BOOK III - The Library of History

Bibliotheca historica
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Page 94

CHAP. II.

Chelonophages: The Manner of taking Sea Tortoises. The Cetivores or Whale Eaters. The Sea Coasts over against Babylon; their Manner of taking of Fish. The Rizophages or Root Eaters. Those call'd Spermaphages and Hylophages, Hylogones or Hunters; their taking of wild Beasts: The Elephant Fighters; how they are taken: The Simoes, Struthophages, Acridophages or Locust Eaters; their miserable Deaths. Cynomolges: The Country of the Troglodites. Wild Beasts: The Terrible Wild Bull: Serpents; That great one brought alive to Alexandria.

SOmething likewise is to be spoken of the Chelonophages, to shew the whole Course and Manner of their way of living.

There are a vast number of Islands in the Ocean near to the Continent, very small and of a low Situation, barren both as to Tillage and the natural Fruits of the Earth. Amongst these Islands (because they are so near one to another) there are no Storms or Tempests: For the Force of the Waves are broke by the Promontories of these Islands that shoot out into the Sea, and therefore abundance of Sea Tortoises lye in and about these Places, seeking Relief under the Covert of this calm and quiet Shelter. In the Night they lye at the bottom of the Water feeding, but in the Day time appear above Water in that Part of the Sea that flows through the midst of the Islands, and lye sleeping with their Shells erect, expos'd to the Sun, and seem to resemble a little Skiff turn'd with the Keel upwards; for they are of a wonderful Bigness, no less than a small Fisher's Boat.

The Barbarians that inhabit these Islands, taking the Opportunity, quietly and silently swim to these Sea Tortoises, and assailing them on both sides; some they thrust forward to the Shoar, others they lift up till they have turn'd them upon their Backs; then they that are on each side guide and direct the Creature to land like a Ship by the Stem, lest the Tortoise should turn it self again, and so by its natural Strength in swimming escape from them into the Sea: And while they are thus imploy'd, one of the Company swims to Shoar before with a long Rope ty'd at one end to the Fish, and then draws him to Land, those that assisted at the taking of him following close after. When he's brought into the Island, they fry the Fish a little while in the Sun, and then feed upon it merrily together. The Shells being in shape like to Boats are very useful to the Inhabitants; for they use them both to fail in to the Continent to get fresh Water; and likewise for Roofs to cover their Cottages, turning the hollow Parts downwards. So that Nature's Bounty has provided for them by one Gift many useful Advantages as Food, Vessels, Shipping and Habitations.

Not far off from these upon the Sea Shoar in the Continent dwell other Barbarians far different from the others in their way of living; for they feed upon Whales cast up by Chance by the Sea. Sometimes they have Plenty of Food by Reason of the vast Proportion of these Creatures; but at other times for want of them they are almost starv'd; and are forc'd through want of Food to gnaw Pieces of old stinking Bones, and to suck the Ends of the rotten Ribs.

So many are the Nations of the Ethiopians who feed upon Fish; and this is the manner of their living, concluding this Account in a brief and summary way.

But the Sea Coasts over against the Province of Babylon border upon a fruitful Country abounding in all sorts of Fruit-trees, where there is such Plenty of Fish, that they are more than the Inhabitants can consume: For upon the Sea shoar they set such a number of Canes, and so interwoven one within another, that they are like to a Net spread all along by the Sea-side. In every of which Works, there are many little Portals wrought and interlac'd with Reeds, and are tossed this way and that way with an easy Motion. These open by the Tide, when the Sea flows



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