The Greek physician, author, courtier, naturalist and traveler, Ctesias (Gr. Κτησίας = Ktesias), wrote a history of Persia and Assyria (“The Persica”1) and India (“Indica”2) totaling some 23 volumes of historical accounts. His accounts have come down to us but as fragments. He flourished during the 5th century BCE Present at the court of the Persian king Artaxerxes II, Ctesias took notes from travelers’ adventures and reports from far off lands. Certain accounts are probably of long extinct species. Although some writers have questioned his accuracy, others have substantiated them. At times, he countered what Herodotus had reported in his “The Histories.”3 Particularly, it is Ktesias’ “Indica” which I examined, noting some of the more unusual observations and reports.
“On India” was the first writing to introduce westerners to the people, places and things of India. We are indebted to Photios I of Constantinople (Gr. Φώτιος = Fotios) and his 280 volumes called Myriobiblon (Bibliotheca) for most of what has survived from Ktesias.
I did read Ktesias’ “The Persica” but found nothing in it which met my objective, which was to supplement David Reigle’s excellent findings on the topic of the Book of Dzyan and his two posts in March about “Water-Men, Terrible and Bad.” Blavatsky does not mention Ktesias, possibly because nothing was available early enough prior to the release of “The Secret Doctrine.”
Of course, as expected, these reports by Ktesias do not exactly correspond to what is in “The Secret Doctrine,” Anthropogenesis. At least, not yet. As we know, from the stanzas of the Book of Dzyan we have only fragments from the original and therefore our and others’ findings might eventually correspond, if more stanzas were to be released in the future and further fragments, such as in the Mesopotamian, Greek and Sanskrit and possibly Chinese come to light. We do not know even the most vague time periods for the “Water-Men, Terrible and Bad” other than long periods in this round prior to incrustation and before the arrival by the Lords of Flame and the inception of the manas principle in the human. These Water-men would have amassed from nature’s previous remains of the mineral, plant and animal kingdoms still lingering from the first, second and third rounds which would have produced bizarre (to us) creatures.
Nature, however, had eventually progressed from those long distant periods, and evolved the ability for each species to genetically protect itself from forming with other species, protecting the ovum from penetration by species not of its own kind, which resulted in chimeras. Can anomalies repeat themselves from past organisms? I would say they can, as so-called “accidents” have occurred from the past.
And, now we live at a time when long past “unaided, physical nature fails” has presented itself with the intervention by humans which can reverse millions of years of progress. Evidence exists where certain labs around the world are attempting to intervene in animal and human organisms, by using the relatively new and amazingly simple cut and paste technique called CRISPR Gene-Editing, and synthetic biological manipulation which is proceeding unabated in human and dog genetic material. Stem cell research and 3-D printing has advanced so quickly, we will be able to replace entire organs and body parts such a noses, ears and appendages and even the heart.
It is unfortunate for extant and future humanity, we have only fragments from the ancient past, which would indicate, as in Stanza II of Book II Anthropogenesis: “They [the Lhas] slew the forms which were two- and four-faced. They fought the goat-men, and the dog-headed men, and the men with fishes’ bodies.” But new written fragments will be discovered whereby archaeology will continue to amaze us with new and wonderful discoveries to vindicate the ancient records of the past.
1The Fragments of the Persika of Ktesias, edited with introduction and notes by John Gilmore. Ctesias. London, Macmillan, 1888
Ctesias’ ‘History of Persia.’ Tales of the Orient. LLoyd Llewellyn-Jones, James Robson (Routledge Classical Translations) Routledge, 2010
2“Ctesias. On India.” Translation and Commentary by Andrew G. Nichols. Bristol Classical Press, Bloomsbury, 2011
3“Herodotus. The Histories. A New Translation by Robin Waterfield. Oxford University Press, 2008
the translation which Blavatsky used: Herodotus, History of Herodotus, tr. George Rawlinson, assisted by Henry Rawlinson and J. G. Wilkinson, in 4 volumes, new edition. London: John Murray, 1862
Samples from Ctesias’ “Indica”:
(15) There lives in India a beast called the martichora which has a human face, is the size of a lion, and is red like cinnabar. It has three rows of teeth, human ears, and light blue eyes like a man’s. It has a tail like a land scorpion on which there is a stinger more than a cubit long. It also has stingers on either side of the tail as well as on the end like a scorpion. If approached, it stabs with a stinger inflicting a fatal wound. If its opponent fights from a distance, then it points its tail at him and fires stingers as if from a bow, but when assailed from behind, it stretches its tail straight out. It can fire stingers as far as a pletheron and the stingers are completely fatal to everything except elephants. Each stinger is one foot long and as wide as the thinnest reed. The word ‘martichora’ means man-eater in Greek because it mostly captures and devours humans, but eats other animals as well. It fights with both its talons and stingers, which Ctesias claims grow back after being fired.
