East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

The West through Eastern Eyes, AD 300


A quick, unscheduled post to point out the online translation of the Weilue – “The Peoples of the West”, an overview of the Roman Empire by Chinese scholar, compiled in the third century.
This text was transalted by John E. Hill, and is available through the servers of the university of Washington.
This is the West through Eastern eyes, in the third century.

“The ruler of this country [Rome] is not permanent. When disasters result from unusual phenomena, they unceremoniously replace him, installing a virtuous man as king, and release the old king, who does not dare show resentment.”

… well, sorta.
Considering the title and the topics covered in Karavansara, this link will appear obvious.
This is also part of the documentation for the sword & sorcery stories I’m writing – as I’m planning to move my heroes Eastwards.
Great find, thanks to a link on the Io9 website.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

2 thoughts on “The West through Eastern Eyes, AD 300

  1. The history of the relations between the Roman Empire and the Han China (and to a broader extent, between the West and the East during at least all the Middle Ages) is so fascinating because they mainly had indirect contact, and mile after mile, telling after telling, the informations arrived to destination in a somewhat distorted, albeit recognizable, form.

    Some times ago I was reading about the fate of the defeated roman army at Carre, the famous battle where Crassus died; many of those soldiers were sold as slaves and deported in internal Asia, and some claim that some of them arrived in China; the present-day village of Liqian, allegedly, draws its name from the roman legion that founded it. Anyway, apparently this is nothing more than a myth.


  2. Yes, the lost legion has been a matter of debate for many years.
    On the matter of stories being re-told and adapted, recently I spotted (but had no time yet to get it and read it) a reprint – so to speak – of “The Sutra of Ie-su”, an apocryphal gospel which circulated between India and China, giving a somewhat Buddhist readng of Jesus Christ’s life and teachings.
    History is fun!


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