The Library of History

Page 120

Page 120 For he has written a History of Bacchus, of the Amazons, of the Expedition of the Argonauts, and the War of Troy, and many other things, annexing thereunto several Poems of the ancient Mythologists and Poets. He says that Linus was the first that invented Rhimes and Musick in Greece: And that Cadmus brought Letters out of Phoenicia, and was the first that taught the Grecians to pronounce them, and gave them their several Names, and form'd their distinct Characters: Hence these Letters are all generally call'd Phoenician Letters, because they were brought over out of Phoenicia into Greece: but they were afterwards call'd Pelasgian Characters, because the Pelasgians were the first that understood them after they were brought over. He says, that this Linus being an excellent Poet and Musician, had many Scholars, amongst whom there were three that were the most famous, Hercules, Themyris and Orpheus. Hercules learnt to play upon the Harp, but was very dull and unapt to learn, insomuch as he was sometimes box'd and beaten, at which he was at length so inrag'd that he kill'd his Master by a Blow with his Harp. Themyris was very ingenions, and gave himself wholly to Musick; and grew so eminent therein, that he would boast he could sing more sweetly and melodiously than the Muses themselves; at which the Goddesses were so inrag'd, that they both depriv'd him of his Art, and struck him blind besides, as Homer affirms in these Verses,

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
Themyris then by th' Muses was envy'd
And of his Art the Thracian they depriv'd.

And then again,

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
Th' inraged Goddesses then struck him blind
That th' way to Sing or Play he could not find.

Of Orpheus, the last of his Scholars, we shall speak particularly when we come to what concerns him.

This Linus (they say) writ in Pelasgian Letters, the Acts of the first Bacchus, and left other Stories in his Writings behind him. Orpheus, likewise it's said, us'd the same Characters, and Pronapides, Homer's Master, an ingenious Musician. Thymaetes also the Son of Thymaetus, the Son of Leomedon, who liv'd in the time of Orpheus, and travell'd through many Parts of the World, as far as to the Western Parts of Lybia to the very Ocean: This Thymaetes visited likewise (they say) Nysa the Place where Bacchus was brought up, as is reported by the Ancient Inhabitants; where being instructed by the Nysians, he wrote a Poesy call'd Phrygia, of the particular Actions of this God, in very old Language and Character. Amongst other things, he says, that Ammon a King, reigning in some Part of Lybia, marry'd Rhea the Daughter of Coelus, Sister of Saturn and the other Titans; and that when he came first to the Kingdom, he met with a beautiful Virgin call'd Amalthea, upon the Ceraunean Mountains, and falling in Love with her, begat a Son of her, who was afterwards famous and admirable both for Strength and Comeliness of Person; afterwards he made Amalthea Queen of the neighbouring Nations, which in its Situation being in shape of an Ox's Horn, was therefore call'd the Western Horn, and that the Soyl is so very rich, that it abounds with Vines and all other sorts of Fruit-trees. Being possess'd of this Country, she call'd it after her own Name, Amalthea's Horn. And therefore Posterity call every rich Piece of Land that abounds with Fruit-trees, Amalthea's Horn.

But Ammon fearing the rageful Jealousy of Rhea, conceal'd his Adultery, and privately sent away the Child afar off to the City Nysa, which lyes in an Island almost inaccessible, surrounded with the River Triton, into which there is but one strait and narrow Entrance, call'd the Nysian Gates.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books