The Library of History

Page 178

Page 178 was in this manner, as we have before declared, many of the Ancients both Poets and Historians do generally affirm. For Carcinus the Tragaedian, who came often to Syracuse, observing how Zealous the Citizens were in celebrating the Sacreds and Festivals of Ceres, has these Verses in his Poems.

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Ceres most lovely Daughter, as they say,
By Pluto's Crafty Snares was snatcht away,
Who under Ground through darksom Caves convey'd
To th' gloomy Shades below, the harmless Maid.
Her mournful Mother wept and wrung her Hands,
Seeking her Ravish'd Daughter in all Lands.
Then Aetna's Flames through all the Land did roar,
And Flakes of Fire spread the Island o're;
And while the noble Maid was thus bemoan'd,
For want of Corn the fainting Country groan'd:
And hence it is, that to this very Day,
Devoutly to these Goddesses they pray.

It's not fit we should here omit giving an Account of the Kindness and Bounty of this Goddess to Mankind: For besides that she found out Corn, she taught the Art of Husbandry, and instituted Laws, whereby Men govern'd their actions according to the Rules of Justice and Honesty: For which reason they say, she was call'd the Law-maker And certainly none can bestow greater Benefits than these imparted by her, which include both Being and Well-being. But this concerning the Antiquities of Sicily shall suffice.

But its necessary to say in brief something of the Sicanians, the first Inhabitants of Sicily, because several Historians differ in their Relations concerning them. For Philistus says they were a Colony transplanted from Iberia into this Island, and came thither from the River Sicanus from whence they were call'd Sicani. But Timaeus (condemning the Ignorance of this Writer) proves clearly and evidently that they were the Original Inhabitants; whose Reasons to prove their Antiquity being many we conceive it needless to recite. The Sicanians anciently dwelt in Villages, and built little Towns upon Hills that were naturally strong, for their better Security against Thieves and Robbers. For they were not under one General Monarch, but every Town had each a several Prince. And at first they injoy'd the whole Island, and liv'd by Tillage and improvement of the Ground: But after that Aetna burst out in Flames in many Parts of it, and streams of Fire even overflow'd the neighbouring Territory, the Country lay wast and ruin'd for a great space and Tract of Ground together. And in regard the Fire continu'd thus to spoil the Country for many years together, the Inhabitants in a Consternation forsook the Eastern Parts of Sicily, and went down into the West. At length after many Ages the Sicilians with all their Families transported themselves out of Italy, and setled in that part of the Island before forsaken by the Sicanians. Where out of a covetous desire to gain more, they incroacht still further, and made incursions into the neighbouring Countries, so that there were frequent Wars between them and the Sicanians, till by a mutual Compact and agreement they settl'd the Boundaries of each others Territories; of which we shall give a particular account in their Proper place and time. The last that sent Colonies into Sicily were the Grecians, and those very considerable, who built Cities

Bibliotheca Historica

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