Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Sun Jun 27, 2021 5:53 am

Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian; Being a Translation of the Fragments of the Indika of Megasthenes Collected by Dr. Schwanbeck, and of the First Part of the Indika of Arrian
by J.W. McCrindle, M.A., Principal of the Government College, Patna, Member of the General Council of the University of Edinburgh, Fellow of the University of Calcutta, With Introduction, Notes and Map of Ancient India
Reprinted (with additions) from the "Indian Antiquary," 1876-77



Contents: [PDF HERE]

• Preface
• Introduction
• Frag. I. An Epitome of Megasthenes
• Frag. I.B Concerning Dionysos
• Frag. II. Of the Boundaries of India, its general Character, and its Rivers
• Frag. III. Of the Boundaries of India
• Frag. IV. Of the Boundaries and Extent of India
• Frag. V. Of the Size of India
• Frag. VI. Of the Size of India
• Frag. VII. Of the Size of India
• Frag. VIII. Of the Size of India
• Frag. IX. Of the setting of the Bear, and shadows falling in contrary directions
• Frag. X. Of the setting of the Bear
• Frag. XI. Of the Fertility of India
• Frag. XII. Of some Wild Beasts of India
• Frag. XIII. Of Indian Apes
• Frag. XIII. B
• Frag. XIV. Of Winged Scorpions and Serpents
• Frag. XV. Of the Beasts of India, and the Reed
• Frag. XV. B Of some Beasts of India
• Frag. XVI. Of the Boa-Constrictor
• Frag. XVII. Of the Electric Eel
• Frag. XVIII. Of Taprobane
• Frag. XIX. Of Marine Trees
• Frag. XX. Of the Indus and the Ganges
• Frag. XX. B
• Frag. XXI. Of the River Silas
• Frag. XXII. Of the River Silas
• Frag. XXIII. Of the River Silas
• Frag. XXIV. Of the Number of Indian Rivers
• Frag. XXV. Of the city Pataliputra
• Frag. XXVI. Of Pataliputra, and the Manners of the Indians
• Frag. XXVII. Of the Manners of the Indians
• Frag. XXVII. B.
• Frag. XXVII. C.
• Frag. XXVII. D.
• Frag. XXVIII. Of the Suppers of the Indians
• Frag. XXIX. Of Fabulous Tribes
• Frag. XXX. Of Fabulous Races
• Frag. XXX. B
• Frag. XXXI. Of the race of Men without Mouths
• Frag. XXXII. Of the seven Castes among the Indians
• Frag XXXIII. Of the seven Castes among the Indians
• Frag. XXXIV. Of the Administration of Public Affairs — of the use of Horses and Elephants
• Frag. XXXV. Of the use of Horses and Elephants
• Frag. XXXVI. Of Elephants
• Frag. XXXVII. Of Elephants
• Frag. XXXV1I. B
• Frag. XXXVIII. Of the Diseases of Elephants
• Frag. XXXIX. Of Gold-digging Ants
• Frag. XL. Of Gold-digging Ants
• Frag. XL. B
• Frag. XLI. Of the Indian Philosophers
• Frag. XLII. Of the Indian Philosophers
• Frag. XLII. B.
• Frag XLII. C.
• Frag. XLIII. Of the Indian Philosophers
• Frag. XLIV. Of Kalanos and Mandanis
• Frag. XLV. Of Kalanos and Mandanis
• Frag. XLVI. That the Indians had never been attacked by others, nor had themselves attacked others
• Frag. XLVII. That the Indians had never been attacked by others, nor had themselves attached others
• Frag. XLVIII. Of Nabuchodrosor
• Frag. XLVIII. B.
• Frag. XLVIII. C
• Frag. XLVIII. D
• Frag. XLIX. Of Nabukodroser
• Frag. L. Of the Indian Races — of Dionysos — of Herakles — of Pearls— of the Pandaian Land -- of the Ancient History of the Indians
• Frag. L. B. Of Pearls
• Frag. LI. Of the Pandaian Land
• Frag. L. C. Of the Ancient History of the Indians
• Frag. LII. Of Elephants
• Frag. LII. Of a White Elephant
• Frag. LIV. Of the Brahmans and their Philosophy
• Frag. LV. Of Kalanos and Mandanis
• Frag. LV. B.
• Frag. LVI. List of the Indian Races
• Frag. LVII. B.
• Frag. LVII. Of Dionysos
• Frag. LVIII. Of Hercules and Pandaea
• Frag. LIX. Of the Beasts of India


• Introduction
• Cap. I. Of Indian Tribes west of the Indus
• Cap. II. Of the Boundaries of India
• Cap. III. Of the Size of India
• Cap. IV. Of the Indus and Ganges and their Tributaries
• Cap. V. Of the Legendary History of India
• Cap. VI. Of the River Silas— of the Rains in India, and Inundations of the Rivers — of the Likeness between the Indians and the Ethiopians
• Cap. VII.-IX. Of Dionysos and Herakles
• Cap. X. Of Indian Cities, especially Palimbothra
• Cap. XI.-XII. Of the seven Indian Castes
• Cap. XIII. Of the Indian mode of hunting the Elephant
• Cap. XIV. Of the docility of the Elephant, its habits, diseases, &c.
• Cap. XV. Of Tigers, of Ants that dig for gold, and Serpents
• Cap. XVI. Of the Dress of the Indians, and how they equip themselves for war, and manage their Horses
• Cap. XVII. Of the modes of Travelling in India of Female Unchastity — of the Marriage Customs of the Indians, and the nature of their Food.
• Concluding Remarks
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Sun Jun 27, 2021 5:54 am


The account of India written by Megasthenes from his personal knowledge of the country is justly held to be almost invaluable for the light which it throws upon the obscurity of early Indian history. Though, unfortunately, not extant in its original form, it has nevertheless been partially preserved by means of epitomes and quotations to be found scattered up and down the writings of various ancient authors, both Greek and Roman. Dr. Schwanbeck, of Bonn, rendered historical literature a good service by collecting and arranging in their proper order these detached fragments. The work thus reconstructed, and entitled Megasthenis Indica, has now been before the world for upwards of thirty years. It has not, however, so far as I know, been as yet translated, at least into our language, and hence it is but little known beyond the circles of the learned. The translation now offered, which goes forth from the very birthplace of the original work, will therefore for the first time place it within the reach of the general public.

A translation of the first part of the Indika of Arrian has been subjoined, both because it gives in a connected form a general description of India, and because that description was based chiefly on the work of Megasthenes.

The notes, which turn for the most part on points of history, geography, archaeology, and the identification of Greek proper names with their Sanskrit originals, sum up the views of the best and most recent authorities who have written on these subjects. This feature of the work will, I hope, recommend it to the attention of native scholars who may be pursuing, or at least be interested in, inquiries which relate to the history and antiquities of their own country.

In the spelling of classical proper names I have followed throughout the system of Grote, except only in translating from Latin, when the common orthography has been employed.

In conclusion, I may inform my readers that I undertook the present work intending to follow it up with others of a similar kind, until the entire series of classical works relating to India should be translated into the language of its rulers. In furtherance of this design a translation of the short treatise called The Circumnavigation of the Erythroean Sea, which gives an account of the ancient commerce of Egypt, Arabia, and India, is nearly ready for publication, and this will be followed by a translation of the narratives of the Makedonian Invasion of India as given by Arrian and Curtius in their respective Histories of Alexander.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Sun Jun 27, 2021 9:14 am


The ancient Greeks, till even a comparatively late period in their history, possessed little, if any, real knowledge of India. It is indeed scarcely so much as mentioned by name in their greatest poets, whether epic, lyric, or dramatic. They must, however, have known of its existence as early as the heroic times, for we find from Homer that they used even then articles of Indian merchandize, which went among them by names of Indian origin, such as kassiteros, tin, and elephas, ivory.*

[*Kassiteros represents the Sanskrit kastira, 'tin,' a metal found in abundance in the islands on the coast of India; and elephas is undoubtedly connected with iblus, the Sanskrit name for the domestic elephant— its initial syllable being perhaps the Arabic article.]

But their conception of it, as we gather from the same source, was vague in the extreme. They imagined it to be in Eastern Ethiopia which stretched away to the uttermost verge of the world, and which, like the Ethiopia of the West, was inhabited by a race of men whose visages were scorched black by the fierce rays of the sun.*

[*See Homer, Od. I. 23-24, where we read [x]. (The Ethiopians, who are divided into two, and live at the world's end — one part of them towards the setting sun, the other towards the rising.) Herodotus in several passages mentions the Eastern Ethiopians, but distinguishes them from the Indians (see particularly bk. vii. 70). Ktesias, however, who wrote somewhat later than Herodotos, frequently calls the Indians by the name of Ethiopians, and the final discrimination between the two races was not made till the Makedonian invasion gave the Western world more correct views of India. Alexander himself, as we learn from Strabo, on first reaching the Indus mistook it for the Nile.]

Much lies in a name, and the error made by the Greeks in thus calling India Ethiopia led them into the further error of considering as pertinent to both these countries narrations, whether of fact or fiction, which concerned but one of them exclusively. This explains why we find in Greek literature mention of peculiar or fabulous races, both of men and other animals, which existed apparently in duplicate, being represented sometimes as located in India, and sometimes in Ethiopia or the countries thereto adjacent.*

[*Instances in point are the Skiapodos, Kynamolgoi, Pygmaioi, Psylloi, Himantopodes, Sternophthalmoi, Makrobioi, and the Makrokephaloi, the Martikhora, and the Krokotta.]

We ran hardly wonder, when we consider the distant and sequestered situation of India, that the first conceptions which the Greeks had of it should have been of this nebulous character, but it seems somewhat remarkable that they should have learned hardly anything of importance regarding it from the expeditions which were successively undertaken against it by the Egyptians under Soeostris, the Assyrians under Semiramis, and the Persians first under Kyros and afterwards under Dareios the son of Hystaspes.*

[*Herodotos mentions that Dareios, before invading India, sent Skylax to Karyandian on a voyage of discovery down the Indus, and that Skylax accordingly, setting out from Kaspatyras and the Paktyikan district, reached the mouth of that river, whence he sailed through the Indian Ocean to the Red Sea, performing the whole voyage in thirty months. A little work still extant, which briefly describes certain countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, bears the name of this Skylax, but from internal evidence it has been inferred that it could not have been written before the reign of Philip of Makedonia, the father of Alexander the Great.]

Perhaps, as Dr. Robertson has observed, they disdained, through pride of their own superior enlightenment, to pay attention to the transactions of people whom they considered as barbarians, especially in countries far remote from their own. But, in whatever way the fact may be accounted for, India continued to be to the Greeks little better than a land of mystery and fable till the times of the Persian wars, when for the first time they became distinctly aware of its existence. The first historian who speaks clearly of it is Hekataios of Miletos (B.C. 549-486),* ...

[*The following names pertaining to India occur in Hekataios: — the Indus; the Opiai, a race on the banks of the Indus; the Kalatiai, an Indian race; Kaspapyros, a Gandaric city; Argante, a city of India; the Skiapodes, and probably the Pygmies.]

... and fuller accounts are preserved in Herodotos* ...

[*Herodotos mentions the river (Indus), the Paktyikan district, the Gandarioi, the Kalantiai, or Kalatiai, and the Padaioi. Both Hekataios and Herodotus agree in stating that there were sandy deserts in India.]

... and in the remains of Ktesias, who, having lived for some years in Persia as private physician to king Artaxerxes Mnemon, collected materials during his stay for a treatise on India, the first work on the subject written in the Greek language.*

[*"The few particulars appropriate to India, and consistent with truth, obtained by Ctesias, are almost confined to something resembling a description of the cochineal plant, the fly, and the beautiful tint obtained from it, with a genuine picture of the monkey and the parrot; the two animals he had doubtless seen in Persia, and flowered cottons emblazoned with the glowing colours of the modern chintz were probably as much coveted by the fair Persians in the harems of Susa and Ecbatana as they still are by the ladies of our own country; ... but we are not bound to admit his fable of the Martichora, his pygmies, his men with the heads of dogs, and feet reversed, his griffins, and his four-footed birds as big as wolves." — Vincent.]

His descriptions were, unfortunately, vitiated by a large intermixture of fable, and it was left to the followers of Alexander to give to the Western world for the first time fairly accurate accounts of the country and its inhabitants. The great conqueror, it is well known, carried scientific men with him to chronicle his achievements, and describe the countries to which he might carry his arms, and some of his officers were also men of literary culture, who could wield the pen as well as the sword. Hence the expedition produced quite a crop of narratives and memoirs relating to India, such as those of Bacto, Diognetos, Nearchos, Onesikritos, Aristoboulos, Kallisthenes, and others. These works are all lost, but their substance is to be found condensed in Strabo, Pliny, and Arrian. Subsequent to these writers were some others, who made considerable additions to the stock of information regarding India, among whom may be mentioned Deimachos, who resided for a long time in Palibothra, whither he was sent on an embassy by Seleukos to Allitrochades, the successor of Sandrokottos; Patrokles, the admiral of Seleukos, who is called by Strabo the least mendacious of all writers concerning India; Timosthenes, admiral of the fleet of Ptolemaios Philadelphos; and Megasthenes, who being sent by Seleukos Nikator on an embassy to Sandrokottos (Chaudragupta),*...

