Answers for Milinda

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Faeelin, Jan 5, 2005.

  1. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    Answers for Milinda

    “The lands of the Bactriania is of a manifold and varied nature. In one part many trees and vines produced plentiful and mellow fruits, frequent brooks irrigate rich soil, and milder parts of this they sow with grain, and the rest they leave for pasture. Farther on a greater part of the same land is occupied by sterile sands… indeed, when the winds blow they sweep together whatever sand lies on the plains, and sweep away all traces of the roads, burying men in the sand. But where the land is milder it breeds a great multitude of men and horsesâ€-Curtius, Greek Historian

    Few today have ever heard of the Greek kingdom of Bactria, which is not surprising. Bactria, on the fringes of the Hellenistic World, stretched from Northern India to Central Asia; yet it has vanished, beneath the sands of time. It is hard to believe that this land was once home to a rich and vibrant civilization, a land of Buddhist Greeks and Saviour Kings. For decades it was thought that the kingdom as a myth, or at best an exaggeration; but it has become clear that the Bactrians succeeded in developing a rich and cosmopolitan civilization, and, unlike many of their fellow Hellenistic Monarchs, integrated with their Indian Subjects.

    Of course, this state was cut off from the west by the Parthians, and divided and defeated, but as Chris (dominusnovus) and I ask, What if it had survived?

    It is only appropriate, as we explore the effects of a long term survival of a Hellenistic Kingdom in India, that we title it Answers for King Milinda. (For the person who guesses why, you will get a reward).
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  2. Susano Banned

    Feb 9, 2004
    Königstein im Taunus
    Meh. Reward? its more than a little easy to google up!

    So, this will be your work after PoP - I am most intersted. And of course in DNs parts, too, but he has no record like PoP that I coulduse as advertisment here :p
  3. Leo Caesius Banned

    Feb 17, 2004
    Actually, its name surives in the sobriquet of the famous Sufi poet Balkhi (aka "The Bactrian" or, as he is called in the West, Rumi). Balkh is the Persian form of Bactria, and Maulana Jalaluddin was so-named because was born in Bactria/Afghanistan - Mazar-e Sharif to be precise, IIRC.

    Nicholas Simms-Williams led a seminar on Bactrian at my college a few years back, and I took part. He has recently published a mail-bag full of Bactrian letters which were discovered somewhere in Central Asia, dating to the reign of Vima Kadphises IIRC. It had some really funny features. To start with, every word ended with -o, like Esperanto. Also, the phoneme /h/ was rendered with the Greek digraph OY, apparently because this was commonly preceded by the rough breathing or something. Thus, the name John would come out something like IOYOYANO in Bactrian.
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  4. Alayta ortgrafig indiwidual

    Jun 25, 2004
    The humor of the linguists..tststs.

    But the idea of a surviving spearhead of hellenistic influence that far in the east is intresting. It could be a source for paläo-sociology if there are some social structures surviving till today in some remote aereas of it.
  5. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    Leo, you might find this idea interesting. IIRC, wasn't the development of the theory of an early Indo-European language developed when people compared classical Greek to sanskrit?

    If so, perhaps some one in a more intellectually vigorous Greek India compares the languages as well, and concludes that they are evidence that the two languages diverged over time. This theory might not necessarily imply progress; after all, even cosmopolitan Greeks will see it as a damn shame that not everyone's speaking Greek. But the idea that change over time is a natural order might have interesting effects, and could be applied to a variety of fields. I'm thinking politics, in particular.
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  6. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

    Jan 2, 2004
    I've got my own monster TL. Its not as polished as PoP (nor does it have a catchy name), but its got its fans.
  7. Leo Caesius Banned

    Feb 17, 2004
    Yes, it was Sir William Jones, a Welsh lawyer who had been assigned to India to make heads and tales out of the Moghul legal system. He delivered a speech before the Royal Asiatick Society or some such organization in which he positied the common origin of the Indo-European languages.

