Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page 21  

Herodotus: Ktesias


Herodotus, the first Greek writer about India
whose account has survived, was born in 484 B.C.,
at Halikarnassus, not far from Karyanda, the home
of Skylax, to whom he may owe not a little of his
knowledge. He tells us^ that the Indians are the
last of all the nations on the eastern side of the
world ; for beyond the Panjab lay the limitless
Raj put ana desert, the Marusthdli, or place of
death, stretching, as Herodotus thought, to the
end of the world. Indians, he says, are of many
nations, each speaking a different tongue. He
divides them, however, into two broad classes,
the dark, barbarous nomads, living in the marshes,
and the paler, refined Aryans of the Kaspapura
and Pakhtii districts of northern India, whom he
appropriately compares to their Iranian kinsmen of
Baktria2. Besides these, he adds, there are other
Indians in the far south, out of the sphere of
Persian influence, who resemble the Ethiopians.
These are plainly the Dravidian peoples. The
aborigines were in his opinion degraded savages.
Those of the marshes of the Indus wore clothes
made of rushes, lived (like their neighbours, the
famous  Ichthyophagi   of   the   Mekran)   on  raw

^ The following information is taken from Bk in, 97-106,
The voyage of Skylax is mentioned in Bk iv, ch, 44.

2 Herod, in. 102. Arrian {Indika, vi) contrasts the
swarthy Dravidians (whom he compares to the Ethiopians)
with the fair Aryans " who are white like the Egyptians,"
Ktesias saw two Indian men and five women " as fair as any
in the world" {Frag. i. §9. McCrindle), Many Pathans
to-day are as fair as an Englishman,
  Page 21