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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

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Please note: the results are produced through a computerized process which may frequently lead to errors, both in incorrect tagging and in other issues. Please use with caution.
Due to load times, full text fetching is currently attempted for validated results only.
Full texts for Hebrew Bible and rabbinic texts is kindly supplied by Sefaria; for Greek and Latin texts, by Perseus Scaife, for the Quran, by Tanzil.net

For a list of book indices included, see here.



All subjects (including unvalidated):
subject book bibliographic info
gymnosophists Amendola (2022) 8, 15
Birnbaum and Dillon (2020) 65, 313, 319
Despotis and Lohr (2022) 100, 232, 233
Pinheiro Bierl and Beck (2013) 211
Pinheiro et al (2015) 51, 148, 150
Taylor and Hay (2020) 167, 169
Wilson (2012) 213
gymnosophists, alexander, and the Pinheiro et al (2015) 148
gymnosophists, india, and Taylor (2012) 24, 25
gymnosophists, indian Gruen (2011) 313, 324
gymnosophists, indians Niehoff (2011) 108

List of validated texts:
3 validated results for "gymnosophists"
1. Philo of Alexandria, That Every Good Person Is Free, 74, 93 (1st cent. BCE - missingth cent. CE)
 Tagged with subjects: • Gymnosophists • India, and Gymnosophists

 Found in books: Birnbaum and Dillon (2020) 319; Taylor (2012) 25

74. And in the land of the barbarians, in which the same men are authorities both as to words and actions, there are very numerous companies of virtuous and honourable men celebrated. Among the Persians there is the body of the Magi, who, investigating the works of nature for the purpose of becoming acquainted with the truth, do at their leisure become initiated themselves and initiate others in the divine virtues by very clear explanations. And among the Indians there is the class of the gymnosophists, who, in addition to natural philosophy, take great pains in the study of moral science likewise, and thus make their whole existence a sort of lesson in virtue. XII. '
93. Calanus was an Indian by birth, one of the gymnosophists; he, being looked upon as the man who was possessed of the greatest fortitude of all his contemporaries, and that too, not only by his own countrymen, but also by foreigners, which is the rarest of all things, was greatly admired by some kings of hostile countries, because he had combined virtuous actions with praiseworthy language; '. None
2. None, None, nan (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)
 Tagged with subjects: • Gymnosophists • gymnosophists, Indian

 Found in books: Birnbaum and Dillon (2020) 319; Gruen (2011) 313

3. Strabo, Geography, 15.1.59-15.1.66, 15.1.68
 Tagged with subjects: • Gymnosophists • India, and Gymnosophists • gymnosophists, Indian

 Found in books: Birnbaum and Dillon (2020) 319; Gruen (2011) 313; Taylor (2012) 25

