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send out small quantities of it from their mouths, because it smoothes
any part which is rough[696] and transmits the light to them; that
snow never falls in the deep part of the sea[697]; that although water
generally has a tendency downwards, fountains rise up[698], and that
this is the case even at the foot of Ætna[699], burning as it does, so
as to force out the sand like a ball of flame to the distance of 150


And now I must give an account of some of the wonders of fire, which
is the fourth element of nature; but first those produced by means of

CHAP. 108. (104.)—OF MALTHA.

In Samosata, a city of Commagene[700], there is a pool which discharges
an inflammable mud, called Maltha[701]. It adheres to every solid
body which it touches, and moreover, when touched, it follows you,
if you attempt to escape from it. By means of it the people defended
their walls against Lucullus, and the soldiers were burned in their
armour[702]. It is even set on fire in water. We learn by experience
that it can be extinguished only by earth.

CHAP. 109. (105.)—OF NAPHTHA.

Naphtha is a substance of a similar nature[703] (it is so called about
Babylon, and in the territory of the Astaceni, in Parthia[704]),
flowing like liquid bitumen. It has a great affinity to fire, which
instantly darts on it wherever it is seen[705]. It is said, that
in this way it was that Medea burned Jason’s mistress; her crown
having taken fire, when she approached the altar for the purpose of


Among the wonders of mountains there is Ætna, which always burns in
the night[707], and for so long a period has always had materials for
combustion, being in the winter buried in snow, and having the ashes
which it has ejected covered with frost. Nor is it in this mountain
alone that nature rages, threatening to consume the earth[708]; in
Phaselis, the mountain Chimæra burns, and indeed with a continual
flame, day and night[709]. Ctesias of Cnidos informs us, that this
fire is kindled by water, while it is extinguished by earth and by
hay[710]. In the same country of Lycia, the mountains of Hephæstius,
when touched with a flaming torch[711], burn so violently, that even
the stones in the river and the sand burn, while actually in the water:
this fire is also increased by rain. If a person makes furrows in the
ground with a stick which has been kindled at this fire, it is said
that a stream of flame will follow it. The summit of Cophantus, in
Bactria[712], burns during the night; and this is the case in Media and
at Sittacene[713], on the borders of Persia; likewise in Susa, at the
White Tower, from fifteen apertures[714], the greatest of which also
burns in the daytime. The plain of Babylon throws up flame from a place
like a fish-pond[715], an acre in extent. Near Hesperium, a mountain
of the Æthiopians[716], the fields shine in the night-time like stars;
the same thing takes place in the territory of the Megalopolitani.
This fire, however, is internal[717], mild, and not burning the foliage
of a dense wood which is over it[718]. There is also the crater of
Nymphæum[719], which is always burning, in the neighbourhood of a
cold fountain, and which, according to Theopompus, presages direful
calamities to the inhabitants of Apollonia[720]. It is increased by
rain[721], and it throws out bitumen, which, becoming mixed with the
fountain, renders it unfit to be tasted; it is, at other times, the
weakest of all the bitumens. But what are these compared to other
wonders? Hiera, one of the Æolian isles, in the middle of the sea, near
Italy, together with the sea itself, during the Social war, burned
for several days[722], until expiation was made, by a deputation from
the senate. There is a hill in Æthiopia called Θεῶν ὄχημα[723], which
burns with the greatest violence, throwing out flame that consumes
everything, like the sun[724]. In so many places, and with so many
fires, does nature burn the earth!


But since this one element is of so prolific a nature as to produce
itself, and to increase from the smallest spark, what must we suppose
will be the effect of all those funeral piles of the earth[725]? What
must be the nature of that thing, which, in all parts of the world,
supplies this most greedy voracity without destroying itself? To these
fires must be added those innumerable stars and the great sun itself.
There are also the fires made by men[726], those which are innate in
certain kinds of stones, those produced by the friction of wood[727],
and those in the clouds, which give rise to lightning. It really
exceeds all other wonders, that one single day should pass in which
everything is not consumed, especially when we reflect, that concave
mirrors placed opposite to the sun’s rays produce flame more readily
than any other kind of fire; and that numerous small but natural fires
abound everywhere. In Nymphæum there issues from a rock a fire which is
kindled by rain; it also issues from the waters of the Scantia[728].
This indeed is a feeble flame, since it passes off, remaining only
a short time on any body to which it is applied: an ash tree, which
overshadows this fiery spring, remains always green[729]. In the
territory of Mutina fire issues from the ground on the days that are
consecrated to Vulcan[730]. It is stated by some authors, that if a
burning body falls on the fields below Aricia[731], the ground is set
on fire; and that the stones in the territory of the Sabines and of
the Sidicini[732], if they be oiled, burn with flame. In Egnatia[733],
a town of Salentinum, there is a sacred stone, upon which, when
wood is placed, flame immediately bursts forth. In the altar of Juno
Lacinia[734], which is in the open air, the ashes remain unmoved,
although the winds may be blowing from all quarters.

