Ctesias of Cnidus (5th century BC) was a Greek historian and physician from Cnidus in Caria. He is believed to be the author of two works named Indica and Persica.

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“Despite their significance to scholarship, the fragments
of Ctesias have never been translated into English in their entirety.”
– Andrew Nichols, The Complete Fragments of Ctesius of Cnidus (2008), pg. 9.

“Unfortunately, these works have not survived in their original form but have only been preserved in citations and epitomes by later authors which, until now have never been fully and collectively translated into English.”
– Andrew Nichols, The Complete Fragments of Ctesius of Cnidus (2008), pg. 8.

Andrew Nichols also reports that “the French translation of Auberger (1991) was the first fully collated translation of all the fragments of Ctesias in any language save Latin”. Before this, he says that scholars typically only ever focused on Indica or Persica.

The main source for Ctesius is an epitome by Photios I of Constantinople (c.810-c.893). Nichols claims that Ctesius’ original work was still in circulation after Photius’ epitome, but that the epitome probably doomed them because people would rather read the summary. Photius’ epitome was first published in 1557 by Henri Estienne.

The first complete editions of all the fragments appeared in the 19th century. First with Albert Lion (1823) and then with Johann Christian Felix Baehr (1824). Felix Jacoby published volume IIIC of his Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker in 1958 and it contained a text of all the fragments of Ctesias. Jacoby’s text became the standard edition until Dominique Lenfant (2004).

Ctesius was a widely believed to be the best source available for Assyrian history until the 18th century with the discovery of the Assyrian kinglist tablets.


This work is reported to be a Persian view of India. It includes descriptions of god-like people, philosophers, artisans, massive amounts of gold, and other riches and wonders.

The book only remains in fragments and in reports made about the book by later authors.


This work is reported to be a 23 book history of Assyria and Persia that was written in opposition to Herodotus. Supposedly it was founded on the Persian Royal Archives. The first 6 books (the Assyriaka) cover the Assyrian and Median empire histories to the foundation of the Persian empire. The other (Persika) 17 books covered history to 398 BC.

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[1] – http://etd.fcla.edu/UF/UFE0022521/nichols_a.pdf

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