Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

Cosmas Indicopleustes, Christian Topography (1897) pp. 23-90.  Book 2



The Christian theories regarding the form and position of the whole world, the proofs of which are taken from Divine Scripture.

cosmas2-2.jpgOW long I put off the composition of my work regarding the figure of the world, even though other admirable men as well as thyself frequently urged me to undertake it, you know best of all. O dearest, God-loving and Christ-loving Pamphilus, a man worthy of that name, since all holy men love thee 1----a sojourner in the earthly Jerusalem, but enrolled among the first-born and the prophets, with whom when of yore I knew thee only by report I was knit in the bonds of warmest friendship; but now I have had the satisfaction of having seen thee face to face, when by the will of God you came hither to us, to Alexander's great city, and never ceased to importune us about this work, enfeebled though we were in body, afflicted with ophthalmia and costiveness of the bowels, and as the result suffering afterwards from constant attacks of illness; while besides we were deficient in the school-learning of the Pagans,2 without any knowledge of the rhetorical art, |24 ignorant how to compose a discourse in a fluent and embellished style, and were besides occupied with the complicated affairs of everyday life. Nevertheless you ceased riot pressing us to compose a treatise about the Tabernacle prepared by Moses in the wilderness, which was a type and copy 3 of the whole world, as I explained to thee personally by the living voice in a cursory way, not as communicating opinions and conjectures of my own framing, but what I had learned from the divine scriptures, [125] and from the living voice of that most divine man and great teacher Patricius, who when fulfilling the vows of the Abrahamic rule,4 set out from Chaldaea with his disciple Thomas of Edessa, a holy man who followed him wherever he went, but by the will of God was removed from this life at Byzantium. Patricius propagated the doctrines of holy religion and true science, and has now by the grace of God been elevated to the lofty episcopal throne of all Persia, having been appointed to the office of Bishop Catholic of that country.5 So then being greatly perplexed about this undertaking, on account more |25 especially of those who delight in censoriousness, whose tongues are glib at calumny, and who can always find abundance of material for their scoffs and jeers, I shrank with more than ordinary hesitation from addressing myself to the work. But you again pressed me to proceed with it, loading me with condemnation upon condemnation if I refused, and assuring me that the work would be useful for the guidance of life and for the study and understanding of the divine doctrines, as well as for a refutation of the Greek preconceptions; while showing that the whole scope of divine scripture has respect to the future state, as is most pointedly affirmed by the Apostle when he says: For we know that if the earthly house of this our tabernacle were dissolved we have a building of God----a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.6 When in these and such like terms you appealed to me, and it was beyond my power to gainsay the injunctions laid upon me by your piety, I consented, trusting to receive the benefit of your prayers; while making supplication ourselves that the divine grace without which we can do nothing aright |26  might be vouchsafed to us in the opening of the mouth, so that we might be able without polished and artistic modes of expression, but in the simple words of ordinary speech (while grace manifests her own peculiar powers), both to teach her foster-children the divine knowledge of the doctrines, the lives of pious men, and the figure of the world and its origin, without ambiguity; as well as to describe with all readiness, and to communicate ungrudgingly, what we ourselves have freely received from God.

Having finished, therefore, O God-beloved, the first book concerning pretended Christians, and having convicted them, to the best methinks of my power, of having attempted impossibilities, without our having sought to disparage the beauty of their language, which God forbid I should do, but to refute the fictitious and fabulous Greek theories; and having finished that book, we now in obedience to thy order proceed to discuss first in this second book the Christian theories regarding the figures and the position of the world. We shall then in the third book show that in describing and explaining the utility of the figures of the world, divine scripture alike in the Old and the New Testament is in itself sure and trustworthy. In the fourth book again we shall offer a recapitulation [126] and a delineation of the figures of the world; and similarly shall in the fifth book present a description of the tabernacle prepared by Moses, and exhibit the harmony of what has been said by the Prophets and Apostles. Be this then the book which we have entitled Christian Topography, embracing the whole world and deriving its proofs from the truly divine scriptures, regarding which a Christian is not at liberty to doubt. Since then aid from above, as has been said, cooperates with us through your prayers, we proceed to state our theories. Moses, then, the Divine Cosmographer, says: In the beginning God made |27 the heaven and the earth.7 We assume, therefore, that heaven and earth comprise the universe as containing all things within themselves. And that this is so he himself again proclaims: For in six days God made the heaven and the earth and all that in them is 8; and again in like manner he says: And the heaven and the earth were finished and all the host of them.9 And again, when recapitulating and giving its name to the book, he speaks thus: This is the book of the generation of heaven and earth,10 as if they contained all things, and as if all things that are in them ought to be signified along with them. For if, according to the counterfeit Christians, the heaven alone comprises the universe, he would not have mentioned the earth along with the heaven, but he would have said: This is the book of the generation of heaven. Evidently, however, he has not done so, nor any other of the prophets, and it is manifest that they knew that the two together comprised the universe, and indeed the whole company of the righteous and of the prophets always indicate the heaven along with the earth. Hear what each of them says. Melchisedech first when blessing Abraham thus speaks: Blessed be Abraham of God most High who created the heaven and the earth.11 In the second place, Abraham says: I will stretch out my hand to God most High who created the heaven and the earth. And again: Place thine hand under my thigh and I will make thee swear by the Lord the God of the heaven and the God of the earth.12 For when the most faithful Abraham wished to make his servant swear with more than usual solemnity by the circumcision as being a seal royal, Place, he said, thine hand under my thigh, instead of under the seal royal, that is, the circumcision. See also: Gen. xxiv, 7; |28 [127] Psalm cxiv, 15; cxxxiv, 6, ci, 25; Isai. xlii, 5; Zech. xii, i; Isai. li, 13, xliv, 24, xlviii, 13, xlvi, 1, xl, 22; Jerem. x, 11; Daniel iii, 59; Acts xvii, 24, xiv, 15; Math., xi 25.13 Since then the divine scripture of both the Old and the New Testament shows by its customary declarations that all things are contained within heaven and earth, how is it possible that one can be a Christian who disbelieves all this, and says that all things are contained within the heaven only.

[128] Since then the heaven and the earth comprise the universe, we assert that the earth has been founded on its own stability by the Creator, according once more to the divine scripture, and that it does not rest upon any body; for in the Book of Job it is written: He hangeth the earth upon nothing; and again (xxxviii, 4, 5, 6): Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? etc. And in like manner in David (Psalm cii, 5) it is said: He who laid the foundations of the earth upon its own stability. By the power, therefore, of the Deity who created the universe, we say that it was founded and is supported by him. Upholding all things, as the Apostle saith, by the word of his power.14

For if a body of any kind whatever were either underneath the earth or outside of it, that body could not keep its place, but would fall down according to what is seen always occurring in the natural world. For if we take air, for instance, or water or fire, we find that things which are heavier than these do invariably fall down in them. Since therefore the earth is heavier than any other body whatever, the Deity placed it as the foundation of the universe, and made it steadfast in virtue of its own inherent stability. To illustrate this, let us suppose a place to have a depth |29 of a hundred cubits, and this place to be filled with a body denser say than water; then if one should lift a stone with his hand and drop it into the place, in what interval of time would it reach the bottom? One may reply, in four hours, let us say. But further, supposing the place to be filled with some rarer substance, air, for example, in what interval of time would the stone now reach the bottom? Evidently in a shorter time: in two hours, let us say. Supposing in the next place a still rarer substance, then the bottom will be reached in an hour, and with a yet rarer substance in half an hour. And again, if a rarer still be supposed, the stone will touch the bottom in a still shorter time; and so on until the body when attenuated to the last degree becomes incorporeal, and the time ceases of necessity to be any time at all. Thus then in the case supposed, where no body at all exists, but where there is only the incorporeal, the heavy body of necessity gains the bottom in no time at all and becomes stationary. The Deity, having thus in the order of nature, as the scripture declares, suspended the earth upon nothing, when it had reached the bottom of space laid its foundations upon its own stability so that it should not be moved for ever. But should one again, from a wanton love of contradiction, assume that outside of earth and heaven there exists [129] a place made of another invisible and imaginary substance, even such a place must of necessity rest upon something else, and this again upon another, and so on ad infinitum. Nevertheless let us, with God's help, tackle this subject as more a question of physical science. If one should suppose that place to be chaos, then because .....15 as the heaven is light and tends upwards, and the |30 earth heavy and tends downwards, and extremes are bound together with extremes, that, namely, which tends upwards with that which tends downwards, they support the one the other by their pulling against each other, and so remain unmoved. The Deity accordingly having founded the earth, which is oblong, upon its own stability, bound together the extremities of the heaven with the extremities of the earth, making the nether extremities of the heaven rest upon the four extremities of the earth, while on high he formed it into a most lofty vault overspanning the length of the earth. Along the breadth again of the earth he built a wall from the nethermost extremities of the heaven upwards to the summit, and having enclosed the place, made a house, as one might call it, of enormous size, like an oblong vaulted vapour-bath. For, saith the Prophet Isaiah (xlix, 22): He who established heaven as a vault. With regard, moreover, to the glueing together of the heaven and the earth, we find this written in Job: He has inclined heaven to earth, and it has been poured out as the dust of the earth. I have welded it as a square block of stone.16 Do not the expressions about inclining it to the earth and welding it thereto clearly show that the heaven standing as a vault has its extremities bound together with the extremities of the earth? The fact of its inclination to the earth, and its being welded with it, makes it totally inconceivable that it is a sphere.17 |31 

Moses, likewise, in describing the table in the Tabernacle, which is an image of the earth, ordered its length to be of two cubits, and its breadth of one cubit. So then in the same way as Isaiah spoke, so do we also speak of the figure of the first heaven made on the first day, made along with the earth, and comprising along with the earth the universe, and say that its figure is vaultlike. And just as it is said in Job that the heaven has been welded to the earth, so do we again also say the same. Having learned, moreover, from Moses that the earth has been extended in length more than in breadth, we again admit this, knowing that the scriptures, which are truly divine, ought to be believed. But further, when God had produced the waters and angels and other things simultaneously with the earth and the highest heaven itself, he on the second day exposed to their vision this second heaven visible to our eyes, which, as if putting to use the creations of his own hands, he formed from the waters as his material. In appearance it is like the highest heaven, but not in figure, and it lies midway between that heaven and the earth; and God [130] having then stretched it out extended it throughout the whole space in the direction of its breadth, like an intermediate roof, and bound together the firmament with the highest heaven, separating and disparting the remainder of the waters, leaving some above the firmament, and others on the earth below the firmament, as the divine Moses explains to us, and so makes the one area or house two houses----an upper and a lower story.

But again, the divine scripture speaks thus in Moses concerning the second heaven: And God called the firmament heaven18; and in the inspired David we find these words: Stretching out the heaven as a covering19; and he adds: |32 who covereth his upper chambers with the waters; saying this evidently with respect to the firmament. But scripture, when coupling the two heavens together, frequently speaks of them in the singular, as but one, saying through Isaiah: He that established the heaven as a vaulted chamber, and stretched it out as a tent to dwell in20; meaning here by the vaulted chamber the highest heaven, and by what is stretched out as a tent the firmament, and thus declaring them in the singular number to be bound together and to be of similar appearance. David again speaks to this effect: The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth forth his handiwork21; here beginning with a duality and ending with a unity. For since, agreeably to the idiom of the Hebrew language, the same word serves to express both heavens and heaven, and the two heavens are not only bound together as one, but are also like in appearance and aspect, the divine scripture speaks of heaven both in the plural and in the singular number indiscriminately. For the blessed David, using this idiom, exclaims: Praise him, ye heavens of heavens,22 where you might say in the singular number a heaven of heaven, for he says elsewhere: And the water which is above the heavens: here distinctly employing the plural number, heavens, and indicating that the firmament has the waters above it. For following the idiom, instead of saying, the heaven of the heaven, he said the heavens of the heavens. For he again says also in another place: the heaven of the heaven belongs to the Lord, but the earth hath he given to the sons of man,23 here calling the highest heaven which is like a vault heaven of heaven, as it is the heaven of the firmament, being up above it and much loftier. And in Deuteronomy the great hierophant Moses thus speaks: |33 Behold unto the Lord thy God belongeth the heaven and the heaven of heaven, the earth with all that is therein. The great apostle Paul, moreover, uses this idiom, exclaiming: For our citizenship is in the heavens, from which also we look for the Saviour;24 beginning here with the plural number and ending with the singular, for he uses from which in the singular number. David also frequently makes use of this mode of expression, exclaiming: Praise the Lord from the heavens;25 and after he had said: Praise the Lord from the earth, he thus ends: the praising of him in earth and heaven;26 and in another passage, To him who made the heavens in wisdom;27 and on this subject he uses many such expressions.

We have said that the figure of the earth is lengthwise [131] from east to west, and breadthwise from north to south, and that it is divided into two parts: this part which we, the men of the present day, inhabit, and which is all round encircled by the intermedial sea, called the ocean by the Pagans, and that part which encircles the ocean, and has its extremities bound together with those of the heaven, and which men at one time inhabited to eastward, before the flood in the days of Noah occurred, and in which also Paradise is situated.28 Men, strange to say, having crossed the ocean in the Ark at the time of the Deluge, reached our part of the earth and settled in Persian territory, where also the Ark rested on the mountains of Ararat, having saved alive Noah and his sons, together with |34 their wives, so that there were four pairs, and all the brute animals, three pairs of clean, but of wild only one poor pair. Since Noah appears to have offered up to God in sacrifice the superfluous one pair of all the clean animals, there were four pairs of human beings, and of clean animals three pairs, but of wild beasts only one poor pair. Now when the Ark had crossed over into this part of the earth which we now from that time forth inhabit, the three sons of Noah divided the earth among them. Shem and his posterity obtained the regions extending from Asia as far as the eastern parts of the ocean29; Ham and his posterity the regions from Gadeira30 in the west to the ocean of Ethiopia, called Barbaria, beyond the Arabian Gulf,31 receiving besides the regions extending as far as our sea, |35 that is to Palestine and Phoenicia, as well as the southern parts, together with all that part of Arabia which adjoins us, and that which is called the Happy; and Japhet and his posterity: the regions extending from Media and Scythia in the distant north, as far as the western ocean and the parts outside of Gadeira, according to what is written in Genesis by the inspired Moses, who, in describing the division of the earth, speaks thus concerning these three: The sons of Japhet, Gamer (Gomer) 32 and Magog 33 and Madaï and Javan (Iouaun) and Elisa,34 whereby he indicates the hyperborean nations of the Scythians and Medes, and then similarly the Ionians 35 and the Greeks, 36 and likewise Thôbel 37 and Mosôch 38 and Thêres (Qh&raj) that he may show what nations lay near them. For he calls the Thracians Thêres, and from these, he tells us, some |36 were removed and dispersed among the islands of the Gentiles 39 and adjacent localities, for this indicates Tharseis. 40 The inhabitants of Cyprus he calls Kêtioi, and those of Rhodes, Rhodians.41 The sons of Ham (Cham), Cush (Chous) and Mesraim, thereby designating the Ethiopians and Egyptians. 42 Finally, Phut (Phouth) and Canaan,43 |37 whereby he designates the Libyans and adjoining nations. The sons of Cush, Saba and Elêsâ, whereby he designates the Homerites and their neighbours 44; similarly also the [132] nations one after another that occupy the southern parts. The Chananeans again, he says, were descended from Mesraim, that is the Egyptians and Sidonians and all the neighbouring nations. The sons of Shem, Elam and Ashur, that is the Elamites 45 and Assyrians and remaining nations, and as many of these as were spread far and wide over Asia and the East----the nations of the Persians, Huns, Baktrians, 46 Indians, onwards to the ocean.

