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Pliny's Natural history. In thirty-seven books online

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the Coast of the Egyptian Sea, built by Alexander the Great
on the Part of Africa, 12 Miles from the Mouth of Canopus,
near to the Lake Mareotis : which Lake was formerly called
Arapotes. 2 Dinochares, the Architect, renowned for his
remarkable Ability in many ways, laid out the Plan with
the great Extent of the Circuit of 15 Miles, according to the
Shape of a Macedonian Cloak ; full of Plaits, with the Circuit
waved on to the right Hand and on the left with an angular
Extension; and yet, even then, he assigned one-fifth Part of
this Space for the King's Palace, The Lake Mareotis 3 from
the South Side of the City, meeteth with an Arm of the River
Nilus, brought from out of the Mouth of the said River
called Canopicus, for the more commodious Commerce out
of the inland Continent. This Lake containeth within it
sundry Islands, and, according to Claudius Ccesar, it is 30

1 Alexandria is connected with much that is interesting in the estima-
tion of the Christian and philosopher. It was built B.C. 331, and became
the capital of Egypt under the Ptolemies ; at a subsequent period, its
library was the most renowned in the world ; its school rose into high
repute during the second and third centuries ; it long continued a flou-
rishing bishopric of the early Christian Church (having been planted by
St. Mark), and was the scene of many Christian persecutions in common
with the rest of the empire. Of the ancient city little remains, the only
monuments of its extent and grandeur being, as Dr. Robinson relates,
" a few cisterns still in use, the catacombs on the shore, the granite obelisk
of Thothmes III., with its fallen brother, brought hither from Heliopolis,
and usually called ' Cleopatra's Needle ; ' and the column of Dioclesian,
commonly called 'Pompey's Pillar.'" Wern. Club.

2 Or, Rachobes.

3 ( Various reading.} " The Lake Mareotis, from the south part of
the city, by an arm of the sea, is sent through the mouth of Canopus for
inland traffic ; it also embraces many islands, and is 30 miles in breadth,
and 150 in circuit, as Claudius Ccesar says." Wern. Club.

BOOK V.] History of Nature. 65

Miles over. Others say, that it lieth in Length 40 Schceni ;
and as every Schoenus is 30 Stadia, it cometh to be 150
Miles long, and as many broad. There are many Towns of
importance standing upon the Course of the River Nilus,
and those especially which have given Names to the Mouths,
not to all those (for there are 11 of them, besides 4 more,
which they themselves call false Mouths), but to the most
celebrated 7 : as, to that of Canopus, next to Alexandria ;
then Bolbitinum, Sebenniticum, Phatniticum, Mendesicum,
Taniticum, and last, Pelusiacum ; besides, Euros, Pharboetos,
Leontopolis, Athribis, the Town of Isis, Busiris, Cynopolis,
Aphrodites, Sais, Naucratis, whence some name the Mouth
Naucraticum, which others call Heracleoticum, preferring it
before Canopicum, next to which it standeth.


BEYOND the Pelusiac Mouth is Arabia, bordering on the
Red Sea : and that Arabia, so rich and odoriferous, and re-
nowned with the Surname of Happy. This Desert Arabia is
possessed by the Catabanes, Esbonitae, and Scenite Arabians :
barren, except where it toucheth the Confines of Syria, and,
setting aside the Mountain Casius, nothing memorable. This
Region is joined to the Arabians, Canchlei on the East Side,
and to the Cedrsei Southward ; and they both are joined
afterwards with the Nabathsei. Moreover, two Bays there
be, one Bay is called that of Heroopoliticus, and the other,
Elaniticus : in the Red Sea, bordering on Egypt, 150 Miles
distant, between two Towns, Elana and Gaza, which is in our
[Mediterranean] Sea. Agrippa counteth from Pelusium to
Arsinoe, a Town upon the Red Sea, through the Deserts, an
hundred and five-and-twenty Miles. So small a Way lieth
between things of such Difference in Nature.

Syria, Palcestina, Pkcenict.

NEAR the Coast is Syria, a Region which in Times past
was the chiefest of Lands, and distinguished by many Names.


