Ctesias: On India by Andrew Nichols

By Andrew Nichols

A Greek health care professional serving on the courtroom of the Persian king Artaxerxes II within the 5th century BC, Ctesias met guests and viewers from the a ways japanese reaches of the Persian Empire, retailers from alongside the Silk street and Indians from close to the Indus Valley. His Indika (On India), used to be the 1st monograph ever written on India through a western writer, introducing its readers to such amazing creatures because the unicorn and the martichora, besides actual lifestyles matters reminiscent of the parrot and the artwork of falconry. Confirming pre-existing conceptions of what have been thought of to be the perimeters of the earth, Ctesias' Indika contributed to shaping the Greek view of India.

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When it unleashes its stingers toward the front its tail bends back, and when it aims them toward the rear it stretches its tail out flat like the Saka. Whatever it hits it kills, with the exception of elephants. The stingers used for shooting measure one foot in length and are as thick as a rope. Ctesias claims and maintains that the Indians corroborate this, that in 61 Ctesias: On India place of the discharged stingers a new one grows as if it were the offspring of this dreadful item. As Ctesias himself says, it is especially fond of human flesh and it kills many.

The first real critical edition of the Bibliotheca was produced by August Immanuel Bekker in 1824-1825. 3. Janick Auberger (1991) published a French translation with a basic commentary of all the fragments based on Jacoby’s edition. 4. Jacoby acknowledges that Nicolaus was using Ctesias as his source but nevertheless published the fragments of his work separately. 5. Cf. Jacoby 1922 col. 2036. 6. See for example the studies of Brown (1978) and Eck (1990). 7. The statement of Tzetzes (T1b) that Ctesias was from the Cyprian colony of the same name is clearly false.

By Ctesias’ time the Persian kings had long been employing Greek physicians at the court. The first Greek to hold such a position was Democedes (cf. Hdt. 129-33) who served under Darius I. He was followed by Apollonides of Cos (F14 §34, 44) who was ultimately buried alive after allegedly defiling the daughter of Artaxerxes I. 9. Müller (1844 p. 2) even proposed to emend the text of Diodorus to read seven years rather than seventeen years for the duration of Ctesias’ stay in Persia (cf. Bigwood 1978 pp.

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