Montesquieu

It appears that even after this dis­co­very he had no new views on Alexandria. He indeed had, in gene­ral, the plan of esta­bli­shing a trade bet­ween the Indies and the wes­tern parts of his empire ; but he had too lit­tle know­ledge to be able to form the plan to conduct this trade through Egypt. He had seen the Indus, he had seen the Nile, but he did not know the seas of Arabia, which are in bet­ween. Scarcely had he arri­ved from the Indies before he had new fleets built and sai­led1 on the Eulæus, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the sea ; he remo­ved the falls which the Persians had ins­tal­led on these rivers ; he dis­co­ve­red that the gulf of Persia was a gulf of the ocean. As he went to explore that sea,2 after having explo­red the Indian sea ; as he had a port built in Babylon for a thou­sand ves­sels, and arse­nals ; as he sent five hun­dred talents to Phoenicia and Syria to bring navi­ga­tors whom he wished to place in the colo­nies he was scat­te­ring along the coasts ; finally, as he made immense cons­truc­tions on the Euphrates and other rivers of Assyria, it can­not be doub­ted that his design was to ply the Indian trade through Babylon and the Persian Gulf.

Some per­sons, on the pre­text that Alexander wan­ted to conquer Arabia,3 have said that he had concei­ved the design of loca­ting the seat of his empire there ; but how could he have cho­sen a place that was unfa­mi­liar to him ?4 Besides, it was the most inconve­nient coun­try in the world : he would have sepa­ra­ted him­self from his empire. The caliphs, who conque­red afar, promptly aban­do­ned Arabia to set­tle elsew­here.

Arrian, De exped. Alexandri, book VII.

Ibid.

Strabo, book XVI, at the end.

Seeing Babylonia flooded, he considered Arabia, which is close by, to be an island. Aristobulus, in Strabo, book XVI.