Diodorus Siculus

BOOK IV - The Library of History

Page 127


What the Grecians say further of Bacchus. The Story of Priapus. Of Hermophroditus. Of the Muses. The Birth of Hercules; and his Twelve Labours injoin'd him by Euristheus. His wandring Expeditions through Africk, Spain, France, Italy, Sicily: His setting up Two Pillars at Gades, and his other Acts by the way. The Story of Orpheus.

CAdmus (they say) the Son of Agenor, being sent out of Phenicia by the King his Father to seek Europa, was commanded to bring her back, or he himself never to return into Phenicia. After many long and tedious Travels through many Countries, not being able to find the lost Lady in any place, despairing of ever returning into his own Country, he came at length into Beotia, and by Command of the Oracle, built Thebes, where he resided, and marry'd Harmonia, the Daughter of Venus, by whom he had Semele, Ino, Autonoes, Agaves and Polydores. Semele was so beautiful, that Jupiter fell in love with her, and lay with her: But making his Addresses in a mean and ordinary manner, she lookt upon it as if he did it in contempt of her, and therefore earnestly entreated him to come to his Embraces with her in the same manner as he did when he lay with Juno. Whereupon decking himself in his Divine Majesty, he approacht to her in Thunder and Lightning, and so lay with her in Light and Splendour: But Semele being great with Child, and not able to bear the Flashes of Lightning that shot round about her, miscarry'd, and she herself was consum'd by the Flame; and then Jupiter took away the Infant, and deliver'd it to Mercury, with Orders to convey him to the Cave in Nysa (which lies between Phenicia, and the River Nile) and there to recommend him to the care of the Nymphs, to be carefully bred up. Hence from Jupiter, whom the Greeks call Dia and Nysa, he was call'd Dionysus, as Homer in his Hymns witnesses in this Distick.

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉

Far off from Phenice stands the Sacred Nyse,

Where Streams of Egypt's Nile begin to rise,

On Mountain high with pleasant Woods adorn'd

Being brought up by the Nymphs in Nysa, they say, he found out the use of Wine, and taught the way and manner of planting the Vine; and going almost into all Parts of the World, he civiliz'd many Nations and Countries, so that he was highly honour'd of all. He found out likewise the manner of making Drink of Barley; some call it Zythus, for Taste and fragrant Smell not much inferior to Wine, which Art he especially taught them, whose Country was not fit for Planting, or producing of Vines. He led along with him an Army, not only of Men, but of Women, to execute Punishments upon impious and wicked Men.

In Beotia (in gratitude to his own Country,) he set free all the Cities, and upon the account of this Freedom, built a City, and call'd it Eleuthera.

After he had spent Three whole Years in an Expedition into India, he return'd with many rich Spoils into Beotia, and was the first in triumph mounted upon an Indian Elephant. Therefore the Beotians and the rest of the Grecians and Thracians, to keep up the Memory of the Indian Expedition, instituted solemn Sacrifices every Third Year to Bacchus, call'd Trieterica, at which time they are of opinion this God appears among Men; and therefore every third Year in many Towns of Greece, the Festivals of Bacchus, call'd Bacchanalia, are celebrated by a Company of Women and Virgins, who (according to the solemn Rites)

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The Histories of Herodotus written in 440 BC is considered to be the founding work of history in Western literature. His history included stories and fables but he claimed to have traveled extensively and learned about many countries through direct observation.

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The Library of History by Diodorus the Sicilian is one of the most highly regarded universal histories in antiquities. His work includes the history of Egypt, Asia, Africa, Greece and Europe. His book is a must read for research of ancient history.

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