LIBRARY OF HISTORY, TRANS. BY C. H. OLDFATHER
On the myths which are recounted about Sicily and the shape and size of the island (chap. 2).
On Demeter and Corê and the discovery of the fruit of wheat (chaps. 3-6).
On Lipara and the other islands which are called the Aeolides (chaps. 7-11).
On Melitê, Gaulus, and Cercina (chap. 12).
On Aethaleia, Cyrnus (Corsica), and Sardinia (chaps. 13-15).
On Pityussa and the Gymnesiae islands, which some call the Baliarides (chaps. 16-18).
On the islands in the ocean which lie towards the west (chaps. 19-20).
On the island of Britian and that called Basileia, where amber is found (chaps. 21-23).
On Gaul, Celtiberia, Iberia, Liguria, and Tyrrhenia, and on the inhabitants of these countries and the customs they observe (chaps. 24-40).
On the islands in the ocean to the south, both the one called Hiera and that called Panchaea, and on what they are said to contain (chaps. 41-46).
On Samothrace and the mysteries celebrated on the island (chaps. 47-49).
On Naxos and Symê and Calydna (chaps. 50-54).
On Rhodes and the myths which are recounted concerning it (chaps. 55-59).
On the Cherronesus which lies over against the territory of Rhodes (chaps. 60-63).
On Crete and the myths which are recounted about it, down to comparatively recent times (chaps. 64-80).
On Lesbos and the colonies which were led by Macareus to Chios, Samos, and Cos (chaps. 81-82).
On Tenedos, the colonization of the island, and the fabulous tales told by the Tenedians about Tennes (chap. 83).
On the colonization by Minos of the islands of the smaller Cyclades (chap. 84).
[5.1.1] It should be the special care of historians, when they compose their words, to give attention to everything which may be of utility, and especially to the arrangement of the varied material they present. This eye to arrangement, for instance, is not only of great help to persons in the disposition of their private affairs1 if they would preserve and increase their property, but also, when men come to writing history, it offers them not a few advantages.
[5.1.2] Some historians indeed, although they are worthy objects of praise in the matter of style and in the breadth of experience2 derived from the events which they record, have nevertheless fallen short in respect of the way in which they have handled the matter of arrangement, with the result that, whereas the effort and care which they expended receive the approbation of their readers, yet the order which they gave to the material they have recorded is the object of just censure.
[5.1.3] Timaeus, for example, bestowed, it is true, the greatest attention upon the precision of his chronology and had due regard for the breadth of knowledge gained through experience, but he is criticized with good reason for his untimely and lengthy censures, and because of the excess to which he went in censuring he has been given by some men the name Epitmaeus or Censurer.
[5.1.4] Ephorus, on the other hand, in the universal history which he composed has achieved success, not alone in the style of his composition, but also as regards the arrangement of his work; for each one of his Books is so constructed as to embrace events which fall under a single topic.3 Consequently we also have given our preference to this method of handling our material, and, in so far as it is possible, are adhering to this general principle.
And since we have given this Book the title “On the Islands,” 4 in accordance with this heading the first island we shall speak about will be Sicily, since it is both the richest of the islands and holds first place in respect of the great age of the myths related concerning it.
[5.2.1] The island in ancient times was called, after its shape, Trinacria,5 then Sicania after the Sicani who made their home there, and finally it has been given the name Sicily after the Siceli who crossed over in a body to it from Italy.
[5.2.2] Its circumference is some four thousand three hundred and sixty stades; for of its three sides, that extending from Pelorias to Lilybaeum is one thousand seven hundred stades, that from Lilybaeum to Pachynus in the territory of Syracuse is one thousand seven hundred stades, and the remaining side is one thousand one hundred and forty stades.6
DEMETER & THE RAPE OF CORE
[5.2.3] The Siceliotae who dwell in the island have received the tradition from their ancestors, the report having ever been handed down successively from earliest time by one generation to the next, that the island is sacred to Demeter and Corê; although there are certain poets who recount the myth that at the marriage of Pluton and Persephonê Zeus gave this island as a wedding present7 to the bride.
[5.2.4] That the ancient inhabitants of Sicily, the Sicani, were indigenous, is stated by the best authorities among historians, and also that the goddesses we have mentioned made their first appearance on this island, and that it was the first, because of the fertility of the soil, to bring forth the fruit of the corn, facts to which the most renowned of the poets also bears witness when he writes:8
But all these things grow there for them unsown
And e’en untilled, both wheat and barley, yea,
And vines, which yield such wine as fine grapes give,
And rain of Zeus gives increase unto them.