66 History of Nature. [BooK V.

For where it toucheth upon the Arabians, it was called Pales-
tine., 1 Judaea, Coele (Syria) ; and afterward, Phoenice : and
where it passes inward, Damascena. Still further south-
wards, it is named Babylonia. And the same between the
Rivers Euphrates and Tigris is called Mesopotamia, and
when it passeth the Mountain Taurus, it is Sophene : but on
this Side Comagene, and beyond Armenia, is Adiabene,
formerly named Assyria ; and where it meets Cilicia, it is
known by the Name of Antiochia. The whole Length of
Syria between Cilicia and Arabia is 470 Miles : the Breadth
from Seleucia Pieria to Zeugma, a Town seated upon the
Euphrates, is 175 Miles. They that minutely divide it
would have Phoenice to be environed with Syria ; and that
it is the Sea-coast of Syria, a Part of which compriseth
Idumaea and Judaea : then Phoenice, and then Syria. And
that Sea which lieth along that Coast beareth the Name of
the Phoenician Sea. This Nation of the Phoenicians hath
had great Glory for the Invention of Letters, and for the Arts
of the Stars, Navigation, and Skill in War. Beyond Pelu-
sium is Chabriae Castra, the Mountain Casius, the Temple of
Jupiter Casius, the Tomb of Pompeius Magnus; and Ostra-
cine. From Pelusium to the Frontiers of Arabia are 65

Idum&af Syria, Palcestina, Samaria.

SOON after beginneth Idumaea and Palestina, from the
Rising up of the Lake Sirbon, which some have reported to

1 The following division of Palestine under the Romans will throw
light upon the comments which follow :

Palestina Prima, Kingdom of Judah (Judaea) and Samaria.
Palestina Secunda, Galilee and Trachonitis.
Palestina Tertia, Peraea and Idumaea Proper.

Wern. Club.

2 Idumaea comprised the country in the southern extremity of Judaea,
and embraced also a part of Arabia, which, from having been left nearly
depopulated during the Babylonian captivity, was seized upon by the
Idumseans, and continued to be called Idumaea in common with Iduma3a

BOOK V,] History of Nature. 67

possess a circuit of 150 Miles. Herodotus saith it lies close
by the Mountain Casius ; but now it is a small Lake. The
Towns are Rhinocolura ; and within the Land, Rapheea : also
Gaza, and within, Anthedon, and the Mountain Angoris.
Samaria, the Region through the Coast ; the free Town
Ascalon, and Azotus : the two Jamnes, whereof one is within
the Land ; and Joppe, in Phoanicia, which, by report, is
more ancient than the Deluge over the Earth. 1 It is situated
upon a Hill, with a Rock before it, in which they shew the
Remains of the Chains of Andromeda. There the fabulous
Derccto is worshipped. Then is Apollonia ; the Town of
Strato, called also Caesarea, founded by Kmgfferod: itbeareth
now the Name of Prima Flavia, a Colony derived from Ves-
pasian the Emperor. The Bounds of Paleestina are 180 Miles
from the Confines of Arabia : and there entereth Phoanice.
But within-land are the Towns of Samaria, and Neapolis,
which formerly was named Mainortha [or Maxbota]. Also
Sebaste upon the Mountain, and Gamala, which yet standeth
higher than it.

Proper, to a later period than the date of our author. The bounds of
Palestine, in the time of the Romans, embraced Judaea, Samaria, Galilee,
and Trachonitis ; and Perasa and Idumsea. Wern. Club.

1 Mandeville, who travelled through these countries about the year
1323, and collected all the information that fell in his way, without discri-
mination, says : " And whoso wil go longe tyme on the See, and come
nerrer to Jerusalem, he schal go fro Cipre, be see, to the Port Jaff. For
that is the nexte Havene to Jerusalem. For fro that Havene is not but
o Day Journeye and an half to Jerusalem. And the Town is called Jaff :
for on of the Sones of Noe, that highte Japhet, founded it ; and now it is
clept Joppe. And zee schulle undrestonde, that it is on of the oldest
Townes of the World : for it was founded before Noes Flode. And zitt
there schewethe in the Roche ther, as the Irene cheynes were festned,
that Andromade, a great Geaunt, was bounden with, and put in Presoun
before Noes Flode : of the whiche Geaunt, is a rib of his Syde, that his 40
Fote longe." In the Ethiopics of Heliodorus, book x., the Ethiopic kings
are said to derive their pedigree from Perseus and Andromeda ; whose
history is by Pliny treated as something more than a fable. But the
mistake of Mandeville, in confounding Andromeda with the monster
that was to have devoured her, is perfectly consistent with other errors
in regard to the Scriptures and classical learning, which occur in his
narrative. Wcrv. Club.

