§ 124 How long I put off the composition of my work regarding the figure of the world, even though other admirable men as well as thyself frequently urged me to undertake it, you know best of all. O dearest, God-loving and Christ-loving Pamphilus, a man worthy of that name, since all holy men love thee — a sojourner in the earthly Jerusalem, but enrolled among the first-born and the prophets, with whom when of yore I knew thee only by report I was knit in the bonds of warmest friendship; but now I have had the satisfaction of having seen thee face to face, when by the will of God you came hither to us, to Alexander's great city, and never ceased to importune us about this work, enfeebled though we were in body, afflicted with ophthalmia and costiveness of the bowels, and as the result suffering afterwards from constant attacks of illness; while besides we were deficient in the school-learning of the Pagans, without any knowledge of the rhetorical art, ignorant how to compose a discourse in a fluent and embellished style, and were besides occupied with the complicated affairs of everyday life. Nevertheless you ceased not pressing us to compose a treatise about the Tabernacle prepared by Moses in the wilderness, which was a type and copy of the whole world, as I explained to thee personally by the living voice in a cursory way,
§ 125 not as communicating opinions and conjectures of my own framing, but what I had learned from the divine scriptures, and from the living voice of that most divine man and great teacher Patricius, who when fulfilling the vows of the Abrahamic rule, set out from Chaldaea with his disciple Thomas of Edessa, a holy man who followed him wherever he went, but by the will of God was removed from this life at Byzantium. Patricius propagated the doctrines of holy religion and true science, and has now by the grace of God been elevated to the lofty episcopal throne of all Persia, having been appointed to the office of Bishop Catholic of that country. So then being greatly perplexed about this undertaking, on account more especially of those who delight in censoriousness, whose tongues are glib at calumny, and who can always find abundance of material for their scoffs and jeers, I shrank with more than ordinary hesitation from addressing myself to the work. But you again pressed me to proceed with it, loading me with condemnation upon condemnation if I refused, and assuring me that the work would be useful for the guidance of life and for the study and understanding of the divine doctrines, as well as for a refutation of the Greek preconceptions; while showing that the whole scope of divine scripture has respect to the future state, as is most pointedly affirmed by the Apostle when he says: For we know that if the earthly house of this our tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God — a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. When in these and such like terms you appealed to me, and it was beyond my power to gainsay the injunctions laid upon me by your piety, I consented, trusting to receive the benefit of your prayers; while making supplication ourselves that the divine grace without which we can do nothing aright might be vouchsafed to us in the opening of the mouth, so that we might be able without polished and artistic modes of expression, but in the simple words of ordinary speech (while grace manifests her own peculiar powers), both to teach her foster-children the divine knowledge of the doctrines, the lives of pious men, and the figure of the world and its origin, without ambiguity; as well as to describe with all readiness, and to communicate ungrudgingly, what we ourselves have freely received from God.
Having finished, therefore, O God-beloved, the first book concerning pretended Christians, and having convicted them, to the best methinks of my power, of having attempted impossibilities, without our having sought to disparage the beauty of their language, which God forbid I should do, but to refute the fictitious and fabulous Greek theories; and having finished that book, we now in obedience to thy order proceed to discuss first in this second book the Christian theories regarding the figures and the position of the world. We shall then in the third book show that in describing and explaining the utility of the figures of the world, divine scripture alike in the Old and the New Testament is in itself sure and trustworthy.
§ 126 In the fourth book again we shall offer a recapitulation and a delineation of the figures of the world; and similarly shall in the fifth book present a description of the tabernacle prepared by Moses, and exhibit the harmony of what has been said by the Prophets and Apostles. Be this then the book which we have entitled Christian Topography, embracing the whole world and deriving its proofs from the truly divine scriptures, regarding which a Christian is not at liberty to doubt. Since then aid from above, as has been said, cooperates with us through your prayers, we proceed to state our theories. Moses, then, the Divine Cosmographer, says: In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth. We assume, therefore, that heaven and earth comprise the universe as containing all things within themselves. And that this is so he himself again proclaims: For in six days God made the heaven and the earth and all that in them is; and again in like manner he says: And the heaven and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And again, when recapitulating and giving its name to the book, he speaks thus: This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth, as if they contained all things, and as if all things that are in them ought to be signified along with them. For if, according to the counterfeit Christians, the heaven alone comprises the universe, he would not have mentioned the earth along with the heaven, but he would have said: This is the book of the generation of heaven. Evidently, however, he has not done so, nor any other of the prophets, and it is manifest that they knew that the two together comprised the universe, and indeed the whole company of the righteous and of the prophets always indicate the heaven along with the earth. Hear what each of them says. Melchisedech first when blessing Abraham thus speaks: Blessed be Abraham of God most High who created the heaven and the earth. In the second place, Abraham says: I will stretch out my hand to God most High who created the heaven and the earth. And again: Place thine hand under my thigh and I will make thee swear by the Lord the God of the heaven and the God of the earth. For when the most faithful Abraham wished to make his servant swear with more than usual solemnity by the circumcision as being a seal royal, Place, he said, thine hand under my thigh, instead of under the seal royal, that is, the circumcision.
§ 127 Since then the divine scripture of both the Old and the New Testament shows by its customary declarations that all things are contained within heaven and earth, how is it possible that one can be a Christian who disbelieves all this, and says that all things are contained within the heaven only.
§ 128 Since then the heaven and the earth comprise the universe, we assert that the earth has been founded on its own stability by the Creator, according once more to the divine scripture, and that it does not rest upon any body; for in the Book of Job it is written: He hangeth the earth upon nothing; and again (xxxviii): Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? etc. And in like manner in David (Psalm cii it is said: He who laid the foundations of the earth upon its own stability. By the power, therefore, of the Deity who created the universe, we say that it was founded and is supported by him. Upholding all things, as the Apostle saith, by the word of his power.
For if a body of any kind whatever were either underneath the earth or outside of it, that body could not keep its place, but would fall down according to what is seen always occurring in the natural world. For if we take air, for instance, or water or fire, we find that things which are heavier than these do invariably fall down in them. Since therefore the earth is heavier than any other body whatever, the Deity placed it as the foundation of the universe, and made it steadfast in virtue of its own inherent stability. To illustrate this, let us suppose a place to have a depth of a hundred cubits, and this place to be filled with a body denser say than water; then if one should lift a stone with his hand and drop it into the place, in what interval of time would it reach the bottom? One may reply, in four hours, let us say. But further, supposing the place to be filled with some rarer substance, air, for example, in what interval of time would the stone now reach the bottom? Evidently in a shorter time: in two hours, let us say. Supposing in the next place a still rarer substance, then the bottom will be reached in an hour, and with a yet rarer substance in half an hour. And again, if a rarer still be supposed, the stone will touch the bottom in a still shorter time; and so on until the body when attenuated to the last degree becomes incorporeal, and the time ceases of necessity to be any time at all. Thus then in the case supposed, where no body at all exists, but where there is only the incorporeal, the heavy body of necessity gains the bottom in no time at all and becomes stationary. The Deity, having thus in the order of nature, as the scripture declares, suspended the earth upon nothing, when it had reached the bottom of space laid its foundations upon its own stability so that it should not be moved for ever. But should one again, from a wanton love of contradiction, assume that outside of earth and heaven there exists a place made of another invisible and imaginary substance, even such a place must of necessity rest upon something else, and this again upon another, and so on ad infinitum.
§ 129 Nevertheless let us, with God's help, tackle this subject as more a question of physical science. If one should suppose that place to be chaos, then because ..... as the heaven is light and tends upwards, and the earth heavy and tends downwards, and extremes are bound together with extremes, that, namely, which tends upwards with that which tends downwards, they support the one the other by their pulling against each other, and so remain unmoved. The Deity accordingly having founded the earth, which is oblong, upon its own stability, bound together the extremities of the heaven with the extremities of the earth, making the nether extremities of the heaven rest upon the four extremities of the earth, while on high he formed it into a most lofty vault overspanning the length of the earth. Along the breadth again of the earth he built a wall from the nethermost extremities of the heaven upwards to the summit, and having enclosed the place, made a house, as one might call it, of enormous size, like an oblong vaulted vapour-bath. For, saith the Prophet Isaiah (xlix): He who established heaven as a vault. With regard, moreover, to the glueing together of the heaven and the earth, we find this written in Job: He has inclined heaven to earth, and it has been poured out as the dust of the earth. I have welded it as a square block of stone. Do not the expressions about inclining it to the earth and welding it thereto clearly show that the heaven standing as a vault has its extremities bound together with the extremities of the earth? The fact of its inclination to the earth, and its being welded with it, makes it totally inconceivable that it is a sphere.
Moses, likewise, in describing the table in the Tabernacle, which is an image of the earth, ordered its length to be of two cubits, and its breadth of one cubit. So then in the same way as Isaiah spoke, so do we also speak of the figure of the first heaven made on the first day, made along with the earth, and comprising along with the earth the universe, and say that its figure is vaultlike. And just as it is said in Job that the heaven has been welded to the earth, so do we again also say the same. Having learned, moreover, from Moses that the earth has been extended in length more than in breadth, we again admit this, knowing that the scriptures, which are truly divine, ought to be believed. But further, when God had produced the waters and angels and other things simultaneously with the earth and the highest heaven itself, he on the second day exposed to their vision this second heaven visible to our eyes, which, as if putting to use the creations of his own hands, he formed from the waters as his material. In appearance it is like the highest heaven, but not in figure, and it lies midway between that heaven and the earth;
§ 130 and God having then stretched it out extended it throughout the whole space in the direction of its breadth, like an intermediate roof, and bound together the firmament with the highest heaven, separating and disparting the remainder of the waters, leaving some above the firmament, and others on the earth below the firmament, as the divine Moses explains to us, and so makes the one area or house two houses — an upper and a lower story.
But again, the divine scripture speaks thus in Moses concerning the second heaven: And God called the firmament heaven; and in the inspired David we find these words: Stretching out the heaven as a covering; and he adds: who covereth his upper chambers with the waters; saying this evidently with respect to the firmament. But scripture, when coupling the two heavens together, frequently speaks of them in the singular, as but one, saying through Isaiah: He that established the heaven as a vaulted chamber, and stretched it out as a tent to dwell in; meaning here by the vaulted chamber the highest heaven, and by what is stretched out as a tent the firmament, and thus declaring them in the singular number to be bound together and to be of similar appearance. David again speaks to this effect: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth forth his handiwork; here beginning with a duality and ending with a unity. For since, agreeably to the idiom of the Hebrew language, the same word serves to express both heavens and heaven, and the two heavens are not only bound together as one, but are also like in appearance and aspect, the divine scripture speaks of heaven both in the plural and in the singular number indiscriminately. For the blessed David, using this idiom, exclaims: Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, where you might say in the singular number a heaven of heaven, for he says elsewhere: And the water which is above the heavens: here distinctly employing the plural number, heavens, and indicating that the firmament has the waters above it. For following the idiom, instead of saying, the heaven of the heaven, he said the heavens of the heavens. For he again says also in another place: the heaven of the heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth hath he given to the sons of man, here calling the highest heaven which is like a vault heaven of heaven, as it is the heaven of the firmament, being up above it and much loftier. And in Deuteronomy the great hierophant Moses thus speaks: Behold unto the Lord thy God belongeth the heaven and the heaven of heaven, the earth with all that is therein. The great apostle Paul, moreover, uses this idiom, exclaiming: For our citizenship is in the heavens, from which also we look for the Saviour; beginning here with the plural number and ending with the singular, for he uses from which in the singular number. David also frequently makes use of this mode of expression, exclaiming: Praise the Lord from the heavens; and after he had said: Praise the Lord from the earth, he thus ends: the praising of him in earth and heaven; and in another passage, To him who made the heavens in wisdom; and on this subject he uses many such expressions.