The pagans even, availing themselves of what Moses has thus revealed, divide the whole earth into three parts: Asia, Libya and Europe, designating Asia the east, Libya the south, extending to the west; Europe the north, also extending to all the west; and in this our part of the earth there are four gulfs which penetrate into it from the ocean as the pagans also say, and say with truth when treating |38 of this subject 47 namely, this gulf of ours, which entering from Gadeira in the west extends along the countries subject to Rome; 48 the Arabian Gulf called the Erythraean 49 and the Persian, both of which advance from Zingium to the southern and more eastern parts of the earth from the country called Barbaria, which begins where the land of the Ethiopians terminates. 50 Now Zingium, as those who navigate the Indian sea are aware, is situated beyond the country called Barbaria which produces frankincense,51 and |39 is girdled by the ocean which streams from thence into both the gulfs. The fourth gulf is that which flows from the north-eastern part of the earth, and is called the Caspian or Hyrcanian Sea.52 These gulfs only admit of navigation, for the ocean cannot be navigated on account of the great number of its currents, and the dense fogs which it sends up, obscuring the rays of the sun, and because of the vastness of its extent. Having learned these facts from the Man of God, as has been said, I have pointed them out as coincident also with my own experience, for I myself have made voyages for commercial purposes in three of these gulfs----the Roman, the Arabian and the Persian, while from the natives or from seafaring men I have obtained accurate information regarding the different places.

Once on a time, when we sailed in these gulfs, bound for Further India 53 and had almost crossed over to Barbaria, beyond which there is situated Zingium, as they term the |40 mouth of the ocean, I saw there to the right of our course a great flight of the birds which they call Souspha, which are like kites, but somewhat more than twice their size.54 [133] The weather was there so very unsettled that we were all in alarm; for all the men of experience on board, whether passengers or sailors, all began to say that we were near the ocean and called out to the pilot: "Steer the ship to port and make for the gulf, or we shall be swept along by the currents and be carried into the ocean and be lost." For the ocean rushing into the gulf was swelling into billows of portentous size, while the currents from the gulf were driving the ship into the ocean, and the outlook was altogether so dismal that we were kept in a state of great alarm. A great flock, all the time, of the birds called Souspha followed us, flying generally high over our heads, and the presence of these was a sign that we were near the ocean.

The northern and western parts of the earth which we inhabit are of very great elevation, while the southern parts are proportionately depressed.55 For to what extent of its breadth the earth is imperceptibly depressed it is found to have an elevation of like area in the northern and western parts, while the ocean beyond is of unusual depth. But in the southern and eastern parts the ocean beyond is not of unusual but of the medium depth. When these facts are considered, one can see why those who sail to the north and the west are called lingerers. It is because they are mounting up and in mounting up they sail more |41 slowly, while in returning they descend from high places to low, and thus sail fast, and in a few'days bring their voyage to an end. Then the two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, flowing down from the northern parts, that is, from Persarmenia to the south, have far more rapid currents than our river the Nile----that is, the Gêôn. For this river Nile flowing from low-lying regions in the south towards the elevated northern regions, and running, as one may say, up,56 pursues quietly the even tenor of its way. The eastern and southern parts again, as low-lying and overheated by the sun, are extremely hot, while the northern and western from their great elevation and distance from the sun are extremely cold, and in consequence the inhabitants have very pale complexions, and must keep themselves warm against the cold. But the whole of this portion of the earth is not inhabited, for the parts in the extreme north are to the last degree cold, and remain uninhabited, just as the parts in the extreme south remain also uninhabited on account of the excessive heat. For the blessed David thus speaks: Neither from the goings forth nor from the goings down (of the sun); nor from the desert mountains,57 where he calls the east exodous and the west dusmas, and the other regions, namely the extreme north and extreme south desert mountains. The pagans when [134] writing on these subjects say what is true concerning them.

These things being so we shall say, agreeably to what we find in divine scripture, that the sun issuing from the east traverses the sky in the south and ascends |42 northwards, and becomes visible to the whole of the inhabited world. But as the northern and western summit intervenes it produces night in the ocean beyond this earth of ours, and also in the earth beyond the ocean;58 then afterwards when the sun is in the west, where he is hidden by the highest portion of the earth, and runs his course over the ocean through the northern parts, his presence there makes it night for us, until in describing his orbit he comes again to the east, and again ascending the southern sky illumines the inhabited world, as the divine scripture says through the divine Solomon: The. sun riseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to his own place. Rising there, he goeth to the south, and wheeleth his circuit, and the wind turneth round to his circuits.59 Here he calls the air the wind, for, as he says, the sun making a circuit in the air from east to south, from south to west, from west to north, from north to cast, causes the vicissitudes of day and night and the solstices; for, by the expressions wheeleth his circuit, and turneth round to his circuits, he signified not only the revolution but also the solstices, for it is the plural number he uses. For he does not say that the wind describes a circuit, but that the sun does so through the wind, that is, through the air.60 Yea, even the blessed Moses having been ordered on Mount Sinai to make the Tabernacle according to the pattern which he had seen, said under divine inspiration, that the outer Tabernacle was a pattern of this the visible world. Now the divine Apostle in the epistle to the |43 Hebrews, in explaining the inner Tabernacle, or that which was within the veil, declares that it was a pattern of the heavenly----that is, of the kingdom of the heavens or the future state, taking the veil which divides the one Tabernacle into two for the firmament; just as the firmament placed in the middle, between the heaven and the earth, has made two worlds----this world namely, and that which is to come, into which world to come the first who entered was the forerunner on our behalf, Christ, who thus prepared for us a new and living way. Now in his description of the first Tabernacle, Moses places in the south of it the candlestick, with seven lamps, after the number of days in the week----these lamps being typical of the celestial luminaries----and shining on the table placed in the north of the earth. On this table again he ordered to be [135] daily placed twelve loaves of shewbread, according to the number of the twelve months of the year----three loaves at each corner of the table, to typify the three months between each of the four tropics.61 He commanded also to be wreathed all around the rim of the table a waved moulding,62 to represent a multitude of waters, that is, the ocean; and further, in the circuit of the waved work, a crown to be set of the circumference of the palm of the hand, to represent the land beyond the ocean, and encircling it, where in the east lies Paradise, and where also the extremities of the heaven are bound to the extremities of the earth. And from this description we not only learn concerning the luminaries and the stars that most of them, when they rise, run their course through the south, but from the same source we are taught that the earth is surrounded by the ocean, and further |44 that beyond the ocean there is another earth by which the ocean is surrounded.

But again, from the prophecy of Lamech, the father of Noah, we learn that Noah, by means of the world-carrying Ark, was to convey men and the brute beasts into this earth of ours, for the prophecy runs somewhat to this effect: This same shall give us rest concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the Lord God hath cursed.63 For this reason also Lamech gave Noah his name, which means rest. For the first man having sinned, and having been cast by God out of the garden into the earth, which was foul with thorns and effete, those ten generations smarted under grievous chastisement, being forbidden according to the sacred scripture to eat any longer of fruit that grew upon a tree, because man had transgressed by eating the fruit of a tree. And meagre truly was the fare on which the generations from Adam to Noah subsisted, since they neither ate the olive, nor tasted either wine or flesh, but were commanded to eat only grain, and that too although there the earth was by no means productive, but required the very hardest toil for its cultivation; for thus saith the scripture: Cursed is the ground in thy labours; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat thy bread.64


With regard to wine, it is manifest from what is recorded in Scripture that, after the Deluge, Noah having planted and cultivated the vine and expressed the juice from the grapes, drank to excess of the sweet must of which he had no previous experience, and made himself drunk; and with regard to flesh the case is still more manifest, for God instructed him in these terms: |45 Lo! I have given you all things as the green herb to eat, but flesh in the blood thereof shall ye not eat65; meaning this: Lately I interdicted you from eating many things, but now I permit you [136] to eat of all things, and to eat even flesh. Sacrifice, therefore, and pour out the blood, and then eat the flesh as ye eat vegetables; and eat also of the olive, of which before the Flood it was not permitted to eat, because it also was the fruit of a tree. But perhaps someone will object and say: If it is true that before the Flood they did not eat flesh, why is it then written: Abel was a keeper of sheep, and brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof?66 If they did not eat flesh, why did they take upon them the care of sheep? And why did Abel, when he brought a lamb for sacrifice, not slay it? Now, one who so enquires, will be truly answered that, in making the oblation, he presented the holocausts alive; for one of the editions shows this, saying: Over Cain and over his sacrifice he did not apply fire, so that it is evident that the offerings were consumed with divine fire. They provided themselves with a flock to procure for themselves milk and wool. Another objection: If they did not eat flesh, how came it into their head to select the fat for the sacrifice to God? Answer----Because when anything is to be burned in the fire, fat is more readily set ablaze.


When God in his mercy wished that the human race should be no longer pinched with such scanty fare, and such hard toil, as they were less robust than the first men, who, being newly created, were better able to sustain their punishment, God taking occasion from the wickedness of men, of whom he found none righteous except Noah, brought in a flood for two or even for more reasons----that he might destroy the wicked, and save alive him that was righteous for the instruction of future generations----that, by the untimely end of the wicked, he might the better deter those who are liable to death, and will some |46 time or other die, from doing what is wicked----and that he might bring men, and the brutes that were created for the use of man, into this earth of ours, which is better than the other, and almost equal to Paradise; which also he hath done, having ordered Noah, who was left in this earth after the Flood, to taste of everything whether tree or grain, and having taught him also to eat flesh. But that he brought in the Flood not for the purpose merely of destroying the wicked, is evident from the fact that the water prevailed for a length of time, although one or two days were quite sufficient to have destroyed them all; but he brought it in also, that he might take the Ark across the ocean, and bring it to this earth of ours. For during one hundred and fifty days did the water prevail without diminishing, until, wonderful to relate, the Ark came to this earth of ours. The circumstance, moreover, that the water rose fifteen cubits above the tops of the highest [137] mountains, makes it evident beyond all question that this was due to the depth to which the Ark was submerged in the waters, in order that it might rest upon the mountains. For a half of the height of the Ark was under water to the depth of fifteen cubits, for its entire height was thirty cubits. From this, then, as well as from the prophecy of Lamech, and the construction of the table in the Tabernacle, we can learn that beyond the ocean there is an earth which encompasses the ocean. Nay more; the hierophant Moses also in Deuteronomy saith thus: And thou, Israel, hear the command which I give unto thee this day. Do not say in thine heart who shall go up into heaven to bring it down to us, or who shall go over the sea for us to bring it to us; but the word is nigh unto thee even in thy mouth.67 By this he means: Say not it is impossible to go up into heaven to bring down thence the divine precepts, or to |47 cross over to the farther side of the sea to bring them thence, for lo! they are in thy mouth and in thy heart. In the same passage he teaches us two truths----that beyond the ocean there is land or a place, and that it is impossible to cross the ocean, just as we, while in this mortal state, cannot possibly go up into heaven. Even Baruch, the scribe of Jeremiah the Prophet, when giving counsels of prudence in his epistle, being a man well taught in the institutions of Moses, speaks in the same strain with Moses, and says: Who hath gone up into heaven and taken it and brought it down from the clouds, who hath passed over the sea?68 Here he does not speak of our sea, for it admits of being crossed, but of the ocean itself.

Yet if Paradise did exist in this earth of ours, rnany a man among those who are keen to know and enquire into all kinds of subjects, would think he could not be too quick in getting there: for if there be some who to procure silk69 for the miserable gains of commerce, hesitate not to travel to the uttermost ends of the earth, how should they hesitate to go where they would gain a sight of Paradise itself? Now this country of silk is situated in the remotest of all the Indies, and lies to the |48 left of those who enter the Indian sea, far beyond the Persian Gulf, and the island called by the Indians Selediba and by the Greeks Trapobanê (sic).70 It is called Tzinitza, and is surrounded on the left by the ocean, just as Barbaria is surrounded by it on the right. The Indian philosophers, called the Brachmans, say that if you stretch a cord from Tzinitza to pass through Persia, onward to the Roman dominions, the middle of the earth would be quite correctly [138] traced, and they are perhaps right. For the country in question deflects considerably to the left, so that the loads of silk passing by land through one nation after another, reach Persia in a comparatively short time;71 whilst the route by sea to Persia is vastly greater. For just as |49 great a distance as the Persian Gulf runs up into Persia,72 so great a distance and even a greater has one to run, who, being bound for Tzinitza, sails eastward from Taprobanê; while besides, the distances from the mouth of the Persian Gulf to Taprobanê; and the parts beyond through the whole width of the Indian sea are very considerable.73 He then who comes by land from Tzinitza to Persia shortens very considerably the length of the journey. This is why there is always to be found a great quantity of silk in Persia. Beyond Tzinitza there is neither navigation nor any land to inhabit.

