Menander I

Menander I

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Menander I'
Start a new discussion about 'Menander I'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Menander I Soter "The Saviour" (known as Milinda in Indian sources) was one of the rulers of the Indo-Greek Kingdom
Indo-Greek Kingdom
The Indo-Greek Kingdom or Graeco-Indian Kingdom covered various parts of the northwest regions of the Indian subcontinent during the last two centuries BC, and was ruled by more than 30 Hellenistic kings, often in conflict with each other...

 from either 165 or 155 BC to 130 BC (the first date Osmund Bopearachchi and R C Senior, the other Boperachchi).

An important Indo-Greek king


His territories covered the eastern dominions of the divided Greek empire of Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

 (modern day ولایت بلخ or Bactria Province
Balkh Province
Balkh is one of the thirty-four provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the north of the country and its name derives from the ancient city of Balkh, near the modern town...

) and extended to India (modern day Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

i provinces of the NWFP, Punjab and parts of Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh
Himachal Pradesh is a state in Northern India. It is spread over , and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on the north, Punjab on the west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on the south, Uttarakhand on the south-east and by the Tibet Autonomous Region on the east...

 and the Jammu
Jammu
Jammu , also known as Duggar, is one of the three administrative divisions within Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state in India.Jammu city is the largest city in Jammu and the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir...

 region).

His capital is supposed to have been Sagala
Sagala
Sagala or Sangala, the ancient Greek name for the modern city of Sialkot in present day Pakistan, was a city of located in northern Punjab, Pakistan...

, a prosperous city in northern Punjab (believed to be modern Sialkot
Sialkot
Sialkot is a city in Pakistan situated in the north-east of the Punjab province at the foothills of snow-covered peaks of Kashmir near the Chenab river. It is the capital of Sialkot District. The city is about north-west of Lahore and only a few kilometers from Indian-controlled Jammu.The...

), Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

.

He is one of the few Bactria
Bactria
Bactria and also appears in the Zend Avesta as Bukhdi. It is the ancient name of a historical region located between south of the Amu Darya and west of the Indus River...

n kings mentioned by Greek authors, among them Apollodorus of Artemita
Apollodorus of Artemita
Apollodorus of Artemita was a Greek writer of the 1st century BCE.Apollodorus wrote a history of the Parthian Empire, the Parthika , in at least four books. He is quoted by Strabo and Athenaeus. Strabo stated that he was very reliable. Apollodorus seems to have used the archives of Artemita and...

, quoted by Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, who claims that the Greeks from Bactria were even greater conquerors than Alexander the Great, and that Menander was one of the two Bactrian kings, with Demetrius
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

, who extended their power farthest into India:
"The Greeks who caused Bactria to revolt grew so powerful on account of the fertility of the country that they became masters, not only of Ariana, but also of India, as Apollodorus of Artemita says: and more tribes were subdued by them than by Alexander-- by Menander in particular (at least if he actually crossed the Hypanis
Beas River
The Beas River is a river in the northern part of India. The river rises in the Himalayas in central Himachal Pradesh, India, and flows for some 470 km to the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Punjab....

 towards the east and advanced as far as the Imaüs), for some were subdued by him personally and others by Demetrius
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

, the son of Euthydemus
Euthydemus I
Euthydemus I , Greco-Bactrian king in about 230 or 223 BCE according to Polybius., he is thought to have originally been a Satrap of Sogdiana, who overturned the dynasty of Diodotus of Bactria and became a Greco-Bactrian king. Strabo, on the other hand, correlates his accession with internal...

 the king of the Bactrians; and they took possession, not only of Patalena, but also, on the rest of the coast, of what is called the kingdom of Saraostus
Saraostus
Saraostus was the name given by the Greeks to the area of Saurashtra and parts of south-western Gujarat....

 and Sigerdis
Sigerdis
Sigerdis is a name given by the ancient Greeks to a part of the northwestern Indian subcontinent. It seems to correspond to the Sindhu desh, the delta of the Indus river, today's area of Sindh in southern Pakistan....

. In short, Apollodorus says that Bactriana is the ornament of Ariana as a whole; and, more than that, they extended their empire even as far as the Seres
Seres
Seres was the ancient Greek and Roman name for the inhabitants of eastern Central Asia. It meant "of silk," or people of the "land where silk comes from." The country of the Seres was Serica....

 and the Phryni
Phryni
The Phryni were an ancient people of eastern Central Asia, probably located in the eastern part of the Tarim Basin, in an area connected to that of the Seres and the Tocharians.They are mentioned several times in Classical sources....

." (Strabo 11.11.1 )



Strabo also suggests that these Greek conquests went as far as the capital Pataliputra in northeastern India (today Patna):
"Those who came after Alexander went to the Ganges and Pataliputra" (Strabo
Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

, 15.698).


The Indian records also describe Greek attacks on Mathura, Panchala
Panchala
Panchala is an ancient region of northern India, which corresponds to the geographical area around the Ganges River and Yamuna River, the upper Gangetic plain in particular. This would encompass the modern-day states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. During the ancient times, it was home to a...

, Saketa, and Pataliputra. This is particularly the case of some mentions of the invasion by Patanjali
Patañjali
Patañjali is the compiler of the Yoga Sūtras, an important collection of aphorisms on Yoga practice. According to tradition, the same Patañjali was also the author of the Mahābhāṣya, a commentary on Kātyāyana's vārttikas on Pāṇini's Aṣṭādhyāyī as well as an unspecified work of medicine .In...

 around 150 BC, and of the Yuga Purana
Yuga Purana
The Yuga Purana is an ancient Indian text, part of the larger Puranic literature. It is considered as one of the oldest Purana, written around 250 CE. The Yuga Purana consists two chapters, within the larger text of the Gargi Samhita, also called Vriddha Gargiya Jyotisha...

, which describes Indian historical events in the form of a prophecy:
"After having conquered Saketa, the country of the Panchala and the Mathuras, the Yavanas (Greeks), wicked and valiant, will reach Kusumadhvaja. The thick mud-fortifications at Pataliputra being reached, all the provinces will be in disorder, without doubt. Ultimately, a great battle will follow, with tree-like engines (siege engines)." (Gargi-Samhita, Yuga Purana chapter, No5).


In the West, Menander seems to have repelled the invasion of the dynasty of Greco-Bactrian usurper Eucratides, and pushed them back as far as the Paropamisadae
Paropamisadae
Paropamisadae or Paropamisus was the ancient Greek name for a region of the Hindu-Kush in eastern Afghanistan, centered on the cities of Kabul and Kapisa .-History of Paropamisadae:...

, thereby consolidating the rule of the Indo-Greek kings in the northern part of the Indian Subcontinent.

The Milinda Panha gives some glimpses of his military methods:
"Has it ever happened to you, O king, that rival kings rose up against you as enemies and opponents?
-Yes, certainly.
-Then you set to work, I suppose, to have moats dug, and ramparts thrown up, and watch towers erected, and strongholds built, and stores of food collected?
-Not at all. All that had been prepared beforehand.
-Or you had yourself trained in the management of war elephants, and in horsemanship, and in the use of the war chariot, and in archery and fencing?
-Not at all. I had learnt all that before.
-But why?
-With the object of warding off future danger."


His reign was long and successful. Generous findings of coins testify to the prosperity and extension of his empire (with finds as far as Britain): the finds of his coins are the most numerous and the most widespread of all the Indo-Greek kings. Precise dates of his reign, as well as his origin, remain elusive however. Guesses among historians have been that Menander was either a nephew or a former general of the Greco-Bactrian king Demetrius I
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

, but the two kings are now thought to be separated by at least thirty years. Menander's predecessor in Punjab seems to have been the king Apollodotus I.

Menander's empire survived him in a fragmented manner until the last Greek king Strato II
Strato II
Strato II "Soter" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled circa 25 BCE to 10CE according to Bopearachchi. RC Senior suggests that his reign ended perhaps a decade earlier.-Rule:...

 disappeared around 10 AD.

The 1st-2nd century CE Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

further testifies to the reign of Menander and the influence of the Indo-Greeks in India:
Menander was the first Indo-Greek ruler to introduce the representation of Athena Alkidemos ("Athena, saviour of the people") on his coins, probably in reference to a similar statue of Athena Alkidemos in Pella
Pella
Pella , an ancient Greek city located in Pella Prefecture of Macedonia in Greece, was the capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia.-Etymology:...

, capital of Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

. This type was subsequently used by most of the later Indo-Greek kings.