    The "local" language in Bactria wouldn't be Sanskrit, of course; it would probably be some kind of Eastern Iranian written in Aramaic characters (like Sogdian). I suspect that the language to which Greek would be compared would be Avestan rather than Sanskrit, but it would work all the same. We might come up with a family of Irano-European languages instead of a family of Indo-European languages, but it's all good.

    It's an idea that could have occurred at any time and at any place; in fact, the West's own notions of grammar could not have developed without the groundbreaking work of the Sanksrit grammarians, such as Panini. Their work traveled in dribs and drabs westward until it came to Europe via the Arabs. A Greek Bactria would be much more proximate.

    I once met an unlettered Armenian who had figured out the basic theory of comparative historical linguistics without any help. He was multi-lingual and came to the conclusion that the languages he knew were related, and cited examples as support. Multilingual people have a kind of instinct about these things; I once brought a Mandaic manuscript to Kinkos to photocopy, and the woman who worked there (a young Gujurati Muslim) told me that she could tell that the manuscript was in a very old language (which she knew by comparing the script of the manuscript with the scripts she knew).

    Even St. Augustine posited a theory of the sort when he claimed that Punic (which was the vernacular of this diocese) was related to Hebrew and Syriac, and cited some examples in support of this theory.

    The first thing we'd need is a school of grammarians in Bactria. This usually comes after the rise of a "holy" language and the development of a rigid canon (such as the Avesta or the Rig Veda). Once these texts become incomprehensible to the masses, religious scholars step in to make sense out of these texts. Then modern linguistics can develop.
  8. Tom_B Member

    Jan 8, 2004

    Menander was a Bactrian ruler converted to Buddhism--supposedly by the monk Nagasena.
  9. DISSIDENT Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    King Millinda, a Greek Bactrian ruler, was in fact one of the most critical figures in early Buddhist theology. A series of questions and answers between him and some sort of cleric formed a major basis for later Buddhist development.
  10. DISSIDENT Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    As for implications of the timeline, for all those who have ever wanted a greater flow of ideas and technology between the Chinese and Indian cultural spheres and the western world, this could well be it. The Bactrian Greeks were Buddhists in many cases, but had some innovations come in from China, such as their coinage, as was mentioned in another post on this topic. I'm a bit foggy on the subject, but there were as I recall two or three critical battles between Bactrian Greeks and native Indian kingdoms that could, if reversed, have ensured a lasting Bactrian Greek kingdom.

    Some ideas on implications I have here...first off, a greater spread of Buddhism, both in India, where it historically was defeated by Hinduism, and abroad, as well as a more Hellenized core to Buddhism. If the Bactrian Greeks maintain some kind of contact with the Seleucid Kingdom in Persia, it could lead to a stronger Seleucid Empire, an idea I always loved. Greek philosophy underpinning Buddhism is interesting in itself...the Socratic idea of no definite knowledge in Buddhism perhaps? Buddhism could certainly spread much further, and with a Hellenistic metaphysical package attached, might well indeed supplant Christianity.

    Some other ideas that could be interesting in this ATL include the other ideas and technologies that could be exchanged. Zero for one. Zero, as a conceptual number was brewing in the minds of Indian mathematicians I believe. If the concept of Zero filters west, it hits the mathematical ideas of the Pythagorean sects of mystical mathematicians and some extremely interesting things could result. Crops from India and China might come faster to the westerly regions. Cotton could spread earlier, and become important as an economic product in Egypt and the Meditteranean world.

    A great ATL idea, and one I hope to participate in soon.

    And also, like everyone says...Prince of Peace is mind-blowingly good, and I for one, as a former Star Wars and such fan, greatly enjoyed the references. That Ethiopian king talking like Yoda made me bust a gut.
  11. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    Congrats. The Actual title of the work was "Questions for Milinda", so we felt this was an appropriate title.
  12. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    The entire kingdom's history is pretty foggy, thanks in part to the destruction of most records (not necessarily all in the classica era either. Chaucer seemed to know more about Bactria than we do, implying he had at least one souce we didn't). But I intend to do research into what we do know.