If one measures in a straight cord line74 the stages which make up the length of the earth from Tzinitza to the west, he will find that there are somewhere about four hundred stages,75 each thirty miles in length. The measurement is to be made in this way: from Tzinitza to the borders of Persia, between which are included all Iouvia,76 India, and the country of the Bactrians, there are about one hundred and fifty stages at least; the whole country of the Persians has eighty stations; and from Nisibis to Seleucia77 |50 there are thirteen stages; and from Seleucia to Rome and the Gauls and Iberia, whose inhabitants are now called Spaniards, onward to Gadeira, which lies out towards the ocean, there are more than one hundred and fifty stages; thus making altogether the number of stages to be four hundred, more or less. With regard to breadth: from the hyperborean regions to Byzantium there are not more than fifty stages. For we can form a conjecture as to the extent of the uninhabited and the inhabited parts of those northern regions from the Caspian Sea, which is a gulf of the ocean. From Byzantium, again, to Alexandria there are fifty stages, and from Alexandria to the Cataracts thirty stages;78 from the Cataracts to Axômis, thirty stages;79 from Axômis |51 to the projecting part of Ethiopia, which is the frankincense country called Barbaria, lying along the ocean, and not near but at a great distance from the land of Sasu which is the remotest part of Ethiopia, fifty stages more or less; so that we may reckon the whole number of stages at two hundred more or less; and thus we see that even here the divine scripture speaks the truth in representing the length of the earth to be double its breadth; For thou shalt make the table in length two cubits and in breadth one cubit, a pattern, as it were, of the earth.80

The region which produces frankincense is situated at the projecting parts of Ethiopia, and lies inland, but is washed by the ocean on the other side. Hence the [139] inhabitants of Barbaria, being near at hand, go up into the interior and, engaging in traffic with the natives, bring back from them many kinds of spices, frankincense, cassia, calamus,81 and many other articles of merchandise, which they afterwards send by sea to Adulê, to the country of the Homeritcs, to Further India, and to Persia. This very fact you will find mentioned in the Book of Kings, where it is recorded that the Queen of Sheba, that is, of the Homerite country, whom afterwards our Lord in the Gospels calls the Queen of the South, brought to Solomon spices from this very Barbaria, which lay near Sheba on |52 the other side of the sea, together with bars of ebony, and apes and gold from Ethiopia which, though separated from Sheba by the Arabian Gulf, lay in its vicinity. We can see again from the words of the Lord that he calls these places the ends of the earth, saying: The Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.----Matt, xii, 42. For the Homerites are not far distant from Barbaria, as the sea which lies between them can be crossed in a couple of days, and then beyond Barbaria is the ocean, which is there called Zingion. The country known as that of Sasu is itself near the ocean, just as the ocean is near the frankincense country, in which there are many gold mines. The King of the Axômites accordingly, every other year, through the governor of Agau,82 sends thither special agents to bargain for the gold, and these are accompanied by many other traders----upwards, say, of five hundred----bound on the same errand as themselves. They take along with them to the mining district oxen, lumps of salt, and iron, and when they reach its neighbourhood they make a halt at a certain spot and form an encampment, which they fence round with a great hedge of thorns. Within this they live, and having slaughtered the oxen, cut them in |53 pieces, and lay the pieces on the top of the thorns, along with the lumps of salt and the iron. Then come the natives bringing gold in nuggets like peas,83 called tancharas, and lay one or two or more of these upon what pleases them----the pieces of flesh or the salt or the iron, and then they retire to some distance off. Then the owner of the meat approaches, and if he is satisfied he takes the gold away, and upon seeing this its owner comes and takes the flesh or the salt or the iron. If, however, he is not satisfied, he leaves the gold, when the native seeing that he has not taken it, comes and either puts down more gold, or takes up what he had laid down, and goes away. Such is the mode in which business is transacted with the people of that country, because their language is different and interpreters are hardly to be found. The time they stay in that country is five days more or less, according as the natives more or less readily coming forward buy up all their wares. On the journey [140] homeward they all agree to travel well-armed, since some of the tribes through whose country they must pass might threaten to attack them from a desire to rob them of their gold. The space of six months is taken up with this trading expedition, including both the going and the returning. In going they march very slowly, chiefly because of the cattle, but in returning they quicken their pace lest on the way they should be overtaken by winter and its rains. For the sources of the river Nile lie somewhere in these parts, and in winter, on account of the heavy rains, the numerous rivers which they generate obstruct the path of the traveller. The people there have their winter at the time we have our summer. It begins in the month Epiphi of the Egyptians and continues till Thôth,84 and during the |54 three months the rain falls in torrents, and makes a multitude of rivers all of which flow into the Nile.

The facts which I have just recorded fell partly under my own observation and partly were told me by traders who had been to those parts. And I now wish to give an account to your Piety of a matter quite pertinent to our subject. On the coast of Ethiopia, two miles off from the shore, is a town called Adulê, which forms the port of the Axômites and is much frequented by traders who come from Alexandria and the Elanitic Gulf.85 Here is to be seen a marble chair, just as you enter the town on the western side by the road which leads to Axômis. This chair appertained to one of the Ptolemies, who had subjected this country to his authority.86 It is made of costly white marble such as we employ for marble tables, but not of the sort which comes from Proconnesus.87 Its base is |55 quadrangular, and it rests at the four corners on four slender and elegant pillars, with one in the middle of greater girth and grooved in spiral form. The pillars support the seat of the chair as well as its back against which one leans, and there are also sides to right and left. The whole chair with its base, five pillars, seat and back and sides to right and left, has been sculptured from a single block into this form. It measures about two cubits and a half, and is in shape like the chair we call the Bishop's throne.88 Behind the Chair is another marble of basanite stone, three cubits in height and of quadrangular form, like a tablet, which at the centre of its upper portion rises to a sharp point whence the sides slope gently down in the form of the letter lambda (λ), but the main body of the slab is rectangular. This tablet has now fallen down behind the Chair, and the lower part has been broken and destroyed. Both the marble and the chair itself arc covered over with Greek characters. Now when I was in this part of the country some five and twenty years ago, more or less, at the beginning of the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinus,89 Elesbaan, who was then King of the Axômites, [141] and was preparing to start on an expedition against the Homerites on the opposite side of the Gulf 90 wrote to the |56 Governor of Adulê directing him to take copies of the inscriptions on the Chair of Ptolemy and on the tablet,91 and to send them to him. Then the Governor, whose name was Abbas, applied to myself and another merchant called Mênas, who afterwards became a monk at Rhaithû,92 and not long ago departed this life----and at his request we went and copied the inscriptions. One set of the copies was made over to the Governor; but we kept also like copies for ourselves which I shall here embody in this work, since their contents contribute to our knowledge of the country, its inhabitants, and the distances of the several places. We found also sculptured on the back of the Chair figures of Hercules and Mercury; and my companion, Menas, of happy memory, alluding to these would have it that Hercules was the symbol of strength and Mercury of wealth. I remembered, however, the Acts of the Apostles, and would on this one point differ from him, upholding |57 that we should take Hermes rather as the symbol of speech, for it is recorded in the Acts that they called Barnabas, Jupiter, and Paul, Mercury, because he was the chief speaker. Here is the form of the Chair and of the marble, and Ptolemy himself.93

Inscription on the Tablet.

The great king, Ptolemy, son of King Ptolemy and Queen Arsinoe, twin gods, grandson of the two sovereigns King Ptolemy and Queen Berenice 94----gods sôtêres----sprung from Hercules the son of Jupiter on the father's side, and on the mother's side from Dionysus the son of Jupiter----having received from his father the Kingdom of Egypt and Libya and Syria and Phoenicia and Cyprus, and Lycia and Caria, and the Islands of the Cyclades, made an expedition into Asia with forces of infantry and cavalry, and a fleet and elephants from the Troglodytes and Ethiopia----animals which his father and himself were the |58 first to capture by hunting in those countries, and which they took down to Egypt, where they had them trained for employment in war.95 And when he had made himself master of all the country on this side of the Euphrates, and of Cilicia and Pamphylia and Ionia, and the Hellespont and Thrace, and of all the forces in the provinces, and of the Indian elephants,96 and had also made subject to his authority all the monarchs who ruled in these parts, [142] he crossed the Euphrates river, and when he had subdued Mesopotamia and Babylonia and Susiana and Persis and Media, and all the rest of the country as far as Bactriana, and had collected all the spoils of the temples which had been taken away from Egypt by the Persians, he conveyed them to that country 97 along with the other |59 treasures, and sent back his troops by canals which had been dug.98

Such was the inscription on the tablet so far as we could copy it out, and, but for a few words, it would have been the whole, for it was only a small part of the tablet that had been fractured. The inscription again on the Chair was a continuation of the other,99 and ran thus:----

Having after this with a strong hand compelled the nations bordering on my kingdom to live in peace, I made war upon the following nations, and by force of arms reduced them to subjection.100 I warred first with the nation |60 of Gazê,101 then with Agamê 102 and Sigyê,103 and having conquered them I exacted the half of all that they |61 possessed. I next reduced Aua 104 and Tiamô, called Tziamô, and the Gambêla,105 and the tribes near them [he means the nations beyond the Nile],106 and Zingabênê and Angabe and Tiama and Athagaûs and Kalaa,107 and the Semênoi ---- a people who lived beyond the Nile on mountains difficult of |62 access and covered with snow, where the year is all winter with hailstorms, frosts and snows into which a man sinks knee-deep.108 I passed the river to attack these nations, and reduced them. I next subdued Lazine and Zaa and Gabala, tribes 109 which inhabit mountains with steep declivities abounding with hot springs, the Atalmô and Bega,110 and all the tribes in the same quarter along with them. I proceeded next against the TangaTtae,111 who adjoin the borders of Egypt; and having reduced them I made a footpath giving access by land into Egypt from that part of my dominions. Next I reduced Annine and Metine----tribes inhabiting precipitous mountains.112 My arms |63 were next directed against the Sesea nation. These had retired to a high mountain difficult of access; but I [143] blockaded the mountain on every side, and compelled them to come down and surrender. I then selected for myself the best of their young men and their women, with their sons and daughters and all besides that they possessed. The tribes of Rhausi I next brought to submission: a barbarous race spread over wide waterless plains in the interior of the frankincense country. [Advancing thence towards the sea] I encountered the Solate, whom I subdued, and left with instructions to guard the coast.113 All these |64 nations, protected though they were by mountains all but impregnable, I conquered, after engagements in which I was myself present. Upon their submission I restored their territories to them, subject to the payment of tribute. Many other tribes besides these submitted of their own accord, and became likewise tributary. And I sent a fleet and land forces against the Arabitae and Cinaedocolpitae 114 who dwelt on the other side of the Red Sea, and having reduced the sovereigns of both, I imposed on them a land tribute and charged them to make travelling safe both by sea and by land. I thus subdued the whole coast from Leucê Cômê 115 to the country of the Sabaeans. I first and |65 alone of the kings of my race made these conquests. For this success I now offer my thanks to my mighty God, Arês, who begat me, and by whose aid I reduced all the nations bordering on my own country, on the East to the country of frankincense, and on the West to Ethiopia and Sasu.116 Of these expeditions, some were conducted by |66 myself in person, and ended in victory, and the others I entrusted to my officers. Having thus brought all the world under my authority to peace, I came down to Aduli and offered sacrifice to Zeus, and to Ares and to Poseidon, whom I entreated to befriend all who go down to the sea in ships. Here also I reunited all my forces, and setting down this Chair in this place, I consecrated it to Ares in the twenty-seventh year of my reign.

Scholia of Cosmas on the Inscription of Ptolemy. From the Vatican codex.

Then Lazine and Zaa and Gabala. These nations are called by these names up to the present time.

I conquered the Sesea nation. Here he indicates the nations of Barbaria.

The Arabitae and Cinaedocolpitae. Note----He refers to the people of the Homerite country, that is, the inhabitants of Arabia Felix.

From Leuce Come. Note----In the territories of the Blemmyes there is a village (Kw&mh) called Leucoge.

As far as the country of the Sabaeans. Note----The land of the Sabaeans is also in the Homerite country.

And to the places of Sasu. Note----The land of Sasu, where there is much gold----that which is known as Tancharas, is the remotest in Ethiopia. Beyond this, and also beyond the country of the Barbareotes, the people who trade in frankincense, lies the Ocean. |67 

Such is the inscription on the Chair, and at this very [144] day in the very place where that Chair stands they execute in front of it condemned criminals; but whether this custom has prevailed from the time of Ptolemy I cannot say. I have set all this down from a desire to show that he is quite correct in taking the land of Sasu and Barbaria to lie at the extremity of Ethiopia, since he had subjugated all these regions and the tribes by which they were inhabited, most of which we ourselves have seen, while about the rest we obtained accurate information when we were in their neighbourhood. For most of the slaves which are now found in the hands of merchants who resort to these parts are taken from the tribes of which we speak. As for the Semenai,117 where he says there are snows and ice, it is to that country the King of the Axômites expatriates any one whom he has sentenced to be banished. The nation again which has its seats beyond the Arabitae and the Cinaedocolpitae and the country of the Sabaeans he calls the Homerites. We can accordingly, from what has been above recorded, correctly estimate the breadth of the earth from the hyperborean regions down to Sasu and Barbaria, the frankincense country, to be not more than two hundred stages (of thirty miles each). I have written thus with the advantage of possessing exact knowledge, and I cannot therefore have fallen much short of the truth. For the facts I am indebted partly to what I observed in the course of my voyages and travels, and partly to what I learned from others on whose accuracy I could depend. Thus even in this matter divine scripture is proved to be right and the pagans to be wrong, who, in preference to the truth and in support of their vanity, advance conjectures, sophistries, and old wives' fables no matter how false, inventing forsooth another zone farther |68 south than the torrid, and like the earth which we inhabit; and although no one has either seen or heard of such. For how could that be seen or heard of, that has never come within the ken of our senses? Hence the nonsense they babble cannot be accepted; for it is the jargon of mere novices in quibbling, and not of old adepts in that art. These youngsters supposed that by their plausible sophisms they could refute the opinions of those who were born before them, thus attempting the impossible, as we have proved in brief in the preceding book.

Note on Ptolemy.

This Ptolemy is one of those Ptolemies who reigned after Alexander the Macedonian, concerning whom the prophet Daniel prophesied in different passages, and especially in the dream of Nabuchodonosor and in the vision of the four beasts that rose up from the sea which Daniel himself saw; namely in the image, a head of gold, but in the vision a lioness, by which he signified the kingdom of the Babylonians, that is Nabuchodonosor. Then, [145] in the image, the breast and the arms of silver, but in the vision, a bear----namely, the empire of the Medes, which was inferior to that of the Babylonians, whereby he means Darius the Mede. Next again in the image----the belly and the thighs of brass, but in the vision a leopard, the kingdom namely of the Persians, by which he signifies Cyrus, whose empire was no less splendid and renowned than that of the Babylonians. Then again in the image, the legs of iron, and in the vision, a beast terrible and dreadful, with claws of brass and teeth of iron, by which he indicates the Macedonian empire----that is Alexander----breaking kingdoms in pieces and subduing them. Then again in the image, the feet and toes partly of iron and partly of clay; and in the vision, ten horns corresponding in number with the toes, by which he means the empire of Alexander broken up after his death, which, in the vision also of the ram and the he-goat was, he says, broken up towards the four winds of heaven. For, when Alexander was approaching his end, he divided his empire among his four friends, of whom one reigned in Europe, that is, in Greece, another in Asia, another in Syria and Babylonia, and |69 the fourth in Egypt, Libya and the southern parts.118 Unto these four were many sons born, who filled their thrones after them and brought manifold evils upon the world, as has been recorded in the book of the Maccabees. Now the little horn speaking great things, that was in the midst of the ten horns, signifies Antiochus Epiphanes, who warred against the Jews in the days of the Maccabees. He speaks therefore of all these things as partly of iron and partly of clay, to show them as conquering each other and being conquered in turn, and not mixed together, just as iron and clay do not commingle.

Then again, in the image, he speaks of a stone cut out of the mountains without hands, and, in the vision, of the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, whereby he indicates the Lord Christ on both side's of his descent----from Abraham and from the Virgin without human seed, for here the words without hands mean without human seed; while the words on the clouds of heaven are employed because the clouds without human hands carry as it were in their womb the rains to which they give birth. Then again, in the image, the words: And he smote the clay, the iron, the brass, the silver and the gold, and they became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors, and the wind with its gusts swept them away and there was no more place found for them (Dan. ii, 35); and in the vision the words: I beheld till the beast was slain and his body destroyed, and given to be burned with fire; and as for the rest of the beasts their dominion was taken away, yet their lives were prolonged for a season (Dan. vii, ii), signify respectively the same thing----namely, that at the coming of the Lord Christ all these empires would be taken away----the Babylonian, the [146] Median, the Persian and the Macedonian, while all the kingdoms that arose from the partition of the last would become of no account. And such was the very condition of things in the time of Christ, for neither did the Babylonian, Median, Persian nor Macedonian empires then exist, but they had all been destroyed.

