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 Although the Mauretanians inhabit a country, the greatest part of which is very fertile, yet the people in general continue even to this time to live like nomades. They bestow care to improve their looks by plaiting their hair, trimming their beards, by wearing golden ornaments, cleaning their teeth, and paring their nails; and you would rarely see them touch one another as they walk, lest they should disturb the arrangement of their hair. They fight for the most part on horseback, with a javelin; and ride on the bare back of the horse, with bridles made of rushes. They have also swords. The foot-soldiers present against the enemy, as shields, the skins of elephants. They wear the skins of lions, panthers, and bears, and sleep in them. These tribes, and the Masæsylii next to them, and for the most part the Africans in general, wear the same dress and arms, and resemble one another in other respects; they ride horses which are small, but spirited and tractable, so as to be guided by a switch. They have collars1 made of cotton or of hair, from which hangs a leading-rein. Some follow, like dogs, without being led. They have a small shield of leather, and small lances with broad heads. Their tunics are loose, with wide borders; their cloak is a skin, as I have said before, which serves also as a breastplate. The Pharusii and Nigretes, who live above these people, near the western Ethiopians, use bows and arrows, like the Ethiopians. They have chariots also, armed with scythes. The Pharusii rarely have any intercourse with the Mauretanians in passing through the desert country, as they carry skins filled with water, fastened under the bellies of their horses. Sometimes, indeed, they come to Cirta,2 passing through places abounding with marshes and lakes. Some of them are said to live like the Troglodytæ, in caves dug in the ground. It is said that rain falls there frequently in summer, but that during the winter drought prevails. Some of the barbarians in that quarter wear the skins of serpents and fishes, and use them as coverings for their beds. Some say that the Mauretanians3 are Indians, who accompanied Hercules hither. A little before my time, the kings Bogus and Bocchus, allies of the Romans, possessed this country; after their death, Juba succeeded to the kingdom, having received it from Augustus Cæsar, in addition to his paternal dominions. He was the son of Juba who fought, in conjunction with Scipio, against divus Cæsar. Juba died4 lately, and was succeeded by his son Ptolemy, whose mother was the daughter of Antony and Cleopatra.
1 The words περιτραχήλια ζύλινα offer some difficulty. Paul Louis Courier, who is of authority on this subject, says that Strabo, having little experience in horses, has mistaken the first word for another, and intended to speak of the horse's nose, and not his neck. Letronne and Groskurd both agree that ζύλινα is rightly to be translated, ‘of cotton.’
3 The Pharusii, and not the Mauretanians, came with Hercules from the East, according to Pliny, Mela, and Sallust; hence Letronne conjectures that we should read here Pharusii.
4 A. D. 18 or 19 at latest, but the exact date is uncertain.
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