BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 102 It may not therefore be judg'd altogether incredible (or accounted for a Fable) what the Ethiopians have related, since so vast a Monster has been expos'd to open view. For they affirm that there have been seen Serpents amongst them of that extraordinary bigness, that they have not only devour'd Cows and Bulls, and other Beasts of that size, but have even fought with Elephants themselves: For they so wrap themselves round their Thighs, and hold them so fast, that they are not able to move or stir, and pricking up their heads from under the Elephants Trunk, and looking direct upon them full in the Face with the fiery Rays that dart out of their Eyes, strike them blind, so that they fall down to the Ground as if they were struck with a flash of Lightning, and when they are down they tear them in Pieces.

And now since we have given a clear and sufficient account of Ethiopia and Troglodita, and the bordering Countries as far as to the Torrid Zone, and of the Southern Coasts and Climates of the Red Sea, and the Atlantick Ocean, we shall proceed to the Description of the other parts bordering upon the Arabian Gulf, which we have learnt partly from the publick Records in Alexandria, and partly from those that have seen the Places themselves. For this part of the inhabited World, as likewise the British Isles, and the Places lying far to the North, are the least known of any other. But we shall describe those Northern parts which border upon the Frigid Zone, together with the British Isles, when we come to treat of the acts of Caius Caesar, who inlarg'd the Bounds of the Roman Empire, as far as to those parts, and by his means we come to the Knowledge of all those Countries which were altogether unknown to us before.

CHAP. III.

A Description of the Coasts and Countries on both sides the Arabian Gulf, or Red Sea. The Perfumes of Arabia the Happy. The Fortunate Islands. A Description of part of Lybia: The Spectras near the Syrtes.

THe Arabian Gulf (as it's call'd) empties it self into the Southern Ocean, and stretches out many Furlongs in length; where it falls into the Sea its both bounded with Arabia and Troglodita. It's breadth both at the Mouths, and where it's lost in the Sea, is about Fifteen Furlongs. But from the Port of Panormus, the opposite Shoar, is one Days sailing: The greatest breadth is at Mount Tyrceus, and Macaria, where the Sea is very rough and tempestuous; nor can Land be seen from one side to another; from thence it grows narrower, till it fall into the Ocean.

In the Sea are many great Islands, between which the Passage for Ships is very narrow, and the Water very rough. And this in short is the Situation of this Gulf. We shall begin at the utmost Parts of this Sea, and describe the Coasts on both sides, and what is remarkable in each, as if we were sailing along.

And first, we shall give an account of the Coast on the Right Hand, the Seat of the Troglodites: The Troglodites take up all this part as far as to the vast Deserts. All along the Shoar on this right side from the City of Arsinoe, Mariners meet with many Rivers of Salt-water, pouring down from the Rocks into the Sea.

After the passing these running Fountains, appears a Mountain in a vast and large Plain of a red Colour, which dazles the Eyes of all those that look earnestly upon it. At the Foot of this Mountain is a Lake, with an Entrance of many windings and turnings into it, known by the Na e of Aphrodites; in this are Three Islands, Two of which abound with Figs and Olives; but the Third has neither; yet breeds great numbers of those Birds they call M •leogrides.

From hence you sail through a vast Gulf call'd Filthy, or Acathartus, and near unto it is an exceeding deep Current, making a Peninsula, carrying Ships through a narrow straight into the open Sea on the other side. In sailing along by these Places, there lies an Island, surrounded with a deep Sea, Fourscore Furlongs



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