How Do You Persuade the Close-Minded?

 Epictetus’ Dissertationes ad Arriano Digestae (“Treatises Collected and Edited by Arrian”)

Book 1.5 Against the Academics

“Epictetus said that if someone resists what is clearly true, then it is not easy to devise an argument to persuade him to change his mind. This is due neither to the man’s strength or the teacher’s weakness, but instead because once someone has been assailed and hardens to stone, how could anyone prevail upon him with reason?

Men are hardened to reason in two ways: one is the petrification of thought; the other comes from shame, whenever someone is deployed in battle to such a degree that he will not acknowledge what is obvious or depart from his fellow combatants. Most of us fear the necrosis of our bodies and we will do anything to avoid having this happen in anyway; but we don’t think at all about the mortification of our mind. By Zeus, if a man is disposed in such a way concerning the mind itself that he can’t follow any argument or understand anything, we believe that he is ill. But if shame or self-regard hardens a man, we still persist in calling this strength!

Do you sense that you are awake? “No”, he answers, “Not more than when I imagine that I am awake while I dream.” The fantasy of dreaming differs in no way from being awake? “Not at all.”

How do I have a conversation with this man? What kind of fire or iron can I take to him to make him perceive that he has turned to stone? Although he realizes it, he pretends he does not. He is even worse than a corpse. One man does not perceive the conflict—he is sick. The other perceives it and neither moves nor responds—he is even worse. His sense of shame and his self-regard have been amputated and his reason has not been excised but instead has been mutilated.

Should I call this strength? May it not be so, unless I should also it strength when perverts do and say everything that occurs to them in public.”

ε′. Πρὸς τοὺς ᾿Ακαδημαικούς.

῎Αν τις, φησίν, ἐνίστηται πρὸς τὰ ἄγαν ἐκφανῆ, πρὸς τοῦτον οὐ ῥᾴδιόν ἐστιν εὑ<ρεῖν λόγ>ον, δι’ οὗ μεταπείσει τις αὐτόν. τοῦτο δ’ οὔτε παρὰ <τὴν ἐκεί>νου γίνεται δύναμιν οὔτε παρὰ τὴν τοῦ διδάσκοντος ἀσθένειαν, ἀλλ’ ὅταν ἀπαχθεὶς ἀπολιθωθῇ, πῶς ἔτι χρήσηταί τις αὐτῷ διὰ λόγου;

᾿Απολιθώσεις δ’ εἰσὶ διτταί· ἡ μὲν τοῦ νοητικοῦ ἀπολίθωσις, ἡ δὲ τοῦ ἐντρεπτικοῦ, ὅταν τις παρατεταγμένος ᾖ μὴ ἐπινεύειν τοῖς ἐναργέσι μηδ’ ἀπὸ τῶν μαχομένων ἀφίστασθαι. οἱ δὲ πολλοὶ τὴν μὲν σωματικὴν ἀπονέκρωσιν φοβούμεθα καὶ πάντ’ <ἂν> μηχανησαίμεθα ὑπὲρ τοῦ μὴ περιπεσεῖν τοιούτῳ τινί, τῆς ψυχῆς δ’ ἀπονεκρουμένης οὐδὲν ἡμῖν μέλει. καὶ νὴ Δία ἐπὶ αὐτῆς τῆς ψυχῆς ἂν μὲν ᾖ οὕτως διακείμενος, ὥστε μηδεν<ὶ> παρακολουθεῖν μηδὲ συνιέναι μηδέν, καὶ τοῦτον κακῶς ἔχειν οἰόμεθα· ἂν δέ τινος τὸ ἐντρεπτικὸν καὶ αἰδῆμον ἀπονεκρωθῇ, τοῦτο ἔτι καὶ δύναμιν καλοῦμεν.

