More than three hundred years before the birth of Christ, a traveller from the Greek colony of Marseilles, named Pytheas, made known to the civilized world the existence of a people called Guttones, who lived near the Frische Haff, in the country since known as East Prussia, and traded in the amber that was gathered on the Baltic shores. For four whole centuries these amber merchants of the Baltic are heard of no more. The elder Pliny, a Roman writer who died in the year 79 after Christ, tells us that in his time they were still dwelling in the same neighbourhood; and a generation later, Tacitus, the greatest of Roman historians, twice mentions their name, though
This first sentence of our story contains a statement that has been questioned. A great German scholar, Karl Mullenhoff, maintains that the word Guttones, in Pliny’s quotations from Pytheas, is a misreading, and that the people whom the ancient traveller spoke of were the Teutones dwelling near the mouth of the Elbe. But we do not think the conjecture is well-founded.
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