    Indeed. Perhaps they can do something together about the parni?

    Indeed; I think the mediterranean can deal with Buddhism's egalitarian aspects much better than India could.

    Note that a lot of people would have problems with Buddhist teachings, however. The Stoics would find that idea very uncomfortable, seeing as how they tought there was definite knowledge and a determined order. So woudl the epicureans, for that matter.

    Hmm. I shall have to mull over the effects of epicureans and the stoics joining forces in a philosophical movement. Remarks from the peanut gallery are welcomed.

    *Puts up a sign. Watch this space*

    Bamboo and rice, perhaps?

    I wonder what the effects would be on China, too. If Buddhism reaches there early enough, we're stillin the beginning of the Han dynasty, aren't we? Maybe the chaos leads to another collapse?

    What's the west have that the east might want?

    Participation is welcome; I plan on starting researchin a few weeks.

    And also, like everyone says...Prince of Peace is mind-blowingly good, and I for one, as a former Star Wars and such fan, greatly enjoyed the references. That Ethiopian king talking like Yoda made me bust a gut.[/QUOTE]
  13. DISSIDENT Banned

    Feb 21, 2004
    Hmmm. Well, rice is an easy to grow crop that could lead to a major population boom in the Mediterranean. Bamboo I think only grows in certain climates, which I don't know, but rice could lead to a Classical population boom and some major social knock-on effects.

    Epicureans and Stoics together just might hit the basis for an earlier basis for scientific thought. Both had certain nessecary and unnessecary elements for the scientific method. Engineer the synthesis right, and only the good parts for empiricism might remain.

    I looked at an earlier post by Faeelin about this, and he mentions the Bactrians and Seleucids teaming up against the Parni. Bingo on Seleucid survival there then.

    As for China, extending the warring states period and introducing Buddhism earlier could be fascinating. It could have many of the postive traits of Feudal Europe...competition and the fragmentation would mean much more militarization and fortifications per region, making nomadic invasions as hard as it would be in Europe when the Mongols were at the gates. Buddhism would still take on Chinese ideas and alot within that sphere, but it would be a more militant sect(s) of Buddhism in a divided and perpetually warring China.

    Another interesting idea here is, the butterfly effect of religious and political ramifications might be able to limit or stop the rise of the Roman Empire. I always thought a divided and competing Mediterranean could be just as technologically and intellectually productive, however in a different way, than the Roman Empire.

    If we get Buddhism in Mesopotamia, Persia and Egypt, could we see the religion's practice of Buddha statues merge with the monument building techniques and styles of the Near East or Aegean?

    A Buddhist temple with Corinthian collumns, sitting in Thebes, attended to by monks who both meditate and ask questions of Carthaginian merchants in the marketplace...I like it, I don't know about yo.
  14. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    Bamboo seems to grow very well around the Mediterranean, and can be used to make paper.

    Am I truly that obvious?

    China I need to mull over.

    Sadly, I suspect that we might have trouble with this; byt he time major effects get there, the romans have already mopped up Carthage.

    Unless it self destructs on its own, which could be fun. I've proposed this idea before.

    Ditto. Or for a lot of fun, can we work something into preroman Gaul?
  15. DominusNovus Humbled by Fate

    Jan 2, 2004
    Oh, don't worry. The Republic will go down a much different path than in OTL.
  16. Croesus Sialogogue

    Nov 30, 2004
    Not wanting to pour pedantic water on the romantic fire, but a long term survival of a Bactrian state faces many significant challenges. Taking a finer toothed comb over key issues will serve to give an idea of how significant an impact Bactria might have.