Καταλαμβάνεις ὅτι ἐγρήγορας; ‘οὔ’, φησίν· ‘οὐδὲ γάρ, ὅταν ἐν τοῖς ὕπνοις φαντάζωμαι, ὅτι ἐγρήγορα’. οὐδὲν οὖν διαφέρει αὕτη ἡ φαντασία ἐκείνης; ‘οὐδέν’. ἔτι τούτῳ διαλέγομαι; καὶ ποῖον αὐτῷ πῦρ ἢ ποῖον σίδηρον προσαγάγω, ἵν’ αἴσθηται ὅτι νενέκρωται; αἰσθανόμενος οὐ προσποιεῖται· ἔτι χείρων ἐστὶ τοῦ νεκροῦ. μάχην οὗτος οὐ συνορᾷ· κακῶς ἔχει. συνορῶν οὗτος οὐ  κινεῖται οὐδὲ προκόπτει· ἔτι ἀθλιώτερον ἔχει. ἐκτέτμηται τὸ αἰδῆμον αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐντρεπτικὸν καὶ τὸ λογικὸν οὐκ ἀποτέτμηται, ἀλλ’ ἀποτεθηρίωται. ταύτην ἐγὼ δύναμιν εἴπω; μὴ γένοιτο, εἰ μὴ καὶ τὴν τῶν κιναίδων, καθ’ ἣν πᾶν τὸ ἐπελθὸν ἐν μέσῳ καὶ ποιοῦσι καὶ λέγουσι.

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Two Weeks of Posts on India

For the past two weeks I have been traveling in India for a family wedding. It has been busy, but jetlag and odd hours didn’t keep me from reading about India in Greek sources. There is a surprising amount of material–most of it positioning India as ‘exotic’ and ‘mystic’ the way many Western stereotypes do. I barely touched the fragments of Megasthenes; I didn’t cite much from Strabo; and I didn’t even begin to introduce Roman sources (Pliny the Elder has a lot to say).

And there are even more Greek sources! The Byzantine author Photius summarizes the work of Megasthenes and Ctesias on India. This leaves us with records of three Indica: Arrian’s, Megasthenes’, and Ctesias, whose account would be the oldest (it is allegedly based on accounts he heard from the Persians when he traveled with the expedition of Cyrus, c. 401 BCE).

To be honest, there is a lot more material on India from the ancient world than I expected even without Roman accounts and the fantastic Alexander romance.  I am surprised that there isn’t a monograph already published on the subject! But I suspect that other than being chock-full of titillating details, a monograph couldn’t say much more than India is the exotic other in the Greco-Roman mind: a binary, rather than polar, opposite, occupying a space between the fantasy and reality, between history and fiction. In a way, ‘India’ in the Greco-Roman mind might not be qualitatively different from ‘India’ in Western pop-culture today.

Here’s another dose:

Photius, Bilbiotheca, 72. 46b (=Ctesias of Cnidos)

“[Ctesias says that] in the middle of India there are black men who are called Pygmies and have the same language as other Indians, but they are really small. The tallest of them are only two cubits, but most of them only one and a half. They have extremely long hair, down to their knees and lower, and the largest beards of all men. When they grow their beards long, they don’t wear clothing anymore, but they wrap their hair around them from their head and fasten it below their knees and arrange their beard in the front down near their feet, essentially using their hair to cover their bodies instead of clothing.”

῞Οτι μέσῃ τῇ ᾿Ινδικῇ ἄνθρωποί εἰσι μέλανες (καλοῦνται Πυγμαῖοι) ὁμόγλωσσοι τοῖς ἄλλοις ᾿Ινδοῖς. Μικροὶ δέ εἰσι λίαν· οἱ μακρότατοι αὐτῶν πηχέων δύο, οἱ δὲ πλεῖστοι, ἑνὸς ἡμίσεος πήχεος. Κόμην δὲ ἔχουσι μακροτάτην μέχρις ἐπὶ τὰ γόνατα καὶ ἔτι κατώτερον, καὶ πώγωνα μέγιστον πάντων ἀνθρώπων. ᾿Επειδὰν οὖν τὸν πώγονα μέγα φύσωσιν, οὐκέτι ἀμφιέννυνται οὐδὲν ἱμάτιον, ἀλλὰ τὰς τρίχας, τὰς μὲν ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ὄπισθεν καθίενται πολὺ κάτω τῶν γονάτων, τὰς δὲ ἐκ τοῦ πώγωνος ἔμπροσθεν μέχρι ποδῶν ἑλκομένας, ἔπειτα περιπυκασάμενοι τὰς τρίχας περὶ ἅπαν τὸ σῶμα, ζώννυνται χρώμενοι αὐταῖς ἀντὶ ἱματίου.