§ 131 We have said that the figure of the earth is lengthwise from east to west, and breadthwise from north to south, and that it is divided into two parts: this part which we, the men of the present day, inhabit, and which is all round encircled by the intermedial sea, called the ocean by the Pagans, and that part which encircles the ocean, and has its extremities bound together with those of the heaven, and which men at one time inhabited to eastward, before the flood in the days of Noah occurred, and in which also Paradise is situated. Men, strange to say, having crossed the ocean in the Ark at the time of the Deluge, reached our part of the earth and settled in Persian territory, where also the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, having saved alive Noah and his sons, together with their wives, so that there were four pairs, and all the brute animals, three pairs of clean, but of wild only one poor pair. Since Noah appears to have offered up to God in sacrifice the superfluous one pair of all the clean animals, there were four pairs of human beings, and of clean animals three pairs, but of wild beasts only one poor pair. Now when the Ark had crossed over into this part of the earth which we now from that time forth inhabit, the three sons of Noah divided the earth among them. Shem and his posterity obtained the regions extending from Asia as far as the eastern parts of the ocean; Ham and his posterity the regions from Gadeira in the west to the ocean of Ethiopia, called Barbaria, beyond the Arabian Gulf, receiving besides the regions extending as far as our sea, that is to Palestine and Phoenicia, as well as the southern parts, together with all that part of Arabia which adjoins us, and that which is called the Happy; and Japhet and his posterity: the regions extending from Media and Scythia in the distant north, as far as the western ocean and the parts outside of Gadeira, according to what is written in Genesis by the inspired Moses, who, in describing the division of the earth, speaks thus concerning these three: The sons of Japhet, Gamer (Gomer) and Magog and Madai and Javan (Iouaun) and Elisa, whereby he indicates the hyperborean nations of the Scythians and Medes, and then similarly the Ionians and the Greeks, and likewise Thobel and Mosoch and Theres that he may show what nations lay near them. For he calls the Thracians Theres, and from these, he tells us, some were removed and dispersed among the islands of the Gentiles and adjacent localities, for this indicates Tharseis. The inhabitants of Cyprus he calls Ketioi, and those of Rhodes, Rhodians. The sons of Ham (Cham), Cush (Chous) and Mesraim, thereby designating the Ethiopians and Egyptians. Finally, Phut (Phouth) and Canaan, whereby he designates the Libyans and adjoining nations. The sons of Cush, Saba and Elesa, whereby he designates the Homerites and their neighbours; similarly also the nations one after another that occupy the southern parts.
§ 132 The Chananeans again, he says, were descended from Mesraim, that is the Egyptians and Sidonians and all the neighbouring nations. The sons of Shem, Elam and Ashur, that is the Elamites and Assyrians and remaining nations, and as many of these as were spread far and wide over Asia and the East — the nations of the Persians, Huns, Baktrians, Indians, onwards to the ocean.
The pagans even, availing themselves of what Moses has thus revealed, divide the whole earth into three parts: Asia, Libya and Europe, designating Asia the east, Libya the south, extending to the west; Europe the north, also extending to all the west; and in this our part of the earth there are four gulfs which penetrate into it from the ocean as the pagans also say, and say with truth when treating of this subject namely, this gulf of ours, which entering from Gadeira in the west extends along the countries subject to Rome; the Arabian Gulf called the Erythraean and the Persian, both of which advance from Zingium to the southern and more eastern parts of the earth from the country called Barbaria, which begins where the land of the Ethiopians terminates. Now Zingium, as those who navigate the Indian Sea are aware, is situated beyond the country called Barbaria which produces frankincense, and is girdled by the ocean which streams from thence into both the gulfs. The fourth gulf is that which flows from the north-eastern part of the earth, and is called the Caspian or Hyrcanian Sea. These gulfs only admit of navigation, for the ocean cannot be navigated on account of the great number of its currents, and the dense fogs which it sends up, obscuring the rays of the sun, and because of the vastness of its extent. Having learned these facts from the Man of God, as has been said, I have pointed them out as coincident also with my own experience, for I myself have made voyages for commercial purposes in three of these gulfs — the Roman, the Arabian and the Persian, while from the natives or from seafaring men I have obtained accurate information regarding the different places.
Once on a time, when we sailed in these gulfs, bound for Further India and had almost crossed over to Barbaria, beyond which there is situated Zingium, as they term the mouth of the ocean, I saw there to the right of our course a great flight of the birds which they call Souspha, which are like kites, but somewhat more than twice their size.
§ 133 The weather was there so very unsettled that we were all in alarm; for all the men of experience on board, whether passengers or sailors, all began to say that we were near the ocean and called out to the pilot: Steer the ship to port and make for the gulf, or we shall be swept along by the currents and be carried into the ocean and be lost. For the ocean rushing into the gulf was swelling into billows of portentous size, while the currents from the gulf were driving the ship into the ocean, and the outlook was altogether so dismal that we were kept in a state of great alarm. A great flock, all the time, of the birds called Souspha followed us, flying generally high over our heads, and the presence of these was a sign that we were near the ocean.
The northern and western parts of the earth which we inhabit are of very great elevation, while the southern parts are proportionately depressed. For to what extent of its breadth the earth is imperceptibly depressed it is found to have an elevation of like area in the northern and western parts, while the ocean beyond is of unusual depth. But in the southern and eastern parts the ocean beyond is not of unusual but of the medium depth. When these facts are considered, one can see why those who sail to the north and the west are called lingerers. It is because they are mounting up and in mounting up they sail more slowly, while in returning they descend from high places to low, and thus sail fast, and in a few days bring their voyage to an end. Then the two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, flowing down from the northern parts, that is, from Persarmenia to the south, have far more rapid currents than our river the Nile — that is, the Geon. For this river Nile flowing from low-lying regions in the south towards the elevated northern regions, and running, as one may say, up, pursues quietly the even tenor of its way. The eastern and southern parts again, as low-lying and overheated by the sun, are extremely hot, while the northern and western from their great elevation and distance from the sun are extremely cold, and in consequence the inhabitants have very pale complexions, and must keep themselves warm against the cold. But the whole of this portion of the earth is not inhabited, for the parts in the extreme north are to the last degree cold, and remain uninhabited, just as the parts in the extreme south remain also uninhabited on account of the excessive heat. For the blessed David thus speaks: Neither from the goings forth nor from the goings down (of the sun); nor from the desert mountains, where he calls the east exodous and the west dusmas, and the other regions, namely the extreme north and extreme south desert mountains.
§ 134 The pagans when writing on these subjects say what is true concerning them. These things being so we shall say, agreeably to what we find in divine scripture, that the sun issuing from the east traverses the sky in the south and ascends northwards, and becomes visible to the whole of the inhabited world. But as the northern and western summit intervenes it produces night in the ocean beyond this earth of ours, and also in the earth beyond the ocean; then afterwards when the sun is in the west, where he is hidden by the highest portion of the earth, and runs his course over the ocean through the northern parts, his presence there makes it night for us, until in describing his orbit he comes again to the east, and again ascending the southern sky illumines the inhabited world, as the divine scripture says through the divine Solomon: The. sun riseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to his own place. Rising there, he goeth to the south, and wheeleth his circuit, and the wind turneth round to his circuits. Here he calls the air the wind, for, as he says, the sun making a circuit in the air from east to south, from south to west, from west to north, from north to cast, causes the vicissitudes of day and night and the solstices; for, by the expressions wheeleth his circuit, and turneth round to his circuits, he signified not only the revolution but also the solstices, for it is the plural number he uses. For he does not say that the wind describes a circuit, but that the sun does so through the wind, that is, through the air. Yea, even the blessed Moses having been ordered on Mount Sinai to make the Tabernacle according to the pattern which he had seen, said under divine inspiration, that the outer Tabernacle was a pattern of this the visible world. Now the divine Apostle in the epistle to the Hebrews, in explaining the inner Tabernacle, or that which was within the veil, declares that it was a pattern of the heavenly — that is, of the kingdom of the heavens or the future state, taking the veil which divides the one Tabernacle into two for the firmament; just as the firmament placed in the middle, between the heaven and the earth, has made two worlds — this world namely, and that which is to come, into which world to come the first who entered was the forerunner on our behalf, Christ, who thus prepared for us a new and living way. Now in his description of the first Tabernacle, Moses places in the south of it the candlestick, with seven lamps, after the number of days in the week — these lamps being typical of the celestial luminaries — and shining on the table placed in the north of the earth.
§ 135 On this table again he ordered to be daily placed twelve loaves of shewbread, according to the number of the twelve months of the year — three loaves at each corner of the table, to typify the three months between each of the four tropics. He commanded also to be wreathed all around the rim of the table a waved moulding, to represent a multitude of waters, that is, the ocean; and further, in the circuit of the waved work, a crown to be set of the circumference of the palm of the hand, to represent the land beyond the ocean, and encircling it, where in the east lies Paradise, and where also the extremities of the heaven are bound to the extremities of the earth. And from this description we not only learn concerning the luminaries and the stars that most of them, when they rise, run their course through the south, but from the same source we are taught that the earth is surrounded by the ocean, and further that beyond the ocean there is another earth by which the ocean is surrounded.
But again, from the prophecy of Lamech, the father of Noah, we learn that Noah, by means of the world-carrying Ark, was to convey men and the brute beasts into this earth of ours, for the prophecy runs somewhat to this effect: This same shall give us rest concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord God hath cursed. For this reason also Lamech gave Noah his name, which means rest. For the first man having sinned, and having been cast by God out of the garden into the earth, which was foul with thorns and effete, those ten generations smarted under grievous chastisement, being forbidden according to the sacred scripture to eat any longer of fruit that grew upon a tree, because man had transgressed by eating the fruit of a tree. And meagre truly was the fare on which the generations from Adam to Noah subsisted, since they neither ate the olive, nor tasted either wine or flesh, but were commanded to eat only grain, and that too although there the earth was by no means productive, but required the very hardest toil for its cultivation; for thus saith the scripture: Cursed is the ground in thy labours; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.
With regard to wine, it is manifest from what is recorded in Scripture that, after the Deluge, Noah having planted and cultivated the vine and expressed the juice from the grapes, drank to excess of the sweet must of which he had no previous experience, and made himself drunk; and with regard to flesh the case is still more manifest, for God instructed him in these terms: Lo! I have given you all things as the green herb to eat, but flesh in the blood thereof shall ye not eat; meaning this: Lately I interdicted you from eating many things, but now I permit you to eat of all things, and to eat even flesh.
§ 136 Sacrifice, therefore, and pour out the blood, and then eat the flesh as ye eat vegetables; and eat also of the olive, of which before the Flood it was not permitted to eat, because it also was the fruit of a tree. But perhaps someone will object and say: If it is true that before the Flood they did not eat flesh, why is it then written: Abel was a keeper of sheep, and brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof? If they did not eat flesh, why did they take upon them the care of sheep? And why did Abel, when he brought a lamb for sacrifice, not slay it? Now, one who so enquires, will be truly answered that, in making the oblation, he presented the holocausts alive; for one of the editions shows this, saying: Over Cain and over his sacrifice he did not apply fire, so that it is evident that the offerings were consumed with divine fire. They provided themselves with a flock to procure for themselves milk and wool. Another objection: If they did not eat flesh, how came it into their head to select the fat for the sacrifice to God? Answer — Because when anything is to be burned in the fire, fat is more readily set ablaze.
