BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 91 Yet the invention of those Metals is very ancient, being found out, and made use of by the ancient Kings.

Now we shall treat of those Nations that lye scatter'd among the Coasts of the Red Sea, and through Troglodyta and the Southern parts of Ethiopia.

And First we shall speak of the Ichthyophages who inhabit the Sea Coasts all along as far as from Carmania and Gedrosia to the uttermost point of the Red Sea, which runs up into the Land an incredible long way, and at the entrance into it lyes bounded on one side with Arabia the Happy, and with the Country of the Troglodites on the other.

Some of the Barbarians go stark naked, and their Wives and Children are as common among them as their Flocks and Herds. They know nothing either of Pleasure or Sorrow but what is natural, like Bruit Beasts, and have no apprehension either of Good or Evil. They inhabit not far from the very brink of the Sea Shore, where there are not only deep Caves, but Craggy Cliffs, and strait and narrow Valleys divided naturally into many crooked Windings and Turnings; which being of their own nature useful to the Inhabitants, they make up the passages both in and out with heaps of great Stones, and make use of those Places instead of Nets to catch their Fish. For when the Tide comes in and overflows the Coasts (as it does twice every Day about the Third and Ninth Hour) and the Sea covers the Strand up to the Brinks of the Banks, together with the Tide it brings in a Vast number of all sorts of Fish within the Land, which at the first are kept within those parts next to the Sea, but afterwards for Food disperse themselves about those hollow Caverns; but when the Tide ebbs, and the Water by degrees leaves the hollows, and reflows through those heaps of Stones, the Fish within those Caverns are left destitute of Water. Upon which all the Barbarians (as if they were rouz'd up by one general shout) with their Wives and Children Flock to the Place. Yet they divide themselves into several Companies, and each run with an hideous shout to their several Places as if a Prey were suddenly and unexpectedly presented to them. Then the Women and Children gather the little Fish next to the shore; and throw them upon the dry Land, as fast as they can gather them; and the Men, and more able people busie themselves in catching the great and strong Fish; for the Sea not only casts up the huge Lobsters, Lampreys and Dog-Fish, but also the Sea Calves, and many such like both of strange names and shape. They Master not these Creatures with Arms made by the Artist, but strike 'em through with the sharp Goats Horns, and wound and cut them with rough Stones broken off from the Rock. For Necessity in every thing instructs Nature what to do, and readily complies with that which seems most useful and advantagious in the present exigency.

After they have got their number in heaps together, they carry away their Booty, and put all they have caught into Stone Pots turn'd towards the South: the Fish being, as it were even by Fire, Fry'd by the heat of the Sun, after a small time they turn them upon the other side, then they take 'em by the Tails and shake 'em, and the Flesh thus scalded and softned by the Sun falls off; but the Bones they heap together in one place; and keep 'em for their use as shall be hereafter related. Then they boil their Flesh in a little Stone Pot for a certain time, mixing with them the seed of a Fruit call'd Paliurus. By working of this together it becomes a Lump of one and the same colour, and this seems as if it were a Sauce to their Meat. At last this that is thus brought into a Body, they spread upon long Tiles, and lay it forth to dry in the Sun; which after it has been dry'd a little (lying down together) they merrily feed upon, and eat not according to Weight and Measure but as every one thinks fit, making their natural Appetite the measure of their Repast. For they have always enough of this store to resort unto, as if Neptune perform'd the Office of Ceres. Yet sometimes the Sea rises so high, that all the Shoars are overflow'd for many Days together, so that none dare attempt to come near; in the mean time therefore (wanting food) they first gather Shell-fish of such a vast magnitude, as that some of them weigh Four Minas. These they break in Pieces with huge great Stones, and eagerly guttle up the raw Fish in them, which are in Taste much like Oysters.

If by Storms and Winds the Sea continues long in a high Tide, and that they are hindred from taking of Fish by Tempestuous Weather, they first (as is said before) betake themselves to the Shell-fish; and when these fail, they run to the heaps of Bones; and from among them pick out those that are fresh and moist,



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