Then again, in the image, he says: And in the days of those kings shall the God of Heaven set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people, and it shall stand for ever (Dan. ii, 44). And in the |70 vision he says: And he came even to the Ancient of days and they brought him near before him----and there was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Dan. vii, 13, 14). This is one instance more of his saying the same thing both in the image and the vision, namely, that at the coming of the Lord Christ those kingdoms shall pass away and be destroyed, but his kingdom shall be indissoluble and eternal. This Ptolemy is therefore one of those who reigned, either Philometor or Euergetes the Second, or the king called Dionysus, who preceded the last Cleopatra.119 For these reigned more than seven and twenty years, and were descended from the first Ptolemies who were the sovereigns of Egypt, in accordance with the inscription on the marble tablet of which we have given a copy. For concerning the kings that now are, nothing has been written in the Prophet (Daniel), as the Lord himself says that the Law and the Prophets prophesied until John. For when Nebuchodonosor was cogitating whether his kingdom would endure, and Daniel whether the Judaic rites would be perpetually observed, the same revelation was made to both alike. At one and the same time shall thy kingdom come to an end, and the Judaic and ritual observances be abolished, and a new and better dispensation shall supersede the old----and be eternal and indissoluble----and this shall have its beginning when the first kingdoms and legal rites shall cease, and be openly exhibited when its supreme head makes his appearance. For concerning the Roman empire nothing is expressly written in the Prophet, for it did not rise by succession from Nabuchodonosor, nor has it congruity with the polity of the Jews, or, to speak more correctly, with the laws which they obey; but is rather calculated to destroy them. Nor did it succeed the empire of the Macedonians, for he says: The God of Heaven shall set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. Here he speaks of the Lord Christ, and within the scope of his words includes, though but darkly, the Roman empire, which made its appearance [147] contemporaneously with the Lord Christ. For while Christ was yet |71 in the womb, the Roman empire received its power from God as the servant of the dispensation which Christ introduced, since at that very time the accession was proclaimed of the unending line of the Augusti by whose command a census was made which embraced the whole world. The evangelist certainly indicates that this enrolment 120 was first made in the days of Augustus Caesar, when the Lord Christ was born, and deigned to be enrolled in a country subject to Roman dominion, and to pay tribute thereto.

The empire of the Romans thus participates in the dignity of the Kingdom of the Lord Christ, seeing that it transcends, as far as can be in this state of existence, every other power, and will remain unconquered until the final consummation, for he says that it shall not be destroyed for ever. Now, if that expression for ever be taken as applying to the Lord Christ, it signifies endless duration, in accordance with what Gabriel also says to the Virgin: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his Kingdom there shall be no end.121 If again the expression be taken as applying to the Roman empire which made its appearance in the world along with Christ, this shall not be destroyed while this world continues. For I assert with confidence, that though, by way of chastisement for our sins, hostile barbarians rise up for a short while against the Roman dominion, yet that by the valour of him who governs us the empire will continue to be invincible, provided it does not restrict but widens the influence of Christianity. I say so because this imperial family 122 believed in Christ before the others, and this empire is the servant of the dispensation established by Christ, on which account he, who is the Lord of all, preserves it unconquered till the final consummation. The royal family of the Persians on the other hand is not of Persian lineage, nor in the line of the succession of its former kings, but it sprang from an |72 alien power, that is, from the Magi.123 For by the time of Christ the empire of the Persians had been destroyed by Alexander in accordance with the prophecy, and the successors to his empire ruled that part of the world until the time of Antiochus, after which the Parthians gradually made themselves masters of the country.124 In point of fact, they marched in arms against Jerusalem, and took prisoner Hyrcanus, the Ruler of the Jews, not long before the advent of the Lord Christ.125 As regards this empire of the Magi, it is now about four hundred years since it was founded, and in my opinion it ranks next to that of the Romans, because the Magi, in virtue of their having come to offer homage and adoration to the Lord Christ, obtained a certain distinction. For it was in the Roman dominions that the preaching of Christianity first became current in the days of the Apostles, and it was immediately afterwards extended to Persia by the Apostle Thaddaeus.126 And, to be sure we find [148] this written in the Catholic Epistles: The Church that is in Babylon elect together with you, saluteth you.127 The Roman empire, |73 moreover, has many bulwarks of its safety in that it is the foremost power in the world, in that it was the first to believe in Christ, and in that it renders services to every department of the Christian economy. There is yet another sign of the power which God has accorded to the Romans. I refer to the fact that it is with their coinage all the nations carry on trade from one extremity of the earth to the other. This money is regarded with admiration by all men to whatever kingdom they belong, since there is no other country in which the like of it exists.128 Let us now return to our proper subject.


For some of the old philosophers, who in the course of their travels visited almost every part of the inhabited world and wrote accounts of what they learned, have explained the position of the earth 129 and the revolution of the heavenly bodies in close agreement with divine scripture. Let one of them now come forward and give this evidence.

Extract from the fourth Book of the History of Ephorus.130 The Indians inhabit a country in the east near sunrise, while the Ethiopians dwell in the south near the Meridian, the Kelts in the west near sunset, and the |74 Scythians in the north towards the Pole. These divisions are not of equal size, Scythia and Ethiopia being larger and India and the Keltic divisions smaller. The two larger, however, are of similar size, and so are the two smaller. For the Indians are situated between the summer and the winter sunrise, while the Kelts occupy the regions from the summer to the winter sunset. The two distances are equal as well as nearly opposite each other. The Scythians again inhabit those regions which the sun leaves unvisited in the course of his revolution. They are situated opposite the nation of the Ethiopians, which seems to extend from the winter sunrise to the shortest sunset.

Note. [149] This Ephorus is an old writer, philosopher, and historian.


Ephorus, both in his text and by means of his sketch, explains accurately, like the divine scripture, the position of the earth and the revolution of the heavenly bodies. For this Ephorus was an historical writer who, in the fourth book of his History, has inserted the exposition which we have cited. Pytheas of Marseilles,131 again, in his work concerning the ocean, informs us |75 that when he had reached the remotest parts of the north the barbarous people found there showed him the cradle of the sun, for, in the parts where they live, the nights always have their source. Xenophanes also, the Colophonian,132 is clearly no believer in the sphere, for he supposed that the earth had no limits. Thus, then, the pagans are found, in what they have said, chiming in with sacred scripture.

But, to pursue our argument, we again assume that the four rivers which divine scripture says emanate from Paradise cleave a passage through the ocean and spring up in this earth. Of these, the Pheison is the river of India, which some call Indus or Ganges. It flows down from regions in the interior, and falls by many mouths into the Indian Sea. It produces beans of the Egyptian sort, and the fruit called Neilagathia; savoury herbs, also, and lotus plants, and crocodiles, and everything the Nile produces.133 The Geon, again, which rises somewhere in Ethiopia, passes through the whole of Ethiopia and Egypt, and discharges its water into our Gulf by several mouths, while the Tigrés and |76 Euphrates, which have their sources in the regions of Persarmenia, flow down to to the Persian Gulf. Such, then, are our opinions on these points. Divine scripture, with a view to show the diameter of Paradise, how great it is, and how far extended eastward, mentions the four rivers only, and thence we learn that the fountain which springs up in Eden and waters the garden, [150] distributes the residue of its waters among the four great rivers which cross over into this earth and water a large part of its surface.


Since then, the luminaries of heaven in this manner pursue their course, making day and night, seasons and years, serving also for signs for those sailing upon the seas or travelling through deserts, while they also supply the earth with light, we shall not say that they are moved by the revolution of the heavens, but rather by powers that are rational, as if they were so many torch-bearers, as we shall prove once more by the declaration of divine scripture. For the divine Apostle, speaking of the Adversary, teaches what was his work from the beginning in these words: According to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that now worketh in the sons of disobedience 134 ----words which clearly show him to have been formerly a prince endowed with the power of moving the air and changing its place, but one now cast out for ever from this dignity; yea, rather, one who from sheer depravity works upon sinners, as is evident from the fact that he stood not alone in having the power to do this, but shared it in common with many others. For some of the angels were commissioned to move the air, some the sun, some the moon, some the stars, while others prepared the clouds and the rains, and rendered many other services---- for this is the work, the appointed duty, of the angelic orders and powers----to minister to the well-being and honour of the |77 image of God, that is, of man, and to move all things like soldiers obeying the commands of the king. This work they were commanded to do on the fourth day, when God adorned the heaven with its stars. The work of the adverse demons, as rebels against God, is to do what will mar his image, for on the fourth day they transgressed the command and were cast out of heaven, as elsewhere he says: Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of Salvation? 135 thus expressly declaring that they were ordained for the service of man. He further says: For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to vanity not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.136 By the creature he here designates the angels, and by the sons of God the human race. By the term a0pokaradoki/a (earnest expectation), he represents the creature as straining its neck to scan the distant horizon in hope of descrying some help coming to man. For if the angels had not been subjected to servile ministrations they would not have longed for liberty; for when man had sinned and received sentence of death, they were smitten with sore grief, concluding that all was hopelessly lost; for since man was the bond uniting the whole creation, as well as the image of God, they abandoned after his sentence all hope both of themselves and of the universe, and were unwilling to be his [151] servants and subordinates without resulting advantage. By the words, however, in the passage cited, by reason of him who hath subjected it in hope, the Apostle would have us understand that God did not permit the wish of the angels to prevail, but gave them some hope that they |78 might not despair, but be cheered with the prospect that in the course of time some good would accrue to man.


On the sixth day the demon who hates good, seeing man honoured and thought worthy to have great care bestowed on him, became envious, and formed a design to drag him down to ruin with himself. But when he was at a loss how to assail him, he happened to perceive the beasts running straightway to their food, while the object of his envy, looking around him at such of the trees as were pleasant to the eye, remained quite unmoved the while by the calls of appetite; whence he concluded he had received some command from God about them. Having then approached nearer in the form of the serpent, he sought to learn the nature of the command, and craftily says: What! hath God said ye shall not eat of every tree in the Garden? 137 Then the woman who had just been brought into the world, and was far inferior to the other in quickness of intelligence, answered his enquiry. Then, pretending he had already known the command (which he had only that moment learned), he began to accuse God of giving grudgingly, and to entice man to eat of the fruit, advising him at the same time to transfer his allegiance to himself; and thus, forsooth, become as God, infecting him in this way with his own disease. The man was, in fact, persuaded in the afternoon, and was that same day cast out of the garden, just as his tempter had himself, as soon as he sinned, been cast out of Heaven. Then the man heard the sentence of death pronounced upon him: Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.138 This filled the angels with sore grief, and all the more as they were also disheartened at some of their own number having transgressed; although they were more especially distressed about man, as on him depended what lot should befall the whole creation----and he was also the pledge that secured the amity of all the world. For should this bond be in reality dissolved, the universe would of necessity be also dissolved. They bewailed, therefore, their own dissolution along with that of the universe, and could no longer endure to minister to man without any good resulting. But when |79  God, who is full of compassion, had, through his renewed care for man and the postponement of his punishment, inspired them with good hope, they began under its influence to render their services with alacrity. In each generation, moreover, God, by exalting the righteous to great renown, still further stimulated their alacrity, and implanted in them hopes of renovation, of restoration, and of resurrection. At the birth, particularly, of the Lord Christ according to the flesh, the whole multitude of the invisible [152] powers, having seen him born through whom comes the destruction of death, the beginning of the renovation and the resurrection, and their own freedom, lifted up their voices in hymns of praise to God, the cause of all, exclaiming: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will towards men.139 Then away were thrown at last all the sorrow and dejection which at one time they had suffered on account of man, and they gave expression to their joy at the birth of the second Adam. Wherefore they also, at the time of his temptations, remembering how in the days of old they had witnessed the discomfiture of the first Adam, which had filled them with dismay, but seeing now the victory of the second Adam, and how fairly not once but thrice in close grip with his tempter he had flung him out of the lists----they, I say, rejoiced with a great joy, and were eager in bestowing their services, as scripture has recorded, not now as if prompted by some hope, but because, having seen with their own eyes the victory of the second Adam, they came to minister to him with joyful alacrity.

But the host of his adversaries in their turn now mourned and lamented, being confounded with shame at the victory of the second Adam. Their chief accordingly finding himself unable to throw him down began to plot against him, with the Jews as his instruments, and having stirred up the Jewish mob against him and crucified and put him to death, imagined that he was at once and for ever rid of him. But when, not long afterwards, the resurrection----that wondrous, glorious, unexpected and mighty event----had taken place, and he had no longer to experience death or any other form of suffering whatever, but along with incorruption and immortality had obtained also immutability of soul; and when again he afterwards ascended heavenward in a chariot of cloud, |80 borne up like a conqueror who celebrates his triumph; then did he enter within the firmament, and was the first of all who opened up for us a new and living way. The angels therefore, clad in white raiment, rejoiced along with men, and brought the good tidings to the disciples and the women. But their adversaries, seeing the superiority to themselves and to the whole creation of the human nature, which they had at one time tripped up by the heels, but by which they were now thrown down, remained dumb with madness and overwhelmed with uttermost shame. Wherefore the Lord exclaimed to the disciples: Let not your hearts be troubled. I have overcome the world.140 And again: Lo! I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy 141----as much as to say: Man of old having sinned when the serpent in Paradise assailed him, it was said to him: He shall lie in wait for 142 thy heel, but thou for his head; that is, Ye shall he divided and at enmity against each other, that man may not be under obedience to him. So the warfare was then waged on equal terms, each having the power to hurt the other; for the serpent watching for the heel of man, that is, besetting his path in order to hurt him on finding him out of the path, as he [153] could do by creeping about his heel; while man being of upward stature and on his guard, and not straying from his path, was able to bruise 143 the head of the serpent. And now having conquered the serpent and brought him finally to shame, and having through his agency unjustly endured death for the whole race, and nailed the bond against it to the cross and blotted it out, I rose again on the third day victorious over death, and became the champion 144 who has achieved victory for all the human race, for through me the victory has been extended to all humanity. Be ye therefore of good courage. Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and on all the power of the enemy. He says in effect the serpent is no longer able to hurt your heel, being himself trampled down under your feet. So then, just as Adam |81 had on the sixth day sinned by eating about mid-day of the fruit of the tree, and was cast out of the garden in the afternoon, so also on the sixth day and at the sixth hour, the Lord Christ for his sake endured in the flesh the Cross, by which we are saved. And just as again from the time of the transgression to the expulsion from the garden, all the angels were filled with great dismay, expecting nothing else than the destruction of man and of themselves and of the universe, so also during the Passion from the sixth hour until the ninth the whole creation was shrouded in darkness at the wickedness that was being perpetrated. And just as the two, Adam and Eve, were at the ninth hour cast out of Paradise, so also at the ninth hour the Lord Christ in the spirit and the thief entered into Paradise. On the same day, therefore, in which Adam was made, that is, on the sixth, there occurred both the Fall and the grief of the angels, the sentence of death and the expulsion from Paradise, so also at the time of the Passion, on the same day, there occurred the death of the Saviour by the tree of the Cross, the mourning of the creation, and in the afternoon the putting away of the mourning and the entrance into Paradise. Verify I say unto you, saith the Saviour to the thief, to-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. 145 Glory to God for ever and ever, Amen! But we must now return to our text.


