“The Wise Men Live Their Lives Naked” –A Greek History of India

Arrian on Indian castes, Part 1:

Arrian, Historia Indica 11

‘All Indians are split into seven separate kinds [castes]. One among them is the class of the wise men, fewer in count than the others, but most revered by reputation and in honor. For they are not compelled to do physical labor nor to offer anything from the work they do to the common good. Nor, in fact, is there a need for the wise men to do anything but sacrifice to the gods for the common good of India. Whenever someone sacrifices for private matters, one of the wise men assists in the sacrifice because men cannot make satisfactory sacrifices to the gods otherwise. In addition, these men are the only Indians skilled in prophecy—it is not permitted for anyone to prophesy unless he is of the sophistic class. They perform divination for each part of the seasons of a year and if any calamity threatens the public good. They do not concern themselves with divination for private matters, either because they are not moved to prophesy for minor affairs or because these kinds of things are not worthy of their labor. Whoever makes a mistaken prophecy three times receives no other evil than the fact that he is forced to be silent for the rest of his life. There is no one who can compel this man to speak once he has been assigned silence. The wise men live their lives naked, under the sun during the winter but during the summer, when the sun oppresses, they move to the meadows and the shade under great trees whose shape Nearchus claims extends in a circle 500 feet wide which could accommodate 10,000 men with shade. They eat seasonal fruit and the bark of trees which is no less nourishing and satisfying than dates.”

Triumph of Dionysos in India


νενέμηνται δὲ οἱ πάντες ᾿Ινδοὶ ἐς ἑπτὰ μάλιστα γένεα. ἓν μὲν αὐτοῖσιν οἱ σοφισταί εἰσι, πλήθει μὲν μείους τῶν ἄλλων, δόξῃ δὲ καὶ τιμῇ γεραρώτατοι· οὔτε γάρ τι τῷ σώματι ἐργάζεσθαι ἀναγκαίη σφιν προσκέαται οὔτε τι  ἀποφέρειν ἀφ’ ὅτων πονέουσιν ἐς τὸ κοινόν. οὐδέ τι ἄλλο ἀνάγκης ἁπλῶς ἐπεῖναι τοῖς σοφιστῇσιν, ὅτι μὴ θύειν τὰς θυσίας τοῖσι θεοῖσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ κοινοῦ <τῶν> ᾿Ινδῶν· καὶ ὅστις δὲ ἰδίᾳ θύει, ἐξηγητὴς αὐτῷ τῆς θυσίης τῶν τις σοφιστῶν τούτων γίνεται, ὡς οὐκ ἂν ἄλλως κεχαρισμένα τοῖς θεοῖς θύσαντας. εἰσὶ δὲ καὶ μαντικῆς οὗτοι μοῦνοι ᾿Ινδῶν δαήμονες, οὐδὲ ἐφεῖται ἄλλῳ μαντεύεσθαι ὅτι μὴ σοφιστῇ ἀνδρί. μαντεύονται δὲ ὅσα ὑπὲρ τῶν ὡρέων τοῦ ἔτεος καὶ εἴ τις ἐς τὸ κοινὸν συμφορὴ καταλαμβάνει· τὰ ἴδια <δὲ> ἑκάστοισιν οὔ σφιν μέλει μαντεύεσθαι, ὡς οὐκ ἐξικνεομένης τῆς μαντικῆς ἐς τὰ μικρότερα ἢ ὡς οὐκ ἄξιον <ὂν> ἐπὶ τούτοισι πονέεσθαι. ὅστις δὲ ἁμάρτοι ἐς τρὶς μαντευσάμενος, τούτῳ δὲ ἄλλο μὲν κακὸν γίνεσθαι οὐδέν, σιωπᾶν δὲ εἶναι ἐπάναγκες τοῦ λοιποῦ· καὶ οὐκ ἔστιν ὅστις ἐξαναγκάσει τὸν ἄνδρα τοῦτον φωνῆσαι, ὅτου ἡ σιωπὴ κατακέκριται. οὗτοι γυμνοὶ διαιτῶνται οἱ σοφισταί, τοῦ μὲν χειμῶνος ὑπαίθριοι ἐν τῷ ἡλίῳ, τοῦ δὲ θέρεος, ἐπὴν ὁ ἥλιος κατέχῃ, ἐν τοῖς λειμῶσι καὶ τοῖσιν ἕλεσιν ὑπὸ δένδρεσι μεγάλοισιν, ὧν τὴν σκιὴν Νέαρχος λέγει ἐς πέντε πλέθρα ἐν κύκλῳ ἐξικνέεσθαι, καὶ ἂν καὶ μυρίους ἀνθρώπους ὑπὸ ἑνὶ δένδρεϊ σκιάζεσθαι· τηλικαῦτα εἶναι ταῦτα τὰ δένδρεα. σιτέονται δὲ <τὰ> ὡραῖα καὶ τὸν φλοιὸν τῶν δένδρων, γλυκύν τε ὄντα τὸν φλοιὸν καὶ τρόφιμον οὐ μεῖον ἤπερ αἱ βάλανοι τῶν φοινίκων.

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