[*The discovery that the Sandrokottos of the Greeks was identical with the Chandragupta who figures in the Sanskrit annals and the Sanskrit drama was one of great moment, as it was the means of connecting Greek with Sanskrit literature, and of thereby supplying for the first time a date to early Indian history, which had not a single chronological landmark of its own. Diodoros distorts the name into Xandrames, and this again is distorted by Curtius into Agrarimes.]

... the king of the Prasii, whose capital was Palibothra (Pataliputra, now Patna), wrote a work on India of such acknowledged worth that it formed the principal source whence succeeding writers drew their accounts of the country. This work, which appears to have been entitled [x], no longer exists, but it has been so often abridged and quoted by the ancient writers that we have a fair knowledge of its contents and their order of arrangement. Dr. [E.A.] Schwanbeck, with great industry and learning, has collected all the fragments that have been anywhere preserved, and has prefixed to the collection a Latin Introduction, wherein, after showing what knowledge the Greeks had acquired of India before Megasthenes, he enters into an examination of those passages in ancient works from which we derive all the little we know of Megasthenes and his Indian mission. He then reviews his work on India, giving a summary of its contents, and, having estimated its value and authority, concludes with a notice of those authors who wrote on India after his time.*

[*He enumerates Eratosthenes, Hipparchos, Polemo, Mnaseos, Apollodoros, Agatharehides, Alexander Polyhistor, Strabo, Marinos of tyre, and Ptolemy among the Greeks, and P. Terentius Varro of Atax, M. Vipsanius Agrippa, Pomponius Mela, Seneca, Pliny, and Solinus among the Romans.]

I have translated in the latter part of the sequel a few instructive passages from this Introduction, one particularly which successfully vindicates Megasthenes from the charge of mendacity so frequently preferred against him. Meanwhile the following extracts, translated from C. [Carl/Karl] Muller's Preface to his edition of the Indika, will place before the reader all the information that can be gleaned regarding Megasthenes and his embassy from a careful scrutiny and comparison of all the ancient texts which relate thereto.

Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller (Latin: Carolus Müllerus; 13 February 1813 in Clausthal – 1894 in Göttingen) is best known for his still-useful Didot editions of fragmentary Greek authors, especially the monumental five-volume Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (FHG) (1841–1870), which is not yet completely superseded by the series Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker begun by Felix Jacoby.


• De Aeschyli Septem Contra Thebas, Diss. Göttingen (1836): online
• Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (1841–1870): vols. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Arriani Anabasis et Indica. Scriptores rerum Alexandri Magni (fragmenta). Pseudo-Callisthenes (1846) ... ch&pto=aue
• Oratores Attici (1847–1858): vols. 1–2
• Strabonis Geographica (1853): online
• Herodoti Historiarum libri ix. Ctesiae Cnidii et Chronographorum Castoris Eratosthenis etc. fragmenta (1858): online
• Geographi Graeci minores (1861–1882): vol. 1, vol. 2, tabulae
• Claudii Ptolemaei Geographia (1883–1901): vol. 1:1, vol. 1:2

-- Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller, by Wikipedia

Justinus (XV. 4) says of Seleukos Nikator,...

Justin (Latin: Marcus Junianus Justinus Frontinus; c. second century) was a Latin writer who lived under the Roman Empire.

Almost nothing is known of Justin's personal history, his name appearing only in the title of his work. He must have lived after Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus, whose work he excerpted, and his references to the Romans and Parthians' having divided the world between themselves would have been anachronistic after the rise of the Sassanians in the third century. His Latin appears to be consistent with the style of the second century. Ronald Syme, however, argues for a date around AD 390, immediately before the compilation of the Augustan History, and dismisses anachronisms and the archaic style as unimportant, as he asserts readers would have understood Justin's phrasing to represent Trogus' time, and not his own. (Justin's name is given only in manuscripts of his own history, the majority of which simply identify him as Justinus. One manuscript identifies him as Justinus Frontinus, the other as Marcus Junianus Justinus. The accuracy of these names is uncertain.)

Justin was the author of an epitome of Trogus' expansive Liber Historiarum Philippicarum, or Philippic Histories, a history of the kings of Macedonia, compiled in the time of Augustus. Due to its numerous digressions, this work was retitled by one of its editors, Historia Philippicae et Totius Mundi Origines et Terrae Situs, or Philippic History and Origins of the Entire World and All of its Lands. Justin's preface explains that he aimed to collect the most important and interesting passages of that work, which has since been lost. Some of Trogus' original arguments (prologi) are preserved in various other authors, such as Pliny the Elder. Trogus' main theme was the rise and history of the Macedonian Empire, and like him, Justin permitted himself considerable freedom of digression, producing an idiosyncratic anthology rather than a strict epitome.

-- Justin (historian), by Wikipedia

... "He carried on many wars in the East after the division of the Makedonian kingdom between himself and the other successors of Alexander, first seizing Babylonia, and then reducing Baktriane, his power being increased by the first success. Thereafter he passed into India, which had, since Alexander's death, killed its governors, thinking thereby to shake off from its neck the yoke of slavery. Sandrokottos had made it free: but when victory was gained he changed the name of freedom to that of bondage, for he himself oppressed with servitude the very people which he had rescued from foreign dominion. Sandrokottos, having thus gained the crown, held India at the time when Seleukos was laying the foundations of his future greatness. Seleukos came to an agreement with him, and, after settling affairs in the East, engaged in the war against Antigonos (302 B.C.).'

"Besides Justinus, Appianus [c. 95 – c. AD 165)] (Syr. c. 55) makes mention of the war which Seleukos had with Sandrocottos or Chandragupta king of the Prasii, or, as they are called in the Indian language, Prachyas:*...

[*The adjective [x] in Aelianus On the Nature of Animals, xvii. 39 (Megasthen. Fragm. 13. init.) bears a very close resemblance to the Indian word Prachyas (that is 'dwellers in the East').
The substantive would be [x], and Schwanbeck (Megasthenis Indica, p. 82) thinks that this reading should probably be restored in Stephanus of Byzantium, where the MSS. exhibit [x], a form intermediate between [x] and [x]. But they are called [x] by Strabo, Arrianus, and Plinius; [x] in Plutarch (Alex. chap. 62), and frequently in Aeliauna; [x] by Nicolaiis of Damascus, and in the Florilegium of Stobaeus, 37, 38; [x] and [x] are the MS. readings in Diodorus, xvii. 93; Pharranii in Curtius, IX. ii. 3; Praesidae in Justinus, XII. viii. 9. See note on Fragm. 13.]

Greek scholars often mentioned that Sandrocottus was the king of the country called as Prasii (Prachi or Prachya). Pracha or Prachi means eastern country. During the Nanda and Mauryan era, Magadha kings were ruling almost entire India. Mauryan Empire was never referred in Indian sources as only Prachya desa or eastern country. Prachya desa was generally referred to Gupta Empire because Northern Saka Ksatrapas and Western Saka Ksatrapas were well established in North and West India. Megasthenes mentioned that Sandrocottus is the greatest king of the Indians and Poros is still greater than Sandrocottus which means a kingdom in the North-western region is still independent and enjoying at least equal status with the kingdom of Sandrocottus...

-- Who was Sandrocottus: Samudragupta or Chandragupta Maurya?, The Chronology of Ancient India, Victim of Concoctions and Distortions, by Vedveer Arya

— 'He (Seleukos) crossed the Indus and waged war on Sandrokottos, king of the Indians who dwelt about it, until he made friends and entered into relations of marriage with him.' So also Strabo (xv. p. 724): — 'Seleukos Nikator gave to Sandrokottos' (sc. a large part of Ariane). Conf. p. 689: — 'The Indians afterwards held a large part of Ariane, (which they had received from the Makedonians), 'entering into marriage relations with him, and receiving in return five hundred elephants' (of which Sandrokottos had nine thousand— Plinius, vi. 22-5); and Plutarch, Alex. 62:— 'For not long after, Androkottos, being king, presented Seleukos with five hundred elephants, and with six hundred thousand [600,000] men attacked and subdued all India. Phylarchos (Fragm. 28) in Athenaeus, p. 18 D., refers to some other wonderful enough presents as being sent to Seleukos by Sandrokottos.[/size

large elephant herd (1950s)

We may now consider the passages belonging to category (3). A typical instance is furnished by the long extract from Strabo's Geography (XV. 1. 53-56), included under Fragment XXVII (p. 69).4 [The pages refer to McCrindle's Translation (London, 1877).] [size=105]Now, here Megasthenes is definitely cited as authority for the statement that "those who were in the camp of Sandrakottos, wherein lay 40,000 men, found that the thefts reported on any one day did not exceed the value of 200 drachmae."5 [McCrindle gives the number of men in the camp as 400,000 (p. 69). But H.L. Jones, in his translation of Strabo's Geography, gives the number as 40,000 which is evidently the correct figure.]

-- The Indika of Megasthenes, by R.C. Majumdar

"Diodorus [90 B.C.-30 B.C.] (lib. xx.), in setting forth the affairs of Seleukos, has not said a single word about the Indian war. But it would be strange that that expedition should be mentioned so incidentally by other historians, if it were true, as many recent writers have contended, that Seleukos in this war reached the middle of India as far as the Ganges and the town Palimbothra, — nay, even advanced as far as the mouths of the Ganges, and therefore left Alexander far behind him. This baseless theory has been well refuted by Lassen (De Pentap. Ind. 61), by A. G. Schlegel (Berliner Calendar, 1829, p. 31 yet see see Benfey, Ersch. n. Gruber. Encycl. v. Indien, p. 67), and quite recently by Schwanbeck, in a work of great learning and value entitled Megasthenis Indica (Bonn 1846). In the first place, Schwanbeck (p. 13) mentions the passage of Justinus (I. ii. 10) where it is said that no one had entered India but Semiramis and Alexander; whence it would appear that the expedition of Seleukos was considered so insignificant by Trogus as not even to be on a par with the Indian war of Alexander.*

[*Moreover, Schwanbeck calls attention (p. 14) to the words of Appianus (i. 1), whom when he says, somewhat inaccurately, that Sandrakottos was king of the Indians around the Indus([x]) he seems to mean that the war was carried on on the boundaries of India. But this is of no importance, for Appianus has [x], 'of the Indians around it,' as Schwanbeck himself has written it (p. 13).]

"Then he says that Arrianus, if he had known of that remote expedition of Seleukos, would doubtless have spoken differently in his Indika (c. 5. 4), where he says that Megasthenes did not travel over much of India, 'but yet more than those who invaded it along with Alexander the son or Philip.' Now in this passage the author could have compared Megasthenes much more suitably and easily with Seleukos.*

[*The following passage of the Indian comedy Mudrarakshasa seems to favour the Indian expedition: — "Meanwhile Kusmuapura (i.e. Pataliputra, Palimbothra) the city of Chandragupta and the king of the mountain regions, was invested on every side, by the Kiratas, Yavanas, Kambojas, Persians, Baktrians, and the rest." But "that drama" (Schwanbeck, p. 18), "to follow the authority of Wilson, was written in the tenth century after Christ,— certainly ten centuries after Seleukos. When even the Indian historians have no authority in history, what proof can dramas give written after many centuries? Yavanas, which was also in later times the Indian name for the Greeks, was very anciently the name given to a certain nation which the Indians say dwelt on the north-western boundaries of India; and the same nation (Manu, x. 44) is also numbered with the Kambojas, the Sakas, the Paradas, the Pallavas, and the Kiratas as being corrupted among the Kshatriyas. (Conf. Lassen, Zeitschrift fur d. Kunde des Morgentandes, III p. 245). These Yavanas are to be understood in this passage also, where they are mentioned along with those tribes with which they are usually classed.]

I pass over other proofs of less moment, nor indeed is it expedient to set forth in detail here all the reasons from which it is improbable of itself that the arms of Seleukos ever reached the region of the Ganges.

Let us now examine the passage in Plinius which causes man to adopt contrary opinions. Plinius (Hist. Nat. vi. 21), after finding from Diognetos and Baeto the distances of the places from Portae Caspiae to the Huphasis, the end of Alexander's march, thus proceeds: — 'The other journeys made for Seleukos Nikator are as follows: One hundred and sixty-eight miles to the Hesidrus, and to the river Jomanes as many (some copies add five miles); from thence to the Ganges one hundred arid twelve miles. One hundred and nineteen miles to the Rhodophas (others give three hundred and twenty-five miles for this distance). To the town Kalinipaxa one hundred and sixty-seven. Five hundred (others give two hundred and sixty-five miles), and from thence to the confluence of the Jomanes and Ganges six hundred and twenty-five miles (several add thirteen miles), and to the town Palimbothra four hundred and twenty-five. To the mouth of the Ganges six hundred and thirty-eight' (or seven hundred and thirty-eight, to follow Schwanbeck's correction), — that is, six thousand stadia, as Megasthenes puts it.