It appears also that there are sudden fires both in waters and even in
the human body; that the whole of Lake Thrasymenus was on fire[735];
that when Servius Tullius, while a child, was sleeping, flame darted
out from his head[736]; and Valerius Antias informs us, that the same
flame appeared about L. Marcius, when he was pronouncing the funeral
oration over the Scipios, who were killed in Spain; and exhorting the
soldiers to avenge their death. I shall presently mention more facts of
this nature, and in a more distinct manner; in this place these wonders
are mixed up with other subjects. But my mind, having carried me beyond
the mere interpretation of nature, is anxious to lead, as it were by
the hand, the thoughts of my readers over the whole globe.


Our part of the earth, of which I propose to give an account, floating
as it were in the ocean which surrounds it (as I have mentioned
above[737]), stretches out to the greatest extent from east to west,
viz. from India to the Pillars consecrated to Hercules at Gades,
being a distance of 8568 miles[738], according to the statement of
Artemidorus[739], or according to that of Isidorus[740], 9818 miles.
Artemidorus adds to this 491 miles, from Gades, going round by the
Sacred Promontory, to the promontory of Artabrum[741], which is the
most projecting part of Spain.

This measurement may be taken in two directions. From the Ganges, at
its mouth, where it discharges itself into the Eastern ocean, passing
through India and Parthyene, to Myriandrus[742], a city of Syria, in
the bay of Issus, is a distance of 5215 miles[743]. Thence, going
directly by sea, by the island of Cyprus, Patara in Lycia, Rhodes,
and Astypalæa, islands in the Carpathian sea, by Tænarum in Laconia,
Lilybæum in Sicily and Calaris in Sardinia, is 2103 miles. Thence to
Glades is 1250 miles, making the whole distance from the Eastern ocean
8568 miles[744].

The other way, which is more certain, is chiefly by land. From the
Ganges to the Euphrates is 5169 miles; thence to Mazaca, a town in
Cappadocia, is 319 miles; thence, through Phrygia and Caria, to Ephesus
is 415 miles; from Ephesus, across the Ægean sea to Delos, is 200
miles; to the Isthmus is 212-1/2 miles; thence, first by land and
afterwards by the sea of Lechæum and the gulf of Corinth, to Patræ in
Peloponnesus, 90 miles; to the promontory of Leucate 87-1/2 miles;
as much more to Corcyra; to the Acroceraunian mountains 132-1/2, to
Brundisium 87-1/2, and to Rome 360 miles. To the Alps, at the village
of Scingomagum[745], is 519 miles; through Gaul to Illiberis at the
Pyrenees, 927; to the ocean and the coast of Spain, 331 miles; across
the passage of Gades 7-1/2 miles; which distances, according to the
estimate of Artemidorus, make altogether 8945 miles.

The breadth of the earth, from south to north, is commonly supposed
to be about one-half only of its length, viz. 4490 miles; hence it is
evident how much the heat has stolen from it on one side and the cold
on the other: for I do not suppose that the land is actually wanting,
or that the earth has not the form of a globe; but that, on each side,
the uninhabitable parts have not been discovered. This measure then
extends from the coast of the Æthiopian ocean, the most distant part
which is habitable, to Meroë, 1000 miles[746]; thence to Alexandria
1250; to Rhodes 562; to Cnidos 87-1/2; to Cos 25; to Samos 100; to
Chios 94; to Mitylene 65; to Tenedos 44; to the promontory of Sigæum
12-1/2; to the entrance of the Euxine 312-1/2; to the promontory of
Carambis 350; to the entrance of the Palus Mæotis 312-1/2; and to the
mouth of the Tanais 275 miles, which distance, if we went by sea, might
be shortened 89 miles. Beyond the Tanais the most diligent authors have
not been able to obtain any accurate measurement. Artemidorus supposes
that everything beyond is undiscovered, since he confesses that, about
the Tanais, the tribes of the Sarmatæ dwell, who extend towards the
north pole. Isidorus adds 1250 miles, as the distance to Thule[747];
but this is mere conjecture. For my part, I believe that the boundaries
of Sarmatia really extend to as great a distance as that mentioned
above: for if it were not very extensive, how could it contain the
innumerable tribes that are always changing their residence? And indeed
I consider the uninhabitable portion of the world to be still greater;
for it is well known that there are innumerable islands lying off the
coast of Germany[748], which have been only lately discovered.