    The pre-existence of Zoroastrian/Mithraic religious institutions and penetration of the same into cultural mores will need to be dealt with. Especially if the Buddhist component is associated with Hellenism (see below).

    The problem of the veneer of Hellenic culture overlaying the native cultural structure is one that the OTL Greeks never really solved and their social/cultural elitist racism could very quickly sink the TL.

    How to buttress the state against the vicisitudes of its location squarely amidst the eastern invasion roundabout? Parni, Kushans, Epthalites, Turks... let alone the Mongols suggest that at some point the cross-cultural facility of Bactria will be extinguished. The longer the state is allowed to flourish (and hence facilitate the East-West link) requires more and more detailed rationales to keep the TL within reasonable historical bounds without resorting to desperate measures [perhaps Prunesquallor could elaborate a TL where Spartacus invades Bactria with a Roman slave army :D ... sorry, I jest]

    Now that the camp fire is wet, and before anyone complains about their half melted marshmellows, I must say that I think this is a very attractive TL and look forward to making less deflammatory contributions, particularly to helping work through the above. And then we can frame the historical period of effect and start working through the really interesting stuff.

  17. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    I know, and I agree with you. But given the reception towards them in Indian works, the Bactrians managed better than the Seleucids in Persia.

    I happen to agree with you; Barbarians will hit this state. But if it's strong and vibrant, there's no reason they couldn't be assimilated, as barbarians were time and time again.

    And, of course, the timeline necessarily includes a greater hellenistic presence in India. So perhaps contacts aren't necessarily cut off.

    Indeed. I plan on doing so; I've started it, but it's frustrating because of how little we know about Bactria. So I plan on discussing things in a way that suits the development of the TL in areas where it's questionable. (I.E., the relationship of Eucratides to Euthydemus).
  18. Croesus Sialogogue

    Nov 30, 2004
    I feel that a Bactria with a Hellenic ruling class is doomed. Nowhere did Hellenism cause a popular leaping into the air with delight, "hooray, higher culture at last!". The Ptolemies made a pretty good effort, but only by thoroughly pharaonicising. Significantly, only the last of their monarchs made the effort to learn the native tongue.

    A Bactria that throws up a series of native dynasts has more of a chance and to ensure they're not tainted by Hellenism they'd need a good propagandist or two to create a national epic to place said dynasts on a strong footing. Assuming a desire to associate king with god, heres the opportunity to weave Buddhism into the fabric. However, given the established Zoroastrianism/Mithraism and the impending arrival of Christians and Muslims, a form of religious tolerance would be crucial to build a vigorous and resilient Bactria.

    Because those incessant invasions are imminent and there will be several Dark Ages where only a spark of free Bactria remains burning. Unless we posit successive generations of Charles Martels or John Sobieskis; but that's stretching credulity a bit and we may as well enlist Spartacus as the saviour of Bactrian civilization.

    I don't have a map on me at the moment, but an analysis of invasion routes is probably going to help a lot. It'll serve to point to those regions where the native dynasts can create a core state from which and toward which future expansions and contractions move.

  19. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    So, what exactly happened in the kingdom? It began as a satrapy of the Seleucids, by a governor Diodotus. He was overthrown, however, by Euthydemus I, a native of Magnesia, in Ionia (and a really good example of just how far people could travel in the Hellenistic world). Euthydemus and his faction are believed to have overthrown Dioditus’s family because of the alliance they had made with the Parni, who would become what are commonly known as the Parthians. Despite attempts by Antiochus III of the Seleucids to retake the kingdom from Euthydemus, culminating with an attack against the kingdom by an army in the tens of thousands that began in 208 BC, the Greek Kingdom survived, as Euthydemus had fortified his capital to make it unassailable to the Seleucid armies. In 206 BC the two sides came to a negotiated agreement, in which Euthydemus gave Antiochus a tribute of elephants, Antiochus confirmed him as an independent king, and they agreed to ally with each other.

