The Anabasis of Alexander/Book VII/Chapter II

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The Anabasis of Alexander
by Arrian, translated by E. J. Chinnock
Book VII, Chapter II.
Alexander's Dealings with the Indian Sages


Alexander's Dealings with the Indian Sages.

On this occasion Alexander, commended both the words and the men who spoke them; but nevertheless he did just the opposite to that which he commended. When also in the Isthmus he met Diogenes of Sinope, lying in the sun, standing near him with his shield-bearing guards and foot Companions, he asked if he wanted anything. But Diogenes said that he wanted nothing else, except that he and his attendants would stand out of the sunlight. Alexander is said to have expressed his admiration of Diogenes's conduct.[1] Thus it is evident that Alexander was not entirely destitute of better feelings j but he was the slave of his insatiable ambition. Again, when he arrived at Taxila afld saw the naked sect of Indian philosophers, bjO was exceedingly desirous that one of these men should live with him; because he admired their power of endurance.[2] But the oldest of the philosophers, Dandamis by name, of whom the others were disciples, refused to come himself to Alexander, and would not allow the others to do so.[3] He, is said to have replied that he was himself a son of Zeus, if Alexander was[4]; and that he wanted nothing from him, because he was quite contented with what he had. And besides he said that he saw his attendants wandering over so much of the land and sea to no advantagOj and that there was no end to their many wanderings. Therefore he had no desire that Alexander should give him anything which was in his own possession, nor on the other hand was he afraid that he should be excluded from anything which Alexander ruled over. For while he lived the country of India, which produces the fruits in their season, was sufficient for him; and when he died he should be released from the body, an unsuitable associate. Alexander then did not attempt to force him to come with him, considering that the man was free to do as he pleased. But Megasthenes has recorded that Calanus, one of the philosophers of this region, who had very little power over his desires, was induced to do so; and that the philosophers themselves reproached him, for having deserted the happiness existing among them, and serving another lord instead of the God.[5]

  1. This must have occurred B.C. 336. See Plutarch (Alex. 14); Cicero (Tusculanae Disputationes, v. 32). Alexander said: " If I were not Alexander, I should like to be Diogenes." Cf. Arrian, i. 1; Plutarch (de Fortit. Alex., p. 331).
  2. Cf. Strabo, xv. 1.
  3. Strabo calls this sage Mandanis.
  4. Strabo says, Alexander's messengers summoned Mandanis to the son of Zeus.
  5. Plutarch (Alex., 65) says this philosopher's name was Sphines; but the Greeks called him Calanus, because when he met them, instead of using the word χαῖρε in greeting them, he said καλέ The same author says that he was persuaded to come to Alexander by Taxiles. See also Strabo (xv. 1).