Three days' sail from the coast of Scythia lay an island of immense magnitude, called Baltia; this being the name which Pliny found in Xenophon of Lampsacus. Pytheas, on the other hand, called it Basilia. (Plin. Nat. 37.7. s. 11
.) For the confusion on this point, see BASILIA
Whatever may be the uncertainties as to the exact geographical position of the ancient Baltia, the word itself is important as being the origin of our term Baltic.
Little less certain is its Slavonic or Lithuanian origin, since so little is it German that, except in England, the usual name for the Baltic, amongst the Gothic nations, is the East-Sea.
This helps us in certain points of criticism.
In the first place, it suggests an explanation of the ambiguities of the early writers, who took their names from two sources. If Baltia
was Slavonic, the name Ὠστιαίοι
), who dwelt on its coast, was German. Yet each is found in Pytheas. Hence the likelihood of two names to the same locality, and the confusion arising therefrom. Again, the fact of the name being strange to the present Germans makes the assumption of an erroneous application of it all the more likely. Name for name, nothing represents the ancient Baltia so closely as the Great and the Little Belts
between the Danish isles and Jutland.
But these are the names of straits
not of islands
Yet the present writer believes that the Baltia of Pytheas was the island of Fyen
(one or both), and that the name Baltia is retained in that of the waters that bound them.
He would not, however, believe this, if there had been no change in language. Had that been uniform from the beginning, the confusion which he assumes would have been illegitimate.
Another speculation connects itself with the root Balt
In the article AVARI, a principle which will bear a wide application has been suggested.
It is as follows: when the name of a non-historical individual coincides with that of an historical population (or locality), the individual is to be considered as an eponymus.
Now, the legends of the country of the Getae
connected them with the Guttones
of the Baltic; indeed, when the name Goth
became prominent, the original seat of the stock was laid on that sea, sometimes on the southern coast in the amber-country, sometimes as far north as Scandinavia. More than this, the two royal lines were those of the Balt-
), and the Amal-ungs
). For a Balt,
or an Amal,
as real personages, we look in vain. Populations, however, to which they were Eponymi,
we find in the two localities Baltia and Abalus--associated localities in the accredited mother-country.