    It has been argued that Euthydemus occupied the Parthian satrapies of Astauene, Apavarktikene, and even part of Parthyene, extending Bactrian territory almost to the Oxus. While the evidence isn’t concrete, I intend to accept this for the purposes of the TL. He also conquered, according to Strabo, “as far as the Seres and the Phryni”, which, along with copper-nickel coins, indicates contact with China.

    Okay. Now things get vague. There are several possible scenarios, depending on who you believe:

    1) One argument is that Euthydemus did continue to live, and had a long and prosperous reign. He died peacefully in 190 BC, and his son Demetrius would begin the great conquest. Over the period between 190 BC and 180 BC, Demetrius expanded control over the territory west of the Indus, as well as the delta of the Indus. He founded a town, Euthydemia, after his father. It became the capital of the kingdom east of the Indus, and Demetrius set out to conquer all of India. Unlike the other Hellenistic kings, he printed coins in the local Indian scripts as well as Greek.

    However, like most eastern monarchs, he divided his kingdom into satraps, or small feudal states over which he was dominant. When the monarch was close to a satrap, the satrap would obey. But if he was far away, problems would occur. Around the time that Mithridates I became King of Parthia (circa 175 BC), Eucratides, who may or may not have been related to the house of Seleucus, rose in revolt in Bactria proper. The local Bactrians, according to this hypothesis, felt they needed a local king to oppose the Parthians, who under Mithridates I were becoming a great threat to Bactria. Eucratides rose in revolt, the Parthians took two of the western provinces, and he and Demetrius fought a series of battles. They were, to be blunt, a disaster for Eucratides. AT one point his army was reduced to 300 men, surrounded and besieged, but Eucratides escaped. . Eucratides’s escape marked the turning point of the war, and Eucratides gained his Bactrian independence.

    The argument for considering Eucratides to be a member of the Seleucid family rests mainly on coinage, in which Eucratides adopted many of the Seleucid traits; but it seems plausible enough, and since there’s no evidence to disprove it, for the purposes of this argument it does make sense.

    Eucratides was slain by his son Apollodotus around 156 BC; but shortly afterwards Apollodotus was slain by his brother, Heliocles[1], and then the barbarians invaded.

    2) Other accounts argue that there are two Demetrii. One was the King of India He occurs at a later date. Euthymedus’s son was the Demetrius I who was responsible for the conquests as far the Chinese territories. It was he who was defeated by Eucratides; but the son of Demetrius I, Demetrius II, was responsible for the Indian conquests. Eucratides, in this scenario, was not related to the Seleucids, and rose to power in Bactria itself.

    It goes on like this; there are several other theories, each more complex than the last. It’s around the time that you get to the idea of a master plan on the part of Demetrius (a single Demetrius) to conquer India that you have to take a step back and decide what to use. Therefore, I’d like to propose that for the purposes of the timeline, we accept the following:

    Euthydemus had a son, Demetrius, who conquered into Central Asia. Demetrius had a son, Demetrius II, who conquered into India. It was he who was overthrown by Eucratides. The famous Menander, the Milinda of classical Buddhist thought, had connections to Demetrius II.

    For the POD, then, I propose that at the siege where Eucratides was reduced to 300 men, he takes an arrow in the eye. This ensures that Demetrius II does not die.

    What does this mean for India? Well, let’s look at what’s happened. From its height under Asoka the Great, who reigned from 273 to 236 BC, the Mauryan Empire gradually declined. The death blow occurred in 187 BC, when Pushyamitra, a general in the Mauryan army, killed the King while he was reviewing the army and took the thrown. Pushyamitra was a member of a Brahma clan, and was a persecutor of Buddhism. He destroyed monasteries, killed monks, and is viewed in Buddhist books the same way Christians viewed Nero.

