Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



Jump to page:

Table of Contents

  Page 105  

India and the Roman Empire     105

that about one hundred and twenty merchantmen
sailed to India (he does not say in what space
of time, but perhaps he means in a single season),
whereas scarcely anyone dared to make the
direct voyage in the days of the Ptolemies 1.
In his own days a few bold sailors even made
the mouth of the Ganges. But they were ignorant
men, ill-qualified to describe what they had seen.
Hence Strabo is driven to rely for his information
about India upon previous writers^. His leading
authority is Eratosthenes, the Alexandrian. He
draws also largely upon Megasthenes (whom he
unfairly censures), and on Aristobulus, Onesikritus,
Nearchus, and other writers who took part in
Alexander's campaign. Hence the India he des¬
cribes is the India, not of his own day, but of
the third and fourth centuries B.C. ; and valuable
and exhaustive though the fifteenth book of
the Geography is, it throws little light upon India
at the time of Augustus. Even with regard
to the accounts of eye-witnesses, he says, there
are many discrepancies, and most of the people
who write about India do so from hearsay, having
visited only isolated portions of the country.
The same remarks apply to the Indika of Arrian,
written about 150 B.C. A work of quite a different
kind is the encyclopaedic 'Natural History of
Pliny the Elder, completed in the year 77 a.d.
two years before his death in the great eruption
at Pompeii. The sixth book of this work contains
1 Strabo, Geog. ii. 5. 12.                    2 jm^ xv. 2.
  Page 105