But long before the advent of Buddhism, the hermit, or wandering beggar, was a familiar figure in India.
"I too, 0 brahmin," said the beggar, "plough and sow; and having ploughed and sown I eat."
The social condition of the time recalls that of present-day Morocco, in the high price of necessaries and the extortions of the financial authorities; every man was either soldier, beggar or smuggler.
Thaddeus of Suessa was hacked to pieces by the mob; the imperial crown was placed in mockery on the head of a hunch-backed beggar, who was carried back in triumph into the city.
Sometimes Athena disguises him as a decrepit beggar, sometimes she bestows on him supernatural beauty and vigour.
A short fragment has been discovered (in the Rainer papyri) from the `OSuvQei s abr6 oXos, which told how Odysseus got inside Troy in the disguise of a beggar and obtained valuable information.
On the shore of the Irish Sea is Leasowe Castle, once known as Mock-Beggar Hall, and supposed to have been erected by the earls of Derby in the reign of Elizabeth, in order to witness the horse-races held here.
"For my cultivation," said the beggar, "faith is the seed, self-combat is the fertilizing rain, the weeds I destroy are the cleaving to existence, wisdom is my plough, and its guidingshaft is modesty; perseverance draws my plough, and I guide it with the rein of my mind; the field I work is in the law, and the harvest that I reap is the never-dying nectar of Nirvana.
The society also maintained Beggar Colonies for the compulsory detention of persons committing the offence of begging.
The term came in time to mean " a beggar " and with that meaning has passed through Aramaic and Hebrew into many modern languages; but though the Code does not regard him as necessarily poor, he may have been landless.
While stationed at Amiens he divided his cloak with a beggar, and on the following night had the vision of Christ making known to his angels this act of charity to Himself on the part of "Martinus, still a catechumen."
There is little doubt that the name is introduced simply as part of the parable, and not with any idea of identifying the beggar with Lazarus of Bethany.
Once ordained bishop of Edessa, with the connivance of Theodora, James, disguised as a ragged beggar (whence his name Baradaeus, Syriac Burdeana, Arabic alBar adia), traversed these regions preaching, teaching and ordaining new clergy to the number, it is said, of 80,000.
The fiction of Belisarius wandering as a blind beggar through the streets of Constantinople, which has been adopted by Marmontel in his Belisaire, and by various painters and poets, is first heard of in the 10th century.
He was described to Pepys on his acquiring office as "one of a broken sort of people that have not much to lose and therefore will venture all," and as "a beggar having £1Too or £1200 a year, but owes above £10,000."