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

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



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India and the Roman Empire      111

from Koptos to the sea, he tells that passengers
for India usually embarked (at Berenike or Myos
Hormos) about midsummer. The voyage to Okelis,
at the mouth of the Red Sea, the favourite port
for travellers to India, took just a month. Then,
if the Hippalus (the name given to the south¬
west monsoon, after its discoverer) were blowing,
they reached Muziris (Cranganore on the Malabar
coast), in forty days. No doubt the time was
often bettered in practice, as the distance was
only about 2000 miles and a Greek vessel with
a good wind could do eighty miles a day^. In
any case, Alexandria was now brought within
a little over two months of the Indian coast.
When we remember the thirty months taken
by the pioneer of Greek voyages from India to
Suez, Skylax of Karyanda, we begin to appreciate
the improvements effected in navigation by the
first century a.d. Pliny tells us that passengers
preferred to embark at Barake^ in the Pandya
country, rather than at Muziris, on account of
the pirates who infested the latter port. To
keep off these pirates. East Indiamen had to
carry troops of archers.    This coast has always

^ For figures, see Hirth, China and the Roman Orient,
p. 167 (Shanghai, 1885). Hirth, however, forgets that the
revenue-ship belonging to Annius Plocamus, caught in the
monsoon off the Arabian coast was blown to the Ceylon
coast in fifteen days! This, I think, constituted a record
for the ancient world.    Pliny, N.H. vi. 22.

2 On the outer edge of the great Cochin lagoon. Inside
this lagoon was the great port of Nelkynda.    Vide infra.
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