Wherefore the angels did not desist from the ministrations which they rendered to men liable to death and corruption, for the Apostle speaks thus: For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, that is, they were unwilling to labour and serve to no purpose; but, he goes on to say, by reason of him who subjected it in hope. 146 In what hope? Because, as is quite evident, after the transgression the angels, when they saw that God was not carrying into effect the sentence upon man, but treating him with loving care and providing him with clothing, came to entertain better hopes of man, so that they did not despair of him but ministered in his behalf. Then [154] |82 afterwards he says: And the creature itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glory of the liberty of the sons of God;147 that is, the angels themselves shall be delivered and with them the whole creation, when men shall be delivered from corruption and be glorified, and be made immortal, and the sons of God at the world's final consummation, when the form of this world shall pass away, and the resurrection of the dead shall take place, and the existing prder of things shall be changed. For when it shall come to pass in accordance with divine scripture that the stars shall fall, and the course of night and day cease, and the angels who move them be liberated through the exemption of men from corruption, who shall thus not at all need them, what then can these new law-givers say who think that the heaven is spherical, and assert that the stars are moved and yet move of themselves? For what useful purpose, let them tell us, if at least they define themselves to be Christians, will the heaven then perform revolutions? But away with these inept, these unstable men, for the Apostle yet again exclaims that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth together in pain until now,148 thereby again showing that the whole creation, and especially the angels themselves, are burdened in this state of existence from being subservient to corruption and mutation. For since they are themselves mutable they are constantly absorbed in reflections about mutation, thinking over and hoping for liberty and longing to obtain it; and obtain it they shall, as has been stated, when men rise from the dead. For unless they had themselves received a law prescribing what they should and should not do, they could not have fallen into sin, for some of them could not have transgressed (as they did) unless they had received this law from God. Those consequently who transgressed were cast |83 down from on high to the earth, for I saw----it is the Lord who speaks----Satan like lightning fall from heaven.149 But without law it is impossible there should be transgression, as saith the Apostle: For where there is no law there is no transgression,150 and Without the law sin is dead.151 So that the angels themselves in every way want to obtain freedom from the law and from mutation. Now, of this liberty, the cause has been and will be the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ. For all things, the Apostle saith, both those which are in heaven and those which are on the earth are summed up in Christ; and, If any one is in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away, behold all things are become new.152


On the first day, that is the Lord's day, the foundation of the world and the beginning of the creation took place. God having begun in the evening to create those things which comprise the whole world, that is to say, heaven and earth, creating along with them the darkness and the water and the air and the fire which has been commingled with the earth, and the angels----producing all these at one time. Wherefore on the same day and the same night a new creation of the whole world again took place, for the whole world has its circumscription in man,153 because man, as has been frequently stated, is the bond which holds all the world together. When man, therefore, rose again on the same night of the Lord's day, incorruptible and immortal and unchangeable, he gave a pledge to the whole creation visible and invisible that it would obtain like benefits. Wherefore the Apostle saith: To sum up all things in the Christ, both the things that are in heaven and that are in the earth;154 and: If any one be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things have become new.152 He says all things, because; in man are contemplated things visible and invisible. He then who denies |84 to the Lord Christ the possession of perfect manhood 155 is deceived by failing to understand the great dispensation which God has planned, as well as to conceive aright the Christian doctrine. In like manner again he who denies his perfect godhead 156 is chargeable with guilt and is utterly misled. Since then this hope is placed before Christians, that the angels and the whole creation shall be renovated into a better and a blessed state of existence, who is so malignant and so impious as to abandon this hope and lean for support on the new and beguiling folly of the pagans? For he shall hear in that day from the Judge these words: Verify I say unto you I know you not; depart from me, all ye that work iniquity.157 For it is in sooth a great iniquity to reject the declarations of God, and in opposition to them to ascribe a spherical form to the heaven. For such men are incapable of receiving the blessed hope and manifestation of the glory of the great God, our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us; nor do they wish along with the faithful to hear the Lord Christ exclaiming from on high: Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,158 but always erring in their opinions they are whirled round in ceaseless revolution along with their sphere, without any hope that there will ever be a pause.


Since the heavenly bodies then, according to divine scripture, are moved in their orbits by invisible powers, and run their course through the north, and pass below the elevated part of the earth, it is possible, with such a configuration, for eclipses of the moon and the sun to be |85 produced. For the angelic powers, by moving the figures on rational principles and in regular order, and with greater speed than lies in us to apprehend, produce these phenomena, plying their labours by night and by day without ever pausing. For as on the one hand the pagans assert that underneath the earth these bodies revolve far out of sight, thus, as was before shown, advancing views not only out of harmony with the nature of things, but opposed to the divine testimony, so we on the other hand following divine scripture, conceive that the revolution and the course of the heavenly bodies have some slight obliquity, and affirm that they are accomplished in this manner. For this being so, eclipses of necessity follow, and we are thus opposed neither to the Deity nor to the nature of things. For God must be believed in preference to all the notions and all the teaching of men. And with reference again to the four elements, we say that God having first established the earth as being dry, made it the foundation of the universe because of its heaviness. Water again, which is the moist element, he set above the earth on account of its fluidity; and the two as being opposite in their qualities he thought good to place together on account of their good temperature.159 Next he placed above these the air, which is the cold element, and above the air again fire, which is the warm element, because these are both lighter than the other elements. They are, however, mutually opposed, and therefore the two elements which are placed together in the middle----water which is moist and air which is cold----having many mutual affinities, the one being of a fluid and the other of a porous nature, while both are soft to the touch, and |86 readily receiving into themselves the qualities of each other and of their opposites, impart them in return to each other and blend the whole together; these two elements, I say, he thought good to place in the middle between the other two, the dry and the warm, that all nature might not be destroyed and reduced to a cinder. For from the readiness with which these two middle elements pervade each other, the pagans have fallen into error, and turning things the opposite way call air moist and water cold; consequent upon this they bestow two qualities upon a single element, and frequently even four.

God again provided rains for the good of the earth through the angelic powers, who with the utmost exertion bring them up from the sea into the clouds, and in obedience to the divine command discharge them where-over the divine command directs, for saith scripture by the prophet Amos: He that calleth forth the water of the sea, and poureth it out over the face of the earth (Amos ix, 6; see also Zech. x, I; I Kings xviii, 41). With regard to earthquakes we affirm that they are not produced by wind, for we do not, like our opponents, have recourse to fables, but simply say that they occur by divine appointment, for saith scripture through David: He looketh upon the earth [157] and maketh it tremble (Psalm civ, 32; see also Acts ii, 2; Amos ix, 5; Haggai ii, 20; Isaiah, in sundry passages).

With regard again to the Antipodes, divine scripture does not suffer me either to say or hear anything about these fables: For he made, saith the Apostle, of one the whole race of men to dwell upon the whole face of the earth. He does not mean upon every face of the earth, but upon its face.160 The dead, again, that are buried in the earth, |87 he calls the subterraneans, as in the passage: That in the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of beings celestial and terrestrial and subterranean161; where by beings celestial are meant the angels, by the terrestrial men, and by the subterranean those that are buried in the earth. For the Apostle says that this is to take place at the resurrection, when all, alike angels that are in heaven, men that are upon the earth, and the dead that are buried in the earth, shall all rise and bow the knee in the name of Jesus the Son of God. For we are said to tread upon the earth, in the sense of the expression as used in the passage: I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions.162 To tread therefore implies treading above some one, but if we tread above any one he who treads in the opposite direction must be below him who treads above him; but according to those wiseacres, a spherical body has neither an above nor a below, and hence we neither tread nor are trodden on in return, nor do we at all walk on the earth. Consequently, all their theories are but inventions and fables.

With regard again to angels and demons and souls, divine scripture represents them as completely circumscribed, and as living in this world, as when the Apostle says: We are made a spectacle unto the world and to angels and to men,163 as if they all lived in one and the same world. In Daniel also it speaks thus on the same point: And the prince of the Kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days, but lo! Michael one of the chief princes came to help me, and I left him there with the King of the Persians. Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days.164 The expression he withstood me, and that other, he came and went away and I left him there, and others of like import, refer to beings whose |88 natures are circumscribed. It is, moreover, to be observed that archangels are entrusted with the administration and guardianship of particular nations and kingdoms: Yea, even that an angel attends each man as his guardian; as when the church says concerning Peter in Acts: It is his angel.165 The Lord likewise in the Gospels exclaims: For [158] their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven;166 thus plainly showing that each one of us has his angel, evidently as his guide and his guardian. For Deity alone is uncircumscribed, existing everywhere, and as the same and in the same manner. For if I ascend, saith David, into heaven, thou art there; if I descend into Hades thou art present there; if I should take to myself wings at morning----that is, in the east----and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea----that is, in the west----even there shall thy hand lead me:167 evidently indicating here the uncircumscribed nature of the Deity. But this cannot be supposed to hold good of the angels, who in the passage above cited are said to have been left in a certain place. With respect to souls, divine scripture declares them to be circumscribed, and indicates them to be circumscribed by the body itself, as in the passage: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me;168 thus speaking of the soul as being within. And again: My heart and my flesh.169 Here it uses the heart instead of soul, as if the soul had its seat in the heart, and was within the body, as when it again says: In my heart have I hid thy words that I might not sin against thee;170 that is, I have hid them in my soul. And again: Create in me a clean heart, O God !171 meaning a clean soul. The Lord too speaks thus: Not that which goeth into a man defileth him, for it goes into the belly and is cast out into the draught, |89 but the things which proceed out of the heart----that is, the soul----these defile the man: such as evil thoughts 172 and other things peculiar to the soul which he enumerates. Elsewhere again he says what is more adapted to put the Jews to shame: The Kingdom of God is within you, 173 instead of saying: Ye ought always to have the Kingdom of God within the soul. And again, to the thief who believed in him he gave this promise: Verily I say unto you, to-day shall thou be with me in Paradise. 174 Here as evidently as possible he speaks of the soul as in a place. And that he speaks with reference to the soul and not to the body, is evident from the fact that the body of the Lord was buried by Joseph of Arimathea in Jerusalem, and that of the thief was buried there also. Most manifestly therefore he speaks of the soul when saying: To-day shalt thou be with me in Paradise. Besides, most of the evangelists when speaking of the death of the Lord say: He gave up the spirit----that is, the spirit within----namely, the soul, which went out of the body. Another of the evangelists says: Having bowed his head, he gave up the spirit. 175

We have advanced the foregoing conclusions as expressive of the true Christian theory, having been moved to accept them by divine scripture, for they arc not inventions or conjectures of our own, but we have strictly followed what God has spoken to us through the prophets and the [159] Apostles and his own Son. Now, as all those who undertake to deal with such topics in dependence on their own reasonings and conjectures fall into endless perplexities and errors, and can say nothing with certainty, it behoves every true Christian to take refuge in God, the Maker of all, who knows the how and the why of everything, in order that we may not wander and be blown about by |90 every wind of the doctrine of men, according to what the Apostle says: In craftiness of speech and after the wiles of error,176 and thus even ourselves be condemned along with the world. Moses also in the Old Testament, in the Book of Numbers, gives expression to the same thoughts: And the Lord said unto Moses, Speak unto the children of Israel and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of each border a cord of blue: and it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them: and that ye go not about after your own follies and after your own eyes, after which ye used to go a whoring, that ye may remember and do all my commandments and be holy unto your God. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the Land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God (Num. xv, 38). God himself in that passage teaches more clearly what the Apostle also has taught us, that we should not follow our own imaginations, but rather the divine precepts. God grant, O honoured Head, that we may abstain from these things, and cling instead to those that are divine, through the prayers of your Holiness,177 O most Christian Father, so that we may find mercy and grace before the throne of grace for evermore, Amen!  


 [Footnotes have been moved to the end and renumbered]

1. 1 A play upon the name of Pamphilus, which means beloved by all. 

2. 2 Gr. th~j e1cwqen e0gkukli/ou paidei/aj. 'Egku&klion paidei/a, the circle of the arts and sciences taught in Greek schools.

3. 1 Gr. tu&poj kai\ u(pografh_.

4. 2 Gr. w(j ta&cin 'Abramiai/an plhrw~n. Abram, or Abraham, of Cascar, who flourished about the beginning of the sixth century of our aera, retired into the desert of Scete and dwelt in a cave on Mount Izla, near Nisibis. He founded a monastic order among the Nestorians. The w(j plhrw~n of the text is translated both by Montfaucon and De la Croze: quum implevisset, but erroneously. The use of the present participle indicates that Patricius set out to teach in fulfilment of the vows of his order.

5. 3 According to the Latin version of Montfaucon, it was Patricius who died at Byzantium, and Thomas who became Primate of Persia. This rendering, however, conflicts with the rules of Greek syntax, and states, besides, what is historically untrue. For from the Catalogue of the Nestorian Patriarchs it has been clearly proved that Patricius, who was a Magian and was called by the Syrians Abas or Mar-Abas, became Bishop Catholic of the whole of Persia. This passage has received much notice from writers on early ecclesiastical history, and has been used to show that Cosmas was himself a Nestorian.

The real founder of Nestorianism was Theodorus of Mopsuestia. "In the Persian School of Edessa", says Gibbon, "the rising generations of the faithful imbibed their theological idiom; they studied in the Syriac version the ten thousand volumes of Theodore of Mopsuestia, and they revered the Apostolic faith and holy martyrdom of his disciple Nestorius, whose person and language were equally unknown to the nations beyond the Tigris"; vol. viii, c. 47. Nestorius, a presbyter of Antioch, was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople in 428, but having been deposed by the Council of Ephesus, was banished first to Antioch and afterwards to the Greater Oasis in Upper Egypt, where he died before the year 450. The Nestorians, or Chaldaean Christians as they call themselves, are still numerous in the East, and retain their tendency to distinguish carefully between the human and divine natures of Christ, and their objection to call the Virgin Mary the Mother of God. 

6. 1 II Cor. v, 1.

7. 1 Gen. i, 1. 

8. 2 Exod. xx, 11.

9. 3 Gen. ii, i. 

10. 4 Ibid., 4.

11. 5 Gen. xiv, 19.

12. 6 Gen. xxiv, 2.

13. 1 The passages are quoted in full both in the Latin and the Greek text. 

14. 2 Heb. i, 3.