Here’s a list of the posts.

The Curious Case of Herodotus’ India (Gold-digging ants)

Alexander and the Gymno-Sophists 1 (Herodotus)

Alexander the Great, Philosopher (King?)

Alexander and the Talking Trees (The Alexander Romance)

Alexander Elephant

Indian Cotton from a Greek Perspective (Arrian)

The Suda’s Somewhat Offensive Comments on India

Dionysus and Indian Cities/Agriculture (Arrian)

Herakles and Indian Pearls (Arrian)

Herakles and Indian Marriage Rites (Arrian)

Indian Rivers and Cities (Arrian)

Gymno-sophists, Part 2 (Arrian)

Laws Against Inter-caste Marriage (Arrian)

Indian Elephants and Soothing Music (Aelian)

A Greek Account of Indian Rice (Athenaeus)

The dog-headed people of India (Ctesias)

Truth -Serum and Magic Cheese

Thank you, India?

“Unlawful to Marry Outside Your Class” — Greek History of India

Arrian on Indian Castes, Part II (GO here for Part 1)

Arrian, Historia Indica 11

“The second class after these are farmers who are the most numerous of the Indians. They pay no attention to martial weapons or deeds of war, but instead work the land and pay taxes to the kinds or the cities that are independent. If war should break out among the Indians, it is unlawful for them to touch those who work the land or to ravage the land. While the other Indians are warring against each other and killing each other where they may, the majority of them plow the land at peace, or tend their fines or harvest their crops.

The third class of Indians are herdsmen, shepherds and cowherds. These men do not live in cities or in villages but are nomads living their lives in the hills. They also pay taxes from their possessions. In addition, they hunt birds and wild beasts throughout the country.

The fourth group is made up of craftsmen and shopkeepers. These men do public works and pay tax from their own labors except for the portion that fashions war weapons. These men also receive pay from the common wealth. In this group one also finds shipwrights and the sailors who navigate the rivers.

The warriors form the fifth class of Indians and they are second in number after the farmers although they enjoy special freedom and happiness. These warriors practice only for war. Others make their weapons; others provide their horses; others attend them in the camp to care for their horses, keep their weapons in good order, handle the elephants, tend to the chariots and drive them. When it is necessary, they fight, but they are happy when there is peace. Their pay at the public expense is great enough that they can support others on it with ease.

Men who are called overseers form the sixth class. These men oversee all acts through the country and the city and report on them to the king where there is a king or to the officers where cities are independent. It is unlawful for them to report something false, but no Indian has faced a charge of perjury.

The seventh group are men who deliberate with the kind on the common good or with the leaders in the autonomous cities. This class is small and surpasses all others in wisdom and justice. From the members of the group they select provincial governors, lieutenants, treasurers, generals, admirals, stewards and directors of agriculture.

It is unlawful to marry outside your class. For example, for someone from the artisan class to marry a farmer or the reverse. It is unlawful for one man to pursue two trades or to change classes, as if a herdsman might become a farmer or a craftsman become a herder. It is only permitted for a wise man to come from every class since their jobs is not easy but the most burdensome of all.”