The Milinda Panha


According to tradition, Menander embraced the Buddhist
Buddhism
Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

 faith, as described in the Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, a classical Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 Buddhist text
Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...

 on the discussions between Milinda and the Buddhist sage Nāgasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

. He is described as constantly accompanied by a guard of 500 Greek ("Yonaka") soldiers, and two of his counsellors are named Demetrius and Antiochus. This type of discussion was known to ancient Greeks as a "sozo", it is important for Buddhists to understand the cultural context in which this discussion was held.


In the Milindanpanha, Menander is introduced as
"King of the city of Sâgala in India, Milinda by name, learned, eloquent, wise, and able; and a faithful observer, and that at the right time, of all the various acts of devotion and ceremony enjoined by his own sacred hymns concerning things past, present, and to come. Many were the arts and sciences he knew--holy tradition
Tradition
A tradition is a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past. Common examples include holidays or impractical but socially meaningful clothes , but the idea has also been applied to social norms such as greetings...

 and secular law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

; the Sânkhya
Samkhya
Samkhya, also Sankhya, Sāṃkhya, or Sāṅkhya is one of the six schools of Hindu philosophy and classical Indian philosophy. Sage Kapila is traditionally considered as the founder of the Samkhya school, although no historical verification is possible...

, Yoga
Yoga
Yoga is a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline, originating in ancient India. The goal of yoga, or of the person practicing yoga, is the attainment of a state of perfect spiritual insight and tranquility while meditating on Supersoul...

, Nyâya
Nyaya
' is the name given to one of the six orthodox or astika schools of Hindu philosophy—specifically the school of logic...

, and Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika
Vaisheshika or ' is one of the six Hindu schools of philosophy of India. Historically, it has been closely associated with the Hindu school of logic, Nyaya....

 systems of philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

; arithmetic
Arithmetic
Arithmetic or arithmetics is the oldest and most elementary branch of mathematics, used by almost everyone, for tasks ranging from simple day-to-day counting to advanced science and business calculations. It involves the study of quantity, especially as the result of combining numbers...

; music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

; medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

; the four Vedas
Vedas
The Vedas are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic Sanskrit, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism....

, the Purânas, and the Itihâsas
Itihasa
Itihasa as defined by Amarakosha refers to purvavritta, i.e. events of the past. In the Vedic age, those portions of the Brahmanas which narrated events of bygone days were known as itihasa and had some ritualistic importance...

; astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, magic
Magic (paranormal)
Magic is the claimed art of manipulating aspects of reality either by supernatural means or through knowledge of occult laws unknown to science. It is in contrast to science, in that science does not accept anything not subject to either direct or indirect observation, and subject to logical...

, causation
Causality
Causality is the relationship between an event and a second event , where the second event is understood as a consequence of the first....

, and magic spells; the art of war
Military strategy
Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", 'the art of arrangement' of troops...

; poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

; conveyancing
Conveyancing
In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property from one person to another, or the granting of an encumbrance such as a mortgage or a lien....

 in a word, the whole nineteen. As a disputant he was hard to equal, harder still to overcome; the acknowledged superior of all the founders of the various schools of thought. And as in wisdom so in strength of body, swiftness, and valour there was found none equal to Milinda in all India. He was rich too, mighty in wealth and prosperity, and the number of his armed hosts knew no end." (The Questions of King Milinda
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, Translation by T. W. Rhys Davids, 1890).


Buddhist tradition relates that, following his discussions with Nāgasena, Menander adopted the Buddhist faith:
"May the venerable Nâgasena accept me as a supporter of the faith, as a true convert from to-day onwards as long as life shall last!" (The Questions of King Milinda
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, Translation by T. W. Rhys Davids, 1890).


He then handed over his kingdom to his son and retired from the world:
"And afterwards, taking delight in the wisdom of the Elder, he handed over his kingdom to his son, and abandoning the household life for the houseless state, grew great in insight, and himself attained to Arahatship!" (The Questions of King Milinda
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, Translation by T. W. Rhys Davids, 1890)


There is however little besides this testament to indicate that Menander in fact abdicated his throne in favor of his son. Based on numismatic evidence, Sir Tarn believes that he in fact died, leaving his wife Agathocleia to rule as a regent, until his son Strato could rule properly in his stead. Despite the success of his reign, it is clear that after his death, his "loosely hung" empire splintered into a variety of Indo-Greek successor kingdoms, of various size and stability.