[5.2.5] Indeed, in the plain of the Leontini, we are told, and throughout many other parts of Sicily the wheat men call “wild” grows even to this day. And, speaking generally, before the corn was discovered,9 if one were to raise the question, what manner of land it was of the inhabited earth where the fruits we have mentioned appeared for the firs time, the meed of honour may reasonably be accorded to the richest land; and in keeping with what we have stated, it is also to be observed that the goddesses who made this discovery are those who receive the highest honours among the Siceliotae.
[5.3.1] Again, the fact that the Rape of Corê took place in Sicily is, men say, proof most evident that the goddesses made this island their favourite retreat because it was cherished by them before all others.
[5.3.2] And the Rape of Corê, the myth relates, took place in the meadows in the territory of Enna. The spot lies near the city, a place of striking beauty for its violets and every other kind of flower and worthy of the goddess. And the story is told that, because of the sweet odour of the flowers growing there, trained hunting dogs are unable to hold the trail, because their natural sense of smell is balked. And the meadow we have mentioned is level in the centre and well watered throughout, but on its periphery it rises high and falls off with precipitous cliffs on every side. And it is conceived of as lying in the very centre of the island, which is the reason why certain writers call it the navel of Sicily.
[5.3.3] Near to it also are sacred groves, surrounded by marshy flats, and a huge grotto which contains a chasm which leads down into the earth and opens to the north, and through it, the myth relates, Pluton, coming out with his chariot, effected the Rape of Corê. And the violets, we are told, and the rest of the flowers which supply the sweet odour continue to boom, to one’s amazement, throughout the entire year, and so the whole aspect of the place is one of flowers and delight.
[5.3.4] And both Athena and Artemis, the myth goes on to say, who had made the same choice of maidenhood as had Corê and were reared together with her, joined with her in gathering the flowers, and all of them together wove the robe for their father Zeus. And because of the time they had spent together and their intimacy they all loved this island above any other, and each one of them received for her portion a territory, Athena receiving hers in the region of Himera, where the Nymphs, to please Athena, caused the springs of warm water10 to gush forth on the occasion of the visit of Heracles to the island, and the natives consecrated a city to her and a plot of ground which to this day is called Athena’s.
[5.3.5] And Artemis received from the gods the island at Syracuse which was named after her, by both the oracles and men, Ortygia.11 On this island likewise these Nymphs, to please Artemis, caused a great fountain to gush forth to which was given the name Arethusa.
[5.3.6] And not only in ancient times did this fountain contain large fish in great numbers, but also in our own day we find these fish still there, considered to be holy and not to be touched by men; and on many occasions, when certain men have eaten them amid stress of war, the deity has shown a striking sign and has visited with great sufferings such as dared to take them for food. Of these matters we shall give an exact account in connection with the appropriate period of time.12
[5.4.1] Like the two goddesses whom we have mentioned Corê, we are told, received as her portion the meadows round about Enna; but a great fountain was made sacred to her in the territory of Syracuse and given the name Cyanê or “Azure Fount.”
[5.4.2] For the myth relates that it was near Syracuse that Pluton effected the Rape of Corê and took her away in his chariot, and that after cleaving the earth asunder he himself descended into Hades, taking along with him the bride whom he had seized, and that he caused the fountain named Cyanê to gush forth, near which the Syracusans each year hold a notable festive gathering; and private individuals offer the lesser victims, but when the ceremony is on behalf of the community, bulls are plunged in the pool, this manner of sacrifice having been commanded by Heracles on the occasion when he made the circuit of all Sicily, while driving off the cattle of Geryones.13
[5.4.3] After the Rape of Corê, the myth goes on to recount, Demeter, being unable to find her daughter, kindled torches in the craters of Mt. Aetna and visited many parts of the inhabited world, and upon the men who received her with the greatest favour she conferred benefactions, rewarding them with the gift of the fruit of the wheat.
[5.4.4] And since a more kindly welcome was extended the goddess by the Athenians than by any other people, they were the first after the Siceliotae14 to be given the fruit of the wheat; and in return for this gift the citizens of that city in assembly honoured the goddess above all others with the establishment both of most notable sacrifices and of the mysteries of Eleusis, which, by reason of their very great antiquity and sanctity, have come to be famous among all mankind. From the Athenians many peoples received a portion of the gracious gift of the corn, and they in turn, sharing the gift of the seed with their neighbours, in this way caused all the inhabited world to abound with it.