When God in his mercy wished that the human race should be no longer pinched with such scanty fare, and such hard toil, as they were less robust than the first men, who, being newly created, were better able to sustain their punishment, God taking occasion from the wickedness of men, of whom he found none righteous except Noah, brought in a flood for two or even for more reasons — that he might destroy the wicked, and save alive him that was righteous for the instruction of future generations — that, by the untimely end of the wicked, he might the better deter those who are liable to death, and will some time or other die, from doing what is wicked — and that he might bring men, and the brutes that were created for the use of man, into this earth of ours, which is better than the other, and almost equal to Paradise; which also he hath done, having ordered Noah, who was left in this earth after the Flood, to taste of everything whether tree or grain, and having taught him also to eat flesh. But that he brought in the Flood not for the purpose merely of destroying the wicked, is evident from the fact that the water prevailed for a length of time, although one or two days were quite sufficient to have destroyed them all; but he brought it in also, that he might take the Ark across the ocean, and bring it to this earth of ours. For during one hundred and fifty days did the water prevail without diminishing, until, wonderful to relate, the Ark came to this earth of ours.
§ 137 The circumstance, moreover, that the water rose fifteen cubits above the tops of the highest mountains, makes it evident beyond all question that this was due to the depth to which the Ark was submerged in the waters, in order that it might rest upon the mountains. For a half of the height of the Ark was under water to the depth of fifteen cubits, for its entire height was thirty cubits. From this, then, as well as from the prophecy of Lamech, and the construction of the table in the Tabernacle, we can learn that beyond the ocean there is an earth which encompasses the ocean. Nay more; the hierophant Moses also in Deuteronomy saith thus: And thou, Israel, hear the command which I give unto thee this day. Do not say in thine heart who shall go up into heaven to bring it down to us, or who shall go over the sea for us to bring it to us; but the word is nigh unto thee even in thy mouth. By this he means: Say not it is impossible to go up into heaven to bring down thence the divine precepts, or to cross over to the farther side of the sea to bring them thence, for lo! they are in thy mouth and in thy heart. In the same passage he teaches us two truths — that beyond the ocean there is land or a place, and that it is impossible to cross the ocean, just as we, while in this mortal state, cannot possibly go up into heaven. Even Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah the Prophet, when giving counsels of prudence in his epistle, being a man well taught in the institutions of Moses, speaks in the same strain with Moses, and says: Who hath gone up into heaven and taken it and brought it down from the clouds, who hath passed over the sea? Here he does not speak of our sea, for it admits of being crossed, but of the ocean itself.
Yet if Paradise did exist in this earth of ours, many a man among those who are keen to know and enquire into all kinds of subjects, would think he could not be too quick in getting there: for if there be some who to procure silk for the miserable gains of commerce, hesitate not to travel to the uttermost ends of the earth, how should they hesitate to go where they would gain a sight of Paradise itself? Now this country of silk is situated in the remotest of all the Indies, and lies to the left of those who enter the Indian Sea, far beyond the Persian Gulf, and the island called by the Indians Selediba and by the Greeks Trapobane (sic). It is called Tzinitza, and is surrounded on the left by the ocean, just as Barbaria is surrounded by it on the right. The Indian philosophers, called the Brachmans, say that if you stretch a cord from Tzinitza to pass through Persia, onward to the Roman dominions, the middle of the earth would be quite correctly traced, and they are perhaps right.
§ 138 For the country in question deflects considerably to the left, so that the loads of silk passing by land through one nation after another, reach Persia in a comparatively short time; whilst the route by sea to Persia is vastly greater. For just as great a distance as the Persian Gulf runs up into Persia, so great a distance and even a greater has one to run, who, being bound for Tzinitza, sails eastward from Taprobane; while besides, the distances from the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Taprobane; and the parts beyond through the whole width of the Indian Sea are very considerable. He then who comes by land from Tzinitza to Persia shortens very considerably the length of the journey. This is why there is always to be found a great quantity of silk in Persia. Beyond Tzinitza there is neither navigation nor any land to inhabit.
If one measures in a straight cord line the stages which make up the length of the earth from Tzinitza to the west, he will find that there are somewhere about four hundred stages, each thirty miles in length. The measurement is to be made in this way: from Tzinitza to the borders of Persia, between which are included all Iouvia, India, and the country of the Bactrians, there are about one hundred and fifty stages at least; the whole country of the Persians has eighty stations; and from Nisibis to Seleucia there are thirteen stages; and from Seleucia to Rome and the Gauls and Iberia, whose inhabitants are now called Spaniards, onward to Gadeira, which lies out towards the ocean, there are more than one hundred and fifty stages; thus making altogether the number of stages to be four hundred, more or less. With regard to breadth: from the hyperborean regions to Byzantium there are not more than fifty stages. For we can form a conjecture as to the extent of the uninhabited and the inhabited parts of those northern regions from the Caspian Sea, which is a gulf of the ocean. From Byzantium, again, to Alexandria there are fifty stages, and from Alexandria to the Cataracts thirty stages; from the Cataracts to Axomis, thirty stages; from Axomis to the projecting part of Ethiopia, which is the frankincense country called Barbaria, lying along the ocean, and not near but at a great distance from the land of Sasu which is the remotest part of Ethiopia, fifty stages more or less; so that we may reckon the whole number of stages at two hundred more or less; and thus we see that even here the divine scripture speaks the truth in representing the length of the earth to be double its breadth; For thou shalt make the table in length two cubits and in breadth one cubit, a pattern, as it were, of the earth.
The region which produces frankincense is situated at the projecting parts of Ethiopia, and lies inland, but is washed by the ocean on the other side.
§ 139 Hence the inhabitants of Barbaria, being near at hand, go up into the interior and, engaging in traffic with the natives, bring back from them many kinds of spices, frankincense, cassia, calamus, and many other articles of merchandise, which they afterwards send by sea to Adule, to the country of the Homerites, to Further India, and to Persia. This very fact you will find mentioned in the Book of Kings, where it is recorded that the Queen of Sheba, that is, of the Homerite country, whom afterwards our Lord in the Gospels calls the Queen of the South, brought to Solomon spices from this very Barbaria, which lay near Sheba on the other side of the sea, together with bars of ebony, and apes and gold from Ethiopia which, though separated from Sheba by the Arabian Gulf, lay in its vicinity. We can see again from the words of the Lord that he calls these places the ends of the earth, saying: The Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon. For the Homerites are not far distant from Barbaria, as the sea which lies between them can be crossed in a couple of days, and then beyond Barbaria is the ocean, which is there called Zingion. The country known as that of Sasu is itself near the ocean, just as the ocean is near the frankincense country, in which there are many gold mines. The King of the Axomites accordingly, every other year, through the governor of Agau, sends thither special agents to bargain for the gold, and these are accompanied by many other traders — upwards, say, of five hundred — bound on the same errand as themselves. They take along with them to the mining district oxen, lumps of salt, and iron, and when they reach its neighbourhood they make a halt at a certain spot and form an encampment, which they fence round with a great hedge of thorns. Within this they live, and having slaughtered the oxen, cut them in pieces, and lay the pieces on the top of the thorns, along with the lumps of salt and the iron. Then come the natives bringing gold in nuggets like peas, called tancharas, and lay one or two or more of these upon what pleases them — the pieces of flesh or the salt or the iron, and then they retire to some distance off. Then the owner of the meat approaches, and if he is satisfied he takes the gold away, and upon seeing this its owner comes and takes the flesh or the salt or the iron. If, however, he is not satisfied, he leaves the gold, when the native seeing that he has not taken it, comes and either puts down more gold, or takes up what he had laid down, and goes away. Such is the mode in which business is transacted with the people of that country, because their language is different and interpreters are hardly to be found. The time they stay in that country is five days more or less, according as the natives more or less readily coming forward buy up all their wares.
§ 140 On the journey homeward they all agree to travel well-armed, since some of the tribes through whose country they must pass might threaten to attack them from a desire to rob them of their gold. The space of six months is taken up with this trading expedition, including both the going and the returning. In going they march very slowly, chiefly because of the cattle, but in returning they quicken their pace lest on the way they should be overtaken by winter and its rains. For the sources of the river Nile lie somewhere in these parts, and in winter, on account of the heavy rains, the numerous rivers which they generate obstruct the path of the traveller. The people there have their winter at the time we have our summer. It begins in the month Epiphi of the Egyptians and continues till Thoth, and during the three months the rain falls in torrents, and makes a multitude of rivers all of which flow into the Nile.
The facts which I have just recorded fell partly under my own observation and partly were told me by traders who had been to those parts. And I now wish to give an account to your Piety of a matter quite pertinent to our subject. On the coast of Ethiopia, two miles off from the shore, is a town called Adule, which forms the port of the Axomites and is much frequented by traders who come from Alexandria and Eilat. Here is to be seen a marble chair, just as you enter the town on the western side by the road which leads to Axomis. This chair appertained to one of the Ptolemies, who had subjected this country to his authority. It is made of costly white marble such as we employ for marble tables, but not of the sort which comes from Proconnesus. Its base is quadrangular, and it rests at the four corners on four slender and elegant pillars, with one in the middle of greater girth and grooved in spiral form. The pillars support the seat of the chair as well as its back against which one leans, and there are also sides to right and left. The whole chair with its base, five pillars, seat and back and sides to right and left, has been sculptured from a single block into this form. It measures about two cubits and a half, and is in shape like the chair we call the Bishop's throne. Behind the Chair is another marble of basanite stone, three cubits in height and of quadrangular form, like a tablet, which at the centre of its upper portion rises to a sharp point whence the sides slope gently down in the form of the letter lambda (λ), but the main body of the slab is rectangular. This tablet has now fallen down behind the Chair, and the lower part has been broken and destroyed. Both the marble and the chair itself arc covered over with Greek characters. Now when I was in this part of the country some five and twenty years ago, more or less, at the beginning of the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinus,
§ 141 Elesbaan, who was then King of the Axomites, and was preparing to start on an expedition against the Homerites on the opposite side of the Gulf wrote to the Governor the Adule directing him to take copies of the inscriptions on the Chair of Ptolemy and on the tablet, and to send them to him. Then the Governor, whose name was Abbas, applied to myself and another merchant called Menas, who afterwards became a monk at Rhaithu, and not long ago departed this life — and at his request we went and copied the inscriptions. One set of the copies was made over to the Governor; but we kept also like copies for ourselves which I shall here embody in this work, since their contents contribute to our knowledge of the country, its inhabitants, and the distances of the several places. We found also sculptured on the back of the Chair figures of Hercules and Mercury; and my companion, Menas, of happy memory, alluding to these would have it that Hercules was the symbol of strength and Mercury of wealth. I remembered, however, the Acts of the Apostles, and would on this one point differ from him, upholding that we should take Hermes rather as the symbol of speech, for it is recorded in the Acts that they called Barnabas, Jupiter, and Paul, Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. Here is the form of the Chair and of the marble, and Ptolemy himself.
Inscription on the Tablet.
The great king, Ptolemy, son of King Ptolemy and Queen Arsinoe, twin gods, grandson of the two sovereigns King Ptolemy and Queen Berenice — savior gods — sprung from Hercules the son of Jupiter on the father's side, and on the mother's side from Dionysus the son of Jupiter — having received from his father the Kingdom of Egypt and Libya and Syria and Phoenicia and Cyprus, and Lycia and Caria, and the Islands of the Cyclades, made an expedition into Asia with forces of infantry and cavalry, and a fleet and elephants from the Troglodytes and Ethiopia — animals which his father and himself were the first to capture by hunting in those countries, and which they took down to Egypt, where they had them trained for employment in war. And when he had made himself master of all the country on this side of the Euphrates, and of Cilicia and Pamphylia and Ionia, and the Hellespont and Thrace, and of all the forces in the provinces, and of the Indian elephants, and had also made subject to his authority all the monarchs who ruled in these parts,
§ 142 he crossed the Euphrates river, and when he had subdued Mesopotamia and Babylonia and Susiana and Persis and Media, and all the rest of the country as far as Bactriana, and had collected all the spoils of the temples which had been taken away from Egypt by the Persians, he conveyed them to that country along with the other treasures, and sent back his troops by canals which had been dug.
