« PreviousContinue »
columns of Hercules. At intervals of a ten days' journey in this ridge there are pieces of salt in large lumps on hills; and at the top of each hill, from the midst of the salt, cold and sweet water gushes up; and around it dwell people the farthest toward the desert, and beyond the wild beast tract. The first after a ten days' journey from Thebes are the Ammonians, who have a temple resembling that of Theban Jupiter. For, as I said before, the image of Jupiter at Thebes has the head of a ram. They have also another kind of spring water which in the morning is tepid, becomes colder about the time of full forum, and at midday is very cold; then they water their gardens. As the day declines it gradually loses its coldness, till the sun sets, then the water becomes tepid again, and continuing to increase in heat till midnight, it then boils and bubbles up; when midnight is passed, it gets cooler until morning This fountain is called after the sun. Next to the Ammonians, along the ridge of sand, at the end of another ten days' journey, there is a hill of salt, like that of the Ammonians, and water, and men live round it: the name of this region is Augila; to this place the Nasamonians go to gather the dates. From the Augilæ at the end of another ten days' journey is another hill of salt and water, and many fruit-bearing palm trees, as also in the other places; and men inhabit it who are called Garamantes, a very powerful nation; they lay earth upon the salt, and then sow their ground. From these to the Lotophagi the shortest route is a journey of thirty days: among them the kine that feed backward are met with; they feed backward for this reason: they have horns that are bent forward, therefore they draw back as they feed; for they are unable to go forward, because their horns would stick in the ground. They differ from other kine in no other respects than this, except that their hide is thicker and harder. These Garamantes hunt the Ethiopian Troglodytes in four-horse chariots; for the Ethiopian Troglodytes are the swiftest of foot of all men of whom we have heard any account given. The Troglodytes feed upon serpents and lizards, and other reptiles: they speak a language like no other, but screech like bats.
At the distance of another ten days' journey from the Garamantes is another hill of salt and water, and men live round it who are called Atarantes; they are the only people we know of who have not personal names. For the name Atarantes belongs to them collectively, but to each one of them no name is given. They curse the sun as he passes over their heads, and, moreover, utter against him the foulest invectives, because he consumes them by his scorching heat, both the men themselves and their country. Afterward, at the end of another ten days' journey, there is another hill of salt and water, and men live round it; and near this salt is a mountain, which is called Atlas; it is narrow and circular on all sides, and is said to be so lofty that its top can never be seen; for it is never free from clouds, either in summer or winter. The inhabitants say that it is the Pillar of Heaven. From this mountain these men derive their appellation, for they are called Atlantes. They are said neither to eat the flesh of any animal nor to see visions. As far, then, as these Atlantes I am able to mention the names of the nations that inhabit this ridge, but not beyond them. This ridge, however, extends as far as the Pillars of Hercules, and even beyond them; and there is a mine of salt in it at intervals of ten days' journey, and men dwelling there. Their houses are all built of blocks of salt, for in these parts of Libya no rain falls; for walls, being of salt, could not stand long if rain did fall. The salt dug out there is white and purple in appearance. Above this ridge, to the south and interior of Libya, the country is desert, without water, without animals, without rain, and without wood; and there is no kind of moisture in it.
Thus, then, as far as the lake Tritonis from Egypt, the Libyans are nomads, eat flesh, and drink milk, but they do not taste the flesh of cows, for the same reason as the Egyptians, nor do they breed swine. Indeed, not only do the women of the Cyrenæans think it right to abstain from the flesh of cows, out of respect to Isis in Egypt, but they also observe the fasts and festivals in honour of her: and the women of the Barcæans do not taste the flesh of swine in addition to that of cows. These things, then, are so. Westward of the lake Tritonis the Libyans are no longer nomads, nor do they follow the same customs, nor do they do with respect to their children what the nomads are accustomed to do: for the nomadic Libyans, whether all I am unable to say with certainty, but many of them do as follows: When their children are four years old they burn the veins on the crown of their heads with unclean sheep's wool; and some of them do it on the veins in the temples; to the end that humours flowing down from the head may not injure them as long as they live: and for this reason, they say, they are so very healthy, for the Libyans are in truth the most healthy of all men with whom we are acquainted; whether from this cause I am unable to say with certainty: however, they are the most
healthy. But if convulsions seize the children when they are burning them, they have a remedy discovered; by sprinkling them with the urine of a he-goat, they restore them. I repeat what the Libyans themselves say. These Libyan nomads have the following sacrificial rites: When they have first cut off the ear of the victim, they throw it over the house; and having done this, they twist its neck. They sacrifice only to the sun and moon; to them, indeed, all the Libyans offer sacrifice: but those who live about the lake Tritonis sacrifice principally to Minerva, and next to Triton and Neptune. From the Libyan women the Grecians derived the attire and ægis of Minerva's statues; for except that the dress of the Libyan women is leather, and the fringes that hang from the ægis are not serpents, but made of thongs, in all other respects they are equipped in the same way: and, moreover, the very name proves that the garb of the Palladia comes from Libya; for the Libyan women throw over their dress goats' skins without the hair fringed and dyed with red. From these goats' skins the Grecians have borrowed the name of Ægis. And the howlings in the temples were, I think, first derived from thence; for the Libyan women practise the same custom, and do it well. The Grecians also learned from the Libyans to yoke four horses abreast. All the nomads, except the Nasamonians, inter their dead in the same manner as the Grecians: these bury them in a sitting posture, watching when one is about to expire, that they may set him up, and he may not die supine. Their dwellings are compacted of the asphodel shrub, interwoven with rushes, and are portable. Such are the customs of these people.
