Monday, April 21, 2008

Caecilius Metellus

Pomponius Mela writes, and is copied by Pliny the Elder, that Quintus Caecilius Metellus Celer (died 59 BCE), proconsul in Gaul received "several Indians" (Indi) as a present from a Germanic king. The Indians were driven by a storm to the coasts of Germania (in tempestatem ex Indicis aequoribus).

Metellus Celer recalls the following: when he was proconsul in Gaul, he was given people from "India" by the king of the Sueves; upon requesting why they were in this land, he learnt that they were caught in a storm away from India, that they became castaways, and finally landed on the coast of Germany. They thus resisted the sea, but suffered from the cold for the rest of their travel, and that is the reason why they left.

It is unclear whether these castaways may have been people from India or Eastern Asia, or possibly American Indians. Edward Herbert Bunbury suggested that they were Finns. This account is open to some question, since Metellus Celer died just after his consulship, before he ever got to Gaul.

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