68 History of Nature. [ BOOK V .

Judaea and Galilcsa.

ABOVE Idumaea and Samaria, Judaea spreadeth out far in
Length and Breadth. That part of it which joineth to Syria,
is called Galilaea : but that which is next to Syria and Egypt
is named Peraea [/. e. beyond Jordan] : full of rough Moun-
tains dispersed here and there : and separated from the other
Parts of Judaea by the River Jordan. The rest of Judaea is
divided into ten Toparchies, which we will speak of in order:
of Hiericho, planted with Date-trees ; Emmaus, well watered
with Fountains; Lydda, Joppica, Accrabatena, Gophnitica,
Thamnitica, Betholen, Tephene, and Orine, wherein stood
Hierosolyma, by far the most illustrious of the Cities of the
East, and not of Judaea only. In it also is the Toparchy
Herodium, with a famous Town of the same Name.

The River Jordan*

THE River Jordanis springeth from the Fountain Pane-
ades, which gave the Surname to Caesarea, whereof we will

1 This chapter should properly have been embodied with the pre-
ceding, which treats of Palestine, that name having been applied by the
Greeks to the whole country on account of the number of the Philistines
always within its bounds, both before and after the final conquest of that
people by David and Solomon. " Judaea," in its real signification, implies
the whole of the country inhabited by the Jews, in fact, the whole " Land
of Promise," from Dan to Beersheba in length, and including the region
allotted to the two tribes and a half on the other side Jordan ; the term
was originally synonymous with " the land of Judah," but on the separa-
tion of the ten tribes, the latter term was applied to the territories of
Judah and Benjamin, then formed into a separate kingdom, and hence
" Judaea " also came to be applied to that district in particular. Pliny is
also in error in speaking of Judaea as " spreading out far in length above
Idumaea and Samaria" inasmuch as Samaria occupies the central portion
of Judaea itself, and there is, therefore, an evident contradiction in the
description. Wern. Club.

2 This river rises at Caesarea Philippi; its length is 100 miles or there-

BOOK V.] History of Nature. 69

speak. It is a pleasant River, and so far as the Situation of
the Country will permit, spacious, offering itself to the
neighbouring Inhabitants ; and reluctantly, as it were, it
passeth to the Lake Asphaltites, cursed by Nature : by which
it is swallowed up ; it loseth its own esteemed Waters, by
their becoming mixed with those of the Pestilential Lake.
And therefore upon the first opportunity of any Valleys, it
poureth itself into a Lake, which many call Genesara, which
is 16 Miles Long and 6 Broad. This is environed with
beautiful Towns : on the East side with Julias and Hippo ;
on the South with Tarichea, by which Name the Lake is by
some called ; and on the West with Tiberias, an healthful
Place on account of the Hot Waters.


ASPHALTITES 1 produceth nothing besides Bitumen ; from
whence the name. No Body of any Creature doth it receive :
Bulls and Camels float upon it. Arid hence ariseth the

abouts, and its embouchure is into the Dead Sea ; its inner banks, to within
a few miles of this place, are covered with willows, oleanders, reeds, &c. &c.
whilst its periodical overflowings have formed a wider channel, denned by
a second or outer bank on either side. Wem. Club.

1 Asphaltites^ in other words the bituminous lake, from the abund-
ance of asphalt (bitumen) which occurs in it. Dr. Shaw estimated its
length at 72 English miles, and its Breadth 19 miles. Dr. Robinson,
however, estimates its length at only 50, and its average breadth 10 or 12
miles. The constituents of the water of the Dead Sea are as follows :

Muriate of lime 3-920 grains.

