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 The Nebrodes mountains1 take their rise opposite2 to Ætna; they are not so lofty as Ætna, but extend over a much greater surface. The whole island is hollow under ground, and full of rivers and fire like the bed of the Tyrrhenian Sea,3 as far as Cumæa, as we before described4 For there are hot springs in many places in the island, some of which are saline, as those named Selinuntia5 and the springs at Himera, while those at Ægesta6 are fresh. Near to Acragas7 there are certain lakes,8 the waters of which taste like the sea, but their properties are very different, for if those who do not know how to swim plunge into them, they are not covered over by them, but float on the surface like pieces of wood. The Palici9 possess craters which cast up water in a jet, having the appearance of a dome, and then receive it back again into the same place it rose from. The cavern near Mataurum10 has within it a considerable channel, with a river flowing through it under ground for a long distance, and afterwards emerging to the surface as does the El-Asi11 in Syria, which, after descending into the chasm between Apameia and Antioch, which they call Charybdis, rises again to the surface at the distance of about 40 stadia. Much the same circumstances are remarked of the Tigris12 in Mesopotamia, and the Nile in Africa,13 a little before14 its most notorious springs. The water in the neighbourhood of the city of Stymphalus, having passed under ground about 200 stadia, gives rise to the river Erasinus15 in Argia;16 and again, the waters which are ingulfed with a low roaring sound near Asea17 in Arcadia, after a long course, spring forth with such copiousness as to form the Eurotas and the Alpheus,18 whence has arisen a fable extensively credited, that if a certain charm is uttered over each of two crowns on their being cast into the stream where the two rivers flow in a common channel, each crown will make its appearance in its respective river according to the charm. As for what we might add with reference to the Timao,19 it has already been particularized.
1 Sicilian topographers vary exceedingly in defining the position of these mountains. Groskurd makes them Madonia.
2 To the south-west.
3 See Humboldt, Cosmos, i. 242.
4 Book v. chap. iv. § 9.
5 I Bagni di Sciacca.
6 Now ruins at Barbara, in the valley of Mazzara.
8 A modern traveller is of opinion that these correspond with certain peculiar marshes near Girgenti, in the midst of the Macaluba mountains, supplied by a spring of salt water. The soil here is chalky, and the mountains abound in a grey and ductile clay. See Monsieur le Com- mandeur de Dolomieu, Voyage aux iles de Lipari, pp. 165 et seqq.; also Fazell. Decad. i. lib. i. cap. 5, p. 45.
9 The place dedicated to these avengers of perjury is frequently located near Mineo and Palagonia; others, thinking to gain the support of Virgil's testimony, place it near Paterno, much farther north, between Catana and Centorbi, and not far from the banks of the Giaretta, the ancient Symæthus.
10 Cluvier supposes this cavern must have been near Mazarum [Mazara]. The river named Mazarus by the ancients, runs through a rocky district, abounding in stone quarries. It is possible that this river, much hemmed in throughout its course, might have anciently flowed beneath some of these massive rocks.
12 According to Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. vi. § 31, tom. i. p. 333, the Tigris is ingulfed on reaching a branch of Mount Taurus, at a place called Zoroanda, which M. D'Anville identifies with the modern Hazour.
15 A river of Argolis: see book viii. Casaub. pp. 371 and 389.
17 This ancient city was found in ruins by Pausanias, who says (Arcadic or book viii. cap. 44, p. 691) ‘that at less than 20 stadia distant from the Athenæum are found the ruins of Asea, as well as the hill on which the citadel of the town was built, which was surrounded by walls, the vestiges of which still remain. About 5 stadia from Asea, and not far from the main road, is the source of the Alpheus, and, quite close, even at the edge of the road, that of the Eurotas.... [At a short distance] the two rivers unite and run as one for about 20 stadia; they then both cast themselves into a chasm, and, continuing their under-ground course, they afterwards reappear; one (the Eurotas) in Laconia, the other in the territory of Megalopolis.’ Such is what Pausanias relates in one place. But when, in this account, he fixes the source of the Alpheus at about 5 stadia from Asea, we must understand him to allude to a second source of the river; for further on (book viii. cap. 54, p. 709) he says distinctly that the main source of the Alpheus is seen near Phylace in Arcadia; then adds that that river, on coming to the district of Tegea, is absorbed under the ground, to re-issue near Asea.
18 See § 4 of this chapter, page 408.
19 The ancient Timavus. See book v. chap. i. § 8, page 319.
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