The above is all that I consider worth relating about the length and
the breadth of the earth[749]. But Eratosthenes[750], a man who was
peculiarly well skilled in all the more subtle parts of learning,
and in this above everything else, and a person whom I perceive to
be approved by every one, has stated the whole of this circuit to be
252,000 stadia, which, according to the Roman estimate, makes 31,500
miles. The attempt is presumptuous, but it is supported by such
subtle arguments that we cannot refuse our assent. Hipparchus[751],
whom we must admire, both for the ability with which he controverts
Eratosthenes, as well as for his diligence in everything else, has
added to the above number not much less than 25,000 stadia.

(109.) Dionysodorus is certainly less worthy of confidence[752]; but
I cannot omit this most remarkable instance of Grecian vanity. He was
a native of Melos, and was celebrated for his knowledge of geometry;
he died of old age in his native country. His female relations, who
inherited his property, attended his funeral, and when they had for
several successive days performed the usual rites, they are said to
have found in his tomb an epistle written in his own name to those left
above; it stated that he had descended from his tomb to the lowest part
of the earth, and that it was a distance of 42,000 stadia. There were
not wanting certain geometricians, who interpreted this epistle as if
it had been sent from the middle of the globe, the point which is at
the greatest distance from the surface, and which must necessarily be
the centre of the sphere. Hence the estimate has been made that it is
252,000 stadia in circumference.


That harmonical proportion, which compels nature to be always
consistent with itself, obliges us to add to the above measure, 12,000
stadia; and this makes the earth one ninety-sixth part of the whole

* * * * *

SUMMARY.—The facts, statements, and observations contained in this Book
amount in number to 417.

ROMAN AUTHORS QUOTED.—M. Varro[753], Sulpicius Gallus[754], Titus
Cæsar[755] the Emperor, Q. Tubero[756], Tullius Tiro[757], L.
Piso[758], T. Livius[759], Cornelius Nepos[760], Sebosus[761],
Cælius Antipater[762], Fabianus[763], Antias[764], Mucianus[765],
Cæcina[766], who wrote on the Etruscan discipline, Tarquitius[767],
who did the same, Julius Aquila[768], who also did the same, and

FOREIGN AUTHORS QUOTED.—Plato[770], Hipparchus[771], Timæus[772],
Sosigenes[773], Petosiris[774], Necepsos[775], the Pythagorean[776]
Philosophers, Posidonius[777], Anaximander[778], Epigenes[779]
the philosopher who wrote on Gnomonics, Euclid[780], Cœranus[781]
the philosopher, Eudoxus[782], Democritus[783], Critodemus[784],
Thrasyllus[785], Serapion[786], Dicæarchus[787], Archimedes[788],
Onesicritus[789], Eratosthenes[790], Pytheas[791], Herodotus[792],
Aristotle[793], Ctesias[794], Artemidorus[795] of Ephesus,
Isidorus[796] of Charax, and Theopompus[797].




Thus far have I treated of the position and the wonders of the earth,
of the waters, the stars, and the proportion of the universe and its
dimensions. I shall now proceed to describe its individual parts;
although indeed we may with reason look upon the task as of an infinite
nature, and one not to be rashly commenced upon without incurring
censure. And yet, on the other hand, there is nothing which ought less
to require an apology, if it is only considered how far from surprising
it is that a mere mortal cannot be acquainted with everything. I shall
therefore not follow any single author, but shall employ, in relation
to each subject, such writers as I shall look upon as most worthy of
credit. For, indeed, it is the characteristic of nearly all of them,
that they display the greatest care and accuracy in the description of
the countries in which they respectively flourished; so that by doing
this, I shall neither have to blame nor contradict any one.

