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 They say that in the ocean, not far from the coast, there is a small island lying opposite to the outlet of the river Loire, inhabited by Samnite women who are Bacchantes, and conciliate and appease that god by mysteries and sacrifices. No man is permitted to land on the island; and when the women desire to have intercourse with the other sex, they cross the sea, and afterwards return again. They have a custom of once a year unroofing the whole of the temple, and roofing it again the same day before sun-set, each one bringing some of the materials. If any one lets her burden fall, she is torn in pieces by the others, and her limbs carried round the temple with wild shouts, which they never cease until their rage is exhausted. [They say] it always happens that some one drops her burden, and is thus sacrificed. But what Artenmidorus tells us concerning the crows, partakes still more of fiction. He narrates that on the coast, washed by the ocean, there is a harbour named the Port of Two Crows, and that here two crows may be seen with their right wings white. Those who have any dispute come here, and each one having placed a plank for himself on a lofty eminence, sprinkles crumbs thereupon; the birds fly to these, eat up the one and scatter the other, and he whose crumbs are scattered gains the cause. This narration has decidedly too much the air of fiction. What he narrates concerning Ceres and Proserpine is more credible. He says that there is an island near Britain in which they perform sacrifices to these goddesses after the same fashion that they do in Samo- thrace. The following is also credible, that a tree grows in Keltica similar to a fig, which produces a fruit resembling a Corinthian capital, and which, being cut, exudes a poisonous juice which they use for poisoning their arrows. It is well known that all the Kelts are fond of disputes; and that amongst them pederasty is not considered shameful. Ephorus extends the size of Keltica too far, including within it most of what we now designate as Iberia, as far as Gades, He states that the people are great admirers of the Greeks, and relates many particulars concerning them not applicable to their present state. This is one:—That they take great care not to become fat or big-bellied, and that if any young man exceeds the measure of a certain girdle, he is punished.1 Such is our account of Keltica beyond the Alps.2
1 A similar custom existed amongst the Spartans; the young people were obliged to present themselves from time to time before the Ephori, and if of the bulk thought proper for a Spartan, they were praised, if on the contrary they appeared too fat, they were punished. Athen. 1. xii. p. 550. Ælian, V. H. I. xiv. c. 7. At Rome likewise it was the duty of the censor to see that the equites did not become too fat; if they did, they were punished with the loss of their horse. Aulus Gellius, Noct. Att. l. vii. c. 22.
2 Transalpine Gaul.
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