Feasts in the East: Greeks on Indian Rice

In the Odyssey and in Greek culture in general we find an ethnography of eating habits, essentially, you are what you eat. In Homer, people eat cultivated food; monsters eat people. Even today we identify other cultures with what they eat. Most of our cultural awareness, for better or worse, derives from restaurant menus. Athenaeus provides a tour of the world, based on its peoples eating habits. His stop in South Asia rings true today.

Athenaeus, Deipnosophists 4, 153 (=Megasthenes fr. 38)

 

“In his second book of Indika, Megasthenes says that during dinnertime among the Indians each person receives a table of his own that is most like a tripod. On this is placed a golden serving-bowl into which thy first place rice, cooked the way someone might boil barley, and to which they add many delicacies prepared in Indian fashion.”

Μεγασθένης ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ τῶν ᾿Ινδικῶν τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς φησιν ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ παρατίθεσθαι ἑκάστῳ τράπεζαν, ταύτην δ’ εἶναι ὁμοίαν ταῖς ἐγγυθήκαις· καὶ ἐπιτίθεσθαι ἐπ’ αὐτῇ τρυβλίον χρυσοῦν, εἰς ὃ ἐμβαλεῖν αὐτοὺς πρῶτον μὲν τὴν ὄρυζαν ἑφθὴν, ὡς ἄν τις ἑψήσειε χόνδρον, ἔπειτα ὄψα πολλὰ κεχειρουργημένα ταῖς ᾿Ινδικαῖς σκευασίαις.

Rice

Rice is a relatively late arrival in the Greek lexicon. It often appears in conjunction with the east (as is the case with Diodorus Siculus, 2.3-4; and Strabo, especially Book XV C690). Aelian connects it with India too in Animalia 16.10

“People claim that among the Prasii in India there is a race of monkeys with human understanding. They look about as large as Hyrcanian hounds and they appear to have a natural front lock of hair. People who don’t know what they are talking about say these are artificial. They have beards like satyrs; and their tail is the length of lions’. They are white in the rest of their body except for their heads and the end of he tail where they are red.

These primates are prudent and naturally tame. They are forest dwellers and they eat the plants that grow wild. They frequent the villages around the city of Latege in large groups and eat the boiled rice which is set out by the king for them. This meal is prepared well for them every day. After they are full they return to their forest homes in an orderly fashion and they don’t ruin anything with their feet.”

10. Ἐν Πρασίοις δὲ τοῖς Ἰνδικοῖς εἶναι γένος πιθήκων φασὶν ἀνθρωπόνουν, ἰδεῖν δέ εἰσι κατὰ τοὺς Ὑρκανοὺς κύνας τὸ μέγεθος, προκομία τε αὐτῶν ὁρᾶται συμφυής· εἴποι δ᾿ ἂν ὁ μὴ τὸ ἀληθὲς εἰδὼς ἀσκητὰς εἶναι αὐτάς. γένειον δὲ αὐτοῖς ὑποπέφυκε σατυρῶδες, ἡ δὲ οὐρὰ κατὰ τὴν τῶν λεόντων ἀλκαίαν ἐστί. καὶ τὸ μὲν ἄλλο πᾶν σῶμα πεφύκασι λευκοί, τὴν δὲ κεφαλὴν καὶ τὴν οὐρὰν ἄκραν εἰσὶ πυρροί.

σώφρονες δὲ καὶ φύσει τιθασοί· εἰσὶ δὲ ὑλαῖοι τὴν δίαιταν, καὶ σιτοῦνται τῶν ὡραίων τὰ ἄγρια. φοιτῶσι δὲ ἀθρόοι ἐς τὰ τῆς Λατάγης προάστεια (πόλις δέ ἐστιν Ἰνδῶν ἡ Λατάγη), καὶ τὴν προτεθειμένην αὐτοῖς ἐκ βασιλέως ἑφθὴν ὄρυζαν σιτοῦνται· ἀνὰ πᾶσαν δὲ ἡμέραν ἥδε ἡ δαὶς αὐτοῖς εὐτρεπὴς πρόκειται. ἐμφορηθέντας δὲ ἄρα αὐτοὺς ἀναχωρεῖν αὖθις ἐς <τὰ> ἤθη τὰ ὑλαῖά φασι σὺν κόσμῳ, καὶ σίνεσθαι τῶν ἐν ποσὶν οὐδὲ ἕν.

