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SUCH then is the present state of the world, and of the countries, nations, more remarkable seas, islands, and cities which it contains.2 The nature of the animated beings which exist upon it, is hardly in any degree less worthy of our contemplation than its other features; if, indeed, the human mind is able to embrace the whole of so diversified a subject. Our first attention is justly due to Man, for whose sake all other things appear to have been produced by Nature; though, on the other hand, with so great and so severe penalties for the enjoyment of her bounteous gifts, that it is far from easy to determine, whether she has proved to him a kind parent, or a merciless step-mother.

In the first place, she obliges him alone, of all animated beings, to clothe himself with the spoils of the others; while, to all the rest, she has given various kinds of coverings, such as shells, crusts, spines, hides, furs, bristles, hair, down, feathers, scales, and fleeces.3 The very trunks of the trees even, she has protected against the effects of heat and cold by a bark, which is, in some cases, twofold.4 Man alone, at the very moment of his birth cast naked upon the laked earth,5 does she abandon to cries, to lamentations, and, a thing that is the case with no other animal whatever, to tears: this, too, from the very moment that he enters upon existence.6 But as for laughter, why, by Hercules!—to laugh, if but for an instant only, has never been granted to man before the fortieth day7 from his birth, and then it is looked upon as a miracle of precocity. Introduced thus to the light, man has fetters and swathings instantly put upon all his limbs,8 a thing that falls to the lot of none of the brutes even that are born among us. Born to such singular good fortune,9 there lies the animal, which is destined to command all the others, lies, fast bound hand and foot, and weeping aloud! such being the penalty which he has to pay on beginning life, and that for the sole fault of having been born. Alas! for the folly of those who can think after such a beginning as this, that they have been born for the display of vanity!

The earliest presage of future strength, the earliest bounty of time, confers upon him nought but the resemblance to a quadruped.10 How soon does man gain the power of walking? How soon does he gain the faculty of speech? How soon is his mouth fitted for mastication? How long are the pulsations of the crown of his head to proclaim him the weakest of all ani- mated beings?11 And then, the diseases to which he is subject, the numerous remedies which he is obliged to devise against his maladies, and those thwarted every now and then by new forms and features of disease.12 While other animals have an instinctive knowledge of their natural powers; some, of their swiftness of pace, some of their rapidity of flight, and some again of their power of swimming; man is the only one that knows nothing, that can learn nothing without being taught; he can neither speak, nor walk, nor eat,13 and, in short, he can do nothing, at the prompting of nature only, but weep. For this it is, that many have been of opinion, that it were better not to have been born, or if born, to have been annihilated14 at the earliest possible moment.

To man alone, of all animated beings, has it been given, to grieve,15 to him alone to be guilty of luxury and excess; and that in modes innumerable, and in every part of his body. Man is the only being that is a prey to ambition, to avarice, to an immoderate desire of life,16 to superstition,17—he is the only one that troubles himself about his burial, and even what is to become of him after death.18 By none is life held on a tenure more frail;19 none are more influenced by unbridled desires for all things; none are sensible of fears more bewildering; none are actuated by rage more frantic and violent. Other animals, in fine, live at peace with those of their own kind; we only see them unite to make a stand against those of a different species. The fierceness of the lion is not expended in fighting with its own kind; the sting of the serpent is not aimed at the serpent;20 and the monsters of the sea even, and the fishes, vent their rage only on those of a different species. But with man,—by Hercules! most of his misfortunes are occasioned by man.21