"The ambiguous expression reliqua Seleuco Nicatori peragrata suat, translated above as 'the other journeys made, for Seleukos Nikator,' according to Schwanbeck's opinion, contain a dative 'of advantage,' and therefore can bear no other meaning. The reference is to the journeys of Megasthenes, Deimachos, and Patrokles, whom Seleukos had sent to explore the more remote regions of Asia. Nor is the statement of Plinius in a passage before this more distinct. ('India,') he says, 'was thrown open not only by the arms of Alexander the Great, and the kings who were his successors, of whom Seleucus and Antiochus even travelled to the Hyrcanian and Caspian seas, Patrocles being commander of their fleet, but all the Greek writers who stayed behind with the Indian kings (for instance, Megasthenes, and Dionysius, sent by Philadelphus for that purpose) have given accounts of the military force of each nation.' Schwanbeck thinks that the words circumsectis etiam ... Seleuco et Antiocho et Patrocle are properly meant to convey nothing but additional confirmation, and also an explanation how India was opened up by the arms of the kings who succeeded Alexander."

"The following statements," continues Muller, "contain all that is related about Megasthenes: —

"Megasthenes the historian, who lived with Seleukos Nikator',— Clem. Alex. p. 132 Sylb. (Fragm. 42); 'Megasthenes, who lived with Sibyrtios* ...

[*Sibyrtios, according to Diodorus (XVIII. iii. 3), had gained the satrapy of Arachosia in the third year of the 114th Olympiad (B.C. 323), and was firmly established in his satrapy by Antipater (Arrianus, De Success. Alex. §86, ed. Didot). He joined Eumenes in 316 (Diod. xix. 14. 6), but being called to account by him he sought safety in flight (ibid. XIX. xviii. 4). After the defeat of Eumenes, Antigonos delivered to him the most troublesome of the Argyraspides (ibid. C. xlviii, 3). He must have afterwards joined Seleukos.]

... the satrap of Arachosia, and who says that he often visited Sandrakottos, king of the Indians,'— Arrian, Exp. Alex. V. vi. 2 (Fragm. 2);— 'To Sandrokottos, to whom Megasthenes came on an embassy,' — Strabo, xv. p. 702 (Fragm. 25);— 'Megasthenes and Deimachos were sent on an embassy, the former to Sandrokottos at Palimbothra, the other to Allitrochades his son; and they left accounts of their sojourn in the country,' — Strabo, ii. p. 70 (Fragm. 29 note); Megasthenes says that he often visited Sandrokottos, the greatest king (maharaja: v. Bohlen, Alte Indian, I. p. 19) of the Indians, and Poros, still greater than he: — Arrian, Lid. c. 5 (Fragm. 24). Add the passage of Plinitis, which Solinus (Polyhistar. c. (50) thus renders:—'Megasthenes remained for some time with the Indian kings, and wrote a history of Indian affairs, that he might hand down to posterity a faithful account of all that he had witnessed. Dionysius, who was sent by Philadelphus to put the truth to the test by personal inspection, wrote also as much.'

"From these sources, then, we gather that Megasthenes* ...

[*Bohlen (Alte Indien, I. p. 68) says that Megasthenes was a Persian. No one gives this accouut of him but Annius Viterbiensis, that forger, whom Bohlen appears to have followed. But it is evidently a Greek name. Strabo (v. p. 243; comp. Velleius Paterculus, i. 4) mentions a Megasthenes of Chalkis, who is said to have founded Cuae in Italy along with Hippokles of Kume.]

"... was the representative of Seleukos at the court of Sibyrtios, satrap of Arachosia, and that he was sent from thence as the king's ambassador to Sandrokottos at Palimbothra, and that not once, but frequently — whether to convey to him the presents of Seleukos, or for some other cause. According to the statement of Arrianus, Megasthenes also visited king Poros, who was (Diod. xix. 14) already dead in 317 B.C. (Olymp. CXV. 4.) These events should not be referred to the period of Seleukos, but they may very easily be placed in the reign of Alexander, as Bohlen (Alte Indien, vol. I. p. 68) appears to have believed they should, when he says Megasthenes was one of the companions of Alexander. But the structure of the sentences does not admit of this conclusion. For Arrianus says, 'It appears to me that Megasthenes did not see much of India, but yet more than the companions of Alexander, for he says, that he visited Sandrokottos, the greatest king of the Indians, and Poros even greater than he ([x]).' We should be disposal to say, then, that he made a journey on some occasion or other to Poros, if the obscurity of the language did not lead us to suspect it a corrupt reading. Lassen (De. Pentap. p. 44) thinks the mention of Poros a careless addition of a chance transcriber, but I prefer Schwanbeck's opinion, who thinks it should be written [x], 'and who was even greater than Poros.' If this correction is admitted, everything fits well.

"The time when he discharged his embassy or embassies, and how long he stayed in India, cannot be determined, but he was probably sent after the treaty had been struck and friendship had sprung up between the two kings. If, therefore, we make the reign of Sandrokottos extend to the year 288, Megasthenes would have set out for Palimbothra between 302 and 288. Clinton (F. H. vol. III., p. 482) thinks he came to the Indian king a little before B.C. 302."

While the date of the visit of Megasthenes to India is thus uncertain, there is less doubt as to what were the parts of the country which he saw; and on this point Schwanbeck thus writes (p. 21): —

"Both from what he himself says, and because he has enumerated more accurately than any of the companions of Alexander, or any other Greek, the rivers of Kabul and the Panjab, it is clear that he had passed through these countries. Then, again, we know that he reached Pataliputra by travelling along the royal road. But he does not appear to have seen more of India than those parts of it, and he acknowledges himself that, he knew the lower part of the country traversed by the Ganges only by hearsay and report. It is commonly supposed that he also spent some time in the Indian camp, and therefore in some part of the country, but where cannot now be known. This opinion, however, is based on a corrupt reading which the editions of Strabo exhibit. For in all the MSS. of Strabo (p. 709) is found this reading:-- [x]. 'Megasthenes says that those who were in the camp of Sandrokottos saw,' &c. From this translation that given by Guarini and Gregorio alone is different. They render thus: -'Megasthenes refert, quum in Sandrocotti castra venisset ... vidisse,' 'Megasthenes relates that when he had come into the camp of Sandrokottos, he saw,' &c. From this it appears that the translator had found written [x]. But since that trauslation is hardly equal in authority even to a single MS., and since the word [x] can be changed more readily into the word [x] than [x] into [x], there is no reason at all why we should depart from the reading of all the MSS., which Casaubon disturbed by a baseless conjecture, contending that [x] should be substituted, --inasmuch as it, is evident from Strabo and Arrianus (V. vi. 2) that Megasthenes had been sent to Sandrokottos, -- which is an argument utterly futile. Nevertheless from the time of Casaubon the wrong reading [x] which he promulgated has held its ground."

That Megasthenes paid more than one visit to India Schwanbeck is not at all inclined to believe. On this point he says (p. 213) —

"That Megasthenes frequently visited India recent writers, all with one consent, following Robertson, are wont to maintain; nevertheless this opinion is far from being certain. For what Arrianus has said in his Exped. Alex. V. vi. 2, -- [x] does not solve the question, for he might have meant by the words that Megasthenes during his embassy had frequent interviews with Chandragupta. Nor, if we look to the context, does any other explanation seem admissible; and in fact no other writer besides has mentioned his making frequent visits, although occasion for making such mention was by no means wanting, and in the Indika itself of Megasthenes not the slightest indication of his having made numerous visits is to be found. But perhaps some may say that to this view is opposed the accurate knowledge which he possessed on all Indian matters; but this may equally well be accounted for by believing that he made a protracted stay at Pataliputra as by supposing that he frequently visited India. Robertson's conjecture appears, therefore, uncertain, not to say hardly credible."

Regarding the veracity of Megasthenes, and his value as a writer, Schwanbeck writes (p. 59) to this effect: --

"The ancient writers, whenever they judge of those who have written on Indian matters, are without doubt wont to reckon Megasthenes among those writers who are given to lying and least worthy of credit, and to rank him almost on a par with Ktesias. Arrianus alone has judged better of him, and delivers his opinion of him in these words: — 'Regarding the Indians I shall set down in a special work all that is most credible for narration in the accounts penned by those who accompanied Alexander on his expedition, and by Nearchus, who navigated the great sea which washes the shores of India, and also by Megasthenes and Eratosthenes, who are both approved men ([x]):' Arr. Exped. Alex. V. v.

"The foremost amongst those who disparage him is Eratosthenes, and in open agreement with him are Strabo and Pliny. Others, among whom is Diodorus, by omitting certain particulars related by Megasthenes, sufficiently show that they discredit that part of his narrative.*

[*Regarding the manner in which Strabo, Arrianus, Diodorus, and Plinius used the Indika of Megasthenes Schwanbeck remarks:-- "Strabo, and— not unlike to Strabo —Arrianus, who, however, gave a much less carefully considered account of India, abridged the descriptions of Megasthenes, yet in such a way that they wrote at once in an agreeable style and with strict regard to accuracy. But when Strabo designed not merely to instruct but also to delight his readers, he omitted whatever would be out of place in an entertaining narrative or picturesque description, and avoided above all things aught that would look like a dry list of names. Now though this may not be a fault, still it is not to be denied that those particulars which he has omitted would have very greatly helped our knowledge of Ancient India. Nay, Strabo, in his eagerness to be interesting, has gone so far that the topography of India is almost entirely a blank in his pages.

"Diodorus, however, in applying this principle of composition has exceeded all bounds. For as he did not aim at writing learnedly for the instruction of others, but in a light, amusing style as to be read with delight by the multitude, he selected for extract such parts as best suited this purpose. He has therefore omitted not only the most accurate narrations of fact, but also the fables which his readers might consider as incredible, and has been best pleased to describe instead that part of Indian life which to the Greeks would appear singular and diverting. . . . Nevertheless his epitome is not without its value; for although we do not learn much that is new from its contents, still it has the advantage over all the others of being the most coherent, while, at the same time it enables us to attribute with certainty an occasional passage to Megasthenes, which without its help we could but conjecture proceeded from his pen.

"Since Strabo, Arrianus, and Diodorus have directed their attention to relate nearly the same things, it has resulted that the greatest part of the Indika has been completely lost, and that of many passages, singularly enough, three epitomes are extant, to which occasionally a fourth is added by Plinius.

"At a great distance from these writers, and especially from Diodoros, stands Plinius: whence it happens that he both differs most from that writer, and also best supplements his epitome. Where the narrative of Strabo and Arrianus is at once pleasing and instructive, and Diodoros charms us with a lively sketch, Pliny gives instead, in the baldest language, an ill-digested enumeration of names. With his usual wonderful diligence he has written this part, but more frequently still he writes with too little care and judgment, — a fact of which we have already seen numerous instances. In a careless way, as is usual, he commends authors, so that if you compared his accounts of Taprobane and the kingdom of the Prasii you would think that he had lived at different periods. He frequently commends Megasthenes, but more frequently seems to transcribe him without acknowledgment." — pp. 56-58.]

"Strabo (p. 70) says, 'Generally speaking, the men who have hitherto written on the affairs of India were a set of liars, — Deimachos holds the first place in the list, Megasthenes comes next; while Onesikritos and Nearchos, with others of the same class, manage to stammer out a few words (of truth). Of this we became the more convinced whilst writing the history of Alexander. No faith whatever can be placed in Deimachos and Megasthenes. They coined the fables concerning men with ears large enough to sleep in, men without any mouths, without noses, with only one eye, with spider legs, and with fingers bent backward. They renewed Homer's fables concerning the battles of the cranes and pygmies, and asserted the latter to be three spans high. They told of ants digging for gold, and Pans with wedge-shaped heads, of serpents swallowing down oxen and stags, horns and all, — meantime, as Eratosthenes has observed, accusing each other of falsehood. Both of these men were sent as ambassadors to Palimbothra, — Megasthenes to Sandrokottos, Deimachos to Amitrochados his son, — and such are the notes of their residence abroad, which I know not why, they thought fit to leave.

"When he adds, 'Patrokles certainly does not resemble them, nor do any other of the authorities consulted by Eratosthenes contain such absurdities, we may well wonder, seeing that, of all the writers on India, Erastosthenes has chiefly followed Megasthenes. Plinius (Hist. Nat. VI xxi. 3) says: 'India was opened up to our knowledge ... even by other Greek writers, who, having resided with Indian kings, as for instance Megasthenes and Dionysius, — made known the strength of the races which peopled the country. It is not, however, worth while to study their accounts with care, so conflicting are they, and incredible.'

"These same writers, however, seeing they have copied into their own pages a great part of his Indikam cannot by any means have so entirely distrusted his veracity as one might easily infer they did from these judgments. And what of this, that Eratosthenes himself, who did not quote him sparingly, says in Strabo (p. 689) that "he sets down the breadth of India from the register of the Stathmi, which were received as authentic,'— a passage which can have reference to Megasthenes alone. The fact is they find fault with only two parts of the narrative of Megasthenes, — the one in which he writes of the fabulous races of India, and the other where he gives an account of Herakles and the Indian Dionysus; although it so happens that on other matters also they regarded the account given by others as true, rather than that of Megasthenes.