 

Taming the Elephant’s Heart

Aelian, N. A. 12.44 (= Megasthenes fr. 37)

“In India, if an adult elephant is caught it is difficult to tame—it gets murderous from longing for freedom. If you bind it in chains too, it gets even more agitated and will not tolerate its master. But Indians try to pacify it with food and to soften it with a variety of pleasing items, making an effort to fill its stomach and delight its heart. But it remains angry with them and ignores them. What then do they devise and do? They encourage it with their native music and sing to a certain instrument they use. It is called a skindapsos. The instrument strikes the ears and enchants the animal—his anger softens and his spirit yields and bit by bit it pays attention to its food. At this point it is released from its chains and it waits, enthralled by the music, and it eats eagerly, like a guest in love with a banquet. The elephant will no longer leave because of his love of music.”

elephant_dish

Aelianus N. A. XII, 44: ᾿Εν ᾿Ινδοῖς ἂν ἁλῷ τέλειος ἐλέφας, ἡμερωθῆναι χαλεπός ἐστι, καὶ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ποθῶν φονᾷ· ἐὰν δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ δεσμοῖς διαλάβῃς, ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον ἐς τὸν θυμὸν ἐξάπτεται, καὶ δεσπότην οὐχ ὑπονέμει. ᾿Αλλ’ οἱ ᾿Ινδοὶ καὶ ταῖς τροφαῖς κολακεύουσιν αὐτὸν, καὶ ποικίλοις καὶ ἐφολκοῖς δελέασι πραΰνειν πειρῶνται, παρατιθέντες, ὡς πληροῦν τὴν γαστέρα καὶ θέλγειν τὸν θυμόν· ὁ δὲ ἄχθεται αὐτοῖς, καὶ ὑπερορᾷ· Τί οὖν ἐκεῖνοι κατασοφίζονται καὶ δρῶσι; Μοῦσαν αὐτοῖς προσάγουσιν ἐπιχώριον, καὶ κατᾴδουσιν αὐτοὺς ὀργάνῳ τινὶ καὶ τούτῳ συνήθει· καλεῖται δὲ σκινδαψὸς τὸ ὄργανον· ὁ δὲ ὑπέχει τὰ ὦτα καὶ θέλγεται, καὶ ἡ μὲν ὀργὴ πραΰνεται, ὁ δὲ θυμὸς ὑποστέλλεταί τε καὶ θόρνυται, κατὰ μικρὰ δὲ καὶ ἐς τὴν τροφὴν ὁρᾷ· εἶτα ἀφεῖται μὲν τῶν δεσμῶν, μένει δὲ τῇ μούσῃ δεδεμένος, καὶ δειπνεῖ προθύμως ἁβρὸς δαιτυμὼν καταδεδεμένος· πόθῳ γὰρ τοῦ μέλους οὐκ ἂν ἔτι ἀποσταίη.

The Legendary Dog-Headed People of India

There are remnants of three Indika (‘History of India’) from ancient Greece. The oldest is attributed to a Kteisias of Knidos (Ctesias of Cnidus) who is said to have traveled with the failed rebellion of Cyrus (the same trip as Xenophon). He gathered his account from stories the Persians told.  The following is taken from the summary made by the Byzantine scholar Photius in his Bibliotheca.

(There is a translation available free here. It leaves out anything about menstruation and sex.)

Ctesias, Indica (fragments From Photius’ Bibliotheca, Codex 72 47b-48b)

Appearance, Language, and Population

“On these mountains he says there are men who have a dog’s head. They wear clothing from wild animals. They do not speak with a voice, but they bark like dogs and thus understand one another. They have larger teeth than a dog and have claws similar to them but they are larger and rounder as well. They live in the mountains near the river Indus. They are dark-skinned and are completely just, just like the rest of the Indians they encounter. They know the language of the other Indians but they cannot speak it—instead they just make signs by barking or with their hands and digits like the deaf. They are called Kalustrioi by the Indians, which equates to Kunokephaloi among the Greeks [“Dog-heads”]. There tribe is almost 120,000 strong.”