The names of the different places will here be simply given, and as
briefly as possible; the account of their celebrity, and the events
which have given rise thereto, being deferred to a more appropriate
occasion; for it must be remembered that I am here speaking of the
earth as a whole, and I wish to be understood as using the names
without any reference whatever to their celebrity, and as though the
places themselves were in their infancy, and had not as yet acquired
any fame through great events. The name is mentioned, it is true, but
only as forming a part of the world and the system of the universe.

The whole globe is divided into three parts, Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Our description commences where the sun sets and at the Straits of
Gades[798], where the Atlantic ocean, bursting in, is poured forth
into the inland seas. As it makes its entrance from that side, Africa
is on the right hand and Europe on the left; Asia lies between
them[799]; the boundaries being the rivers Tanais[800] and Nile. The
Straits of the ocean, of which I have just spoken, extend fifteen
miles in length and five[801] in breadth, measured from the village
of Mellaria[802] in Spain to the Album Promontorium[803] or White
Promontory in Africa, as we learn from Turranius Gracilis, who was born
in that vicinity. Titus Livius and Cornelius Nepos however have stated
the breadth, where it is least, to be seven miles, and where greatest,
ten; from so small a mouth as this does so immense an expanse of water
open upon us! Nor is our astonishment diminished by the fact of its
being of great depth; for, instead of that, there are numerous breakers
and shoals, white with foam, to strike the mariner with alarm. From
this circumstance it is, that many have called this spot the threshold
of The Inland Sea.

At the narrowest part of the Straits, there are mountains placed to
form barriers to the entrance on either side, Abyla[804] in Africa,
and Calpe[805] in Europe, the boundaries formerly of the labours of
Hercules[806]. Hence it is that the inhabitants have called them the
Columns of that god; they also believe that they were dug through by
him; upon which the sea, which was before excluded, gained admission,
and so changed the face of nature.


I shall first then speak of Europe, the foster-mother of that people
which has conquered all other nations, and itself by far the most
beauteous portion of the earth. Indeed, many persons have, not without
reason[807], considered it, not as a third part only of the earth,
but as equal to all the rest, looking upon the whole of our globe as
divided into two parts only, by a line drawn from the river Tanais
to the Straits of Gades. The ocean, after pouring the waters of the
Atlantic through the inlet which I have here described, and, in its
eager progress, overwhelming all the lands which have had to dread its
approach, skirts with its winding course the shores of those parts
which offer a more effectual resistance, hollowing out the coast of
Europe especially into numerous bays, among which there are four Gulfs
that are more particularly remarkable. The first of these begins at
Calpe, which I have previously mentioned, the most distant mountain of
Spain; and bends, describing an immense curve, as far as Locri and the
Promontory of Bruttium[808].


The first land situate upon this Gulf is that which is called the
Farther Spain or Bætica[809]; next to which, beginning at the frontier
town of Urgi[810], is the Nearer, or Tarraconensian[811] Spain,
extending as far as the chain of the Pyrenees. The Farther Spain is
divided lengthwise into two provinces, Lusitania[812] and Bætica, the
former stretching along the northern side of the latter, and being
divided from it by the river Ana[813].

The source of this river is in the district of Laminium[814], in the
Nearer Spain. It first spreads out into a number of small lakes,
and then again contracts itself into a narrow channel, or entirely
disappears under ground[815], and after frequently disappearing and
again coming to light, finally discharges itself into the Atlantic
Ocean. Tarraconensian Spain lies on one side, contiguous to the
Pyrenees, running downwards along the sides of that chain, and,
stretching across from the Iberian Sea to the Gallic ocean[816],
is separated from Bætica and Lusitania by Mount Solorius[817], the
chains of the Oretani[818] and the Carpetani[819], and that of the


Bætica, so called from the river which divides it in the middle, excels
all the other provinces in the richness of its cultivation and the
peculiar fertility and beauty of its vegetation.

It consists of four jurisdictions, those of Gades[821], of
Corduba[822], of Astigi[823], and of Hispalis[824]. The total number of
its towns is 175; of these nine are colonies[825], and eight municipal
towns[826]; twenty-nine have been long since presented with the old
Latin rights[827]; six are free towns[828], three federate[829], and
120 tributary.

