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Another marvel, too, connected with the forests! They cover all the rest of Germany, and by their shade augment the cold. But the highest of them all are those not far distant from the Chauci already mentioned, and more particularly in the vicinity of the two lakes1 there. The very shores are lined with oaks,2 which manifest an extraordinary eagerness to attain their growth: undermined by the waves or uprooted by the blasts, with their entwining roots they carry vast forests along with them, and, thus balanced, stand upright as they float along, while they spread afar their huge branches like the rigging of so many ships. Many is the time that these trees have struck our fleets with alarm, when the waves have driven them, almost purposely it would seem, against their prows as they stood at anchor in the night; and the men, destitute of all remedy and resource, have had to engage in a naval combat with a forest of trees!

(2.) In the same northern regions, too, is the Hercynian3 Forest, whose gigantic oaks,4 uninjured by the lapse of ages, and contemporary with the creation of the world, by their near approach to immortality surpass all other marvels known. Not to speak of other matters that would surpass all belief, it is a well-known fact that their roots,5 as they meet together, up-heave vast hills; or, if the earth happens not to accumulate with them, rise aloft to the very branches even, and, as they contend for the mastery, form arcades, like so many portals thrown open, and large enough to admit of the passage of a squadron of horse.

(3.) All these trees, in general, belong to the glandiferous class,6 and have ever been held in the highest honour by the Roman people.

1 He alludes to the vicinity of the Zuyder Zee. See B. iv. c. 29. The spots where these forests once stood are now cultivated plains, covered with villages and other works of the industry of man.

2 "Quercus." We shall see, in the course of this Book, that its identity has not been satisfactorily established.

3 See B. iv. c. 28, and the Note, Vol. i. p. 348. The village of Hercingen, near Waldsee, is supposed to retain the ancient name.

4 "Robora." It will be seen in this Book that the robur has not been identified, any more than the quercus.

5 Fée treats this story as utterly fabulous. The branches of the Ficus Indica grow downwards, and so form arcades certainly; but such is not the case with any European tree.

6 Not only oaks, but a variety of other trees, were included under this name by the ancients; the "glans" embracing not only the acorn, but the mast of the beech, and the hard fruits of other trees.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHAUCI
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