(1.) We have already given22 a general description of the human race in our account of the different nations. Nor, indeed, do I now propose to treat of their manners and customs, which are of infinite variety and almost as numerous as the various groups themselves, into which mankind is divided; but yet there are some things, which, I think, ought not to be omitted; and more particularly, in relation to those peoples which dwell at a considerable distance from the sea;23 among which, I have no doubt, that some facts will appear of an astounding nature, and, indeed, incredible to many. Who, for instance, could ever believe in the existence of the Æthiopians, who had not first seen them? Indeed what is there that does not appear marvellous, when it comes to our knowledge for the first time?24 How many things, too, are looked upon as quite impossible, until they have been actually effected?25 But it is the fact, that every moment of our existence we are distrusting the power and the majesty of Nature, if the mind, instead of grasping her in her entirety, considers her only in detail. Not to speak of peacocks, the spotted skins of tigers and panthers, and the rich colours of so many animals, a trifling thing apparently to speak of, but of inestimable importance, when we give it due consideration, is the existence of so many languages among the various nations, so many modes of speech, so great a variety of expressions; that to another, a man who is of a different country, is almost the same as no man at all.26 And then, too, the human features and countenance, although composed of but some ten parts or little more, are so fashioned, that among so many thousands of men, there are no two in existence who cannot be distinguished from one another, a result which no art could possibly have produced, when confined to so limited a number of combinations. In most points, however, of this nature, I shall not be content to pledge my own credit only, but shall confirm it in preference by referring to my authorities, which shall be given on all subjects of a nature to inspire doubt. My readers, however, must make no objection to following the Greeks, who have proved them- selves the most careful observers, as well as of the longest standing.27


We have already stated, that there are certain tribes of the Scythians, and, indeed, many other nations, which feed upon human flesh.28 This fact itself might, perhaps, appear incredible, did we not recollect, that in the very centre of the earth, in Italy and Sicily, nations formerly existed with these monstrous propensities, the Cyclopes,29 and the Læstrygones, for example; and that, very recently, on the other side of the Alps, it was the custom to offer human sacrifices, after the manner of those nations;30 and the difference is but small between sacrificing human beings and eating them.31

In the vicinity also of those who dwell in the northern re- gions, and not far from the spot from which the north wind arises, and the place which is called its cave,32 and is known by the name of Geskleithron, the Arimaspi are said to exist, whom I have previously mentioned,33 a nation remarkable for having but one eye, and that placed in the middle of the forehead. This race is said to carry on a perpetual warfare with the Griffins, a kind of monster, with wings, as they are commonly34 represented, for the gold which they dig out of the mines, and which these wild beasts retain and keep watch over with a singular degree of cupidity, while the Arimaspi are equally desirous to get possession of it.35 Many authors have stated to this effect, among the most illustrious of whom are Herodotus and Aristeas of Proconnesus.36

Beyond the other Scythian Anthropophagi, there is a country called Abarimon, situate in a certain great valley of Mount Imaus,37 the inhabitants of which are a savage race, whose feet are turned backwards,38 relatively to their legs: they possess wonderful velocity, and wander about indiscriminately with the wild beasts. We learn from Bæton, whose duty it was to take the measurements of the routes of Alexander the Great, that this people cannot breathe in any climate except their own, for which reason it is impossible to take them before any of the neighbouring kings; nor could any of them be brought before Alexander himself.

The Anthropophagi, whom we have previously mentioned39 as dwelling ten days' journey beyond the Borysthenes, according to the account of Isigonus of Nicæa, were in the habit of drinking out of human skulls,40 and placing the scalps, with the hair attached, upon their breasts, like so many napkins. The same author relates, that there is, in Albania, a certain race of men, whose eyes are of a sea-green colour, and who have white hair from their earliest childhood,41 and that these people see better in the night than in the day. He states also that the Sauromatæ, who dwell ten days' journey beyond the Borysthenes, only take food every other day.42