[5.4.5] And the inhabitants of Sicily, since by reason of the intimate relationship of Demeter and Corê with them they were the first to share in the corn after its discovery, instituted to each one of the goddesses sacrifices and festive gatherings, which they named after them, and by the time chosen for these made acknowledgment of the gifts which had been conferred upon them.
[5.4.6] In the case of Corê, for instance, they established the celebration of her return at about the time when the fruit of the corn was found to come to maturity, and they celebrate this sacrifice and festive gathering with such strictness of observance and such zeal as we should reasonably expect those men to show who are returning thanks for having been selected before all mankind for the greatest possible gift;
[5.4.7] but in the case of Demeter, they preferred that time for the sacrifice when the sowing of the corn is first begun, and for a period of ten days they hold a festive gathering which bears the name of this goddess and is most magnificent by reason of the brilliance of their preparation for it, while in the observance of it they imitate the ancient manner of life. And it is their custom during these days to indulge in coarse language as they associate one with another, the reason being that by such coarseness the goddess, grieved though she was at the Rape of Corê, burst into laughter.
[5.5.1] That the Rape of Corê took place in the manner we have described is attested by many ancient historians and poets. Carcinus15 the tragic poet, for instance, who often visited in Syracuse and witnessed the zeal which the inhabitants displayed in the sacrifices and festive gatherings for both Demeter and Corê, ahs the following verses16 in his writings:
Demeter’s daughter, her whom none may name, by secret schemings Pluton, men say, stole, and then he dropped into earth’s depths, whose light is darkness. Longing for the vanished girl her mother searched and visited all lands in turn. And Sicily’s land by Aetna’s crags was filled with streams of fire which no man could approach, and groaned throughout its length; in grief over the maiden now the folk, beloved of Zeus, was perishing without the corn. Hence honour they these goddesses e’en now.
[5.5.2] But we should not omit to mention the very great benefaction which Demeter conferred upon mankind; for beside the fact that she was the discoverer of corn, she also taught mankind how to prepare it for food and introduced laws by obedience to which men became accustomed to the practice of justice, this being the reason we are told, why she has been given the epithet Thesmophoros, or Lawgiver.17
[5.5.3] Surely a benefaction greater than these discoveries of hers one could not find; for they embrace both living and living honourably. However, as for the myths which are current among the Siceliotae, we shall be satisfied with what has been said.
THE SICANI & SICELI
[5.6.1] We must now write briefly about the Sicani who were the first inhabitants of Sicily, in view of the fact that certain historians are not in agreement about this people. Philistus,18 for instance, says that they removed from Iberia and settled the island, having got the name they bore from a certain river in Iberia named Sicanus, but Timaeus adduces proof of the ignorance of this historian and correctly declares that they were indigenous; and inasmuch as the evidences he offers of the antiquity of this people are many, we think that there is no need for us to recount them.
[5.6.2] The Sicani, then, originally made their homes in villages, building their settlements upon the strongest hills because of the pirates; for thy had not yet been brought under the single rule of a king, but in each settlement there was one man who was lord.
[5.6.3] And at first they made their home in every part of the island and secured their food by tilling the land; but at a later time, when Aetna sent up volcanic eruptions in an increasing number of places and a great torrent of lava was poured forth over the land, it came to pass that a great stretch of the country was ruined. And since the fire kept consuming a large area of the land during an increasing number of years, in fear they left the eastern parts of Sicily and removed to the western. And last of all, many generations later, the people of the Siceli crossed over in a body from Italy into Sicily and made their home in the land which had been abandoned by the Sicani.
[5.6.4] And since the Siceli steadily grew more avaricious and kept ravaging the land which bordered on theirs, frequent wars arose between them and the Sicani, until at last they struck covenants and set up boundaries, upon which they agreed, for the territory. With regard to the Sicani we shall give a detailed account in connection with the appropriate period of time.19
[5.6.5] The colonies of the Greeks – and notable ones they were – were the last to be made in Sicily, and their cities were founded on the sea. All the inhabitants mingled with one another, and since the Greeks came to the island in great numbers, the natives learned their speech, and then, having been brought up in the Greek ways of life, they lost in the end their barbarian speech as well as their name, all of them being called Siceliotae.20
THE LIPARA ISLANDS
[5.7.1] But since we have spoken about these matters at sufficient length we shall turn our discussion to the islands known as the Aeolides.21 These islands are seven in number and bear the following names: Strongylê, Euonymus, Didymê, Phoenicodes, Ericodes, Hiera Hephaestu,22 and Lipara,23 on which is situated a city of the same name.