"The Aryan Indians were from the remotest period surrounded on all sides by indigenous tribes in a state of barbarism, from whom they differed both in mind and disposition. They were most acutely sensible of this difference, and gave it a very pointed expression. For as barbarians, even by the sanction of the gods themselves, are excluded from the Indian commonwealth, so they seem to have been currently regarded by the Indians as of a nature and disposition lower than their own, and bestial rather than human. A difference existing between minds is not easily perceived, but the Indians were quick to discern how unlike the barbarous tribes were to themselves in bodily figure; and the divergence they exaggerated, making bad worse, and so framed to themselves a mental picture of these tribes beyond measure hideous. When reports in circulation regarding them had given fixity to this conception, the poets seized on it as a basis for further exaggeration, and embellished it with fables. Other races, and these even Indian, since they had originated in an intermixture of tribes, or since they did not sufficiently follow Indian manners, and especially the system of caste, so roused the common hatred of the Indians that they were reckoned in the same category with the barbarians, and represented as equally hideous of aspect. Accordingly in the epic poems we see all Brahmanical India surrounded by races not at all real, but so imaginary that sometimes it cannot be discovered how the fable originated.

"Forms still more wonderful you will find by bestowing a look at the gods of the Indians and their retinue, among whom particularly the attendants of Kuvera and Kartikeya are described in such a manner (conf. Mahabh. ix. 2558 et seq). that hardly anything which it is possible for the human imagination to invent seems omitted. These, however, the Indians now sufficiently distinguish from the fabulous races, since they neither believe that they live within the borders of India, nor have any intercourse with the human race. These, therefore, the Greeks could not confound with the races of India.

"These races, however, might be more readily confounded with other creatures of the Indian imagination, who held a sort of intermediate place between demons and men, and whose number was legion. For the Rakshasas and other Pisachas are said to have the same characteristics as the fabulous races, and the only difference between them is that, while a single (evil) attribute only is ascribed to each race, many or all of these are assigned to the Rakshasas and the Pisachas. Altogether so slight is the distinction between the two that any strict lines of demarcation can hardly be drawn between them. For the Rakshasas, though described as very terrible beings, are nevertheless believed to be human, and both to live on the earth and take part in Indian battles, so that an ordinary Indian could hardly define how the nature of a Rakshasa differs from that of a man. There is scarcely any one thing found to characterize the Rakshasas which is not attributed to some race or other. Therefore, although the Greeks might have heard of these by report, — which cannot be proved for certain, — they could scarcely, by reason of that, have erred in describing the manners of the races according to the Indian conception.

"That reports about these tribes should have reached Greece is not to be wondered at. For fables invented with some glow of poetic fervour have a remarkable facility in gaining a wide currency, which is all the greater in proportion to the boldness displayed in their invention. Those fables also in which the Indians have represented the lower animals as talking to each other have been diffused through almost every country in the world, in a way we cannot understand. Other fables found their way to the Greeks before even the name of India was known to them. In this class some fables even in Homer must be reckoned, -- a matter which, before the Vedas were better known, admitted only of probable conjecture, but could not be established by unquestionable proofs. We perceive, moreover, that the further the epic poems of the Greeks depart from their original simplicity the more, for that very reason, do those fables creep into them; while a very liberal use of them is made by the poets of a later age. It would be a great mistake to suppose that those fables only in which India is mentioned proceeded from India; for a fable in becoming current carries along with it the name of the locality in which the scene of it is laid. An example will make this clear. The Indians supposed that towards the north, beyond the Himalaya, dwelt the Uttarakuri, a people who enjoyed a long and happy life, to whom disease and care were unknown, and who revelled in every delight in a land all paradise. This fable made its way to the West, carrying with it the name of the locality to which it related, and so it came to pass that from the time of Hesiod the Greeks supposed that towards the north lived the Hyperboreans, whose very name was fashioned after some likeness to the Indian name. The reason why the Indians placed the seat of this happy people towards the north is manifest; but there was not the slightest reason which can he discovered why the Greeks should have done so. Nay, the locality assigned to the Hyperboreans is not only out of harmony, but in direct conflict, with that conception of the world which the Greeks entertained.

"The first knowledge of the mythical geography of the Indians dates from this period, when the Greeks were the unconscious recipients of Indian fables. Fresh knowledge was imparted by Skylax, who first gave a description of India; and all writers from the time of Skylax, with not a single exception, mention those fabulous races, but in such a way that they are wont to speak of them as AEthiopians; by doing which they have incurred obloquy and the suspicion of dishonesty, especially Ktesias. This writer, however, is not at all untruthful when he says, in the conclusion of his Indika (33), that 'he omits many of these stories, and others still more marvellous, that he may not appear, to such as have not seen these, to be telling what is incredible;' for he could have described many other fabulous races, as for example men with the heads of tigers (vyaghrammuchas), others with the necks of snakes (vyalagrivas), others having horses' heads (turangavadanas, asvamuchas), others with feet like dogs (svapadas), others with four feet (chatushpadas), others with three eyes (trinetras), and others with six hundred.

"Nor were the companions of Alexander able to disregard these fables,— in fact, scarcely any of them doubted their truth. For, generally speaking, they were communicated to them by the Brahmans, whose learning and wisdom they held in the utmost veneration. Why, then, should we be surprised that Megasthenes also, following examples so high and numerous, should have handled those fables? His account of them is to be found in Strabo 711; Pliny, Hist. Nat. vii. 2. 14-22; Solinus 52." (Sch. p. 64.)

Schwanbeck then examines the fables related by Megasthenes, and having shown that they were of Indian origin, thus proceeds (p. 74): —

"The relative veracity of Megasthenes, then, cannot be questioned, for he related truthfully both what he actually saw, and what was told him by others. If we therefore seek lo know what reliance is to be placed on any particular narrative, this other point must be considered, how far his informants were worthy of credit. But here no ground for suspicion exists; for on those matters which did not come under his own observation he had his information from those Brahmans who were the rulers of the state, to whom he again and again appeals as his authorities. Accordingly he was able not only to describe how the kingdom of the Prasii was governed, but also to give an estimate of the power of other nations and the strength of their armies. Hence we cannot wonder that Indian ideas are to be found in the books of Megasthenes mixed up with accounts of what he personally observed and with Greek ideas.

"Therefore to him, as to the companions of Alexander, it cannot be objected that he told too much. That he did not tell too little to give an adequate account of Indian affairs to Greek readers we know. For he has described the country, its soil, climate, animals, and plants, its government and religion, the manners of its people and their arts, — in short, the whole of Indian life from the king to the remotest tribe; and he has scanned every object with a mind sound and unprejudiced, without overlooking even trifling and minute circumstances. If we see any part omitted, a little only said about the religion and gods of the Indians, and nothing at all about their literature, we should reflect that we are not reading his veritable book, but only an epitome and some particular fragments that have survived the wreck of time." (p. 75.)

"Of the slight mistakes into which he fell, some are of that kind into which even the most careful observer may be betrayed, as for instance his incorrectly stating that the Vipasa pours its waters into the Iravati. Others had their origin in his misapprehension of the meaning of Indian words; to which head must be referred his assertion that among the Indians laws were not written, but everything decided by memory. Besides he alleges that on those Brahmans who had thrice erred in making up the calendar silence for the rest of their lives was enjoined as a punishment. This passage, which has not yet been cleared up, would explain by supposing that he had heard the Indian word maunin, a name which is applied both to a taciturn person and to any ascetic. Finally, some errors had their source in this, that he looked at Indian matters from a Greek's point of view, from which it resulted that he did not correctly enumerate the castes, and gave a mistaken account of the Indian gods and other matters.

"Notwithstanding, the work of Megasthenes -- in so far as it is a part of Greek literature and of Greek and Roman learning— is, as it were the culmination of the knowledge which the ancients ever acquired of India: for although the geographical science of the Greeks attained afterwards a perfect form, nevertheless the knowledge of India derived from the books of Megasthenes has only approached perfect accuracy the more closely those who have written after him on India have followed his Indika. And it is not only on account of his own merit that Megasthenes is a writer of great importance, but also on this other ground, that while other writers have borrowed a great part of what they relate from him, he exercised a powerful influence on the whole sphere of Latin and Greek scientific knowledge.

"Besides this authority which the Indika of Megasthenes holds in Greek literature, his remains have another value, since they hold not the last place among the sources whence we derive our knowledge of Indian antiquity. For as there now exists a knowledge of our own of ancient India, still on some points he increases the knowledge which we have acquired from other sources, even though his narrative not seldom requires to be supplemented and corrected. Notwithstanding, it must be conceded that the new information we have learned from him is neither extremely great in amount nor weight. What is of greater importance than all that is new in what he has told us, is - that he has recalled a picture of the condition of India at a definite period, — a service of all the greater value, because Indian literature, always self consistent, is wont, to leave us in the greatest doubt if we seek to know what happened at any particular time." (pp. 76, 77.)

It, is yet, an unsettled question whether the Indika was written in the Attic or the Ionic dialect.*

[*The following authorities are quoted by Schwanbeck (pp. 23, 24) to show that the Indika of Megasthenes was divided into four books:— Athen. IV. p. 153— where the 2nd book is mentioned; Clem. Alex. Strom. I. p. 132 Sylb., where the 3rd book is mentioned; Joseph, contra Apion, I. 20, and Antiq. Jud. X. xi. 1, where the 4th book is mentioned,— cf. G. Syncoll. tom. I. p. 419, Bonn. The assignment, of the fragments to their respective books was a matter of some difficulty, as the order of their connection varies in different authors.]  
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:47 am



(Diod. 11.35-42.)

The stories that were told about the wonders of India excited the curiosity of the Greek invaders. It was a land of righteous folks, of strange beasts and plants, of surpassing wealth in gold and gems. It was supposed to be the ultimate country on the eastern side of the world, bounded by Ocean's stream.

-- Chapter XVIII: The Conquest of the Far East, Excerpt from "History of Greece for Beginners", by J. B. Bury

[Beyond the Hyphasis (Beas)] it was reported, lay an exceedingly fertile country inhabited by brave agriculturists enjoying an excellent system of government under an aristocracy which exercised its power with justice and moderation; besides, the land was well stocked with elephants of superior size and courage.

-- Chapter II: Alexander's Campaigns in India, Excerpt from "Age of the Nandas and Mauryas", by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri

The passages which Dr. Schwanbeck has accepted as "fragments" of the Indika may be divided into four classes:

1. The passages in the works of later writers which are explicitly attributed to Megasthenes.

2. Passages closely resembling those under (1), though not specifically attributed to Megasthenes.

3. Passages preceding or following those under (1) or (2).

4. Long passages including, incidentally, those under (2) or (3).

A typical instance of the fourth category is furnished by the very first Fragment, from the History of Diodorus (II. 35-42), which Schwanbeck has labelled as "An Epitome of Megasthenes." Now, it is a notable fact that in this long extract, extending over 14 printed pages, the name of Megasthenes is conspicuous by its absence. The account of Diodorus seems more likely to be a compilation from many sources; at least there is no ground to suppose that he depended solely, or even mainly, upon Megasthenes, far less, intended to give a summary of his work. If such had been the case we could certainly expect a reference to the name or authority of Megasthenes. The English translator of the work of Diodorus was constrained to observe: "It cannot be known whether Diodorus used Megasthenes directly or through a medium; his failure to mention his name a single time is a little surprising, if he used him directly."2

The theory that Diodorus used Megasthenes through a medium may explain the omission of Megasthenes' name, but certainly reduces, to a very considerable extent, the value of the account as a genuine source of information based on the Indika of Megasthenes alone.

But even if we assume that Diodorus derived his knowledge of the Indika from other books, there are good grounds to believe that he had relied on sources other than the Indika. The statement that Alexander advanced as far as the Ganges3 [Diodorus, para. 37.] may be cited as an instance. It seems almost incredible that such a statement could be made by Megasthenes, belonging to the same generation as Alexander and living in Pataliputra on the banks of the Ganges in intimate touch with the king and the people who must have possessed a correct knowledge of the extent of Alexander's advance in India.

If, therefore, it is practically certain that Diodorus utilised sources other than the Indika of Megasthenes, it is obviously impossible to regard his long account of India as "an epitome of Megasthenes." Further, one might naturally doubt whether any passage in the account of Diodorus, save and except those included under category (2) mentioned above, may be regarded as based, even indirectly, on the authority of Megasthenes.

