The Library of History

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Page 204


Of Crete: The First Inhabitants. Of the Idaei Dactyli: Of Jupiter, Saturn, Hyperion, Prometheus, Mnemosyne, Themis, Ceres, Neptune, Pallas. Jupiter's Race; as the Muses, Vulcan, Mars, &c. Of the ancient Hercules, Britomartis, Pluto. Rhadamanthus's Justice. Of Lesbos. Deucalion's Flood. Of the Blessed Islands. Of Tenedos, and the Cyclades.

THE Inhabitants of Crete affirm, that the most ancient People of Crete are the Eteocretes, whose King, whom they call Creta, found out many very useful things, conducing much to the support and comfort of Man's Life. They say, likewise, that many of the Gods were born amongst them, who for their Benefits conferr'd upon Mankind, were eternally honour'd as Deities. Of which things we shall here distinctly treat, as they are deliver'd to us by the most approv'd Authors that have writ the History of Crete.

The first Inhabitants of Crete (of whom there's any remembrance) were the Idaei Dactyli, in Mount Ida: Some say there were a Hundred others, but Ten in number, call'd Dactyli, from the Ten Fingers on Mens Hands.

Some affirm, and amongst those Ephorus, that the Idaei Dactyli had their Original from Mount Ida in Phrygia, and pass'd over with Minos into Europe; and that they were Conjurers, and gave themselves to Inchantments, and Sacred Rites and Mysteries; and abiding in Samothracia, greatly amus'd and astonish'd the People of the Island. At which time it's said, Orpheus (who was naturally of a prompt Wit to Musick and Poetry) was their Scholar, and the first that brought over the Rites and Ceremonies of their Mysteries into Greece. The Dactyli moreover (as is said) found out the use of Fire; and discover'd the nature of Iron and Brass, to the Inhabitants of the Antisapterians, near to the Mountain Berecynthus, and taught the manner of working of it: And because they were the first discoverers of many things of great use and advantage to Mankind, they were ador'd and worship'd as Gods: One of them, they say, was call'd Hercules; a Person he was of great Renown, and he that instituted the Olympick Games, which were thought by Posterity to have been appointed by Hercules the Son of Alcmena, led into that Error by the Identity of Names.

An Evidence of these things, they say, remains to this Day, in that the Women chant the Songs formerly sung by this God, and wear about them certain Amulets, in imitation of him who was a Magician, and taught sacred Rites and Ceremonies: All which were different from the Manners of Hercules the Son of Alemena.

After the Idaei Dactyli (they say) there were Nine Curetes, some of which are feign'd to be the Offspring of the Earth, and the rest to descend from the Idaei Dactyli. They dwelt in the Mountains, under the shade of thick Trees, and in Caves, and other Places that naturally afforded them a shelter and covering, the building of Houses not being then found out. They were very Ingenious, and therefore invented many things very useful and profitable: For they were the first that taught how to manage Flocks of Sheep, and to tame and bring up other Cattel, and how to gather Honey; and that they were the first that shew'd how to cast Darts, and to Hunt; and that order'd Men into Societies and Communities, and sociably eating one with another, and brought Men into a peaceable and orderly Course of Life: They invented likewise Swords and Helmets, and dancing in Arms, and by the great noise they made, deceiv'd Saturn. For it's said, that by them Jupiter (whom his Mother Rhea, to hide him from her Father Saturn committed to their Care) was secur'd and brought up: But being willing to treat of this more particularly, we must go a little higher with ou Relation.

The Cretians say, that the Titans were contemporary with the Curetes: They dwelt in the Country of the Gnosians, where now may be seen the ancient Foundations and Courts of the House where Rhaea inhabited, and an old Sacred Grove

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books