[5.7.2] They lie between Sicily and Italy in a straight line from the Strait, extending from east to west. They are about one hundred and fifty stades distant from Sicily and are all of about the same size, and the largest one of them is about one hundred and fifty stades in circumference.
[5.7.3] All of them have experienced great volcanic eruptions, and the resulting craters and openings may be seen to this day. On Strongylê and Hiera even at the present time there are sent forth from the open mouths great exhalations accompanied by an enormous roaring, and sand and a multitude of red-hot stones are erupted, as may also be seen taking place on Aetna.
[5.7.4] The reason is, as some say, that passages lead under the earth from these islands to Aetna and are connected with the openings at both ends of them, and this is why the craters on these islands usually alternate in activity with those of Aetna.
LIPARUS AND AEOLUS
[5.7.5] We are told that the islands of Aeolus24 were uninhabited in ancient times, but that later Liparus, as he was called, the son of Auson the king, was overcome by his brothers who rebelled against him, and securing some warships and soldiers he fled from Italy to the island, which received the name Lipara after him; on it he founded the city which bears his name and brought under cultivation the other islands mentioned before.
[5.7.6] And when Liparus had already come to old age, Aeolus, the son of Hippotes, came to Lipara with certain companions and married Cyanê, the daughter of Liparus; and after he had formed a government in which his followers and the natives shared equally he became king over the island. To Liparus, who had a longing for Italy, Aeolus gave his aid in securing for him the regions about Surrentum, where he became king and, after winning great esteem, ended his days; and after he had been accorded a magnificent funeral he received at the hands of the natives honours equal to those offered to the heroes.
[5.7.7] This is the Aeolus to whom the myth relates, Odysseus came in the course of his wanderings.25 He was, they say, pious and just and kindly as well in his treatment of strangers; furthermore, he introduced sea-farers to the use of sails and had learned, by long observation of what the fire26 foretold, to predict with accuracy the local winds,27 this being the reason why the myth has referred to him as the “keeper of the winds”;28 and it was because of his very great piety that he was called a friend of the Gods.
THE SONS OF AEOLUS
[5.8.1] To Aeolus, we are told, sons were born to the number of six, Astyochus, Xuthus, and Androcles, and Pheraemon, Jocastus, and Agathyrnus, and they every one received great approbation both because of the fame of their father and because of their own high achievements. Of their number Jocastus held fast to Italy and was king of the coast as far as the regions about Rhegium, but Pheraemon and Androcles were lords over Sicily from the Strait as far as the regions about Lilybaeum. Of this country the parts to the east were inhabited by Siceli and those to the west by Sicani.
[5.8.2] These two peoples quarrelled with each other, but they rendered obedience of their own free will to the sons of Aeolus we have mentioned, both because of the piety of their father Aeolus, which was famed afar, and because of the fair-dealing of the sons themselves. Xuthus was king over the land in the neighbourhood of Leontini, which is known after him as Xuthia to this day. Agathyrnus, becoming king of the land now called Agathyrnitis, founded a city which was called after him Agathyrnus; and Astyochus secured the lordship over Lipara.
[5.8.3] All these men followed the example which their father had set for both piety and justice and hence were accorded great approbation. Their descendants succeeded to their thrones over many generations, but in the end the kings of the house of Aeolus were overthrown throughout Sicily.
[5.9.1 - 5.41.4] [Not yet included here. Most of the content of this book is geographical rather than mythological.]
MYTHICAL ISLANDS OF PANCHAEA
[5.41.4] 29 On the farthest bounds of Arabia the Blest, where the ocean washes it, there lie opposite it a number of islands, of which there are three which merit a mention in history, one of them bearing the name of Hiera, or Sacred, on which it is not allowed to bury the dead, and another lying near it, seven stades distant, to which they take the bodies of the dead whom they see fit to inter.30 Now Hiera has no share in any other fruit, but it produces frankincense in such abundance as to suffice for the honours paid to the gods throughout the entire inhabited world; and it possesses also exceptional quantity of myrrh an every variety of all the other kinds of incense of highly fragrant odour.