Such was the inscription on the tablet so far as we could copy it out, and, but for a few words, it would have been the whole, for it was only a small part of the tablet that had been fractured. The inscription again on the Chair was a continuation of the other, and ran thus:
Having after this with a strong hand compelled the nations bordering on my kingdom to live in peace, I made war upon the following nations, and by force of arms reduced them to subjection. I warred first with the nation of Gaze, then with Agame and Sigye, and having conquered them I exacted the half of all that they possessed. I next reduced Aua and Tiamo, called Tziamo, and the Gambela, and the tribes near them [he means the nations beyond the Nile], and Zingabene and Angabe and Tiama and Athagaus and Kalaa, and the Semenoi — a people who lived beyond the Nile on mountains difficult of access and covered with snow, where the year is all winter with hailstorms, frosts and snows into which a man sinks knee-deep. I passed the river to attack these nations, and reduced them. I next subdued Lazine and Zaa and Gabala, tribes which inhabit mountains with steep declivities abounding with hot springs, the Atalmo and Bega, and all the tribes in the same quarter along with them. I proceeded next against the Tangattae, who adjoin the borders of Egypt; and having reduced them I made a footpath giving access by land into Egypt from that part of my dominions. Next I reduced Annine and Metine — tribes inhabiting precipitous mountains. My arms were next directed against the Sesea nation.
§ 143 These had retired to a high mountain difficult of access; but I blockaded the mountain on every side, and compelled them to come down and surrender. I then selected for myself the best of their young men and their women, with their sons and daughters and all besides that they possessed. The tribes of Rhausi I next brought to submission: a barbarous race spread over wide waterless plains in the interior of the frankincense country. [Advancing thence towards the sea] I encountered the Solate, whom I subdued, and left with instructions to guard the coast. All these nations, protected though they were by mountains all but impregnable, I conquered, after engagements in which I was myself present. Upon their submission I restored their territories to them, subject to the payment of tribute. Many other tribes besides these submitted of their own accord, and became likewise tributary. And I sent a fleet and land forces against the Arabitae and Cinaedocolpitae who dwelt on the other side of the Red Sea, and having reduced the sovereigns of both, I imposed on them a land tribute and charged them to make travelling safe both by sea and by land. I thus subdued the whole coast from Leuce Come to the country of the Sabaeans. I first and alone of the kings of my race made these conquests. For this success I now offer my thanks to my mighty God, Ares, who begat me, and by whose aid I reduced all the nations bordering on my own country, on the East to the country of frankincense, and on the West to Ethiopia and Sasu. Of these expeditions, some were conducted by myself in person, and ended in victory, and the others I entrusted to my officers. Having thus brought all the world under my authority to peace, I came down to Aduli and offered sacrifice to Zeus, and to Ares and to Poseidon, whom I entreated to befriend all who go down to the sea in ships. Here also I reunited all my forces, and setting down this Chair in this place, I consecrated it to Ares in the twenty-seventh year of my reign.
Scholia of Cosmas on the Inscription of Ptolemy: Then Lazine and Zaa and Gabala. These nations are called by these names up to the present time.
I conquered the Sesea nation. Here he indicates the nations of Barbaria.
The Arabitae and Cinaedocolpitae. Note — He refers to the people of the Homerite country, that is, the inhabitants of Arabia Felix.
From Leuce Come. Note — In the territories of the Blemmyes there is a village (κώμη) called Leucoge.
As far as the country of the Sabaeans. Note — The land of the Sabaeans is also in the Homerite country.
And to the places of Sasu. Note — The land of Sasu, where there is much gold — that which is known as Tancharas, is the remotest in Ethiopia. Beyond this, and also beyond the country of the Barbareotes, the people who trade in frankincense, lies the Ocean.
§ 144 Such is the inscription on the Chair, and at this very day in the very place where that Chair stands they execute in front of it condemned criminals; but whether this custom has prevailed from the time of Ptolemy I cannot say. I have set all this down from a desire to show that he is quite correct in taking the land of Sasu and Barbaria to lie at the extremity of Ethiopia, since he had subjugated all these regions and the tribes by which they were inhabited, most of which we ourselves have seen, while about the rest we obtained accurate information when we were in their neighbourhood. For most of the slaves which are now found in the hands of merchants who resort to these parts are taken from the tribes of which we speak. As for the Semenai, where he says there are snows and ice, it is to that country the King of the Axomites expatriates any one whom he has sentenced to be banished. The nation again which has its seats beyond the Arabitae and the Cinaedocolpitae and the country of the Sabaeans he calls the Homerites. We can accordingly, from what has been above recorded, correctly estimate the breadth of the earth from the hyperborean regions down to Sasu and Barbaria, the frankincense country, to be not more than two hundred stages (of thirty miles each). I have written thus with the advantage of possessing exact knowledge, and I cannot therefore have fallen much short of the truth. For the facts I am indebted partly to what I observed in the course of my voyages and travels, and partly to what I learned from others on whose accuracy I could depend. Thus even in this matter divine scripture is proved to be right and the pagans to be wrong, who, in preference to the truth and in support of their vanity, advance conjectures, sophistries, and old wives' fables no matter how false, inventing forsooth another zone farther south than the torrid, and like the earth which we inhabit; and although no one has either seen or heard of such. For how could that be seen or heard of, that has never come within the ken of our senses? Hence the nonsense they babble cannot be accepted; for it is the jargon of mere novices in quibbling, and not of old adepts in that art. These youngsters supposed that by their plausible sophisms they could refute the opinions of those who were born before them, thus attempting the impossible, as we have proved in brief in the preceding book.
Note on Ptolemy.
This Ptolemy is one of those Ptolemies who reigned after Alexander the Macedonian, concerning whom the prophet Daniel prophesied in different passages, and especially in the dream of Nabuchodonosor and in the vision of the four beasts that rose up from the sea which Daniel himself saw; namely in the image, a head of gold, but in the vision a lioness, by which he signified the kingdom of the Babylonians, that is Nabuchodonosor.
§ 145 Then, in the image, the breast and the arms of silver, but in the vision, a bear — namely, the empire of the Medes, which was inferior to that of the Babylonians, whereby he means Darius the Mede. Next again in the image — the belly and the thighs of brass, but in the vision a leopard, the kingdom namely of the Persians, by which he signifies Cyrus, whose empire was no less splendid and renowned than that of the Babylonians. Then again in the image, the legs of iron, and in the vision, a beast terrible and dreadful, with claws of brass and teeth of iron, by which he indicates the Macedonian empire — that is Alexander — breaking kingdoms in pieces and subduing them. Then again in the image, the feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay; and in the vision, ten horns corresponding in number with the toes, by which he means the empire of Alexander broken up after his death, which, in the vision also of the ram and the he-goat was, he says, broken up towards the four winds of heaven. For, when Alexander was approaching his end, he divided his empire among his four friends, of whom one reigned in Europe, that is, in Greece, another in Asia, another in Syria and Babylonia, and the fourth in Egypt, Libya and the southern parts. Unto these four were many sons born, who filled their thrones after them and brought manifold evils upon the world, as has been recorded in the book of the Maccabees. Now the little horn speaking great things, that was in the midst of the ten horns, signifies Antiochus Epiphanes, who warred against the Jews in the days of the Maccabees. He speaks therefore of all these things as partly of iron and partly of clay, to show them as conquering each other and being conquered in turn, and not mixed together, just as iron and clay do not commingle.
Then again, in the image, he speaks of a stone cut out of the mountains without hands, and, in the vision, of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, whereby he indicates the Lord Christ on both side's of his descent — from Abraham and from the Virgin without human seed, for here the words without hands mean without human seed; while the words on the clouds of heaven are employed because the clouds without human hands carry as it were in their womb the rains to which they give birth. Then again, in the image, the words: And he smote the clay, the iron, the brass, the silver and the gold, and they became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind with its gusts swept them away and there was no more place found for them (Dan. ii); and in the vision the words: I beheld till the beast was slain and his body destroyed, and given to be burned with fire; and as for the rest of the beasts their dominion was taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season (Dan. vii, ii), signify respectively the same thing — namely, that at the coming of the Lord Christ all these empires would be taken away — the Babylonian, the
§ 146 Median, the Persian and the Macedonian, while all the kingdoms that arose from the partition of the last would become of no account. And such was the very condition of things in the time of Christ, for neither did the Babylonian, Median, Persian nor Macedonian empires then exist, but they had all been destroyed.
Then again, in the image, he says: And in the days of those kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people, and it shall stand for ever (Dan. ii). And in the vision he says: And he came even to the Ancient of days and they brought him near before him — and there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan. vii,). This is one instance more of his saying the same thing both in the image and the vision, namely, that at the coming of the Lord Christ those kingdoms shall pass away and be destroyed, but his kingdom shall be indissoluble and eternal. This Ptolemy is therefore one of those who reigned, either Philometor or Euergetes the Second, or the king called Dionysus, who preceded the last Cleopatra. For these reigned more than seven and twenty years, and were descended from the first Ptolemies who were the sovereigns of Egypt, in accordance with the inscription on the marble tablet of which we have given a copy. For concerning the kings that now are, nothing has been written in the Prophet (Daniel), as the Lord himself says that the Law and the Prophets prophesied until John. For when Nebuchodonosor was cogitating whether his kingdom would endure, and Daniel whether the Judaic rites would be perpetually observed, the same revelation was made to both alike. At one and the same time shall thy kingdom come to an end, and the Judaic and ritual observances be abolished, and a new and better dispensation shall supersede the old — and be eternal and indissoluble — and this shall have its beginning when the first kingdoms and legal rites shall cease, and be openly exhibited when its supreme head makes his appearance. For concerning the Roman empire nothing is expressly written in the Prophet, for it did not rise by succession from Nabuchodonosor, nor has it congruity with the polity of the Jews, or, to speak more correctly, with the laws which they obey; but is rather calculated to destroy them. Nor did it succeed the empire of the Macedonians, for he says: The God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. Here he speaks of the Lord Christ, and within the scope of his words includes, though but darkly, the Roman empire, which made its appearance contemporaneously with the Lord Christ.
§ 147 For while Christ was yet in the womb, the Roman empire received its power from God as the servant of the dispensation which Christ introduced, since at that very time the accession was proclaimed of the unending line of the Augusti by whose command a census was made which embraced the whole world. The evangelist certainly indicates that this enrolment was first made in the days of Augustus Caesar, when the Lord Christ was born, and deigned to be enrolled in a country subject to Roman dominion, and to pay tribute thereto.
The empire of the Romans thus participates in the dignity of the Kingdom of the Lord Christ, seeing that it transcends, as far as can be in this state of existence, every other power, and will remain unconquered until the final consummation, for he says that it shall not be destroyed for ever. Now, if that expression for ever be taken as applying to the Lord Christ, it signifies endless duration, in accordance with what Gabriel also says to the Virgin: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his Kingdom there shall be no end. If again the expression be taken as applying to the Roman empire which made its appearance in the world along with Christ, this shall not be destroyed while this world continues. For I assert with confidence, that though, by way of chastisement for our sins, hostile barbarians rise up for a short while against the Roman dominion, yet that by the valour of him who governs us the empire will continue to be invincible, provided it does not restrict but widens the influence of Christianity. I say so because this imperial family believed in Christ before the others, and this empire is the servant of the dispensation established by Christ, on which account he, who is the Lord of all, preserves it unconquered till the final consummation. The royal family of the Persians on the other hand is not of Persian lineage, nor in the line of the succession of its former kings, but it sprang from an alien power, that is, from the Magi. For by the time of Christ the empire of the Persians had been destroyed by Alexander in accordance with the prophecy, and the successors to his empire ruled that part of the world until the time of Antiochus, after which the Parthians gradually made themselves masters of the country. In point of fact, they marched in arms against Jerusalem, and took prisoner Hyrcanus, the Ruler of the Jews, not long before the advent of the Lord Christ. As regards this empire of the Magi, it is now about four hundred years since it was founded, and in my opinion it ranks next to that of the Romans, because the Magi, in virtue of their having come to offer homage and adoration to the Lord Christ, obtained a certain distinction. For it was in the Roman dominions that the preaching of Christianity first became current in the days of the Apostles, and it was immediately afterwards extended to Persia by the Apostle Thaddaeus.