15.1.59. Megasthenes divides the philosophers again into two kinds, the Brachmanes and the Garmanes. The Brachmanes are held in greater repute, for they agree more exactly in their opinions. Even from the time of their conception in the womb they are under the care and guardianship of learned men, who go to the mother, and seem to perform some incantation for the happiness and welfare of the mother and the unborn child, but in reality they suggest prudent advice, and the mothers who listen to them most willingly are thought to be the most fortunate in their offspring. After the birth of the children, there is a succession of persons who have the care of them, and as they advance in years, masters more able and accomplished succeed.The philosophers live in a grove in front of the city within a moderate-sized enclosure. Their diet is frugal, and they lie upon straw pallets and on skins. They abstain from animal food, and from sexual intercourse with women; their time is occupied in grave discourse, and they communicate with those who are inclined to listen to them; but the hearer is not permitted to speak or cough, or even to spit on the ground; otherwise, he is expelled that very day from their society, on the ground of having no control over himself. After living thirty-seven years in this manner, each individual retires to his own possessions, and lives with less restraint, wearing robes of fine linen, and rings of gold, but without profuseness, upon the hands and in the ears. They eat the flesh of animals, of those particularly which do not assist man in his labour, and abstain from hot and seasoned food. They have as many wives as they please with a view to numerous offspring, for from many wives greater advantages are derived.As they have no slaves, they require more the services, which are at hand, of their children.The Brachmanes do not communicate their philosophy to their wives, for fear they should divulge to the profane, if they became depraved, anything which ought to be concealed or lest they should abandon their husbands in case they became good (philosophers) themselves. For no one who despises alike pleasure and pain, life and death, is willing to be subject to the authority of another; and such is the character of a virtuous man and a virtuous woman.They discourse much on death, for it is their opinion that the present life is the state of one conceived in the womb, and that death to philosophers is birth to a real and a happy life. They therefore discipline themselves much to prepare for death, and maintain that nothing which happens to man is bad or good, for otherwise the same things would not be the occasion of sorrow to some and of joy to others, opinions being merely dreams, nor that the same persons could be affected with sorrow and joy by the same things, on different occasions.With regard to opinions on physical phenomena, they display, says Megasthenes, great simplicity, their actions being better than their reasoning, for their belief is chiefly founded on fables. On many subjects their sentiments are the same as those of the Greeks. According to the Brachmanes, the world was created, and is liable to corruption; it is of a spheroidal figure; the god who made and governs it pervades the whole of it; the principles of all things are different, but the principle of the world's formation was water; in addition to the four elements there is a fifth nature, of which the heavens and the stars are composed; the earth is situated in the centre of the universe. Many other peculiar things they say of the principle of generation and of the soul. They invent fables also, after the manner of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishments in Hades, and other things of this kind. This is the account which Megasthenes gives of the Brachmanes." '15.1.60. of the Garmanes, the most honourable, he says, are the Hylobii, who live in the forests, and subsist on leaves and wild fruits: they are clothed with garments made of the bark of trees, and abstain from commerce with women and from wine. The kings hold communication with them by messengers, concerning the causes of things, and through them worship and supplicate the Divinity.Second in honour to the Hylobii, are the physicians, for they apply philosophy to the study of the nature of man. They are of frugal habits, but do not live in the fields, and subsist upon rice and meal, which every one gives when asked, and receive them hospitably. They are able to cause persons to have a numerous offspring, and to have either male or female children, by means of charms. They cure diseases by diet, rather than by medicinal remedies. Among the latter, the most in repute are unguents and cataplasms. All others they suppose partake greatly of a noxious nature.Both this and the other class of persons practise fortitude, as well in supporting active toil as in enduring suffering, so that they will continue a whole day in the same posture, without motion.There are enchanters and diviners, versed in the rites and customs relative to the dead, who go about villages and towns begging. There are others who are more civilized and better informed than these, who inculcate the vulgar opinions concerning Hades, which, according to their ideas, tend to piety and sanctity. Women study philosophy with some of them, but abstain from sexual intercourse.' "15.1.61. Aristobulus says, that he saw at Taxila two sophists (wise men), both Brachmanes, the elder had his head shaved, but the younger wore his hair; both were attended by disciples. When not otherwise engaged, they spent their time in the market-place. They are honoured as public counsellors, and have the liberty of taking