[5.41.5] The nature of frankincense and the preparing of it is like this: In size it is a small tree, and in appearance it resembles the white Egyptian Acacia,31 its leaves are like those of the willow, as it is called, the bloom it bears is in colour like gold, and the frankincense which comes from it oozes forth in drops like tears.
[5.41.6] But the myrrh-tree is like the mastich-tree, although its leaves are more slender and grow thicker. It oozes myrrh when the earth is dug away from the roots, and if it is planted in fertile soil this take place twice a year, in spring and in summer; the myrrh of the spring is red, because of the dew, but that of the summer is white. They also gather the fruit of the Christ’s thorn,32 which they use both for meat and for drink and as a drug for the cure of dysentery.
[5.42.1] The land of Hiera is divided among its inhabitants, and the king takes for himself the best land and likewise a tithe of the fruits which the island produces. The width of the island is reputed to be about two hundred stades.
[5.42.2] And the inhabitants of the island are known as Panchaeans, and these men take the frankincense and myrrh across to the mainland and sell it to Arab merchants, from whom others in turn purchase wares of this kind and convey them to Phoenicia and Coele-Syria and Egypt, and in the end merchants convey them from these countries throughout all the inhabited world.
[5.42.3] And there is yet another large island, thirty stades distant from the one we have mentioned, lying out in the ocean to the east and many stades in length; for men say that from its promontory which extends toward the east one can descry India, misty because of its great distance.33
[5.42.4] As for Panchaea itself,34 the island possesses many things which are deserving to be recorded by history. It is inhabited by men who were sprung from the soil itself, called Panchaeans, and the foreigners there are Oceanites and Indians and Scythians and Cretans.
[5.42.5] There is also a notable city on the island, called Panara, which enjoys unusual felicity; its citizens are called “suppliants of Zeus Triphylius,” 35 and they are the only inhabitants of the land of Panchaea who live under laws of their own making and have no king over them. Each year they elect three chief magistrates; these men have no authority over capital crimes, but render judgment in all other matters; and the weightiest affairs they refer of their own accord to the priests.
[5.43.1] Some sixty stades distant from the city of Panara is the temple of Zeus Triphylius, which lies out on a level plain and is especially admired for its antiquity, the costliness of its construction, and its favourable situation. Thus, the plain lying around the temple is thickly covered with trees of every kind, not only such as bear fruit, but those also which possess the power of pleasing the eye; for the plain abounds with cypresses of enormous size and plane-trees and sweet-bay and myrtle, sine the region is full of springs of water.
[5.43.2] Indeed, close to the sacred precinct there bursts forth from the earth a spring of sweet water of such size that it gives rise to a river on which boats may sail. And since the water is led off from the river to many parts of the plain and irrigates them, throughout the entire area of the plain there grow continuous forests of lofty trees, wherein a multitude of men pass their time in the summer season and a multitude of birds make their nests, birds of every kind and of various hues, which greatly delight the ear by their song; therein also is every kind of garden and many meadows with varied plants and flowers, so that there is a divine majesty in the prospect which makes the place appear worthy of the gods of the country.
[5.43.3] And there were palm trees there with mighty trunks, conspicuous for the fruits they bore, and many varieties of nut-bearing trees, which provide the natives of the place with the most abundant subsistence. And in addition to what we have mentioned, grape-vines were found there in great number and of every variety, which were trained to climb high and were variously intertwined so that they presented a pleasing sight and provided an enjoyment of the season without further ado.
[5.44.1] The temple was a striking structure of white marble, two plethora in length and the width proportionate to the length; it was supported by large and thick columns and decorated at intervals with reliefs of ingenious design; and there were also remarkable statues of the gods, exceptional in skill of execution and admired by men for their massiveness.
[5.44.2] Around about the temple the priests who served the gods had their dwellings, and the management of everything pertaining to the sacred precinct was in their hands.
[5.44.3] Leading from the temple an avenue had been constructed, four stades in length and a plethrum in width. On each side of the avenue are great bronze vessels which rest upon square bases, and at the end of the avenue the river we mentioned above has its sources, which pour forth in a turbulent stream. The water of the stream is exceedingly clear and sweet and the use of it is most conductive to the health of the body; and the river bears the name “Water of the Sun.”