᾿Εν τοῖσδε τοῖς ὄρεσί φασιν ἀνθρώπους βιοτεύειν κυνὸς ἔχοντας κεφαλήν· ἐσθῆτας δὲ φοροῦσιν ἐκ τῶν ἀγρίων θηρίων, φωνὴν δὲ διαλέγονται οὐδεμίαν, ἀλλ’ὠρύονται, ὥσπερ κύνες, καὶ οὕτω συνιᾶσιν αὑτῶν τὴν φωνήν. ᾿Οδόντας δὲ μείζους ἔχουσι κυνός, καὶ τοὺς ὄνυχας ὁμοίους κυνός, μακροτέρους δὲ καὶ στρογγυλωτέρους. Οἰκοῦσι δὲ ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσι μέχρι τοῦ ᾿Ινδοῦ ποταμοῦ, μέλανες δέ εἰσι καὶ δίκαιοι πάνυ, ὥσπερ καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι  ᾿Ινδοί, οἷς καὶ ἐπιμίγνυνται καὶ συνιᾶσι μὲν τὰ παρ’ ἐκείνων λεγόμενα, αὐτοὶ δὲ οὐ δύνανται διαλέγεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τῇ ὠρυγῇ καὶ ταῖς χερσὶ καὶ τοῖς δακτύλοις σημαίνουσιν, ὥσπερ οἱ κωφοί· καλοῦνται δὲ ὑπὸ τῶν᾿Ινδῶν Καλύστριοι, ὅπερ ἑλληνιστὶ Κυνοκέφαλοι· τὸ δὲ ἔθνος ἐστὶν ἕως δώδεκα μυριάδων.

doghead

Economics (Codex, 48b)

[Ctesias] says that the Kunokephalai who live in the mountains do not work the land but instead live by hunting. When they kill their prey, they cook it in the sun. They do tend many sheep, goats, and donkeys. They drink milk and milk-whey from sheep, and they eat the fruit of the Siptakhora which yields sweet amber. They dry this as well and store it in baskets in the way the Greeks store raisins. The Kunokephaloi build rafts, load them and send them as tribute which includes the amber, prepared purple flowers with 260 talents of amber annually and as much purple die and they send 1000 more talents as annual tribute for the king. The rest of the amber they sell to Indians for bread, grain, cotton. They also buy swords which they use in hunting for their quarry along with bows and javelins. For they are extremely talented at throwing javelins and shooting arrows. They are invincible in war because they inhabit mountains that are unreachable and high. The king gives them gifts every five years: 300,000 bows, the same number of spears, 120,000 shields, and 50,000 swords.”