-- The Indika of Megasthenes, by R.C. Majumdar

(35.) 1 India, which is in shape quadrilateral, has its eastern as well as its western side bounded by the great sea, but on the northern side it is divided by Mount Hemodos from that part of Skythia which is inhabited by those Skythians who are called the Sakai, while the fourth or western side is bounded by the river called the Indus, which is perhaps the largest of all rivers in the world after the Nile. 2 The extent of the whole country from east to west is said to be 28,000 stadia, and from north to south 32,000. 3 Being thus of such vast extent, it seems well-nigh to embrace the whole of the northern tropic zone of the earth, and in fact at the extreme point of India the gnomon of the sundial may frequently be observed to cast no shadow, while the constellation of the Bear is by night invisible, and in the remotest parts even Arcturus disappears from view. Consistently with this, it is also stated that shadows there fall to the southward.

1. With Epit. 1, conf. Fragm. ii., iii. (in Ind. Ant. vol. V. p. 86, c. 2).

1,2. Conf. Fragm. iv.

3. Conf. Fragm. ix.

4 India has many huge mountains which abound in fruit-trees of every kind, and many vast plains of great fertility— more or less beautiful, but all alike intersected by a multitude of rivers. 5 The greater part of the soil, moreover, is under irrigation, and consequently bears two crops in the course of the year. It teems at the same time with animals of all sorts, — beasts of the field and fowls of the air, — of all different degrees of strength and size. 6 It is prolific, besides, in elephants, which are of monstrous bulk, as its soil supplies food in unsparing profusion, making these animals far to exceed in strength those that are bred in Libya. It results also that, since they are caught in great numbers by the Indians and trained for war, they are of great moment in turning the scale of victory.

(36.) 7 The inhabitants, in like manner, having abundant means of subsistence, exceed in consequence the ordinary stature, and are distinguished by their proud bearing. They are also found to be well skilled in the arts, as might be expected of men who inhale a pure air and drink the very finest water. 8 And while the soil bears on its surface all kinds of fruits which are known to cultivation, it has also under ground numerous veins of all sorts of metals, for it contains much gold and silver, and copper and iron in no small quantity, and even tin and other metals, which are employed in making articles of use and ornament, as well as the implements and accoutrements of war.

5,9 Conf. Fragm. xi.

9 In addition to cereals, there grows throughout India much millet, which is kept well watered by the profusion of river-streams, and much pulse of different sorts, and rice also, and what is called bosporum, as well as many other plants useful for food, of which most grow spontaneously. 10 The soil yields, moreover, not a few other edible products fit for the subsistence of animals, about which it would be tedious to write. It is accordingly affirmed that famine has never visited India, and that there has never been a general scarcity in the supply of nourishing food. 11 For, since there is a double rainfall in the course of each year, — one in the winter season, when the sowing of wheat takes place as in other countries, and the second at the time of the summer solstice, which is the proper season for sowing rice and bosporum, as well as sesamum and millet — the inhabitants of India almost always gather in two harvests annually; and even should one of the sowings prove more or less abortive they are always sure of the other crop. 12 The fruits, moreover, of spontaneous growth, and the esculent roots which grow in marshy places and are of varied sweetness, afford abundant sustenance for man. 13 The fact is, almost all the plains in the country have a moisture which is alike genial, whether it is derived from the rivers, or from the rains of the summer season, which are wont to fall every year at a stated period with surprising regularity; while the great heat which prevails ripens the roots which grow in the marshes, and especially those of the tall reeds.

14 But, further, there are usages observed by the Indians which contribute to prevent the occurrence of famine among them; for whereas among other nations it is usual, in the contests of war, to ravage the soil, and thus to reduce it to an uncultivated waste, among the Indians, on the contrary, by whom husbandmen are regarded as a class that is sacred and inviolable, the tillers of the soil, even when battle is raging in their neighbourhood, are undisturbed by any sense of danger, for the combatants on either side in waging the conflict make carnage of each other, but allow those engaged in husbandry to remain quite unmolested. Besides, they neither ravage an enemy's land with fire, nor cut down its trees.

We have the name of only one tribal chief, Astes, in the Peucelaotis region (the Yusufzai country) who ventured to offer resistance, and paid for it with his life. His city was captured after thirty days, and in his place was installed Sangaios (Sanjaya ?) who had quarrelled with him some time before and gone over to Taxiles...

The route taken by Alexander along the Khoes is not easy to follow in its details, but doubtless his operations led him for a considerable distance up the large and populous valley of the Kunar, where he fought many hard battles. In an encounter before the first important city taken by the invaders, Alexander was slightly wounded in the shoulder. The city was razed to the ground and all its inhabitants, excepting those who managed to escape to the hills, were put to the sword. Craterus and some other infantry officers were left behind to complete the subjugation of the district, while Alexander advanced to attack the Aspasians, who abandoned their capital on hearing of his approach, and were pursued with great slaughter to their mountain refuges.

Alexander then crossed the mountains to the east and entered the Bajaur valley. Here Craterus rejoined him after carrying out his orders, and was asked to find fresh inhabitants for the city of Arigaion which occupied an advantageous site, but had been burnt down and deserted by its original residents. Meanwhile Ptolemy, the son of Lagos, spotted the main Indian camp ... the Indians descended from the high ground they held to meet the invader on the plain below and sustained a defeat; the number of prisoners taken by the conqueror is said to have been no less than 40,000; then were captured also 230,000 oxen, from which Alexander chose the best to be sent over to Macedonia for use in agriculture...

Alexander appeared before Massaga, ‘the largest city in those parts'. Thus began the war in the upper Swat region against the Assakenoi....the Greek engines of war battered down the defences and inflicted great losses on the besieged, and their chief fell on the fourth day ‘struck by a missile from an engine'. Among the besieged were 7,000 mercenary troop who had no inclination to continue the arduous defence, especially after the death of the ruler of the city, and they started negotiations with Alexander; they were allowed to hill, leave the city, arms in hand, and encamp on a neighbouring on condition that they changed sides and accepted service under Alexander. But they had no wish to aid the foreigner against their countrymen and planned an escape by night to their homes; Alexander heard of this, surrounded their camp and cut them to pieces. Diodorus and Plutarch state that Alexander’s conduct on this occasion was a ‘foul blot on his martial fame’; he had made separate peace with the mercenaries to escape the serious losses they inflicted on his forces, and then fell upon them treacherously. Massaga itself, deprived of its best defenders, was taken by storm, and according to Arrian, the mother and daughter of its ruler became prisoners of war. Curtius records a story that the queen of the city, who had an infant son whom she placed on Alexander’s knees was treated indulgently by the conqueror, rather owing ‘to the charms of her person than to pity for her misfortunes'. He adds that afterwards she gave birth to a child who received the name of Alexander. Justin mentions that the Indians called the queen ‘the royal harlot'....

Bazira, which stood on a lofty eminence and was strongly fortified, offered resistance to Koinos... Alexander directed his march to that city first, and ordered Koinos to join him there after fortifying a position before Bazira and leaving there a garrison strong enough 'to keep the inhabitants from undisturbed access to their lands’. A sortie by the defenders of Bazira after the departure of Koinos was unsuccessful and they were confined more rigorously than before within the walls their city. Ora was captured at the first assault with little loss to the invader, who took over all the elephants he found there. The news of the fall of Ora led the inhabitants of Bazira to abandon their city at dead of night and seek refuge in the more inaccessible heights of the neighbouring mountains....

Alexander then spent some days reducing minor strongholds, some on the way to the Indus, and some on its right bank, accompanied by two local chieftains Kophaios and Assagetes (Asvajit ?)....

Before crossing the Indus, Alexander had still to deal with the last stronghold of the Assakenoi at Aornos to which they had all flocked for refuge...

Seeing the extraordinary skill with which these daring operations were carried out and the success which attended them, the Indians began to feel that further resistance was hopeless and sent a messenger to Alexander offering to surrender the rock if he granted them terms of capitulation. While the negotiations were dragging on, the besieged formed plans of dispersing to their several homes under cover of night; Alexander saw this, allowed them to begin their retreat without any obstruction, and then with a picked body of seven hundred troops scaled the rock at the point abandoned by the defenders. The surprise was complete; many of the Indians were slaughtered, and many others fell over the precipices and were dashed to death; ‘Alexander thus became master of the rock which had baffled Herakles himself....

From Aornos, records Arrian, Alexander went in pursuit of the fleeing defenders of Aornos, who were led by a brother of the Assakenian chief killed in Massaga. The fugitives had taken refuge in the mountains with an army and some elephants. When Alexander reached Dyrta he found the city and its environs deserted, and thereupon he detached certain troops to reconnoitre the surrounding country and secure information about the enemy, particularly his elephants....From captives Alexander learned that the Indian prince had crossed the Indus and taken refuge with Abhisares, leaving his elephants at pasture near the Indus. These he succeeded in capturing with a loss of only two animals killed in the chase by their falling down a precipice....

Only Porus (Paurava), bearer of a great name coming down from the age of the Rigveda, sent a defiant reply to Alexander’s message and said he would meet the invader at the frontier of his territory, but in arms....

When he saw the prince advancing, Alexander thought that Porus was approaching with his whole army and sent the horse-archers to reconnoitre. When he discovered the real strength of the advancing force he charged with all his cavalry and overwhelmed it; 400 Indians fell, Porus’ son among them. The chariots were no help on ground loosened by the rain and fell into the hands of the enemy, horses and all...

The engagement now became crowded into a narrow space, and the elephants being pressed from all sides became uncontrollable; many of them lost their drivers, and maddened by wounds, they turned their fury against friend and foe quite indiscriminately. The Macedonians who retained a wide and open field on the whole suffered less from the elephants as they eluded their attack by giving way when they charged, and followed them and plied them with darts when they retreated. At length many of the elephants were killed and the rest spent with wounds and toil, ceased to be formidable. Then Alexander ordered a general charge of horse and foot and the battle ended in a decisive victory for him. By this time the Macedonian divisions on the right bank had crossed over, and being fresh, were employed in the pursuit of the retreating Indians on whom they inflicted great slaughter...

When Alexander took the field again with a select division of horse and foot, he invaded the land of the Glausai or Glauganikai (Glauchukayanas) as they were called, a free tribe on the western bank of the Akesines (Chenab) living in thirty-seven cities of between five and ten thousand inhabitants each and a multitude of villages. These people were now placed under the rule of the Paurava against whom they had maintained their independence for so long...

Alexander crossed the Ravi and entered the land of the Kathaians (Kathas), who were among the best fighters in the Punjab and had gathered their allies for the defence of their fortified capital, Sangala (not yet identified). These warlike Kshatriya tribes had proved their mettle a short time before against Porus and Abhisares when they marched against them; would they prevail against the new-comer from farther west? Within two days of his crossing the Ravi, Alexander had received the submission of Pimprama (unidentified), the city of the Adraistai (Adhrshtas or, according to Jayaswal, Arishtas), But the Kathaians of Sangala camped under shelter of a low hill outside the city and offered a determined resistance from behind a triple barricade of wagons. Finding his cavalry of no avail against the enemy, Alexander led the infantry on foot and after much hard fighting, compelled the Indians to seek refuge behind the city walls. Alexander now closely invested the city, and Porus joined him with a force, of 5,000 Indians and several elephants; the besieged made a plan of escape by night across a shallow lake on one side of the city, but it was betrayed to Alexander, who fell upon the fugitives and forced them back into the city, after inflicting losses on them. Military engines then began to batter the walls, but before a breach was effected, the Macedonians carried the walls by escalade. The city was taken, many of the Kathaians were killed, and more taken prisoner. The desperate nature of the fighting is clear; the Greek accounts admit an unusually large number of slain and wounded in Alexander’s army; and Alexander razed the city to the ground. The inhabitants of two neighbouring cities, the allies of the Kathaians, escaped a similar fate by abandoning their cities in good time.

The Malloi (Malavas) and the Oxydrakoi (Kshudrakas) were getting ready to give a hostile reception to the invader, and Alexander wanted to press on quickly and attack them before they completed their dispositions...

Alexander himself landed with a body of picked troops and made an inroad against the Siboi (Sibis) and the Agalassoi (Agrasrenis) to prevent their joining the powerful confederacy of the Malloi lower down the river. The Sibis, a wild people clad in skins and armed with clubs, who claimed descent from the soldiers of Hercules, made their submission when Alexander encamped near their capital. Their neighbours, the Agalassoi, were not so amenable; they had mustered an army of 40,000 foot and 3,000 horse and offered battle. They fought in the field and in the streets of their city, and many Macedonian soldiers fell; this roused the fury of Alexander, who set fire to the city and massacred large numbers of the inhabitants, condemning many others to slavery; a bare 3,000 sued for mercy and were spared....

Alexander planned a great drive against the tribal confederations of the Malavas, and their allies, the Kshudrakas who lived farther to the East along the Beas. While he himself with his favourite troops would deliver the main attack, Hephaestion, who had gone in advance, and Ptolemy, who was to follow behind, would prevent the enemy's attempts to escape in either direction....