Other Indian accounts


  • A 2nd century BC relief from a Buddhist stupa
    Stupa
    A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

     in Bharhut
    Bharhut
    Bharhut or Barhut , is a location in Satna district in Madhya Pradesh, Central India, known for its famous Buddhist stupa. The Bharhut stupa may have been established by the Maurya king Asoka in the 3rd century BCE, but many works of art were apparently added during the Sunga period, with many...

    , in eastern Madhya Pradesh
    Madhya Pradesh
    Madhya Pradesh , often called the Heart of India, is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal and Indore is the largest city....

     (today at the Indian Museum
    Indian Museum
    The Indian Museum is the largest museum in India and has rare collections of antiques, armour and ornaments, fossils, skeletons, mummies, and Mughal paintings...

     in Calcutta), represents a foreign soldier with the curly hair of a Greek and the royal headband with flowing ends of a Greek king, and may be a depiction of Menander. In his right hand, he holds a branch of ivy
    Ivy
    Ivy, plural ivies is a genus of 12–15 species of evergreen climbing or ground-creeping woody plants in the family Araliaceae, native to western, central and southern Europe, Macaronesia, northwestern Africa and across central-southern Asia east to Japan and Taiwan.-Description:On level ground they...

    , symbol of Dionysos. Also parts of his dress, with rows of geometrical folds, are characteristically Hellenistic in style. On his sword appears the Buddhist symbol of the three jewels, or Triratana.

  • A Buddhist reliquary found in Bajaur bears a dedicatory inscription referring to "the 14th day of the month of Kārttika" of a certain year in the reign of "Mahārāja Minadra" ("Great King Menander"):
"Minadrasa maharajasa Katiassa divasa 4 4 4 11 pra[na]-[sa]me[da]... (prati)[thavi]ta pranasame[da]... Sakamunisa"
"On the 14th day of Kārttika, in the reign of Mahārāja Minadra, (in the year ...), (the corporeal relic) of Sakyamuni, which is endowed with life... has been established"

  • According to an ancient Sri Lankan source, the Mahavamsa
    Mahavamsa
    The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

    , Greek monks seem to have been active proselytizers of Buddhism during the time of Menander: the Yona
    Yona
    "Yona" is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is the word "Yavana" and "Jobonan/Jubonan" in Bengali...

     (Greek) Mahadhammarakkhita
    Mahadharmaraksita
    Mahadhammarakkhita was a Greek Buddhist master, who lived during the 2nd century BCE during the reign of the Indo-Greek king Menander....

      is said to have come from "Alasandra" (thought to be Alexandria of the Caucasus
    Alexandria of the Caucasus
    Alexandria on the Caucasus was a colony of Alexander the Great...

    , the city founded by Alexander the Great, near today’s Kabul
    Kabul
    Kabul , spelt Caubul in some classic literatures, is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan. It is also the capital of the Kabul Province, located in the eastern section of Afghanistan...

    ) with 30,000 monks for the foundation ceremony of the Maha Thupa ("Great stupa
    Stupa
    A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

    ") at Anuradhapura
    Anuradhapura
    Anuradhapura, , is one of the ancient capitals of Sri Lanka, famous for its well-preserved ruins of ancient Lankan civilization.The city, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, lies 205 km north of the current capital Colombo in Sri Lanka's North Central Province, on the banks of the historic...

     in Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka
    Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

    , during the 2nd century BC:

"From Alasanda the city of the Yona
Yona
"Yona" is a Pali word used in ancient India to designate Greek speakers. Its equivalent in Sanskrit, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tamil is the word "Yavana" and "Jobonan/Jubonan" in Bengali...

s came the thera ("elder") Yona Mahadhammarakkhita with thirty thousand bhikkhu
Bhikkhu
A Bhikkhu or Bhikṣu is an ordained male Buddhist monastic. A female monastic is called a Bhikkhuni Nepali: ). The life of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is governed by a set of rules called the patimokkha within the vinaya's framework of monastic discipline...

s." (Mahavamsa
Mahavamsa
The Mahavamsa is a historical poem written in the Pali language, of the kings of Sri Lanka...

, XXIX )


These elements tend to indicate the importance of Buddhism within Greek communities in northwestern India, and the prominent role Greek Buddhist monks played in them, probably under the sponsorship of Menander.

