Greek and Kannada in classical Era

History shows there was extensive contact between Greece and kannada country. The Contacts between Present Maharastra (then kannada country) and Greece is well documented. Let us see the present Karnataka and Greece contacts.

Aritophanes and Euripides (4th century BC)

The Great Greek dramatists of the 4th century BC., particularly Euripides and Aristophanes, appear to have been familiar with the Kannada country and the Kannada language, and had actually used Kannada phrases and expressions in the dialogues of their characters along with Persian and Punic. This shows a far more intimate contact of the Greeks with Kannada culture than with Indian Culture elsewhere.

Alexandria (Egypt) (3rd century BC)

Mr. Doddarange Gowda claimed Kannada word “Ooralli” (which means in a village) written on a huge wall constructed in Alexandria by ancient Greek ruler Alexander the Great in third century BC. “The Kannada word ‘Ooralli’ is part of the remnants of 36,000 palm manuscripts that had been burnt in an accidental fire during Alexander’s time. When the accidental fire destroyed much of the palm manuscripts, Alexander ordered his commanders to erect a huge wall so that the remnants can be magnified and reproduced on it. The palm manuscripts contained texts written not only in Greek, Latin and Hebrew, but also Sanskrit and Kannada.

Ptolemy (150 AD)

A Greek Geographer Ptolemy mentions in his work places such as Badiamaioi(Badami), Inde(indi), Kalligeris(kalkeri), Modogoulla(mudagal), Petrigala (Pattadakal),Hippokoura(Huvina Hipparagi), Nagarouris(Nagur), Tabaso (Tavasi), Tiripangalida (Gadahinglai),Soubouttou or Sabatha(Savadi), Banaouase(Banavasi), Thogorum ( Tagara), Biathana (Paithan), Sirimalaga (Malkhed) , Aloe (Ellapur) and Pasage (Palasige) showing prosperous trade between Egypt , Europe and Karanaka. And also mentions Pounnata (punnata) and refers to beryls ie.the vaidurya gems of that country. He Mentions Malippala ( Malpe) sea coastal town of Karnataka. He also mentions Larika and Kandaloi , identified as Rastrika and Kuntala. The Peripelus states that the Egyptians exported woollen and linen cloth , wine and bullion to India and inturn received spices ,gems silk, pepper, Ivory, cotton , betel and tortoise shell.

Ptolemy states that in the midst of the false mouth and the Barios , there is a city called Maganur (Mangalore). Ptolemy speaks of Inland centres of pirates called Oloikhora (Alavakheda). He mentions Ariake sadinon meaning aryaka satakarni and Baithana as capital of siro(e) P(t)olmaios , ie Sri pulimey clearly indicates his knowledge of satavahana kings. The word Pulimey means one with body of Tiger in Kannada bears to the testimony of kannada origin of Satavahana kings.

Pliny ( 23AD)

Pliny talks about pirates between Muzaris and Nitrias(Netravati River). He also mentions Barace (Barcelore).

Charition Mime(150 AD)

In 1899 extensive excavations were carried out at oxyrhynchus in Egypt at the Instance of Biblical archaeological association to further biblical research. Excavations revealed a large collection of ancient Manuscripts inscribed on strips of Papyrus. Selected Papyri was published in Five Volumes. The Third Volume, Literary PapyriL Poetry, contains texts translated by D.L Page with Exhaustive notes. In this volume is a play described as a low sort of music-hall performance by an anonymous writer. The title of the play is charition and It is ascribed to the late 1st to early 2nd century AD. The plot occurs on the coast of a barbarian country (Karnataka) on the Indian Ocean. The Play contains some lines in a Barbaric (Kannada) Language. Hultzch(1904) Identified the Language to be Kannada. Dr. Sama Shastri(1926) gave translation of the Passages. Barnett and Dr.Keith said the the chief source of amusement are the humour of clown and gibberish of the savages and the ancient audience would not have understand a syllable. B.A Saletore with Pandit K.B. Ramakrishnayya translated the Gibberish to English and proved that they are infact Kannada. P. S . Rai Claimed that they are Tulu. However Saletore explanation of the locale of the story and Dr. Shastri analysis of Language proved that it is Kannada. The point to be noted is that any nonsense gibberish could have been passed by the author as the language being spoken by chiefs , but he sticks to the words from Kannada, which shows that the audience knowledge of kannada was good and he cant just bluff. There should have been large population of kannada speaking people or the local population should have knowledge of kannada, either case shows the extend of influence of kannada in the region.


