Ancient Greek ethnographer and explorer

Megasthenes (/mɪˈɡæsθɪniːz/ mi-GAS-thi-neez; Ancient Greek: Μεγασθένης, c. 350 – c. 290 BC) was an ancient Greek historian, diplomat and Indian ethnographer and explorer in the Hellenistic period. He described India in his book Indika, which is now lost, but has been partially reconstructed from literary fragments found in later authors.


  • [The Indians] live happily enough,... being simple in their manners, and frugal. They never drink wine except at sacrifice. . . . The simplicity of their laws and their contracts is proved by the fact that they seldom go to law. They have no suits about pledges and deposits, nor do they require either seals or witnesses, but make their deposits and confide in each other. . . . Truth and virtue they hold alike in esteem. . . . The greater part of the soil is under irrigation, and consequently bears two crops in the course of the year. . . . It is accordingly affirmed that famine has never visited India, and that there has never been a general scarcity in the supply of nourishing food.
    • Quoted in Durant, Will (1963). Our Oriental heritage. New York: Simon & Schuster.

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