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Pytheas, Tacitus and Thule

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 June 2018

David J. Breeze
Affiliation:
Edinburghdavidbreeze@hotmail.co.uk
Alan Wilkins
Affiliation:
Annanalan@alanwilkins.org

Abstract

The ancient sources for the location of Thule are reviewed.1 It is suggested that the identification of the Shetland Isles as Thule was an error by Agricola. The identification was then accepted by Ptolemy, who moved Thule from the more northerly location implied by Pytheas’ account to the site of the Shetland Isles. This would account for his description of Thule/Shetland as one island. The coincident location of Ptolemy's Thule with Shetland suggests that the Roman fleet did see the islands. The emendations of Wolfson relating to Thule are examined and rejected. There is no evidence that Agricola's fleet landed in Shetland.

Type
Shorter Contributions
Information
Britannia , Volume 49 , November 2018 , pp. 303 - 308
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s) 2018. Published by The Society for the Promotion of Roman Studies 

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References

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