Diodorus Siculus

BOOK V - The Library of History

Page 184


Of Medera, Britain, Gallia, Celtiberia, Iberia and Tyrrhenia, and of the Inhabitants, and their Laws and Customs.

SInce we have gone through the Islands lying Eastward, on this side within the Pillars of Hercules, we shall now lanch into the main Ocean to those that lye beyond them; for over against Africa, lies a very great Island in the vast Ocean, of many Days Sayl from Lybia, Westward. The Soyl here is very fruitful, a great part whereof is Mountainous, but much likewise Champain, which is the most sweet and pleasant part of all the rest; for it's water'd with several navigable Rivers, beautify'd with many Gardens of Pleasure, planted with divers sorts of Trees, and abundance of Orchards, interlac'd with Currents of sweet Water. The Towns are adorn'd with stately Buildings, and Banquetting Houses up and down, pleasantly situated in their Gardens and Orchards. And here they recreate themselves in Summer Time, as in Places accomodated for Pleasure and Delight.

The Mountainous part of the Country is cloathed with many large Woods, and all manner of Fruit-Trees; and for the greater Delight and Diversion of People in these Mountains, they ever and anon open themselves into pleasant Vales, watered with Fountains and refreshing Springs: And indeed the whole Island abounds with Springs of sweet Water: Whence the Inhabitants not only reap pleasure and delight, but improve in Health and Strength of Body.

There you may have Game enough in Hunting all sorts of Wild Beasts, of which there's such plenty, that in their Feasts there's nothing wanting either as to Pomp or Delight. The adjoyning Sea furnishes them plentifully with Fish, for the Ocean there naturally abounds with all sorts.

The Air and Climate in this Island is very Mild and Healthful, so that the Trees bear Fruit (and other things that are produc'd there, are fresh and beautiful) most part of the Year; so that this Island (for the excellency of it in all respects) seems rather to be the Residence of some of the Gods, than of Men.

Anciently by reason of its remote situation, it was altogether unknown, but afterwards discover'd upon this occasion.

The Phaenicians in ancient Times undertook frequent Voyages by Sea, in way of Traffick as Merchants, so that they planted many Colonies both in Africa and in these Western Parts of Europe. These Merchants succeeding in their undertaking, and thereupon growing very rich, pass'd at length beyond the Pillars of Hercules, into the Sea call'd the Ocean: And first they built a City call'd Gades, near to Hercules his Pillars, at the Sea-side, in an Isthmus in Europe; in which, among other things proper for the Place, they built a stately Temple to Hercules, and instituted splendid Sacrifices to be offer'd to him after the Rites and Customs of the Phaenicians. This Temple is in great Veneration at this Day, as well as in former Ages; so that many of the Romans, famous and renown'd both for their Births and glorious Actions, have made their Vows to this God, and after Success in their Affairs, have faithfully perform'd 'em. The Phaenicians therefore upon the account before related, having found out the Coasts beyond the Pillars, and sailing along by the Shoar of Africa, were on a suddain driven by a furious Storm afar off into the main Ocean; and after they had lain under this violent Tempest for many Days, they at length arriv'd at this Island; and so coming to the Knowledge of the nature and pleasantness of this Isle, they were the first that discover'd it others: And therefore the Hetrurians (when they were Masters at Sea) design'd to send a Colony thither; but the Carthaginians oppos'd them, both fearing lest most of their own Citizens should be allur'd (through the goodness of the Island) to settle there, and likewise intending to keep it as a Place of Refuge for themselves, in case of any suddain and unexpected blasts of Fortune, which might tend to the utter ruin of their Government. For being then Potent at Sea, they doubted not but they could easily (unknown to the Conquerors) transport themselves and their Families into that

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