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    Re: Should I question Pliny?
    From: George Huxtable
    Date: 2009 Sep 9, 00:39 +0100

    A bit more about those Taprobanes.
    
    Frank Reed sought support for his speculation-
    
    "My guess would be that those ambassadors were impostors. It was not an
    uncommon game until rather recently. One could travel among the potentates
    and royalty of the civilized world treated like an honored guest, wined and
    dined and entertained."
    
    by quoting an obscure French savant as follows-
    
    In 1815, Latronne wrote in the Memoirs of the Royal Academy (translated from
    the French):
    "But the absurdities that they (the ambassadors) claimed for their island,
    prove clearly that they had never been there (to Ceylon). How else do we
    explain their admiration for the great bear and the pleiades, which, they
    said, they did not see from their homes, when it is certain that the former
    could be be seen at a height of thirty degrees from there while the latter
    could be seen at the zenith from this island. What should we say of their
    surprise at seeing their shadows pointing toward the north pole, when the
    same phenomenon occurs in Ceylon during seven or eight months of the year?
    Or that the moon does not show itself in Taprobane except from the eighth to
    the sixteenth hour [day]? Or for that matter, that from their country they
    could see the Himalayas? And still other details that while not suffering
    from such startling absudity, are either ridiculous or fabulous? It is
    nearly impossible [to doubt] that those in Rome must have been fooled by
    some deception. The freeman of Annius Plocamus would have wanted to profit
    from the loss of his shipwreck; having brought with him several locals from
    the region where he had landed, he could have invested them with the
    character of ambassadors and had them come from Taprobane, from where he was
    quite sure that no real ambassador would come to cause him trouble."
    
    ===================
    
    Those words prove nothing other than that conspiracy-theories, and
    conspiracy-theorists, have existed everywhere, in all eras; it's not just
    Frank.
    
    Indeed, if M. Latronne claimed that the statement that they had never seen
    the Pleiades proved that they didn't hail from Ceylon, one wonders where he
    thought they did come from, as at that date the Pleiades were visible from
    everywhere in the World outside Antarctica.
    
    Indeed, if you Google "Taprobanes", as Frank has clearly done, you will find
    many pages of speculation about this somewhat legendary land. It seems to
    have been the Roman equivalent of a Shangri-la, a mythical and inaccessible
    paradise with none of Rome's defects; a sort of anti-Rome. So if mysterious
    foreigners appear from beyond the known Roman world, it may be natural to
    associate them with the fabled Taprobanes. Any connection of the "land of
    the Taprobanes" with the island of Ceylon appears to be disputed and
    uncertain. But I claim no knowledge of Roman lore other than what I've
    picked up from a few Google pages.
    
    It's all a bit trivial, though. The only connection with navigation is that
    the "freemen of Annius Plocamus" was blown by a storm out of the Red Sea,
    and travelled for 15 days, before arriving at this strange land, returning
    later with these "ambassadors". Ceylon is all of 2000 miles away; not bad
    going in 15 days.
    
    George.
    
    contact George Huxtable, at  george@hux.me.uk
    or at +44 1865 820222 (from UK, 01865 820222)
    or at 1 Sandy Lane, Southmoor, Abingdon, Oxon OX13 5HX, UK.
    
    
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