The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter V

[Of diversities in Cyprus; of the Road from Cyprus to Jerusalem, and of the Marvel of a Fosse full of Sand]

AND from this isle of Rhodes men go to Cyprus, where be many vines, that first be red and after one year they become white; and those wines that be most white, be most clear and best of smell.

And men pass by that way, by a place that was wont to be a great city, and a great land; and the city was clept Cathailye, the which city and land was lost through folly of a young man. For he had a fair damosel, that he loved well to his paramour; and she died suddenly, and was done in a tomb of marble. And for the great lust that he had to her, he went in the night unto her tomb and opened it, and went in and lay by her, and went his way. And when it came to the end of nine months, there came a voice to him and said, Go to the tomb of that woman, and open it and behold what thou hast begotten on her; and if thou let to go, thou shalt have a great harm. And he yede and opened the tomb, and there flew out an adder right hideous to see; the which as swithe flew about the city and the country, and soon after the city sank down. And there be many perilous passages without fail.

From Rhodes to Cyprus be five hundred mile and more. But men may go to Cyprus, and come not at Rhodes. Cyprus is right a good isle, and a fair and a great, and it hath four principal cities within him. And there is an Archbishop at Nicosea, and four other bishops in that land. And at Famagost is one of the principal havens of the sea that is in the world; and there arrive Christian men and Saracens and men of all nations. In Cyprus is the Hill of the Holy Cross; and there is an abbey of monks black and there is the cross of Dismas the good thief, as I have said before. And some men trow, that there is half the cross of our Lord; but it is not so, and they do evil that make men to believe so.

In Cyprus lieth Saint Zenonimus, of whom men of that country make great solemnity. And in the castle of Amours lieth the body of Saint–Hilarion, and men keep it right worshipfully. And beside Famagost was Saint Barnabas the apostle born.

In Cyprus men hunt with papyonns, that be like leopards, and they take wild beasts right well, and they be somewhat more than lions; and they take more sharply the beasts, and more deliver than do hounds.

In Cyprus is the manner of lords and all other men all to eat on the earth. For they make ditches in the earth all about in the hall, deep to the knee, and they do pave them; and when they will eat, they go therein and sit there. And the skill is for they may be the more fresh; for that land is much more hotter than it is here. And at great feasts, and for strangers, they set forms and tables, as men do in this country, but they had lever sit in the earth.

From Cyprus, men go to the land of Jerusalem by the sea: and in a day and in a night, he that hath good wind may come to the haven of Tyre, that is now clept Surrye. There was some-time a great city and a good of Christian men, but Saracens have destroyed it a great part; and they keep that haven right well, for dread of Christian men. Men might go more right to that haven, and come not in Cyprus, but they go gladly to Cyprus to rest them on the land, or else to buy things, that they have need to their living. On the sea-side men may find many rubies. And there is the well of the which holy writ speaketh of, and saith, FONS ORTORUM, ET PUTEUS AQUARUM VIVENTIUM: that is to say, ‘the well of gardens, and the ditch of living waters.’

In this city of Tyre, said the woman to our Lord, BEATUS VENTER QUI TE PORTAVIT, ET UBERA QUE SUCCISTI: that is to say, ‘Blessed be the body that thee bare, and the paps that thou suckedst.’ And there our Lord forgave the woman of Canaan her sins. And before Tyre was wont to be the stone, on the which our Lord sat and preached, and on that stone was founded the Church of Saint Saviour.

And eight mile from Tyre, toward the east, upon the sea, is the city of Sarphen, in Sarepta of Sidonians. And there was wont for to dwell Elijah the prophet; and there raised he Jonas, the widow’s son, from death to life. And five mile from Sarphen is the city of Sidon; of the which city, Dido was lady, that was Aeneas’ wife, after the destruction of Troy, and that founded the city of Carthage in Africa, and now is clept Sidonsayete. And in the city of Tyre, reigned Agenor, the father of Dido. And sixteen mile from Sidon is Beirout. And from Beirout to Sardenare is three journeys and from Sardenare is five mile to Damascus.

