A Description of Sicily. The Aeolides or Lipari 〈…〉nds. Of Malta, Gaulus, Cercina, Corsica, Sardinia, Pityusa and the Baleares.
HAving design'd this Book for a Description of the Islands, we shall first begin with Sicily, being the chiefest and most remarkable for Ancient and Memorable Actions.
It was anciently call'd Trinacria, from its Shape. Afterwards by the Sicanians, the first Inhabitants, it was call'd Sicania; and at last it was call'd Sicily, from the Sicilians, who with all their People entirely transported themselves thither out of Italy.
In Circuit, it's Four Thousand, Three Hundred and Sixty Furlongs: For one of the Three Sides, from the Promontory Pelorus to Lilibeum, is a Thousand and Seven Hundred Furlongs; the other from Lilibeum to Pachinum, a Promontory of Syracuse, runs out in length a Thousand and Five Hundred Furlongs. The rest contains a Thousand, One Hundred and Forty Furlongs.
The Sicilians, the Inhabitants, from old Tradition, continu'd down to them from their Fore-fathers, say, that this Island is dedicated to Ceres and Proserpine. Some of the Poets feign, that at the Marriage of Pluto and Proserpine, this Island was given to the new Bride, by Jupiter for a † Present. The most approv'd Authors say, that the Sicanians who were the ancient Possessors, were the first natural Inhabitants of this Isle; and that the Goddesses which we have before-mention'd, appear'd first in this Island; and that the fatness of the Soyl was such, that Corn first grew here of it self, which the most Eminent of all the Poets confirms in these Words—
For in the Territory of Leontium, and in many other Parts of Sicily, there grows up wild Wheat at this very Day. If it be ask'd in what part of the World these Grains were first known, before the use of Corn was found out; it's most probable that they were first brought to the best and richest Country, and therefore upon that Account, we see that the Sicilians most especially worship those Goddesses who were the first Discoverers of these Fruits. That the Rape of Proserpine was in this Country (they say) is most clear and evident from hence, that neither of these Goddesses ever resided in any other Place, but in this Island, wherein they delighted above all others. The Rape, they say, was in the Meadows of Enna, not far from the City, a Place deck'd with Violets, and all sorts of other Flowers, affording a most beautiful and pleasant Prospect. It's said, that the fragrancy of the Flowers is such, that the Dogs sent out to hunt the Game, thereby lose the benefit of their Sense, and are made incapable by their Scent to find out the Prey. This Meadow-ground in the middle and highest part of it is Champain, and well water'd, but all the Borders round are craggy, guarded with high and steep Precipices, and is supposed to lye in the very Heart of Sicily: Whence it's call'd by some the Navel of Sicily: Near