§ 148 And, to be sure we find this written in the Catholic Epistles: The Church that is in Babylon elect together with you, saluteth you. The Roman empire, moreover, has many bulwarks of its safety in that it is the foremost power in the world, in that it was the first to believe in Christ, and in that it renders services to every department of the Christian economy. There is yet another sign of the power which God has accorded to the Romans. I refer to the fact that it is with their coinage all the nations carry on trade from one extremity of the earth to the other. This money is regarded with admiration by all men to whatever kingdom they belong, since there is no other country in which the like of it exists. Let us now return to our proper subject.
For some of the old philosophers, who in the course of their travels visited almost every part of the inhabited world and wrote accounts of what they learned, have explained the position of the earth and the revolution of the heavenly bodies in close agreement with divine scripture. Let one of them now come forward and give this evidence.
Extract from the fourth Book of the History of Ephorus. The Indians inhabit a country in the east near sunrise, while the Ethiopians dwell in the south near the Meridian, the Kelts in the west near sunset, and the Scythians in the north towards the Pole. These divisions are not of equal size, Scythia and Ethiopia being larger and India and the Keltic divisions smaller. The two larger, however, are of similar size, and so are the two smaller. For the Indians are situated between the summer and the winter sunrise, while the Kelts occupy the regions from the summer to the winter sunset. The two distances are equal as well as nearly opposite each other. The Scythians again inhabit those regions which the sun leaves unvisited in the course of his revolution. They are situated opposite the nation of the Ethiopians, which seems to extend from the winter sunrise to the shortest sunset.
§ 149 This Ephorus is an old writer, philosopher, and historian.
Ephorus, both in his text and by means of his sketch, explains accurately, like the divine scripture, the position of the earth and the revolution of the heavenly bodies. For this Ephorus was an historical writer who, in the fourth book of his History, has inserted the exposition which we have cited. Pytheas of Marseilles, again, in his work concerning the ocean, informs us that when he had reached the remotest parts of the north the barbarous people found there showed him the cradle of the sun, for, in the parts where they live, the nights always have their source. Xenophanes also, the Colophonian, is clearly no believer in the sphere, for he supposed that the earth had no limits. Thus, then, the pagans are found, in what they have said, chiming in with sacred scripture.
But, to pursue our argument, we again assume that the four rivers which divine scripture says emanate from Paradise cleave a passage through the ocean and spring up in this earth. Of these, the Pheison is the river of India, which some call Indus or Ganges. It flows down from regions in the interior, and falls by many mouths into the Indian Sea. It produces beans of the Egyptian sort, and the fruit called Neilagathia; savoury herbs, also, and lotus plants, and crocodiles, and everything the Nile produces. The Geon, again, which rises somewhere in Ethiopia, passes through the whole of Ethiopia and Egypt, and discharges its water into our Gulf by several mouths, while the Tigris and Euphrates, which have their sources in the regions of Persarmenia, flow down to the Persian Gulf. Such, then, are our opinions on these points. Divine scripture, with a view to show the diameter of Paradise, how great it is, and how far extended eastward, mentions the four rivers only, and thence we learn that the fountain which springs up in Eden and waters the garden,
§ 150 distributes the residue of its waters among the four great rivers which cross over into this earth and water a large part of its surface.
Since then, the luminaries of heaven in this manner pursue their course, making day and night, seasons and years, serving also for signs for those sailing upon the seas or travelling through deserts, while they also supply the earth with light, we shall not say that they are moved by the revolution of the heavens, but rather by powers that are rational, as if they were so many torch-bearers, as we shall prove once more by the declaration of divine scripture. For the divine Apostle, speaking of the Adversary, teaches what was his work from the beginning in these words: According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience — words which clearly show him to have been formerly a prince endowed with the power of moving the air and changing its place, but one now cast out for ever from this dignity; yea, rather, one who from sheer depravity works upon sinners, as is evident from the fact that he stood not alone in having the power to do this, but shared it in common with many others. For some of the angels were commissioned to move the air, some the sun, some the moon, some the stars, while others prepared the clouds and the rains, and rendered many other services — for this is the work, the appointed duty, of the angelic orders and powers — to minister to the well-being and honour of the image of God, that is, of man, and to move all things like soldiers obeying the commands of the king. This work they were commanded to do on the fourth day, when God adorned the heaven with its stars. The work of the adverse demons, as rebels against God, is to do what will mar his image, for on the fourth day they transgressed the command and were cast out of heaven, as elsewhere he says: Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of Salvation? thus expressly declaring that they were ordained for the service of man. He further says: For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. By the creature he here designates the angels, and by the sons of God the human race. By the term apokaradokia (earnest expectation), he represents the creature as straining its neck to scan the distant horizon in hope of descrying some help coming to man. For if the angels had not been subjected to servile ministrations they would not have longed for liberty; for when man had sinned and received sentence of death, they were smitten with sore grief, concluding that all was hopelessly lost; for since man was the bond uniting the whole creation, as well as the image of God, they abandoned after his sentence all hope both of themselves and of the universe, and were unwilling to be his servants and subordinates without resulting advantage.
§ 151 By the words, however, in the passage cited, by reason of him who hath subjected it in hope, the Apostle would have us understand that God did not permit the wish of the angels to prevail, but gave them some hope that they might not despair, but be cheered with the prospect that in the course of time some good would accrue to man.
On the sixth day the demon who hates good, seeing man honoured and thought worthy to have great care bestowed on him, became envious, and formed a design to drag him down to ruin with himself. But when he was at a loss how to assail him, he happened to perceive the beasts running straightway to their food, while the object of his envy, looking around him at such of the trees as were pleasant to the eye, remained quite unmoved the while by the calls of appetite; whence he concluded he had received some command from God about them. Having then approached nearer in the form of the serpent, he sought to learn the nature of the command, and craftily says: What! hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree in the Garden? Then the woman who had just been brought into the world, and was far inferior to the other in quickness of intelligence, answered his enquiry. Then, pretending he had already known the command (which he had only that moment learned), he began to accuse God of giving grudgingly, and to entice man to eat of the fruit, advising him at the same time to transfer his allegiance to himself; and thus, forsooth, become as God, infecting him in this way with his own disease. The man was, in fact, persuaded in the afternoon, and was that same day cast out of the garden, just as his tempter had himself, as soon as he sinned, been cast out of Heaven. Then the man heard the sentence of death pronounced upon him: Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. This filled the angels with sore grief, and all the more as they were also disheartened at some of their own number having transgressed; although they were more especially distressed about man, as on him depended what lot should befall the whole creation — and he was also the pledge that secured the amity of all the world. For should this bond be in reality dissolved, the universe would of necessity be also dissolved. They bewailed, therefore, their own dissolution along with that of the universe, and could no longer endure to minister to man without any good resulting. But when God, who is full of compassion, had, through his renewed care for man and the postponement of his punishment, inspired them with good hope, they began under its influence to render their services with alacrity. In each generation, moreover, God, by exalting the righteous to great renown, still further stimulated their alacrity, and implanted in them hopes of renovation, of restoration, and of resurrection.
§ 152 At the birth, particularly, of the Lord Christ according to the flesh, the whole multitude of the invisible powers, having seen him born through whom comes the destruction of death, the beginning of the renovation and the resurrection, and their own freedom, lifted up their voices in hymns of praise to God, the cause of all, exclaiming: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men. Then away were thrown at last all the sorrow and dejection which at one time they had suffered on account of man, and they gave expression to their joy at the birth of the second Adam. Wherefore they also, at the time of his temptations, remembering how in the days of old they had witnessed the discomfiture of the first Adam, which had filled them with dismay, but seeing now the victory of the second Adam, and how fairly not once but thrice in close grip with his tempter he had flung him out of the lists — they, I say, rejoiced with a great joy, and were eager in bestowing their services, as scripture has recorded, not now as if prompted by some hope, but because, having seen with their own eyes the victory of the second Adam, they came to minister to him with joyful alacrity.
But the host of his adversaries in their turn now mourned and lamented, being confounded with shame at the victory of the second Adam. Their chief accordingly finding himself unable to throw him down began to plot against him, with the Jews as his instruments, and having stirred up the Jewish mob against him and crucified and put him to death, imagined that he was at once and for ever rid of him. But when, not long afterwards, the resurrection — that wondrous, glorious, unexpected and mighty event — had taken place, and he had no longer to experience death or any other form of suffering whatever, but along with incorruption and immortality had obtained also immutability of soul; and when again he afterwards ascended heavenward in a chariot of cloud, borne up like a conqueror who celebrates his triumph; then did he enter within the firmament, and was the first of all who opened up for us a new and living way. The angels therefore, clad in white raiment, rejoiced along with men, and brought the good tidings to the disciples and the women. But their adversaries, seeing the superiority to themselves and to the whole creation of the human nature, which they had at one time tripped up by the heels, but by which they were now thrown down, remained dumb with madness and overwhelmed with uttermost shame. Wherefore the Lord exclaimed to the disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled. I have overcome the world. And again: Lo! I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy — as much as to say: Man of old having sinned when the serpent in Paradise assailed him, it was said to him: He shall lie in wait for thy heel, but thou for his head; that is, Ye shall he divided and at enmity against each other, that man may not be under obedience to him. So the warfare was then waged on equal terms, each having the power to hurt the other; for the serpent watching for the heel of man, that is, besetting his path in order to hurt him on finding him out of the path, as he
§ 153 could do by creeping about his heel; while man being of upward stature and on his guard, and not straying from his path, was able to bruise the head of the serpent. And now having conquered the serpent and brought him finally to shame, and having through his agency unjustly endured death for the whole race, and nailed the bond against it to the cross and blotted it out, I rose again on the third day victorious over death, and became the champion who has achieved victory for all the human race, for through me the victory has been extended to all humanity. Be ye therefore of good courage. Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and on all the power of the enemy. He says in effect the serpent is no longer able to hurt your heel, being himself trampled down under your feet. So then, just as Adam had on the sixth day sinned by eating about mid-day of the fruit of the tree, and was cast out of the garden in the afternoon, so also on the sixth day and at the sixth hour, the Lord Christ for his sake endured in the flesh the Cross, by which we are saved. And just as again from the time of the transgression to the expulsion from the garden, all the angels were filled with great dismay, expecting nothing else than the destruction of man and of themselves and of the universe, so also during the Passion from the sixth hour until the ninth the whole creation was shrouded in darkness at the wickedness that was being perpetrated. And just as the two, Adam and Eve, were at the ninth hour cast out of Paradise, so also at the ninth hour the Lord Christ in the spirit and the thief entered into Paradise. On the same day, therefore, in which Adam was made, that is, on the sixth, there occurred both the Fall and the grief of the angels, the sentence of death and the expulsion from Paradise, so also at the time of the Passion, on the same day, there occurred the death of the Saviour by the tree of the Cross, the mourning of the creation, and in the afternoon the putting away of the mourning and the entrance into Paradise. Verify I say unto you, saith the Saviour to the thief, today shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Glory to God for ever and ever, Amen! But we must now return to our text.
Wherefore the angels did not desist from the ministrations which they rendered to men liable to death and corruption, for the Apostle speaks thus: For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, that is, they were unwilling to labour and serve to no purpose; but, he goes on to say, by reason of him who subjected it in hope. In what hope? Because, as is quite evident, after the transgression the angels, when they saw that God was not carrying into effect the sentence upon man, but treating him with loving care and providing him with clothing, came to entertain better hopes of man, so that they did not despair of him but ministered in his behalf.
