Filliozat, etc. and the Cynics

Enrica Garzilli garzilli at
Mon May 6 14:03:41 UTC 1996

On Mon, 6 May 1996, George Thompson wrote:

> am confident that if such terms *were* to appear as borrowings into Greek,
> there would be little dispute about "the borrowing of ideas".  Enrica
> Garzilli informs me that she believes that there was a certain amount of
> borrowing in the other direction [i.e., from Greek to Indic]. No doubt,
> there was.  But I am confident that subsequent research will show that the
> Greeks learned a quite few things from those dark-skinned, scantily-attired
> "gymnosophists" and philosophers, from India, as well as from other peoples
> Sincerely.
> George Thompson
 I said to you in private, it depends on the date. 
Re the "sopheites" of Strabo's *Geographia* (transl. as "gymnosophists" in
 Western literature, but as "Sofisti" in A. Buonaccioli, Venice 1565) 
they have been mentioned by Onesikritos as reported by Strabo (G XV, 1,
-65): Mandanis and Kalanos.  Somebody hypothesized they were Cynics. 
However, Onesicritus was influenced by the Cynic philosophy. But Strabo
says that Aristobulos saw two sophistes, both Brahmanes, who practiced
various ascetic exercises in Taxila (G XV, 1, 61). Strabo also reports the
description of "philosophoi" given by Megasthenes (G XV,1-59-60 et
passim): Brachmanes and Garmanes, both absorbed in ascetic practices.  On
Onesicritus and Cynism ther are many studies (T.S. Brown, R. Wofchuk, and
a short survey of liter. on the theme of Greek, Indian sages, and Utopia
given by me in "First Greek and Latin Documents on Sahagamana and Some
Connected Problems", in *Indo Iranian Journal*, in press, fns. 69-70) 

In order to understand a bit the borrowings, the first big problem is to
understand documents (to collect, analyze, check, compare, etc.), first of
all Strabo's sources and use of sources. (On Strabo's sources of 
book XV, cf. V. Vogel, *De fontibus quibus Strabo in libro quinto decimo
conscribendo usus sit*, Goettingen 1874. I have extensively discussed
Strabo's sources on the above quoted paper...)

On borrowings, some scholar hypothesized similarities between the
practices of the Shivaite Pasupata and the Cynics (see bibl. and
discussion in my above quoted paper...). Therefore, Shiva and Greek gods,

On Alexander and Indian sages: 

G. Dumezil, "Alexandre et les sages de l'Inde", in  *Stritti in Onore di
Giuliano Bonfante*, Brescia 1976.
Cf. U. Wilcken, "Alexander der Grosse und die Gymnosophisten, in
*SBPreussAk*, 1923;
and the notations given by A. Featugiere, "Trois rencontres entre la Grece
et l'Inde", in *RHR*, 125 (1943).

I hope this helps to start satisfying the hunger for learning of George
The problems are very interesting and we can really enter a labyrinth...


Dr. Enrica Garzilli
Harvard Law School
Editor-in-Chief, IJTS and JSAWS (
Managing Editor, EJVS (

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