Solinus: Collectanea rerum memorabilium [trans. Golding] – Bks III–VII

Book III        
Book IV        
Book V 1–10 11–20    
Book VI        
Book VII        

Other Books Dedication / Bk I II VIII–XVI XVII–XXVI XXVII–XXXII XXXIII–XLIX L–LVI



Transcription of Golding's translation and chapters   Modernized spelling and Mommsen's books / chapters

Cap. VIII

 

Book III

Of certaine base Iles of the Tyrrhene Sea, which lye against Italy: Of Corsica, and of the stone Catochites.

   
From hence our style is to bee directed another waie, and other lands call us to treate of their matters, and it were a long peece of woorke to goe leysurelie along the Seacoast to all the Ilandes that face the Promontories of Italy, although for that they bee scattered in most delectable outnookes, and set by nature as it were to the shewe, they were not to be omitted.

But how farre should I steppe aside, if delaying the chiefe thinges, I should of a certaine slothfulnesse treat of Pandataria, or of Prochita, or Ilba plentifull of yron, or Capraria, which the Greekes call Aegila, or Planasia so called of the levelnesse of the Sea, or of Ulisses straying: or Doove Ilande, the mother of the byrdes that beare that name, or Ithacesia, which is reported to have been the watch-towre of Ulisses, or Anaria named of Homer Inarimee, and other no lesse fruitfull then these.Among which manie having somewhat more largely treated of Corsica in wryting, have moste exquisitlie comprised it to the full, and nothing is omitted which were not superfluous to be touched againe.

As howe the Ligurians sent first inhabiters thither: how towns were there builded. How Marius and Sylla sent people a newe to refresh it: and howe it is beaten upon with the Saltwater of the Lygustick sea. But let all this geere passe.

Neverthelesse the Country of Corsica, (which is a peculiar thing to that land) doth onely bring forth the stone which they call Catochites, most worthie to be spoken of. It is bigger then the rest, that are ordeined to decking, and it is not so much a Jewell as a common stone. If a man lay his handes uppon it, it holdeth them downe, so fastening it selfe unto severall substances, that it cleaneth the thinges that it is touched of. For there is in it I cannot tell what, a kinde of clammy glew and gummishnesse.

I have heard say, that Democritus the Abderite didde oftentimes use to boast of this stone, to prove the hid power of nature, in the contentions that he hadde against the wyzardes.
  [1] From hence our style is to be directed another way, and other lands call us to treat of their matters, and it were a long piece of worke to go leisurely along the sea-coast to all the island that face the Promontories of Italy, although for that they be scattered in most delectable outnooks, and set by nature as it were to the show, they were not to be omitted.

[2] But how far should I steppe aside, if delaying the chief things, I should of a certain slothfulness treat of Pandataria, or of Prochyta, or Ilva plentiful of iron, or Capraria, which the Greeks call Aegila, or Planasia so called of the levelness of the Sea, or of Ulysses' straying: or Columbaria [Dove Island], the mother of the birds that bear that name, or Ithacesia, which is reported to have been the watch-tower of Ulysses, or Aenaria named of Homer Inarime, and other no less fruitful then these. Among which many having somewhat more largely treated of Corsica in writing, have most exquisitly comprised it to the full, and nothing is omitted which were not superfluous to be touched again.

[3] As how the Ligurians sent first inhabiters thither: how towns were there built. How Marius and Sulla sent people anew to refresh it: and how it is beaten upon with the saltwater of the Ligustic Sea. But let all this gear pass.

[4] Nevertheless the country of Corsica, (which is a peculiar thing to that land) alone brings forth the stone which they call catochites, most worthy to be spoken of. It is bigger then the rest, that are ordained for decorative purposes, and it is not so much a jewel as a common stone. If a man lay his hands upon it, it holds them down, so fastening itself unto several substances, that it cleans the things that it is touched of. For there is in it I cannot tell what, a kind of clammy glue and gumminess.

[5] I have heard say, that Democritus of Abdera did oftentimes use to boast of this stone, to prove the hidden power of nature, in the contentions that he had against the wizards.