Alexander struck across fifty miles of waterless desert and completely surprised the first city of the Malavas he came against; the men, who were abroad in the fields unarmed, offered no resistance and were simply butchered; the rest were shut up in the city, guarded by a cordon of cavalry round the walls till the infantry came up. Then Perdiccas was sent forward to the next city, which he was to invest without attempting to storm the place till Alexander came up. The first city was now carried by assault, the citadel in the centre of it holding out somewhat longer; practically all the garrison were killed. Meanwhile Perdiccas reached the city against which he had been sent, and found it deserted; he rode in hot pursuit of the fugitives and overtook and killed some, but the bulk of them managed to escape him to the marshes of the river and beyond.

Soon Alexander came up and joined the pursuit; many of the Malavas were overtaken and slain while crossing the Ravi, but others, made good their escape to a position of great natural strength which was also strongly fortified; here they were attacked by Peithon, who carried the fortress by assault and made slaves of all who had fled to it for refuge. The next place to be attacked was a city of the Brahmins to which the Malavas had flocked; here the resistance was desperate and most of the five thousand defenders sold their lives dear, only a few being taken prisoners. After a day’s rest for the army, Alexander resumed the pursuit and, when he found the cities empty, he had the jungles scoured for fugitives, and his soldiers had instructions to kill everyone that was caught, unless he surrendered voluntarily....The Malavas now withdrew into the nearest stronghold, being hotly pursued by the enemy. In the assaults that followed the next day, the main walls of the city were yielded with little resistance; the citadel held out, and in the assault on it Alexander exposed himself in a way that nearly cost him his life; scaling ladders were few, and Alexander got up one of them, being the first to appear on the wall, a conspicuous target because of his shining arms; to escape the danger, he jumped within the citadel and only a few of his companions could join him there at once; they maintained an unequal contest for some time, but the arrows of the Malavas killed some of them, and Alexander himself was deeply wounded in the chest, and fainted with loss of blood when the arrowhead was pulled out by Perdiccas. Possibly Alexander adopted the desperate expedient to keep up the morale of his troops in this difficult war. The danger to their king maddened the Greek troops and when they managed to gain the citadel by scrambling up the earthen walls and breaking In the gates, they did not spare man, woman or child....

What was left of the Malava people after the decimation of the war sent in their submission now, and the Kshudrakas, who had been holding aloof so long as the swiftness of Alexander’s movements left them no chance of going to aid the Malavas, also sent their representatives with full authority to conclude a treaty with the invader....But the campaign against the Malavas was no unalloyed success. As a record of mere slaughter it stands out unique even in the blood-stained annals of Alexander’s Indian campaigns...

The progress of the flotilla down the Chenab and the Indus cannot be traced...More ships were built, and more tribes submitted along the course, the Abastanoi, (Ambashthas), Xathaoi (Kshaitiyas) and Ossadioi (Vasatis)....

The country below the last confluence differed from the Punjab in its political and social conditions, which have been noted with surprise by the Greek writers. There were no free tribes here, but principalities ruled by kings whose Brahmin counsellors had great influence with them and the people....

The greatest king of this region was known to the Greeks by the name Musicanus (Muchukarna ?). He did not offer his submission or even send presents, but when surprised by the sudden arrival of Alexander in his country, he adopted the course of prudence, tendered his submission and was confirmed in his territory though a garrison was installed in the citadel of his capital (Alor?), which Craterus was to fortify adequately. Alexander then took a number of cities with much booty, all from a chieftain named Oxycanus who was made prisoner. Sambus had abandoned his capital Sindimana when he heard that Alexander had made friends with his arch-enemy Musicanus; his relatives explained the situation to Alexander and offered presents, which were accepted. But the most irreconcilable enemies of the foreigners in this region were the Brahmins (Brahmanako nama Janapadah-Patanjali) and one of their cities was carried by storm and all its inhabitants put to death. Meanwhile Musicanus, acting probably on the advice of his ministers, threw off his allegiance; Peithon who was sent against him suppressed the revolt with a strong hand. He destroyed some cities and placed garrisons in others; he took Musicanus captive and produced him before Alexander, who ordered that he should be executed along with his instigators.

Then came the ruler of Patala and the delta country and offered his submission...With the rest of the army Alexander continued his course downstream and reached Patala in the middle of July 325 B. C.; when he found the city deserted, he sent his emissaries to overtake the fugitives and persuade them to return in safety to their lands and cultivate them as formerly, and so most of the people did return to their homes....

Alexander set out with some ships to explore the western arm of the river; the task was rendered difficult by lack of knowledgeable pilots, the whole country having been deserted by its inhabitants....

When he reached the Arabios (Hab) he found the country deserted, as the Arabitai tribesmen had fled in terror. Crossing the river, he entered Las Bela, the land of the Oreitai, who offered a slight and ineffectual opposition to his progress. One of their villages, Rambakia, pleased Alexander by its situation and Hephaestion was instructed to colonise it with Arachosians (Curtius). When he passed on to the country of the Gedrosi, he appointed Apollophanes satrap over the Oreitai and leit Lenonnatus to reduce the country and help in the scheme of colonisation. Leonnatus fought a pitched battle with the tribesmen, inflicting great losses on them, and the satrap designate, Apollophanes, was among those who fell on his side.

-- Chapter II: Alexander's Campaigns in India, Excerpt from "Age of the Nandas and Mauryas", by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri

(37.) 15 India, again, possesses many rivers both large and navigable, which, having their sources in the mountains which stretch along the northern frontier, traverse the level country, and not a few of these, after uniting with each other, fall into the river called the Ganges.
The A-na-p'o-ta-to (Anavatapta) Lake is here... described as being in the middle of Jambudvipa... Our pilgrim's statement that the Ganges, Indus, Oxus, and Sita (or Sita) all have their origin in this Lake is found in several Buddhist scriptures... Nagasena speaks of the water of this Lake, which he calls Anotatta daha, as flowing into the Ganges.

-- On Yuan Chwang's Travels in India, 629-645 A.D., by Thomas Watters M.R.A.S.

16 Now this river, which at its source is 30 stadia broad, flows from north to south, and empties its waters into the ocean forming the eastern boundary of the Gangaridai, a nation which possesses a vast force of the largest-sized elephants. 17 Owing to this, their country has never been conquered by any foreign king: for all other nations dread the overwhelming number and strength of these animals. 18 (Thus Alexander the Makedonian, after conquering all Asia, did not make war upon the Gangaridai,*...

[*Conf. Lassen, Pentapot. 16]

... as he did on all others; for when he had arrived with all his troops at the river Ganges, and had subdued all the other Indians, he abandoned as hopeless an invasion of the Gangaridai when he learned that they possessed four thousand elephants well trained and equipped for war.) 19 Another river, about the same size as the Ganges, called the Indus, has its sources, like its rival, in the north, and falling into the ocean forms on its way the boundary of India; in its passage through the vast stretch of level country it receives not a few tributary streams which are navigable, the most notable of them being the Hupanis, the Hudaspes, and the Akesines. Besides these rivers there are a great many others of every description, which permeate the country, and supply water for the nurture of garden vegetables and crops of all sorts. 20 Now to account for the rivers being so numerous, and the supply of water so superabundant, the native philosophers and proficients in natural science advance the following reasons:

21. Conf. Fragm. xxi. in Ind. Ant. vol. V, p. 88, c. vi. 2-3.

15,19. Conf. Fragm. xx. in Ind. Ant. vol. V. p. 87, c. iv. 2-13.

— They say that the countries which surround India -- those of the Skythians and Baktrians, and also of the Aryans — are more elevated than India, so that their waters, agreeably to natural law, flow down together from all sides to the plains beneath, where they gradually saturate the soil with moisture, and generate a multitude of rivers.

21 A peculiarity is found to exist in one of the rivers of India, — that called the Sillas, which flows from a fountain bearing the same name. It differs from all other rivers in this respect, — that nothing cast into it will float, but everything, strange to say, sinks down to the bottom.

(38) 22 It is said that India, being of enormous size when taken as a whole, is peopled by races both numerous and diverse, of which not even one was originally of foreign descent, but all were evidently indigenous; 23 and moreover that India neither received a colony from abroad, nor sent out a colony to any other nation. 24 The legends further inform us that in primitive times the inhabitants subsisted on such fruits as the earth yielded spontaneously, and were clothed with the skins of the beasts found in the country, as was the case with the Greeks; and that, in like manner us with them, the arts and other appliances which improve human life were gradually invented, Necessity herself teaching them to an animal at once docile and furnished not only with hands ready to second all his efforts, but also with reason and a keen intelligence.

23. Conf. Fragm. xlvi.

25 The men of greatest learning among the Indians tell certain legends, of which it may be proper to give a brief summary.*

[*Fragm. I. B. Diod. III. 63.]

25. et seqq. Conf. Fragm. lvii.

25,32. Conf. Fragm. 1. in Ind. Ant. vol. V. p. 89, c. vii. -- "He tells us further," &c. to c. viii. -- "on the principle of merit."

They relate that in the most primitive times, when the people of the country were still living in villages, Dionusos made his appearance coming from the regions lying to the west, and at the head of a considerable army. He overran the whole of India, as there was no great city capable of resisting his arms. 26 The heat, however, having become excessive, and the soldiers of Dionusos being afflicted with a pestilence, the leader, who was remarkable for his sagacity, carried his troops away from the plains up to the hills. There the army, recruited by the cool breezes and the waters that flowed fresh from the fountains, recovered from sickness. 27 The place among the mountains where Dionusos restored his troops to health was called Meros; from which circumstance, no doubt, the Greeks have transmitted to posterity the legend concerning the god, that Dionusos was bred in his father's thigh.*


28 Having after this turned his attention to the artificial propagation of useful plants, he communicated the secret to the Indians, and taught them the way to make wine, as well as other arts conducive to human well-being. 29 He was, besides, the founder of large cities, which he formed by removing the villages to convenient sites, while he also showed the people how to worship the deity, and introduced laws and courts of justice. 30 Having thus achieved altogether many great and noble works, he was regarded as a deity and gained immortal honours. It is related also of him that he led about with his army a great host of women, and employed, in marshalling his troops for battle, drums and cymbals, as the trumpet had not in his days been invented; 31 and that after reigning over the whole of India for two and fifty years he died of old age, while his sons, succeeding to the government, transmitted the sceptre in unbroken succession to their posterity. 32 At last, after many generations had come and gone, the sovereignty, it is said, was dissolved, and democratic governments were set up in the cities.

32. Conf. Fragm. li.
After the subjugation of the Aspasians, Alexander moved, according to Curtius, to the city of Nysa; Arrian records the visit in detail, but gives no indication of the position of Nysa, and is openly sceptical not only of the legendary details, but of the existence of the city itself. The inhabitants of Nysa offered no resistance, but sent an embassy with presents and claimed kinship with the Greeks on the score that their city had been founded by Dionysus and named after his nurse, Nysa, and that the Nysans were the descendants of his followers; the mountain near the city also bore the name Meros (thigh) because Dionysus grew, before his birth, in the thigh of Zeus. Nysa had remained a free city with its own laws ever since, and Alexander should permit them to continue as they were. ‘It gratified Alexander to hear all this' from Akuphis, the leader of the Nysan deputation, and he was not inclined to be too critical of legends that were pleasing to the ears of his soldiers, and promised him the glory of excelling the achievements of Dionysus. So he offered a sacrifice to his divine predecessor and confirmed his colony in the enjoyment of its ancient laws and liberty as an aristocratic republic. When Alexander asked for three hundred horsemen from Nysa and one hundred of their best men to accompany him, Akuphis smiled and agreed readily to give the horsemen, but offered two hundred of the worst men of Nysa instead of the hundred best demanded by Alexander. The reply by no means displeased Alexander who took the cavalry and waived the other demand. He made a pilgrimage to Mount Meros (Koh-i-Mor ?) where his followers rejoiced at the sight of the ivy and laurel and wove chaplets of them for their heads while they joyfully chanted hymns to the divine forerunner of Alexander.

-- Chapter II: Alexander's Campaigns in India, Excerpt from "Age of the Nandas and Mauryas", by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri

(39.) 33 Such, then, are the traditions regarding Dionusos and his descendants current among the Indians who inhabit the hill-country. 34 They further assert that Herakles* ...

[*Apparently Siva is meant, though his many wives and sons  are unknown to Hindu mythology.— ED.]

... also was born among them. 34 They assign to him, like the Greeks, the club and the lion's skin. He far surpassed other men in personal strength, and prowess, and cleared sea and land of evil beasts. 35 Marrying many wives he begot many sons, but one daughter only. The sons having reached man's estate, he divided all India into equal portions for his children, whom he made kings in different parts of his dominions. He provided similarly for his only daughter, whom he reared up and made a queen. 36 He was the founder, also, of no small number of cities, the most renowned and greatest of which he called Palibothra. He built therein many sumptuous palaces, and settled within its walls a numerous population.
Another eastern people who owed allegiance to the Persians were the “Thatagus” or the Sattagydians. They together with the Gandarians, the Dadicae and the Aparytae constituted the seventh satrapy. Herzfeld is inclined to regard the Sattagydians as an Indian people located in the Punjab. Rawlinson, however, thinks that they lived near the Arachosians (of Kandahar) and occupied a part of south-eastern Afghanistan. According to Sarre they are to be located in the Ghazni and Ghilzai regions. Dames placed them in the Hazara country. The exact position of the Sattagydians still remains uncertain and the matter cannot be finally decided until the discovery of fresh evidence. ...