And whoso will go long time on the sea, and come nearer to Jerusalem, he shall go from Cyprus by sea to Port Jaffa. For that is the next haven to Jerusalem; for from that haven is not but one day journey and a half to Jerusalem. And the town is called Jaffa; for one of the sons of Noah that hight Japhet founded it, and now it is clept Joppa. And ye shall understand, that it is one of the oldest towns of the world, for it was founded before Noah’s flood. And yet there sheweth in the rock, there as the iron chains were fastened, that Andromeda, a great giant, was bounden with, and put in prison before Noah’s flood, of the which giant, is a rib of his side that is forty foot long.

And whoso will arrive at the port of Tyre or of Surrye, that I have spoken of before, may go by land, if he will, to Jerusalem. And men go from Surrye unto the city of Akon in a day. And it was clept some-time Ptolemais. And it was some-time a city of Christian men, full fair, but it is now destroyed; and it stands upon the sea. And from Venice to Akon, by sea, is two thousand and four score miles of Lombardy; and from Calabria, or from Sicily to Akon, by sea, is a 1300 miles of Lombardy; and the isle of Crete is right in the midway.

And beside the city of Akon, toward the sea, six score furlongs on the right side, toward the south, is the Hill of Carmel, where Elijah the prophet dwelled, and there was first the Order of Friars Carmelites founded. This hill is not right great, nor full high. And at the foot of this hill was some-time a good city of Christian men, that men clept Caiffa, for Caiaphas first founded it; but it is now all wasted. And on the left side of the Hill of Carmel is a town, that men clepe Saffre, and that is set on another hill. There Saint James and Saint John were born; and, in worship of them there is a fair church. And from Ptolemais, that men clepe now Akon, unto a great hill, that is clept Scale of Tyre, is one hundred furlongs. And beside the city of Akon runneth a little river, that is clept Belon.

And there nigh is the Foss of Mennon that is all round; and it is one hundred cubits of largeness, and it is all full of gravel, shining bright, of the which men make fair verres and clear. And men come from far, by water in ships, and by land with carts, for to fetch of that gravel. And though there be never so much taken away thereof in the day, at morrow it is as full again as ever it was; and that is a great marvel. And there is evermore great wind in that foss, that stirreth evermore the gravel, and maketh it trouble. And if any man do therein any manner metal, it turneth anon to glass. And the glass, that is made of that gravel, if it be done again into the gravel, it turneth anon into gravel as it was first. And therefore some men say, that it is a swallow of the gravelly sea.

Also from Akon, above-said, go men forth four journeys to the city of Palestine, that was of the Philistines, that now is clept Gaza, that is a gay city and a rich; and it is right fair and full of folk, and it is a little from the sea. And from this city brought Samson the strong the gates upon an high land, when he was taken in that city, and there he slew in a palace the king and himself, and great number of the best of the Philistines, the which had put out his eyen and shaved his head, and imprisoned him by treason of Dalida his paramour. And therefore he made fall upon them a great hall, when they were at meat.

And from thence go men to the city of Cesarea, and so to the Castle of Pilgrims, and so to Ascalon; and then to Jaffa, and so to Jerusalem.

And whoso will go by land through the land of Babylon, where the soldan dwelleth commonly, he must get grace of him and leave to go more siker through those lands and countries.

And for to go to the Mount of Sinai, before that men go to Jerusalem, they shall go from Gaza to the Castle of Daire. And after that, men come out of Syria, and enter into wilderness, and there the way is full sandy; and that wilderness and desert lasteth eight journeys, but always men find good inns, and all that they need of victuals. And men clepe that wilderness Achelleke. And when a man cometh out of that desert, he entereth into Egypt, that men clepe Egypt–Canopac, and after other language, men clepe it Morsyn. And there first men find a good town, that is clept Belethe; and it is at the end of the kingdom of Aleppo. And from thence men go to Babylon and to Cairo.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10