Re: [tied] Re: Etymology for (Caucasian) Albania

From: Piotr Gasiorowski
Message: 11766
Date: 2001-12-11

(Caucasian) Albania was within the sphere of Rome's political interests and Pliny surely knew very well where it was located; he may have been less certain about the exact location of India. The Albanian dog anecdote hardly deserves to be regarded as historical. The appearance of the names "Alexander" and "Albania" is accidental; anything mildly exotic would have done just as well. The dog was sent to Alexander "Indiam petenti" ([as he was] going to India). Here's a charming (if a little verbose) 1601 translation of the relevant passage from Pliny's Natural History by Philemon Holland (Book VIII):
In the voyage that Alexander the Great made into India, the king of Albania gave him a dogge of an huge and extraordinarie bignesse. And Alexander taking great delight and contentment to see so goodly and so faire a dog, let loose unto him first Beares, afterwards wild Bores; and last of all, fallow Deere. But this dog making no reckoning of all this game, lay still couchant, and never stirred nor made at them. This great Commaunder Alexaneder a man of a mightie spirit and high mind, offended at the lazinesse and cowardise of so great a hounde, commaunded that he should be killed, and so he was. Newes hereof went presently to the king of Albanie. Whereupon he sent unto him a second dog, with this message, That he should not make triall of this too against such little beasts, but either set a Lion or an Elephant at him: saying moreover, that hee had in all but those two of that kind: and if hee were killed likewise, hee were like to have no more of that race and breed. Alexander made no stay, but presently put out a Lion, and immediately hee saw his backe broken, and all to rent and torne by the dog. Afterwards he commaunded to bring forth an Elephant, and in no fight tooke he greater pleasure, than in this. For the dog at the first with his long rough shagged haire, that overspread his whole bodie, came with full mouth, thundering (as it were) and barking terribly against the Elephant. Soone after he leapeth and flieth upon him, rising and mounting against the great beast, now of one side, then of another: maintaining combate right artificially, one while assailing, another while avoiding his enemie: and so nimbly he bestirreth him from side to side, that with continuall turning about too and fro, the Elephant grew giddie in the head, insomuch as he came tumbling downe, and made the ground to shake under him with his fall.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Vishal Agarwal" <vishalagarwal@...>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 9:36 PM
Subject: [tied] Re: Etymology for (Caucasian) Albania

> Interestingly, Pliny seems to locate 'Albania' in N W India!! See below -
> 180-181: Pliny says, when Alexander the Great was on his Indian expedition
> he was presented by the king of Albania with a dog of unusual size, which
> successfully attacked both a lion and an elephant in his presence. The same
> story is repeated by his copyist, Solinus, without any change in the name of
> the country. Now, we know from the united testimony of Strabo, Diodorus, and
> Curtius, that the Indian king who presented Alexander with these fighting
> dogs was Sophites, and he, therefore, must have been the king of Albania.
> For this name, I propose to read Labania, by the simple transposition of the
> first two letters. Alban would, therefore, become Laban which at once
> suggests the Sanskrit word lavana, or salt, as the original of this
> hitherto puzzling name. The mountain itself is named Oromenus by Pliny, who
> notes that the kings of the country derived a greater revenue from the rock
> salt than either gold or pearls. This name is probably intended for the
> Sanskrit Raumaka, which according to the Pandits, is the name of the salt
> brought from the hill country of Ruma
> Reference -
> Sastri, Surendranath Majumdar. 1924. Cunninghams Ancient Geography of
> India. Chuckervertty, Chatterjee & Co. Ltd. Calcutta.
> Sincerely,
> Vishal
> PS: Since you talk about 'alans', I am tempted to mention that a tribe named
> alina is mentioned in the Rigveda, and was one of the numerous tribes said
> to have been banished from N W India by the Bharatas in the Dasarajna war.
> **************
> Etymology for (Caucasian) Albania
> From: "tarasovass" <
> Date: Mon, 10 Dec 2001 18:44:22 -0000
> From: "tarasovass" <
> Subject: Etymology for (Caucasian) Albania
> Is anybody aware of the etymology of the toponym (Caucasian) Albania?
> If I'm not mistaken, it seemes first to appear in Strabo's Geography
> (<Albani'a>) and Pliny's Natural History (Alba:nia), and looks like
> contamination of Latin Alba-toponyms with something Nakho-Dagestanian
> or NE Iranian. Do the Alans have anything to do with it?