|Known for||War between the Assacani people and Alexander the Great|
|Spouse(s)||Alexander the Great|
Cleophis (Sanskrit: Kripa) was a key figure in the war between the Assacani people and Alexander the Great. Cleophis was the mother of Assacanus, the Assacanis' war-leader at the time of Alexander's invasion in 326 BCE. After her son's death in battle, Cleophis assumed command and negotiated a settlement that allowed her to retain her status. Later accounts claim Cleophis had a son by Alexander, a notion dismissed by historians.
The Assacani (called Ashvakas in Sanskrit, from the word Ashva, meaning "horse") were a free people who lived in parts of the Swat and Buner valleys in modern-day Pakistan. These highlanders were rebellious, fiercely independent clans who resisted subjugation. Their descendants survive today and are now known as ethnic Afghans or Pashtuns.
Alexander's War with the Assacani
In 326 BCE, Alexander's campaigns west of the Indus River brought him into conflict with the Assacani. In defense of their homeland, they assembled an army of 20,000 cavalry, 38,000 infantry, and 30 elephants, according to classical writer Quintus Curtius Rufus. Their army included a contingent of 7,000 Kamboj mercenaries recruited from Abhisara.
After being defeated in the field, the Assacani fell back to the fortified city of Massaga, where the fighting continued for five days (or nine, according to Curtius.) It was during this battle that Assacanus was killed. After her son's death, Cleophis assumed command, mustered the Assacani women to fight, and led the continued defense of the city. .
Eventually, however, Cleophis judged that defeat was inevitable. She came to terms with the invaders and abandoned Massaga with her followers. Diodorus Siculus says: "Cleophis sent precious gifts to Alexander with a message that she expressed her appreciation of Alexander's greatness and assured him that she would comply with the terms of the treaty." According to Curtius and Arrian, Cleophis was captured along with her young granddaughter.
Alexander's retaliation against the defeated Assaceni was severe. He had Massaga burned. Victor Hansen writes: "After promising the surrounded Assaceni their lives upon capitulation, he executed all their soldiers who had surrendered. Their strongholds at Ora and Aornus, were also likewise stormed. Garrisons were probably all slaughtered."
Additionally, Alexander pursued the Kamboj mercenaries, surrounded them on a hill, and killed them all. Diodorus describes the event in detail: "...The women, taking up the arms of the fallen, fought side by side with their men. Accordingly, some who had supplied themselves with arms did their best to cover their husbands with their shields, while others, who were without arms, did much to impede the enemy by flinging themselves upon them and catching hold of their shields." 
Cleophis and Alexander
Later classical writers, including Curtius and Justin, claim that Alexander fathered a child with Cleophis. Historians dismiss this notion as a much later romantic invention. On Alexander's relatively generous terms, which allowed Cleophis to retain her status, Curtius says, "...some believed that this indulgent treatment was accorded rather to the charms of her person than to pity for her misfortunes. At all events, afterwards she gave birth to a son who received the name Alexander whoever his father may have been..." Earlier writers do not mention this.
- According to scholars, Indian equivalent of classical name Cleophis is Kripa: See e.g: Chandragupta Maurya and His times, 1988, p 25, Dr R. K. Mukerjee; Ancient India, 2003, p 261, Dr V. D. Majan; History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 229 Editors Dr L. M. Joshi, Dr Fauja Singh; Bhavan's Journal, 1960, p 90, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan; Archaeology of Punjab, 1992, p 76, Bālā Madhu, Punjab (India); Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 284, Dr J. L. Kamboj; Problems of Ancient India, 2000, p 149, K. D. Sethna.
- Cf: The story of Cleophis' relations with the Macedonian king is heavily romanticized (Ref: The Greek World in the Fourth Century: From the Fall of the Athenian Empire to the Successors of..., 1997, p 211, Lawrence A. Tritle).
- The Achaemenids in India, 1950, p 48, Dr Sudhakar Chattopadhyaya; The Indian Historical Quarterly, 1949, p 104, India.