Greek India


δεύτεροι δ’ ἐπὶ τούτοισιν οἱ γεωργοί εἰσιν, οὗτοι πλήθει πλεῖστοι ᾿Ινδῶν ἐόντες. καὶ τούτοισιν οὔτε ὅπλα ἐστὶν ἀρήια οὔτε μέλει τὰ πολεμήια ἔργα, ἀλλὰ τὴν χώρην οὗτοι ἐργάζονται, καὶ τοὺς φόρους τοῖς τε βασιλεῦσι καὶ τῇσι πόλεσιν, ὅσαι αὐτόνομοι, οὗτοι ἀποφέρουσι. καὶ εἰ πόλεμος ἐς ἀλλήλους τοῖσιν ᾿Ινδοῖσι τύχοι,τῶν ἐργαζομένων τὴν γῆν οὐ θέμις σφιν ἅπτεσθαι οὐδὲ αὐτὴν τὴν γῆν τέμνειν, ἀλλὰ οἳ μὲν πολεμοῦσι καὶ κατακαίνουσιν ἀλλήλους ὅπως τύχοιεν, οἳ δὲ πλησίον αὐτῶν κατ’ ἡσυχίαν ἀροῦσιν ἢ τρυγῶσιν ἢ κλαδῶσιν ἢ θερίζουσιν.

τρίτοι δέ εἰσιν ᾿Ινδοῖσιν οἱ νομέες, οἱ ποιμένες τε καὶ βουκόλοι. καὶ οὗτοι οὔτε κατὰ πόληας οὔτε ἐν τῇσι κώμῃσιν οἰκέουσι νομάδες τέ εἰσι καὶ ἀνὰ τὰ ὄρεα βιοτεύουσι. φόρον δὲ καὶ οὗτοι ἀπὸ τῶν κτηνέων ἀποφέρουσι, καὶ θηρεύουσιν οὗτοι ἀνὰ τὴν χώρην ὄρνιθάς τε καὶ ἄγρια θηρία.

τέταρτον δέ ἐστι τὸ δημιουργικόν τε καὶ καπηλικὸν γένος. καὶ οὗτοι λειτουργοί εἰσι καὶ φόρον ἀποφέρουσιν ἀπὸ τῶν ἔργων τῶν σφετέρων, πλήν γε δὴ ὅσοι τὰ ἀρήια ὅπλα ποιέουσιν· οὗτοι δὲ καὶ μισθὸν ἐκ τοῦ κοινοῦ προσλαμβάνουσιν. ἐν δὲ τούτῳ τῷ γένει οἵ τε ναυπηγοὶ καὶ οἱ ναῦταί εἰσιν, ὅσοι κατὰ τοὺς ποταμοὺς πλώουσι.

πέμπτον δὲ γένος ἐστὶν ᾿Ινδοῖσιν οἱ πολεμισταί, πλήθει μὲν δεύτερον μετὰ τοὺς γεωργούς, πλείστῃ δὲ ἐλευθερίῃ τε καὶ εὐθυμίῃ ἐπιχρεόμενον. καὶ οὗτοι ἀσκηταὶ μόνων τῶν πολεμικῶν ἔργων εἰσίν· τὰ δὲ ὅπλα ἄλλοι αὐτοῖς ποιέουσι καὶ ἵππους ἄλλοι παρέχουσι καὶ διακονοῦσιν ἐπὶ στρατοπέδου ἄλλοι, οἳ τούς τε ἵππους αὐτοῖς θεραπεύουσι καὶ τὰ ὅπλα ἐκκαθαίρουσι καὶ τοὺς ἐλέφαντας ἄγουσι καὶ τὰ ἅρματα κοσμέουσί τε καὶ ἡνιοχεύουσιν. αὐτοὶ δέ, ἔστ’ ἂν μὲν πολεμεῖν δέῃ, πολεμοῦσιν, εἰρήνης δὲ γενομένης εὐθυμέονται· καί σφιν μισθὸς ἐκ τοῦ κοινοῦ τοσόσδε ἔρχεται ὡς καὶ ἄλλους τρέφειν ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ εὐμαρέως.