Muriate of magnesia 10-246 "

Muriate of soda 19-360 "

Sulphate of lime 0-054 "

34-580 grains in each 100.

Several analyses have been made by Marat, Gay-Lussac, Gmelin, &c.,
with nearly the same result. The origin of this lake accounts for the
above facts, and the phenomena by which it is surrounded equally evi-
dence its truth sterility in land, water, and air, are its saddening cha-
racters. It is reputed to be very shallow, which seems to be a mistake.
It also bore the name of the " Sea of the Plain." The history of this
lake is best seen in the Bible. Wern. Club.

70 History of Nature. [BooK V.

Report that nothing will sink in it. This Lake in Length
exceedeth 100 Miles, in Breadth 25 Miles where broadest,
and 6 where narrowest. On the East, Arabia of the
Nomades confronteth it ; and on the South, Machserus, in
Time past the second Fortress of Judaea, next to Hierosolyma.
On the same side is a Fountain of Hot Waters, useful in
Medicine, named Callirhoe ; a Name that expresseth the
Glory of the Waters.

The Race of the Esstni.

ALONG the West Coast retire the Esseni i 1 a Nation living-
alone, and beyond all others throughout the World wonder-
ful: without any Women, casting off the whole of Venus :
without Money : keeping company only with Date-trees.
Yet the Country is ever well peopled, because daily numbers
of Strangers resort thither from other Parts : and such as
are weary of Life are by the Waves of Fortune driven thither
to their manner of Living. Thus for thousands of Ages
(beyond belief to say), the Race is eternal in which no one is
Born : so prolific to them is the Repentance of Life of other
Men. Beneath them stood the Town Engadda, for Fertility
(of Soil) and Groves of Date-trees the next City to Hiero-
solyma, now a Place for the Dead. Beyond it is Massada,
a Castle upon a Rock, and not far from Asphaltites. And
thus much concerning Judaea.

1 The Essenes were a Jewish sect, divided into two classes. First, the
practical, who lived in society, and applied themselves to husbandry and
other harmless occupations ; and second, the contemplative, who were also
called therapeutce, or physicians, from their application principally to the
cure of the diseases of the soul ; these last devoted themselves wholly to
meditation, and avoided living in great towns, as unfavourable to a con-
templative life. Both classes were exceedingly abstemious, and highly
exemplary in their moral deportment. Although our Saviour censured
all the other sects of the Jews for their vices, yet He never spoke of the
Essenes ; neither are they mentioned by name in any part of the New
Testament. Pliny's object in the account he has thought fit to give of
them appears to have been to say something that might excite wonder
and ridicule. Wern. Club,

BOOK V.] History of Nature. 71


THERE is joined to it on the side of Syria the Region
Decapolis, 1 so called from the number of Towns ; in which
all Men observe not the same. Nevertheless most Men
speak of Damascus and Opotos, watered by the River Chry-
sorrhoa, and also of the fruitful Philadelphia arid Raphana,
all lying within Arabia. Moreover, of Scythopolis, so named
from the Scythians there planted : and formerly Mysa, so
named of Father Liber, because his Nurse was buried there.
Gadara, with the River Hieromiax running before it, and
the before-named Hippos Dios. Pella, enriched with
Waters, Galaza and Canatha. The Tetrarchies lie between
and about these Cities ; every one resembling a Region : and
they are reduced into several Kingdoms : Trachonitis, Panias,
wherein standeth Caesarea, with the Fountain abovesaid ;
Abila, Area, Ampeloessa, and Gab&.

Tyrus* and Sidon.

WE must return to the Sea-coast of Phcenic, where a
River runneth called Crocodilon, on which stood a Town
bearing the same Name. Also there are the Memorials of
the Cities, Dorum, Sycaminon, the Promontory Carmelum ;
and a Town on the Mountain so named, but in old Time
called Ecbatana. Near this is Getta and Jebba : the River
Pagida or Belus, mixing on its little Shore the Sands fertile
in Glass. This River floweth out of the stagnant pond Ceu-
devia, from the foot of Carmel. Near it is the City Ptole-

1 Josephus mentions the following cities as contained within this
region : Pella, Gerasa, Gadara, Hippos Dios, Damascus, Philadelphia,
Otopos, Raphana, and Scythopolis. Wern. Club.

