CHAP. 18.—OTHER MARVELLOUS FACTS CONNECTED WITH WATER.
WATERS IN WHICH EVERYTHING WILL SINK. WATERS IN WHICH
NOTHING WILL SINK.
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.