ἕκτοι δέ εἰσιν ᾿Ινδοῖσιν οἱ ἐπίσκοποι καλεόμενοι. οὗτοι ἐφορῶσι τὰ γινόμενα κατά τε τὴν χώρην καὶ κατὰ τὰς πόληας, καὶ ταῦτα ἀναγγέλλουσι τῷ βασιλεῖ, ἵναπερ βασιλεύονται ᾿Ινδοί, ἢ τοῖς τέλεσιν, ἵναπερ αὐτόνομοί εἰσι. καὶ τούτοις οὐ θέμις ψεῦδος ἀγγεῖλαι οὐδέν, οὐδέ τις ᾿Ινδῶν αἰτίην ἔσχε ψεύσασθαι.

ἕβδομοι δέ εἰσιν οἱ ὑπὲρ τῶν κοινῶν βουλευόμενοι ὁμοῦ τῷ βασιλεῖ ἢ κατὰ πόληας ὅσαι αὐτόνομοι σὺν τῇσιν ἀρχῇσι. πλήθει μὲν ὀλίγον τὸ γένος τοῦτό ἐστι, σοφίῃ δὲ καὶ δικαιότητι ἐκ πάντων προκεκριμένον. ἔνθεν οἵ τε ἄρχοντες αὐτοῖσιν ἐπιλέγονται καὶ ὅσοι νομάρχαι καὶ ὕπαρχοι καὶ θησαυροφύλακές τε καὶ στρατοφύλακες, ναύαρχοί τε καὶ ταμίαι καὶ τῶν κατὰ γεωρ-γίην ἔργων ἐπιστάται.

γαμέειν δὲ ἐξ ἑτέρου γένεος οὐ θέμις, οἷον τοῖσι γεωργοῖσιν ἐκ τοῦ δημιουργικοῦ ἢ ἔμπαλιν. οὐδὲ δύο τέχνας ἐπιτηδεύειν τὸν αὐτὸν οὐδὲ τοῦτο θέμις, οὐδὲ ἀμείβειν ἐξ ἑτέρου γένεος εἰς ἕτερον, οἷον γεωργικὸν ἐκ νομέως γενέσθαι ἢ νομέα ἐκ δημιουργικοῦ. μοῦνόν σφισιν ἀνεῖται σοφιστὴν ἐκ παντὸς γένεος γενέσθαι, ὅτι οὐ μαλθακὰ τοῖσι σοφιστῇσίν εἰσι τὰ πρήγματα ἀλλὰ πάντων ταλαιπωρότατα.

“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.

Arrian on Indian Rivers and Cities

Arrian, Historia Indica, 10

“The story also circulates that the Indians do not make memorials for their dead but instead believe the virtues of the men as sufficient markers for those who have passed and sing odes in their honor. It is not possible to write an accurate count of their cities because of the number of Indians. Cities alongside rivers or the sea are made of wood, since if they were made from brick they would not persist for much time because the water from the sky and the rivers overflowing their banks would fill them with water. The cities, however, which were built in powerful positions and in high places and above the rest of the land, are all made from brick and mud. The Indians’ greatest city is *Palimbothra in the land of the Prasians where the river Erannoboas meets the Ganges, the greatest of the rivers. The Erannoboas could be the third of the Indian rivers, and it is greater than them in some places, but it yields to the Ganges and adds its water to it. Megasthenes claims that on the side where the city is longest it is eighty stades in length and its breadth is 15 stades. It has a ditch built around it the full circumference of the city, about thirty cubits deep. The city has 570 towers on its ways and 64 gates. Every Indian is free, no Indian is a slave. In this, the Spartans are similar to the Indians, although the helots are enslaved by the Spartans and do the work of slaves. There are no slaves among the Indians, or at least no Indian is a slave.”

