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 The Nabatæans are prudent, and fond of accumulating property. The community fine a person who has diminished his substance, and confer honours on him who has increased it. They have few slaves, and are served for the most part by their relations, or by one another, or each person is his own servant; and this custom extends even to their kings. They eat their meals in companies consisting of thirteen persons. Each party is attended by two musicians. But the king gives many entertainments in great buildings. No one drinks more than eleven [appointed] cupfuls, from separate cups, each of gold. The king courts popular favour so much, that he is not only his own servant, but sometimes he himself ministers to others. He frequently renders an account [of his administration] before the people, and sometimes an inquiry is made into his mode of life. The houses are sumptuous, and of stone. The cities are without walls, on account of the peace [which prevails among them]. A great part of the country is fertile, and produces everything except oil of olives; [instead of it], the oil of sesamum is used. The sheep have white fleeces, their oxen are large; but the country produces no horses.1 Camels are the substitute for horses, and perform the [same kind of] labour. They wear no tunics, but have a girdle about the loins, and walk abroad in sandals.2 The dress of the kings is the same, but the colour is purple. Some merchandise is altogether imported into the country, others are not altogether imports, especially as some articles are native products, as gold and silver, and many of the aromatics; but brass and iron, purple garments, styrax, saffron, and costus (or white cinnamon), pieces of sculpture, paintings, statues, are not to be procured in the country. They look upon the bodies of the dead as no better than dung, according to the words of Heracleitus, ‘dead bodies more fit to be cast out than dung;’ wherefore they bury even their kings beside dung-heaps. They worship the sun, and construct the altar on the top of a house, pouring out libations and burning frankincense upon it every day.
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