- Abhisara and Ursa were parts of Kamboja. See: Political History of ancient India, 1996, p 21920; A History of India, p 269-71, N. R. Ray, N. K. Sinha; Military History of India, 1980, p 38, Hemendra Chandra Kar - History; The Mahābhārata, Its Genesis and Growth: A Statistical Study, 1986, p 115, M. R. Yardi, Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute - Mahābhārata.
- Hindu Civilization: (From the earliest times up to the establishment of the Maurya Empire), 1936, p 283, Dr Radhakumud Mookerji - Hindu Civilization.
- Ancient India, 1971, p 99, Dr R. C. Majumdar; History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, Foreign Invasion, p 46, Dr R. K Mukerjee; Ancient India, 2003, p 261, Dr V. D. Mahajan; Aspects of Ancient Indian Administration, 2003, p 53, D.K. Ganguly; Ancient Kamboja, Peopoe and the Country, 1981, pp 283, 285, Dr J. L. Kamboj; Chandragupta Maurya and His times, 1988, p 25, Dr R. K. Mukerjee.
- Classical Accounts of India, p162, J. W. McCrindle.
- Metz Epitome 39, 45; Classical accounts of India, pp 112-63; Arrian's Anabasis, Book 4b, Ch XXVI; Olaf Caroe, The Pathans, p. 50, Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, p 284, Dr J. L. Kamboj; Cf: Who's Who In The Age Of Alexander The Great: Prosopography Of Alexander's Empire, 2006, p 59, Waldemar Heckel.
- Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power, 2002, p 86, Victor Hanson)
- Diodorus in McCrindle, p 269.
- cf: History of Ancient India, 1967, pp 120-21, Rama Shankar Tripathi.
- cf: "In Massaga-the lands of the Assaceni, Alexander violated pacts and ordered the slaughter of several thousand Indian soldiers who had surrendered" (Ref: Alexander the Great: The Conqueror, February 2005, Thunder Bay Press, p 105, Giampaolo Casati).
- Also cf: Studies in Indian History and Civilization, 1962, p 125
- See: Quintus Curtius Rufus 8.10.34-35; The History of Alexander the Great as described by Quintus Curtius Rufus, Arrian, Siculus Diodorus, Diodorus, Plutarch, Marcus Junianus Justinus etc, 1896, p 197, John Watson M'Crindle; History of Punjab, Vol I, 1997, p 229, Editors: Dr Faujja Singh, Dr L. M. Joshi.
Books and Magazines
- Historie du bouddhisme Indien, Dr E. Lammotte
- Alexander the Great, 2003 - Cambridge University Press, W. W. Tarn
- Political History of Ancient India, 1996, Dr H. C. Raychaudhury
- The Invasion Of India By Alexander The Great As Described By Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodorus, Plutarch And Justin, J. W. McCrindle
- Envy of the Gods: Alexander the Great's Ill-fated Journey Across Asia, John Prevas
- Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise to Western Power, Victor Hanson
- Alexander: A History of the Origin and Growth of the Art of War from the Earliest Times to the Battle of Ipsus, 301 Bc, With a Detailed Account of the Campaigns, 1996- Da Capo Press, Theodore Ayrault Dodge
- Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction, 2002 - Oxford University Press, USA, A. B. Bosworth and E. J. Baynham
- The Wars of Alexander the Great, 2002- Osprey Publishing, Waldemar Heckel
- Classical Accounts of India, J. W. McCrindle
- History and Culture of Indian People, The Age of Imperial Unity, Dr R. C. Majumdar, Dr A. D. Pusalkar
- Ancient India, 2003, Dr V. D. Mahajan
- Problems of Ancient India, 2000, K. D. Sethna
- The Pathan., 1967, Olaf Caroe
- Historical Essays, Second Series, 3rd edition, Edward A. Freeman, M. A., HON. D. C. L. & LL.D., Regius Professor of Modern History in the University of Oxford, London Macmillan and Co. And New York,1892
- Alexander the Great, 2003, Dr W. W. Tarn
- Studies in Indian History and Civilization, Dr Buddha Parkash
- Ancient Kamboja, People and the Country, 1981, Dr J. L. Kamboj
- Hindu Polity, A constitutional History of India in Hindu Times, 1978, p 140, 121, Dr K. P. Jayswal