*Probably Pataliputra

Triumph of Dionysos in India

λέγεται δὲ καὶ τάδε, μνημεῖα ὅτι ᾿Ινδοὶ τοῖς τελευτήσασιν οὐ ποιέουσιν, ἀλλὰ τὰς ἀρετὰς γὰρ τῶν ἀνδρῶν ἱκανὰς ἐς μνήμην τίθενται τοῖσιν ἀποθανοῦσι καὶ τὰς ᾠδὰς αἳ αὐτοῖσιν ἐπᾴδονται. πόλεων δὲ καὶ ἀριθμὸν οὐκ εἶναι ἂν ἀτρεκὲς ἀναγράψαι τῶν ᾿Ινδικῶν ὑπὸ πλήθεος· ἀλλὰ γὰρ ὅσαι παραποτάμιαι αὐτέων ἢ παραθαλάσσιαι, ταύτας μὲν ξυλίνας ποιέεσθαι· οὐ γὰρ ἂν ἐκ πλίνθου ποιεομένας διαρκέσαι ἐπὶ χρόνον τοῦ τε ὕδατος ἕνεκα τοῦ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ὅτι οἱ ποταμοὶ αὐτοῖσιν ὑπερβάλλοντες ὑπὲρ τὰς ὄχθας ἐμπιμπλᾶσι τοῦ ὕδατος τὰ πεδία. ὅσαι δὲ ἐν ὑπερδεξίοις τε καὶ μετεώροις τόποισι καὶ τούτοισι ψιλοῖσιν ᾠκισμέναι εἰσί, ταύτας δὲ ἐκ πλίνθου τε καὶ πηλοῦ ποιέεσθαι. μεγίστην δὲ πόλιν ᾿Ινδοῖσιν εἶναι <τὴν> Παλίμβοθρα καλεομένην, ἐν τῇ Πρασίων γῇ, ἵνα αἱ συμβολαί εἰσι τοῦ τε ᾿Εραννοβόα ποταμοῦ καὶ  τοῦ Γάγγεω· τοῦ μὲν Γάγγεω, τοῦ μεγίστου ποταμῶν· ὁ δὲ ᾿Εραννοβόας τρίτος μὲν ἂν εἴη τῶν ᾿Ινδῶν ποταμῶν, μέζων δὲ τῶν ἄλλῃ καὶ οὗτος, ἀλλὰ ξυγχωρέει αὐτὸς τῷ Γάγγῃ, ἐπειδὰν ἐμβάλῃ ἐς αὐτὸν τὸ ὕδωρ. καὶ λέγει Μεγασθένης μῆκος μὲν ἐπέχειν τὴν πόλιν καθ’ ἑκατέρην τὴν πλευρήν, ἵναπερ μακροτάτη αὐτὴ ἑωυτῆς ᾤκισται, ἐς ὀγδοήκοντα σταδίους, τὸ δὲ πλάτος ἐς πεντεκαίδεκα. τάφρον δὲ περιβεβλῆσθαι τῇ πόλει τὸ εὖρος ἑξάπλεθρον, τὸ δὲ βάθος τριήκοντα πήχεων· πύργους δὲ ἑβδομήκοντα καὶ πεντακοσίους ἔχειν τὸ τεῖχος καὶ πύλας τέσσαρας καὶ ἑξήκοντα. εἶναι δὲ καὶ τόδε μέγα ἐν τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γῇ, πάντας ᾿Ινδοὺς εἶναι ἐλευθέρους, οὐδέ τινα δοῦλον εἶναι ᾿Ινδόν. τοῦτο μὲν Λακεδαιμονίοισιν ἐς ταὐτὸ συμβαίνει καὶ ᾿Ινδοῖσι. Λακεδαιμονίοις μέν  γε οἱ εἵλωτες δοῦλοί εἰσιν καὶ τὰ δούλων ἐργάζονται, ᾿Ινδοῖσι δὲ οὐδὲ ἄλλος δοῦλός ἐστι, μήτι γε ᾿Ινδῶν τις.

