BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
The first five books
BOOK I
BOOK II
BOOK III
BOOK IV
BOOK V







Page 92 and divide 'em one joint from another, and some they presently grash in Pieces with their Teeth, and others that are more hard they bruise with Stones and Feed upon them like so many Beasts in their Dens. And thus they provide dry Food for themselves: And as to that which is moist and juicy, their use of it is wonderful and past belief. For they Fish continually for Four Days successively, in the mean time eating merrily together in great Flocks and Companies, congratulating one another with harsh and untuneable Songs without any Melodious Harmony: Then they fall promiscuously, as every Man's Lot chances to company with their Women, for procreation sake; minding no business, nor taking any care for any thing, having so much plenty ready at hand. But the Fifth Day, they go in Droves to get Drink, to those Tracts lying under the Feet of the Mountains, where are many Springs of Sweet Water, whither likewise the Shepherds drive their Flocks for the same purpose. Neither do they differ much from Herds of Cattel, as they go making a horrid noise, without any articulate Voice: In this Procession the Mothers carry their sucking Children continually in their Arms, and the Fathers after they are weaned; but after they are Five Years old, they run before their Parents very jocant and playful, as if they were going to some delightful and pleasant Recreation. For not being of a froward and discontented Temper, they place their chiefest good in having sufficient to supply their necessities, never seeking any further addition to their happiness in gaining more. When they come to the Shepherds watering Places, they gorge themselves with Water to that degree, that when they return, they can scarce go, they are so heavy and unweldy.

All that Day they eat nothing, but every one lies groveling upon the Ground like a Drunken Man, with their Bellies almost burst, and scarce able to breath. And the next Day they fall a feeding upon their Fish; and this course and round they run in this manner of feeding all the days of their Lives. But those People who live thus within the strait narrow Caves near to the Sea-shoar, by reason of the plainness and meanness of their Diet, though they are scarce ever Sick, yet are far shorter liv'd than our own Countreymen.

As for those other that live further beyond the Gulf, their way of Living is much more strange, who naturally never covet any Drink, nor are affected with any Passion: For their Lot falling to be in the Deserts, in Places unfit for Humane Habitation, they feed plentifully, by catching of Fish, but matter not any other Food; and in regard they eat their Fish slaby, and almost raw, they are so far from coveting Drink, that they know not what it is to drink. They are therefore contented with what Providence has provided for them; accounting themselves happy in this respect, that they are not affected with that troublesom Passion, the sense of want. And that which is most to be admir'd, is, that they so far exceed all other Men in freedom from boysterous Passions, that what we shall now relate is scarce credible. But many Egyptian Merchants, who in their Voyage through the Red Sea, have arriv'd at the Country of the Ichthophages, have avow'd it to me to be a certain truth, that they are not in the least mov'd with any thing. And Ptolemy the Third, who had a great desire to hunt the Elephants that were bred in that Country, sent Simia, one of his Friends to view the Place; who being furnish'd with sufficient Provision for his Journey, exactly and diligently observ'd the manner of those Nations lying along the Sea-shoar, as Agatharchides of Cnidus the Historian relates. Amongst other things he says, that the Ethiopians in those Parts are not affected with any disturbing Passion; that they never use to drink, nor have the least appetite or inclination thereunto, for the Reasons before mention'd. He affirms moreover, that they have no Converse or Discourse with any Stranger, nor are mov'd or concern'd at the sight of any, but fixing their Eyes upon them, are no more mov'd or affected, than as if no Person at all were near them. Nay, if they be assaulted (he says) with drawn Swords they'l not stir; and though they are hurt and wounded, yet they are not in the least provoked. Neither are the Common People at all concern'd, when any of the rest are hurt or injur'd; but many times when their Wives and Children are kill'd before their Eyes, they stand insensible as if nothing of prejudice were done to them, shewing no sign either of Anger or Compassion; and therefore they say, they speak not a word, but act a part with a mimick gesture of their Hands, as they use to do upon such an occasion. And that which is most of all to be admir'd, the Sea Calves (which are very familiar with them) like Men, help them



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