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The History Of Herodotus Volume 1 of 2

Page: 247

184. From the Garmantians at a distance again of ten days' journey there is another hill of salt and spring of water, and men dwell round it called Atarantians, who alone of all men about whom we know are nameless; for while all taken together have the name Atarantians, each separate man of them has no name given to him. These utter curses against the Sun when he is at his height, 166 and moreover revile him with all manner of foul terms, because he oppresses them by his burning heat, both themselves and their land. After this at a distance of ten days' journey there is another hill of salt and spring of water, and men dwell round it. Near this salt hill is a mountain named Atlas, which is small in circuit and rounded on every side; and so exceedingly lofty is it said to be, that it is not possible to see its summits, for clouds never leave them either in the summer or in the winter. This the natives say is the pillar of the heaven. After this mountain these men got their name, for they are called Atlantians; and it is said that they neither eat anything that has life nor have any dreams.

185. As far as these Atlantians I am able to mention in order the names of those who are settled in the belt of sand; but for the parts beyond these I can do so no more. However, the belt extends as far as the Pillars of Heracles and also in the parts outside them: and there is a mine of salt in it at a distance of ten days' journey from the Atlantians, and men dwelling there; and these all have their houses built of the lumps of salt, since these parts of Libya which we have now reached 167 are without rain; for if it rained, the walls being made of salt would not be able to last: and the salt is dug up there both white and purple in colour. 168 Above the sand-belt, in the parts which are in the direction of the South Wind and towards the interior of Libya, the country is uninhabited, without water and without wild beasts, rainless and treeless, and there is no trace of moisture in it.

186. I have said that from Egypt as far as the lake Tritonis Libyans dwell who are nomads, eating flesh and drinking milk; and these do not taste at all of the flesh of cows, for the same reason as the Egyptians also abstain from it, nor do they keep swine. Moreover the women of the Kyrenians too think it not right to eat cows' flesh, because of the Egyptian Isis, and they even keep fasts and celebrate festivals for her; and the women of Barca, in addition from cows' flesh, do not taste of swine either.

187. Thus it is with these matters: but in the region to the West of lake Tritonis the Libyans cease to be nomads, and they do not practise the same customs, nor do to their children anything like that which the nomads are wont to do; for the nomad Libyans, whether all of them I cannot say for certain, but many of them, do as follows:—when their children are four years old, they burn with a greasy piece of sheep's wool the veins in the crowns of their heads, and some of them burn the veins of the temples, so that for all their lives to come the cold humour may not run down from their heads and do them hurt: and for this reason it is (they say) that they are so healthy; for the Libyans are in truth the most healthy of all races concerning which we have knowledge, whether for this reason or not I cannot say for certain, but the most healthy they certainly are: and if, when they burn the children, a convulsion comes on, they have found out a remedy for this; for they pour upon them the water of a he-goat and so save them. I report that which is reported by the Libyans themselves.


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