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Eth. PSYLLI (Eth. Ψύλλοι, Hecat. Fr. 303, ed. Klausen; Hdt. 4.173; Strab. ii. p.131, xiii. p. 588, xvii. pp. 814, 838; Plin. Nat. 5.4, 7.2, 8.38, 11.30, 25.76, 28.6; Aelian, Nat. An. 6.33), a people on the shores of the Greater Syrtis, who bordered on the Nasamones, occupying that part of the shores of Sórt which lies between Aulad Sliman and Aulad Naim. According to Herodotus (l.c.) they sallied forth against Notos, or the S. wind, and were buried in the sands which were raised by the offended wind. Their country was afterwards occupied by the Nasamones.

The story gives a vivid picture of those seas of sand, unbathed by dew or rain, when the fine dust-like particles, rising through the rarefied air, roll up in dark oppressive clouds. They were supposed by the ancients to have a secret art enabling them to secure themselves from the poison of serpents, like the “Háwee,” or snake jugglers of Cairo. (Wilkinson, Ancient Egyptians, vol. v. p. 241 ; Lane, Modern Egyptians, vol. ii. p. 214; Quatremère, Mém. sur l'Egypte, vol. i. pp. 203--211.) Cato [p. 2.677]brought some of these people in his train when he led the way into the depths of the desert which skirts the Lesser Syrtis (Plut. Cat. Mi. 56; Lucan 9.891); and Octavius made use of the services of these poison-suckers, it was said, in order to restore his victim, Cleopatra, to life. (D. C. 51.14; comp. Lucan 9.925.)


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