2 There were two cities of this name ; one on the Syrian coast of the
Continent (vide Bishop Newton), and the other on an adjacent island,
which, in our author, are both spoken of together. Tyre has been called
the daughter of Sidon, because " The merchants of Sidon replenished
it." (Isaiah, xxiii. 2.) Wern. Club.

72 History of Nature. [BooK V.

mais, a Colony of Claudius Ccesar, formerly called Ace.
The Town Ecdippa ; the Promontory Album ; Tyrus, in old
Time an Island, lying almost three quarters of a Mile within
the Deep Sea : but now, by the Besieging Works of Alexander,
joined to the firm Land : renowned for having produced
Cities of ancient Name, Leptis, Utica, and that Carthage,
the Rival of the Empire of Rome for the Dominion of the
whole World : yea and Gades, founded beyond the Bounds
of the Earth. But now all the Glory thereof standeth upon
the (Shell-fishes) Chylium and Purpura. 1 The Circumference
of it is 19 Miles, comprised within Palaetyrus. The Town
itself taketh up 22 Stadia. Near it are the Towns Lynhydra,
Sarepta, and Ornithon : also Sidon, where Glass is made,
and which is the Parent of Thebes in Boeotia.

The Mountain Libanus.

BEHIND it beginneth Mount Libanus, 2 and for 1500
Stadia it reacheth as far as to Smyrna, where it is named
Coele-Syria. Another Mountain equal to it, and lying oppo-
site to it, is called Antilibanus; with a Valley lying between,
which in old Time was joined (to the other Libanus) by a
Wall. Being past this, there is the Region Decapolis ; and
the above-named Tetrarchies with it, and the whole expanse
of Palestina. But in that Coast still along the Foot of
Libanus, is the River Magoras, and the Colony Berytus,
called also Foelix Julia. The Town Leontos ; the River
Lycos ; Palsebyblos ; the River Adonis ; the Towns Byblos,
Botrys, Gigarta, Trieris, Calamos ; and Tripolis, subject to
the Tyrians, Sidonians, and Aradians. Orthosia and the
River Eleutheros. The Towns Simyra, Marathos ; and over
against Aradus, Antaradus, a Town of seven Stadia ; and an

1 See b. ix. c. 36, &c.

2 Libanus (Lebanon) is a chain of limestone mountains; the cedars
for which they were formerly famed still grow there, though in reduced
numbers, forming a small grove, in a small hollow at the foot of the highest
peak. Anti- Libanus is the more lofty ridge of the two. Wern. Club.

BOOK V.] History of Nature. 73

Island less than a quarter of a Mile from the Continent.
The Country where the said Mountains end, and in the Plains
lying between, beginneth Mount Bargylis : and thence
Phcenice endeth, and Syria beginneth again. The Towns
Carne, Balanea, Paltos, Gabale, the Promontory wherein is
the Free (City) Laodicea, with Diospolis, Heraclea, Cha-
radrus, Posidium.

Syria Antiochena.

THENCEFORWARD is the Promontory of Syria Antiochena ;
within is the Free City itself, Antiochena, surnamed Epi-
daphne ; through the midst runneth the River Orontes.
But in the Promontory is the Free (City) Seleucia, named
also Pieria.

The Mountain Casius.

ABOVE (the City) Seleucia, there is another Mountain
named Casius, as well as the other. This is of that Height,
that if a Man be upon the Top of it in the Night, at the
Fourth Watch, he may behold the Sun rising. So that
with a little turning of his Body, he may at one Time see
both Day and Night. The Passage round to the Top is 19
Miles ; but directly up, it is only Four Miles. In the Bor-
ders runneth the River Orontes, which riseth between Li-
banus and Antilibanus, near to Heliopolis. Then, the Town
Rhosos : and behind, the Passages between the Mountains
Rhosii and Taurus, which are called Portse Syriae. In the
Coast, the Town Myriandros, the Mountain Amanus,
where is the Town Bomitae. This separateth Cilicia from
the Syrians.


