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Timaeus Wrong about Libya

The excellence of the soil of Libya must excite our admiration.
Misstatements of Timaeus about Libya,
But one would feel inclined to say of Timaeus, not merely that he had never studied the country, but that he was childish and entirely unintelligent in his notions; completely enslaved to those old traditional stories of Libya being wholly sandy, parched, and barren. The same too holds good about its animals. The supply of horses, oxen, sheep, and goats in it is beyond anything to be found in any other part of the world; because many of the tribes in Libya do not use cultivated crops, but live on and with their flocks and herds. Again what writer has failed to mention the vast number and strength of its elephants, lions, and panthers, or the beauty of its buffalos, or the size of its ostriches? Of these not one is to be found in Europe, while Libya is full of them. But Timaeus, by passing them over without a word, gives, as though purposely, an impression exactly the reverse of the truth.

And just in the same random way in which he has spoken

and Corsica,
about Libya, he has also done about the island called Cyrnus. For, when mentioning it in his second book, he says that wild goats, sheep, wild oxen, stags, hares, wolves, and some other animals are plentiful in it; and that the inhabitants employ themselves in hunting them, and in fact spend most of their time in that pursuit. Whereas in this island there are not only no wild goats or wild oxen, but not even hare, wolf, or stag, or any animal of the sort, except some foxes, rabbits, and wild sheep. The rabbit indeed at a distance looks like a small hare; but when taken in the hand, it is found to be widely different both in appearance and in the taste of its flesh; and it also lives generally underground.

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    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), UTICA
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