The purpose of this essay is to outline a few historical, sociological and political-legal coordinates meant to offer a sufficiently detailed picture of the unique experience of the Indo-Greeks, from their origin to Menander I. At the borderlines of Hellenism, in an isolated but not disconnected context, the Greeks from Bactria, and later from India, managed to create an effective political, cultural and social synthesis, able to consolidate one of the most long-lasting and peculiar societies after the fragmentation of Alexander’s Empire. The Indo-Greek world survived even up to the fall of the last Greek kingdoms in India in the 1st century C.E., thereby revealing a remarkable vitality, mostly visible in the cosmopolitism of the Kushan Empire. This phenomenon further demonstrated how Greek culture played a vital role in that peculiar cross-way between cultures, languages and peoples, which also includes the Han dynasty in China. Despite having access to only fragmented and very limited historical sources (but with the help of evidence given by Numismatics and Archeology), this essay attempts to offer a cross-section of those centuries at the dawn of the history of the Silk Road – with specific attention to the legal and political areas– at a moment in which this perspective turns out to be quite relevant to a current reflection on East-West relationships.
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