    The main difference between OTL and ATL in terms of the conquest is that Demetrius II can immediately go on the offensive once the Mauryans are overthrown; he attacks in 185 BC, and being a rather skilled general, begins a slow and steady march towards the old Mauryan capital. Pushyamitra has not had the tiem to consoldidate his forces, and the initial defeat on the Sind causes many princes to jump to the side of the Yanas, as the Greeks are known.

    By 175 BC, Pushyamitra is dead, Demetrius II, the Saviour King, resides in Pataliputra, the old Mauryan capital. He is known to the Buddhists as the Saviour King, and, in 172 BC, three years before his death, converts to Buddhism.
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  20. Faeelin Lord of Ten Thousand Years

    Jan 4, 2004
    To drag this back from its grave....

    “Your majesty, when the wise converse, whether they become entangled by their opponents’ arguments or extricate themselves, whether they or their opponents are convicted of error, whether their own superiority or that of their opponents is established, nothing in all this can make them angry. Thus, your majesty, do the wise converse."

    "And how, bhante, do kings converse?"

    "Your majesty, when kings converse, they advance a proposition, and whoever opposes it, they order his punishment, saying, ‘Punish this fellow!’ Thus, your majesty, do kings converse."

    "Bhante, I will converse as the wise converse, not as kings do. Let your worship converse in all confidence. Let your worship converse as unrestrainedly as if with a monk or a novice or a lay disciple or a keeper of the monastery grounds. Be not afraid!” –Questions of King Milinda

    The saga of the Greeks in India must be one of the most fascinating, if relatively unknown, stories in history. A Greek society that established itself on the other side of the world, with its kings besieging the greatest cities of India before decaying; how could one not like it?

    The purpose of this timeline is to explore the effects of larger, longer lives Hellenistic states in India and Bactria, as well as what transpires across the world as a result of this. The timeline, therefore, will cover a longer timespan than the Prince of Peace did. It will also be less of a character driven timeline, and focus more on ideas and societies.

    Let’s begin by discussing just what, exactly, Bactria was. The easternmost fringe of the Persian Empire, it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 327 BC. It then passed the Seleucids, whose satraps ruled the province for several generations.

    This situation lasted until about 260 BC, when the governor Diodotus declared himself an independent monarch. Just how Diodotus gained his independence is rather vague. The Greek writer Strabo, in the 1st century BC, indicated that the Bactrian revolt took place before the Parthian rising. Giving that the Parthian rebellion began around 250 BC, this means that Diodotus’s rebellion likely began around 255 BC.

    Diodotus ruled an empire that stretched from the Hindu Kush to Samarkand, and Bactria lay upon the crossroads of Eurasia. The numerous coins from the era attest to the wealth of the kings, and it is largely through their coinage that we can determine when several monarchs reigned.

    One would think that relations between the Parthians and Bactrians were cordial, as both Diodotus and Arasces, King of the Parthians, had rebelled against the Seleucids. But the 2nd Century AD Historian Justin claimed that Arasces “raised a large army through fear of Diodotus, King of the Bactrians”. Fortunately for Arasces, Diodotus I died and was succeeded by Diodotus II, who may have been his son. Diodotus II realized that the defeat of Parthia would expose Bactria to the Seleucids, and allied with the Parthians.

    Diodotus II, however, was not to remain on the throne for long. He was overthrown in a revolt and succeeded by Euthydemus of Magnesia [1]. Euthdyemus was a good, is harsh king, and under him Bactria expanded to include Aria [2].

    However, Bactria’s growing strength was matched by a revival in Seleucid fortunes. Antiochus III, the last great Seleucid king, subdued Parthia in 209 BC and appeared on the banks of Arius, the border between Bactria and Parthia.

    Euthydemus was defeated by Antiochus III, and he was forced to retreat to Bactria, for one of the greatest sieges in antiquity. After a siege lasting for two years, Euthydemus sent Antiochus a simple message.

