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1 Although Poinsinet will not admit its identity, it is now universally agreed among the learned that the island of Taprobana is the modern Ceylon. As Gosselin observes, in the accounts said to have been given of Ceylon by the ambassadors to Claudius, great allowance must be made for the wrong interpretation which, owing to their ignorance of the language, the Romans must have given to much of their narrative.
3 "The ancient race." As Ansart observes, the island contains a mountain, the name of which is "Adam's" Peak.
4 Ælian makes the villages to be 750 in number.
5 A general term probably, as already stated, for the great peninsula of India, below the Ganges.
6 This expression has been relied upon by those who do not admit that Ceylon is identical with the ancient Taprobana. But it is not improbable that the passage here referred to is from Cape Comorin to Ceylon, and not from Cape Ramanan Cor, the nearest part of the continent. In such case, the distance would be sixty-five or sixty-six leagues, and we can easily conceive that Greek vessels, sailing from nine to ten leagues per day, might occupy seven days in making the passage from Cape Comorin, past Ramanan Cor, to the coasts of Ceylon.
7 The amphora, as a measure, contained eight congii, or forty-eight sextarii.
8 Or "Septentrio;" "the Seven Trions," which was more especially employed by the nations of Europe for the purposes of navigation.
9 Parisot suggests that the word "Radijah," or "Rajah," denoting the rank which he held, may have been here taken by Pliny for his name.
10 Ptolemy says that the ancient name of the island was Simundi, or Palæsimundi, but speaks of no such city as the one here mentioned, nor indeed of any other of the localities described by Pliny.
11 It is difficult to say whether by this name is meant the modern Cape Comorin, or that known as Ramanan Cor, which is in reality the nearest point to the coast of Ceylon. Perhaps the latter is meant; in which case it is not improbable that the Island of the Sun will be represented by the islet called Rameserum in the maps, or else the one adjoining called Manaar. It must not be confounded with the Island of the Sun, mentioned in c. 26. See p. 60.
12 It is not improbable that he alludes to coral reefs.
13 This assertion Gosselin would either reject as a fabulous falsehood, or as having originated in some misconception on the part of the Romans; for, as he remarks, it is quite impossible that the Pleiades should be a constellation unknown at that time to the people of Ceylon; but, on the other hand, it would be equally true that the Greater Bear was concealed from them.
14 This was also a fable, or else originated in misapprehension of their language on the part of the Romans.
15 Gosselin remarks that their story may have been that for about seven months in the year the shadows fell to the north, and during the remaining five to the south, which would not have been inconsistent with the truth.
16 This also is classed by Gosselin under the head either of fabulous stories or misapprehensions.
17 "Scras—ab ipsis aspici." It is difficult to say whether this does not mean that they were in sight of the coast of the Seræ.-Under any circumstances, the Seræ here spoken of must not be taken for the Seres or supposed Chinese. Gosselin remarks that under this name the people of a district called Sera are probably referred to, and that in fact such is the name of a city and a whole province at the present day, situate on the opposite coast, beyond the mountains which terminate the plains of the Carnatic. It is equally impossible that under the name of "Emodi" Pliny can allude to the Himalaya chain, distant more than 2000 miles. The mountains, on the verge of the plains of the Carnatic, are not improbably those here referred to, and it is not impossible that they may be discerned from the shores of Ceylon. Gosselin is of opinion that the name of the ancient Seræ may still be traced in that of Seringapatam, and of the city of Seringham, situate on the river Godavery.
18 Relative to the Seræ, or inhabitants of the opposite shores.
19 Or "Bacchus." This means that he wears a long robe with a train; much like the dress, in fact, which was worn on the stage by tragic actors.
20 "Festa venatione absumi, gratissimam earn tigribus elephantisque constare." Holland gives this sentence quite a different meaning, fancying that it bears reference to the mode in which the guilty king comes to his end, which, indeed, otherwise does not appear to be stated. "But to doe him to death in the end, they appoint a solemne day of hunting, right pleasant and agreable unto tigres and elephants, before which beasts they expose their king, and so he is presently by them devoured." It is difficult to say, however, where he finds all this.
21 It is much more probable that they used the shells for the purpose of making roofs for their habitations.
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