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HOMERI´TAE

HOMERI´TAE (Ὁμηρίται, Peripl. p. 13; Marcian, p. 13; Plin. Nat. 6.28; Ptol. 6.7), a people of Arabia Felix who occupied its S. promontory (Yémen). The Arabs of Yémen, who are well known in Oriental history under the name of Himyarí, and to the Greeks by the name of Homeritae, were a civilised people in very remote ages. They possessed a rich and fertile territory, very advantageously situated for commerce. The Himyaritic dynasty of the Tobbáe (from the Arabic Tabbáïah, which had a general signification like that of Emperor, Khán, Pharaoh, Caesar, &c.; D'Herbelot, Bibliothèque Orientale s. v. Tobbáe) referred to a very early period, and their power appears to have been very extended, as monumental traces of the Himyarí have been found not only in Yémen, but in distant countries both to the E. and W. There is a considerable affinity between the Himyarí character and the well-known and most ancient Dévanágarí Sanscrit. The earliest writing was probably the Himyaritic, even anterior to the Cuneiform characters.

The independence of the Homeritae was first violated by an Aethopian conqueror. (Procop. B. P. 1.19, 20.) Those who wish to study the very obscure question of the Jewish and Abyssinian kingdoms in Homeritis will find much valuable information in Dean Milman's notes upon the 42nd chapter of Gibbon, and the authorities there quoted, especially the very able notes of Saint Martin upon Le Beau (Bas Empire, vol. viii. pp. 46--67, 153--158), to which may be added Ritter, Erdkunde, vol. xiv. p. 38; Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, vol. i. p. 383, 2nd edit. 1851; Humboldt, Cosmos, vol. ii. p. 206, trans.; and the 2nd volume of Colonel Chesney's Expedition to the Euphrates. It may be sufficient here to quote the words of Gibbon:--

“If a Christian power had been maintained in Araba, Mahomet must have been crushed in his Orad, and Abyssinia would have prevented a revolution which has changed the civil and religious state of the world.”

[E.B.J]

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    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 6.28
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