Coins of Menander


Menander has left behind an immense corpus of silver and bronze coins, more so than any other Indo-Greek king. During his reign, the fusion between Indian and Greek coin standards reached its apogee. The coins feature the legend (Greek: ΒΑΣΙΛΕΩΣ ΣΩΤΗΡΟΣ ΜΕΝΑΝΔΡΟΥ (BASILEOS SOTEROS MENANDROU)/ Kharosthi: MAHARAJA TRATASA MENADRASA).
  • According to Bopearachchi, his silver coinage begins with a rare series of drachms depicting on the obverse Athena
    Athena
    In Greek mythology, Athena, Athenê, or Athene , also referred to as Pallas Athena/Athene , is the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, civilization, warfare, strength, strategy, the arts, crafts, justice, and skill. Minerva, Athena's Roman incarnation, embodies similar attributes. Athena is...

     and on the reverse her attribute the owl. The weight and monograms of this series match those of earlier king Antimachus II
    Antimachus II
    Antimachus II Nikephoros "The Victorious" was an Indo-Greek king. He ruled on a vast territory from the Hindu-Kush to the Punjab around 170 BCE. He was almost certainly identical with the eponymous son of Antimachus I, who is known from a unique preserved tax-receipt...

    , indicating that Menander succeeded Antimachus II.

  • On the next series, Menander introduces his own portrait, a hitherto unknown custom among Indian rulers. The reverse features his dynastical trademark: the so called Athena Alkidemos throwing a thunderbolt, an emblem used by many of Menander's successors and also the emblem of the Antigonid
    Antigonid dynasty
    The Antigonid dynasty was a dynasty of Hellenistic kings descended from Alexander the Great's general Antigonus I Monophthalmus .-History:...

     kings of Macedonia.

  • In a further development, Menander changed the legends from circular orientation to the arrangement seen on coin 4 to the right. This modification ensured that the coins could be read without being rotated, and was used without exception by all later Indo-Greek kings.


These alterations were possibly an adaption on Menander's part to the Indian coins of the Bactrian Eucratides I
Eucratides I
Eucratides I Megas was one of the most important Greco-Bactrian kings, descendants of dignitaries of Alexander the Great. He uprooted the Euthydemid dynasty of Greco-Bactrian kings and replaced it with his own lineage...

, who had conquered the westernmost parts of the Indo-Greek kingdom, and are interpreted by Bopearachchi as an indication that Menander recaptured these western territories after the death of Eucratides.
  • Menander also struck very rare Attic standard coinage with monolingual inscriptions (coin 5), which were probably intended for use in Bactria (where they have been found), perhaps thought to demonstrate his victories against the Bactrian kings, as well as Menander's own claim to that the kingdom.

  • The bronze coins of Menander featuring a manifold variation of Olympic, Indian and other symbols. It seems as though Menander introduced a new weight standard for bronzes.

Menander II, a separate Buddhist ruler

Main article Menander the Just
Menander II
Menander II "The Just" was an Indo-Greek King who ruled in the areas of Arachosia and Gandhara in the north of modern Pakistan.-Time of reign:...



A second king named Menander with the epithet Dikaios, "the Just" ruled in the Punjab after 100 BCE. Earlier scholars, such as A.Cunningham and W.W.Tarn, believed there were only one Menander and assumed that the king had changed his epithet and/or was expelled from his western dominions. A number of coincidences led them to this assumption:
  • The portraits are relatively similar, and Menander II usually looks older than Menander I.
  • The coins of Menander II feature several Buddhist symbols, which were interpreted as proof of the conversion mentioned in Milinda panha.
  • The epithet Dikaios was translated into Kharosthi as Dharmikasa, which means "Follower of the Dharma" and was interpreted likewise.


However, modern numismatists as Bopearachchi and R.C. Senior have shown, by difference in coin findings, style and monograms, that there were indeed two distinct rulers. The second Menander could have been a descendant of the first, and his Buddhist symbols a means of alluding to his great ancestor's conversion.
With this distinction, the numismatical evidence for the Milinda panha is all but gone. The first Menander only struck a rare bronze series with a Buddhist wheel (coin 3).

Menander's death


Plutarch
Plutarch
Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

 (Praec. reip. ger. 28, 6) reports that Menander died in camp while on campaign, thereby differing with the version of the Milindapanha. Plutarch gives Menander as an example of benevolent rule, contrasting him with disliked tyrants such as Dionysius
Dionysius I of Syracuse
Dionysius I or Dionysius the Elder was a Greek tyrant of Syracuse, in what is now Sicily, southern Italy. He conquered several cities in Sicily and southern Italy, opposed Carthage's influence in Sicily and made Syracuse the most powerful of the Western Greek colonies...

