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Pourquoi Alexandre a-t-il contraint les Ichtyophages à ne plus manger de poisson (Pline l’Ancien, Hist. nat. VI 95)?

Pierre Schneider

Abstract


In Pliny’s description of Ariana there is a brief mention of the fish-eating Orites, a tribe dwelling on the coast of Makran – the Orites were encountered by Alexander during his march from the Indus river to Persia. Having reported some facts relating to their countries, Pliny adds this puzzling observation: «Alexander made an order forbidding a fish diet to all the Fish-eaters». This story which we know only from Pliny (Solinus and Martianus Capella paraphrase the HN) may derive from Cleitarchus. Most historians and even philosophers (such as Montesquieu) suggest that this ban on fish diet applied to the Gedrosian Fish-eaters, i.e. the famous Ichthyophagi discovered by Nearchus; they believe that Alexander wanted to bring «civilization» to these destitute tribes. This paper shows that this decision actually applied to the Orite Ichthyophagi. They were probably deported in the Alexandria founded by Alexander in the hinterland of Orites’ country, where they were forced to pratice agriculture. As a matter of fact, a great number of Orites were killed following the fights with Alexander’s army. This demographic deficit may well explain why these Fish-eaters were forced to abandon their traditional life-style.


Keywords


Alexander’s foundation; Alexander the Great; Alexandria among the Oreitai; Gedrosia; Ichthyophagi (Fish-eaters); Oreitai; Alessandria tra gli Oreiti; Alessandro Magno; fondazioni di Alessandro; Ittiofagi (Mangiatori di pesce)

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/erga-2015-002-schn




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