The Library of History

Page 173

Page 173 We shall now endeavour to relate what the Mythologists report concerning Daphnis: In Sicily they say, are Mountains call'd Herei, so pleasant for Situation, and of so sweet an Air, that no Place can be better pitcht upon than they, for Pleasure and Diversion in the Summer time: For there are many Springs of admirable sweet Water, and deckt with Trees of all sorts. There are whole Woods of tall and stately Oaks, which bear Acorns of a vast bigness, twice as many, and twice as big as in any other part of the World.

There likewise grows abundance of Roots and Herbs, natural Vines, and unspeakable number of Melons, so that a Carthaginian Army once ready to starve for want of Provision, was there reliev'd and preserv'd; and though so many Thousands were there fed, yet plenty remain'd in the Mountains still. In this Region there's a pleasant Valley, grac'd with Rows of Trees, affording a most ravishing prospect to the Eye, and likewise a Grove dedicated to the Nymphs: Here they say Daphnis was begotten by Mercury upon one of the Nymphs, and gain'd that Name from the multitude of Laurels that grow there. Being bred up by the Nymphs, and having many Herds of Cattel, he diligently follow'd the Shepherds Life; upon which account he was also call'd Bubulcus; and being very skilful and ingenious in composing Songs and Tunes, he found out the Bucolick Poems, and Harmonious Notes which are much us'd, and highly esteem'd amongst the Sicilians at this Day. They say likewise, that he often hunted with Diana, and by his dutiful observance and attendance upon the Goddess, mightily gain'd her Favour, and with his Piping and Singing, wonderfully delighted her. It's likewise said, that a Nymph falling in love with him, told him, that if he lay with any other Woman but her, he should be struck blind; which afterwards prov'd true, for lying with a King's Daughter who had made him drunk, he forthwith lost his Sight.

But this concerning Daphnis shall suffice. Now we proceed in short to the Story of Orion. It's said, that he was the biggest and strongest Man of all the Heroes, and was much given to Hunting; and being so very strong, for the sake of Vain-glory, perform'd many great Actions.

Amongst other things, by casting up a Mold, he made the Harbour call'd Acte, for Zanclus the Sicilian King, from whom the City was anciently call'd Zancle, but now Messina.

But since we make mention of Messina, we conceive it no digression if we here subjoyn what is related concerning the narrow Sea, whereon it is seated.

Some ancient Writers say, that Sicily was once a Peninsula, and afterwards became an Island, in the manner following.

The Sea beating violently upon each side of the narrowest part of the Isthmus, at length cut through and disjoyn'd one part from the other, and the place from thence was call'd Rhegium, where many Years after, was built the City now so call'd. Others say, that that narrow Neck of the Continent, was rent asunder by an Earthquake, and by that means the Sea burst into that part where the Convulsion was made. But the Poet Hesiod affirms the contrary; for he says, that the Sea being formerly broader, Orion rais'd up in the open Sea, the Promontary Pelorus, and built upon it a Temple to Neptune, religiously ador'd by the Inhabitants. After the performing of these things, they report that he sail'd into Eubaea, and there resided. Afterwards for the glory of his Actions, being fix'd as a Constellation amongst the Stars, his Name became Famous to Eternity, of whom the Poet Homer makes mention in his Poem of the Dead, in these Words:

〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 ,
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 ,
〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 .
Next vast Orion his appearance made,
Hunting Wild Beasts within a Fruitful Mead,
Which on th' wast Mountains he had kill'd before,
When once a brazen Knotted Club he bore.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books