Crates of Pergamus relates, that there formerly existed in the vicinity of Parium, in the Hellespont, a race of men whom he calls Ophiogenes, and that by their touch they were able to cure those who had been stung by serpents, extracting the poison by the mere imposition of the hand.43 Varro tells us, that there are still a few individuals in that district, whose saliva effectually cures the stings of serpents. The same, too, was the case with the tribe of the Psylli,44 in Africa, according to the account of Agatharchides; these people received their name from Psyllus, one of their kings, whose tomb is in existence, in the district of the Greater Syrtes. In the bodies of these people there was by nature a certain kind of poison, which was fatal to serpents, and the odour of which overpowered them with torpor: with them it was a custom to expose children immediately after their birth to the fiercest serpents, and in this manner to make proof of the fidelity of their wives, the serpents not being repelled by such children as were the offspring of adultery.45 This nation, however, was almost entirely extirpated by the slaughter made of them by the Nasamones, who now occupy their territory.46 This race, however, still survives in a few persons who are descendants of those who either took to flight or else were absent on the oc- casion of the battle. The Marsi, in Italy, are still in possession of the same power, for which, it is said, they are indebted to their origin from the son of Circe, from whom they acquired it as a natural quality. But the fact is, that all men possess in their bodies a poison which acts upon serpents, and the human saliva, it is said, makes them take to flight, as though they had been touched with boiling water. The same substance, it is said, destroys them the moment it enters their throat, and more particularly so, if it should happen to be the saliva of a man who is fasting.47

Above the Nasamones,48 and the Machlytæ, who border upon them, are found, as we learn from Calliphanes, the nation of the Androgyni, a people who unite the two sexes in the same individual, and alternately perform the functions of each. Aristotle also states, that their right breast is that of a male, the left that of a female.49

Isigonus and Nymphodorus inform us that there are in Africa certain families of enchanters,50 who, by means of their charms, in the form of commendations, can cause cattle to perish, trees to wither, and infants to die. Isigonus adds, that there are among the Triballi and the Illyrii, some persons of this description, who also have the power of fascination with the eyes, and can even kill those on whom they fix their gaze for any length of time, more especially if their look denotes anger; the age of puberty is said to be particularly obnoxious to the malign influence of such persons.51

A still more remarkable circumstance is, the fact that these persons have two pupils in each eye.52 Apollonides says, that there are certain females of this description in Scythia, who are known as Bythiæ, and Phylarchus states that a tribe of the Thibii in Pontus, and many other persons as well, have a double pupil in one eye, and in the other the figure of a horse.53 He also remarks, that the bodies of these persons will not sink in water,54 even though weighed down by their garments. Damon gives an account of a race of people, not very much unlike them, the Pharnaces of Æthiopia, whose perspiration is productive of consumption55 to the body of every person that it touches. Cicero also, one of our own writers, makes the remark, that the glances of all women who have a double pupil is noxious.56

To this extent, then, has nature, when she produced in man, in common with the wild beasts, a taste for human flesh, thought fit to produce poisons as well in every part of his body, and in the eyes even of some persons, taking care that there should be no evil influence in existence, which was not to be found in the human body. Not far from the city of Rome, in the territory of the Falisci, a few families are found, who are known by the name of Hirpi. These people perform a yearly sacrifice to Apollo, on Mount Soracte, on which occasion they walk over a burning pile of wood, without being scorched even. On this account, by virtue of a decree of the senate, they are always exempted from military service, and from all other public duties.57

Some individuals, again, are born with certain parts of the body endowed with properties of a marvellous nature. Such was the case with King Pyrrhus, the great toe of whose right foot cured diseases of the spleen, merely by touching the patient.58 We are also informed, that this toe could not be re- duced to ashes together with the other portions of his body; upon which it was placed in a coffer, and preserved in a temple.

India, and the region of Æthiopia more especially, abounds in wonders.59 In India the largest of animals are produced; their dogs,60 for example, are much bigger than those of any other country.61 The trees, too, are said to be of such vast height, that it is impossible to send an arrow over them. This is the result of the singular fertility of the soil, the equable temperature of the atmosphere, and the abundance of water; which, if we are to believe what is said, are such, that a single fig-tree62 is capable of affording shelter to a whole troop of horse. The reeds here are also of such enormous length, that each portion of them, between the joints, forms a tube, of which a boat is made that is capable of holding three men.63 It is a well-known fact, that many of the people here are more than five cubits in height.64 These people never expectorate, are subject to no pains, either in the head, the teeth, or the eyes, and rarely in any other parts of the body; so well is the heat of the sun calculated to strengthen the constitution. Their philosophers, who are called Gymnosophists, remain in one posture, with their eyes immovably fixed upon the sun, from its rising to its setting, and, during the whole of the day, they are accustomed to stand in the burning sands on one foot, first one and then the other.65 According to the ac- count of Megasthenes, dwelling upon a mountain called Nulo, there is a race of men who have their feet turned backwards,66 with eight toes on each foot.67