In this district, the things that more especially deserve notice, or
are more easily explained in the Latin tongue, are the following,
beginning at the river Ana, along the line of the sea-shore; the town
of Onoba, surnamed Æstuaria[830]; the rivers Luxia and Urium[831],
flowing through this territory between the Ana and the Bætis; the
Marian[832] Mountains; the river Bætis; the coast of Corum[833], with
its winding bay; opposite to which is Gades, of which we shall have
occasion to speak among the islands[834]. Next comes the Promontory
of Juno[835], and the port of Bæsippo[836]; the towns of Bœlo[837]
and Mellaria[838], at which latter begin the Straits of the Atlantic;
Carteia[839], called by the Greeks Tartessos[840]; and the mountain of

Along the coast of the inland sea[841] is the town of Barbesula[842]
with its river; also Salduba[843]; the town of Suel[844]; and then
Malaca[845], with its river, one of the federate towns. Next to this
comes Mænoba[846], with its river; then Sexifirmum[847], surnamed
Julium; Selambina[848]; Abdera[849]; and Murci[850], which is at the
boundary of Bætica. M. Agrippa supposed that all this coast was peopled
by colonists of Punic origin. Beyond the Anas, and facing the Atlantic,
is the country of the Bastuli[851] and the Turditani. M. Varro informs
us, that the Iberians, the Persians, the Phœnicians, the Celts, and the
Carthaginians spread themselves over the whole of Spain; that the name
“Lusitania” is derived from the games (_lusus_) of Father Bacchus, or
the fury (_lyssa_[852]) of his frantic attendants, and that Pan[853]
was the governor of the whole of it. But the traditions respecting
Hercules[854] and Pyrene, as well as Saturn, I conceive to be fabulous
in the highest degree.

The Bætis does not rise, as some writers have asserted, near the town
of Mentisa[855], in the province of Tarraco, but in the Tugiensian
Forest[856]; and near it rises the river Tader[857], which waters the
territory of Carthage[858]. At Ilorcum[859] it turns away from the
Funeral Pile[860] of Scipio; then taking a sweep to the left, it falls
into the Atlantic Ocean, giving its name to this province: at its
source it is but small, though during its course it receives many other
streams, which it deprives as well of their waters as their renown. It
first enters Bætica in Ossigitania[861], and glides gently, with a
smooth current, past many towns situate on either side of its banks.

Between this river and the sea-shore the most celebrated places
inland are Segida[862], also surnamed Augurina; Julia[863], called
Fidentia; Urgao[864] or Alba, Ebora[865] or Cerealis, Iliberri[866] or
Liberini, Ilipula[867] or Laus, Artigi[868] or Julienses, Vesci[869]
or Faventia, Singili[870], Attegua[871], Arialdunum, Agla Minor[872],
Bæbro[873], Castra Vinaria[874], Cisimbrium[875], Hippo Nova or New
Hippo[876], Ilurco[877], Osca[878], Escua[879], Sucubo[880], Nuditanum,
Old Tuati[881]; all which towns are in that part of Bastitania which
extends towards the sea, but in the jurisdiction[882] of Corduba. In
the neighbourhood of the river itself is Ossigi[883], also surnamed
Laconicum, Iliturgi[884] or Forum Julium, Ipasturgi[885] or Triumphale,
Setia, and, fourteen miles inland, Obulco[886], which is also called

Next to these comes Epora[887], a federate town, Sacili[888]
Martialium, and Onoba[889]. On the right bank is Corduba, a Roman
colony, surnamed Patricia[890]; here the Bætis first becomes navigable.
There are also the towns of Carbula and Detunda[891], and the river
Singulis[892], which falls into the Bætis on the same side.

The towns in the jurisdiction of Hispalis are the following: Celti,
Arua[893], Canama[894], Evia, Ilipa[895], surnamed Illa, and
Italica[896]. On the left of the river is the colony of Hispalis[897]
named Romuliensis, and, on the opposite side[898], the town of
Osset[899], surnamed Julia Constantia, Vergentum, or Julî Genius[900],
Orippo, Caura[901], Siarum, and the river Menoba[902], which enters the
Bætis on its right bank. Between the æstuaries of the Bætis lie the
towns of Nebrissa[903], surnamed Veneria, and of Colobona[904]. The
colonies are, Asta[905], which is also called Regia, and, more inland,
that of Asido[906], surnamed Cæsariana.

The river Singulis, discharging itself into the Bætis at the place
already mentioned, washes the colony of Astigi[907], surnamed Augusta
Firma, at which place it becomes navigable. The other colonies in this
jurisdiction which are exempt from tribute are Tucci, surnamed Augusta
Gemella[908], Itucci called Virtus Julia[909], Attubi or Claritas

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