Page:The Periplus of the Erythræan Sea.djvu/20

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


Even if the dates in the Chronicle, and Salt's identification of Zoscales with Za Hakale were strictly correct, the date generally accepted for the birth of Christ, 5 B. C., would bring Za Hakale's accession down to 71 A. D. and his death to 84.

Nearly all the commentators think that the Periplus is earlier than Pliny's Natural History, which is known to have been published between 73 and 77 A. D. The principal indication is their similarity in the description of Arabia Felix, where Pliny seems to condense the Periplus, but he does not mention Axum. He ends the African coast at the Promontory of Mosyllum and says that the Atlantic Sea begins there. In this he follows King Juba; but had he known the Periplus he ought to have included the African coast as far as Zanzibar. He has an account of Mariaba, the royal city of Arabia Felix, which the Periplus has not. He quotes Aelius Gallus, writing in 24 B. C., as stating that the Sabaeans are the richest tribe in southern Arabia. The Periplus, however, has them subject to the Homerites, who receive only passing mention from Aelius Gallus.

One is tempted to imagine that Pliny's account of the voyage to India (VI, 26) in which he refers to "information on which reliance may be placed, here published for the first time," refers to the Periplus, then existing merely as a merchant's diary; and Glaser has based much of his argument as to the authorship of the Periplus on that passage; but Pliny goes on to describe a voyage different in many ways from that of the Periplus, and giving quite a different account of the coast of India. At the time Pliny wrote, the sea-route to India had been opened for nearly thirty years, and he might have had this information from any sea-captain, as indeed he might have had the facts concerning Arabia Felix which seem to be in such close agreement with the Periplus. The argument that Pliny, whose work was dedicated in 77 A. D., borrowed from the Periplus is, then, suggestive and even plausible, but by no means conclusive.

Returning to § 41, the reference to the anarchy in the Indo-Parthian or Saka region does not suggest the consolidated power of that King of Kathiawar and Ujjain who founded the so-called Saka era of 78 A. D.; indicating for the Periplus a date earlier than that era.