, Ptol. 2.8.15
), a people of Gallia Celtica or Lugdunensis in Ptolemy's time, whose chief place was Iatinum; but the position which Ptolemy assigns to the Meldae and to Iatinum is very incorrect, if the Meldi are properly placed as neighbours of the Parisii and on the Matrona (Marne
). Strabo is not clearer.
He says (iv. p. 194:--“On both sides of the Sequana there are the Parisii, who possess an island in the river and a city Lutecia, and Meldae, and Lexovii, along the Ocean these ;” by which he perhaps means only the Lexovii, but he might mean to say that the Meldae were on the Ocean. Pliny (4.18
) mentions in Lugdunensis Gallia “Meldi Liberi, Parisii, Trecasses.” From all this we may infer that the Meldi were near the Parisii; but we only obtain a certain result as to their position from that of Iatinum [IATINUM
] and other evidence. Gregory of Tours speaks of the “Comitatus Meldensis ;” the “territorium Meldicum” is mentioned in the Gesta of Dagobert I.; and in the Capitularies of Charlemagne the “Melcianus Pagus” is placed between the “Parisiacus” and “Miludensis,” or the Pagus of Melodunum (Melun
), and as the Melcianus occupies the space between the two other Pagi, it must comprise the diocese of Meaux.
Thus we obtain with certainty the position of the Meldi. (D'Anville, Notice, &c.
Caesar (Caes. Gal. 5.5
) mentions the Meldi once; and the passage has caused great difficulty.
The name Meldi in Caesar's text is not certain. The MSS. have Medi, Melui, Hedui, Meldi, and Belgae. Caesar, intending to invade Britannia a second time, ordered the legati who were set over his legions to get ships built in the winter of B.C. 55--54. All his legions were in the country of the Belgae during this winter (B. G.
4.38); and it seems a proper inference that all these ships were built in the country of the Belgae. When Caesar in the spring of B.C. 54 came to the Portus Itius, he found all the ships there except sixty which were built “in Meldis.” These ships being driven back by bad weather, had returned to the place from which they sailed.
The wind which brought the other ships to the Portus Itius, which ships must have come from the south, would not suit ships that came from the north and east; and hence D'Anville justly concluded that these Meldi, whatever may be the true name, must have been north and east of Itius.
A resemblance of words led him to find the name of the Meldi in a place which he calls Meldfelt
The true name of the place is Maldeghem.
There is a place on the Schelde
about a league from Oudenaerde,
which under the Empire was a Roman station (Recueil d'Antiquités, &c. trouvées dans la Flandre,
par M. J. de Bast).
This is certainly not very conclusive evidence for fixing the site of the Meldi; if that is the right name. “Belgae” cannot be the true reading, because all the ships were built in the territory of the Belgae; and Caesar's remark about the sixty would have no meaning, if he spoke of them as built “in Belgis.”
If we cannot fix the site of these Meldi, we can see that they are not the people on the Marne.
Caesar could have no reason for building yessels so far up the river. If he did build any on the Seine,
he built them lower down.
But it is clear that Caesar does not mean any vessels built on the Seine,
for he says that these sixty were driven back to the place from which they came; a remark which, if applied to ships built on the Seine,
is without any meaning. Ukert (Gallien,
p. 325) has made some objection to D'Anville's position of the Meldi, and his objections may have some weight; but his notion that Caesar's Meldi can be the Meldi on tho Marne
shows that he did not understand Caesar's text.