, and goes on explaining that his subject towns disputed about the honour of his burial, ultimately sharing his ashes among them and placing them in "monuments" (possibly stupa
Stupa
A stupa is a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics, typically the remains of Buddha, used by Buddhists as a place of worship....

s), in a manner reminiscent of the funerals of the Buddha.
"But when one Menander, who had reigned graciously over the Bactrians, died afterwards in the camp, the cities indeed by common consent celebrated his funerals; but coming to a contest about his relics, they were difficultly at last brought to this agreement, that his ashes being distributed, everyone should carry away an equal share, and they should all erect monuments to him." (Plutarch, "Political Precepts" Praec. reip. ger. 28, 6 )


Despite his many successes, Menander's last years may have been fraught with another civil war, this time against Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

 who reigned in Gandhara. This is indicated by the fact that Menander probably overstruck a coin of Zoilos.

The Milinda Panha might give some support the idea that Menander's position was precarious, since it describes him as being somewhat cornered by numerous enemies into a circumscribed territory:
After their long discussion "Nagasaka asked himself "though king Milinda is pleased, he gives no signs of being pleased". Menander says in reply: "As a lion, the king of beasts, when put in a cage, though it were of gold, is still facing outside, even so do I live as master in the house but remain facing outside. But if I were to go forth from home into homelessness I would not live long, so many are my enemies" (Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

, Book III, Chapter 7, quoted in Boppearachchi

Theories of Menander's successors


Menander was the last Indo-Greek king mentioned by ancient historians, and the development after his death is therefore difficult to trace.

a) The traditional view, supported by W.W. Tarn and Boperachchi, is that Menander was succeeded by his Queen Agathokleia
Agathokleia
Agathokleia Theotropa was an Indo-Greek queen who ruled in parts of northern India as regent for her son Strato I.-Date and Genealogy:...

, who acted as regent to their infant son Strato I
Strato I
Strato I , was an Indo-Greek king who was the son of the Indo-Greek queen Agathokleia, who presumably acted as his regent during his early years after Strato's father, another Indo-Greek king, was killed.-Date and genealogy:...

 until he became an adult and took over the crown. Strato I used the same reverse as Menander I, Athena hurling a thunderbolt, and also the title Soter.

According to this scenario, Agathocleia and Straton I only managed to maintain themselves in the eastern parts of the kingdom, Punjab and at times Gandhara. Paropamisadae and Pushkalavati were taken over by Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

, perhaps because some of Agathocleia's subjects may have been reluctant to accept an infant king with a queen regent.

b) Against this, R.C. Senior and other numismatics such as David Bivar have suggested that Straton I ruled several decades after Menander: they point out that Straton's and Agathocleia's monograms are usually different from Menander's, and overstrikes and hoard findings also associates them with later kings.

In this scenario, Menander was briefly succeeded by his son Thrason, of whom a single coin is known. After Thrason was murdered, competing kings such as Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

 or Lysias
King Lysias
-Time of reign:According to numismatist Bopearachchi, Lysias was a close successor to Menander I and Zoilos I, and therefore may have ruled around 130-120 BCE. R.C...

 may have taken over Menander's kingdom. Menander's dynasty was thus dethroned and did not return to power until later, though his relative Nicias may have ruled a small principality in the Kabul valley.

Buddhism




After the reign of Menander I, Strato I
Strato I
Strato I , was an Indo-Greek king who was the son of the Indo-Greek queen Agathokleia, who presumably acted as his regent during his early years after Strato's father, another Indo-Greek king, was killed.-Date and genealogy:...

 and several subsequent Indo-Greek rulers, such as Amyntas, Nicias, Peukolaos
Peukolaos
Peucolaus Soter Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the area of Gandhara c. 90 BCE. His reign was probably short and insignificant, since he left only a few coins, but the relations of the latter Indo-Greek kings remain largely obscure....

, Hermaeus
King Hermaeus
Hermaeus Soter "the Saviour" was a Western Indo-Greek king of the Eucratid Dynasty, who ruled the territory of Paropamisade in the Hindu-Kush region, with his capital in Alexandria of the Caucasus...