Dionysus and Indian Cities

Yes, the run of Greek texts on India continues. Today, the establishment of cities. (Since we have already read some about cotton.) Note: Arrian is a Greek author of the Roman imperial period. I don’t assume he is saying anything incontrovertibly ‘true’ about India. But he does say interesting things about Roman and Greek ideas about India…

Arrian, Historia India, Chapter 7

“Megasthenes claims that there are 128 Indian tribes. There are certainly many tribes in India; on this I agree with Megasthenes. But I cannot figure out precisely how he learned and then recorded this number when he did not visit the greater part of the Indian lands, and when there isn’t much engagement among many of the peoples with one another. In ancient times, the Indians were nomads who did not farm like the Skythians. They wandered from one place to another on wagons exchanging places with the Skythians, neither founding cities nor consecrating temples to the gods. So in India, there were no cities nor temples built, but they girt themselves in the skins of the beasts they killed and ate the bark of trees. In their own language they called those trees tala—on these trees grow just as on the tops of palm trees something like a tuft of wool.

They also ate the animals they killed raw until Dionysus arrived in their land. When Dionysus arrive, that he might grow stronger in India, he founded many cities and established their laws and he gave the Indians wine must as he did the Greeks and he also taught them to plow the earth once he gave them seeds himself. For this reason, either Triptolemos did not come to this part of the earth when he was sent by Demeter to distribute grain to the world or Dionysus came before Triptolemos and gave them the seeds of civilized grains. Dionysus first taught them to yoke bulls and many of them to be farmers instead of nomads. He also armed them with weapons for war. He taught them to worship the gods, especially himself by beating on drums and sounding cymbals. He taught them the satyr dance which the Greeks call the kordax and he taught them to grow long hair to honor the gods, how to wear turbans, and apply oils. Even when Alexander arrived, Indians went into battle to the sound of cymbals and drums.”



ἔθνεα δὲ ᾿Ινδικὰ εἴκοσι καὶ ἑκατὸν τὰ ἅπαντα λέγει Μεγασθένης, δυοῖν δέοντα. καὶ πολλὰ μὲν εἶναι ἔθνεα ᾿Ινδικὰ καὶ αὐτὸς συμφέρομαι Μεγασθένει, τὸ δὲ ἀτρεκὲς οὐκ ἔχω εἰκάσαι ὅπως ἐκμαθὼν ἀνέγραψεν, οὐδὲ πολλοστὸν μέρος τῆς ᾿Ινδῶν γῆς ἐπελθών, οὐδὲ ἐπιμιξίης πᾶσι τοῖς γένεσιν ἐούσης ἐς ἀλλήλους. πάλαι μὲν δὴ νομάδας εἶναι ᾿Ινδούς, καθάπερ Σκυθέων τοὺς οὐκ ἀροτῆρας, οἳ ἐπὶ τῇσιν ἁμάξῃσι πλανώμενοι ἄλλοτε ἄλλην τῆς Σκυθίης ἀμείβουσιν, οὔτε πόληας οἰκέοντες οὔτε ἱερὰ θεῶν σέβοντες. οὕτω μηδὲ ᾿Ινδοῖσι πόληας εἶναι μηδὲ ἱερὰ θεῶν δεδομημένα, ἀλλ’ ἀμπίσχεσθαι μὲν δορὰς θηρίων ὅσων κατακάνοιεν, σιτέεσθαι δὲ τῶν δενδρέων τὸν φλοιόν. καλέεσθαι δὲ τὰ δένδρεα ταῦτα τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν φωνῆ τάλα, καὶ φύεσθαι ἐπ’ αὐτῶν, κατάπερ τῶν φοινίκων ἐπὶ τῇσι κορυφῇσιν, οἷά περ τολύπας. σιτέεσθαι δὲ καὶ τῶν θηρίων ὅσα ἕλοιεν ὠμοφαγέοντας, πρίν γε δὴ Διόνυσον ἐλθεῖν ἐς τὴν χώρην τῶν ᾿Ινδῶν. Διόνυσον δὲ ἐλθόντα, ὡς καρτερὸς ἐγένετο ᾿Ινδῶν, πόληάς τε οἰκίσαι καὶ νόμους θέσθαι τῇσι πόλεσιν, οἴνου τε δοτῆρα ᾿Ινδοῖς γενέσθαι κατάπερ ῞Ελλησι, καὶ σπείρειν διδάξαι τὴν γῆν διδόντα αὐτὸν σπέρματα, ἢ οὐκ ἐλάσαντος ταύτῃ Τριπτολέμου, ὅτε περ ἐκ Δήμητρος ἐστάλη σπείρειν τὴν γῆν πᾶσαν, ἢ πρὸ Τριπτολέμου τις οὗτος Δινυσος ἐπελθὼν τὴν ᾿Ινδῶν γῆν σπέρματά σφισιν ἔδωκε καρποῦ τοῦ ἡμέρου. βόας τε ὑπ’ ἄροτρον ζεῦξαι Διόνυσον πρῶτον καὶ ἀροτῆρας ἀντὶ νομάδων ποιῆσαι ᾿Ινδῶν τοὺς πολλοὺς καὶ ὁπλίσαι ὅπλοισι τοῖσιν ἀρηίοισι. καὶ θεοὺς σέβειν ὅτι ἐδίδαξε Διόνυσος ἄλλους τε καὶ μάλιστα δὴ ἑωυτὸν κυμβαλίζοντας καὶ τυμπανίζοντας καὶ ὄρχησιν δὲ ἐκδιδάξαι τὴν σατυρικήν, τὸν κόρδακα παρ’ ῞Ελλησι καλούμενον, καὶ κομᾶν [᾿Ινδοὺς] τῷ θεῷ  μιτρηφορέειν τε ἀναδεῖξαι καὶ μύρων ἀλοιφὰς ἐκδιδάξαι, ὥστε καὶ εἰς ᾿Αλέξανδρον ἔτι ὑπὸ κυμβάλων τε καὶ τυμπάνων ἐς τὰς μάχας ᾿Ινδοὶ καθίσταντο.

