The Library of History

Page 197

Page 197 In the middle of the Bed, is plac'd a great Golden Pillar, whereon are Letters inscrib'd, call'd by the Egyptians, Sacred Writing, expressing the famous Actions of Ʋranus, Jupiter, Diana and Apollo, written they say, by Mercury himself. But this may suffice concerning the Islands lying in the Ocean over against Arabia.

We shall now speak of those in the Aegaean Sea, near to Greece, beginning with Samothracia. It's said this Island was anciently call'd Samos, and afterwards Samothracia, to distinguish from one near to it, call'd Samos, built by Samus.

The Inhabitants are those that have ever been originally there, so that there's nothing certain handed down to Posterity, concerning the first Inhabitants and Governors of this Place. Some there are notwithstanding, that report, that it was anciently call'd Samos, and afterwards Samothracia, from Colonies that settl'd there out of Samos and Thrace.

The natural Inhabitants had anciently a peculiar kind of Speech, some Marks whereof remain in the Worship of their Gods at this Day. The Samothracians themselves report, that before there was any Flood in any other Nations, there was a great one amongst them.

The first Irruption was at the Mouth of the Cyneae, and the other made through the Hellespont: For they say, that the Pontick Sea being once a standing Pool, was so swell'd by the falling in of Rivers, that being overcharged with Water, it empty'd it self into the Hellespont, and overflow'd a great part of the Coasts of Asia, and laid a considerable part of the Champain Country of Samo-thracia under Water. And as a manifestation of this, some Fishermen of later time have brought up with their Nets, the Heads of Stony Pillars, certain Signs of the Cities being overflow'd and ruin'd by the Waters. The Inhabitants that escap'd (they say) fled to the higher parts of the Island, but the Sea rising still higher, they made their Addresses to their Gods, and thereupon being deliver'd from the imminent Danger they were in, they compass'd in the Bounds of those Places wherein they were preserv'd throughout the whole Island, and there erected Altars, where they sacrifice to their Gods at this Day: Whence it's apparent, that they inhabited Samothracia before the last Deluge.

Afterwards one Saon an Islander, the Son (as some say) of Jupiter and Nympha, but (as others, of Mercury and Rhena,) gather'd the Inhabitants (before living scatter'd and dispers'd) into a Body; and made Laws for their better Government, and divided them into Five Tribes, calling them after the Names of his Sons, but nam'd himself Saon, after the Name of the Island. The Government being thus setled, it's said, that Dardanus, Jasion and Harmonia, the Children of Jupiter and Electra, one of the Daughters of Atlas, were born among them. Of these, Dardanus (being a bold and brave Spirited Man) pass'd over in a Pinnace into Asia, and first built the City Dardanus, and erected the Kingdom of Troy (so call'd, from Troy built afterwards,) and call'd the People Dardanians. He Reign'd (they say) over many other Nations besides in Asia, and that the Dardanians above Thrace, were a Colony setled there by him.

It's further said, that Jupiter desiring likewise to advance his other Son to a high degree of Honour and Reputation, discover'd to him the Rites of the Sacred Mysteries anciently observ'd in that Island, but then newly reviv'd, which it was not lawful for any to hear, but those that are initiated.

But he seems to be the first that initiated Strangers; whence these Rites and Ceremonies became more noted and famous.

About this time, Cadmus the Son of Agenor came thither to seek after Europa, and being initiated into these Sacred Mysteries, married Harmonia the Sister of Jasion, not the Daughter of Mars, as the Greeks report: They say, that this was the first Marriage that was celebrated in the presence of the Gods, where Ceres in love with Jasion, presented him with Corn, Mercury with a Harp; Minerva bestow'd that famous Necklace, Vail and Pipe. Electra taught him to celebrate the Sacred Mysteries of the great Mother of the Gods with Cymbals, Timbrels and Dancing. Apollo play'd upon his Harp, and the Muses upon wind Instruments, and the rest of the Gods celebrated the Nuptials with joyful Acclamations.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books