(37) According to Ctesias, in these mountains live men who have the head of a dog. Their clothes come from wild animals and they converse not with speech, but by barking like dogs, and this is how they understand each other. They have larger teeth than dogs and claws that are similar but longer and more rounded. They live in the mountains as far as the Indus River and they are black and very just, like the rest of the Indians with whom they associate. Since they understand what the other Indians say but cannot converse, they communicate by barking and making gestures with their hands and fingers like the deaf and mute. The Indians call them Kalystrioi which in Greek means Cynocephaloi (‘Dog-Headed People’). They have 120,000 people in their tribe.
(44) They say another race lives beyond these people past the source of the river. These men are dark like the rest of the Indians and do not work, eat grain, or drink water. Instead, they tend many flocks of sheep, oxen, goats, and cattle and drink only milk and nothing else. When their young are born, they do not have an anus nor do they have bowel movements. They have buttocks but the orifice is grown together. Consequently, they do no pass excrement but they say their urine is like cheese, not thick but foul. They say that once they drink early in the morning and again in the middle of the day, they ingest a sweet root which does not allow milk to solidify in their abdomen. They gnaw on this root in the evening and vomit everything up with ease.
(50) In the mountains of India where the reed grows, there is a tribe of men numbering 30,000. Their women give birth only once in their lifetime and their children have very beautiful teeth on both the upper and lower jaws. From birth each man and woman has white hair on their head and eyebrows for the first thirty years of their life. Their hair all over their body is white; after this it begins to turn black. When they reach the age of sixty, their hair is totally black. These men have up to eight fingers on each hand and likewise eight toes on each foot; the same goes for the women. They are very warlike and 5,000 of them serve the king of the Indians as archers and javelin men. According to Ctesias, they have ears big enough to cover their arms as far as the elbow and their entire back at the same time and one ear can touch the other.
(51) These are the stories Ctesias writes and asserts that they are completely truthful; adding that he personally saw some of the things he wrote about while others he heard from first- hand witnesses. He says that he omitted many other more incredible tales in order to not seem untrustworthy to those who have not seen them personally. These are some of the stories in his work.
F45h. Aelian H 4.27
I hear that the griffin is an Indian animal with four feet with exceedingly strong talons which most closely resemble a lion’s. They have plentiful feathers on their backs with black plumage but red in the front while their wings are white. Ctesias claims that the neck is adorned with deep blue feathers; the beak and head are like an eagle, similar to what an artisan would draw or mould, and its eyes are a fiery red. It makes its nest in the mountains but it is impossible to capture a full grown one; however, they can be taken into captivity when they are young. The Bactrians who are neighbours with the Indians say that the griffins guard the gold in that region and that they dig it out and weave their nests with it while the Indians gather what falls off.
F45ob. Psellus ed. P. Maas [L]
(2) Men dwell on the mountain who have the head of a dog but the rest of their body is human. They shout to the other Indians and communicate with them, but instead of talking they bark like dogs. They eat the fruit from these trees and the raw meat from wild animals which they hunt. They also keep many sheep and their teeth are larger than a dog’s. They wear black garments made of hide and they drink milk from their sheep. All of them have tails, men and women alike, below the haunches just like a dog.
F45pa. Plin. [Pliny] H 7.23
In many mountains there is a race of men with the head of a dog and clothed in animal skins. Instead of a voice they issue howls. They are armed for the hunt with talons and feast on birds. According to Ctesias, they numbered more than 120,000 at the time of his writing.