[5.44.4] The entire spring is surrounded by an expensive stone quay, which extends along each side of it four stades, and no man except the priests may set foot upon the place up to the edge of the quay.
[5.44.5] The plain lying below the temple has been made sacred to the gods, for a distance of two hundred stades, and the revenues which are derived from it are used to support the sacrifices. Beyond the above-mentioned plain there is a lofty mountain which has been made sacred to the gods and is called the “Throne of Uranus” and also “Triphylian Olympus.”
[5.44.6] For the myth relates that in ancient times, when Uranus was king of the inhabited earth, he took pleasure in tarrying in that place and in surveying from its lofty top both the heavens and the stars therein, and that at a later time it came to be called Triphylian Olympus because the men who dwelt about it were composed of three peoples; these namely, were known as Panchaeans, Oceanites, and Doians, who were expelled at a later time by Ammon.
[5.44.7] For Ammon, men say, not only drove this nation into exile but also totally destroyed their cities, razing to the ground both Doia and Asterusia. And once year, we are told, the priests hold a sacrifice in this mountain with great solemnity.
[5.45.1] Beyond this mountain and throughout the rest of the land of Panchaeitis, the account continues, there is found a multitude of beasts of every description; for the land possesses many elephants and lions and leopards and gazelles and an unusual number of other wild animals which differ in their aspect and are of marvellous ferocity.
[5.45.2] This island also contains three notable cities, Hyracia, Dalis, and Oceanis. The whole country, moreover, is fruitful and possesses in particular a multitude of vines of every variety.
[5.45.3] The men are warlike and use chariots in battle after the ancient manner. The entire body politic of the Panchaeans is divided into three castes: The first caste among them is that of the priests, to whom are assigned the artisans, the second consists of the farmers, and the third is that of the soldiers, to whom are added the herdsmen.
[5.43.4] The priests served as the leaders in all things, rendering the decisions in legal disputes and possessing the final authority in all other affairs which concerned the community; and the farmers, who are engaged in the tilling of the soil, bring the fruits into the common store, and the man among them who is thought to have practised the best farming receives a special reward when the fruits are portioned out, the priests deciding who has been first, who second, and so in order to the tenth, this being done in order to spur on the rest.
[5.43.5] In the same manner the herdsmen also turn both the sacrificial animals and all others into the treasury of the state with all precision, some by number and some by weight. For, speaking generally, there is not a thing except a home and a garden which a man may possess for his own, but all the products and the revenues are taken over by the priests, who portion out with justice to each man his share, and to the priests alone is given two-fold.
[5.43.6] The clothing of the Panchaeans is soft, because the wool of the sheep of the land is distinguished above all other for its softness; and they wear ornaments of gold, not only the women but the men as well, with collars of twisted gold about their necks, bracelets on their wrists, and rings hanging from their ears after the manner of the Persians. The same kind of shoes are worn by both sexes,36 and they re worked in more varied colours than is usual.
[5.46.1] The soldiers receive a pay which is apportioned to them and in return protect the land by means of forts and posts fixed at intervals; for there is one section of the country which is infested with robber bands, composed of bold and lawless men who lie in wait for the farmers and war upon them.
[5.46.2] And as for the priests, they far excel the rest in luxury and in every other refinement and elegance of their manner of life; so, for instance, their robes are of linen and exceptionally sheer and soft, and at times they wear garments woven of the softest wool; furthermore, their headdress is interwoven with gold, their foot-gear consists of sandals which are of varied colours and ingeniously worked, and they wear the same gold ornaments as do the women, with the exception of the earrings. The first duties of the priests are concerned with the services paid to the gods and with the hymns and praises which are accorded them, and in them they recite in song the achievements of the gods one after another and the benefactions they have bestowed upon mankind.
[5.46.3] According to the myth which the priests give, the gods had their origin in Crete, and were led by Zeus to Panchaea at the time when he sojourned among men and was king of the inhabited earth. In proof of this they cite their language, pointing out that most of the things they have about them still retain their Cretan names; and they add that the kinship which they have with the Cretans and the kindly regard they feel towards them are traditions they received from their ancestors, since this report is ever handed down from one generation to another. And it has been their practice, in corroboration of these claims, to point to inscriptions which, they said, were made by Zeus during the time he still sojourned among men and founded the temple.