Cap. IX

 

Book IV

Of the Ile Sardinia: of the Shonnsunne: of the hearbe Sardonia: and of the wonderfull power of waters.

   
Sardinia, which we reade of in Timaeus, by the name of Sandaliotes, and in Chrysippus by the name of Ichnusa, is sufficiently knowen in what Sea it lyeth, and who were firste inhabiters thereof. Wherefore it is no purpose to tell howe Sardus was begotten of Hercules, and Norax of Mercury: and howe the one comming from Lybye, and the other from as far as Tartesus in Spaine into these quarters: the Lande tooke his name of Sardus, & the Towne of Nora tooke his name of Norax.

Or howe anon after, Aristaeus reigning over them, united the people of bothe the races together into the next Cittie Caralis which himself had builded, and knitt the two sundry Nations which hitherto had been dissevered, together into one order of lyving: in such sorte as the strangenesse thereof made them not disdaine to become hys Subiects. This Aristaeus also begatte Iolaus, who inhabited the Countrie thereabouts. Furthermore, wee wyll passe over both the Ilians and Locrines.

Sardinia is without Serpents. But looke what noysomnesse Serpents bring to other places, the same noysomnesse bringeth the Shonsunne to the Countrey of Sardinia. It is a verie little Worme and like to a Spyder in shape, and it is called a Shonsunne because it shunneth the daie light. It lyeth moste in Sylver Mynes, for the soile of that Land is rich of Silver. It creepeth privily, and casteth the plague uppon such as sitte upon it unwares.

To the furtheraunce of thys mischief cometh also the Hearbe Sardonia, which groweth much more plentifully the needeth, in groves where springes runne. If it be eaten, it draweth together the sinewes, and wryeth the mouth, so that such as thereby draw unto death, doo die with resemblance of laughter.

Contrariwise, all the waters of that Ile, doo serve to divers commodities. The standing pooles are full of filth. The Winters rayne is kept to releeve the Sommers drowght, and the Men of Sardinia have much advauntage of raynie water. For they gather it and keepe it in store, that it may doo them ease when the springes faile them which served them for theyr meate & drinke.

In some places doo bubble up warme and holesome springes, which serve for cures in knitting of broken bones, or expulsing the poysonne sheadeth by the Shonsunnes, or in dryving away diseases of the eyes.

But those that remedy the eyes, have power also to discover theeves. For whosoever denyeth the theft wyth an oath, washeth his eyes with thys water. If hys oath bee true, his sight becommeth the clearer: if he forsware himselfe, the fact is detected by blindnesse: and he is driven to confesse hys faulte in darknesse, with the losse of hys eyes.
  [1] Sardinia, which we read of in Timaeus by the name of Sandaliotis, and in Crispus by the name of Ichnusa, is sufficiently known—in what sea it lies, and who were first inhabiters thereof. Wherefore there is no purpose in telling how Sardus was begotten of Hercules, and Norax of Mercury; and how the one came from Libya, and the other from as far as Tartessus in Spain into these quarters. The land took its name from Sardus, and the town of Nora took its name from Norax.

[2] Or how soon after, Aristaeus, reigning over them, united the people of both the races together into the next city Caralis which himself had built, and knit the two sundry nations which hitherto had been separated, together into one order of living: in such sort as the strangeness thereof made them not disdain to become his subjects. This Aristaeus also begat Iolaus, who inhabited the country thereabouts. Furthermore, we will pass over both the Ilienses and Locrians. Sardinia is without serpents.

[3] But look what noisomeness serpents bring to other places: that same noisomeness, the solifuga—the 'sun-shunner'—brings to the country of Sardinia. It is a very little snake* and like to a spider in shape, and it is called a sun-shunner because it shuns the daylight. It lies mainly in silver mines, for the soil of that land is rich in silver. It creeps privily, and casts the plague upon such as sit upon it unawares.

[4] To the furtherance of this mischief comes also the herb Sardonia, which grows much more plentifully than is needed, in groves where springs run. If it be eaten, it draws together the sinews, and twists the mouth, so that such as thereby draw unto death die with a resemblance of laughter.

