The Fardle of Facions, by Johannes Boemus

The thirde Chapitre.

The deuision and limites of the Earthe.

Those that haue bene before our daies, (as Orosius writeth) are of opinion, that the circuite of the earth, bordered about with the Occean Sea: disroundyng hym self, shooteth out thre corner wise, and is also deuided into thre seuerall partes, Afrike, Asie, and Europe. Afrike is parted from Asie with the floude of Nilus, whiche comyng fro the Southe, ronneth through Ethiope into Egipte, where gently sheadyng hymself ouer his bancques, he leaueth in the countrie a marueilous fertilitie, and passeth into the middle earth sea, with seuen armes. From Europe it is separate with the middle earth sea, whiche beginnyng fro the Occean aforesaied: at the Islande of Gades, and the pileurs of Hercules, passeth not tenne miles ouer. But further entryng in, semeth to haue shooued of the maigne lande on bothe sides, and so to haue won a more largenesse. Asie is deuided from Europe, with Tanais the floude, whiche comyng fro the North, ronneth into the marshe of Meotis almoste midwaie, and there sincking himself, leaueth the marshe and Pontus Euxinus, for the rest of the bounde. And to retourne to Afrike again, the same hauyng Nilus as I saied on the Easte, and on all other partes, bounded with the sea, is shorter then Europe, but broader towarde the Occean, where it riseth into mounteigne. And shoryng towarde the Weste, by litle and litle waxeth more streighte, and cometh at thende to a narowe poincte. Asmuche as is enhabited therof, is a plentuous soile, but the great parte of it lieth waste, voide of enhabitauntes, either to whote4 for menne to abide, or full of noisome and venemous vermine, and beastes, or elles so whelmed in sande and grauell, that there is nothing but mere barreinesse. The sea that lieth on the Northe parte, is called Libicum, that on the Southe Aethiopicum, and the other on the West Atlanticum.

At the first the whole was possest by fower sondrie peoples. Of the whiche, twaine (as Herodotus writeth) ware founde there, tyme out of minde, and the other twaine ware alienes and incommes. The two of continuance, ware the Poeni, and Ethiopes, whiche dwelte, the one at the Northe of the lande, the other at the South. The Alienes, the Phoenices, the Grekes, the old Ethiopians, and the Aegipcienes, if it be true that thei report of themselues. At the beginnyng thei were sterne, and vnruly, and bruteshely liued, with herbes and with fleshe of wilde beastes, without lawe or rule, or facion of life, roilyng and rowmyng vpon heade, heather and thether without place of abode, where night came vpon them, there laiyng their bodies to reste. Afterwarde (as thei saie) Hercules passyng the seas out of Spaine, into Libie (a countrie on the Northe shore of Afrike) and bringyng an ouerplus of people thence with hym, somewhat bettre facioned and manered then thei, trained them to muche more humanitie. And of the troughes5 thei came ouer in, made themselues cotages, and began to plante in plompes6 one by another. But of these thinges we shall speake here aftre more at large.

Afrike is not euery place a like enhabited. For toward the Southe it lieth for the moste part waste, and vnpeopled, for the broilyng heate of that quatre. But the part that lieth ouer against Europe, is verie well enhabited. The frutefulnesse of the soile is excedyng, and to muche merueillous: as in some places bringyng the siede with a hundred folde encrease. It is straunge to beleue, that is saied of the goodnesse of the soile of the Moores. The stocke of their vines to be more then two menne can fadome, and their clousters of Grapes to be a cubite long. The coronettes of their Pasnepes, and Gardein Thistles (whiche we calle Hortichokes) as also of their Fenelle, to be twelue Cubites compasse. Their haue Cannes like vnto those of India, whiche may contein in the compasse of the knot, or iointe, the measure of ij. bushelles. Ther be sene also Sparagi, of no lesse notable bigguenesse. Toward the mounte Atlas trees bee founde of a wondrefull heigth, smothe, and without knaggue or knotte, vp to the hard toppe, hauyng leaues like the Cypres, but of all other the moste noble Citrus, wherof the Romaines made great deintie. Affrike hath also many sondrie beastes, and Dragones that lye in awaite for the beastes, and when thei se time, so bewrappe and wreathe them aboute, that takyng fro theim the vse of their ioynctes, thei wearie them and kille theim. There are Elephantes, Lyons, Bugles, Pardales, Roes, and Apes, in some places beyonde nombre. There are also Chamelopardales and Rhizes, like vnto Bulles. Herodote writeth, that there be founde Asses with hornes, Hienas Porpentines, wilde Rambes, a beast engendered of the Hiene and the Woulfe named Thoas, Pantheres, Storckes, Oistruthes, and many kindes of serpentes, as Cerastes, and Aspides, against whom nature hath matched the Ichneumon (a verie little beast) as a mortall enemie.

4 Too hot.

5 Ships.

6 Clumps, bodies.

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 20:27