, and Hippostratos
Hippostratos
Hippostratos was an Indo-Greek king who ruled central and north-western Punjab and Pushkalavati. Bopearachchi dates Hippostratos to 65 to 55 BCE whereas R.C...

, depicted themselves or their Greek deities forming with the right hand a symbolic gesture
Gesture
A gesture is a form of non-verbal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of speech or together and in parallel with spoken words. Gestures include movement of the hands, face, or other parts of the body...

 identical to the Buddhist vitarka mudra
Mudra
A mudrā is a symbolic or ritual gesture in Hinduism and Buddhism. While some mudrās involve the entire body, most are performed with the hands and fingers...

 (thumb and index joined together, with other fingers extended), which in Buddhism signifies the transmission of the Buddha's teaching. At the same time, right after the death of Menander, several Indo-Greek rulers also started to adopt on their coins the Pali
Páli
- External links :* *...

 title of "Dharmikasa", meaning "follower of the Dharma
Dharma
Dharma means Law or Natural Law and is a concept of central importance in Indian philosophy and religion. In the context of Hinduism, it refers to one's personal obligations, calling and duties, and a Hindu's dharma is affected by the person's age, caste, class, occupation, and gender...

" (the title of the great Indian Buddhist king Ashoka
Ashoka
Ashok Maurya or Ashoka , popularly known as Ashoka the Great, was an Indian emperor of the Maurya Dynasty who ruled almost all of the Indian subcontinent from ca. 269 BC to 232 BC. One of India's greatest emperors, Ashoka reigned over most of present-day India after a number of military conquests...

 was Dharmaraja "King of the Dharma"). This usage was adopted by Strato I
Strato I
Strato I , was an Indo-Greek king who was the son of the Indo-Greek queen Agathokleia, who presumably acted as his regent during his early years after Strato's father, another Indo-Greek king, was killed.-Date and genealogy:...

, Zoilos I
Zoilos I
Zoilus I Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in Northern India and occupied the areas of the Paropamisade and Arachosia previously held by Menander I. He may have belonged to the dynasty of Euthydemus I.-Time of reign:...

, Heliokles II, Theophilos
Theophilos (king)
Theophilos was a minor Indo-Greek king who ruled for a short time in the Paropamisadae. He was possibly a relative of Zoilos I and is only known from coins. It is possible that some of Theophilos' coins in fact belong to another ruler, in Greek Bactria, during approximately the same period.-Time of...

, Peukolaos
Peukolaos
Peucolaus Soter Dikaios was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the area of Gandhara c. 90 BCE. His reign was probably short and insignificant, since he left only a few coins, but the relations of the latter Indo-Greek kings remain largely obscure....

 and Archebios
Archebios
Archebius Dikaios Nikephoros "The Just/Follower of the Dharma and Victorious" was an Indo-Greek king who ruled in the area of Taxila. Osmund Bopearachchi dates him to circa 90–80 BCE, and R C Senior to about the same period. He was probably one of the last Indo-Greek kings before the Saka king...

.

Altogether, the conversion of Menander to Buddhism suggested by the Milinda Panha
Milinda Panha
The Milinda Panha is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. It is included in the Burmese edition of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism as a book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, however, it does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions.It purports to record a dialogue in which the...

 seems to have triggered the use of Buddhist symbolism in one form or another on the coinage of close to half of the kings who succeeded him. Especially, all the kings after Menander who are recorded to have ruled in Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

 (apart from the little known Demetrius III) display Buddhist symbolism in one form or another.

Both because of his conversion and because of his unequaled territorial expansion, Menander may have contributed to the expansion of Buddhism in Central Asia. Although the spread of Buddhism to Central Asia and Northern Asia is usually associated with the Kushans, a century or two later, there is a possibility that it may have been introduced in those areas from Gandhara
Gandhara
Gandhāra , is the name of an ancient kingdom , located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau and on the Kabul River...

 "even earlier, during the time of Demetrius
Demetrius I of Bactria
Demetrius I was a Buddhist Greco-Bactrian king . He was the son of Euthydemus and succeeded him around 200 BC, after which he conquered extensive areas in what now is eastern Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan thus creating an Indo-Greek kingdom far from Hellenistic Greece...

 and Menander
Menander
Menander , Greek dramatist, the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy, was the son of well-to-do parents; his father Diopeithes is identified by some with the Athenian general and governor of the Thracian Chersonese known from the speech of Demosthenes De Chersoneso...

" (Puri, "Buddhism in Central Asia").

