The author has planned Graeco-Indian relations throughout their history in
three volumes. According to this India in Early Greek Literature is the first
volume, and present volume, India and the Hellenistic World is second, while
third volume is India and the Roman West . In the first volume the author has
discussed the Greek accounts of India and the relations between India and
Greece until Alexander’s Indian campaign. Later authors, like Megasthenes,
were mentioned only when their information was relevant for this purpose.
In present volume focus is on the Hellenistic period in the narrow sense of
the word, from Alexander to the rise of Roman Imperial hegemony.
The main object is to collect, explain and discuss the relevant passage in
Greek and Latin literature in their relation to Greek and Roman society and
literary traditions as well as to then existing information about India and other
Asian countries, in some cases Africa too. The methods are philological, but author
has also made an earnest attempt to find out and utilize the new evidence
offered by such disciplines as archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics.
KLAUS KARTTUNEN (born 12" February, 1951) is the Professor of South Asian
and Indo-European Studies at the University of Helsinki, Finland. He has
specialised in the relations between the Indian subcontinent and the western
world, particularly the classical antiquity of the Greek and Roman sources.
Another major interest of Karttunen is the history of Indology and of Oriental
Studies at large — he has already published in Finnish a major book on the latter
subject and is preparing a bio-bibliography of deceased Indologists. Karttunen
has taken part in Parpola's Samavedic research program and is preparing an
edition of a Jaiminisamaprayoga, a medieval handbook of domestic rituals in
Sanskrit belonging to the Tamil Jaiminiiya school.
His publications include, Short Sanskrit Grammar (1984), India in Early
Greek Literature (1989), Humor in Ancient India: Three playlet (2000),
Vidyavavandanam: Essays in Honour of Asko Parpola (edited with Asko
Parpola, 2001), Rigveda : Ancient Indian Selection of Hymns (2003), and History
of Indological Studies (edited volume of 12th WSC papers, MLBD, 2015).
In 1989, when I published my doctoral dissertation, entitled /ndia in Early Greek Literature
I had no clear idea as to how exactly I would go on with my Graeco-Indian studies.
Soon enough, however, I decided to go on where I had stopped, chronologically, and
discuss Graeco-Indian relations throughout their history. In this plan, India in Early
Greek Literature is the first volume, and now I present volume Two, India and the
Hellenistic World. In the first volume I have discussed the Greek accounts of India and
the relations between India and Greece until Alexander’s Indian campaign. Later authors,
like Megasthenes, were mentioned only when their information was relevant for this
purpose. This time my focus is on the Hellenistic period in the narrow sense of the word,
from Alexander to the rise of Roman Imperial hegemony. I am presently working on
volume Three, India and the Roman West, which I hope to be able to conclude within a
few years. If all goes well a fourth volume on late Antiquity will conclude the series.
A side issue of this is a separate volume dealing with the Yonas and Yavanas (both
originally signifying Greeks) in Indian literature.
The main object of my plan is to collect, explain and discuss the relevant passages in
Greek and Latin literature in their relation to Greek and Roman society and literary
traditions as well as to the then existing information about India and other Asian
countries, in some cases Africa too. My methods are philological, but I have also made an
earnest attempt to find out and utilize the new evidence offered by such disciplines as
archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics. The importance of the new finds in Central
Asia/Afghanistan/Pakistan, in South India/Sri Lanka, and to a lesser degree in Egypt is so
great that it cannot be ignored even in a philological study. I can only beg the pardon of
specialists in these fields — many of whom have actually been very helpful — if I have
blundered somewhere because of my ignorance of some finer points of methodology.
