The Library of History

Page 104

Page 104 when all hope of safety is gone, and Provision spent, these few die far more miserably than those that perisht before. For these in a moment of time, give up that Breath which Nature had given them, but those (by prolonging their Misery, and dividing as it were their Sorrows into several parts) dye at last with more lingering Torments. The Ships being in this miserable manner depriv'd of their Pilots and Mariners, continue a long time as so many Solitary Sepulchers; and at length being buried in heaps of Sand, their lofty Masts and Main-Yards remain only Spectacles to move Compassion in them that see them afar off. For by the King's Command, the Monuments of these Misfortunes are not to be toucht, but are to remain as Sea-marks to Mariners to avoid those dangerous Places. It has been an ancient Report among the Ichthuophages (the Inhabitants of those Tracts) continu'd down to them from their Fore-fathers, that by a mighty reflux of the Sea (which hapned in former days) where the Sea is thus green, the whole Gulf became dry Land, and appear'd green all over, and that the Water overflow'd the opposite Shoar, and that all the Ground being thus bare to the very lowest bottom of the Gulf, the Water by an extraordinary high Tide, return'd again into the ancient Channel.

The Navigation from Ptolemais to the Promontary of Taurus, has been describ'd when we spoke of Ptolemy's Pleasure in hunting of Elephants: From Taurus the Sea Coasts turn towards the East.

Here from the time of the Summer, to the Winter Solstice, the Sun casts the shadow to the South, contrary to what it does with us. This Country is water'd with Rivers flowing down from the Psebarian Mountains (as they are call'd) and is divided into many spacious Plains, which produce Mallows, Cardanum, and extraordinary Palm-Trees, and divers other Fruits of an unsavory Taste, altogether unknown to us. The South parts of this Country are full of Elephants, wild Bulls, Lions and other wild Beasts. In passing over to this Coast, there lye several Islands in the way, which are altogether barren as to any Fruit that is grateful, but in them are bred strange sorts of Birds, and wonderful to view and observe. From hence sailing forward, the Sea is exceeding deep, and abounds with mighty great Whales, which yet do no harm, unless any (by chance) run upon their erected Finns; for they cannot pursue the Ships, because when they rise up towards the top of the Water, they are struck blind by the brightness and splendour of the Sun. These are the utmost Bounds of Troglodita (known to us) inviron'd with the Psebarian Promontaries.

And now we shall pass over to the other side of the Gulf, and take a view of the Regions lying towards Arabia, beginning again at that part of the Sea which is call'd Neptunium, because Ariston erected there an Altar in honour of Neptune, when Ptolemy sent him to discover the Arabian Coast as far as to the Ocean. From thence to the Month of the Gulf is a place along the Sea-Coast of great esteem among the Inhabitants for the profit it yields them; it's call'd the Garden of Palm-Trees, because they abound there, and are so very Fruitful, that they yield sufficient both for pleasure and necessity. But the whole Country next adjoyning, is destitute of Rivers and Brooks, and lying to the South, is even burnt up with the heat of the Sun; and therefore this fruitful Tract that lies amongst dry and barren Regions (far remote from Tillage and Improvement,) and yet affords such plenty of Food and Provision, is justly by the Barbarians dedicated to the Gods. For there are in it many Fountains, and running Streams as cold as Snow, by which means the Region from one side to the other is always green and flourishing, and very sweet and pleasant to the view. In this place there's an ancient Altar of hard Stone, with an Inscription in old and illegible Characters; where a Man and a Woman (that execute here the Priests Office, during their Lives) have the charge of the Grove and Altar. They are Persons of Quality and great Men that abide here, and for fear of the Beasts, have their Beds (they rest upon) in the Trees.

The Mariner passing by this Country of Palms, arrives at an Island near to a Promontory of the Continent, which is call'd the Island of Sea-Calves, from the great multitudes of those Creatures that frequent this Place. The Sea here so abounds with them, that it's to the admiration of the Beholders.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books