Representation of the Buddha




The anthropomorphic representation of the Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 is absent from Indo-Greek coinage, suggesting that the Indo-Greek kings may have respected the Indian an-iconic rule for depictions of the Buddha, limiting themselves to symbolic representation only. Consistently with this perspective, the actual depiction of the Buddha would be a later phenomenon, usually dated to the 1st century, emerging from the sponsorship of the syncretic Kushan Empire
Kushan Empire
The Kushan Empire originally formed in the early 1st century AD under Kujula Kadphises in the territories of ancient Bactria on either side of the middle course of the Oxus in what is now northern Afghanistan, Pakistan, and southern Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.During the 1st and early 2nd centuries...

 and executed by Greek, and, later, Indian and possibly Roman artists. Datation of Greco-Buddhist statues is generally uncertain, but they are at least firmly established from the 1st century.

Another possibility is that just as the Indo-Greeks routinely represented philosophers in statues (but certainly not on coins) in Antiquity, the Indo-Greek may have initiated anthropomorphic representations of the Buddha in statuary only, possibly as soon as the 2nd-1st century BC, as advocated by Foucher
Alfred A. Foucher
Alfred Foucher , a French scholar, identified the Buddha image as having Greek origins.He made his first trip to northeastern India in 1895...

 and suggested by Chinese murals depicting Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han
Emperor Wu of Han , , personal name Liu Che , was the seventh emperor of the Han Dynasty of China, ruling from 141 BC to 87 BC. Emperor Wu is best remembered for the vast territorial expansion that occurred under his reign, as well as the strong and centralized Confucian state he organized...

 worshipping Buddha statues brought from Central Asia in 120 BC (See picture) ). An Indo-Chinese tradition also explains that Nagasena
Nagasena
Nāgasena was a Brahmin who became a Buddhist sage lived about 150 BCE. His answers to questions about Buddhism posed by Menander I , the Indo-Greek king of northwestern India , are recorded in the Milinda Pañha....

, also known as Menander's Buddhist teacher, created in 43 BC in the city of Pataliputra a statue of the Buddha, the Emerald Buddha
Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha is the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand, a figurine of the sitting Buddha, made of green jadeite , clothed in gold, and about 45 cm tall...

, which was later brought to Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

.

Stylistically, Indo-Greek coins generally display a very high level of Hellenistic artistic realism, which declined drastically around 50 BC with the invasions of the Indo-Scythians, Yuezhi
Yuezhi
The Yuezhi, or Rouzhi , also known as the Da Yuezhi or Da Rouzhi , were an ancient Central Asian people....

 and Indo-Parthians. The first known statues of the Buddha are also very realistic and Hellenistic in style and are more consistent with the pre-50 BC artistic level seen on coins.


This would tend to suggest that the first statues were created between 130 BC (death of Menander) and 50 BC, precisely at the time when Buddhist symbolism appeared on Indo-Greek coinage. From that time, Menander and his successors may have been the key propagators of Buddhist ideas and representations: "the spread of Gandhari Buddhism may have been stimulated by Menander's royal patronage, as may have the development and spread of Gandharan sculpture, which seems to have accompanied it" (Mc Evilly, "The shape of ancient thought", p378)

Geography


In Classical Antiquity, from at least the 1st century, the "Menander Mons", or "Mountains of Menander", came to designate the mountain chain at the extreme east of the Indian subcontinent, today's Naga Hills
Naga hills
Naga hills, reaching a height of around 3825 metres, lie on the border of India and Burma . These hills are part of a complex mountain system, and the parts of the mountain ranges inside the Indian state of Nagaland and the Burmese region of Sagaing are called the Naga Hills.In British India, the...

 and Arakan
Rakhine State
Rakhine State is a Burmese state. Situated on the western coast, it is bordered by Chin State in the north, Magway Region, Bago Region and Ayeyarwady Region in the east, the Bay of Bengal to the west, and the Chittagong Division of Bangladesh to the northwest. It is located approximately between...

, as indicated in the Ptolemy world map of the 1st century geographer Ptolemy
Ptolemy
Claudius Ptolemy , was a Roman citizen of Egypt who wrote in Greek. He was a mathematician, astronomer, geographer, astrologer, and poet of a single epigram in the Greek Anthology. He lived in Egypt under Roman rule, and is believed to have been born in the town of Ptolemais Hermiou in the...

.



External links