The Library of History

Page 74

Page 74 They say, that in ancient Time, when Men liv'd scatter'd and dispers'd here and there, Bacchus with a great Army from the West, overran all India, which at that time had no considerable City in it able to make any resistance; and that a Plague (through the violent and parching heat) destroying many of his Souldiers, (they say) that prudent General drew his Army out of the Plains to the tops of the Mountains, where (by means of the cool Blasts of the refreshing Air, and drinking of the Spring-Waters there at hand) they were restor'd to their former Health; and that the Place where his Army was thus recover'd, was call'd the Thigh; hence the Grecians frame a Story of this God to this Day, that Bacchus was bred in the Thigh. Afterwards (they say) he diligently imploy'd himself in sowing and planting divers Fruit-Trees, and imparted the Art to the Indians, and found out the use of Wine, and other things conducing to the comfort of Man's Life. He built likewise stately Cities, and remov'd the Villages to more commodious Situations; and instituted the manner of Divine Worship, and made Laws, and set up Courts of Justice; and at last for the many excellent Inventions imparted to the Indians, he was esteem'd as a God, and obtain'd immortal Honours. They report that he had a Regiment of Women in his Army, and that in the heat of Battel he made use of Timbrels and Cymbals, the Trumpet being not at that time found out: And that after he had reign'd over all India for the space of Two and Fifty Years, he dy'd of extream old Age, leaving the Kingdom to his Sons, who injoy'd it, and their Posterity after them successively, till many Ages after the Regal Authority was abrogated, and the Cities were govern'd by a Democrasy. These are the things related of Bacchus and his Posterity by the Inhabitants of the Mountainous parts of India.

They say moreover, that Hercules was born amongst them, and like the Greeks, furnish him with a Club and a Lion's Skin; and for Strength and Courage that he excell'd all other Men, and clear'd both Sea and Land of Monsters and Wild Beasts: That of many Wives he begat many Sons, but one only Daughter. Among these Sons, when they were grown up, he divided India into equal Parts, and appointed each to be King over their several shares, allotting likewise one part of the Kingdom to his Daughter, whom he carefully brought up under his own Eye. It's said that he built many Cities, the most famous of which is call'd Palibothra, in which he built a stately Palace, and planted it with a great number of Inhabitants, and fortify'd it round with deep Trenches, fill'd with Water from the River. And at length after his Death he was honour'd as a God. His Posterity reign'd for many Ages together, and perform'd many noble Actions; but never made any Foreign Expeditions, or sent forth any Colonies into other Parts; and though that after the Course of many Years, most of the Cities reduc'd themselves under the power of a Democratical Government, yet there were some of the Indians that flourish'd under a Monarchy, till the very time that Alexander invaded that Country.

Although the Indians have Laws peculiar to themselves, differing from all other People, yet one especially is most remarkable, instituted by their ancient Philosophers, which is this:

It's an establish'd Law, That none amongst them should be a Servant; but that every one being free, all should be honour'd with equal respect: For they that know that they are neither to be superior nor inferior to any, are ready to undergo all the Shocks of Fortune with Courage and Resolution. For it's a Foolish thing to make Laws for an equality amongst all, and yet at the same time to order inequality of Estates.

All the People of India are divided into Seven Ranks; the First is Philosophers, who are least in number, but chiefest in esteem: For they are free from all publick Offices; and are neither subject themselves to any, nor any subject to them. Yet they are made use of by their Friends to offer Sacrifice for them while they are alive, and to perform the solemn Exequies at their Funerals when they are dead, as Persons who are greatly belov'd of the Gods, and skilful in Matters relating to the Affairs of the Dead in the Shades below; for which piece of Service they are highly honour'd, and presented with many rich Gifts: Especially they much advantage the Indians in general, at such times as being admitted into the publick Assemblies, at the beginning of every Year they foretel Droughts, Rains, Winds and Diseases, and other things convenient and useful for the Auditors to be inform'd of; for so both King and People being forewarn'd of things to come,

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books