Never Changing Your Mind is Just Crazy

Epictetus, Treatises Collected by Arrian, 2.15: To those who cling to any judgments they have made tenaciously


“Whenever some men hear these words—that it is right to be consistent, that the moral man is free by nature and never compelled, while everything else may be hindered, forced, enslaved, subjected to others—they imagine that it is right that they maintain every judgment they have made without compromising at all. But the first issue is that the judgment should be a good one. For, if I wish to maintain the state of my body, it should be when it is healthy, well-exercised. If you show me that you have the tone of a crazy person and brag about it, I will say ‘Man, look for a therapist. This is not health, but sickness.’ “

ιε′. Πρὸς τοὺς σκληρῶς τισιν ὧν ἔκριναν ἐμμένοντας.

῞Οταν ἀκούσωσί τινες τούτων τῶν λόγων, ὅτι βέβαιον εἶναι δεῖ καὶ ἡ μὲν προαίρεσις ἐλεύθερον φύσει καὶ ἀνανάγκαστον, τὰ δ’ ἄλλα κωλυτά, ἀναγκαστά, δοῦλα, ἀλλότρια, φαντάζονται ὅτι δεῖ παντὶ τῷ κριθέντι ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ἀπαραβάτως ἐμμένειν. ἀλλὰ πρῶτον ὑγιὲς εἶναι δεῖ τὸ κεκριμένον. θέλω γὰρ εἶναι τόνους ἐν σώματι, ἀλλ’ ὡς ὑγιαίνοντι, ὡς ἀθλοῦντι· ἂν δέ μοι φρενιτικοῦ τόνους ἔχων ἐνδεικνύῃ[ς] καὶ ἀλαζονεύῃ ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς, ἐρῶ σοι ὅτι ‘ἄνθρωπε, ζήτει τὸν θεραπεύσοντα. τοῦτο οὐκ εἰσὶ τόνοι, ἀλλ’ ἀτονία’.