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OF the islands which are situated in front of Iberia, two named the Pityussæ, and two the Gymnasiæ, (also called the Baleares,) are situated on the sea-coast between Tarraco and [the river] Xucar, on which Saguntum1 is built. The Pityussæ are situated farther in the high seas and more to the West than the Gymnasiæ. One of the Pityusse is called Ebusus,2 having a city of the same name. This island is 400 stadia in circumference, and nearly equal in its breadth and length. The other, [named] Orpheus, is situated near to this, but's desert, and much smaller. The larger3 of the Gymna- siæ contains two cities, Palma,4 and Polentia;5 the latter lying towards the east, the former towards the west. The length of this island is scarcely less than 600 stadia, its breadth 200; although Artemidorus asserts it is twice this size both in breadth and length.6 The smaller island7 is about 70 stadia distant from Polentia; in size it is far surpassed by the larger island, but in excellence it is by no means inferior, for both of them are very fertile, and furnished with harbours. At the mouths of these however there are rocks rising but a little out of the water, which renders attention necessary in entering them. The fertility of these places inclines the inhabitants to peace, as also the people of Ebusus. But certain malefactors, though few in number, having associated with the pirates in those seas, they all got a bad name, and Metellus, surnamed Balearicus, marched against them. He it was who built the cities. But owing to the great fertility of the country, these people have always had enemies plotting against them. Although naturally disposed to peace, they bear the reputation of being most excellent slingers, which art they have been proficient in since the time that the Phœnicians possessed the islands. It is said that these8 were the first who introduced amongst the men [of the Baleares] the custom of wearing tunics with wide borders. They were accustomed to go into battle naked, having a shield covered with goat-skin in their hand, and a javelin hardened by fire at the point, very rarely with an iron tip, and wearing round the head three slings of black rush,9 hair, or sinew. The long sling they use for hitting at far distances, the short one for near marks, and the middle one for those between. From childhood they were so thoroughly practised in the use of slings, that bread was never distributed to the children till they had won it by the sling.10 On this account Metellus, when he was approaching the islands, spread pelts over the decks as a shelter from the slings. He introduced [into the country 3000 Roman colonists from Spain.
6 Gosselin observes that the greatest length of Majorca is 14 leagues and a half; its breadth at the narrowest part 8 leagues; and adds, that by confounding stadia of unequal value, Strabo makes Majorca a long narrow island, whereas in fact its form approaches nearer to that of a square.
8 Viz. the Phœnicians.
9 Immediately after the word μελαγκραὶ̂νας, which we have translated black rush, the text of our geographer runs on as follows: ‘resembling the schenus, a species of rush from which cords are made. Philetas in his Mercury [says] 'he was covered with a vile and filthy tunic, and about his wretched loins was bound a strip of black rush, as if he had been girt with a mere schœnus.’ It is evident that this passage is the scholium of some ancient grammarian, and we have followed the example of the French editors in inserting it in a note, as it is a great impediment in the middle of Strabo's description of the equipment of the island warriors.
10 ‘Cibum puer a matre non accipit, nisi quem, ipsa monstrante, percussit.’ Florus, lib. iii. c. 8. The same thing is stated by Lycophron, v. 637, and Diodorus Siculus, 1. v. c. 18.
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