15. 1 Here some passage or passages must have fallen out, as there is no connection between the opening and the conclusion of the sentence. Cosmas, besides, does not here tackle, as he must have done in accordance with what he says, the assumption that there was a place outside heaven and earth. I have indicated by marks, which, however, are found neither in the Greek text nor Latin version, that here there must be a hiatus.

16. 1 Gr. keko&llhka de\ au)to_n w#sper li/qon ku&bon. Cosmas, in quoting the Old Testament, always uses the Septuagint. The reading in the Vatican copy of the Septuagint is li\qw| ku&bon. The English Revised Version reads: When the dust runneth into a mass, and the clouds cleave fast together.----Job, xxxviii, 38.

17. 2 Cosmas's idea of the figure of heaven and earth will be readily understood from his delineation of it, as shown in Fig. 7 at the end of this work. 

18. 1 Gen. i, 8. 

19. 2 Psalm cii, 3.

20. 1 Isai. xl, 42. 

21. 2 Psalm viii, 1.

22. 3 Psalm cxlvii, 4.

23. 4 Psalm cxii, 16.

24. 1 Philip, iii, 20.

25. 2 Psal. cxlvii, 1.

26. 3 Ibid., 14.

27. 4 Psal. cxxxiv, 5.

28. 5 Montfaucon, in a note upon this passage, says: "The idea of Cosmas is that this earth which we inhabit is surrounded by the ocean, but that beyond the ocean there is another earth which on every side encompasses the ocean, and which had been formerly the seat of Paradise. It was this earth whose extremities were fastened together with the extremities of heaven."

29. 1 By Asia here is meant the Roman province of Asia Minor. Shem, thus extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, intersected the portions of Japhet and Ham.

30. 2 Now Cadiz----the Gades of the Romans. The name is Phoenician, as we learn from Dionysius Periêgêtes and his copyist Avienus, who says:

Gadir prima fretum solida supereminet arce, 
Attollitque caput geminis inserta columnis. 
Haec Cotinusa prius fuerat sub nomine prisco, 
Tartessumque dehinc Tyrii dixere coloni, 
Barbara quinetiam Gades hanc lingua frequentat: 
Poenus quippe locum Gadir vocat undique septum 
Aggere praeducto. ---- Descriptio Orbis Terrae, ll. 610-616.

Dionysius to the same effect says:

Kai\ th_n me\n naeth~rej, e0pi\ prote/rwn a&nqrw&pwn
Klh|zome/nhn Kotinou~san, e0fhmi/canto Ga&deira
. Perieg. ll. 455-6.

31. 3 Barbaria extended from the Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb to the Aromatic Cape, now called Cape Guardafui. Ptolemy, however, in his Geography (Books I, c. 17, and iv, vii, 28) applies it as a general designation to the coast regions of East Africa from the Aromatic Cape southward as far as Zanzibar, beyond which his knowledge did not extend. The author of the Periplus again says that Barbaria, h( Barbarikh_ xw&ra, extended southward from Berenice, a great seaport in the south of Egypt, not far from the Tropic.

32. 1 Gomer is taken by Josephus to denote the Galatians of Northern Phrygia, by others the Gimmeri, or Cimmerii, who inhabited the Crimea and eastern shores of the Euxine; others, again, the Cappadocians.

33. 2 Magog is supposed by some to have been the ancestor of the Scythians and Tartars, and by others of the Persians.

34. 3 Gen. x, 2.

35. 4 Gr. Iouau~n. This is the reading of the Laurentian codex, while the Vatican has 9Iuwoua~n. Javan was the ancestor of the Ionians and of the Greeks generally. The form of the name in the cuneiform inscriptions is Yavnan or Yunan, and this designates Cyprus, where the Assyrians first came into contact with the Greeks. Elisa is the Elishah of Ezekiel, xxvii, 7: "Blue and purple from the isles of Elishah". Josephus identified Elishah with Aeolis; but it is generally taken for Elis in the Peloponnesus, or for the Peloponnesus itself. The Tyrians found along the shores of Greece and her islands the shellfish which yielded their famous purple dye.

36. 5 Gr. 9Elladikou_j. #Ellhnej often means Pagans or Gentiles.

37. 6 Tubal, supposed to be the ancestor of the Tibarêni, who were settled along the coast of Pontus. They are mentioned by Herodotus, and are thought to have been a Scythic people.

38. 7 Meshech, a remote nation, and one of the rudest in the world. "Woe is me", saith one of the Psalms of Ascents, "Woe is me, that I sojourn in Meshech!"

39. 1 By the islands of the Gentiles are meant the sea-coasts and islands of the Mediterranean. The Thracians, I take it, were called Thêres, i.e, wild beasts, on account of the barbarity and ferocity for which they were proverbial.

40. 2 The Tarshish of scripture and Tartessus of Greek writers, who designated thereby the district of Spain which lay beyond the pillars of Hercules, and also a city in the region, probably Gadeira.

41. 3 The Kêteioi are mentioned by Homer, Odys., xi, 521, and also by Strabo in several passages (B. xiii, i, 69, and iii, 2; B. xiv, v, 23 and 28). He makes them, however, a continental people, and places them between the Cilicians and the Pelasgi. They are the Kittim of 7. Chronicles I, v. 7, as the Rhodians are the Rodanim of the same passage. For Khti/ouj the Florentine MS. has Skuqi/ouj.

42. 4 The word Ham means adust, and has reference to the dark sunburnt complexions of the Ethiopians and Egyptians, of whom Ham was the progenitor. Mizraim was the name of Egypt in Hebrew and Mesr in Arabic. The Cushite settlements have proved a fertile theme of discussion among critics. Cush, as a country, is African in all passages of the Bible except Genesis, ii, 13, where the Revised Version has Cush instead of Ethiopia, as in the Authorised. It was supposed by the Greeks, after the conquests of Alexander had made them acquainted with India, that the Egyptians, Ethiopians or Nubians, and Indians, were derived from the same stock (Arrian, Anab., vi, 9); while Dioclorus Siculus held that the Egyptians and their civilisation were derived from Meroë. It has again been supposed that the early Babylonians came from Ethiopia; but though in support of this view some striking evidence was advanced, it is now rejected along with that of Diodorus. It has been thought that there took place a later emigration of Cushites from the Nile to Western India, through Arabia, Babylon, and Persia.

43. 5 Phut is Libya. In the Atlas Antiquus, however, of Justus Perthes, Phut is placed along the south-western shores of the Red Sea, to the south of the Troglodytes. The tribes descended from Canaan are enumerated in Genesis, x, 15-19. They occupied Palestine and Phoenicia, and spread as far north as the valley of the Orontes.

44. 1 Saba denotes here that part of Arabia which is known as Yemen, or Arabia Felix, and which of old was thought to have been situated at the very ends of the earth. It was civilised in very early times. The climate was salubrious, the soil fertile, and its products varied and valuable. The inhabitants at the same time were noted for their great stature (Isaiah, xlv, 14), their commercial enterprise, and their opulence and luxury. The Homerites are the Himyari of Oriental history. Their alphabet is one of the oldest, and is thought to have been the source of the Indian. Saba denoted also the kingdom of Meroe, or at least that part of it which extended along the western shores of the Red Sea, from the Adulitic Gulf southward to the Aualitic. Elêsâ probably denotes the Elisari (the El-Asyr tribe of Burchardt), who are mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography as situated between the Cassaniti and the Homerites at the Straits of the Red Sea. Cosmas may have called at Muza (one of their ports) on his way to India, and have there heard of this people.

45. 2 Elam is the name in scripture of Susiana, one of the provinces of which was Elymais.

46. 3 The Huns are again mentioned in Book xi, where see note regarding them (Montf. p. 338). Baktria is now the province of Balkh.

47. 1 The Baltic is, however, omitted.

48. 2 Gr. (Ko&lpoj) o( kata_ th_n Rwmani/an. Montfaucon has the following note upon this. "Romania hic intelligitur terra illa omnis, quae ad Romanam ditionem pertinebat. Quo item usu Athanasius, p. 361, et Epiphanius, p. 728, Rwmani/an memorant." The numbers refer to the pages in his own editions of these two authors.

49. 3 The Erythraean, in its wider sense, includes both the Arabian and Persian Gulfs, beside the ocean between Africa and India.

50. 4 On Zingium Montfaucon has the following note: "Cosmas after the custom of his age designates by Zingium not only the strait of the Arabian Gulf (Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb), but also the sea-coast beyond the Straits, and likewise the adjacent sea; which name still subsists, since the Zanguebaric coast, from the strait of the Arabian Gulf almost to the very Cape of Good Hope, which is constantly visited by European ships, is by the inhabitants called Zangui, for Zanguebar signifies the sea of Zangui." Ptolemy in his Geography, iv. vii, 11, has a cape called Zingis or Zengisa on the coast of the Barbaric Gulf, which seems to be Ras Hafun in Lat. 10°25' N. Ethiopia designated vaguely those parts of Africa which extended from the southern limits of Egypt and Libya southward to the Equator. It designated also the frankincense country of southern Arabia----as shown by the famous bilingual inscription of Axum. Dr. Glaser derives the name Ethiopia from atyôb (the plural of taib, frankincense), so that it thus denotes generally the frankincense countries. In its restricted application Ethiopia designated the Kingdom or Island of Meroë. This realm, which lay between the Abyssinian highlands on the east and the Libyan desert on the west, and which was watered by the Nile and some of its affluents, was wondrously opulent, and the scat of a civilization introduced in early times from Yemen, as shown by its place-names, many of which are Sabasan.

51. 5 Cosmas is here in agreement with the author of the Periplus, who makes the Aromatic Cape (Guardafui) the end of Barbaria: teleutoi=on th~j barbarikh~j h)pei/rou. Ptolemy, however, makes it begin here, and extends it to Rhaptum in the Gulf of Zanguebar.

52. 1 Cosmas shared the error prevalent in ancient times, that the Caspian was not a land-locked sea but was a gulf of the great ocean. Herodotus, however, is not chargeable with having been under this delusion.

53. 2 Gr. e0pi\ th_n e0swte/ran 'Indi/an. Literally "Inner India". This generally means that part of India which lies on the further side of Cape Comorin or of the Straits between Ceylon and the mainland. But as the name of India was sometimes applied to Southern Arabia, and even to Eastern Africa, India as lying beyond these countries may be here meant. John Malela, or Malala, the Byzantine historian, who wrote not long after the time of Cosmas, calls both of them India: "At this time it happened that the Indians warred against each other, those called Auxumites with those called Homerites. . . . The Roman traders go through the Homerites into Auxume, and to the interior Kingdoms of the Indians, for there are seven Kingdoms of the Indians and Ethiopians." Friar Jornandes calls Eastern Africa India Tertia.

54. 1 The size of these birds, and the fact afterwards mentioned that they kept flying aloft, might indicate them to be albatrosses.

55. 2 Virgil (Georg., I, 11. 233 seq.) gives poetical expression to the same idea: "High as the globe rises towards Scythia and the pinnacles of Rhipaean hills, so deep is its downward slope to Libya and its southern clime. The one pole ever stands towering above our heads; the other is thrust down beneath the feet of murky Styx and her abyssmal spectres."----Conington's Transl.

56. 1 Gr. a1nw pou tre/xwn. Cosmas here annihilates his own objection to the doctrine of Antipodes. Rain could as easily fall up to them as the Nile could run up to the sea.

57. 2 Gr. a)po_ e0rh&mwn o)re/wn. Psalm LXXV. v. 6. The Revised Version translates the verse thus: "For neither from the east, nor from the west, nor yet from the south, cometh lifting up;" giving in the margin: "from the wilderness of mountains cometh judgement."

58. 1 Montfaucon has here this note: "Cosmas thought that in the northern parts of the earth there existed a very lofty mountain of a conical shape which the sun always went round; and that night was produced in this earth by the shadow of the mountain, while the sun was traversing that part of his orbit which is turned away from us." See, in the Appendix, the figure of the mountain as sketched by Cosmas.

59. 2 Eccl. i, 5, 6.

60. 3 The Revised Version, however, attributes the making of a circuit to the wind as well as to the sun.

61. 1 Cosmas extends the name of tropics to the points at which the sun turns northward from the Equator on the 21st of March, and southward from it on the 21st of September.

62. 2 Gr. Kuma&tion strepto_n ku&klw|.

63. 1 Gen. v, 29.

64. 2 Gen. iii, 17.

65. 1 Gen. ix, 3.

66. 2 Gen. iv, 3.

67. 1 Deut, xxx, 12.

68. 1 Baruch, iii, 29.

69. 2 Gr. meta&cion ----sometimes written mata&cion----a foreign word, and only found in later Greek. In classical Greek the name for silk is bo&mbuc, and also shriko_n, from which our word silk is derived by the change, which is not uncommon, of r into l. The Seres from whom it was procured inhabited Northern China, whence it was conveyed by various land routes to the nations of the west. Southern China, again, which Cosmas calls Tzinitza, was inhabited by the Sinae, who sent their products by sea to Ceylon and India, and other countries farther west. Full details as to the commodities which China in ancient times exported and imported, as well as to the trade routes by which they were conveyed, will be found in the late Dr. De Lacouperie's great work, The Western Origin of Chinese Civilization. It was in the days of Cosmas that the silk-worm was for the first time introduced into Europe. Gibbon, in the fortieth chapter of The Decline and Fall, presents us with an admirable account of the silk trade up till the time of the Emperor Justinian, and of the far-reaching effects upon commerce which eventually resulted from the receipt by that emperor of eggs of the silk-worm which had been surreptitiously conveyed to him from China.

70. 1 Montfaucon has the following note here: "Selediba is written afterwards Sielediba. It is the island Ceylan, the name being so far changed. For diba, or diva, means 'island'; hence Maldive, just as Sielediva, signifies the island Siele. Tzinitza, immediately below, in the Vatican copy is read Tzknê (Tzinê?) Tsina, or Sina, namely; the country of the Sinae, which, as Cosmas himself attests, is bounded by the ocean on the east." In Book xi Cosmas gives at some length an account of this island, and in one of the notes to that book the etymology of these names is examined.

71. 2 "A valuable merchandise of small bulk is capable of defraying the expense of land carriage; and the caravans traversed the whole latitude of Asia in two hundred and forty-three days, from the Chinese Ocean to the sea-coast of Syria. Silk was immediately delivered to the Romans by the Persian caravans, who frequented the fairs of Armenia and Nisibis.....To escape the Tartar robbers and the tyrants of Persia, the silk caravans explored a more southern road; they traversed the mountains of Thibet, descended the streams of the Ganges or the Indus, and patiently expected, in the ports of Guzerat and Malabar, the annual fleets of the West."----Gibbons, Decline and Fall, c. xl.

72. 1 The Persian Gulf has a length of 650 English miles, while the distance from Ceylon to the Malacca peninsula only is nearly twice that distance.

73. 2 Not very far short of 2,000 miles.

74. 3 Gr. w(j a)po_ sparti/ou o)rqw~j . . . tij metrw~n. Eratosthenes estimated the breadth of the habitable world from the parallel of Thule (which he took to coincide with the Arctic Circle) to Sennaar, at 38,000 stadia, and its length, from the westernmost point of Gaul to furthest India, at 77,800, thus making its length about double its breadth.

