Saturday, May 19, 2012
India and Antioch
While fossicking through some of the journal entries form before 1923 that have now been liberated in JSTOR I stumbled upon two articles related to Antioch and India. In the past I have written of a Chinese delegation arriving at the city and recording for posterity the sights they saw.
In the first, "Some Aspects of the Overland Oriental Trade at the Christian Era" by WILFRED H. SCHOFF, Secretary of the Commercial Museum, Philadelphia, Pa.", the author speaks of the trade routes in the ancient Middle East. In relation to Antioch he notes " the route which led from Antioch in Syria to the ford of the Euphrates, thence down that river and across to Seleucia on the Tigris, up the Zagros valley, over the plateau to the Caspian Gates and north of the Persian desert to Nisaea and Antiochia Margiana; thence through Bactria to the Pamirs, or through Arachosia to Kabul and the Panjab".
The other text is: On the Indian Embassy to Augustus by Osmond De Beauvoir Priaulx in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, Vol. 17, (1860), pp. 309-321. He writes that Nicolaus Damascenus, in a fragment preserved by Strabo, relates "that at Antioch Epidaphne, he fell in with three Indian ambassadors, then on their way to tho court of Augustus. They were, as their letter showed, the survivors of a larger embassy, but to the others the length of the journey principally had proved fatal. Their letter was written on parchment and in the name of Porus, and in Greek. It set forth that Porus, though Lord over 600 kings, much valued the friendship of, and was ready to open his dominions to Caesar, and to assist him on all just and lawful occasions. The presents they brought with them were in the charge of eight well-anointed slaves, naked all but their girdles, and consisted of a youth whose arms had been amputated at the shoulders in childhood, a sort of Hermes, some large vipers, a snake ten cubits long, a river tortoise of four cubits, and a partridge somewhat larger than a vulture".
Well they say to beware of Greeks bearing gifts, but frankly we would be more wary of what these Indians were bringing!