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ROGER BACON

OPERIS MAJORIS
PARS QUARTA
MATHEMATICAE IN DIVINIS UTILITAS


ROGER BACON
THE FOURTH PART OF THE OPUS MAIUS:
MATHEMATICS IN THE SERVICE OF THEOLOGY


Sections o inte!est to t"e "isto!# o $eo$!%&"ic%' t"o($"t
%n) c%!to$!%&"# !o* t"e t"i!teent"+cent(!# F!%ncisc%n sc"o'%! Ro$e! B%con,s Opus
Maius -c%. /0123
T!%ns'%tion Co&#!i$"t /441 5# He!5e!t M. Ho6e
E*e!it(s P!oesso! o C'%ssics7 Uni8e!sit# o 9isconsin+M%)ison


P%$e n(*5e!s in &%!ent"eses !ee! to t"e L%tin e)ition 5# Jo"n Hen!# B!i)$es7 e). The "Opus
Majus" of Roger Bacon. Lon)on: 9i''i%*s %n) No!$%te7 /4::.
T"is t!%ns'%tion 6%s *%)e to %i) in 6!itin$ ;Ro$e! B%con on Geo$!%&"# %n) C%!to$!%&"#7; 5#
D%8i) 9oo)6%!) %n) He!5e!t M. Ho6e in Roger Bacon and the Sciences: Commemorative Essays,
e). Je!e*i%" H%c<ett -Lei)en: E. J. B!i''7 /44=37 /44+000. A't"o($" it is %n i*&!o8e*ent o8e! t"e
on'# ot"e! En$'is" t!%ns'%tion7 5# Ro5e!t Be''e B(!<e -P"i'%)e'&"i%: Uni8e!sit# o Penns#'8%ni%
P!ess7 /40237 it is % 6o!<in$ )oc(*ent 6"ic" inc'()es >(e!ies %n) notes in s>(%!e 5!%c<ets. It is not
inten)e) %s % (''# %nnot%te) %n) &o'is"e) t!%ns'%tion %n) s"o(') not 5e >(ote) %s s(c". It is &oste)
"e!e o! t"e con8enience o !ese%!c"e!s.
Re%)e!s *%# %'so 5e inte!este) in 9oo)6%!),s ?Ro$e! B%con,s Te!!est!i%' Coo!)in%te S#ste*7@
nna!s of the ssociation of merican "eographers 2: -/44:3: /:4+00.
(Page 180). If, now, we may deduce what subjects are rightly associated with the
study of theology, we will discover that mathematics and its arts are
imerative, for seven imortant reasons. !irst of all, we must gain a factual
"nowledge of the henomena of the heavens# nothing is as imortant as this to
theology itself and to those who e$ound it. !or theology is, by %od&s will,
manifest in the heavens, and surely no branch of human study is as aroriate
to it as astronomy# indeed, throughout the scritures we are summoned away from
earthly matters and urged toward things in the heavens. If we are true
'hristians, the (ostle tells us, our attention is fi$ed on heavenly things) we
hoe to gain them, and we believe that in our bodies we will dwell in the
heavens and remain there forever. It follows that no "nowledge is as imortant
to us as that of the heavens, and that no merely human matter should be as
eagerly longed for. (nd if our great joy is the e$lanation of scriture, it is
surely right to ma"e use of the roerties of lesser matters to e$lain such
things as scriture roclaims, but which cannot be understood in any other way.
'onversely, scriture has many (.181) u**ling assages about the heavens# it
follows that a theologian must be versed in astronomy. +ince, furthermore, the
very magnitude of such things forces us to reverence the greatness of their
creator, and since the ettiness of things here below cannot be comared with
the infinite vastness of things in the heavens, we must admit that such
"nowledge is a sort of raise and reverence for our ma"er. ,hus (vicenna in -oo"
. of his /etahysics assures us that 0,hings lower than the circle of the moon
are virtually infinitesimal in comarison to things above it,0 and (as everyone
versed in astronomy "nows) Ptolemy demonstrates in the (lmagest that the whole
wide earth with everything here below bears the same ratio to the heavens that
the center of a circle does to the circumference. 1ven though a center has no
magnitude whatever, (vicenna and Ptolemy agree in concluding that the earth,
huge though it is, has this ratio when comared to the heavens. (lfraganus too
maintains, in the beginning of his boo", that even the smallest of the stars
visible to our sight is bigger than the earth# but, comared to the heavens as a
whole, the smallest star has no effective 2de 3ua sit vis4 magnitude at all.
-oo" 8 of the (lmagest, and (lfraganus as well, ma"e it clear that there are si$
magnitudes of the fi$ed stars# each star of the first magnitude is about 105
times as big as the earth, while those of the si$th magnitude are only 18 times
its si*e. ,he sun is about 150 times as big as the whole earth, as Ptolemy
roves ((lmagest 6). In his view, in site of its unbelievable seed a star only
comletes its ath through the circle of the heavens after 78,000 years, so vast
is the length of that ath9though one could wal" all the way round the earth in
less than three years. +o we see that the magnitude of things below is simly
incommensurable with that of the heavenly bodies. :or can their effectiveness
2utilitas4 be comared, since the effectiveness of things below is caused by
that of things above. ,he combined influence of the sun below the slanting
course of the eclitic, and the asects of the lanets above, is the cause of
all that haens here below them on the earth.
If, then, we consider the study of the heavens from the oint of view of
theology, we see clearly the answers to many 3uestions raised by theologians in
their theories (sententiae) and commentaries on them. !or e$amle, are the
circles in contact with their neighbors or not; <hat is the imortance of their
mathematical relation, and esecially the ratio of the ninth and tenth circles;
<hat can be said about the form of their circuits, and esecially their
eicycles and eccentrics; (nd what can be said about the movements of the
lanets along their aths and their changing ositions in the s"ies9to right and
left, forward and bac"ward, u and down; <hat of the eculiar roerties of each
of the heavens, esecially the ninth and tenth; (re they (18=) luminous;
,ransarent; (nd other 3uestions li"e these. <hat is the influence of the
heavens on matters here below; >ow do the characteristics of each heaven and its
elemental ma"e9u differ from that of the others, esecially in regard to fire;
(!or (ugustine and others, following the oinion of Plato, sometimes claim that
the heavens are of a fiery nature). ,heologians sometimes discuss the form of
the earth, trying to locate Paradise) does it lie on the e3uator or not; <here
is >ell; ?o the heavens have ower over things that can be born and die; @r over
the rational soul; ,hey seculate on fate and matters related to it, which we
"now are in the domain of astronomy. In sum, the 2astronomical4 3uestions raised
by theology grow more numerous every day.
(nd not only collections of theories and commentaries on them, but the sacred
te$t itself and discussions of it by the saints, needs this sort of elucidation#
for e$amle, the very first chater of %enesis resents all sorts of
astronomical roblems9witness not only the te$t itself, but its e$ositions of
-asil, (mbrose, and -ede in their boo"s entitled ,he +i$ ?ays. (gain, there is
the assage in Aoshua 210.174 about the length of the day when the sun stood
still, and, most imortant of all, how the sun went bac" ten degrees 2lineis# II
Bings =0.1=4 at the command of the rohet Isaiah# between these two assages
there seems to be a contradiction. (ccording to Aerome, +olomon says in the boo"
of 1cclesiastes 21.64 that every day the sun returns to its starting9lace in
the north# not a single scientist can ma"e head or tail of this, for everybody
"nows that from the winter solstice to the summer the sun moves north roughly a
degree a day, and the other way in the other half of the year. In 1cclesiasticus
21.74 we find the 3uestion of the height of the firmament# this, and the
3uestion in the same boo" of how the sun scorches the land at midday 21cc.
C7.74, are astronomically insoluble. ,he remar"s of the blessed Aob about the
>yades and Pleiades, about (rcturus and @rion, and about the 0chambers of the
south0 2Aob ...4, resent serious difficulty, esecially since the blessed
Aerome, commenting on Isaiah, maintains that @rion has == stars, of which the
nine brightest are of the third magnitude, nine others of the fourth, and the
other four of the fifth9and has no more to say. ,his can only be understood by
reference to -oo" 8 of the (lmagest, where si$ degrees of stellar magnitude are
distinguished, and the stars of each degree are listed. ,here is a ractically
endless number of oints in +criture and the commentaries of the saints on it,
matters which affect the science of the heavens and the judgements of astronomy#
(187) a theologian must, then, have a good "nowledge of the henomena in the
heavens, not just because treatises and commentaries are concerned with such
3uestions, but for the sa"e of the te$t itself
,he second astronomical root of theology, and esecially of the sacred te$t,
comes from its concern with the geograhy of the world, for the whole -ible is
full of geograhical assages, and nothing certain can be learned about the te$t
unless we first study these assages. ,he whole course of +criture is governed
by the regions, cities, deserts, mountains, seas, and other sorts of terrain.
:obody can have certain "nowledge about these e$cet through the sciences I have
mentioned, because theirs 2the scholars4 is the tas" of distinguishing habitable
lands from desert# of dividing the habitable land into its three great arts
(1uroe, (frica, and (sia)# and of further dividing these three into the seven
major climates 2climata, 0*ones0, literally 0inclinations04 lus 2commenting on4
a great many local eculiarities
:obody can confidently divide u these *ones into their rovinces, regions, and
other divisions without the aid of this 2mathematical4 "nowledge. +o we find
that great and well9"nown cities li"e Aerusalem and -abylon, /eroD and
(le$andria, (ntioch and 1hesus, (thens, ,arsus, Eome, and any number of others,
have been inointed 2notatae4 by astronomers 2astrologis4 in accordance with
their recise distances from each other and from 2fi$ed oints4 north and south,
east and west. @nce such distances have been determined, we can identify and
locate other imortant regions whose names have come down to us, including the
seas and deserts and mountains mentioned in >oly +criture. ,his is the great
value of these sciences to the student of the -ible# nothing, indeed, more
useful than these to the student of hilosohy can be found. (nd if one does not
understand the hysical form of the world, history is at to became a stale and
tasteless crust.
,his is true artly because of its innumerable lace names, but even more so
because of the manifold errors in subse3uent coies. If, then, one wants to gain
a vivid icture of the laces 2of the world4 and their relations to each other9
distance and location, latitude and longitude, height and deth# who wants to
understand their variations in heat and aridity, cold and dam, color, taste,
and smell, beauty, ugliness, charm, fertility and barrenness9he finds his climb
to siritual heights sorely hamered, and can only dimly understand what he
reads. -ut if he can icture to himself what the laces named are li"e, and has
learned their ositions, their distances 2from each other4, their distance u or
down, their longitude and latitude (not to mention how they differ in heat and
drought or cold and dam# in color, taste, and smell# in beauty, ugliness, and
charm# in the bounty or scantiness of their cros, and has become e$ert in all
their other eculiarities9then the letter of history will fill him with
leasure, and he can easily and confidently advance to a reali*ation of its
siritual sense.
:obody can doubt that material aths oint to journeys of the sirit, or that
(18C) earthly cities hint at the goals of siritual roads to arallel siritual
cities. !or 0location0 has the roerty of limiting motion from lace to lace
and of setting a boundary to the region around. (n understanding of geograhy,
then, gives not only understanding of the words we read, as I have ointed out,
but also reares the way to siritual understanding. (ll this is amly roven
by the words, the deeds, and the writings of the saints. !irst of all, consider
that, as Aerome oints out in the rologue to II 'hronicles, 0,he man who has
viewed Audaea with his own eyes, and who has committed to memory the doings of
cities of old and their names9original or later altered9will view >oly +criture
far more clearly,0 :e$t, reflect on the *eal of the saints who have toiled to
see and to travel about those laces, which is why, in the same rologue, Aerome
tells us 0 I went to great ains to erform the tas", with the most learned of
the Aews, of travelling over the whole rovince, whose raises are sung by the
churches of 'hrist throughout all the world.0 ,his is something he would not
have done for any other reason end than enlarging his "nowledge of +criture.
,hirdly, remember that Aerome wrote a great many boo"s about various arts of
the world, in which he ma"es 3uite definite their distance, their location, and
other facts about them. @rosius, too describes these regions to (ugustine with a
wonderful eye to utility and a transarent concern for truth# Isidore, in many
assages, establishes more clearly, if I may say so, than anyone before him, the
facts about cities and whole regions# and 'assiodorus, does not fail to oint
out their differences in climate. 1usebius of 'aesarea, as Aerome tells us in
his boo" @n Places, wrote in his own hand about the land of Audaea and the arts
inherited by each tribe, and at the end added a ma 2icturam4 of Aerusalem
itself and the temle in that city, with a short commentary. ,his he did in
order to collect for our benefit from the whole of +criture the names of almost
all the cities, mountains, rivers, and villages of all sorts9names which are
still unchanged, those which have been comletely altered, and those which have
been artly corruted. @rigen, called (damantius, is said to have written about
the te$t roer of Aoshua, and a sort of commentary on chater 18 2=7. /igne,
Patrologia Greca 1=. .78 ',?. (@rigen, tr. by Eufinus4. In this he sea"s of the
great number of laces mentioned in the +critures, and among his raise of
these laces he admonishes us in these words) 0?o not read all this with raised
eyebrows, or regard it as a trifling bit of +criture added out with a lot of
roer names. :o# you may be certain that in these names mysteries are concealed
too great for human seech to e$ound or human ears to hear.0 :ow If our
reverend scholars, our holy teachers, have labored so in these matters, (186)
and have declared what mysteries they contain, we can be sure that it is
imerative for us to use every device we can to understand the >oly +critures.
-ut the very reason for the e$istence of astrology and astronomy is the
imarting of rational and certain information about the regions of the universe,
and in this regard these sciences are most necessary.
(nd this can be clearly shown by e$amles. If someone hears the stories whose
scenes are the regions around the Eiver Aordan, Aericho and its lain, /ount
@livet, the Falley of Aosahat, and Aerusalem, without a icture in his mind of
the regions and what they are li"e, he simly cannot "now even the literal
meaning of the story, and, naturally, the se3uence of history will hold no
leasure for him, and its siritual meaning will also remain hidden. -ut if he
"nows their latitudes and longitudes, their heights and deths# their varied
eculiarities of hot and cold, dry and dam, and the effects of their mi$tures
of these four (solid and tenuous, rough and smooth, dry and wet, sliery, and
any number of others defined in (ristotle&s /eteorology C), not to mention their
colors, tastes, smells, their beauty or ugliness, their charm, their sterility
or fertility, their rogress to erfection or decay, and the 3ualities oosite
to all these, which must be considered for each lace9if, I say, he "nows all
these, he will be able to gras and delight in the ure and literal sense of the
+critures, and be able to advance with ride and confidence to their siritual
meaning.
-y studying a few characteristics of the laces I have just mentioned, we can
e$ound their rofound meanings in moral, allegorical, and anagogic terms. <e
note that the Aordan flows down from north to south to the east of Aerusalem,
which lies to the west, a little way from the %reat 2/editerranean4 +ea. -etween
these two, on this side of Aordan, is Aericho, a city surrounded by its lain.
:e$t comes /ount @livet, then the Falley of Aosahat, and after it Aerusalem.
:ow the saints tell us that the world is reresented in their method of
interretation by Aordan, both symbolically and because of the river&s
characteristics. !or one thing, it flows into the ?ead +ea, a symbol of the
Inferno# there are also many other reasons. Aericho, in the view of the saints,
symboli*es the flesh. /ount @livet signifies the loftiness of the siritual
life, because of its own loftiness, and the sweetness of devotion, as sweet as
its oil. ,he Falley of Aosahat signifies lowliness through the meaning of
valley, 0a low lace,0 and true humility in the resence of majesty, (188) since
the translation of the name Aosahat is 0in the sight of the Gord.0 Aerusalem
itself means 0vision of eace0# in its moral interretation it oints to the
holy soul which ossesses eace of heart. (llegorically it signifies the 'hurch
/ilitant# analogically, the 'hurch ,riumhant.
<e all hoe to ass with eace in our hearts from the beginning of our life (the
dawn of our hysical birth and the sunrise of reason&s theory and ractice) to
its end, the sunset of old age# this is our hoe e$ressed in moral terms. <e
all hoe to be true and faithful members of the 'hurch, beneath whose shade we
may rest, untroubled by the malign assaults of our enemy# this is the same hoe
e$ressed as allegory. <e hoe that in this life our thoughts may be turned 2by
analogy4 to the heavenly Aerusalem, and that at our death we may ass to that
heavenly city, there to dwell in the beauty of eace, in the tents of faith, in
rest and in fullness. <hoever hoes for all this must first leave Aordan9this
world9behind, either by reducing it to his control, li"e the saints who live in
the world, or abandon it comletely, as the monastics do. ,his is the first
stage of rogress to a siritual life, a stage easier than the others
>aving achieved this, he must ne$t do battle with the flesh, something not as
easy to overcome as the world, being very close to us and never abandoning its
subject. >e must not, therefore, charge it by brute force and destroy it, but
must bridle its arrogance slowly and tactfully. ,his is why it is figured by
Aericho and the lain around it# one must advance in enitence along the level
road, thus justifying the reasonable obedience of his flesh. !or if he foolishly
overwhelms his flesh by violence, his sirit can never attain the greater
heights. In acting atiently he will be unli"e most eole who have been turned
to enitence, who for a year or two humble their own bodies, but thereafter are
good for nothing, unable to benefit themselves or anyone else.
-ut after a man has ut down the world under his feet and has overcome the flesh
in the way he should, then9and not until then9he is ready to rise u to the
heights of siritual life and the sweetness of true devotion. !rom then on he
will be able to climb u to /ount @livet and gain the innacle of human
erfection and immerse himself in the delight of rayer and contemlation of
%od. -ut even when he has trained himself by the ascent from all sides of that
height, he must still cross the valley of Aosahat9that is, he must finish the
course of his life in comlete humility and ma"e himself oor and humble of
sirit in the eyes of %od, not merely his own or those of his fellow men. !or
many loo" humble to themselves and to other men, but in the resence (185) of
%od and his angels are uffed u with arrogance.
<hen at last he has ended his whole life in erfect lowliness, then he has
entered Aerusalem, in all three senses of the word. >e will ossess eace in his
heart, the eace which follows erfection of the life of the sirit. 0,o the
ungodly there is no eace,0 says the Gord. -ut the saints ossess the eace of
%od, which transcends the senses of man"ind. !ree from all troubles, he will
rest in the eace of the 'hurch /ilitant9the eace un"nown to the faithless and
sinful, who drag on in the state of damnation, lagued by the ?evil and driven
from one sin to another, unished for one, then tormented for another. 1ven in
this life he must lay his art, as it is said, by sure and certain hoe and by
revelation, in that blessed vision of the eace of Aerusalem that is above,
which by the grace of %od he will win after his death.
,hese well9"nown sites between the Aordan and Aerusalem are not the only ones
that both throw light on history and ma"e clear its siritual meaning# any
number of others between a li"e air of boundaries can be found in the
scritures. Indeed, whoever wants to go more deely into the other 3ualities I
have listed will be able to e$tract their divine content far better than I and
in ways that cannot be comared, content which will becomes clearer and clearer
as he studies. !or the moment, though, it is enough to hint at how much one can
deduce from how little, what great things from what trifles, what light from
what dar"ness. -ut remember, the laces of the world can only be "nown through
astronomy, so first of all we must learn their longitudes and latitudes.
Gatitude is measured from the e3uator and longitude from the east# by them we
"now under what star each lace lies, and how far it is from the ath of the
sun. !or by observing these 2coordinates4, we reali*e by the information of our
senses that the things of this world are in a state of flu$, a statement true
not only of material subjects, but of morals as well. <e ought also to
understand from the study of astronomy what lanets rule human affairs, and in
what regions, since all arts of the world are owerfully altered by them. /any
matters of this sort re3uire 2a "nowledge of4 astronomy in those who consider
them, if they hoe to understand the nature of the laces mentioned in
scriture, and not merely of the laces, but of what haens in them. Indeed, an
understanding of all these subjects is imerative, as these comments have shown,
no less in their siritual meaning than according to the letter.
@P1EI+ /(A@EI+ P(E+ HI(E,(
%1@%E(P>I'(
(. =88)
:ow that I have made clear how very imortant mathematics is for hilosohy, for
theology, and for the 'hurch of %od, I must show how essential it is for the for
the worldly government of the faithful eole. In two ways its ower is
esecially great) in the understanding it gives of matters ast, resent, and
future, and in its utility in ractical concerns. ,he human race is subject to
endless and inevitable threats, and ways of understanding what the future holds
therefore become imerative. If %od has granted man"ind gifts of greater
imortance9our bodies and our souls9and has romised us life everlasting, surely
he will not have denied gifts of less account. ,he sun rises even on the wic"ed,
the sea lies oen even to the irate# how much more must he have bestowed the
recious gift of understanding nature 2rerum4 uon the goodJ ,his, moreover, he
has granted to the generality of men, for it is among them that the ublic
utility becomes manifest 2invenitur4. Precisely because some good men, leasing
in his sight, are always resent in the world, %od has granted many ways to
"nowledge of the future# without this, indeed, as (vicenna oints out in -oo" 1
of de (nima and -oo" 10 of the /etahysics, the world could not endure. I have
already discussed the roots of our understanding of the future in the chater
above, where I argued that natural "nowledge is not to be desised, and where I
maintained that in every roblem we can at least ma"e an ade3uate judgement#
that is, we can ic" the roer mean between the inevitable and the imossible,
or between the universal and the articular. !rom such judgements the human mind
is illuminated# it ac3uires foresight in discussion 2rudenter disserere4 of all
sorts of subjects, and gains the ower of foreseeing benefits to itself and
others. ,his done, I assed on, as my subject demanded, to limited judgements,
in matters human where disagreement is ossible 2in distinctione de sectis4. If
in human affairs, esecially those of this sort, such an aroach is both valid
and useful, how much more so in the study of nature, in details as well as in
subjects of larger sweeJ
@f course, when defending mathematical learning, and even earlier when comaring
the heavenly virtues with those on earth, (=85) I had to touch on our "nowledge
of the various arts of the world and the erishable things in it, discussing
them and comaring them with their arallels in the heavens. -ut now I must
consider them more fully, as I ass on to the medicine of the human body9
"nowledge which is more necessary to our race than anything else in this world.
I must not only reveal how we find out how matters stand in distant arts of the
earth, but how they are brought about in the same laces at different seasons of
the year. 1veryone agrees that an effect can only be understood by "nowing its
cause. -ut the causes of things here below are to be found in realms above, and
we can only learn about transitory 2generabilia4 matters by first studying their
uncreated causes 2ingenerabilia4 in the heavens. (ristotle has roved that
heavenly forces are not only universal causes, but also the causes of individual
and articular events of things below. In boo" = of de %eneratione et
'orrutione 2=...778a691=4 he tells us that the material elements are less
imortant 2deterius agunt4 in the eyes of a craftsman than the tools and
instruments he uses in his wor". -ut we attribute the whole act of creation
rimarily to the craftsman, not to his tools) to the builder, not to his a$e. It
follows, then, that the rime control of all lower things must be attributed to
the heavens, since the only active causes are the heavens themselves and the
elements they use as tools. ,his is clear too by inductive reasoning) no one
denies that the heavens are the cause of every inanimate thing, !or inanimate
things cannot generate anything, not even individuals of their own secies) a
roc" cannot roduce another roc", as a don"ey roduces a don"ey or a man a man.
It is therefore evident that a ower of the heavens, embodied in the material
elements, roduces all things, those ossessed of soul and those without, in
similar ways by utrefaction# nothing else than heaven and the elements e$ists
caable of laying a art in the generation of things. /oreover, in /etahysics
5 (verroDs tells us that the ower of the sun acts in the same way on utrefying
matter as the ower of a man through his semen# we must therefore assume that
something in the heavens, acting on individual things, is the cause that ma"es
them advance from concetion to birth (coelum esse causam articularem us3ue ad
generationem rerum e$ roagatione). (nd I can rove that the two cases are
ali"e) in the de Plantis (ristotle informs us that the sun is the father and the
earth the mother of lants, and in the de %eneratione (nimalium he imlies that
the same is true of creatures with souls. (s for humans, where this seems less
li"ely, he oints out in Physics = that the sun joins one human in generating
another out of material. !or obviously a father does not continue the rocess of
develoment after emitting his seed, nor does he bring develoment to an end# he
only starts it. 'onse3uently, that which continues and comletes the rocess of
generation must be the sun, or some ower in the heavens. ,he heavens, moreover,
cause (=88) not only normal reroduction, but natural errors and anomalies. (s
(vicenna tells us in de (nimalibus 18, 0If an embryo is incaable of inheriting
a comletely human form, it may ta"e on that of an animal, as haens with
anomalies 2in rebus monstruosis4 where the son of a human has received the head
of a ram, or a lamb a bull&s head. In every such case the generative ower
wor"ing on the embryo has engendered the shae of something in the heavens.0 If
we carry such reasoning further, we will be better able to study the causes of
things here below by investigating things in the heavens.
(nd this is the first a$iom of our study) every oint on the earth is the ae$
of a yramid which transmits the ower of the heavens. ,o ma"e simler and more
certain the line of the reasoning I am roosing, we must turn our attention to
the diversity of the regions of the earth# how any region changes with the
assage of time# and how different things in the same region are subject to
different influences at the same time. -ut we cannot understand all this without
clear ictures of the si*e and shae of the habitable earth and its divisions or
*ones 2climata4.
,o attain such definitions, we must assume that the world has a sherical form,
something I have shown above. <e must further imagine three 2straight4 lines
drawn from the surface of the earth and intersecting at right angles at its
center, (l) @ne of these, 2if roduced4, runs from our right to left to the
heavens, and asses from east to west through the center of the earth 2i.e. the
observer is facing north4. (=) ,he second 2the earth&s a$is4 goes vertically,
from south to north, from the antarctic ole to the arctic, and (7) the third,
which goes forward from behind us9that is, from a oint in the heavens above
2behind the observer4, to one directly oosite in the heavens, on the other
side of the earth. -y a sort of modification of ordinary seech, this line is
called the 0angle of the earth0 2i.e. 1 and 7 are roduced diameters of the
earth through oints on the e3uator9line l through 0farthest east0 and 0farthest
west,0 and line 7 through oints .0K west and east of line 14. +o (ristotle, in
de 'aelo et /undo =, suggests that we establish in our minds si$ different
oints 2in the s"y, where these lines meet the heavens4.
:ow let us imagine a single circle assing from the east, the middle of heaven
2i.e.the halfway oint between east and west. :otice that -acon, having started
with straight lines which ass through the center of the earth, is now concerned
with great circles on the earth&s surface4, the west, and the 0angle of the
earth,0 >alf way along its course it will divide the heavens into two e3ual
arts, half on the side of the :orth ole, the other half on that of the +outh.
,his circle is called the 213uator or4 13uinoctial 20e3ual nights Land daysM04,
both because eole who live along it always have nights and days of e3ual
length, and because everyone on earth has an e3uino$ when the sun reaches and
asses it in one natural day. ,his haens at the beginning of sring and fall,
when the sun (=8.) begins to enter the constellations of (ries and Gibra. :ow
imagine another great circle which asses through the :orth and +outh oles of
the 1arth# which asses through furthest east and west# and which intersects the
13uator at right angles. ,his great circle is called the colure. It asses
through the 13uator at the e3uinoctial oints, so that the heavens are divided
into four arts, two above the earth (the art 2the northern hemishere4 in
which we live), and two below. @ne of the two northern 3uarter9sheres will be
directly above us9namely. that bounded by half the 13uator 2to the south4 and
two 3uadrants of the colure 2to east and west4. ,hese 3uadrants of the colure
meet at the :orth ole on one side, and end at the eastern and western oints on
the e3uator, as the diagram 2insert4 shows. ,his is the 3uarter art of the
heavens under which we live. In a way similar 2to this division of the heavens4
we should see, in our mind&s eye, a sherical earth, with the three straight
lines I have mentioned assing through its center, where they intersect each
other at right angles. ,hese lines are erendicular to the surface of the
earth, and their intersection is at the centers of both the earth and the whole
universe# it therefore follows that the same oint is the center of both earth
and universe, since two straight lines can intersect at only one oint
(,heodosius, de +haeris 1.6). :ow if a straight line be drawn from the heavens,
erendicular to the surface enclosing the shere of the earth, the center of
the earth will lie on that line, for that theorem reads) 0If a shere is tangent
to a lane, a straight line erendicular to the lane may be drawn 2at the
oint of tangency4, and the center of the shere must lie uon that line.0 -ut
the same line will also be erendicular to the surface of the shere of heaven,
so the center of the heaven will lie uon it, and the line must be one of the
three I have mentioned. /oreover, the other two lines must also ass through the
oint which is the center of both earth and heaven# these others can only
intersect the first at one oint, where the centers of earth and heaven
coincide. ,he earth must therefore lie at the center of the universe. +ince this
is so, if we icture to ourselves two circles on the earth corresonding to the
two I have already described in the heavens9the one 2the 13uator4 whose center
in the earth is directly beneath the midoint of the heaven, and which asses
from east to west# the other, that which asses through two oints, to east and
west, and through oints on earth corresonding to the oles9then these two
circles will divide the earth into four arts. @f these four, two will be in the
half of the earth&s surface in which man"ind can dwell# the others will be in
the other half. @ne of these 3uarters9that which lies to the north, from the
middle of the earth under the e3uinoctial circle u to the oint beneath the
north ole 2of the heavens49is bounded by the lines from east and west 2on the
13uator4, which meet at the ole, or rather at the oint on the earth directly
under the ole of the heavens. ,his is the 3uarter of the earth we have been
loo"ing for, our familiar dwelling lace, which lies under the 3uarter of the
heavens I have delimited above.