75. 4 monai/, mansions or halting-places.

76. 5 Gr. Iouui/a. So the Florentine copy, while the Vatican has ou)nni/a in a second hand. This would mean the country of the Huns, concerning whom sec note to Book XI.

77. 6 Nisibis, the capital of Mygdonia, was, after the time of Lucullus, considered the chief bulwark of the Roman power in the East. It was an ancient, large, and populous city, and was for long the great northern emporium of the commerce of the East and West. It was situated about two days' journey from the head waters of the Tigris in the midst of a pleasant and fertile plain at the foot of Mount Masius. The Seleucia here referred to was situated on the Tigris about 40 miles to the north-east of Babylon, from the ruins of which it was mainly constructed: just as, afterwards, its own ruins served to build Ctesiphon. Next to Alexandria, it was the greatest emporium of commerce in the East.

78. 1 Gr. monai\ l/. Here the numeral l/ = 30 must be an error for k /= 20, because the distance from Alexandria to Syene, in the neighbourhood of the Great Cataract, is about 600 Roman miles; and because, moreover, in the summing-up of the figures as in the text there is an excess of ten over the given total. Montfaucon has not noticed this discrepancy.

79. 2 Axômis (Auxumê in Ptolemy) is the modern Axum, the capital of Tigré. In the early centuries of our era it was a powerful State, possessing nearly the whole of Abyssinia, a portion of the south-west Red Sea coast and north-western Arabia. It was distant from its seaport, Adulê, which was situated near Annesley Bay, about 120 miles, or an eight days' caravan journey. It was the chief centre of the trade with the interior of Africa. The Greek language was understood and spoken, both by the court and the numerous foreigners who had either settled in it or who resorted to it for trading purposes. In this connection I may quote the following remarks from the pen of M. Vivien de Saint-Martin: "Plusieurs faits bien connus prouvent d'ailleurs l'action direct de l'hellénisme égyptien sur le developpement de la civilisation Axoumite. Ainsi l'auteur du Périple rapporte que le roi d'Axoum qu'il nomine Zoskalès, était familiarisé avec les lettres Grecques; et ce qui montre que cette influence eut un longue durée c'est que deux siècles et demi plus tard on voit la langue Grecque employée a Axoum dans les inscriptions concurremment avec la langue éthiopienne. Ce qui existe encore de l'ancienne Axoum, particulierement ses obélisques, est d'un style grec, bien qu'on y sente une reminiscence égyptienne. Enfin, la religion des Grecs d'Egypte avail penétré dans le royaume d'Axoum, en même temps que leur langue et leurs artistes, car dans les inscriptions le roi éthiopien se dit 'fils d' l'invincible Arès'" (Journal Asiatique, sixth series, vol. ii, pp. 333-4). Christianity was introduced into Axum in the fourth century by Oedisius and Frumentius, the latter of whom was afterwards appointed its first bishop. Sasu, which is next mentioned, is near the coast, and only 5° to the north of the equator.

80. 1 Ex. xxxvii, 10. 

81. 2 The sweet calamus mentioned in Exodus, xxx, 23.

82. 1 The Agau people is the native race spread over the Abyssinian plateau both to east and west of Lake Tana. Montfaucon has the following note: "There is at this day in those parts, namely in the kingdom of the Abyssinian Ethiopians, a region called Auge, where those celebrated fountains of the Nile are, as is related farther on. But what Cosmas here tells us about that singular method of trading practised by the Ethiopians and the Barbarians who speak a different language .... is still in vogue in many parts of Africa, as one may see in books of travel in Africa, and the descriptions given in them of the country." This "dumb commerce", as it was carried on along the Atlantic coast of Africa, is described by Herodotus in his Fourth Book, C. 196. It was practised elsewhere than in Africa, as, for instance, in China (see Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, chap. lxv).

83. 1 Gr. Qe/rmia. Dimin. form of Qe/rmoj, a lupine.

84. 2 From July to September.

85. 1 In the Periplus (c. 6), which is perhaps the earliest work in which the name of Adulê occurs, a list is given of its imports and exports. Pliny says it was the greatest emporium of the Troglodytes----or, as we must now write their name---- Trogodytes. It is represented by the modern Thulla or Zula, of which the latitude is 15 13' north. With regard to the Elanitic Gulf, Ela, the Vatican copy has 'Ela_, the Laurentian, i.e., the Florentine, 'Ahla&. It is the Elath of scripture, the Ailanê of Josephus, and the Elána of Ptolemy.

86. 2 Cosmas was mistaken in thinking that the inscription on this celebrated chair was a continuation of the inscription on the basanite tablet afterwards mentioned, in which Ptolemy Euergetes recorded a series of conquests which he had made in Asia in the earlier years of his reign. Mr. Salt showed that the two inscriptions had nothing in common except their juxtaposition, and that the one on the chair related to conquests made in Ethiopia and Arabia by an Axômite king who lived several centuries after King Ptolemy. Attempts have been made to discover these precious monuments of antiquity, but hitherto without success.

87. 3 Proconnesus is the island now called Marmora, a name which it has given to the sea in which it lies, and for which it is indebted to the celebrity of its rich marble quarries. The marble, which is of a white colour with streaks of black, was used in building the palace of Mausolus, and in paving the floor of the famous church of St. Sophia, erected in Constantinople by the Emperor Justinian.

88. 1 Gr. kaqe/dra. A drawing to show the shape of the chair is given in the Appendix.

89. 2 Justinus I, or the Elder, was Emperor of the East from the year 518 to 527 A.D. He was succeeded by the great Justinian, whom he had adopted, and who reigned till 565.

90. 3 John Malala, whom we cited in a previous note, gives an account of an embassy sent by Justinian to the Emperor of the Axômites, whom he calls Elesbóas: thus fortunately, says Salt in his work descriptive of his Voyage to Abyssinia (p. 468), identifying Anda, Ameda and Elesbóas, as titles of the same sovereign. This author points out that what gave occasion to the expedition of Elesbóas was the murder of St. Aretas by the Homerites. He fixes the death of Aretas in the year 522, which was the fifth year of the Emperor Justinus; the visit of Cosmas to Adulê to about 525, and the expedition against the Homerites to about 530. Montfaucon has here the following note: "In the Vatican copy in the first hand the reading is Ellatzoba&a. This Elesbaan, King of the Axômites, in that expedition which Cosmas mentions, destroyed the kingdom of the Homerites, having defeated Dunaanus, a king of the Jewish religion, who inflicted horrible tortures on the Christians. This Elesbaan was known by another name, Caleb, and was celebrated alike by Greeks and Arabians and Ethiopians, and was enrolled in the number of the saints. He is mentioned by Nonnosus in Photius, by Metaphrastus, by Callistus, and by Abulpharagitis. All this you will find recorded at great length in Job Ludolph, a most accurate expounder and investigator of Ethiopian affairs."

91. 1 Gr. ei0ko&ni. The word ei0kw&n denotes both an image or a figure, and also a picture. In the Greek church the word has only the latter signification.

92. 2 Rhaitô was a place on the Red Sea near Mount Sinai. It is now called Tor. Cosmas, in Book V., says that it was formerly Elim, where the Israelites found twelve springs of water which still existed in his time.

93.  1 He here refers to his drawing of the chair and the tablet, the latter of which is surmounted by the figure of Ptolemy armed with buckler, helmet and spear, and standing in a very warlike attitude. The inscription on the tablet is of great historical value, as it is the only record now extant of the expedition which was made into Asia by Ptolemy Euergetes soon after his succession to the throne in 247 B.C.

94. 2 Ptolemy I., surnamed Soter, was reputed to be the son of Lagus by Arsinoe, while Berenice was the daughter of the same Lagus by Antigone, the niece of Antipater. Ptolemy Soter was regarded by the Macedonians as the son of Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, since his mother had been Philip's concubine, and was pregnant with Ptolemy when she married Lagus. This story seems, however, to have been invented to flatter Ptolemy when he had become a great King. The second Ptolemy, surnamed Philadelphus, married Arsinoe, the daughter of Lysimachus, the King of Thrace, and his wife Nicaea, and by her became the father of Euergetes. He banished her, however, and afterwards, to the great scandal of the Grecian world, married his own sister Arsinoe, who had been the wife of the same Thracian King. By her he had no children.

95. 1 Conf. Periplus, c. 3. "To the south of the Moschophagi, near the sea, lies a small emporium about 4,000 stadia distant from Berenice, and called Ptolemais Theron, from which, in the days of the Ptolemies, the hunters whom they employed used to go up into the interior to catch elephants. This place was very suitable for the purpose, as it lay on the skirts of the great Nubian forest in which elephants abounded. Before it was made a depot for the elephant trade, the Egyptian Kings had to import these animals from Asia; but as the supply was precarious and the cost of their importation very great, Philadelphia made most tempting offers to the Ethiopian elephant hunters to induce them to abstain from eating the animal, or at least to reserve a portion of them for the royal stables. They rejected, however, all his offers, declaring that even for all Egypt they would not forego their favourite luxury."

96. 2 Probably among them some of the 500 which Seleucus Nicator had received from Sandrocottus, the King of Palibothra (now Patna).

97. 3 Ptolemy Euergetes added greatly to his popularity with his Egyptian subjects by restoring to them the statues of their gods, which had been carried away to Persia by Cambyses and some of his successors. For this and other benefits, a synod of priests which assembled at Canopus in the ninth year of his reign passed a decree which conferred upon him and his queen the title of Benefactors. This queen was Berenice, the daughter of Magas, King of Cyrene. She vowed to sacrifice her hair to the gods if her husband returned safe from the expedition recorded in the inscription. The hair was stolen, but according to the great astronomer Conon, the winds wafted it to heaven, and there it forms the constellation Coma Berenices. The inscription was not written by Euergetes himself, but that it is a truthful record is confirmed by a passage in St. Jerome's commentary on Daniel (xi, 8): "in tantum ut Syriam caperet et Ciliciam, superioresque partes trans Euphratem, et propemodum universam Asiam." See Mahaffy's Empire of the Ptolemies, p. 200.

98. 1 Gr. duna&meij a)pesteile dia_ tw~n o)ruxqe/ntwn potamw~n. Dr. Vincent was of opinion that the canals mentioned here were those near Susa, in which Cambyscs had deposited the gods and the other spoils which he had carried away from Egypt. He remarks that Susiana was, like Babylonia, intersected with numerous canals. Bigot, however, to judge from his translation of the clause, supposed that the canals were dug by order of Ptolemy: Et faisant des canaux où il était nécessaire pour rendre à ses troupes le passage plus aisé. Boeckh, again, believed that the words were badly transcribed, and referred to a new expedition, and therefore to Nile canals.

99. 2 In note 2, p. 54, it has been pointed out that the inscription on the chair had no connection with that on the tablet.

100. 3 "If we had the precise date of this inscription," says V. de Saint-Martin, "the chronological question of the origin of the kingdom of Axum would be resolved, for it enables us to accompany, in a sort of way, step by step the formation and development of the Axumite empire. The first and only one of the kings of my race I have brought all these peoples under subjection, says the Prince; and the identification which we are able still to make of one part at least of the districts and tribes mentioned in the inscription shows us his first conquests in the neighbourhood itself of Axum, and at a little distance from that city, which was evidently the seat of his native principality. Then we see his arms carried successively into one after another of the surrounding countries----to the west, between the Takazzé and the great lake Tzana (Tana); to the north, into the low plains watered by the Atbara and the Mareb, and thence still farther into the deserts of Nubia, where the caravans will henceforth have an assured communication from Axum to Egypt; to the south into the hot region which we designate by the very improper name of the kingdom of Adel, into the country of Harrar and of the Somalis, which produces aromatics, and on to the coast region which is washed by the sea of Aden, and which terminates at Cape Guardafui. Finally, crossing over the narrow basin of the Arabian Gulf, the Ethiopian conqueror sends a naval expedition to the opposite coast, and makes his authority to be recognised, if not over Yemen or the country of the Sabaeans (this the text leaves doubtful), at least over a great part of the coast of Hedjaz, in his progress northward to the latitude of Berenice of Egypt, that is to say, over an extent of coast of 6 degrees at least, even towards the 25th parallel." From a memoir read to the Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres, and published in the Journal Asiatique, 1863, 6th series, vol. ii, pp. 347-8. For the identifications which follow I am chiefly indebted to this memoir. Dr. Glaser has quite recently been able to determine approximately the date of this inscription, as towards the end of the third century of our a era.

101. 1 Salt sees in this word the town of Adé-Gada in the north of Tigré, but Saint-Martin believes that it has a much wider signification. "It is certain", he says, "that Agazi or Agoazi has been at another time the name of the portion of the Abyssinian plateau, the declivity of which commands the Red Sea above Massawa. The name appears to have now fallen into disuse, but the passages which Ludolf (in his Hist. Aeth., I, i, iv, and Commentar., p. 56) has collected prove that even till the seventeenth century it was employed, at least by the learned, as a synonym of Abyssinia. The word remains in use for a different purpose----to designate the ancient language of northern Abyssinia (the ghîz or ghez, at present the learned language)." ----pp. 349, 350. Pliny (vi, 29) mentions a place called Gaza, which lay farther south than the Abalitic Gulf and the Island of Diodorus.

102. 2 Agamê still designates an important province of the plateau of Tigré, directly to the east of the position of Axum. Salt describes it as a rich and fertile territory, owing to its great elevation in a torrid climate.

103. 3 Saint-Martin thinks that the name Sigye is connected with Tzigam, the name of a large Agau tribe now seated to the west of Lake Tzana, but which its own traditions connect with the Agaus of the Takazzé. The Agaou people, which is the aboriginal race of the Abyssinian plateau, has been in conflict at all the epochs of history with the lords of the country of Axum, now Tigré. ---- pp. 350-1.

104. 1 The position of Aua is fixed by the itinerary of Nonnosus, the envoy of Justinian to the King of Axum in 531, only eleven or twelve years after the time when Cosmas visited those shores. In this itinerary Aue is a district situated half-way between Adulê and Axum. The name still exists in that of the city of Adoua (Ad'Oua = city of Oua) the present capital of Tigré (p. 351). Nonnosus on his return from Axum wrote a history of his embassy, which has perished, but of which we have an abridgement by Photius, reprinted in the Bonn Collection of the Byzantine writers. Bent thinks Aua is perhaps in Yeha.

105. 2 Montfaucon here notes that Tiamô is read Tiama in the Vatican copy, and that Tziamô was called also Tziama. He says that Tzama is the name by which a certain prefecture of the kingdom of Tigré, immediately adjacent to Agamê, is to this day designated. Both Salt and Saint-Martin confirm this identification, and the latter recognises Gambela in the valley of Iambela in the province of Enderta. The name of Tiamô, he adds, recurs elsewhere several times in Abyssinian geographical inscriptions.

106. 3 The words within brackets appear, says Montfaucon, to have formed a marginal note which has crept into the text of Cosmas. By the Nile here is not meant the Nile proper, but its great eastern tributary the Takazze, which, however, before joining the Nile unites with the Atbara (the Astaboras of the ancients) in Nubia.