To the west of the river Triton, Libyans who are husbandmen next adjoin the Auses; they are accustomed to live in houses, and are called Maxyes. They let the hair grow on the right side of the head, and shave the left; and bedaub the body with vermilion: they say that they are descended from men who came from Troy. This region, and all the rest of Libya westward, is much more infested by wild beasts and more thickly wooded than the country of the nomads; for the eastern country of Libya, which the nomads inhabit, is low and sandy as far as the river Triton; but the country westward of this, which is occupied by agriculturists, is very mountainous, woody, and abounds with wild beasts. For among them there are enormous serpents, and lions, elephants, bears, asps, and asses with horns, and monsters with dogs' heads and without heads, who have eyes in their breasts, at least as the Libyans say, and wild men and wild women, and many other
wild beasts which are not fabulous. None of these things are found among the nomads, but others of the following kind: pygargi, antelopes, buffaloes, and asses, not such as have horns, but others that do not drink; for they never drink; and oryes, from the horns of which are made the elbows of the Phænician citherns; in size this beast is equal to an ox: and foxes, hyenas, porcupines, wild rams, dictyes, thoes, panthers, boryes, and land crocodiles about three cubits long, very much like lizards, ostriches, and small serpents, each with one horn. These, then, are the wild animals in that country, besides such as are met with elsewhere, except the stag and the wild boar; but the stag and the wild boar are never seen in Libya. They have three sorts of mice there; some called dipodes, or two-footed; others, zegeries: this name is Libyan, and means the same as the word signifying hillocks in Greek; and hedgehogs. There are also weasels produced in the silphium, very like those at Tartessus. The land of the Libyan nomads produces wild animals of the above description, as far as I by the most diligent inquiry have been able to ascertain.
The Zaveces adjoin the Maxyan Libyans; their women drive their chariots in war. The Gyzantes adjoin them; among them becs make a great quantity of honey, and it is said that confectioners make much more. All these paint themselves with vermilion, and eat monkeys, which abound in their mountains. Near them, the Carthaginians say, lies an island called Cyraunis, two hundred stades in length, inconsiderable in breadth, easy of access from the continent, and abounding in olive trees and vines. They add that in it is a lake, from the mud of which the virgins of the country draw up gold dust by means of feathers daubed with pitch. Whether this is true I know not, but I write what is related; it may be so, however, for I have myself seen pitch drawn up out of a lake and from water in Zacynthus; and there are several lakes there; the largest of them is seventy feet every way, and two orgyæ in depth : into this they let down a pole with a myrtle branch fastened to the end, and then draw up pitch adhering to the myrtle; it has the smell of asphalt, but is in other respects better than the pitch of Pieria. They pour it into a cistern dug near the lake, and when they have collected a sufficient quantity they pour it off from the cistern into jars. All that falls into the lake passes under ground, and appears again upon the surface of the sea, which is about four stades distant from the lake. Thus, then, the account given of the island that lies off Libya may probably be true. The Carthaginians further say that beyond the Pillars of Hercules there is a region of Libya, and men who inhabit it: when they arrive among these people and have unloaded their merchandise, they set it in order on the shore, go on board their ships, and make a great smoke: that the inhabitants, seeing the smoke, come down to the sea, and then deposit gold in exchange for the merchandise, and withdraw to some distance from the merchandise; that the Carthaginians then, going ashore, examine the gold, and if the quantity seems sufficient for the merchandise, they take it up and sail away; but if it is not sufficient, they go on board their ships again and wait; the natives then approach and deposit more gold, until they have satisfied them: neither party ever wrongs the other; for they do not touch the gold before it is made adequate to the value of the merchandise, nor do the natives touch the merchandise before the other party has taken the gold.
Such are the Libyans, whose names I have been able to mention; and most of these neither now nor at that time paid any regard to the King of the Medes. But I have still this much to say about this country, that four distinct races inhabit it, and no more, as far as we know: two of these races are indigenous, and two not. The Libyans and Ethiopians are indigenous, the one inhabiting the northern, the other the southern parts of Libya; but the Phænicians and Greeks are foreigners. No part of Libya appears to me so good in fertility as to be compared with Asia or Europe, except only the district of Cinyps; for the land bears the same name as the river, and is equal to the best land in the production of corn: nor is it at all like the rest of Libya; for the soil is black, and well watered with springs; and it is neither affected at all by drought, nor is it injured by imbibing too much rain; for rain falls in this part of Libya. The proportion of the produce of this land equals that of Babylon. The land also which the Euesperides occupy is good; for when it yields its best it produces a hundredfold; but that in Cinyps three hundredfold. The district of Cyrene, which is the highest of that part of Libya which the nomads occupy, has three seasons, a circumstance worthy of admiration ; for the first fruits near the sea swell so as to be ready for the harvest and vintage; and when these are gathered in, the fruits of the middle region, away from the sea, swell so as to be gathered in: these they call uplands; and when this middle harvest has been gathered in, that in the highest part becomes ripe and swells. So that when the first crop has been drunk and eaten, the last comes in. Thus harvest occupies the Cyrenæans during eight