away, without payment, whatever article they like which is exposed for sale; when any one accosts them, he pours over them oil of jessamine, in such profusion that it runs down from their eyes. of honey and sesamum, which is exposed for sale in large quantity, they take enough to make cakes, and are fed without expense.They came up to Alexander's table and took their meal standing, and they gave an example of their fortitude by retiring to a neighbouring spot, where the elder, falling on the ground supine, endured the sun and the rain, which had now set in, it being the commencement of spring. The other stood on one leg, with a piece of wood three cubits in length raised in both hands; when one leg was fatigued he changed the support to the other, and thus continued the whole day. The younger appeared to possess much more self-command; for, after following the king a short distance, he soon returned to his home. The king sent after him, but he bade the king to come to him, if he wanted anything of him. The other accompanied the king to the last: during his stay he changed his dress, and altered his mode of life, and when reproached for his conduct, answered, that he had completed the forty years of discipline which he had promised to observe: Alexander made presents to his children." '15.1.62. Aristobulus relates also some strange and unusual customs of the people of Taxila. Those, who through poverty are unable to marry their daughters, expose them for sale in the market-place, in the flower of their age, to the sound of shell trumpets and drums, with which the war-note is given. A crowd is thus assembled. First her back, as far as the shoulders, is uncovered, then the parts in front, for the examination of any man who comes for this purpose. If she pleases him, he marries her on such conditions as may be determined upon.The dead are thrown out to be devoured by vultures. To have many wives is a custom common to these and to other nations. He says, that he had heard, from some persons, of wives burning themselves voluntarily with their deceased husbands; and that those women who refused to submit to this custom were disgraced. The same things have been told by other writers. 15.1.63. Onesicritus says, that he himself was sent to converse with these wise men. For Alexander heard that they went about naked, practised constancy and fortitude, and were held in the highest honour; that, when invited, they did not go to other persons, but commanded others to come to them, if they wished to participate in their exercises or their conversation. Such being their character, Alexander did not consider it to be consistent with propriety to go to them, nor to compel them to do anything contrary to their inclination or against the custom of their country; he therefore despatched Onesicritus to them.Onesicritus found, at the distance of 20 stadia from the city, fifteen men standing in different postures, sitting or lying down naked, who continued in these positions until the evening, and then returned to the city. The most difficult thing to endure was the heat of the sun, which was so powerful, that no one else could endure without pain to walk on the ground at mid-day with bare feet.' "15.1.64. He conversed with Calanus, one of these sophists, who accompanied the king to Persia, and died after the custom of his country, being placed on a pile of burning wood. When Onesicritus came, he was lying upon stones. Onesicritus approached, accosted him, and told him that he had been sent by the king, who had heard the fame of his wisdom, and that he was to give an account of his interview, if there were no objection, he was ready to listen to his discourse. When Calanus saw his mantle, head-covering, and shoes, he laughed, and said, 'Formerly, there was abundance everywhere of corn and barley, as there is now of dust; fountains then flowed with water, milk, honey, wine, and oil, but mankind by repletion and luxury became proud and insolent. Jupiter, indigt at this state of things, destroyed all, and appointed for man a life of toil. On the reappearance of temperance and other virtues, there was again an abundance of good things. But at present the condition of mankind approaches satiety and insolence, and there is danger lest the things which now exist should disappear.'When he had finished, he proposed to Onesicritus, if he wished to hear his discourse, to strip off his clothes, to lie down naked by him on the same stones, and in that manner to listen to him; while he was hesitating what to do, Mandanis, who was the oldest and wisest of the sophists, reproached Calanus for his insolence, although he censured such insolence himself. Mandanis called Onesicritus to him, and said, I commend the king, because, although he governs so large an empire, he is yet desirous of acquiring wisdom, for he is the only philosopher in arms that I ever saw; it would be of the greatest advantage, if those were philosophers who have the power of persuading the willing and of compelling the unwilling to learn temperance; but I am entitled to indulgence, if, when conversing by means of three interpreters, who, except the language, know no more than the vulgar, I am not able to demonstrate the utility of philosophy. To attempt it is to expect water to flow pure through mud." "15.1.65. 