    If Antiochus did not cease his attacks, Euthydemus would encourage the nomads to invade the Seleucid empire. Antiochus, probably tired of the struggle after years of warfare, and clearly worried about the nomad threat, agreed to a truce. Under the terms of the agreement, according to the historian Polybius, Antiochus recognized Euthydemus as a king and gave his daughter in marriage to Demetrius, son of Euthydemus.

    Euthydemus emerged from the war with the Seleucids strengthened immeasureably. The Parthians were subdued, and he was tied by marriage to the Seleucid kings. It is at this point that the Bactrians sent troops into Ferghana [3]. It is around this period that the trade with China began, and by 200 BC the Bactrians were using a nickel and copper alloy that was found in China; evidence, I feel, of a fairly developed trade with China, even if it was probably through intermediaries at this point.

    The way was clear for the Bactrians to turn on the collapsing Mauryan Empire. Unfortunately, there is some dispute about when this occurred. The general consensus (Such as there is) follows:

    Euthydemus died shortly after the withdrawl of Antiochus III, sometime around 190 BC. His eldest son, Demetrius I, conquered Arachosia and India to the banks of the Indus, refounding the city of Patala in the Indus delta.

    Demetrius is credited, at this point, with appointing family members to rule his various conquests in his name. Euthydemus II, who was probably the younger son of Euthydemus I, ruled in Bactria proper, while Demetrius ruled in India.

    There was a tremendous opportunity for Demetrius and the Bactrians at this point. Ashoka’s empire had ruleld almost all of India, but by 200 BC it was but a remnant of the mighty empire it had once been. In 185 BC the last Mauryan monarch Brhadratha was overthrown by his general Pushymitra. Pushymitra, founder of the Sunga dynasty, A Brahmin who is believed to have harbored anti-Buddhist policies, [4] was part of a very shaky regime[5].

    Now the confusing period begins. Demetrius I was overthrown by Eucratides, a military officer who made himself king of Bactria. But Eucratides was opposed by Demetrius, the “King of the Indians”. The identity of this King of the Indians is hard to deciper; some historians view him as the son of Demetrius I, others as the son of a monarch who ruled an area north of the Hindu Kush. After consulting half a dozen books, and getting about half a dozen different answers, I have come to the following conclusion: Tarn was right to portray him as the son of Demetrius I.

    But this then raises the question of what happened to Demetrius II. Was he defeated, as some historians claim, by Eucratides? I have come to the conclusion that the exact opposite happened.

    Justin claims that Eucratides was slain by his son, who denounced him as a tyrant and desecrated his corpse. But why would one of his sons treat their father in such a way? The only logical conclusion is that Justin interpreted the story wrong. Eucratides was slain by a son of Demetrius I, and that son was none other than our Demetrius II, King of India [6].

    Now, suppose that Eucratides had not slain Demetrius I, and Demetrius II was free to focus on his conquest of India? Suppose that in 185 BC, Demetrius gains word of the plot of Eucratides, and has him murdered.

    Word reaches Bactria of the murder of the last Mauryan monarch, and in 182 BC, ten thousand hoofbeats echo through the Hindu Kush, as the armies of Demetrius II pour into India.

    The successors of Alexander would sweep into the heartland of India, and conquer more nations than Alexander.

    But that, as they say, is a story for another time.

    [1] Evidently he’d come a long way from his home in Lydia.

    [2] What we would consider territory around the city of Heart.

    [3] Xinjiang

    [4] To be fair, the evidence isn’t absolute. The sources which accuse him of being anti-Buddhist are generally from centuries later, but as they are essentially the only sources we have that discuss his motivations, I think they’re worth taking into account.

    [5] Which is also why I don’t believe Tarn’s date of the 180’s as the time of the Greek invasion of India. A Greek army marches to the walls of the capital of a general who had taken the throne a couple of years ago with no effects on the durability of his regime? Please.

    [6] Of course, I’m not the first person to come to this conclusion. This was proposed in “The Greek kingdom of Bactria : from Alexander to Eucratides the Great”, published in 2000
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