Indian contingents fought side by side with the Persians against the Hellenic host at Guagamela. Arrian refers to three distinct groups of Indians who responded to the trumpet call of Darius III Codomanus (333-330 B.C.). The Indians who were neighbours of the Bactrians (of the Balkh region), possibly the inhabitants of Kapisi-Gandhara, were arrayed with the Bactrians themselves and the Sogdianians 'of the Samarkand territory) under the command of Bessus, the satrap of Bactria. A second group of Indians styled the ‘'Indian hill-men” or “mountaineer Indians”, possibly the Sattagydians or people of the principality of Sambos in Sind, were placed with the Arachosians (of the Kandahar area) under Bersaentes, Satrap of Arachosia. Besides these, we have pointed reference to a third group, viz. Indians on this side of the Indus, apparently those of the twentieth satrapy, who came to the help of the Persian king with a comparatively small force of fifteen elephants.

-- Age of the Nandas and Mauryas, by Hem Chandra Raychaudhuri, edited by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri

The city he fortified with trenches of notable dimensions, which were filled with water introduced from the river. 37 Herakles, accordingly, after his removal from among men, obtained immortal honour; and his descendants, having reigned for many generations and signalized themselves by great achievements, neither made any expedition beyond the confines of India, nor sent out any colony abroad.

34,38. Conf. Fragm. 1. in Ind. Ant. vol. V. pp. 89-90, c. viii., from "But that Hercules," &c. to "of his daughter.'

35. Conf. Fragm. xxv.

38 At last, however, after many years had gone, most of the cities adopted the democratic form of government, though some retained the kingly until the invasion of the country by Alexander. 39 Of several remarkable customs existing among the Indians, there is one prescribed by their ancient philosophers which one may regard as truly admirable: for the law ordains that no one among them shall, under any circumstances, be a slave, but that, enjoying freedom, they shall respect the equal right to it which all possess: for those, they thought, who have learned neither to domineer over nor to cringe to others will attain the life best adapted for all vicissitudes of lot: for it is but fair and reasonable to institute laws which bind all equally, but allow property to be unevenly distributed.
Aornos is described by Arrian as a mighty mass of rock, 6,600 ft. in height with a circuit of about 22 miles; Diodorus halves the circuit, puts the height at 9,600 ft., and says that it was washed by the Indus on its southern side. 'It was ascended', says Arrian, ‘by a single path cut by the hand of man, yet difficult. On the summit of the rock there was, it is also said, plenty of pure water which gushed out from a copious spring. There was timber besides, and as much good arable land as required for its cultivation the labour of a thousand men'. A report was current that this stronghold was once assaulted in vain by Hercules who had to abandon the attempt on the occurrence of a ‘violent earthquake and signs from heaven', and this is said to have made Alexander the more eager for the capture of the stronghold. But it should be noted that Arrian discredits the story and says ‘my own conviction is that Herakles was mentioned to make the story of its capture all the more wonderful'.

At first Alexander was at a loss how to proceed to the attack, when some people from the neighbourhood came to him, offered their submission and undertook to guide him to the most accessible portion of the rock, from which the assault on the main eminence would not be difficult. Alexander accepted their guidance and sent with them Ptolemy with a select body of light-armed troops, telling him that on securing the position he was to signal to him and to hold it with a strong force. Traversing a rough and difficult route which led most probably up the valley to the west of the Danda-Nurdai spur, Ptolemy succeeded in occupying the indicated position on the height known as Little Una, unobserved by the defending forces on the heights of Pir-Sar. He fortified his position with a palisade and a trench, and signified his success to Alexander by means of a beacon raised on a height from which it would be seen by Alexander. Alexander did see it, and he moved forward the next day with his army along the route that Ptolemy had taken; but the defenders soon saw what had happened and sent their men to the heights of Danda-Nurdai to obstruct the ascent of Alexander, which they did successfully, and then turned round and attacked the position held by Ptolemy higher up; after severe fighting in the latter part of the day, the Indians failed to carry Ptolemy’s fortifications and retired at nightfall.

During the night, Alexander secured the aid of an Indian deserter and sent a letter to Ptolemy asking him not to be content on the following day with just holding his position but to attack the Indians in the rear when they sought to obstruct the passage of the main army up the hill. At daybreak he started again, and succeeded, after a hard fight in forcing a passage and effecting a junction with Ptolemy’s men. But the assault on the main rock (Pir-Sar) could not be undertaken without much toil in filling up a ravine that lay between his position and the height held, by the defenders. This task was begun the next day and Alexander himself supervised the operations of cutting stakes and piling up a mound towards the main rock. The mound was advanced to a length of 200 yards as a result of the first day’s work, but progress became necessarily slower in the depths of the ravine. The Indians attempted to obstruct the progress of the work and, though by their sallies they inflicted some losses on the enemy, their main object was foiled by the missiles of the Greeks shot from engines which were being advanced along the mound as each section of it was completed. The work of piling up the mound went on for three days without intermission, and on the fourth a few Macedonians succeeded in forcing their way up a small hill and occupying its crest on a level with the rock. The work on the extension of the mound was continued until it was joined three days later to the small hill near the rock that had passed into Greek occupation. Seeing the extraordinary skill with which these daring operations were carried out and the success which attended them, the Indians began to feel that further resistance was hopeless and sent a messenger to Alexander offering to surrender the rock if he granted them terms of capitulation. While the negotiations were dragging on, the besieged formed plans of dispersing to their several homes under cover of night; Alexander saw this, allowed them to begin their retreat without any obstruction, and then with a picked body of seven hundred troops scaled the rock at the point abandoned by the defenders. The surprise was complete; many of the Indians were slaughtered, and many others fell over the precipices and were dashed to death; ‘Alexander thus became master of the rock which had baffled Herakles himself.

-- Chapter II: Alexander's Campaigns in India, Excerpt from "Age of the Nandas and Mauryas", by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri

(40.) The whole population of India is divided into seven castes, of which the first is formed by the collective body of the Philosophers,*...

[*[x], Strabo, Diod. [x], Arr.]

... which in point of number is inferior to the other classes, but in point of dignity preeminent over all. For the philosophers, being exempted from all public duties, are neither the masters nor the servants of others.

40,53. Conf. Fragm. xxxii. in Ind. Ant. vol. V. pp. 91-92, cc. xi. and xii.

41 They are, however, engaged by private persons to offer the sacrifices due in lifetime, and to celebrate the obsequies of the dead: for they are believed to be most dear to the gods, and to be the most conversant with matters pertaining to Hades. In requital of such services they receive valuable gifts and privileges. 42 To the people of India at large they also render great benefits, when, gathered together at the beginning of the year, they forewarn the assembled multitudes about droughts and wet weather, and also about propitious winds, and diseases, and other topics capable of profiting the hearers. 43 Thus the people and the sovereign, learning beforehand what is to happen, always make adequate provision against a coming deficiency, and never fail to prepare beforehand what will help in a time of need. The philosopher who errs in his predictions incurs no other penalty than obloquy, and he then observes silence for the rest of his life.

44 The second caste consists of the Husbandmen,* ...

[*[x], Strab. Arr. Diod.]

... who appear to be far more numerous than the others. Being, moreover, exempted from fighting and other public services, they devote the whole of their time to tillage; nor would an enemy coming upon a husbandman at work on his land do him any harm, for men of this class, being regarded as public benefactors, are protected from all injury. The land, thus remaining unravaged, and producing heavy crops, supplies the inhabitants with all that is requisite to make life very enjoyable. 45 The husbandmen themselves, with their wives and children, live in the country, and entirely avoid going into town. 46 They pay a land-tribute to the king, because all India is the property of the crown, and no private person is permitted to own land. Besides the land-tribute, they pay into the royal treasury a fourth part of the produce of the soil.

47 The third caste consists of the Neatherds and Shepherds,* ...

[*[x], Diod. [x], Arr.]

... and in general of all herdsmen who neither settle in towns nor in villages, but live in tents. By hunting and trapping they clear the country of noxious birds and wild beasts. As they apply themselves eagerly and assiduously to this pursuit, they free India from the pests with which it abounds, — all sorts of wild beasts, and birds which devour the seeds sown by the husbandmen.*

[*Shepherds and hunters are not a caste of Hindus, but were probably tribes like the Abhirs or Ahirs, Dhangars, &c. -- ED.]

(41.) 48 The fourth caste consists of the Artizans.*


Of these some are armourers, while others make the implements which husbandmen and others find useful in their different callings. This class is not only exempted from paying taxes, but even receives maintenance from the royal exchequer.

49 The fifth caste is the Military.*

[*[x], Strab. Arr.]

It is well organized and equipped for war, holds the second place in point of numbers, and gives itself up to idleness and amusement in the times of peace. The entire force — men-at-arms, war-horses, war-elephants, and all — are maintained at the king's expense.

50 The sixth caste consists of the Overseers. It is their province to inquire into and superintend all that goes on in India, and make report to the king,*...

[*[x], Diod. Strab. [x], Arr. Is this the class of officers referred to as sheriffs -- mahamatra -- in the Asoka inscriptions? Conf. Ind. Ant. vol. V. pp. 267-8 -- ED.]

... or, where there is not a king, to the magistrates.

51 The seventh caste consists of the Councillors and Assessors, — of those who deliberate on public affairs. It is the smallest class, looking to number, but the most respected, on account of the high character and wisdom of its members; 52 for from their ranks the advisers of the king are taken, and the treasurers of the state, and the arbiters who settle disputes. The generals of the army also, and the chief magistrates, usually belong to this class.

53 Such, then, are about the parts into which the body politic in India is divided. No one is allowed to marry out of his own caste, or to exercise any calling or art except his own: for instance, a soldier cannot become a husbandman, or an artizan a philosopher.*

[*"It appears strange that Megasthenes should have divided the people of India into seven castes . . . Herodotus, however, had divided the people of Egypt into seven castes, namely priests, soldiers, herdsmen, swineherds, tradesmen, interpreters, and steersmen; and Megasthenes may therefore have taken it for granted that there were seven castes in India. It is a curious fact that, from the time of Alexander's expedition to a comparatively recent date, geographers and others have continually drawn analogies between Egypt and India." — Wheeler's Hist. of India, vol. III. p. 192, note 51, 56. Conf Fragm. xxxvi.]

(42.) 54 India possesses a vast number of huge, elephants, which far surpass those found elsewhere both in strength and size. This animal does not cover the female in a peculiar way, as some affirm, but like horses and other quadrupeds. 55 The period of gestation is at shortest sixteen months, and at furthest eighteen.*

[*For some remarks on this point see Blochmann's translation of the Ain-i-Akbari, p. 118.]

Like mares, they generally bring forth but one young one at a time, and this the dam suckles for six years. 56 Most elephants live to be as old as an extremely old man, but the most aged live two hundred years.

57 Among the Indians officers are appointed even for foreigners, whose duty is to see that no foreigner is wronged. Should any of them lose his health, they send physicians to attend him, and take care of him otherwise, and if he dies they bury him, and deliver over such property as he leaves to his relatives. 58 The judges also decide cases in which foreigners are concerned, with the greatest care, and come down sharply on those who take unfair advantage of them.*

[*What we have now said regarding India and its antiquities will suffice for our present purpose.]
To the West of Burdwan, something Northerly, lie the lands belonging to the family of Rajah Gopaul Sing, of the Raazpoot Bramin tribe. They possess an extent of sixteen days travel; this district produces an annual revenue of between thirty and forty lac; but from the happiness of their situation, he is perhaps the most independent Rajah of Indostan; having it always in his power to overflow his country, and drown any enemy that comes against him: as happened at the beginning of Soujah Khan's government; who sent a strong body of horse to reduce him: these he suffered to advance far into his country; then opening the dams of the rivers he destroyed them to a man. This action discouraged an subsequent attempts to reduce him -- but if the frontiers of the district were so inverted, as to prevent the exit of the merchandise of his country, which might easily be done; he would be presently brought to obedience; and would be glad to compound for a tribute of twenty lac per Annum. As it is; he can hardly be said to acknowledge any allegiance to the Mogul or Soubah; some years deigning to send to him an acknowledgement, by way of salaamy (or present) of 15,000 rupees; sometimes 20,000; and some years not anything at all; as he happens to be disposed.

But in truth, it would be almost cruelty to molest these happy people; for in this district, are the only vestiges of the beauty, purity, piety, regularity, equity and strictness of the ancient Indostan government. Here the property, as well as the liberty of the people, are inviolate. Here, no robberies are heard of, either private or public: the traveler, either with, or without merchandise, on his entering this district, becomes the immediate care of the government; which allots him guards without any expense, to conduct him from stage to stage: and these are accountable for the safety and accommodation of his person and effects. -- At the end of the first stage, he is delivered over, with certain benevolent formalities, to the guards of the next; who after interrogating the traveler, as to the usage he had received in his journey, dismiss the first guard with a written certificate of their behavior, and a receipt for the traveler and his effects: which certificate or receipt are returnable to the commanding officer of the first stage; who registers the same, and regularly reports it to the Rajah.

