A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

(Κάλανος), one of the so-called gymnosophists of India, who followed the Macedonian army from Taxila at the desire of Alexander the Great; but when he was taken ill afterwards, he refused to change his mode of living, and in order to get rid of the sufferings of human life altogether, he solemnly burnt himself on a pyre in the presence of the whole Macedonian army, without evincing any symptom of pain. (Arrian, Arr. Anab. 7.2, &c.; Aelian, Ael. VH 2.41, 5.6; Plut. Alex. 69; Strab. xv. p.686; Diod. 17.107 ; Athen. 10.437; Lucian, De M. Pereg. 25 ; Cic. Tusc. 2.22, De Divinat. 1.22, 30; V. Max. 1.8, Ext. 10.) His real name was, according to Plutarch (Plut. Alex. 65), Sphines, and he received the name Calanus among the Greeks, because in saluting persons he used the form καλέ instead of the Greek χαῖπε. What Plutarch here calls καλέ is probably the Sanscrit form calyána, which is commonly used in addressing a person, and signifies good, just, or distinguished. Josephus (c. Apion. i. p. 484) states, that all the Indian philosophers were called Κάλανοι, but this statement is without any foundation, and is probably a mere invention. (Lassen, in the Rhein. Museum. für Philol. i. p. 176.)