Diodorus Siculus

BOOK V - The Library of History

Page 194 that it's no wonder that they have lost the Honour and Reputation their Fore-fathers gain'd by Warlike Atchievments. The goodness of the Soyl does not a little add Fuel to their Luxury, for they injoy a most Fertile Country, rich Land, whence they reap abundance of all sorts of Fruits: For Hetruria is second to none for Fertility of Soil, being a large Champain Country, yet distinguish'd with rising Hills here and there, fit and commodious likewise for Tillage: It's water'd also with moderate Showers, not only in the Winter, but in the Summer Season.


Of Gredosia. Of the Isles of the Arabian Sea. Of the Holy Island. Of Panchaea. Of Samothracia. Of Naxus, Syme, Nausus, Calydna, Nisyrus, Carpathus. Of Rhodes, and of Chersonesus.

HAving gone through the Western and Northern Countries, and the Islands of the Ocean, we shall now describe the Southern Islands lying in the Arabian Ocean, on the East part of Arabia next to Gredosia. This part of Arabia is a Country full of Villages, and considerable Towns, some of which are situated upon high Hills, others upon rising Grounds, or something higher than Champain Fields. Their greatest Cities have stately Royal Palaces, and are very wealthy and Populous: The Country abounds with all sorts of Cattel, and is of a very fruitful Soyl, affording plenty of rich Pasture for the Flocks and Herds: Many Rivers run through it, watering the Fields, to the great increase of the Fruits of the Earth. And therefore this part of Arabia which excels the rest in richness of Soil is justly call'd Arabia the Happy.

Over against the utmost point of this Country near the Ocean, lye many Islands but there are but Three that are worth remark: The First is call'd the Holy Island, wherein it's unlawful to bury the Dead: But not far from this, about Seven Furlongs distant, there's another wherein they bury: The Sacred Isle chiefly produces Frankincense, and in that abundance, as suffices for the Service and Worship of the Gods all the World over; it has likewise Plenty of Myrrhe, with other odoriferous Spices of several sorts, which breath out a most fragrant Smell. The nature of Frankincense, and the manner of getting it is thus: The Tree is very small, like to the white Egyptian Thorn, and bears a Leaf like to the Willow: It puts forth a Flower of a Golden Colour; from the Bark of this Tree by incision made, distils the Frankincense in Drops like Tears.

The Myrrhe-Tree is like to the Mastick-Tree, but bears a more slender Leaf, and grows thicker upon the Branches. The Myrrhe flows forth, by digging up the Earth round about the Roots. Those that grow in a rich Soyl, bear twice a Year, that is, in the Spring and Summer: That in the Spring-time, is of a red colour, caus'd by the Dew; the other nearer Winter, is white.

There they got likewise the Fruit of the Paliurus Tree, very wholsom both in Meat and Drink, and good against a Dissentery. The Land is divided amongst the Inhabitants, of which the best part is allotted to the King, who has likewise the Tenths of the Fruits.

They say the breadth of the Island is about Two Hundred Furlongs, inhabited by them they call Panchaeans, who transport the Myrrhe and Frankincense into Foreign Parts, and sell it to the Arabian Merchants, from whom others buy these and other such like-Merchandise, and convey them to Phaenicia, Coelo-Syria and Egypt; and from those Places they are carried by the Merchants over all parts of the World.

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