῞Οτι οἱ Κυνοκέφαλοι οἰκοῦντες ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν οὐκ ἐργάζονται, ἀπὸ θήρας δὲ ζῶσιν· ὅταν δ’ ἀποκτείνωσιν αὐτά, ὀπτῶσι πρὸς τὸν ἥλιον. Τρέφουσι δὲ καὶπρόβατα πολλὰ καὶ αἶγας καὶ ὄνους. Πίνουσι δὲ γάλα καὶ ὀξύγαλα τῶν προβάτων, ἐσθίουσι δὲ καὶ τὸν καρπὸν τοῦ σιπταχόρου, ἀφ’ οὗ τὸ ἤλεκτρον (γλυκὺς γάρ), καὶ ξηραίνοντες αὐτούς, σπυρίδας συσσάσσουσιν ὥσπερ ἐν τοῖς ῞Ελλησι τὴν ἀσταφίδα. Οἱ δὲ Κυνοκέφαλοι, σχεδίαν ποιησάμενοι καὶ ἐπιθέντες, ἀπάγουσι  φόρτον τούτου, καὶ τῆς πορφύρας τὸ ἄνθος καθαρὸν ποιήσαντες, καὶ τοῦ ἠλέκτρου ξ′ καὶ ς′ τάλαντα τοῦ ἐνιαυτοῦ, καὶ ὅτῳ τὸ φοινίκιον βάπτεται τοῦ φαρμάκου ἕτερα τοσαῦτα, καὶ ἠλέκτρου χίλια τάλαντα, ἀπάγουσι κατ’ ἐνιαυτὸν τῷ ᾿Ινδῶν βασιλεῖ. Καὶ ἕτερα δὲ κατάγοντες πωλοῦσι τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς πρὸς ἄρτους καὶ ἄλφιτα καὶ ξύλινα ἱμάτια· πωλοῦσι δὲ καὶ ξίφη οἷς χρῶνται πρὸς τὴν τῶν θηρίων ἄγραν, καὶ τόξα καὶἀκόντια· πάνυ γὰρ καὶ δεινοί εἰσιν ἀκοντίζειν καὶ τοξεύειν· ἀπολέμητοι δ’ εἰσὶ διὰ τὸ οἰκεῖν αὐτοὺς ὄρεα ἄβατα καὶ ὑψηλά. Δίδωσι δὲ αὐτοῖς διὰ πέμπτου ἔτους δῶρα ὁ βασιλεὺς λ′ μὲν μυριάδας τόξων, καὶ ἀκοντίων τοσαύτας, πελτῶν δὲ δώδεκα, καὶ ξίφη δὲ πεντακισμύρια.

Living Arrangements, Wealth, and Sexual Mores

“The Kunokephaloi do not live in houses but inhabit caves. They hunt wild animals with bows, javelins and they overcome some by running. For they run quickly. The women wash themselves once a month whenever they have their periods, but not otherwise. The men do not wash themselves but they do wash their hands. They anoint themselves with oil made from milk and they wipe themselves with skins. They do not have hairy raiment, but the women and the men wear skins that are well-tanned. The wealthiest wear linen, but there are very few. They do not have beds, but they made piles of straw. The man who has the most sheep is considered the wealthiest. The case is similar with their other possessions. All of them have tails which sit above their hips like dogs, but they are longer and harrier. The have sex with the females on four-feet, just like dogs. It is considered shameful to have sex in any other way. They are just and they are the most long-lived of all men: they live 170 and even 200 years.”

Τούτοις τοῖς κυνοκεφάλοις οὐκ εἴσιν οἰκίαι, ἀλλ’ ἐν σπηλαίοις διαιτῶνται. Θηρεύουσι δὲ τὰ θηρία τοξεύοντες, ἀκοντίζοντες, καὶ διώκοντες καταλαμβάνουσι· ταχὺ γὰρ τρέχουσι.Λούονται δὲ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν ἅπαξ τοῦ μηνός, ὅταν τὰ καταμήνια αὐταῖς ἔλθῃ, ἄλλοτε δ’ οὔ· οἱ δὲ ἄνδρες οὐ λούονται μέν, τὰς δὲ χεῖρας ἀπονίζονται, ἐλαίῳ δὲ χρίονται τρὶς τοῦ μηνὸς τῷ ἀπὸ τοῦ γάλακτος γινομένῳ, καὶ ἐκτρίβονται δέρμασι. Τὴν δὲ ἐσθῆτα ἔχουσιν οὐ δασείαν, ἀλλὰ ψιλῶν τῶν μασθλημάτων ὡς λεπτοτάτων καὶ αὐτοὶ καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες αὐτῶν· οἱ δὲ πλουσιώτατοι αὐτῶν λίνα φοροῦσιν. Οὗτοι δ’ εἰσὶν ὀλίγοι. Κλῖναι δὲ αὐτοῖς οὐκ εἴσιν, ἀλλὰ στιβάδας ποιοῦνται. Οὗτος δ’ αὐτῶν πλουσιώτατος νομίζεται εἶναι ᾧ ἂν πλεῖστα πρόβατα ᾖ· ἡ δὲ ἄλλη οὐσία παραπλησία. Οὐρὰν δὲ ἔχουσι πάντες καὶ ἄνδρες καὶ γυναῖκες ὑπὲρ τῶν ἰσχίων οἵανπερ κύων, μείζονα δὲ καὶ δασυτέραν· καὶ μίσγονται ταῖς γυναιξὶ τετραποδιστί, ὥσπερ οἱ κύνες· ἄλλως δὲ μιγῆναι αὐτοῖς ἐστιν αἰσχρόν. Δίκαιοι δέ εἰσι καὶ μακροβιώτατοι πάντων ἀνθρώπων· ζῶσι γὰρ ἔτη ρ′ καὶ ο′, ἔνιοι δὲ αὐτῶν καὶ διακόσια.

