The Library of History

Page 138

Page 138 to this God, and feasted continually with prodigious Charge and Expence. The Romans afterwards built a Magnificent Temple near to the River Tiber, in honour of this God, and instituted Sacrifices to him out of the Tenths.

Hercules marching from Mount Pallatine, pass'd through the Maritime Coasts of Italy, as they are now call'd, and came into the Champain Country of Cumaea, where (it's said) there were men infamous for their Outrages and Cruelties, call'd Giants. This Place is also call'd the Phlegraean Plain, from a Hill which anciently vomited out Fire, like unto Etna in Sicily, now call'd Vesuvius, which retains many Signs and marks of its ancient Irruptions.

These Giants hearing of Hercules his Approach, met him in Battel Array; and fighting with the force and cruelty of Giants, Hercules (with the Assistance of the Gods) overcame them; and cutting off most of them, quieted that Country. These Giants were call'd Sons of the Earth, by reason of the vast Bulk of their Bodies. These are the things that some report (whom Timaeus follows) concerning the destruction of the Giants of Phlegraea.

Leaving the Plains of Phlegraea, he came to the Sea, where he perform'd some remarkable Works about the Lake Avernus (as it's call'd) which is consecrated to Proserpine. It's situated between Micenus and Diciarcheos, near the hot Baths, Five Furlongs in Circuit, and of an incredible Depth. The Water of this Lake is exceeding clear, and the mighty depth of this Gulf casts a blew Colour upon the Surface.

It's reported, that anciently there was here an Oracle, where they conjur'd the Infernal Spirits, which the latter Ages abolish'd. Whereas this Lake extended as far as to the Sea, it's said Hercules by casting up of Earth, so stopt up its Current, that he made the way near the Sea, now call'd the Herculean way. And these are the things he did there.

Marching thence, he came to a certain Rock in the Country of the Posidonia •s, where they report a kind of a Miracle happened. A certain Huntsman (famous all over the Country for his brave Exploits) was us'd formerly to fix the Heads and Feet of all the Game he took, to Trees, as an Offering to Diana: But having then taken a great wild Boar (in Contempt of the Goddess) he boasted, and declar'd he would only consecrate the Head to her; and forthwith according to what he said, hung it upon a Tree. It being then Summer-time, about Noon, he laid him down to Sleep, during which time, the Band which fastned the Head, broke, and so it fell down upon him that slept, and kill'd him. And there's no reason to wonder at this, when many of the like kind are reported to have happened, by which the Goddess has reveng'd her self of the Impious. But the contrary happened to Hercules, for the sake of his Piety; for when he came to the Borders of Rhegium and Locris, being wearied with his March, and laid down to rest, they say he was disturb'd with the noise and creaking of the Grashoppers, whereupon he intreated the Gods to free him from that disturbance, who heard his Prayers: For the Grashoppers flew away, not only for that time, but none were ever seen there at any time after.

When he came to the narrowest Passage over the Sea, he caus'd the Cattel to swim over before him into Sicily, and he himself catcht hold of one of the Horns of the Oxen, and in that manner swam along for the space of Thirteen Furlongs, as Timaeus reports the matter. Afterwards, desiring to go round the Island, he went on his Journey from Peloriadis to Eryx, and passing along the Shoar, the Nymphs open'd the hot Baths for him, where he refresh'd himself after his tedious Journey. These Baths were Two in number, the Hemerian and Egestean, so call'd from the Places. After Hercules came into the Country of Eryx, Eryx the Son of Venus and Bula, the King of the Country, challeng'd Hercules to wrestle with him. Both sides propos'd the Wager to be won and lost; Eryx laid to stake his Kingdom, but Hercules his Oxen; Erix at first disdain'd such an unequal Wager, not fit to be compar'd with his Country; but when Hercules on the other side answer'd, that if he lost them, he should lose together with them Immortality, Eryx was contented with the Condition, and engag'd in the Contest: But he was overcome, and so was stript out of the Possession of his Country, which Hercules gave to the Inhabitants, allowing them to take the Fruits to their own use, till some one of his Posterity came to demand it, which afterwards hapned: For many Ages after, Doriaeus the Lacedemonian (sailing into Sicily) recover'd his Ancestors Dominion, and there built Heraclea, which growing

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books