In this form, the traveler is passed through the country; and if he only passes, he is not suffered to be at any expense for food, accommodation, or carriage for his merchandise or baggage.
But it is otherwise, if he is permitted to make any residence in one place above three days; unless occasioned by sickness, or any unavoidable accident. -- If anything is lost in this district; for instance, a bag of money or other valuable; the person who finds it, hangs it upon the next tree, and gives notice to the nearest Chowkey or place of guard; the officer of which, orders immediate publication of the same by beat of tomtom, or drum.

There are in this precinct, no less than three hundred and sixty considerable Pagodas or places of public worship; erected by this Rajah and his ancestors. -- The worship of the cow is here carried to so great an extreme; that if that animal meets with a violent death, the city, or village, to which it belonged, goes into a general mourning and fast, for three days; and all are obliged from the Rajah to the meanest of the people, to remain on the spot, where they first heard the publication of the accident; and are employed, during that space, in performing various expiations, as directed in the Shastah. But more of this under a subsequent general head.

-- Interesting Historical Events, Relative to the Provinces of Bengal, and the Empire of Indostan. With a Seasonable Hint and Persuasive to the Honourable The Court of Directors of the East India Company. As Also The Mythology and Cosmogony, Fasts and Festivals of the Gentoo's, Followers of the Shastah. And a Dissertation on the Metempsychosis, commonly, though erroneously, called the Pythagorean Doctrine, Parts I, II, and III, by J.Z. Holwell, Esq.

Concerning Dionusos.

Now some, as I have already said, supposing that there were three individuals of this name, who lived in different ages, assign to each appropriate achievements. They say, then, that the most ancient of them was Indos, and that as the country, with its genial temperature, produced spontaneously the vine-tree in great abundance, he was the first who crushed grapes and discovered the use of the properties of wine. In like manner he ascertained what culture was requisite for figs and other fruit trees, and transmitted this knowledge to after-times; and, in a word, it was he who found out how these fruits should be gathered in, whence also he was called Lenaios. This same Dionusos, however, they call also Katapogon, since it is a custom among the Indians to nourish their beards with great care to the very end of their life. Dionusos then, at the head of an army, marched to every part of the world, and taught mankind the planting of the vine, and how to crush grapes in the winepress, whence he was called Lenaios. Having in like manner imparted to all a knowledge of his other inventions, he obtained after his departure from among men immortal honour from those who had benefited by his labours. It is further said that the place is pointed out in India even to this day where the god had been, and that cities are called by his name in the vernacular dialects, and that many other important evidences still exist of his having been born in India, about which it would be tedious to write.  
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Sun Jun 27, 2021 11:58 pm


Fragm. II.

Arr. Exped. Alex. V. 6. 2-11.

Of the Boundaries of India, its General Character, and Its Rivers.*

[*Conf. Epit. ad init.]

According to Eratosthenes, and Megasthenes who lived with Siburtios the satrap of Arachosia, and who, as he himself tells us, often visited Sandrakottos* ...

[*The name of Chandragupta is written by the Greeks Sandrokottos, Sandrakottas, Sandrakottos, Androkottos, and (best) Sandrokuptos. Cf . Schlegel, Bibl. Ind. I. 245. — Schwanbeck, p. 12, n. 6.]

... the king of the Indians,
India forms the largest of the four parts into which Southern Asia is divided, while the smallest part is that region which is included between the Euphrates and our own sea. The two remaining parts, which are separated from the others by the Euphrates and the Indus, and lie between these rivers, are scarcely of sufficient size to be compared with India, even should they be taken both together. The same writers say that India is bounded on its eastern side, right onwards to the south, by the great ocean; that its northern frontier is formed by the Kaukasos range as far as the junction of that range with Tauros; and that the boundary, towards the west and the north-west, as far as the great ocean, is formed by the river Indus. A considerable portion of India consists of a level plain, and this, as they conjecture, has been formed from the alluvial deposits of the river, — inferring this from the fact that in other countries plains which are far away from the sea are generally formations of their respective rivers, so that in old times a country was even called by the name of its river. As an instance, there is the so-called plain of the Hermos — a river in Asia (Minor), which, flowing from the Mount of Mother Dindymene, falls into the sea near the AEolian city of Smyrna. There is also the Lydian plain of the Kaustros, named after that Lydian river; and another, that of the Kaikos, in Mysia; and one also in Karia, — that of the Maiandros, which extends even to Miletos, which is an Ionian city. (As for Egypt, both the historians Herodotus and Hekataios -- or at any rate the author of the work on Egypt if he was other than Hekataios -- alike agree in declaring it to be the gift of the Nile, so that that country was perhaps even called after the river; for in early times Aigyptos was the name of the river which now-a-days both the Egyptians and other nations call the Nile, as the words of Homer clearly prove, when he says that Menelaos stationed his ships at the mouth of the river Aigyptos. If, then, there is but a single river in each plain, and these rivers, though by no means large, are capable of forming, as they flow to the sea, much new land, by carrying down silt from the uplands, where their sources are, it would be unreasonable to reject the belief in the case of India that a great part of it is a level plain, and that this plain is formed from the silt deposited by the rivers, seeing that the Hermos, and the Kaustros, and the Kaikos, and the Maiandros, and all the many rivers of Asia which fall into the Mediterranean, even if united, would not be fit to be compared in volume of water with an ordinary Indian river, and much less with the greatest of them all, the Ganges, with which neither the Egyptian Nile, nor the Danube which flows through Europe, can for a moment be compared. Nay, the whole of these if combined all into one are not equal even to the Indus, which is already a large river where it rises from its fountains, and which after receiving as tributaries fifteen rivers all greater than those of Asia, and bearing off from its rival the honour of giving name to the country, falls at last into the sea.*)

[*Strabo, XV. 1. 32, n. 700.— (All the rivers mentioned (the last of -which is the Hupanis) unite in one, the Indus.) They say that fifteen considerable rivers, in all, flow into it.]
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:01 am


Arr. Indica, II. 1. 7.

Of the Boundaries of India.*

[*Conf. Epit. 1, and for notes on the same see Indian Antiquary, vol. V. p. 330.— ED.]

(See translation of Arrian.)
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Mon Jun 28, 2021 12:23 am


Strabo, XV. i. 11,— p. 689.

Of the Boundaries and Extent of India.*

[*Conf. Epit. 1, 2. Pliny (Hist. Nat. VI. 21. 2) states that India extends from north to south 28,150 thousand paces. This number, though it is not exactly equal to 22,300 stadia, but to 22,800, nevertheless approaches the number given by Megasthenes nearer than any other. From the numbers which both Arrian (Ind. iii. 8) and Strabo (pp. 68-69, 690) give, Diodorus differs remarkably, for he says the breadth extends to 28,000, and the length to 32,000 stadia, it would be rash to deny that Megasthenes may also have indicated the larger numbers of Diodorus, for Arrian (Ind. iii. 7-8) adds to the number the words "where shortest" and "where narrowest;" and Strabo (p. 689) has added to the expression of the breadth the words "at the shortest," and, referring to Megasthenes and Deimachos, says distinctly "who state that in some places the distance from the southern sea is 20,000 stadia, and in otters 30,000 (pp. 68-69). There can be no doubt, however, that Megasthenes regarded the smaller, and Deimachos the larger number as correct; for the larger seemed to Arrian unworthy of mention, and Strabo (p. 690) says decidedly, "Megasthenes and Deimachos incline to be more moderate in their estimate, for according to them the distance from the southern sea to Caucasus is over 20,000 stadia: Deimachos, however, allows that the distance in some places exceeds 30,000 stadia"! by which he quite excludes Megasthenes from this opinion. And at p. 72, where he mentions the 30,000 stadia of Deimachos, he does not say a word of Megasthenes. But it must be certain that 16,000 stadia is the only measure Megasthenes gave of the breadth of India. For not only Strabo (p. 689) and Arrian (Ind. iii. 7) have not quoted a larger number from Megasthenes, but Hipparchos also (Strabo, p. 69), — where he shows that Patrokles is unworthy of confidence, because he has given, smaller dimensions for India than Megasthenes— only mentions the measure of 16,000 stadia; where, for what Hipparchos wanted, the greatest number was the most suitable for his proof. — I think the numbers were augmented because Megasthenes regarded as Indian, Kabul and that part of Ariana which Chandragupta had taken from Seloukos; and on the north the frontier nations Uttarokuras, which he mentions elsewhere. What Megasthenes said about the breadth of India remained fixed throughout the whole geography of the Greeks, so that not even Ptolemy, who says India extends 16,800 stadia, differs much from it. But his measure of length has either been rejected by all, for fear of opposing the ancient opinion that the torrid zone could not be inhabited, or (like Hipparchos) erroneously carried much too far to the north.— Schwanbeck, pp. 29, 30, n. 24.]

India is bounded on the north by the extremities of Tauros, and from Ariana to the Eastern Sea by the mountains which are variously called by the natives of these regions Parapamisos, and Hemodos, and Himaos,* ...

[*Schmeider suggests [x] in Arrian.]

... and other names, but by the Macedonians Kaukasos.*

[*i.e. The Himalayas.]

The boundary on the west is the river Indus, but the southern and eastern sides, which are both much greater than the others, run out into the Atlantic Ocean.*

[*The world was anciently regarded as an island surrounded by the Atlantic Sea.]

The shape of the country is thus rhomboidal, since each of the greater sides exceeds its opposite side by 3000 stadia, which is the length of the promontory common to the south and the east coast, which projects equally in these two directions. (The length of the western side, measured from the Kaukasian mountains to the southern sea along the course of the river Indus to its mouths, is said to be 13,000 stadia, so that the eastern side opposite, with the addition of the 3000 stadia of the promontory, will be somewhere about 16,000 stadia. This is the breadth of India where it is both smallest and greatest.) The length from west to east as far as Palibothra can be stated with greater certainty for the royal road which leads to that city has been measured by schoeni, and is in length 10,000 stadia.*

[*All the texts read [x] instead of [x]. In all the MSS. of Strabo also we rend [x], and in Arrian, who extracts the same passage from Megasthenes, everywhere [x]. Though there is nothing to blame in either lection, yet it is easier to change [x] than [x], for Strabo may have boon surprised to find the Greek schoenus in use also in India. The schoenus, however, which with Eratosthenes is a measure of 40 stadia (Plin. Hist. Nat. XII. 30), coincides precisely with the Indian yojana of four krosas. I do not forget that usually double this length is assigned to the yojana, but also that it is shorter than the Hindus reckon it (As. Res. vol. V. p. 105), and also by the Chinese pilgrims (Foe-koue-ki, 87-88), and by Megasthenes himself, in Strabo (p. 708, Fragm. xxxiv. 3), from which it seems certain that ten stadia are equal to some Indian measure which cannot be a smaller one than the krosa.— Schw. p. 27, n. 23.]

The extent of the parts beyond can only be conjectured from the time taken to make voyages from the sea to Palibothra by the Ganges, and may be about 6000 stadia. The entire length, computed at the shortest, will be 16,000 stadia. This is the estimate of Eratosthenes, who says he derived it principally from the authoritative register of the stages on the Royal Road. Herein Megasthenes agrees with him. (Patrokles, however, makes the length less by 1000 stadia.) Conf. Arr. Ind. iii. 1-5.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Mon Jun 28, 2021 11:07 pm

Fragm. V.

Strabo, II. i. 7,— p. 69.

Of the Size of India.

Again, Hipparchos, in the 2nd volume of his commentary, charges Eratosthenes himself with throwing discredit on Patrokles for differing from Megasthenes about the length of India on its northern side, Megasthenes making it 16,000 stadia, and Patrokles 1000 less.
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Tue Jul 06, 2021 2:25 am


Strabo, XV. i. 12,— pp. 689-690.

Of the Size of India.

(From this, one can readily see how the accounts of the other writers vary from one another. Thus Ktesias says that India is not of less size than the rest of Asia; Onesikritos regards it as the third part of the habitable world; and Nearchos says it takes one four months to traverse the plain only.)

Megasthenes and Deimachos incline to be more moderate in their estimate, for according to them the distance from the Southern Sea to Kaukasos is over 20,000 stadia. — (Deimachos, however, allows that the distance in some places exceeds 30,000 stadia. Of these notice has been taken in an earlier part of the work.)
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Re: Ancient India as Described by Megasthenes and Arrian

Postby admin » Tue Jul 06, 2021 2:29 am


Strabo, II. i.4,— pp. 68-69.

Of the Size of India.

Hipparchos controverts this view, urging the futility of the proofs on which it rests. Patrokles, he says, is unworthy of trust, opposed as he is by two competent authorities, Deimachos and Megasthenes, who state that in some places the distance from the southern sea is 20,000 stadia, and in others 30,000. Such, he says, is the account they give, and it agrees with the ancient charts of the country.
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