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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130     India and the Roman Empire

merchants of Antioch or Alexandria, reached
the court of the Chinese monarch Huan-ti in
October, 166 a.d. They represented to the king
that their master had always desired to send
embassies to China, but the Parthians had wished
to carry on the trade in Chinese silks, and for
this reason they had been cut off from direct
communication. They therefore represented them¬
selves as having been sent by An tun king of
Ta-tsin (Antonius King of Syria), who offered
ivory, rhinoceros horns, and tortoise-shell from
the frontier of Annam. They brought no jewels,
says the Chinese annalist, a fact which makes
him suspect their story. However, from that
date, he continues, direct intercourse between
China and the West by sea began. No doubt
the merchandise went from Annam to Nelkynda
and was there shipped to Alexandria and Antioch 1.
Ptolemy, the great Alexandrian geographer,
writing about this time, chiefly from information
collected by Marinus of Tyre, exhibits a much
fuller knowledge of the Asiatic coast than his
predecessors, from which we may infer that the
mission to the Chinese court was only part of
a general pushing forward of Roman trade with
the Far East.    The author of the Periplus knew

^ I follow Hirth, China and the Roman Orient, text p. 42,
and commentary, pp. 173-8. See also Reinaud, Relations
de VEmpire Romain avec I'Asie Oriental, p. 184 ; Priaulx,
Indian Embassies to Rome {J.R.A.S. xix. 294) and Yule's
Cathay and the Way Thither.
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