'The tendency of his discourse,' he said, 'was this, that the best philosophy was that which liberated the mind from pleasure and grief; that grief differed from labour, in that the former was inimical, the latter friendly to men; for that men exercised their bodies with labour in order to strengthen the mental powers, by which means they would be able to put an end to dissensions, and give good counsel to all, to the public and to individuals; that he certainly should at present advise Taxiles to receive Alexander as a friend; for if he entertained a person better than himself, he might be improved; but if a worse person, he might dispose him to good.'After this Mandanis inquired, whether such doctrines were taught among the Greeks. Onesicritus answered, that Pythagoras taught a similar doctrine, and enjoined his disciples to abstain from whatever has life; that Socrates and Diogenes, whose discourses he had heard, held the same opinions. Mandanis replied, 'that in other respects he thought them wise, but that in one thing they were mistaken, namely, in preferring custom to nature, for otherwise they would not be ashamed of going naked, like himself, and of subsisting on frugal fare; for the best house was that which required least repairs.' He says also that they employ themselves much on natural subjects, as prognostics, rain, drought, and diseases. When they repair to the city, they disperse themselves in the market-places; if they meet any one carrying figs or bunches of grapes, they take what is offered gratuitously; if it is oil, it is poured over them, and they are anointed with it. Every wealthy house, even to the women's apartment, is open to them; when they enter it, they engage in conversation, and partake of the repast. Disease of the body they regard as most disgraceful, and he who apprehends it, after preparing a pyre, destroys himself by fire; he (previously) anoints himself, and sitting down upon it orders it to be lighted, remaining motionless while he is burning." '15.1.66. Nearchus gives the following account of the Sophists. The Brachmanes engage in public affairs, and attend the kings as counsellors; the rest are occupied in the study of nature. Calanus belonged to the latter class. Women study philosophy with them, and all lead an austere life.of the customs of the other Indians, he says, that their laws, whether relating to the community or to individuals, are not committed to writing, and differ altogether from those of other people. For example, it is the practice among some tribes, to propose virgins as prizes to the conquerors in a trial of skill in boxing; wherefore they marry without portions; among other tribes the ground is cultivated by families and in common; when the produce is collected, each takes a load sufficient for his subsistence during the year; the remainder is burnt, in order to have a reason for renewing their labour, and not remaining inactive. Their weapons consist of a bow and arrows, which are three cubits in length, or a javelin, and a shield, and a sword three cubits long. Instead of bridles, they use muzzles, which differ little from a halter, and the lips are perforated with spikes.' "
15.1.68. As an instance of the disagreement among historians, we may adduce their (different) accounts of Calanus. They all agree that he accompanied Alexander, and underwent a voluntary death by fire in his presence, but they differ as to the manner and cause of his death. Some give the following account. Calanus accompanied the king, as the rehearser of his praises, beyond the boundaries of India, contrary to the common Indian custom; for the philosophers attend upon their kings, and act as instructors in the worship of the gods, in the same manner as the Magi attend the Persian kings. When he fell sick at Pasargadae, being then attacked with disease for the first time in his life, he put himself to death at the age of seventy-three years, regardless of the entreaties of the king. A pyre was raised, and a golden couch placed upon it. He laid down upon it, and covering himself up, was burnt to death.Others say, that a chamber was constructed of wood, which was filled with the leaves of trees, and a pyre being raised upon the roof, he was shut up in it, according to his directions, after the procession, with which he had been accompanied, had arrived at the spot. He threw himself upon the pyre, and was consumed like a log of wood, together with the chamber.Megasthenes says, that self-destruction is not a dogma of the philosophers, and that those who commit this act are accounted fool-hardy; that some, who are by nature harsh, inflict wounds upon their bodies, or cast themselves down precipices; those who are impatient of pain drown themselves; those who can endure pain strangle themselves; and those of ardent tempers throw themselves into the fire. of this last description was Calanus, who had no control over himself, and was a slave to the table of Alexander. Calanus is censured, while Mandanis is applauded. When Alexander's messengers invited the latter to come to the son of Jove, promising a reward if he would comply, and threatening punishment if he refused, he answered, 'Alexander was not the son of Jove, for he did not govern even the smallest portion of the earth; nor did he himself desire a gift of one who was satisfied with nothing. Neither did he fear his threats, for as long as he lived India would supply him with food enough; and when he died, he should be delivered from the flesh wasted by old age, and be translated to a better and purer state of existence.' Alexander commended and pardoned him."". None

Please note: the results are produced through a computerized process which may frequently lead to errors, both in incorrect tagging and in other issues. Please use with caution.
Due to load times, full text fetching is currently attempted for validated results only.
Full texts for Hebrew Bible and rabbinic texts is kindly supplied by Sefaria; for Greek and Latin texts, by Perseus Scaife, for the Quran, by Tanzil.net

For a list of book indices included, see here.