Cede- Syria. 1

Now, to speak of the Midland parts. Ccel& hath Apa-
mia, separated from the Nazerines' Tetrarchy by the River

1 Calo- Syria (or Lower Syria) signifying "Syria in the Hollow."
It may be considered, says Strabo, " either in a proper and restrained

74 History of Nature. [BooK V.

Marsia: Bambyce, otherwise called Hierapolis; but of the
Syrians, Magog. There is worshipped the monstrous Idol
Atargatis, 1 called by the Greeks Derceto. Also Chalcis,
surnamed Upon Belus : from which, the Region Chalcidene,
the most fertile of all Syria, taketh its Name. Then the
Region Cyrrhistica, Cirrhus, Gazatse, Gindareni, and Ga-
beni. Two Tetrarchies, called Granucomatse. The Hemi-
seni, Hylatse, the Nation of the Iturse, and those of them

sense, as comprehending only the tract of land between Libanus and Anti-
Libanus ; or in a larger signification, and then it will comprehend all the
country in obedience to the king of Syria, from Seleucia or Arabia and
Egypt- Wern. Club.

1 The Syrian idol Atargatis is the same as the Astarte or Ashtaroth,
so often mentioned in Holy Scripture ; it is also the Derceto of the
Greeks, who represent her to be the daughter of Venus, or, as some say,
Venus herself. The upper half of this monster had the form of a woman,
while the lower was that of a fish. Atargatis is fabled to have thrown
herself into a lake near Ascalon in Syria, through vexation at the loss of
her chastity, after having given birth to a daughter named Semiramis.
From this circumstance the Syrians abstained from eating the fish of that
lake, deified Atargatis, and built a temple to her memory on the borders
of the lake. Her daughter, Semiramis, was left exposed in a desert ; but
her life was preserved by doves for one whole year, till a shepherd of
N"inus found her and brought her up as his own child. She afterwards
married Menones, the governor of Nineveh, and at length became the
celebrated Queen of Assyria. After her death she was changed into a
dove, and received immortal honours in Assyria. Ovid alludes to both
mother and daughter in the commencement of his 4th Book of the

" But she awhile profoundly seemed to muse,

Perplex'd amid variety to choose ;

And knew not whether she should first relate

The poor Dercetis, and her wondrous fate ;

(The Palestines believe it to a man,

And shew the lake in which her scales began :)

Or, if she rather should the daughter sing,

Who in the hoary verge of life took wing,

Who soar'd from earth, and dwelt in towers on high,

And now a dove, she flits along the sky."

EUSDEN'S Translation.

It may be doubted whether she is not identical with Dagon, the first
goddess of the Phrenicians. Wern. Club.

HOOK V.] History of Nature. 75

who are named Betarrani, and the Mariammitani. The
Tetrarchy named Mammisea : Paradisus, Pagrse, Pinaritae,
and two Seleucise, besides the abovenamed ; one called Upon
Euphrates, and the other, Upon Belus : the Carditenses.
The rest of Syria hath besides these which shall be spoken
of with the Euphrates, the Arethusi, Berseenses, and Epi-
phanenses. Eastward, the Laodiceni, which are entituled,
Upon Libanus : the Leucadii, and Larisssei : besides 17
Tetrarchies reduced into Kingdoms under Barbaric Names.

Euphrates. 1

THIS is the fittest Place to speak of the Euphrates. Its
Source, by the Report of them who have seen it most closely,
is in Caranitis, a Province of Armenia the Greater. These
are Domitius Corbulo, who says, that it riseth in the Moun-
tain Aba; and Licinius Mutianus, who affirmeth, that it
issueth from the Foot of the Mountain which they call
Capotes, 12 Miles higher than Simyra : and that in the
beginning it was called Pyxirates. It runneth first to Der-
xene, and then to Ana also, shutting out the Regions of Ar-
menia from Cappadocia. The Dastusae from Simyra is 75
Miles. From thence it is navigable to Pastona, Fifty Miles :

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