,he habitability of the world must be considered in two ways, the first being
how it is affected by the heavens9in how much of it the sun allows us to dwell,
in how much it does not. I have already mentioned this roblem in general terms,
and will have more to say later. +econdly, we must use a different aroach in
studying how the sea affects the matter, and how far it hinders 2coloni*ation4#
let us now ass on to studying this. Ptolemy, indeed, in his boo" de
?isositione +haerae,suggests that, because of the water, only about a si$th of
the earth can be inhabited# all the rest is covered by the sea. !or this reason,
he assumes in (lmagest = that we "now nothing of habitation anywhere but in the
3uarter of the world where we live. Its longitude from east to west is half of
the 13uator and its latitude is from 13uator to ole, a 3uarter of the colure.
(ristotle, however, suggest at the end of de 'aelo = 2=. 1C.16 =.8a4 that more
than a 3uarter of it is inhabited, a statement confirmed by (verroes. (ristotle,
moreover, suggests that the sea between the west of +ain and the eastern edge
of India is of no great e$tent. In the NfifthO first boo" of Huestions about
:ature, 2:H 1, r.174, +eneca informs us that this sea can be crossed in a few
days if the wind is favorable. Gi"ewise Pliny, in his :atural >istory 2=.18.9
1504, tells us that (=.1) eole have sailed all the way 2around (frica4 from
the (rabian %ulf to 'adi*. >e goes on to tell us that somebody, running away in
terror from his sovereign, made his way to the gulf of the Eed +ea that they
call 0the (rabian.0 ,his is about the same distance as the annual voyage from
the Indian @cean, as Aerome tells us in a letter I will discuss later. :ow the
latitude of the region through which the Eed +ea asses is indeed very great# it
is clear, then. how far the eastern boundary of India must be from us and from
+ain, once we reali*e how far it is from the 2eastern4 boundary of (rabia to
India. !rom 2the west4 of +ain so little room is left for the sea the other
side of (sub) the world that it cannot ossibly cover three 3uarters of the
globe. 2In other words) 0(1) <e "now how far it is from ?jibuti to 'adi*9namely,
a distance e3ual to (=) the distance from ?jibuti to Barachi. -ut the inhabited
world does not end on the east at Barachi) it&s still a long way (7) from
Barachi east to the longitude of Petroavlovs". (C) ,he distance east, then,
from Petroavlovs" to 'adi* (i.e.the rest of the way around the worldM is a mere
trifle. @ne /s. (F) adds, 0,he 2eastern4 boundary of India, then, cannot be very
far from +ain4.
,his conclusion 2that more than one fourth of the earth is habitable4 is roved
by the voice of one with a very different oint of view. 1sdras tells us in his
fourth boo" 2the aocryhal II 1sdras 8.C=4 that si$ arts of the earth are
inhabited, while the seventh is covered with water. :obody should 3uestion the
authority of this assage by claiming that this boo" is aocryhal and of
dubious authority# everyone "nows that the saints of old used this boo"
constantly, to confirm the sacred truths, and even used this boo"&s
ronouncements in the divine office. !or these reasons, it must be acceted as
authoritative, whether 1sdras wrote it or someone else. I therefore insist that,
though the habitable world "nown to Ptolemy and his followers is s3uee*ed into a
3uarter of the total, far more than a 3uarter is, in fact, fit for habitation.
(ristotle too must have "nown better 2than Ptolemy and his followers4, for with
the bac"ing of (le$ander he sent two thousand men to study the state of this
world, as Pliny reorts in :atural >istory 8 2.189154. (nd (le$ander in erson
viewed everything u to the limits of the east, as is clear from the >istory of
(le$ander and the letters he wrote (ristotle, in which the "ing always reorted
to him the une$ected wonders he "et finding in the @rient. (ristotle, then,
could sea" with more authority than Ptolemy. +eneca could ma"e the same claim,
for the 1meror :ero, who had been his uil, sent out men 2with whom +eneca
later conversed4 to e$lore debated 3uestions about the nature of the world, as
+eneca reorts in the :aturalia 2:H 8.8.74 If, then, we follow (ristotle and
+eneca, we must agree that the area of 2otherwise4 habitable land 2in our
hemishere4 that is covered by water must be 3uite small. :ear the oles of the
earth it is natural that there should be an abundance of water, since those
arts of the world are cold, because (=.=) they are far from the sun, and cold
magnifies damness 2frigus multilicat humores4. ,his water, conse3uently, runs
down into the body of the ocean from one ole to the other 2a olo in olum#
resumably to the north in winter, the south in summer4. ,his water, the @cean,
e$tends from the west of +ain to the east of India, which is no great distance.
,he 2eastern4 boundary of India must, then. be far east of the half9way oint on
the e3uator on the other side of LsubM the earth# indeed, it must be 3uite near
the western boundary of +ain.
-ut to avoid merely dismissing the correct answer to this 3uestion as false, we
must reali*e that 0+ain0 here does not mean only 1uroean +ain, but (frican as
well 2>isania acciitur non ro citeriori sed ro ulteriori# under the Eoman
1mire the names were used for the eastern and western rovinces of the Iberian
eninsula4, about which reliable authors tell us. +o we are told by Pliny in his
:atural >istory 27.C4# /erlin in his rohecy, @rosius in his @rmesta /undi
21.=.884, and Isidore in 1tymologica N1CO 217.16.=4. Pliny 27.C964 tells us 2of
the tradition4 that at one time no water flowed between the regions now called
+ain and (frica, but that in remote anti3uity the land was continuous. Gater,
though, the @cean burst through into the low9lying land 2east of %ibraltar4. and
joined the ,yrrhenian +ea, which runs along the coasts of the rovinces of
(ragon and Italy. 0>ither0 +ain, then, ran from the Pyrenees all the way to
'arthage, but 0!urther0 +ain ran 2from the modern Portugal4, across the +traits
of %ibraltar and as far 2east4 as the rovince of (frica. 2,o the southwest4 it
e$tended to the (tlas /ountains. I felt I had to 3uote the views of these
authors, if only to rotect (ristotle and his commentator from the jeers of
those who say he "new nothing of !urther +ain, when, in his attemt to rove
how little sea lies between +ain and India, he ointed out 2de 'aelo =.1C =.8b4
that elehants are found only in these two regions. It is 3uite true that there
are lenty of elehants around the (tlas /ountains, as Pliny 28.=4 tells us, and
(ristotle sea"s in the same way of India 2imlying that there must be lenty of
elehants in !urther +ain4. -ut (ristotle actually says that elehants cannot
e$ist in those laces unless 2the laces4 have a similar nature# if they are
searated so far, they cannot have a similar nature) elehants therefore 2may4
not e$ist only in those laces. ,his is why he concludes that these laces are
not far aart, and there must be only a little sea between them.
,he sea, than, does not cover three 3uarters of the earth, as has been guessed.
+uose abcd 2insert diagram4 is the northern 2suerior4 half of the earth
2viewed from above the ole4, of which one 3uarter, abc, is the habitable art
we "now. 'learly a good deal (=.7) of that 3uarter will lie under our feet,
since its eastern and western boundaries are close together, and only a little
sea divides them from the rest of the earth. Eather it follows that the
habitable art of the earth will not be limited to half the length of the
13uator# not to half the globe&s circumference# not to 2the distance the sun
traverses in4 twelve hours, as eole have guessed. :o# it is far more than half
the earth&s circumference, far more than half a revolution of the heavens. ,rue,
its actual si*e has not been calculated in our age, nor do we find it laid down
in clear language in the boo"s of the ancients. @f course notJ /ore than half of
the 3uarter in which we live is still 3uite un"nown, and its towns are not
familiar even to hilosohers, as will resently be aarent. (nd as for the
other two 3uarters) if we ursue the same line of reasoning and consider the
aths which natural hilosohy has followed, we must conclude that they li"ewise
are not covered by water, as mathematicians have as a rule suosed. +ince the
2two4 oles and the regions near them are the same distance from the sun and the
lanets, as we learn by comaring their relations at the e3uino$es 2lit 0in the
middle of the heavens between the two troics04, it follows that the situation
2as regards the effect of sun and lanets on the two hemisheres4 is the same in
our 3uarter as in that in the 3uarter the other side of the 13uator, toward the
2south4 ole. ,he same must be true of the 3uarter which reaches down to the
13uator but lies beneath our feet 2i.e. in north latitude but east longitude4.
<ell then) if our 3uarter of the world is not covered with water (at least as
far north as latitude9distance from the e3uator988K, that of the islands 2north4
of +cotland, or the "ingdom of :orway), it is clear that similar natural causes
will be at wor" in the 0better0 arts 2in sueriori arte terrae4 of the other
3uarters beyond the e3uator as in our own. ,his is true because distance from
the ath of the sun generates 2inducit4 cold, cold generates 2multilicat4
damness# conse3uently, around the oles and in the regions near them there will
be a natural ile9u of water. In the corresonding 3uarter of the earth beyond
the e3uator, for this reason, there must be a great deal of habitable land9at
least as far south as latitude 88K9 as in our hemishere.
Indeed, if one follows the mathematicians, it could be argued that there is a
greater roortion of habitable land there 2south of the e3uator4 than here,
because there is less water. (=.C) !or in that region is the oint oosite the
aogee, where the sun comes down far closer to the earth 2than in our
hemishere4. It must therefore shrivel u that 3uarter. or at least art of it,
and heat the rest, down near the ole, far more than it does in the hemishere
where we live. ( similar conclusion can be drawn about the other 3uarter9earth
south of ours. ,he reasoning on this matter is e$ounded by (ristotle (in de
'aelo et /undo I) and by (verroes) that the other half of the world, beyond the
e3uator, is 0e$alted0 and 0nobler0, and therefore more suitable for human
habitation. !or this reason, there must be something ordained by nature which
neutrali*es forces hamering habitation, at least in a considerable art of that
hemishere, the art furthest from the aogee. ,his we find by assuming an
eccentricity 2of the sun&s orbit4# if we do not assume this, habitation would
not be hamered anywhere. Ptolemy, moreover, informs us in his boo" on ,he
(rrangement of the +here, that nature re3uires that there be two races of
1thioians, one beneath each troic. !rom this some argue that habitation is to
be found on the other side of the e3uator, just as on this. -y this reasoning,
though, the shae of the habitable art of the world would not be a 3uarter of a
shere, nor that of a semicircle drawn on a lane surface# water would not flow
around the world through the oles and the regions east and west Li.e. along the
colure4, thus closing off three 3uarters of the world, as is generally believed.
Eather, the shae of the waters is this, or something li"e it) 2diagram of
dumbbell9shaed ocean4
In this way the sea called @cean, most of whose water is gathered around the
oles, can be understood to reach from ole to ole between the nearest art of
India and the furthest art of +ain, the latter of which is well "nown to the
learned, -ut even they have no information about human habitation anywhere
e$cet in the 3uarter in which we live, and even of that we "now nothing of the
region bounded by half the e3uator to the south and half of the colure, the line
that runs (=.6) through the oles and the eastern and westernmost oints of this
half9e3uator (see the diagram above). In assessing the consensus of learned
oinion, we ought not to include anything of which we are not sure# we should,
moreover, only include in our account what seems reasonably certain to the best9
"nown hilosohers. @f all the 2scientists4 since the Incarnation of the Gord,
Ptolemy is the one most clearly of this oinion, and in the second boo" of the
(lmagest he distinguishes the 3uarter in which we live 2from the rest4. >is
descrition, and that of (lfraganus and others, is most familiar for the well9
"nown 0seven climata.0 In their arlance a 0clima0 is the 2north or south4 belt
around the earth in which a day on one side is half an hour longer or shorter
than 2the same4 day on the other side of its northern 2or southern4 boundary.
-ut surely a more natural and more accurate difference would be a 3uarter of an
hour, a difference which Ptolemy uses at the start 2of his calculation4. :ow
those intervals are 3uite small, so that scientists want to wor" with bigger
ones, and therefore grou them in airs forming one clima.
+ince these climata and their famous cities cannot well be described by words
alone, (=.8) a ma must be used to ma"e them clear to our senses. I shall,
therefore, first resent a ma of our 3uadrant, and on it I shall label the
imortant cities, each in its own lace, with the distance from the e3uator9what
we call the latitude9of the city or region. I shall also label them according to
their distance from the east or west, what we call the lace&s longitude. In my
assigning of climata, and li"ewise of latitude and longitude, I shall ma"e use
of the restige and e$erience of the wisest scholars. ,o locate each city in
its roer lace 2on this ma4 by its longitude and latitude, which have already
been discovered by my authorities, I shall use a method by which their ositions
may be shown by their distances north and south, east and west. ,he device is
this) arallel to the e3uator (already drawn on a lane surface), a straight
line 2i.e. a arallel of latitude4 is drawn. ,his intersects another straight
line 2a meridian4, from the oint corresonding to the number of degrees of
latitude of the lace. ,his oint is also mar"ed on the colure (the 3uarter of
the great circle that asses from the e3uator to the ole of the universe), and
is, in fact, an arc of the colure. ,his rocedure is both easier and better
2than anything now in use4, and a ma drawn in this way is 3uite caable of
reresenting to the senses the location of any oint in the world.
(long with the latitude 2of the southern boundary4 of any clima, I shall dislay
the number of miles each clima e$tends# how many degrees 2gradus4 in the heaven
corresond to each# and how many hours long is the longest day 2the summer
solstice4 in each clima. ,he height of the ole 2star4 above the hori*on in any
clima is the same as its latitude9i.e. its distance from the e3uator9, so you
can calculate the 2angular4 distance of the *enith from the e3uator, since it is
the same as the latitude and the elevation of the ole. I shall also include the
total number of miles in the seven climata together. -ut we must remember that,
although the theorists sea" of only seven climata, they recogni*e other
regions, both north and south of these 2ante...ost...4 !or Ptolemy informs us
that an e$edition, aid for by the "ings of 1gyt, once marched all the way to
the e3uator. !ew men have traversed so far beyond the climata, and that only
rarely, for the distance is enormous# an even greater hindrance is the lac" of
interest by rinces, the very men who ought to lend aid to those who ursue such
"nowledge I shall therefore indicate three regions (=.5) beyond the climata we
"now of, which regions 2together4 embrace more land than any 2single4 *one we
"now, and I shall, moreover, set out the number of miles of southernmost4 clima.
I shall li"ewise show how many miles there are from the e3uator to the end of
the seventh clima, and finally divide u the sace beyond the climata 2in either
direction4. In the second boo" of the (lmagest Ptolemy sets a boundary to that
sace by adding a 3uarter of an hour to the length of a day in the clima before
2i.e. nearer the e3uator4, until he reaches the latitude of the region which
begins at 81K# from there on he adds half an hour, which brings him to 8CK# then
he distinguishes the ne$t area by adding an hour, u to latitude 88K. !rom there
north is continuous night at the winter solstice, e$cet that half the sun
suddenly os u over the hori*on. (t the summer solstice, conversely, there is
continuous daylight, but that is true only far to the north of +cotland. (fter
that day 2the summer solstice4 the sun is always visible, even far to the north
and near the ole.
-eyond the climata, the region is divided u in a remar"able way, by the length
of a single day, 2which may last4 for from one to si$ months. ,he eole who
live close to the ole have a day lasting half the year, the sun being above the
hori*on for si$ months and below it for the other si$. Pet there is evening
twilight for seven wee"s and a day, from +et. 18 2in the Aulian 'alendar4,
when, as things are now 2at this stage in the recession of the e3uino$es4, the
sun enters the sign of Gibra, to 2midnight before4 :ov. 8 2from +et.18
inclusive to :ov. 8 e$clusive4. In this eriod the sun sheds a dim light on the
earth, li"e the twilight we "now after sunset in the summer. !or on :ov. 8 the
sun&s declination below the hori*on has reached 18K 8&, and twilight lasts 18K
and no more. !rom :ov.8 u to the end of Aan.=1 there is dee night for ten
wee"s and five days. @n Aan.=1 the sun is 18K 8& below the hori*on, so the dawn
cannot 2really4 begin on that day) the sun must still traverse those si$
minutes. -ut from that day, midnight on Aan.=1, the dawn begins 2to showM, and
lasts until the sun enters the sign of (ries, which occurs on /ar. 17, as things
are now. ,his 0dawn0 lasts for seven wee"s and one day. ,hereafter, while the
sun is advancing from the first degree of (ries to the first degree of Gibra,
the sun (=.8) is always above their hori*on, that is, for half the year, since
their hori*on is the e3uator. (nd so the si$ northern signs are always above the
hori*on, as you can clearly see by loo"ing at a 2celestial4 globe# as long as
the sun is in those signs, it is clear that 2the eole beneath have full
daylight. +till, if you add u the two times of half9daylight when the sun still
sheds its light above the hori*on, it comes to three months, a fortnight, and
two days# conse3uently if we comare the amount of half9dar" and night 2with
those of our own latitudes4, the eole who live in that region near the ole
have less night than we do.
In writing all this, I have chiefly followed Ptolemy and (lfraganus, and the
2(lhonsine4 tables of the latitudes and longitudes of cities. !or the latitudes
of the climata and the regions beyond them north and south, I have followed the
teaching of Ptolemy in the (lmagest, but have chiefly followed (lfraganus in
describing the breadth in miles of the climata, the regions beyond them, and the
cities and rovinces they contain. -ut some of his calculations of laces I have
mar"ed for closer study are too ine$act# there I follow other authors, now
adding, now changing a bit, as greater recision demands. +o, for e$amle, I
have dealt with the city of +yene. It may be objected that in the standard wor"s
on astronomy different latitudes and longitudes are found from those in other
tables) so, for e$amle, in the case of ,oledo, on whose meridian the (lhonsine
tables are based. I must oint out that their authors vacillate in their
understanding of the terms (=..) 0east0 and 0west0. (s I am using these words
here, they mean 0the limits 2in those directions4 of the habitable world0. @ne
way of understanding the terms is as oints on 2sub4 the e3uator, the mid9line
2between the oles4 of the earth. In this way of thin"ing, the furthest art of
India in latitude 0K is the easternmost boundary of the habitable art of the
earth# in li"e manner the end of !urther +ain (if 2a line4 were e$tended
2south4 to the e3uator), would be the furthest west. -ut, of course, it is not
so e$tended) indeed, there is a considerable sace of land to the south of
!urther +ain, all the way to the e3uator. ,he limit of this sace to the west,
then, is the western limit of habitation. -ut since the land 2terra4 runs north
and south for a long way9from the e3uator all the way to /t. (tlas and 'adi*,
and then beyond, so that the whole of +ain and even Ireland are on the east
side9different eole are able to define the word 0west0 in different ways. ,hus
some writers say it means 0what lies beyond 'adi*0# some 0what lies beyond /t.
(tlas0 and some 0what lies beyond the limit of habitable land at the latitude of
the e3uator.0 -ut surely the best of these three is the last, in which 0west0 is
defined as a measure from a oint on the e3uator) for one thing, it is better
defined, being at the middle of the world between the two oles, and is
therefore the true 0west0# for another, the same sort of definition can be used
for 0east.0 ,rue, the table of latitude and longitude 2that we "now4 clearly
does not give longitude from the west on the e3uator, for if it did the
longitude of ,oledo would be =.K 2east4 from the western limit, but according to
the table it is only 11K. ,he author of this table used the 0west0 "nown to him,
which he assumed to be definite and fitting the geograhy of his own area. (nd
here we must reflect, as we divide u the 2whole4 earth, that the terms 0east0
and 0west0 can and should only be used in reference to the very ends of the
earth, where the sea called the @cean reaches its bounds at the land 2mass4
which stretches from India to !urther +ain, with whatever other regions
2islands;4 there may be east and west of these two regions. ,hus we should not
sea" about 0east0 and 0west0 as if they were limited by some local hori*on, as
we sometimes sea" of 0east0 and 0west0 as 0directions of the rising or setting
sun.0 !or (700) the number of 2ossible4 0hori*ons0 is infinite, some inclined
2to the e3uator4, some straight 2arallel to it4. ,he terms 0east0 and 0west0,
then, are not used 2sumuntur4 in maing the world with reference to 2any local4
hori*on# if they were, the 0east0 of one hori*on would be the 0west0 of another
2I cannot construe et medium eius# erhas 0or somewhere between0# :ew @rleans
is west of :ew Por" and east of +eattle, or rather southwest of the one,
southeast of the other.4
<e must, then, remember what I have remar"ed above, that 0west0 and 0east0 are
2rimarily4 measures on the e3uator, corresonding to the limit of habitable
land in !urther +ain on the west and the furthest art of India on the east.
If, now, we want to find the distance of a city 2with which we are concerned4
from the west as I have defined it, let us draw 2on our ma4 a line whose length
reresents the distance of our city from the western limit# this segment between
the city and the western limit will indicate the city&s longitude, measured from
the west. :ow let us draw a line from (rym, a city half way from e$treme east to
e$treme west 2in medio mundi# this line is a sort of rime meridian4, e$tending
to the :orth Pole. !rom this draw a straight 2hori*ontal4 line to your city#
this will show your city&s distance 2latitude4 from the 0middle of the world.0
<e sometimes tal" of 0a city&s distance from the west0 then we mean 0its
distance from the end of the habitable world0, which, of course, varies with
every town, and the resumed longitude of a lace varies with it. It is
therefore better to sea" of the distance 2east or west4 of 2a articular oint
on4 the e3uator, which would give us a single standard. (nd since the distances
of longitude and latitude from ,oledo of other cities can only be found
collected in the (lhonsine tables, in this art of my wor" I have generally
followed them, although we sorely need more accurate ones, since the latitudes
and longitudes of the Gatin9sea"ing world and its cities have not yet been
established. Indeed, they never will be, e$cet under an aostolic or imerial
decree, or the suort of some great ruler willing to offer his bac"ing to
hilosohers. !or all these reasons, then, I am resenting such figures in the
blan" art of this document 2ellis, 0shees"in0, i.e. ma4, where cities are
shown by little red circles. ,o the rest of the age 2ellis again4,4 a
different function may be assigned, that of describing in greater detail the
laces of the world. ,his second sort of descrition I have added, because of
the great imortance of the laces concerned.
+ince the value of "nowledge of the laces of the world is enormous, a different
sort of descrition must be added 2to a mere catalogue of ositions4. ,he
affairs of the world cannot be understood without an understanding of the 2sort
of4 laces where they (701) are conducted. (s Porhyry tells us, osition in
sace 2locus4 is a rere3uisite for the generation of things, and diversity of
osition means diversity of everything 2in sace4. ,his a$iom alies not only
in the e$ternal world, but in matters of "nowledge and behavior as well# we
observe that among man"ind eole who live in different regions conduct
themselves in different ways, and concern themselves with different arts and
with different objects of "nowledge. (lthough hilosohy insinuates itself into
all the business of the world, it has, u to now, been sadly wea" among the
sea"ers of Gatin, because they have no sure "nowledge of the world&s geograhy9
which must be based on "nowledge of the latitude and longitude of the laces in
it. @nce we have gained this, we should be able to understand under which stars
each lace is found, how far it is from the ath of the sun and the lanets, and
by which lanets and signs 2of the *odiac4 each is influenced. (ll these factors
have their effects on laces, and if men could fathom them all we would be able
to understand the comle$ of their influences on everything on earth, since
everything on earth derives its nature and roerties from the eculiarities of
its location.
:ot only does hilosohy demand such an addition, but theology, 2the study of4
%od&s own wisdom, as well, whose arts are lin"ed in a chain binding every sot
in all the world. ,he literal sense 2of scriture4 too demands an understanding
of the world&s geograhy# by deducing from it, through aroriate arallels and
comarisons with material things, we may e$tract the siritual meaning. ,his is
the right sort of e$egesis of scriture, as I have shown in my revious e$amle.
Bnowledge of the world&s geograhy, moreover, is essential, not only for matters
inside the reublic of the faithful, but for the conversion of and defense
against heathendom, and against the (ntichrist and his allies 2(ntichristo et
aliis, 0other enemies of %od04. ,he re3uirements of the state are not the same
as those of the reaching of the faith, but to further that reaching we send
men out to the ends of the earth) for those on both missions it is imerative
that they learn the eculiarities of foreign lands, so that they may "now how to
ic" healthful routes to travel. ,here have been times when men in the best of
health have criled themselves9not to mention the concerns of all 'hristendom9
by their ignorance of the various climates 2naturam locorum4 of the world. ,he
have 2tried to4 traverse regions too hot for them in the summer, or too cold in
the winter. ,hey have subjected themselves to numberless erils by not "nowing
when they had entered 'hristian lands, when those of schismatics, +aracens, or
,artars# lands of tyrants or of men of eace# of savages or of reasonable men.
Indeed, the man who does not "now geograhy in general is not only ignorant of
his own destination, but even (70=) of how to reach it. <hether he is setting
out to convert the heathen or to further some other business of the 'hurch, he
must "now the ractices and behavior of every country 2omnium nationum, all
regions geograhical, cultural, or linguistic4, so that he may be able to
aroach a fitting lace to carry out his urose, and will not fall among
idolaters when he means to aroach agans. If he means to aroach idolaters he
will not ma"e his way toward schismatics# or when, instead of the schismatics he
has chosen, he attac"s those who obey the 'hurch of Eome# or even when he ma"es
his way to a eole who care for none of these things, li"e the tribes called
the (ae. >e may set out for the :estorians, but find himself instead among the
:icolaitansJ @r, through mere ignorance when faced with such countless tribes,
he may choose one of their innumerable sects rather than anotherJ. /en without
number have failed to succeed in the most imortant business of 'hristendom,
simly because they did not understand the differences between the regions of
the world.
(nother considerable reason for us to understand the geograhy of the world
arises from the 'hurch&s need to "now the location and condition of the ten
tribes of Aews, who are destined to erut in days to come. !or @rosius, in the
third boo" of 0@n the @rigin of the <orld,0 dedicated to +t. (ugustine, tells us
that @chus (also "nown as (rta$er$es), forced a great many of the Aews to leave
their country, and gave them orders to settle in >yrcania, near the 'asian +ea.
,here they remain to this day, but greatly increased in number# and it is my
oinion that some day they will burst out from that region. !urthermore, the
/aster of >istory 2@rosius4 adds that (le$ander the %reat found them enclosed
there, and crowded them in even more closely because of their hostility
2malitiam4# but he gives his oinion that they will burst out when the end of
the world is at hand, wrea"ing great havoc on man"ind. 1thicus the astronomer,
too, says in his 'osmograhy that all sorts of tribes must erut when the day of
the (ntichrist (whom they will name the %od of %ods) draws near# before he comes
on the scene they are destined to lay waste every region in the world. Aerome
agrees with this, in the boo" he translated on the wise observations of this
hilosoher.
(707) (le$ander himself (according to 1thicus, whom Aerome 3uotes), did battle
with these eoles, but could not defeat them. In his chagrin he cried out, 0I
have crushed wise and sensible races and ground underfoot a eole famous for
its nobility and honor# what have I gained, and why did I have to do this; !or I
seem to have left all the demons of hell, all the legions of our adversaries,
lur"ing here in the guise of human beings. /ay they never hear of, never see,
that the 2rest of the4 earth flows with honey, and that it flourishes in
glorious abundance# above all, may they never swarm out and cover the face of
the earth, to sei*e and gobble u whatever they find li"e common bread. @ 1arth,
who art the mother of dragons, the nurse of scorions, the lair of serents, and
the sin"hole of demons, it would have been easier for you to retain this hell
within you than to have given birth to such a broodJ <hat woe is in store for
the earth, when all these retiles and wild beasts boil out uon herJ <oe to
those who dwell uon her, when these start their triumhal marchJ0 If (le$ander
had not established a temorary defense against them, no tribe, no nation, as
Aerome uts it, could have born their crushing weight. -ut since these eoles,
still imrisoned in clearly9mar"ed arts of the world, are destined to emerge
and to gain the (ntichrist as their leader, it is well for 'hristians9and
esecially the Eoman 'hurch9to consider carefully the geograhy of those laces,
so that they may be able to understand the savagery of these tribes. In this way
they will be able to foresee the day of the (ntichrist&s coming, as well as the
lace whence he will aear (originem). !or their activity is lin"ed with his)
if they brea" out from one art of the world, he will advance from the oosite
direction, but only after the gates set u by (le$ander have been burst. +ome of
these gates were already bro"en down, even before the days of Isidore# 2this we
"now4 because he writes about them. /oreover, !riar <illiam, sent overseas by
our lord the Bing of !rance on an embassy to the ,artars in the year of our Gord
1=67, reorted to the Bing that he had journeyed with the ,artars through the
very gates that (le$ander had built. !or when (le$ander found that he could not
overcome those eoles (as 1thicus writes and Aerome agrees), he sacrificed
victims to %od and sent a whole night and day in rayer for %od&s mercy and
counsel. ,hen by divine ower a great earth3ua"e came to ass) mountain advanced
uon mountain (70C) for hundreds of yards 2er stadium unum, about =00 yards4,
so that there was room for only one chariot to ass. (le$ander then constructed
these gates, of enormous si*e. ,hese he cemented with an un"nown sort of ashalt
which cannot be bro"en aart by fire or tools or water, or anything less than a
mighty earth3ua"e.
,hus "nowledge of this world&s geograhy holds unlimited utility for hilosohy
and theology in general, and esecially for the 'hurch of %od. !or this reason I
want to ass on to further discussion of the laces of the earth 2lit. 0of this
sort of lace04, and to assign to each a clearer descrition 2divisiones4. I
shall follow Pliny more than other writers, as, indeed, all ious sages have
done. @f course, if I find something definite remar"ed by other authors9
churchmen li"e Aerome, @rosius, or Isidore, and by secular writers as well9I
shall not fail to give them the credit they deserve. -ut I shall not bother to
give small details of laces well "nown to us, and on the other hand I shall not
describe every little village in other arts of the world. Eather, I shall dwell
on the more remar"able and celebrated laces, in scriture or hilosohical
wor"s) the laces where imerial eoles will arise in the future or have arisen
in the ast, who are said to have once ravaged the world or to be about to
ravage it sometime hereafter. I shall tell of the religious ceremonies and
divisions of agans, of image9worshiers, of the ,artars, and so on, in such a
way that the reader may gain a better understanding of them. ,his ath I shall
follow cannot claim the certainty granted by astronomical observation9that is,
by recise calculation of a lace&s latitude and longitude in relation to the
heavens. <e Gatin sea"ers do not yet have the information for this, but must
e$tract it from authors who describe the regions of the earth. 1ach of these
authors tells us something that everyone can describe9the details of the region
where he himself was born. (bout foreign arts 2everyone4 must be taught by
others.
-ut we often find writings (706) whose authors deend more on traveller&s tales
than on ersonal "nowledge. ,hus Pliny 28.=84 inaccurately tells us that the
'asian +ea is an arm of the @cean +ea, and Ptolemy in the (lmagest was clearly
wrong about the osition of %reater and Gesser -ritain, as anyone can lainly
see# these two men erred in other matters as well, and many other authors with
them. !or this reason, then, I shall generally go bac" to writers who have
ersonally travelled in the arts of this world 2they describe4. ,hus in the
regions to the northeast I shall chiefly refer to the friar I have already
mentioned, whom his /ajesty Bing Gouis of !rance sent to the ,artars in (.?.
1=67. >e travelled through these northeastern lands and those between us and
them, and reorted to that famous ruler the facts I have mentioned. I have
studied his boo" with great care and discussed it with its author, as well as
with many other e$lorers of the lands in that direction. ,he long account I
have given above was written as a ersuasive model) I hoed to sur your
>oliness to have it finished 3uic"ly by learned men of this age, rather than
allowing its aearance to be delayed until it was unimeachably correct. In
this way I have collected the notes for this art of my wor") your own
intelligence will realise that more study is needed than such a brief s"etch can
resent. ,he e$haustive written wor" you have as"ed for must fulfill both
re3uirements 2utram3ue descritionem9seed and accuracy4.
-ut in e$ounding the conclusions of theorists and ractical e$erimenters, as
well as those of the >oly !athers, about the habitable arts of the 1arth, we
must not let ourselves be limited to matters about which Gatin9sea"ing
scientists have informed us, for there only a few such subjects. !or the rest,
we must journey farther afield, and suort their authority with our own
e$erience. <e can thus assert that not only the seven climata are inhabited,
but a 3uarter9or even far more than a 3uarter9of the whole world is occuied by
nations of man"ind. <e find in the wor"s of Pliny and others that even in the
seven climata there are certain arts called as"ia. ,he word means 0shadowless,0
from 2%ree"4 a9, 0without,0 and s"ia, 0shadow#0 but the henomenon ta"es many
forms. In some laces nothing casts a shadow to either north or south at the
summer solstice# when the sun asses directly overhead at noon, there is no
shadow to north or south nor, for that matter, to east or west. ,his is the case
at the island in the :ile called +yene, at the furthest art of 1gyt, on its
border with 1thioia. ,his is clear from Pliny, boo"s =2.1874 and N6O 82.85. -ut
the latter refers to 'eylon44. Gucan 2=.6854 also has the line 0+yene, where
nothing casts its shadow0 2or, 0where things cast shadows nowhere04, that is,
(708) at noonday of the summer solstice# for +yene, which 1*e"iel often
mentions, is at the southernmost end of the second clima. In our wintertime,
says Pliny N=O 28.1514 such laces cast a shadow to the north, since, says Pliny
2=.1874, the sun is then to their south. +uch alternation, he goes on, lasts for
si$ months# but this cannot ossibly come about e$cet along the e3uator.
%ranted that those who live between the ,roic of 'ancer and the e3uator have a
huge variety of directions in which shadows may be cast, north or south# these
shadows are more to the north than the south, for the sun is to their south
longer than it is to the north. -ut those who live right on the e3uator have the
sun to the north and south for an e3ual time for si$ months each. +uch tribes
are found in India, e.g. the @restes, /onedes, and +imari. (mong them is a
mountain named /alcus, whose shadows change direction every si$ months, as Pliny
tells us in boo"s =2.18C4 and 82.8.4. -ut something more to the oint) from
Pliny 2=.18C4 we learn that eole live even to the south of the ,roic of
'aricorn. ,he art of India called Pathalis is said to have a busy ort, where
shadows fall only to the south# it follows that its inhabitants have sun
eretually to their north. Pliny 28.854 also tells us about an island called
,arobane 2'eylon4 in India) some men from this lace came to Eome in the reign
of 'laudius. ,hey were astonished to find that their shadows fell to the north
and that the sun travelled 2oritur4 to the south. <e can therefore assume that
in their own home shadows always fall to the south and the sun travels to their
north.
Ptolemy&s statement in his boo" de ?isositione +haerae 20on the (rrangement of
the +here04, that there must be two races of 1thioians, one under each troic,
must, then, be correct. -ut if the sun&s orbit is off9center, there will be a
region on the earth&s surface, roortionate to the disarity of orbit, and the
natural arrangement of the heavens. +uch a *one will be uninhabitable) for one
thing, because of the heat when the sun (705) enters +agittarius and 'aricorn
as it aroaches the torrid *one. (t that time the aarently e3ual distances
2of aogee and erigee4 are disturbed, and the sun&s rays fall at right angles
to that land. -ut e3ually, when the sun then reenters %emini and 'ancer, it
withdraws too far from that *one, its rays fall at an obli3ue angle, and the
land is rendered uninhabitable by the cold. +till, other chance configurations
of these laces may ma"e them habitable9for e$amle, the mountains may not be
high enough to "ee off the sun&s heat. ,his is esecially true in underground
laces when the sun is almost oosite its aogee. In some other laces there
may be a lain between the inhabitants and the sun, with mountains on the other
side of such shae and smoothness that they act li"e concave burning mirrors.
Places li"e this could be habitable while the sun is at its aogee, in site of
the cold, as I have e$lained above in my discussion of the olar regions of the
earth. -ut if we assume that 2the center of4 the sun coincides with that of an
eicycle 2of its orbit round the earth4 (which is 3uite ossible, as Ptolemy
oints out in the (lmagest), then we can easily defend the notion that such
laces are habitable, for then the sun would not come so close to the earth that
it would burn u everything south of the ,roic of 'ancer, nor would it distance
itself so far that it would shrivel u the earth with cold. If, however, we do
not follow the students of nature who assume such eicycles and eccentricities,
we at once escae their difficulties about inhabited lands) whichever oinion we
ic", we can agree with Pliny. (nd agree with him we must, for Pliny 28.854
learned the fact of the matter from his own e$erience, or at least by
conversation with eole who had come from 'eylon to the city of Eome and with
eole who had visited the island. In any case, the regions beyond the ,roic of
'aricorn must be well9suited for habitation (for, as (ristotle and (verroDs in
de 'aelo et /undo assure us) that region is the loftier and better art of the
earth. +till, that art of the world is not, as far as we "now, described by any
author 2of our own time4# the eole of the region are nowhere given a name# and
nowhere are we told that they have visited us or we them. !or these reasons some
authorities feel that Paradise must be situated there, since that is the noblest
art of this world, according to (ristotle 2and (verroDs4 in ?e 'aelo =.1C.
,hese authorities include not just hilosohers. but saints as well, for e$amle
(mbrose,(708) in his >e$aemeron and -asil, agree about the different sorts of
shadow. !or in -oo" C2.8.=.74 (mbrose tells us that 0in the regions to the south
there are eole who for two days in the course of a year see no shadows, the
reason being that, since the sun is directly over their heads, they are
illuminated e3ually on all sides. ,hey are therefore called the (scii,
0shadowless ones,0 2when the sun is directly overhead4 or the (mhiscii,
0shadowed all around0 2when the sun is directly oosite4. ,hese are the eole
who live south of the e3uator and anywhere to east or west 2et circiter ab
utro3ue latere4. <hen the sun is not directly overhead, they do cast a shadow,
now to the north, now to the south, deending on the osition of the sun to
their south or north.0 >e continues that even in the art of the world where we
live, some men to the south of us are seen to cast their shadows in a southerly
direction. <hat he says first about midday shadows must be understood as
referring to eole whose shadows fall only in that direction9those at the
,roic of 'aricorn and south of it9on whom the sun always shines from the
north, save on one day in the year when it is directly overhead at the ,roic of
'aricorn.
>ow far north men can live is e$lained by Pliny in -oo" C2.8.4, who sea"s from
his own e$erience and that of other authors. !or eole do live right u to the
very oles 2cardines, 0hinges04, where it is daylight si$ months and night for
an e3ual time. /artianus 28.8864 agrees with him in his descrition of the
world, both authors believing that those who live there are among the haiest
of man"ind, who die only when they feel that they have lived long enough# when
that time comes,they dive into the sea from a high cliff. ,hese eole the
1uroeans call >yerboreans, but in (sia they bear the name of (rumhei. I have
e$lained all this with an eye to the latitude north or south 2citra vel ultra4
of the e3uator# we see that, as far as latitude is concerned, the habitable art
2of the earth4 is more than a 3uarter 2of the whole4.
,his can also be shown to be true of longitude, distance measured from east to
west. India alone, with its 118 tribes, as Pliny writes in :atural >istory 8.
2159184, comrises a third of the inhabitable world. Aerome li"ewise, in his
letter to the mon" Eusticus 21. 1=6.74, tells us, 0Peole who sail across the
Eed +ea finally, after many hardshis and erils, reach a very large city. (70.M
2,hey consider4 the voyage a success if they get to the ort of this city within
si$ months. ,hen the @cean begins to oen u, and only after a full year&s
crossing9if they are luc"y9do they finally reach India.0 ,hus the voyage from
the nearer end of the Eed +ea, all the way to India, demands a year and a half.
Aerome also tells us, in his -oo" of Places, that +olomon&s fleet too" three
years to bring its cargo from India, a year and a half to get there and a li"e
time to return. :ow it is an enormous distance from the Eed +ea to the furthest
coast of +ain, near the (tlas /ountains# clearly, then, the distance from the
westernmost bounds 2of 1uroe4 overland to the 2easternmost4 limits of India
must be far more than half the earth&s circumference. 'onse3uently we must
accet the oinion of 1*ra, (ristotle, and (verroDs on the si*e of the habitable
earth, that it is more than a 3uarter of the total longitude. +o when Pliny
27.64 tells us that 1uroe is bigger than (sia, its very si*e means that he does
not include India in the latter, for India, as he himself remar"s 28.6.4, is a
third of the habitable earth.
:ow that we have aid attention to the si*e of the habitable world, it is roer
to turn our eyes ne$t to certain laces in foreign arts imortant in scriture
or in hilosohy. Individual 'hristians need to "now about them for the
conversion of the heathen, and for the conduct of various business in various
lands# the Iniversal 'hurch too must have such "nowledge, if it is to chec" the
rage of the (ntichrist and those we are told will go before him, hoing to lay
waste the world before the %reat ,ribulation he will bring. (t this oint, then,
I must insert, not merely a descritive account of such laces, but a narrative
to illustrate those I describe, for neither will be enough by itself. I shall
follow my authorities and investigators to the best of my ability, at least as
far as the occasion demands9that is, until comlete and recise understanding of
the laces is demanded.
I shall begin with regions to the southeast of us, chiefly because it is with
them that +criture is most concerned. !irst I must oint out, in accordance
with the remises I have set u, that the southern border of India reaches
2ellitur ad4 the ,roic of 'aricorn in the region of Patala and the lands
(710) near it, lands washed by a great arm of the sea which flows from the
@cean, between India and !urther +ain, i.e. (frica# of this I have already
so"en, following (ristotle&s account. Pliny 2=.18591504 secifically tells us
that this sea touches the southern border of India# the same thing is clear from
Aerome, and (lfraganus also bears witness to it. ,his sea drains the southern
arts of India, then e$tends 2west4 a distance of a year&s voyage# at last it
merges with the Eed +ea, as is clear from Aerome, Pliny, and others. In that
sea, seven day&s sail to the east of India in the +ea of :adosius, is the island
of ,arobane 2'eylon4, where the %reat -ear and the Pleiades are not visible.
Its eole have vast wealth of gold, silver, and recious stones, greater even
than the wealth of Eome, though Pliny 28.8.4 tells us that the Eomans ma"e
greater dislay (usus) of their riches. (s their ruler these eole choose a
wise old man, one with no children# if he later begets children, the crown does
not descend to them. ,o him are assigned thirty counselors, whose advice he
emloys in his government of the eole. If the "ing falls into criminal ways,
he is condemned to death, of a sort in which no one lays a hand on him) he is
denied all food, derived of every other need, and nobody sea"s to him. (nd so
at last he dies. (n age of 100 at death is not unusual.
,he southern coast of India, starting at the ,roic of 'ancer, crosses the
e3uator near /t. /alcus and the regions thereabouts, and asses through +yene,
nowadays called (rym. In the -oo" of the Paths of the Planets we are told that
there are two laces called +yene) one 2in 1gyt4 is south, at the solstice
2i.e. the ,roic of 'ancer4, of which I have written above. ,he other one, with
which we are here concerned, is on the e3uator, .0 degrees from the furthest
west# it is rather further from the east, because the midoint of the habitable
world is more than half the total breadth of earth and heaven, and the greater
length is to the east. (rym, then, is not just .0 degrees from the east. +till,
scholars locate it e$actly in the middle of the habitable earth, and e$actly
situate it on the (711) e3uator, e3uidistant from west and east, from north and
south. -ut there is no contradiction 2between theory and observation4) the
scholars are tal"ing about the habitable world as "nown to them through
theoretically correct understanding of the longitudes and latitudes of these
regions. -ut this is not 3uite as much as the correct distances, "nown from
actual travel on land or sea, which we find in Pliny and other writers on
natural science. (ccording to them, and esecially to Pliny, the Indian @cean
runs down the 2east4 coast of India from the ,roic of 'ancer until it cuts the
e3uator and asses along the south coast. It surrounds a vast e$anse of land,
then turns southwest until it joins 2reciiat4 the narrows and the mouth of the
Eed +ea. !rom there it runs south toward the e3uator, and along the southern
coast of 1thioia until it merges with the @cean to the west.
-etween the narrows of the Eed +ea and the 1thioian +ea roer is the region of
1thioia. In latitude about 18K, where the day lasts about 17 hours (according
to Ptolemy in the (lmagest, with whom Pliny, boo"s 28.186(;) and =.1884, agrees
retty well), is +aba, the royal caital of 1thioia, on an island surrounded by
the :ile. It is mentioned in Isaiah 2C6.1C4, 0the labor of 1gyt, the
merchandise of 1gyt and the +abaeans,0 and Aerome, in boo" 17 2of his
'ommentary on Isaiah4, tells us that 0there is a tribe called +abaeans on the
other side of 2trans4 1thioia.0 ,his is /eroD, the furthest art of 1thioia,
at the 2south4 end of the inhabitable art of the world, as I have just
remar"ed, which is also mentioned in 1*e"iel =5 2.=7) Q +heba4. Aosehus tells
us in boo" 1 of the (nti3uities that the city was named by Bing 'ambyses for his
sister# Aerome confirms this in his -oo" of Places. ,he city is about 500 miles
inland from the 1thioian +ea, according to Pliny, boo" 8.2.1.8 says 8=6 miles4.
It is on the first clima, that which is accordingly named ?iameroDs. ( woman
named 'anda$ once ruled there, from whom the name 0'andace0 has for many years
been alied to its 3ueen, as Pliny 28.1884 tells us# furthermore, he adds that
when the 1thioians were in ower that island was a lace of great slendor,
which regularly rovided =60,000 soldiers and suorted C00,000 wor"men 2Pliny
8.188 gives 07,000 wor"men0, emended by ?etlefsen to 0elehants04. ,he boo" of
(cts 28.=54 mentions the eunuch of 'andace, Hueen of the 1thioians, (71=) whom
Phili batised. 'anda$, then, is the title of an office, li"e 'aesar, Ptolemy,
Pharaoh, (ntiochus, and (bimelech. ,he (bimelechs 2ruled4 in Philistia, the
(ntiochi in +yria, the Ptolemies in 1gyt after the death of (le$ander, the
Pharaohs in the same lace but earlier9just as the 'aesars and (ugusti ruled in
the Eoman 1mire, as Aerome tells us in boo" . @n 1*e"iel. In about the same
latitude but eastward, on the shore of the Eed +ea, is the city of PtolemaRs,
founded by Ptolemy Philadelhus for elehant hunting early in the year. !or
about forty9five days before the 2summer4 solstice and the same time after it
there are no shadows at all at noonday, as Pliny 2=.87, 8.15C4 tells us. ?uring
those ninety or so days shadows fall to the south, because the sun is to the
north# afterwards it falls to the north for the rest of the year. Peole dwell
here between the 2latter4 half of ,aurus and the 2former4 half of Geo# thus the
sun asses overhead twice a year, during those half9signs.
:e$t after these laces, in the same latitude but to the west of them, C8=0
stades on the way between PtolemaRs and /eroD (as Pliny 28.1514 tells us and
-ede in his 'hronologies agrees), is -erenice, a city of the 1thioian 'ave
?wellers 2,roglodytes4, over which the sun asses twice a year and the shadows
behave li"e those in PtolemaRs. ,he region of these 'ave ?wellers must lie to
the west, as I shall e$lain below, so that it is in central rather than eastern
1thioia. +criture mentions these 'ave ?wellers in II 'hronicles 1=2.74, who
came with +hisha", Bing of 1gyt, as au$iliaries. (s Pliny reorts in boo"
62.C64, these eole dig out caverns for themselves# there they ma"e their
homes, living on the flesh of serents. ,hey utter a scratchy sound rather than
a voice, and cannot converse by seech. In boo" 82.1584 he also remar"s that
0,he tribe of 'ave ?wellers 2Q,roglodytes4 get their name from their seed of
foot, which they have develoed by hunting, for they are swifter than horses.0
!rom this 2assage in Pliny4 Isidore 2..=.1=.4 ta"es his e$lanation) 0the
,roglodytes, a tribe of the 1thioians, are so called because they are such
swift runners that they can outrun wild animals on foot0 2as if from trechS and
hodeuS;4. :e$t to them on the east are the 1thioians from :ubia and last of all
those called 0Indi0, since they live so close to India. Pliny begins his
descrition of the race of 1thioians with them. (nd according to Isidore
.2.=.1=891=84, there are three imortant races of 1thioians) the >eseri in the
west, the %aramantes (717) in the middle, and the Indi to the east. ,he 'ave
?wellers he includes with the %aramantes, with whom they are neighbors 2or
0closely connected04. /eroD, the chief town of these tribes, is located, says
(lfraganus, in the middle between the :ubians, Indi, and %aramantes. ,he last of
these eole get their name from the town of %arama, the caital of their
"ingdom# they have no bonds of marriage, but live with whatever women they
lease. ,he >eseri live in the region nearest +ain, for >isania e3uals
2dicitur4 >eseria, and the eole who live beyond !urther +ain 2i.e. in
/orocco4 are called the >eseri. ,here are many other 1thioians, united in
various laces with these three tribes, who have degenerated a long way from the
due endowment of humanity. I am not here concerned with a discussion of their
names, locations, and behavior# that is all clear in the boo"s of Pliny and
others, and should be noted esecially 2read rincialiter for rinciali4 in
+criture.
Gower 2i.e.northern4 1thioia ends at the Eed +ea to the east and 2the Eoman
rovince of4 (frica on the west, and at 1gyt between these two. In the middle
lies the city of +yene, of which 1*e"iel sea"s by name in chaters =. 2.104 and
70 2.84, where he says that 0from the land of +yene to the borders of 1thioia
the foot of man shall not tread.0 +yene, then, is the northern 2inferior4
boundary of 1thioia and the southernmost 2suremus4 art of 1gyt, as Aerome
e$lains in the ninth boo" @n 1*e"iel. -ut /eroD, according to Pliny in the
second boo" 2=.1874, is the southern limit of "nown habitation. Pliny adds, in
the si$th boo" 2181918=4 that to the east and west of +yene9i.e. from (rabia to
(frica9no town, no army ost 2castrum4, no village has survived until you get to
/eroD) they have all erished in the unending wars, as >oly +criture testifies.
!rom +yene to /eroD, as Pliny tells us in boo" =2.1874 is 6000 stades, although
in boo" 8 2.18C4 he gives the figure of .C6 miles 2Qabout 5680 stades4. Its
latitude is called the clima of +yene, 2the city which4 is situated on the
,roic of 'ancer, and the clima beginning there is named the ?iasyene 20assing
through +yene04.
,he matter which should come ne$t cannot be made clear unless I first give a
descrition of 1gyt, (frica, and the course of the :ile. ,he southern boundary
of 1gyt, as I have remar"ed, is +yene# but 1gyt is really a air of lands,
Ier and Gower. ,he art called Gower 1gyt is bounded by 2the mouths of4 the
:ile to ma"e a triangular island shaed li"e (71C) the %ree" letter delta, and,
indeed, in the remote ast 1gyt was called ?elta. ,o its east it has the land
of the Philistines, to the north the /editerranean +ea, to the west (frica, and
to the south Ier 1gyt. In the direction of Palestine is the mouth of the :ile
called Pelusium, where one side of the triangle (i.e. one mouth of the :ile)
enters the sea. @f Pelusium, 1*e"iel 70 2.164) has this to say) 0I will our my
fury uon +hin 2Pelusium4, the strength of 1gyt#0 and in the ninth boo" Aerome
writes) 0the term &the strength of 1gyt& is used because it has the safest
ort, and is the chief lace for the transaction of maritime trade.0 (nother
mouth is called the 'anoic, where another side of the triangle enters the sea
on the side toward (frica. -etween these mouths of the :ile is the base of the
triangle, which runs along the seashore for 150 miles, as Pliny tells us in his
fifth boo" 26.C84. !rom the branching of the arms of the :ile at the verte$ of
the triangle to the 'anoic mouth is 1C8 miles, and to the Pelusiac mouth =68.
Ier 1gyt shares a boundary with 1thioia, as Pliny tells us# this region is
also called the ,hebaid. It begins at +yene, a city in the ,hebaid, as Aerome
reorts in his -oo" of Places. ,o the south is 1thioia# on its eastern side is
(rabia, as will be clear a little further on# to its west is the southern
2uer4 art of (frica. 2Pliny 6.C84 +o much for the ,hebaid, in which lies the
city of ,hebes. 1gytian ,hebes, as Isidore tells us in boo" 1621.764, was built
by 'admus, and is regarded as notable among the cities of 1gyt for the number
of its gates, to which the (rabs bring their wares from all directions. 'admus
later travelled to %reece and founded %recian ,hebes in (chaea, a land now named
for its ruler, (moreus.
@n the /editerranean coast to the west or (frican side of 1gyt is (le$andria, a
famous city, founded by (le$ander, which from his time on has been considered
the caital of 1gyt. (le$andria is on the third clima, which is accordingly
named for it, the ?iala$andreus# according to Pliny :atural >istories 2=.1874 it
is 6000 stades from +yene. ,o the east of (le$andria, about 100 leucae 2700
miles4 along the seacoast, as those who have traveled it say, is the city of
/emhis, once the great bulwar" and caital of 1gyt# it is now called ?amiata.
!rom there a day&s journey is ,amnis, where Pharaoh lived and /oses (716)
wor"ed his miracles, as Aerome says in the ninth boo" on Isaiah. (nd at the
furthest bounds of 1gyt, as Aerome says in his Getter on Eesting Places 2de
/ansionibus4, toward the east is the city of Eameses, built by the children of
Israel. @nce uon a time, to 3uote Aerome again in his boo" @n Places, the whole
rovince, where Aacob lived with his sons, bore this name. ,his is the Gand of
%oshen, as witness the boo" of %enesis, and Aerome as well, in the boo" just
mentioned# it is near /emhis. :ot far from ,amnis is >elioolis, 0the city of
the +un,0 which shares a boundary with (rabia, as Pliny tells us. 26.814. It is
a town of great magnificence. as Aerome reorts in the boo" I have just
mentioned. ,here Potihar was the riest, whose daughter 2(senath4 Aoseh
married, as we read in %enesis C1 2.C64. ,hen there is a city of 1gyt called
,ana, the city, according to Aerome in the -oo" of Places, to which the Aews
fled with Aeremiah for fear of the -abylonians# they settled, not only there,
but in /emhis, in the land of Phatures, and in /agdalon, as Aeremiah reorts in
chater CC2.14. -ut +ocoth end 1than, Phiaroth, and /agdalon, mentioned in
1$odus 17 2.=04 and 1C 2.=4, are barely within 1gyt, but close to its borders
on the east, near the Eed +ea, as is clear from Aerome&s letter on Eesting
Places. ,o these laces the 'hildren of Israel made their way on their journey
out of 1gyt before they crossed the Eed +ea, as 1$odus tells us.
+o much, for the resent, for the descrition of 1gyt# let us now roceed to
that of (frica. It is true that Pliny and many others have written a great deal
on the subject, but +allust&s account in the Augurthine <ar is both more
reliable and clearer. >e shall be my chief source, for Aerome in the -oo" of
Places 2de situ et nominibus and >egesius in his >istory of Aerusalem assure
us that +allust is a most reliable author. I shall ay closer attention to this
rovince, because, close to us though it is, we "now less about it than we do
about 1uroe or (sia. 2,he reading of4 +acred +criture, the sayings of the
saints, and the study of history, moreover, all demand wide "nowledge of the
region.
(frica gets its name from one (ffer, a descendent of (braham, as Aerome tells us
in @n %enesis. ,his man is said to have led an army against Gibya, and to have
settled there after overcoming his enemies. >e called his descendants (fricans
after himself, and the country he called (frica. -efore this (718) it had been
called Gibya, and even earlier 0the region of Phut 2Phuticensis4,0 after a son
of >am. ,his I shall e$lain later.
