Indica (Arrian)

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Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley. However, much of the importance of the work comes from Arrian’s in depth asides describing the history, geography, and culture of the ancient Indian subcontinent.Arrian wrote his Indica in the Ionic dialect, taking Herodotus for his literary mode.

Indica is also the name of a similar book by Megasthenes that also describes the history of India and was a major source from which Arrian drew.

Historical period

Indica deals with the period of Alexander the Great. After Alexander the Great conquered the Indus valley, he planned to return to the center of his empire in Babylon. Alexander planned to return himself over land but wanted to learn about the mouth of the Indus (which he himself did not reach) and the sea between India and Babylon. Therefore, he sent one of his officers, Nearchus, to perform such a voyage and report what he saw. Indica mostly describes what Nearchus saw on that voyage.

About the author

Indica was written by Arrian, a Greek historian, philosopher, and statesman during the Roman period. Arrian lived from c. 95-175 CE mostly in Asia minor and Athens. Therefore, he was writing about events that occurred several hundreds of years before his time (but see Sources). He...
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