In this special departmental lecture, CRS Post-Doctoral Research Affiliate Dr. Chiara Di Serio focuses on the process of devising and elaborating metaphorical meanings in the Medieval descriptions of the Brahmans. Symbolic representations took place in works of Medieval theologians, encyclopedists and chronographers. Many of them referred to the meeting between Alexander and the Indian “naked philosophers” (gymnosophists), and illustrated the Indian sages’ lifestyle as useful exemplum in the fields of morals, ethics and politics. In this intellectual production Indian wise men are identified as prototypes of the right way of behaving for Christians and symbols of an original natural innocence.
Dr. Chiara Di Serio is a research affiliate to the CEU Center for Religious Studies. She received a long training at the Roman School of History of Religions in the University of Rome La Sapienza. In February 2020 she defended her PhD dissertation which focuses on the apocryphal correspondence between Alexander the Great and Dindimus, head of the Brahmans. Her research interests concern the Greco-Roman ethnographic literature on Eastern countries and peoples, specifically on India and its inhabitants. She is currently carrying out a research project on the narratives about the Indian “naked philosophers” from Antiquity to the Middle Ages.