[5] Contrariwise, all the waters of that isle serve to divers conveniences. The standing pools are full of filth. The Winter's rain is kept to relieve the Summer's drought, and the men of Sardinia have much advantage of rainy water. For they gather it and keep it in store, that it may do them ease when the springs fail them which served them for their meat and drink.

[6] In some places do bubble up warm and wholesome springs, which serve for cures in knitting of broken bones, or expulsing the poison shed by the sun-shunners, or in driving away diseases of the eyes.

[7] But those that remedy the eyes, have power also to discover thieves. For whosoever denies the theft with an oath, washes his eyes with this water. If his oath be true, his sight becomes the clearer: if he forswore himself, the fact is detected by blindness, and he is driven to confess his fault in darkness, with the loss of his eyes.

* Golding calls it a 'worme', a snake, but this is confused: in Solinus' Latin, it is merely an 'animal', clearly a venomous spider such as the phalangion or the tarantula.


Cap. X

 

Book V

Of Sicill, and the Land Pelorias, and the nature of the waters there: of the Mountaine Aetna, and many other wonders of that Ile: and of the seaven Iles called Vulcanes Iles.

 

I 1–10

And if wee have respecte to the order of the times or of the places: after Sardinia, the matters of Sicill doo call us next. First, because that bothe those Iles beeing broughte in subiection to the Romains, were made Provinces both at one time. For Marcus Valerius was made Governour of Sardinia, and C. Flaminius Pretor of Sicill all in one yeere: and secondly for that immediatly after you are out of the straights of Sicill, the Sea beareth the name of the Sardine Sea.

Sicill therefore, (which thing is firste and formost to bee marked) by reason of his heads shooting foorth, is platted three-cornered. (a) Pachynnus lookes toward, (b) Peloponnesus and the South coast. (c) Pelorus beholdeth Italy, butting Westward uppon it. (d) Lylibye shooteth towarde Affrick. Among which, the Countrey about Pelorus is commended, for the temperature of the soyle, inasmuch as it neyther washeth away into durt through overmuch moysture, nor crumbleth into dust through overmuch drynesse.

Where it goeth further into the maine land-warde, and enlargeth in wyldenesse, it hath three Lakes. Of the one, that it is well stored with fish I count no great wonder. But the next unto it, for that in the thicke groves among the shadowy shrubbes of young trees, it nourisheth wilde beastes, and admitteth hunters by drye pathes wherein they may have accesse a foote by land, serving to both uses of hunting & fishing, is numbered among the notable thinges.

The third is prooved to be holie by an Altar standing in the mids, which devideth the shallowes from the deepes. All the waie that leadeth unto it, the water is but midde legge deepe. Whatsoever is beyonde, may neither be gaged nor touched. If it be: he that attempteth it is punished for his labour and looke howe much of himselfe he putteth into the water, so much he goeth about to destroy. They say that a certaine man threw a line as farre as he coulde into the deepes, and that as to recover it againe he thrust his arme into the water to the intent to have the more strength to pull, his hand became rotten.

The coaste of Pelorias is peopled with inhabitants of Tauromium, which Men in old time called Naxus. The towne of Messana is sette directly overagainst Rhegium of Italy, unto the which Rhegium the Greeks gave that name, by reason of the breaking of that place.

Pachinnum is moste plentifull of Tunnyes and al other Sea fish, and therefore there is alwaies great fishing.

The beautie of the Headlond of Lyliby, is the Towne Lyliby with the Tombe of Sybill. Long before the siedge of Troy, King Sicanus arryving in the Ile with a Hoste of Spanyards, named it Sicanie. Afterwarde Siculus the Sonne of Neptune called it Sicill.

Into this land resorted many of the Corinthyans, Argives, Ilians, Dorians, and Men of Candy. Among whom also the Master of all Carpenters & Masons hath the chief Cittie, Syracuse, in which even in winter season when fayre weather is hidden, the Sunne shyneth every day. Moreover the Fountaine Arethusa is in this Cittie.