Beautiful young girl called charition was kidnapped and sold to Nayaka as flute girl in coastal Karnataka. The nayaka dedicated her to temple of Moon God Situated near Malpe. Her brother Dionysis rescued her giving wine to the nayaka and his party ,and rescued the girl when he was drunk. Which escaping the clown who came along with rescuers advised her to steal some of the valuables made to the goddess but refuses to do so citing devotion to the diety. The Kannada passages appear while the clown is with the nayakas (chiefs) serving wine.


  1. From Shankarappa Toranagallu

    Kannada word ‘ooralli’ on the walls of ‘The Library of Alexandria’
    I have visited this library in Alexandria of Egypt which is referred by Sri Doddarange Gowda as carrying the Kannada word ‘ooralli’. This is now called as ‘Bibliotheca Alexandrina’ a 21st-century version of the great classical library of Alexandria. .

    It is a modern glass-and-steel structure with giant exterior grey granite walls carved with hieroglyphs and symbols from every known alphabet (script) worldwide. Among this the Kannada Word ‘ooralli’ appears in kannada script. The story says that the ancient library was set on fire many times during history purposely/accidentally. It has been also said that When the Arabs burnt the library a few manuscripts remained half burnt. The words found on this half burnt manuscripts were adopted to be carved on the exterior walls of the new library in granite and hence Kaannada word ‘ooralli’ appears. There is no other history or antiquity connected with this.
    This new library is an architectural showpiece that symbolises the sun rising out of the Mediterranean and the rebirth of Alexandria in the late 1990s.

    The new library includes three museums and five specialised research institutes. Its shelves contain 200,000 books on every field of science and information. The Bibliotheca has room for about five million books.

    It also includes a digital library of books manuscripts and papyri of ancient world.
    History :
    Around 295 B.C., the scholar Demetrius of Phalerum convinced the new pharaoh, Ptolemy I Soter, that Alexandria could rival Athens as a center of culture and learning—by establishing a library that would house all the books in the world. History says that the Ptolemies became so hungry for knowledge that they seized books from every ship that came into harbor. They made a copy for the script but kept the originals for themselves.The library housed the masterpieces of classical civilization: the works of Aristotle and Plato; original manuscripts of Sophocles, Aeschylus and Euripides; Egyptian treatises on astronomy and medicine; Buddhist texts; and the first translations of the Hebrew scriptures. Eventually historians believe Alexandria amassed 700,000 scrolls.
    Consequently this library was supposed to be burnt many times. There are several stories for this :

    1) In 47 B.C., when Caesar was in Alexandria, some 40,000 volumes which were stored near the arsenal -perhaps with the view to their shipment to Rome, were accidentally burnt.

    2) The Royal Library
    The Royal Library was an unfortunate casualty of war. In 48 B.C., Caesar found himself involved in a civil war between Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy XIII. Caesar sided with Cleopatra and was soon besieged by land and sea by the Ptolomaic forces. He realised that his only chance lay in setting fire to the enemy fleet and it was by this drastic measure that he managed to gain the upper hand. But the fire, in the words of Plutarch, spread from the dockyards and destroyed the "Great Library".
    3) The story that it was finally burnt by Arabs is now discredited by research by Arab scholars. They draw the attention to the fact that Since, when the Arabs conquered Egypt in 642 A.D., the Alexandria Library no longer existed. It is noteworthy that no historians of the conquest, whether Byzantine or Arab, ever mention any accident that could have occurred to the Library. It was not until six centuries later, during the time of the Crusades, when all of a sudden a story emerges, claiming that the Arab general Amr Ibn Al-As, had destroyed the books by using them as fuel for the baths!

    Revived Glory :
    During the 1980s, Egypt and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization resolved (UNESCO) to build the Bibliotheca Alexandrina with the same universal goals as the ancient one: a focal point for research, the advancement of knowledge and the open exchange of ideas.
    An international design competition chose the Norwegian firm Snohetta to build the library. The building—in the shape of a massive disc inclined toward the Mediterranean—evokes the image of the Egyptian sun illuminating the world.
    International Effort
    Countries from around the world—especially the Middle East—contributed to the U.S. $220 million-plus building effort. Saddam Hussein's $21-million check cleared just days before the Gulf War.

  2. Wonderful. More research should be done


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