§ 154 Then afterwards he says: And the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glory of the liberty of the sons of God; that is, the angels themselves shall be delivered and with them the whole creation, when men shall be delivered from corruption and be glorified, and be made immortal, and the sons of God at the world's final consummation, when the form of this world shall pass away, and the resurrection of the dead shall take place, and the existing prder of things shall be changed. For when it shall come to pass in accordance with divine scripture that the stars shall fall, and the course of night and day cease, and the angels who move them be liberated through the exemption of men from corruption, who shall thus not at all need them, what then can these new law-givers say who think that the heaven is spherical, and assert that the stars are moved and yet move of themselves? For what useful purpose, let them tell us, if at least they define themselves to be Christians, will the heaven then perform revolutions? But away with these inept, these unstable men, for the Apostle yet again exclaims that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now, thereby again showing that the whole creation, and especially the angels themselves, are burdened in this state of existence from being subservient to corruption and mutation. For since they are themselves mutable they are constantly absorbed in reflections about mutation, thinking over and hoping for liberty and longing to obtain it; and obtain it they shall, as has been stated, when men rise from the dead. For unless they had themselves received a law prescribing what they should and should not do, they could not have fallen into sin, for some of them could not have transgressed (as they did) unless they had received this law from God. Those consequently who transgressed were cast down from on high to the earth, for I saw — it is the Lord who speaks — Satan like lightning fall from heaven. But without law it is impossible there should be transgression, as saith the Apostle: For where there is no law there is no transgression, and Without the law sin is dead. So that the angels themselves in every way want to obtain freedom from the law and from mutation. Now, of this liberty, the cause has been and will be the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. For all things, the Apostle saith, both those which are in heaven and those which are on the earth are summed up in Christ; and, If any one is in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.
On the first day, that is the Lord's day, the foundation of the world and the beginning of the creation took place. God having begun in the evening to create those things which comprise the whole world, that is to say, heaven and earth, creating along with them the darkness and the water and the air and the fire which has been commingled with the earth, and the angels — producing all these at one time.
§ 155 Wherefore on the same day and the same night a new creation of the whole world again took place, for the whole world has its circumscription in man, because man, as has been frequently stated, is the bond which holds all the world together. When man, therefore, rose again on the same night of the Lord's day, incorruptible and immortal and unchangeable, he gave a pledge to the whole creation visible and invisible that it would obtain like benefits. Wherefore the Apostle saith: To sum up all things in the Christ, both the things that are in heaven and that are in the earth; and: If any one be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things have become new. He says all things, because; in man are contemplated things visible and invisible. He then who denies to the Lord Christ the possession of perfect manhood is deceived by failing to understand the great dispensation which God has planned, as well as to conceive aright the Christian doctrine. In like manner again he who denies his perfect godhead is chargeable with guilt and is utterly misled. Since then this hope is placed before Christians, that the angels and the whole creation shall be renovated into a better and a blessed state of existence, who is so malignant and so impious as to abandon this hope and lean for support on the new and beguiling folly of the pagans? For he shall hear in that day from the Judge these words: Verify I say unto you I know you not; depart from me, all ye that work iniquity. For it is in sooth a great iniquity to reject the declarations of God, and in opposition to them to ascribe a spherical form to the heaven. For such men are incapable of receiving the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of the great God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us; nor do they wish along with the faithful to hear the Lord Christ exclaiming from on high: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, but always erring in their opinions they are whirled round in ceaseless revolution along with their sphere, without any hope that there will ever be a pause.
Since the heavenly bodies then, according to divine scripture, are moved in their orbits by invisible powers, and run their course through the north, and pass below the elevated part of the earth, it is possible, with such a configuration, for eclipses of the moon and the sun to be produced. For the angelic powers, by moving the figures on rational principles and in regular order, and with greater speed than lies in us to apprehend, produce these phenomena, plying their labours by night and by day without ever pausing.
§ 156 For as on the one hand the pagans assert that underneath the earth these bodies revolve far out of sight, thus, as was before shown, advancing views not only out of harmony with the nature of things, but opposed to the divine testimony, so we on the other hand following divine scripture, conceive that the revolution and the course of the heavenly bodies have some slight obliquity, and affirm that they are accomplished in this manner. For this being so, eclipses of necessity follow, and we are thus opposed neither to the Deity nor to the nature of things. For God must be believed in preference to all the notions and all the teaching of men. And with reference again to the four elements, we say that God having first established the earth as being dry, made it the foundation of the universe because of its heaviness. Water again, which is the moist element, he set above the earth on account of its fluidity; and the two as being opposite in their qualities he thought good to place together on account of their good temperature. Next he placed above these the air, which is the cold element, and above the air again fire, which is the warm element, because these are both lighter than the other elements. They are, however, mutually opposed, and therefore the two elements which are placed together in the middle — water which is moist and air which is cold — having many mutual affinities, the one being of a fluid and the other of a porous nature, while both are soft to the touch, and readily receiving into themselves the qualities of each other and of their opposites, impart them in return to each other and blend the whole together; these two elements, I say, he thought good to place in the middle between the other two, the dry and the warm, that all nature might not be destroyed and reduced to a cinder. For from the readiness with which these two middle elements pervade each other, the pagans have fallen into error, and turning things the opposite way call air moist and water cold; consequent upon this they bestow two qualities upon a single element, and frequently even four.
God again provided rains for the good of the earth through the angelic powers, who with the utmost exertion bring them up from the sea into the clouds, and in obedience to the divine command discharge them where-over the divine command directs, for saith scripture by the prophet Amos: He that calleth forth the water of the sea, and poureth it out over the face of the earth (Amos ix; see also Zech. x; I Kings xviii). With regard to earthquakes we affirm that they are not produced by wind, for we do not, like our opponents, have recourse to fables, but simply say that they occur by divine appointment, for saith scripture through David: He looketh upon the earth and maketh it tremble (Psalm civ; see also Acts ii; Amos ix; Haggai ii; Isaiah, in sundry passages).
§ 157 With regard again to the Antipodes, divine scripture does not suffer me either to say or hear anything about these fables: For he made, saith the Apostle, of one the whole race of men to dwell upon the whole face of the earth. He does not mean upon every face of the earth, but upon its face. The dead, again, that are buried in the earth, he calls the subterraneans, as in the passage: That in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of beings celestial and terrestrial and subterranean; where by beings celestial are meant the angels, by the terrestrial men, and by the subterranean those that are buried in the earth. For the Apostle says that this is to take place at the resurrection, when all, alike angels that are in heaven, men that are upon the earth, and the dead that are buried in the earth, shall all rise and bow the knee in the name of Jesus the Son of God. For we are said to tread upon the earth, in the sense of the expression as used in the passage: I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions. To tread therefore implies treading above some one, but if we tread above any one he who treads in the opposite direction must be below him who treads above him; but according to those wiseacres, a spherical body has neither an above nor a below, and hence we neither tread nor are trodden on in return, nor do we at all walk on the earth. Consequently, all their theories are but inventions and fables.
With regard again to angels and demons and souls, divine scripture represents them as completely circumscribed, and as living in this world, as when the Apostle says: We are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and to men, as if they all lived in one and the same world. In Daniel also it speaks thus on the same point: And the prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days, but lo! Michael one of the chief princes came to help me, and I left him there with the King of the Persians. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days. The expression he withstood me, and that other, he came and went away and I left him there, and others of like import, refer to beings whose natures are circumscribed. It is, moreover, to be observed that archangels are entrusted with the administration and guardianship of particular nations and kingdoms: Yea, even that an angel attends each man as his guardian; as when the church says concerning Peter in Acts: It is his angel.
§ 158 The Lord likewise in the Gospels exclaims: For their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven; thus plainly showing that each one of us has his angel, evidently as his guide and his guardian. For Deity alone is uncircumscribed, existing everywhere, and as the same and in the same manner. For if I ascend, saith David, into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into Hades thou art present there; if I should take to myself wings at morning — that is, in the east — and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea — that is, in the west — even there shall thy hand lead me: evidently indicating here the uncircumscribed nature of the Deity. But this cannot be supposed to hold good of the angels, who in the passage above cited are said to have been left in a certain place. With respect to souls, divine scripture declares them to be circumscribed, and indicates them to be circumscribed by the body itself, as in the passage: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me; thus speaking of the soul as being within. And again: My heart and my flesh. Here it uses the heart instead of soul, as if the soul had its seat in the heart, and was within the body, as when it again says: In my heart have I hid thy words that I might not sin against thee; that is, I have hid them in my soul. And again: Create in me a clean heart, O God ! meaning a clean soul. The Lord too speaks thus: Not that which goeth into a man defileth him, for it goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught, but the things which proceed out of the heart — that is, the soul — these defile the man: such as evil thoughts and other things peculiar to the soul which he enumerates. Elsewhere again he says what is more adapted to put the Jews to shame: The Kingdom of God is within you, instead of saying: Ye ought always to have the Kingdom of God within the soul. And again, to the thief who believed in him he gave this promise: Verily I say unto you, today shall thou be with me in Paradise. Here as evidently as possible he speaks of the soul as in a place. And that he speaks with reference to the soul and not to the body, is evident from the fact that the body of the Lord was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem, and that of the thief was buried there also. Most manifestly therefore he speaks of the soul when saying: Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Besides, most of the evangelists when speaking of the death of the Lord say: He gave up the spirit — that is, the spirit within — namely, the soul, which went out of the body. Another of the evangelists says: Having bowed his head, he gave up the spirit.
We have advanced the foregoing conclusions as expressive of the true Christian theory, having been moved to accept them by divine scripture, for they arc not inventions or conjectures of our own, but we have strictly followed what God has spoken to us through the prophets and the Apostles and his own Son.
§ 159 Now, as all those who undertake to deal with such topics in dependence on their own reasonings and conjectures fall into endless perplexities and errors, and can say nothing with certainty, it behoves every true Christian to take refuge in God, the Maker of all, who knows the how and the why of everything, in order that we may not wander and be blown about by every wind of the doctrine of men, according to what the Apostle says: In craftiness of speech and after the wiles of error, and thus even ourselves be condemned along with the world. Moses also in the Old Testament, in the Book of Numbers, gives expression to the same thoughts: And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the children of Israel and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each border a cord of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them: and that ye go not about after your own follies and after your own eyes, after which ye used to go a whoring, that ye may remember and do all my commandments and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God (Num. xv). God himself in that passage teaches more clearly what the Apostle also has taught us, that we should not follow our own imaginations, but rather the divine precepts. God grant, O honoured Head, that we may abstain from these things, and cling instead to those that are divine, through the prayers of your Holiness, O most Christian Father, so that we may find mercy and grace before the throne of grace for evermore, Amen!
§ 334 BOOK XI.
A description of Indian Animals, and of the Island of Taprobane.
THIS animal is called the rhinoceros from having horns upon his snout. When he is walking his horns are mobile, but when he sees anything to move his rage, he erects them and they become so rigid that they are strong enough to tear up even trees by the root, those especially which come right before him. His eyes are placed low down near his jaws. He is altogether a fearful animal, and he is somehow hostile to the elephant. His feet and his skin, however, closely resemble those of the elephant. His skin, when dried, is four fingers thick, and this some people put, instead of iron, in the plough, and with it plough the land. The Ethiopians in their own dialect call the rhinoceros Arou, or Harisi, aspirating the alpha of the latter word, and adding risi. By the arou they designate the beast as such, and by arisi, ploughing, giving him this name from his shape about the nostrils, and also from the use to which his hide is turned. In Ethiopia I once saw a live rhinoceros while I was standing at a far distance, and I saw also the skin of a dead one stuffed with chaff, standing in the royal palace, and so I have been able to draw him accurately.
The Taurelaphus, the Bull-stag or Ox-deer.
The taurelaphus is an animal found in India and in Ethiopia. Those in India are tame, and are used for the transport of pepper and other stuffs packed in saddle-bags. They are milked, and from the milk butter is made. We also eat their flesh, the Christians killing them by cutting their throats and the Pagans by felling them. The Ethiopian kind, unlike the Indian, are wild and have not been domesticated.
§ 335 The Camelopardalis — the Giraffe.
Cameleopards are found only in Ethiopia. They also are wild creatures and undomesticated. In the palace one or two that, by command of the King, have been caught when young, are tamed to make a show for the King's amusement. When milk or water to drink is set before these creatures in a pan, as is done in the King's presence, they cannot, by reason of the great length of their legs and the height of their breast and neck, stoop down to the earth and drink, unless by straddling with their forelegs. They must therefore, it is plain, in order to drink, stand with their forelegs wide apart. This animal also I have delineated from my personal knowledge of it.
The Agriobous or Wild Ox.
This wild ox is a large Indian animal, and from it is got what is called the toupha, with which commanders of armies decorate their horses and banners when taking the field. If his tail, it is said, catches in a tree, he does not seek to move off but stands stock-still, having a strong aversion to lose even a single hair of his tail. So the people of the place come and cut off his tail, and then the beast, having lost it all, makes his escape. Such is the nature of this animal.
The Moschus or Musk-deer.
The small animal, again, is the Moschus, called in the native tongue Kastouri. Those who hunt it pierce it with arrows, and having tied up the blood collected at the navel they cut it away. For this is the part which has the pleasant fragrance known to us by the name of musk. The men then cast away the rest of the carcase.
The Monoceros or Unicorn.
This animal is called the unicorn, but I cannot say that I have seen him. But I have seen four brazen figures of him set up in the four-towered palace of the King of Ethiopia. From these figures I have been able to draw him as you see. They speak of him as a terrible beast and quite invincible, and say that all his strength lies in his horn. When he finds himself pursued by many hunters and on the point of being caught, he springs up to the top of some precipice whence he throws himself down and in the descent turns a somersault so that the horn sustains all the shock of the fall, and he escapes unhurt. And scripture in like manner speaks concerning him, saying, Save me from the mouth of lions, and my humility from the horns of unicorns. And again: And he that is beloved as the son of unicorns; and again in the blessings of Balaam wherewith he blessed Israel, he says for the second time: God so led him out of Egypt even as the glory of the unicorn; thus bearing complete testimony to the strength, audacity, and glory of the animal.
§ 336 The Chaerelaphus or Hog-deer and Hippopotamus.
The hog-deer I have both seen and eaten. The hippopotamus, however, I have not seen, but I had teeth of it so large as to weigh thirteen pounds, and these I sold here. And I saw many such teeth both in Ethiopia and in Egypt.
Piperi — pepper.
This is a picture of the tree which produces pepper. Each separate stem being very weak and limp twines itself, like the slender tendrils of the vine, around some lofty tree which bears no fruit. And every cluster of the fruit is protected by a double leaf. It is of a deep green colour like that of rue.
Argellia — The Narikela of Sanskrit — Cocoa-nuts.
The other tree [represented] bears what are called argellia, that is, the large Indian nuts. It differs nothing from the date-palm, except that it is of greater height and thickness and has larger fronds. It bears not more than two or three flower-spathes, each bearing three nuts. Their taste is sweet and very pleasant, like that of green nuts. The nut is at first full of a very sweet water which the Indians drink, using it instead of wine. This delicious drink is called rhongcosura. If the fruit is gathered ripe and kept, then the water gradually turns solid on the shell, while the water left in the middle remains fluid, until of it also there is nothing left over. If however it be kept too long the concretion on the shell becomes rancid and unfit to be eaten.
The Phoca or Seal, the Dolphin and the Turtle.
The seal, the dolphin, and the turtle we eat at sea if we chance to catch them. When we want to eat the dolphin and turtle we cut their throat. But we do not kill the seal that way, but strike it over the head as is done with the large kinds of fish. The flesh of the turtle, like mutton, is dark-coloured; that of the dolphin is like pork, but dark-coloured and rank; and that of the seal is, like pork, white and free from smell.
Concerning the Island of Taprobane.
This is a large oceanic island lying in the Indian Sea. By, the Indians it is called Sielediba, but by the Greeks Taprobane, and therein is found the hyacinth stone. It lies on the other side of the pepper country. Around it are numerous small islands all having fresh water and cocoa-nut trees.
§ 337 They nearly all have deep water close up to their shores. The great island, as the natives report, has a length of three hundred gaudia, that is, of nine hundred miles, and it is of the like extent in breadth. There are two kings in the island, and they are at feud the one with the other. The one has the hyacinth country, and the other the rest of the country where the harbour is. and the centre of trade. It is a great mart for the people in those parts. The island has also a church of Persian Christians who have settled there, and a Presbyter who is appointed from Persia, and a Deacon and a complete ecclesiastical ritual. But the natives and their kings are heathens. In this island they have many temples, and on one, which stands on an eminence, there is a hyacinth as large as a great pine-cone, fiery red, and when seen flashing from a distance, especially if the sun's rays are playing round it, a matchless sight. The island being, as it is, in a central position, is much frequented by ships from all parts of India and from Persia and Ethiopia, and it likewise sends out many of its own. And from the remotest countries, I mean Tzinista and other trading places, it receives silk, aloes, cloves, sandalwood and other products, and these again are passed on to marts on this side, such as Male, where pepper grows, and to Calliana which exports copper and sesame-logs, and cloth for making dresses, for it also is a great place of business. And to Sindu also where musk and castor is procured and androstachys, and to Persia and the Homerite country, and to Adule. And the island receives imports from all these marts which we have mentioned and passes them on to the remoter ports, while, at the same time, exporting its own produce in both directions. Sindu is on the frontier of India, for the river Indus, that is, the Phison, which discharges into the Persian Gulf, forms the boundary between Persia and India. The most notable places of trade in India are these: Sindu, Orrhotha, Calliana, Sibor, and then the five marts of Male which export pepper: Parti, Mangarouth, Salopatana, Nalopatana, Poudopatana. Then out in the ocean, at the distance of about five days and nights from the continent, lies Sielediba, that is Taprobane. And then again on the continent is Marallo, a mart exporting chank shells, then Caber which exports alabandenum, and then farther away is the clove country, then Tzinista which produces the silk. Beyond this there is no other country, for the ocean surrounds it on the east. This same Sielediba then, placed as one may say, in the centre of the Indies and possessing the hyacinth receives imports from all the seats of commerce and in turn exports to them, and is thus itself a great seat of commerce.
§ 338 Now I must here relate what happened to one of our countrymen, a merchant called Sopatrus, who used to go thither on business, but who to our knowledge has now been dead these five and thirty years past. Once on a time he came to this island of Taprobane on business, and as it chanced a vessel from Persia put into port at the same time with himself. So the men from Adule with whom Sopatrus was, went ashore, as did likewise the people of Persia, with whom came a person of venerable age and appearance. Then, as the way there was, the chief men of the place and the custom-house officers received them and brought them to the king. The king having admitted them to an audience and received their salutations, requested them to be seated. Then he asked them: In what state are your countries, and how go things with them? To this they replied, they go well. Afterwards, as the conversation proceeded, the king inquired Which of your kings is the greater and the more powerful? The elderly Persian snatching the word answered: Our king is both the more powerful and the greater and richer, and indeed is King of Kings, and whatsoever he |369 desires, that he is able to do. Sopatrus on the other hand sat mute. So the king asked: Have you, Roman, nothing to say? What have I to say, he rejoined, when he there has said such things? but if you wish to learn the truth you have the two kings here present. Examine each and you will see which of them is the grander and the more powerful. The king on hearing this was amazed at his words and asked, How say you that I have both the kings here? You have, replied Sopatrus, the money of both — — the nomisma of the one, and the drachma, that is, the miliarision of the other. Examine the image of each, and you will see the truth. The king thought well of the suggestion, and, nodding his consent, ordered both the coins to be produced. Now the Roman coin had a right good ring, was of bright metal and finely shaped, for pieces of this kind are picked for export to the island. But the miliarision, to say it in one word, was of silver, and not to be compared with the gold coin. So the king after he had turned them this way and that, and had attentively examined both, highly commended the nomisma, saying that the Romans were certainly a splendid, powerful, and sagacious people. So he ordered great honour to be paid to Sopatrus, causing him to be mounted on an elephant, and conducted round the city with drums beating and high state. These circumstances were told us by Sopatrus himself and his companions, who had accompanied him to that island from Adule; and as they told the story, the Persian was deeply chagrined at what had occurred.
But, in the direction of the notable seats of commerce already mentioned, there are numerous others [of less importance] both on the coast and inland, and a country of great extent. Higher up in India, that is, farther to the north, are the White Huns. The one called Gollas when going to war takes with him, it is said, no fewer than two thousand elephants, and a great force of cavalry. He is the lord of India, and oppressing the people forces them to pay tribute. A story goes that this king once upon a time would lay siege to an inland city of the Indians which was on every side protected by water. A long while he sat down before it, until what with his elephants, his horses and his soldiers all the water had been drunk up.
§ 339 He then crossed over to the city dryshod, and took it. These people set great store by the emerald stone and wear it set in a crown. The Ethiopians who procure this stone from the Blemmyes in Ethiopia take it into India and, with the price it fetches, they invest in wares of great value. All these matters I have described and explained partly from personal observation, and partly from accurate inquiries which I made when in the neighbourhood of the different places.
The kings of various places in India keep elephants, such as the King of Orrhotha, and the King of Calliana, and the Kings of Sindu, Sibor and Male. They may have each six hundred, or five hundred, some more, some fewer. Now the King of Sielediba gives a good price both for the elephants and for the horses that he has. The elephants he pays for by cubit measurement. For the height is measured from the ground, and the price is reckoned at so many nomismata for each cubit, fifty it may be, or a hundred, or even more. Horses they bring to him from Persia, and he buys them, exempting the importers of them from paying custom. The kings of the continent tame their elephants, which are caught wild, and employ them in war. They often set elephants to fight with each other for a spectacle to the king. They keep the two combatants apart by means of a great cross beam of wood fastened to two upright beams and reaching up to their chests. A number of men are stationed on this and that side to prevent the animals meeting at close quarters, but at the same time to instigate them to fight one another. Then the beasts thrash each other with their trunks till one of them gives in. The Indian elephants are not provided with large tusks, but should they have such, the Indians saw them off, that their weight may not encumber them in action. The Ethiopians do not understand the art of taming elephants; but should the king wish to have one or two for show, they capture them when young and subject them to training. Now the country abounds with them, and they have large tusks which arc exported by sea from Ethiopia even into India and Persia and the Homerite country and the Roman dominion. These particulars I have derived from what I have heard.
The river Phison separates all the countries of India [lying along its course] from the country of the Huns. In scripture the Indian region is called Euilat (Havilah). For it is thus written in Genesis: Now the river goeth out from Eden to water Paradise. And from there it was parted and became four heads. The name of the first is Phison (Pishon); that is it which compasseth the whole land of Euilat, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; there is the carbuncle and the jasper stone; where the writer clearly calls the country Euilat. This Euilat, moreover, is of the race of Ham.
§ 340 For thus again it is written: The sons of Ham, Cush and Misraim, Phut and Caraan the sons of Cush, Saba and Euilat; that is the Homerites and Indians, for Saba is situated in the Homerite country, and Euilat is in India. For the Persian Gulf divides those two countries. And that country has gold according to sacred scripture. It has also the pezeros which Scripture calls anthrax (carbuncle) and the jasper stone, by which it designates the leek-green stone. Clearly therefore does divine scripture, as being really divine, relate these things, even as the whole of our treatise goes to show.
§ 341 BOOK XII.
Yet another book showing that many of the old Pagan writers testify to the antiquity of the divine scriptures uttered through Moses and the prophets. And that the Greeks appear to have learned letters the last of all, and to have their unbelief with regard to the divine scriptures deeply rooted.
IN the Chaldaean books of Berosus and certain others it is thus written: that ten kings reigned over the Chaldaeans 2242 myriads of years, but, under their tenth king Xisuthrus, as they called him, there was a great flood, and that Xisuthrus being warned by God embarked in a ship with his wife and kindred and cattle, and that having been brought over in safety, as their story goes, to the mountains of Armenia, he offered sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Gods after the flood. These writers have thus presented in a new form nearly all the account given by Moses; for men continued to live in the earth beyond [the Ocean] 2242 years for a course of ten generations, and, under Noah who was the tenth the flood having occurred, they passed over to this earth by means of the Ark. For Noah is he whom they call Xisuthrus. But by having changed the days into years, they asserted that those ten kings had lived 2242 myriads of years, since the number of years reckoned by Moses to have elapsed from Adam to the deluge of Noah was 2242. In like manner the philosopher Timaeus also describes this earth as surrounded by the Ocean, and the Ocean as surrounded by the more remote earth. For he supposes that there is to westward an island, Atlantis, lying out in the Ocean, in the direction of Gadeira (Cadiz), of an enormous magnitude, and relates that the ten kings having procured mercenaries from the nations in this island came from the earth far away, and conquered Europe and Asia, but were afterwards conquered by the Athenians, while that island itself was submerged by God under the sea. Both Plato and Aristotle praise this philosopher, and Proclus has written a commentary on him. He himself expresses views similar to our own with some modifications, transferring the scene of the events from the east to the west. Moreover he mentions those ten generations as well as that earth which lies beyond the Ocean. And in a word it is evident that all of them borrow from Moses, and publish his statements as their own.
For the writers of Chaldaean history as being more ancient, and living farther east, have mentioned in their works both the deluge and the building of the Tower, since they saw that Tower with their own eyes under the process of construction, being no doubt well aware that the men of that time, in fear of another flood, erected it for themselves as a place of refuge and safety. But the men of later times, when they had read Moses also, and found that Noah, in whose time the deluge occurred, was the tenth from Adam, they feigned that they also had ten kings, who had reigned 2242 myriads of years, as has already been said. Of these the first was Alorus, that is, Adam; the second Alaaprus, Seth; the third, Almedon, Enoch; the fourth, Ammeon, Cainan: the fifth, Ammegalaros, Mahalaleel; the sixth, Daonus, a keeper of sheep, Jared; the seventh, Euedorachos, Enoch; the eighth, Amempsinachus, Methuselah; the ninth, Otiortes, Lamech; the tenth, Xisuthrus, Noah. In his time they say the great flood recorded by Moses occurred.
The writers again of Egyptian history, namely, Manetho, and Chaeremon, Apollonius surnamed Molon, Lysimachus and Apion the Grammarian mention Moses and the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. For, as being Egyptians and the historians of Egypt, they also agree in their relations of local transactions, and traduce Moses as a promoter of sedition, who stirred up a mob of rascally beggars and lepers, and say that these had gone away to Mount Sinai and Jerusalem, and were called Jews. And in a word the Chaldaeans and Egyptians, as being older nations than the Greeks, testify in a manner to divine scripture, asserting that both the deluge in the days of Noah did occur, that a Tower was built, and that there was a departure of the children of Israel from Egypt. But the Greeks, who are later than these, and were later in learning the art of writing, and who are settled, far away from the east, in the regions of the west, and live far remote both from Judaea and from Egypt, knew nothing about these events, either by seeing them or hearing about them.
§ 342 Wherefore even unto this day they refuse to believe both the Old and the New Testament, thinking that what they relate is fabulous.
But the Chaldaeans and the Medes and Persians, having a somewhat wider knowledge, were instructed by the building of the Tower, and the deluge, and by what happened in the case of Hezekiah and Jonah, and by the Captivity, and by Daniel and the Three Children, and also partly by the writings themselves. In like manner also the Egyptians were instructed by the affairs of Joseph and of Moses, and by the people of Israel, and these nations were thus better prepared for a ready acceptance of Christianity. Even the Greeks, however, did believe later on through the Apostles, when they saw the wonders which they wrought. And when still later again signs ceased, and time rolled on, you will find Greeks who have believed, and have been baptized, lapsing, nevertheless, many of them into unbelief, and ignoring the Old and the New Testament, that is, divine scripture, as persons who have not long had the root of religion and the foundation of faith deeply implanted. Wherefore in their writings they have not mentioned, as the early Chaldaeans and Egyptians have done, anything about the deluge and the building of the Tower, and the departure of the children of Israel from Egypt, and about the first historian, Moses. But though they regard themselves as very superior persons and the wisest and foremost of men, they are nevertheless from their swelling vanity ignorant of many things. Wherefore one of the Egyptians, whose name was Solomon, said to Plato: The Greeks are always children, and no Greek is ever old, nor is there any learning among you that is of hoar antiquity. Yet some, for instance Dius and Menander, who translated the antiquities of the Tyrians into the Greek language, in the works they composed bear testimony to Solomon and the Jews; and further, the whole, I may almost say, of Ethiopia, and the regions to the south of it, bear testimony to divine scripture. But the Greeks alone, who are wise in their own conceit, know not wherein their salvation lies. Timaeus alone, who has been already mentioned, drawing from what source I know not, but perhaps from the Chaldaeans, recast the story of those ten kings, feigning that they came from the earth beyond the Ocean into the island of Atlantis, which he says was submerged below the sea, and that taking its inhabitants as mercenaries, and arriving in this earth, they conquered Europe and Asia — — all which is a most manifest invention, for as he could not point out the island, he gave out that God had consigned it to a watery grave.
But those Greeks already mentioned who are admired for their wisdom, when at a late period they had acquired letters and had become possessed of laws, imagined that they alone had rained wisdom upon the world.
§ 343 I refer to their Lycurguses and their Solons and their Teucers of the Locrians, and all the rest of them, who are but men of yesterday, if put in comparison with the renowned Moses, in whose time not so much even as the name of Law was known among the Greeks. Homer is my witness, who nowhere in his poetry uses the word. For there was not in his days such a thing, but the people were governed by the best judgments and the commands of their kings; and from that time till long afterwards, they continued to use unwritten customs, and to alter many of them from time to time according to circumstances. For the Lacedemonians and Cretans conducted education by the training of the habits and not by oral instruction, but the Athenians and nearly all the other nations prescribed by law what ought to be done, while neglecting to accustom the people to conform in practice to the law. Yet one nation after another made a gradual advance to a fixed and authoritative code of laws, not imposed from the beginning like that of Moses of old, who educated his nation in the knowledge of letters and of fixed law, being the first who showed both by word and deed the firm and permanent nature of the law and of letters, until, after a long course of time, he conducted the nations, guided and guarded by the firm nature of the law, to the predicted Lord Christ and his teaching.
The Phoenicians accordingly, being next neighbours to the Jews and having learned letters from them, both wrote inscriptions earlier than the Greeks, and prepared the Greeks to learn letters; for Cadmus, taking the letters of the alphabet from Tyre, carried them into Greece. Let not the Greeks then show any supercilious pride, as if they had been the first to invent any thing new of benefit to the world, seeing that they have borrowed from others letters and laws and the notion of the sphere, and astronomy and astrology. For as it was late before they made a figure in the world, they imagined the world to be eternal; having been taught by others to regard the heaven as a sphere, they, as if they were the first who held this opinion, claimed as a discovery of their own the laws of astronomy; and although they were taught letters by others, they suppose themselves to be the oldest and earliest writers: although they have been taught by others to frame laws, they have depicted themselves as the legislators of old times, and founders of just government; although they have received a copious language and an elegant mode of speech from the bounty of God, yet, being unthankful to God the Giver, they are disobedient to His words; and while they have received everything from God and their predecessors, they set them aside, and with swaggering insolence ascribe everything to themselves. For, contending against the divine words, which say: He that established the heaven as a vault, these most superior persons cry out in opposition and say: It is not so, for it is spherical, and this is manifest from the eclipses which we have already adduced. But further, when they hear the resurrection preached to them, they pronounce this to be impossible, for how, say they, can one who has been used up to form
§ 344 countless bodies in succession, rise up? And, to be brief, they attack with sophistries the Giver of their speech in their endeavour to overthrow the doctrines of His Church. And yet He has not left them without a witness to Himself, that He was working for their good and taking thought for it beforehand, for He manifested to them some tokens of His goodness, some four hundred years or more before the coming of Christ, in the days of Alexander the Macedonian, long after the Trojan war, when the Greeks were still flourishing. Let me give an instance of this: When Alexander the Macedonian was passing by Jerusalem in prosecution of his war against Darius, the High Priest of the Jews, arrayed in the robes of his office, came forth to meet him, whereupon Alexander dismounted from his horse and in a very kindly manner embraced him. And when his attendants reproached him for so doing and said: Why hast thou done so? he excused himself and said: When I set out at first from Macedonia, a man dressed in this style was seen by me in a dream who said to me: Go forth and conquer. The result was that the King himself offered sacrifices to God and bestowed many gifts on the Temple, and accorded many privileges to the country of the Jews.
In subsequent times Ptolemy surnamed Philadelphus, after having made careful inquiry from Tryphon the Phalerean about the Jewish books, and learned the truth concerning them, earnestly solicited them from the High Priest Eleazar, to whom as well as to the Temple he sent many presents. These books he received along with seventy elderly men, who translated them from the Hebrew into the Greek tongue, and he deposited them on the shelves of his own library. This also was a work of divine providence, that the translation had been prepared before the coming of Christ, lest, if it were done afterwards in the days of the Apostles, it would be exposed to general suspicion, as if they had interpreted what had been said of old by the prophets both concerning Christ and the calling of the Gentiles in a way to suit their own predilections. When Ptolemy Physcon again had conquered the Jews, and wished to destroy those here in Alexandria by means of his elephants, but God had unexpectedly turned the rage of the animals against his soldiery, he was taught to revere God, and he honoured thereafter with sacrifices and oblations of gifts Him who was the true God, and His people, namely, the Jews. And other kings of the Macedonian empire there were who invited them to be their allies in war; while others, again, who preferred to war against them and held them under subjection for a long time afterwards, witnessed Providence turning to work in their favour, and aroused for their help, and even saw themselves conquered by men who were insignificant and few in number.
And to speak briefly they were trained by wars and miracles and dreams and their sacred books, and were thus taught to know Him who was truly God, Him whom the Jews revere and worship, in order that they also might be
§ 345 the better prepared for the reception of Christianity, so that, at the time when our Lord sojourned upon earth, many nations of Greece, seeing the signs wrought by the Apostles, assented to the faith of Christ, confessing His resurrection and His ascension into heaven. But now, after a long lapse of time and the cessation of signs, they have fallen into a sort of oblivion of that faith, and have reverted to the former superstition, declaring it impossible that there can be a resurrection of the dead and an ascent into heaven. Wherefore you find them observing baptism, and yet thinking that the heaven has a spherical form, in order that the resurrection of their bodies and their ascension into heaven may be denied. These men one will mostly find discussing philosophy with the Pagans alone, and setting forth eclipses as arguments to prove the world of a spherical figure, as if that were a divine doctrine, in this themselves deceived while they deceive others. Wherefore we, by undertaking to exhibit the figures and the places of the whole world, and the revolution of the heavenly bodies, controvert their views from divine scripture, doing our best by means of all these * * *