Barsine’s son, Heracles.1. Another unfortunate occurrence happened when Heracles and Barsine were murdered, most likely by Polyperchon who was fighting for the rights of the military and throne.3. After the news of their death Nearchus joined Antigonus’ camp where he commanded a small number of troops for the general.2. There are no records of Nearchus and his Persian wife ever having children so this is the last we hear of Nearchus and any descendants.  The year of his death and how he died is unknown, it is speculated though that he died sometime around 300 B.C.E.1.

1. “Pothos.org.” – Nearchus, Son of Androtimus. CMS Made Simple. Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.pothos.org/content/index.php?page=nearchus.

2. “A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.” Smith Ed.Web. 11 Nov 2013. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0104:entry=nearchus-bio-4.

3. Jona Lendering. “Nearchus.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nearchus/nearchus.html.

Random Fact

This is an image of St. Nearchus.

This is an image of St. Nearchus. (Full of Grace and Truth. “St. Nearchus the Martyr”. Web. 08 Nov 2013. http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/01/st-nearchus-martyr.html.)

Nearchus is often confused with St. Nearchus, who was an Armenian Christian and Roman officer during the 3rd century. St. Nearchus was later burned alive as punishment and then became a saint because of his work while he was alive. It’s hard to believe these two could be confused with one another, especially since the Greek Nearchus lived long before the St. Nearchus.1.

1. Full of Grace and Truth. “St. Nearchus the Martyr”. Web. 08 Nov 2013. http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/01/st-nearchus-martyr.html.

Sources

“Nearchus.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web. 09 Nov 2013. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nearchus.

Jona Lendering. “Nearchus.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nearchus/nearchus.html.

“Pothos.org.” – Nearchus, Son of Androtimus. CMS Made Simple. Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.pothos.org/content/index.php?page=nearchus.

“A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.” Smith Ed.Web. 11 Nov 2013. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus:text:1999.04.0104:entry=nearchus-bio-4.

Vago Damitio.“Vagobond.” Web. 12 Nov 2013. http://www.vagobond.com/extraordinary-vagabonds-nearchus-the-voyager/.

Carney, Elizabeth, and Daniel Ogden. “Philip II and Alexander the Great : Father and Son, Lives and Afterlives.” Google Books. Web. 22 Nov. 2013.

Full of Grace and Truth. “St. Nearchus the Martyr”. Web. 08 Nov 2013. http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com/2009/01/st-nearchus-martyr.html.


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