Hail the Bacchic Στρατιά, protect us!


In order to gain admittance into the cities during his Indian expedition, Dionysos dressed his troops in white linen and deer skins, instead of gleaming armour. Their spears were adorned with ivy, and the points of the spears were hidden under a thyrsus. His orders were given by cymbals and drums, instead of trumpets; and intoxicating his enemies with wine, he engaged them in dancing and Bacchic orgies. Such were the stratagems which that general practised in his conquest of India, and the rest of Asia. After Dionysos had subdued the Indians, he formed an alliance with them and the Amazons, and took them into his service. When he penetrated into Bactria, whose boundary is the river Saranges, he found that the Bactrians had possessed themselves of the mountains above the river, in order to dispute his passage. Encamping therefore on the river side, opposite the enemy, he ordered the Amazons and the Bacchants to ford it; expecting that the Bactrians, in contempt of the women, would quit their posts on the mountains, and attack them; which they accordingly did. The women retreated, and were pursued by the enemy to the opposite bank. Then Dionysos at the head of his troops furiously attacked the Bactrians, and as they were surprised and impeded by the water, defeated them with great slaughter, and crossed the river himself without any further danger. (Polyaenus, Stratagems 1.1)