Nicolaus of Damascus (Nikolāos Damaskēnos) was a Greek historical and philosophical writer who lived in the Augustan age. His name is derived from that of his birthplace, Damascus. He was an intimate friend of Herod the Great, whom he survived by a number of years
His chief work was a universal history in 144 books, of which only a few fragments remain. He also wrote an autobiography, a life of Augustus, a life of Herod, and some philosophical works.
Nicolaus is famous for his account of an embassy sent by an Indian king "named Pandion (Pandyan kingdom?) or, according to others, Porus" to Caesar Augustus around 13 AD. He met with the embassy at Antioch. The embassy was bearing a diplomatic letter in Greek, and one of its members was a sramana who burnt himself alive in Athens to demonstrate his faith. The event made a sensation and was quoted by Strabosramana master from Barygaza in India").
These accounts indicate that Indian religious men (Sramanas, to which the Buddhists belonged, as opposed to Hindu Brahmanas) were circulating in the Levant during the time of Jesus.
The Jewish historian Josephus references the fourth book of Nicolaus' history concerning Abram (Abraham).
- ↑ Strabo, xv, 1, on the immolation of the Sramana in Athens (Paragraph 73)
- ↑ Dio Cassius, liv, 9.
- Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1898: "Nicolaus"
- Lightfoot, J.B. 1875. On Some Points Connected with the Essenes: II."Origin and Affinity of the Essenes", note
- Some of the surviving text of Life of Augustus