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From Megasthenes to Sophytes: a re-examination of literary and numismatic sources for Seleucid-Mauryan relations in British and Indian scholarship

Jansari, SS; (2016) From Megasthenes to Sophytes: a re-examination of literary and numismatic sources for Seleucid-Mauryan relations in British and Indian scholarship. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

This thesis re-assesses and contextualises the literary and numismatic sources for the earliest phase of Seleucid-Mauryan relations, that began in c.305 BC, with a historiographically critical eye. It explores what the Seleucid-Mauryan encounter has meant to different audiences in different contexts, in antiquity and in modernity, in both east and west. Then, through the numismatic study, it investigates how relations on the ground can be reconstructed through physical evidence discovered in the boundary regions. There are three Parts to this thesis, each comprising two chapters. In Part One, I first contextualise Megasthenes historically and geographically in Chapter One. Then, in Chapter Two, I assess the ways and extent to which his Indike was accessed by later authors in the classical tradition, with the aim of accounting for the range and type of Megasthenes-derived information now available, and to explain the survival of particular types of information over others. Just as ancient authors selected their sources and interpretations of this episode, so have modern historians. In Part Two, I show how British (Chapter One) and Indian (Chapter Two) historians of the nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries interpreted very differently the same sources for the encounter and resulting treaty, and therefore the power relations, between Seleucus I and Chandragupta Maurya. These often opposing interpretations can only be understood when set in the political context of the time: specifically, the rise of Indian nationalism and eventual Indian Independence from British colonial rule. In this period, and within this context, the confrontation between Seleucus and Chandragupta took on a special significance to some historians and politicians. Finally, in Chapter Five of Part Three, I look at the literary sources in order to examine comparatively the presentation of Sophytes, an Indian ruler in the Punjab who is connected with Alexander, with Chandragupta, the Indian founder of the Mauryan dynasty who is associated with Seleucus. Before, in Chapter Six, reconnecting the layers of literary and numismatic evidence produced in the period after Alexander’s departure from India and Seleucus’ arrival circa twenty years later that are associated with one ‘Sophytes’.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: From Megasthenes to Sophytes: a re-examination of literary and numismatic sources for Seleucid-Mauryan relations in British and Indian scholarship
Event: UCL
Language: English
Keywords: Seleucus, Mauryan, Chandragupta, Megasthenes, Seleucid history, Sophytes, Post-colonial, Colonial, India, Hellenistic, Alexander the Great, Indian Independence, numismatic, Strabo, Diodorus, Puranas, Arrian, Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1493272
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