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?

Truth-Serum in Ancient India

More crazy stuff from Ctesias on India:

 

Photius, Bibliotheca: Codex 72 50a4

“Ctesias records these details and tells these stories and claims that he is writing the truest accounts, insisting that he saw some of the things himself and learned some of the them from others who witnessed them. He says that he left out many other more amazing details because those who had not witnessed them might consider the rest of what wrote incredible.”

Ταῦτα γράφων καὶ μυθολογῶν Κτησίας λέγει τἀληθέστατα γράφειν, ἐπάγων ὡς τὰ μὲν αὐτὸς ἰδὼν γράφει, τὰ δὲ παρ’ αὐτῶν μαθὼν τῶν ἰδόντων, πολλὰ δὲ τούτων καὶ ἄλλα θαυμασιώτερα παραλιπεῖν διὰ τὸ μὴ δόξαι τοῖς μὴ τεθεαμένοις ἄπιστα συγγράφειν. ᾿Εν οἷς καὶ ταῦτα.

47a

“[Ctesias] spends much time on the justice of the Indians, their dedication to their king, and their contempt for death. He also says that there is a spring and when someone draws water from it, it becomes thick like cheese. If an amount of this ‘cheese’ as thick as three obols is crushed and mixed for drinking with water, whoever drinks it will announce everything he has ever done—for he will be out of his mind and crazy for an entire day. The king uses this mixture whenever he wishes to uncover the truth from accused men. If a man admits it, he is ordered to starve to death. If he reveals nothing, he is released.

He also says that no Indian has headaches, eye-disease, toothaches or ulcers in the mouth or anywhere on his body. Indians live 120, 130, 150 and even two hundred years.”

Πολλὰ δὲ λέγει περὶ τῆς δικαιοσύνης αὐτῶν καὶ τῆς περὶ τὸν σφῶν βασιλέα εὐνοίας καὶ τῆς τοῦ θανάτου καταφρονήσεως. Λέγει δὲ ὅτι πηγή ἐστι, καὶ ἐπειδάν τις ἀρύσῃ τὸ ὕδωρ αὐτῆς, πήγνυται ὥσπερ τυρός. Τούτου οὖν τοῦ πηκτοῦ ὅσον τρεῖς ὀβολοὺς ἐὰν τρίψας δῷς ἐν ὕδατι πιεῖν, ἐξαγγέλλει πάντα ὅσα ἔπραξε· παραφρονεῖ γὰρ καὶ μαίνεται ταύτην τὴν ἡμέραν. Χρᾶται δὲ αὐτῷ ὁ βασιλεὺς ἐφ’ ὧν κατηγορουμένων τἀληθὲς εὑρεῖν ἐθελήσει· κἂν μὲν ἐξείπῃ, προστάσσεται ἀποκαρτερῆσαι, ἂν δὲ μηδὲν ἐλεγχθῇ, ἀφίεται.

῞Οτι φησὶν ὡς ᾿Ινδῶν οὐδεὶς κεφαλαλγεῖ, οὐδὲ ὀφθαλμιᾷ οὐδὲ ὀδονταλγεῖ, οὐδὲ ἑλκοῦται τὸ στόμα, οὐδὲ σηπεδόνα οὐδεμίαν ἴσχει· ἡ δὲ ζωὴ αὐτῶν ρκ′ καὶ λ′ καὶ ν′ καὶ ς′ οἱ τὰ πλεῖστα βιοῦντες.