F45pb. Tzetz. [Tzetzes] Chil. 7.713
Ctesias claims that there are amber-producing trees and dog-headed peoples in India. He maintains that they are very just and live by hunting.
F45q. Aelian A 4.52
I have heard that there are wild asses in India no smaller than horses which have a white body, a head which is almost crimson, and dark blue eyes. They have a horn on their brow one and a half cubits in length. The lower portion of the horn is white, the upper part is vermilion, and the middle is very dark. I hear that the Indians drink from these multicoloured horns, but not all the Indians, only the most powerful, and they pour gold around them at intervals as if they were adorning the beautiful arm of a statue with bracelets. They say that the one who drinks from this horn will never experience terminal illnesses. No longer would he suffer seizures or the so-called holy sickness nor could he be killed with poison. If he drank the poison first, he would vomit it up and return to health. . . .
F51a. Plin. H 7.23: (F45pa; F45t)
The same author (sc. Ctesias) writes that the race of men who are called the Monocoli have one leg but show amazing agility by jumping. These same men are also called the Sciapodes because when it is hot, they lay on the ground on their back and shade themselves with their feet. They inhabit a region not far from the Troglodytes. Turning again to the west from these people are those who lack necks and have eyes on their shoulders. (24) There are also satyrs in the mountains of the eastern part of India in the region of the so-called Catarcludi. Satyrs are extremely swift animals running sometimes on all fours and sometimes upright in imitation of a human. Because of their speed, they are never captured unless old or sick.
F51b. Tzetz. Chil. 7.621-41 (Kiesling 629-49)
There is a book by Scylax of Caryanda written about India which claims that there are men called the Sciapodes and the Otoliknoi. Of these the Sciapodes have very broad feet and at midday they drop to the ground, stretch their feet out above them, and give themselves shade. The Otoliknoi have huge ears which they use to cover themselves like an umbrella. This Scylax also writes numerous tales about the Monophthalmoi, the Henotiktontes, and countless other strange marvels. He speaks of them as if they were true and none of them fabricated. Since I have not seen any of it, I consider these tales to be lies. That they have some elements of truth is attested by the fact that many others claim to have seen such marvels and ones even more incredible in their lifetime. This list includes Ctesias, Iambulos, Isigonos, Rheginos, Alexander, Sotion, Agathosthenes, Antigonos, Edoxos, Hippostratos, and countless others, including Protagoras himself and even Ptolemy, Akestorides and other writers of prose some of whom I am personally familiar with and others I am not.
F75. Prima interpolatio cod. Monac. Gr. 287 (Photius) [L] The tales of Ctesias of Cnidus on the marvels of the world: The Seres and the inhabitants of upper India are said to have an exceedingly large physique as some of them are found to be thirteen cubits tall, and they live for more than 200 years. On one portion of the Gaïtros River there are savage men with skin which most closely resembles a hippopotamus since it cannot be pierced by arrows. In India too they say that at the innermost region on an island in the sea there live men, who have very large tails, like those depicted on a satyr.
F76. Altera interpolatio cod. Monac. Gr. [Codex Monacensis Graecus] 287 (Photius) [L] In Ethiopia there is a creature called the krokottas, commonly known as the dog-wolf. It has amazing power and they say it mimics a human voice and calls men out by name during the night so that they approach the human voice. They attack in throngs and devour their prey. The animal has the strength of a lion, the swiftness of a horse, and the power of a bull, but it yields to iron . . ..
men who have the head of a dog: Cf. F45ob, F45p a-g; There are several earlier references to Cynocephaloi in Greek literature, however Ctesias gives the first detailed description of them. Hesiod (Fr. 40A, 44) refers to ‘Half-dogs’ but the reference is too vague to determine any relation to the Cynocephaloi, although the first-century BCE grammarian Simmias of Rhodes certainly equated the two (Fr. 1.9-13).
those who lack necks and have eyes on their shoulders: Cf. Hdt. 4.191 who places this tribe in Libya. Elsewhere (5.8.46) Pliny describes the Blemmyes who are an African tribe of men who have no heads but eyes and a mouth on their chest.