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.
Introduction; Part I. Creation of a Discourse: 1. Achaemenid India and Alexander; Part II. Features of a Discourse: 2. India described; 3. India depicted; Part III. Contexts of a Discourse: 4. Commodities; 5. Empire; 6. Wisdom; Conclusion: intersections of a discourse.