 

india relief

Greeks Imagine an Indian Feast

Athenaeus Deipnosophists 4, 153 (=Megasthenes fr. 38)

 

“In his second book of Indika, Megasthenes says that during dinnertime among the Indians each person receives a table of his own that is most like a tripod. On this is placed a golden serving-bowl into which thy first place rice, cooked the way someone might boil barley, and to which they add many delicacies prepared in Indian fashion.”

Μεγασθένης ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ τῶν ᾿Ινδικῶν τοῖς ᾿Ινδοῖς φησιν ἐν τῷ δείπνῳ παρατίθεσθαι ἑκάστῳ τράπεζαν, ταύτην δ’ εἶναι ὁμοίαν ταῖς ἐγγυθήκαις· καὶ ἐπιτίθεσθαι ἐπ’ αὐτῇ τρυβλίον χρυσοῦν, εἰς ὃ ἐμβαλεῖν αὐτοὺς πρῶτον μὲν τὴν ὄρυζαν ἑφθὴν, ὡς ἄν τις ἑψήσειε χόνδρον, ἔπειτα ὄψα πολλὰ κεχειρουργημένα ταῖς ᾿Ινδικαῖς σκευασίαις.

Rice

Note: this is the first time I have encountered the Greek word for rice (oruza). In Strabo, it appears specifically in conjunction with India’s numerous rivers.

Indian Elephants: Taming a Wild Heart With Music

Aelian, N. A. 12.44 (= Megasthenes fr. 37)

“In India, if an adult elephant is caught it is difficult to tame—it gets murderous from longing for freedom. If you bind it in chains too, it gets even more agitated and will not tolerate its master. But Indians try to pacify it with food and to soften it with a variety of pleasing items, making an effort to fill its stomach and delight its heart. But it remains angry with them and ignores them. What then do they devise and do? They encourage it with their native music and sing to a certain instrument they use. It is called a skindapsos. The instrument strikes the ears and enchants the animal—his anger softens and his spirit yields and bit by bit it pays attention to its food. At this point it is released from its chains and it waits, enthralled by the music, and it eats eagerly, like a guest in love with a banquet. The elephant will no longer leave because of his love of music.”

elephant_dish

Aelianus N. A. XII, 44: ᾿Εν ᾿Ινδοῖς ἂν ἁλῷ τέλειος ἐλέφας, ἡμερωθῆναι χαλεπός ἐστι, καὶ τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ποθῶν φονᾷ· ἐὰν δὲ αὐτὸν καὶ δεσμοῖς διαλάβῃς, ἔτι καὶ μᾶλλον ἐς τὸν θυμὸν ἐξάπτεται, καὶ δεσπότην οὐχ ὑπονέμει. ᾿Αλλ’ οἱ ᾿Ινδοὶ καὶ ταῖς τροφαῖς κολακεύουσιν αὐτὸν, καὶ ποικίλοις καὶ ἐφολκοῖς δελέασι πραΰνειν πειρῶνται, παρατιθέντες, ὡς πληροῦν τὴν γαστέρα καὶ θέλγειν τὸν θυμόν· ὁ δὲ ἄχθεται αὐτοῖς, καὶ ὑπερορᾷ· Τί οὖν ἐκεῖνοι κατασοφίζονται καὶ δρῶσι; Μοῦσαν αὐτοῖς προσάγουσιν ἐπιχώριον, καὶ κατᾴδουσιν αὐτοὺς ὀργάνῳ τινὶ καὶ τούτῳ συνήθει· καλεῖται δὲ σκινδαψὸς τὸ ὄργανον· ὁ δὲ ὑπέχει τὰ ὦτα καὶ θέλγεται, καὶ ἡ μὲν ὀργὴ πραΰνεται, ὁ δὲ θυμὸς ὑποστέλλεταί τε καὶ θόρνυται, κατὰ μικρὰ δὲ καὶ ἐς τὴν τροφὴν ὁρᾷ· εἶτα ἀφεῖται μὲν τῶν δεσμῶν, μένει δὲ τῇ μούσῃ δεδεμένος, καὶ δειπνεῖ προθύμως ἁβρὸς δαιτυμὼν καταδεδεμένος· πόθῳ γὰρ τοῦ μέλους οὐκ ἂν ἔτι ἀποσταίη.

“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.