Diodorus Siculus

BOOK II - The Library of History

Page 78 of them Harpers, who playing on the Harp, chant Sacred Hymns to Apollo in the Temple, setting forth his glorious Acts. The Hyperboreans use their own natural Language: But of long and ancient time, have had a special Kindness for the Grecians; and more especially for the Athenians, and them of Delos. And that some of the Grecians pass'd over to the Hyperboreans, and left behind them divers Presents, inscrib'd with Greek Characters; and that Abaris formerly travell'd thence into Greece, and renew'd the ancient League of Friendship with the Delians.

They say moreover, that the Moon in this Island seems as if it were near to the Earth, and represents in the face of it Excrescences like Spots in the Earth. And that Apollo once in Nineteen Years comes into the Island; in which space of time, the Stars perform their Courses, and return to the same Point; and therefore the Greeks call the Revolution of Nineteen Years, the Great Year. At this time of his appearance (they say) that he plays upon the Harps, and sings and daunces all the Night from the Vernal Equinox, to the rising of the Pleiades, solacing himself with the Praises of his own successful Adventures. The Sovereignty of this City, and the care of the Temple (they say) belongs to the Boreades, the Posterity of Boreas, who hold the Principality by Descent in a direct Line from that Ancestor.


A Description of Arabia the Desert, Happy, &c. Metals, Precious Stones, Beasts, &c. A Description of Taprobana in the Southern Ocean, now call'd Ceylon or Zeilan. The strange things there. How discover'd by Iambulus.

HAving now finish'd these foregoing Relations, we shall bend our Discourse to the other Parts of Asia not yet spoken of, and chiefly to Arabia.

This Country is situated between Syria and Egypt, and is divided into several Nations. On the East the Arabians, call'd the Nabateans, inhabit a Tract partly Desert, and in other Parts without Water, and very little of it there is that bears any Fruit; and therefore the Inhabitants live by Robbing and Stealing, and for that end roving up and down the Countries far and near, they vex the Inhabitants with their continual Incursions and Robberies, it being a very difficult matter to subdue them. For in the dry Country, they have Wells digg'd in convenient Places, unknown to Strangers, whither they fly for refuge, and are safe: For knowing where the Waters lye hid and private, upon opening of the Wells they are largely supply'd; but Strangers, who pursue them (unacquainted with those Fountains) either perish for Thirst, or falling into many other Disasters, and quite tyr'd out, scarcely ever return home: And therefore these Arabians (being that they are not to be conquer'd) are never inslav'd, nor ever admit any Foreign Prince over them, but preserve themselves continually in perfect Liberty; and therefore neither the Assyrians antiently, nor the Medes and Persians, nor the very Macedonians themselves, were ever able to conquer them; who, though they often march'd with great Forces against them, yet they ever fail'd in their Designs.

In the Country of the Nabateans, there's a Rock strongly Fortified, to which there is an Ascent but one way, through which a few only at a time mount up to cast down their Fardles. There's likewise a large Mere which produces Brimstone, from whence they raise no small Revenue: It's Five Hundred Furlongs in length, and Sixty in breadth: The Water for Smell stinks, and is bitter in Taste, so that neither Fish, nor any other living thing us'd to the Water can live there. There are indeed great Rivers, whose Waters are exceeding sweet, which empty themselves into the Lake, and yet it stinks howsoever. Every

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