On many of the mountains again, there is a tribe of men who have the heads of dogs,68 and clothe themselves with the skins of wild beasts. Instead of speaking, they bark; and, furnished with claws, they live by hunting and catching birds. According to the story, as given by Ctesias, the number of these people is more than a hundred and twenty thousand: and the same author tells us, that there is a certain race in India, of which the females are pregnant once only in the course of their lives, and that the hair of the children becomes white the instant they are born. He speaks also of another race of men, who are known as Monocoli,69 who have only one leg, but are able to leap with surprising agility.70 The same people are also called Sciapodæ,:71 because they are in the habit of lying on their backs, during the time of the extreme heat, and protect themselves from the sun by the shade of their feet. These people, he says, dwell not very far from the Troglodytæ;72 to the west of whom again there is a tribe who are without necks, and have eyes in their shoulders.,73

Among the mountainous districts of the eastern parts of India, in what is called the country of the Catharcludi, we find the Satyr,74 an animal of extraordinary swiftness. These go sometimes on four feet, and sometimes walk erect; they have also the features of a human being. On account of their swiftness, these creatures are never to be caught, except when they are either aged or sickly. Tauron gives the name of Choromandæ to a nation which dwell in the woods and have no proper voice. These people screech in a frightful manner; their bodies are covered with hair, their eyes are of a sea-green colour, and their teeth like those of the dog.75 Eudoxus tells us, that in the southern parts of India, the men have feet a cubit in length; while those of the women are so remarkably small, that they are called Struthopodes.76

Megasthenes places among the Nomades77 of India, a people who are called Scyritæ. These have merely holes in their faces instead of nostrils, and flexible feet, like the body of the serpent. At the very extremity of India, on the eastern side, near the source of the river Ganges, there is the nation of the Astomi, a people who have no mouths; their bodies are rough and hairy, and they cover themselves with a down78 plucked from the leaves of trees. These people subsist only by breathing and by the odours which they inhale through the nostrils. They support themselves upon neither meat nor drink; when they go upon a long journey they only carry with them various odoriferous roots and flowers, and wild apples,79 that they may not be without something to smell at. But an odour, which is a little more powerful than usual, easily destroys them.80

Beyond these people, and at the very extremity of the mountains, the Trispithami81 and the Pygmies are said to exist; two races which are but three spans in height, that is to say, twenty-seven inches only. They enjoy a salubrious atmosphere, and a perpetual spring, being sheltered by the mountains from the northern blasts; it is these people that Homer82 has mentioned as being waged war upon by cranes. It is said, that they are in the habit of going down every spring to the sea-shore, in a large body, seated on the backs of rams and goats, and armed with arrows, and there destroy the eggs and the young of those birds; that this expedition occupies them for the space of three months, and that otherwise it would be impossible for them to withstand the increasing multitudes of the cranes. Their cabins, it is said, are built of mud, mixed with feathers and egg-shells. Aristotle, indeed, says, that they dwell in caves; but, in all other respects, he gives the same details as other writers.83

Isigonus informs us, that the Cyrni, a people of India, live to their four hundredth year; and he is of opinion that the same is the case also with the Æthiopian Macrobii,84 the Seræ, and the inhabitants of Mount Athos.85 In the case of these last, it is supposed to be owing to the flesh of vipers, which they use as food;86 in consequence of which, they are free also from all noxious animals, both in their hair and their garments.

According to Onesicritus, in those parts of India where there is no shadow,87 the bodies of men attain a height of five cubits and two palms,

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