About the Book
book, Ancient India as described in Classical
Literature by John W. McCrindle contains the
annotated translation of extracts pertaining to India from the works of Herodotos, Strabo. Plinius, Aelianus, and others. It is
veritable treasure house of information on a horde of subjects ranging from
animals to the campaigns of Alexander. Everything about that
period a few centuries before and after the Christian Era-comes alive in its
About the Author
Watson McCrindle was born near Maybole.
Ayrshire. educated at Maybole and Edinburgh universities and taught at the Patna
and Krishnagar colleges. He retired in 1860 as
Principal of the Patna College. His contribution to the knowledge of Indian
history comprises the following works:
Ancient India as described by Megasthenes
and Arrian; The Commerce and
Navigation of the Erythraean Sea; Ancient India as
described by Ptolemy; and Invasion of India by Alexander the Great. These books give
a nearly complete collection of all works and incidental notices relating to
India contained in Greek and Roman literature.
is the sixth and last volume of a series of works designed to contain annotated
translations of all the texts in Greek and Latin literature which relate to
ancient India. The five already published are ;-
The Indika of
Ktesias the Knidian.
The Indika of
Megasthenes and Arrian.
The Commerce and Navigation
of the Erythraean Sea.
The Invasion of India by
Alexander the Great.
other texts as have not been included in these volumes are given here. They
have been extracted from numerous sources, such as the Histories of Herodotus,
Polybius, Diodorus Siculus,
and Dion Cassius; the Geographies of Strabo and Dionysius Periegetes;
the Natural History of Pliny,
the Christian Topography of
Kosmas Indikopleustes, the Life of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus; the Romance
History of Alexander; and Notices in Aelian, Nonnus, Porphyry, Stobeeus, Dion
Chrysostom, Eusebius, and others.
Though the extracts have not been arranged in their order
of sequence in accordance with any fixed principle, as that of their
chronology, yet some of them have been placed side by side as treating in the
main of the same subjects, namely Brahmanism and Buddhism.
I entered on the undertaking thus, after an interval of three-and-twenty years,
brought to completion, Indian Archreology has
advanced apace, and some of its discoveries have enabled me to correct, in
later volumes, what proved to hue been errors in the earlier.
nearly all the extracts will be found prefixed a brief notice of the life of
regard to the variation in the spelling of proper names according as the
translation in which they occur is from a Greek or a Latin text, I must express
my hope that it may not occasion any inconvenience to the reader. In the Greek
form the letter" takes the place of c,
a; of oe, and os of
conclusion, I mast express the gratification and encouragement which I derived
from the very favourable notices accorded to each volume of the series as it
appeared, alike from the Home, the Continental, and the Indian press.
is the sixth and last volume of a series of works, which, in accordance with
the original design announced in the first volume which appeared in 1877, contains
annotated translations of all the Greek and Roman Classics which throw any
light upon the distant past of India.
volumes already published are :-
1. Ancient India as described by Megasthenes and Arrian. Calcutta, 1877. This volume includes the fragments of the Indika of Megasthenes
collected by Dr. Schwanbeck of Bonn, and the first
part of the Indika of Arrian,
in which that careful writer supplies a general account of India derived from
the best authorities.
II. The Commerce and Navigation of the Erythraean Sea. Calcutta, 1879. This volume contains a translation (with commentary) of the Periplus Erythraei Maris by
an unknown writer of the first Christian century, and of the second part of the
Indika of Arrian,
in which is described the memorable voyage of Nearchos
from the mouth of the Indus to the head of the Persian Gulf.
III. Ancient India as described by Ktesias the Knidian. Calcutta, 1882. Ktesias was the
first writer who gave the Greeks a special 'treatise on India. The work is
lost, but we have an epitome of its contents by Photios,
and fragments of it in other writers.
India tu described by Ptolemy. Calcutta, 1885. This volume contains not only Ptolemy's Geography of India, but also his Geography of Central and Eastern Asia, and a copy of his Map of
V. The Invasion of India by Alexander the
Great. First edition, Westminster, 1893. New edition, 1896. This work contains translations of the
accounts of Alexander's campaigns in India and Afghanistan found in Arrian, Q. Curtius, Diodorus Si cui us, Plutarch, and Justinus. The Introduction contains a sketch of the History
of Alexander, and the Preface to the new edition brings the work up to
present volume, which completes the series, contains translations of all the
remaining accounts of India which occur in the Classics, and which are all
either extracts from larger works, or merely incidental notices.
extracts have been collected from the following sources:--
I. The History of
Herodotos, who mentions the voyage of discovery made
by Sky lax down the Indus from Kaspatyros to the
ocean, tells the story of the gold-digging ants, and names a few Indian tribes
with brief notices of their characteristics.
II. The Geography of
Strabo, who has devoted the greater part of his fifteenth book to a description
of India and Ariana.
III. The Natural History
of Pliny, which contains a Geography of India and numerous notices of
its natural productions.
IV. Aelian's Peculiarities
of Animals, a work in which occur many notices of the animals of
Itinerary of A lexander
the Great. An excellent work (by an unknown author) dedicated to the
Emperor Constantius, and meant for his guidance in
the war against Sapor for which he was
Christian Topography of Cosmas Indikopleustes, a 'Work
which contains valuable information regarding Taprobane
(Ceylon), the Malabar coast towns, and the trade carried on in the eastern seas
in the sixth century A.D.
Works containing passages about the Brachmans and
Buddhists of India:-
A. The De Abstinentia of Porphyry, who cites from the lost
work of Bardesanes a fragment about the Indian Gymnosophists.
B. The Physica of
Stobaeus, who has preserved another fragment from
that author on the same subject.
C. The Oratims of
Dion Chrysostom, in one of which a glowing picture of Indian life is presented,
and in another a short notice of the Brachmans.
D. The Pseudo-Kallisthenes, or Romance History of Alexander, which
contains the short treatise by Palladius About the Nations of India and the Brachmans.
Various authors by whom the Brachmans are
incidentally noticed: Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen,
St. Jerome, Archelaus, Kedrenus,
Rulinus, and Hierokles.
VIII. A Description of the Whole World, a poem in hexameter
verse, consisting of 1187 lines, of which eighty-five are descriptive of India
and its conquest by Bacchus, composed by Dionysius· Periegetes.
IX. The Life of Apolloniru of Tyana by Philostratus of Lemnos, whose
account of the journey which Apollonius is said to have made into India is
based on the Journal of Damis, by whom the famous Theumaturgtst was accompanied on his eastern
Dinysiaka of Nonnus,
an enormous epic in forty-eight books devoted to the history of Bacchus,
including his greatest achievement, the conquest of India.
XI. The Bibliotheca, or
Universal History of Diodorus Siculus,
from which have been extracted the story (here abridged) of Iambulus,
and the story of the Indian widow who burned herself on her husband's funeral
Various works in which India is incidentally noticed, as in Polybius,
Pausanias, Frontinus, Plutarch, Appian, Ammianus Marcellinus, Dion
Cassius, and some Latin poets.
NOTICES OF INDIA
THE ITINERARY OF
ALEXANDER THE GREAT
EXTRACTS TREATING OF
INCIDENTAL NOTICES OF
THE DIONYSIAKA OR
BASSARIKA OF NONNOS
INCIDENTAL NOTICES OF
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