107. 4 Zingabene, Angabe, and Tiama cannot now be identified, but Athagaus and Kalaa seem to correspond respectively to Addago and Kalawe, two districts which lie to the left of the Takazze below the mountains of Semen. Dillmann conjectures that Zingabene was written for Zingarene, and so identical with Zangaren in Hamasen. Dr. Glaser suggests that Kalaa may be the Koloe of the Periplus, which describes it as a town three days' journey inland from Adulê, and a five days' journey from Axum. With regard to the Athagaus, Dillmann agrees with Montfaucon in taking them to be a part of the very ancient Agau people, perhaps those in Lasta.

108. 1 For Semenai the Vatican copy reads Samine. The inscription gives this name in exact accordance with its present orthography. Samen, or Semen, with its lofty mountains which rise to the height of 15,000 ft. above the sea-level, is the most remarkable region in all Abyssinia.

109. 2 A little below, Cosmas tells us that in his time these three provinces still bore the same names as in the inscription, from which it would appear that these were well-known districts. Their names have now disappeared, or are too much changed to be recognisable. Saint-Martin, however, conjectures that Lazine may be the land of Basena on the northern frontier of Tigré, at the foot of the last declivities of the plateau. Basena, he adds, is in the direction of the Taka, the great oasis of eastern Nubia, whereto the inscription proceeds to lead us.

110. 3 "Bega refers to the ancient race of the Bedjas or Bodjas (which the Arab authors call also Boga), who, under the actual name of Bicharieh cover with their nomadic tribes a great part of the sandy regions of Nubia between the Nile and the Red Sea"(l. c. p. 354). In a note it is pointed out that Bicharieh and Bedja are but two forms of the same name. Dr. D. H. Müller, of Vienna, identifies the Bega with the Bougaitai of the Greek inscription of Axum.

111. 4 "The Tangaites, at the time to which the inscription takes us back, were the most powerful of the Bedja tribes; this tribe has given its name to the country of Taka, which is watered and fertilised by the united waters of the Takazze and Atbara. Tangaites, for Tanga or Taka, is a form purely Greek" (l. c. p. 354).

112. 5 The fact that these two tribes lived in a mountainous region showed that their position was eastward toward the coast of the Red Sea.

113. 1 "The rest of the inscription is concerned with expeditions all different. Here the Axumite conqueror conducts us towards the country of Barbara, where incense grows, that is to say, into the cinnamon-bearing country of the Greeks and Romans. He then subdues the peoples of Sesea, the Rhausi, and the Solate, and obliges the last to watch over the security of the coast. With the exception of the Solate, of whom the identification is uncertain, the other names mentioned in this part of the inscription are recognisable without difficulty. Barbara, or Berbera, has been at all times the appellation of a part of this country stretching towards the Indian Ocean. It is on this side the last extension of a name of aboriginal race and of primordial origin of which we find the traces disseminated through a great portion of the valley of the Nile, and through all the north of Africa, and we know that Berbera remains the name of the principal part of the coast of Somal, right opposite Aden. Sesea ought to designate a part at least of the Somali people, of which one of the principal tribes bears still the name of Issa, which even appears to have been the patronymic appellation of the race. Cosmas, who beyond question employs the name as it was pronounced by the Greek sailors in these seas, departs still further from the proper Ethnic name in writing Sasu. It was, he says, the last country of Ethiopia towards the Erythraean Sea, and he informs us that in his time the kings of Axum sent thither annual caravans which brought back much gold. Lastly, the name of the Rhausi (who very probably are no others than the Rhapsii of Ptolemy, iv, viii) exists with but little alteration in that of the Arousi, a large tribe in the interior to the south of Abyssinia, one of those which carry on a regular traffic with the coast" (l. c. pp. 354-5). Sasu, as Dr. Glaser tells us, lay in the south-east part of the Somali peninsula, not far from the Italian colony Hobia (Oppia, Obbia), and consequently quite in the eastern portion of the conquests made by the king who was the author of the inscription. This decision as to the position of Sasu was indubitably correct, but was utterly inconsistent with the statement in the inscription that Ethiopia and Sasu formed the western boundary of his dominions. Here was indeed a Gordian knot to untie, and Dr. Glaser's peace of mind was quite taken away until he found a solution, namely, that not Sasu at all, but Kasu is to be read. Kasu, he explains, was shown by Dillmann to be a far westward territory, since in the Axumite inscription in which it occurs, it admits of being located only in or near Meroe. "Now", he exclaims, "did all at a stroke become clear. The king penetrated westward to Ethiopia and Kasu, that is, into the region of Khartum."

114. 1 The name of this people is found in Ptolemy, and written exactly as here. Saint-Martin takes them to have been a branch of the great tribe of Kinda, to which the tribe of Kelb united itself. They occupied Hedjaz, which is now the Holy Land of Arabia, containing as it does the sacred cities of Mecca and Medina.

115. 2 Towards the northern frontier of the Cinaedocolpitae was situated the port and trading mart of Leucê Comê, from which at one time the costly wares received from India and Arabia were transmitted to Petra of the Nabathaeans. It has been identified with the port called Hauara [lat. 24° 59' N., long. 37° 16' E.]. Cosmas in a note says, that in the country of the Blemmyes there is a village (Kw&mh) called Leucoge, which he erroneously takes to be Leucê Comê, since the Blemmyes lived not in Arabia but Nubia, on the other side of the Red Sea.

116. 1 Saint-Martin, commenting on the geography of this passage, says: "This shows, first, that the Axumites properly called (that is to say, the inhabitants of our actual Tigré", which is the north-east part of the Abyssinian plateau) had not yet adopted for themselves the Greek appellation of Ethiopians, as they have since done. The name of Saso, which appears there for the first time, carries us to the unknown countries of the West; it is then by a manifest confusion that Cosmas, deceived by an apparent relation, has confounded it with the maritime country of Sesea. Mr. Harris, who was sent to the Ras du Choa in 1842 by the East India Company, with a view to form commercial relations with this powerful chief of southern Abyssinia, among the items of information that he collected during his stay about the countries of the Nile basin still more southern, heard mention of a great kingdom of Sousa, the most powerful, he was told, of the native states towards the south and south-west of the Choa."----(l. c. pp. 357-8). Saint-Martin takes this country, of which Mr. Harris had heard, to be Kafa, which he thinks is the name given to it by the Galla, while Sousa is its ancient and indigenous name. Dr. Glaser's solution of the difficulty regarding Sasu, given in note 1, p. 63, is, however, preferable. Saint-Martin follows up his examination of the geography of the inscription with an attempt to ascertain its date, and this he is led to assign either to the earlier or to the later half of the second century of our aera. Professor Dillmann, on the other hand, assigned to the inscription a much earlier date, being of opinion that the king whose conquests it records reigned in Axum before Zoskales (called Zahakale in the list of Axumite kings), who filled the throne at the time when the author of the Periplus, from whom we learn the fact, was making trading voyages in the Erythraean Sea. As these voyages appear to have been made between A.D. 56 and A.D. 71, the inscription would thus date as far back as about the beginning of the Christian aera. Professor D. H. Müller, of Vienna, again, thinks that the author of the inscription was no other than this Zoskales himself, who is described in the Periplus as an ambitious man, and well versed in Greek literature ( tou plei/onoj e0cexo&menoj . . . kai\ gramma&twn 9Ellhnikw~n e1mpeiroj ). Dr. Glaser, however, who is one of the greatest living authorities on questions of Arabian history, which he has assiduously studied, by the light of numerous inscriptions found in various parts of Arabia, refers the inscription in question to the closing years of the third Christian century. Some of the conquests of the Axumite king lay in Arabia, and Dr. Glaser finds that the date he has fixed is that which is most compatible with ascertained facts, both of Arabian and Axumite history. To this conclusion he has also been guided by statements advanced in the Periplus, and the famous bilingual Axumite inscription.

117. 1 The Vatican copy has Salmene.

118. 1 Antigonus, Perdiccas, Seleucus Nicator, and Ptolemy.

119. 1 Philometor was the sixth of the Ptolemies, and Dionysus, the brother of the celebrated Cleopatra, was the twelfth.

120. 1 Gr. a)pografh_ ----the term used in Luke ii, 2.

121. 2 Luke i, 32.

122. 3 Gr. basi/leioi ---- Montfaucon here translates this word by imperium (and in the next sentence by regnum) leaving basilei/a, which almost immediately follows, unrendered. It is evident, however, that in each sentence basi/leion means the reigning dynasty, ge/noj being understood.

123. 1 The monarch of Persia when Cosmas wrote was the great Khosru, or Chosroes I, as he is called by the Greeks. His reign extended from A.D. 531 till A.D. 579. He belonged to the dynasty of the Sassanidae, which was founded by Ardishir, the Artaxerxes of the Greeks and Romans, in A.D. 226. The family to which he belonged was Persian, and professed the faith of Zoroaster and his priests the Magi.

124. 2 Arsaces, the founder of the Parthian power, revolted from the Syrian yoke in the reign of Antiochus II, in the year B.C. 250. One of his successors, Mithridates I, who reigned from B.C. 174 to B.C. 136, made extensive conquests, and exalted the Parthian name to great glory. Before the Christian aera his successors had extended their rule along the east coast of Arabia, and also along the southern, so that they possessed the frankincense country.

125. 3 In the year B.C. 40, under Pacorus, the son of the Parthian King Orodes I.

126. 4 Eusebius, in his Ecclesiastical History, informs us that Thomas, one of the twelve Apostles, sent Thaddeus, who was reckoned among the seventy disciples of Christ, to Edessa, as a preacher and evangelist of the doctrine of Christ.---- Book I, c. 13. Edessa, which was a town of great importance, situated in the northern extremity of Mesopotamia, in the province of Osrhoene, played a very prominent part in the early history of the Christian Church.

127. 5 I Pet. v, 13.

128. 1 See below (Book XI, text and notes).

129. 2 This expression seems to mean here the relative position of the our great divisions of the inhabited world.

130. 3 Ephorus was a native of the Aeolian city of Cyme, in Asia Minor, and flourished in the fourth century B.C. Like the historian Theopompus, he studied oratory under Isocrates, who advised him to devote his powers to the study and composition of history. The most celebrated of his works was a history consisting of thirty books, which began with the Return of the Heracleidae, and brought down the narrative of events to the siege of Perinthus by Philip of Macedon, in 431 B.C. The work treated not only of the history of the Greeks but also of the barbarians, and was thus the first attempt made in Greece to write a universal history. The work is unfortunately lost, with the exception of some detached fragments. Ephorus attempted to give a faithful record of events, but was deficient in critical acumen.

131. 1 The date of this navigator cannot be fixed with certainty, but he probably lived in the time of Alexander the Great, or somewhat later. Besides the work Concerning the Ocean, which Cosmas here mentions, he wrote another called a Periplus, in which he described a voyage from Cadiz to the Tanais, or Don, a name which he probably applied in error to the river Elbe. He is frequently cited by the ancient writers, who inclined, however, to disparage his authority----Strabo especially, who denounces him again and again as a charlatan and a liar; although even he is constrained to admit that, as far as astronomy and the mathematics are concerned, he reasoned correctly. Pytheas is better appreciated by modern writers. For Masaliw&thj the Vatican codex has Metalew&thj.

132. 1 Xenophanes flourished between 540 and 500 B.C. He was a poet, and the founder also of the Eleatic school of philosophy. With him the Eleatic doctrine of the oneness of the universe is supposed to have originated.

133. 2 Strabo informs us that Alexander the Great, upon seeing crocodiles in the Hydaspes (Jhilam), and Egyptian beans in the Acesines (Chenab), thought that he had discovered the source of the Nile.----Book xv, i, 25. Diodorus Siculus has a passage similar to this of Cosmas. He says (Book I, c. 34): "The lotus grows in great plenty here, of which the Egyptians make bread for the nourishment of their bodies. Here is likewise produced in plenty Ciborium, called the Egyptian bean." Kibw&rion, the name under which Cosmas mentions this bean, designates the seed-vessels of the kolokasi/a in which it is contained. Cosmas appears to be the only writer in whom the word Neilagathia occurs.

134. 1 Ephes. ii, 2.

135. 1 Heb. i, 15. 

136. 2 Rom. viii, 19.

137. 1 Gen. iii, 1.

138. 2 Gen. iii, 19.

139. 1 Luke ii, 14.

140. 1 John xvi, 33.

141. 2 Luke x, 19.

142. 3 Gr. thrh&sei.Gen. iii, 15.

143. 4 Gr. qla~sai.

144. 5 Gr. pro&cenoj. This name was given to a citizen of a state who undertook or was appointed to protect and act hospitably towards visitors to that state who belonged to a friendly state. His functions resembled those of our modern consuls.

145. 1 Luke xxviii, 43.

146. 2 Rom. viii, 20.

147. 1 Rom. viii, 21.

148. 2 Rom. viii, 22.

149. 1 Luke x, 18.

150. 2 Rom. iv, 15.

151. 3 Rom. vii, 8.

152. 4 I Cor. v, 17.

153. 5 Gr. o( pa~j ga_r ko&smoj e0n tw~| a)nqrw&pw| perigra&fetai.

154. 6 Ephes. i, 10.

155. 1 Cosmas, who was most probably a Nestorian, here hits at the Docetae and Gnostics, who held that the human nature of Jesus Christ was a semblance and not a reality; and hits also at the Monophysites, who maintained that Jesus Christ had but one nature, or that the human and divine were so intimately united as to form one nature only.

156. 2 Cosmas refers here to the Arian heretics, who held that the Son was not co-equal or co-eternal with the Father, but was created by an act of the divine will. The Nestorians have always maintained that Christ was perfect God and perfect man, and that these natures were distinct.

157. 3 Matt, vii, 23.

158. 4 Matt, xxv, 34.

159. 1 Montfaucon, following the punctuation, construes the words dia_ th_n eu)krasi/an with the clause which follows, but they seem to belong to that which precedes.

160. 1 Acts xvii, 26. Cosmas argues that as scripture speaks only of two classes of men, the terrestrial and the subterranean, and by the latter means those buried in the earth, there can be none under the earth.

161. 1 Philipp. ii, 10. 

162. 2 Luke x, 19.

163. 3 I Cor. iv, 9.

164. 4 Dan. x, 13 seqq.

165. 1 Acts vi, 13. 

166. 2 Matt, xviii, 10. 

167. 3 Psalm cxxxix, 8. 

168. 4 Psalm ciii, i. 

169. 5 Psalm lxxxiv, 2.  

170. 6 Psalm cxix, 11.

171. 7 Psalm li, 10.

172. 1 Matt, xv, 17. 

173. 2 Luke xvii, 21.

174. 3 Luke xxiii, 43 

175. 4 Matt, xxvii, 50

176. 1 Ephes. iv, 14.

177. 2 Gr. 9Agiosu&nhj.

Previous PageTable Of ContentsNext Page

This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using the Scholars Press SPIonic font, free from here.

Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts