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Inroads of the Saracens; their customs.


The Saracens, however, whom we never found desirable either as friends or as enemies, ranging up and down the country, in a brief space of time laid waste whatever they could find, like rapacious kites which, whenever they have caught sight of any prey from on high, seize it with swift swoop, and directly they have seized it make off. [2] Although I recall having told of their customs in my history of the emperor Marcus, 1 and several times after that, yet I will now briefly relate a few more particulars about them. [3] Among those tribes whose original abode extends from the Assyrians to the cataracts of the Nile and the frontiers of the Blemmyae all alike are warriors of equal rank, half-nude, clad in dyed cloaks as far as the loins, ranging widely with the help of swift horses and slender camels in times of peace or of disorder. No man ever grasps a plough-handle or cultivates a tree, none seeks a living by tilling the soil, but they rove continually over wide and extensive tracts without a home, without fixed abodes or laws; they cannot long endure the same sky, nor does the sun of a single district ever content them. [4] Their life is always on the move, and they have mercenary wives, hired under a temporary contract. But in order that there may be some semblance of matrimony, the future wife, by way of dower, offers [p. 29] her husband a spear and a tent, with the right to leave him after a stipulated time, if she so elect: and it is unbelievable with what ardour both sexes give themselves up to passion. [5] Moreover, they wander so widely as long as they live, that a woman marries in one place, gives birth in another, and rears her children far away, without being allowed any opportunity for rest. [6] They all feed upon game and an abundance of milk, which is their main sustenance, on a variety of plants, as well as on such birds as they are able to take by fowling; and I have seen many of them who were wholly unacquainted with grain and wine. [7] So much for this dangerous tribe. Let us now return to our original theme.

1 In one of the lost books.

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1940)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1939)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARA┬┤BIA
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