@riginally the %aetulians and Gibyans, according to +allust 2-A =14 settled
(frica. :ow Isidore somewhere 2..=.1C9164 informs us, and >ugucio as well, that
the %aetulians came by sea from the north, from the land of the %etae or %oths.
-ut Aerome, @n %enesis, is our authority for 2the story that4 they were
descended from >avilah, son of 'hu*, son of >am, son of :oah# and it is scarcely
li"ely that strangers 2advenae4 should be the first to inhabit a land destined
2debitam4 for a single nation. ,hus (frica, li"e 1gyt and 1thioia, was
destined for the sons of >am. ,he Gibyans were descendants of Gabaim, son of
/esraim, son of 'hu*, son of >am# so Aerome, @n %enesis. Gibya gets its name
from this Gabaim# yet Aerome tells us (@n %enesis and also in the last chater
of @n Isaiah), Gibya was first named Phuth or Phutensia, for a son of >am with
that name. Indeed, to this day there is a river in Gibya called the Phuth, and
the whole region is called Phutensis. ,he %etuli used to live rather more in the
direction of 1gyt and the Gibyans to the west, and both wandered more widely
than now, since the region is so wide. @nce uon a time the whole of (frica was
"nown as Gibya after the one tribe which dominated its own territory, and the
eole of that territory were called the Gibyans, as we learn from II 'hronicles
1= 2.7# the Gubims4 and 18 2.84, and :ahum 7 2..# Put and Gubim4, and several
other laces. -ut, as N+allustO 2Isidore, 2..=.1=091=14 oints out, after
>ercules died in +ain, the army he had enlisted from many eoles bro"e u. @f
that host the /edes, Persians, and (rmenians voyaged by sea into (frica and
occuied the laces nearest the /editerranean coast# the Persians, though, moved
further along the sea 2i.e. eastward4 and closer to 1gyt and Italy than the
others, being subject to the %etuli. ,hese %etuli lived to the south, as
neighbors of 1thioia. Gittle by little the 1thioians intermarried with the
%etulians. +allust further conjectures that in their raids on other lands in
search of new territory, they later adoted the name of 0:umidians,0 wanderers
with no fi$ed home 2Q nomads4. +o Isidore tells us in boo" ..2=.1=091=14. ,he
/edes and (rmenians settled on the further coast of the /editerranean (west of
the :umidians), all the way to 'adi*, as subjects of the Gibyans, who 2in turn;4
were closed in to the south, in the direction of the 1thioians. In time the
Gibyans corruted the name of the /edes and in their barbarian language called
them 0/oors0 instead of 0/edes0.
(715) (ll these eoles lived from the ocean and 'adi* as far 2east4 as the
rovince of the 'arthaginians. !or, as +allust tells us, later on the
Phoenicians, driven by desire for imerial e$ansion, came from ,yre and +idon
and invaded these arts of (frica. ,hey crushed the :umidians, %aetulians, and
other (fricans together, and fortified 'arthage9or rather the region
2rovinciam4 around it9where slendid Punic9i.e. Phoenician9cities were built)
>io, the home of the -lessed (ugustine# Itica, famed for the 2death of# see
Pliny 6.=74 the great 'ato# 'arthage, virtually a second Eome. ,he emire of
'arthage e$tended in the direction of 1gyt as far as the (ltars of the
Philhellenes. ,his town 2'arthage4 is described by the +eventy9two ,ranslators
2of the >ebrew -ible4 in 1*e"iel 2=54, where the >ebrew reads ,harsis, 2as if
from ,yre4, as Aerome e$lains in @n Places. ,he name is found elsewhere, in
Isaiah =72.1, 0the burden of ,yre04 and many other laces. 1*e"iel =5 is also to
be understood as a reference to the 'arthaginians.
:e$t 2to the east4 is the region of ,riolitania, which now belongs to the
eole of -y*acium 2te$t has -y*antium# but see Pliny (6.=7 or =C)4, but which
the ,yrians and +idonians once occuied# it is therefore called not only (frica,
but Phoenician Gibya, for the Phoenicians9i.e. ,yrians and +idonians9who once
lived there. ,he land is remar"ably fertile, bringing forth its cros a hundred
fold, as Pliny 26.=C4 tells us. ,he famous city of Getis lies here, between the
two +yrtes) the Gesser is on the 'arthaginian side, the %reater on that of
1gyt. +allust 2-A 804 informs us that the +yrtes are big sandy shoals, which,
when churned u by wind and the waves of the sea, emit masses of dust and
3uantities of sand. !or this reason they are called +yrtes, from 2the word
meaning 0drag0 or 0tract04. !or syrma in %ree" is the e3uivalent of tractus in
Gatin, and syro that of the verb traho# for 2these shoals4 disturb and distract
the inhabitants of the nearby regions.
(fter the +yrtes there follows the rovince of Pentaolis, called 'yrene in the
+critures, with five large cities. ,heir caital is named 'yrene, mentioned in
Gu"e, /ar", and /atthew. <hen the Gord was being brought to his Passion, 0they
laid hold uon one +imon, a 'yrenian0 2Gu"e =7.=84, etc. In the (cts of the
(ostles too) 0,hen there arose certain of the synagogue which is called the
synagogue of the Gibertines 2freedmen4 and 'yrenians0 2(cts 8..4, etc. In the
!ourth -oo" of Bings =8 2QII Bings 18..4 we are told that the Bing of the
(ssyrians transferred the eole of ?amascus to 'yrene 2BirM# and (mos, 12.64
and .2.54 refers to this incident. -ut since the 0(ltars of the Philhellenes0
aear in many writing of the saints and in the histories, and often in a
corrut form, being called 0(ltars of the Philistines,0 it is worth avoiding
error (718) by considering what +allust has to say on the matter) when the
'yrenians and 'arthaginians, even after fighting many wars, still had not set u
recogni*ed boundaries for their emires, to gain the benefits of eace they made
this decree) commissioners should start out at the same hour and on the same
day, from both cities, and the boundary of their states should be set at the
oint where they met. -ut the 'yrenian commissioners haened to be delayed and
could not get as far as they had hoed. ,hey therefore retended that the
'arthaginians had rematurely left the lace of meeting, and then roosed that,
if the 'arthaginians insisted on 2the 'yrenians4 acceting as boundary the oint
they 2the 'arthagians4 had reached, they 2the 'arthaginian commissioners4 should
agree to be buried alive at that oint. If not, the 'arthaginians should allow
them 2the 'yrenians4 to go as far as they had hoed# in that case, they 2the
'yrenian officials4 themselves must be willing to die there. ,o this latter
alternative the 'arthaginians agreed. ,he two 2'yrenian4 leaders, brothers
called the Philenes or Phileni, willingly agreed to be buried alive for their
country, and in their memory the 'arthaginians raised the altars, which to this
day are called the (ltars of the Phileni.
-y many authors the whole region as far as 1gyt is listed as belonging to the
'yrenians# Pliny, however, writes 26.7.4 of the little core rovince, which he
calls Gibya /areotis. ,his, then, finishes the whole north coast of (frica, from
'adi* to 1gyt, and lists the eculiar features of each rovince.
-eyond 1gyt and (frica to the south, 1thioia stretches from east to west as
far as the 1thioic +ea# their 2eorum4 chief regions are, as I have remar"ed,
those of the Indians, +abaeans (the inhabitants of /eroD), :ubians, 'ave
?wellers, %aramantes, >eserides. :ow art of the 2land of4 the 'ave ?wellers
turns west somewhere south of the %reater +yrtes and the regions near them, from
which they seem (according to Pliny in -oo" 6 2.=8. -ut Pliny uts them 1= days
from (ugilae, which he does not locate.4) about 18 days journey away. ,hus,
although the main art of the 'avedwellers& land runs east to the Eed +ea, some
art runs westward to the south of the regions of 2the Province of4 (frica.
-eyond them to the west is the land of the %aramantes, right between the Gesser
+yrtis and 'arthage# the eastern art of the %aramantes, according to Pliny in
-oo" 82.=.4, runs toward the region of 'yrenaica. It must, then, be the western
%aramantes that border on the >eserides and the region of /t. (tlas.
,he :ile, which waters 1gyt and 1thioia, in many ways mar"s the boundary
between these rovinces. +criture mentions it in innumerable laces, and it is
discussed 2vulgatus4 again and again in hilosohy and wor"s of scholarshi
2historiae4 (71.). It is therefore fitting that I should mention some remar"able
facts about it. (s +criture tells us 2%en. =.17, (if 0%ihon, which comasseth
the whole land of 1thioia0 is in fact the :ile)4, its headwaters are in
Paradise# but where it emerges 2erumat, no reosition4 into our habitable
world is a matter of 0various men, various oinions#0 the most robable is that
it arises on the 1thioian coast, near the mouth of the Eed +ea9the oinion of
@rosius 21.=.=84 in his boo" @n the 'reation of the <orld, dedicated to the
-lessed (ugustine# +eneca in boo" 7 of the :atural Huestions 2actually :H 8.84
agrees with it retty well. >e tells the story that the 1meror :ero sent a air
of centurions to investigate the sources of the :ile. (rriving at 2the realm of4
the chief 1thioian ruler, they were given information and other aid, so that
the rest of the rulers also heled them on their e$edition. ,hey finally
reached a region of grassy bogs, whose inhabitants had no idea how far they
e$tended, and they themselves had no hoe of finding out) there was too little
water for the men to cross in a boat, and the muddy bottom would not suort
their weight. ,he natives thought that this bog was the source of the :ile.
Pliny&s statement 26.61, 3uoting Auba4, then, that the :ile rises in western
lands, not far from the sea near /t.(tlas, is not to be acceted. ,he witness of
two men is surely more convincing than that of only one, and the authority
2e$erientia4 of the 1meror :ero is surely ersuasive 2multum oeratur4.
(n 0(frican river0 heads toward the region called Gibyan 1gyt, to end, as
@rosius 21.=.7=4 tells us, in a vast la"e# this agrees with the fact that
Paradise is in the east. It is therefore more li"ely that the :ile rises in the
east than the west. -ut this 0(frican river0 and the :ile are not 2necessarily;4
one and the same. !or even though, (7=0) as Pliny 26.6=4 argues, they suort
similar "inds of fish, monsters of li"e shae, and crocodiles, we see that in
different arts of the world rivers roduce animals of similar forms# indeed,
according to Pliny himself and others the rivers bring forth crocodiles just as
the :ile does. -ut as to the fact he alleges, that the 1gytian :ile is fed by
the flood 2of meltwater4 of an 0(frican river,0 we must admit this much, that
the la"e so"en of by @rosius, into which his 0(frican river0 emties, is not
very far from the :ile, and may drain into the :ile&s channel9something we often
see haening in various regions.
,he course of the :ile from its source down through 1thioia and 1gyt is
described by Pliny and others, although he disagrees with them about its origin.
It certainly flows, according to @rosius, westward from its source for a long
time, through the middle of 1thioia, assing many islands as it goes. ,he most
famous of which is /eroD, also called +aba. :e$t it turns north between /eroD
and +yene, as Pliny tells us. ,hough hemmed in by mountains, it forces its way
in a series of cataracts through the crags that bloc" it, seeming rather to
e$lode than to flow, and deafening the natives with its terrible clamor. !or
this reason, as +eneca tells is in -oo" N8O 2Ca.=.64 of the :atural Huestions,
they have moved their 2homes4 to 3uieter laces. I ma"e this remar" because
/acrobius the Pythagorean 2+om. +c. =.C.1C4 when he wants to show how we can
endure the limitless noise of (7=1) the motion of the heavens without damaging
our ears, gives the silly e$amle of the eole who, through being entirely used
to it, can cheerfully endure the thunder of the :ile. -ut his comarison is
false, and no arallel at all can be drawn, as (ristotle e$lains in de 'aelo
2=..4. ,he lace in 3uestion 2the region of the cataracts of the :ile4 is close
to +yene, according to Aerome, @n 1*e"iel ., where he e$lains that the :ile is
navigable all the way from the Italian 2i.e. /editerranean4 +ea as far u as to
+yene.
!urther north 2the channel4 thus formed contains the :ile, whose mouths finally
oen into the sea between 1gyt and Italy. ,here are two of these mouths, namely
the Pelusiac and the 'anoic. -ut Aerome tells us in -oo" C, on the nineteenth
chater of Isaiah, that u to the time of 'aesar (ugustus the :ile had only a
single channel. (t that time it was divided into seven) art of these flows down
to Pelusium and ast /emhis, i.e. ?amiata. (nother grou aroaches the sea
from as far south as 'airo and -abylon. 2 I Peter 6.l7, 0the 'hurch that is at
-abylon,0 may be a reference to this lace.4 It is therefore called the +oldanus
of -abylonia, which is about three days journey from ?amiata. !rom ?amiata a
branch of the river runs roughly southeast for about a day&s journey, to a
village called Gancassor, where the army of 'hristians was defeated when Bing
2?ominus4 Gouis, the son of Gouis, the son of Phili the famous Bing 2Eegis4 of
!rance, first carried the 'ross to regions across beyond the sea. @ther branches
of the :ile also descend near ,amne, (le$andria, and other laces in 1gyt.
(ccording to Pliny 26.619684 and other writers, the :ile is uni3ue in its
flooding at definite times, and its soa"ing the flat lands of 1gyt# the
fertility of 1gyt is granted or denied according to the river&s overflowing its
ban"s. If the water rises only 1= cubits 218 feet4 above its normal level, 1gyt
e$eriences a famine# at 17 the country is hungry no longer. 1C cubits bring
contentment 2hilaritatem4, 16 bring feelings of security, 18 bring oulence.
(nything more than this, however modest the rise, rouses the natives to
e$cessive indulgence. (nd if it rises beyond its roer limits, +eneca tells us
2:H Ca.104, it can cause disaster. ,he river, they say, begins to rise
gradually9i.e. slowly and gently9as long as the moon is new after the 2summer4
solstice 2luna e$istente 3uacun3ue ost solstitium4, as long as the sun is still
assing through 'ancer. ,he rise is at its ea" while the sun is in Geo and
sin"s bac" while it is in Firgo. (7==) ,hen, while the sun is in Gibra, the
river settles bac" between its ban"s at the same rate that it had flooded, and
continues to do so until the hundredth day after the start of its inundation. It
is hard to assign causes to this rise and flooding) it is remar"able in its own
right, esecially since it occurs in the hottest art of the summer, when more
water is evaorated 2a3uae lus consumitur4 than at other seasons. /oreover, no
other river floods li"e this, says (ristotle in his essay de :ilo# Pliny 26..04
e$cets the 1uhrates. <e might also add a third, the 1thilia 2Folga4, which is
bigger than 1uhrates and which flows into 2faciens4 the 'asian +ea, as I have
mentioned above. ,ravelers who have actually been among the ,artars tell us
this9e.g. -rother <illiam 2of Eubruc"4 and others# (ristotle and Pliny also are
describing their own e$erience.
+uch an unusual henomenon, seen so rarely in the other rivers of the world, is
astonishing enough# but the endless disagreement of the learned about the causes
of this rise also arouses endless confusion in me, for I "now not which way to
turn9esecially since many of the learned reject e$lanations 3uite as
reasonable as those they accet. 1ven +eneca (more reliable, wherever he directs
his attention, than any author e$cet erhas (ristotle), in this matter can
only reject 2other eole&s ideas4 in his treatise on the :ile (-oo" N8O Ca. of
the :atural Huestions), without daring to assert his own oinion. 1lsewhere he
triumhs 2over all roblems4# here he succumbs to these difficulties. (nd even
(ristotle, though he does scatter his ideas broadcast, can always be sha"en by
their contradictions. +ome of these contradictions I feel are worth discussing,
and I shall therefore set them forth briefly, as a sort of reliminary essay.
+ome scholarly Gatin writers ignore the value of ersonal e$erience of this
matter 2negligentes e$erientiam in hac arte4, and cling to the notion of
,hales, the first of the famous +even +ages. >is oinion was this) the yearly
seasonal winds, blowing 2from the north4 against the mouths of the :ile, roll
before them the waves and sands of the sea, thus bloc"ing u the mouths, and
forcing the waters of the river bac" on themselves and ma"ing them overflow
their ban"s. -ut this theory is roved wrong both by other authority and by
observation. !or the testimony of (ristotle and +eneca, not to mention the
observation of eole who have themselves travelled in 1gyt, tell us that the
waters of the :ile come from 1thioia and later 2in the year4 begin to flood
Ier 1gyt. Indeed, the 1gytians, dancing for joy, run out to greet the
flooding :ile 2obviam :ilo defluenti occurrunt4, singing and laying all sorts
of music. 2,his they could not do4 if the flooding started at the mouths# it
follows that (7=7) the flooding does not start at the mouths I have mentioned
above, but comes down from the headwaters to them.
,he hilosoher (na$agoras introduced an e$lanation more accetable in
everyone&s eyes) that in the summer time the snow melts in the mountains of
1thioia, and that in this way the :ile swells just as the Ehone, Po, ?anube,
and all the rivers li"e them near the (ls, which flood from the meltwater. of
the mountains. ,his notion, however, is rejected by (ristotle and +eneca.
(ristotle disroves it by ointing out that only a little water is roduced from
a vast amount of snow, whereas the :ile swells enormously,. to flood a vast
e$anse of land, sometimes to a deth of thirty cubits 2C6 feet4. 1lsewhere he
adduces another argument) waters which flow from a long way off gain in their
force, just as wind does which blows over a great distance, while rivers that
flow from nearby are more violent near their origin. ,he reason rivers act thus
is that over a long distance many tributaries flow together# much rain results,
and much vaor collects on 2resultat# 0cannot be absorbed by0 or 0condenses
on0;4 the earth. (ll rivers, therefore, grow in si*e near their mouths and are
greater than at their sources. +o it is with wind) the vaors that flow together
from many directions unite into a single storm, whose violence is roortionate
to the distance through which it asses, until, near the end, it becomes less
violent. :ow the flooding of the :ile starts right at its source, and increases
more and more as time asses, as 2its waters4 grow warm towards its mouth. +o
(ristotle claims, and so Pliny states from his own e$erience. 'onse3uently, its
waters do not come from a great distance. -ut the mountains of 1thioia, where
we might reasonably suose there to be lenty of snow, are about five months
journey beyond the :ile 2i.e. the !irst 'ataract4, because of the river&s
meandering. ,he flooding of the :ile, then, is not caused by 2the melting of4
snow. ,he major roosition of this argument is resectable and is based on
sound learning, whatever we may thin" of the minor. !or one thing, he
2(ristotle4 says that at the full moon everything fro*en thaws out and
li3uefies. -ut the :ile swells at the end of the month, so it does not arise
from melting snow. (gain, more water flows in the :ile when the north wind is
blowing than in the time of the south# but certainly it is the warm south wind
that melts more snow just because it is warmer. !inally, (ristotle oints out
that there cannot ossibly be any snow in 1thioia, because the heat is so
intense that it shrivels everything u9as is easy to believe. +eneca agrees with
this, and adds that snow thaws and drains away in the sringtime, once it feels
the moderate warmth, and this is what causes the flooding of rivers. -ut in
1thioia there is no such thing as 0moderate0 warmth until the arrival of (7=C)
winter, yet the :ile floods only after the summer solstice. I hardly thin" I
need add the oinions of Pythagoras, ?iogenes 2of (ollonia4, ?emocritus, and
all the other thin"ers, in a short reface li"e this.
+till, I must mention (ristotle&s views, as reresentative of them all, that
during our summer there is a lot of rain in 1thioia, but none in our winter the
winter. ,he :ile, he continues, rises in those regions, where the onds and
swams are filled by these rains. ,hese, he continues, are seasonal, blowing in
the summer time from the east, driving the rain clouds to the laces where the
:ile rises, where they brea" over the 2already full4 la"es which are the river&s
source. ,he reason for the rise of the :ile at the end of the month (ristotle
gives in the second boo" of the Posterior (nalytics 2=.16.=4. ,he rest of the
argument ascribed to (ristotle comes from other wor"s4) namely, that the end of
a lunar month is colder# that this cold increases the amount of moisture, which
is further augmented by the north wind -oreas. ,his by its violence drives the
clouds before it# since its natural lace 2habitatio4 is with us in the
2northern4 3uarter of the world (the 3uarter where, as (ristotle e$lains, this
wind has the greatest force), it drives the clouds before it. ,hey therefore
collect in the swams 2of the uer :ile49 swams of unbelievable si*e, as I
have mentioned above. +uch swams are caable of containing immense amounts of
water from the clouds of heaven, and so the flow 2of the river4 is augmented as
the clouds give way to rain.
-ut the same objection can be raised against this osition as against the
others) if the land 2of 1thioia4 is uninhabitable because of its heat, and is
the worst of all ossible laces to live in, being so utterly scorched, how can
it have such abundant rain, esecially in the summer, but no snow whatever, as
(ristotle maintains in refuting the second of the theory I have mentioned above;
In arguing against the first theory, moreover, he asserts that the same thing
2yearly flooding4 would haen with other rivers, but their annual winds do not
always blow in their due season. >eavy rains do aear in many regions with
great rivers and seasonal winds, but in them we do not find the yearly floods.
-oreas chases the clouds more violently in the lands near us, since he is so
close to his own source# should not the rivers of these nearby lands also rise,
esecially at the end of the month; -ut no such overflow is found 2anywhere
else4, so (ristotle&s theory is no less sha"y than those of the other
2naturalists4. :o# it is e$ceedingly hard to give a 2satisfactory4 e$lanation
for this e$traordinary rising of the waters, which, (ristotle tells us, is found
only along the :ile (though Pliny adds (7=6) the 1uhrates. 218.18=# 1uhrates
(and ,igris) flood, but do not carry the load of mud the :ile does4. (s far as I
"now 21st tamen adhuc...4, it is reorted of one other river, which I have
mentioned above) the Aordan, in the days before the destruction of +odom and the
nearby cities, as witnessed in %enesis 217.10) 0...the Plain of Aordan, that it
was well9watered everywhere, before the Gord destroyed +odom and %omorah, even
as the %arden of the Gord, li"e the Gand of 1gyt, as thou comest unto Toar.04
(nd so let this suffice for a reface, because of the difficulty of the roblem.
In a more detailed discussion we will be able to e$amine the oinions of the
hilosohers. +timulated by their studies, we can search out the truth with
greater confidence.
Get us now return to our descrition of the regions of the world. <e learn from
Pliny, N8O 62.864, with whom (lfraganus agrees, as does Gucan. that the ancients
used the name (rabia for all the inhabited territory 2in (frica4 from the
1thioian +ea in the south 2of 1gytM. ,he land to the east, as you sail down
the river ast /eroD and +yenU as far as the 1gytian town of >elioolis, of
which I have so"en above, was regarded as art of (rabia# conse3uently
everything from /eroU and +yenU to >elioolis on the east 2ban" of the :ile4
between the Eed +ea and the 1thioian is included in (rabia 2sub arabia
continetur4. (lfraganus therefore uts the Island of the (rabs in both the first
and second climas, since it is in the 1thioian +ea but near the mouth of the
Eed. >ence too the lines of Gucan 27.=C59C84)
(rabs, new come to a land unli"e any other you "now of, startled that at no
season do shadows fall to the northward.
Gucan here is tal"ing about the (rabs who, coming to Eome as au$iliaries of
Pomey, were surrised that shadows that fall to the north do not migrate9i.e.
do not change and fall to the south# in their own land, between the ,roic of
'ancer and the 13uator, they see shadows to their south for art of the year
when the sun has assed north of them toward the troic. -ut when the sun asses
beyond them toward the 13uator, they see shadows to the north, since the sun
2has assed to their south. ,hus this whole section of 1thioia east of the
river, from /eroD and +yenU all the way to >elioolis, is included in (rabia.
(nd not only this region, but that called the ,ongue, from the 2southern4 end of
the Eed +ea and along the coast to the east of the ,ongue, all the way to the
Persian %ulf. 2(rabia4, then, reaches westward from the Eed +ea to Pelusiam in
1gyt# to the north it broadens out into the (7=8) desert where the 'hildren of
Israel once wandered, and as far as the land of he Philistines, which lies on
the /editerranean, down to the 1gytian border. 1ast of the land of the
Philistines, 2(rabia4 runs as far as the territory of the (male"ites, all the
way to the land of 1dom or Idumea, which is east of (male" and e$tends as far as
/oab. ,he (rabian border then turns more to the north through the land of +ihon,
Bing of >eshbon and that of @g, Bing of -ashan, and so north to /ts. %ilead and
Gebanon# it then bends more to the northeast, toward 'ilicia and 'ommagenian
+yria, and thence on to the 1uhrates.
(rabia, then, as understood in the larger sense, includes a truly far9flung
territory. In the first lace, it includes the desert of +hur or 1tham (which
means 0desert0), on both sides of the Eed +ea, and is bounded 2on the north4 by
1gyt and Palestine. 1$odus 217.=04 tells us that the 'hildren of Israel
0itched their cam in 1tham,0 but that they later crossed the Eed +ea9and
arrived once more in 1tham0 21$. 16.==4. (ctually, scriture records that after
the crossing of the Eed +ea, they came to the ?esert of +hur and encamed in
/arah, having travelled for three days before encaming9first in /arah, then in
1lim. -ut Aerome tells us, in his Getter on the 'ams, that the deserts of +hur
and 1tham are the same. /oreover, in the art of (rabia near +hur, east of the
shore where the 'hildren of Israel crossed the Eed +ea, is the land of the
1lamites9as Pliny 28.1664 tells us, as does Aerome in his -oo" of 1$lanations.
In this region is the city of 1lam, the last town 2in the south4 of the
Palestinians. !or hereabouts, near the ?esert of +hur, 2the boundary of4
Palestine bends at an angle toward the Eed +ea# so says Aerome. Pliny 28.1664
tells us that there is an island in the Eed +ea nearby called +ygarus 2so Pliny#
te$t of -, +tagnus4# dogs will not willingly go there, and if they are brought
and left, they wander about its shore until they die.
,o the east of the ?esert of +hur is the ?esert of +hin, where. according to
Aerome in his Getter on the 'ams, there were five encamments of the 'hildren
of Israel. ,he first of these is not mentioned in 1$odus, but in :umbers
772.104) 0(nd they removed from 1lim to the Eed +ea, which is called Pamsuh.0
Aerome wonders how they could have gotten bac" to the Eed +ea, and offers two
ossible e$lanations. !irst, there may have been (7=5) an arm of the Eed +ea
e$tending inland from its main body, for yam means 0sea0 and suh means 0red.0
2It doesn&t, and A. is not li"ely to have thought it did.4 -ut Aerome offers a
more li"ely 2convenientius4 solution) since +uh may mean either 0red0 or
0reed.0 >ere we should not choose the first of these meanings but the second,
and may assume that they 2the >ebrews4 came to some sort of a swam or ond full
of reeds. ,here is no 3uestion that the >oly +criture calls every body of water
a 0sea0 2yam4, so here the true meaning of the >ebrew hrase is 0a swam of
reeds.0 -ut since the name 0Eed +ea0 in the old translation 2the +etuagint,
from >ebrew into %ree"4 was too well established to change, Aerome let it stand
as it had been in the +etuagint9as he had done with many other hrases all
through the whole te$t of +criture.
,he last of these five encamments, the eleventh after the e$odus of the
'hildren of Israel from 1gyt,is Eehidim 21$. 15.1, :um. 77.164, a rovince of
the (male"ites straight north 2of 1lam4. ,his tribe attac"ed the 'hildren of
Israel in the ?esert of Eehidim, and was defeated by them. !urther east is the
?esert of +inai, and in it is /t. +inai. ,his Aerome, in the -oo" of Places,
claims as >oreb, the /ountain of %od. -ut in Eehidim there is no 0Eoc" 2etra4
of %od0 21$. 15.84, from which /oses drew water) >oreb 20?esert04 with an > has
been written for @reb 2also 0?esert0# scribal error for tsur 0roc"0;4 without
one. :e$t on the route are the ,ombs of ?esire and >a*eroth 20%raves of %reed04,
two caming laces beyond /t. +inai in the ?esert of +inai. 2+ee :um.11. 779
76.4.
:e$t to the east is the ?esert of Paran, where the Gand of the Israelites
begins, stretching down toward the Eed +ea but east of it. :orth of Paran is
>ebron, the city of ?avid 2II +am. =.114, where great (dam, (braham, Isaac, and
Aacob are buried. (long the desert road between Paran and >ebron /oses sent
Aoshua, 'aleb, and the other sies 2:um. 174. In this ?esert of Paran, as Aerome
tells us in the -oo" of 'ams, the 'hildren of Israel made eighteen marches,
from the fifth to the NthirtyO twenty9second inclusive. 2+ee :um. 77.16976.
,hese are the marches through the ?esert of +inai4, so that the last was at
1*ion %eber. ,hus we see that Paran is indeed a very broad 2stretch of4 desert.
<hile in it, 2the Israelites4 were attac"ed by (male"ites and 'anaanites# here
the Gord assed judgement uon them# here arose the sedition of Borah# here
(aron&s rod roduced a bud# here there occurred many other events, clearly
described in the thirteenth to twentieth chaters of :umbers.
(fter leaving the ?esert of Paran, 2the Israelites4 wandered still further (7=8)
to the east, as far as the ?esert of Tin at 23uod est4 Badesh -arnea. where the
eole grumbled, by the <aters of -itterness 2/eribah4. ,his desert 2Tin4 is not
the same as that 2+inai4) this one is much further from the Eed +ea, reaching
the Gand of 1dom at its northeast corner. !rom here the 'hildren of Israel sent
envoys to 1dom with this message) 0<e have halted in the city of Badesh, at the
boundary of your land, and we as" your ermission to ass through.0 ,his is
recorded in in :umbers N18O 2=1.1C9154, and if anyone maintains that the ?esert
of +inai mentioned earlier used to e$tend as far as this, he clearly wrong# that
it does not we "now from Aerome in his Getter on 1ncamments, which rests both
on his interretation and 2the te$t of4 +criture itself. ,he first 2+inai4 has
the initial letter samech, and means 0bramble0 or 0hatred0# the second 2Tin4
starts with a tsade and means 0command.0 It follows that the 'hildren of Israel
had left the road to the Eed +ea as they assed around the Gand of 1dom, and had
reached /t. >or on the boundary of 1dom, the mountain where (aron died.
(ccording to Aerome. they also made three other stos before they reached the
boundaries of /oab, which is east of 1dom. Geaving 1dom, they itched their
tents in the desert which faces east into /oab, as :umbers =12.114 informs us.
,hen, says ?euteronomy = 2.184, they assed through the city named /oab and
reached the furthest boundary with (mmon. In this region are the borders of the
land of +ihon, "ing of the (morites, on the east, and the lands of the /oabites
and (morites# clearly, these laces demand serious study. ,his is where the Gand
of the 'hildren of Israel begins, of which both +criture and the +aints have so
much to say. (t the beginning of the region is a long high escarment called
(rnon, the boundary between the children of (mmon, of /oab, and of +ihon, Bing
of the (morites# thus this is where the Gand of the 'hildren of Israel begins.
(t the foot of this escarment is a valley named (rnon. on whose south side is
the city of @r, the caital of the /oabite "ingdom. @r was later named
N(croolisO (rioolis, a name comounded from >ebrew and %ree" 2&or V olis# &or
can mean either 0city0 or 0enemy.04, meaning 0'ity of the 1nemy0 2see Is. 16.14.
+o Aerome tells us in his 'ommentary on Isaiah. !rom the cliff a rushing stream
descends to the west, called the ,orrent (7=.) of (rnon, on whose ban" is a town
called (roes9on9the9(rnon. (ll this is clear from Aerome&s -oo" of Places, as
well as te$ts in :umbers =12.174# ?euteronomy =2.784 and 7L.84# Aoshua 17#
Audges 11# and many other assages of +criture.
,he land of /oab e$tends from (rnon in the west to 1dom and the ?ead +ea, where
once there were submerged towns, and as far 2north4 as the Eiver Aordan oosite
to Aericho# all this is clear from the assage of Aerome cited above. ,o the
south 2infra4 of the Gand of /oab, near (rnon and (rioolis, lies /idian. the
land of Aethro, the father9in9law of /oses, as Aerome e$lains in the -oo" of
Places. ,his must obviously have been the land of the /idianites, since it is
clear from N1$odus ==O :umbers ==9=C assim that -ala", Bing of the /oabites,
summoned -alaam the seer to curse Israel. -ut -alaam advised the /oabites to
offer their daughters to the Israelites# many of the Israelites acceted this
offer, sinned with the women, and were accordingly slain. ,he /idianites,
furthermore were crushed and later wied out by the 'hildren of Israel.2,wo
stories are here conflated. In :um. =C.=6 -alaam and -ala" deart and we hear no
more of them. In :um. =6 we learn that the Aews stoed in +hittim (not
reviously mentioned), and sinned with the /idianite women and their gods# they
were unished by a lague. @ne of the Aews brought a woman home# the air were
transfi$ed by Phineas9but only =C,000 Aews had died of the lague.4
@n the other side of the Eiver (rnon begins the land of the sons of (mmon. which
stretches to the northeast in the direction of the 1uhrates# to the west a
corner 2of the (mmonitesM runs close to the Eiver Aordan, near the shallows9or
rather the stream9of Aabbo". ,here Aacob crossed when he came from the
/esootamian art of +yria. (fter his crossing an angel wrestled with him, as
%enesis 7=2.=C9704 tells us. It is, moreover, clear from ?euteronomy 72.184 that
the frontiers of the 'hildren of (mmon are at this river Aabbo". >ere too is the
boundary between (mmon and +ihon, Bing of the (morites, and +ihon, Bing of the
(morites, and @g, Bing of -ashan# this is clear from Audges 11 2.184. !or, as
that verse states, the land of +ihon begins at the Aabbo"# where his land ends,
that of @g, Bing of -ashan, begins. ,his in turn e$tends along the (rnon all the
way to the frontier of >eshbon, the caital of +ihon, Bing of the (morites. ,hus
the land belonging to +ihon is bounded on the south by that of the /oabites and
on the east by that of the (mmonites# on the west it has the Eiver Aordan and on
the north that of @g, Bing of -ashan. -ut +ihon became more owerful and anne$ed
the lands of /oab and (mmon. ,hat he sei*ed the land of the (mmonites is shown
by Audges 210 and4 11# that the 'hildren of (mmon lost half their land is stated
in Aoshua 17L.=64# and finally that even /oab lost a great deal is clear from
:umbers =12.=.4.
(770) :ow that we have identified these regions 2northeast4 of the ,ongue of the
Eed +ea by reference to 2inventae sunt... er4 the encamments of the 'hildren
of Israel, we must reflect that in the deserts between the Eed +ea and the
laces we have just labeled lie other vast areas. ,hey stretch from the
1uhrates in a crescent through the lands we have mentioned9 those of the
'hildren of (mmon and /oab, and the ?esert of Paran9and so down to the land of
the 1lamites. ,his last, as I have remar"ed, runs east from the oint on the
shore of the Eed +ea where the 'hildren of Israel crossed. In this enormous
region eole lived in the same way as those whom (braham fathered on Beturah
and >agar, who are mentioned in %enesis =6. 2Beturah&s children# %en. =6.19C.
>agar&s) %en. =6.18. 0 (nd they dwelt from >avilah unto +hur, which is east of
20before04 1gyt as thou goest toward 20on the way to04 (ssyria.0 2+hur is
usually a town near 1gyt# how, then, did 0on the way to (ssyria0 get in the
act9unless as a general term for 0to the northeast0;4 <hen >agar was first
driven out, she and Ishmael 0dwelt in the <ilderness of Paran)0 2%en. =1.=1.4.
-eginning at the 1uhrates, the first region 2to the south4 is :abatea, named
for the oldest son of Ishmael, as Aerome tells us# his source is %enesis
=62.174. Pliny 26.86# 8.1CC4 agrees with this statement, e$cet that he calls
one art of the :abateans the :omads, who wander along the 1uhrates near the
'haldeans. :e$t to :abatea, toward the ?esert of Paran, is the region of Bedar,
named for Ishmael&s second son. @ther regions too are named for the sons of
Ishmael, all the way to +yria, for 0he dwelt from >avilah 2te$t) 1bila4 unto
+hur,0 as +criture says. 'ollectively, though, they are called 0Bedar.0 +o
Aerome in his fifth boo", on ,he -urden of 2charges against4 (rabia in the verse
of Isaiah =12,174, where Aerome writes, 0here he is tal"ing about Bedar, the
land of the Ishmaelites, who are called &(garenes& and &+aracens&9corrutions of
the name 2of >agar4.0 (gain, in boo" 5, on Isaiah 802.54, he says of the regions
of Bedar and :abatea that 0Bedar is the region of the +aracens, called
&Ishmaelites& in +criture# &:abaoth& is one of the sons of Ishmael.0 ,he 2arts
of4 the desert are "nown by their names. ,heir cros are scanty. but the desert
is full of wild animals.0 >avilah is a art of the ?esert of Paran, as we read
in the -oo" of Places. ,here is, of course, a different >avilah in India, near
the Eiver %anges, mentioned in %enesis N1O 2=.114.
-etween Bedar and the land of the 1lamites, of which I have already so"en,
stretches the land of +aba 2Q+heba# see below4, which Pliny, in -oo" N6O
28.1614, locates along the coast of the Eed +ea. ,his region is the source of
fran"incense, and indeed abounds in sices. It is divided into three arts. @ne
of these. (rabia !eli$, lies between the Eed +ea and the Persian %ulf, according
to @rosius, ?e @rmesta /undi 2l.=.=14 and (771) Isidore 21C.7.179164. ,he second
art is /idian, named for a son of (braham and Betura, and the third is 1hah,
named for a son of /idian, as %enesis =62.C4 ma"es clear. Aerome regarded the
last two of these regions as art of the realm of +heba, for he secifically
observes in his 'ommentary on Isaiah N15O 280.84 that /idian and 1hah are
regions abounding in camels, and oints out that this was the region from which
came the Hueen of +heba. ,hat (rabia !eli$ was art of +heba is aarent too
from its bordering on 'haldea, as @rosius tells us. /oreover, they joined their
neighbors the +abaeans in a raid on the floc"s of the -lessed Aob, as we read in
his boo" 2Aob 1.16, 154. ,he second art of the name of this land is clear from
Isidore 1C2.164# he tells us that the that the region is called 2(rabia4 +acra
20dedicated to the gods04 because it bears incense and roduces erfumes. ,he
%ree"s accordingly call it 1udaimSn 20-lessed,0 Gatin !eli$4, and Gatin9sea"ers
use the term -eata 20-lessed04. In its valleys myrrh and cinnamon are grown
2rovenit4, and there the Phoeni$ comes to birth. ,he land is called +heba after
a son of 'ush, the son of >am, the son of :oah# this son of 'ush was given the
name +heba. +o Aerome reorts in Huestions about the >ebrews. ,hus when Isaiah
280.84 names /idian and 1hah, +heba is joined with them where 2in the same
verse4 we read 0they shall all come from +heba.0 ,he name +heba, then, is
roerly limited to (rabia !eli$. and is commonly used in this way. +till,
though, the whole region, including /idian and 1hah, is 2loosely4 called +heba,
so that all the territory 2of (rabia4 beyond the Eed +ea, from 'haldea to 1lam,
is called +abaea.
>ere we must remar" that. because of the differing terminologies emloyed by
Pliny, (lfraganus, and certain ancient hilosohers, 0(rabia,0 is loosely
thought of as including all the regions I have mentioned, on both sides of the
Eed +ea. If, however, we use the name in a more closely limited sense, it is
alied only to the region from the ,ongue of the Eed +ea to the 1uhrates and
the Persian %ulf on the east# on the northwest it is bounded by Palestine and
Idumea and, a little further to the northeast, it e$tends to /t. Gibanus. ,here
it covers the whole domain of +ihon, that of @g, Bing of -ashan, and certain
other districts adjoining these. ,his usage is general in +criture9 as, for
e$amle, Isaiah =12.174 reads, 0the burden uon (rabia,0 where the term includes
Bedar. (gain, /t. +inai is situated in (rabia, according to the words of the
(ostle 2Paul4 in %alatians C2.=64. ,he name is also used in an even stricter
fashion, which e$cludes Paran, Bedar, /idian, 1hah, and +heba 2Q(rabia4 !eli$.
(77=) ,he word was understood in this sense in the time of Aerome, and has been
ever since, for in his boo" @n Places he tells us that Paran is 0on the other
side of (rabia,0 and in the fourth and seventeenth boo"s @n Isaiah he describes
/idian, 1hah, Bedar, and :abatea in the same terms. <hen, in the >ebrew
Huestions, he tells us that the incense9bearing +heba the -lessed (and indeed
the whole of +heba) is also to be distinguished from (rabia, he is certainly
using the word in the third sense. !or, says he, when we read in Psalms 25=.104
that 0the "ings of +heba and +eba shall offer gifts 2reges (rabum et +abae dona
adducent4,0 the word +abae refers to incense9bearing +heba and its roduct#
Aerome invo"es the authority of Fergil 2%eorgics =.1154) 0+abaeans alone are the
owners of erfumed fran"incense bushes.0 >e also oints out something obvious to
anyone with a "nowledge of >ebrew, that the >ebrew te$t reads, 0the Bings of
+heba and +eba shall offer gifts,0 but the first of these, translated into Gatin
as 0(rabia,0 is selled with the initial letter shin, the second with an initial
same"h. ,his second name is that of incense9bearing +heba, from which came the
/agi who adored 'hrist. ,his is not the +aba in 1thioia, which is far to the
south# the /agi, says the 1vangelist 2/atthew =.14, came from the east. ,hese,
then, were the Bings of +heba, or rather of both the (rabs and +heba as well.
:e$t 2to the east4 comes an e$tremely large region called +yria. ,his, according
to +criture, to Pliny 26.889854, and to 2other4 ancient authors includes all
the rovinces between the Eiver ,igris on the east, (rabia on the south, @ur +ea
or the %reat +ea on the west, and 'ilicia and the lofty /t. ,aurus on the north.
(,he %reat +ea, of course, searates Italy, +yria, and 1gyt). ,he first and
most imortant of the arts of +yria is /esootamia, also called (ssyria# Pliny
assures us that they are the same 2P. actually says that (diabene, art of Eoman
+yria, was once called (ssyria4. Aerome, in the third boo" of the 'ommentary on
Isaiah agrees that the whole region between the ,igris and 1uhrates rivers is
the realm of the (ssyrians. /esootamia too is contained between the two rivers#
indeed, the name is derived from meson, which means 02that which is in4 the
middle0 and otomus, which means 0river,0 on the grounds that it is contained
between by two rivers9,igris and 1uhrates. ,hus since ancient times
0/esootamia0 and 0(ssyria0 have meant the same thing. ,his region9call it
whichever you lease9has the ,igris to the east, 1uhrates to the west, the
Persian +ea (i.e. the Persian %ulf of the Eed +ea) to the south, and /t. ,aurus
to the north. 2,he whole region4 according to Pliny 28.1714, is 800 miles long
and N700O 780 2Pliny4 wide. 2,he hrase cuius longitudo...trecenta resumably
modifies an imlied /esootamia, not ,aurus4. In this region are 2the cities of
:ineveh and -abylon, the whole district of the 'haldeans, and the ,ower of
-abel, erected in the Gand of +hinar. >ere (777) in /esootamia, moreover, are
the cities built by :imrod9(rad or 1dessa# (rchad, now called :isibis or
collo3uially :isibin# and 'alamne, later named +eleucia after Bing +eleucus, as
Aerome e$lains 2in commenting on %enesis 10. (ram too, as %enesis 210.==4 tells
us, is in /esootamia, and still "ees its ancient name. :ow (ram is two days
journey from the 1uhrates# Aerome tells us that (ram in beyond 1dessa# 1dessa,
then, lies between (ram and the Eiver, and :ineveh is about ten days from (ram,
to the east and near the ,igris. ,his, then, is what +criture 2%en. =.1C,Q
>idde"el4 means when it says 0the ,igris goeth toward the east of the
(ssyrians0, for the name 0(ssyrians0 was used esecially of the :inevites.
(bout twenty9si$ days journey to the south of (ram is -aldae 2-aghdad4, a royal
city where the 'alih, the Gord of the +aracen sect, has established the seat of
his office. In this region is the ,ower of -abel and the ruins of -abylon the
%reat 2or, 0the great ruins of -abylon0# but see Eev.18.=4, once the caital of
the Bingdom of the -abylonians and 'haldeans. ,hese were originally (ssyrians of
/esootamia, when the whole territory between ,igris and 1uhrates was called by
either name# later, when -abylon, the caital of the 'haldeans, had won the
highest restige of any city in the world, the rest of /esootamia9(ssyria
adoted the name of -abylonia, as Pliny tells us 28.1=14. !or, as we learn from
the -oo" of Bings 2II Bings 15.7, 18..4 and NIO II 'hronicles 27= assim4, the
2earlier4 rulers of this region9+halmane*er, +ennacherib, and others9 are called
0Bings of the (ssyrians,0 (fterwards :ebuchadne**ar, Bing of -abylon, and his
successors crushed the (ssyrians and ruled all the land between ,igris and
1uhrates.
:ow the first lace :oah and his children lived after the !lood was in -abylon,
as (lbuma*ar tells us in boo" 6 of his %reater Introduction to (stronomy. ,hey
2:oah and his sons4 were learned in astronomy themselves, and first taught it to
the 'haldeans. In the same assage he relates that they "new that the fourth
clima, where -abylon is situated, is the mildest, and therefore made their way
thither.
+ince ,igris and 1uhrates are two of the four rimal rivers of the world, and
are therefore classed with :ile, I must ma"e a few remar"s about them. ,hey rise
in different laces, although their ultimate source is in Paradise, as (77C)
+criture 2%en.=.84 tells us. -ut then, according to Pliny 28.1=54, ,igris
brea"s forth in %reater (rmenia# from there it flows into a la"e, on whose
surface any weight you dro in will float. ,his la"e breathes out a sort of
mist, and in it there is only one sort of fish, which avoid the river&s channel
as its water asses through# the fish, moreover, from the lower course of the
,igris do not swim 2ustream4 into the la"e. ?ownstream the river meets /t.
,aurus where it lunges into an 2underground4 cavern, to emerge on the other
side of the mountain in another la"e. Eegaining its aearance as a river, it
aired with 1uhrates, asses through :ineveh, and after a long course flows
into the arm of the Eed +ea called the Persian %ulf.
,he 1uhrates, according to Pliny 62.=74, rises in %reater (rmenia, which it
divides from 'aadocia# on reaching /t. ,aurus it turns west. but it soon turns
south again and divides into two searate channels. @ne of these flows into
,igris, so that /esootamia is to its south# the other flows along the west
border of /esootamia and right through the middle of -abylonia, according to
@rosius 21.=.=04 in his history dedicated to +t. (ugustine. !rom there it enters
the /arshes, and at last reaches the Persian %ulf. ,he 'haldeans live to the
south of -abylonia, down to the Persian %ulf, and 1uhrates waters them on the
west, as it does the other arts of /esootamia and (ssyria, dividing them from
the other regions and from (rabia. 1uhrates, says Pliny 26..=4, swells very
much as :ile does. It floods the whole of /esootamia when the sun reaches the
twentieth day of 'ancer# when the sun has traversed Geo, the river begins to
recede, and has returned 2to its normal bed4 by the NthirtyO twenty9ninth day of
Firgo. (s for the statement of -oethius in 'onsolation 6 2/et.1.74 and +allust
2>ist. C.554, that ,igris and 1uhrates both rise from a single source) the
truth of this can be understood by their origin in the +ring of Paradise.
-oethius at least "new this very well, and +allust might well have learned it by
turning over the ages of +criture. @r his statement could e3ually well be true
if he was tal"ing about the origin of the rivers in (rmenia, since Pliny tells
us that both of them rise there, or even if he meant that they both arise on the
other 2the north4 side of /t. ,aurus, and that when they reach the mountain they
sin" into the earth, to emerge on its other 2south4 side.
!rom the lace where 2art of the 1uhrates4 flows east, the land of (rabia, as
I have already described, e$tends south to the Eed +ea. ,o the north lie the
other rovinces, arts of +yria 'ommagena, >ollow +yria or 'oele9+yria, +yria of
Phoeni$ or Phoenician +yria, and Palestinian +yria. ,he last of these includes
the districts once held by the Aews9Audea, +amaria,and %alilee on this side of
(776) Aordan, and, on the other, the lands of the tribes of Eeuben and %ad and
the half9tribe of /anasseh. ,here too are the regions of the ?ecaolis and
Iturea or ,rachonitis. In these districts are included all the >oly Places9those
first trodden by the atriarchs and rohets and later by our Gord himself and
his /other and by the blessed (ostles. ,hese are the lands where the earliest
'hurch first grew, which still echo the %osel message, which holds mysteries
too great for mortal ears to hear or human minds to understand, as @rigen uts
it when he comments on Aoshua 18. !or all these reasons I must describe them
with secial care.
!irst of all, then, we must locate the famous cities on or near the
/editerranean +ea, which searates Italy from 1gyt and +yria, so that later on
we can more easily understand whatever laces further to the east we see fit.
Get me begin with a city not actually on the sea but near it) a few miles across
the frontier of 1gyt with Palestine and Audea lies %a*a, a oulous city, as
Aerome tells us in his boo" @n Places. !rom there it is nine leagues to (scalon,
the metroolis of Palestine, which lies on the coast. Aoa is twelve leagues
further on, and from Aoa it is =C leagues9two days journey9to (cco. ,wo or
three days ta"e one to (ssus, anciently called (dotus, and nine or ten more to
'aesarea in Palestine (the ancient 0+trato&s ,ower,0 where Peter bati*ed
'ornelius), as Aerome tells us in many laces. ,hen it ta"es five more days to a
ilgrim sto, three more to 'aiahas 2>aifa4, and another five to (cco 2see C
lines above4. ,yre lies nine leagues beyond, in the heart of the sea 2i.e. on an
island just off shore4, and four or five more leagues bring you to Tarehath
2+areta4, where the widow fed the rohet 1lijah 2I Bings 15..9184. !rom there
it is three or four leagues to +idon, and eight or nine more to -erytus, which
eole call -arit. :ine or ten more to -ynlus, now called %ibeleth, of which
1*e"iel =52..4 says 0 ,he ancients of %ebal and the wise men thereof were in
thee 2,yre4 their caul"ers 2habuerunt nautas4.0 It is nine more leagues to
,riolis and a day more to ,ortosa, which used to be called Eadum 2(radus4. !rom
there it is about three days journey to Gaodicea, for to Falania 2Q-alaniae4 is
about ten leagues. -ut some eole say that from ,ortosa to /argat ta"es one
day, from /argat to Gaodicea one, and from Gaodicea to (ntioch re3uires two,
(778) though (ntioch is in fact five leagues in from the sea. !rom (ntioch to
,arsus, the metroolis of 'ilicia and famous for Paul the (ostle, is about
three days. ,he rest of the distance to the border of 'ilicia is about one and a
half or two days journey.
<e must now return to laces inland. (braham and Isaac are fre3uently found in
the region of %erara 2e.g. %en. =0.14. %erara, from which the whole region ta"es
the name of %erarchica, as Aerome tells us in his -oo" of Places, used to be the
boundary city between the Palestinians of Badesh and +hur. :earby is -eersheba,
0the well of the oath,0 where (braham and Isaac made their treaty with (bimelech
2%en. =04. ,his lace is the boundary of the land ossessed by the >ebrews, who
had nothing further south, as Aerome remar"s in his letter to ?ardanus about the
Gand of Promise. ,rue, the land %od had romised them began at a 0torrent in
1gyt,0 as Aerome tells us in boo" 8 of his @n Isaiah, and in the first boo" as
well. ,his torrent, says he, is a muddy stream on the border of 1gyt with
Palestine and Audea, whose water does not flow all year round 2nec habens
eretuas a3uas# i.e. a wadi4. It is not far from the :ile, but is near a fort
named Ehinocoura, which the +eventy translators render as 0Place of the
,orrent,0 as, for e$amle, in Isaiah 216.5) charadra. ,he >ebrew word is very
li"e those meaning either 0(rabs0 or 0willows0# the Bing Aames uses the latter
of these4.
,wenty miles north of -eersheba, says Aerome&s -oo" of Places, is >ebron, once
the metroolis of the Philistines, but also famous for the graves of four of the
renowned atriarchs9 (dam, the greatest of them all, (braham, Isaac, and Aacob.
!rom >ebron one can easily visit the neighboring villages, /ambre and (braham&s
oa" tree 2ilicem4, and the ?amascene fields south of >ebron. ,his gets its name
from ?amascus, a henchman of (braham# it is, of course, not the land around the
famous city of ?amascus, the caital of +yria, for this ager ?amascenus is close
to a good five days journey from the other. It is near >ebron, the lace where
(dam was created 2lasmatus4 and where 'ain "illed his brother. +o writes my
master 2Aerome4 in his >istories and his commentary on %enesis.
'armel, once the home of :abal the 'armelite 2I +am. =04, is now a village still
called 'armel by the si$th milestone east of the town of >ebron, as Aerome
states in his -oo" of Places. (lso near 'armel, by the eighth milestone east of
>ebron, you are shown the hamlet of Tih, where ?avid once hid 2I +am. =6.74.
:earby is a rugged hill of the same name9Tih9where ?avid stayed 2I +am. =8.=4,
near the village of 'armel, as Aerome tells us. (775) -y the fourteenth
milestone north is -ethlehem, the town where the Gord was born# and by Aerome&s
account, at the si$th milestone north of -ethlehem was Aerusalem, which Pliny
26.504 calls 0far the finest of the cities of the east.0 ,he city is about
twelve leagues from Aoa and three days from (cco. ,o the east, Aericho is
about nine leagues. ,e"oa, the village of the rohet (mos, is about twelve
miles southeast, as Aerome reorts in boo" = of his 'ommentary on Aeremiah.
Aerome also tells us, in his letter on the eitah of +t. Paula, that not far
from ,e"oa was the region called Pentaolis and its five accursed cities) +odom,
%omorrah, and the rest. >e relates how Paula came bac" from there to Aerusalem,
and on her way first assed close to ,e"oa. -ut @rosius, in de @rmesta /undi,
21.6.14, says that the Pentaolis is a region located on the border between
(rabia and Palestine, and that the sea has now risen to cover the valley between
them, formerly watered by the Aordan. ,his is the ?ead +ea9also "nown as the
+alt +ea, the +ea of +alt Pans, the Ga"e of ,ar 2-ituminis4, the +alted Falley,
the Falley of +alt Pans, or the (rab 2i.e.0?esert04 +ea. ,hus it is written in
the -oo" of Bings 22I Bings 8.86. Bing Aames reads, 0from the entering in of
>amath unto the Eiver of 1gyt,0 or II Bing 1C.=6, 0from the entering of >amath
unto the +ea of the Plain.04. !or in the Falley of +alt Pans there used to be
wells of tar before the cities were overwhelmed# after the rain of sulhur, the
valley was turned into the ?ead +ea, also called the +ea of ,ar. !our cities
were submerged, but the fifth, called -alU, was sared 2remansit4 at the rayer
of Got, so that, when the others were destroyed, he might have a lace to live.
It was later called +egor, now Toara, a +yrian word, as Aerome tells us in his
commentary on %enesis 28.1C4 and in many other laces. ,his city, though not
consumed li"e the others in sulhurous flames, was resently destroyed by a
NthirdO earth3ua"e, and was then rebuilt and named Toara by its eole, the
Toari, as Aerome tells us.. It lies at the end of the ?ead +ea, to its NwestO
east side. :ot far away, but across the ?ead +ea on its west ban", is the town
of 1ngeddi, a city roductive of the alm trees from which come balsam and
oobalsam. ,his, indeed, is the tree which dris balsam in the vineyards of
1ngeddi, which +olomon mentions in the +ong of +ongs 21.1C4. In %enesis 21C.54
the city is called >a*a*ontamar, which in our language mean Palm 'ity, for, as
Aerome says, tamar means 0alm.0
(778) /any authors have written many boo"s on the geograhy 2conditionibus4 of
the 2?ead4 +ea and the +un"en 'ities, but I shall here rely chiefly on
>egesius, boo" C of the !all of Aerusalem. >e wrote at greater length than any
of the rest, most of whom borrowed their remar"s from him, while retending it
was all their own wor". >egesius has this to say about the ?ead +ea) anything
living 2that falls into it4 bounces out forcibly, for the water is so bitter and
sterile that it rejects any thing alive9even fish and birds otherwise 3uite used
to water and content to dive. Peole say 2here and in the ne$t sentence, ferunt4
that a lighted lantern floats on the surface. -ut once its light goes out it
sin"s, even if it is not uset# yet it can only be "et under water by force 2as
long as it is still alight;4. <e are told that the 1meror Fesasian ordered
some men who did not "now how to swim to be thrown into the water with their
hands tied# they all rose to the surface as though blown by a blast of wind, and
bobbed out as though roelled by some great force. In any case, clots of tar
mi$ed with a blac" li3uid certainly float about on the water, which the tar
gatherers aroach with their boats and gather them in. ,hey say that it is
characteristic of the tar that it is very cohesive, and that it cannot be cut by
iron or any other metal, however shar. -ut it dissolves at once in the blood of
women who, at the end of their eriods, are brought to be washed. (s the blood
touches the lums of tar, according to those who have ractical e$erience, the
tar is bro"en u. +uch tar, they say, is valuable for caul"ing 2ad comagem4
shis, and, mi$ed with other medicines, is efficacious for ailments of the human
body.
,he length of this la"e, in a straight line to Toara in (rabia, is 650 stades
28=V miles4. Its breadth is about 160 stades 21.V miles4 in the neighborhood of
the eole of +odom, who once inhabited this fertile region. (77.) !our of their
cities were burned, and traces of the conflagration can still be seen in the
ashes. ,he very earth bla*ed u, its waters boiled off# indeed, signs of the
fire from heaven are still to be seen in water and on land) in that region you
can still see what loo" li"e 2ad seciem4 of riening ales and bunches of
graes, 2so lifeli"e4 that they ma"e the beholders want to eat them. -ut if you
luc" one, it crumbles into ashes and gives off smo"e, as if it were still on
fire.
2:otice that4 everything Isidore and +olinus have to say about the wonders of
the world, everything Aerome reorts in boo" 1C of his 'ommentary on Aeremiah,
or Pliny or anyone else tells us9all comes from the wor"s of >egesius. >e
himself may ass over something in a few words9that 0no living thing can grow or
get sustenance in that la"e,0 or that 0nothing can be submerged in it,0 but
these others trot out 2detailed4 e$amles. +o Pliny 26.5=4 and +olinus 276.14
tell us that 0it will not swallow anything alive) even bulls and camels are
buoyed u.0 Aerome ma"es the statement that 0the sea is so bitter that nothing
that breathes is to be found there.0 ,here are, then,no fish or retiles, and
fish brought down into the sea by the flooding of the Aordan romtly die.
Isidore, in his wor" on 1tymologies 217.1..74 3uotes the words of >egesius,
but adds that the wind never churns u the sea, but that the sluggish tar dams
down its blasts# conse3uently the whole watery mass stagnates, and in it nothing
will float until it is brought to light by the tar. ,he sea reaches from Aericho
to Toar (+egor).
+ince Aordan flows into the ?ead +ea, where it loses both name and nature, and
since the lands of the Aews and of many other eoles too are "nown chiefly for
their relation to Aordan, I must ass on to describe it. (lthough Aerome sea"s
clearly and accurately about its well9"nown origin and course, as do Pliny,
Isidore 217.=1.184, and many others, >egesius is rightly referred to them
all. In -oo" 7 he e$ounds more reliably and in greater detail the source of the
river. >e sea"s from his own e$erience, while all the rest of the authors
merely guess that the river Aordan rises from two srings near the base of /t.
Gibanus, near -anias, now called 'aesarea Philii# one of the two is called
Aor, the other ?an. !or a while their streams flow searately, but finally join
in one9hence the name Aordan. (7C0) !or some distance this maintains its
character, but afterwards asses through the la"e called %ennesaret, ne$t to the
la"e of ,iberias. !rom this Aordan debouches and, assing to the east of
Aericho, it flows into the ?ead +ea, as I mentioned above. (ll this is true
enough, e$cet for 2the art about4 the river&s source. 1verybody "nows9and
everybody is right9that it has a double source, as I have said# but >egesius
has demonstrated that it does not originate there 2near 'aesarea Philii4, but
rather from the sring of Phiala on the other 2eastern4 side, in the district of
,rachonitis, a good 1=0 stades 216 miles4 from the city of 'aesarea. !or Phili,
tetrarch of the district of ,rachonitis, tossed some straw into the sring of
Phiala# this the river, here flowing underground, brought to light again near
'aesarea. It follows from the emergence of the straw that the real source of
Aordan is not in 'aesarea, but in an 2underground4 stream. >egesius adds that
the river&s course from 'aesarea (-anias) is no longer invisible or hidden in an
underground channel, but is oen and visible all through this region. It
resently sreads out and meets Ga"e +emeconitis and its marshes, from which it
directs it course for 1=0 stades to a city named Aulias. Gater it continues
through the Ga"e of %ennesaret, then winds through a long stretch of desert and
enters Ga"e (lfacius 2(shaltusQthe ?ead +ea;4. +o, having assed in triumh
through two la"es, it ceases its flow in a third.
>aving now given this s"etch of the Aordan, I must searately describe its
cities and districts. ,he district of Aericho runs, according to >egesius, u
to +cythoolis (called -ethshean in the -ible, says Aerome in the -oo" of
Places), a town belonging to the tribe of /anasseh# the sons of /anasseh,
however, were 2for long4 unable to disossess its former inhabitants 2Audges
1.=54. (s one goes westward, to the north of Aerusalem is a city of riests
2Aoshua =1. 17,184 named (nethoth, famous as the birthlace of Aeremiah the
rohet.2Aer. 1.14 It lies three miles from the city of Aerusalem, as Aerome
tells us in the fifth boo" of his 'ommentary on Aeremiah. +till further north9
twelve leagues from Aerusalem and twelve from Palestinian 'aesarea as the crow
flies9is the famous city of +amaria, the caital of the ,en ,ribes, now called
+ebastU 2Q(ugusta4. -eyond the district of Palestinian 'aesarea, from the %reat
+ea (7C1) to the border of the district of PtolemaRs, /t. 'armel looms over 2the
coast4, stretching for about two days journey. ,he mountain, where the rohet
1lijah reached, is covered with olive groves and vineyards, 2some with, some
without trees4, as Aerome mentions in the fifth and first boo"s @n Aeremiah. ,o
the northeast beyond the neighborhood of +amaria is a lain now called +aba, but
of old called the %reat Plain of 1sdraelon, about which....2lacuna4, and the
field of (rmageddon, where Aoshua, the best of "ings, met his end.... In the
north the Eiver NPhysonO Bishon runs through the valley, down to the sea between
'aiahas 2>aifa4 and (cco. !urther north of this lain, seven leagues east of
(cco, is :a*areth, the blessed town of our Gord and +avior. (bout two leagues
east is the majestic /t. ,abor, where the Gord dislayed his glory to the three
disciles and to /oses and 1lijah.
,o the east of them is the city of ,iberias, which Aerome reorts in boo" 1C of
@n 1*e"iel, used to be called 'hinnereth. :ear the city is the +ea of ,iberias
or 'hinnereth 2%ennesarethM, on whose ban"s the city is located. ,his la"e, says
Isidore in boo" 17 2.1..84 0is healthier than any other water in Audea. Its
coastline runes for about 180 stades 2=0 miles4, and it is connected to Ga"e
%ennesaret, the biggest la"e in Audea. It stretches for 180 stades in length and
about C0 in breadth. Its waters are ruffled, not because the wind stirs them
with its breath, but with a bree*e it generates from itself 2crisantibus aura
non ventis, sed de se iso sibi e$crisans4.0 %ennesaret thus gets its name as
if from %ree" 0generating wind for itself0 2gennSs& aUr& heautUi4. -ut soon, as
the la"e widens, it is whied u by often s3ually uffs, which give it its
limidity and ma"e it sweet and leasant to drin".0 20( hiatus occurs her in all
the /++09-ur"e4....+o says Isidore, distinguishing the two la"es 2%ennesaret and
,iberias4 in si*e and character. -ut in his gloss on N/atthewO Aohn 8 2/at. 8 is
at the beginning of the +ermon on the /ount, and ma"es no mention of the la"es.
C.189=6 is a ossible lace for a comment, but Aohn 8 (see below) is more
li"ely4, he says that the same la"e is called 0%ennesaret,0 0the +ea of
,iberias,0 and the 0Ga"e of the +alt Pans.0 -ut all our authorities agree, as I
have ointed out above. that 0Ga"e of the +alt Pans0 is another name for the
?ead +ea# this 0authoritative0 gloss, then, is the roduct of local usage,
rather than the considered or ersonal "nowledge of the saints. <hen he tells us
that the +ea of ,iberias and %ennesaret are the same, he may mean no more than
that they are close to each other, for they are in fact contiguous and blend
together, and may thus be considered as one. -ut the %osel of Aohn demonstrates
that they are 2in some way;4 different, for it tells us in chater 82.14 that
0Aesus went (7C=) over the +ea of %alilee, which is the +ea of ,iberias.0 ,hen,
according to Gu"e 2..104, he came into the ?esert of -ethsaida# /ar" 28.C64
tells us that the disciles then arrive at -ethsaida# according to Aohn 28.154
they embar"ed to go to 'aernaum9which means that the voyage cannot have been on
the +ea of ,iberias roer, for they have already crossed that. It must. then,
have been on the +ea of %ennesaret, and the two seas cannot be the same,
although they are contiguous. 2Gi"e, for e$amle, the ,hracian and (egean +eas)
the former is the northwest art of the latter.4 ,o the north, after a bit of
desert where the Gord fed five thousand eole with five barley loaves and two
fish, is -ethsaida, the village of the 'hief of the (ostles and of (ndrew and
Phili# beyond it is 'aernaum. ,he actual order of the laces is this, as it
clear from the %osels) (1) Aohn tells us that before the miracle of the loaves
Aesus 0crossed the +ea of %alilee, i.e. ,iberias. (=) ,hen a great multitude
aeared, which he fed. (7) (fter this the disciles embar"ed in a shi to
0cross0 to 'aernaum# so Aohn informs us. (C) -ut before they arrived and before
he fed the multitude, he went into a deserted lace Nwhich is -ethsaidaO,as Gu"e
says, and /ar" adds that they came to -ethsaida. +o ,iberias comes first# then
0beyond0 the +ea of ,iberias to the north is the desert of -ethsaida, with the
town ne$t to it. (fter this is the Ga"e of %ennesaret, and finally 'aernaum on
its coast) all this is imlicit 2docentur, 0is taught04 in the long gloss in
/ar" 8.2719674 2in glossa magna se$to /arci4. ,hen after 'aernaum is the town
of Aulias, of which I have so"en above, and finally 'aesarea Philii in the
foothills of /t. Gebanon.
!urther east of (cco and further north than :a*areth is 'ana, where the Gord
changed water into wine# 'ana is about five leagues from (cco, and from 'ana to
:a*areth is about two. :ine leagues northeast of (cco and about five beyond 'ana
is +ahed, the town of ,obias 2,obit 1.1# +ahedQ,hisbe4. ,hen two and a half
leagues further is the town of 'hora*in# from 'hora*in to ,iberias is about two
leagues. ,hese are the laces, as the %osels reort, where the Gord was
esecially active in his reaching and wor"ing of miracles.
,he Gebanon range e$tends from Paneas ('aesarea) and the district of ,yre and
+idon 2south4 to 2reading ad4 -erytus, -yblos, and ,rioli, a distance of 1600
(7C7) stades 21.0 miles4, according to Pliny 26.554. (cross from the 2island of4
,yre, water flows underground to a lace about a league from the city, where it
emerges into a wide basin, as dee as a tower is high 2or 0as high Labove the
seaM as a tower# 0altitudinis ad modum turris04, !rom this the water descends by
a canal to ground level and irrigates the neighborhood. ,his well 2uteus4 is
one of living water, which flows vigorously from /t. Gebanon, as mentioned in
the +ong of +ongs 2C.164. -y ,rioli too there is a 0fountain of gardens0 near
the Gebanese hills, which flows as far as the mountain, which 2here4 is some
distance from the city 2us3ue ad montem eregrinum4# from it there flows a
stream which enters the sea between ,rioli and ,ortosa, but nearer the former.
!rom the fountain of water from outside 2reading eregrino4 an a3ueduct runs
into the city. ,he fountain and /t. Gebanon are about three leagues from
,rioli, while +idon is about the same distance from the foothills of Gebanon,
from the mountain roer about five.
:ow that I have touched on the cities and mountains on this side of Aordan,
between it and the /editerranean, others on the further side of Aordan, toward
the 1uhrates, must also be described. ,he first such lace, beyond the ?ead
+ea, is /achaerus, a fortress, says Pliny 26.5=4, second only to Aerusalem. ,o
the south of this is the ,ribe of Eeuben. ,o the north, beyond Aordan and all
the way u by /t. Gebanon, is the city of Pella, the northernmost frontier town
of the Aews of ,ransjordan, not far from 'aesarea Philii. (t the eastern
boundary of this region, according to Aerome in his boo" @n Places, is the city
of Philadelhia, which the -ible 2?eut. 7.114 calls Eabbat of the 'hildren of
(mmon. (t the boundary of the "ingdoms of +ihon and of @g, Bing of -ashan, is
the Eiver Aabbo" 2?eut, 7.184. ,his I have already mentioned# it is near Eamoth
%ilead, of which there is an ade3uate account in the history of the wars of the
Bings of Israel 2es. I Bings ==# it was the site of the battle in which (hab
was "illed4. :ear Pella and 'aesarea Philii is /t. >ermon, which actually
rises over 'aesarea, and which runs from the region of Gebanon to the eastern
boundary of the 'hildren of Israel, as Aerome tells us in the -oo" of Places.
!rom >ermon snow is brought to ,yre as a great lu$ury. -ut Pliny 26.154 reminds
us that there is a valley to the east of Gebanon, beyond which rises a mountain
just as high, called (ntilebanon, which begins on the eastern side of Gebanon,
as Aerome describes in the -oo" of Places. /oreover, as Aerome says in the same
boo", /t. %ilead (which bounds Phoenicia and (rabia) is joined at its southern
end with the hills of Gebanon. It runs through the desert beyond Aordan, all the
way to the lace where +ihon Bing of the (morites once dwelt. (7CC) In the
distribution of land among the tribes 2of Israel4, this mountain fell to the lot
of Eeuben, %ad, and the half9tribe of /anasseh# of it Aeremiah 2==.84
remar"s,0,hou art %ilead unto me, and the head of Gebanon.0 (ntilebanon,
according to Aerome in the -oo" of Places, stretches out around the districts of
the city of ?amascus, which had fallen to the lot of the ,ribe of /anasseh# this
is the ?amascus mentioned in Nthe -oo" of BingsO Isaiah 5.8 as 0the head of
+yria.0 It is about four days from Aerusalem, three from (cco, two from ,rioli,
and one from -erytus. !rom ?amascus about seven or eight days journey north lies
the famous city of (la 2(leo4, which long ago was the dwelling9lace of
(braham 2>aran 2%en.11.71;4# it lies about two days journey from the 1uhrates,
a day and a half from (ntioch. ,hen9at the very end of the Gand of Promise to
the northeast9 is the city of >amath (see :umbers 7C 2.84, also mentioned in
NIIO I Bings 82.864, I 'hronicles 182.74, and many other laces. Aerome reorts
in the -oo" of Places that he has investigated this city with great care and
finds that is now named 1ihania. :e$t comes 'ommage, a city not far from
'ilicia, where 0malta,0 an inflammable sort of tar, is to be found. If this is
thrown uon an armored soldier, it sets him on fire, and neither water nor any
other sort of li3uid will hel) he must be lastered with mud. !or a long time
the Eoman army was u**led and terrified when this sort of tar was hurled at the
soldiers, until they learned to 3uench the burning by smearing the dust of the
earth on the laces touched by the tar. Pliny tells the story in -oo" =2.=764.
2Pliny dates the incident to the /ithridatic <ar (8. -.'.), while G. Gucullus
was the Eoman commander, and locates it in +amosata, about 160 miles from
1ihania.4
:ow that I have assigned the details of the cities, mountains, streams, and
other details of geograhy, it will be easier to understand the rovinces and
their districts. ,he whole rovince of +yria lies on this side 2west4 of the
1uhrates. It e$tends for an enormous length, but is rather less in width, as
Isidore 21C.7.184 tells us, and Pliny 26.854 informs us that its length from
'ilicia down to (rabia is a good C50 miles. It consists of a number of
rovinces, all subsumed under the name of +yria) +yrian 'ommagene, >ollow +yria,
+yria of Phoeni$ 2Phoenicia4, and +yrian Palestine, of which, according to our
authorities, %alilee, +amaria, and Audea are districts. +yrian 'ommagene, as
Isidore states in boo" 1C2.7.154, got its name (7C6) from that of the city of
'ommaga, once its caital. 'ommagene has the 1uhrates to the east, 'ilicia and
'aadocia to the north, the /editerranean to the west, and >ollow +yria 2'oele
+yria4 (whose name is written with a dihthong) to the south. ,o the east is
Imma 2>amath4. In the -oo" of Places Aerome tells us that after careful
investigation, he found that >amath is in fact in 'oele +yria, and Pliny says
the same. Aerome uses similar language of (la 2see above, .184, which is near
(ntioch, a long way from ?amascus, which is in Phoenician +yria. +o >ollow +yria
is bounded by the /editerranean on the west, 'ommagenean +yria on the north, the
1uhrates on the east, and Phoenician +yria (which begins at the northern end of
/t. Gebanon) on the south. Pliny 26.559584 tells us that this mountain runs
right u to 'oele +yria, somewhere around ,rioli, and that Phoenician +yria
includes ,rioli, ,yre, +idon, (cco, and down as far as Palestinian 'aesarea.
Pliny tells us that on the Phoenician coast lies PtolemaRs, also called (cco#
that 'aesarea Philii too is in the rovince of Phoeni$, as Aerome says# and so
is everything else this side of Aordan as far south as Palestine. ,he rovince
also includes /ts. Gebanon and (ntilebanon, and ?amascus with its environs and
includes everything beyond Aordan as far north as Pella, /t. >ermon, /t. %ilead,
and the trans9Aordanian lands of the 'hildren of Israel. ?amascus is clearly to
be included in +yria of Phoeni$, for Aerome describes it as 0a notable city of
Phoenicia,0 and in his 'ommentary on %enesis he includes ?amascus in +yria of
Phoeni$, ointing out that I* the son of (ram 2%en.10.=74 ossessed 0?amascus
and everything as far as >ollow +yria.0 2,his 3uotation is from Aerome, not
+criture.4 ,he chief cities of the Phoenicians are ,yre and +idon. (s Isidore
tells us in boo" 1C2.7.184, Phoeni$,the brother of 'admus, migrated from ,hebes
in 1gyt and was ruler in +idon, calling the 2whole rovince4 by his own name.
>is followers 2isti4 founded ,yre, and used Phoenicia for the whole region
around it. ,he rovince of Phoenicia is divided into two rincial regions) the
first is that of the ,yrians, N+yriansO, +idonians, and (cconensians, with all
the territory (7C8) between Gebanon and ,rioli# the other major division is
?amascene +yria. 2,he title of4 0>ead of +yria0 was attached to ?amascus, with
the 0+yria0 referring to the art of the rovince between the 1uhrates and /t.
Gebanon and south to the land of the >ebrews. ,his name 0+yria0 was certainly
alied to ?amascus and its environs in the time of the Bings of Israel. ,hus
the rovince of +yria of Phoeni$ includes the lands of the >ebrews to the south,
as well as the land of the Philistines, but the latter begins at the territory
of the (cconensians and runs south to the muddy river of 1gyt. In anti3uity it
included almost the whole territory of the Aews west of Aordan.
:ow the Aews occuy much of the land of the Philistines and s3uee*e them bac"
into their coastal towns9'aesarea, Aoa, (scalon, %a*a, and the rest9so that we
must here ma"e a distinction between the three rincial districts of Aews on
this side of Aordan) %alilee, +amaria, and Audea in the limited sense. ,his we
find, for e$amle, in /atthew 1..214 in a gloss 20Aesus dearted from %alilee
and came into the coasts of Audea beyond Aordan04. ,he whole rovince of the
Aews, as distinguished from other races, is called 0Audea&# but the word is also
used for the southern art of the rovince, which contains Aerusalem, as
distinguished from +amaria, %alilee, the ?ecaolis, and other districts of the
same rovince. Aosehus, in the (nti3uities, divides and arranges in arts the
whole rovince, both this side of Aordan and the other, and >egesius follows
him in boo" 7, clearing u some of the more obscure statements we find in
Aosehus. -oth authors call the whole region across Aordan Perea, whose greatest
length is from /achaerus on the ?ead +ea to Pella, near 'aesarea Philii and
/t. >ermon# its widest art is between Philelhia and the Aordan. In this region
we find two imortant districts, the first of which is the ?ecaolis, a region
of ten cities, of which one, as Pliny 26.5C4 observes, is Pella. ,o Pella the
other towns are attached 2anne$ae4. ,o the south of Gebanon and (ntilebanon,
according to Pliny, in the direction of Philadelhia and surrounding it, are two
tetrarchies9Paneas or 'aesarea Philii on the west and the region of
,rachonitis on the south, beyond the Aordan. ,his ?ecaolis, then, is near
Gebanon and 'aesarea Philii, and borders on ,yre and +idon, which is why /ar"
N8O 25.714 says) 0?earting from the coasts of ,yre and +idon, he 2Aesus4 came
unto the +ea of %alilee, through the midst of the coasts of ?ecaolis. :e$t
after this to the south (7C5) on the other side of Aordan is the tetrarchy of
Iturea (,rachonitis, including Phiala, a source of the Aordan, as I mentioned
above 2. 7784# it is a little way from 'aesarea. (lso in the neighborhood is
the region of the %erasenians, whose caital is %erasa. ( note on /ar" 62.14
tells us that %erasa is a city of (rabia across the Aordan, near /t. %ilead in
the territory of the tribe of /anasseh and not far from the +ea of ,iberias,
into which the swine hurled themselves. 2,he story aears in all three
synotics, with manuscrit authority for its location in %erasa, %ergesa, or
%adara (robably a variant selling), about ten miles southeast of the +ea of
%alilee. ,he Bing Aames uses the last.4 ,he %erasenes or %ergasenes lived here,
as we can learn from this citation. :e$t to the south is the second main
division, the region of Iturea or ,rachonitis. mentioned by Aerome in the -oo"
of Places) 0,his region, ,rachonitis or Iturea, (whose tetrarch, according to
the %osel of Gu"e 27.14, was Phili) lies in the desert beyond -osra, an
(rabian town facing the desert on the south# to the north it faces ?amascus.0
,his -osra, then, is in the desert on the other side of Aordan. It was allotted
to the tribe of Eeuben, to the east of Aericho, and e$tends to /achaerus and the
boundary with the /oabites. -ut note) 0,o "ee eole from as"ing which -osra
this is, I must oint out that there is another in Idumea, about which Isaiah
287.14 as"s, 0<ho is this that cometh from 1dom, in dyed garments from -o*rah;0
,hus Aerome, in the -oo" of Places, ma"es the distinction 2between the two
laces4. ,hat Iturea here reaches almost to the ?ecaolis and 'aesarea is clear
from Pliny&s statement that Iturea 0surrounds0 the ?ecaolis.
,he districts on this side of Aordan are divided, according to Aosehus and
>egesius, as follows. !irst, %alilee, ta"en as a whole. ,o its north are the
boundaries of ,yre and +idon# to the west the territory of (cco and /t. 'armel#
to the east the ?ecaolis# and to the south +amaria and +cythoolis, whose
bounds have been given above. %alilee has two districts) the uer 2northern4,
called 0%alilee of the %entiles,0 bordering the lands of ,yre and +idon. It gets
its name because +olomon handed over twenty of its towns to >iram, Bing of ,yre
2I Bings ..114, so that the native eoles in this art of %alilee intermarried
with the Aews. 2,he district4, moreover, is in contact with other eoles on the
north, east, and west2;4, a fact which layed a art in its being so named.
%alilee of the %entiles reaches as far 2east4 as the +ea of ,iberias and below
2south to4 the %reat Plain of 1sdrelon. In that region begins Gower or Aewish
%alilee, which belongs to the tribe of Tebulon. @ne must be careful not to thin"
of it as trans9Aordanian, as many writers have done because of the words of
Isaiah 2..14 and the %osel of /atthew 26.174, who, 3uoting Isaiah, sea"s of
0the land of Tebulon and the land of :ahtali, the road of the sea, across the
(7C84 Aordan, %alilee of the %entiles.0 2,he full citation of /att. C.1=916
reads, 0:ow when Aesus had heard that Aohn was cast into rison, he dearted
into %alilee. (nd leaving :a*areth, he came and dwelt in 'aernaum, which is
uon the sea coast, in the borders of Tebulon and :ahtali, that it might be
fulfilled which was so"en by Isaiah the rohet, saying, 0the land of Tebulon
and the land of :ahtali, by the way of the sea Lvia maris, 0coastal road0M
beyond Lsee above, . 7C=M Aordan, %alilee of the %entiles.0 'aernaum is on the
northwest edge of the +ea of %alilee.4. :ow this comment on /atthew refers to
%alilee of the %entiles as is it were in the land of :ahtali and near ,yre# but
since the tribe of :ahtali is on this 2the west4 side of Aordan, this division
of %alilee must therefore be there too. (nd indeed Aerome, in the -oo" of
Places. says that it is there, and Aosehus, >egesius, and everyone else
indicate the same thing. -ut we must also e$amine the turn of hrase used here,
a turn we fre3uently find in the %osels. !or e$amle, in /ar" 8L.7=9774 we
read, 0(nd they 2the disciles4 dearted into a desert lace by shi rivately.
(nd the eole saw them dearting, and many "new him, and ran afoot 2edestres4
thither out of all cities, and outwent them, and came together unto him.0 ,his
note does not mean that the Gord and his disciles went across to the other side
of the +ea 2of %alilee4 or of the Aordan, but of some arm or bay which the
eole living nearby could reach on foot. !rom this we may gather that 0across
the Aordan0 here means, not 0across the whole width,0 but 0across some art.0 +o
too Aohn 82.14) 0(fter this Aesus went over the +ea of %alilee, which is the +ea
of ,iberias,0 does not mean that he crossed all the way to the other side, to
the land of the %erasenes, but only that he crossed some little bend 2in the
coast4 on the same side, i.e. the west. >ere too, as in the first e$amle, a
art is imlied by 2the name of4 the whole. 2ars ro toto. ,he %ree" term
synecdoche can be either 0the 2name of4 a art instead of 2that of4 the whole4.
@r, when later in the same chater 2Aohn 8.189154 2the 1vangelist4 says 0his
disciles went down into the sea, and entered into a shi,and went over the sea
to 'aernaum,0 they were still in the same district, and for the whole time they
were still on this side of Aordan. +o we must not thin" of 2their crossing4 the
whole sea# there is no ferrying across to the other side. ,he 0art0 is doing
duty for the 0whole09i.e. the whole west ban" of Aordan. /oreover, here 2in this
story4 we read 0%alilee of the %entiles, beyond the Aordan,0 a art is named
instead of the whole. !or between the lace where Isaiah was when he so"e these
words and %alilee of the %entiles lay a goodly art of the length of the Aordan9
all the way from Isaiah&s home to northern %alilee.
,o the south of Aewish %alilee lies +amaria, the name both of a city and of its
region. It begins in the %reat Plain 21sdraelon or /egiddo4 and reaches down to
Audea. ,he widest art of this Audea, according to Aosehus and >egesius, is
from Aordan to Aoa, and the longest 2dimension4 e$tends 2south4 as far as
-eersheba.
:ow at the end 2of our discussion4 we must answer the 3uestion we have raised,
so that we may "now the area of the Promised Gand, and how much of it the Aews
(7C.) actually ossessed. Aerome has determined this, in a way that insires
confidence, in his letter @n the Promised Gand, and e$lains that neither ?avid
nor +olomon, nor anyone else, ever ossessed more than the land from ?an to
-eersheba, although after their victories they reduced many hostile regions to
tributaries. ,he whole territory from ?an to -eersheba barely runs to a hundred
and si$ty miles, as Aerome says, both e$licitly and by imlication. @f its
breadth he is ashamed to sea", for from Aoa to our little town of -ethlehem
is only C8 miles, and from -ethlehem to the Aordan is about a day&s journey. +o
we see that only a very small art was actually owned by the Aews. (nd we must
not forget that this territory I have mentioned was the only land west of the
Aordan that the Aews ossessed.
Pet two and a half tribes had territory beyond the Aordan, as Aerome e$lains in
the very same letter. ,he Promised Gand reached from the 1uhrates in the east
to the /editerranean in the west, and from 'ilicia and /t. ,aurus in the north
to the 0turbid river of 1gyt0 and all the way to the lands of 1dom, /oab, and
(mmon in the south. !or in the eighth boo" of his 'ommentary on Isaiah Aerome
says that the land from 1uhrates to the 0stream of 1gyt09that is, all the way
to the :ile9had been romised to the Aews. ,hat 0stream,0 then, is the :ile, and
the 1uhrates is the eastern boundary of this land. ,he 0river of 1gyt0 and the
/editerranean, into which it flows, is the western boundary, as Aerome states in
-oo" 1. >e adds that to the north all the land from 'ilicia and /t. ,aurus was
romised them, and in -oo" 1C of his 'ommentary on 1*e"iel he observes that the
northern boundary begins at the /editerranean and runs to Tehyrus, a town of
'ilicia, u to the crest of /t. ,aurus, then to >amath, a town of 'oele9+yria
now called 1ihania. ,o the west, the boundary runs from the lace where the
torrent of the town of Ehinocura flows into the /editerranean, then u the coast
of that sea to a oint west of 2contra4 >amath, a +yrian town of which I have
so"en above. ,he southern boundary begins at the river of 1gyt where it enters
the /editerranean# it asses the ?esert of Tin and Badesh, asses through 1dom,
/oab, and (mmon, and so to the 1uhrates. ,hus, if the 1uhrates lies to its
east and the seas into which the river of 1gyt runs to the west, the southern
boundary does indeed run from the /editerranean to the 1uhrates. +o much (760)
follows of necessity, but not on the basis of a single authority# it is derived
from many sources and follows from what I have already e$lained. ,he statement
in many laces9for e$amle, in :umbers =C2.114 and Aerome&s 'ommentary on
1*e"iel 1C9that the +ea of %ennesaret and the Aordan and other such laces are
to the east 2of Audea4, is 3uite true as regards the land ossessed by the Aews
on this side9the west9of Aordan# but they also owned a great deal of land on the
other side, as is roved by the e$amle of the two and a half tribes. In fact,
much more was romised them, all the way to the 1uhrates.
In the middle of Audea is Aerusalem, a city rich in wealth of all sorts. ,he
Aews, imressed by the bounty of the elements, considered that this was the land
flowing with mil" and honey which %od had romised them as an earnest of the
resurrection. ,he slitting off of the ,en ,ribes gave their name to the Aews,
2Audaei4, who before that time had been called 0>ebrews0 or 0Israel.0 -ut once
the eole of %od had been divided between two "ingdoms, the two tribes which
had "ings descended from Audah have been called 0Aews0# the other ten, who set
u their "ings in +amaria, have been "nown as 0Israel.0
-efore assing on to other regions I must write about /t. ,aurus, for it is the
boundary between innumerable eoles. In the east it starts at the Indian @cean,
then, as it goes to the west, it asses through the bounds of India and the
Parthian "ingdoms and through /esootamia and +yria, which lie to its south. @n
its north are all the regions of the +cythians and a art of (rmenia /ajor and
'aadocia. ,hese it traverses and thus comes to 'ilicia. -ut in its course it
is "nown by various names, deending on the region. In some laces it is called
'aucasus, the laces where it is highest# because of the abundance of snow it
gets this name, since in the language so"en there the word 0caucasus0 means
0brilliant white.0 1lsewhere it is called 'asius or ,aurus, or sometimes
>yrcanus or one of many other names, more than twenty according to (761) Pliny
26..59..4. :ine of these names are given the range in the stretch from the
Indian @cean in the east, before it receives its own name, ,aurus. (fter that it
is called 'aucasus. It receives three other outlandish names, but then is once
more called ,aurus. <here it finally oens u to form the 'asian %ates, it is
"nown as 'asius or >yrcanus, or by one of many other names which need not
concern us here. (ll this is the oinion of Pliny, though @rosius 21.=.789C54
thin"s otherwise, and many others differ from him. +o the whole range starting
from India is called 'aucasus, and its western end is called ,aurus. +ome eole
reverse the names, but we need not bother with them) they are using different
figures of seech, with different names for the same thing. ,he more general
usage among the learned who write about the regions of the world is that its
eastern art is called 'aucasus# then it becomes 'asius or >yrcanus, and
further 2west4 ,aurus. <here it rises highest it is again called 'aucasus, and
finally ,aurus once more. ,he whole range is 2usually4 called 'aucasus or, for
different reasons, ,aurus.
:ow let us return to the regions to the east beyond /esootamia, (ssyria, and
-abylon, and follow the oinion of Pliny 28.11C4 and all the others that in that
region are the "ingdoms of the /edes, Persians, and Parthians. ,hese "ingdoms
have the river ,igris to the west, the Indus to the east, the Persian %ulf (or
rather the Persian arm of the Eed +ea) to the south, and to the north they have
(rmenia, the ,aurus and 'aucasus mountains, the 'asian or >yrcanian %ates, the
land of the >yrcanians and the >yrcanian +ea, which is the same as the 'asian,
as Pliny 28.784 tells us. ,he 2former4 Persian "ingdoms, as he says, are those
we now "now as those of the Parthians. (ctually the art beyond the Persian %ulf
is roerly 2rorie4 called Persia, and gets its name from the gulf. ,here are
eighteen Parthian "ingdoms, as he says, of which eleven, the Ier or :orthern
"ingdoms, starting at the boundary of (rmenia and the shores of the 'asian or
>yrcanian +ea, are roerly called Parthian# their eole are related to the
+cythians and live in the same way 2e$ ae3uo vivunt4 as the eole who cling to
the 'asian (>yrcanian) mountains or sea. ,he seven other Parthian "ingdoms are
in the south, along the Persian %ulf. ,hese are roerly called the Persian
"ingdoms) they are the 1lamites, the chiefs 2rincies4 of Persia, as Aerome
says in the 'ommentary on %enesis and the -oo" of Places. 1lam is the caital
(76=) of the Persians, and in it was +usis or +usa, its citadel, mentioned in
?aniel 8 2.= Q 0+hushan the Palace04, when it was the caital of the Persian
"ingdom. +usa, which lies on the northern branch of the ,igris, about =60 miles
from the Persian %ulf, was founded by ?arius the son of >ydases. :earby is a
town whose inhabitants, alone of mortals, have such a loathing of gold that they
collect it only to bury it again, so that nobody may be able to ma"e any use of
it.
,he /edes border on the Parthians as well as on the Persians. !or one art of
the /edes, the northern, is ne$t to the Parthians and 'asians, and roerly
begins by the 'asian %ates in the territory of (rmenia# these eole therefore
have the Parthians to the east, (rmenia and the 'asian gates to the north, and
the ,igris to the west, while the Parthians to the east e$tend to the Indus.
(nother art of 2the land4 of the /edes, the southern, curves around between the
Ier and Gower Parthian "ingdoms in such a way that Gower Parthia is not
directly east of Persia, but rather faces it from the southwest, according to
Pliny&s 28.11C91184 account, for he ma"es /edia surround both Persian "ingdoms.
,o the east, beyond the Eiver Indus, lies the whole e$tent of India, all the way
to the +cythian 2or 'hinese4 @cean, which lies to its north, and /ts.>imanus,
>emodus, and many other arts of the 2long range of4 'aucasus, which continues
all the way to the 1oan (1astern) @cean and, to the south, to the Indian @cean.
,he Indus flows into this, as Pliny 2; 8.5=4 tells us, since 2this far to the
east4 the name 0Eed +ea0 has become meaningless. India. therefore, has the Indus
Eiver to the west, and also the "ingdoms of the /edes and the Persians. ,o he
north it has the +cythian @cean, the 'aucasus and ,aurus mountains and the
"ingdoms of the +cythians# the Indian @cean lies to the south, and the 1astern
@cean to the east. ,his layout I have discussed in many laces above, for India
is the 2eastern4 beginning of the inhabitable world. It was, therefore, the
roer lace to begin my account, since I wanted my en to move ever westward
through the 2southernmost4 longitudes where men can live, on through the regions
of the 1thioians, and then return following the longitudes 2of the ne$t *one
north4.
I have already described the regions in order 2succedentes rioribus4 all the
way to India, which still needs some remar"s. 2India4 has some very large
rivers, notably the Indus and the %anges, both mentioned in +criture.2Perhas
%ihon and Pison of %en. =.11, 174. +ea"ing of the si*e of the Indus, Pliny
28.804 tells us that on no single day did (le$ander the %reat cover less than
800 stades as he sailed down the Indus, yet he could not cover its entire length
in five months (767) lus a few days more. Pet the %anges, as Pliny 28.864 says,
is even bigger#it surrounds the whole land of >avilah, where the finest gold is
found 2nascitur4. It rises in the mountains of 'aucasus and forms the northern
boundary of India# it then flows to the east, where its estuaries are very
broad# through them the river debouches into the 1astern @cean and loses its
identity.
,he -rahmins, who are discussed in the letter of Aerome which serves as a
reface to the -ible, dwell in India. +ince they are both ious and thoughtful
men, who recount stories of wonderful things about themselves rather than about
other eoles, I shall here introduce a few facts about them, and then, include
a few bits ic"ed from the writings of +t. (mbrose, to add credibility. In his
letter to Palladius 0@n the Gife ofthe -rahmins, he relates that they live near
the %anges Eiver, where it enters the eastern @cean9the men on the side of the
river nearer the ocean, but the women on the nearer side, thus emhasi*ing their
chastity 2roter insignia castitatis4. ,he men and women join each other only
to beget children, at certain fi$ed times in Auly and (ugust, as the saint I
have just mentioned reorts# when they have sent forty days with the women,
they romtly return to their own lace. (s soon as the wife of one of them
conceives and bears him a child or two, the husband returns no more to her, but
his sons succeed their father and he himself refrains from this sort of
intercourse for the rest of his life. If a man haens to have been allotted a
woman who turns out to be barren, the husband returns to her and slees with her
2each summer4 for five years# if during this time she has not become regnant,
he sees her no more. (s we learn from this letter and from the more imortant
wor" +t. (mbrose wrote on the Gives of the -rahmins, they have a most temerate
climate, and wear no te$tile clothes, but cover themselves with the leaves of
trees. ,hey do not till the soil# they have no 2fruit4 trees, no bread, no wine.
,hey eat only wild 2sonte nascentibus4 grass, leaves, and fruits, and 3uench
their thirst with the urest water. >ealthy and free from disease, they live
e$tremely long lives.
-y the northern bounds of India, as I have said, are the +cythian +ea and that
vast mountain range called 'aucasus or ,aurus or some other name in various
lands and by various tribes. ,o the west is Persia or Parthia, and /edia. :e$t
to the west of them, as I have said, is (76C) /esootamia and the whole of
+yria. @n the border of /edia and Parthia is the Iron %ate of (le$ander, a city
named for its 2nearby4 mountain asses. ,hese 0gates0 are called 0'asian0, not
0'aucasian0, as Pliny 28.709714 reorts. ,he 'aucasian %ates are entirely
different, as I shall resently show# these are right along the shore of the
'asian +ea. ,his is a sea fed 23uod fit e$ concursu4 by the joining of enormous
rivers that flow from the north# it is called the 'asian or >yrcanian +ea, for
the 'asian and >yrcanian tribes live along its coast. ,his sea, however, is not
an arm of the @cean, as Isidore 2..15.14 and Pliny 28.784 and all other western
writers claim. In this matter they had no reliable witness, their own or that of
others, but were transcribing 2unchec"ed4 rumor. -ut in the boo"s @n the 'ustoms
of the ,artars (clearly deserving our trust, since its authors have actually
travelled in those regions), we find that this sea9(766) one of considerable
si*e9is fed by the confluence of rivers. Its circumnavigation re3uires four
months. >yrcania runs along the southern shore of this sea, on the Parthian
border# where Parthia meets /edia at the 2'asian4 gates, it 2the sea4 goes on
ast these gates to the east, just as Pliny tells us. It then runs north ast
the rest of /edia. ,o the west of >yrcania is (rmenia /ajor# the 1uhrates
divides this from 'aadocia, as Pliny tells us. 'aadocia, in conse3uence,
lies to the west of (rmenia /ajor.
:e$t, in the direction of +yria and the /editerranean 2south4, lies 'ilicia,
also called (rmenia /inor. Part of (rmenia /inor is south and art is west of
'aadocia, which begins no more than two days journey from (ntioch. -eyond
2subQwest4 'ilicia, to the north of the 2/editerranean4, Pamhylia is closed in
2by other rovinces4, as Pliny 26..C4 tells us 2Pliny actually says 0all the
authors have connected Pamhylia to 'ilicia4, ignoring the Isaurian tribe, which
is omitted either because it is so small, or because they include it with 2some
other rovince4. ,he caital of 'ilicia is ,arsus, where the blessed (ostle
Paul was born. !rom ,arsus, 'ilicia e$tends about four days journey north in the
direction of ,ur"ey, but directly north of 'ilicia is Gycaonia, with the famous
city of Iconium, from which the rovince gets its name9ronounced Gycaonia, as
if derived from Icaonia. ,hus the ruler of the region is called the +ultan of
Iconium and ,ur"ey, for Gycaonia is now "nown as ,ur"ey. !rom the boundary of
(rmenia to Iconium is a journey of eight days.
,he names of the rovinces in this region have been much changed because of the
2many4 wars. ,ur"ey now includes many lands, which in the ages of 2ancient4
authors show their old names) so art of (sia /inor, for e$amle, and Phrygia
and Gydia. (sia /ajor 2roerly4 includes more than half the whole world9
everything, indeed, e$cet for 1uroe and (frica# hence it includes this art we
call (sia /inor, but which, among the %ree"s, is called (natolia (0%reece toward
the sunrise0). In the region is 2the district of4 %alatia, from which comes the
name of the %alatians, to whom the (ostle wrote. ,here too are Ilium, also
called ,roy, a most famous city, and many other laces91hesus and the +even
'hurches of the (ocalyse# :icea, from which the 'ouncil of :icea got its name,
and a host of others. !rom Iconium to :icea is twenty days journey in
summertime, and from there to +t. %eorge&s (rm (called the >ellesont by the
ancients) is about seven more, ,his (rm runs inland from the L(egean) +ea,
2about half way4 Italy and (ntioch, and mar"s the western end of (sia /inor. ,o
the south lies the sea bounded by (768) Italy, %reece, (ntioch, and 1gyt. ,o
the east of the (rm lies Phrygia, which, Pliny tells us 26.1C64 2curialiter; 0as
if from a list of olitical boundaries04, lies just inland from the ,road,
joining %alatia to the north, Gycaonia on the south, and 'aadocia on the east.
Gydia, he adds, is also an eastern neighbor of Phrygia, which made 'roesus the
richest of the Gydian "ings. ,he (rm of +t. %eorge is a very narrow strait, with
'onstantinole at its eastern end on the 1uroean side# it runs from the %reat
+ea between (sia and 1gyt, +yria, and Italy, for about a hundred leagues north,
all the way to another very large sea called the Pontic. ,his sea, which is a
boundary of so many regions, is shaed li"e a +cythian bow.
!rom here begin the lands to the north, about which hilosohers living further
south have "nown far too little, as 1thicus the astronomer remar"s in his boo".
-ut he himself ersonally e$lored 2erambulavit4 all this region and sailed in
the northern ocean and its isles. I therefore intend to follow his account# but
I shall nevertheless ay close attention to other boo"s on the customs of the
,artars, and esecially that of -rother <illiam 2de Eubru3uis4, whom Gord Gouis
2IW4, Bing of !rance, who was then in +yria, sent out in the year of our Gord
1=67 to the land of the ,artars. -rother <illiam wrote his boo" for our Gord the
Bing, on the geograhy 2situm4 of these regions and their seas.
,his larger 2the -lac"4 sea e$tends east9i.e. from (765) 'onstantinole9for 1C00
miles, and in its middle is narrowed by two rojections of the coasts. @n the
southern headland is a castle and seaort of the +ultan of ,ur"ey,called
+inoolis. @n the northern headland he has another castle, named +oldea 2+uda"4,
in a rovince now called 'assaria or 'essaria 2'rimea;4. ,he breadth of the sea
between the two headlands is 700 miles from +inoolis to +oldea. ,he castles
guard 20are0# sunt4 two famous seaorts, from which men from the regions to the
south cross to the north and vice versa. !rom these castles the sea stretches
about 500 miles west to 'onstantinole in length Nand widthO and li"ewise for
500 to the east. 2I suose he means a voyage from +inoe to the 'rimea and then
'onstantinole (6C0 miles), or +inoe to the 'rimea and then to ,rebi*ond(;)
(also 6C0 miles). @therwise, the distances don&t fit.4. ,his rovince of
'assaria is surrounded on three sides by the sea. Part of the -lac" +ea lies to
the west, by the town of 'herson, where +t. 'lement suffered martyrdom. :earby
is an island with a church said to have been built by the hands of angels, in
which the body of the saint is buried. -etween 'herson to +udah there are
2lacuna4...forty fortified towns, almost every one of which has its own local
dialect# there are many %oths in the neighborhood, all of whom sea" %erman
2,eutonicum4.
,o the south of 'assaria stretches the -lac" +ea, and to its east the Eiver ?on,
twelve miles wide at its mouth, flows into the sea, by the city of /atrica
2(*ov; Bertch;4. ,he river roduces a sort of 23uoddam4 0sea0 to the northeast,
seven hundred miles long and wide, whose deth nowhere e$ceeds si$ feet. ,his
0sea0 2of (*ov4 is the celebrated /aeotic swam of which the hilosohers,
historians, and oets sea". -eyond the swam the ?on stretches north all the
way to the Eihean 2see Pliny 6..84 /ountains in the e$treme north. ,he river
?on rises in these mountains and flows through a long tract of land to the swam
I have mentioned above, which, indeed, it generates. In this region this
celebrated river divides 1uroe from (sia, and the swam and many other marshy
areas connected with it are rec"oned as one) one sea"s of the swams of /aeotis
or, in adjectival form, the /aeotic swams# they are called a sea9of a shallow
sort9and are on the east side of 'assaria, and are art of the system of the
?on, which runs among them and into the Pontic +ea.
(768) ,o the north this rovince of 'assaria faces a vast wilderness, stretching
from the ?on in the east to the ?anube in the west, a two9months journey of a
galloing horseman, one riding as the ,artars ride9a distance e3ual to that from
@rleans to Paris9 in a single day, -ut this land ta"es four months to traverse
at the rate other fol" generally ride. ,he whole land used to belong to the
'umani, who were called the 'atae 2+lavs;4. -ut the ,artars wied them out and
slew all the 'umani e$cet for a remnant which fled to the Bingdom of >ungary,
to which they are subjects. -y the %ermans they are called Falana 2Folhynia;4,
by Pliny 28.1= mentions the castellum 'umania;4, Isidore 2..=..C4, and others
the eastern (lans# their territory includes the ?anube, Poland, and eastern
>ungary.
,o the northeast of this rovince is %reat Eussia, which also e$tends on one
side 2the west4 from Poland to the ?on# but a great art of its western boundary
is Geucovia 2Githuania;4, a land as big as %ermany 2(lemania4. ,o the west of
%reat Eussia there are many lands ma"ing a semicircle around a sort of sea
formed by many arms of the @cean, which reach ast the middle of ?enmar"
2reading ?ania, not ?acia4. -eyond ?enmar" to the east it broadens out into a
great sea 2the -altic4 with ?enmar" and +weden on the west. +weden is north of
?enmar", and a little further east than that country# to the north of ?enmar"
and +weden lies :orway. :e$t 2to the west4 comes a great sea 2the :orth +ea4,
beyond which are +cotland and 1ngland and, beyond a small sea, comes Ireland.
,hese regions are well "nown, but I include them here to rovide bearings for
the other, 2less familiar4, lands. If we start from the northern end of the
western edge and move 2ascendamus4 eastward, Ireland comes first, then %reat
-ritain (which includes 1ngland and +cotland), then :orway, +weden, and ?enmar".
(fter them to the east is the great sea 2the -altic4 I have mentioned, called
the 1astern +ea because (76.) the @cean does not reach beyond it. -eyond the
eastern coast of the -altic, just ast the 2southeast4 corner of +weden comes
1stonia# then Givonia to the east of the sea# then 'uronia or 'ourland, as we
move further south, then Prussia (a large region on the southern coast). ,hen
comes Pomerania, then GXbec", a great and famous seaort at the boundary of
?enmar" and +a$ony. In the middle of the -altic is an island called %Ytland.
-eyond Givonia to the east is +emi9%allia. (ll these lands91stonia, Givonia,
+emi9%allia, and 'uronia9are surrounded by Geucovia, as I have mentioned, and
%reat Eussia surrounds Geucovia on both sides 2e$ utra3ue arte9east and south;4
of the above mentioned sea# on the southern coast it ends at Prussia and Poland.
Poland lies to the south of Prussia# to its south is -ohemia, and then (ustria.
,o the west of these lands is %ermany, and further still 2to the west !rance and
+ain. 1verybody "nows about them# I mention them only 2to show their relation
to4 the others. 1ast of (ustria and -ohemia is >ungary, ne$t to which is
2descendit4 the western art of (lbania. !or >ungary straddles 2cadit suer4 the
?anube, which flows through its middle# later on it emties into the -lac" +ea
through twelve great mouths. (t the end of eastern >ungary, on the north side is
this rovince of (lbania, oosite which, to the south of the ?anube, are the
-alchi 2Flachs;4, -ulgars, and 'onstantinole# in anti3uity the whole region was
called ,hrace. 1astern (lbania, then, stretches from the ?anube, then eastward
beyond >ungary all the way to the ?on, with 'assaria, -alchia, -ulgaria, and
'onstantinole to the south. @n the west it borders >ungary, Poland, and the
borders of Eussia. ,o the north lies the whole length of Eussia.
-eyond Eussia to the north are the >yerborean eole, so named for the vast
mountains called >yerborean 20beyond the north wind04. -ecause of the health9
giving 3uality of the air, this eole lives its life in the forest, so long
lived that they have no concern about death. ,hey are a eole of laudable
habit, 3uiet and eaceful, who injure nobody else, and are troubled by no
others# rather, other eoles flee to them as their refuge. >ow so temerate a
region can e$ist in those arts I have discussed already, when I described the
characteristics of different arts of the world. +o much, then, for the
remar"able regions of northern 1uroe.
(780) ,he religious ractices of these eoles are 3uite varied. ,he Prussians,
'ourlanders, Givonians, 1stonians, +emi9galli, and Geucovians are agan. :ot so
the (lans, for the ,artars invaded their land and drove the 'umanians before
them all the way to >ungary# the 'umani are agan and the (lans were, but they
have 2now4 been wied out. ,he Eussians are 'hristians, but of a schismatic sort
who cling to the %ree" rite, but use, not the %ree" language, but rather
+lavonic, one of the languages so"en over many lands and still the commonest in
Eussia, Poland, and -ohemia, and many other regions as well. ,he ,artars from
the ?anube now inhabit the land once held by the (lans or 'umani, and almost
everywhere to the furthest bounds of the east, having destroyed most other
neighboring nations to the north and south9though there are a few mountain
tribes in such secure fastnesses that they cannot be crushed, however close
their attac"ers may get.
,he river ?on flows south from the towering Eihaean 2Iral4 mountains, which are
so far north that there is no habitable land beyond them. ,here the merchants
and others who have come from >ungary, 'assaria, Poland, and Eussia have
established a sort of trading ost, at a oint where the Eiver ?on can be
crossed in a barge, being, at this oint, about the breadth of the +eine at
Paris. -eyond the river is Ier (lbania, which reaches all the way to another
great river called the 1thilia 2Folga4, more than four times as big as the
+eine. Indeed, it is one of the greatest rivers of the world, and it swells in
summer just as the :ile does. ,o the north it is about ten days journey from the
?on# to the south, however, the rivers are much further aart, for the ?on
emties into the -lac" +ea, but the Folga flows into the 'asian. Indeed, along
with many other rivers which rise in Persia and elsewhere, it feeds that sea.
!or, according to Pliny 28.71 gives several figures# his own estimate is =00
miles4, it is 780 miles from the -lac" +ea to the 'asian.
,he 'umani used to live in this region, but the ,artars wied them out
comletely, as they did on the other side of the ?on and all the way to the
?anube# this I have mentioned above. ,he ,artars own innumerable shee, (781)
and live in tents, having no ermanent houses or castles, or at least only a
very few. 1ach 2unus4 leader with his horde and their floc"s wander about
between a air of rivers9one between ?anube and ?on, another between ?an and
Folga, and so on to the east) their divisions are based on gra*ing and water. In
Aanuary they begin to migrate north along the rivers and continue until (ugust,
then return to the south because of the cold northern winters. ,he Folga is a
journey of a month and three days from the rovince of 'assaria9if one rides at
the seed of a ,artar.
,his land of the ,artars between the ?on and the Folga contains certain tribes
to the north, the first being the (rymhean eole, near the Eihean /ountains,
who are very li"e the >yerboreans in every way, -oth these eole live near to
the :orth Pole# a little further from it and east of the ?on are the first
subjects of the ,artars is a tribe called the /o$el, who are still devoid of
law, who are the simlest sort of agans# they do not live in towns, but in
little huts in the forest. ,heir chief, and a great art of the eole, were
"illed in Poland by Poles, (lemanni, and -ohemians, when the ,artars conscrited
them in a war with the Poles. Pet they 2still4 side vigorously with the Poles
and (lemanni, clinging to the hoe that by them they may be freed from slavery
to the ,artars. If a trader comes among them, the owner of the house into which
he comes must ay his e$enses for as long as he wants to stay, for this is the
custom of the 2whole4 region. ,he ne$t tribe after them to the east is called
the /erduim, also subjected to the ,artars# they are +aracens and subject to the
law of /ohammed. -eyond them to the east is the Eiver Folga, which I have
already mentioned# it flows down from %reater -ulgaria, about which I shall
sea" later on.
,o the south of this art of the land of the ,artars, north of the -lac" +ea,
are the Iberi and the %eorgians. In %eorgia the caital city is called ,hehelis
2,iflis4, where the Preaching !riars have a house. -eyond %eorgia to the east is
the land of the 'orasimeni, but the eole have been destroyed by the ,artars.
Gong ago in this region there used to be (ma*ons, according to Pliny 28.1.4 and
1thicus the astronomer. ,he (ma*ons, as 1thicus reorts, were women who forming
a great army made u entirely of their se$, who gathered together without
husbands. (t certain set times of the year they summoned men (78=), by whom they
conceived 2children4# the boys whom they bore they "illed, while reserving the
girls. ?uring the childhood of the girls they e$tirated their right breasts
surgically, so that they might not interfere with their handling of the bow.
!rom young womanhood on they suc"led such savage monsters as minotaurs and
centaurs at their own breasts) the creatures went into battle as though the
(ma*ons were their own mothers, and the (ma*ons drove the enemy armies into
anic 2remebant4 more by horrors 2monstra4 li"e this than by military s"ill
2arma4. ,hus too they used to suc"le elehants and train them for battle. In
this way they ravaged the southern arts of (sia 2/inor4 and %reece for a
hundred years, until they were drawn from their urose 2seductae4 by >ercules
and wied out. ,he eole of these regions, %eorgians and 'orasmini, are vassals
of the +ultan of ,ur"ey, and they also hold 'aadocia to the south, for on the
south coast of the -lac" +ea all the land belongs to the +ultan as far 2west4 as
+inoolis, as I have remar"ed above# beyond this to the west along the coast is
the land named Fastachii 2-y*antii; seems unli"ely4 or 1ast %reece. !or <est
%reece is the land where 'onstantinole is situated, including the land attached
to it on the 1uroean side of the (rm of +t. %eorge.
%reater (rmenia lies beyond 'aadocia to the east# this art of (rmenia is
therefore to the south of %eorgia, but stretches east as far as /edia and
/esootamia. ,he whole region is regarded by many as the land of (rarat, because
of the assages in Isaiah 275.78# BAF has 0(rmenia04, which tells us that the
sons of +ennacherib fled into (rarat when their father was "illed. -ut in the
-oo" of Bings 2II Bings 1..754 it says that they fled into (rmenia. Aerome
solved this u**le in the second boo" of his 'ommentary on Isaiah by e$laining
that (rarat is a rustic art of (rmenia, through which flows the river (ra$es#
it is a region of unbelievable fertility in the foothills of /t. ,aurus, which
here e$tends this far 2south4. +o (rarat is not a synonym for all (rmenia, but a
art of it which, small as it is, is of great imortance. ,he (ra$es Eiver, from
which the region of (rarat gets its name, flows from its headwaters a distance
of three months journey or more. Its source is a sring in a mountain in
(rmenia, near the region where the 1uhrates rises to its north and the ,igris
on the other side of the mountain to the south. :ow in the mountains of (rmenia,
as +criture 2%en. 8.C4 asserts, :oah&s (r" settled down9but not just anywhere
in the mountains, for there is no other lace among them where these three
mighty rivers arise, e$cet near the highest ea" of /t. ,aurus, the region of
(rarat. +uch is the reasoning of Aerome in the second boo" (787) @n Isaiah) the
(r" in which :oah was saved rested, not at an unsecified lace in the mountains
of (rmenia, but near the highest art of /t. ,aurus, which looms over the fields
of (rarat.
:ear those mountains is a city which was very great indeed until the ,artars
destroyed it. It used to contain eighty (rmenian churches# but in the time of
!riar <illiam&s journey thither there were only two miserable ones. :earby the
-lessed -artholomew, and Aude and ,haddeus suffered martyrdom. !urthermore, two
rohecies were made there) one by the -lessed /ethodius, a native of the lace,
who gave clear warning of the Ishmaelites, fulfilled by the coming of the
+aracens. ,heir other rohet was named ("aton, who foretold the 2coming of4 the
,artars and their destruction. !or he warned that 0a nation armed with arrows
will descend from the north, crush all the "ingdoms of the east. ,hey will drive
on the realm of the west9that is, to 'onstantinole9 and there they will be
destroyed by the rinces of the west. (fterward all the nations will be
converted to belief in 'hrist, and such a eace will be universal that the
living will ity the dead, &Poor souls, who did not live to see this dayJ& ,hen
the 'hristian ruler will set his throne in ,aurinus, a city of Persia.0 ,he
(rmenians treat this rohecy as gosel. ,his city of ,aurinus, now called
:a$uam, used to be the caital of the "ingdom# it lies in the northern art of
(rmenia. @n the feast day of +t. 'lement, !riar <illiam started u along the
(ra$es, from where it ends in the northeast # on 'hristmas ?ay he reached
:a$uam, which he left in the @ctave of 1ihany and travelled along the (ra$es
to its headwaters, arriving there on the +econd +unday in Gent. It follows,
then, that it is much further from the city to the southern border of (rmenia
than to the northern.
(fter this, still further to the east, are the mountains of the (lans and of (a.
,he latter, 'hristians themselves, welcome without distinction all (78C) others,
Gatin as well as %ree". It follows that they are not schismatics, and, moreover,
they are at war with the ,artars, as are the (lans. -eyond them to the east is a
tribe of +aracens called the Gelgi, who 2are able to4 fight the ,artars because
of the rugged nature of the land 2roter terrae fortitudinem4. Past them to the
east, beyond the 'asian +ea, are the 'asian gates, which (le$ander the %reat
built at a lace where the mountain ranges meet. !or he wanted to crush the
eoles to the northeast, but could not do so because of the fierceness and
numbers of this eole. 1thicus reorts that he halted there for a year and
three months, warding off their attac"s, and grieving that there should be such
a miserable rabble 2gens essima4 to his northeast. 2(t last4 he imlored %od to
show him a way to ta"e measures 2ut aoneret remedium4 to "ee the world from
being destroyed by them. (nd though (le$ander was unworthy to be heard, %od, of
his goodness and for the salvation of the human race, gave orders for a mighty
earth3ua"e# the mountains, which till then had been searated by a full stade
2=00 yards4 were s3uee*ed together until they were only a gate&s width aart.
:e$t (le$ander ordered bron*e columns of wondrous si*e to be cast. 2-etween
these4 he raised gates, which he ainted with a tar which could not be damaged
by fire, water, or steel# this he obtained from islands in the 2'asian4 sea.
,hese gates 2he thought4 could only be destroyed by an earth3ua"e9yet now they
have been, for !riar <illiam, accomanied by his ,artars, assed through them.
2<here they used to be4 is now a town named (le$ander&s Iron %ate. 1ast of this
>yrcania begins, fronting the >yrcanian +ea, which, as I remar"ed above, is
identical with the 'asian. >yrcania borders the south end of this sea and
e$tends all the way to the borders of India. ,o the south of this sea are /edia
and Parthia, as I also observed. ,hese gates are not 0'aucasian0 but 0'asian,0
as Pliny 28.704 assures us9nor are the 0'asian0 the same as the 0'aucasian0.
,he 'aucasian %ates, in fact, are about =00 miles 2west4 of the 'asian, in the
direction of the -lac" +ea, and about 180 miles 2north4, near the regions of
Iberia and %eorgia. ,hese regions, including the mountains scattered among them,
are 2metahorically4 called the 0%ates of (le$ander,0 as if it was he who set
them u to "ee the eoles to the north from brea"ing into the lands to the
south and laying them waste, and he certainly fought many wars with these
eoles, as 1thicus tells us# on at least one occasion no less than a million
men fell on each side in less than three days. -ut (le$ander won his fights by
s"ill and shrewdness rather than by big battalions. (le$ander was not strong
enough to drive bac" these enemies, maddened li"e bears driven from their dens,
by brute force, until %od came to his aid by sha"ing the earth and closing off
the mountains. :ow these 0gates0 lie shattered, and it has been a long, long
time since they were bro"en oen, whether by an earth3ua"e or by neglect.
,his whole region must be studied with great care, for, according to Aerome in
boo" = @n 1*e"iel, %og and /agog, about whom 1*e"iel 21*e". ch.78 and 7.4 and
the (ocalyse 2=0.84, rohesied, have been loc"ed u there. %og is the
+cythian eole which dwells beyond the 'aucasus /ountains, the +ea of (*ov, and
the 'asian +ea. ,heir emire stretches all the way to India, and all %og&s
subject eoles are called /agog, after the rince of %og. +o too the Aews 2who
are rebellious and stiff9nec"ed;4. @rosius 2Prol.16; 5.=5.18;4 and other sacred
writers tell us that they are all destined to burst forth 2some time in the
future4. +o 1thicus writes that (le$ander walled in twenty9two "ingdoms of the
race of %og and /agog, "ingdoms which will emerge in the days of (ntichrist.
!irst they will lay the world waste, and then they will be the forerunners of
(ntichrist, whom they will call the %od of %ods. (ll this is confirmed by4 +t.
Aerome. >ow imortant it is, then, for the 'hurch of %od to study these matters,
as these good 'atholic men of ran" have doneJ :ot just as a means for the
conversion of the heathen in these regions and the encouragement of the
'hristian catives in their realms, but so that through these studies and others
li"e them we may learn whence and when the (ntichrist will aear, and may thus
avoid his ersecution.
+tarting from the 'asian %ates, the 'asian +ea stretches far to the east. Its
shorter dimension is to the north,2i.e. its north9south distance is less than
its east9west4, and is no less than that of the -lac" +ea, as Pliny 28.C64 tells
us# sailing all around it ta"es a good four months. !riar <illiam 2of Eubruc"4
(788), returning from the caital 2imeratore, 0emeror04 of the ,artars,
travelled around the western coast# on his way east he went along the northern
side, as he reorted to the resent Bing of !rance, in the year of our Gord
1=67. :orth of this lies a vast wilderness, inhabited by ,artars# and still
further north many lands must be crossed before one reaches the 2(rctic4 @cean.
<e cannot, then, maintain that this sea is an arm of the @cean, though
ractically all authors say so. :o# the observations 2e$erientia4 made in our
own day by !riar <illiam and other faithful 2'hristian4 men roves to us that
2the 'asian4 does not derive from the ocean, but is fed by many great rivers,
whose confluence engenders this 'asian or >yrcanian +ea. ,he whole land of the
,artars, from the ?on to the Folga, once belonged to the 'umani, also called the
'anglae, who were entirely wied out by the ,artars. In anti3uity the whole land
was called (lbania. In it there are enormous dogs, big enough to "ill lions and
even threaten bulls, yet men harness them to wagons and lows.
:e$t beyond the 1thilia 2FolgaM lies the third of the ,artar rinciates# its
aboriginal eole too, 'umani or 'anglae as I remar"ed above, have been wied
out by the ,artars. ,his rinciate e$tends for four months journey to the east
of the river, which is its southern frontier, finally reaching the caital
district of the emeror. @n the northern side such a journey 2along the border4
ta"es two months and ten days. It is therefore clear that 'umania was once the
biggest of all states, for this eole filled the whole territory from the
?anube all the way to this district where the emeror live. -y now they have
been annihilated by the ,artars, e$cet for the remnant which escaed to the
Bingdom of >ungary. ,his rinciate includes, from north to south, first,
%reater -ulgaria, the source of the -ulgars who live between 'onstantinole 2to
their southeast4 and >ungary and +lavonia 2to the north and west. ,his 1uroean
region is -ulgaria /inor, whose eole use the same language as those of
-ulgaria /ajor in (sia. ,he eole of -ulgaria /ajor are the most villainous of
+aracens, a remar"able thing when one reflects that their country is thirty days
journey or more through the wilderness 2eastward4 from the Iron or 'asian %ate.
It is, moreover, in the far (785) north, which ma"e it surrising indeed that
the cult of /ahomet reached eole living so far from the +aracens. In this
-ulgaria 2/ajor4 lies the source of the Folga, of which I so"e above. :e$t to
the east is the land of the Pascatyr 2Petchenegs;4 or %reat >ungary, from which
emigrated the >uns, later called the >ungri and nowadays the >ungari. Initing
with the -ulgars and certain other northern tribes, they burst through the %ates
of (le$ander, as Isidore 2..=.88# Is. adds that 0they were finally called (vars
after their "ing.04 tells us. ,hey collected tribute all the way to 1gyt, and
laid waste everything as far 2west4 as !rance, so that 2we may say4 that they
were more owerful than the ,artars of today. ( good art of them settled in the
land now called >ungary, beyond 2i.e.east of4 -ohemia and (ustria, which by
Gatin sea"ers is now called the Bingdom of >ungary. :e$t to the land of the
Pascatyr live the -alchi 2Flachs;4, from -alchia /ajor# these -alchi entered the
land of (ssani between 'onstantinole 2to the east4 and -ulgaria and >ungaria
/inor. ,his eole is now called the Ilac by the ,artars, the same word as -lac,
for the ,artars cannot ronounce the 2sound of4 the letter -. ,o the south of
the wilderness of the ,artars lies the 'asian +ea, and beyond this the 'aucasus
/ountains run all the way to the east.
,his rinciate e$tends from the Folga all the way to -lac" 'athay, hence the
name 'aracathaia, for cara means 0blac",0 and 2the land4 is called -lac" 'athay
to distinguish it from the other 'athay, which is far beyond this region to the
east. /any tribes lie between them and -lac" 'athay, of which more later. (long
with the adjoining regions it is the heartland 2terra raeciua4 of the ruler of
the ,artars, where he and his court are always travelling about, travelling
2ascendendo4 in summer to the cooler regions, in winter to the warmer. ,his
-lac" 'athay was the land of Prester (or Bing) Aohn, whose reutation used to be
so great and about whom so many fables were reeated and written down.
,his is the right lace for me e$ound the origin of the ,artars, not just to
give a clearer descrition of their different regions, but to e$lain how the
eole themselves became so imortant that it is forcing the whole world to its
"nees. Pou must "now, then, that during 2the 'rusaders&4 war at (ntioch, one
'oir 'ham 2%ur Bhan4 was on the throne of this land. (788) In the (ntiochene
>istory we read that the ,ur"s sent to the court of 'oir Bhan a mission as"ing
for hel against the !ran"s. 'oir Bhan, a native of -lac" 'athay, held sway in
the regions of the north at the very time that (ntioch was ta"en. 'oir was the
man&s ersonal name, Bhan that of his office# it means 0rohet0 or 0diviner0,
for the rulers there control the eole by revealing the future through their
"nowledge of divination9artly bits of hilosohy li"e astronomy or e$erimental
"nowledge, artly the magical arts to which the whole !ar 1ast is devoted and in
which they are well versed. (ll the rulers of the ,artars are accordingly
entitled 0Bhan0, just as in our art of the world they are called 01merors0 and
0Bings.0
(t the time when 'oir died, there was a certain :estorian sheherd 2ruler4, a
owerful chief over the tribe called the :aiman. ,hese tribesmen were
:estorians, 'hristians of a debased sort, even though they claim to obey the
Eoman 'hurch# they are to be found, not only in the land of the :aiman, but
scattered in every region all over the east. ,his shee herder romoted himself
to "ing, and was thereafter called 0Aohn, Priest and Bing0. >e had a brother,
also a owerful sheherd9"ing, named Inc. Inc, who "et his shee about three
wee"s journey beyond his brother, where he was lord of a village called
'aracarum 2Bara"orum;4, (78.) now the imerial city and one of the greatest in
the 2,artar4 emeror&s lands. (,his even though it is by no means as fine as +t.
?enys, near Paris in !rance, as !riar <illiam wrote to our Gord the Bing). (bout
twelve days journey beyond his cattle&s range was the range of the /oal
2/ongols4, a grou of oor stuid eole, imoverished and lawless. -eyond them
lived another tribe of auers li"e them, called the ,artars. <hen Bing
2Prester4 Aohn died, his brother Inc raised himself to the throne and too" the
title of 'ham 2Bhan4, and is therefore "nown as Inc 'ham, who used to drive his
cattle out in the direction of the borders of /oal. (mong the /oal there was a
blac"smith named 'ingis 2%enghis4, a cattle rustler who even dared steal the
animals of Inc 'ham himself. Inc raised an army, and %enghis fled to the court
of the ,artars. +ea"ing to the ,artars and to his own eole of /oal, %enghis
claimed, 0@nly because we have no leader do our neighbors overcome 2orimunt4
us.0 >e himself was made ruler, raised an army, and fell uon Inc 'ham. >aving
routed Inc, he became sureme in the land, and too" the name of %enghis Bhan. >e
sei*ed the daughter of Inc and married her to his son, to whom she bore /angu
'ham# he shared the rule with the rinces of the ,artars, who are still ruling
and still 3uarrelling with each other. (,his /angu 'ham was he to whom !riar
<illiam was sent). %enghis Bhan always ut the ,artars in the forefront of
battle# thus the reutation of the ,artars grew, while they 2the /ongols4
themselves have been almost wied out in their endless wars. ,his is doubtless
the reason we call this ruling and imerial eole 0,artars,0 although in fact
their generals and rulers are invariably of the tribe of /oal. ,hey do not li"e
to be called 0,artars,0 but refer 0/oel0, for their first ruler9%enghis Bhan9
was by birth one of that tribe. I to the time of their resent rulers (750)
they have had only three sovereigns, namely %enghis Bhan, Beu 2Bai4 Bhan, and
/angu Bhan) this Bai was the son of %enghis and the father of /angu.
,his tribe of /oal has been, from its earliest origin, suremely stuid and
imoverished, but by divine disensation has gradually crushed all the nations
with which it has come into contact, and in a short time has utterly defeated
the whole width of the world. If they had been able to get along together they
might have laid waste 1gyt and (frica, and thus could have cut off the Gatins
from every side. (s it is, to our northeast they rule as far as Poland, for all
Eussia is subject to them. ,hey rule everything to our east as far as the ?anube
and even beyond, for -ulgaria and <alachia are their tributaries, so that they
hold sway right u to the territory of 'onstantinole. ,he +ultan of ,ur"ey, the
Bing of (rmenia, the Prince of (ntioch, and all the rinces of the east as far
as India are their subjects, e$cet for a very few who are either so far away or
in such mountainous terrain that they cannot be crushed.
,he first of their rovinces, and the lace where the emeror resides is -lac"
'athay, once the caital of Prester Aohn. ,hree wee"s journey beyond is the land
of his brother, then the land of /oal and, twelve days further, that of the
,artars. In all this region the emeror is constantly moving about from one
lace to another. ,he land where the /oal originated is called @*nam Berule,
where the caital of %enghis Bhan is still to be seen# but, since Bara"orum was
their first con3uest, they regard it as their imerial caital, and near it they
choose their Bhan, a word which means 01meror.0 -eyond /oal and the ,artars to
the east there is a valiant eole called the ,angut, ,hey once catured %enghis
Bhan in battle, but, once eace was made, he in turn subjugated them. ,his
eole has a very strong breed of cattle with long hairy tails li"e horses,
whose cows will not let themselves (751) be mil"ed unless someone sings to them.
If they see a man dressed in red, they lea uon him and try to "ill him.
,o the east of this eole live men called the ,hebeth, who used to devour their
dead arents out of ious filial desire to commit them to no other seulchre
than their own entrails. Farious hilosohers9Pliny, for e$amle 25.1=4, +olinus
216.C4, and others, including !riar <illiam, who witnesses the fact in his boo".
+o !riar Aohn of Plano 'arini in the boo" he wrote about the ,artars, among
whom he travelled in the year of our Gord 1=C8, having been sent by our Gord the
Poe on a legation to the 1meror of the ,artars. -ut since every nation had
been disgusted with the ,hebeth because of this ractice, they have since
changed their funeral rite, although they still fashion goblets from 2their
fathers&4 s"ulls, from which they drin" to their arents& memory. ,o the east of
these eole are little men as brown as +aniards, called +olangi. <henever
their messengers come to a 2foreign4 court, they carry in their hands an ivory
tablet, at which they loo" while sea"ing what they desire, as if everything was
written on them. -eyond them is a certain tribe whose livestoc" do not belong to
any individual and have no sheherds. If anyone belonging to the tribe wants one
of the beasts, he climbs a hill and calls out whatever he leases# they run u
at his voice and he ta"es his ic". -ut if an outsider aears, he scares them
all off with his scent and they turn wild. (nd so, when outsiders come to them,
they shut them u in a house with the necessities of life, until they have
received (75=) whatever they have come for, and are not allowed to wander about
over the countryside.
-eyond these is %reat 'athay, called the +eres by the hilosohers, in the
ultimate east, to the north of India, divided from it by a gulf of the sea and
by mountains. >ere the finest sil" fabrics are made in great lenty. and from
here they are e$orted to other regions. ,he eole (who breathe heavily through
their nostrils) are e$ert craftsmen in every art, and are e$ert hysicians in
every techni3ue save uroscoy# they do not "now how to diagnose by the urine,
but ma"e wise judgements from the ulse and other signs. ,hey have a sound
"nowledge of the virtues of herbs, and understand the owers of all sorts of
medicine. /any of them live among the ,artars. ,he common money among the
'hinese is aer made of mulberry, on which they stam certain 2atterns of4
lines. <e should not be surrised at this, for the Eussians, who live so close
to us, have money with the icture of s3uirrels, and this art of 'athay is
2only4 twenty9eight days journey from the land in which the 1meror lives. In
that land are high cliffs, on which live certain creatures of human form in
every resect, e$cet that they cannot bend their "nees, but must wal" in a
series of leas. ,heir height is no more than a foot and a half# their whole
body is covered with hair, and they are unable to sea". Peole who hunt them
bring u beer 2which they our4 into cu9shaed its that they dig into the
roc". ,he animals come u and drin" the beer until they are 3uite drun", then
fall aslee and are 2easily4 catured. ,he hunters then bind them hand and foot.
,hey oen a vein in the cative&s nec", and draw out three or four dros of
blood, then untie them and bid them begone. ,he blood is an immensely costly
substitute for urle dye.
It is imortant to remember that from the 2western4 border of -lac" 'athay to it
its most eastern arts the eole are mostly idolaters, but mi$ed with (757)4
them are +aracens, ,artars, and :estorians. ,hese last are an imerfect sort of
'hristians# they have their own atriarch in the east, who visits the regions
and ordains infants in their cradles to the sacred ministry. (ll this because he
alone has the ower to ordain, but can only visit every lace about once in
fifty years. >e claims his ower was conferred long ago by the 'hurch of Eome,
and insists that he would be 3uite ready to obey 2the ontiff4, if only the way
to do so were oen. ,he :estorians teach the sons of the ,artar nobles (and
others if they have a chance) about the %osels and the 2'hristian4 faith# but,
since they "now very little about the faith and are men of debased morality, the
,artars have a low oinion of them. (t the /ass they consecrate a single loaf
about four inches wide, which they brea" into twelve arts, a reference to the
,welve (ostles. 2,he riests4 then brea" u these twelfths into as many bits as
there are eole resent, and the riest gives each 2communicant4 the -ody of
'hrist in his hand, which each receives into his alm with the deeest
reverence. -ut among the masses everywhere in these art the idolaters are by
all odds the most numerous# the one thing they all agree on is their enormous
temles and their huge bells9with the result that the churches of %reece,
(rmenia, and all the east are unwilling to use bells for fear of idolatry,
though the Eussians do use them, and the %ree"s in 'assaria. ,he 2:estorian4
riests shave their hair and beards comletely. !rom the time they do this, they
live in chastity, dwelling in communities of one or two hundred. @n the days
when they enter their churches, they set u two arallel benches on the ground
and sit, choir facing choir, each with a boo" in his hands, which at certain
oints they ut down on the benches. (s long as they are in the temle they "ee
their heads uncovered# they read silently, and say nothing aloud in the temle
but the words of the service. <herever they go they carry in their hands a
string of one or two hundred beads, as we do the Pater :oster 2Eosary;4, and
endlessly reeat the words @n /an -accau, i.e. 0,hou "nowest, Gord,0 words which
they share with all the idolaters. ,he Ingeres, however, who live in the lace
where the 1meror resides, are different from the rest, for the rest of the
oulace assume the e$istence, not of one god, but of several, and they worshi
things created# (75C) the Ingeres, because they are neighbors of 'hristians and
+aracens, believe in one god. ,hey are e$cellent scribes, and from them the
,artars have adoted their scrit# indeed, the great writers among the ,artars
are of their number. ,hey write from the to downward and from left to right,
one line after another, and read them 2in the same way4. ,he ,hebeth write much
as we do, and their letters resemble ours. ,he ,angut go from right to left,
li"e the (rabs, but their lines read from the bottom u. ,he eastern eoles of
'athay write with the same ointed instrument 2brush;4 with which the scribes
aint ictures. In a single icture they join several 2smaller4 letters, each of
which signifies a single word, by utting together a number of letters in one.
,hus these characters are comounded in meaning and in aearance of single
letters, but have the force rather of hrases. 1verything from the ?anube to the
2furthest4 east was called 0+cythia0 by the ancients# conse3uently all the lands
of the ,artars are arts of +cythia and their inhabitants are called
0+cythians09even Eussia and everything west as far as %ermany.
I have now described all the regions of (sia and (frica, as well as those of
northern 1uroe, and shall ass on to the eastern and southern 1uroe, with a
few words of comment on the west, for almost everybody "nows about all these
regions. <estern (lbania, as I have ointed out, ends at the ?anube and the
-lac" +ea, and reaches to >ungary /inor. @n the other 2southern4 side of the
?anube, by the same sea, the first region one finds was "nown in anti3uity as
,hrace, in which 'onstantinole is situated. ,o the west beyond the ?anube it
was joined to what was called /oesia, but are now <allachia and -ulgaria /inor.
:e$t to the west is >ungary, and still further west is /oravia, a tributary of
the Bingdom of -ohemia. +outh of /oravia is Istria# west of them -ohemia is ne$t
/oravia and (ustria ne$t to Istria. :e$t west of them lies the whole of %ermany,
and last of all !rance, laces everyone "nows about.
:e$t west of ,hrace and to the south is /acedonia, a state famous for its mighty
"ings9(ntigonus, Phili, (le$ander the %reat9which used also to be called by
another name, 1mathia. +till further south is /agnesia, then ,hessalonia, to
which the (ostle wrote 2his letters4. (fter this, still going south, is -oeotia
and its famous city of ,hebes# eighteen miles east of this is a famous town
2sic4 named -lac" -ridge 2:egroontQ1uboea4. -ounding /acedonia, ,hessalonia,
and -ulgaria on the west is (756) +lavonia. -eyond 2east of4 -oeotia is (ttica,
named for the city of (thens, nurse of hilosohers where +ocrates, Plato,
(ristotle, and other famous men once taught. ,his region of (ttica is, according
to 1thicus the hilosoher, a art of (rcadia. (rcadia is a rovince highly
renowned not only for (thens (which he calls the navel of %reece), but for its
military ower as well. !or 2(ttica4 was once called +icyonia after Bing +icyon
and is therefore "nown as the "ingdom of the +icyonians, one of the four
greatest "ingdoms of the world, which have e$isted since the creation) namely,
the "ingdom of the +cythians, founded by Eeu, the great9grandfather of (braham
2%en. 11.1.4 # the "ingdom of the 1gytians, founded by +erug 2ib, v.=14,
(braham&s great9grandfather # the "ingdom of the (ssyrians# and that of the
+icyonians (i.e. of the %ree"s) founded by :ahor 2ib.v.==4, (braham&s
grandfather. +o writes -ede in his -oo" of ,imes. (s 1thicus tells us, all
%reece was allied 2included; consiravit4 under 2the name4 +icyonia, since the
realm of the %ree"s was called that of the +icyonians (who were (rcadians),
because the strongest military ower belonged to that city. I have deliberately
2gratis4 gone into this rather lengthy discussion, because, while all histories
mention the "ingdom of the +icyonians, only from 1thicus can a sensible
e$lanation be found of the name and what it means. (ccording to Pliny 2C.1=;
-ut P. actually says that (chaea begins at the Isthmus, and mentions +icyon only
in a list of towns along the %ulf of 'orinth.4, (chaea comes after 2i.e. is west
of4 +icyon. ,hen comes the rovince of the Peloonnese, including that famous
city 'orinth. -eyond 2north of the %ulf of 'orinth4 is Gocris and after it
1irus, the last 2art of4 %reece.
Past 1irus to the west 2northwest;4 is ?almatia, including the city of ?ura**o.
-eyond it is Illyria, from which the Illyrian +ea gets its name.,he rovince
stretches from the Eiver (rsia to the Eiver ?irinum# the whole region is 2also4
"nown by another name, Gibnia. In fact, though, the eole on the Eiver ?irinum
are Illyrians, whose 2territory4 e$tends from the (rsia to the ?irinum, along
the (driatic +ea9the sea of the Fenetians. @n its eastern2;4 end is Fenice. 0,he
2rovince of4 Illyria has many small islands# its length is 800 miles, its
breadth 7=6.09information I have ta"en word9for9word from Pliny 27.1604 for this
reason) we moderns cannot 2otherwise4 understand the words of the (ostle when
he says 2Eom. 16.1.4 that 0round about unto Illyricum I have fully reached the
%osel.0 In many historical wor"s we find references to Illyricum and the
Illyrians, without understanding what is being said# in fact, the Illyrians used
to live between ?almatia and Istria, the resent region (758) of +lavonia, of
!orum Aulii 2'ividale4 and the land of the Fenetians. (ll this 2the -al"an
region4 is bounded on the east by the (rm of +t. %eorge and the %reat +ea 2the
(egean, considered as art of the /editerranean4# on the north by the ?anube,
called the Ister for a good art 2of its length4# and by the (driatic +ea to the
south 2considered as art of the /editerranean4 # on the north, by the ?anube
(called the Ister for a good art 2of its length4# and by the (driatic +ea to
the south. (ctaul distances in miles or days& journeys can in some cases be
given) for e$amle, from Fenice along the coast it is more than C00 miles to
?ura**o. !rom there to the famous city of Patrae is C0 miles more, and 80 from
Patrae to 'orinth. !rom 'orinth to (thens is C0, C0 more from (thens to ,hebes,
and 18 from ,hebes to the :egroont. !rom there to 'onstantinole by sea is 600
miles, to the island of 'rete is 700. @n the other side of the (driatic, between
the (driatic and the sea which stretches from the (driatic to +ain 2i.e. the
distance by land4 there lies the whole 2breadth4 of Italy, then Provence, and
finally +ain. -ut since all these regions are well "nown, there is no need for
me to say more about them.
,his, then, is my account of the geograhy and ethnology of the whole habitable
world, which I have tried to ut together from the writers on natural history
and of travellers. 2It should be ade3uate4 until Pour Eeverence 2Poe 'lement
IF4 re3uires my final treatise.
1:? @! ,E(:+G(,I@: