Claudius Ælianus, his various history
Aelian, Claudius., Stanley, Thomas, 1625-1678.
Page  77

CHAP. XVIII. Of the Discourse betwixt Midas the Phrygian, and Silenus; and the incre∣dible relations of Midas.

Theopompus relates a discourse between Midas the Phrygian and Silenus. This Si∣lenus was son of a Nymph, inferiour by nature to the Gods onely, superiour to Men and Death. Amongst many other things, Silenus told Midas that Europe, Asia and Africk were Islands surrounded by the Ocean: That there was but one Continent onely, which was beyond this world, and that as to magnitude it was infinite: That in it were bred, besides other very great Creatures, Men twice as big as those here, and they lived double our age: That many great Cities are there, and peculiar manners of life; and that they have Laws wholly different from those amongst us: That there are two Cities farre greater then the rest, nothing like to each other; one named Machimus, Warlike, the other Euse∣bes, Pious: That the Pious people live in peace, abounding in wealth, & reap the fruits of the Earth without Ploughs or Oxen, ha∣ving no need of tillage or sowing. They Page  78 live, as he said, free from sickness, and die laughing, and with great pleasure: They are so exactly Just, that the Gods many times vouchsafe to converse with them▪ The Inhabitants of the City Machimus are very Warlike, continually armed and fighting: They subdue their Neighbours, and this one City predominates over many. The Inhabitants are not fewer then two hundred Myriads: they die sometimes of sickness, but this happens very rarely, for most commonly they are kill'd in the Wars by Stones or Wood, for they are invulne∣rable by Steel. They have vast plenty of Gold and Silver, insomuch that Gold is of less value with them then Iron with us. He said that they once designed a Voiage to these our Islands, and sailed upon the O∣cean, being in number a thousand Myri∣ads of men, till they came to the Hyperbo∣reans; but understanding that they were the happiest men amongst us, they con∣temned us as persons that led a mean in∣glorious life, and therefore thought it not worth their going farther. He added what is yet more wonderful, that there are men living amongst them called Meropes, who inhabit many great Cities; and that at the farthest end of their Countrey there is a Page  79 place named Anostus, (from whence there is no return) which resembles a Gulf; it is neither very light nor very dark, the air being dusky intermingled with a kinde of Red: That there are two Rivers in this place, one of Pleasure, the other of Grief; and that along each River grow Trees of the bigness of a Plane-tree. Those which grow up by the River of Grief bear fruit 〈◊〉 this nature; If any one eat of them, he shall spend all the rest of his life in tears and grief, and so die. The other Trees which grow by the River of Pleasure produce fruit of a contrary nature; for who tasts thereof shall be eased from all his former desires: If he loved any thing, he shall quite forget it; and in a short time shall become younger, and live over again his former years: he shall cast off old age, and return to the prime of his strength, becoming first a young man, then a child, lastly, an infant, and so die. This, if any man think the Chian worthy credit, he may believe. To me he appears an egregious Romancer as well in this as other things.