The Library of History

Page 3

Page 3 we have here said concerning the first Generation of Mankind, and his way of living in old time may suffice, designing to keep within due Bounds.

And now we shall apply our selves to recount those things that have been done in all the known Parts of the World, whereof there is any Memorial handed down to us.

Who were the First Kings, we our selves can neither assert nor agree with those Historians who affirm they know; for it's not possible that the Account given of Affairs, should be so ancient as to be contemporary with the first Kings; and if any should admit any such thing, yet it's apparent, that all the Historians extant liv'd long after those Times. For the Greeks themselves are not only in the dark concerning the Antiquity of Nations, but many of the Barbarians also, who call themselves Natural Inhabitants, and boast themselves to be the first of all other Men who have found out things beneficial to Mankind, and to have committed to writing, things done among them many Ages before. And as for us, we determine nothing certainly of the Antiquity of particular Nations, nor which Nation is antienter than another, or how many Years one was before another. But that we may attain the Scope and End we have before design'd, we shall distinctly set forth in these Chapters, what is reported concerning things done in the several Nations, and the Antiquity of them.

We shall first speak of the Barbarians; not that we judge them more ancient than the Grecians (as Ephorus affirms) but that we are willing in the First place to relate many considerable things of them, that when we come afterwards to the History of the Greeks, we may not confound their Antiquity with the other which are of a foreign nature to them. And because the Gods are fabulously reported to be born in Egypt, and the first Observation of the Motion of the Stars is attributed to them, and that there are many remarkable and famous Actions of renown'd Men recorded to be done amongst them, we shall begin with the Affairs of Egypt.

The Egyptians report, that at the beginning of the World, the first Men were created in Egypt, both by reason of the happy Climate of the Country, and the nature of the River Nile. For this River being very Fruitful, and apt to bring forth many Animals, yields of it self likewise Food and Nourishment for the things produc'd. For it yields the Roots of Canes, the Fruit of the Lote-Tree, the Egyptian Bean, that which they call Cors •on, and such like Rarities for Man's Food, always ready at hand.

And that all living Creatures were first produc'd among them, they use this Argument, that even at this day, about Thebes at certain Times, such vast Mice are bred, that it causes admiration to the Beholders; some of which to the Breast and Fore-feet are animated and begin to move, and the rest of the Body (which yet retains the nature of the Soyl) appears without Form. Whence it's manifest, that in the beginning of the World, through the Fertileness of the Soyl the first Men were form'd in Egypt, being that in no other parts of the World any of these Creatures are produc'd; only in Egypt these supernatural Births may be seen.

And that we may sum up all in a word: If in the time of Deucalion's Flood, the greatest part only of all living Creatures were destroy'd, then of such as were so preserv'd, its very probable that those in Egypt, especially, were of the number, whose Inhabitants lye under the South Pole, and the Country for the most part without Rain: Or if all that had Life generally perisht (as some affirm) and that the Earth produc'd Animals anew; yet they say, that notwithstanding this, the chief production of things animated, is to be ascribed to this Country. For they affirm, that if the Showers which fall in any other Places, were warm'd with the same Heat that is in Egypt, the Air would be of that Temperature, as that it would aptly conduce to the Generation of Animals, as at first, in the beginning of the World. For even at this day, such Births may be seen (in the Waters that have lain long) over all the water'd Country of Egypt. For they affirm, that when the River returns into its Channel, and the Sun dries the Mud, living Creatures are generated, some perfect, others half form'd, even cleaving to the Soyl whence they are produc'd.

The first Generation of Men in Egypt, therefore contemplating the Beauty of the Superior World, and admiring with astonishment the frame and order of the Universe, judg'd there were Two chief Gods that were Eternal, that is to

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books