The Library of History

Page 177

Page 177 at hand are Groves, Meadows and Gardens, surrounded with Morasses, and a deep Cave, with a Passage under Ground opening towards the North, through which they say, Pluto pass'd in his Chariot, when he forc'd away Proserpine. In this Place the Violets and other sweet Flowers flourish continually all the Year long, and present a pleasant and delightsom Prospect to the Beholders all over the flourishing Plain.

The say, that Minerva and Diana, who had both vow'd Virginity as well as Proserpine, were bred up together with her, and all Three wrought a Gown for Jupiter their Father, of the Flowers they had gather'd in Company one with another. And that they were exceedingly delighted in the Island upon the account of the familiar Converse they injoy'd one with another; so that each of them chose out a particular Place for their several Residences. Minerva made choice of those Parts near Himaera, where the Nymphs for the sake of Minerva open'd the Hot Baths about the time of Hercules his coming thither. The Inhabitants likewise dedicated the City to her (to this Day call'd Athenaeum) with the Country round about. To Diana was allotted by the Goddesses the Island at Syracuse, which from her was call'd both by the Oracles of the Gods and by Men, Ortygia. The Nymphs likewise to ingratiate themselves the more with Diana, made a mighty great Fountain in this Island, call'd Arethusa, wherein were bred many great Fishes, not only in Ancient Times, but there they remain to this very Day as Sacred and never toucht by any. But when some in time of War have made bold to feed upon 'em, they have suddenly by the apparent anger of the Goddess been afflicted with some remarkable Calamity, of which we shall write more fully in its proper Time and Place.

Proserpine injoy'd the pleasant Meadows about Enna in Common, with the other two Goddesses, and had a great Fountain call'd Cyane, in the Territories of Syracuse, consecrated to her. For they say, that Pluto after the Rape, carry'd away Proserpine in a Chariot to Syracuse, and there the Earth opening, both of them descended into Hell together, from which time in that Place arose the Spring and Lake call'd Cyane, where the Syracusians every Year celebrate a solemn Festival; at which they privatly Sacrific'd the lesser Victims, but publickly and openly they threw Bulls into the Lake; which manner of Sacrifice Hercules introduc'd, when he went over all Sicily with the Herds of Geryon. After the Rape of Proserpine, they say, Ceres (not being able to find out her Daughter) lighted Firebrands at the Irruptions of Aetna, and wandred through divers Parts of the World to seek her, and did much good where she came, especially where she was courteously receiv'd, bestowing Wheat upon the Inhabitants in a grateful return of their Civility. And because the Athenians entertain'd this Goddess with the greatest civility; therefore next to Sicily, they were the First upon whom she bestow'd this Grain; for which the People of Athens honour'd this Goddess above all others with splendid Sacrifices, and sacred Mysteries at Eleusis, which for their antiquity and sanctity are greatly esteem'd every where.

The Athenians generously communicated this Blessing of Corn to many others, and they imparted of the Seed to their Neighbours, so that by degrees the whole World was full of it.

The Sicilians therefore being the First that had the use of Corn, by reason of their Familiar Converse with Ceres and Proserpine who dwelt among them, instituted Sacrifices and Solemn Festivals to both these Goddesses, whose Names gave Reputation to the things; which Festivals were solemniz'd at such a time, as was most proper to point at the great benefit they had receiv'd: For they celebrated the Rape of Proserpine, in the time of Wheat Harvest, and perform'd these Sacrifices and Solemnities with that sanctity and application of Mind, as became them, who were oblig'd to be thankful for being prefer'd before all other People in the World with the First reception of so great a Blessing.

They had another Festival which they celebrated to Ceres at the time of Wheat Seedings; it continu'd for the space of Ten Days, and was remarkable for the Name of the Goddess; and during this time every thing was celebrated with great Pomp and Splendour; but the rest of the Worship was after the old way and Fashion. But it's a Custom among them during all these Ten Days, to use Obscene and Fifthy Language in their Converse one with another, because the Goddess being put into dumps of Melancholy for the loss of her Daughter, is put to the Smile they say, by smutty Discourse. That the Rape of Proserpine

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books