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 He conversed with Calanus, one of these sophists, who accompanied the king to Persia, and died after the custom of his country, being placed on a pile of [burning] wood. When Onesicritus came, he was lying upon stones. Onesicritus approached, accosted him, and told him that he had been sent by the king, who had heard the fame of his wisdom, and that he was to give an account of his interview, if there were no objection, he was ready to listen to his discourse. When Calanus saw his mantle, head-covering, and shoes, he laughed, and said, ‘Formerly, there was abundance everywhere of corn and barley, as there is now of dust; fountains then flowed with water, milk, honey, wine, and oil, but mankind by repletion and luxury became proud and insolent. Jupiter, indignant at this state of things, destroyed all, and appointed for man a life of toil. On the reappearance of temperance and other virtues, there was again an abundance of good things. But at present the condition of mankind approaches satiety and insolence, and there is danger lest the things which now exist should disappear.’ When he had finished, he proposed to Onesicritus, if he wished to hear his discourse, to strip off his clothes, to lie down naked by him on the same stones, and in that manner to listen to him; while he was hesitating what to do, Mandanis,1 who was the oldest and wisest of the sophists, reproached Calanus for his insolence, although he censured such insolence himself. Mandanis called Onesicritus to him, and said, I commend the king, because, although he governs so large an empire, he is yet desirous of acquiring wisdom, for he is the only philosopher in arms that I ever saw; it would be of the greatest advantage, if those were philosophers who have the power of persuading the willing and of compelling the unwilling to learn temperance; but I am entitled to indulgence, if, when conversing by means of three interpreters, who, except the language, know no more than the vulgar, I am not able to demonstrate the utility of philosophy. To attempt it is to expect water to flow pure through mud.
1 By Arrian and Plutarch he is called Dandamis.
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