previous next


If any of the above-mentioned facts have the appearance of being incredible to a person, I would have him know that there is no department of Nature which presents greater marvels than this, independently of the numerous peculiarities which have been already mentioned1 in an earlier part of this work. Ctesias informs us that, in India, there is a lake of standing water, upon which nothing2 will float, every object instantly sinking to the bottom. Cælius says that in the waters of Lake Avernus,3 in our own part of the world, the very leaves of the trees even will sink; and, according to Varro, these waters are fatal to such birds as fly towards them.

On the other hand, again, in the waters of Lake Apuscidamus,4 in Africa, nothing will sink; the same, too, Apion tells us, with the fountain of Plinthia in Sicily, as also a certain lake in Media, and the well of Saturn. The spring of Limyra5 not unfrequently makes its way through the neighbouring localities, and when it does so, is always portentous of some coming event. It is a singular thing too, that the fish always accompany its waters on these occasions; the inhabitants of the adjoining districts being in the habit of consulting them by offering them food. When the fishes seize it with avidity, the answer is supposed to be favourable; but if, on the other hand, they reject the food, by flapping it with their tails, the response is considered to be unfavourable. The river Holcas, in Bithynia, runs close to Bryazus,6 the name of a temple and of a divinity there worshipped; persons guilty of perjury, it is said, cannot endure contact with its waters, which burn like flame.7

The sources, too, of the Tamaricus,8 a river of Cantabria, are considered to possess certain powers of presaging future events: they are three in number, and, separated solely by an interval of eight feet, unite in one channel, and so form a mighty stream. These springs are often dry a dozen times in the day, sometimes as many as twenty, without there being the slightest trace of water there: while, on the other hand, a spring close at hand is flowing abundantly and without intermission. It is considered an evil presage when persons who wish to see these springs find them dry: a circumstance which happened very recently, for example, to Lartius Licinius,9 who held the office of legatus after his prætorship; for at the end of seven days after his visit he died.

In Judæa there is a river10 that is dry every Sabbath day.

1 In B. ii. c. 106.

2 Sotion, professing to quote from Ctesias, says that it rejected everything placed on its waters, and hurled it back upon dry land.

3 Whence, as it was said, its name, ἄορνος, "Without birds." Strabo ridicules this story.

4 M. Douville says that in the interior of Africa there is a lake called Kalouga Kouffona, or the Dead Lake, the surface of which is covered with bitumen and naphtha, which contains no fish, has oleaginous waters, and presents all the phænomena of the Dead Sea.

5 In Lycia.

6 Hardouin is of opinion that a river also was so called. See B. v. c. 43. Of the divinity of this name, nothing further is known.

7 A story evidently connected with a kind of ordeal.

8 See B. iv. c. 34. Intermittent springs are not uncommon. See B. ii. c. 106.

9 See B. xix. c. 11.

10 According to Elias of Thisbe this river was the Goza; but Holstenius says that it was the Eleutherus. or one of its tributaries. Josephus says that it flowed on the Sabbath day, and was dry the other six.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Karl Friedrich Theodor Mayhoff, 1906)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

hide References (1 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: