The Making of Roman India

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  • Edition: 1st
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-06-02
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Latin and especially Greek texts of the imperial period contain a wealth of references to India. Professor Parker offers a survey of such texts, read against a wide range of other sources, both archaeological and documentary. He emphasises the social processes whereby the notion of India gained its exotic features, including the role of the Persian empire and of Alexander's expedition. Three kinds of social context receive special attention: the trade in luxury commodities; the political discourse of empire and its limits; and India's status as a place of special knowledge, embodied in naked philosophers. Roman ideas about India ranged from the specific and concrete to the wildly fantastic and the book attempts to account for such variety. It ends by considering the afterlife of such ideas into late antiquity and beyond.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. x
List of mapsp. xi
Prefacep. xii
Introductionp. 1
Creation of a Discourse
Achaemenid India and Alexanderp. 11
The extent of Achaemenid powerp. 13
Scylax and the King of Kingsp. 14
Hecataeus' cosmosp. 18
Herodotus and the satrapiesp. 21
Marvels and lies of Ctesiasp. 28
Alexander and aftermathp. 33
A conqueror and his historiansp. 33
Megasthenes and Chandragupta's courtp. 42
Bactrians and 'Indo-Greeks'p. 48
Mapping India: from the bematists to Eratosthenesp. 51
Origins and process in the making of Roman Indiap. 54
Features of a Discourse
India describedp. 69
Contexts of indographyp. 71
Historiographyp. 71
Geographyp. 72
Natural historyp. 78
Romance and mimep. 80
'Hanging tags': topics of thoughtp. 82
Indian pastsp. 83
Profusionp. 86
Social divisionsp. 87
Gender relationsp. 90
Space and racep. 93
Catalogue or system?p. 94
Literary features: modes of descriptionp. 97
The Periplus formp. 98
Omission and abbreviationp. 100
Authors and authorityp. 103
Utopianism and barbarismp. 105
Narrative spacep. 110
Analogyp. 111
Fragmentsp. 113
Closurep. 116
Conclusionp. 117
India depictedp. 121
Varieties of imagep. 122
Marvelp. 122
Triumph of Bacchusp. 125
Personificationp. 131
Christian topographyp. 135
A typology of Indiasp. 140
Conclusionp. 142
Contexts of a Discourse
Commoditiesp. 147
Objects of exchange and the materiality of distancep. 149
Spices and aromaticsp. 150
Precious stonesp. 154
Fabricsp. 156
Slavesp. 157
Animalsp. 159
Craft goodsp. 163
The rhetoric of excessp. 165
Trade networks and the longue dureep. 171
Varieties of evidencep. 171
Chronologies, personnel and routesp. 178
Counting commodities, or how to lie with statisticsp. 183
Mapping commoditiesp. 189
Experience and mediationp. 191
Specificity and identificationp. 196
Conclusion: fragments and big menp. 198
Empirep. 203
Pax Romana and people of the dawnp. 207
Orbis terrarum imperio populi Romani subiectap. 209
City and empirep. 214
The production of imperial space: Strabo and Plinyp. 217
Policy and propagandap. 219
Trajan's Parthian campaignp. 221
Itinerarium Alexandrip. 223
Christian topography, Christian empirep. 227
The western tradition of Orosius and Isidorep. 229
The eastern tradition of Cosmas Indicopleustesp. 236
The rhetorical background: imperial panegyricp. 240
Orbis terrarum urbi spectandus: the mechanics of representationp. 244
Conclusionp. 247
Wisdomp. 251
Writing wisdomp. 251
Wisdoms alien and otherp. 254
Metamorphoses of sophiap. 254
Elements of wisdomp. 260
Jews, Chaldaeans and Indiansp. 264
Brahmans and Gymnosophistsp. 272
Social hierarchyp. 272
Alexander's interview: Palladius and othersp. 278
Christians and Cynicsp. 286
The diffusion of paideia: Apollonius of Tyanap. 288
Modalities of travelp. 294
Pilgrimage into missionp. 295
Thomas and traditionp. 297
Belatedness and extrapolationp. 301
Conclusionp. 305
Conclusion: intersections of a discoursep. 308
Mutations of Indographyp. 308
Readers, speakers and popular xenologyp. 311
Imperial memories of Alexanderp. 315
Bibliographyp. 319
Indexp. 355
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