Often I have had to give in to the sheer impossibility of keeping strict chronological
boundaries. We are not always able to decide what belongs to the Hellenistic (in the
narrow sense) or the Roman period, or both, and there is some necessary overlapping
between the present volume and the future book about Rome. This can be seen especially
in chapters IV and V, where all information culled from the literature of the Roman period
has been included and only late authors like Cosmas are deemed too late. Reviewers are
welcome to reproach me, but this seemed to be the only reasonable course of action. After
all. much of what has been said e.g. by Pliny and Aelianus without any reference to the
source, clearly hails from the Hellenistic period, but here too it is impossible to draw a
Of course, I could have modified my title in order to make it correspond more closely
to all the chapters of the book, but then I would probably have ended up with something
very complicated. And though some critics seem to appreciate it, J do not like to return to
the colophon-like titles of many lines in length that were used in the 16th century (when
they actually represented the first phase in an evolution from mediaeval colophon to
modem title). And even allowing myself these slips from strict chronology, I shall have
enough interesting questions to discuss in the next book, India and the Roman West. To
balance the two volumes I have also left the vexed question of possible influences or
interaction in the sphere of philosophy and religion to the next volume. Those colleagues
who would like to know my opinion as to whether Scepticism was influenced by Indian
philosophy, or Pasupata by Greek philosophy, will thus have to wait.
A large part of this work was written in Freiburg in Germany, where I had the
opportunity to spend two periods, in 1991/92 and 1994/95 as an Alexander von Hum-
boldt scholarship holder. My deepest thanks go therefore to the Alexander von Humboldt
Foundation. They not only financed my stay in Germany, but were ready to help in many
kinds of material problems connected with my work. The rest of the work has been
financed by the Finnish Academy. From January 1994 I have been a full-time Research
Fellow of the Academy and in this position J am also able to continue with the next
Next my thanks are due to my generous host in Freiburg, Professor O. von Hiniiber,
who has, in addition to the free use of his Department and personal library, read a large
part of a preliminary version of the manuscript and offered very valuable comments.
Especially I have benefited from his profound knowledge of MIA.
Some parts of this book and related matters I have been able to discuss in guest lecture
(in Cracow, Gothenburg, Groningen, Halle, Lyons, Naples, Rome, St. Petersburg,
Stockholm), in sessions of the South Asian Archaeology Conferences (in Berlin, Helsinki
and Cambridge) and in the Finnish Society of Classical Philology, and I have often re-
ceived valuable comments.
A great number of colleagues have sent me their publications or given their advice.
Especially I should like to mention here U. P. Arora (Bareilly), O. Bopearachchi (Paris),
P. Callieri (Rome and Bologna), M. R. Cimino (Rome), P. Daffina (Rome), A. Dihle
(Heidelberg), H. Falk (Berlin), E. Garzilli (Perugia), T. Marszewski (Cracow), H. P. Ray
(Delhi), J. Sachse (Wroclaw), J.-F. Salles (Lyons), R. Salomon (Seattle), F. F. Schwarz
(Graz), M. Taddei (Rome and Naples), and D. P. E. Weerakkody (Peradeniya). My
thanks can no longer reach P. H. L. Eggermont (1914-1995).
Without the help of J. Vasil’kov (St.Petersburg) and A. Vigasin (Moscow) several
important Russian contributions would have been missing from my sources. Special
mention must also be made of J.-F. Salles for offering a preprint of De Romanis’ book,
and of Stefan Faller (Freiburg), who helped greatly with sources concerning Sri Lanka.
It was with hesitation that I wrote my chapter about Sri Lanka as I know that both Mr.
Faller’s dissertation and Dr. Weerakkody’s monograph on the subject will be appearing
I must also thank my friends Bertil Tikkanen and Martti Leiwo for talking and listening.
I have often obtained wider perspectives in the meetings of the Finnish Society of the
History of Learning. Mr. Pertti Seppala has kindly helped me to quote uniformly in the
Pinyin system the few Chinese names mentioned, and my brother, Krister Karttunen, has
checked numerous botanical names for chapter V.1.
Michael Cox, Lic. Theol., has kindly checked and patiently corrected my English and
in addition offered his advice about the few Hebrew words discussed by me.
Finally I must express my deepest thanks to my wife Tuula, and my two sons, Einar
and Reino. While for me the work often involved so much fun and enjoyment, they could
only see the hard side of it.
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