The biggest hylles in it, are Aetna and Eryx. Aetna is hallowed unto Vulcane, and Eryx, unto Venus. In the toppe of Aetna are two chinkes which are named Cuppes, at which the vapor bursteth out, with a great roaring going before, which runneth rumbling a long while together in the bowels of the earth, through the burning brakes of hollow holes within. Neither doo the flakes of fire rise out, untill such time as the roaring & rumbling wythin have gone before.

This is a great wonder. And it is no lesse wonder that in that burning heate, nature is so stubborne, that it bringeth foorth snowe mingled wyth the fire: and that although it boyle in outragious heate, yet the toppe of it is whyte with snowe, as if it were continuall winter.
  [1] And if we have respect to the order of the times or of the places: after Sardinia, the matters of Sicily do call us next. First, because that both those isles, being brought in subjection to the Romans, were made Provinces both at one time. For Marcus Valerius was made Governor of Sardinia, and C. Flaminius Praetor of Sicily all in one year: and secondly, for that immediately after you are out of the straits of Sicily, the sea bears the name of the Sardinian Sea.

[2] Sicily therefore (which thing is first and foremost to be marked) by reason of its headlands stretching forth, is three-cornered in shape. (a) Pachynus looks toward (b) Peloponnesus and the south coast. (c) Pelorias beholds Italy, abutting westward upon it. (d) Lilybaeum stretches towards Africa. Among which, the country about Pelorias is commended for the temperateness of the soil, inasmuch as it neither washes away into dirt through overmuch moisture, nor crumbles into dust through overmuch dryness.

[3] Where it goes further into the interior land-ward, and enlarges in wildeness, it has three Lakes. Of the one, that it is well stored with fish I count no great wonder. But the next unto it, since—in the thick groves among the shadowy shrubs of young trees—it nourishes wild beasts and admits hunters by dry paths wherein they may have access on foot by land, serving to both uses of hunting and fishing, is numbered among the notable things.

[4] The third is proved to be holy by an altar standing in the middle, which divides the shallows from the deeps. All the way that leads unto it, the water is but mid-leg deep. Whatsoever is beyond, may neither be gauged nor touched. If it be, he that attempts it is punished for his labour and however much of himself he puts into the water, so much he goes about to destroy. They say that a certain man threw a line as far as he could into the deeps; and that, since in order to recover it again he thrust his arm into the water with the intent to have the more strength to pull, his hand became rotten.

[5] The coast of Pelorias is peopled with inhabitants of Tauromenium, which men in old time called Naxus. The town of Messana is set directly over against Rhegium of Italy, unto the which Rhegium the Greeks gave that name, by reason of the breaking of that place.

[6] Pachynus is most plentiful of tuna and all other sea fish, and therefore there is always great fishing.

[7] The beauty of the headland of Lilybaeum is the town Lilybaeum with the tomb of the Sybil. Long before the siege of Troy, King Sicanus, arriving in the isle with a host of Spaniards, named it Sicania. Afterwards Siculus the son of Neptune called it Sicily.

[8] Into this land resorted many of the Corinthians, Argives, Ilienses, Dorians, and men of Crete, among whom was the master of all carpenters and masons [i.e. Daedalus]. It has the chief city, Syracuse, in which even in winter season when fair weather is hidden, the sun shines every day. Moreover the fountaine Arethusa is in this City.

[9] The biggest hills in it are Etna and Eryx. Etna is sacred to Vulcan, and Eryx to Venus. In the top of Etna are two chinks which are named cups, at which the vapour bursts out, with a great roaring going before, which runs rumbling a long while together in the bowels of the earth, through the burning brakes of hollow holes within. Neither do the flakes of fire rise out, until such time as the roaring and rumbling within have gone before.

[10]This is a great wonder. And it is no less wonder that in that burning heat, nature is so stubborn that it brings forth snow mingled with the fire: and that although it boils in outrageous heat, yet the top of it is white with snow, as if it were continual winter.
   

I 11–20

Cap. XI

 

Book VI



   
 


Cap. zz

 

Book VII