[5.64.4] The land possesses rich mines of gold, silver, copper, tin, and iron, but none of these metals is allowed to be taken from the island; nor may the priests for any reason whatsoever set foot outside the hallowed land, and if one of them does so, whoever meets him is authorized to slay him.
[5.64.5] There are many great dedications of gold and of silver which have been made to the gods, since time has amassed the multitude of such offerings.
[5.64.6] The doorways of the temples are objects of wonder in their construction, being worked in silver and gold and ivory and citrus-wood. And there is the couch of the god, which is six cubits long and four wide and is entirely of gold and skilfully constructed in every detail of its workmanship.
[5.64.7] Similar to it both in size and in costliness in general is the table of the god which stands near the couch. And on the centre of the couch stands a large gold stele which carries letters which the Egyptians call sacred,37 and the inscription recounts the deeds both of Uranus and of Zeus; and to them there were added by Hermes the deeds also of Artemis and of Apollo.38
As regards the islands, then, which lie in the ocean opposite Arabia, we shall rest content with what has been said.
1. The word oikonomia, literally “management of a household,” translated “arrangement” in the preceding sentence and “disposition of private affairs” here, in its transferred sense may mean “prudent management,” “good organization of material,” or, as here, “skilful disposition and arrangement.”
2. Cp. Book 1. 1 f. for the value of the vicarious “experience” which history stores up for readers.
3. i.e. each book was a unit. Diodorus says in another place (16. 76. 5) that each book had an Introduction.
4. No such title appears in the MSS.
5. “Three Capes”; cp. Strabo, 6. 2. 1.
6. The sum of the lengths of the three sides falls 20 stades short of the total circumference given before.
7. The Greek word meant originally “festival of unveiling,” when the bride first took off her maiden veil and received presents.
8. Homer, Odyssey 9. 109-11, describing the land of the Cyclopes.
9. i.e. before the cultivation of wheat was known and then passed on from people to people.
10. Mentioned before in Book 4. 23. 1.
11. “Quail-island.” Several islands of this name are known in the Greek world, and on one of them Artemis slew Orion (Odyssey, 5. 123); hence she received the name “Ortygia.”
12. Instances of punishments for the desecration of the shrines of Demeter and Corê are given in Book 14. 63 and 70-1.
13. Cp. Book 4. 23.
14. See note 20.
15. Two writers of tragedies by this name are known, both of Acragas in Sicily, a Carcinus the elder, who was exhibiting in Athens at the opening of the Peloponnesian War, and his grandson.
16. Frg. 5 (Nauck).
17. Cp. Book 1. 14. 4.
18. Shortly before his death in about 365 B.C. Philistus of Syracuse composed in thirteen Books his history of Sicily from the earliest times to approximately his own day.
19. No such account is found in the extant books of Diodorus.
20. This name obviously is used here to include, not only the Greeks in contrast to Sicels, as in other authors, but such natives of Sicily as adopted the Greek language and manners.
21. The Lipari islands.
22. “Sacred to Hephaestus.”
23. The modern names are Stromboli, Panaria, Salina, Filicuri, Alicuri, Vulcano, and Lipari respectively.
24. Called above the “Aeolides.”
25. The account is in the Odyssey, 10. 1 ff.
26. i.e. of the volcano.
27. Or “predict . . . winds to the natives”
28. Cp. the Odyssey, 10. 21.
29. Chaps. 41-6 are generally considered to be drawn from Euhemerus of Messene, who composed about 300 B.C. his Sacred History, which combined with the picture of a political utopia an account of the origin of the gods.
30. These islands are probably Abd el Kuri and Socotra, however mythical may be the details.
31. Acacia albida; cp. Theophrastus, Enquiry into Plants, 4. 2. 8.
32. A shrub of the buckthorn family.
33. This statement of course has no foundation in fact.
34. The following details are mythical and imaginary.
35. i.e. “Zeus of the three tribes,” because, as explained below in ch. 44. 6, the inhabitants were derived from three distinct peoples.
36. Or “The boots they wear reach to mid-leg.”
37. i.e. the inscription was in hieroglyphs.
38. Cp. Lactantius, Inst. Div. 1. 11: “(Euhemerus) composed his history on the basis of holy inscriptions which were contained in very ancient temples, and especially in a shrine of Jupiter Triphylius, where, as the inscription stated, Jupiter himself had set up a gold stele on which he had written an account of his deeds, to serve posterity as a monument of what he had accomplished.”